Happy New Year

We made ravioli tonight....

How did you spend your New Year's eve?

Happy New Year!
I completely overlooked my 100th blog post---but this is post #104...

So happy 100th post!

The pelican-can can....

He really seemed to like the camera :-)

I met some new friends...

So we've been away from home for a few days...

...but I met quite a few new friends!

I believe this is an immature Herring Gull.

I'm pretty sure this is a female Boat-tailed Grackle...

...and this is a male Boat-tailed Grackle.

I think this might actually be another, younger, Herring Gull. (Note that there's even more brown..)

I'm not sure what this cute l'il guy is...some Sandpiper-like-thing?

I'm pretty sure this is a Laughing Gull...either winter coloration or immature.

And this guy...a Brown Pelican. (More on him later...)

Merry Christmas

(and happy holidays) :-)

(Please ignore those messy stairs...)

Can someone tell me...

...what exactly these chickens are doing???

I think maybe this one (above) was trying to fly back up to the chicken coop (note the marks that its wings made in the snow) but landed and realized, much to its chagrin, that its feet didn't reach the ground!

This one (above)...I have no idea. Perhaps it liked the view up there?

I was worried that they'd get too cold stuck in the snow like that so I picked them up and put 'em back in the coop (I'm a softie like that).

34 and three quarter inches of snow fell at our house on Saturday...

Chocolate Toffee Candy

Last weekend we made this Terribly Terrific Toffee from A Southern Grace. I won't re-post her already well-written instructions....but I'll show you what we did, and what we changed....

First we greased the pan really really well (our cookie sheet doesn't have edges, so we used a lasagne pan) and started to lay out saltines (we used store brand) edge to edge on the bottom.

It took about 45 to fit the entire pan (slightly more than that I think, actually...)

Then we combined the brown sugar and butter and started to heat it up...it combined and started to get silky and frothy...

Next, we poured the toffee over the crackers...

...and put the whole shebang into the oven for a few minutes until it got all bubbly.

When we took the pan out of the oven, we let it cool for a few seconds and spread one entire bag of chocolate chips over it. Then let it sit for a bit to soften the chocolate. Once it was softened, we used some silicone spatulas to spread the chocolate out.

Then it went onto the table to cool (we put some into the refrigerator too--they hardened a bit better) And voila!

And voila!

Staying Warm

Mmm. Chestnuts roasting on the woodstove. One of my favorite ways to stay warm. (no woodstove? While I can't vouch for them, there are plenty of recipes for roasting chestnuts in the oven, too) Especially on a day like this one a few weeks ago:

Initial Reaction

When we opened the chicken door on the coop on Saturday morning, this was the initial reaction.

"About time you let us out of here...WAAAA.... What's all of this cold white stuff all over everything?!?!"

Strange Tracks

One of the things I really like about snow where we live is all of the animal tracks...The things that you never knew were even around become evident after a snow, as you see their prints criss-crossing the yard and driveway. We've seen house cat tracks (not ours, we don't have a cat), rabbit tracks, deer tracks, raccoon tracks, dozens of types of birds' tracks, and the occasional large mammal (?) tracks. These tracks, are a little bit puzzling, however....

So let's follow them and see where they lead....

Hmm, I suspect....

Aha. Yep. Don't let a little bit of snow and ice slow you down, guys!

First Snow

On Saturday, we had the first snowfall of the season. It was snowing a little when we got up....

And here's the same tree, halfway through the day (and definitely still snowing).....I think we got about 10 inches.

Did I mention it was slippery, by the way?


This was a turkey-and-leftover-mashed-potatoes Shepherd's Pie. Just one of many incarnations of turkey on our table last week. The last of it went into some soft tacos on Thursday Night.

In Business!

Today we sold--really sold--our first dozen eggs...goods to be delivered tomorrow. That's a pretty exciting feeling, I'll tell you. So now we're hoping to be able to come up with an official farm name (perhaps slightly less bare-bones-facts than Five Wooded Acres) for our little homestead-farm-croft. Yes croft. I like the word, and I'm trying to work it into the name (we'll see). :-)

Some names that we're (ok I'm) tossing around, but don't totally love: Windy Acres, Wrens' Croft, Frog....something...ok I don't know. Nothing sounds good with the word frog. But they're deafening on the warm, damp spring nights up here....

Any ideas? (not just frog-related!)

Apple Butter

A few weeks ago we finally got around to making this year's batch of apple butter. Now I'm sworn to secrecy to the actual recipe that we used (heirloom and all) ;-) But I'm more'n happy to share a recipe that we've used in the past (just a note that we actually canned 25 lbs of apples at once this time. Never ever do that. Seriously. Boiling apple sauce shoots like lava out of a volcano...no joke. Just consider yourself warned and repeat after me...small batches...small batches...) We usually try to use either Stayman or Winesap apples, but any cooking apple will work. So first some photos, and then a recipe at the end for you......

Here's our 25 pounds of apples

Peeled (We chopped them into approx. 1-2 inch chunks.
The smaller the chunks, the faster the cooking down goes.)

Here they are, starting to cook down...

Spices and sugar, ready to be added (the exact spices and ratios are the top secret bit here....)

All together in the pot (it's really starting to smell good by now)

Of course, once that's done you'll need to have your water bath canner
already all heated up and ready to go.

All done. Be sure to let the jars sit a few weeks before tasting it...
they'll mellow a bit and taste even better!

Apple Butter
Adapted from the Ball Blue Book
Yield: About 3 pints

Remember to refer back to this post, which details the boiling water canning method a bit more, if you're unfamiliar with the process.

4 pounds apples (about 16 medium apples)
4 cups sugar (we usually do at least half of this as brown sugar)
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon cloves
(any other seasonings that take your fancy...like I said, 0urs are top secret... but any of those common-to-pumpkin-pie spices would probably work well. Just remember to go easy. As the butter sits in the jars, aging, the spices will strengthen.)

Wash apples--peel and slice into 1-inch pieces (remove the cores, too). Combine apples and 2 cups water in saucepan (we usually just dump the apples in, no water. It gives the butter a slightly more concentrated taste without having to cook for quite as long). Simmer until apples are soft. Puree, if desired (we use a potato masher, as necessary. Just to get the big lumps out. If you cook them long enough, they'll be soft enough to do this--but feel free to use a food mill if you like.) Add sugar and spices to cooked apples, stirring in. Cook slowly until thick enough to round up on a spoon--stir frequently to prevent sticking (and burning). Ladle hotmixture into pint jars (leave 1/4 inch head space). Clean jar rims, and afix lids and rings. Process 10 minutes in a boiling water canner.
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