About The Country Wife Blog

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Travel and Arrival

Today we flew from Boston to Cancun, Mexico and ended at the Royal Haciendas in Playa del Carmen. All went well. It is SIGNIFICANTLY warmer and more humid here than in New England.

The red flags were flying on the beach so we could not go swimming in the ocean but we did enjoy the pool then spent a long time in the whirlpool...until we got cold, if you can believe it. Tomorrow we have an orientation meeting at 9 AM and hope to attend the Pelen ward at 12 noon. We will have our first experience getting around without Spanish skills!

This was a picture out our bedroom window early this evening, Right now it is mostly dark with many lights and no people. We are turning in!!

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

A Beautiful Fall Day

Today was a great getting-things-done day. A perfect fall day with crisp temperatures in the morning and a bright sun with crystal clear blue sky and a luscious 50+ degrees in the afternoon. This morning I worked like a fiend to prepare for institute class tonight and many good things came to mind. Hopefully they will also come to fruition in a pleasing way.

After making out a list of all the things I needed to do "down country" I made a flying trip and did everything that was on the list. I felt that there was something else that was not on the list, but just left it as not do-able. I even went to Burger King to purchase a second Kid's Meal so I could get a second Boo Toy for Halloween for two little boys who might possibly come trick-or-treating at our house. Grandma wants to be prepared!

When I got home there was a message from the pharmacy about the medication I had asked to be refilled so I could pick it up today...the item that was NOT on the list. Oh well. Just as well because one of them could not be filled until tomorrow. Tomorrow is winter-tires-onto-the-rims day at Interstate Tire so I can just swing over and pick up the medicine then on my way to knitting (and dyeing) enrichment group tomorrow.

Also when I got home I took a bag of trash to the dumpster from the house then filled up the little cart and dragged a big batch of stuff from the garage to the dumpster with a minimum of distress from flying, jumping, crawling, biting, and stinging creatures all of whom think the garage and boxes, barrels, and cans in the garage are fair game for housing opportunities.

Hilda Yates' Farm Yarn sale post card came today. The yarn sale is the day we return home from Mexico so I will miss it this year. Should I call Hilda and ask her to put aside a big bag of yarn for me to pick up later....?

The photo shows our potato harvest for the year 2008. Grace and Anne helped us plant seven potatoes that had sprouted and looked pretty bad. This is what came of it!

Sunday, October 5, 2008

Sunday Morning Busy

Today is General Conference so we go to Church a few hours later than usual--11 AM instead of 6:30 AM. It seemed like a great day to test the carrot cake recipe from Cook's Country that they asked me to make for them, then fill out a survey about it. Since neither Bob nor I need a whole carrot cake, and since we will have a potluck at Church between sessions of Conference, it was the ideal time. So I made it. When that was complete I made some vegetarian chili to take along so Bob would have something to eat. I also had made what I lovingly call Harvest Stew--a mishmash of many vegetables and greens in a big pot cooked in the oven for hours with a pork roast in it...a previous blog entry discusses the stew...to which I added this morning some mashed cauliflower and broccoli that was lying around in the refrigerator waiting to go bad.

So, after the cake and the chili and the stew, I wrote up a blog entry for The Country Wife Knits about Grace's sweater. Jonathan and Alissa and the boys have just arrived after having looked at some land in Thetford and will bake some bread. Bob and I will be leaving for Church soon while the kids stay here and cook bread.

Friday, October 3, 2008

The Soup

What a day! Already! This is a better day than I usually have by 9 AM. I woke up when Bob's alarm went off at 6 AM. He was already out of bed and downstairs. I discovered that my own clock was two minutes slow, so I fixed that.

I cannot remember what the first few things were that I did today, but by the time Bob left at 7 something (driving the car in to work today instead of taking the Stagecoach because he is going to the temple with the youth tonight) I had decided to use up all the vegetables that we received from our CSA share yesterday, and the leftovers from last week as well, and turn them into a soup. A soup that I may share with Jonathan and Alissa and the boys tomorrow! Watch out, Kids!!!

This is the recipe:

Chop a bunch of leeks, a bunch of shallots, and two heads (yes, heads) of garlic and saute for a while in 1 tablespoon butter and 1 tablespoon canola oil. Not really saute because I put the cover on so it was more a "steam/saute" with the fat just for flavoring. Next chop up a bunch of new carrots and throw into the large pot in which you sauteed the previous vegetables. Pour in a quart of free-range chicken broth from friend Trader Joe. Scrub and throw in a couple handfuls of red potatoes and a couple handfuls of fingerling potatoes...the larger ones having been cut in half.

Now chop up a good-sized yellow summer squash and throw in. Be sure to stir every so often, even though the burner is set on pretty low. Remove the blossom and stem end from two smallish delicata winter squashes; cut down the middle and scoop out the seeds and pith, then slice into quarter-inch pieces and toss in, skin and all. By this time the pot is looking rather full of stuff and not much liquid so add another quart of the chicken broth.

Finally, (at least finally to this point....soup isn't done yet!) chop up a bunch of dried kale leaves, a bunch of beet greens, a bunch of turnip greens, and a bunch of fresh basil. Once these greens are chopped/sliced set them aside and take the 2-pound boneless mini pork roast out of the freezer, remove from the pink styrofoam pan and nasty, sticky white plastic protector sheets, being sure to hack the bits of pink styrofoam off the pork roast where they stuck. Be careful not to hack off the part of your two fingers which froze onto the pork roast as you were removing the roast from the nasty white plastic protective sheets then plop the nice pork roast on top of the potatoes and other vegetables in the pot. On top of the pork roast toss in all the chopped greens and put the cover on. Look around the kitchen and in the refrigerator for other uneaten-and-likely-to-go-bad vegetables (hold the fruits this time....) and get ready to add them to the pot as the other things sink down into oblivion in the whole mess. Certainly you will have a few part-bags of spicy salad greens from previous CSA offerings, and who knows what all else. Let cook on low for several hours, checking every now and then to see what is going on in the pot. Probably DON'T chop up the beets from last week's CSA and throw them in. Beets may be pretty, but....they make me a little squeemish.

Then there was the genealogy issue. I glanced at one email from the LDS-FH-CONSULTANT list where there were several messages about Ohana Software's new Family Insight which is their version of PAF Insight which will work with the new FamilySearch, or FamilySearch family tree as it is now being called. I downloaded the Family Insight, installed it and got ready to roll with it but found that my MacBook using Parallels and the Windows software where my PAF resides had some sort of issue with connecting to the internet (it has to do with firewalls and I could not figure out a way to take down the firewall for this software, or any software for that matter)...so I wrote a feedback message to Ohana about a problem I found when I started reading their help center's Getting Started with Family Insight. As soon as I sent the emailed feedback I went back to the Ohana website and noticed that I was supposed to restart my computer after installing Family Insight. Whoops! So I did that, but still received the same error message. Now I think I will have to wait until tomorrow and chat with Jonathan about that, and other, computer issues. I hate to wear him out with my brain wave problems, though.

Also, before the soup project I had had a major kitchen cleaning project, including washing the platter on which was formerly a delicious carrot cake which Alissa made for Bob to thank him for sending her some Wigwam socks. I am not sure who got the better deal there! The cake sure was good.

So, all this by 9 AM on a Friday! I think I will turn this email into a blog entry and feel like I have really accomplished something today. Oh! I can smell the soup! That is such a good sign. Well, I can smell the beets, too, and hope I remember I was going to hold off on adding them to the soup!

Perhaps there will be an addendum to the soup project, besides the fact that I have now put it into the oven for the long-haul cooking. I feel that way it is less likely to burn. We shall see.

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

A Rainy Fall Morning

View From The Porch

Notice the field in the photo above has been brush-hogged last week and is looking good. The garden hose is in the foreground...going nowhere at the moment. Soon it will go to its winter home in the garage. Of course, the garage has to be emptied out first....

See how the light on the post is still on at 7:45 AM! It is a dark morning but not at all dreary, though it is raining somewhat. I went for a short walk to get the blood flowing in my veins and to remind my body that it really does want to be healthy and strong. I met our new neighbor this morning and had a little chat. She has only been in the neighborhood, at Savincki's house, for about two years now.

In this photo you can almost see the woodpile, but for sure you can see the flowers that need to be sheared down for the winter. Perhaps this year I will actually cut then down and tidy up the gardens for winter.

The little boys are coming soon so I had better get on with what I planned to do this morning. When they arrive I want to be able to play with them or read books to them. We had planned to go for a walk but since it is more or less raining, I am not sure their mom will want them to be outside. We shall see.

Saturday, September 27, 2008

New Toy!


Yesterday was Aunt Freda's birthday. (In the interest of sensitivity, I won't mention which one!) I had thought I had missed her birthday but discovered when I dropped in to see her on Thursday that her birthday was actually Friday, so I began thinking of things I could do for her birthday. She and Uncle Johnny have both lost a lot of weight so a highly frosted very sweet cake, which had been my first thought, seemed, in retrospect, not such a nice gift.

Continuing the thought process it occurred to me that I have a very nice, not too sweet, apple walnut cake recipe. (It might also have cranberries in it, but I will have to check before staking my life on that fact.) If I was going to make that cake for Aunt Freda, in decency I should not make a huge cake, so I began thinking of what I had for small cake pans. Well, I have some six-inch round, square, and heart-shaped pans but they are not very interesting.

I began to think about King Arthur Flour Store and the lovely pans they have. I seemed to remember a small bundt pan there in the past when I have just dropped in to browse their many, mostly expensive, lovely kitchen items...so, in the interest of saving time, etc. I went to their website and the first thing that caught my eye was a donut pan. I had seen that multiple times before and just sneered at it as a waste of money and effort due to imagined yucky donutty things that would be turned out from the pan. Be that as it may, it seemed like this might be just the pan for the apple walnut (perhaps cranberry) cake. I could make a panful of small cakes and give Aunt Freda four of them, so they could eat two, and if they were delicious and not destined for the compost bin, she could freeze two for another time.

There was a fairly large list of things to do "downtown" on Friday but I added King Arthur Flour to the list, with the thought it would probably not be until Monday or later that I would stop in, since I was already in the "belated birthday greetings" timeframe. Store-hopping was to follow the annual mammo appt. As I was walking away from the mammography area afterwards I happened upon a lady in the blood laboratory area who was knitting. I stopped to ask her what she was knitting and we fell to talking. Long story short, she gave me her card having told me about a knitting group that has met weekly in Bradford, Vermont for twelve years now on, get this, Friday afternoons! She told me the group was going to knit a sheep for felting. That sounded like something I really would like to do! It was presently about 11:30 AM. She told me they were meeting today at the Bradford Library in the afternoon.

My juices started roiling and I tried to figure out how to get to the library. I had my "Grace's Sweater Bag" in the car because I wanted to stop in so Alissa could try it on. I thought that would give me a hint as to whether the yoke was progressing properly, or whether I should rip it out and start again, not something I was really looking forward to doing.

The hardware stores and car dealership I went to for an oil filter (Dennis, the salesmanager, told me not to get an oil filter; that he had a perfect BRAND NEW CAR just perfect for me...only take a few minutes to show me. Right.) took a little more time than I had hoped and the clock kept rolling around. I had found on the internet from the hospital the telephone number for the Bradford Library and discovered that the knitting group began at 1 PM. It was after 12:30 when I pulled into Jonathan and Alissa's house, BUT the car was gone so I assumed Alissa was not home and just flew on by.

By the time I was driving to Wilder where Jonathan and family live, I had decided that I could not stop at King Arthur Flour store, however, when I didn't have to stop in Wilder, and as I was going to be driving right by KAF, I decided to stop in. Right in the front of the store was a little display of donut pans! Rather than disturb that nice display I found a pan on a shelf, grabbed it, and headed to the checkout....then flew up the interstate to Bradford, arriving at 1:30.

I was not the last to arrive at the knitting group, and eventually found that I needed to have a copy of the directions myself as I kept getting confused as the leader would repeat the directions multiple times due to multiple knitting skill levels within the group and I did too many wrap and turns or M1, K2's or whatever. I left at 3 PM with a copy of the directions and a plan to purchase the original directions from a yarn store soon...as I already have my copy. I will start again when I am quietly sitting in my knitting chair.

So, back to the donut pan. It is Saturday morning and Bob is at his computer, busy, but always agreeable to something interesting to eat. Like any good wifey, I decided to try out the pan on him. I made the chocolate cake donuts, with a few changes. For one thing, I failed to notice that there were supposed to be TWO eggs instead of one egg. Also, I more or less combined the directions from the pan band recipes and the handout recipe from KAF. I used 3 tablespoons of melted butter instead of the two called for in the chocolate donut recipe.

So, here is a picture of the pan and some of the donuts. The way I made the donuts, there were 8, but the last two had more batter per "donut hole" and were prettier. I think the recipe is meant to make one panful of six donuts so I will make that happen next time. I asked Bob if they were edible and he said nodded his head after eating two of them, though he refused more when offered.

Here are the recipes (please note the "All rights reserved" at the bottom of the KAF recipe and don't try to sell the recipe to someone else...):

Chocolate Cake Donuts

1-1/2 cups (355ml) flour
1 3 cup (80mI) unsweetened "baking cocoa
1 teaspoon (3ml) baking powder
1/8 teaspoon (.65ml) salt
2/3 cup (160ml) sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 cup (120mI) milk
2 eggs
2 tablespoons (130ml) butter, melted

Glaze :
1 cup confectioner's sugar
2 tablespoons (30ml) HOT water


Preheat oven to 325.F. Combine flour, cocoa, baking powder and salt. In separate bowl mix eggs, sugar and vanilla until thick. Combine milk and butter. Alternately combine egg mixture and milk mixture with flour mixture and mix until smooth and soft. Spray pan lightly with cooking oil. Fill with batter 2/3 full. Bake 8 minutes. Cool. Carefully , remove. Repeat with rest of batter. Frost or glaze.

Cake Donuts

2 cups (475ml) flour
3/4 cup (180mI) sugar
2 teaspoons (10mI) baking powder
1 teaspoon (3ml) salt
1 tablespoon (15ml) butter, melted
2 eggs, beaten
3/4 cup (180ml) milk
1 teaspoon (5ml) vanilla
1/4 teaspoon (1.25ml) nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon (1.25mI) cinnamon

Preheat oven to 325.F. Spray donut pan with cooking oil. In bowl mix together flour, sugar, baking powder, salt. Add butter, eggs, milk, vanilla, nutmeg and cinnamon. Beat until well blended. Fill each Donut Hole 2/3 full. Bake 8 minutes or until tops spring back when lightly touched. Cool. Remove from donut pan and dip into glaze. Decorate with sprinkles, nuts, shaved chocolate or coconut. Donuts may also be dipped into cinnamon and sugar instead of the glaze. When the pan has cooled, wipe clean with cloth or paper towel and repeat process. Yields approximately 36 mini donuts.
A recipe for your Doughnut Pan

The Baker's Catalogue, Inc. 58 Billings Farm Road White River Junction, VT 05001

800.827.6836 bakerscatalogue.com


Baked, not fried? You bet! You’ll scarcely be able to tell these from "the real thing, " especially if you frost or sugar them when they're done.

1 cup (4 ounces) Round Table Unbleached Pastry flour or 7/8 cup King Arthur Unbleached All-Purpose Flour (the pastry flour will make a more tender doughnut)
1/2 cup (3 1/2 ounces) sugar
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/8 teaspoon nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon cinnamon
3 tablespoons (1 ounce) dried buttermilk powder*
2 large eggs
3 tablespoons (1 1/4 ounces) vegetable oil
2 tablespoons water

*If you don't have buttermilk powder on hand, substitute 2 tablespoons buttermilk or yogurt for the water.

Whisk together all of the dry ingredients in a medium-sized mixing bowl. In a separate bowl, beat the eggs, oil and water ( or buttermilk or yogurt) until foamy. Pour the liquid ingredients all at once into the dry ingredients and stir just until combined. Butter or grease the doughnut pan; non-stick pan spray works well here. Note: even though the pan is non-stick, since the doughnuts are low-fat they may stick unless you grease the pan first. Fill each doughnut form half full.
Bake the doughnuts in a preheated 375'F oven for 10 to 12 minutes. When done, they'll spring back when touched lightly, and will be quite brown on the top. Remove the doughnuts from the oven, remove them from tile pan, and allow them to cool on rack. Glaze with icing, or coat with cinnamon-sugar or any non-melting sugar. Yield: 6 doughnuts.

©2007 The Baker's Catalogue, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

What a Day!

No, what a MONTH! Actually, WHAT A SUMMER!! It has been wonderful, just long and hard. Today was the family history day put on by the Concord NH stake of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. I was invited to prepare and present classes on how to scale brick walls in genealogical research as well as to maintain the website which publicized the event. (You can see that website at http://concordfhday.crossett.net). It was a daunting task but so enjoyable and now, over!

The family history day has taken so much of my time that I have not even been knitting on granddaughter Grace's sweater for days. Now that responsibility is over and out came the sweater as I unwound from the travel and the action-packed day. Bob was not quite ready to leave for his own service with the youth in Concord so I was able to decompress a little with him, and now have called and spoken with son, granddaughter, daughter, and sweet elderly neighbor. A round on the cable-knit sweater has been completed, some pick-up, clean-up has been accomplished (though the emphasis is DEFINITELY on the word "some"!) and I am about ready to crawl off to the upper regions and become horizontal for the first time in seventeen hours...a recent record for me!

Must be up early to help out with some early morning babysitting for a young family at church, so no more knitting tonight (or cleaning, either, to my shame) even though I am sorely tempted because now everything is going RIGHT on the Aran sweater project. Previously, when I had put this sweater's body with the two sleeves preparing to knit up the yoke and finish with the neck ribbing, I had misguidedly ended the sleeves on an even row and the body on an odd row. Not a good idea. In my defense, this is the first time I have created a design for a sweater a la Elizabeth Zimmermann's seamless yoke sweater pattern instructions and carried it out. With a stocking stitch sweater there would be no issue, but with cable crossings on the even rows, it makes sense to have the sleeves and the body joining at the point where they were all even rows or all odd rows. Miraculously, and totally by accident, it turned out that I was knitting row 86 (from the bottom of the body, not counting the ribbing which I am going to add later) and just worked every stitch as it ought to have been knitted up, and, even though some of the stitches were a little tight because they did not have their odd row of "plain knitting" between cable crossing even rows, it looks all right. At least with very tired eyes in a dimly lit living room. I will check it out tomorrow in the sunlight and see if I have to rip it out and start again with the yoke. It is only 7 rows which is 1,176 stitches. It could be worse!

Monday, September 8, 2008

The Country Wife Rises from, and then returns to, Oblivion!

Yesterday was a lovely Sabbath...all the right things happened, including dinner with son, daughter-in-law, and I would have said: grandsons, but they were sleeping off the excesses concomitant with attending church. Great meal, wonderful company. So, after going to bed at a reasonable hour, I woke up at 2 AM and could not go back to sleep, so at 3 AM I arose, spent 90 minutes knitting on Grace's second Aran pullover sleeve, then tried sleeping again. I finally gave up on sleep and crawled out at 7 then started clearing out the kitchen so I could work on the three flats of tomatoes that fell into our laps yesterday.

Now, at 9 PM, the final canner of stewed tomatoes is just finished and I will add them to the table where all the salsa is happily sitting. Don't really know what the count is, and am too tired to check, but one half of the table is full of luscious tomato delights for the coming winter. Bob tried both salsas with his supper and declared the one made with fresh ingredients better than the one made with the packet of "dried salsa seasoning". Not surprising.

So the end of a wonderful, but exhausting, day, with no emailing or working on anything else. To bed and blessed oblivion until the new day! Perhaps tomorrow I will be able to complete the second sleeve. My original completion goal for the sweater is long past. Grace is now hoping for Christmas, but I am hoping MUCH sooner as there are other necessities to knit!

Friday, September 5, 2008

Additions to the Saga of The Country Wife

The last message was written in January 2008. It has been a very busy year; so much to do, so little time in which to do it. You all know that story. Now here is a continuation of the story of the why of "The Country Wife".

After the boys and I brought the lumber home to our small acreage in Vermont, Bob started building a barn. It was fifteen feet by sixteen feet and began with a cement floor, including a nice deep gutter, a stall area, and a barn floor area in which to store grain barrels and a chicken pen. Very compact and tidy and able to house up to four cows, which, for a short time, it did.

Later on in the fall of 1976 Mr. Dexter, a wonderful farmer neighbor, went to Gray's Auction for us and found us a beautiful gentle Jersey cow named Buttercup, which he purchased on our behalf then took to house in his barn while Bob completed construction of our own agricultural facility!

We took the family and went over to Mr. Dexter's barn to help with chores and learn the process of milking a cow. It turned out that Buttercup's udder was not ideally suited for hand-milking so Mr. Dexter suggested we look into purchasing a milking machine. We took his advice and eventually found some retired farmers who had more advice on what we should do, and who kindly gave us their old milking equipment and even a vacuum pump. (Many years later we were able to return the favor and gave away the equipment to other young people starting up.)

Thursday, January 31, 2008

Why "The Country Wife"

Years ago, soon after we started raising children, my husband, a school teacher at the local junior/senior high school, noticed that the farm kids at school were the best citizens of the school, i.e. they contributed the most in positive ways...taking part in extra-curricular activities, studying hard, treating other students decently. He thought it must have something to do with their upbringing as farmers' children. He wanted the same for our children. He had been born in the city and I had been raised on a dairy farm in central Vermont.

So, the fall we were expecting our third child (and only daughter), we decided to erect a small barn on our 2.6 acres to accompany the log cabin that he had previously built, and in which we lived, thereby beginning the process of becoming the owners of a very small family farm. The first creature we planned to add to the projected menagerie was to be a family cow.

We had purchased a very old pickup truck and in that old dusty green vehicle I drove, with our two small boys, to a lumber mill in Canaan, New Hampshire where we purchased lumber for a small barn. The boards were 16 feet long, in an 8-foot truck bed. The boards completely filled to the top the body of the truck. As the boys and I were slowly driving through town on the homeward journey we came to a place where the town road crew was out working on filling potholes.

You will have heard the old saw that "one boy is a good boy, two boys are half a boy, and three boys is no boy at all". It was my experience that the same could be said of grown men on that particular day. As I slowed to a stop to avoid running into the men they looked up from their work, saw the overloaded truck with a woman at the wheel and started leaning on their shovels, breaking out into laughter. One of the men was a bit more jocular, and daring, than the other two. He came up to the front of the truck, reached down and put his hand under the front bumper and lifted the truck off the ground. All three men nearly split a gut laughing and the little boys and I nearly passed out with distress.

Eventually we were able to pass by these men and continue our trip home. Normally it only takes about forty-five minutes to drive to Canaan from our home in Vermont, but on this day I realized I needed to go the "back way" home due to the necessity of driving VERY slowly, thus I took the long way around Goose Pond. More than two hours later than we were expected home we arrived to find a very worried dad, but we did make the trip with no more incidents.

Saturday, January 19, 2008

Inspiration from Daughter

Talking with one's daughter is a total delight. For me, at least, and so often I learn a lot while conversing. Today she shared some knitting, some health, some blog topics with me. She is knitting a beautiful Fair Isle purse, which she will felt. She is using Brown Sheep Lamb's Pride yarn and US size 10 needles. I think it is beautiful. It makes me want to do some color work soon. I must not. I must not. I MUST NOT...at least until I finish the vest, the socks, the leggings, the hat, the shawl, the afghan...you get the picture.