About The Country Wife Blog

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.)