Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Christmas in Georgia 2009

My netbook doesn't have Java to load pictures on FB, so I will create a Blog to show off my new nephew and some other Christmas adventures. Probably better anyway since I usually like to blabber on.
This is Garrett, he is four months old, loves to be hugged on by everybody, and though he is being raised an OSU Cowboy, he tolerates all sports affiliations.
We were going to bring him some WVU products, but thought his parents might not be so tolerant.
This is FabHub NOT napping in the middle of the afternoon.
He Claims to have been watching TV, but that eye looks closed to me.
This is a project that I started better than two years ago. There is a blog post from 2007 that talks about my progress toward finishing it. I told my sister to give me six months warning if we were going to need it since I probably would need that much time to finish needle work. I finished it last night at about midnight while we waited for Garrett and family to arrive at Mom's. HEY, it is done! Sort of anyway. It still needs to be washed, ironed, and attached as the cover to the scrapbook that will hold many, many pictures of the newest, cutest - my nephew Garrett.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Winter Is Here

No matter what the calendar says Winter has arrived.
A few weeks ago we thought this was a lot of snow.
Turns out we were wrong.
This is a lot of snow.
These dogs were staying warm in what seemed like cold, snowy weather.
Turns out they were in pretty good shape.
This is a dog wishing she were warm. The frog has a nice hat on and the house is wearing a pretty thick blanket too.
The day it started I was staying with my mother-in-law. We made fruit cakes and watched it start snowing at about 2pm.
At 4pm I went out and cleaned the snow off the windows of my truck. Snow was up to the tops of the roof racks.
At 5pm I went back out and cleaned the second layer off of the windows. Snow was now piled high above the roof racks.
I cleaned another inch off at about 530pm. And then another right before 6pm. I was trying to keep up with it because my office holiday party was being held that night and as soon as my sister-in-law got home from work I was heading home and then to the party. It took her about 2 1/2 hours to make her 45 minute trip.
And yes we did go to the party. It took us about an hour to make the 15 minute trip to Pipestem. It was snowing, cars were in the ditch, the forecast was for the storm to keep getting worse. We went anyway. We already had a reservation to stay the night. Dinner and an open bar were part of the draw, but there was also a retirement to consider, and that was really why we went.
We did take one precaution. The farm truck was our chariot for the night. 4-wheel drive, chains at the ready, and not a a lot of drama if it earned more "character marks" in the process of getting there.
This is what we found in the morning. The truck was pretty well buried. A lot of snow fell over night. There weren't too many other people moving yet by the time we got ready to go. One of those cars belongs to a guy that I work with. We gave him a ride to a friends near Princeton and then headed back home.
Now it is Sunday night. School is closed tomorrow. Main roads are probably clear enough for me to get to work. Darn.
That is a lot of snow.

Sunday, October 04, 2009

Used the Apple Pie Jam

I made my usual buttermilk pancakes for breakfast this morning. Instead of the normal syrup, I warmed up a jar of the new Apple Pie Jam, which didn't have many Jam qualities.

It made really good syrup for the pancakes though!

Saturday, October 03, 2009

More Fall Cooking

The garden produced very little usable produce this year. I didn't give it much opportunity and the blight took most of what it had, but there was one surprise that showed up in August.
The plant that this watermelon came from didn't even have many flowers on it, and none of them amounted to anything - or so I thought.
FabHub found this watermelon just sitting out there doing nothing but growing. He let it grow until there was a threat of frost made him go out and pick it.

It didn't have much color or flavor, but it wasn't bad.

After my last Upside Down Apple Pecan pie adventure I decided to buy some real pie apples and try another pie and maybe a few canned apple recipes.
I made a normal pie last night (Friday 2 Oct) while FabHub was chaperoning a school dance. It ended up getting eaten by FabHub and the crew working on his brothers porch roof today.
The second pie is described below and the other recipe I decided to make is in the jars in this picture.

It is called Apple Pie Jam. I haven't tried it yet, but it looks like it may be best used warmed up and on top of pancakes, waffles, ice cream or something like that. I was probably supposed to chop up the apples more than I did, but it looks interesting.
I think I messed up the first batch. I was supposed to boil the Sure-Jell and then add the sugar, but I added everything at once.
The second batch looks thicker, but since everything floated - well apples, sugar, and cinnamon it can't be bad.

The second upside down pie got the special treatment. I decided to not use a Jif pie crust mix like usual since they don't seem to stretch far enough anymore.
I mixed up a nice pie crust the hard way. Shortening, flour, water, and a bunch of work with the pastry blender.
The pie starts with pecans, brown sugar, and butter in the bottom of a pie pan. I put the wax paper under it all to keep that mix from sticking. Then the 'top' pie crust goes on. Remember this is upside down pie.
After I get that all prepared I work on the apples. I would do them first, but they brown so quickly it seems better to get everything else done first.
These are the apples that went into the pie. Two Galas, two Macintosh, and two Jonagold. A nice mix of sweet and tart. Next to them is the peeler waiting to attack.
Here they are losing their peels. The peeler is great, it peels, cores, and slices all in a few cranks.
The only problem with that peeler is that it is really messy to use on the counter top like that. I need a different set up that lets the peels go straight into a bowl or something. Back on the Minnesota farm I remember the apple peeler was clamped to the side of the table and the peels fell straight into a 5 gallon bucket. The pigs got all of those I think. I put these into a freezer bag until I have a big bunch so that I can make apple jelly with them.
Back to the pie making.
After the apples are mixed with sugar and cinnamon they go in the crust. The 'bottom' crust is put on top. This is the worst pie crust sealing job in the world.

After the pie comes out of the oven I pulled off the wax paper.
This pie looks a lot different from the first one.
It is on a flat serving plate, which helps, but since the apples didn't mush it is holding up pretty well. Even with that horrible crust. It tastes pretty good though.
So anyway, that is what I did today instead of running a 5k. How about you?

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Stocking the Shelves

Completed writing on 3 October. My drafts are sitting too long! Oh well.
The last bit of summer has us fixing up the pantry and adding some jars to it. FabHub had planted a Concord Grape vine for his Grandmother when she was living here.
Earlier this summer when he checked those grape is looked like they had blighted. There was nothing but shriveled up fruit on it.
Then a few weeks ago he walked past the vines and they were loaded with fruit. Well, loaded enough to make up a few jars of jelly.
We really didn't need this much jelly, but we didn't have the right set up to make wine this year either. Maybe next time.

In other canning adventures, since my tomatoes blighted due to all the rain this year we didn't have to fool with them, so I got an idea about canning some potatoes. Lots of times I get home from work a little late and don't have time to make them the "right" way, so I end up not making them at all. We share a potato patch with my brother-in-law and our part is waaaaayyy to many potates for us to not eat them, which led to us giving the canned potato a try.I asked around to see if anyone had done it before and found out the in-laws don't like frying the canned potatoes or using them in a potato salad. After thinking about that for a bit it made sense. Because they are basically stored in water the starches will come out of the potato and cloud the water. I figure that when you use the potato without the starchy water the flavor would be changed. When I cooked a test batch I dumped the whole jar in the pot and added another quart of water. They cooked up pretty nicely and there were no complaints. They are a bit "stickier" than regular mashed potatoes, but still real. Since then I have read were some Internet people really liked the canned potatoes fried. So I don't know, maybe we will try that too. I could slice some up and can them that way, just to see what happens. It isn't like we will run out.

Events around the house include our work on remodeling the basement. Since we practically live down here it is about time we did some work to it. Right now the walls are painted block, there is a drop ceiling, and we heat the house entirely with a wood stove. That is not as primitive as it sounds, just really cheap way to have heat - most of the time anyway.

Part of the remodel is insulating the walls and putting up green board drywall to help keep out some of the creeping cool that comes through the blocks. That creeping cool is nice in the summer, but lets the house chill up too quickly in the winter. And in November, just in time for a 12.1% increase in our electric bill, thanks Electric Company, we are also installing a heat pump that will back up the wood stove. We plan on setting it at about 55 degrees in the winter and hope to keep the chill out when the wood stove cools off. Reworking the lights and furniture in the family room end of the basement will make the whole area better all around. The floors will get something done too, but we haven't figured that part out yet.

So the first step of the project is the walls. We started in the pantry by removing every thing and putting up some poly foam on the walls. We didn't add the dry wall in here though. Then we painted the shelves and put them back in the room. Next is figuring out what needs to get stored in this room and what of the "stuff" that was here needs to disappear. So far I have put back in the rest of last year's tomatoes - one reason this year's blight didn't bother me. The remaining green beans, new grape jelly, potatoes, and pork jars - yes, home canned pork. And yes, that is what I thought too the first time I saw it. Turns out to be tasty and a good idea. Anyway, I also added in my Sam's club overstock and all my picnic supplies. Progress will be gradual until we get the heat pump installed and then it should get really messy around here. I am sure to share pictures as we go.

When my mom came back from visiting her new grandson, Garrett and his parents (hi Kim and Steve), she brought me some apples that she had picked up somewhere. They weren't pie apples, but I used them in a pie anyway. Mom has also supplied me very nicely with Georgia Pecans, so I found a recipe called Upside Down Apple Pecan Pie in order to use both of them.
Looks kind of odd doesn't it. This is what it looks like when it comes out of the oven.
I need to use a different crust though. This is a Jif box, which don't seem to be big enough for two crust pies anymore. Looks like I will have to start mixing my own.
This is what it looks like when you flip it over.
I should use a flat serving dish instead of a wide shallow pie dish then it wouldn't have shown so much edge.
This is what it looks like after FabHub and I have the first pieces.
Very tasty. I will use pie apples next time though. The ones I used were to soft and kind of let the pie sink in.
So that is my latest adventure. Next up - more apples. I got a wild hair the other day and decided to buy a bunch of apples at the Farmer's Market. Actually paid a bit more per pound than any of the grocery store prices, but I like to support the locals when I can. I didn't know how many I needed to make up some jars for winter baking, so 15 pounds didn't turn out to be a lot of apples, but as long as the apple man didn't give me any bad ones I might go back for more next weekend. As for now, I need to go bake up a pie for the guys - they are building a new porch roof to replace the one that got blown off in February 2009. Check out the blog pictures, 'Catching Up Again 21 February' if you haven't seen them before. Really wild what the wind can do.

Friday, September 25, 2009

Out of Order

Looking for a new post? I added a lost post from the 18th of August below the End of the Midwest Adventure. The date wouldn't change and I didn't want to start over. Enjoy!

Friday, August 28, 2009

End of the Midwest Adventure

I am finally catching up on my last post of vacation, the book needed an ending or I might have let it go.
This should have been posted about the 23rd of July - so only a bit more than a month late! Hey we have been busy - ok not so much. Facebook junk takes way too much time out of my available Blog posting time. I think the farms, farkle, and the mafia are going to have to do without me for a while. Right after I harvest the crops and water the flowers, try and get the top score for the week - I still hold the "All Time" record, and try to figure out the purpose of the gangster routines.
Maybe I can get the new cow pictures blogged over the weekend and get my "My Points" account straightened out. Neglecting that account is really sad, it actually pays for itself!
So on with the end of the Great Midwest Adventure!!
Our last few days on vacation were spent in Georgia. Mom figured out how she was going to get her new car (post from 22 July) so that part was done. So our next stop was a new favorite restaurant. Very traditional type of Italian cooking - to us non-Italians anyway. It was delicious and we will go back.

This is a metal flower outside of one of the stores nearby. Seems simple to make. Just have to find the right materials.

There is more to see in Mom's neighborhood, but I have posted most of those things in previous posts. There is the pig on the roof of the BBQ place and the double cannon by the court house. We didn't go back to those, been there done that. We did go see the new Harry Potter movie - the first day time showing in the theater.

My review - The movie left me hanging at the end just like the book did plus they skipped a bunch of stuff. I hope you read it before seeing the movie or some things probably didn't make sense.

On our way out of town on our way home we stopped at Jittery Joe's to pick up a coffee to go.

We used to go here for our Internet fix while at Mom's, but now we have wireless at her house so we still get Joe's coffee, but spend less time.

Some amazing and fun things that we saw along I85 start with this secure but crazy load.Not exactly sure this is legal, but it was sure worth the picture. That is a small SUV pulling a converted double axeled flatbed of some sort. It didn't look right even if it was legal.

Then I finally caught our favorite billboard in a picture.
There are about five Donate Your Boat signs along the road. Kind of hard to catch in the wild though. They were sneaking up on me along the edge of the road.

Then finally after 21 days, 15 states, two countries, and 4,000 miles we were back home again.

Wild and Wonderful West Virginia.

What we found in our yard was just as Wild and Wonderful.

The garden wasn't in too bad of shape, though it hadn't grown much.
By the time the weekend was over everything was mowed and weeded and looking like we had never left. It was a great vacation for both of us. Lots of adventures and crazy stuff along the road. Our next trip is already in the planning stage. Somewhere north east by car or north west by train. Or maybe we will run across something even more fun. The only thing we know for sure is that life will take us somewhere. It always does.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Lost Farm stuff

I need to check my own blog every so often. I thought I had posted this already and was going to work on a new one. I found these pictures all ready to go, they just need some text. So I will set it up for you.
Some of you know that I live in the woods of West Virginia. FabHub and I have owned this piece of dirt since 1993. In all that time we have not had a Real street address. I posted previously that road signs showed up one day. Well, one day a short while ago I added a number on the house. When you order something online the shipping address needs a number to go along with that road name. So we made one up.
It just so happens to match our PO Box number. We tested out the address when my uncle sent me a package. It worked just fine!

We got access to a bunch of acres for the cows to graze on so that allowed us to add a couple of head to the herd. I like Red Angus, so Billy surprised me one day and said lets go to the market and see what is available. This is my new heifer, her name is Apple. I picked her out from a small group of mixed up girls that were there that day. She is beautiful - as heifers go anyway.

There was another red cow at that market. She was about 2 months pregnant and a little wild to say the least. She came into the show ring and ran all the men out. Good cow! With that attitude not too many people were willing to bid on her, Billy jumped on the chance and bought her.
She didn't show so much white from the show ring stands. She is here now though and for very good reasons her name is Raspberry. I am not really claiming her until we see what kind of calf she has. If it is a good calf and she is a good mom, she might stay. If not, we will at least get our money back when we sell the two of them next year.

This is my other Red Angus. Her name is Cherry. She has good black babies who have helped pay for a few things around the farm.
She lost her calf this year though. We don't know why for sure. Could have been a lot of things. We got a new bull that is a Gelbvieh/Angus actually called a Balancer because of the crossbreeding. Because Cherry lost her calf she is the first one who should be having one of his calves. We are looking forward to the delivery in January I think.

Now, all this cow talk about the different kinds we have running around here might have you wondering why I talk about the differences.
Here you see Raspberry, Cherry, and one of FabHub's cows. Raspberry doesn't quite fit in with the crowd out here. We also have no idea what type of bull she was bred to. She might have a Holstein calf for all we know. I will share when the mystery is solved.

Apple on the other hand, fits in pretty well with her new crowd.
The girls are all about the same size spending their growing days away from the bull for a while yet.

Enough cows.
One day I went walking on that new piece of property to see what was out there and evaluate it for my fall runs. It is a lot flatter than most of my other trails so it might get some use if it ever stops raining.
I found something odd on that trip. An electric tree.
Looks to me like the squirrels in this part of the country really know how to live! The wires seem to string over the hill to the land owners house. Maybe he gets an itch to get away sometimes. Si he pitches a tent on the hill and plugs in the TV, there is a TV cable strung up too. I don't know, but it is kinds of a funny thing to find in the woods.
That is all for now. Next up - baking and canning adventures. My life is so - farmmy sometimes.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009


Finally - since we got back it has been GO GO GO. First my ISP wouldn't let me access Blogger, so I emailed them and magically it started working. Then I had to start working again. Then we had some relatives come in from PA and NY. Then I thought I would get my posts updated.

As a recap, on July 11th we were visiting in Missouri. July 12th and 13th were supposed to be spent working our way home with the original plan including going by way of Kentucky. That change when due to a request by my mom after traveling to Ohio, Ontaria, Michigan, Wisconsin, Minnesota, Iowa, and Missouri - we were now headed to Georgia. That meant adding Arkansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Georgia, South Carolina, North Carolina, and Virginia to our trip. Try that one on your odometer for size.

See what happened was, the whole family was up in Iowa and Mom got to thinking it would be nice to have her new car before she drives (instead of flying this time) back up there to meet her Grandson after he is born. She also thought that having some help figuring out what kind of car to buy. Since we didn’t really have anything scheduled other than meandering our way back home, why not go to Georgia and see what we could figure out.
Then FabHub says, how long would it take to go through Louisiana on our way?
He said, well, I have never been there and if it isn’t too far out of the way…
I said, HA! Yes it is out of the way!

But then we decided why not?!
So – on July 12th we headed down the road. Did you know you can follow US 65 from Iowa all the way to Louisiana? It is a very nice drive with a lot of it updated to four-lane highway.

The rolling hills of southern Missouri reminded us of home, but at about half the elevation.

Our first stop was for lunch in Ozark, Missouri at Lambert’s CafĂ© - Home of Throwed Rolls! The place is a lot of fun and there is plenty to eat. There were a whole bunch of people there for lunch already when we got there at 11:00.

They had the sidewalk painted all over the place with happiness.

Lambert's has staff walking around offering to throw rolls at you and then someone comes by with some sorghum molasses for the rolls. There are staff members offering deep fried okra as sort of an appetizer, then your food comes and what you ordered comes in a huge portion. That isn’t all of it, there are more staff offering what they call “pass arounds”, fried potatoes and onions, macaroni and tomatoes, and black eyed peas. Way too much to eat again, but the experience was fun!

Further on down the road, probably in Arkansas, we found a forked John Deere.

And other tractors with more traditional life going on, but on the highway?
Gotta love farm country.
That night we stayed in Conway, Arkansas – hometown as we discovered of American Idol Season 8 winner Kris Allen. Nope didn’t see him, just the flag.
We also saw this Toad Suck Daze mural.
The next day we decided to drive until we had to stop or got to Mom’s.

We knew we were in forgein country when we saw this contraption.

Seems to be storage or processing for something we don't grow inWest Virginia.

We stopped for lunch in Transylvania, Louisiana, population about 740 and one eye catching water tower.
There isn’t much to the town, just a few buildings along the side of US 65. The general store has a few bat related items for sale to crazy tourists and is also a small diner that when we stopped seemed to be the place for the local farmers to get their noon dinner.

And for anyone unsure about the use of dinner being the noon meal. We had a conversation in Iowa where my sister reminded us of the old days. In the farm country that I grew up in the work day’s meals are lined out as follows:
Breakfast (early), Lunch (9am), Dinner (12), Lunch (3pm), Supper (late), Snack (after dark)
It seems to be the same in northern Louisiana – a man in the diner told a boy to finish his dinner so they could get going. The boy really looked like his day had gone on way to long already. We all forget as kids how easy we have it in school until it is summer time and the work needs to get done.
Driving through Mississippi went pretty fast. If we had been wandering we would have seen more, but as it was we drove straight through on the Interstate, which meant the only somewhat odd thing that I got a picture of was Wood Coliseum on the campus of Mississippi College.

And that isn't really very odd at all.

Now in Birmingham, Alabama we found something odd.

This is Vulcan.
He was built in 1904 for the St. Louis World's Fair to advertise Alabama and the capabilities of the industries in Birmingham. Vulcan stands 56 feet tall, from toe to spear point, upon a 124-foot pedestal rising to a height of 180 feet and weighs 101,200 pounds. Vulcan is the largest cast iron statue in the world and the largest metal statue ever made in the United States.

After the World's Fair the statue was set up in the Alabama State Fair grounds for many years. Then he was moved to the current location, but that site has been reworked over time until it's current layout was completed in 1999. In the above photo you can see a tower behind Vulcan's tower - that is an elevator which takes people up to an observation tower. There are also stairs inside Vulcan's tower.

FabHub decided to do a little posing at the foot of that tower. He is a super hero! All teachers should be considered heros for the work they do.
On the other side of Birmingham is another statue. Her name is Liberty, but she has a slightly different message. "Give us your tired, your poor, your insurance business.

According to a plaque at the site, this bronze replica, one-fifth the size of the Statue of Liberty, was commissioned by Frank Park Samford as the symbol for the company he founded, Liberty National Life Insurance Company. The statue was cast in Sommerville Haut Marine, France, in 1956 and was placed atop Liberty National's home office building in downtown Birmingham and then moved to its present location and dedicated on July 4, 1989.

She does take a beautiful picture.
After leaving Birgmingham we drove all the way to Mom's in Georgia. It was a long day, but we really didn't start getting tired until the last hour or so.
The next day we went with her to the Toyota dealer where she decided that the RAV4 was definately her choice of vehicle. Unfortunately they wanted a bit more than we all thought was necessary so we left, but not before realizing that the Cash for Clunkers program would be starting in a week. She ended up using her Windstar in that program to get her new car and has since traveled to Iowa. She is pretty happy with it.