Mid January

We’ve settled into mid-January.  The craziness of the holidays is over at home and at work and I can jump into some new ideas and projects.  Since the last time I visited (wrote, blogged, chatted etc), we’ve adopted a couple Muscovy ducks and 5 bunnies.  All are getting along just fine here and I am really happy  for the additions to our little fur family.

I’ve also purchased a small parcel of land that is situated about 2 miles from the house.  This will be the future growing site of Rustic Path Gardens (previously “Bramble Oak”) and I am really looking forward to getting started on cultivating the land over there.

Yesterday and today, I’m not only finishing up some homework for a couple classes, I’m also working on a dilapidated, old quilt that I picked up at a thrift shop.  Very simple and almost primitive in style, it was just sitting on the shelf, begging for a new home.  And, at .90 cents, I couldn’t pass it up.  So, to repair it, I am going to rough edge applique some random squares and shapes onto it.  This is not a process I’ve done before so hopefully, I will not take away (too much) from it’s original character and simply enhance it instead.

A slow and steady process.  I’m a sucker for a good challenge.

 

Drying the Chive Harvest

Today I finished up drying and getting the chives into jars. Everything in the house smells oniony and delicious. I have read that some people do not like to dry their chives because they feel it loses a lot of the flavor but I have to say that has not been my experience. I think it retains the flavor just fine. Anyway – here’s what I did….

Picked a nice bunch of the chives.  Yes… they’ve already bloomed so I also saved the seeds for my Etsy shop.  The plants will just keep on going and send up new growth.  Gave them a nice, stern buzzcut so to speak.

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.Then I rinsed them and laid them out in the dehydrator.  These don’t take very long in my machine…. maybe 6 hours in total.  You know they’re done when they’re crispy-sounding, like straw.

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I purchased a coffee grinder from a 2nd hand store specifically for herbs this year.  I had a mini food processor but it didn’t get the herbs as fine as I liked.  chives3

Here they are all ground up and in a glass jar.  They will keep in my cupboard for a very, very long time.  Some pieces are like fine powder and some are a little bigger.  A little variety is a good thing.  🙂  

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A little extra chives here that I mixed with natural sea-salt.  I supposed I should have just put the salt and the chive bits into the jar and shook it up but I put it all into the coffee grinder and it turned everything (even the salt) into a very fine powder.  Lesson learned…. didn’t exactly want powdered salt but it’ll still work.

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Squash Ginger Cake Recipe

I was going through the freezer the other day and came across some of the acorn squash/pumpkin puree mix that I put in there last fall.  We’ve been craving sweets so I decided to put some of our freezer goodies to good use.  The original recipe was a straight-forward pumpkin bar recipe but of course, I adjusted it to suit what we had on hand.  This is an extremely moist cake with subtle spice and sweet flavor.  

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SQUASH GINGER CAKE RECIPE

4 eggs

1-2/3 C. granulated sugar

1 C. applesauce (I had homemade pear sauce so that is what I used.)  Original recipe calls for cooking oil.

2 C. pureed squash/pumpkin (from the freezer, thawed)  Original recipe calls for 1 can (15oz) solid pack pumpkin

2/3 C. whole wheat flour 

1-1/3 C. all purpose flour 

2 tsp cinnamon

2 tsp. baking powder

1 tsp. baking soda

1/2 tsp. salt

1-2 TB freshly grated ginger (to your taste)  The ginger doesn’t give a huge amount of taste to the cake.  It just gives it a bit of “warmth” on the tongue.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Grease and flour a 13×9 inch baking pan.    

Mix together the eggs, sugar, applesauce, squash and ginger until thoroughly combined and fluffy.  Add the flour, cinnamon, salt, baking powder and baking soda.  Mix well.

Pour into your baking pan.  Bake for approx 35 – 45 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.  Do not overbake… the top should be a nice golden brown.

ICING:

3oz cream cheese

2 C. powdered sugar

1/4 C. butter

1 tsp. vanilla

1-2 TB milk

Mix all ingredients together and spread generously on your cooled cake.  Store in the fridge. 

 

Jamming Cream Cheese Pound Cake Recipe

CreamCheesePoundCakewithStrawberryJamFilling2

 

Jamming Cream Cheese Pound Cake

 

1 (8 oz) package of cream cheese, softened

3 C. granulated sugar

3 sticks butter, softened

6 large eggs

3 C. flour

2 tsp. vanilla

1/2 C.  jam – your choice… I used homemade strawberry/pineapple jam

 

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Grease and flour a large bundt pan.

In large bowl, beat together the cream cheese, sugar, vanilla and butter until fluffy.  Next, add in the flour and eggs alternating them…. a little flour, an egg, a little more flour, etc.  Mix until combined.  Pour 1/2 of the batter into your prepared pan.  Spread your jam over this first layer evenly.  Pour the rest of your batter on top of the jam.  Take a large wooden skewer or a butter knife and cut through the cake in a criss-cross or swirled pattern to distribute the jam a little better.

Bake at 350 degrees for about 25 minutes then lower the heat to 325 and bake for 45-50 minutes longer.   (or until you can test your cake for doneness by inserting a large skewer into the center of the cake and have it come out cleanly)

Cool your cake on a wire rack for about 15-20 minutes then remove to cool completely.

OPTIONAL:

Simple frosting drizzle.  Mix about 1/2 C. powdered sugar and enough water in a bowl to make a thin frosting to drizzle on top of your cooled cake.

 

This is one of our new favorites.  It is extremely rich and very flavorful.  Hubby and I  have become quite the foodies since we both quit smoking so we’re all about trying new foods.  🙂

CreamCheesePoundCakewithStrawberryJamFilling

Busy days of Spring

The busy days of spring have arrived.  Seems like it took forever for winter to leave us this year.  The snow is gone and the temperatures are finally above freezing.  Tulips are getting ready to bloom, the lilacs are full of buds and there are hints of green scattered throughout the woods.

It has been a rough start for us this spring also.  Hubby recently spent almost a week in the hospital after feeling very ill for many weeks. It took some time and he had to see a specialist but he’s been diagnosed with a very rare autoimmune disease call anti-synthetase. syndrome.  He is doing better now and has an amazing positive attitude and a whole new appreciation for so many things in life.  I’ll admit it’s been extremely hard on me as far as acceptance goes but I am working really hard to be the positive person that hubby needs me to be right now.  🙂  

Recently we decided to re-do and expand the gardens in front of the house.  Rain streaming down the driveway during storms and spring melt has been an issue for us since we moved in so we have been creating a dry stream bed to divert the water away from the garage and chicken coop.  Here’s the progress as of this past Monday.

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We’ve been adding more stones and it’s still a work in progress but even without a lot of rocks… it does work.  Today we went foraging for rocks at a property where a very old farmhouse was recently demolished and not only did we find lots of rocks… we scored on plants also!  We’re figuring that the plants are pretty old based on the age of the former house but we found peonies, iris, daylilies and asparagus!  Amazing what you can scrounge up for free with just a little hard work.

Got the veggie garden started also. So far we’ve planted red and white potatoes, peas, onions, carrots and lettuce.  Hopefully I can get back out there to get more in the ground before we get more rain, but we’ll see.  Being back in the dirt these past couple of days has been amazing therapeutic for me and it’s been a God-send considering all the rough stuff we’ve gone through already this spring.  It’s good for hubby too….

I’ve also got to mention this amazing greenhouse that we recently visited and the new additions to our little flock.  Tuesday after picking up these little adorable fluffies…

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we stopped by Cypress Avenue Greenhouse to pick up some new plants for the garden.  Most of the plants are grown right there from seed…  a true local gardening source.  And, super friendly too!  We will definitely be visiting them again.  

 

Macro Monday – Summer Revisited

 

 

 

 

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It’s Macro Monday and I’ve been missing summertime so much, I’ve decided to revisit it.  This little fella is busy pollinating some of my Giant Hyssop flowers.   I’m looking forward to seeing them again this year.

On another note, I’ve opened a new shop on Storenvy.  I sell many of the same items that are currently available in my Etsy Shop  but I’ve also added some of my older items that I no longer create.  I’ve got oodles and oodles of handcrafted jewelry, crocheted and sewn items that are just sitting around longing for a new home.  So far, I’ve added some of my jewelry …. and I’ve DEEPLY discounted it simply because it just needs to go!  Too much stuff, not enough space.  That sort of thing.  So, if you’re looking for some inexpensive handmade jewelry, (or seeds… always seeds ) ,  please visit my new shop.  I’m running a Grand Opening sale too!  I’m offering 25% off your purchase if you use code ‘gosale’ for a limited time.

Thanks for reading – I’ve been rather muddle-minded when it comes to blogging lately and I apologize for my absence.  Hugs to all!  

Oh Fudge!

This year I’ve decided to do a little something extra for Christmas.  Usually, I bake some cookies (which I did) but I’ve been craving fudge lately so fudge we shall have.

I made three different types.  Peanut Butter, Espresso Butterfinger and Turtle.  They’re all pretty darn good but I will have to admit, I’m rather partial to the Espresso Butterfinger.  It is EXTREMELY rich with a strong coffee flavor that is just amazing!  The Peanut Butter Fudge is a recipe that I tweaked just a bit…  rather a scary experience since I’m not a fudge expert but it worked pretty well.  It’s almost got a crumbly consistency in a melt in your mouth kind of way.  The Turtle was a super easy recipe that I also tweaked .  Very gooey and messy to eat but totally worth the lick-off-your-fingers clean up afterwards.

ESPRESSO BUTTERFINGER FUDGE

Espresso Butterfinger Fudge
Espresso Butterfinger FudgeEspresso Butterfinger Fudge

1 stick butter (plus a little extra for greasing the pan)

4 C. sugar

1 (12 oz) can evaporated milk

4 TB instant coffee powder

1 (12 oz) package semi-sweet chocolate chips

30 large marshmallows

3/4 C. crushed butterfinger candy bars

Smear your  9×13-inch pan well with softened butter.    In a large, heavy saucepan, combine butter, sugar, evaporated milk and instant coffee over medium heat until it the butter melts.  Bump up the heat and bring your mixture to a boil for about 10 minutes.  Stir constantly.

Remove the pan from the heat and stir in the chocolate chips and marshmallows until blended.  This will take a few minutes so just be patient and keep stirring until those marshmallows melt.

Pour into your greased pan.  Sprinkle the butterfinger bits evenly over the fudge.  Cool until it sets up – about 3 hours.

Cut into little squares and enjoy.

 

PEANUT BUTTER FUDGE     

Peanut Butter Fudge
Peanut Butter Fudge

3/4 C. butter (plus a little more to grease your pan)

1 C. crunchy peanut butter

4 C. powdered (confectioners) sugar

10 marshmallows

Super easy to make.  First, smear an 8×8 inch pan with butter.  Next, melt the butter and peanut butter over medium heat in a medium sized, heavy pan.  Toss in your 10 marshmallows and stir until melted.  This will take a few minutes, so be patient and don’t rush it.  Carefully add your powdered sugar and stir until combined.  It will be rather thick… kind of like a dough.

Smoosh it into your pan in an even layer.  Cool in the fridge for about 3 hours or until set.

 

HICKORY NUT TURTLE FUDGE

Hickory Nut Turtle Fudge
Hickory Nut Turtle Fudge
Hickory Nut Turtle Fudge
Hickory Nut Turtle Fudge

1 (15oz) can sweetened condensed milk

1 (12 oz) package semi-sweet chocolate chips

1/2 C. white chocolate chips

1/2 – 3/4 C. Hickory nuts (you can also use pecan pieces but we had hickory nuts on hand so this is what I used)

4 TB. caramel sauce (from a jar – like the kind you use on ice cream)

Smear an 8×8 inch pan evenly with softened butter.  Melt chocolate and condensed milk in a medium pan over low heat, stirring constantly until it is smooth and mixed thoroughly.  Add the white chocolate chips and stir until they melt completely.  Mix in the nuts.  Pour into the greased pan.   Drizzle the 4 TB caramel sauce over the fudge and swirl it with a toothpick (back and forth across the top just a couple times) to give it a nice marbled look.  Place in fridge to set up – for about 3-4 hours.