Thursday, December 30, 2010

December Rain

Usually in our neck of the woods December brings snow, not rain. Well we are in the middle of a good down-pour. Our snow is rapidly disappearing, which is good for the wildlife. I just don't want to know what the roads will be like come tomorrow morning when I am trying to get to work. The temp today has lingered around 34-37F but is predicted to dip to 27 tonight and rapidly decrease from there. Today, as I listen to the rain on the roof, I long for spring and digging in my garden, feeling warmth in the sun again. This too will happen in many months.

Today I helped Scott clean a bunch of the snow off of our roof before it got too water laden. He went on the roof (it is a little too hard for me to get up on the roof as I am still in my walking boot for my tendinitis for one more week) and I was snow blowing the snow that he shoveled down to the decks. It was hard work on our little snow blower as the very heavy snow would pack pretty well as it hit the deck, but I got a lot of it off until I got dowsed with a shovel full of snow from above. :) In all fairness Scott was not aiming.

We were hoping to get some more wood cut also, but Scott didn't get much cut before the rain came down hard and it got to dangerous to cut wood.

Charlie Brown Tree

Upon request, I am posting a picture of our Charlie Brown Christmas tree that my son Adin picked out and that my girls helped decorate. It turned out pretty nice. White pines seem to hold their needles a lot longer than fir trees do. Gotta love the lack of mess to clean up. Hope you enjoy the picture Katie.

Friday, December 10, 2010

Christmas Tree Traditions

Growing up we always had a real Fir tree for our Christmas trees. Our dairy farm was just down the road from a tree farm and the trucks hauling trees would always get stuck and my dad would pull them out. So as a thanks, the owners of the tree farm said that we could pick and cut our own trees for free. It was way cool and I remember running around the massive tree farm with my family trying to find just the right tree. My sister and I would bring extra hats, mittens and scarves to mark trees that we thought were good. I even think that we lost a mitten or two over the years. When the tree farm was sold we weren't able to do that anymore, but we still had great real trees. There is something about that smell that is so special to me.

Over the years I will admit that I have become a Christmas tree snob. I am very picky about what my tree looks like and it has to be pretty much perfect. Once I was out on my own, my decorations became very "natural". No tinsel or colored lights for me. Just white lights, strung popcorn and cranberries. The ornaments were made out of pine cones, sea shells and fabric things. My star is also a really large starfish. Very cool. Once Scott and I got married I got all of my old ornaments from my Mom so things started to morph a bit, but that was fine as it brought back memories of days of old. Now that we have kids they have their special ornaments also and our tree is looking very different, but wonderful.

This year the checkbook is a bit empty so we knew we would not be able to buy a tree like we normally do, so we thought of getting a permit to cut one on county land, but the permit costs money also, so... I decided that this year we will have a "Charlie Brown" Christmas tree and just cut it on our own 20 acres. We have a lot of nice little white pines growing all over, so yesterday Adin and I went in search for our tree. We looked at a few, but it didn't take Adin long to find the one we wanted. It is a beautiful Charlie Brown tree (a bit bigger than Charlie's tree). It was a trick to get the lights on, but the rest looks great. We were selective of the ornaments we put up as there are a lot less branches than a nice fir tree, but as Adin said last night, "It is beautiful Mommy!" and he is right.

If anyone has Christmas tree traditions, please share.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Pumpkin Muffins - All the Craze

I am so glad that my friend Rebekah and I started talking about baking pumpkins and figuring out how to use them, because this pumpkin muffin recipe that I found in our old church cookbook that I got from my Grandmother as a wedding shower gift. My family makes them disappear as fast as I can bake them. They are so yummy. I keep trying to get some extra made and freeze them for quick breakfasts and such, but no such luck. This morning I made a double batch and already they are vanishing. I am glad that everyone likes them. I have also discovered a pumpkin waffle recipe that I want to try soon.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Early Mornings and Apple Sauce

Good Morning to the blogging world. I sit here this morning, a couple hours after my precious little alarm clocks with no snooze buttons woke me, pondering what the winter will bring. My alarm clocks are sitting next to me eating apple sauce and making silly faces. I am hoping that this morning's sun rise is as beautiful as yesterday's.

For anyone who is interested, the acorn bread that I made the other day turned out fabulous. It is a very dark bread, not as dark as Rye, but the girls absolutely love it. Lizzy even calls it Pine Cone bread from time to time. It is pretty funny. I wonder what bread would be like with flower from pine nuts. Hmmm.

Outside it is a balmy -8 and that makes me very thankful for our wonderful outdoor wood stove. Thursday morning we are going out to the back woods and start cutting up more downed wood that we will be able to use for our stove. Thursday I'm going to also head out to the garden that is so nicely tucked in and see if I can wake up a row or two of carrots. Our supply in the house is shrinking and needs replenishing. It may also be a good day for cooking up our last big pumpkin for freezing also. We shall see.

As we get closer to the end of the venison butchering, we are going to try and do some canning of some venison also. Not sure how that is going to turn out, but we sure are going to try. I'm going to barrow my sister-in-law's pressure caner for this project as we can not use my hot water bath caner.

Well work calls for the day, so I best get ready to head out with the kids and go take care of a ton of cute babies. I really do love my job and the best part is the my kids are there and just in the other room.

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Winter Wonderland

There is something so beautiful in the snow laden branches of winter. The delicateness that each snowflake has been placed atop of the previous one. At a distance it looks like just a pile, but up close there is intricacy. In either perspective it is beauty. This is the world that my family is living in. In the opens I would say we have a good 12 inches of snow with some areas of less and some of more depending on how the wind has blown the snow. At night the temp has dropped to -17 degrees F at the coldest so far. I know this is nothing in comparison to my friends living in Alaska and to what the weather will get to as we get into January and February.

Our wood stove has been working hard and what we thought was a lot of wood, really isn't, so back to cutting wood we will be going. Our wood demand will slow down a bit now that we have all 9 of our deer skinned and quartered and are not heating our barn. We have a lot of butchering and grinding ahead of us, but at least we are able to do that in our kitchen. I forget every year how sore my left shoulder gets after all of the grinding to make burger. Yesterday alone I made 31 packages of burger, with each package being a bit more than a pound. My hope is that we will have enough venison to last us until next deer season so we will not have to buy any beef. (big money savings) We also have a couple of geese, a few grouse and a hand full of ducks in the freezer, along with a couple of wild turkey legs left over from Scott's turkey season this past spring.
Now that winter has tucked my garden in with a nice thick quilt of snow until spring's warming sun returns, I am going to try some new adventures. I have this wonderful book "The Encyclopedia of Country Living" by Carla Emery that has inspired me, intrigued me to get crafty and creative and be more daring. This is a fabulous book that can teach you things from gardening to canning, to milking a cow (this I already know) to making candles and everything in between. I am going to try and make my own pasta. Although I do not have a nice little pasta machine, so no macaroni or fun shapes, but I should be able to make good old fashioned noodles if I can get the dough rolled out thin enough. I am 100% Norwegian with Lefsa making in my blood, so I should be able to handle that. There is nothing better than a nice thin piece of Lefsa, my Great Grandpa Odin was the best. But back to pasta (Lefsa can be another day's post)! All you need are a couple of eggs, a pinch of salt and lots of flour. Simple! I may even try some fun colorful noodles such as green (from spinach) and red (from beets) and I wonder if I can even turn some orange from carrots. We shall see. What a great way to get my kids to eat even more veggies, not that they don't already, but veggies are good so what can it hurt.

As technological as this world is getting these days (i.e. all of these blogs and fb and tiny smart phones) there is something comforting in the smell of fresh baked homemade bread. Today I have acorn bread baking. "Acorn?" you may say. Yes, acorn! I received a small vac bag of acorn flour and wild rice flour from a dear friend a couple of years ago and I have substituted acorn flour for wheat flour in one of my bread recipes. In 2 1/2 hours we'll be able to find out how it tastes. I can't even imagine how much work it was to roast and grind enough acorns to hand make this flour. Crazy, and after a year like this of hardly no acorns, the deer and other critters may just be knocking on my door to get a taste of this bread. Hopefully it won't be too hard of a winter on our woodland friends this year. I do kind of cheat when it comes to making bread. When I first started, I did it all by hand, the kneading and mixing and rising. It was great therapy for my hands, but now with 3 kids I have resorted to the bread machine that we received as a wedding present. Much easier and Scott even makes bread from time to time also. Just put in all the ingredients in order, push start and in 3-4 hours you have bread. With all this "getting back to our roots" I know that using a bread machine is "technology" but this way it just leaves me more time to try making pasta and such. At least it is still homemade.

I'll leave today with posting a picture of the beautiful winter sky the other afternoon as I was waiting for Adin to get off the bus from school.