October 30, 2015

Pumpkin Sunday

Last Sunday was Pumpkin Sunday at Westfield.  There were free pumpkins, pumpkin activities and some of us cooked with pumpkin.   I was at the Lockhart farm house, which is interpreted as 1830s.  This means open hearth cooking.  Since there is no oven, all baking is done either in a reflector oven or a dutch oven.

I made 4 dishes.  The first was a pumpkin corn bread from 1878, which I didn't take a photo of.  It was baked in a dutch oven and was either liked or disliked.  I won't try that recipe again. The chickens like the leftovers a lot though!
Pumpkin Pie, The American Frugal Housewife, 1829
I also stewed up some pumpkin.  Mainly, I wanted to talk about how to use a fresh pumpkin for baking and other recipes.   After boiling or baking, you need to strain it.  Unfortunately it was both too busy and the farmhouse didn't have a colander as part of it's equipment, so I didn't get to show it being drained of the excess liquid.  I did talk about it though.

I made a pumpkin pie which I brought home to eat.  The recipe said to cross and chequer it, which was one of those things we don't do to pumpkin pie today.  I used the amounts of spices called for in the recipes.  If I had to do it again, I'd likely add more.  It was tasty, but not nearly as flavourful as I prefer.
Potato Pumpkin, The Virginia Housewife, 1838

I also made a pumpkin stuffed with force meat.  I had to explain over and over again that I was saying force meat and not horse meat, which was kind of funny.   Force meat is a basic mixture for meatballs or meat loaf, made of minced meat, with herbs and sometimes bread crumbs and egg.   I wish I had a photo of this cooked.      It was an easy recipe to cook and the finished product was really pretty.  We ate it for dinner and it was delicious.

Potato pumpkin is a winter squash.  Since we don't grow it around here, I substituted pumpkin.

October 27, 2015

New Girls in the barn

Sometime back in the summer, I'd asked Lisa at Westfield what they were going to do with their chickens during the winter.   While they have a lovely, cozy barn there, since the village is closed for most of the winter, I wondered if they were going to keep them or not.  If not, I was willing to give them a home, since I was down to 2 laying girls and one who was retired and just hanging around.  I was told that someone else had said they wanted them.  We talked for a bit and that was that.  I went home thinking about it and remembered that you could order ready to lay pullets.   A few weeks later, I popped into the feed store and yes, they could still get me some ready to lays, especially because I wanted just 4 of them.  A week and a half later, my new little girls came and all was good.

So a couple of weeks ago, I got an email from Westfield about picking up the chickens.   While it was a bit unexpected, I was pretty happy because really, having 10 young birds in addition to my 3 old birds means that they will produce enough heat to keep warm all winter.   These are the new girls, who arrived on Sunday.  They were fine and calm during the trip home, in a dog crate in the back of my pick up.  They popped out into the new pen as if they did this sort of thing every day.  Yesterday they gave me 6 eggs.  A couple of them came up to say hello and not a single hen showed any signs of stress.  They don't even seem to mind having shavings instead of straw!

 The bottom 2 photos are of my summer girls.  They are a couple of months younger than the new layers.   They have a little more white and some of the lovely bi-coloured feathers.   Between the two little flocks, they should make one handsome larger group of very pretty chooks.

I've been feeding them GMO free food which costs only a couple of dollars more than the regular layer mix.   It has 2% more protein though which has made a huge difference in the birds' condition.  As well, the chook who used to peck her egg open to eat it, has stopped.  Even my old girls have started laying eggs with a nicer shell and a more regular size.  I've very happy with it.

So anyone need farm fresh eggs?

October 20, 2015

A Crazy Week

 Save for 2 cupboards and the drawer fronts, which won't be built until everything else is installed, all the cupboards, face frames and doors are built.   The two corner cupboards will be built later so that the size can be adjusted should everything not quite fit.  Since the man has built these with incredible precision, I mean the doors are fitted with the recommended 1/16th inch and they are inset doors, which look awesome but are harder to get perfect, I cannot imagine how he would need the fudge room.  However, it is his project, not mine, so I am not complaining.   The cupboards are gorgeous!

Because the weather has cooled off substantially, all the face frames and doors are inside for priming.  We are using a grey primer because the bottom cupboards will be a dark barn red.   This will hopefully make for easier painting because reds can be fussy colours.

On Thursday night we had tickets to see Paul Brandt and Dean Brody who were playing in London.   It was an awesome concert.   Dean Brody's band was tight and perfectly timed.  There was even a chain saw involved lol. His set did seem a little short though and as it was a greatest hits type performance, there were a few great songs that were left out.   Paul Brandt and his band were a little looser and there was a bit more connection with the crowd.  They were both great, but I think Paul Brandt stole the show.

    I tried to get a few photos on my phone, but they just show the limitations that I am finding with my older phone camera.  Even though our seats were in the cheap nosebleed section, it was well worth it to see these great Canadian musicians.

Saturday was the Woodstock Fleece Festival.  If you spin, weave, knit, crochet, rug hook, felt or do any sort of fibre art, this is a great place to hang out for a few hours.   I didn't come home with all that much this year but did pre-order a few dyes from Fibre Garden, which I was able to pick up at their booth.  It is so easy to get exactly what I need from them, without paying for the shipping or the gas, and not have to worry that they didn't have enough space to bring what I wanted.

Sunday, I woke up to heavy white skies and this white nonsense!  YUK !  It is way too early for snow.  Luckily it melted before I had to leave for Westfield.   I made a steamed pudding and a beef soup.  It was pretty steady with visitors so I neglected to get photos.   The steamed pudding was a batter pudding from Hanna Glasse.   It was pretty tasty!

I found this funny, little waffle maker on deep discount at the local hardware store.   It is quite small, and heats up in just a couple of minutes.  It only takes 2 or so minutes to cook a batch of 8 mini waffles, which are absolutely perfect for the consumption of real maple syrup.  Gluten free waffles cook up really nicely in this little waffle maker.   It looks like a lot of waffles, but in actuality, there was less waffle batter for this pile of waffles than in one regular sized waffle.  That seems like a win to me!

October 12, 2015


In my mind, thankfulness comes at all times of the year, but it seems right to express it on Thanksgiving, a day dedicated to such thoughts.  
I am thankful not only that we have wood for this winter's heating, but that I was able to pull my own weight in bringing it in.  I loaded wood into the truck, unloaded and stacked this year and it wasn't just a token effort this year.  
 I am thankful that we still have rogue flowers blossoming this time of year, when clearly they shouldn't.  This brave Phlox is one of those in my garden.  Hiding in the back of a messy flower bed, I noticed it in my little walk about the back yard.

I am thankful for being able to take that little walk, with my camera in both hands, not needing a cane or any other walking aid.
 I am thankful that I can have odd pets.  My chickens are definitely in the pet category.  They come running at me as soon as I get out to the yard.  It is pretty cute when I've had only 2 or 3 chickens, but when it is 10, it can be a little daunting if you don't know my cute little girls.  Not only are they personable and funny creatures, but they provide eggs for my family and a few others.

 I am thankful that Canada is a great country to live in and I am always thankful that I was born a citizen of the maple leaf.   This allowed me access to medical procedures which changed my life, giving me back my mobility.  It allows me to live in a place where I can plant rogue flowers, have chickens as pets and stack wood because of a lifestyle choice we made.   It allows us to have a choice and a voice.   Oh Canada, the True North Strong and Free.

October 07, 2015

Just sharing

 I've been taking a bit of a break from washing the new fleece.  Well, I took a few days off from washing.  I've been spinning it up.  It is lovely to spin.  I've processed it several ways including combing, hand carding, drum carding, and flick carding.  My favourite so far has been drum carding the flick carded locks.  Just opening the locks a bit manually, sort of fluffing them out a bit before drum carding is almost as nice.    

I have 2 weaving projects in the works.  One is some woven scarf blanks for a woven shibori dye day that the guild is having and the other is some yardage for a sacque coat or cloak.   However, I am not sure I have quite enough yarn for the latter.   I was sure I had calculated it when purchasing it but now, I am really uncertain that I have enough for the needed yardage.   I had planned a plaid pattern, so running out would indeed be a minor disaster, since I cannot get anymore of this particular yarn.

 We were driving to a nearby city the other day for an appointment and I noticed a roadside stand that said they had cucumbers.  Usually this time of year, it is only hot house cucumbers and a few field cucumbers left.  But I decided that we needed to stop by on our way home.   They had the last of the pickling cucumbers there, so I was able to whip up a batch of relish.  
They also had Russet apples!  Tart, green, with leathery skins, I haven't seen them in several years.  They had only tiny baskets but one came home.  If I could have gotten a much larger basket, I would have made applesauce.  They make the absolutely best applesauce!

 Knitting this beast of a sweater in August and September was very slow, sweaty work.  When it was really warm outside, it was just too uncomfortable to knit more than a few rows at a time.   I seem to be making much better time now that it is cooler outside.   I may have made it a size too large though.   I'm living with it, since I have absolutely no desire to rip it out and start again.  It is supposed to be a generously sized sweater anyway.

This is my son's hobby.   Every once in a while he brings home a shrub, buys some tree seeds or finds a seedling to dig up.   He trims roots, re-pots and prunes.   I daresay soon there will be a forest of Bonsai trees sitting on my deck during the summer and hibernating in the sunporch during the winter.  It is pretty cool though.