Thursday, November 26, 2009

Pie Line-Up

We're about to head over to my Bro's to gorge on turkey and trimmings.  Can't wait to sink my teeth into these golden beauties baked this morning.  Pecan, brown and crisp, lemon, sweet and sour.  All will be topped with whipped cream that came out of the cow this morning, it doesn't get much better than this.

Accept it does get better, I'll have a niece and nephew home from afar to snuggle. Time to go.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

The Garden is Unphased

You would think by late November there would be some evidence of frost damage but in fact, the vegetable garden is untouched.  You can see the frost blanket snaking around through the paths, we've only used it one night so far.  It's positively lush out there yet, even the peppers and nasturtiums are still going strong.

We've still got a couple of main heads of broccoli to cut and the first we cut a few weeks ago are now putting up nice sized side shoots. Truth is we have way too much food out there for 2 people right now.  Beets, carrots, turnips, chard, collards, broccoli, spinach, lettuce.  I get overwhelmed trying to decide what to have for dinner, and when I'm tired- I confess, I don't always eat my veggies because I don't want to deal with picking and washing and cooking them.  On those nights we have soup or  sauce out of the freezer with spaghetti. I shouldn't complain with people out there not having enough to eat, and I'm not complaining really, just telling it like it is.

With Thanksgiving tomorrow I'm looking forward to a nice big traditional meal with family, and not at my house.  I just made my pie crust to chill over night and prepared the lemons for my Ohio lemon pie.  Zest and insides of two lemons combined with 2 cups of sugar and a teaspoon of salt.  Tomorrow I'll add 4 eggs to complete the filling and bake it in a double crust.  Super tart, super sweet and with fresh whipped cream, man it's heaven.  Going to do a pecan pie as well, the only time of year I allow myself that sinful treat. The family counts on me to be the baker for this holiday and I'm happy to oblige, I enjoy making pies but don't do it unless there are lots of people to help eat them, too fattening to have around the house with just the two of us.

Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday because its all about the food, nothing religious to muck it up.  It was my mom's favorite too and I always feel her presence as we tuck into a spread including many of her traditional favorites, best of all the southern style dressing baked in a cast iron skillet and smothered in gravy. 

I can hardly wait.

Friday, November 20, 2009

Autumn Continues Glorious

It was a spectacular day today with clear blue skies and a temperature of about 65 degrees.  After lots of rainy weather on my free days I was thrilled to have a day perfect for fall chores. We cleaned gutters, raked leaves, mowed the grass -hopefully for the last time.  David planted a few more things- camelias of course- and we basked in the swellness of the day.

I began to organize the garden shed, somehow it always gets junked up no matter how we try to "put things in their places" and in the process gathered an entire pick-up load of used plastic pots that I took to the nursery to recycle.  A testament to the number of things we've put in the ground over the past few years.  Of course, I brought something new home with me, can't go to the nursery in the truck and not come back with a plant right?  Prunus pendula, a weeping cherry, can't wait to get that in and see what it does.

I was still outside at dark-thirty trying to get a bit more raking done by the dim light of the crescent moon and finally had to pack it in.  Fortunately, tomorrow promises to be another stellar day and we are without other obligations so can continue down the endless list of tasks.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Paddling through the fog

We went on the most amazing paddle today, starting out early, about 8, Jordan Lake was not only way out of its banks, so far that we had to launch our boats from the grass and paddle through the woods to get out into the water, the normal launchng beach was about 10 feet under water.  There was also fog, thick fog, shrouding the whole place, if you got more than 100 feet from shore it dissappeared.  We paddled a long way following the shoreline, taking in the incredible atmosphere of being in that mist and staying close enough together not to lose site of one another.

We paddled back into one cove and the water was so high we were able to go way up into the trees and still had several feet of water under our boats, it was strange.   We spotted one mature bald eagle, head and tail bright white even through the thick air.  Then we decided to paddle across to the other side of the arm of the lake we were in which was bizarre, losing all sight of land, quite disorienting and we missed our mark, paddling further than we realized out into another section of the lake, we roamed around for a while, changed our heading a couple of times and finally chose a place where we could pull the boats up onto the land. We clambered onto shore for our ritual paddling breakfast of coffee, pastry and fruit. 

As we sat on the shore the fog finally began to break, first a circle of blue sky above us and gradually the edge of the water began to clear, we watched as the world was revealed again, the sky and light closing in from above and below.  A band of gray remained over the water, slowly shrinking until we could see all the way across the lake and realize where we actually were.  Our fearless leader was pretty accurate in his guess of our location, but I was completely disoriented and thought we were in a different branch of the lake all together! 

The paddle back was in the bright sunlight, the water placid accept for occasional ripples from fishing boats passing, herons, gulls and cormorants plied the waters searching for a meal.  By the time we reached the put-in at 1:30, there were lots of folks out enjoying the gorgeous day, the temp was in the low 70's, jet skis appeared and we were glad to have had the lake to ourselves during the foggy morning. We headed home unloaded the boats and gear, ate lunch and took a much deserved nap.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Stormy Days

Its been rainy and seriously windy for days thanks to the passing by of Hurrican Ida along our coast.  Almost all the leaves are now down, only the most stubborn of the big oaks are still holding their reddish brown leaves and the beeches, having gone from gold to a warm brown over the past week, will keep their leaves, gradually getting paler and paler over the winter, dry and rustling in the wind until the new buds push them off in spring. 

Looking out my window I can see the hillside on the other side of the wash again, the ground dappled with the brown of leaves and the green of running cedar poaking through, reaching for the sunlight that now makes it all the way to the ground, clumps of christmas fern rise like deep green fountains.  Trunks of trees now visible, the grandads standing stately.

We saw the first golden-crowned kinglets of the season today, early- outside the bedroom in the cedar snag that is a bird magnet in the mornings.  Flocks of titmice, chickadees, cardinals and chipping sparrows were today joined by the kinglets, a hermit thrush, and pine warblers.  Then outside my office window as I was writing a bit later, the Golden-crowned with their black, white and yellow racing striped heads, were again flitting rapidly from branch to branch or hovering as they snapped up tiny bugs from between the leaves.

Tomorrow promises warm and sun, I'm ready.

Monday, November 9, 2009

Birthday Flowers

I spent the weekend celebrating my birthday.  That included spending Saturday night around a fire with a few friends, drinking much good wine and eating amazing food including homegrown and wild picked mushrooms, chicken wings and pork tenderloin cooked over the coals, baby sweet potatoes roasted with peanut oil and maple syrup, they melted in our mouths, home grown salad too.  I just polished off the last scrumptious piece of chocolate cherry torte that my honey pie baked in honor of my special day. 

We laughed, sang and danced and the resulting hangover didn't keep us from spending yesterday out in the garden.  The day was way too beautiful to stay inside and as its autumn, well, you gardeners know there are things to plant, move, rearrange, dead stuff to cut back, WEEDS.  I planted two new camelias including this one called Sarrel.  It has a mounding habit and I put it in a spot where I hope it will trail down the hill.

I had to share this lovely with you as well- planted last spring, October Affair, it's decadent in its perfection, this photo really doesn't do it justice.

Friday, November 6, 2009

Tucked in for the night

We're expecting the first frost tonight, forecast for 31 degrees which means it could be cooler here. We put out the remay to protect the broccoli, beets, lettuce and peppers.  There are still at least 2 dozen big peppers out there and we hate picking them early when they could have kept on going, so we pulled the blanket over the whole big row.

This bed is looking so lush- I just want to bite into everything, parsley, nasturtiums, turnips, chard, spinach, dill and green onions all such a yummy "eat me" green.  Most of this should be alright with the cold- accept the nasturtiums- which could be laid flat by morning and finished for the season.

A sleeping bee, hoping to stay warm under the cover of this zinnia tonight.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

La Luna

Lately the moon has been just amazing.  We were coming back up from a walk along the creek on Monday evening and as we came across the farm the full moon was rising over the dairy, HUGE and golden.  It stopped us in our tracks.  I just  love the way she looks so big when first coming over the horizon.  I was talking with a Spanish speaking friend about the full moon and the fact that the sun is masculine, el sol, the moon feminine, la luna, seems about right to me, the sun so powerful and full of energy, the moon quieter, more tranquil, moodier. 

The past few nights, the light from her has shone so brightly into my bedroom window that its kept me from sleeping very well, and even this morning as I left early to go to a meeting, their she was, still high and bright in the sky, tonight, coming home after dark, she was rising again over the farm, one corner lopped off, waning.

So much wildlife lately too, I think since the time changed I've been driving in after dark and in the past couple of days I've seen a possum, fox, rabbit and 2 deer just on our drive!  Everyone is cruising around in the moonlight looking for something to eat.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

EGGS: free range vs. cage free

Can you tell which is which? 
The one on the left is "cage free".  I'm not sure what that means- they probably run around in a giant chicken house, but they clearly are not eating what the chickens on the right are eating.  The egg on the right is from the dairy farm chickens that run around the barnyard all day eating bugs and picking through cow poop.  Bright orange with a firm tall white compared to the thin runny white on the cage free egg which obviously sat around in the store for a while.  Sadly the dairy chickens have been being ornery lately- not laying well or laying outside the hen house so their eggs can't be found.  I'm "jonesing" for those rich yellow yolks, the others just can't compare.  I keep threatening to set-up a hen house all my own, but it sounds like too much work.  Maybe next spring....

Monday, November 2, 2009

The Fall Vegetable Parade Continues

The first head of broccoli!  And many more to come, we planted a nine-pack and they are all looking good, I'm glad those on the shadier end of the bed are growing more slowly so they won't all be ready to harvest simultaneously.  This variety should also make side shoots once the main heads are cut, so I hope we'll be picking broccoliettes right up close to Christmas.

Tonight we made soup with chicken broth, broccoli, bok choy, carrots, red peppers and shitake mushrooms all from the garden and seasoned with garlic, ginger and soy, so delicious and easy to prepare.

We were stirred from our slumber at 5:00 this morning by the barking of what we guessed was a fox, rather incessantly, and quite close to the house.  It was so warm yesterday that we had the bedroom window cracked and could really hear the critter.  It stopped eventually and fortunately we were able to fall back to sleep.  Oh those precious hours between the sheets, I hate waking early and not being able to slip back under.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Big-assed horses on the farm!

The NC Percheron Horse Association held their field day at Chapel Hill Creamery yesterday and we wandered over to see what it was all about.  We found teams of massive, powerful and stately horses pulling all manner of farm equipment around the place.

There were sit on plows for one person

others for 2 persons

And some that you walked behind

They were coming and going all around that field turning up the soil and showing off their skills,
geein" and hawin", goin" and woein"

Here is a 3 horse rig dragging a rake across after the plows to smooth things out, actually that's a mule on the left, you can see he's smaller and has tall ears

Then the seeder came along to sow the seed

There were black ones

And white ones

And wagons to tour the visitors around the farm

These big guys really worked up a lather as they were put through their paces and at the end of the day the field was smooth and sown.  I am not a horse person but I really enjoyed seeing these fine animals and their trainers/owners working them.  Everyone out there seemed to be having a real fine time.