I start this on Wednesday, January 14. We are gradually working our way out of "The Deep Freeze" that we've been having lately. Oh, I know the weather people are just going on and on about how cold it has been here, as if this ISN'T January, as if this HASN'T happened before. I mean, what do they expect of northeastern Oklahoma in January? Frankly, this year, so far, has been better than previous years. Usually we have a big ol' ice storm in early January that damages our trees and people are always going out there and falling down, as if there's NOT ice on the ground. I mean, at least put on some boots with treads or maybe slip on some Yak Traks or something. If I was dumb enough to go out on the ice in my Crocs, I'd be falling down too. Sheesh.
But I digress.
The last few winters, we've had more snow than is usual for us. In years before that, we might've had snow that fell and melted soon after. It is unusual for us to have snow on the ground that's fit to make a good snowman with, and even more unusual for us to get a second snowfall on top of the first one. But that happened last winter and the winter before. I mean, I've seen that before, OK? We lived in northern Indiana for ten years and that was just about ten winters too long for me. So no matter what the "experts" say, this winter, so far, has not really been all that bad in Oklahoma, considering all.
It does, however, tend to keep me inside, and I'm getting pretty bored with that. Looking forward to being able to get out for more than just burying the contents of my compost bucket in the garden. There is so much clean-up to do. Winter came so soon last fall.
The field to the north of us has been sold. The other day we saw what looked like a perc test being done (for a septic system), and yesterday the surveyors were out.
The line between us and them is marked right where it's supposed to be, so no worries about that. There's always the off chance that they'll read things wrong and tell you your something-or-other is on your neighbor's land, then you're looking at digging out your survey and probably ending up having to have someone mediate, and it can be a mess. Late in the day yesterday, we watched from our window as a white pick-up came and parked on the edge of the land, and then a black pick-up came, and two couples got out of them into the cold and stood there and talked to each other, waving their arms, pointing, that sort of thing. We assume one of the couples will be our new neighbors. They'll either build or pull a mobile home onto the lot, time will tell. It will be interesting to see how quickly they get their septic system in. When we replaced ours, they kept pushing our start date ahead every time they had an emergency job. We weren't having any back-ups into the house and so those that were, were a health issue, and the situation demanded that they go ahead of us. Since they aren't even living there yet, I imagine that will happen to them, too. But, again, time will tell. If they bring in a mobile home, (oh, OK, call it a "modular home" if you want to, I don't care), Hubs doesn't think they'll be able to make the turn at the corner. If they build, they'll have to blast to put in the footings, as it's nearly all rock in that field. And we thought WE baked over here, when we first moved in. I mean, the only trees they have on that lot are a few little scrubby Hackberry trees that came up around where the water meter is, and a few red cedar on their east end.
We tried to buy that field when we bought this place. But, at the time, the owner was not ready to sell. She said she hoped to be able to build there one day. She added that she was afraid of tornadoes and she would be having a basement and I laughed and said, "You'll have to blast". But, as it turned out, she decided she'd rather have the money the sale of the field would bring, so she could travel, and she priced it a lot higher than we thought it was worth. Not that we would've bought it, anyway, because we decided quite some time ago that this place is almost more than we can take care of as it is. We don't really need another two acres to mow. Some of our neighbors toyed with buying the land, and they said they thought it was priced reasonably, so I thought maybe one of them had bought it for awhile, since it sold pretty quickly. It's not uncommon for someone that already lives here to buy up a piece of land, just to keep anyone from building on it.
I admit, I've gotten pretty comfortable with that lot being empty but you know how it is with life. The only thing that stays the same is that things change. I know one of our neighbors is concerned about the water pressure. Our "North Fourth" is between their property and our house so I don't envision them being close enough to us to be a problem. Of course every time you get new neighbors you worry about what kind of people they'll be. I'm sure all our neighbors were a little scared to see us move in. We didn't rent a moving van, we just moved with pick-up trucks and flat-bed trailers and we must've looked like The Clampitts. I wasn't sitting in a rocker on the trailer or anything but if I had thought of it I might have, just to see how many gasps I could hear. So maybe these new folks won't be any worse than we are. Heh.
Today is the first time it's been warm enough to get outside in just days and days. I burned trash and some brush this morning. Noticed the rabbits had nibbled my gooseberry bush almost all the way through the main stem. They didn't bother the other ones, they are brambles and probably too hard to get to the main stem(s). I got those from June. But this one is a different variety and it's more upright. I bought it a few years ago at the Garden Club plant sale. So far I've seen no fruit from either kind but the ones that June gave me bloomed last year. It was just that hard freeze we got nipped them as it nipped nearly everything else. I sprayed black paint on the gooseberry plant's trunk and put a little cage around it. Maybe the new folks will have a dog that likes to hunt rabbits. That would be wonderful. I know Joe's dogs, and Jay's dogs, hunt. But I don't know if they're fast enough for rabbits. We have a real abundance of them, and they are not very afraid. They hop out about 10 feet away from you and wait for you to take the next step. I know how to bark like a Jack Russell and that makes them tear out of the yard and 'way down the field. Hubs just thinks that's hilarious. Hey, I don't care how I get there, just as long as I go.
I guess I should update you on how the "New Veggies From Old" experiment has been going. I am getting somewhere with the celery and the onions. But nowhere with the carrots. They just make ferns for awhile and then the carrot top that's in the ground rots. I can't say I'm surprised about the carrots, but I AM surprised about the onions and the celery!
This is now Friday, it's going to be a beautiful day later on, supposed to get up to 64º today. Woo Hoo!
Hubs and I went to Tulsa for another follow-up appointment with the retinal specialist on Thursday. I've gained three lines on the vision chart and Dr. Tom says I'm doing great. Complete regrowth of the membrane in the retina takes 3 or 4 months and I'm about 6 weeks in, so I'm hopeful that I'll regain more acuity as that time passes. We went to Cracker Barrel for lunch, stopped at Sam's for a few things, and then got the last few things I had on my list at Walgreen's when we got back into town. I did buy some Prilosec, because both Jane and June told me they've had good results with it for acid reflux. I found a store brand and so the price wasn't too bad.
Carole sent me THIS link for a cool tip on how to drip irrigate your plants. I've tried putting soda bottles upside-down but they create a vacuum and don't work very well. This looks like it might work, but the bottle would have to be buried when the plant was put in the ground. Be sure to read the comments on the article, as there are some good tips.
I checked the last of the seeds in coffee filters this morning. Mold is starting to grow on the coffee filters. This is probably not good. The Angelica and St. John's Wort seeds have germinated but they are oh, so tiny! I used care in planting them in a pot and then slipped it into an open plastic bag, but OMG, I don't know if they'll survive. I also had a bunch of Salsify seed in a filter. Those are big seed, but are from last year, I've heard Salsify seeds don't stay viable very long. Because of the mold issue, I went ahead and planted those in a pot of soil as well. The only sign of possible germination was that the seeds were a bit swollen, and that might've just been the effect of the moisture. We'll see how it all goes.
The Tyfon has grown too tall for it's place under the lights. I didn't see any reason not to trim the bigger leaves off, since it's greens and all. I'll just eat them today. Not sure I'm crazy about the "weedy" flavor.
And now it's Saturday....
I did get out into the garden yesterday. I dug out the broccoli stalks, half a trash barrel of Bermuda roots (would've been more but some of the ground is still frozen), and broke off some of the dry asparagus ferns. Some have berries on them that I want the birds to be able to enjoy, so I left those there. I have a burn-barrel full and then some, especially since I had pruned the pear tree last fall and I hadn't carried those around till today. I got tired pretty quickly, oh, how fast the old bod gets lazy, and I didn't want to be "all stove up", as my parents used to say, the next day so I wasn't out long. It wasn't nice enough to sit out on the patio. Today is expected to be another nice day and I think I will try to prepare the raised bed outside my office back door to be used as a cold frame. I think I have a good idea but it requires buying some lumber, so we'll go to Lowe's today. I need some more Volck Oil Dormant Spray for the fruit trees, anyway, and can probably find some there.
I got another good tip from Carole that I thought I'd share with you. She has a greenhouse and now and then gets whiteflies in her plants. I do too, sometimes, in the plants on my light tables. She buys those sticky traps like THESE . As I post this, the price is $14 and free postage for a pack of 15 (as I understand it, each is a 4" x 7" trap that reverse folds to expose 4" x 14" yellow sticky area). This particular brand has gotten some pretty good reviews and if you're interested I recommend you read as many of the reviews as you have time for because there are some good tips. Lots of people were cutting the pieces into strips for use on houseplants and that makes what's in the package go a long, long, way. I think I'm going to order some.
I really enjoy Sue and Myrna's blog, "The Iowa Housewife" (there's a link on my sidebar). They have some great recipes. Most recently there's been one for crumb crusts and that reminded me that I have recipes for graham crackers and other things you can crush for a crumb crust, so I thought I'd share those this time. Check out the recipe Myrna posted on December 30 for cheddar crackers, too. I might just give those a try on the next wintry day. Crackers and simple cookies are sooooo dang expensive, considering that they cost so little to make from scratch and are not hard to make.
Makes 50-56 cookies.
1/2 C powdered sugar
1/3 C sugar
1/3 C shortening
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/8 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 C cake flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 tablespoon water
Preheat oven to 325 °. Cream together sugars, shortening, egg, vanilla, and salt in a large bowl. Add the the flour and baking powder. Add 1 tablespoon of water and continue mixing until dough forms a ball. Roll dough into 3/4-inch balls and flatten slightly onto a lightly greased cookie sheet. Bake for 15-18 minutes or until cookies are light brown.
Chocolate Graham Crackers
These deep chocolate graham crackers are yummy spread with Marshmallow Fluff® and peanut butter; they also make a wonderful crust for chocolate cream pie.
1/2 cup All-Purpose Flour
3/4 cup Whole Wheat Flour
1/2 cup Dutch-process cocoa
1 1/4 cups confectioners' sugar
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 cup butter
2 tablespoons honey
2 tablespoons cold milk
Preheat your oven to 325°. Cut out two sheets of parchment as large as your cookie sheets.
In a medium-sized bowl, whisk together the flours, salt, cocoa, sugar, and baking powder. With a pastry blender, two knives, or your fingertips, cut the butter into the flour mixture until evenly crumbly. In a separate bowl, combine the honey and milk, stirring until the honey dissolves. Add the liquid to the dry ingredients and toss lightly with a fork until the dough comes together. Add additional milk, if necessary.
Turn the dough out onto a well-floured surface and fold it over gently 10 to 12 times, until smooth. Divide the dough in half. Work with half the dough at a time, keeping the remaining dough covered.
Transfer one piece of dough to a piece of parchment. Roll it into a rectangle a bit larger than 10 x 14 inches; the dough will be about 1/16-inch thick. Trim the edges and prick the dough evenly with a dough docker or fork. Repeat with the remaining dough and parchment. Place the rolled-out dough pieces, on their parchment, onto baking sheets.
Bake the crackers for 15 minutes, or until you begin to smell chocolate. Remove them from the oven, and immediately cut them into rectangles with a pizza wheel or knife. Transfer them to a rack to cool. Store the cooled crackers tightly wrapped. Yield: thirty-two 3 1/2 x 2 1/2-inch crackers.
An old Family Circle or Women’s Day recipe from the 1970’s. Really good, even when too thick. Can use in a cookie press. Might work with a ravioli roller. Try sprinkling with cinnamon sugar before baking. Makes 60 1 1/2” by 3” crackers.
2 C. all-purpose flour
1 C. whole-wheat flour
1/3 C. packed brown sugar
1/2C. shortening, at room temperature
1/4 C. honey
3 Tbsp. cold water
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. baking soda
In medium bowl stir all ingredients about 3 minutes to blend well. Divide in half. Place half the dough on ungreased 17x14” baking sheet. Flatten into 4 or 5” square. Roll out on baking sheet to 12x10” rectangle, dusting dough lightly with flour to keep from sticking to rolling pin. With knife, score 2” squares, leaving squares in place. Prick all over with fork. Bake in middle of preheated 425º oven 8-10 minutes or till browned. Remove from oven. Cut apart while hot. Let cool on baking sheet, they crisp as they cool. Repeat with remaining dough.
Well, I think that's all I have for the moment, and I'm burning daylight, so I will get this posted and get on with the day. Hope everyone's safe, well and comfortable, and rocking on. XOXOXOXO