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Anna's Bonne Bouche

Determined to bloom where I am planted, no matter how rocky the soil.

To Remember November

Baby, It’s Cold Outside!

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November’s nearly over and so far we have been blessed with wonderfully mild weather. Where as my northern friends hunker down under blankets of snow and ice, we have been enjoying sunshine with intermittent rain. It has been warm during the day, and cool at night, and has been very pleasent. Not to thumb my nose at my friend’s pain, but we are still walking around in short sleeves and sandals.

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However, the frigid weather my northern friends were enduring finally managed to edge its way to us last week. Freeze warnings prompted us to wrap our outside pipes and move our succulents near the vent of the hot tub.

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We covered the lettuces and radishes with tarps in an effort to keep the frost off of them. We didn’t cover the plants that were either dead, dying or mostly decimated in the latest rampage of destruction by my greedy hens.

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We also covered the herb garden in plastic sheets. I had mixed feelings about it, as none of the herbs I planted in September have grown much. I covered them anyway. I suppose I am just hopeful they will eventually become bigger, more edible plants.

We also covered the hens’ tractor in a big tarp. The wind was picking up, and was quite cold. So we took the opportunity to cover it on 2-1/2 sides, just to keep the wind off of the girls as they roost up at night.

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My chickens are built for this weather. These hens are big bodied and densely feathered, making the cold weather much easier for them to bear than the summer heat. They never roost up in the enclosed part of the tractor, which was specifically built to shelter them. They only go in there to lay eggs or grab a nibble of oyster shell. Otherwise, they roost in the open part or mill around down below.

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So, we just tarped it over to keep that cold wind off of them and help trap some of the warmth in.

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With the cold night looming, I decided to change up their nightly treat by adding some warm, cooked oatmeal to their usual fruit and veggie snack. They acted like they have never eaten before in their lives when I served it to them. Cookie stood over it, gobbling greedily, ready to defend this amazing food from the other girls. I had to chase her off to make her share. I wanted all my girls to have warm, full crops, ready for the freezing night.

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I think it froze for maybe an hour that night, if at all.The next day the Poo-Princesses toddled in the yard, all fluffy, sticking to the sunny spots to forage.They would occasionally take a break to snooze in a warm lap.

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Cookie even cuddled under my sweater for a moment. This was a forced cuddle, however. As you can see by the annoyed expression, she really didn’t want it. It was more of a “time out” for tearing up all my radishes. The sweater wrap was to keep her from pummeling me in her efforts to flap to freedom. She is the top hen and has things to do! “I don’t have time for this time out, Mom.”

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The girls (and plants) made it through the first fall freeze none the worse for wear. The uncovered plants showed no signs of freeze at all. My Poo-Princesses are back to harassing me for my morning coffee and chasing the dogs away to get a peck at the beef knuckle.

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One thing that does suprise me is that there is no decrease in the egg production in these shorter days. In my research I had learned, that as the light decrease so will the amount of eggs. We are still getting two to three every day, maybe it is because we still have 12 hours of sun. To keep them laying regularly, I had thought to rig up a light on a timer for them through the winter months. I have since decided against it.  It is not necessary to add stress to their young bodies, and we are far enough south that it probably won’t be much of a problem in the future.I will let them do what they do naturally.

I really have no need to force them, as they lay so many eggs. I have taken to writing the lay date on them so to not confuse the old eggs with the new. I am hoping to find an egg skelter, and do away with the dating of the eggs. I haven’t found one yet. Maybe I will get one for Christmas. (Hint, hint, my dear husband)

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We have since returned to our warm days. Our flowers are still blooming. I still enjoy sitting on our back porch with my coffee in the mornings, even if I have to don a sweatshirt and slippers. However, by the afternoon we are back to short sleeves and sandals.

So sorry, my northern friends, for your frigid weather and icy roads. Well, maybe I am not too apologetic. This lovely weather comes at a cost of blast furnace summers with raging humidity. So there is that.

Posted from WordPress for Android

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More Tales From the Broken Cookie Jar: Pumpkin Edition

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In a previous article I included a picture of all the Minion pumpkins my mother and I made for Halloween. They were adorable. We received quite a few compliments on them. However, Halloween is over and now we have about 65 pounds of pumpkins to deal with.

As we did not carve them, they are still edible. We felt it would be wasteful to just toss them into the compost, and we try not to waste around here whenever possible.  So we started the day long process of turning Minions into cooked squashes.

First we gave them a hot, soapy bath to wash off the water based paint. Then we cut out the stems then scooped out the pulp and seeds.

I used a colander set in a big bowl to rinse the seeds off in cool water. The pulp would sink, and the seeds floated to the top, making it easy to separate them and wash them.

We saved the seeds, setting them aside to dry. I will add here that you can use paper towels to blot them dry, but it is best not to dry them ON paper towels. The seeds will stick to the paper and you will be spending time plucking stuck, dried seeds off shredding paper towels.  It isn’t fun. Ask me how I know.

After scraping out the innards, I halved the pumpkins and roasted them on a cookie sheet at 350°F for about an hour. They were then cooled, then the cooked pulp was scooped out and put into containers to be frozen. As we have a small oven, I could only do one pumpkin at a time. This took all day and most of the evening.  The end result was about six cups of seeds and about 14 quarts of pulp.

I am not going to lie. By the end of the day I never wanted to see another pumpkin again. The word “pumpkin” gave me a twitch. I dreamed of evil minion pumpkins chasing me that night. It took me a few days to even want to start using the pulpy gold we had made in my cooking.

I did, though, and now I share the first of many pumpkin posts as I put the pumpkin to use in my kitchen.

I will start with the seeds. My family loves crunchy snack stuff. Roasted pumpkin seeds make great additions to trail mixes, tossed in salads, or just eaten by the handful. Some people shell their seeds. You can. I don’t. We eat them shell and all here. I have no patience for shelling. The shells are crunchy and tasty to me anyway. That will stand as my excuse.

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ROASTED PUMPKIN SEEDS

Ingredients:

1-1/2 cups  dry pumpkins seeds
1 tablespoon melted butter
1/2 teaspoon of any of the following (or combination thereof. They are your seeds, eat ’em how ya like. We aren’t judgey here)
Sea salt
seasoned salt
garlic powder
onion powder
taco seasoning
chili powder
parmesan cheese
oregano
basil
cinnamon sugar
Or, whatever you like. Be creative!

Preparation :

Preheat oven to 300°F

In a small mixing bowl, combine seeds, melted butter and seasoning of choice.

Mix until seeds are well coated.

Spread seeds in a single layer on an ungreased baking sheet.

Bake for 45 minutes, stirring occasionally,  until golden brown.

Cool, then store in an airtight container.

Now for the reason you are reading: Pumpkin Cookies

These cookies have a cake-like texture and a pleasantly spicy flavor. The icing is sweet and sticky, also with a spicy flavor.

You can toss half a cup of raisins in with the walnuts, if you like. They will add a little more fruity sweetness, and a nice chewy texture to the soft cookie. Just a suggestion.

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PUMPKIN COOKIES WITH PUMPKIN FROSTING

Ingredients :

1/2 cup butter, softened
1-1/2 cups packed brown sugar
2 eggs
1 cup cooked, mashed pumpkin
1 teaspoon vanilla
2-1/2 cups all-purpose flour
3 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon allspice
1/4 teaspoon ginger
1 cup chopped walnuts
1/2 cup raisins, if desired

Preparation :

In a large mixing bowl, cream together butter and brown sugar. Beat in eggs and pumpkin until light and fluffy. Stir in vanilla.

In a separate bowl, mix together flour, baking powder, salt, cinnamon,  allspice and ginger.

Add dry ingredients to creamed mixture and mix until combined. Add walnuts (and 1/2 cup raisins, if desired) Dough will be very soft.

Spoon out dough onto a greased baking sheet, by rounded teaspoonfuls,  about 2 inches apart.

You can also use a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. This helps keep the bottoms from browning too fast.

Bake at 375°F for 12 to 15 minutes.

Remove from sheet while hot onto a wire rack.

Cool slightly, spoon frosting (recipe below) over cookies while warm, then allow to cool completely.

SPICY PUMPKIN FROSTING

Ingredients:
1-1/2 cups sifted powdered sugar
2 tablespoons softened butter
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon allspice
3 tablespoons mashed, cooked pumpkin

Preparation :

Mix together all ingredients in a medium mixing bowl until well combined and and smooth glaze forms.

Spoon over warm cookies.

ENJOY!

There will be more pumpkin recipes coming soon! We have to use all this pumpkin somehow, and I am happy to share it with you.

Until the next time, dear readers, Happy Fall!

Posted from WordPress for Android

Rocky Soil

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It seems that every time I turn around someone is proclaiming the end of the world is nigh.  I look at social media, turn on the radio or tv, or read the news there is yet another example of ringing the warning bell.  Anxiety is high, and fear, anger and uncertainty hang thick in the air.

I am late on my self-imposed deadline for this post. As a new blogger, I try to keep a schedule for new content that is achievable within my life,  while still sharing regularly. In light of recent events I felt a bit remiss in posting another fluffy article about my garden, as I had planned.

I have been fretting on what I should write about, given my current thoughts about the world. I have rewritten this article several times. It has been full of stops and starts, coming out as scattered as my thoughts. I have nothing fresh  to add to the current political conversation.  I have no answers or insights on how to make things better. Still, I feel the need to express my own thoughts, for whatever they might be worth.

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There have always been storms.

I cannot remember a time when the world was not in conflict. In the whole of my life,  not a day has gone by where there hasn’t been someone, somewhere, who was willing to do a bad thing, and then justify it with what they feel are good reasons. From the small white lie, to the larger acts of death and destruction,  people have been doing the wrong thing for those “right reasons” since… well, always.

If it isn’t the human race out to get us all, it is nature. Hurricanes, tsunamis, disease, earthquakes, famine, poisonous creatures and plants amongst countless others, all pose a threat to this delicate thing called life.  It’s been this way since… well, you get the point.

Nobody is getting out of here alive. That is the only guarantee we have on this Earth. That, and change.
This is the rocky soil in which we are planted.

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The season here acts as a good metaphor for this change. The old falls away, making room for the new. The world prepares for the bitterness of winter, which looms not so far off in the distance. There is an ugliness that comes with the encroaching darkness, an uncertainty that comes with the cold, but there is also beauty.

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We mourn the loss of life.  Death is ugly and final. It also makes a way for new life. Like mushrooms spring up from the roots of a tree killed by the summer rain and heat.

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The dying vine still can yield a final gift of fruit.

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Although we can wish for our lives to be easy and perfect, adversity is ever present. The world has always been survival of the fittest. It is not always “right”, but it is what it is. Adversity either makes us stronger, or it wilts us.

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We will always experience losses. We will lose things, and people, in life. Either through our own choices, those choices that others make for us, or through the chaos that makes up the universe. Loss is inevitable.

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Life finds a way, though.
Sometimes life gives back something for what it took.

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Sometimes life can be heavy on the sour, leaving a bitterness in our mouths.

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Life may indeed give us lemons. Big, fist sized lemons, even.  It is up to us to make the lemonade. We must take the sour so we may better appreciate the sweet.

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We must try find the beauty in the world around us. It can be fleeting, leaving us only with the memories of what once was.

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We must appreciate our blessings. In my part of the world we are entering the season in which we are to be thankful for what we have. We absolutely should he grateful.

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A though it is not always what we had planned, or as much as we had wanted, we must enjoy what life does give us. We may not always enjoy such blessings in the future. We must not take for granted that others may have wished for such blessings and had not received them.

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Being prepared for what might happen may give us some measure of comfort as winter approaches. The stocked pantry, the full woodshed,  the hens in the yard, a strong community all bring a sense of security in an insecure world. While we cannot prepare for every storm, we cannot overcome all adversity, we can try and do our best to survive the best way we can. We can adapt to change, or we can resist it.

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I can only try and make the best of our situation. As the warning bells clang and the world fills with noise, I can only try and find my stillness. I can only try and weather the storm. I can only do what I believe to be the right thing for what I believe are the right reasons.

I can only keep looking for the bright side in the darkness.

With that, my dear readers, I will leave you with a recipe for croutons, I hope to fill your house with a warm, comforting smell, and to make the best of something that would be considered failure.
When the world seems so big and full of dark, sometimes it helps for a moment to find the small bright spots.

BRIGHT SIDE CROUTONS

Ingredients :

1 (1 pound) loaf imperfect loaf bread. I used a loaf of oat/wheat bread that fell while baking in the oven. You can also use day old or stale bread.
3 tablespoons melted butter
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon dried parsley flakes
1 teaspoon dried thyme
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon onion powder

Preparation:

Cut loaf into 1/2 inch cubes and place in a large mixing bowl

mix together butter, oil, herbs and seasonings in small bowl

pour butter blend over bread cubes; toss cubes to coat evenly

Spread bread cubes in a single layer over two ungreased cookie sheets

Bake at 250° F for up to 1 hour or until lightly browned and dry, stirring occasionally

Store in an airtight container or plastic bag until ready to use.

Posted from WordPress for Android

Fall Food: Chilly Weather Chili

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The weather teased us with some cooler days this last week. It was a welcome break from the muggy, warm and rainy weather that we have been experiencing lately. Although the shadows are long, the weather has not caught up to the idea that it should be fall here. We are still wearing shorts and t-shirts. We are still walking around with bare feet or sandals. We are still having to use our air conditioning,  as the warm, humid air filtering in our open windows lends the house a fragrance of Eau de Mildew.

However, last week it was actually chilly. We donned long sleeve shirts and long pants. We wore socks, closed shoes and jackets.  We warmed our hands on our coffee mugs as we sat out on our porch in the morning, watching the dogs chase squirrels.  We sat closer to the fire in the evenings and finally, we ate chili for dinner.

Chili is one of my favorite cold weather meals. A steaming bowl of spicy chili takes me back to my childhood. My parents  regularly participated in chili cook-offs, with my sibling and I in tow. They were such fun, and gave us a chance to try something new, like rattlesnake chili. It was quite delicious, even to a picky 10-year-old.

Chili was also a meal my father would regularly fix for us when my mother worked long shifts or went to visit family. Hamburgers with fries, steak and baked potatoes,  chili and crackers were frequent meals at those times, because that was what he liked to eat and liked to cook. We didn’t mind, as we enjoyed them, too.

Now, as an adult, I still enjoy chili. I have been craving the zing of the peppers, the chunky texture of the meat and beans, and the richness of the thick and spicy tomato sauce enveloping it all.  My mouth waters at the thought!  It has just been too warm for it… until last week.

You can bet I jumped at the chance to pull out my ancient  crock-pot and  brew that warming concoction of meat, beans and spices.

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This crock-pot was given to me by my grandfather twenty-five years ago,  and it was used by him  before that. I do have a newer, larger, and prettier crock-pot,  which would probably lend itself better to pictures. It is buried, however, in the black hole that is my storage unit. So we use what we have, and my old, faithful crock-pot has made this recipe many times before. It brings me welcome memories of my beloved Grandpa, who passed away a few years ago, warming my heart even more than the chili warms my belly.

The following recipe can be made in the crock-pot or on the stove top, but for this post I am going with crock-pot.  It can also be made with or without beans. I have heard that true chili has no beans, and while I am a fan of the beans, this brew is just as good without them. I will leave that to your personal tastes.

I am also going to add here that, in my haste, I forgot to take a couple of pictures of my cooking method.  I was also baking cookies and cheesy bread twists while I prepared my chili. I can be a bit absent-minded when I am busy and distracted. I also completely skipped the first step, realizing my mistake once I had all the meat in the pot. I assure you the recipe is sound, though., despite my missteps in demonstrating it for you, my dear readers.

Now on with the yummies.

CHILLY WEATHER CHILI

Ingredients :

4 slices bacon, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
2 medium onions, coarsely chopped
1 clove garlic, minced
1/2 pound lean pork shoulder,  course chili grind
1-1/2 pounds beef chuck roast, course chili grind (this is also good if you use 1 pound beef round roast, cut into 1/2-inch cubes and only 1/2 a pound of the ground beef chuck)
1 (2-1/2 ounce) can chopped green chilies
1 tablespoon hot red chili powder
2 tablespoons mild red chili powder
1 teaspoon Mexican oregano
1-1/2 teaspoons ground cumin
1-1/2 teaspoons salt
2 (6 ounce) cans tomato paste
1-1/2 cups water
1 (15-1/2 ounce) can pinto beans, drained

Preparation :
In a Dutch oven (or in my case, a big wok), over medium heat, fry the bacon. Once the bacon has rendered most of its fat, remove it with a slotted spoon to drain on paper towels

Add the onion to the bacon fat in the pot and cook until soft. Add garlic and cook for 2 minutes more.

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Add pork and beef to the pot. Cook over medium-high heat, stirring occasionally, breaking up any large lumps. Cook until evenly browned. Drain the fat.

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Take cooked meat mixture and remaining ingredients, except for bacon and beans, to the crock pot.

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Mix the ingredients together.

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Cover and cook on low for 4-6 hours.

Add beans and bacon, mix, then cook on high for 1 hour.

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Serve with your choice of condiments.  I enjoy shredded cheese and sour cream with mine. My husband and father like chopped, raw onions with theirs. I know someone who likes theirs over rice or cooked pasta. I also like to serve it with bread twists or saltine crackers.

This can also be made on the stove top. Just follow instructions up to mixing all ingredients together, but the beans and bacon, in the pot. Add 3 cups water instead of the 1-1/2 cup used in the crock pot method. Bring to a boil, then lower heat to a simmer, and cook for 2 hours,  stirring occasionally to prevent sticking. Then add bacon and beans and simmer 1/2 an hour longer.

You might have noticed I did not use any black pepper in my recipe.  I have a nasty allergy to black and white pepper, so I omit it from all my recipes. Feel free to add it to your taste, but the recipe truly doesn’t suffer without it.

I hope you enjoy this chilly weather family favorite at your house as much as we enjoy it in ours. It is very filling and sure to keep you toasty as you go about your fall activities.

Posted from WordPress for Android

I Have Learned: Chickens are Noisy

When I first started researching backyard chickens one of the things I read was that hens are pretty quiet.

Where roosters have their mighty crow, hens just kind of titter and cluck quietly. Little ladies of the lawn, they waddle about, having quiet conversations about tasty treats and the best places to roll in the dirt.

Lies,  I tell you! LIES!

Or maybe it is just my girls.
https://youtu.be/URffZmojgsQ

They squawk loudly when they want out of their tractor in the morning. If they aren’t squawking, they are are running their beaks up and down the chicken wire. It is a bit like prisoners bang their tin cups against the prison bars in movies.

https://youtu.be/39omhePaDSE
When one of them lays an egg, they ALL crow proudly, “We have made eggs! We must now sing the song of our people, so the nice lady will come for them and bring us treats!”

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When I move the coop, they set up a fuss that I am not moving fast enough. Coop moving day means fresh layer ration.  Which somehow must be better than that which is in the feeder currently… and treats.

https://youtu.be/DmOdYN-oKqo

They fuss over the laying box and who gets to use it first.

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I added a second box to ease tensions, but they don’t care. They want the box the other hen is using, because you know, chicken logic.

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They squawk when it’s time to change sides of the yard for grazing.

They fuss when someone is in the workshop for any reason other than treat getting.

They screech when they think someone ate more meal worms than they got themselves.

They sing the eggs song BEFORE they lay an egg, like advanced warning to have the treat ready.

They argue over who gets the middle spot on the roost at night.

They are just loud. 

I am so glad I have forgiving neighbors. Then again, they probably think this is not as bad as the braying donkey about a 1/4 mile up the road. Nearly everyone has a dog here. We have loads of squirrels to bark at, and they have loud conversations with eachother, occasionaly.

It’s all relative,  I suppose.

In the Poo-Princesses’ defense,  they are not always noisy. They do have the quiet conversations while grazing the lawn most of the day. They are quiet in the evenings at roosting time after they have settled the middle spot debate. They coo and purr at me when they want pets. They definitely are not as loud as a rooster. Their occasional commotion doesn’t make me love them any less. I also have heard no complaints from the neighbors, or city.

I would not, after having this experience,  recommend backyard chickens for those living in politely quiet neighborhoods. I certainly wouldn’t recommend sneaking them into neighborhoods ruled by iron fisted HOA’s. If those chickens are anything like mine, you most certainly will get caught. I heard re-homing hens can be difficult in the city. The odds of them ending up in freezer camp, high. 

Not that I am objectionable to freezer camp. However, those who have lovingly raised their little fluff balls as pets might be upset at such a fate. I get it. It’s okay. I kind of feel the same about my own pet hens, but this is a subject for another post.

Yes, chickens are noisy. It is just the way they are. If you decide to bring your own chicks home, for whatever your reason, do some research first. Talk to your neighbors. Find out what your community and municipality rules are regarding the keeping of poultry.  Make it a good experience for everyone by making sure everyone is informed and ready for the occasional chicken outburst and daily egg songs. 

It’s just neighborly, and part of responsible animal husbandry.

It helps, too, if you bribe your neighbors with fresh eggs.

Posted from WordPress for Android

More Tales from the Broken Cookie Jar: Chewy Chocolate Chip Cookies

My family has broken the cookie jar once again. I figured this was the perfect time to post about my favorite cookie, the Chewy Chocolate Chip.

I had worked in private aircraft catering for about ten years. Not to be confused with commercial aircraft. Do not blame me for the soggy sandwich and stale peanuts served on those flights, please!

These were the private flights of company executives, wealthy politicians, celebrities and royalty. These people could afford to eat whatever they wanted. However, the most popular dessert was chocolate chip cookies. They ordered them by the trayful, even requesting frozen balls of cookie dough delivered so they may have freshly baked cookies, warm from the oven, in-flight.  I suppose the love of warm, gooey chocolate chip cookies is fairly universal. A comfort food for the masses.

Today I want to share my favorite of all the chocolate chip cookies I have ever tried. These have an exceptional vanilla flavor, and stay soft and chewy, even after a stay in the jar.

CHEWY CHOCOLATE CHIP COOKIES

Ingredients:

2-1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 (3-1/2 ounce) box instant vanilla pudding
1 cup butter, softened
1/4 cup sugar
3/4 cup brown sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 eggs
1 (12 ounce) package semisweet chocolate chips
1 cup chopped pecans, or walnuts, optional

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In a medium-sized bowl, mix together flour, baking soda and pudding mix. Set aside.

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In a large mixing bowl combine butter, sugar, brown sugar and vanilla. Beat until smooth and creamy.

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Beat in eggs

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Gradually add dry ingredient mixture

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Mix  in chocolate chips and nuts, if desired. Batter will be stiff.

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Roll dough into walnut sized balls and place about 2″ apart on u greased cookie sheets. These cookies don’t have much spread, so give them a little press to slightly flatten them.

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Bake in an oven preheated to 375°F for 9-10 minutes or until browned.

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Let Stand for a minute on cookie sheets, then remove to a wire rack to cool completely.

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ENJOY!
Makes about 4 dozen

I hope.you find these cookies as delicious as we do. These end up breaking the cookie jar more often than any other cookie.  Be prepared to bake these often.

Until the next time the cookie jar breaks, dear readers!

Posted from WordPress for Android

The Curious Case of the Capsicum Caper

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It was a bright and sunny day…

Not the usual way a tale of horror would start, but here we are. It was a beautiful October day, and I had errands to run. My folks had left to meet my sibling for lunch, and I needed to get my car inspected and a tire, that was getting light on the tread, replaced.

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The girls were loose, and the dogs were out in the yard with them. Everyone was getting along so well and it was such a fantastic day, I decided to leave them all out there together. What could go wrong?

What,  indeed.

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I come home, and go out back and check on everyone. Everything seemed fine, until I checked my plants.  One plant was bare, and another… and another… AND ANOTHER.  Four of the five pepper plants were stripped of all their fruits. A total of about 15 peppers missing.

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What happened? I go inside and ask my folks if they happened to harvest the plants. They looked at me like I had three heads. “No. Why would we mess with your plants? ”

Hmmmm…

So, I go back outside.

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Only one plant escaped the heist. Only 6 peppers of the nearly two dozen that were ripening  remain.

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Then I saw the blood trail. It started near my pepper plants, small drops looking like a dog foot, and ended with big, splashy splotches near the back door. All were spaced about three feet apart. The entry mat was covered in blood, but no fur, no body.

I checked Sampson. No blood anywhere or wounds. My folks checked their dog with the same results. I checked the girls. They were also unharmed.

My father was intrigued.  Checking his workshop for anything missing. We thought we found blood on the workshop floor. No tools missing, but this prompted a call to the local police.

I am going to add here that we would not have called the police but for the fact we thought someone had broken into the workshop. I am not one to waste law enforcement’ precious time for $40 worth of peppers.

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Once the officer arrived, he began to search the yard for clues. Cookie wasn’t having this strange human in her yard. She stalked him everywhere, cussing up a storm.  I had to carry her to keep her from harassing the poor man, who was just trying to solve the mystery of the missing peppers,and the bloody workshop.

Alas, there was no solution. The mystery remains unsolved. We find it strange that so many peppers went missing all at once. The officer also thought the “blood” on the workshop floor may have been another substance,like oil or tar.

I have had garden heists happen before. Once someone stole about 5 ten pound bags of pecans I had gathered from our trees. Another time someone stripped all my tomato plants of their ripe fruit during the night. Yet another time birds plucked all my plants of strawberries. Every time is a disappointment.  To work so hard to bring fresh produce to the table, only to have someone or something steal it away makes me a little frustrated.  This is one of the troubles of gardening, though. It happens.

The officer suggested it might have been a deer. Though it is not unheard of, a deer jumping a six-foot fence, it is unlikely.  That and if the dogs had chased the deer to the back porch,  I am certain it would have been and mess. There was nothing smashed or overturned.

The officer also suggested it could have been a raccoon.  In the middle of the day, though?  Also to steal that many peppers? Last I heard, racoons don’t have pockets.

Maybe it was squirrels.  A very concerted effort by a roving gang of hoodlum squirrels.  It would had to be very organized, as the dogs are very serious about the squirrel patrol. Many a squirrel has nearly lost their life setting foot on the fence.

As of this posting, the last plant has been nearly stripped. Only two peppers remain. I am pretty disappointed at this turn of events. It is too late in the season, now, to hope for more buds to develop. My husband suggested we wrap the remaining plant in chicken wire, and we may. Saving those last two peppers has become as point of honor!

This has given me thoughts of how to better protect my plants next year. I have been scouring Pinterest and the Internet for some good ideas on how to do just that.

Until then, I may just pout a bit over the poached peppers, and plot my revenge on the thief.

For now, the Curious Case of the Capsicum Caper will just remain a mystery.

Posted from WordPress for Android

Going Back Over October

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Meme from memegenerator.com

The rains have passed once again, and the weather is back to muggy and warm. October is on the way out, but summertime still tries to linger.

The weather has been cooler; a sign of things to come. It is cool enough for my husband and I to make a trip to our storage to fetch my winter clothes out. By winter clothes I mean closed-toe shoes, long sleeve shirts, a couple light sweaters and a light coat. Winter is a mild season here. Fall is more like “late summer”, with the temperature usually hovering in the  mid-80’s during the day, the  mid-60’s at night. It really is a beautiful time of the year. That is, when it isn’t raining and the mosquitoes aren’t trying to turn us into human juice boxes.

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The fall pot garden is really going now. I realize my mistake of planting some of it far too late. I am hopeful we can coax a harvest from it yet, if the warm weather holds. I really need to thin out my seedlings. I am also bad about this. I almost get sad yanking those poor seed babies from the ground after they fought so hard to reach the sun. It must be done, though, or they will choke eachother out, and there will be no radishes or tower lettuce. The mixed greens I am just letting run wild. Picking out the baby greens for eating will be thinning enough.

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The patio princess tomatoes ripen still. They have such a fantastic flavor. They are dark red and tangy with a little sweetness. I suppose if I saved some back I could actually make some sauces, but they are so nice for fresh eating. We just can’t manage to not stay out of them.

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More tomatoes have been growing. I hope they mature before the weather gets too cold and the days too short, but they just keep on blooming and setting fruit. Maybe I will just have to pickle the green ones.

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There is a lemon tree on our property. It is hearty and full of fruits that we hope to see ripen soon. Last year, my mother saw a harvest of over 150 lemons. The whole neighborhood shared in that bounty.  I had lemons all winter. There are not so many this year. I am sure the heavy rains had something to do with that. It is a healthy tree, though. No sign of blight or pests, just dozens of fist-sized lemons, still green, turning to yellow, but slowly.

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We had some bandits in our yard. A huge mother raccoon and her four baby trash pandas have been making regular visits to our yard. They love to overturn pots, knock over trash cans and scatter garbage all down the driveway.  I believe they have been testing the chicken coop, to no avail. It holds and my girls stay safe.

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We are taking no chances, though. We set a trap, baited with crunchy peanut butter, out by the trash cans. We have caught two of the babies so far. My father takes them far out of the subdivision,  into the National Forest, to release them. We haven’t caught the momma yet. Though I have my suspicion that her big, fluffy backside won’t fit in the trap. She is enormous.

We haven’t seen her, or the other two babies, for the last few days. Maybe the rains keep her away, or maybe she has figured out that it isn’t safe for her little ones over here.  Either way, good riddance. They sure are cute, but we can’t be having all that nonsense over here.

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I just gave Cookie a  flight feather trim on one wing. She is quite adventurous.  She has flown on the coop roof, I am guessing because that is where I set the treats during coop cleaning, you know, so they WON’T get them. She has also flown up on the woodshed roof and to the top of our fence. This concerns us as she has no fear, and the neighbors  have dogs that enjoy chicken, I am sure. So I trimmed the flight feathers on her right wing. Now when she tries to get lift, she gets kind of lop sided. She still can fly low over the yard, just not enough lift to get over the fence… for now.

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Doodle is my sweetest girl. She likes a good petting, though gets nervous when she is picked up. She enjoys sitting in my lap. I have gotten her to make her purr noise a few times as she dozes. Such a cute hen. She is my talker. She can be so noisy and is never quiet, especially if she isn’t getting her way. She can be incredibly loud.

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Jewel just assumes anything in my hands is for her. When I sit with them in the morning, she takes interest in my coffee, or muffin, or whatever. She eats all the time. She knows where the chow is kept, also. Anytime anyone goes into the workshop she is hot on their heels.

According to Jewel, it truly is all about her and her belly all the time. She is a sweet girl, though. Perfectly content to nap in my lap, as long as I keep up the petting. If I stop stroking her back and head, she is off once again to find those tasty treats. She is just an Eating Machine.

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All my girls are laying now.  Cookie is my every day layer. The other two seem to alternate,  but every day for the last week I have collected at least two medium sized eggs from the nest box. Well, except for the rainy days. They couldn’t leave their tractor, and someone laid an egg in the mud. Why? I don’t know. Out of protest maybe.

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Cinder, the small cat, has stopped plotting against his family, but only in exchange for unlimited access to hair ties. He’s obsessed with them. He has stashes all over the house. When I run out of bands for my hair,  I go and find the stashes and gather them back up, only to start the process over again. He can’t stop. He is a hair tie addict and proud of it.

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Sampson tangled with what we think was a copper head snake. He had a bite on his foot, which swole up to the size of a large orange. Poor baby. A vet trip  later the next morning and 18 pills a day for the next week and he is just about good as new. Though he was back to his squirrel chasing the very next day. I guess you can’t keep a good dog down. I am glad he will be ok, we were worried there for a bit.

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Now that the days are growing cooler, we are enjoying spending evenings around the fire pit. The mosquitoes are still pretty awful, but that is what bug spray is for. It is very relaxing sitting out there with an adult beverage, watching the flames and listening to the forest around us. There really are very few better ways to spend an evening. At least, that is what I think.

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Halloween approaches! My mother was bitten by her own Pinterest bug and we spent an afternoon painting little Minion pumpkins for our front porch. They turned out pretty adorable. I am sure they will please the trick-or-treaters  that will soon come to haunt our doorstep for candy.

October is nearly over. Soon the bustle of the Holiday Season will be here. I will have to enjoy these days while they last, as this is my favorite month of the year. Soon my youngest will come to visit and we will enjoy our traditional scary movie marathon and snacks while we pass out the Halloween candy. Good times ahead.

I will have much to be thankful for next month.

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