Monday, August 30, 2010

Quick Fruit Grunt Recipe

I made this recipe the other day and Sarah told me I couldn't make it any more because it was "too good" and she couldn't resist eating it!  So, I thought I'd post the recipe here for you guys.  I've made this with apples, sour cherries, and peaches.  I haven't tried them, but I think raspberries, blueberries, blackberries, and pineapple chunks might work, too.  I do know that small berries like huckleberries and elderberries do NOT taste good in this recipe.  This recipe is great to make ahead if you have company coming on short notice or for pot lucks.  I most recently made it to feed my uncle and his sons when they stayed by my Dad while fixing his roof that was damaged by the tornado.

Preheat your oven to 350F (176C) and get a 9" x 13" roasting pan.

1 cup butter, melted
1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 cups milk OR 1 cup milk plus 1/2 cup fruit juice
1 heaping tablespoon baking powder
2 quarts fresh fruit, peeled, quartered and tossed in sugar OR 2 quarts canned fruit, drained
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon or mace, optional
Whipped cream or ice cream topping optional

Melt two sticks of butter (1 cup) and pour into pan.  Set aside.  In another bowl sift together 1 1/2 cups of flour, 2 cups of sugar, 1 heaping tablespoon of baking powder, 1/2 teaspoon salt.  Slowly stir in 1 1/2 cups of milk and stir till batter is smooth.  (If you have juice with your fruit, use 1 cup of milk and 1/2 cup of fruit juice.)  Pour batter over butter in pan.  Do NOT stir.  Spoon fruit on top of batter.  Bake one hour. 

Yum . . . .

Farmers Market

We made it to the Farmers Market on Saturday and was it ever nice to be there!  It was so good to say hi to all of the vendors.  We even met new vendors, Mike and Peggy.  It's great to welcome new people to our market.  Diane, our market manager, tries so hard to attract new vendors.  Lara had a good time.  I kept her under our new market canopy, but even so, she still got a little sunburned.  We didn't have much to sell:  potatoes, onions, garlic, sweet corn from Tom's garden, a little dill, three small red cabbages, some green beans and about a pound of peas.  I sold all of the sweet corn, beans, and peas; most of the dill; one red cabbage; and a little of the rest.  I didn't see many of the usual customers, and there wasn't one single FMNP or WIC customer. 


Our Farmers Market Stand

A Day at the Phillips Farmers Market

I took a nap when we got home.  Going to market is a lot of work!

Today I worked in the back yard and the garden boxes.  I transplanted all of the fruit trees I planted earlier this year into the garden boxes to protect them from the loggers.  I'll give them new permanent homes next spring.  Then I thinned the carrots and pulled the peas.  The beans are still producing so I'll give them a little more time before turning them under.  I ate the sole blackberry I found and it was delicious!  I am debating transplanting the grape vines into a garden box for the winter.  And, I will transplant the red and black currants, and take down as much of the forest garden fence as I'm able to get too.  Some of that fence is crushed under downed trees.  The loggers sound like they are making getting close to our property and I want to get as many plants protected as I can before they get here.  That also means I have to get busy and build a gate for the chicken run.  There's no telling how the chickens will react when the loggers get here.

I got the new Hancocks of Paducah catalog today.  I drool over these fabrics!  Sarah told me I should sew pillow cases and sell them.  That's a pretty good idea!  I thought the handkerchiefs were a good idea, and pillow cases are quite useful, too.  Looks like my winter crafting schedule is filling up.  It's a short step from pillow cases to grocery tote bags.  I have a pattern for a quilt that folds up into a pillow that I've been wanting to make for a long time, too. . . .

Boy, I tell you it is suddenly Fall outside.  I woke up the other night to the sound of the wind rustling the tree leaves and I recognized the end of summer.  Sure enough, the leaves are changing color rapidly.  We miraculously made it through August without a hard frost, but I wonder how much longer our garden luck will hold out.  Most of the birds have already flown South.  It's actually kind of eerie not hearing any birds; the woods are so quiet (except for the loggers).  That reminds me, I meant to tell you about how ill I felt before the tornado.  I was super dizzy and there was so much pain in my bones for days before the storm hit that I could hardly stand it.  I even remarked on it on a web site I frequent.  Then, I remember watching the trees snap as the storm hit and thinking the sound was like bones breaking.  And when the storm passed, my dizziness and bone pain was gone.    I felt the same way before the earthquakes in Haiti and Chile.  Makes me wonder if I'm an "earth sensitive", if you want to call it that. 

Have you noticed how clear the skies are lately?  No chemtrails here for a while now.  It's actually taking me a while to get used to seeing the sun shine regularly in a blue sky.  Maybe the bad economy is finally affecting whoever is responsible for making the chemtrails.  Well, they can run but they can't hide is all I have to say.

Tomorrow I'll go out to the field and see how the Indian corn is coming along. 

Talk to you soon!

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Quick Notes

For those of you interested in growing and saving heirloom, open pollinated, and organic seed, this is a really sad time.  Seeds of Change is closing its doors very soon.  Some of my favorite seeds came from them  (Indian Woman Yellow and Pawnee Bush beans). Check out the news story for more details.  I loved this company and hate to see it close.  What a loss!

Also, for those of you who are interested in the Shape of Things to Come reports put out by Clif High over at Half Past Human, Issue 7 is available.  To be read with chamomile tea in hand -- or something stronger. 


There's just something about harvest time that makes you feel good.  Whether it is all the different colors of the vegetables and fruits that you gather, or if it is simply psychological satisfaction with the idea of having a full larder, I don't know.  I do know that harvest time is my favorite time of year.  Then again, maybe it's the moon . . . .

Full Sturgeon Moon

I spent the afternoon scrounging out in the field garden.  It was a lovely day for a change:  not too humid and there was a nice cool breeze out of the north.  I took my time among the rows getting a good look at everything.  I harvested some nice yellow warted crookneck squash and some Early Fortune, Boston Pickling, and one Australian Lemon Cucumber.  There are green tomatoes on the tomato plants, and the leeks are looking good.  Instead of pulling them, I will leave them where they are to over winter and produce seed next year -- the start of a permanent bed of leeks.  The Jerusalem artichokes are looking fine; I've never grown them before so am not sure how or when to harvest.  I'll have to look that up in one of my gardening books.  The Ebeneezer onions left in the onion bed are setting seed but it isn't ripe enough to gather yet.  The cutting celery is gorgeous and so is the bulb fennel.  I am most pleased with the two herb rows.  I'll never start herbs indoors again; they just do so much better direct seeded outdoors.  I am so tempted to harvest leaves and flowers from many of the plants, but I'll wait till next year.  I did cut loads off of the chocolate mint, spearmint, and peppermint and have them drying in the dehydrator.  The house smells SO good.

Yesterday we dug up a row and a half of Tom's potatoes.  What a job!  It was so much harder this year because we couldn't keep up with the weeds because of all the rain. Still, Tom's potatoes were much nicer than mine and his harvest yield is better than mine.  He grew Norland and Kennebecs while I grew Red Cloud and Katahdin.  Still, I'm partial to my spuds because I grew from my own saved seed.  Tom's corn is about where mine is -- a week or so before it's perfect to pick.  That is, if the racoons don't ruin it first; they are having a tasting contest in both of our gardens. 

The onions are cured and I put them in baskets.  I gave Dad a half bushel of onions and a bushel of Red Cloud potatoes.  He can go pick all the corn he wants from Tom's garden.  Speaking of Tom's garden, despite the fact that there is a HUGE red pine in the garden that was downed by the tornado, he counted about 15 Sunshine winter squash still growing.  I figure the deer can't get to the squash because they are under the tree branches so we should be able to harvest them all.  I wish I had some winter squash.  There are loads of flowers on the squash vines that grew, but no fruit.  I only spotted one halfway decent New England Pie Pumpkin in the whole pumpkin patch. 

The good news is that when I went out to work in the garden boxes after supper I discovered that I have LOADS of green beans.  Hurray!  I can take potatoes, onions, shallots, potato onions, bulb fennel, garlic, and green beans to the farmers market.  I told Lara that I will get our supplies together and plan to go to the market on Saturday.  We will see how it goes and then contact Linda Daubner who emailed me about going to the Park Falls farmers market outside the hospital and maybe selling there, too.

I love the way the kitchen looks at harvest time.  It's a comfortable messiness that feels so creative.

What shall we do with the green beans?

 Potato soup or latkes?

Oh, onions with everything!

And there's nothing like fresh eggs.

Of course, fresh food addicts like myself always wind up dealing with sugar fiends --

From Sarah's Torturing Dieters Manual

Ahh, I love it when there's no room on the buffet . . . .

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Rain and Politics

I just can't believe the amount of rain we've been getting.  All day we had thunderstorms and tonight there was flooding in Park Falls where my sister lives.  They are all right, thank goodness.  4" of rain and at least 2" more expected.  Our front lawn is starting to look like a pond.  If I wasn't surrounded by three natural marshes, didn't have 12-15' of good perk beneath the house, and wasn't 1,600' above sea level, I'd be worried.  My biggest fear is that trees weakened by the tornado that blew through here the end of July will fall and cause more damage.  I'm sure our logger is being held up by all the rain, too.  I worry about the people that live along the Flowage though:  The Turtle Flambeau Flowage was created by a dam.  It is an old dam and I can't help but wonder how strong it is and how it is handling all the water.  We are above the dam so if it should fail we would not be affected, but the situation would be disastrous for anyone living below the dam and near the shoreline.  Turtles, snakes, and frogs are even coming up out of the marshes.  The other night there were two little green frogs on Tom's hummingbird feeder!  How they got there is beyond me.  All I can think is that they got sucked up from the marsh by the wind and dropped on the feeder.  Yesterday morning I went to crack Ed's bedroom window open to let in some fresh air and there was a snake on the ledge.  You know me and snakes!  In my haste to shut the window, the snake got pinched in it so I went and got Tom to take care of the matter. . . .

My uncle and some of his sons have been staying at Dad's all week working on repairing the farm house in between the rain spells.  Yesterday I fixed them a big peach cobbler, a big pan of corn bread, and a big pot of chicken and dumplings. I haven't heard any complaints.  It was a busy day because I awoke early and canned a bushel of sweet corn that lost its sweetness before cooking their meal.  In the meantime, I worked on writing a statement I wanted to say at the Mercer Town Meeting about a proposed zoning amendment that OUTRAGEOUSLY wanted to change the current 2 acre limit for ownership of livestock to 35 acres.  People would not be able to divide their property into 2 acre farmettes, and current owners of livestock with less than 35 acres of land (grandfathered in under the amendment) would be obligated to tell potential buyers of their property that they would not be able to own livestock.  This information was based on an editorial I read in The Miner newspaper.  Boy, I was hot under the collar!

I wasn't the only one either.  A number of people showed up at the town meeting and the Town Board members came in back peddling about the amendment.  They had been hearing from townspeople all week. The story is that the Northwest Regional Planning Commission is trying to force ridiculous zoning and other changes throughout northern Wisconsin and is pushing for agricultural land to be in big lots. The amendment, we were told, was their idea.  (Typical agribusiness -- the bigger the better, and Wisconsin is notorious for goosestepping to whatever the Feds and agribusiness wants.  I have been paying attention to the push in the southern part of the state allowing zoning changes for mega dairies to be located, too).   They are also messing around with Forestry land.  All I have to say is that I will not stand for an outside agency telling me what I may or may not do with my land when that land was acquired before the town even existed.  And even if they couldn't do anything to me, I won't stand for the rights of my neighbors being infringed upon by unjust laws.  I won't stand for it. Urban homesteading, back yard gardening, barter and local exchange will be a base of the new economy, and towns have to realize that and support those issues if they want to attract new residents and survive this Depression.   People need to say, "No More".  You back the bully up against the wall, you put your fist in his face, and you tell him to take a hike or else you proceed to bring down the wrath of God on him.  The Town Board got an earful and I think they heard loud and clear what the people thought on the matter.  I am still worried, however, because several people have told me that matters of this nature are frequently passed in small towns on the sly and over the objections of the citizens.  If that happens here, I will get the names of the people responsible and put them on the Internet so that when the revolution starts to take this country back from the Banksters the freedom fighters will know who needs to be paid a visit.

Enough ranting -- I promise to be good.  Talk to you soon!


Tuesday, August 17, 2010

A Few Clear Days

My sister sent me this story and I thought it was good enough to pass on.  If you have open pollinated non-GMO sugar beet seed, you could be very popular!

It's hard to decide what to do each day as there is so much to do! 

Yesterday I worked in the field looking for something to harvest.  A lot of the corn is knocked down from the tornado, but I did get a bushel of sweet corn that was ripe -- the Painted Mountain Indian corn and remaining sweet corn (old seed I'd gotten as a freebie some years ago and wanted to get rid of) have a few weeks to go before they are ready to pick -- some more Yellow Warted Summer Crookneck squash, enough various pickling cucmbers to make one batch of garlic kosher dill pickles, and a paltry handful of Provider green beans and Fava beans.  I still have to wade through the weeds to find the Old Dutch Half-Runner beans.  I'm hoping they escaped the deer.  Alas, for my garden!  There are loads of little New England Pie Pumpkins on the pumpkin vines that are hanging on despite the weather, but I'm not sure there is enough time left in the season for them to mature.  There are a few sweet green peppers that are very small yet, and my okra while growing has no flowers.  My hops bines are loaded with flowers, but the bines are still on the ground from the tornado.  I decided to pick the cabbage, bug chewed as it is, and salvage what I can.  I haven't been able to find anything that says you cannot make sauerkraut with red cabbage, so I think I will give red cabbage sauerkraut a try.  I wish the heads were good enough to sell, but I had to trim so much off each head to reach good leaves that they look pathetic. 

In the evenings I've been working on putting the chicken fence back up.  It was a mess to clear away downed wood and untangle, reshape the crushed chicken wire, and remove it from the broken fence posts, but this evening after supper I managed to finish stapling the wire to all the reinserted posts.  The new fence is much smaller and doesn't include any shade trees in the chicken run.  What the heck -- the chickens never stay inside the coop area as it is unless they sense a predator.  Now I have to build a new gate.  With that much done I feel as if I'm actually making some headway recovering from the storm.

The builders came yesterday and fixed the holes in the roof.  Thank goodness that's done!  

And today while we were in the field digging potatoes, the logger stopped by to let us know that he wants to start the logging on our side of the farm and work his way to my sister's side of the farm instead of the other way around because he didn't realize the extent of the damage to the woods.  You can't even walk in a lot of places let alone get equipment in.  Since we had the heavy duty road ramp built to accommodate logging trucks as part of our eminent domaine settlement when the County raised the road a few years back, Joe (our logger) will use the small meadow (right where Tom's deer plot is that he planted this spring) as a staging area because of easy acces to the ramp and start the logging at that point.  He also told us that as he was going through the woods he came across a bear feeding on two fawns.  Yuck! 

We managed to get three rows of potatoes dug and have three more to go.  Many of the potatoes are small and some plants are rotted.  A lot of plants are gone altogether, victims I suppose of the now demised garden deer.  I'm not sure what a proper yield would be, but we dug three 100' rows and got one full bushel basket per row.  Boy, am I glad I planted those potatoes in big hills because the ground is so wet. 

Here and there among the weeds I can spy some the herbs and flowers I planted.  I'm so glad they are growing!  Before the ground freezes I'd like to build a permanent raised bed box and transplant all of those herbs into it.  If I can't get it done, I'll mark the area with some sticks so it doesn't get accidentally tilled under and make the transplants next spring.  Now that the logger will start sooner than we expected, I have to hustle and transplant all my remaining plants from the forest garden into pots and get them out of harm's way.  I'll have to take down the fence (the one I just finished building) from around the forest garden, too.  Not sure I'll be able to do that though because there is a big "widow maker" tree on top of it. 

Say, I just had a great idea:  I'll over winter the forest garden plants in one of the garden boxes in the back yard.  That will be perfect.

Time to go.  Talk to you soon!

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Good and Bad

The good news is that Lara's doctor appointment went well.  The bad news is that her blood sugar is high.  Being her father's daughter, Lara obsessed with diet restrictions for the whole three hour drive back home.  I had quite the headache! When we see Dr. Arguello at the end of this month, the doctor will probably recheck Lara's blood sugar.  Until then, Lara is unhappily relegated to eating oatmeal with cinnamon for breakfast; she's not a happy camper.

The fun part of the day was when we looked for a store that I heard about and have been wanting to visit.  The store is called Beaver Creek and it sells food in bulk.  It took a bit longer to get to than I thought it would, but now that I've been there, I want to go again!  The store is at 6428 Iron Bridge Road, Athens, WI 54411.  It is a Mennonite store and the whole area must be Mennonites because as I drove down the roads I saw cows and horses in the lush fields of beautiful farms, women driving horse drawn carriages, and on-farm market stands all over managed by women in Mennonite dress.  They are different from the Amish people I've seen; I think they are not as strict, and I saw men driving trucks and one woman at a farmstand using a cell phone.  It was a most unusual area.  I felt like I was visiting a treasure in some hidden valley.  The store is open Monday through Friday, 8:30 a.m. - 5:30 p.m., and Saturday from 8:30 a.m. - 3:00 p.m.  Be sure to take cash since they don't take credit cards or non-local checks.  Having Lara with me was a bit cumbersome because I had a hard time maneuvering the wheelchair and a shopping cart so I really would like to go back without Lara and take a longer look at everything they offer.  Since I am a "from scratch" cook, they had everything I could possibly want and use.  This store is a real find!

The other good news is that Special Olympics bowling went well.  Only Lara, Ed and Chris were there, but we had a good time.  The bad news is that Feits' is going to close the bowling alley part of the establishment because it is costing them more to keep it than they receive in return.  After 60 years of operating, Feit's is another victim of the crashing economy.  How sad!  If you go into Feit's you see pictures of the owner's father and various memorabilia on the walls.  It just breaks my heart.  I hope some part of the establishment can stay open.  Maybe they can keep the bar and put a small dining area where the bowling alley is.  The town could use a good place to eat, and Feit's is close enough to the paper mill to take advantage of employee shift changes there.  Times are what they are.  I most sincerely thank Feit's for letting our group of Special Olympians bowl there.  I have to contact Tony, our Agency manager and let him know.  I think we will need to have a dinner meeting with all the agency members to decide how we want to move forward.

When I went out to shut up the chickens I thought I heard wolf pups yipping on the south forty.  Didn't quite sound like coyotes. 

More storms are expected tomorrow.  I hope I can get out in the field at some point to see if I have anything to harvest.  Take care!

Sunday, August 08, 2010


Last night we had thunderstorms again and another 3" of rain.  Park Falls had 6" of rain fall and there was another flash flood warning.  I can't believe this weather; six straight years of hard drought and now this.  Part of the front yard is beginning to look like a pond.  It was another long night listening to the NOAA radio.  I'm sure that water is standing in the field again.  I don't know if the pumpkins will take all this water without sustaining damage or even rotting.  I still am having a hard time believing that the first tornado in Iron County in 40 years had to land on us.

Yesterday we talked to a forester named Joe Allen about harvesting the damaged trees from the woods.  We know we won't get as great a value as we'd like for the wood because it is damaged and the economy is in a Depression, but we care more for the health of the forest than we do the money.  This is, after all, a Century Farm.  Our family's history in America, its blood, sweat and tears are part of this land, and it is our gold -- refined as it is by the trials of Saturn. As the saying goes, "Saturn is a hard taskmaster, but he gives rings of purest gold to reward perseverence." Money cannot buy it from us.  Joe is the procurement forester for Miljevich Corporation, a logging outfit out of Wakefield, MI.  Joe was very down to earth -- our kind of guy.  We knew that he knew that we knew we don't have a lot of "beaver chow" in our woods (even though we do have a beaver down on the creek).  And we knew that he knew what he was doing.  We liked the simple contract; the terms and manner of pricing were fair; and the timeline for the job completion is actually much sooner than I expected it to be.  The snowmobile trail should be cleared of downed wood before the season opens on December 1st.  Hopefully the DNR will repair the bridge over the creek so that it is safe to cross.   Miljevich takes care of all permits and notifications, and we were especially happy that they will take the tree tops.  We know that tree tops represent 1/3 of a tree's value and it makes us sick to see landowners who hire loggers that take the trees and leave the tops to rot  on the forest floor.  Loggers who don't take tree tops (1) are only looking for the quick money on the logs; (2) don't have a connection to a market for the tops; or (3) don't have access to the equipment to remove or process the tops.  People need to do their research before hiring a logger.  In our case since we are of old Eastern European stock and mindset, having a name like Miljevich certainly helped the transaction.  Anyway, Joe says he will send his experienced Michigan crew to do the harvest (they are used to dealing with "Michigan Environmentalists" LOL), so we will see what kind of job Miljevich does.  If we like their work, we'll do more business. 

By the way, here's a good place to start your research if you are thinking about having a timber sale.:

I spent last Friday weeding in the garden and, lo and behold, I was able to harvest a whole bushel of nice (but big) yellow warted crookneck squash.  If we hadn't had to meet with the forester on Saturday, I think I'd have had enough produce to take to the farmers market. 

 They practically showed up overnight!  I even was able to harvest two black zucchini and a couple of Early Fortune pickling cucumbers from my remaining deer chewed cucumber plants.  The darned deer must have developed an immunity to Liquid Fence because the beans are all chewed down even worse than before.  For some reason though, the Windsor Fava bean plants have been left alone.  (Now that I said that, they will be gone when I next get out to the field!)  Soooo, I spent Saturday and Sunday canning up green beans from Tom's garden and lots of yellow crookneck squash.  The latest canning books prefer that you freeze summer squash, but I have found that if you wash the squash, remove the seeds, and cut the squash in small pieces before raw packing it tightly into your warmed canning jars and then filling them with hot water, the finished product looks great.  (I process quarts for 40 minutes at 10psi in the pressure canner.) 

I prefer canning over freezing anyway because the power goes out so much up here. 

Special Olympics was fun this past Thursday.  Now, this week I have to take Lara for a doctor appointment on Wednesday down to Marshfield and Tom will have to handle the Schwan's man.  I've been invited to a cousin's baby shower down in Tomah, and I have to get another cousin a wedding gift.  It's a busy month!

Tuesday, August 03, 2010

Moving Along

Cleaning up after the tornado has been difficult, but we have been able to hire a tree company to remove the trees from the house and cut down anything imminently dangerous to the house area.  The electricity is back up and we've put a tarp over the hole in the roof.   And we got an estimate on repairing the roof. We cut up some of the downed trees and started piling them near the wood pile to be split for firewood when we get to it.  I am going to clear the area next to that for placing logs that I want cut into boards.  We have been trying since the storm to get an insurance adjustor out here and finally today Allstate sent somebody.  It looks like most everything, including replacing the high tunnel and the missing plywood roof on the chicken skid will be covered.  They should even cover rebuilding the chicken wire fence around the coop run and removing the trees that crushed the fence. 

That is a huge relief.  Once we get the nod from our agent we can call the builders to come and fix the roof and gutters.   We will need to hire a logger to remove the damaged trees from the woods.  I am not looking forward to that, but it has to be done before the value of the wood drops to nothing.

Tom took a walk down the snowmobile trail to the bridge and it is practically impassable.  He says the bridge over the creek is badly damaged.  The DNR built the bridge and I wonder if they know it is unsafe. (There's been enough planes flying over surveying the damage.) It may take a while for them to repair it and snowmobile season isn't far off.  

I wonder when the electric company will get around to clearing the trees out of the easements -- they told us not to do it.

I was glad we were able to clean up the yard enough for Tom to cut the grass.  I don't want mice coming up to the house in tall grass.  At least the yard looks better.  It's going to take me a while to get used to the view with so many trees gone, and knowing that more trees will have to follow. 

Yesterday was rainy so I made a big chicken pot pie and cherry cobbler to take over to Dad's because my Uncle Larry, who is a builder, was coming to give Dad an estimate on repairing the farmhouse.  Must have been good because I got back both empty pans this morning!  I thought that would last him a couple of days.  At least I know he's eating.  I'm glad Uncle Larry can repair the damage for Dad.  One of the builders who came by today to give us an estimate told us that he has so much work now that he probably wouldn't do the job if we asked him to. 

And since it was raining, I went through Tom's garden and brought a big bag of beets and mustard greens back to the house to can.  Tom thinks that canning isn't worth the effort, but I disagree.  As far as I'm concerned, the quality of the food is worth the effort of canning it.  There is just nothing like opening up a jar of canned food in the winter time and smelling summer!

Well, now that the insurance inspector has come I'll start working on clearing up the chicken area tomorrow.  I hope it's not as hot as it was today.  Maybe there will be a decent breeze, too.  I also want to get out to the garden in the field and see if I have anything to harvest.  I do want to get to the farmers market.