Wednesday, September 17, 2014

A Temporary Farewell (+ PEANUT BUTTER bread recipe)

   So, this isn't my usual blog time but needs must; and a peanut butter loving crowd commands... Firstly, however, I wanted to let you know that we're going to be switching internet service providers, so I'll be off the internet for a few days. I'm going to miss you. I think you'd be surprised at how much your posts and comments help me make it through each day, but more about that later. Right now, it's Peanut Butter time!

   I found the original recipe at shewearsmanyhats, and it looked so good I had to try it! You know me, I have to change things around a bit, so here I'll give you my version, but you'll find the original version at the link above. Either way, it's a winner!

2 c. flour
1 c. creamy peanut butter
1 c. milk
2/3 c. sugar
1/3 c. sour cream (added for flavour, and a better rise)
2 large eggs
1 Tbsp. baking powder
3/4 tsp. baking soda (for better rise)
1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. ground coriander (for added flavour)

   In the recipe on the link, she used her blender for mixing the batter but mine is elderly and no longer able to handle heavy batters, so I used my hand mixer and it turned out wonderfully. This is a moist and tender bread with excellent crumb, and is certainly going to become a staple at our house.

   Preheat oven to 350 F. Grease (or spray) and flour loaf pan, set aside.

   Place peanut butter, milk, sour cream, sugar, and eggs into a deep mixing bowl and blend until smooth and creamy. Sift all dry ingredients, except sugar, in medium bowl; stir to combine. Add to liquid mixture in batches, blending with mixer between each addition, until dry ingredients are incorporated into a smooth, thick, but still pourable batter. Adjust liquids and flour as needed.

   Pour into your loaf pan and place in center of oven; bake 55-60 minutes (baketime adjusted for greater volume) or until a toothpick/knife inserted in center comes out clean. Cool in pan for 15-20 minutes, then invert on wire cooling rack and let rest until completely cooled. This is great slathered with a bit of jam or jelly, or as the Great Scot calls it: 'a jeely piece'. Yes, I meant to spell it that way, it's the way it sounds, but any way you say it, it's yummy!

   I'm going to miss you during the few days I'm away, but the timing is also good: the concrete cloud has been hovering of late. Things are very 'Parkinson-y' these days; I find myself doing the Parkinson's shuffle, masking, (the loss of facial expression) I'm moving more slowly and my balance is worse. At the same time, that wonderful new doctor I found and his even wonderfuller assistant have split offices, so it's time to decide which one to go with... Ah, and I've lost another neurologist, who has moved on to parts unknown, leaving me to find yet another. 

   Right now I feel sad, angry, frustrated, needy, whiny, and dependent. It hurts to have to start all over yet again, and part of me just wants to give up. The Great Scot and the kidling are worrying themselves over me, and that hurts even more. This time away will be, I think, dedicated to re-discovering my vim and vigour. In the meantime, be well, I'll be thinking of you, and looking forward to seeing you again.

In honour of Scotland's vote on independence tomorrow:


Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Just A Little Batty (+ a recipe)

   Ever heard of a flying squirrel? (Link is also image source.) They look like this:

   When I was a 'tween and teen, we had a group of flying squirrels living in a tree-filled gulch behind the house and occasionally we would get a glimpse of the shy little critters. What a joy that was! 

   This is a tale, however, about mistaken identities and what was, in retrospect, the scariest animal encounter of my young and foolish life...

   I was 5, or 6 at the most, and we'd recently moved into a house, in the small town where we lived at the time, we jokingly referred to as 'the old grey elephant'; a grand old place that was slowly sliding into a slightly disreputable old age. It was surrounded by huge old maples that bombarded our yard with 'helicopters' on a yearly basis... and one evening, whilst playing out front, I discovered a dainty little furry creature clinging to the bark of one of the trees. It came to my hand readily, and snuggled in quite placidly, not even disturbed when I ran into the house shouting for my Mom to come see what I had found! Methinks she was a bit relieved that it wasn't a snake, or some such, since I had a penchant for such things. I suppose I was just a tomboy in a tutu, lol.

   Mom thoughtfully provided me with a box to house my new friend, and I promptly ran next door to the Langdon's to show my best friend, Penny, and her siblings my little furry pet. This is when Miss Furry had a good stretch, showing off lovely wings! One of Penny's older brothers, I don't remember which, opined that I'd been befriended by a flying squirrel...... oh boy! Later, Mom and I drove, along with Miss Furry in her box, across town to visit my grandparents, (and Mrs. Goble, who lived in the apartment behind them, and who was one of my favourite people) who admired my latest pet and how placid it was when I handled it. A lot.

   When we returned home, Penny was waiting for us... Mr. Langdon wanted to see my flying squirrel... and so Mom and I walked over, me being proud as punch and all. We settled on a couch in the living room and I opened the box, reaching inside to pick up Miss Furry, as I had been doing all evening, when Mr. Langdon warned me not to in a very odd tone of voice. It seems that my cuddly friend was not a cute and cuddly flying squirrel after all; instead, it was an Indiana bat .(also image source)

   This revelation prompted an immediate, and thorough, search for bite and scratch marks since they are often carriers of rabies. Fortunately, there were none and I obviously did not develop rabies, but as I got older and understood just how dangerous that little adventure could have been... let's just say, I'm glad the kidling wasn't quite the animal lover I was as a child!

   Next, a recipe adapted from a traditional Native American dish called Three Sister's Soup. It's a delicious, hearty soup or stew that is equally delicious as a vegetarian dish, or with the addition of some type of meat, and was served either way, depending on what was available. 

                                   (image but not recipe source)

2 qt. water
8 oz. pkg. dry beans (I like red beans for this, but any type will work)
14 oz. can hominy, drained
2 c. cubed roasted squash, if using winter squash, or one whole sliced zucchini, if using summer squash (I use what is seasonal)
1 bunch green onions, coarsely chopped
4 oz. diced green chiles
2 Tbsp. chopped fresh sage, or 3/4 tsp. dry
3 cloves garlic
1 sprig thyme, or 1/4 tsp. dry
salt and pepper to taste
optional: 1 smoked turkey wing

   Rinse and pick through dry beans, place in large pot with water, bring to boil, cover, and remove from heat for two hours. Add smoked turkey wing, if using, and bring to boil again, reducing heat and simmering for 2 hours. Add all other ingredients and simmer 1 hour longer, or until beans are tender. Enjoy!

There are some difficult images in this video, but it's well worth listening to, and very appropriate...

Friday, September 12, 2014

So, Monday


                                            (image source)

    If the computer still works and the creek don't rise, I'll be back with recipes for Three Sisters Soup and Blueberry Corn Cakes with honey; both Native American recipes. Three Sisters Soup is named for the three sisters gardening technique. There may be a few more animal tales as well, since we were so rudely interrupted last week. In the meantime, enjoy the drums...

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Hush - The Yearly Repost

   I wrote this a few years ago, and it has become a tradition to re-post it. It says everything which I feel necessary in remembering this day:


  That is what I most remember about this time, eleven years ago.

   The air traffic; stopped. The interstate which ran beside our (then) home was naught but dribs or drabs. Driving into a nearly deserted town to check on my Dad, only a few people out. Shocked faces, huddling close for comfort, traffic nearly nonexistent and the only sign of life was the hurried raising of fuel prices.

   Hush...hush...all pervasive. Calls from Scotland, checking on our safety. Pictures, later in the day, of masses of people in the streets of 3M's hometown; holding candles and signs with encouraging words of solace and camaraderie. But still that hush over all; a most unnatural silence, as if even the crickets mourned.

   Silence, I think, best represents the deepest remembrance of the heart.

I Swear....

   I could learn to hate computers! In any case, I'm back, although who knows for how long? 
   See you later today friends!

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Just A Little Rattled!

   So glad you enjoyed the post yesterday! Thanks to 'Pike' for inspiring the sharing of these tales!

   Oh, before I forget... It may be a wee while before you see many of my own photographs again. Why? Because Mom and Pop gave me a truly magnificent new Polaroid (no, not an instamatic!) for my birthday, and I'm learning how to use it. I swear, if I knew which button to push it could probably cook our dinner, lol. Now on to today's tale...

   Appropriately enough, it's a tale which involves fishing, or at least the desire to go fishing, in a pond rather - although not exactly - like this one, in autumn:

   My brother D and I were around 13 ( I sometimes refer to him as my twin; many of the kids where we went to middle school thought we were twins... and, well, it's an entirely different and very long story. We'll just call him 'the twin', shall we?) and were bored, so we decided to go fishing. Pa, having conveniently left a jon boat by the side of the pond...

                                (image source)

...but sans motor, we decided to paddle out to the middle of the pond, where it was deepest, to fish.

   We pulled the boat to the side of the pond and managed to get in without getting too wet in the process, a bit of splashing and 'falling' being de rigeur at that age, and had successfully steered ourselves pretty close to where we were aiming. I'd heard a bit of rustling under my seat, (this being years before my encounter with young Mr. Bear, I hadn't realised yet that rustling noises in my vicinity meant UH OH) but assumed it was just the autumn leaves which had gathered in the bottom of the boat... I'd just started to reach for a fishing pole when it started: that distinctive buzzing rattle which any child raised on John Wayne and other Westerns would immediately recognise!

   I froze, not inexcusably I like to think, and whispered to the twin, "Wh.. whaaaat's under my seat?" Being otherwise occupied with baiting his hook, D grunted a young male in fishing nirvana kind of 'huh', and went back to worm wrasslin'. I added a note of "I'm going to kill you if you don't pay attention, and blame it on hysterical panic" to my voice, and asked my question again... This time the twin payed attention, and I knew he'd spotted the buzzy villain when he not quite so calmly uttered "oh ****" in a fervent voice. (I still say that he'd been waiting for an opportunity to trot out a newly acquired swear word. You're welcome D.) This, friends and neighbours, is the irritable creature he spotted beneath my seat:

                                  (image source)

   That's right, Crotalus horridus, aka the timber rattlesnake.

   D, after a bit of thought, came up with a plan that didn't involve me throwing myself into freezing-cold pond water - although I did seriously consider it as an eminently sensible alternative to being bitten - but which did involve paddling to the other side of the pond, then scrambling out whilst he distracted the snake. Oh, and then him paddling to a slightly less steep bank before decamping from the boat himself.

   I'll be honest here folks: although I'm not particularly proud of the fact, at this point I didn't much care what the twin did, as long as I was able to get away from that deadly buzzing....

   After about 3 centuries more than an eon had passed, we finally reached the bank, D jabbed the oar at the rattler, and I leapt gracelessly to dry land. At least the upper half of my body stayed dry... Honestly, I didn't care, I was away from the coldblooded beastie that was out for my blood! Foolishly, I ran (or dripped) to the other bank, just in time to see the twin jump out of the boat, flip it over, and start pounding on the bottom with the oar. Sure enough, an enormous creature slithered... in an extremely poor humour by this time... out of the boat and, after a feint in D's direction, off into the woods. 

   Boredom, and a hefty snack, sounded pretty good by this time, so we headed for home and resounding disbelief when we shared our tale. Oh well.

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Bearly Breathing

   Well, I think I may have finally made it through the post-parental visit letdown. It always takes time to recoup after their visits, but this year hit me harder than it usually does; there's just never enough time together, is there?

   In any case... this week is all about animal adventures; more specifically, my odd 'adventures' with animals and reptiles over the years. Retrospectively, they are funny but didn't quite seem so at the time... I'm dedicating these to one of the Great Scot's cousins, whom I'll call 'Pike' since he's an avid fisherman. (One of these days we'll go fishing and swap stories Pike!) This first tale involves me, as a teen, and a black bear in the wilds of King's Canyon Park, in California...

   Known as Ursus americanus, the American black bear is a mediumish sized bear, although I can assure you that they seem much larger when you're eyeball to eyeball! How do I know? Well lemme tell ya:

                                         (image source)

   We were camped in a (at the time) remote area of King's Canyon, and just finishing our supper, when a pretty blonde ranger came through and warned folks to put all their food away securely as a youngish, 1 to 2 year old, male black bear was wandering through the campground. She also asked to be notified if anyone saw the bear, and warned all the folk gathered around her not to try to interact with the bear... and enjoined us not to run since that would trigger it's instinct to chase prey. Oh, well, that sounded pretty exciting, even to a 16-going-on-17 year old teenager trying desperately to cultivate a sophisticated boredom. Not that I've ever actually been successful at sophistication... or acting bored either.

   A few minutes passed as we tidied up the leftovers, and then it happened! We heard rustling in the trees across the road from our campsite and, sure enough, spotted the young bear meandering through the woods. I offered to find the ranger and walked down the road, only to realise that the rustling sound was following me; turning slowly toward the sound... You guessed it! The bear was walking just within the tree line, matching me step for step. Unsophisticated me was suddenly quite unbored, and started walking faster. Young Mr. Bear? Yup, trotting right along with me; no closer, but certainly showing no signs of leaving my side either. Forgetting all about the assumed sophistication of ennui, as well as the ranger's instructions, I began running toward the ranger and the knot of people gathered around her, (I'm pretty certain I broke a 1 minute mile that day) and my newly acquired 'friend' galloped right along... at least until the people I was aiming for spotted him, and began shouting and heading toward us. He headed away from the noisy group just as fast as I was heading toward them! Whew, safe!

   Later that evening a group of college-age boys settled into the camping spot next to ours, and I thoroughly enjoyed regaling them with the tale of the bear. I may or may not have flirted a bit, whilst thinking that a bear tale seemed just the thing for impressing them. Lovely end to the tale, right?

   Not so fast there podner! 

                                         (image source)

   Mom and Pop were safely tucked away in their converted van whilst I was holed up all snug in my wee pup tent, just beginning to get sleepy when I heard...... rustling, and heavy breathing. Okay, someone was trying to pull a prank on me! My money was on Pop, although the thought did cross my mind that it might be the college guys. Determined to catch them in the act, I pulled up the flap which covered the wee net window in the back of the tent, and found myself nose to nose with young Mr. Bear! I yelled and scrambled out of the tent. Mom and Pop piled out of the van. College boys, with a faint alcoholic haze hanging about them, charged over from their campsite... and me? I stood there watching a hairy black bum bouncing across the road and into the trees; fairly certain I'd heard a faint snigger drifting from the furry joker's direction.