Sunday, August 31, 2008

Pantry Pickin'

With a bushel full of peaches on the counter, I decided to put a dent in them by making some crepes for brunch today...Crepe Filling:
2 cups of orange juice
8 ripe peaches peeled and cubed
3 TB Cointreau (optional, of course)
3 TB Maple Syrup
A pinch of cinnamon, ginger and nutmeg
fresh grated orange peel
splash of vanilla
Combine all of the above and simmer until syrup thickens. Remove from heat while you prepare the crepe batter.
Crepe Batter:
1/2 cup all purpose flour
1/2 cup milk
1 large egg
sprinkle nutmeg
1 teaspoon vanilla
Whisk together until smooth. Cover and allow to rest for 30 minutes. Preheat a small saute' pan.Add a teaspoon of butter and coat bottom completely. Add about 4 TB of the batter to the pan and swirl around to cover. Cook until edges appear dry and begin to lift from the pan.Flip over and cook and additional minute. Stack on a plate while the others are prepared.When all the crepe shells are finished, assemble by putting 1/3 of a cup of the peaches in each crepe, fold over edges, and put on a serving platter. Drizzle filled crepes with peach syrup.
Finished crepes, served warm, with a tablespoon of butter pecan ice cream on top of each one.

The Last of the Golden Girls...

I think it's safe to admit that the Buff Orpingtons have always been our family's favorites. They are gentle and friendly, lending themselves always to a passing stroke or pickup.They are good layers, dropping consistently inside the coop, instead of wherever the muse strikes them (unlike a few other birds I know). We've had six in all, bringing home three at different times. Categorizing them as 'old Goldies' or 'young Goldies'... they were all called 'Goldie'. Over the years, we have sadly said goodbye to five of them. Two to old age, but then there was that summer where a fox killed three of our Goldies in one night. The one that remained mourned her beautiful golden sisters for a good long while afterwards...I will never forget it. She made a mournful sound that I have never heard from a chicken before or since. It was heartbreaking. I was told once that hens recognize each other visually and that it's important for them to have others of 'like kind' to hang out with. I have witnessed this to be true many times. The single-kind birds do not integrate well into the flock. It's a fact of chicken life. After Goldie tragically lost her sisters, she was not shunned from the flock, but she became a bit of a loner...and I believe her loss made her more attached to her human flock. She became affectionate (as hens go), willing to be groomed and nursed when she needed it, and always first in line for a handout. She surprised us a few times by recovering from the edge of goodbye this past year. But even in her decline, she would fulfill her Buff Orpington duty by nesting on any eggs left in the nesting box. They are the best mamma hens. When I returned home from some errands, I found her standing against the screen door to the kitchen. Unusual even for her. I knew something was wrong. She never went back to the coop to roost in the evening, instead choosing to spend her last hours next to the house. The Golden Age has passed here on the Farm... at least for now. But I can easily forsee a future flock of Goldies again. Maybe even next spring. Goodbye, Goldie. You were a beauty and a joy to all.

Saturday, August 30, 2008

Dreary Teary Drips & Drops

Feline Philosophy

This is Sweet Birch...pining away for her favorite bedmate, the IceMan. His move to New Hampshire last week has left her a little unsettled. No hockey bag to curl up on. No midnight pizzas to share and clean up after. No familiar boy smells emanating from piles of dirty laundry and bedding. No nocturnal greetings at the door after Friday night stick and puck games. No tickle torture, devilish torment or potty humor. Just quiet....lots of quiet. You'd think this old gal would simply breathe a sigh of relief and just enjoy the quiet.But we, I mean she, is a creature of habit. She does miss her IceMan, but in that stoic fem-feline way, she is doing her best to keep it underwraps. After all, kittens do grow up and scamper away, don't they? It is the natural scheme of things. She'll be fine....yes, she'll be fine.Rx: Little cat-naps, a little stroking and catnip, lots of catnip.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Herbs go to HomeSchool!

The Kardia Learning Center organized a wonderful medieval festival for their young students (all 90+ of them!!) which featured a delicious feast and appearances from the Norse Vikings of Philadelphia and their beautiful Viking Ship. I was asked to do a presentation on herbs with a medieval theme for two age groups: First, the Pre-K and Elementary group and second, the Middle and High School group. I brought a large harvest of a variety of herbs and discussed how they may have been used and prepared for children by their mothers in the middle ages. With the older group I decided on the topic of the Black Plague, introduced a few antibacterial herbs and the legend of the Four Thieves Vinegar.Would have loved to hang out with the Vikings a little longer...our presentations overlapped each others. I did get to visit with them before hand, admiring their hand sewn garb, mead horns and trade goods. In fact, I was shown the largest piece of amber I have ever laid eyes on. It was an oval the size of my hand. Magnificent! All in all, a great learning experience for these kids. Congratulations to the homeschooling moms who put it all together and thanks again for the opportunity to educate your children. I noticed quite a few future herbalists in the crowd with that tiny green twinkle in their eyes.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

First the Beauties, Now the Beasts.....

We have been pretty fortunate to have an abundance of good bug helpers in the garden this year. However, the praying mantis clans are taking over! Sweet and comical when small, full grown they can be quite menacing. They make quite an impression in flight and have a voracious appetite. The large ones are extremely quick when pouncing on their prey and produce an audible munch while dining. This large moth never had a chance. It was disturbing and fascinating to watch at the same time

Late Bloomers

The temperature dropped to the low 50's the last two nights. The cold morning dew on the grass makes it nearly impossible to venture out in bare feet. Round bales sit in the pasture. The sunflowers are no longer putting out new buds, but instead goldfinches are happily gorging themselves on the seed heads...sigh. Hard to avoid the fact that summer days are fleeting. Fortunately, the sadness of this realization is soothed slightly by a few late bloomers in the garden. The Heavenly Blue morning glory took it's good old time establishing it's vine this summer. I nearly pulled it out a few times in frustration. After finding this beauty this morning, I'm glad I didn't.

The Moonflower vine was a completely different story. It took off in May and almost instantly covered my humble choice of a support. The vines reached the top and then spiraled out in all directions like a giant green octopus. The flowers however, were elusive...until this week. Since the full moon Saturday, it is averaging one bloom opening every evening. Yesterday there were three! Notice the glowing 'moon' at the very center of the flower? Click on the image for a close up. This 'moon' showed up on a few of the photosThe passionflower vine never even poked it's sleepy head through the ground until well into June. I had nearly given up on it's return. A few flowers have bloomed so far, but the vines are just loaded with tiny buds. Keeping fingers crossed that they bloom well before frost. There is tincture making in its future.

Saturday, August 9, 2008

Date with Destiny

Hello, my friends!! So glad to be home. I just returned from a rather unplanned trip to New Hampshire this week.It is normally pretty difficult to get away from this farm in the height of the growing season when everything needs so much attention but, truth be told, when the Boy got a recruitment call from the general manager of the New Hampshire Junior Monarchs hockey team, I had no choice but to drop everything and go. Quite a change of plans, considering he was all set to start community college here in just a few weeks. So, without much planning, suddenly the Boy and I were setting out on an 400 mile adventure in a pick up truck loaded with maps, music and hockey gear heading north to meet his destiny.
We drove straight to laid-back Brattleboro, VT on Monday (my own personal side detour-I love it there) and headed directly to Brattleboro foods co-op to pick up some AMAZING road food. It's not too often that you can say that! This co-op was the first of it's kind in the country, so after 30+ years of fine tuning, they have it down perfect. The buy-local, the recycling, the volunteers, the FOOD! Great place to hang for a few hours. We next jumped onto RT 9 to drive due east through the wilds of New Hampshire. At this point the bulk of the trip was over and my map-tending co-pilot took a snooze beside me. With busy highways behind us and good food to sustain us, it was smooth sailing for the next hour and a half through the mountains to Manchester. After 7 hours of white-knuckle driving, I finally felt relaxed enough to look around at the plant life along the way. The scent of sweet fern, pine, spruce and fir through the open windows was breathtaking.I guess it was that remote drive through the beautiful scenery and mountain air with a sleeping boy-man by my side, that caused the slow avalanche of emotions that followed: The subtle fears of the unknown began to unfurl, the protective motherly instincts vs. the need to let go of the large sleeping man-body curled like a baby with more fragrant hockey gear packed than clothes to wear. I wondered whose fears or excitement were greater...his or mine. When I suddenly came upon a natural stream widening into a small pond covered with thousands of white pond lilies sparkling in the sunlight, I began to weep. When I saw a moose crossing sign, I laughed out loud. When I witnessed enormous marshmallow thunder heads alongside a rainbow and blue sky, I wept again. The visual beauty of the mountains combined with the olfactory sensations simultaneously opened and soothed this grieving momma's heart. It became apparent that at the end of this road stretched out before us, my sleeping boy-man was going to wake up and shake hands with his destiny and with stars in his eyes, begin the subtle transition into manhood. And so it happened. The next few days were a whirlwind of tryouts, phone calls, meetings and paperwork. Next, college testing, transfers and class registrations were put into place. Mapping out the lay of the land between the campus, the rink and his new host family's home was another hurdle. A new job at the rink is in the works. At the end of each day, the hotel beds offered two welcomed, multi-pillowed, queen sized crashes. After three days in Manchester and the last hand shake, a formal contract was presented and we headed for home. My boy will be returning to New Hampshire for the year in just two weeks.
On the drive home, our reactions to this new chapter unfolding in our lives were quite distinct. He fell easily into a deep sleep. I, on the other hand, stayed focused and gripped the wheel, maneuvering through many hours of torrential rain and stormy weather- not unlike the swirling lists in my head of all the things that needed to be planned and accomplished in the next fourteen days. Hmmm, therein may lie the difference between the child and the adult. The illusion of 'our plan' and the 'planning' of it.
At a street light, I paused to look at my son and the innocence of his sleeping youth, so trusting that someone who loves him will carry him safely home while he sleeps. He will be waking soon, I can see, into a world where he will need to be at the wheel, steering his life for himself. Part of me wanted to shake him and wake him, to be present and share this treacherous, demanding drive with me with one last chance to teach him all I know amidst brainstorming and list-making. Another part of me wanted to let him sleep, safe and sound under my wing through the violent storms. It could be the last time I am given a choice and I choose the latter. This part of our adventure ended back in PA well after dark. We arrived home hungry and more than ready to fall into our own familiar beds. It was time well spent, but I have missed my gardens and have many orders and responsibilities piling up around me, awaiting my return. I have few photos to share of the trip. We didn't have much time in the schedule for blogging detours. It was a direct date with destiny. I hope to return to a regular blogging schedule now, but with only two weeks until the babe flies the nest, I may be a little distracted. Thanks for being there while I am...


Related Posts with Thumbnails