Gardening + Nature

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When I was little, my mom made the best peach cobbler, the perfect balance of sweet, tender batter and canned peachy delight. I tried a lot of different recipes on my own without much satisfaction until I realized I should just ask her for the recipe (duh!). It’s pretty spectacular with peaches, of course, but I had some pie cherries in need of eating and tried it with them. So very good! How silly, too, that the simplest solution is often the most overlooked. I need more reminders of that. Just ask!

I made sesame crackers with the leftover almond milk meal. They are fantastic!!

The eggs are a Yvette Van Boven recipe that I riffed on, but are basically baked in cream, with the addition of curry (which looked so cool) and ham. They reminded me of the breakfast bowls Greg and I so love, minus the English muffins. To continue on the breakfast theme, have you ever baked oatmeal, then sprinkled the sugar over the top before broiling it? It’s a bit like creme brulee and a winner, especially the crispy bits topped with butter.

The cake is Delta Caramel, and it looks lousy, truth be told, but WOW, does it taste great. If you are a newby, like me, to the recipe, it calls for the icing to be drizzled over while warm, but there’s no way you’re going to fill that gap with something warm and oozy. Next time I’m waiting for it to cool a bit. Yessir. And in the Huh? category, Delta Caramel Cakes are in the top ten for a funeral. How about that?

More snow! We are finally getting our winter on here. Boy howdy, yes!!

Hello almost February! How that is upon us, as I often feel time is crawling around baby sloth-like, I don’t know. We are still largely sequestered and not really minding. The most exciting event in our personal lives has got to be the re-opening of the library. I filled my biggest basket and caught up with my favorite librarian, a delightful return to normalcy, despite the mask wearing and distance.

Another January, another cleanse – we’ve been 99% gluten, dairy, caffeine, alcohol, and sugar-free. The sugar being the most difficult part. I’ve made a ton of almond milk and used the leftover meal to make the blue corn bread, which was quite tasty, especially with a little butter and honey.

Juniper waits patiently for lunch.

I wish the image properly displayed the intensity of light at the moment – a brilliant beam from on high!

It is prime puzzle season, and this one of Mont Saint Michel, is one of the most difficult we’ve ever tackled, so much sky and similar textures!

We had two wonderful snow storms earlier in the week, bringing about five inches to our area, though hardly making a dent in the wretched drought figures, so I keep my prayers aloft for yet more.

Juniper, peppercorn, and bay leaf brine for chicken, which made for a marvelous lunch. I made a fabulous Bavarian coleslaw (up yonder with the sausage and mashed potatoes), which won high praise from yours truly and though he thought it was good, did not taste like childhood for my dearest man, so I rectified it with one he loved. We do our best.

Our cute little woodsman incense burner, which we bought at a magical holiday market in Pittsburgh, continues to delight!

Not nearly often enough, we empty, scour, and refill the refrigerator. I, in my maniacal delight at soldierly, short to tall rows of jars finds it oddly comforting, opening the doors, even when I need not a thing, just to gaze upon it and marvel.

We had a few meals out in the world before COVID numbers began to creep up, and up, and up, but have since relegated ourselves to 100% home cooking. Ribs with salad and sweet potatoes; Asian glazed drumsticks, fluffy rice, and a mess o’ spinach and roasted pepper; herb drumsticks and roasted broccoli some of the prettiest lately.

A walk or two a day keeps our spirits soaring. So, too, does playlist making, reading – books and magazines alike, Star Trek Discovery gotten from the library, The 2017 iteration of Twin Peaks (so YOU, David Lynch, and I must add how beautiful his silvery locks are!), sipping the hottest of coffee with creamy homemade almond milk come the weekend, bedtime cuddles, and chats with those I love.

Such lovely soup weather we are having. This is lemon chicken & rice.

Hearty beef chili with pinto beans and plenty of New Mexico and pasilla chiles.

Topped with an egg for breakfast the following day. Um, yeah…

I am still making soap, and I daresay these are my prettiest bars! After initially going gonzo with various butters and oils, scents and add-ins, I have whittled down my favorites. The top is a rather luscious goat milk, of which I made two varieties this time: plain and lemon-bay leaf, which smells like summer all year long. The speckled variety in the center photo is orange-rosemary-mint, our dreamy shampoo and body bar. Truly. The white bar is unscented 100% coconut oil and slated to be our new laundry soap. I’ll tell you how it goes. In the mean time, it’s so pretty to look at. They all are, really.

After months without any real moisture, we’ve had a few stellar storms, yesterdays’ resembling a perfectly pretty snow globe and my very, very favorite, Juniper’s too, I think. Once again, I am delighted at snow’s magical effect on her, bringing out her puppy essence, willing her to run and jump and spin.

Hoping you are happy and healthy and well in these wild and crazy times…

It snowed!! A whopping three inches in our garden and well before actual fall (two weeks ago already?!), but the timing couldn’t be better, stifling some of our wicked wildfires in the process. Small mercies. Still praying for rain, though. Boy do we ever need it in the West. Such heartbreak at all that has been lost.

Snow day cuddles with the girl. How cute it she?!

I asked Greg to take a picture of me in my new favorite dress, testing the light with a photo of him first. As ever, he had me laughing myself silly! The dress is from Duluth, and possesses a dreamy, pajama type comfort. Stretchy and flattering, with GIANT pockets. I really couldn’t ask for more.

Homemade cherry preserves and a buttered club.

I’ve been eyeing these prickly pears for a time now and decided today was the day to harvest. My first attempt was a FAIL, trying to pick them with a single garden glove. I gave up a third of the way through, with so many needles in my fingers (so aptly named!). Undeterred, I returned with rubber gloves and kitchen shears, and all was copacetic.

Jerks with their boozy habits, leaving bottles all over the town. Made for a nice picture, though. And I brought it on home to recycle.

I did some interweb reading before deciding a simple whir in the Vitamix would do the trick with the prickly pears, adding nothing. I made margaritas with the strained final product. Fresh is best, peeps. My goodness, Y E S ! !

Another oldie! I am a year and a half or so here, on the lap of my Great Uncle Chris. I associate him with Cadillacs, cigars, whiskey and a velvety bass voice. Oh, and love…

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