Friday, August 28, 2015
This is one of my favorite ways to cook yellow summer squash. It takes longer to walk to the garden and harvest than it does to prepare.
In a 1-quart glass casserole or other microwave-safe dish mix:
1 squash, cut into 1/4-inch slices
About 3 Tablespoons chopped green pepper
Season with salt, pepper and paprika to taste.
Add pat of butter. (This is optional, but come on! It's butter, yum.)
No water is necessary. Cover with glass lid or plastic wrap. Microwave at high power, checking after 3 minutes. This is the amount of time to cook this in my 1100-watt appliance; adjust times accordingly for your microwave.
Be sure to check out Maple Hill's seed-to-table series today. This week's entry: Parsley.
Wednesday, August 26, 2015
Fruit trees can be an attractive part of a home landscape, as this carefully planned orchard shows.
Here, the trees create a privacy screen between the street and the house.
Tuesday, August 25, 2015
First of all, what is flash-freezing?
Friday, August 21, 2015
There are many ice cream maker brands available with the premise of a bowl with cooling liquid inside an insulated wall. You freeze this ahead of time until the liquid is solid. It doesn't take much space -- so you can have this in your freezer ready at will for an ice cream craving. (Admittedly, if you don't have it frozen already that can be the hardest step to making a batch!) My maker rotates the bowl around the mixing arm to freeze the dessert in about 30 minutes.
Recipes are plentiful, but you can cobble your own fruit creations with a few guidelines. These tips are for a 2-quart maker. (Source: Cuisinart)
• Use 4 cups total of a milk/cream combination. For example 1 cup milk and 3 cups cream, or 2 cups each. Naturally a higher fat content will yield a richer and creamier dessert.
• Add 1 cup sugar (see note below)
• Add 1-2 teaspoons vanilla extract, to taste.
Use a hand mixer to combine liquid and sugar, making sure sugar is dissolved.
• Use 3 cups fruit.
This next step takes a bit of time, but the flavor impact is well worth it:
• Combine your fruit (stemmed berries, sliced peaches, etc.) with 1/2 cup sugar and 4 tablespoons lemon or lime juice. Stir and let the fruit macerate for 2 hours, which releases those tasty juices. This also makes the difference between white vanilla ice cream with raspberries floating in it, and pink ice cream flavored with the berries through and through. Strain, reserving the liquid, and mash half of the fruit. Add all to your milk/cream mixture.
• Note: Taste mixture before pouring into machine. Keep in mind that freezing can reduce the sweetness of fruit. If it tastes tart, add more sugar
That's it! What are your favorite ice cream creations?
Wednesday, August 19, 2015
"Oh, good! This is the place we go to see the goats eat their blue ribbons!" he exclaimed, running ahead.
Yes, yes, County Fair 2013, I remember thee well. That was the year we rounded a bend just in time to see a goat stand on its hind feet, crane its neck and with stick-his-tongue-out concentration snag in its teeth the blue ribbon hanging from the top of the pen's gate.
What a sight! We were thrilled, but I was a bit blue myself that I didn't have a camera to capture the scene -- for I knew it could have been quite the photo. (My camera was broken and I didn't have a quality cell phone.) It still makes me sad thinking about this lost photo opportunity. Kind of like when my husband and I, in college, were driving around town and I spied a bride and groom in their fancy clothes using the car wash to remove the whipped cream "Just Married" from their vehicle. "Stop the car!" I urged my husband. Nah, he said, and drove on. Here's the stickler: he was a photography intern at the newspaper at the time. (Has he ever liked my ideas?)
Anyway, I guess I've recited the story of the blue ribbon munching-goat enough that my kids know I'm on the prowl for the quirky. That's part of the fun.
Sleepy black bunny that nibbled its ribbon some time ago? Ho-hum. Not the same as catching in the act!
If you look at the railing in front of my husband (on the left) you can see a blue ribbon detached from its yellow cord. Must not have tasted as good.
I like how intently goats return your gaze.
Goats! I love them.
The fair helps us learn about unusual livestock breeds, such as the Watusi, native to Africa:
and also huckster-style sideshows, like a touted tiny horse and gigantic pig, both behind curtains (we didn't see):
If you haven't gone to a fair before, give it a look. Check here for a website that will help you find one. I hope you will have as much fun as we do each year.
Tuesday, August 18, 2015
I had nothing to lose when I submerged a broken raspberry cane into a bucket of water to see if the berries on it would ripen. Whether by storm or a critter passing through, the cane was broken clean through. I found it on the ground soon after its detachment; the leaves were still lush and it was just starting to form the creamy green-colored balls that normally would develop into red berries. What a bummer to lose so many, I thought. It was either off to the compost heap or to my weird idea of a bath.
I was pleasantly surprised that putting the cane in water worked! No, the cane's leaves aren't pristine, but the vase treatment apparently bought enough time for certain berries to ripen (about three days later). I say certain ones, because not all did -- mainly the larger ones. Better than nothing.
Have you had any last-ditch efforts that surprised you, too?
Monday, August 17, 2015
Chances are, if your county has any sort of publicity arm, you will see signs and promotions heralding the fair coming to town. Maybe you want to find as many fairs as you can in neighboring counties or as you travel this summer to other states. Either way, check out the website www.countyfairgrounds.net.
The site lists American county fairs by state and has a blog with articles about animals, home and garden, farming and other interests. It also provides information about state fairs.
From the home page, scroll down until you find this on the left:
The fairs are current and are listed in chronological order (so if your area's fair already closed it won't appear). The underlined areas (shown in red) indicate links to those fair's individual websites.
What is a county fair, you may ask? To me it's a celebration of livestock, home-grown produce and home arts mixed in with carnival rides and food on a stick. It's a validation of working hard together and rewarding your family with play. What do you like best about a county fair?
To our international readers: I'd like to know if your communities have events similar to the American county fair, and if so, what appeals to you the most. Hi, Carie and Becky!