Spring came screaming in-shouting! I am here! Look at me! I am HERE! I have ARRIVED!
Wyatt wakes up and it only takes him about 10 seconds to look for shoes and run outside to greet his new best friend. Being 3 he must have forgotten it wasn't always cold out there.
The flowers are new. The buzzing beez are new too! There are already tadpoles in the pond and the birds are singing before the sun can rub the sleep out of its eyes.
easter was in full bloom.
There have been several days near 90 already-just a brief tease of summer. We took full advantage-all of us have fresh new freckles to prove it.
I am so happy to be shaken from my cozy winter slumber. I was wallowing in it far to deeply. Now I raise the windows and leave the back door open all day. Birds have flown into our kitchen and back out to the bird feeders-its a frenzy of life. YES!
The rain has started. It is the rain that will coax all my sleeping plants out of the ground. I have already seen evidence of the earliest signs of spring. The crocus I planted years ago are out first-sending back messages to all the other sleepy plants that it is, for sure, time to start thinking about warm weather.
This week will be the time to clear out the garden and start adding some compost and a little sand to the soil.
The equinox comes on a Saturday-next saturday-March 20th. It will be time to plant lettuce. Hopefully we will get to eat some of the lettuce before the deer find out about it.
As much as I love every season I am always ready for the next season by the time it rolls around. The creeping change is barely percievable at first and then suddenly a new season opens up bringing its own weather and traditions. Hopefully I will have some photos to add-once I fix my laptop :)
Things have been wearing away at me. I had to get out of the house for a few days. I packed the kids into the van and headed to our houseboat. It was cold and deserted at the marina.
But not quiet-hundreds of gulls were spending the week at the lake! I know it must be part of their migration home. It added a new ambience to the lake. Whenever I stepped outside I could hear them calling each other.
At night it was quiet-even the gulls had to sleep. I love the water at night. You can hear the gentle slapping of every little wave against the boats. It creates a gentle rocking that you aren't even aware of until you are back on solid ground.
this image of a red bellied woodpecker is from http://persweb.wabash.edu/facstaff/phillipj/red-bellied-woodpecker3.jpg
I never knew how many birds lived in our neighborhood until I began feeding them.
I put out seed in two "store bought" feeders. we also have several pine cones on twine that we have seeded by smearing them with peanut butter before rolling them in seeds. You can re-seed them many times.
While participating in this years backyard bird count I learned the names of most of our littlest neighbors.
We have at least 6 cardinal neighbors-they show up all at once sometimes so I know it is at 6. 2 huge male blue jays several tufted titmouse (titmice?) 3 or 4 fox sparrows 2 red bellied woodpeckers-one quite large the other is smaller 1 eastern towhee a few white crowned sparrows one very ill tempered mockingbird. 1 red breasted nuthatch
several other small birds that I haven't quite figured out yet.
The bird feeders are right outside my kitchen window- I have enjoyed watching their antics. It often seems like they talk to one another as they take turns at the feeder. Birds land in the topmost branches of the trees. Hopping down as their turn nears. Occasionally the mean mocking bird shows up and spends all of his time chasing birds away-rarely getting to eat himself. Sometimes while watching his frantic chasing I start to think the other birds are teasing him. Every time he chases after one bird another hops up to the feeder and he races back to chase that one and on and on it goes like that until, disgusted, he flies away.
once you start feeding the birds in winter it is very important that you keep up with it. They will come back every day checking for food-and word spreads quickly! Soon you will have new visitors every day.
I am making my favorite dinner-because I would like to show myself how much I appreciate all I do.
my favorite meal? roast beef yeast rolls mashed potatoes and green beans.
I plan to be in a food induced coma by 8:00 tonight. So if you need anything from me hit me up before then.
I am sharing my way of making these dishes-I know everyone and their grandma have different ways of doing this. These are old time comfort favorites.
one roast-today mine is about 3 lbs. 1 cup flour salt pepper garlic powder diced onion sliced mushrooms 1/2 to 1 cup beef broth 1/4 cup red wine or cooking wine---if you use cooking wine you might want to use a little less. 1 can of diced tomatoes drained but not rinsed. I have used different varieties of tomatoes for this-such as fire roasted or one of the various flavors-whatever you have works fine.
one crock pot or a large casserole and aluminum foil
I rinse my roast first then pat it dry.
on a plate dump about a cup of flour salt-pepper and garlic powder-to taste you can also add other seasonings that you like with your roast beef like thyme. lay your roast on the plate and press it into the flour lightly-turn it over and do it again.
this is dredging your roast with flour-basically covering it with flour that will later be a yummy light crust that adds to the gravy.
let the roast rest-and allow the flour to adhere to the roast.
get out a large frying pan-large enough to fit your roast in. pour about 4 tbsp olive oil in the pan and let it heat up a medium heat-you DO NOT want to burn your flour.
place roast in pan and brown both sides.
when you notice the pan getting dry add 3 tbsp of butter to the flour and stir it around a little to keep it from burning.
when the roast is browned on both sides remove it from the skillet.
you can either place it in a slow cooker or in a casserole dish. if you use a casserole dish you need foil.
turn the heat down under your skillet (do not let the flour burn). if you have not yet added butter do it now. pour in a little beef broth, some finely diced onions and mushrooms to the pan.
let it thicken slightly then add about 1/4 cup red wine-or red cooking wine.
pour this over your roast.
if you are putting this in your slow cooker-let it cook on low about 8 hrs. If you put this in your oven-cover it tightly with foil,then cook it all day in a low oven about 250.
I add 1 can of drained diced tomatoes about 30 minutes before serving. I also shred the beef at this time-removing excess fat. This also makes the roast serve more people.
4 or 5 cups of flour (you may find that you need to add some extra while you are kneading it to keep it from being sticky) 1/2 tbsp salt 2 cups hot water 2 tbsp shortening 1/2 cup sugar 1 pkg yeast
heat water in microwave. Melt shortening in water. Let the water cool to warm before you put the yeast in it (yeast will die if the water is to hot). If you are like me you will forget about the water/shortening in the microwave until it has cooled down some anyway.
Once the water has cooled down to lukewarm pour it into a largish mixing bowl. I use my kitchen aide mixer. add yeast and sugar-let it sit about 5 minutes.
add 1/2 cup flour and stir-slowly add flour until it forms a thin dough. At this point I put my dough hook on my mixer and add the rest of the flour. If you are mixing by hand you will have to stop using a hand mixer and start using your hands.
add flour while kneading the dough until it is smooth and stretchy-but not sticky.
hand kneading can take 15 minutes.
I do not put my dough in a greased bowl-I just put the plastic cover over the dough and let it raise in a warm spot.
If you want to do it the correct way-place your dough in a buttered bowl. turn over to coat it and cover it with a damp cloth to rise.
this will take about an hour depending on how cool your house is.
This is why I put my roast in the slow cooker-because I like to warm my oven slightly-then TURN IT OFF-I place my dough in the slightly warm oven to rise. My house is usually la little cool-so this helps my dough out.
after it has risen-pull dough out of bowl roll it out into a 1/2 thick rectangle-use a pizza cutter to divide it into 20 pieces.
places dough squares in to a greased casserol/rectangle baking pan (allow some space for them to raise again). You might need two pans. Cover with a towel and allow to rise again (until doubled)
bake at 375 for 30 minutes or until a nice golden brown. brush the tops with melted butter about 5 minutes befoe they are done to get a deep golden color and some buttery goodness.
I like to use the trader joe's little yellow skinned potatoes thin skinned potatoes work best for this method. This is the lazy method.
scrub your potatoes very well.
place two potatoes per person in the microwave-for 8 small potaotes It takes about 12 minutes in mine for them to be soft.
take soft potatoes and put them in the mixing bowl-again I am using my stand mixer.If you are using a hand mixer you might need to mash them a little by hand first.
add about 4 tblsp butter one large tbsp sour cream salt and milk.
i add a little milk at first and then add more until I have it as creamy as I want it.
blend these ingredients until the potatoes are mashed and everything is mixed together. about half the skins end up on my mixing attachement. There are a lot of skins left in the potatoes-that is why I think the thin skin potatoes work best.