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Sunday, January 31, 2010

BRRR...After the Snow Storm


SNOW is nature's way of giving everything a fresh coat of paint and it comes in many choices of color, as long as you pick white. It was really beautiful this morning at the Frog & PenguINN after the 9+ inches of snow that fell all day Saturday and into early Sunday a.m. We went outdoors, after our morning ritual of coffee in bed, and enjoyed the day after doing a necessary bit of shovelling and plowing. It was cold, but the hot chocolate afterwards, Swiss Miss Dark Chocolate Sensation, was delicious with leftover holiday cookies. Life is very good!


Saturday, January 30, 2010

It Snowed Today

It snowed today. We got about 10 inches which is a big deal for the Eastern Shore. No I didn’t go out and measure it yet (see tomorrows post). Most folks here DO NOT go out in the snow… ‘just them damn come-here’s from Jersey go out in the snow…. Damn fools will go out as long as the snow ain’t over their headlights. And then they just throw their SUV’s in four wheel drive and keep on going. They’re a real mess, bless their hearts’.

Well not all the Jersey come here’s go out. Some of us who have lived through many snow storms and near blizzards, some lasting three days and leaving three feet of snow, have actually found that sitting back and enjoying a snow fall can be a wonderful and enjoyable thing. Of course this is not something we learned in our younger years. Back then, before four wheel drive, we just put the snow chains on the rear wheels and got on with business, as long as the snow wasn’t over the headlights.

But the meshing of Jersey Shore and Eastern Shore philosophies has helped me create a unique individual philosophy.
This afternoon I started worrying that I needed to get out there and clear the driveway before the town plows came through and mounded us in. Mounding is a phenomenon that occurs when the town plows go by and deposit hard frozen snow, grits, sand, salt and road debris across the opening of your driveway. This deposit is usually two or three times higher than the beautiful snow on your lawn and requires heavy machinery, flame throwers, or high explosives to remove.

Then I remembered that our town has NO plows. And if we did we would not be allowed to use them since the town does not own the roads. They are the sole property of the Commonwealth of Virginia. 

So what did I have to worry about? The 10 inches of snow would surely melt before I would ever see a plow. This led to a truly relaxed day of Banana Pancakes, some blogging, snow pictures (from the window of course), two naps, reading some wisdom from Dave Barry with hot chocolate, a wonderful Chicken Rice casserole with fresh French bread (made by me. Not a chance you would find that here), some delicious red wine, and the wonderfully romantic company of my Beatrice.
Tomorrow I hope to get up early, clear what snow needs to be cleared, take a walk in the snow with Beatrice, take more pictures (Beatrice will have at least 500), maybe even make a snowman, and then clear the rest of what we need to clear to get the cars out. The rest of the day I hope to spend enjoying this special treat the Creator has given us.

Not for the Birds

It's been snowing here all day. While we have Grenville's freshly baked bread and chicken and rice for tonight's dinner, it's been a difficult day for birds as the feeders in the yard near the kitchen windows are snow-covered. Still that hasn't deterred our feathered friends from braving the elements all afternoon. Once the snow storm is ended and we get outside, the feeders will be refilled. Maybe we'll have to consider a roof for the flat feeder.

Bread's Ready!!!!!!


Fresh bread is definitely one of life's joys. Some flour, water, yeast and you are on your way. This loaf will be for dinner tonight along with a chicken rice casserole. Some real comfort food on a snowy Saturday. A good day to rest and reflect on where you have been and where you hope to go.

Getting Heavy

It's turning into a real snow storm here. Temp is hovering at 21F, wind is NW gusting to 10 mph, and the barometer is taking a nose dive. We on the other hand are snug inside and celebrated with some Banana Snow Cakes. So far the snow is up to about 3 inches and falling steadily.

Next is baking fresh bread for dinner. More later.

Split Pea Soup

Even though it's not the most attractively colored soup, a dish of homemade pea soup tastes great on a wintry day. Good news is that this soup was made in 1 pot in a couple of hours using items we already had here.

Split Pea Soup
Soak 1 lb pkg green split peas overnight in 3-4 cups of cold water. Shortcut: Boil 2 minutes and set aside for an hour. Drain and rinse beans and pick out anything you shouldn't be there.

2 tbsp olive oil
2 carrots, diced
2 stalks celery, diced
1 small onion, diced
1 tbsp minced fresh garlic
1 tsp black pepper
½ tsp thyme
3-4 cans low sodium chicken broth or alternate with beef broth
Salt and pepper as needed
Ham hocks or diced ham added after soup is pureed.

  1. Heat oil in soup pot over medium heat.
  2. Add onion, carrots, celery, garlic, thyme, pepper and sauté for about 5 minutes.
  3. Add split peas, broth and ham hocks (if being used)
  4. Skim off any foam that appears on surface.
  5. Reduce heat and simmer gently for about 2 hours, stirring occasionally.

Purée soup, return to pot and reheat as needed. If a ham bone was used remove, cool, cut off meat into small cubes and add to soup.

SNOW REPORT

YES YES.....It is snowing here,,,,,,started around 6 am as a nice fine snowfall. Latest prediction is for 6-10 inches by later tonight. Update and pics will come later, probably while I bake a new loaf of bread for dinner tonight (its my turn to cook).
I asked Beatrice if I should go hitch up the horse to the sled so we could go riding later,,,,, She reminded me that we have neither. Don't ya hate when that happens. Someone comes along and sticks their proverbial pin in your over imaginative bubble. On the plus side, she brought me a second cup of coffee (in bed of course).
And now we are enjoying some local entertainment listening the closings on our local radio station. Here on the Shore it could be condensed to the following>>>>> EVERYTHING!!!!!!
More as our snow fall continues. From our flakes to yours... its time for Banana Pancakes.

Friday, January 29, 2010

Over-Stuffed

STUFF. We all have it and getting rid of it is a good thing because after awhile, it takes up too much space in the house. In his 1997 classic monologue, the late George Carlin said..."So stuff is important, You have to take care of your stuff. You gotta have a place for your stuff. Everybody's gotta have a place for their stuff. That's what life is all about. Trying to find a place for your stuff! That's all your house is, a place to keep your stuff. If you didn't have so much stuff, you wouldn't need a house, You could just walk around all the time. A house is just a pile of stuff with a cover on it."

There are lots of ways to get rid of stuff like flea markets and yard sales, but the easiest way is to just give it away. This week, the lot of stuffed toys shown here went to a local nursing home to be given to those who don't have as much stuff. Carlin called this "The Redistribution of Stuff."

It works.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Pork Chops & Mustard-Herb Sauce

Here's an easy recipe for pork chops with mustard-herb sauce. Pour stock into the frying pan after cooking to deglaze the bottom of the pan. All that's needed for the sauce is a tablespoon of mustard and fresh herbs. Serves 4.

1 tbsp butter
4 pork chops, 1 in. thick (2 lbs total)
1/2 tsp salt
Fresh ground black pepper
3 tbsp chopped onion
3/4 C chicken stock or low-sodium chicken broth
1 tbsp Dijon mustard or grainy mustard
1 1/2 tbsp mixed, chopped fresh herbs - parsley, tarragon, chives, rosemary
  1. Heat butter over moderately low heat in large frying pan. Season pork chops with salt and 1/4 tsp pepper.
  2. Add chops to pan and sauté 7 minutes. Turn and cook until browned and done to medium, about 7 min. longer. Remove chops and keep warm.
  3. Add onion to pan and cook, stir until soft (about 3 min.). Add stock and boil until reduced to 1/2 cup (about 3 min.). Stir in mustard, herbs, and 1/8 tsp pepper. Plate chops and pour sauce over them.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

I was floored!!!!!

Well maybe not me but the shop where Wood N ThingZ creates whimsically eclectic wood art was floored . Earlier this past spring we decided that our front porch needed to be sanded and repainted. There were 2 boards that needed replacing so I asked the fellow who was doing the sanding if he could do it for me. Now there is a codicil that goes with Murphy's Law. "If you fix one thing the next thing is sure to break". The 2 rotted boards turned into 8 feet of water rotted 6"x6" sill plate. This water rot was caused by an ancient Camillia bush (tree) which was keeping everything wet for years. SOOOOO after pulling up most of the old porch flooring and calling in Carpenter Ned to replace the the sill we decided that the old flooring was not worth putting back down. After looking at the alternatives we decided on some composite decking that will never (well that's what the man told me) need painting, never rot or cup, will last a lifetime (wonder who's). The best part was that the installation was really simple. In fact Beatrice and I did the job ourselves. Now you may be asking yourselves "But what happened to the old flooring????" What do you mean you didn't ask that???? I heard you, so don't deny it.
Well the old flooring got put on one of the wagons and parked near the shop. We finally had a nice day here and it got run through the surface planner and looked almost like new. Next was a day of moving lots of equipment, cleaning in spots that hadn't been cleaned in a while, cutting the boards to size, and nailing them down. I have always liked the idea of recycleing materials. AND the best part was at the end of the day I took inventory and had all ten fingers and none of them were nailed together.
The camillia bush didn't fair quite as well. First it met the chain saw. Then most took a ride through the chipper. The few larger hunks that were saveable got to take a spin on the lathe and have turned into whimsically eclectic wood art.

Chocolate Chip Zucchini Bread


The F&P farm had lots of zucchini last season and we had do come up with creative ways to use the overflow. Any food that includes chocolate is a good idea and hence the recipe below. It's especially good served warm with a cold glass of milk. And, it freezes well too...if you have any leftovers.

Chocolate Chip Zucchini Bread

  • ¾ C sugar
  • 3 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 C applesauce
  • 2 C all-purpose flour
  • 2 tbsp unsweetened cocoa
  • 1 ¼ tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • ¼ tsp salt
  • 1 ½ C finely shredded zucchini (about 1 medium)
  • ½ C semisweet chocolate chips
  • cooking spray

Preheat oven to 350.
  1. Place first 3 ingredients in a large bowl. Beat with a mixer at low speed until well blended. Stir in applesauce.

  2. Lightly spoon flour into dry measuring cup, level with a knife. Combine flour and next 4 ingredients stirring well with a whisk.

  3. Add flour mixture to sugar mixture, beating just until moist. Stir in zucchini and chocolate chips.

  4. Spoon batter into 9x5 in. loaf pan coated with cooking spray. Bake at 350 F for 1 hour or until a wooden pick inserted in center comes out almost clean.
Cool in pan 10 minutes on wire rack, remove from pan and cool completely on wire rack. Yield 16 servings

Early Breaking News>>>>>>>

HAZARDOUS WEATHER OUTLOOK
NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE WAKEFIELD VA
318 AM EST WED JAN 27 2010

A WINTER STORM IS EXPECTED TO EFFECT PARTS OF THE MID ATLANTIC REGION FROM FRIDAY NIGHT THROUGH SATURDAY. THERE REMAINS UNCERTAINTY REGARDING THE TRACK AND TIMING OF THIS STORM...SO THE EXACT AMOUNTS AND PRECIPITATION TYPE ARE IN QUESTION AT THIS TIME. CONTINUE TO MONITOR THE LATEST FORECASTS AND STATEMENTS OVER THE NEXT COUPLE OF DAYS REGARDING THIS DEVELOPING SITUATION.


Think SNOW!!!!!!

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Pruning great ideas

Have you ever had a really great idea? One that grew to great proportions, in your mind at least. Last winter (09) I decided that we should have a bigger garden. Be more self sufficient. In fact we could be a Mini-Farm (picture us in American Gothic). Since we already had a credit account with John Deere, the next logical place to go was Tractor Supply. Within a few months everyone at our local TSC (45 minutes away) knew our names. There were things we NEEDED. Sod busters, spreaders, pine rakes, and most importantly a 4' PTO powered tiller for the back of the tractor.

Next was scouring the seed catologs. Everything looked so good (to eat of course). Many dollars later we had so many different varieties of veggies we were having trouble finding room to plant them all. (Lesson 1 in Farming 101- Plants need space. They like to feel the gentle summer breezes blow through their leaves. The spacing given on the seed pacakages are not there as a suggestion). I also decided that it would be smarter to start our own seedlings than buy them, so without a green house (and just finishing a plant propogation course at the local college) I dedicated some space in the shop to a growing area complete with grow lights with timer. BUT starting 4 species of tomatoes, 5 species of peppers, broccoli, eggplant, and anything else I happen to find, was taking a lot of space, time, and electricity. Thus hatched the dream of a green house for all this starting activity.

After a long growing (and learning) season (Lesson 2- A normal person needs only ONE zuccinni plant) and a harvest of over 500 pounds of veggies, and canning and freezing, I spent the winter researching Green Houses.
Finally the perfect one was found. Only 6 feet by 8 feet. Just right for a starter table in the early spring, an area to grow salad veggies all winter, dry the herbs in the summer. And only $700.00. Of course then there was the question of where it would go. Easy, just widen the herb garden, remove some soil, add some sand, lay some patio blocks (not available in the winter) and put the Green House kit together. Oh and by the way, running some water and electric to it from the barn would be nice too. What a plan!!!! Couldn't cost more than a thousand bucks.

Yesterday as I was going over the list of what we wanted to grow this year and planning how to space them out, and how many plants we would be starting, Beatrice reminded me of how much we OVER grew last year. Of how the neighbors started to hide when ever they saw us coming with bags of produce that we would never be able to eat. Then there was all the weeding and watering and work we did to OVER produce last year. Plus the fun of freezing, canning, pickle, salsa, and sauce making. AND most importantly, how we had decided on just 2 species of tomatoes, 1 species of pepper, and eggplant this year. AND only start 6 of each plant. A lot of ands in there wasn't there. Well, after rumaging through the barn loft and finding the Bio-Dome starter box (the 60 hole one) I realized that the Green House dream might end up being a financial nightmare.

And so the great Green House idea was pruned down to a starter box in the shop again this year. Of course it would look really great on the old mantle piece I saved from the house that just needs a little stripping, sanding, restructuring, re-coating, and of course enlarging. And the grow lights could be re-hung. AND..........
Next time pics of this project.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Joy of Kneading - Bread Making




Kneading bread without using an electrical appliance is a great way to reduce tension, aggression, and stress. How else could you get to punch something without getting hurt? Today was my first try at bread making by hand and it was easy and fun and hopefully as delicious as it looks. The result will be sampled tonight with dinner.


Stir in large mixing bowl
2 C bread flour
1 tbsp sugar
1 pkg quick-rising active dry yeast
1 1/4 tsp salt

Add
1 C very warm water
2 tbsp melted butter
2 tbsp fresh rosemary

Mix by hand for 1 minute. Slowly add 1/4 cup at a time until dough is moist but not sticky.
3/4 to 1 C bread flour

Knead for 8-10 minutes by hand until dough is smooth and elastic. Transfer dough to oiled bowl and turn it over once to coat with oil. Cover bowl loosely with a towel or plastic wrap (oil first). Let rise in a warm place until doubled in volume. Note: rising time depends on temperature of the dough and the temperature where it's rising - at the F&P that's the furnace room.

When it's doubled in volume, punch it down using a balled fist. Let it rest for 10-15 minutes before baking. Preheat oven to 450. Lightly grease a cookie sheet and dust lightly with corn meal. Shape dough into a rounded ball (boulè). Mark and X in the center using a sharp knife. Brush top lightly with egg white if you like a browned crust.

Bake for 10 min. at 450 then lower temp to 350 and bake for added 30 min. (until bottom of bread sounds hollow when tapped). Remove to a rack and let cool completely before cutting (if you can wait that long).



Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Cauliflower Cream Soup

We prefer cooking to eating out. WHY? Lots of reasons such as better taste, healthier eating, money saving, but the BEST reasons are - leftovers and being able to cook and eat in your most comfy clothing, which includes wearing slippers at the dinner table - and always dining by candlelight. Tonight's menu includes cauliflower soup, salad, and home made bread. The soup is from a recipe in The Farmer's Wife - Slow Cooker Cookbook a Christmas gift from Grenville. This book updates recipes from The Farmer's Wife magazine that gave rural women a place to find and share advice about everything from raising chickens to running a farm kitchen. Tonight's soup recipe dates from January 1916.

Cauliflower Cream Soup

1 large cauliflower head, washed and broken into small florets
6 large carrots, washed, peeled, chopped fine
1 med. onion, peeled, chopped fine, lightly browned in 1 tbsp olive oil
6 C chicken broth
salt and pepper to taste
1 tbsp butter
1/2 - 1/2 C heavy cream to taste
chopped chives for garnish

Add vegetables and broth to slow cooker. Set to low, cook 3 to 5 hours or until vegetables soften. Cool slightly, puree in blender. Reheat in large pot on stove over medium heat. Add butter, cream, salt and pepper to taste. Do not boil. Ladle hot into bowls and garnish with chives.

F&P variation: Substitute sour cream (about 1/2 C) for heavy cream and instead of chives use dill and a touch of curry and season to taste. Hint: an immersion blender is easier to puree directly in the crock pot (before adding the cream)

Greetings from Beatrice

Hello and welcome to our blog which is named after our home that have named The Frog & PenguINN.

Why it's so named is best shared in a future blog. 

It's taken me a few days to post this first entry because (as most everyone already knows) the more (or longer too) you think about — anything — the harder it is to get started. 

And, after spending a few hours reading other blogs, it was easier to "just do it."

So,here goes . . .


Sunday, January 17, 2010

First post

Have you ever wondered what others think of your life? Is it interesting? Sound like fun? Wish they could be living it? Think that you are really wasting your time and theirs? Wonder why they are still reading about the boring stuff you are doing?

Well this is our attempt to find the answers to those very questions and maybe even more. In the upcoming ramblings we will share our thoughts, and stuff we are doing. Adventures we are on, thinking of be on, wishing we were on, and even adventures we would rather have missed out on. We will introduce you to the town we live in, some of the folks who live here, the mini farm we work, and some of our philosophies on life.

Hopefully someone will be reading this, and maybe even take the time to comment. Even better you could do that friend thing over on the side so we know who you are (don't worry we are not stalkers, but that could make for a great adventure).

So in the words of that great hill philosopher Jed Clampett "Ya'll come back now, hear."

Grenville T. Boyd
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