Monday, 14 July 2014

Sonkers!

I've made this a few times now, using what ever berries/fruit I happen to have on hand at the time.  It's kinda like a pie turned inside-out.  I am not skilled in the pastry department, so I avoid pies if I can... But this, thanks to an article by Ashley English that appears in her book, "A Year of Pies" and I believe in Taproot Magazine too.  (Adapted recipe after the photos)

This one was raspberries:

And dolloped (is that even a word?) with spelt dumplings...


... and served with ice cream!  Voila:

Recipe:
Filling:

  • 4 1/2 half-pints raspberries
  • 1/2 cup honey/agave/maple syrup
  • 1/4 cup arrowroot powder or cornstarch
  • 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • Topping:
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour (or spelt or combo)
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter, cubed
  • 3/4 cup buttermilk (or yoghurt)
  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted

Preheat the oven to 425°F. Butter a 10-inch skillet or a 9-inch pie pan and set aside.
Prepare the filling:
Combine all the ingredients for the filling in a medium-size bowl. Stir until the dry ingredients are thoroughly mixed and the berries are well-coated. Cover bowl with a kitchen cloth and set aside for 15 minutes.
Prepare the biscuit topping:
Combine the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in a medium-sized bowl.
Using a pastry blender or fork, cut in the butter cubes until the mixture is crumbly and the size of peas or smaller.
Create a well in the center of the mixture. Pour in the buttermilk, and using a large spoon, gently incorporate just until all of the dry ingredients are moistened. The mixture will look quite wet at this point, but that’s fine.

Assemble the sonker:
Place the blackberry mixture in the prepared skillet.
Using a large spoon,dollop the surface of the raspberries with the biscuit topping, aiming for mounds of about 3 tablespoons of batter. You needn’t be terribly specific on the biscuit amounts; as long as the surface is dotted with reasonably similar biscuit mounds, you’re fine.
Pour the melted butter over the biscuit topping and bake for 15 minutes. Reduce the oven temperature to 350°F and continue baking an additional 30 minutes.
Cool at least 30 minutes.

Enjoy!  And, if you have leftovers, you can have it again for breakfast, with yoghurt on the side instead of the icecream.  

Monday, 7 July 2014

How Does Your Garden Grow?

My garden? This year?  Not very well, I'm afraid.  I got a really late start for a couple of reasons... one was that our garden gate is one that has very large gaps in it.  Not large enough for sheep to bust through, but plenty big enough for the ducks and chickens.  So after waiting and waiting for said gate to be replaced, I got impatient and tacked a bunch of netting over the gaps.  A little unsightly, but effective.  

So my lettuces didn't get planted... or rather, they did, but the ducks ate it before I had the netting up and I didn't bother to replant.

Thank goodness for garlic that was in last fall:

and New Zealand spinach (not really a spinach) that reseeds itself:
(notice the peas in the background -- that was all the kids' doing, not mine)

So this year, I think I've resigned myself to things that don't need a lot of work, like pumpkins of various types and sizes...

... and raspberries & blackberries that are threatening to overtake a very large part of both the garden and the chicken yard...
Low maintenance, people, that's what I'm going for this year.  I don't have time for succession planting or lettuces that are going to bolt at the first hint of heat.  It's going to be a hot one, so definitely don't need THAT.  I'll concentrate on garlic, pumpkins, and berries me thinks.  Lots of jam and pumpkins to get us through the winter.  Sounds good to me!

Thursday, 15 May 2014

Oregon Coast Cowl

So we travelled down the Oregon coast this past December, when the temperature hit record lows... We were in our RV and F R E E Z I N G ... which thus inspired me to whip up this little dream of a cowl.


Super easy pattern.  I wanted something reversible; repeatable but not totally boring.  Something I could wear with just about anything (also inspired by my limited travelling wardrobe). And soft as all get-out.  So I opted for a Royal Alpaca in grey.



**I used less than 1 skein for this project.  You can customize however you like.  Choose your yarn.  Choose your needles according to the yarn.  Knit for as long as you like it.  I kept going till it would wrap around my neck 3 times, not loose, but not too tight either.**

Cast on 32 sts.  (or any multiple of 8, depending on how wide you want it).
Row 1-4: Knit 4, Purl 4, repeat to end.
Row 5-8: Purl 4, Knit 4, repeat to end.
Rows 9 on:  Repeat rows 1-8.

When you are done, join ends in a simple stitch.  I twisted mine once before I joined the ends to have a flip in the cowl.  Also, make sure you end on a row 8 so when you join the end, the pattern flows.





Monday, 12 May 2014

Lambing? Check!

I guess I've been a bit remiss in updates about how the lambing all went this year. (Sorry 'bout that.)

Well... I'm happy to report 10 healthy lambs running around our little 2 acre piece these days.  (Whew!)  So yes, Stella and Sunshine birthed 2 healthy lambs without missing a beat, as suspected.  Dulcie did birth triplets again, and since we knew to keep an eye on her, we watched all 3 born, easily and quickly, and dear mama Dulcie took all three of the little rams and is nursing them all!  Wow.  She is my rock star.

Moo, on the other hand... she birthed twins again, the first born easily and the "right" way... #2 came out backwards, and with a great deal of effort by mama and quite a bit of help from me.  Poor thing.  I wonder if she's just not cut out for the whole thing.   She nurses and cares for them amazingly, but the whole birth thing?  I shudder to think what would happen if we weren't around to help her.


Moo and her lambs

And Smudge?  Gosh, we didn't even think she was pregnant, and she popped a single lamb out one evening while we were having dinner.  Poor thing had this bewildered look on her face like she had NO idea what was happening to her.  She took to mothering like a natural though, and a bossy mama too, always yelling for her little boy.  Good practise, I hear, for a young ewe like Smudge to only have the 1 lamb to deal with.
Sunshine's little ewe lamb
So here we are, several weeks later, and everyone doing very well.  A happy shepherdess over here :)

Tuesday, 18 March 2014

Ignorance is Bliss

... it is, in regards to sheep anyway.

Last Year, I had no idea what to expect.  And the first lambs came over night and surprised me in the morning, all cleaned up and perfect.  This Year, because of last year, I'm watching closely.  According to the day we got the ram, and how long a ewe's gestation is, first lambs could have started arriving on March 16.  Here we are on the 18th, and my poor sheep look like they could burst at any second: they are grunting a lot, their udders are HUGE and they seem so uncomfortable.

And last year, the ewes were all first timers, as was I, so we all learned stuff together.  Now, fortunately or unfortunately, I'm watching for certain things.  For example?  "Moo" birthed both her babies backwards.  Healthy and wonderful, but thank goodness I was around to give her a hand or it may not have ended so nicely.  So I'm watching her.  And her sister, Dulcie, birthed triplets, but after the first 2, she looked like she was done, so we let her be.  And unfortunately found #3 dead in the straw the next morning.  It could have been born dead for all I know.  But this year, I know she's fully capable of birthing more than 2, so I'm watching her too.  Stella and Sunshine both birthed beautifully on their own, so I'm not too worried about them.  And then there's Smudge - Stella's little white lamb from last year.  I think she might be preggers too, but I held her back from the ram a bit, to give her a chance to grow up a little more on this end of things, so I'm still not sure if she took.  We'll have to wait a bit to find out.

As there were no lambs in sight this evening, it'll be at least another day or 2 of watching...

Monday, 3 February 2014

Embracing 2014

Well... it's been a while.

I had every intention of writing for the last... well, since the last post really... I have lots to say (wink)... it just didn't happen.  (Obviously.)

We were away on a little jaunt to Southern California for a sunshine break  and I couldn't seem to log on to post anything.  And now, I want to write stuff, but my camera's on the fritz.  So finally, I figured I'd just jot down a few things... a "to-write" list, if you will:
- a photo of my finished shalom sweater (which I LOVE, btw)
- an easy-peasy pattern for a simple cowl that I knit on the road (when I was FREEZING on the Oregon coast), in a light grey, Royal Alpaca.  Dreamy.
- a soap-box version of what I think of this latest backyard chicken craze
- chicken update (all those babies from last year?  All grown up and Gorgeous!) & plans for 2014 babies!
- sheep update (Yep, I think they are all preggers -- due anytime after March 16)
- a mild rant on my frustrations and successes with home-schooling
- book reviews on 3 (!) novels I read while away.

.. and a few other things.

Suffice it to say, that I'm REALLY glad 2014 is here because 2013 was not my favourite year.  Putting a positive spin on it, I did A LOT of learning (read: made a ton of mistakes) and I'm looking forward to putting my learning into practise this year.  (Lesson #1: NO PIGS).

That is all.

For now (another wink).


Saturday, 2 November 2013

Weekend Reading

Ah Hah!  I found one.  A novel I could read right through.  I have attention-deficit when it comes to novels, you see.  They can't seem to hold me very long.  But something the way Jeannette Walls writes really pulls me in.  I've read her memoir, "The Glass Castle" and her other novel "Half Broke Horses", and now this, her third "The Silver Star".  She says it's a novel, fiction, but I'm sure there are pieces of her crazy childhood all over this book.  Especially in the mother character.

I said it before after reading one of Walls' books:  If you think your life is spinning out of control, just try to imagine what life was like for her growing up.  Your life?  It ain't so bad.  Cozy up this weekend with a good read and really enjoy that extra hour tomorrow.