Farm Life

You are currently browsing the archive for the Farm Life category.

real-hoosier-pie.jpg
It took me almost 40 years to master the technique, but I finally got it right.

According to my grandmother, a good sugar cream pie has two layers. The top should be a light custard. The second layer needs to be rich and even a little syrupy.The result is a totally decadent blend of flavor and texture.

When my grandparents owned the Wawasee Restaurant during the ’40s (which is before I was born), my grandmother’s “old-fashioned cream” pie was the signature dessert. She also served it at family gatherings; as did my mother. When I was a new bride, this was the first recipe I copied into the blank pages of my brand-new cookbook.

It was and always will be my favorite pie.

Although sugar cream pie is associated with the Amish, the recipe has been traced back to 1816, the year Indiana became a state and long before the Amish came to this area.  Virtually unheard of outside of  Indiana, Sugar Cream pie officially became Indiana’s State Pie on January 23, 2009.

I definitely believe Sugar Cream pie is more than worthy of the honor.  

But, I think there is an over-abundance of gloppy (where you can really taste the flour) custard pies being passed off as Hoosier Sugar Creams. Basically,they are custard pies–only with a LOT of flour substituted for the eggs. They don’t do the dessert justice.

If the recipe sounds a bit artery-clogging, my mother makes her pie with 2% milk instead of cream. It is still wonderful.

Enjoy!

REAL HOOSIER CREAM SUGAR PIE

¼ Cup white sugar

1/4 cup brown sugar

1 generous tablespoon butter

1 egg yolk

2 heaping tablespoons flour

1 pinch salt”

Milk or Cream (1-1 ½ cups…enough to fill pie shell) Preheat oven to 410 degrees. Mix brown and white sugar with flour. Sprinkle flour/sugar mixture over pie crust. Beat egg yolk with milk. Fill pie shell. Take a spoon and swirl it through the milk mixture a couple of times. Sprinkle with cinnamon or nutmeg.

Bake at 410 degrees for 10 minutes.Then bake at 350 for 45 minutes. The filling should be bubbling. The center should still jiggle. Be careful not to overcook or the filling will not set.

Tags: , , , , , , , , , ,

dsc02341.JPG
Scout at 11 weeks.

 We did the DNA cheek swab.

 We’re anxiously awaiting the results.

Since adopting the abandoned puppy, we’ve been wondering what he is. We are pretty sure one of Scout’s parents is a german shepherd. But, what about the other parent?

At first we thought Scout was all german shepherd despite his droopy ears. Every german shepherd puppy has droopy ears for 8 weeks. But, by 4 to 7 months the ears should be erect. Scout’s ears never quite came up.

dsc02369.JPG
Ears coming up? Scout at 4 months.

Not that Scout didn’t tease. When Scout was approximately 12-weeks-old one ear starting going up. Then the other. They got 3/4 of the way. Then at five months the ears headed south.

scout.jpg
Scout, 70 lbs. and 7-months

Scout is now a 7-month-old. And he has changed even more. He weighs 70-lbs. His tail curls over his back like a pug. He seems to be getting jowels.

Is he part mastiff? Pit bull? Bulldog? Pug?

 It takes 6 to 8 weeks for test results. We are on pins and needles. How can Maury handle the suspense 5 days a week?

dsc02556.JPG
Scout’s doggy DNA kit

Tags: , , , , , , , , , ,

FINALLY, it’s time to plant. I have spring fever. I want to dig in the dirt. And fill baskets with color and fragrance. But, I need to do research. I’ve used the same arrangements too long.

Baskets and beds are serious business.

In my neck of the woods, women aren’t judged by the size of their diamonds. Dresses don’t come off of racks, let alone from a designer. But, that doesn’t mean women here lead lives that are stark and without creative expression. 

Take a drive down Indiana country roads. You’ll see.

You can’t miss the pure joy expressed by chubby hand-raised calves and lambs romping together in fields. Or that of  the smiling, sparkley eyed, rosy-cheeked children outside trying to catch their pony. Or through their mother’s arrangement of pink tulips, purple phlox and blue silva intemingled with silver rocks.

It is a life I am privileged to be a part of.

I’ve been reading about new flower varieties too. Imagine petunias that don’t need deadheading or water. Or petunias that will trail for 3 feet and not be bothered by wind. I want to incorporate them in every basket.

Fortunately,  Country Garden Greenhouse’s Mennonite design team has been helpfully coming up with ideas for my arrangements.

dsc02121.JPG
One of my favorite places to hang out.

dsc02106.JPG
Hanging basket 1 is a spike, white lanai verbena, red calibrachoa superbells, lanai blue verbena, yellow calibrachoa (million bells).

Lanai Verbena: Lanai verbena is simply the best trailing verbena on the market today. This improved series exhibits dark green, large broad leaves with a trailing habit of up to 3 feet! Lanai verbena is drought and heat tolerant, and thrives in full, hot sun. Plants in baskets and containers also hold up very well in windy conditions.

Superbells: This new line of hybrid Calibrachoa takes an old favorite to a new level. Developed and selected for their large flowers, their resistance to Thielaviopsis, and their strong summer performance, these Calibrachoa are truly Superbells. Deadheading is not necessary. The plants are heat tolerant. They attract hummingbirds.

Millon Bells: A Calibrachoa, these plants are prolific bloomers that produce hundreds of 1” wide flowers from spring to frost. Flower colors include shades of violet, blue, pink, red, magenta, yellow, bronze, and white.

dsc02107.JPG Hanging basket 2: has a double rose begonia, a tri colored sweet potato vine, a geranium and opal innocence nemesia.

Opal Innocence Nemesia:  Abundant opalescent tri-colored flowers with a strong scent! (They smell heavenly…think lily-of-the-valley or lilac) Nemesia, the mauve pink plant shown, requires no deadheading and thrives in full sun or partial shade. It will bloom all season if fed and watered regularly.

Double Rose Begonia: Take care not to overwater. Water early in the day, water deep and water less frequently. 

Tri colored sweet potato vine: This ornamental plant provides color and interest like no other plant. They are grown for their distinctive foliage and vigorous growth habit.

dsc02109.JPG
Ornamental container 3 has failproof plants, a spike, pink geraniums, asparagus fern, and vinca vines. These are perfect for my climate and will survive the care of someone like me, who waits for wilting to watering.

Vinca: Vinca or Periwinkle is a prolific heat and drought tolerant annual, perfect for hot, dry areas. It’s easy to grow, and requires little or no attention. A grower once reported that he has grown Vinca in the same location for 30 years. (I can vouch for vinca’s ability to come back on it’s own. I have some that came up unwanted and it prolifically reproduces and reproduces. It’s like a weed it is so prolific and sturdy.)

dsc02112.JPG
Purple fountain grass are in the center. Around the edge are white and purple velvet nemesias. The red flowers in front are red lanai verbena.

Purple Fountain Grass: The flower heads progress from dark ruby red, through shades of pink, to buff as they mature. They are produced in constant succession so all stages are present throughout the flowering season. It makes a great center piece in a container. It is a vigorous grower that will quickly fill in any bed or container. The foxtail like plumes will appear mid summer and last until first frost.

Red Lanai Verbena:  The Verbena Lanai series is free flowering from tip to crown with flowers that are clustered in a ball providing a carpet of color. Lanai verbena is simply the best trailing verbena on the market today. This improved series exhibits dark green, large broad leaves, with a trailing habit of up to 3 feet! Lanai verbena is drought and heat tolerant, and thrives in full, hot sun.

White and Purple Velvet Nemesias have an appealing fragrance and make an excellent choice for early spring color and sales. Ideal for small pots and color accents.Upright and compact. Use in 4-6” pots and combos.

dsc02126.JPG
One of many greenhouses.

dsc02119.JPG
Waiting for mom.

Sigh….I’m only getting started. There is so much more to do… But the work is such a pleasure. To be continued…

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , ,

dsc02037.JPG
Spring plowing.

dsc02054.JPG
We have wild ducks living in our woods. I hope that means baby ducks!!!

dsc02055.JPG
We’re going to have to take our walks in other directions. I want the ducks to stay.

dsc02056.JPG
Why did the ducks cross the road?

dsc02057.JPG
To get to the pond on the other side.

dsc02041.JPG
Tadpoles. I hope they eat EVERY single mosquito larvae.

dsc02116.JPG
Mama, baby and LOTS of spring grass.

dsc02042.JPG
Spring violets.

dsc02048.JPG
I am not sure what kind of flower this is. We have a lot of them.

dsc02105.JPG
There is a possum has living in the old graundhog hole. Buster and Abby are thrilled.

dsc02058.JPG
Kitty is as happy for sunshine as I am.

Tags: , , , , , , , , , ,

geraniums-on-the-patio.jpg
We use a lot of flowers in the summer. Geraniums are a good choice for us. They’re hardy and will  survive mild neglect.

geraniums-from-last-fall.jpg
There are too many lovely geraniums to throw away. We decided to try to overwinter them.

We overwintered our geraniums dormant in our dark basement.

Here’s how: Storing your geraniums dormant. 

When we brought the geraniums up this spring, we didn’t take them outside right away. We were afraid too much sun, too soon, might harm them. We kept them in our garage for 2 days to acclimate to the sun that came through those windows. Then we brought the geraniums outside and sheltered them next to the wooden fence.

One of the 12 geraniums we brought inside for the winter was overwatered during our acclimation process. It turned mushy. But even so, 11 geraniums is a good start on summer flowers.

dsc02009.JPG
This is what they look like after being in the dark for months. Notice the little leaves starting to sprout on the thin white stalks..

dsc02008.JPG
The leaves are more developed on this plant.

dsc02005.JPG
We brought this one up over a week ago to see how it did. It looks good.

Tags: , , , , , ,

chicken.jpg

This is my husband’s favorite dinner. Absolutely. No question about it.

The recipe is from Betty Crocker’s 1973 “Dinner for Two”, which was one of my first cookbooks. I own a LOT of cookbooks, but this is the one I’ve used the most.

Over the years, I’ve doubled the chicken recipe many times. It is foolproof.

 OVEN FRIED CHICKEN

1/4 cup shortening or salad oil (part butter)

1/4 cup all-purpose flour

1/2 tsp. salt

1/8 tsp paprika (I use more)

1/8 tsp. pepper

1 1/2 lbs. chicken pieces or 2-pound broiler-fryer chicken cut into quarters

 DIRECTIONS: Heat oven to 425 degrees. In oven, melt shortening in baking pan. Mix flour, salt, paprika and pepper in plastic or paper bag; shake chicken 2 or 3 pieces at a time, in bag until coated.

Place chicken skin side down in pan. Bake uncovered 30 minutes. Turn chicken; bake until tender, 15 to 20 minutes.

cookbook1.jpg
1973 Betty Crocker “Cooking for Two Cookbook”

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , ,

There are many ways to say, “I love you.”

DH puts a dollop of whipped cream with cinnamon sprinkles on my coffee every morning when I get up. He also brings it to me after dinner. The cats get whipped cream on saucers. The dogs take their whipped cream straight.

It makes us feel spoiled, pampered and loved. See how the dogs are smiling…

Tags: , , , , , , , ,

im-coming-through.jpg
Whee…I’m coming through.”

dog-in-snow-good.jpg
“Oh yea, I double dog dare you!”

abby-in-snow-fantastic.jpg
“Abby”

weve-got-winter-hair-and-are-ready-for-whatever.jpg
“We want to play, too!”

horses-in-the-snow.jpg
“Gangway…here we come”


Skipper and Summer play in the snow and scare Abby who decides to watch from afar. (Behind a bush.)

Tags: , , , , , , , , , ,

dsc01149.jpg
Despite having crossed over into her senior years, Abby is as frisky as a pup!

It doesn’t get better!

We have fresh snow, two dogs and sunshine.

We can’t go into the woods, though. It’s deer hunting season. Every deer in the county knows DH and I don’t hunt. Their tracks are everywhere. They are everywhere.

We’ve flushed out full-antlered bucks. We’ve flushed out whole herds.

One of the deer is the smallest doe DH has ever seen. He saw her this summer and thought she was a fawn, until he saw the baby. DH was on his tractor and the fawn and tiny doe walked almost up to him. They weren’t the least bit afraid as they strolled by DH and the tractor on their way to a neighbor’s cornfield.

But, as beautiful as they are and as much as we love seeing them, the deer are a danger to our deer-running dogs who’ll hopefully give chase over car-ridden highways, past trigger-happy hunters and livestock-protecting farmers.

Until hunting season ends, the dogs have to be leashed or kept by the garden where they won’t be enticed into harm’s way.

Today though, nobody minds. Not with snow to run through and a dad who can be coaxed into throwing the ball.

It’s a most wonderful TIME of the year!

dsc01155.jpg
Abby is on the alert. There is a groundhog hole on the other side of the brush.

dsc01167.jpg
“Tag, you’re it!”

dsc01158.jpg
“You can’t catch me.” Buster’s smile says it all! He’s so pleased with himself, he doesn’t notice Abby isn’t trying to catch him.

dsc01173.jpg
Buster makes dog “snow angels”.

dsc00961.jpg
Buster’s ball. We got it for the horses, who wanted nothing to do with it. Buster found it and fell in love. We like it too. It wears Buster out more than a regular ball.

More posts about the dogs:

My Big Fat Animals

Two dogs and a cat go to the vet

Thanksgiving dinner rolls…and a bad dog!

“Bad Boy Buster” and Dog Whispering

Saving Kitty

Posts about the cats:

Playing Cat and Mouse

My Big Fat Animals

Two dogs and a cat go to the vet

The Cat Box

Cat Ladder

DH’s Cat Ladder Goes International

Saving Kitty

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , ,

dream_bars_and_coffee.jpg
These bar cookies are not only delicious, they are FOOLPROOF. The recipe is my daughter’s. When she was a teenager she liked to bake and made these cookies often.

dream_cake_recipe.jpg
DH’s grandmother Helen’s Dream Cake recipe from her hand-written cookbook. The recipe is similar to my daughter’s bar cookie recipe.

OLD FASHIONED HOLIDAY BAR COOKIES

Crust:

½ cup butter

½ cup light brown sugar

1 cup sifted flour

Filling:

2 eggs

1 cup light brown sugar

1 tsp. Vanilla

3 tablespoons flour

¼ teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon baking powder

1 cup coarsely chopped pecans or walnuts

1 can (3 ½ oz.) coconut

Preheat oven to 350. Mix butter, sugar and flour until smooth. Pat into bottom of 13x9x2-inch pan. Bake 10 minutes or until golden. Cool.

To make filling: beat eggs until light; gradually add sugar. Add vanilla, flour, salt and baking powder. Stir until combined. Add coconut and nuts. Spread evenly over crust and bake 25 minutes or until golden. Cool slightly.

Cut into bars while still warm.

bars_and_book.jpg
The crust is patted down on the bottom of the pan, baked and ready for my “flourless filling”.

“Noooo,” I shrieked like a shrew. 

My poor husband was trying to help. But, he was instead further ruining the treats I was making for him.

I didn’t realize until AFTER I spread  the filling over my cooled cookie crust that I had forgotten to include flour in the filling.

DH said it was not a problem, he could stir the flour in with a fork. I was afraid the fragile crust might break up and get in the filling…my daughter’s recipe specifically called for a crust.

But, DH seemed confident, so  I sprinkled about a tablespoon of flour over the cookies.  DH got a fork and started stirring. Vigorously, he stirred the crust right INTO the filling.

Which was reason I made enough noise to scare our animals out of the kitchen.

My scream also stopped DH from doing more cookie damage.

I put the cookies in the oven and hoped for the best. 

Fortunately, the best was fantastic. The cookies were wonderful.

The recipe is FOOLPROOF.

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , ,

« Older entries