Sunday, December 10, 2017

Second Sunday of Advent 2017

It is the Second Sunday of Advent and we light the second candle in anticipation and preparation for Christmas Day when we celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ.

The mornings are dark nowadays, the nights are long,and in some places it is cold and the snow is still falling.

It was particular meaningful to light the two candles at dawn while waiting for the sun to come up and warm us.

This is a hectic time--everybody is busy. Hopefully we will take the time out to still our minds and hearts--to remember why we celebrate this season.

Remember the reason for giving gifts

Today the Nobel prizes are distributed by the King of Sweden.  The ceremony takes place at the City Hall in Stockholm.  It is followed by a lavish dinner.

According to The Guardian the presentations will be awarded "amid criticism that this year's science prizes lacked diversity."

Many science winners said that "no women" were among the winners.  They also said that science was "for men by men."

I read about Advent as celebrated in Sweden and found out that rice porridge is eaten often during this time.  If you like to try it:  follow the direction on the package and use some milk instead of water.  The porridge is served with, milk, sugar, and cinnamon.

The celebration of the season and the food that goes with it is what you and I feel is important.

This is the season.
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Friday, December 8, 2017

Winter Greenery

This is the time of the year when we bring in cedar and fir greenery to deck the halls on the Back Forty.  It does look very nice with some red of a poinsettia mixed in with the greenery.  It is also bringing in the outside, a little bit of greenery in this bleak season with cold and rain.  Rain and cold go away, won't you?

I was running low on vegetables in the freezer and my husband and I had to buy "fresh" vegetables from the grocery store.  Most often, we didn't know where the vegetables were grown and how far they had to travel to reach us.  What concerned us the most was what kind of herbicides and pesticides were used.  Finally, the price.

Although I am considered to be handicapped at this time:  I can't walk without my Rollator,  I decided that we had to have a garden.

What to heck!  I wheeled my Rollator into the weeds in one of the two garden plots and started to pull the weeds.  It worked out fine.  I didn't fall off the Rollator! 

As we have in the past, we transplanted green and red mustard seedlings and they took root and grew quickly.  The red mustard turns green when cooked but it adds color to the garden.

I also planted collard cabbage. "Collards?" my husband almost shouted.  "Not in my garden," he said.

Oh, well.  Sometimes, I don't read very well:  I thought that I had picked up cabbage!  So, I have to wait and see if there is going to be any cabbage growing in those plant.

They are putting out nice and healthy leaves that I have picked, blanched, and put into the freezer.  I like collards with pickle juice, of course.  I just have to cook them a long time.  I read somewhere 45 minutes.

This is the season.
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Wednesday, December 6, 2017

Christmas Light Balls

My neighbor has been up the tree all afternoon hanging lighted Christmas balls.  Last night, my husband and I went across the street to admire his decorations and take pictures of the beautiful balls.  The pictures didn't come out very well so I have snagged somebody else's.

The wife came out and we told her how much we admired the only decorations along our street. She told us that her husband had made the balls using chicken wire.  She said that to create a ball you had to use a wire that was twice as long as it was wide.

Furthermore, she said that it was recommended that you wear gloves to handle and cut the chicken wire.  Once the wires were cut, you place the two cut sides together and connect by twisting the wires around each other.

Finally, he attached mini LED lights with using snaps from bread bags.

I was so impressed with what our neighbors had done to brighten up the area, I had to share it with you.

My neighbor said that they had researched how to make Christmas Light Balls on the Internet and I found a good source on "".

This is the season.
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Tuesday, December 5, 2017

Red Plum Preserves

My husband went to the store to get milk, bread, and eggs.  He came home with two large bags with the mentioned groceries but he had also picked up two bags of large California Red Plums, 1.5 kilos each.  What am I going to do with those plums?

I cut some up, laid them out on a baking sheet, and put them in the freezer.  They will be put in a bag when frozen and used in smoothie, if nothing else.

I also cut some up and packed them into jars, filled the jars with a sugar solution  (1 cup sugar, 4 cups water, or less, if you prefer), sealed the jars, and gave them a 15-minute water bath.

Before I got out of the kitchen, I made jams or preserves.  I cut up and pitted 2 and 1/2 lbs of the good tasting plums.  (This recipe may also be doubled.)

I put the diced plums into my large stockpot with one (1) cup of water and four (4) cups of sugar, stirring until the sugar dissolved, let it come to a boil, cut the heat down, and let it continue to boil/simmer for about 45 minutes or less.

To test for doneness or setting, I put a little of the jam onto a small cool plate and if it sort of settles, not running, the plum concoction is ready to be transferred into jars.

After the jam is put into jars, I seal them with hot wax, and put the tops on them when the wax has cooled.

Some canners feel more comfortable giving the jam a 15-minute water bath.  I don't have a canning pot so I use my stockpot.  I put a cloth on the bottom of the pot to keep the sealed jars from rattling and cover them with water well over an inch above the tops.

The jam turned out to be very good tasting although the yield was but a few jars.  By the way, the preserves also make nice gifts,.

This is the season . . .
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Saturday, December 2, 2017

First Sunday of Advent 2017

This is the season  . . .  This is the season to anticipate and mindfully prepare for the Celebration of the Nativity of Jesus at Christmas.

This is the season . . . .  This is the busiest season with gift buying, baking and cooking, harvesting the greens in the garden, making jams and jellies, parties, and obligations to friends and family.  What did I leave out?

This is the season . . . .   It is traditional in the Christian religion for churches as well as for families to light a candle for the first Sunday of Advent and one additional candle for each Sunday  until all four candles are lit in time for Christmas Day.

A long time ago, my mother gave me this copper candle holder for the four candles in the Advent season.  Unfortunately, I don't remember how she got the candle holder or who gave it to her.  But it is a treasure since my mother passed away some years ago.

It is meaningful to continue with traditions.  When I was coming along, the Swedes didn't have any other color but white for candles and my candles are always white during the Christmas holiday.  Purple is the traditional color in many churches.

For the First Sunday of Advent, it is for me meaningful to light a white candle in the stillness of the early morning and take a moment to reflect on the upcoming holidays.  I count my blessings and acknowledge that God has been good to me.

Have a Blessed First Sunday of Advent

Wednesday, November 29, 2017

Sweet Satsuma Orange Marmalade

The Satsuma Oranges are too fragile to be shipped and the closest you may find in a grocery store are the Clementines.  We have two Satsuma trees on Back Forty and they are producing.  I have canned some, I have put some in the freezer, and eaten my share but we still have plenty of these small sweet oranges with few seeds and easy to peel.

I had my large enameled stock pot on the stove, left there since canning the oranges, so I might as well make Satsuma Marmalade.  Here we go:

I used 2 lbs which came out to be nine ((9) oranges, juice of two (2) large lemons, and 4 and 1/2 cups of sugar.

To spice up the marmalade, I tossed in a 4 inch stick of cinnamon and a twig of Rosemary.  No commercial pectin was used.

From the Cowlick Cottage Farm, I found out that I didn't have to peel the oranges just halve them and chop them up a bit and pulsate them a few times in my food processor.

I don't have a processor so I cut up the juicy oranges any way I could and collected them in  bowl.  Do cut them up as finely as you can or the marmalade will be too chunky.  I like my marmalade to be just a little chunky.

Now then, bring three (3) cups of water to boil in your stock pot.  When the water is boiling, add the  oranges, peel and all.  Let it come to a boil and ease up on the heat but let it boil for 30 minutes or until the rinds are soft.

When the 30 minutes are up, add the 4 and 1/2 cups of sugar and the lemon juice stirring constantly until sugar has dissolved.

Turn heat up and let it boil for 20 - 30 minutes and then start testing for setting.  I put a little marmalade on a small plate and put it in the fridge for a few minutes.  I found that it was indeed beginning to settle.

Time to ladle the marmalade into clean (sterile) jars and I sealed my jars with hot wax.  You may want to give the filled and sealed jars a water bath for five (5) minutes.  Keep it clean and keep it safe.

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Monday, November 27, 2017

Oh, Christmas Tree!

Decisions, decision!  What kind of a Christmas tree will it be this year?  This is the season.  Again.  A busy season too.  Is this the time to buy a tree or shall I wait a while?  How about a live tree or what about an artificial tree? 

When our kids were growing up, we selected a live tree with roots.  When we brought it in, our dog Sir Henry thought it was a great idea and was ready to mark it--naughty dog.  He learned.

When selecting a cut tree, look for a healthy dark green color, smell it, and feel it; however, some trees do not have a fragrance.  Wrap your hand around a branch and (gently) try to pull the needles and hopefully they do not come out but perhaps for a few.

You may also try to lift the tree a few inches off the ground and drop it on its base and again hopefully not too many needles will drop.

Ask the tree attendant to cut a few inches off the base so that you will have a fresh cut when or if you can't put the tree up right away but you can put it in a bucket of water and keep it fresh.  When it has reached it fill, it won't take up any more water.

The Frasier fir seems to be the most popular fresh cut tree because of its dark green needles and its ability to retain them. 

Some years ,we had live cedar trees that we set at in the front yard.  They grew and provided us with shade and privacy but had to come down after 30 some years.

My preference has always been a spruce with short needles but nowadays we have an artificial tree with built in lights.  This tree will last for many years and it is rather hassle free once we've correctly connected the lights.

Whatever your preference, I hope you enjoy shopping for your Christmas tree, enjoy dressing it, and enjoying the season.  Let me know your decision!

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