Recently someone remarked on a page I belong to on Facebook, saying they didn't like the way the trees look in the fall after their leaves have fallen. Several people said it looked ugly. To me, it is anything but ugly. It is the time of renewal in the forest. I like to think of the trees as sleeping, taking a beauty rest.
Spring brings rain and warmer temperatures. I like to imagine the trees waking up and stretching, maybe yawning a bit, saying, "Aw, spring is here." Their sap is flowing and the trees starting adding some pretty green to our landscape here in upstate NY.
Summer of course, is the ultimate season for most people. Our summers are not so hot and we usually get plenty of rain. This year, we did not, but everything still was green as you can see in my photo. Every season shows a whole other vision of the forest around us. I study each and every tree. They are beautiful to me, in every single season.
Everyone loves the fall colors of the trees in the forest. It is what I look forward to at the end of summer. I know when the trees turn color, that winter is not far behind. Of course, I always liked the winter until we started using wood stoves. My husband hated doing the wood so much, that it made me dread winter. It was not because I hated winter.
Winter is beautiful in the forest! The silence after a snowfall is one of my favorite things. I love listening to the sounds of the forest, the trees creaking a bit, the Chickadees searching for food, the Blue Jays screeching a warning to the others in the forest when a cat or a human crosses the line.........but nothing can top the silence of a fresh snowfall in the forest. If you have never experienced it.........you should!
Today is known as "Black Friday" and that means I am staying home. I am not one to take a chance on crowded stores and fighting for a parking spot. If I cannot park close to the store, I cannot shop there. And if I cannot use one of the electric carts in the store, I cannot shop there. It is just the way it is for me now. Sometimes a smaller store is my choice, even if the prices are higher. More often than not, I like to shop on the internet for that reason alone.
I don't really Christmas shop as we do not give gifts to each other. If I want something, I buy it. Last year, my husband did buy me a new Kindle Fire and I still love that gift. It wasn't for Christmas though. I am not sure what made him buy it for me, but I am certainly glad he did. I read with it every single day. My son buys his own stuff and we haven't done Christmas gifts in a very long time. I am glad we don't since I am on a very strict budget at the present time. If you are shopping today, I hope you have a good time.
Happy Thanksgiving to all my readers. I hope you had a very nice day with your loved ones.
My FIL and BIL
My Father-In-Law and Brother-In-Law came to our house for Thanksgiving dinner. It was very nice. My son, Jeffrey baked eight pies. Yes, eight pies! You heard me right. He got a little carried way. But it worked out well, we were able to send two pies home with our guests. They loved that.
My parents' gravestone
Today is also the tenth anniversary of my mother's death. She was on my mind a lot today. I wish I could spend one more day with her. Just her and me for the whole day. Now my father is reunited with her and I know he kept saying that was what he wanted. To go be with her. Now he is.
Home made stir-fry is something I like to make for supper. It is one of the best meals you can have. Full of vitamins and minerals. If you do not want to add meat, you don't have to. If you have a family member or friend for dinner who does not eat meat, it is simple to put some in a separate dish after the vegetables have fried, before you add the meat. Just about any vegetable will work. As Burger King used to say, "Have it your way!"
Vegetables Stir frying
I do not use a wok, but most people do. I like to make my stir fry on the wood cook stove using a very heavy cast iron skillet. I should have used the cast iron chicken fryer for more room in the pan. It was kind of packed in. Get your fire real hot and heat the pan to hot before you put any food in. When you are frying the various vegetables and meats, move them around a lot. Shove them from one side of the pan to the next. That is how you will get the best results. I like to burn my carrots a little bit to bring the sweetness out. When you cut the carrots, slice them at an angle to make them cook even better.
Cut up all the vegetables at the same time. Then cut the chicken into small chunks. I used olive oil on this particular stir-fry. I many times will use sesame or peanut oil. It depends on what you feel like. Each oil will give you a different taste. Pour the oil in the hot pan, then start adding vegetables. Add the thickest ones first. I usually add carrots first, then broccoli and then the others. The only vegetables I use that are canned are the bean sprouts, water chestnuts and sometimes the baby corn. I always add bean sprouts and water chestnuts in whatever stir-fry I make. Add whatever type of vegetables your family likes.The sky is the limit!
Frying on the open burner
Add the chicken or whatever meat you are using last. Stir fry it moving it around so it cooks good. Then cover it for about ten minutes. You can purchase a variety of sauces in the oriental section of the grocery store. I usually just add some soy sauce and sprinkle it all over the top. Then let it set in the pan for about five minutes. I sometimes will include fresh garlic, ginger root or sesame seeds. If you add any of them, cook them in the beginning, stir frying them with just the carrots or whatever is first.
Most people serve stir-fry with rice. We don't since we don't eat rice anymore. I thought I would miss it, but it surprised me how good it was without the rice. It was very good and my family loved it. There was no leftovers!
Our first snowfall this year was yesterday. I couldn't get on here because we had no sun and our generator is broken again. We have ordered another one. Today the sun is out so we are getting some sun on the solar panels.
The snow across the road from our house yesterday!
My son, Jeff checking out the snow in his brand new coat!
This was a short blog post because I am limited on my power until the new generator gets here. Can't wait!
When I was growing up, my mother made chili quite often. She made it the traditional way, with hot peppers, green peppers, onions and chili powder. I love it that way and make it that way myself at times. My husband though, does not like onions or the peppers cooked in it. His family made it using a family recipe that supposedly was a secret recipe. It is not a secret anymore! I am posting it here. The family members who made it are all dead or in their nineties. I don't think they really care anymore. Besides this way more people can try it.
The first thing you do is to cut up the bacon and fry it. I am cooking it here on the wood heating stove. You can cook it anywhere you like. Many times, I will cook it and the ground beef in the oven at the same time. This time I cooked it on the heating stove to conserve fuel. I used a two pound package of thick cut bacon. Depending on how much you are making, is how you decide if you want a lot of bacon or just a little. We like a lot of bacon and I was trying to make a full roasting pan.
Ground beef frying
Since this pot of chili was a double batch, I used a big package of ground beef. Again you can adjust it to how much you want. I have also used other ground meats in chili and even have made it with Spam. Yes, whatever kind of meats you have will give you a whole new taste. Ground sausage is good in it too.
Home canned kidney beans
The kidney beans I use, I can myself from dried beans. Sometimes I only put one pint in, and at other times I may add as many as three or four. No set amount and you can even use other types of beans if you want. Do not drain the beans! Pour the whole jar or can right in including the liquid from the can.
Tomatoes growing in your garden are best!
Most years, I have always had my own canned tomatoes that came from my garden. The last two years, I have not had any tomatoes from my garden, as they had the Late Blight. Ruined my whole crop. I am hoping this year to finally get a type of tomato that will not suffer from that.
Or you can purchase at the store
For chili I use canned crushed tomatoes. You can use whole ones, pureed or even stewed it you choose. I added a can of tomato juice to it also. Add enough tomatoes to make the chili liquid and not too thick. We like it thick, but I need some liquid in it too. Once everything is added and mixed together, you can add garlic to it or chili powder. As I said in the beginning, for this chili recipe I do not. In my other types of chili recipes, I make a little hot. My son adds a little hot sauce to his bowl at the table.
Lupole's Family Chili Recipe
1 lb. ground beef
1 lb. bacon, cut in small pieces
2 large cans of crushed tomatoes
1 large can tomato juice
2 large cans kidney beans, undrained
Fry the ground beef and bacon separately and drain. Add to the chili pot and then add all the other ingredients. Mix together. If you want, you may add chili powder or other chili seasonings, to taste. Put in a 350 degree oven, or set on a wood stove with a trivet underneath it. Let simmer slowly overnight. I like to cook it for a long time at a low temperature. Or turn it off at night, but keep it warm. Heat it the next day and serve with Oyster crackers.
My critters are all individuals. They each have their own idiosyncrasies and routines. We all know what to expect from each of them every morning and through out the day. Patches, has always been a little strange. I brought her home from my parents' home back in 2000. She came to their house with her mother, an all white cat. My father said every time Patches, who was a kitten at the time, would try to eat out of the dish of scraps he put out for all the stray cats, her mother would strike at her, and not let her eat. A few times she had gotten in my car. Then one time my mother told me my niece was going to take her home with her the next time she came up. That was all I had to hear! This cat was not going to live stuck in a city apartment with smokers and not being able to go outside. After all, she was a country cat! She is a wonderful cat and does all kinds of strange little things around here. I hate to think of life without Patches!
Callie is the "alpha" cat in our house. She maintains that position by never being afraid of anyone or anything. I don't think it even occurs to her to be afraid of someone, be it human, or beast. Our horse trampled her on purpose. And I still had to watch that she did not go back in there at another time. She was born in a horse barn and has no fear of them or dogs. In fact, she will chase the biggest dog right off our property. The thing is that most cats run when a dog chases it, and she does not. She confuses them. At twelve years of age, she spends most of her time sleeping or eating, inside the house. I guess she decided she'd rather be inside now.
Hobo is our littlest cat, but she is a tough little girl. She hunts in the paddock and the horses don't mess with her. She is a very good hunter and is always bringing her catch back. She came to live with us in 2003 when she showed up on our porch looking for a handout. Nikita chased her into the woods, but she came right back. I fed her and it was dark so I didn't see that she was bleeding and had a big hole in her skull. We believe she was thrown off the bridge. We heard someone stop on the bridge, and it looked like they threw something from the bridge. We never dreamed it was a cat, or I'd have tried to see the car and report them! Anyway, I nursed her back to health with a little Essiac tea.
Spots is our newest cat and the only boy here. He moved in and stayed. He is not an indoor cat, and kind of freaked out when he came in the door and I didn't know he came in. I guess he thought he was trapped. He will sit on your lap outside if you are sitting down, but he doesn't really like to be picked up. We had a man stop and ask about him because he looked like the cat that lived at their house a year and a half ago. Then one day he was just gone. They saw him in our yard driving by and stopped to ask when he came here. Of course, once the man stopped and was talking to my husband, we couldn't find him anywhere! Soon as the guy left, he came out from under the ramp! My son has become very fond of him, so I hope he doesn't just leave us one day like he did that man. But he is free to do what he wants. I won't make a prison for him. He is good, but loves to eat as much as Callie does. He has increased our cat food bill, that's for sure!
Nikita at fourteen years old, is old for a big dog. Every year, I say its her last. If she gets through the summer, I figure she will probably get through the winter. Winter is her season! She loves snow and cold. When she goes outside in the morning, after it has snowed, she rolls and rolls in it. Nikita is extremely intelligent and even other people notice that once they get to know her. Way too smart for an animal! For me, she has been the only dog I ever owned since I grew up. I was always a "cat person" and would not even consider a dog. I am glad I did as she is more like a sister than a pet. I love her dearly, and she will be the only dog I will ever own.
Our horses, Tawny, Georgie Girl and Dark Shadow, like to lay down in the paddock. They will lay down for hours. I have written so much about them, some of my readers seem to know these little girls. Georgie Girl was a race horse and was banned from the track because she was super fast on the "breezes" (test runs) but on race day, she said "no way!" Anyway, she is mine, and I love her and Dark Shadow and Tawny. They all came from the same horse farm, which Callie came from also.
Jeff and Spots
That is all the critters we have and will not get anymore, even though I said that before Spots moved in. I mean it this time!
In August of 2007, a couple of homesteaders moved here to upstate NY from Texas. They were members of the Homesteading Today community and when we knew they were moving here, they joined our NY Homesteading forum. Jamie and Jeffrey became fast friends with our group. They had many plans and went right to work on their new homestead. They were living in a house they bought, while they built the underground house they were planning. I won't go into all the details, but they didn't build their house and instead moved to Missouri. Jamie and I have stayed friends though.
Plantain grows all over the yard
The first time Jamie came to my house, she had asked if I would show her the various wild plants that grow in New York state. I have always said that it is best to use the plants that grow around your home. That way when you need them, they are close by, easy to get to. I showed her the various ones growing right in my yard, plantain being the most plentiful that year.
Later on, I told Jamie about The Christian Homesteading Movement, which is local and teaches many courses on various homesteading activities. She went up there and met their family and learned many different things. One thing about Jamie, is that if she needs to know something, she finds the source to teach her. So it was with much interest yesterday, that I went to her new post on her blog and read, How I Became An Herbalist For (Almost) Free. Jamie is a very talented writer, as well as honest. Whatever she says, you know it is the total truth.
Willow growing along the road and creek near us.
Becoming aware of the wild plants in your area of the country is common sense. Why run to a doctor to take medicine that has all kinds of side effects, when you can take care of it yourself, with no side effects? My husband will not take even an aspirin. He has been known, to pull over to the side of the road and pick a piece of willow bark when he had a headache. Just chewing on it, seemed to make his headache go away. At home I usually brew it in a tea.
It is fairly easy to start learning how to recognize the different plants. I use A Field Guide to Medicinal Plants and Herbs: Of Eastern and Central North America (Peterson Field Guides). It has excellent pictures and information. It is easy to use and since it is small, you can carry it with you. Make a list of the plants you see growing around your home and then read about them in the guide and on the internet too. Next spring you can start experimenting and see which ones you like. It is best to do this before you need them. And if you never use them on a regular basis, it is still important to learn about them now. In case the time comes when you have no other choice, you will know what to do. Learn how to find and identify them. Learn when and how to harvest them. Learn how to use them, including how to make tea, infusions, salves, herbal vinegar or tinctures with them. You never know what lies ahead. The time to prepare is NOW! Your family's life could depend on it.