The End of February

It is an interesting time of year. It is winter, and it mostly feels like winter. But there are hints that spring is coming. There have been croci and snowdrops blooming. The other evening I heard the frogs croaking. There are some buds on the orchard’s trees. And today I noticed that the rhubarb are starting to sprout leaves.

I did the chores this morning.  Everything is quite wet with all of the rain we have had recently.  The animals are mostly hanging out in the barn.  But I noticed that Billy was looking out the incredibly dirty barn window at me.  You can see me, part of the tractor and the trailer reflected in the glass but also the interior of the barn.  I thought it was interesting.  I should probably clean the barn’s windows, but that is pretty low on the priority list right now.  We still do not have all of the pruning done, and I still have to do my annual blackberry battle.  (As I typed this in the afternoon, I realized that the puppy was sleeping so I snuck out and macheted blackberries vines for 1/2 hour, making some progress.)

We are continuing our puppy routines.  I did the chores in the morning while Tom puppy sat, we had lunch together, and then Tom ran errands and did some orchard pruning while I puppy sat.  

One thing I worked on was replacing the spent candles with my homemade suet ones.  It is a learning curve.  The suet doesn’t solidify as quickly as wax so I have to prop the candles up with the base in warmed suet and wait for it to cool.  Sometimes the wicks take a while to stay lit.  I am not sure why.  Today one candle’s wick burned no problem, and the other I still aren’t been able to get it to stay lit.  But I like the candles.  They do burn quick quickly, but I love the melting pattern on them.  

I decided to make Swedish vanilla hearts (Vaniljhärtan).  I am trying to keep homemade cookies in the jar for Tom.  When he gets bored of one type, I freeze them and make some fresh ones that are different.  It is working so far.  I wanted to make these cookies for Valentines but didn’t have the heart shaped tin.  I couldn’t find one locally so bought one from Amazon.  Here it is already greased and ready to go.

IMG_2283I made the dough and put it in the refrigerator for 2 hours.  I then made the cream filling.  Here it is.


After two hours I tried to roll the dough out, but it was too dry.  I added some milk to it and then had to knead it to form a ball for rolling.  I then cut pieces off and press it into the hearts.  I put the filling inside the hearts.  I was trying to figure out how to do the lids but remember that I have a heart shaped cookie cutter.  I found it, and it is the perfect size.  How cool is that?  So I cut out hearts and laid them on top.  I couldn’t figure out how to secure the lids so just pressed the edges a little and hoped for the best.  


I ended up cooking them at 350 degrees (there is no temperature mentioned in the recipe) for 20 minutes.  Here they are tipped out of the “tin”.  I haven’t put powdered sugar on top yet.  


The first one Tom ate didn’t have much filling, but his second one did and the likes them.  I had to try one too, and it is good.  Not strongly flavored but just lovely.  I wrote my recipe modifications down for future reference.


Then, interspersed with puppy potty walks, I started my dinner.  I made Winter Vegetable Soup With Turnips, Carrots, Potatoes and Leeks.  I was literally peeling potatoes for this recipe when I noticed the sunset out of the kitchen window (above).  Here is the soup already ready to be cooked.   I used our rutabagas instead of turnips.  Our thyme is in it as well but otherwise it is store bought ingredients (unfortunately).  


After cooking for 45 minutes, I used the immersion blender my mom got for me many years ago to purée the soup.


Then the crème fraîche was whisked in.


And it became my dinner with some more crème fraîche and parsley.  It was really good and a lovely wintertime meal.


So now the obligatory Ryeleigh images.  This is her sleeping this afternoon in her crate.


Here she is in the living room being mighty cute.


Here she is sleeping on the couch next to me.


Today I dropped a piece of lettuce on the floor and she snagged it  Here is her response to it.

And here she is with a new Mr. Bill I bought for her.  Her other one is largely defaced at this point  She did play with this one for a while but clearly prefers her old one.  So we will stow away the new one until the old one is no longer usable.

Posted in Farm, Historic recipes, NYT Cooking recipe, Recipes- farm, Swedish food | 4 Comments

The Puppy Routine Continues

The Spicy Garlicky Cashew Chicken was great. I even ate a wing which is usually unheardof in our farm raised relatively tough chickens ( since they live a much longer life and get more exercise than factory chickens). I even ate the skin which is usually tough as well so this recipe is definitely a keeper. And it was basically a farm meal with our peas.

I also made Shaun the Sheep Valentine’s Muffins. I wanted to make them at Valentines but missed that it needed mascarpone cheese. So Tom found some, and I made them for him yesterday. I managed to buy the wrong Oreos, and they had chocolate filling. So I had to improvise and used marshmallows for the eyes which did not work as well. And I am not a cake decorator as this proves.

Tom said he like them and ate two so that is a good sign.

Today is National Margarita Day so I made a Skinny Pineapple Margarita

For dinner I made Rill Foods Hurricane Ridge Chicken Chili with a leftover chicken breast. I realized for the first time there are historical stories about the locales on the label.

Here it is all cooked up. It was good. We had Juanita’s chips and Skagit salsa too. Unfortunately I accidentally bought the hot salsa which redhead tongues do not handle well. But the chili was great.

It is hard to get cute photos of Ryeleigh. She will give you a cute look and then be off playing. But I got close today.

What do you think?

Posted in Farm, NYT Cooking recipe, Recipes- farm | 6 Comments

10 Year Surgiversary

It was 10 year ago today that I had my bilateral open breast biopsies (or lumpectomies).  It was probably the most emotional day of my life.  I was scared, anxious and humiliated.  I remember getting the needles to locate the lesions placed at the Breast Center.  They taped paper cups over these needles.  Then I got a hospital gown, and we had to drive halfway across town to the surgery center.  There I sat in the waiting room with other surgical patients.  I remember one other woman who showed up with the cups under her gown as well.  Everyone else in the room was in street clothes.  It was horrifying to be sitting there with these cups sticking out under the gown.  Tom and I went to the restroom, and I had a good long cry there.  Thankfully I did have Tom with me, and my father had showed up as a surprise too.  I met him in the hallway to the bathroom at the breast center before the needles were placed.  It was such an amazingly nice surprise to see him, and know that he cared.  

I was finally called back to pre-op.  I had a package I had wanted mailed so Tom and Dad found the post office while I was in the operating room.  When I recovered the nurse was concerned because my blood pressure had been quite low.  She said it was from the fentanyl or versed I had received.  But then I recovered and walked out of there.  I was surprised there was no wheelchair for me.  Tom helped me into the truck, and we headed home.  

Later Dad told me that Tom was pretty upset and worried while they were on the post office chore.  But all went well after that.  I recovered at home, and my biopsy results showed no cancer.  I took tamoxifen for 5 years, and my breast cancer risk now should be about the national average of ~17% (which is disgraceful BYW).  I had 5 years of yearly MRI alternating with mammograms.  I have also had several other breast lumps that have not proved to be worrisome enough for biopsies.  

But to commemorate this anniversary I have yet another breast lump and a doctor appointment this afternoon to have it evaluated.  I would love to blow it off, but I know better.  I know people battling breast cancer as I type.  And the woman whose story led to my original lump detection is still living with chronic cancer.  And so the journey continues.  But I really hope I never have to sit in a waiting room full of people with needles, cups and a gown again.  


Here are the previous posts related to my breasts’ journeys:

The Prevention of Breast Cancer


It’s a Beautiful Day

Boob Friday

Yesterday was the last day I took Tamoxifen

And I will again reiterate what Shadowfax stated in Movin’ Meat over 10 years ago now “Cancer sucks …and if you have breasts, or know someone who does, remind them to take a moment and do a breast self exam.” I would add if over 40 get a yearly mammogram as well.

Posted in History | 12 Comments