Thursday, October 20, 2016

Sherry's Farmhouse Apple Crisp

The crisp, cool mornings and the warm afternoons are my favorites. Back when I was a young mother and wife and  had a fireplace, in the evening, I would build a fire to take the chill off the house. Cutting and splitting firewood is hard work (we never had a log splitter only my husband with his maul) and  it's great exercise.  I liked having firewood all stacked up for winter’s use.   Like the squirrels gathering and putting away in preparation for winter, which will inevitably come, doing firewood felt much the same.    

On my kitchen counter, I have a peck of apples that I have been contemplating what to make. They are lovely  sitting on the table so I took a photo.  I think of Laura Ingalls Wilder and of her apple orchard of hundreds of trees. She must have used apples in every way possible. 

I thought I would make applesauce for winter use.   Or, I thought I  could make some apple butter for our biscuits. I love homemade biscuits with butter lathered on top with apple butter. I prefer the recipe with just a hint of cloves in it.  

Besides eating the apples raw after rubbing them round and round on my jeans to “wash them” of course, I decided finally to make a pie.    

My first project was an apple Betty crumb pie found on Pinterest. It was  good. I took some to sister Debbie on my visit.  She liked it but disappointed, I could tell, because it didn’t have “oatmeal” in it, which struck up the conversation about the school’s apple crisp which we both agreed we loved. 

Back home, in my kitchen, I decided to try and duplicate the  “school’s apple crisp" we had reminisced about. One of my favorite school lunches back in the day was chili, peanut butter (with honey in it) chocolate milk and apple crisp. Simply fabulous!  I remember the school’s apple crisp being gooey—just the way I like it. (I’ve made a crisp recipe a few times over the years but  somehow mine never quite measured up.) Do they even serve apple crisp at schools anymore?

I started with the same recipe for the apple crumb pie,  but improvised it a bit by adding a few key ingredients. Oatmeal and water. Yes. The recipe I was working from  didn’t call for water. But I thought about it and I knew the additional water would make it bubbly. Gooey. This recipe turned out just the way I remembered it. And so much easier than making a crust, but I by those prepared already.  

So Here's the Thing... I encourage you, if you are like me and love that lunchroom cafeteria meal, to put on a pot of chili and lather a slice of  bread with peanut butter and allow it to transport you right back to the days of your youth and by all means,   Take Joy!

Sherry’s Farmhouse Apple Crisp

Crumble Topping: 1 Cup flour; 1 Cup old-fashioned oatmeal; ½ Cup brown sugar; ½ Cup white sugar; 1 tsp. cinnamon. ½ cup softened real butter. Crumble together with hands. Set aside.

Apples: Peel and core 4 large apples into small pieces. Toss with ½ teaspoon lemon juice so they don’t brown. Add 1/3 cup sugar (more if your apples are tart.) 3 Tbsp. flour; 1 tsp. cinnamon. (My secret additive—Add ½ cup water. This makes it gooey.) Toss together and place in an 8X8 pan. Cover with crumble topping. Prep time is about 15 minutes.
This recipe is even better the next day, if it lasts that long. 

Bake at 450 for 15 minutes then reduce heat to 350 degrees for 35 minutes.  
Eat it hot out of the oven with a drizzle of milk, or cream over it! Scrumptious.

Friday, September 16, 2016

Our Eight-Day Hatch

On the farm, from day to day, you are truly never for certain what events will take place like this incident.  Back in the spring I purchased five barred rock chickens for my Outdoor Classroom kids to view. For those unfamiliar with the term, “barred rock, ” it is a breed that resembles a piece of black and white checked gingham fabric.
A box-full of chicks. 

 In that purchase, I bought four pullets—a   young hen just starting to lay  eggs. Their eggs, initially, are significantly smaller than the older hens. And this breed lays brown ones.  And though I had no plans to have baby chicks, I got a rooster, meaning…. well everyone knows what that means, right? It means at daybreak I will hear the familiar,  "Cock-a-doodle-do. It’s a new day, time to get up,” crow. For that reason, and only, that reason, I got a rooster with my girls, but what follows I totally wasn’t expecting.  

On the farm, chickens and eggs go hand in hand. I love gathering eggs and so does Avah, my granddaughter, a carbon copy of myself—lover of farm animals and Nature. Much to my surprise, one day, in August, as we opened the nesting box door to gather the eggs, one of the hens was still on the nest, puffed up and purring when I started to reach under her for the eggs. “Oh my goodness,” I said to Avah. “Want to know what that means?” Of course she said with enthusiasm, “What?”  I smiled, “It means she wants to set on these eggs and hatch baby chicks.” Of course, those who have raised chickens know I could have easily foiled her plan by taking the eggs away and removing her from the nest until she gave up on the idea. After all, spring was well past when most hens hatch baby chicks.  
Truly,  it was so cool every morning to look in on these chicks, in a box on my counter top.
That I do believe means you are a true farm girl! 

But for Nature’s sake and especially for my granddaughter’s education, I decided to let Nature take its course. When the hen had eight eggs under her, I marked the calendar “setting.” Counted forward 21 days and wrote, “hatch.” As instructed, Avah   put an “X” on each egg so if the other hens rooted her from her nest, we could remove their new egg.

When the first hatch occurred, (go figure, two days prior than my calendar entry,) she tried to corral it back to the nest, but it kept wandering off. Knowing her job of keeping it warm as well as the nest of eggs she must have been torn as to what to do. I could see how those other eggs would soon chill and the eight-egg hatch would become a one-egg hatch if I didn’t intervene.

 In the kitchen, (where everything cool happens in a farmhouse) I made a make shift brooder with a cardboard box lined with newspaper with a small light bulb for heat. I stole the chick and brought it to the house. Every morning, even before I had my coffee, I scurried to the hen house to check for more chicks. “We have another one,” became the phrase of the day.  All told, one-by-one it took eight days for all the chicks to hatch. (Go figure!)  By the time the last one hatched the older ones had little checkered tail and wing feathers growing in such a short time.
Absolutely Amazing. I held it to my ear before it hatched and I could hear it chirping. 

Some would have said, “I have no time for this, let alone maintaining a make shift brooder, or having    it on my kitchen counter top!” But I tell you, “What an education you would miss out on.  I wasn’t doing it for me…I was doing it for the poor hen and the grandchildren's  education, and for Nature’s sake.”
Now, that we had a successful hatch with no casualties, it was time to return them to their momma. We made a special nursery box from a large dog kennel box. At first she pecked at her babies, especially the older ones, but soon became welcoming by puffing up, walking gingerly trying to gather them with a low, continuous clucking.

That evening, before bed, I dashed out to check on them, one more time. I couldn’t see any chicks since she was nestled in the straw and puffed up twice her size in the back corner, where they were keeping warm. “Good girl,” I told her. And as I closed the door I marveled,  And no one had to tell her how to do it. She just knew!”

So Here's the Thing...I don’t know why the hen went broody in the Fall as opposed to the Spring as usual, but I couldn’t be any happier for the education it bestowed upon us and to have been an instrument in the miracle of birth (or hatch in this instance.) The miracle of life, to this farm girl, always is, absolutely amazing! In all things...Take Joy!


Thursday, August 25, 2016

Happy Birth-Date August 28th Tasha Tudor

Remembering the life of Tasha Tudor with Tea Time

I have been fortunate enough to have visited the Tasha Tudor home two times.  Each visit was a wish come true. 

The first time, we made the trip, we didn't get to go inside her home, but no matter, just being there was a wish come true. Sadly, though, I didn't get to see Tasha  Tudor on my first tour, nor my second. She had passed away before  I could make arrangements to schedule a garden tour. 

On our second tour, we were blessed to be able  to go inside  her home.  Inside, it is  just as you see  in her  paintings. Seeing her small painting table (left just as if she had walked away for a cup of tea) was worth the price of admission. The family, you know,  does us a wonderful favor in keeping her place "alive" and open for all of us fans to visit. The money for admission helps with the upkeep of her home.  

Because I love her work and the Corgi dogs, my husband saw my love for them and blessed me with my first Corgi on  a surprise road trip with grandchildren in tow eight years ago.  We named our first   Howard Lee Blue. We went on to raise many litters of Corgis since then, giving many families the "gift of Corgi."  Howard  and his mate are now enjoying their retirement   on the  farm, enjoying our front porch ramblings here at Cherry Ridge.

Just the other day, my seven year old granddaughter  gave our two Corgis a much needed  bath. It delighted me  to no end when she said, "I used the tub in the Tasha Tudor bathroom."  For those who follow me, you know I did a total bathroom makeover using fabric, prints  and photos from Tasha's world. It's my daily dose of inspiration! 

A Corgi Puppy 

So Here's the Thing...If you love Tasha, her life  and her picture books, give yourself the best gift of all––visit Boston, go to the ocean and drive to Marlboro, Vermont  to take a tour. (Tickets usually go on sale in February and sell out quickly.) You will thoroughly enjoy it, but should  you want to go and not find a way to make it happen, then you  will regret living your whole life, never fulfill your dream of doing so. 

Thank you for the gift of Tasha Tudor.  May we all aspire to follow our dreams like Tasha did. 

Visit their newly renovated website for Tasha Tudor

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