Thursday, April 30, 2009

Ode to Asparagus

I've been reading a lot of cooking/homemaking/frugality blogs lately and was inspired to write some of my own.


Does asparagus grow wild where you live? Ask around to some locals... it just might. And it's tremendous fun.

My mom and I spent a couple of hours driving sloooooowly up and down country roads yesterday, every so often calling out "there's some!" and stopping to run out an pick it. We ended up with about 8 pounds of fresh asparagus, and had some great bonding in the meantime. I bribed the girls to be good by putting on a movie in the van and giving them each suckers.

She was busy last night, so I did the work of putting it up to save for later. I froze some and turned some into cream of asparagus soup starter, in addition to refrigerating some for pickling later.

To freeze asparagus, drop spears (one pound at a time, approximately) into boiling water for two minutes (no longer!) Then use tongs to get it out real quick and drop it into a big bowl of ice water to stop the cooking immediately. Then just pat it dry with a tea towel and put it in a bag and into the freezer. Frozen asparagus can be steamed, or you can cook it in just about any recipe.


To steam asparagus over a camp fire or grill:

Wrap asparagus spears in foil with a small pat or two of butter. Cook, turning once, until tender-crisp, about 12 minutes.


The other night I made my cream of asparagus soup. It was delicious and sooooo easy.

1 lb asparagus, chopped into bite sized pieces
1/2 cup chicken broth
1/2 c. chopped onion
~put those in a covered pot and simmer/steam until soft, about 10 minutes. When they're soft, put them into the blender and process until creamy. (This is the part I made ahead to freeze. Figured I'd only get the blender out once and make four batches.) Set that part aside and...

2Tbsp. whole wheat flour (You could use white. We use whole wheat.)
2 Tbsp butter
~ Melt the butter in the pan (use the same pan, no need to dirty another) and add the flour. Stir constantly for about two minutes. Don't let the flour burn before you add...

1 1/2 cups more chicken broth
2 cloves minced garlic
season salt and pepper to taste

Use a whisk. Keep on stirring until the flour is blended into the broth and it's all nice and smooth. Keep it over medium heat. Then add your asparagus puree and pour in

1 cup milk

Now take

3/4 c sour cream

and mix in a scoop of the soup (use a separate bowl for this part). Use your whisk again and stir like crazy till the soup is blended with the sour cream. Then pour all that into the soup, whisk it up till it's nice and smooth, heat til it's hot (don't boil it - there's milk in there) and serve it up.

If you're like me, you'll serve it with a loaf of delicious fresh-baked bread. ;o)

And if you're like me, you'll start the day before by serving roasted chicken to your family for dinner, then cooking the carcass all night long in the crock pot so that you can have two cups of fresh broth for this soup.

If you're not like me, buy a can of broth at the store. I won't tell.

Any way you cook it, y'all should check and see if it grows wild where you are. It's the best stuff ever, especially when it's free.


I felt a little bit like a homesteader last night as I was preparing all kinds of things in the kitchen. In addition to putting up a few months' worth of asparagus, I cooked a pot of Dove Creek Anasazi beans using some of the dried beans I got last fall. They're sort of like baked beans, but healthier and completely from scratch. I used up the last of last year's frozen tomatoes in them. We'll take them camping and serve with brats for dinner. Yum :o)

I baked Applesauce Oatmeal cookies too, because my husband will appreciate them.

And I made dinner amongst all the other cooking that was going on. I was wiped out last night! My kids played happily outdoors (with an EMPTY wading pool... they're odd) for two hours last night, other than one minor accident that resulted in just a few tears. My husband will be home today and we're heading out camping/turkey hunting again this afternoon. Hopefully we'll return with a turkey this time!


I suppose I better stop rambling in my blog and go do something useful.

Sunday, April 26, 2009


Spring is the beginning of the Season of Food in our house, and I'm so glad it's here.

The early crops of the garden are sprouting and happily spreading their leaves toward the newly-warm sun. So far we've got a nice little patch of snap and sugar peas, two little spinach beds (that will provide more than enough spinach for the spring, plus plenty to freeze for meals later) and two lettuce beds that are growing quite rapidly. One row of radishes should be ready for picking and another is just beginning to sprout... time to plant another, I suppose. (Though I've not yet figured out why I grow radishes. It must be because they grow quickly, providing 'instant gratification' of a sort; they're fun to pull up, too. None of us care for eating them much though. We're growing purple and red radishes this year - it'll be a fun surprise for Chloe to pull up a purple radish! Anyway, enough about radishes.) I planted broccoli and there are about eight little plants sprouted, but they're growing awfully slow and broccoli can't withstand the heat that'll be here by June, so I've a feeling that will be a waste of space. Ah well, you live, you learn. Carrots and beets are sprouting now too (finally - they take so long!) I find it so peaceful to sit out in the garden pulling up teeny little weed sprouts and dreaming of how pretty it will all look when it's fully grown.

Come Mother's Day I'll put the rest of the seeds into the ground - the warm weather things. Those are the ones I really look forward to. The cold weather stuff is more like a teaser for the better things to come - green beans, cucumbers, bell peppers and ohhhh tomatoes. Yep. Can't wait for summer.


In addition to garden planting, it's also Asparagus Season here in Western Colorado. We're lucky enough to have asparagus growing wild along the country roads pretty much everywhere. I think I talked about that last year. My mother and I picked and then pickled something like ten pounds of asparagus (maybe more, I really couldn't say.) This year I'd like to do the same, and also freeze 10 or 15 pounds to have on hand throughout the year. We've picked probably four pounds already, but most of it's already been eaten. I do have some in the refrigerator with which I intend to make cream of asparagus soup, a delicious treat we had while in Mexico that I can't wait to taste again. I'll let y'all know how it turns out. If it's good, I'll post the recipe.

And of course, strawberries are on sale in all the supermarkets right now, so I bought a four pound container and made six pints of jam. I forgot how good homemade strawberry jam tastes! While I was cooking it, letting it heat the the gelling point, I had my canning pot boiling away so it would be ready when the jam was. At some point during this I realized my stove was making an awful humming-sort-of-buzzing noise. It made me nervous enough that I shut everything off, took off all the pots on the stove, and gave up. I went ahead and put the jam into jars and, after it cooled, into the fridge. Each of the jars sealed even though they were never properly canned and the jam actually turned out really good, if just a bit soft. I just hope it keeps alright - I'll keep all the jars in the refrigerator, just in case.


On a totally different note - if you have kids and a library card (or maybe even if you don't have kids...) check out the book Wabi Sabi. Chloe picked it out a couple weeks ago and I finally got around to reading it with her. (Not because I'm a slacker. We check out about 30 books every week. It takes time getting through all of them!) I found Wabi Sabi to be quite a profound little book that teaches a wonderful lesson - maybe one that adults can glean a bit more from than children. And it's a great lesson in Japanese culture and religion, and haiku too, in case you're homeschooling and want a fun unit study starter. :o)


'Tis all for now. I hope everyone out in blog-land is doing well!

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Our first camping trip of the year

We spent three nights at the Big Dominguez campground - got back yesterday. Mostly it was a trip with hopes of Andrew finding and killing his spring turkey. The girls and I just went along for the ride. Sadly, we are still turkeyless, but we did have a pretty great time.

Andrew left early each morning on the four wheeler, so it was up to the girls and I to take care of things and entertain ourselves until a little bit after lunch time, when he'd return. The first morning was COLD. Like, ice on the tent, frozen juice on the table, couldn't feel my toes for four hours cold. We got up, I made coffee and cocoa, and we sat in the truck for an hour until we were all toasty warm and the sun was up and melting the layer of frost on everything. The other nights were cool, but it did get warmer each night. And after that first morning, the girls slept in till nearly 9:00, giving me plenty of time to have some coffee and relax a little.

We spent our mornings playing in the field by the camp site, exploring Big Dominguez Creek, playing in the little stream nearby, and just hanging out. The girls got filthy but they had so much fun. Chloe found different bugs that she promptly named and began speaking to them as if they were cuddly little teddy bears. Cora started getting over her fear of bugs - a fly can land on her now without her completely losing her composure.

Night time was a little rough - neither kid wanted to go to bed. Cora cried and cried the first night, and never did sleep very well. We started going to bed all at the same time and I put Cora with Chloe instead of with Andrew and I - that seemed to work. Chloe woke up crying the second night for some unexplained reason, but the third night everyone slept! We just need to work out the kinks and get them used to the routine again.

So all in all, we had a good time. Sitting around at a camp site without my husband for hours at a time wasn't as bad as i thought it would be, and the girls had such a good time that it was worth it.

"Hot! Hot!"
Jumping on the 'bed' in the tent.

Exploring the stream, playing in the mud.
I can't tell you how many sticks were tossed over on one side and then waited for on the other side as they floated past. She would've sat there for hours if I'd have let her, just watching sticks sail away.
Coloring in the sunset
My beloved hunter :o)
Baby taking a bath in a dish pan.

Chloe insisted on bringing this hat. It was her sun hat, so she didn't get burned, she said. It's from the dress up box. Isn't it grand?
More exploring of the stream. Izzy was totally in her element. Such a good dog. She slept on the girls' feet at night and kept them nice and warm (both kids were sweaty each morning when they woke up. Apparently 24 degrees doesn't affect them as much.)
This picture just encompasses Chloe so beautifully. She's got a great personality.
Mom says I can't get my shoes muddy... but I really want to play in the mud. The solution?

Dinner time

I had plenty of time to sit and knit... so much so that I finished a pair of socks in under a week, record time for me. Yarn: Red Heart Heart & Sole, two balls; size 2 needles, River Rapids socks pattern. (link is a .pdf)

So that's that. Now I've got a pretty spectacular mess to clean up, about fifteen loads of laundry, and lots of catching up to do. But it was worth it. :o)

Friday, April 17, 2009

:::whimper::: my sewing machine broke.

Have I mentioned yet that my sewing machine broke? I'm miserable. Wah.

It's a 30+ year old machine. It was time. The gear that allows me to switch back and forth between different stitch patterns broke in half. A local repair guy is supposed to call this week to look at it and see if he has a part that could fix it, but I'm not holding my breath. And of course, parts for 30 year old machines are no longer available. And really, the machine isn't worth fixing if it's going to be very expensive - it's missing so many parts. I dont' have any of the feet except that standard one, the button-holer is gone, etc. Somehow when I moved out of Mark's house I didn't take all the accessories, and they have disappeared completely.

Andrew last night said something about buying me a new machine. On one hand, of course I'd love a new sewing machine. The thought makes me all tingly inside, makes my heart beat a little faster with excitement. On the other hand, I'm not sure a new sewing machine is something we ought to be spending money on right now, when money's tight because of all the changes that have been going on at his work. But, I do plan to really up the ante with Etsy and try and start creating some income with it, which is virtually impossible without a sewing machine.


Mark called Easter Sunday to let me know they're extending their vacation in Singapore. He wont' be back for another month. He cited the reason as being something with Felicia's passport that didn't quite make sense, so I'm not really sure what's up. Chloe misses her dad, but I can't say I'm terribly disappointed that it'll be another month before I have to deal with him again.


Wanna see some Easter pictures? Of course you do. :o) The girls had a great time. Cora was way more into looking for eggs than I expected her to be. She kept pointing and saying "eh?" (She's not Canadian. Eh means Egg.)

The egg dying kit that we picked out sucked, so we just broke out the (non-toxic, washable) markers and colored on them.

Saturday, April 11, 2009

April Showers...

It's pouring outside. I woke up to thunder about half an hour ago. Any other time, I love the rain and I especially love thunder and lightening. But it's supposed to continue through tomorrow. I can't remember the last Easter we had when it wasn't raining. It's usually just a drizzle, but still. Decorated Easter eggs sitting out in the rain become a yucky, sticky, smeared mess that stains hands and clothes, and little girls get cold fast when the rain is pouring down on them. :::sigh::: I hope it lets up just long enough to let them hunt their eggs tomorrow. Cora's old enough now, and she'll be fun to watch.

I'm pretty sure Chloe doesn't really believe in the Easter Bunny. She asks me every so often if he's "really real". When we were at the mall (where both of my children eyed the Easter Bunny cautiously and kept a healthy distance of at least 10 feet) Chloe informed me that that was definitely not the real Easter Bunny. It was some guy dressed up, probably, because the eyes didn't move. Hmm. I told her she was right, the Easter Bunny was way to busy to sit at the mall every day. I hope this doesn't ruin Santa. Or I hope, at least, that she keeps playing along, making me think she believes. I still need Santa, and the Easter Bunny and the Tooth Fairy. When did my little girl grow up?


I have a funny story about my niece that I heard second hand from my sister-in-law that is absolutely worthy of sharing.

Little Anna, who is almost six years old, was in Sunday School. The teacher asked her why the Israelites were frustrated and she said "because of the mayonnaise."


"I would be frustrated too, if I had to eat mayonnaise every day," she said.

Yes, Anna didn't realize that they were saying "mana". She was imagining big glops of mayonnaise falling from the sky, the Israelites being forced to eat just that day in and day out. She had no problem understanding why they were so frustrated.

Kids are awesome.


Cora's learning a bunch of new words every day. It's funny, if she really wants to say something, she can. She had no problem saying "Je-jo" when she wanted more Jello. But she still hasn't figured out how to say "Thank you." Makes me think it's selective talking...


My husband is out traipsing around in the woods while the rain pours down. Why would he do such a thing? Today is the opening day for spring turkey season. He's trudging through mud and muck, hoping his rain gear holds up, trying to find a turkey to shoot. Sounds like fun, dontcha think? I do hope he gets a turkey though. It makes him so happy.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Make an apron.

I have a handful of vintage aprons that have been given to me here and there, and I truly love them. At one point they decorated my kitchen wall. Now, I wear them every now and again because they make me feel a little bit like Donna Reed, and I like Donna Reed. Mopping floors and frying bacon is a lot more fun when you get to wear a cute little apron while you do it!

I decided to make myself a new apron.

The main fabric is a rusty-orange corduroy that used to be a pair of little boy's pants in (I'm guessing) the 70's. The blue is just some calico scrap that paired well.

While I was searching for apron-making advice on the web, I came across this essay written by the Hillbilly Housewife, one of my favorite homemakers on the internet. Enjoy!

Sunday, April 5, 2009

I made some more stuff...

A funky little patchwork dress:

The dress I made last weekend. I'm calling it my Megan Corkery dress, styled loosely after the gorgeous dress Megan Corkery wore on country week of American Idol. The rockin' cool fabric was from the clearance table at Wal-Mart. I didn't use a pattern, just sort of cut it up and sewed it together, and ended up with this:

Saturday, April 4, 2009

I made some stuff...




I've decided to re-open my Etsy store. This stuff isn't for Cora, she's just my model. (And a darn good one, don'tcha think?) We'll see how long I last... I occasionally re-open, take a few orders, then get bored with it again. LOL But it's fun when I do it. I'll probably stock on weekends.

Friday, April 3, 2009


I tried to post all this a day or two ago, but I got sick of fighting with Blogger. So here it is, a little late.

April Fool's.

(Thanks to Deb and Meg for the idea!)


We went for a drive yesterday and walked around a bit in Escalante Canyon, an hour or so from home. I'm so thankful we can just get in the truck and go somewhere cool... so many people in the world don't have the beauty of nature nearly so accessible as we do here in our happy little Colorado valley.

Stopped at the Walker Cabin, built in 1911, to have a look.

Walked a bit, collected some pinecones for a craft/nature project later this week (if the rain stops.) Thanks to Katey, I'm quite sold on the Charlotte Mason method of teaching, which includes "nature study" as part of a child's education each week. So this is how we did school today.

On the way there I finished a hat I've been working on:

And I took a picture of Cora in her Christmas sweater (finally).

And here she is, dressed as the Sheriff in Chloe's play the other day, 'cuz it was cute:

Hopefully Photobucket doesn't pull my photo. Apparently pictures of babies in diapers is against their terms of service. Awesome.