Sunday, July 31, 2016

True Love, Real Trust, and Home Grown Tomatoes

You might not be able to purchase the first two...but the Amish can provide the third to you for $2.00 a pound!  

Our's are slowly ripening, but yesterday's Farmer Market on the Square gave me a chance for one perfect (early) Beefsteak Tomato!  Sat it outside on one of the arch trellis shelves with several of our "almost ripe" tomatoes and let it warm in the sun. Then brought it in later to sprinkle with a little salt and enjoy.


 Had a good time Saturday at The Farmer's Market. I love the booths, bought some lamb at a decent price for stew, finally bought a piece from a local artist (charcoals and pastels) that I have been coveting

and hung it in my "reading corner" so I can enjoy it every day.

Also came back with several boxes of huge blackberries. An excess. Some of them never made it past cream and a snack last night. Others are soon to be folded into a hand pie, froze in a crust for cobblers later, sweetened and crushed to cook into jam, and a mason jar full that are earmarked for a recipe I found recently for homemade blackberry brandy.  (recipe to follow)

And al fresco lunch at my favorite tea room, Almost Home. 

Getting ready for next week's car show!  My car buddy, Tommy, is showing Red again. With the addition of a Ram Scoop and Underbody Kit (as well as a brand new paint job) she is glowing

Red will move up from the Stock Class, of last year, to Modified. I think she has a real chance this year.  
She's beastly!

Still enjoying "Reclaim A Day Sundays".  Relaxing in the cool of the house with Coffee...The Morning Edition and The Tucker-Cat.

Also couple of newly released novels.
One is the "King" I have been waiting for.

Blackberries to cook, freeze and ferment.

And 24 hours to rest, relax and create!

No wonder I have made this a habit.

 Homemade Blackberry Brandy

1 quart hulled and cleaned blackberries (fresh not frozen)

1 cup unchlorinated water

1 cup granulated sugar

Mason Jar

Ring and Cheesecloth

In clean mason jar layer berries 1 inch with an inch of sugar then layer another inch of berries. Continue until you have filled the jar finishing with an inch of sugar at the top. Pour in cup of water and cover mouth of jar with the cheesecloth...securing it with canning ring. Sit jar in a bowl so that if any foaming our occurs during fermentation it will not run over your counter. Open and stir contents every 7 days for the first 4 weeks.  Let ferment for 3 months. Use cheesecloth to strain liquid off (blackberry brandy) into bottle at that time. 

Can be used for a flambé dessert topping or as a cordial.


Thursday, July 28, 2016

All Better... I caught my first Pokemon on the Pokemon Go App.  A Caterpie.
My life is complete.
I can die happy now.


I have made my peace (after days) with the World of Politics, as well.

You didn't REALLY think I was walking away from politics??? If so, you obviously don't know me very well.

So here is the deal. 

No. I can't in good conscience vote for Trump or this year I will be casting my Presidential vote for Jill Stein.

Can she win? Very unlikely. 

But at least I will be able to sleep well at night. 

(...and for those of you that are shaking your head and wagging your finger with disapproval...go bitch at the DNC...they are the people who screwed you (and Bernie), not me...if she wasn't strong enough to  win against Trump without MY vote...then the DNC made a terrible choice nominating her...)

What I can do that will help if Hillary manages to pull it off is to up-vote a Progressive House and Senate.

What I can do if Trump manages to pull it off, is the very same least it will be damage control.  Everything passes through Congress, after all.

And no matter who wins the election I can continue to be a political activist and keep their feet to the flames.

So, that is my re-calculation.

Not perfect, but bearable given the choices offered.

Lennon (my middle) is writing in The Flying Spaghetti Monster...then doing the upvote thing on the rest of them.

Chris was so pissed at the DNC he was honestly considering Trump as a protest vote.

James just grins and says "See Mom, I was right all along. This is why I don't vote."


So the kids have been having a good summer.

                        Chris and Tina Kayak on The Canal in Indy                                     

   Tina's Wedding Gown! 
She looks like
a Disney

                                                 Aiden at the Fair

                                                   Dad and Aiden

                            At the Dirty Heads Concert for Kaylee's Birthday

                                              Boating with the Family

Lennon is still working too much, and helping take care of his Grandmother in Bradenton, who recently suffered a fall.

Spent today with Nicole. Playing in the Plants, Making Quiche, Sipping Italian Moscato Wine. It was a nice afternoon. Brought home Squash, Tomatoes, Herbs, and New Red Potatoes from our garden patch!

                                     Gardening with Brenden (and Gir)

Nibbling on Homemade Blackberry Cobbler, tonight!

Life is Good! 

Ready to resume Scotland.  I have ordered the Haggis to try.

and it is winging its way across the Pond.

Nicole has tried it before and helpfully commented

"It is disgusting."

A friend tried to convince me that it is

"...really a lot like meatloaf."

Nicki says

"That is bullshit, Mom, it is horrible"

And usually culinary adventurous son, who even tried RATTLESNAKE with me, proclaims

"Nope. You're on your own with this one, Mom."

How bad could it possibly be???

I also have a nice tablet of sweet Scottish Butter Fudge on the way. So that may ease the pain a bit, anyway. 

More Anon...

Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Just Writing To Get It Out Of My System...

Oh...HELL No...

And now they are asking Bernie to be the person NOMINATE Hillary tonight at the Convention.
(...oh come on...just jump through one more little hoop...)

                                                       "...good boy..." is kind of like THAT this morning.

Thank you, DNC, for throwing back the curtain and showing us the Wizard of OZ last night. 

I'm done with politics. 


In case you missed it...Bernie stood in front of all those people who literally elevated him from a "podunk" Senator from Vermont to someone who had taken the DNC by storm and could have been our next President, and in classic bait and switch form, told us we MUST vote for Hillary.

"Or else the Boogey-Man gonna come an' git us all" 

WTF??? What happened to "July 25th" and "See You in Philly" and "This WILL be a Contested Convention" and "We The People" ?????

I really want to know.

Never mind the $27. contributions or the vacuum change. Never mind the fact that Guccifer's emails confirmed what we have known all along...that the deck was stacked and the process (including the media) rigged and election fraud was rampant. Never mind that literally thousands and thousands of his supporters came to Philly for that Contested Convention he promised. Camped in tents. Marched in 98 degree heat. Weathered pouring rain and in some places hail. Got arrested. hell with them, right?

To say I am beyond disgusted would be an understatement of epic proportions.

I have never missed an election (Local,Primary or General) since I was 18 and old enough to vote. I also taught my children from youth up how IMPORTANT our political process is. How important DEMOCRACY is. My eldest who somehow remained apolitical his entire life despite my best efforts can vouch for this. There are times I am sure I drove him absolutely crazy.

So, I guess there is a silver-lining to all of this. No more harassing James to vote.  

He'll be so pleased.

So, today I am done.

(...surprisingly, when I said this to James this morning, his first response was a shocked "Why???")

Trump...Clinton...face it. You'll get whoever they want you to have.  James, it seems, was right all along. It is the illusion of choice. We get the government they pay for. And, sadly, I don't even care any more which one of them shows up on Inauguration Day.

AND ANOTHER THING:  Why are they more concerned, angrier about who hacked into and revealed their Fraud and Rigging than they are that there was actual election fraud and rigging to begin with????  

Just asking.

It sounds a lot less like they cared it happened, and a lot more like they are they got CAUGHT. 

Just saying.

Beck law firm, in Miami, has already started a class action lawsuit against the DNC for election fraud.  To have your name on the suit it only requires an email requesting it be added. 


An aside...if they can completely turn ME (political animal that I have always been) away from politics...can you even imagine what last night did for the millions and millions of young and new first time voters? 

I am glad Bill never lived to see this travesty.


Good Luck with all THAT. 

There is some solace in knowing that the very last vote I will ever cast in my lifetime was for the very last good, honest man....before he was absorbed by The POLITICAL Machine. 

Going to take a long hot bath and scrub the politics off me...then maybe even go back to touring Virtual Scotland, today.

It has got to feel better than this.

Saturday, July 23, 2016

Scotland: Faultlines and Thrusts...and Some Ruins

Scotland, as seen here, divides into 4 parts. Three fault lines and the Moine Thrust.

A seismologist’s dream (or perhaps nightmare).

The fault lines are basically like this

Known as simple faults they are areas where the plates rest but are not joined. When the plates slide over each is called an Earthquake.

Scotland has had 28 low scale Earthquakes in the past 50 days.

The Moine Thrust is a completely different occurrence

As illustrated (by cake)

And the (not nearly as tasty) results in Scotland

Many different layers are thrust upward with the movement. The Moine Thrust Belt is a favourite with geologists who can see the exposed layers they otherwise might not have a chance to examine so closely, or easily.

Most of the rock in the area is gneiss, limestone, basalt or granite.

The best known formations are the basalt formations...both columnar and pinnacle.

                                              Columnar Cliff Formations

                                                Basalt Pinnacles

Perhaps one of the best known Basalt formations is here at Fingal's Cave

 Another sight, although man-made not created by nature, is the vast array of ruins in the form of Abbeys that dot the Scottish Countryside.

A Photographer's Dream!

More anon...

Friday, July 22, 2016

A Break From the Heat and Humidity...and Playing in the Plants!

My Little Corner of the World!

Ventured out this morning early and it was 80 degrees with 90% humidity. By the time I got back home it had dropped to a much nicer 72 degrees and the humidity was gone.

Go figure. 

It's Indiana. Stick around for a while, it might snow.

Anyway, re-calculated my day plans in a big way and headed out to subdue the tangle of vines, crops of crabgrass and rescue my herbs which have been treading water since the last huge rainfall.

I've learned that Sweet Basil doesn't care how much water it gets.

It just pokes its head above water and yells

"Bring it on!"

(...possibly in Italian...)

Rosemary just stops everything. It treads water until it is rescued. Luckily the super hot temperatures have been wonderful for my compost box and everything inside has been morphed into rich black soil. So adding to the washed out planter was simple.

 I top dressed the roses while I was at it.

Greek Oregano, on the other hand, just gives up...turns brown....and dies without dignity.

"It's dead, Jim."

Tried to save a bit of the latter that was still somewhat green and tucked in the remains of my White Cloud Petunias. Most of them were crumpled up like sad used Kleenex...but these few survived.

The Dwarf Sunflowers are starting to form green heads and in a month or so the corner of my patio will be filled with their (much shorter) sunny faces.

The Mammoths that "Idgy" and I shared yearly became impractical on the patio...and did not container well for either of us. Ergo, Dwarf Sunflowers. Hopefully this will renew our Sunflower Share for next  gardening season.

I also have some planted in our (Nicki and I) garden.

The Morning Glory vines had taken over. They are now trimmed back to their trellis and there are several blooms beginning.

The Roses are covered with buds and I expect an explosion of blooms in the next few weeks!

Also trimmed back and potted the trimmings of my Variegated Ivy which was all but eating my boulders and Seiseki stone.

Found the instructions for making this hypertufa trough, and it may be my Fall garden project.

I LOVE the effect the hypertufa gives...making it look like it is centuries old. In less than a week.

The addition of decorative multi-colored hot peppers was a whim. Nostalgia.
My Aunt Vernie (who gave me my love for all things gardening/homesteading) used to always have a rusting blue and orange metal Maxwell House Coffee Tin full of them just outside her wooden screen door leading into the farmhouse.

Nicole saved and gave me a plastic blue and orange Maxwell House Container (...they're plastic now...sigh), and I may end up transplanting it over anyway.

Just because. 

So, with Tucker straw-bossing (between his naps, of course) I managed to get the borders, Ivy, roses and beds tidy.

Then I could finally be that "lap" that he had been waiting for all along!

Watched the hummingbirds and the bees fight over the feeder, and a couple of bright yellow Sulpher Butterflies go flapping past.

Inside now making Meatloaf and Mashies and Such. Looked back out a while ago to see that he had found, yet another, comfortable spot to relax and survey his Manor and Kingdom.

It's GOOD to be The Cat.

 Back to Virtual Scotland Tomorrow. Checking out the geographical make up, the faults and thrust, and maybe a few ruins along the way :)

Thursday, July 21, 2016

Virtual Scotland: Highland Cattle and Beef

OMG...can you imagine a pasture full of These and Cotswold Sheep? It might be a cuteness overload. 

                                                       "So Fuzzy!"

Scottish Highland Cattle. Although originally in either red or black

They are now cross bred and come in many colours including a silvery white with a pink nose.

Short and heavy (upwards of 1,800 pounds) they are raised primarily for meat, although some households keep a house-cow for milk as well. Their milk is extremely high in fat and is good for cheeses, butter and cream.

The Highland Breed has been in Scotland since the 6th Century. They are built perfectly for the cold harsh Scottish winters with a soft downy coat insuating beneath long shaggy hair giving them the nickname

"Fluffy Cattle"

and their hides are also in great demand.

                                                      "Bed Hide"

Both  the cows and bulls have long horns.

The Meat.

Highland beef is pricey. Sirloin starts at $15. a pound. You can buy some here if you want to try it yourself. They deliver quickly and everywhere.

I trimmed the generous sirloin above by hand, and used the trimmings for stew meat. It is a firm, compact meat without much marbling. Low in cholesterol and surprisingly flavorful and tender given its lack of fat. I was expecting it to be much buffalo. Not so. Braised and then finished quickly in a hot oven it is delicious.

Looking for my sampler of Highland Cheeses soon!

More anon...

Monday, July 18, 2016

Virtual Scotland: Stone Houses and Oatcakes ( with Recipe)

And so the Scottish Adventure begins.

Mayes opened the chapter with the quintessential Stone House they had rented for their time in Scotland, so I thought it would be a good way to begin this virtual adventure as well.

Mayes' rental was probably a great deal like the traditional stone house above.

Scotland has a history of stone houses dating far back before 100 BC. Some of the stone abodes tucked beneath sod hills are Tolkeinesque and look more like Hobbit Holes.

The Traditional Blackhouses were common less than 150 years ago...and are still being built today.

Blackhouses are built with stone walls, between which, is an insulating core of sod. The roof is sod or thatched and held in place with ropes and black-stone sheets to prevent the strong winds from displacing them.

The stonework and sod roof has also been integrated into more modern endeavours as well as shown here. These may be rented by the week.

And a very nice tour of a restored Blackhouse Village from 1974.

I enjoy the cameraman's description of the weather as "shite" and you can hear how fierce the wind is blowing.

Ironically, it is the same wind, rain and skies I started this adventure on, today. 

Oatcakes are a traditional bread to accompany meals. 

They are made of

and when combined with a bit of buttermilk come out looking like this

They are somewhat crumbly but have a (surprisingly)  delicious rich buttery oatbread flavor that would go very well with soup or stew.

Oatcakes Recipe 

1 1/2 cups old fashion oats

1 cup flour.

1/4 cup sugar

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/2 cup butter chilled solid and cut into small pieces

1/4 cup buttermilk

Mix all ingredients thoroughly and shape into small cakes.

Bake at 350 degrees until edges are browned.

Serve with stew, or dot with butter and jam as a cracker/bread substitute.


More anon...