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A Barred Owl, the Wild Turkeys Drop in…and Some Baking

Posted by mrssmythe on February 18, 2019 in Baking, Books, Chickens, CPT's Lens, Critters, Kitchen, Old Books, Seasons, Week in Review |

We had another visit from the wild turkeys this week.

If you look along the top of our back fence, you can see our turkey (the white one) sidling up to a wild turkey (the darker one to the right). At first we thought she was just being friendly.

But, once the wild turkey dropped into our back yard, our turkey followed it closely (with the ever-present guinea hen in tow), then finally chased it off.

So much for being neighborly.

Later in the day, the wild turkeys returned (though, this time they stayed outside of the fence) with several babies among them.

In other poultry news, two of our chickens continue to lay eggs despite the short days. This is the first year we’ve gotten eggs this deep into winter. Below, you can see a side by side comparison of the yolks of a grocery store egg and one of our chickens’. (Our bird’s egg is on the right).

I don’t taste a difference, myself, but then I don’t have a particularly sensitive palate. I have noticed a difference in yolk color, though, and any time we use our eggs for cooking or baking, the end result is noticeably golden.

Lots of baking going on in the kitchen this week. I made some oatmeal bread – pretty good, but not my favorite, (though it sure looks nice!). I like breads that are a little more rustic…less sandwich-bread-like, if that makes sense. These turned out well, though.

For Valentine’s Day, I baked mini cheesecakes, using a recipe I found in Junior’s Cheesecake Cookbook. Have you heard of Junior’s? It’s a restaurant in New York City renowned for its New York style cheesecake. I found their recipe book on the sale shelf at the library and thought I’d give one of their recipes a try for Valentine’s Day.

These are the “original little fella cheesecakes”, and they were very good. However, my cheesecakes fell well below the Junior’s ideal. There’s a chart in the book to help you solve all sorts of cheesecake “problems” and mine had several. They were over-browned, cracked, and they sunk. I think my oven temperature was mainly to blame. But, I used melted chocolate to cover the cosmetic deficiencies, and, as they tasted just fine, didn’t worry too much about it. (I also found comfort in my Fanny Farmer Baking Book which stated in relation to cheesecake, “Don’t worry if the cake cracks in baking.” Thank you, Ms. Farmer. I shall do my best.)

Something else I tried for the first time this week – homemade granola.

CPT A was running low on the sort he usually eats, so I put this together using a recipe I found in The Tightwad Gazette. Honestly, I wasn’t expecting much. I guess I thought granola required something special – something outside the realm of the ordinary kitchen. But this was surprisingly good – so good, in fact, that I had to stop myself from nibbling on it as it cooled. It tastes a lot like the crumb topping you put over apple crisp. You can customize the recipe, adding nuts, dried fruit, coconut…whatever. I’ll definitely be making it again, and I have to admit I feel strangely empowered knowing I can make my own breakfast cereal (other than plain oatmeal, of course). If you’re interested in trying the recipe, you can find it HERE.

Finally, here’s a photo that CPT A snapped just the other morning. I was making coffee and saw what I thought was a hawk in one of the back pine trees. I asked CPT A to investigate and to put the chickens in the barn if necessary. Imagine my surprise when he returned, very excited, saying it was an owl!

A little research revealed that it was a barred owl. Isn’t it beautiful? It was about 18 inches tall. (I include that last bit because everyone I texted this photo to wanted to know how big the owl was).

From the dining room table, with CPT A brewing beer in the kitchen and snow falling outside (the day is off to a lovely start),

Mrs. Smythe

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What Every Home Needs

Posted by mrssmythe on February 10, 2019 in Critters, Family, Homeschool |

A kind neighbor passes along issues of The English Home to me when she’s finished with them. Are you familiar with the magazine? It’s wonderful. I always enjoy seeing the interiors of so many beautiful and, frequently, historic houses. One thing I’ve noted is that many of these homes have at least one dog in residence. And, when […]

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A Snowy Morning, a New Haircut, Homemade Hamburger Buns…and a Few Other Things

Posted by mrssmythe on February 3, 2019 in Critters, Garden, Seasons, Week in Review |

More snow this week… Wednesday morning, CPT A was up bright and early cleaning up after our most recent storm. I joined him, though I did more picture-taking than snow-shoveling. It was beautiful…bright blue skies; sunshine; crisp, clean snow… The woods were especially pretty. And the garden looked like an entirely different place with its […]

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Sledding with Chickens…and some other stuff

Posted by mrssmythe on January 27, 2019 in Baking, Chickens, Crafting, Critters, Seasons, Week in Review |

Ginger took one of the chickens sledding this past week… It was Cassie. I’m not sure she liked it much – but at least now she can say she’s tried it. None of the other chickens have gone sledding. Maybe she will boast about it in the coop at night. Ginger, on the other hand, […]

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Snowbound…and Baking

Posted by mrssmythe on January 20, 2019 in Baking, Chickens, Crafting, Critters, Seasons, Week in Review |

We woke up to about six inches of drifting snow this morning – a much lower amount than forecasters had been predicting for our area. That said, CPT A still had to get out the snow blower (only the second time we’ve used it this winter) and clear the drive. Meanwhile, I grabbed a shovel, […]

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