Thursday, October 8, 2009

Our First Fire of the Season . . .

. . . means cozy days have returned to Wisteria Cottage.

Life around Wisteria Cottage has lulled back to our normal pace after a frenetic ride that derailed the routine we have come to love so much. With Grandma Gloria mending nicely in a care facility and her daughter waiting at Gloria's home to care for her upon release, we of the nether reaches of the family have once again returned to phone chats and e-pics until we meet up again.

It is GOOD to get back to the boring business around here of ordinary life . . .

. . . like collecting eggs, warm and adorable from makeshift nests.(When will these ladies learn proper household keeping?)

Recently we purchased four adorable little pullets (ladies, not yet of egg-laying age), sporting the cutest coats of houndstooth check. Unfortunately these sweet ones have disrupted the harmony of the feathered colony a bit, but soon all will smooth out . . . or so we hope. ; ) Though we enjoyed the raising of chicks, the prospect of double the eggs without all that stinky indoor mayhem makes me positively giddy!

. . . and the Baking of Pies, like this one sporting braeburn apples.(Observe Miss Elizabeth's very first attempt -- a fine specimen, I'd say!)

Our recent culinary adventures have taken us deep into the South for some good ol' cookin'. The recent reading of Screen Doors and Sweet Tea by Martha Hall Foose inspired me to crank up the Jazz music and cook away. Elizabeth's gorgeous pie shows that the adventurous spirit has spread deliciously around here. : D

. . . as well as the routine bread baking and yogurt making to fill the tummies with healthful sustenance and tangy delight.

I'm sorry I have not posted the details of my yogurt-making adventure as of yet (though I did promise, I know). Sadly the close-and-play instructions of my Yo'gourmet appliance produced a heat factor too high to retain the essential cultures I seek. BUT . . . with a bit of coaching from Gary about thermal properties and a handy instant-read thermometer, I have managed to find the perfect technique for attaining the 100-110 temps required for healthy fresh LIVE yogurt incubated over a 12-hour period. The nifty appliance promised to be oh-so-easy, but the contraption topped 120 degrees on my first attempt, hence no live cultures likely survived, though it tasted delicious. After a "testing period" with thermometer in hand and experiments regarding water levels in the "bath" I have quickly zeroed in on the "formula." (Any interest in a step-by-step post? Let me know . . . )

To date I am turning out several quarts of LIVE yogurt in a week to keep up with the needs of my family. Though noses turned up a bit at the first tasting of this tangy "unsweetened" product, a drizzle of local honey and a sharing of the health benefits of said yogurt, coupled with a few delicious dips and delights of Mediterranean cuisine ("Tzatziki, anyone?"), has relegated "store-bought" yogurt to the bottom of the shopping list. (Though it is nice to know I can still buy that yummy tangy Bulgarian yogurt at my little market in a pinch -- if there remains any on the shelf after delivery, that is . . . it goes F-A-S-T!) The buying of Greek God's brand "Honey" yogurt will become a treat, like ice cream -- a once-in-a-while yummy treat.

I wax joyfully over the ordinary miracles in a day and celebrate the peacefulness that reigns in our routine around Wisteria Cottage even as I pack for a trip taking me far away from home. This coming Sunday I shall accompany my dear friend Lily to Honolulu, Hawaii to attend the funeral of her sweet sister Susan. Lily and I will reside for several days at the Hilton Hawaiian Village and enjoy the tropical breezes, fresh seafood, and relaxed life of Hawaii, where both Susan and Lily lived for many years.

So, as I will not be carrying my laptop with me to Hawaii, my blog will lie fallow on holiday as will I. When I return my camera will surely spill with gifts for all to share here. Though I have visited Hawaii before, I choose to leave the busy tourist pace behind on this trip, preferring to R-E-L-A-X after such a busy time of late.

When next I post I shall sport a tropical glow
and new tropical tales to share.

Until then . . .



Tricia said...

Though I am sorry for the reason for your trip, I hope you enjoy a bit of peace and rest. May God bless you with safety on your journey.

Linda said...

You have a blast! Glad for the good news about your MIL!

Morning Glories in Round Rock said...

ALOHA! I know it doesn't seem a festive reason to be going to Hawaii, but it is a celebration of Susan's life. I hope there will be much laughter and love to soften the tears.

How wonderful to have the first fire of the season! I can smell it--and that apple pie right now! When my kids were small, I made yogurt, also. So much fun to do. My dream is to live in the country and have chickens. I hope your pullets are prolific!

Safe trip!

FancyHorse said...

So you do get to visit Susan in Hawaii after all (wistful smile).

That apple pie looks delicious!!! It's hard to believe it is her first attempt!

I love your little blue and white tea canister.

Unknown said...

Lovely. We had our first snowfall today and I had apple butter simmering away in my new 18 quart slow cooker. It was pure bliss. I'm happy.

Karen Deborah said...

Now that is making lemonade from lemons! I'm glad you are going to go to the beach and eat pineapple! you will be a comfort to Susan.

I am going to be busy here with all the family festivities. If by some chance you need to get a hold of me call me because I won't be using the computer.

A week without the computer!! Yikes. There is no telling what all mischief I will get into.

E's pie looks GREAT!!! How did it taste.

Do not post cozy fire pictures, shame on you. It was 94 today again!!

Love the new woodstove very nice.

joanne said...

Have a safe trip filled with lovely memories of Susan. Enjoy your visit with Lily and come back to us renewed and relaxed!
I recently tried Greek yogurt for the first time and now I am craving it's wonderful goodness...

Scrappy quilter said...

Have a wonderful trip. Although I know it's a sad time enjoy your visit with Lily. Can't wait to see all the pictures you take. Hugs..

Laura {{* *}} said...

Aloha Debbie~
My heart travels with you to paradise on earth.
I lived in the islands for 28 years and spent many a day in my high school years, cutting out from classes and catching Da Bus to Waikiki.
The HH Village was one of our many stomping grounds...Ft. of the remaining "green" spots on a much built up shoreline.
I was thrilled to see the addition of Aloha Oe & Bruddah Iz to your playlist :)
Thank you for stirring such memory.

I pray your time with Lily is sweet~ and your time of respite will be full of praise for such a time as this.

ʻO ka haliʻa aloha i hiki mai
Sweet memories come back to me
Ke hone aʻe nei i
Bringing fresh remembrances
Kuʻu manawa
Of the past

Aloha O'e~
{{* *}}

Ruth MacC said...

It's night time, Niall has taken Sean to the pictures and I am sitting in front of my coal fire as I type. Hope you have the oppertunity to uplift your friend during this sad time Debbie.
God direct you.

Full of Grace said...

I'm a wee bit jealous of Hawaii :)

I know that your trip isn't made of the stuff that vacations are made of, but enjoy yourself anyhow- we will miss you when you are gone and rejoice when you return :)

Karey Swan said...

Debbie, I check my yogurt after 3-4 hours to see if it's slightly thickened, cuz it usually is, and will thicken more in the fridge. The shorter it incubates the sweeter it is.

When I make it from my own starter, I used a bit more than recipe calls for, and I think that's what thickens quicker. When I'm starting from scratch agaain with a powdered starter then it takes longer to set.

Since this is a late comment, you're probably back from your trip. Hope it was refreshing.

Joyce said...

Hope you have a wonderful time in Hawaii with your friend. <3

Werna Gail said...

You will be missed, but I pray God give you a safe and meaningful time
I Will be looking forward to all of those pictures.
Thai is a might fine looking pie.