Tuesday, March 30, 2010


A few days back, I was talking about buttermilk and got a great comment that stuck in my mind. It was from Annette at Sustainable Eats, who is a font of make-it-yourself information, a source of local food inspiration, and must not sit down for any other second than to post her very consistent blog posts. This woman lives on a city plot in Seattle, where she has chickens, an orchard, and has 144 different kinds of seeds in the ground, but who's counting? You should go an visit her so you can catch one of her latest posts on smoking some meats. Lordy, she is smoking the good stuff!

Anyhoo, in response to my lament that buttermilk was expensive, she said, why don't you make it? And then gave me the directions for it: "Save 1/4 cup of that starter, add to 1 cup milk in a jar on the counter covered with paper towel until it sets up then refrigerate. In a week take 1/4 of that and make a new batch if you haven't used it all yet. If you need more use that same ratio the night before you need it." Well, the other day I went ahead and did it. I left the mixture on the counter over night not really knowing what to expect. How long do I let this sit? I anxiously posted on Annette's Facebook page, needing first-time buttermilk-making hand-holding. I made it through the night and in the morning looked at my jar: thick and goopy, it looked like thick buttermilk or thin yogurt. I'm sort of excited about it. How easy was that? Here's a page that explains making buttermilk in detail for those of you looking to expand your buttermilk horizons.

In other news, the chickens are really doing well! They are up to four eggs a day, which is plenty for this little family and deserving friends. They are still very shy though, unless it's snack time when I bring them little goodies. Then they get all bold. But they seem to stay indoors mostly, even though they have an outdoor run that's a pretty decent size, so there aren't many pictures of them. I haven't started letting them free-range, but intend to. Our friends are having a fox issue at the moment, and I can't help but to think that predators are still really hungry these last cold days. I'll wait until it gets a little warmer out, and a little greener.

I ate the Big Egg the other day and it was indeed a double. It was really two whole eggs, not just two little yolks like you sometimes see. I had it for breakfast, scrambled. Mmm, big egg.

Friday, March 26, 2010

Strawberry and Orange Pectin Jelly

Awhile back, during the citrus craze of winter, I became obsessed with the pectin found naturally in citrus. I then recalled the fall and its concurrent obsession with the pectin content in apples, and how one can utilize that pectin to make jams and jellies set instead of purchased pectin. I wondered if a person can do the same with citrus. Of course, I realized that apples are the perfect vehicle for pectin, in that they won't overpower the other fruit or fruits you want to work with. It's a very friendly fruit and goes with a bunch of other equally friendly fruits. Citrus is a little bolder, to say the least, and wants the spotlight. Or at least to get a stand out supporting role. And there's the bitterness. But still, I was curious.

I soon found this gem of a recipe that uses the white pith to make a pectin stock. I dutifully began to save all the white bits of any citrus I used. This I dub "stem to blossom end" jelly-making, in a nod to the snout to tail ethos of cooking. I saved pits, some peels and ends, and every time I juiced a citrus I would scrape off the innards and save the peels for candying, depositing the white parts to the freezer bag of pith. Pithy? Indeed. Pity? Non! Quite the contrary. I felt very resourceful, and, in using the whole fruit, I felt I was appreciating it's whole being.

Finally, the other day, I forced myself to take stock of the freezer and use up the stuff I'd been hoarding. Number one on the list was the bag of citrus bits. A whopping 2 1/2 pounds had been culled! The recipes I was looking at asked for a bit less, so I upped the numbers and hoped for the best. Here's the online version that I found on a page of GardenWeb's harvest forum, a great place for interesting info if you can stand your eyes bleeding from scanning through all the comments.

Recipe adapted slightly. This yielded four cups of liquid. I froze two cups and used the other two in the following jelly recipe, also found on the above link.

2 1/2 pounds of white pith of citrus fruits
1 cup lemon juice
9 cups of water

Chop up all the pith in a processor, so they are uniformly pea-sized. Add liquids to pith in a pot (I'll let that joke pass by) and let sit overnight. In the morning bring it all to a boil. Let boil ten minutes. Cool and strain. The directions say you may process it for ten minutes, or freeze. I chose to freeze half and use the rest in this jelly. (Note the recipe is from 1931. I don't think processing is a problem, but that's me, and I'm no pro. Just so we're clear on that.)

Strawberry and Orange Pectin Jelly

2 cups orange pectin
2 cups strawberry puree
2 cups sugar

Boil until jelling stage of 220 degrees. Ladle into hot jars and seal. Process in boiling water bath for ten minutes. (Again, on processing, I opted to do so, but this is a recipe from 1931.)

I will admit that I used some inferior, store-bought strawberry puree to use in this recipe. I didn't want wait for strawberry season, and didn't want to spend much in case this was a bust. The puree had "natural flavorings" in it, so the strawberry scent was pretty intense, and therefore stood strong against the orange pectin. There's a definite orange taste to the jelly, and a slight but noticeable bitter bite. But it's not overpowering at all. The set is firm and jammy, and it's not crystal clear even though I strained the pectin twice. The puree was dark and opaque, admittedly. I wonder if I stuck to pith only, or left out the pits, or peels, what the outcome would be. I also wonder how it would work with other fruits. There's a bunch of experiments here, ripe for the taking, if you'll pardon me, and I think it would be worth your while if 1.) you had access to great local citrus or 2.) you do a lot of supreming of citrus fruit. I qualify for neither, at least until next winter, but if you try this, or have done so already, let me know how it comes out (or came out). And make it pithy, would you?

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Spring and the Big Egg

We had a couple of really beautiful days, pictured above, but now it's raining, which I don't entirely mind. It's bringing lots of goodies out of the ground. Like the row of red and green rhubarb pushing itself up out of the ground, and the strawberry patch, perfectly placed just south of it, is going all green lifting itself above its straw blanket. The butterfly bush is leafing out and the forsythia is just now blooming. Tulips, crocus, yarrow, echinacea, sundrops, foxglove, chives, iris, bee balm are all out of the ground. When that happens, I do not mind the rain one drop. I've got seeds on the way from the Hudson Valley Seed Library. I'm just itching to get them! And of course, like every year, I have to reign myself in from getting way more than I can grow. I have a new bed, and two more on the way, and soil to order and manure to spread. Whew. I love spring.

And my new chickens are amazing! Would you look at this egg I got the other day?? It's twice the size of the others. When I held it as I walked back to the house my hand couldn't believe it. My hand was actually perplexed. It's nerve endings were saying: does not compute (say that in robot talk). I haven't eaten it yet. Wonder if its a double yolk?

Friday, March 19, 2010

Trout with Vegetable Hash and Fresh Ricotta Cheese

Last night's dinner was outrageously good. Was it because it was warm and sunny? Was it because we had dinner on the porch along with a bottle of rosé? Perhaps, rabbit, perhaps. I still think it was one of the better meals we've had in a while, and I'm sure it also has to do with the taste of meals to come. That is, it was a spring time meal. We had trout that I stuffed with the foamy leavings from my tangelo lemongrass jelly. I saved the lemongrass and foam because it looked too good to throw out. Good idea, says I, because stuffed in this trout was an inspired move. (And I cleared a jar out of the fridge!) I was waiting for some nice duck for that jelly foam, but haven't seen any. Did you ever think to stuff your fish with jelly? No? Think again! I baked the whole fish, stuffed and drizzled with olive oil, salt and pepper, for about twenty minutes at 400 degrees.

This here is what I'm talking about. Early springtime hash. Carrots, beets, leeks and portobello mushrooms, diced, sauteed in olive oil, salt, pepper, and drizzled with shallot confiture syrup. Can I say boo-ya? I hate saying that, but I really think it deserves it.

And, oh, what's this? Some fresh ricotta that I made and crumbled on top of the hash? You should make some of this cheese. I can't believe it took me this long in life to figure this out. Easiest cheese ever. (Except for maybe yogurt cheese.) I used this recipe from 101 Cookbooks, although it's pretty much standard stuff. And don't forget to save your whey. Yah, whey! You can bake with it, drink it (if you want, maybe I don't want to), use it in a soup. It's going to rain this weekend, so bread and soup it is.

And who is this?

Meet my girls! I didn't think I would get so attached to them so quickly! They are Ameraucanas, and I couldn't be happier with them. They lay delicious blue and brown eggs.

More on them soon. I've only had them a week so we're still getting to know one another, but I've been bribing them with scraps from the house and they are buying it. This weekend is all about outdoors and celebrating spring. I couldn't be more thrilled.

Happy Vernal Equinox, everyone!

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Roasted Garlic and Candied Ginger Jelly

I had to do an allium jelly, you know. I did not take the carrot jelly challenge (for last month's Tigress' Can Jam) so this month I had to do one. Of course there are so many choices! I went with roasted garlic because I forgot how much I loved it, and the candied ginger jumped in at the last minute. I remember when I worked at Pizzicato in Portland, OR many moons ago I would bake off trays and trays of roasted garlic. Gooey and oozing their caramelized sweet and mellow goodness. We would bake bread with extra pizza dough and have it for lunch with some salad. The candied ginger was an after-thought, but a good one. Of course everyone knows that ginger and garlic are great friends.

I had some difficulty with this jelly, though. It wasn't all sweet smelling garlic and chewy morsels of ginger in a perfectly set jammy consistency. No, it was a syrup to begin with. Let me explain: I wanted to do this jelly with just apples providing the pectin. But for a bunch of reasons it didn't set well. Here are the reasons:

1. My apples were old. I needed to use them up, and I knew this might hurt my set.

2. They were not super tart. The tarter the apple, the higher the pectin content. Again, I knew.

3. It was raining, and had been for days. Read this great article by Annette from Sustainable Eats on Canning Across America on how weather affects the gel stage.

4. And, I usually can at night, but I was doing this during my son's nap, so I sort of rushed it even though I didn't get to 220 degrees. It seemed to be setting and was dripping off the spoon nicely, but, well, no dice. I rushed it. It was taking forever! I'm so impatient.

Although I could have left this as a syrup/glaze and it would have just been fine, I sort of wanted a jelly. I had some Pomona pectin around, so I re-processed the batch. I rarely do this. But I also wanted to try the Pomona. I never had before! I've been relying on high-pectin fruit and apples for jams and jellies for the past few years, with the occasional commercial pectin. For some stupid reason I always thought Pomona would be a pain with the calcium water and all. (Pomona comes with two packets. One to make the calcium water which activates the pectin, unlike other pectins that need sugar to make the pectin work.) It worked like a charm. I didn't notice a chalky taste as some people claim to find with Pomona. And did you know they have a jam hotline, or as they call it a "jamline?" And it's also sold in bulk. Check out their website. And who can resist their pretty packages?

2 cups of apple pectin stock
1 1/2 cups sugar
1 T lemon juice
3 heads of roasted garlic
2 T candied/crystallized ginger, chopped
1 T apple cider vinegar
1/2 t salt

1 t calcium water
1 t pectin

Heat apple extract, lemon juice and sugar in a pot and begin to dissolve. Mix garlic with ginger, vinegar, salt and stir into apple mixture. Add calcium water. Bring to a boil. Take a few tablespoons of the mixture into a bowl and add the pectin, stir well avoiding clotting. Add back to boiling mixture and stir well for one or two minutes to thoroughly dissolve pectin. Bring back to boil and remove from heat. Fill hot jars with the jelly leaving 1/4 inch headspace. Process in boiling water bath for ten minutes.

N.B. I didn't use the Pomona exactly the way they direct you to. I went my own way hoping it would work and it did. I didn't veer entirely off-course, but be warned.

I know its ridiculous to take a picture of my jelly outside, but it's been so gorgeous out! Look at my little mini-daffs in the background. Are they sunshine-y, or what? Oh, for the love of spring!

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Shallot Confiture

This month's Tigress' Can Jam focused on alliums, or the onion family, only one of the largest plant genera in the world. Yes, the world! Another great pick! There were a ton of recipes that called to me, more than I thought, but this one sang my name. I am so excited about this. Shallot Confiture. Lord, it's gorgeous. Steve was totally making fun of me. When I was pulled it from the boiling water, I was doing Rocky poses and kissing my biceps. I am a total dork. So what. Go ask that woman who wrote the article in Slate, she knows what a trendy loser I am! (I know I shouldn't give her more press, but whatever, I'm feeling punchy. I think it's funny that she owns Mes Confitures. Now who's calling who ridiculous? Okay, got that out of my system.)

So: is this ever going to look pretty on a shelf, all backlit, or what?? Shallot Confiture, let's just say it again, shall we? This was a four-day extravaganza of boiling and sitting and boiling and sitting. But that's all easy, really. In the end you have a bunch of translucent purplish-brown pods that have been infused with a spice-laden vinegar syrup. Vinegar syrup? How can you be so good? To be honest, I haven't really thought of how I'm going to eat this. This is no work horse chutney or every day jelly. This is something that deserves the spotlight. The suggestion is warm or cold, with meats. I'm thinking with a pork roast, or a salad even? On top of ice cream? I don't know, help me out. I'm a little star struck at the moment. The pictures do it no justice at all. (It's been gray and rainy for days.)

The recipe is from the surprisingly good book, The Everything Canning and Preserving Book by Patricia Telesco with Jeanne P. Maack. There are some really interesting recipes in here. To be honest, I was turned off by the title--too general, and boring--but I was wrong. There are some interesting ideas in there. The recipe itself was clear and concise. I made a micro-batch and split it by a third. I should have done the whole thing because it was time and effort, and I'd be happy just looking at more of it on the shelf. There's a lot of caraway in this, which I wasn't sure of. But it works. The spices are just magnificent: spicy and peppery, sweet and tart. What I kept on wondering was: who made this up and why for?? It seemed like it would be good in an ornate bowl on a Renaissance table filled with fruit, wine and large joints of meat.

Here is my small-batch and to the point recipe:

1 pound of shallots
1/2 cup pickling salt
2 3/4 cider vinegar
1 cup and 1 T sugar
1 cardamom pod
1/2 tsp lemon zest
A two inch piece of cinnamon
1/2 tsp dried chili pepper
1/2 tsp whole cloves
1 tsp black peppercorns
1/8 cup of caraway seeds

Day One: Peel shallots, leaving root end intact. Put in bowl, sprinkle with salt. Add water to cover, stirring to dissolve salt. Submerge shallots completely with a weighted plate. Cover with a towel, put in a cool place and let sit 24 hours.

Day Two: Drain and rinse shallots, and dry them with a towel. Put vinegar and sugar in a pot. Put all spices, except caraway, in a ball or cheesecloth and add to pot. Add caraway. Medium heat until sugar dissolves. Then bring to boil--and boil for ten minutes. Add shallots and simmer for fifteen. Remove pot from heat and let sit, covered, for 24 hours.

Day Three: Bring shallots slowly to a boil. Simmer for fifteen minutes. Remove from heat, cover and let sit another 24 hours.

Day Four: Slowly bring shallots to a boil again. Simmer until shallots are golden brown and translucent. (Mine stayed a little purple.) Discard spice ball. Place into sterilized jars. Remove air pockets. Process for ten minutes. Store in a cool, dark place for 2 to 3 months for flavors to develop. Kiss those guns.

Friday, March 12, 2010

Beef Kofta Curry

I spend a good amount of time looking for deals on Craigslist. I really like the Farm and Garden section. I also love the Free section; it's hilarious and sometimes rewarding. I'm always looking for one thing or another. Or waiting for something to find me. A lot of the time it doesn't pan out. But you've got to keep on looking. The other day I saw an ad for local grass-fed grass-finished Black Angus beef that was an incredible deal. One of the things that I find most expensive in trying to keep to a more local diet is meat. There are ways around that. One is to obviously eat less meat. And another is to be more creative in seeking it out.

I connected with Eric Eschbach of Cedar Hill Farms in Amenia, NY. His farm is a good hour from where I live and he graciously offered to meet me half way. I rustled up some friends to make an order that was worth his while. We met in a parking lot of a library. Now, doesn't that seem incredible? Eric is an utterly respectable person, who is working constantly to create a great product. He had a lot of interesting information that I would have liked to learn about meat, how it's processed and the rules and regulations surrounding it all, but I had a wiggly toddler to chase after. It doesn't lend to thoughtful conversation, unfortunately. However, I was thrilled with the transaction, and I intend to visit his farm stand in the summer time, where he sells vegetables as well, and get a lay of the land he works.I came home with a cooler full of meat and a feeling of intense satisfaction.

My first meal was with the ground beef, and I used a recipe with which I took some crazy liberties. Ellie, of Almost Bourdain, does some amazing stuff. All of her elegant food is photographed perfectly---you always want to just sit right down, and tuck in to whatever it is that she is making. There is no pretension, and her writing is thoughtful and often from the heart. And, her precision and attention to detail is pretty much the exact opposite of how I roll. So, although I ogle her site I often think: I'll never make that. (Which is how I feel when I read a lot of blogs, come to think of it.) But, the other day there was this recipe for Beef Kofta Curry that seemed level to my playing field so I affectionately butchered it and in doing so probably took it down ten notches on the superlative stick, but still, it was delicious. In the original recipe it is served with pasta, but I did wild rice.

It's not that I'm lazy, it's just that I don't have the time (miniature violins, please) to attend to much else but the little toddler that keeps me busy all day. Which is just fine. In a few years I'll have plenty of time. I'm sure I'll miss making crock pot meals and cheesy pasta. Even making meatballs took a little precious time. So, in that vein of laziness, I'm not even going to write my version of the recipe, because really, why bother? Visit Ellie's blog and check it out. It's a simple recipe to begin with, I just amended it for what I had. There are a billion spices in this recipe! And I didn't have all of them. But that's okay. That's what cooking is about for me. Getting close. Helping things along. When you have really good local beef, that's a great start, isn't it?

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Marmalade Quick Bread

When March rolls around and buttermilk goes on sale I always get it. I bake a lot with yogurt, because I always have it on hand for so many uses. I've really got to start making my own. Buttermilk is a little less useful in my household. I hate that I can't drink it straight, for example, but I think some people can or do. Which is repulsive, personally. It's also somewhat expensive, comparatively. But I do love baking with it. So, I've been fiddling around with a few recipes and also keeping in mind the many jars of jelly in the fridge that I have to use in some way. In that spirit, I made Marmalade Bread.

The marmalade I had on deck was a tangerine microwaved version with vanilla that had set a little too firm, and the chunks of peel were like soft candy. I warmed it up a bit so it would mix well in this batter. The resulting bread was a gorgeous yellow, flecked with orange bits and vanilla flecks. It is a lightly sweet bread, fluffy and soft, and perfect for a mid-morning snack. The recipe has only two tablespoons of sugar in it, plus the jam. I didn't feel too bad having a second slice! And either did the baby.

Preheat to 375. Grease a square 8x8 pan.

1 2/3 all purpose flour
2 T sugar
1 t baking powder
1/2 t baking soda
1/2 t salt

1 egg
2/3 cup buttermilk
1/4 cup light olive oil
1/2 to 3/4 cup of jam or marmalade

Mix wet and add to dry. Batter will be sticky. Bake for thirty minutes or until golden brown.

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Marm: Orange Fig and Orange Earl Grey

Well, we all have our problems, don't we? Mine is marmalades. Can't get them out of my kitchen. I guess I've had worse problems in prior days. Making preserves is keeping me off the streets. Keeping me honest. Keeping me real.

Okay, so enough of that. I have been doing micro batches, and it's been so much fun. Check it:

I had four cups of peels and pulp that I brought to a boil with two tablespoonfuls of lemon juice and then let cool overnight in the fridge. The next afternoon I measured two cups and added 2/3 of a cup of sugar per cup of orange. Then I added 8 ounces of chopped, very soft dried mission figs. The resulting marmalade is gooey and rich, the figs add a smooth texture and a mellow to the peel's bitterness. This made three pints.

The next day, I used the balance of the oranges with the same 2/3 cup sugar per cup ratio, but as it reached the jel stage I poured in eight ounces of very concentrated Earl Grey tea (four bags, opened). It took forever to get it back to the jelling point, and I still think it's closer to a syrupy consistency. But how inspired is marmalade with tea in it? And Earl Grey, no less. I mean, really. To be sure, it's not my invention, I lifted the idea from Christine Ferber.

I have to admit this is a rushed post with uninspired photos. Today was a gorgeous day and I spent the good part of it out of doors, chopping up the many downed branches from our latest spate of storms. I dug among the beds, pulling back the warm blanket of leaves to see so many shoots coming up, some of which perplexed me: what did I plant here? I also sprinkled some buckwheat seed in one of the beds just because I wanted to plant something. I tidied the shed. I pruned all of the ornamental grasses. I played in the thick mud by the barn, daydreaming about the chickens I plan to get next week. I did a lot of dreaming, actually, listening to the stream gurgle by, watching the ice melt on the pond, wondering where I could squeeze in all the squash I want to grow. Lots of planes growled by, hawks swirled soundlessly on thermals. How am I ever going to find time to write once this season is in full swing?

Friday, March 5, 2010

Penne with Beet Greens, Olives and Red Pepper

One of my favorite things is to make something delicious out of absolutely nothing. I don't know what it is, but I am tickled pink when this happens. I'm talking the day before you go shopping, and the fridge is empty. "Helloooo in there!" you call, and the mustard bottle shivers, cold and alone. Ah, but what is this? A jar of olives with ten or so lonely swimmers at the bottom of the brine. And this? A jar, half-full (optimistic indeed) of red peppers. Some pasta in the cupboard gets rustled out. An onion. Some garlic. A few mushrooms. Beet greens I intended to eat the day I got them. For shame. All this gets sauteed and tossed with pasta and some of its cooking water. Lots of good olive oil and cheese, fresh-cracked pepper, and we are in business.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

British Flapjacks

Disclaimer: This was a big fat fail. To be fair, the original recipe said they would be soft. Code for falling apart? My flapjacks were delicious, though very sweet, but fell apart like so much oatmeal covered in sugar. Was it my substitution of old-fashioned oats? The clementine syrup? (I can't imagine.) Or should I have baked it longer? Let it cool longer? Ah, the mysteries of life. All is not lost, however, I will gladly bake them into another incarnation and eat them eventually. I think they will make a lovely topping for a plum crisp I've got rolling around in my head...But still, I feel so obviously off-kilter. I'll have to slog through a bit of this, I think. So: my apologies.

While I was sick, I received a wonderful package in the mail from Shae. She sent me clementine confits (!) that she had made and as an extra bonus a jar of clementine syrup, a byproduct of the confits. She asked me to think up ways to use it. Well, first off a goodly amount went into my many cups of tea a day. That was a no-brainer. I had a few ideas for her, we'll see if they come to fruition on her blog. In the meantime, I happened across this recipe in Bon Appetit from Molly Wizenberg for British Flapjacks. The recipe is not for pancakes but a sweet oat bar that goes by the name of flapjacks in the UK. It is an incredibly easy recipe, and Wizenberg likens the recipe to rice krispie treats. It also calls for golden syrup, a British product. I thought, well, that clementine syrup looks just like golden syrup. Don't you agree? Who doesn't want a crispy little oat bar with loads of butter and gorgeous clementine syrup in it, and takes all of ten minutes to make (minus baking time)?

1 stick of butter, sliced into eight pieces
1/2 cup golden brown sugar
1/4 cup golden syrup or clementine syrup
2 1/3 cups of oats (recipe calls for quick oats, not instant and not old-fashioned. I used old-fashioned but pulsed them in the processor a few times)
pinch o'salt

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Butter a square 8x8 pan. Melt butter with sugar and syrup until all is dissolved and looks gorgeously buttery and saucy. Pour the oats in with a pinch of salt. Mix it all up and toss in the pan, patting down neatly. In the oven for 25 minutes, or until golden brown. The edges will be a little darker, as these things tend to go. Let cool in pan for a bit. Don't be hasty! Cut it up into cute little triangles. (Which I forgot to do and made boring little squares.) Let cool completely. (They'll fall apart if you don't let them fully cool. Take it from an impatient baker.) Pour a cuppa tea and enjoy.

Monday, March 1, 2010

Shine On, You Crazy Daffodil

Worst. Cold. Ever. I am just surfacing from a devastating and tenacious cold and does it feel good to be on the mend! I won't get into details, as everyone gets colds, and everyone seemed to get this one, but one of the worst parts of it was not wanting to eat. I lost my sense of smell and taste. Any little vestige of joy in life was drained right out in the loss of those two senses. For someone like me it sort of feels horrific. For a while I felt like this:

All sorts of other things happened, like massive amounts of heavy, wet snow paired with power outages. I'm sure many of you know all about it. But now things are back to normal, and the ladybugs are popping out of nowhere to bask in the front windows, and the snow is melting in the soft sunlight and you can hear dripping everywhere. This morning I had to go outside to rescue some evergreens that had been buried under ice. They popped up out of the ice, thankfully it seemed. Even though there is still a good foot of icy snow out there, I see signs of spring everywhere.

Last week I found the forest filled with robins, who at the end of winter I am truly glad to see. I also found a four-point deer antler down by the pond! That was amazing and something I have never found in my life. Which seems rather odd to me, seeing as how the deer population is huge and male deer lose their antlers every spring. Hmm. Nonetheless, I was as glad to find that antler, a truly amazing creation, as I was to see bluebirds flitting about the oaks. They make me so very happy, even if they spurn my bluebird house. (Not their fault, it's those pesky sparrows that push them out. Argh.)

Can you believe this little daffodil? How crazy is it? To be fair, it's right next to the house's foundation and it's a southern exposure. But still. Amazing.

And how about this hardy yarrow who never wanted to go to sleep in the first place? There are so many signs of spring that they are not just keeping me afloat, they have me up out of the water. So, I'm getting things in order. Cleaning up the house. Planning the garden, slowly. And feeling better by nourishment. Fresh baked bread with yogurt cheese and chutney yesterday. And today, Plum Ginger Sour Cream muffins. Time to start using up all those preserves. Because before you know it there will be a new harvest to save.