Sunday, January 31, 2010

Full Moon and the Wolf Moon

Ah, Lord GOD! Behold, You have made the heavens and the earth by Your great power and outstretched arm. There is nothing too hard for You.
Jeremiah 31:17
Can you see God, in the beginning, just stretching out His arm, pointing His finger, and creating such vast, complex. and stunningly beautiful heavens such as I witnessed Friday and Saturday night?
Occurring in January, the first full moon of the year, was called the Wolf Moon by native Americans because the wolves howled. They were probably just hungry and could see nothing much to eat which could make me howl too!
We were blessed here with the 2-night viewing of this lovely moon. Many thought a cloud bank would obscure it, but the cloud bank dissipated and thinned so we could watch its spectacular rising on Friday night. No one in my family thought it would be visible, nor did they think much of the facts I'd presented: it would be 14% bigger and 30% brighter with the red planet Mars to the left.
So, I drove out of town to high place and watched it rise on Friday night all by myself. Later others called me to see if I was still watching it move above the horizon into a thin cloud bank, and then ascend into the high sky. Sick as I was about not having my camera, the Lord gave me another opportunity last night. It wasn't the complete full moon, of course, and Mars wasn't visible, but it was still spectacular. The clouds were thicker and lower, so I didn't get to see it rise.

But the brilliance and larger size were still viewable. My camera, back in hand, I slipped out to the back patio to capture some of the radiance for you. It is rare that we have such clear skies in this part of Idaho this time of year. It snows madly as I write this, actually. Don't you love what God has created, what is made especially for us on earth? I am so grateful.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

The Good, the Bad, and the Beautiful

The Bad and the Beautiful
The bad is how the woodpile came alvalanching down knocking over a ladder and sending it into the windowed door out back. I was chased off the patio by the falling wood. The ladder, after falling against the window, left this beautiful design of shattered glass. It is a double pane window, so the inside is fine. We've ordered a new pane for the outer portion. I kind of hate to have it replaced. You can see the stack of wood behind it. The Good
My first package of seeds came yesterday. It is so exciting to open and see what I ordered, to fondle the packets, to plan and dream about how they will produce and what kind of harvest I'll have. Some new ones for me are cabbage and pole beans. I ordered more of my favorite tomatoes and one new one: Opalka Paste Tomato. One that is backordered is a winter squash I bought seeds for others to grow for me: Galeux D'Eysines, a French, warty, sweet and delicious one. I pray it comes so those who live in more squash-friendly areas nearby can grow it. It is the best squash I have EVER tasted.

The Fedco people always write a nice letter to their customers letting us know how the winter is going, how the seeds are holding out, fessing up to crop failures, and telling how many people ordered the new tomato, the same one I did,(142). I love this outfit because they tell you what kind of company the seeds come from in a ranking from 1-5, 1 being small farmers including Fedco staff, to 5 being Seminis/Monsanto varieties. I always keep my numbers low (1 or 2).

Monday, January 11, 2010

'Buttered' Up

We had another GNO last Friday night, and it was my turn to bring the dessert. GNO stands for 'Girls Night Out'. We are five women who have been meeting for a little over 2 years once a month on a Friday night. We have a potluck, laugh, share our lives, and then we discuss something hard. One of us is challenged to come up with a question. This month's question was: "How can you see that you have impacted the lives of others, specifically?" For a couple of us it was difficult to see, but the others helped by contributing what WE see about the impact they have. It was serious, tearful, thought-provoking and delightful. Two of us began this group by deciding what the criteria would be. We'd been ministering to many others at the time and were getting worn out, so we wanted to share with others who were strong at the time, in solid marriages and have a clear, defined path. It led us to invite, one at a time, the three others. We've grown to know and love each other and are somewhat accountable to each other. I highly recommend this kind of encouraging togetherness.

My 'Mary Jane's Farm' magazine (Mary Jane Butters) had just come when I was pondering on the little delicacy to make for dessert. She has a plethora, a covey, a herd of recipes to delight the palette this month. I tried the Mini Cheesecakes with Lemon Frosting for starters. I'll post the recipe at the end...after the blow-by-blow account of how to do it.
Above, I lined a muffin tin with cupcake papers. The crust is made of chocolate graham crackers, butter, and a little sugar. MJB recommends chocolate cookies or Pamela's gluten-free Simple Bites. Neither of those are available to me in this tiny mountain town.

I used a small glass that fit into the cupcake paper to press the 1 tablespoon of crumbs into the muffin tin. Then I filled the papers about 2/3 full of the filling (below) and baked it for about 25 minutes. Because my tins are bigger than the specialty pan recommended for the recipe it took longer to bake this tiny treasures.

Voila! The finished 'cake' with frosting and a sprinkling of lemon zest on top. I wish I'd had a white background for you so you could see the bottom layer of chocolate. These were delightfully delicious, and I'd do them again, even though the recipe made only 10. They are very sweet and need a little coffee to accompany them.

Lemon Mini Cheesecakes with Lemon Frosting
1 C chocolate cookie crumbs
2 T butter, melted
1 T sugar
8 oz cream cheese
1/2 cup sweetened condensed milk
1 egg
4 T lemon juice
1/2 t lemon extract
1. Preheat oven to 300 degrees F. 2. In blender or food processor, grind cookies into small crumbs. In a small saucepan melt butter. Combine cookie crumbs and sugar in a small bowl; add butter and mix well. Divided evenly (about 1 T slightly rounded each) among the 12 cups of mini cheesecake pan and press into bottoms of pan. (Recall that I used muffin tins lined with cupcake papers.) Refrigerate. 3. In a blender or food processor, combine chream cheese, condensed milk, egg, and lemon juice and extract; mix until smooth and creamy. 4. Remove cheesecake pan from refrigerator. Lightly wipe sides of cups with oil (I used the cupcake papers). Spoon filling over individual crusts filling cups about 3/4 full. Bake for 20 minutes or until set. Cheescakes will puff up, but settle as they cool.
2 t cornstarch
2 T lemon juice
1 egg yolk
4 oz cream cheese
1/2 t lemon extract
3/4 cup powdered sugar
1 T grated lemon zest
1. Combine cornstarch, lemon juice, and egg yolk in small saucepan; mix well. Stir and cook over medium heat until thickened into a paste. Remove from heat; cool. 2. In a blender or food processor, combine paste, cream cheese, lemon extract, and powdered sugar; mix until smooth and creamy. Spoon over cooled mini cheesecakes. Top with fresh lemon zest. Refrigerate. Refrigerate leftover frosting for another time or another dessert.
Bon apetit!

Friday, January 8, 2010

January Gardening!

It looks pretty stark out there right now, but I wanted to document the neatly organized tomato cages. You see, I left home in early October to care for my daughter, and left the tailend of the gardening up to my DH. Sadly, he tossed the cages to the side of the garden in an unruly stack which I found to be an eyesore upon returning. I've had shoulder surgery and cannot use my left arm for much, but one bright and sunny day went out to 'one arm' them into submission. The sight pleases me as does the garden empty of what looked like a pile of metal trash. We've had many deer visit this winter with a trail of poo all around the fence. This morning I discovered the mulch pawed away so they could nibble on the grass clippings laid down on the last mowing of the lawn.
Below is what the garden looks like today with a blanket of snow insulating it. You can see one old-fashioned tomato cage on the right where I have a small Peony planted.

The dear fence (electric) is not 'on', but keeps deer out right now anyway. There is no sign they've figured out how to enter.

The picture below shows only a few of the sparkles on the snow this morning. Really, it looked like a field of diamond...which reminds me of a Paul Simon song, Diamonds on the Soles of Her Shoes. If I walked around enough out there would I have diamonds on the soles of my shoes?