Saturday, June 30, 2007

Visions of Sugar Plums - well almost -

Buttermilk Chocolate Pie
1 1/2 cups chocolate chips
1 1/2 cups sugar
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
6 eggs
1 cup buttermilk
1 1/2 tablespoons vanilla extract
1 pre-made store-bought (9-inch) deep dish pie crust
Pre-made whipped cream, for garnish
Preheat oven to 325 degrees F. Position a rack in the center of the oven.
Place the chocolate chips in a double boiler and melt over low heat, stirring constantly.
In a medium bowl, whisk together the sugar, flour, and salt until well combined. In a large mixing bowl, combine the eggs, buttermilk, and vanilla. Add the sugar mixture and mix with an electric hand mixer or whisk vigorously. With a rubber spatula, stir the melted chocolate into the batter.
Pour batter into the piecrust; you will have about 1 cup of left-over batter. Place pie in oven on middle rack. Bake for 1 hour and 15 minutes to 1 hour and 25 minutes, or until the pie is crisp on top and a knife inserted in the center comes out with just a bit of moist chocolate on it.
Remove from oven and cool completely. Let stand at least 1 hour before serving. If not eating immediately, refrigerate pie. This pie can be served warm or chilled. Garnish with store-bought whipped cream just before serving.

I am making this up tonite for a cook out tomorrow. we are having close to 50 folks over for a back yard celebration a few days in advance of the 4th of July. It has become an annual celebration. Each year a few more folks arrive, generally with another one or two in tow. We don't mind that - there is always have plenty of food - just bring your own lawn chair. Most will bring a covered dish. By the time everyone arrives it looks better than a buffet restaurant!

Right now I am off to visit with some dear ones who have driven three states to be here for our bash. Old friends are great. When they happen to be kin folk, it is even sweeter since we can talk about family and each other and understand exactly what is meant and implied by a gesture or word. Sort of pig latin for kin. I ought to write a book of that. I could sell it to Jeff Foxworthy perhaps and then I might even purchase a winning lottery ticket. Hey, it could happen!

Thursday, June 28, 2007

Pickles, Gourds, Seeds and Me

As you probably have figured out by now, I love to grow things. I prefer to grow from seed, but, gosh I am human and fall prey to flower pots in the garden center. But I don't buy the pretty ones. Nope, not me. I always go to the back section where on a black metal rack are the sick, dried out lifeless specimens that are being sold because they need TLC. My husband thinks I have some horse trader in my family gene pool because I have no pride whatsoever about dancing those distressed, nearly lifeless pots to the garden manager. I must have a way of shaming them with my total look of disbelief that they would charge me (or anyone else) for something that they had neglected to death! Most times, they will give me these poor things that need a good long drink of water and fresh soil. Some live, some are too stressed to survive, but most will give me seed.
Last year I was on one such jaunt and came across a small pack of what was marked cucumbers. Now I make a mean hot dog relish and that requires cucumbers. Family and friends bring the empty mason jars back for refills. So, looking at the sad cucumbers, I thought of relish. Once more, the garden manager met me and said, M'am, if you can get a Straight 8 out of these, I would like to see one! Smiling, I assured him I would be delighted.
I watched with hope as the plants grew. The problem was, they weren't cukes. They we
re gourds. Now anyone that knows me, knows that I LOVE gourds. I make birdhouses, fence decorations, doll heads, bowls, so many endless possibilities with the curcubita family. Another bonus with gourds are the amount of seeds that they produce! I always have more than enough to share with friends near and far.

Hoping that they were a long neck dipper, I knew as soon as they started to round out that they were the common gooseneck.

Within each seed head is a multitude of seed. Each one seed produces a multitude of more seed. And each seed produces what it is meant to. All they need is a little water, soil and sunlight. We are all sowers. We sow into each other's lives various seeds. Love, friendship, encouragement, laughter ~ I want to sow good seed. And if I think I am sowing one seed and it turns into another plant - like my cuke to gourd incident - I hope that what is produced is a happy bonus. (Matthew 13:1-23)


Last evening as the thunder rolled across Rocklingham County, I went outside to do my daily rain dance. I must not be very effective at it since everywhere else in the Triad got pelted with up to four inches of rain while we here on the Hill stay dry as a bone.

I used that time between dancing to collect various vines - honeysuckle, some wisteria and the ever present Creeping Jenny. I fashioned them into wreaths of various sizes. It is quite a satisfying chore. I dislike waste and always look for a way to repurpose everything.

To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven:

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Lessons from a Weed

I could write a total epic Michener novel about what I have learned about myself from weeds. It's true. Think about it. Weeds flourish in parched land while most flowers with the exception of
succulents, perish. They can't stand the heat, the relentless summer sun without moisture. We are in a heat wave where I live and also we are in a moderate drought. I am an early rise by nature. Even before I married and had children, I was an early riser. My mom always said that I was in a hurry to live each day. That's one way to put it. I have learned that I get more accomplished when I start early and I poop out about mid afternoon and need a recharging! Okay, my ADD is kicking in again. I didn't really mean to throw that in, but, since I said it and just read it, I can dance ahead to complete the thought about weeds.

I am an indiscriminate gardener. If there is a spot in my garden . . . heckfire, if there is a spot anywhere in my landscape that I think needs something there, I will fill it. I have been known to go foraging in the woods looking for the perfect
woodland specimen to fit under one of my sprawling oaks, or to hide delicately beneath my beloved pussy willow.

I even use weeds. Yes, you read right, weeds. I know some folk that call anything a weed! But a weed to some is a ground cover or flowering grass to me!

Take for example the lowly bugle weed. Now that's it's common name. It is now being sold in garden spots under the name Ajuga. I have it growing all around my yard. My hubby mows it over calling it a weed. When I first spotted my bugle weed, I quickly called my sister, Cat. She is as much a weed lover as myself, often accompanying me on treks through the hills and hollers we live on.
Me: Cat! I found some bugle weed!
Cat: Save some for me! I know right where to put it!
Me: Wait! I have to tell you that the buttercups in the
back field are opening up!
Cat: I'll bring my trowel!

Buttercups, bugle weed, gil go o'er, are all wonderful weeds to me. I know them by sight immediately in their early stages and gently pluck them from where they have been blown the previous season. I then place them where I can enjoy their beauty. You just need to find the right place to stick them where they will be happy. People are like that. I know you have heard the old saying, you can take the man out of the country but you can't take the country out of the man. Wherever they are at, they carry some of their "raising" with them. If I notice a flowering weed - (which by the way, more times than not, they are an herb) I notice it's surroundings. What is it that caused this particular plant to take hold there. I sweet talk to it the whole time I am digging it up telling it how happy it is going to be in my garden. It can be a prince surrounded by an array of nodding subjects.

A truly regal, no, majestic weed is Mullein. Erect and proud in my backyard at over 6 foot, these specimens can grow to over 10 foot tall. Their grace is matched only by their ability to withstand the heat of the summer sun without wilting. Mullein is actually an herb that is seen growing along the sides of
the road in ditches, accepting the total disregard of passers by who fling their McDonald's bags at them. Oil from the flowers have been used for centuries for pulmonary ills. In fact, it is distilled today for many cough remedies. It also has anti bacterial agents in it. It makes a wonderful ochre dye from the golden flower heads.

I sow a lot of seed each year. Perrennials seeds, annual seeds ~ most I have gathered from my own, some I pluck from a friend's garden, some I order. In each batch of seed, there is always a weed that will pop up next to it. I let the weed grow until I decide if it is a prince, pauper or interloper. But above all,
watching something grow from the ground up is a joy. It reminds me that life is a cycle. We come from the dust and return there. I remind myself when I look at the mullein to look cool, calm and collected when the heat gets turned up and to reflect the natural beauty that God has placed within me.

Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow; they neither toil nor spin, yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. (Matt. 6:28-29)

Bandwagons and Blessings

I started a blog in 2005. I found it saved in some archive. Somehow, someway I forgot about it until recently. With the emergence of dear friends blogging like professional journalists, I have decided to jump on the bandwagon. I am not certain why I am doing this . . . I have always danced to the beat of a different drummer; I don't march well, never have. But I can dance to the music in my head all day long.

Begin doing what you want to do now. We are not living in eternity. We have only this moment, sparking like a star in our hand ~ and melting like a snowflake . . . " Marie Beyon Ray

I live in the beautiful state of North Carolina near the foothills of the Blue Ridge Parkway. Living in the country is a wonderful way to live. I always count as one of my many blessings that I am a country girl! I enjoy creating folk art, quilting and gardening. We are in the process of reclaiming an old family farm.

I could tell you a whole lot about myself ~ however, I am choosing to let you discover me for yourself. I will share some pictures of projects, recipes and hope that you can see why I feel that my life is filled with Bountiful Blessings.