Saturday, May 31, 2014

A Kitchen Garden and Salsa

I love this little garden. It is in an empty lot on the main street of a town nearby. A hardware store and tavern is one one side; a gourmet restaurant on the other. Someone from the restaurant takes such good care to grow fresh greens, herbs, and vegetables. It's fun to peer through the chain-link fence to view the garden inside. It's not often that one is rewarded with such an interesting view on a town's main street! Here's a recipe that I'm sharing today. The recipe reminds me of this garden. Thus the name:

Garden Salsa

This is a great recipe to make when your kitchen garden is at its peak. Fresh, delicious, and healthy, this salsa is great on nachos, mixed with beans, or served over rice. I use a Vidalia Chop Wizard for simple and swift chopping (it's well worth the reasonable price; Goggle it on I love how 'fresh' this salsa is.

  • 4 large tomatoes, diced
  • 1 Walla Walla Sweet onion, diced
  • 1/2 cup fresh cilantro, chopped (without stems)
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 Tbsp. lime juice, fresh
  • 1 tomatillo, diced
  • salt
  • 1 jalapeno pepper, seeded and diced

Mix all ingredients together, stirring gently. Season with salt to taste. Use immediately or place in covered and seal container and chill. The flavors meld wonderfully and the flavors are enhanced with chilling overnight.

Friday, May 30, 2014

Cheery Cherry Macaroons

Cheery Cherry Macaroons are a wonderful meld of pecan and almond, coconut, and cherries! Perfect with a cup of tea or packed into a lunch box, they are a special culinary treat. Thanks to my friend, Nancy, for sharing this wonderful recipe.

Cheery Cherry Macaroons

  • 3 cups flour
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 cup butter
  • 1/4 cup milk
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tsp. baking powder
  • 1 tsp. almond extract
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 1/2 cup maraschino cherries, chopped
  • 1/2 cup pecans, chopped
  • 2 cups coconut

Heat oven to 350 degrees F.

Combine all ingredients except maraschino cherries, pecans, and coconut. Beat at low speed for 2 - 3 minutes. Then stir in maraschino cherries and pecans. Drop by teaspoonful into the coconut and roll cookies into 1" balls. Bake for 15 - 20 minutes until light brown. Remove from heat and then allow to stand on cookie sheet for at least one minute. Remove from cookie sheet. Enjoy!

Thursday, May 29, 2014

The Tea Towel Swap

The washing of dishes does seem to me the most absurd and unsatisfactory business that I ever undertook.  If, when once washed, they would remain clean forever and ever (which they ought in all reason to do, considering how much trouble it is), there would be less occasion to grumble; but no sooner it is done, than it requires to be done again.  On the whole, I have come to the resolution not to use more than one dish at each meal.

Nathaniel Hawthorne - 1844
 [written while Mrs. Hawthorne was away!]
The tea group, Afternoon Tea Across America, conducted an embroidered tea towel exchange several years ago. Some are requesting that we do it again, so I thought I would find pictures of some of the tea towels that I stitched or received so that any newcomers might see what we did. Each month, each participant would exchange a hand-stitched tea towel with their assigned partner. These heart tea towels were the first ones that I stitched.
This tea towel was one I stitched for Val for our November exchange. I chose a Christmas theme in keeping with the holiday season. I enjoyed stitching in "redwork". The towel is hemmed and then trimmed with red, checked bias tape and narrow lace trim.

Stitched for Karleen

This tea towel is stitched on linen. Usually I embroider tea towels on thin "flour sack" fabric, so it took me awhile to get used to the feel of the needle through linen, but I ended up really liking stitching on linen once all was said and done.

Here is the same pattern, but stitched on flour sack type fabric. The stitched design has been colored with colored pencils which were heat set after stitching.

And yet another of the morning glory pattern. This was stitched on cotton and colored with wax crayons and then heat set.

I stitched many primitive teacup tea towels. Each was unique with details that varied. This one has my initial stitched in each circle.

The vintage lady tea towels were stitched on linen. Vicki was my swap partner for each of these months. I found that stitching faces was a bit more challenging than flowers. But I really liked how these turned out.

A button on the top completed this teapot tea towel. I think this may have gone to Patricia.

Another teacup tea towel. This time stylized tulips were stitched instead of roses. I think this was an Easter exchange.

Same pattern, with colored roses and a new design in the teacup.

Stitched by Val

Stitched for Gwen

Stitched for Val

Stitched by Patricia

Stitched by Val

Stitched by Sandra

Keep Your Face to the Sunshine

The road up the mountain to our cabin is narrow, bumpy, and one-lane. It winds up steep grades and through dark woods. In some places the road opens up along the top of a grassy ridge that slopes deeply to a creek below. Sometimes I can't bear to look over the edge!  It takes while to get to the top and there is a lot of jostling along the way. Half-way up the mountain, two-wheel drive cars have to stop. It's too rough for them to carry on.

After many trips up and down the mountain, I have started to learn of special treats along the way. Last trip down we stopped by a puddle by the road that is fed by a spring until mid-summer. There are always tadpoles there this time of year, and we were not disappointed. Tiny little swimmers were skittering around with much glee!

In another spot, the road winds through some deep, dark woods. It's a good place to keep an eye out for bears! But animals are quick and difficult to spot, probably because our diesel motor warns them we are near. But the flowers don't wilt or fade as we draw close. The road opens up to a rocky hillside and in the early spring I make sure to say "please stop" if I see the pretty purple flowers of the shooting stars in bloom.

Shooting stars seem to love rocky soil! And sunshine! They cluster together in vibrant chorus of purple and green. I love their abundance! One has to keep careful watch, because they arrive and then the blossoms disappear in a few days time. One has to time the trip up the mountain "just right".

Shooting stars are not abundant "just anywhere" on the mountain. There are only a few spots that I have found them growing. I'm pretty excited that this spring I've found two small plants growing in the rocky soil on the sunny side of the cabin as well. I hope they multiply over time and provide us with a pretty purple haze each spring.

Lessons can be learned from the wildflowers of the woods. The shooting stars remind me that no matter how rocky or difficult the path, as long as one keeps their face to the sunshine, everything will turn out alright.

Shooting stars were one of my mother's favorite flowers. She stitched this pretty little wall-hanging on felt. It's one of my little treasures. Every time I see it, I'm reminded of the delight that she expressed during my growing up years. Whenever we would find shooting stars on our flower trips to the mountains she would express much joy! She was a botanist and although I didn't fully appreciate her love of flowers while I was a kid, it's grown on me and I appreciate the lessons she taught from nature. Especially from the flowers.

If you'd like to see some of the other May flowers from the mountain, click here.

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Sewing Like Mom

Do you sew like your mother? Sometimes I do, and sometimes I don't. Yesterday, as I was cutting out aprons I was pondering this question. It's funny how simple tasks can take you back in time. My mother has been gone for twelve years, but her legacy lives on through her daughters. I must have been about eleven years old when my mother taught me to sew. By twelve years old I was sewing almost all of my own clothes. Store bought clothes were pretty rare in our family while I was growing up. My mother taught me to sew as her mother had taught her --- and as her mother taught her. It is a family thread that continues down through generations. Sometimes the mother, grandmother , and great-grandmother methods of garment construction are not 'proper' nor 'by the book', but they were methods that worked for them. And they still work for me today. Yesterday I was able to cut out aprons, one on top of the other without removing the pattern or pins from the first one. And I was able to get double the contrast pieces cut out of what the pattern said I needed for one! What a feeling of accomplishment! Although over time home economics coursework ensued, I find that there are times that I still revert back to themethods my mother taught me. They work well, those homespun methods of shortcuts and construction techniques. Thank you, mom!

Roses are Unique & Special

  • It is the season of the rose. Abundant, colorful, and fragrant, their blossoms fill the garden with both cultured refinement and a bit of wild abandon. May is a beautiful month for roses, as the sun is warm but there's still enough chill in the air that the blossoms don't bake from the full heat of summer. Each rose bush is blooming so prolifically that it is difficult to keep up with dead-heading and trimming. They bring me such pleasure on the rose bush that I find it difficult to cut the blossoms for bouquets, but I try to remind myself that they are beautiful in the house as well. Roses come in so many wonderful varieties of color, shape, and size. Each is unique and special, just like people! 
  • The rose.
    Isaiah 35:1 The wilderness and the solitary place shall be glad for them; and the desert shall rejoice, and blossom as the rose.
  • The rose of Sharon.
    Song of Solomon 2:1 I am the rose of Sharon, and the lily of the valleys.

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Mountain Meadow


a tract of grassland used for pasture or serving as a hayfield.
a tract of grassland in an upland area near the timberline.

The soft, golden light will make a meadow of wildflowers glow.

The road from gate to cabin leads through a mountain meadow. It's a short walk from the shelter of the cabin each morning to the meadow where we go to enjoy the view and appreciate the little treasures found there. May and June are the most beautiful months in our meadow.

The sky is always expressive. Clouds puff overhead and sometimes move swiftly across the sky. Other times we are in the clouds as they create a fog that wafts about us as we walk. The distant mountain ridge is blue with beauty, often showing patches of white snow on ridges and peaks.

Blue lupines dot the landscape as the meadow opens before our eyes. The seeds of this blossom can be soaked in running water to remove the bitter alkaloids and then cooked or toasted to make the seeds edible. While not a common food for most of us, it's fascinating to discover all the plants on the mountain that are good to eat if desired or required. 

The golden pea, rightly called Thermopsis montana adds color and cheer as it dots the meadow. A bumble bee ignores me and keeps feasting on the floral nectar. The flowers in the pea family of plants are known for five petals that form a distinctive "banner, wings, and keel". Can you see them? Although this plant is of the pea family, it is poisonous and should never be ingested.

The Prairie Star also dots the hillside meadow. Although tiny, their flowers are intricate and exhibit such fine perfection. This flower is sometimes called smallflower woodland star. If you look closely at the grasses behind this flower you'll see that something has "chomped" the blades of grass at some point in time. Rest assured that it was not a lawn mower, but more likely an elk or deer that bed down in the meadow. They keep the ground churned up with their hoof prints. It is amazing that anything can grow at all!

Altogether the flowers created a haze of color. Notice how the section of meadow in the back is mostly yellow, whereas the front area is blue. Nature creates the most amazing landscapes! Although there is some "mixing" of colors, each mostly stays with its own kind.

The animals that live here year around keep a trail "open" along the top ridge of the meadow. It's interesting how animals, like humans, prefer ease of passage through the forest. Have you taken time to notice animal trails on mountain hillsides? We appreciate their trails and use them too! 

Can you see what our trail cam saw on the trail last week? Look closely! It was 2:39 AM, so this is a night shot. Mr. Bobcat seems to enjoy the trail too! Click on the photo, if you'd like, to enlarge the view. We saw several tiger swallowtail butterflies on our walk through the meadow as well, but I was not quick enough with my camera to get a picture. They are flighty creatures!

After a walk through the woods and meadow, it's always a delight to return to the comfort of the cabin where we can enjoy a hot cup of tea and the cozy comfort of a warm wood fire.

Today I am linking to Bernideen's Tea Time Blog.

Monday, May 26, 2014

Time. Thankful. Anticipation.

The end of a holiday week-end.
Time to enjoy the coolness of the evening.
Thankful for loved ones  and the 
memory of those gone before.
Anticipating the gifts of tomorrow.

{May flowers lining the sidewalk to the front porch.}

Three Grain Crackers

Three Grain Crackers

  • 1 1/2 cups flour (gluten-free blend or quinoa, millet, amaranth, etc.)
  • 1 cup oats, blended into flour
  • 1 1/2 cups fine cornmeal
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/3 cup walnuts
  • 1/3 cup ground sesame seeds
  • 1 1/2 cups water for cracker consistency

Place nuts and water in blender and mix until smooth and creamy. Place remaining ingredients into a bowl and form a well in the center. Pour the nut and water mixture into the well.

Roll dough onto a prepared cookie sheet. It should be thin. Prick with the tines of a fork.

Bake at 350 degrees F. for 10 minutes. Watch carefully so they don't overbrown!

For a non-gluten free version, use whole wheat or unbleached white flour.

Sunday, May 25, 2014


Your silent tents of green
We deck with fragrant flowers;
Yours has the suffering been,
The memory shall be ours. 

Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

Saturday, May 24, 2014

Victoria Day

The online tea group, Afternoon Tea Across America, conducted a card and tea sample exchange for May and chose the theme Victoria Day. This day is a Canadian holiday that is celebrated during the same week-end as Memorial Day in the USA.

The Victoria Day week-end is a statutory holiday in Canada that commemorates the birthdays of all ruling British monarchs, including the current queen. Although each monarchs' actual birth dates are varied, this holiday was established as overall recognition of the sovereigns' birthdays.

Victoria Day is often referred to by Canadians as the May Long Weekend, a family celebration, lots of good food, and spectacular fireworks.

I received each card with anticipation, as each was unique and represented the personality and creative skills of each sender. It was fun discovering what was in each envelope.

From home-crafted, stamped cards to especially ordered cards from England, each was different and selected according to the interpretation of this holiday by the one who sent it.

Crowns, teapots, and the Union Jack were a common theme.

It's likely that every home that has been decorated in a Victorian-style has a pair of teddy bears somewhere --- and they are sure to have their own china teaset. Just like these!

The maple leaf, fireworks, and words that remind us to celebrate!

And crowns. Lots and lots of crowns! Happy Victoria Day! And a special shout-out to the Canadians who are Afternoon Tea Across America group members!