Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Winter Fun

Why is it that just when we are getting the most enjoyment out of the great outdoors that the weather turns on us and forces us back inside? Well this year I am putting my best foot forwards when it comes to getting fresh air! 

We recently moved to another area (still in the great state of VT) but I am now struggling with the confinement of an apartment building... After our summer of outdoor living it is a huge adjustment but hopefully all will pay off in the end. The perks of our new abode: Heat (really you can't ask for much more), a yard, and a great Class 4 road to wander down with the dogs. As long as we are happy and healthy we can make any place our home.

Critter Update-
Charlie the rabbit has been relocated to my family's dairy farm and is enjoying life alongside of the cows. 
Thelma & Louise have been misnamed! Apparently the reason they were not laying eggs is that my lovely girls are actually male mallard ducks! They are loving their first snow fall and plunge into their icy water dish with vigor every morning!
Ratchet the cat disappeared for a full ten days after moving into our new place. Just when I had given up searching for him a wonderful neighbor stopped in to tell me he had been sighted! We hurriedly went about a quarter mile up the road and found him lurking under their porch. Upon seeing it was us, he bounded up out of the snow and came home! His journey took quite a toll on him and he lost a little over 8 lbs! Thankfully he has made up for it with eating and sleeping constantly since he got home.

Happy Holidays All!

Monday, November 3, 2014

Apple Shenanigans

Well Hello All! 
Again I know my postings have been infrequent over the last few months but I will continue to do my best to bring you some of the latest highlights before winter! First off, fall is my absolute favorite time of year. Gorgeous fall leaves set the backdrop for bright orange pumpkins lining front porches while the kids are fast asleep after their busy days of apple picking. Not to mention the smell of that fresh apple pie sitting on your kitchen counter!
Although fall went by quick this year I was ecstatic to spend at least one day apple picking at Douglas Orchards in Shoreham VT. After picking a 1/2 bushel of Macintosh for the low low price of $3.50, I had enough apples to make everything imaginable. Pan upon pan of apple crisp disappeared from my kitchen over the weeks without time enough to even snap a picture! Another fabulous dessert I tested this year for the first time was apple cake. Extremely easy to make, this cake was fluffy, moist, and used up the last of my soft, somewhat rough looking apples! If you want to take a gander at the recipe follow the link below. 
Easy Apple Cake.  
Another awesome idea I had, Apple Chips! Slice your apples and gently pick out any seeds, the stars in the center are edible. Put on a peice of parchment paper and sprink the slices with cinnamon and sugar. Preheat your oven to 225F and forget about them for awhile. They can cook in 45 minutes but can take as long as 3 hours!
This year was also my first attempt at homemade applesauce which came out perfectly! I started by peeling and coring all of my apples- I use an apple corer and am left with 8 slices. 
 I then combine the apples, cinnamon, brown sugar, and I utilized apple juice.

I let these apple slices cook for about 15-20 minutes until the apples were tender. I then put them in my handy dandy food processor (compliments of my parents) and pulsed for about 1 minute. This made about 5-6 servings of apple sauce and did not require any canning! 
Megan's Apple Sauce
4 cups of apples, peeled and chopped
3/4 cup of apple juice or water
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon.

Combine all ingredients in saucepan. Stir regularly for 15-20 minutes on medium heat. Put through a food processor until desired consistency.

I hope you can try some of these quick and easy recipes this fall! Good luck!

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Backyard Visitors

More often than not I awake to the sound of barking dogs in the middle of the night. Standing tense at the door, hair bristled, waiting for the chance to patrol the backyard as soon as the door is open. After months on end of this endless routine I decided to do a little inspection of our backyard and was shocked to find several deer trails leading right to the meadow on the far side of the property. I immediatly set up our infared game camera on the apple tree and was simply blown away by the results after only a few days!
Whitetail fawns are usually born in late April to early July and can be singles, twins, or even triplets. They generally keep their spots until late October in the same year they are born.I get such a kick out of watching the fawns graze while their mother keeps an eye on the treeline.
Notice the spots still on the fawns!

Usually soon after this family leaves, another doe sneaks in for a late night snack! I have yet to see her on camera with another deer but you will notice she looks slightly thinner than the doe above.

Occasionally the deer brave the sunlight and the busy activity of our house to snack on the fallen apples...
That is until the turkey flock chases them away!
The turkeys have not yet grown fond of the ducks but often times you will see them intermingling with the chickens. Roaming the lawn in search of food and I have even caught them in the chicken coop trying out the roosting box!

Tuesday, September 9, 2014


Hello All!
Sorry that my posts have been somewhat sporadic lately. I am currently starting up a new semester of college and am a little more swamped than I had planned! It seems that any free time I have had lately has been consumed by my critters (along with any extra money) but I can honestly say I would not trade a one of them!

~My Boys

So in case you are just tuning in, I am the proud co-owner of two Labradors Cole and JD (No, JD does not stand for anything). Cole is a chunk of love that just hit 2 1/2 and has just started disappearing when he thinks we are not looking. Three mornings in a row I had to truck to the end of the driveway in my pj's to holler at him to get back to the house. As always, he comes right back wagging his tail ready to play. Since his recent excursions we have put a lock down on his "free time" and have been putting him in his kennel whenever he wanders too close to the driveway. Fingers crossed, it seems to be working!

Unfortunately this trick does not do any good with JD and we have had to pick him up from doggie jail at least three times (Ch-Ching!). Since his love for running does not allow him to stay close by he is generally on a leash or hooked to a run when he is outdoors. That way we can still bring him for a swim at the pond every few days.

Over the past week we started to notice that he would cry whenever he shook his head and continued to rub it on the ground whenever he went outside. After taking a peek in (N.A.S.T.Y) we figured he had some sort of infection. After a $70 vet bill we found out that he had the doggie version of "swimmers ear" and can no longer go swimming! However he is allowed to go to the pond and chase frogs around the edge which seems to be his favorite activity anyways.

~My Girls

Next on my list of emergencies is my poor little ducklings! Thelma and Louise have grown substantially since I last posted photos and have even laid one egg... Minus the shell part.


About a week ago my boyfriend got home just in time to catch them in the act of pecking at the dirt around the garage. Somehow Thelma managed to pick up a fish hook through her lower beak and was in quite a bit of pain. After stripping the comforter from our bed, he managed to get the ducks in a corner and captured them in the blanket. With a pair of pliers and a lot of quacking he got the fish hook out and the girls are back to normal! Some days I think pets are equal to if not more work than children!

They think they can fly...

Monday, August 25, 2014

The difference between Blackberries and Black/Red Raspberries

While I am fresh on the subject of berries... I have gotten a few emails asking to discuss the differences between blackberries and black raspberries. The difference is actually quite simple!

A Blackberry has a white fleshy core that will stay within the berry when you pick them and overall larger cells than a raspberry. Although blackberries are more tart than a raspberry they are an added treat to any desert recipe!

Black/Red Raspberries:
In a raspberry, red or black, they are hollow in the center when they are ripe. Raspberries are also smaller, and covered with tiny hairs (although both can have some hair attached). These little fruits are also harvested earlier than blackberries; ranging from June to August but can tolerate a little cold if the weather changes quickly.

Get out there and pick as many as you can of either kind!

Blackberries Picking & Cooking

Well.... I officially have 1 Green Pepper!!! I did not take pictures of it this week because, quite frankly, it is the saddest green pepper I have ever seen.

With the plant only reaching 11 inches high the green pepper is just pushing 1 inch in diameter and did not look overly delicious on camera! Although my garden has not produced a bountiful harvest this year I could not have been more tickled to see this tiny vegetable beginning to grow!

While I was out inspecting my garden I came upon a large cluster of wild blackberries just waiting to be plucked from the vine! The more I looked around the more aware of these plants I became, until I was stumbling across them in every thicket and hedgerow on the property. After picking for about an hour I had gathered about 4 cups of delicious blackberries with a few late blooming raspberries thrown in.

 I decided to whip up a small recipe to test them out and I froze the other half for future uses. 
**A great tip for freezing any vegetables or fruits that tend to clump together: Flash freeze them first in a single layer on a cookie sheet (I use a plate) before putting them in a bag. This allows you to dip in to however much you need per recipe!

For the other half of my blackberries I made an Arkansas Traveler's Cake. 

This recipe was Extremely easy and tastes delicious served warm with a large dollop of Vanilla ice cream! 

Naturally because this cake was so good I have no pictures to share-It really did not last long out of the oven! If you want to give it a try I have included the recipe below! 

Arkansas Traveler Cake-Megan's Version
1/2 cup Butter (Less is absolutely fine!)
1 cup Sugar
1 cup Flour
1 cup milk
2 teaspoons Baking Powder
2 Cups Blackberries

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Place 9x13x2 pan inside with butter. (I used a 9x9 pan and came out with a slightly thicker cake although it takes some changes to the cooking time). Allow butter to sizzle; generally 2-3 minutes.
2. Mix flour, sugar, milk, and baking powder until creamy; No lumps!
3. Pour blackberries into mix, stirring lightly. (The original recipe called for blackberries to be placed in the middle but I have had better luck mixing them into the cake batter before pouring in).
4.Pour the batter into the hot prepared pan.
5. Allow to cook for 1 hour until crust is golden brown on top.
6. Serve warm with Vanilla Ice Cream.

Happy Cooking!

Friday, August 15, 2014


Every week I go through the normal paces. Get up. Drink coffee. Go to work. Come home. Cook dinner. Go to bed. But I think I speak for everyone when I say the weekend is usually the time you get to unwind, do what YOU want to do, and enjoy some of the freedom we are all meant to have. Whether this means sleeping until 1 o'clock in the afternoon or getting up at 4 am to go on that epic hike you have been planning all week it is completely up too you. 

Although my weekend generally consists of the same activities as other days, I try to make a point of setting a little time aside to just think. This may sound silly, but after a week of monotonous encounters it is an absolute necessity to have some "me time". Many people fulfill this need with weekly nail appointments, or a monthly outing to get their hair done. Me? I take to the woods. Some days I just walk, picking up deer trails and tracking them through the woods.

Other days I bring my camera and take pictures of every thing that catches my eye. It doesn't matter if I never get them developed or download them to a Facebook account. I enjoy the simple aspect of capturing a creature or a plant in the exact form it was when I saw it. This past weekend it was mushrooms that seemed to entice me. Every shape, size, and color was vastly different from any I had passed previously. Please note, I did not eat or touch any of them as I am still not 100% on their identification but just taking the time to stop and look at them was the highlight of my day.

Oftentimes when I find a lull in weekend activities, I will sneak off for a few hours and tuck myself away at the riverside. My river is nothing extraordinary; more like a stream flowing through the woods that occasionally gets deep enough to sit in. But sitting on that riverbank; surrounded by effervescent waterfalls and the sunlight peeking through the leaves. I am in absolute heaven. 

Lately I have been devoting a lot of my time to building a small swimming area and the least effective dam in the world. 

I managed to raise the water level a few inches but my dam building skills leave a bit to be desired. As you can see,the water still continues to pour through with an animal ferocity.(Not this animal below).

A day to yourself is a day to think or to not think. A day to do whatever comes to mind and simply be free. I hope everyone is able to spend a little time to themselves. After all it is what keeps us sane!

Friday, August 8, 2014

Notes for Next Year: Radish & Potato growing 101

So hopefully everyone's garden is getting closer to maturity and you are all seeing the fruits of your hard labor! Unfortunately my garden has not produced in quite the way I had hoped due to some late planting and a few key errors I will be careful to avoid next year!

First off my radishes are ENORMOUS! Well, at least the greens. Some blooms and stalks are over 4 feet tall and still growing! After consulting with several different gardeners, and hearing many different opinions on the subject, I decided to do some research on my own. Radishes do not generally get quite as large as mine, and should be pulled when the top of the radish is poking through the ground above. Occasionally this will take some poking and prodding from your fingers to see if you can see the actual radish. Do not let these root vegetables get overly large or they will begin to crack and lose flavor. Each seed is different so be sure to pay attention to the packet you are planting! This process can take as little as 3-4 weeks!

Upon further inspection of my lanky plants I determined that I made one of the most common errors when it comes to radish planting. When these plants are small they need to be thinned out very well to prevent over crowding. The other option is to plant one seed per hole an adequate distance apart. 
Picture Credit: http://danosgarden.blogspot.com/2011_03_01_archive.html
I did not do either! In order to save what crops I could (even if they do not taste good my rabbit Charlie will enjoy them), I separated the stalks and replanted with more growing room. I also went around and clipped the tops of everything to keep them at a more manageable size as I experiment. 

I also made this mistake with my green bean plants. Luckily they are still thriving and producing about a handful of produce roughly every two days! After trying bush beans this year I think I will try my hand at pole beans next year in order to really get as much yield as possible in my small space.

I also spent some time in my parents award winning garden this past week helping to plant some fall crops such as beans and onions. After having a garden in the same spot for 10+ years the soil seems to grow the biggest, brightest, and best vegetables that I have ever seen!

They have separated their garden into sections in order to prevent cross breeding between the plants and yet some of the plants are so luscious they are spilling onto one another.

My dad has also begun a new potato planting method in all of our extra bins, barrels, and tubs. He started out with a normal potato eye wedge and buried them a few inches down in a tub of dirt.
 As the plants grow he continuously covers them with a new layer of composted cow manure and soil.

 As you can see the plants have responded very well! This method of planting keeps weeding to a minimum and will only require the tubs to be dumped out when harvest time comes!