Friday, December 21, 2012

Winter Solstice 2012 ~ A new cycle of the wheel...

Sarah kitty checking out our Winter Solstice table

Happy Winter Solstice from my sweet Sarah kitty and our whole family!

A fresh new cycle of the life wheel begins. Enjoy the ride everyone!

© Copyright 2012 Mountain Harvest Basket

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Mid August Harvest

Smaller than usual harvest haul

The relatively cool weather until just these past 2 weeks of ultra-hot, has slowed down the growth of the veggies in my garden. Then the sudden and intense heat seems to be telling them to ripen quickly. So I'm noticing that I'm getting ripe veggies that are smaller than usual.

I’ve only harvested one green zucchini so far, weighed about 1 lb, a good size for a zuke, and these 4 very small yellow crooknecks. Not sure how any of them taste yet. Only a few tomatoes have ripened so far. Romas and golden cherry tomatoes. The cucumbers are the small, pickling variety and very tasty.

Everything is moving in slow motion. Everything but time, that is.

© Copyright 2012 Mountain Harvest Basket

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Summer Veggie Garden

Raised Bed Summer Veggie Garden

This summer's moderate temperatures has caused slow growth in my main veggie garden, but it is chugging along as you can see in the photo above. In the foreground you can see cucumbers and summer squash (zucchini & crookneck). To the right foreground in this photo are green (bush) beans. Several types of tomato plants are growing in the middle of the garden. Absolutely NONE have ripened yet. Not even my dependable cherry tomatoes. They are just little green marbles! In the back you may spy a couple of basil plants and some parsley. You cannot see the eggplant and chile plants in this shot as they are still quite small and hidden from view by the tomatoes.

While I personally do not need any more hot weather, my veggie garden does. I need my veggies to produce for me! And I need to harvest them before the gopher intruder (aka "the DAMN gopher") damages and/or destroys any more of my nurtured veggie plants. He (I've decided the intruder is a male gopher!) has already eaten my habanero chile plant that I grew from seed and he damaged my volunteer garlic crop! I had to harvest it a bit earlier than planned to curtail the damage. So I really need my garden veggies to cooperate with me and get busy producing their crops so that I can hurry up and harvest them for my family's meals rather than for the gopher's (that DAMN gopher!) dinner.

Ha! Stay tuned. We will see who wins this harvest race yet. Yes, gardening can be a competitive sport!

© Copyright 2012 Mountain Harvest Basket

Monday, May 28, 2012

Memorial Day ~ Remembering

Today is a day for remembering our loved ones who are no longer with us. 

I miss my Mom today. Of course, I miss her everyday. It's been 15 years since she passed away, and I still think sometimes that I might pick up the phone and give her a call. Then I remember.

I can't be with her physically, and I can't even visit her grave today to adorn it with fresh flowers. So this post, and my private conversations with her spirit will have to do for today.

Remember your loved ones and celebrate their lives today. Celebrate your life too. It all goes by so quickly.

© Copyright 2012 Mountain Harvest Basket

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Celebrating Sarah

Tiny Kitten Sarah ~ July 2011~ first day home

Remember that tiny little stripey kitten that I first wrote about last July? My kitten Sarah, the little princess that  came into my life to lighten my heart, and  reminds me so much of my sweet Jessie, has been doing very well. She is healthy, playful and growing.

She is a delight and she comforted me and also Frieda during Frieda's last few months here on earth. Sarah kept watch over Frieda and would follow her room to room around the house. Sarah kept my heart full of love and allowed me to take care of Frieda when she needed me most. She also reminded me that both Jessie and Frieda would return to live with us in our home again. I believe with all my heart that she is right about that.

Sarah & Frieda ~ March 2012

Anyway, the reason for this blog post is that today is my sweet Sarah's first birthday! She was born 1 year ago today! May 9th. Yay Sarah! Way to be! She's a feisty little Taurus. We sang happy birthday to her over breakfast. Salmon & trout flavored breakfast this morning. For her, not me.

Happy Birthday Sarah! 
Love, Mama Jen

I have more pictures than words for this post. So here are a few photos of Sarah since she came to live with us here in our mountain home.

July 2011~ trying to blend in...

July 2011~ she destroyed that pink mousie
What? You told me to relax. So I'm relaxin' (she loves paper)

Princess Sarah on top of her tower ~ April 2012

I love her dearly, especially when she kisses my nose and bites my fingers & toes. She keeps me smiling.

I love you, Mom! Is it dinner time yet?

 More photos and stories of Sarah and our lives together to come in the future. I promise. May we live many, many happy years together.

© Copyright 2012 Mountain Harvest Basket

Friday, May 4, 2012

Hot & Sour Soup

Homemade Hot & Sour Soup

So I've been fighting an upper respiratory infection (a head cold) all week. A good friend of mine, Cynthia, suggested I make some Hot & Sour Soup to help clear my congestion and to feed my body some tasty nutrition. 

Cyn and I share recipes back and forth over the web. Awhile ago, she sent me a version of a recipe for this soup that was close to her own, but not exactly. I took that recipe and also looked up the same soup recipe in my Frugal Gourmet cookbook (The Frugal Gourmet Cooks Three Ancient Cuisines: China-Greece-Rome by Jeff Smith). I compared and combined the two recipes to make my own version of this soup that I love to eat in Chinese restaurants, and especially enjoy here at home when I have a head cold. When making it myself, it tastes so much fresher and brighter than the soup from the restaurants. I can also dictate how much heat and how much "sour" goes into the soup. 

So when I made this soup for myself yesterday, I finally decided to actually write down what I put into it! And then today, another friend, Dan, asked me to post my soup recipe, so here I am posting it on my Mountain Harvest Basket blog. 

Although it does come out a bit differently each time I make it, here is how I made it yesterday. It was delicious, even if I do say so myself! And it did help clear my head. 

You can adjust the seasonings to make it hotter, more sour, thicker or thinner as pleases you. You can also make it vegetarian by omitting the pork and doubling the tofu, and replacing the chicken broth with vegetable broth. If you are vegan, you will omit the eggs, too. If you don't like, or can't find, bamboo shoots, you can use canned water chestnuts for crunch. Raw green peas are a nice addition as is fresh green onion added as a garnish.

Jen’s Hot & Sour Soup

Mushrooms ~ (white/brown, small fresh) 3-4 oz (2 handfuls), sliced thin
Onion ~ thinly sliced, chopped, ½ small (1 handful)
Firm Tofu ~ 4 oz, in ½ inch cubes
Pork ~ one boneless pork chop, 4-6 oz, thinly sliced, cubed
Bamboo Shoots ~ 1/3 can (about 1/3 cup), julienned

Chicken Broth ~ 4 cups
Water ~ 2 cups

Black Pepper ~ a few good grinds
Lemon Pepper ~ a few shakes
Real Salt ~ a sprinkle
Garlic ~ 3-4 cloves minced or several shakes of garlic powder
Ginger ~ 2 tsp freshly grated, or several heavy shakes of powder
White Pepper ~ ground, 1 tsp

Soy Sauce ~ 2-3 Tbs
Rice Vinegar ~ ¼ cup
Sesame Oil ~ 1-2 tsp
Chili Oil ~ 3 or 4 good shakes (or use some cayenne to taste)

Corn starch ~ 1-4 Tbs mixed with equal parts cool water (I used only 1 Tbs + 1 Tbs water this time)

Eggs ~ 2 small, beaten

Sauté veggies, pork & tofu in olive oil until just starting to brown & caramelize. Add the broth, water and seasonings in the order given. Bring to a boil then simmer till mushrooms and onions look done and are tender. About 20 minutes.

Stir in the cornstarch mixture well and allow to boil to thicken broth. When desired consistency is reached, gently drizzle in beaten eggs in a thin stream. Wait a few moments, then stir gently and remove from heat.

Taste and adjust seasonings before serving. May be served garnished with a little chopped green onion. Serve piping hot for best effect.

I think this soup tastes even better the next day after the flavors have had a chance to meld. My partner, Jack, told me tonight as he was eating a bowl of it, "This is so good, you could sell it and make money!"


© Copyright 2012 Mountain Harvest Basket

Friday, April 20, 2012

My Sweet Frieda


Frieda “Freedom” “Freebie” Noble
May 1, 1993 (really April 16, 1993) – April 18, 2012

My sweet girl. You came to me when you were so hungry, scared and skinny. You came to me when I needed you in my life. You had your 5 little kittens hidden in our flight simulator cockpit, which to you must have seemed like a tall, safe tree. I heard about you and your babies, and I came to rescue them and take you home to live with me. You were scared and you were wild. You fiercely protected your babies. You tried to escape when I was moving you into a safe carrier, so I had no choice but to grab you with both hands, whirl around and put you into the carrier and slam the door. Your babies needed you. I needed you. You scratched and bit me so badly that I bled all over the screen door and had to go to the emergency room for a tetanus shot. I survived and so did you and your babies. We got your babies adopted out and you checked and spayed. Then the adoption people asked me to take you home to live with me because you were too wild to be adopted. I hesitated for a moment, but knew it was the right thing to do.

You lived outside my home for a couple of years, safe from traffic and dogs. You would jump on my car when I came home from work to greet me and say hello. I’ve always loved you for that. You would sit outside my front door on top of my BBQ and monitor everything that passed by. You would leave me gifts of mice and bird parts on my front door mat. You were sweet that way. You made me smile with your loving gifts, my baby.

Then when it got too dangerous for you stay outside any longer, I coaxed you inside and started to integrate you with Jessie and my home. You and Jess did not get along that well at first, but eventually you learned to tolerate and respect each other. You loved each other in your own way. I am so happy for that. You were safe in my home now. You were fed and warm and sheltered. You did not play much, except for batting a ball around occasionally, but you loved to be petted and purred so loudly. You meditated in the sphinx position a lot. You walked with your tail in a cute curled up question mark causing us to nickname you “Question Tail”.

You got out once and I thought I’d never get you back, but you allowed me to tempt you back in with a can of tuna. Thank you for that, Frieda. You got out again after we moved to the forest. You were so scared and disoriented that you dashed back inside the house. I was so relieved because I was worried that you would get hurt out there in the wilds. You loved my sunny windows and wide windowsills. You loved to sleep in the sunbeams in the mornings and by the warm fire on cold nights. You loved your food and always came when I called your name, like I would when you lived outside. “Friedaaaaa!” I would call and you would come to me knowing that it was dinner time.

In Jessie’s last days, you snuggled close to her and kept watch. You were there for me when she passed away. You missed her too and I could tell you were grieving along with me. It took several months, but you finally started to ask for more of my affection and attention, and about that time, Sarah kitten came into our lives. You growled at Sarah, her high energy bothered you, but she only wanted to know you and play with you.

As you grew ill and weak, Sarah still wanted to be with you and play with you, but she did learn to respect your wishes and kept her distance right up to the last day of your life. She knows you are gone. She misses you. She is trying to comfort me. Charity misses you too. He howled after he saw your body lying still. Even the chicks miss you, their roommate.

Thank you my sweet baby for allowing me to take care of you when you needed me most. Thank you for letting me hold you, feed you and doctor you. It is a privilege for me to be your Mom. I am sorry that sometimes I got frustrated with you and the situation. I was so sad to see you become weak. In your last weeks, you sometimes would look up at me and meow softly to me. You called me to you several times and seemed to ask me a question with your eyes. I know you were ready to leave your body and did spend time outside of it, but that you were afraid, and that you did not want to leave me or our home. I know you were committed to stay with me until Jessie returned as a kitten again. I understand now that you will still keep that commitment. You and Jessie will return to me as kittens or young cats. You will live with me and with each other again in our happy home. This bond of love cannot be broken.

I do miss you so much Frieda my sweet kitty. I miss your loud purrs and your soft snores. You were noble, meditative and your own girl. You were strong and loving. You lived to be 19. That is an accomplishment to honor. I love you dearly and will wait impatiently for you to return to live with me. Be happy. Be free.

I will love you always.
Mama Jen

© Copyright 2012 Mountain Harvest Basket

Sunday, March 18, 2012

No Gardening Today

Front Steps

Well, with a foot of snow on the ground, I won't be gardening outside today....

Raised Bed Garden covered in snow!

I also won't be driving anywhere or watching TV either...

Satellite TV Dish and all vehicles piled high with snow

I guess I'll just have to build a warm fire, relax and curl up with my sweet kitten Sarah until the sun comes out to melt all of this snowfall.
Sarah in her window

We finally have Winter here when the calendar says it's almost Spring! Stay warm and dry everyone.

© Copyright 2012 Mountain Harvest Basket

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Long Time, No Write

Sarah & Frieda enjoying the sunny morning window.

Oh my, it has been a very long time since I have posted anything on this here my favorite blog space! I've been so busy with everything else, that I just haven't had time to sit down and write anything wonderful for you to read.

I guess I will need to get to that right away.

Very soon.


© Copyright 2012 Mountain Harvest Basket