My Mom’s Cheese Stuffed Peppers Recipe

 

20171011_084241My mom was a Farmgirl before I knew what a Farmgirl was.  She loves the Little House on the Prairie books as much as I do.  She always has an apron on if in the kitchen.  She was unabashedly a housewife; our house always clean, supper always on the table.  As soon as they could my parents bought land east of Denver and created a homestead of chickens, a very windy garden, bees, and at one point goats and horses.  My dad built them a darling farmhouse with his own two hands.

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It is funny how taste can transport you back to childhood.  For me the flavor of my mom’s green peppers is one of my favorites.  There are no stuffed peppers like these.  The combination of toasted almonds and juicy raisins plumped in rich tomato sauce has a flavor you will fall in love with!

I had some fresh green peppers and tomatoes in the garden that needed eating before the frost came so I emailed my mom (again) for the recipe.  I had put up plenty of spaghetti sauce.  I used my own homemade broth as well.  The directions are easy and in no time at all you will have a scrumptious dinner on the table!

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Recipe

Thanks Mom!

Planning the Perfect Mini-Vacation

 

20171007_175451We started doing mini-vacations years ago while on a farm because it was easier to find someone to watch animals for one or two nights than for a week or more.  Longer vacations require time off of work, loss of pay, and are often quite exhausting.  Now don’t get me wrong, I will take a week long vacation if it’s offered!  A weekend away is often perfect to refresh the spirit, spend time with loved ones, and to relax.  It doesn’t have to be terribly expensive either to get the crew together.

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1) First, choose who you want to share your mini-vacation with.  We could have spent a weekend at Ojo Caliente, a lovely hot springs spa in New Mexico.  We could have jumped on a plane and visited one of our friends out of state.  But what I really wanted was a family vacation.

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2)  Look at schedules.  We typically like to go on trips during the week.  The prices are often cheaper and there are less crowds.  But, Doug’s job is an hourly paying one these days and we can’t afford to miss that much.  Don’t wait too long though.  Just book the time and everyone will figure out what they can do.

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3) Book a place using Air B&B or a place similar if you need multiple rooms.  Go to a Dude Ranch.  There are many fun things you can do.  I booked a four bedroom house in the mountains only a few minutes out of town.  It was pretty central for all of us.  We were able to bring one of our granddogs.  There was a stocked kitchen and plenty of towels and comfy seating.  It had amazing views, porches, and was a beautiful respite.  Everyone came when they could Friday.

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4) Drop all expectations.  Some folks won’t be able to make it.  I know I tend to micromanage everything but this time I was going to let everything unfold!  Have a basic plan.  Looking at the weather we decided that visiting the North Pole in Cascade would be best on Saturday.  We all brought up different games, books, and things to do.  My son, Andy, and his girlfriend couldn’t get off work and then had a wedding to go to Saturday.  In the end the only thing they could do was meet us for lunch in Manitou Sunday.  And it was great.  It was fun having all nine of us.

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5) Prepare meals.  Each couple chose a meal they would prepare.  This saves a lot of money and time not having to find restaurants three times a day.  Doug and I made breakfasts.  Shyanne and Jacob made a mouthwatering linguine alfredo with breadsticks.  Emily and Reed made a comforting cheesy broccoli soup and croissants.  We all brought up plenty of drinks.  Shyanne surprised us all with caramel apple fixings.

20171007_17300120171007_2047356) Be in the moment.  We laughed while we played games.  We took turns snuggling the puppy.  Took little walks.  Drank coffee together on the balcony.  Did some yoga.  Listened to music.  Talked.  Caught up.  Walked the row of stores.  Played together.

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The key word here is “together”.  It was a perfect vacation.  I hope you will plan one for your own people soon.

A Trip to the North Pole

When my son, Andy, was very little he wanted a wolf from Santa.  He wrote him a letter and sent it to the North Pole.  There was a very convincing (and very likely the real) Santa at the mall.  I was able to whisper a few things in that old Santa’s ear before Andy climbed on the jolly man’s lap.  Andy’s little eyes grew big and he was filled with wonder as Santa told him that he had received his letter and would get him a wolf if he was a very good boy.  Christmas morning came and the howling stuffed animal wolf sat next to the Christmas tree.  The next summer as we perused the shops at Santa’s Workshop at the North Pole, we saw the very same wolf!  It made my little boy a believer.  Our family believes in Santa.

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Maryjane and I waiting to go inside Santa’s Village!

Seven of us traversed the hilly paths of Santa’s Workshop in Cascade, Colorado.  My granddaughter, Maryjane sat on Santa’s lap and relayed her greatest wish, that the elves would make her a penguin.

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I wanted a visit with Santa too!

Santa’s Workshop opened in 1956 in the mountains of Colorado just west of Colorado Springs.  They started their herd of reindeers and dozens greeted us and nibbled feed from our hands.

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My daughter, Shyanne, and her boyfriend, Jacob enjoying the baby reindeer.

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Rides, large and small, dotted the village.  Maryjane was very brave and rode just about all of them.  We adults had a plenty good time on the kid’s roller coaster and teacups and many other rides!  My Andy and his girlfriend, Bree, had to work but we recalled the story of Andy’s wolf while waiting in line to see Santa.

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The carousel is a must ride!

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Me and Pa riding the zipline sleigh!

If you have a chance to go to Santa’s Workshop in Cascade, don’t miss it!  You can whisper in Santa’s ear what you want for Christmas.

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Ready for Santa’s train to depart!

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Maryjane and Emily catching a ride up a hill with her boyfriend, Reed.

It might be time for Halloween, but Christmas and making family memories, is always in our hearts.

http://northpolecolorado.com

There’s Just Something About the Mountains

 

20171007_180402There’s just something about the lulling embrace of the mountains that cajoles my spirit into quiet.

There is a comfort wrapped in the songs of pines surrounding every side.

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A murder of crows sing raucously of encroachment.  A haunting and thrilling sound.

Two does jump airily by.

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There is just something about the West.  Sweeping desert valleys and climbing vistas of conifers and scrub oak in autumnal color.  The quaking aspen dances in the breeze.  Snow comes this eve.

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Perched on a balcony up high watching magpies caw as the sun crests the Colorado mountain ridge I breathe in the earthy pine air.  Pour another cup of coffee.  Wait for my family to wake up.  An hour from home, our weekend away to the mountains delightful and restorative in the fragrant woods of the West.

The Autumn Gardens (Spring and Fall Crops and the Great Harvest)

20170929_121332Fall crops grow beautifully and swiftly in their haphazard rows.

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The spring crops that I painstakingly place inches apart in the early cool of spring take awhile to germinate in the cold and then go to seed when summer decides to come on strong.  When those very same seeds are planted in  late July or early August they germinate quickly from the warm soil, ample water and light.  Then the nights become brisk and they soak up the cooling temperatures and thrive, which is why they are called cold crops!

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Of course I have all the energy in the world in April.  By then I have been dreaming of my garden for many months and am ridiculously excited to break ground.  By late summer we are getting tired of weeding and daily waterings and bugs so fall crops look more like mosaic puzzles than long tidy rows of food.

I had one bed pretty clear from the spring crops so I roughed it up with the hoe and planted-or rather, kind of threw in- a bunch of seeds.  Carrots, spinach, lettuce, peas, cabbage, and radishes came up with the colors of early spring with no help from me.  I forgot to water the seeds several times.  And yet they surprised me with their delicious arrival.

There are still tomatoes and other delicious summer crops in the garden.  The weather speaks of a freeze coming Monday.

Seeds and plants want to grow.  They are hard wired to do so.  As an experiment when the flea beetles came to town to chow down the cruciferous crops, I left a few of the broccoli and others to see what would happen.  I think we will have broccoli cheese soup tonight.  This garden has been a lovely experiment this year, one I allowed myself to do being in a new climate and a new place with un-amended soil.  Amazing.  Plants never fail to thrill me.  I think I will have radishes for breakfast.

Whispers of Autumn

 

fallEven without a calendar

without a clock on the wall

I would know it’s Autumn

I can feel that it is Fall.

 

Perhaps the filter of the light

smoky golden rosy glow

I hear geese coming back

the birds surely know.

 

Slight coolness in its changing breath

such odd stillness in the air

Blue watercolor sky

Tree and moss finery fair.

 

And rich, bold oil painting colors

sweep the landscape with a brush

Wood smoke scents crystal nights

Oh, white winter do not rush.

 

Yes, I would know that it were Fall

sans note or clock or mirror

Lulling whispers in air

say autumn has settled here.

Two Great Pumpkin Recipes; Grilled Pumpkin “Pie” and Pumpkin Buttermilk Pie

I live on Pumpkin Hollow Farm.  We love to grow all types of pumpkins.  We love the movie, “It’s the Great Pumpkin Charlie Brown” in this house.  We love all things kid-friendly Halloween and we certainly love pumpkins.  Here are two pumpkin recipes I developed last week so that you can make the most of those delicious orbs in the garden.

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Grilled Pumpkin “Pie”

We were throwing steaks and tomatoes on the grill anyway, may as well throw on the pumpkin slices too!  What resulted was a smoky, savory, sweet treat to go with supper.

Split one small pie pumpkin in half and remove seeds and pulp.  Slice each half in half to make fours.  Place on grill side down on far end of heat or on upper rack.  Turn a few times until tender.

Meanwhile combine 8 Tablespoons of brown sugar with 2 teaspoons of pumpkin pie spice, and a pinch of salt.

When tender, with flesh side up put a pat of butter in each and split up sugar mixture among the slices.  Let melt and transfer to plates.  Pour cream or goat’s milk that has been brought to near room temperature over the pieces.  Tastes like a sweet and savory piece of pie!

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Pumpkin Buttermilk Pie

Buttermilk or custard pie is one of my absolute favorites.  I wanted to incorporate pumpkin into it for the season. 

Melt 1/2 cup of butter

Add 2 cups of sugar and cream together with a wooden spoon

Add 3 Tablespoons of flour and a pinch of salt and blend

Add 3 farm fresh eggs and mix well

Add 1/4 cup of pureed pumpkin and combine.

Slowly add in 1 cup of buttermilk.

Pour into prepared or store bought pie crust that has been sprinkled with sugar.  Sprinkle cinnamon on top of pie and bake at 400 degrees for 10 minutes then lower heat to 350 degrees and continue baking for 40 minutes or until knife in middle comes out clean.

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