Welcome to 'Attic of the Heart'!

Welcome from north-central Connecticut! In this blog I will share whatever is in my heart, on my mind, or something interesting I've found to share. Thanks for stopping by!

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Friday, November 28, 2008

Thanksgiving, scones, apple orchards and potato fields...



ORANGE GLAZED TROPICAL FRUIT SCONES (without the glaze)

I baked these scones last month and boy, were they good! The recipe can be found in Pillsbury's Best of the Bake-off Cookbook, 50th Anniversary Edition. I didn't fill them with the spread, but they were still scrumptious. Now, these were more biscuit like, instead of granular. Depends on the type of scone you like, but these were very tender and flaky. The trick is not to over handle the dough. Just barely mix it, shape it and bake it.
Thanksgiving was celebrated with just the two of us this year. Usually we have company from up north come to spend the holidays with us, but since they had already been here in October, it's too long of a trip to come back that soon. (9 hrs each way). I baked a lovely ham, Carando Spiral sliced smoked - very very good, and makes good leftovers, even after freezing. I also made boiled potatoes, green bean casserole, and since I over cooked the yams in the micro, I decided to mash them and make some sort of casserole. It was my version of a recipe for sweet potato pie. Was quite good, actually. The brown sugar on top really made it. I usually slice them and candy them in brown sugar and butter, but they were too soft.

I made apple crisp for dessert. I bought a new kind of apple this year, Blushing Golden. They stay quite crisp in the fridge for a long time, probably up to 2 months, if your fridge isn't too dry. I read that the flavor for these apples develop during the month after they have been picked. They are good out of hand too. I love Ginger Gold, an earlier apple. They make excellent crisp apples. My all time favorites are Cortland. I skip right over Macintosh. Never cared for them as much.
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Apple bins like the ones I used...
Long long ago, in a far away land, I once worked in an apple orchard with my mother and younger brother. First, I picked, because I was quite young, about 14 at the time. In a couple of years, I was able to do the U-pick, and then worked in the apple house. I much preferred being in an apple orchard than the potato field, as so many of my friends were doing at the time.



PRESQUE ISLE, MAINE - OUTLYING AREA

I lived in potato country (no, not Idaho) - Carleton County, New Brunswick, Canada. Not sure many people are familiar with that area, but it and Aroostook County in Maine (which I refer to as 'sister' counties, because they are so similar that way) main crop is potatoes. Every year in the fall, school children would get 3 weeks off to work in the local potato fields, earning money for clothes, etc, and helping local farmers get their crops in. Therefore, the school year started earlier than most.

POTATO BLOSSOMS IN AROOSTOOK COUNTY, MAINE

One year, I did work in the potato fields. I worked on a harvester, actually. A lot of younger kids would pick by the barrel, but I didn't move to the area till I was a teen. I had the misfortune to be on the same harvester with a lady who disliked me intensely, and the feeling was mutual. (The fact that she was best friends with my husband's ex did nothing to endear us to each other.) Anyway, I'm sure I would have enjoyed it a bit more if it hadn't been for that fact. It was nice to be outside, but on dry days, the dust flew. On wet days, when we could get into the fields, there were clods of dirt bigger than the potatoes to sort through. The harvester doesn't stop, so you end of throwing things madly to keep up.
I always looked forward to new fields, as the landscape would change. Sometimes we were right out in the open, on top of a broad hill. Other times, we were in a former hay field, surrounded by woods, only found by traversing many farm lanes. The big fields seemed to take forever. Some mornings, it was very crisp out. By afternoon, we could be down to shirt sleeves. Same with the apple orchard. If the temp was below freezing, we had to wait until the sun took the frost off the apples before we could go out and pick. I remember snow one time. Winter comes quite early that far north. Glorious summers, but very short.

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I have a lot of memories over that span of 3 or 4 years. I grew up during that time, got married, moved across town. My horse, Bandit, a yearling, was killed one October, on my birthday. He crawled through the fence while we were at church that evening, and got in the road. Very hard lesson learned. I went to work the next day, because I was working the U-pick. I only lasted an hour or two, because I couldn't stop crying. My boss then told me about a barn fire they'd had years ago, and had lost 4 horses, so she understood, and let me go home.
On the way home, I stopped into the welding shop where my husband was working to let him know. We had an old Lincoln town car with a moon roof at the time, and when I left the shop, I backed into a trailer and dented the area between the back window and side window. Fortunately, I missed the glass. But it was another unfortunate incident I didn't need.
That seems so long ago. The orchard where had I worked in that had been there for years before I arrived, and several after, is no longer. Potatoes were more lucrative, so they've been replaced. They tore out the big hedge row of trees that were so pretty and protective of the apple trees to make more room for potatoes. I mourned the loss of the orchard where I had made so many memories. It just doesn't look the same.
I hadn't planned on going down that particular 'memory lane', but there it is.
Well, that's all for now. I will try to do better about posting.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

November is half over!


I just realized that I haven't posted in awhile, and before you know it, November will be over with. The months are flying by. For those of you who are quite young yet (perhaps 20 or so years younger than me?) I realize that time sometimes crawls, but know this: the older you get, the faster it goes. At least for me it does. And time used to crawl!!
I am wishing my life away as we speak. I am wishing it was spring, and that we've finally found our dream home, and we were moving in. Wouldn't that be nice?!! It would be nice if I could stop obsessing over it. I have to remind myself to get of the 'hamster wheel' about moving. To try and live in the moment. Enjoy today. Make today count. Do what you can do now. Bloom where you are planted. Sigh. I've been trying to do that for over 10 years. Another sigh...
Christmas is coming. I'm about 1/2 way there I think, in being ready. I've gotten at least 50 percent of the gifts bought. It took nearly 26 years, but I'm getting the hang of early Christmas shopping, and I really like the feeling of being prepared in advance. My mother was the queen of being prepared. I used to wait until November or even December, sometimes the week before Christmas to buy gifts. Not that I wanted to, mind you. The money just wasn't there. It was a case of waiting for that Christmas bonus. There were years that wasn't in the picture, depending on where we were, so there was a year in which only 2 people got gifts, because I couldn't bear the thought of telling them how poor we were. Thank God, we are doing so much better now. He has blessed us in that area, for sure. We still have to watch the pennies, but at least there are an adequate amount of them now.
Oh yes. Mice. We've had 2 or 3 of them about. I had seen them once or twice in the garage - Max would be out there playing with one, but let it escape. That's a male cat for you.
Then, one night after my husband let him back in (Max has this thing about being able to go in and out of the garage from the house - he's an indoor cat, so the garage is a novelty), we were sitting in the family room watching TV, when I thought I heard mouse like sounds, as if it was squeaking at something. I thought for a minute that my husbands' recliner had a squeak in it, but then realized he wasn't moving. So I said: MUTE IT MUTE IT MUTE IT!!! He looked befuddled for a minute, then grabbed the remote and muted the TV. I jumped up from my chair, walked quickly into the kitchen, just in time to see Max's face drove into the corner of the hot water register. I knew instantly that it was a mouse.
Sure enough, he was hiding in there, face down, in behind a piece of the kitchen flooring, which was rolled up the wall slightly, with his little bottom sticking up. Poor thing. It was terrified. So, we plotted how we were going to get him out. We took apart the register, used the long metal piece as a shield to guide him outside if necessary, opened the french doors (right next to the register, fortunately) and tucked Max into the basement out of the way.
First, Rick used a coat hanger. I badgered him, worried he was going to poke holes in it.
Since the tail was sticking up, we got pliers and gloves, and managed to finally grasp it's tail, and gently fling him out onto the deck. We shut the door, and watched him scurry off into the night.
I thought, that's the end of him.
For some reason, the next night, I turned the light on out on the deck about 9:30pm. There he was, scurrying around in a zigzag manner, gathering bird seed. We just chuckled and shook our heads. We knew there were neighborhood cats very good at mousing.

Just a few days before this, I had been in the furnace room in the basement, checking the water filter, when I noticed some small specks in the dipper underneath. (used for a very slow drip from the last filter change) You guessed it - mouse poops.
So I set a trap, and by the next day, the cutest little fellow had ate his last meal. He was all white underneath, with a pretty warm brown color on his back. Much cuter than a gray mouse.
We set the trap again, and a few days later (after we freed the one upstairs!) there was another one. Somehow I think it was the same one.
There's been no more since then. But we are much more careful about keeping the garage door shut.