summer greens at Mountain Glen Farm

summer greens at Mountain Glen Farm

Monday, November 26, 2012

My Twinkie Memory


One of my favorite activities as a young child was to accompany my grandmother to the store; be it the butcher, the bakery, or the department store. 


One and one-half  blocks from our house is where Vydra’s, our butcher, was located.  Vydra’s was a small glass-fronted store flanked by family homes; a true neighborhood establishment.


The Vydra family butchered Angus cows they raised on their own country farm.  I learned this one day by asking about the meat and was told to look up at the huge black and white photo poster on the wall;  a picture of the Vydra cattle farm.  I was impressed.  A  cattle herd was uncommon and noteworthy to this little, city (today, considered the suburbs) girl; stray dogs walking along sidewalks was a much more common sight.


Vydra’s had one extremely worn, square butcher block table which formed the corner of an ell between two glass-fronted refrigerated cases.  At my earliest recollection, I was tall enough to where I could just peer over the wavy wooden surface while a requested cut of meat was cleaved or sawn off.  The saws and cleavers conveniently hung as needed, within easy reach of the butcher, from long ceiling hooks just above the thick butcher block.  Sometimes this meat went into a grinder for ground meat.  All meat was packaged in what we called ‘white butcher paper’.  The meat was fresh, bright red; never pre-packaged.  The process was fascinating to me.  I always watched intently from my vantage point; my eyes even with the undulating wood top, only a few inches from that sharp, decisive blade.


My Grandmother and I would go to the butcher shop at least once per week.  We walked.  My Grandmother usually pulled a wheeled cart to hold the purchases for the return trip home.  On light purchase days, she would just take a cloth shopping bag.  (Yes, the reusable shopping bag is not a new idea.)  My Grandmother’s bag was lightweight, fine mesh, olive in color that expanded slightly as it was filled.  It was conveniently tucked into her purse for every shopping trip. 


On a good day to Vydra’s, my Grandmother would treat me to a pack of Hostess Twinkies.  Actually, I had to take the package home and give the twin Twinkie to my brother.  Those Twinkies were a special treat.  First, I would gingerly open the crinkly cellophane wrapper and examine my Twinkie before eating it.  I always made sure the Twinkie had three small cream dimples visible on the bottom of the cake.  Then, I began with a small bite, purposely missing the cream.  My second bite into the soft, spongy yellow cake included the delicious white cream; the mix of cake and cream was delightful.  Sometimes I would scoop the cream out with my finger or tongue and savor the white fluff alone, no cake necessary.  I ate very slowly.  I relished every mouthful.  This treat had to last as long as I could make it last.  I did not know when I would get another as money was tight. I did not realize it at the time, but looking back, I do believe our family was ‘poor’.  And, that occasional Twinkie was an amazing indulgence for a little kid…me!


Note:  One of the stories my Grandmother use to tell me was that she always put a Twinkie in my Uncle Gerald’s lunchbox.  He was thin and my Grandmother always tried to fatten him up.  He enjoyed the Twinkies but never did gain any excess pounds.  My dear Uncle recently died at the age of 95 (2012), which means that he started eating Twinkies at age 13. Uncle Gerald, a very knowledgeable man by his own effort, did not finish high school as he had to go to work to make additional money for his family.  Those Twinkies were an absolute gift during those hard times.


There is definitely a lot more to a Twinkie than just golden sponge cake and white cream filling; a lot more!

beautiful November autumn day at Mountain Glen Farm

Sunday, November 25, 2012

And Now the Work Begins...

Look what greeted us out our side window this morning …a six-point buck!  How did this buck know he was safe?  It is Sunday; and, no hunting is allowed on Sunday.  This is the guy Becky was after on Friday and Saturday.  She still has a chance; and, then again…there is always next year.


But, on Sunday, we can butcher the deer Glenn and Matt shot on Saturday.  When you kill deer for meat, then you must butcher the carcass for meat; let the work begin.


First, the deer must be skinned. Boy, do I wish I knew how to tan.  Deer hide tans into a soft, a more supple leather than cow hide.  Another item to add to my new to do ‘to do’ list…probably not.  Tanning is hard work.  I know; I tried it once and gave up.


Next, each cut of meat is expertly sliced:  back strap, roasts, and steaks.  There is plenty of stew-type meat remaining on the bones to cut off as best as possible and still extra to save for the dogs for a few weeks’ worth of ‘specials’ with their regular dried food. Deer are small, but they provide ample useable meat.

The cut meat is wrapped, some in plastic freezer bags and some in old freezer paper that I had stored with my quilt supplies (freezer paper is used for making templates for applique - but I never seem to have time to quilt least we know where to find freezer paper for our last minute needs); labeled; and placed into the freezer for future use. 


Becky plans to use some of the roasts to make venison jerky; which she has never tried, but it sounds like a delicious experiment.


And now for supper, a bit of fresh venison steak with grilled onions; and, none for the dogs tonight because they have been snacking on all the waste meat, fat, and bones all day long.


I expect to have two sick dogs later this evening.

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Hunting Day

Yesterday, the weather was mild, warm and sunny.  I went out into the garden to plant a new batch of tulip and crocus bulbs.  After that chore, I decided to stay out to work on weeding other garden beds.  I just did not want to return inside; even after the sky started turning dark, the day was that nice.


Today is another story; cold and breezy.  Even with full sun, the air temperature did not warm much past freezing.  I was glad I got my bulbs in yesterday. Not a good gardening day, but good for hunting.


So, Glenn, Matt and Becky decided to go hunting.  I cannot remember the last time any of the family has hunted.  We have plenty of beef to keep us satisfied, but we also have plenty of wild deer roaming our pastures and woods.


Glenn likes to hunt from the front fence, just feet from the house.  As the norm, he returned several times to warm up his insulated cup of coffee.  If it aint easy, Glenn aint hunting.


Matt has never hunted.  He never had the inclination. But, he wanted to try this season…strange since he had been living in Alaska, the wild frontier, for the past four years with no hunting trips to his acclaim.


Becky was gung-ho on hunting.  She was the first out and about this morning, as well as solo the evening before.


Shortly after the sun broke, I heard a solitary shot.  I looked out over the farm and saw Glenn.  He seemed to be closing in on two deer, but had not taken a shot yet.  Within minutes, Matt walked into the house.  He killed his first deer with one, clean shot.  I guess the Army has taught him a skill or two.  Another hour passed before another shot rang out.  Glenn killed a yearling; small, but it will be tender eating.


I went out with camera in hand to get a few pictures of the next process;   cleaning out the guts. I discovered that Matt actually missed his calling.  He cut and wielded the knife with such finesse and precision…he should have been a surgeon - darn!

Don't forget the heart and liver...

Unfortunately, Becky was the empty-handed hunter today.  But, she says she will not give up.  Venison Jerky is on her mind.


And Jake…he may be old and stiff but he is not stupid; he knows when it is worth his effort to make the long trek from the house to the field where the deer was dressed.  I could see the smile on his face as he enjoyed the entrails.

See that smile....
And, despite the season and weather...there are still dandelions growing in my lawn!

Friday, November 23, 2012

Brining Turkey?

At 10:00 PM, the night prior to Thanksgiving Day, as Matt was en route to the farm; he called and asked if we had ever tried to brine our turkey.  Brine a turkey?  I never heard of such a thing.


Matt picked up that turkey trick on Nova along with the scientific reasoning behind why brining results in a moister turkey.  I did not need to know the scientific specifics.


So, at 10:30 PM, Glenn and I retrieved the turkey from the basement refrigerator, made up a batch of brine (salt and water), plopped the turkey into the stock pot of brine, and put it back into the basement refrigerator.


I was a bit doubtful.  The recipe I garnered from the Internet called for putting two cups salt into two gallons of water.  We started with the two cups of salt, but one gallon of water filled the turkey-stuffed stock pot.  Glenn and I were too tired to remove the turkey and remix the brine; two cups salt to one gallon of water would have to do.


The next day, Thanksgiving, I roasted the turkey as normal; simply stuffed and placed in an open roasting pan.  Four hours later….


the turkey looked magnificent, perfectly browned - I only  basted once, and tasted AMAZING!  Even the white meat, which I normally shy away from due to its inherent dryness, was moist and juicy.


Brining a turkey….a definite do again!




Thursday, November 22, 2012

Happy Thanksgiving


As we begin this holiday season, I wish you all good bounty, peace, and a circle of endearing friends to share your lives.
I am thankful for my wonderful family, friends and good life.
May you all have a plentiful and content thanksgiving day today and every day throughout the year!


Wednesday, November 21, 2012

A Few of This Week's Feathered Friends

Glenn saw this Kestrel sitting on a front fence post and called me over just in time to get a quick photo.
I think she was eyeing the smaller birds feasting at my feeder, but flew off before taking any prey.

in our yard....

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

My Newest Hobby

Throughout my life, I have always kept busy with one hobby or another.  I keep a list of hobbies/crafts I want to revisit and a list of new ones I want to learn. In addition, I remain engaged with current hobbies that keep me busy beyond my available free time.


I know I do not have enough time left in my life to do all the things I have planned, on my ‘to do list’, so I just slowly move along as the clock ticks enjoying each and every moment.  Bored…never, tired…all the time.  Yet, I have fun; so I continue along my chosen course.


This past summer,  I took a jewelry-making class, which has been on my ‘to do list’ for years, to learn the very basics of beading.  (see blog post 6-3-12, Check One Off from My ‘New To Do’ To Do List) I made one necklace and one bracelet during class.  I was hooked.


My goal was to make enough necklaces to give as Christmas gifts to family members and friends; female, of course, this year.  Oops…I let the secret out!


 Well, I passed that goal and just kept beading.  Every necklace is different; I planned it that way. I want each necklace to be a one-of-a kind creation.


So, what do I do with my overstock?  I decided to try to sell it on the Internet site, Etsy.  I am not making any money; I am just trying to recoup the cost of my supplies.  As for my time...I chalk that up to personal enjoyment.


I currently have my extra necklaces on site ready to sell; competing with about 1,084,468 (I just verified) other necklaces - no exaggeration.


I did sell one necklace to date; giving me a bit of a delight.  I guess I should consider myself lucky that I was able to sell one item considering the exorbitant number available.


In any case, take a look at my inventory to date.  I will probably keep adding as I keep creating.  To save you the time of scrolling through over a million necklaces, you can find my work at or you can go to, choose shop search, and search MtnGlen and let me know what you think.
Here is a small sampling....


FYI - Etsy is quite an interesting site for a multitude of merchandise.  Beware...looking can become addictive!


Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Happy Days Are Here Again


Today, our two Katahdin rams were let out of confinement to join the ewes. It is mating season for our sheep.


Of course, Glenn had to walk the rams through the yard, unhaltered and unhampered, to the pasture.  He had total confidence that the both would follow him without incident, without running off.


Winky and Curious George behaved and followed Glenn nicely; of course, Glenn was carrying a bucket of grain.  I followed behind to cut off any hints of an inclination to move in a different direction or to dine on my pampered perennials.  

'Want to make a run for it? I see some tender strawberry plants over there!' 
(look closely at both rams looking off to the right)
Once through the gate into the pasture where the flerd was grazing, the rams ran to the ewes and went right to work; no wasting time here - gotta love 'em (no pun intended).


And, I could relax.


Come April, our lambing will begin again.  I hope we learned something about raising sheep during the past year; our first year with sheep.


Only time will tell….

Friday, November 9, 2012

Scatter, Squirrel...Scatter

While sitting in the office this morning, I heard quite a raucous on the back (front) entry deck.  I took a quick, few steps and looked out the sidelight window.  I saw all three cats (Cricket, Onnie and Missy) acting very energized and anxiously looking up at the wall next to the door. 


Since I could not see a thing from my vantage point, I opened the door to take a gander…immediately a small, grey squirrel jumped over my head, over the cats and into the yard.  Within a split second, the cats were off.  The squirrel got as far as the young dogwood only feet away.


The cats circled the base of the tree as the squirrel scurried from limb, to branch, to twig. 

Cricket at bottom, squirrel directly above

Cricket decided to be a major player in the hunt and followed into the dogwood.  The small squirrel swiftly moved to the adjacent crepe myrtle. 


Suddenly, a mockingbird was on scene dive-bombing the squirrel. (Note: I think the mockingbird thought the squirrel was stealing his red dogwood berries - see November 5, 2012 blog.)


What excitement!


Finally, after many minutes, the squirrel realized a break in attention from bird and cats to hastily flee the scene.


I think the squirrel escaped unscathed…I have not yet heard  a cat screeching  nor seen a headless cadaver with bushy  lying next to the door - thank goodness!

Monday, November 5, 2012

Got It !

I was at the kitchen sink filling a liter plastic bottle (recycled soda bottle) full of water.  I use this bottle to water my upstairs houseplants.


As I was filling, I was also looking out the window where I saw a perfect photo op…a mockingbird eating the red dogwood berries in the shine of the lowering sun of late afternoon.


I hurriedly placed the half-filled bottle down on the counter and ran to get my camera.  I did not release my hold quickly enough; the bottle tipped over and unleashed water onto my counter, down and inside the three underlying drawers, and finally coming to rest in quite a puddle on the floor.


But…I got my photo!

And, another feathered friend in my autumn yard...

Saturday, November 3, 2012

Country-fried or Chicken-fried Steak?

On a daily basis, I receive a new group of recipes on my e-mail.  I must have signed up for this regular mailing, but I do not recall.  Usually, I just delete that particular e-mail.  I already have plenty of recipes from which to choose.


Yesterday, the grouping was for Southern-Style Dinners.  I decided to take a look.  Along the side, not the featured dinners, was a recipe for Country-Fried Steak.  Hmmm…I occasionally order this meal when Glenn and I go out for a ‘better than Burger King’ night-on-the-town dinner.  I really do enjoy Country-fried Steak covered with thick, creamy gravy.


I decided to try the recipe.


First, I made a potful of mashed potatoes from the potatoes that are still located under the ground in the garden.  Glenn was nice enough to dig me up a pail.  He knew the effort was worth a home cooked dinner.


As I prepared, battered and fried, the cubed steaks, Glenn heated a packet of green beans that I had put up (frozen) during the summer harvest.  After the quick frying, I added both chicken broth and milk to make the gravy. And, you gotta add that pepper!


Oh, did I mention… since we recently had one of our South Poll beeves butchered, I naturally used our home-raised beef, cubed steak in particular - that is some terrific beef.


Well, it was a good thing that neither of the kids was home…Glenn and I polished off a dinner for four in one seating. 

I barely had time to get a photo....gulp...yummy!

Unfortunately, the leftovers were mere hopes that I would not have to cook the next evening.

Country-fried or chicken-fried?...Does not matter as this recipe is a definite keeper!

Friday, November 2, 2012

Moving On Into November

November…the days and nights are colder from just a few days ago.


Glenn finally started up the wood furnace for the season; smoke gently flows from the chimney. There is a new, yet familiar aroma in the air.


A few perennials put their energy into one last display, diminutive as it is, before giving in to the natural cycle; the seasonal ‘sleep’ as expected.



Buddy allows himself an afternoon nap smack dab in the crunchy, fallen leaves of my sugar maple. 


He has a great idea…but, I think I will do my napping in the warmth of the inside of my home.  I look out onto the changing horizon of the farm as I slowly doze off.


Sweet dreams!