Monday, March 28, 2011

A Spring Surprise

The weather report says to expect warm, sunny weather for the coming weekend. But Monday morning we awoke to a wondrous early spring snow that clings to every limb and twig in the woods. It is a lacework of snow covering the hills beyond the bluff.

In the cabins, guest are snug and warm and being treated to a memorable scene outside their door. There are pets in both cabins that no doubt enjoy scampering and dancing in the fluffy whiteness. Kathy and I and our pups actually envy them.

Our friends in Aunt Phoebe's Cabin tell us that the Farmer's Almanac has predicted every snow storm that has occurred in this snow-filled winter. They say it has been a perfect record for the Almanac for the Columbia, Missouri location. I suppress my natural cynicism and say, "That so?"

Well, we are past the vernal equinox, so this must be spring. Once this snow melts, I say "Let's get on with it." Under todays snow the daffodils along our lane are wildly in bloom. Service berry and redbud have begun blooming in the woods. On milder days the spring peepers grow hoarse from calling.

Warmer and bright on the weekend is the prediction. . That will mean a healthy dose of both winter and spring in the span of a few days. Typical Missouri weather!

A recent guest at Aunt Phoebe's log cabin sent these photos. There are clues to spring in each photo.

Right now I have to put another log on the fire.

The Hired Man

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Spring comfort

It is the time of year that the weather does not quite know what it is up to. It is erratic. It is like a teenager entering puberty. Things change day to day, hour by hour. It seems there is no reasoning with March weather.

Still, as the brown hills begin to awaken and dream of the coming green, there is comfort to be obtained during the lengthening days. Here is one: Fire. A gentle blaze is always a comfort here at Rock Eddy Bluff, but when cool March winds envelope the hills, a fire in the stove or fireplace is certain to provide a special comfort.

Here is a prescription for relaxation at The Bluff: A long walk in the woods and then a fire. Outside, the buds are swelling, daffodils are poking their shoots upward, while inside the cabin there is the crackle and the flicker of fire.

There is also comfort food. We now propose to add to your recipe collection for Pie. Coming through New Mexico recently, we stopped at Pie Town, a small, mostly abandoned village on the historic cattle drive route. There, the drovers could always depend upon pie for all the hands. “Get into Pie Town and bring us some Pie”, the foremen would command. So, we stopped there at the Daily Pie Café. A scrumptious breakfast was followed by a piece of New Mexican Apple Pie. It was top notch and slightly modified from ordinary apple pie. And, they were willing to divulge the recipe.


New Mexican Apple Pie (From Daily Pie Café, Pie Town, NM)


4 large granny smith apples, peeled, cored and sliced
1 c. sugar
4 T. flour
2 t. cinnamon
¾ t. nutmeg
2 ounces of New Mexican (Hatch) green chili, hot or mild or more! to taste
2 ounces of pinon nuts
1 T lemon juice

Peel, core and put apple slices into large mixing bowl. Add all other ingredients mix well.
Set aside to blend flavors while the crust is being prepared.

Pastry crust (makes four crusts)
This recipe will use two crusts.
The other two can be frozen for future use always handy and makes for a speedy pie.

3 cups of flour
¼ t. baking powder
1 t. salt
½ c. salted butter
½ c. shortening
1 egg
1 T. white vinegar
1/2 c. ice cold water

Combine flour, baking powder and salt. Cut in butter and shortening to pea sized pieces with pastry knife or fork and knife(do not use your hands yet). In separate bowl, mix egg, vinegar and water. Add wet mix to flour mixture small amounts at a time and blend with spoon or pastry cutter until dry ingredients are moist and form a ball (more or less water may have to be added depending on moisture content of flour).

Roll into a ball wrap with plastic wrap and refrigerate 1 hour. Divide dough into four sections. Roll out one section on a floured board to fit 9” pie pan. Put crust into pan. Place apple mix , mounded in the center. Top with one rolled section of crust. Flute edges, cut vent holes into top crust. Brush with egg wash and sprinkle natural sugar on top (optional). Bake at 425 degrees for 15 minutes, turn, then 400 degrees for 45 minutes to an one hour. Pie is done when golden brown and juices bubble thickly around the outer edge. Serve with vanilla ice cream (highly suggested).

They say it is the little things in life...... The Hired Man