Friday, December 28, 2007

Christmas Family Activities

Living out the saying:
"Christmas is for the Birds..." only in the strictest sense!
Here we are (L and "me"), mixing birdseed.
We're standing on a stepladder, filling the birdfeeder with our mix.
The birds will be happy... in the morning!
Speaking of feeding the birds... we're all in the act! Even the two year olds!
M holds a finished project: A tongue depressor coated with thinned peanut butter and dipped in bird seed mix.
The next step is to hang them outdoors.We're almost ready to head outdoors! :-)
The process of hanging them. Daughter C with niece I.Are we done, yet? Son-in-law K with daughter A)

Ta-dah!The birds are enjoying our treat again today. Perhaps you'll see a couple if you click on the snowy picture.
The T girls with Grandpa and Dad "on the farm."
Girls and Grandpa
Grandpa's collection of deer antlers."Size chart."

Saturday, December 22, 2007

The Making of Christmas Memories

Some little friends of mine (and a mom) were here on Thursday, Dec. 20. I'd made a batch of sugar cookie dough. We "each" rolled some dough and cut out one large cookie and one star. Here are pictures of the cookie painting. Egg yolk paint is made with an egg yolk (in this case, we used two). Dividing the yolk between dishes, put 4 - 5 drops of food coloring in each dish and mix well). Use small paint brushes to paint the cookies before baking.

I'm sorry we didn't get an "after photo." They turned out great, though!

Saturday, November 24, 2007

Here Are the Recipes

Wisconsin Cranberry Growers' Favorite Recipes is the name of the cookbook that we purchased in Wisconsin earlier. It was first printed in Nov. 1991, second printing in April 1994, third in June 1997 and fourth in Oct. 2004. To purchase one yourself, contact Wisconsin Cranberry Discovery Center at or (608)378-4878. I really don't remember the cost.

These are three recipes I used before Thanksgiving. They are all very good. The Cranberry Pumpkin Bread received rave reviews from several people! (I made this recipe 3 or 4 times. I actually doubled the recipe each time and made one regular sized loaf and 3 small loaves from each batch.) I've given away several small loaves. I've frozen the others for future use or giveaway. :-)

Cranberry Pumpkin Bread
This recipe is very moist and very delicious. (Not that it makes a lot of difference, but I was thinking of grandchildren perhaps not appreciating large "foreign objects" in their food. So, instead of using whole fresh cranberries, I chopped them. I also a little less sugar.)

1 1/2 cup sugar 1/4 tsp cloves
1/2 c. shortening 1 cup pumpkin
2 eggs, beaten 1/3 c. water
1 tsp. baking soda 1 2/3 c. flour
1/2 tsp. baking powder 1/2 cup chopped nuts
1/2 tsp. salt 1/2 c. whole cranberries
1 1/2 tsp. cinnamon

Cream sugar and shortening together. Beat eggs well and add to creamed mixture. Add baking soda, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, cloves, pumpkin, water, and flour; mix well. Fold in nuts and cranberries. Put in a greased bread tin. Sprinkle top with sugar and bake at 350 degrees for about 1 hour or until done. (test with toothpick)

Cran-Yogurt Muffins
(I chopped the cranberries)

1 c. oatmeal 1 tsp. salt
1 c. plain or vanilla yogurt 1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/2 c. cooking oil 1 tsp. baking powder
3/4 c. brown sugar 1 1/4 c. cranberries, halved
1 egg 3/4 c. walnuts or pecans
l c. flour 3/4 c. coconut

In a large bowl, combine oatmeal and yogurt. Let stand for 10 minutes. Add oil, sugar and egg; mix well. Sift in flour, salt, baking soda, and baking powder. Fold in cranberries, nuts, and coconut until just blended. (If you use the dried sweetened cranberries, reduce the sugar to 1/2 cup.) Spoon into muffin tins. Bake at 400 degrees for 20 minutes. Makes 12 - 16 muffins, depending upon the size of the tins.

Cranberry-Pumpkin Muffins

2 c. flour 1/2 tsp. allspice
3/4 c. sugar 1/3 c. cooking oil
3 tsp. baking powder 2 eggs
1 tsp. salt 3/4 c. pumpkin
1/2 tsp. cinnamon 2 c. cranberries, chopped

Sift together first 6 ingredients; set aside. Beat oil, eggs, and pumpkin; blend well. Add to dry ingredients. Stir just until moistened. Fold in cranberries. Spoon into muffin cups. Bake at 400 degrees for 25 to 30 minutes. Makes 1 1/2 dozen.

Pretty tasty!

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Giving Thanks With Pies!

This little invention is one of my favorite tools. My Grandpa Peter had one that we tried using at his house while I was growing up. He also owned the original version of apple trees. They seemed a mile high when my dad climbed up in them to toss apples to us kids! And there were a lot of apples!

No matter how many apples you have, that little peeler, corer, slicer makes short work of them! And it makes baking a lot more fun.

Guess this photo is a bit dark.

One of the pumpkin pies. I used a bit of the extra dough to make the leaves.

And, here are the Cranberry pies.

Monday, November 19, 2007

Making Warm Memories of Wisconsin

I could get pretty silly about commenting on the above title and/or subject below... so I won't. However, this is the result of spending a couple of hours or so in the kitchen with the cookbook we purchased in Wisconsin!

First, a photo of the whole kit 'n kaboodle!

Second, a photo of a pumpkin cranberry muffin.

Third, a photo of a yogurt oatmeal cranberry muffin.
Fourth, a photo of pumpkin cranberry nut breads.
And last, most of the aftermath!
All in anticipation of Thanksgiving! :-)

Sunday, October 14, 2007

Tuesday, October 9, 2007

Oh, I forgot to mention that Monday afternoon, on the way home, we did get to go to a Very Super Art Shop!!! It's entitled Studio of Good Earth, owned by William and Annette Gudim. Annette does the pottery. I have always wanted a handmade soup tureen, and I found a very nice one (and brought it home with me!). I also brought some cards by an area calligrapher. Our daughter is a professional calligrapher... I'd like to brag, but I'll try to restrain myself! (However, you'll find her website on my YardisGreen site!)

Annette mentioned that her husband does the woodworking... it is very high quality. They also show artwork created by 45 artists and craftspeople. You might see if you can't find it!

There wasn't a real hurry to be up and out of the motel this morning, but we did have to be back home by 6:00 p.m. (A meeting).

By the time we had driven an hour or so, we called some friends (what nice people we know!!) and found they were both home! So we visited for a couple of hours and had to leave before we wanted to.

It was another beautiful day! We'd been blessed with great weather this entire trip. Wisconsin's fall weather has been like ours... a nice one with prolonged mild weather. No freezing temperatures to create the intense reds you might expect to see at this time of year.

These photos were taken (from inside the car) as we drove along the Mississippi River in Wisconsin.
Not much color, but I took photos of what I could.
Here's the "Mighty Mississippi."

We drove quite a number of "back roads"in Wisconsin, driving into Iowa at Prairie du Chien. We stopped in Mcgregor where we found a nice little place with wonderful ice cream(!). We walked out of the store with such generous "double dip" servings. Mine was in a bowl, and (really, she served us two dips of each kind!)I had two dips of huckleberry and two dips of mint chocolate chip. Strange combination, you say? Well... only if you're being too critical! ;-)

We were able to drive through Manchester, Iowa on the way home. We'd lived in Manchester for one year (not long enough). Our son was born there 28 1/2 years ago. It's a very nice little town within 1/2 hour's drive to three nice large metropolitan areas... Waterloo/Cedar Falls, Cedar Rapids and Dubuque. We drove past "our old place." We actually found it. Things looked good.

Oh, well. Living in SE Iowa is nice, too.

You just can't beat a nice little trip to almost anywhere when you have no absolutely specific moment-to-moment agenda and you have "all the time in the world!" Very relaxing and fulfilling. While I'm ready for another trip (anytime!)... it IS good to be home.

Friday, October 12, 2007

Monday, October 8, 2007

Glacial Lakes Cranberries tour
I had reserved the Wisconsin Rapids "Berry-licious" package through Wisconsin Tourism. This included a two-night motel room, a package of chocolate covered cranberries, two packages of cranberry trail mix, two tickets to Glacial Lakes Cranberries (family-owned cranberry bog farm) tour, and two tickets to the Cranberry Discovery Museum; both located within easy driving distance.

Monday morning we drove to Glacial Lakes Cranberries with tickets "in hand." :-) I grew up on a corn/soybeans/alfalfa/oats/hog/cattle/sheep and chickens farm in north central Iowa. So I was very excited and looked forward to comparing how "someone else lives and operates." I'd also seen a documentary and read articles in magazines several years ago.

We boarded a small bus with several other tourists and were driven around the farm. Of the approximate 6,000 total acres that make up Glacial Lake Cranberries, Inc., approximately 3,000 acres of water reservoir support 330 acres (96 beds) of producing cranberry vines.

We drove on the roads surrounding the beds, learning about the irrigation system they employ, and the means by which they propagate, protect and harvest the cranberries, etc.

This part of central Wisconsin is very, very sandy, due to glacial activity so many years ago. Their water reservoir (looks like a big pond) is located at the edge of the cranberry beds. Irrigation pipes run through the cranberry beds with sprinklers sticking out of the ground about a foot or so high. If the sprinklers need to be run, due to drought or impending frost, the water is readily available. (These three photos were taken at the Museum.)The cranberry beds consist of a layer of organic material, a layer of sand (I think around 6 -8"), and another layer of organic material that accumulates naturally. The beds must be absolutely level to ensure proper drainage. The plants are perennial, meaning the same plant grows and matures every year.

There is a ditch around the perimeter of each cranberry bed. These ditches are the vehicle through which the cranberry beds are flooded when it is time for harvest. the specific beds that are to be harvested. Cranberry vines will not survive if flooded very long, so they only flood the beThe water is pumped from the reservoir into ditches aroundds that will be harvested within a short period of time. (A 2 - 3 day period?)

It looked as though one bed was being flooded and another drained as the one in the "center" was being harvested. Due to the fact that most of the bed is sand, the water drains very easily, returning to the ditches where it is pumped either to another bed or returned to the reservoir.

It was discovered in the early 1900's that the farmers could harvest twice as many berries if they flooded their fields to the tops of the cranberry vines and hand raked the floating berries. Now they use
small tractors
and tools that
gently loosen
the berries
the vines.
Did you know
that they dislodge the berries driving one direction only? (In this case, from west to east). I guess it's kind of like the nap on corduroy. Then they raise the machinery to return to the other end.

Cranberry beds are gradually flooded in the wintertime (in 3" layers, to a depth of 9," if I remember correctly) to protect the plants from freezing and thawing that would happen otherwise due to temperature fluctuations.
About every three years, trucks
spread a layer of sand over the ice. As the ice melts, the sand settles over the plants. This extra sand layer is said to aid in pest control as well as provide the
drainage necessary during the flooding/harvesting periods.

Here are some photos of how they "corral" the cranberries and "herd" them into the elevator which separates
the berries from the
water and "gunk"and
settles the berries into
a truck. These berries are being harvested for juice and products
other than packages of fresh berries. (You'd better have a pair of hip waders!)

We were taken to a building that housed the old separating equipment. This is where the berries that are bagged for retail as fresh cranberries are cleaned, sorted and held. This job is still done by hand.
As we returned to the original meeting place,
we drove past the water reservoir. Here we were able to
witness trumpeter swans. Guess they were intimidated by our bus.
After a brief time perusing their little shop of Wisconsin gifts, we drove a few miles "down the road" to Warrens. This is where we enjoyed touring the Exhibition Hall at the Cranberry Discovery Museum. This interesting exhibit explained the early history of the cranberry bogs and harvesting the berries, to the farming and harvesting methods presently used.

Just how did cranberries receive their "moniker?"
(click on these photos to see the detail)

This is a little explanation of how the cranberry
got its name! (Do you see the resemblance?)

I took a lot of pictures while we were at the museum. Mostly to show my dad! I also browsed the gift ware and many cranberry products: jam, jelly, apple/cranberry butter, etc., etc. Last but not least, were the nice, tall, cranberry ice cream cones we enjoyed! Yea! :-)

About Me

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I enjoy being outdoors! I also love that I've two children (now grown up with families of their own)and six young grandchildren! :-) Sure would like to see them more often!!