Wednesday, February 23, 2011


     I have no idea what caused these, but last night we had sheet icicles all around town. I only have pictures of the ones at the house, but they were all over, on every metal or ridged roof.

     Not the long pointy ones that everyone is used to seeing, but what I’m calling, for lack of a better phrase, sheet icicles. It’s like the snow started to slide off the roof, but before froze in the last possible instant. Then they decided to form more usual icicles from their ends.

     Doesn’t it look like something out of the Day After Tomorrow? These are taken standing under the eaves of the shed looking at the underside of the icicles.  They curl in towards the wall.

     Has anyone see anything like this before, or even better, know what caused it?

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Monday, February 21, 2011

Red Velvet Cake

     Saturday I was bit by the cooking bug again.  (Though I also blame the fact that I found all my mom’s old cake pans when I was cleaning out the cabinets, and rediscovered that we have all kinds of cool shapes from past birthday cakes.)

     Using a recipe from the Farm Chick’s blog, (I’m head over heels in love in case you can’t tell) I made this cake! And it was wonderful! It’s soft and moist, not too sweet and marbled with just a hint of chocolate.

     I have two tips for anyone who wants to make this cake (and this should be everyone, cause this cake will make your and everyone else in your house’s day.)
1.       Even though you know you have red food coloring left over from Easter eggs, you will probably need to buy more.  The recipe calls for two ounces. (Yes two).  I went to town to buy all the ingredients that we needed, and assuming I had enough, I started cooking.  Then I looked down and saw the two ounces.  I didn’t have two ounces.  I have ¾ of an ounce of liquid dye and the scrapings of the bottle of the gel dye.  Luckily, this was enough. But keep this in mind when assembling ingredients.
2.       Ice this cake cold.  Not just cool.  Both the icing and the cake have to be cold. The icing is fantastic, but make with a butter base, and will melt if you try and ice a slightly warm cake because you got tired of waiting for it to finish cooling completely.

     In case all this isn’t enough for you to start making this cake tonight, I don’t have a picture of the sliced cake because it went too fast…
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Plowing Day

     On Friday we had a day of absolutely amazing weather.  My dad took advantage of it by plowing a new garden patch.  I took advantage of using the excuse of taking pictures to share with you all to spend all day playing in the sunshine.  

This is Lisa.  She is a 1955 Ferguson tractor (she was made before the Massey-Ferguson companies joined.) And here is her plow, it’s an antique from 1947.  Neither one of them look brand new or stunning, but they work hard and get the job done with much more character.  I remember summer trips up the road sitting on Lisa’s wheel hub feeling like a beauty queen in the fourth of July parade.

     They are just getting started here, and I love the contrast of the dull brown of the dead grass with the red clay that will soon send bright new shoots up towards the sky.  The smell of damp earth is everywhere and even though the sun has warmed the prickly dead grass, the turned red clay that is so common in Virginia is cold and soft underfoot (yes, I know from experience, I love being barefoot and kick off my shoes as soon as possible).

     This patch is one of three that we have and will grow beets and collards and other such leafy vegetables.  We also have a potato garden, a general vegetables and fruit garden, two cherry tree, several baby chestnut trees and a fish garden!  I’m so grateful that I get too see all this in action, and even more grateful come late summer when we have the freshest possible produce.  I just have to walk out to the backyard and I can feast on sun warmed tomatoes, green beans, and blackberries or fill a paper bag up with potatoes or cherries for that night’s dinner and desert.

     Dad starts a new row by driving one wheel right into the last furrow that he plowed.  This keeps all the rows even and makes sure that there are no unploughed spots.

     I was worried about the rocky soil, but Lisa didn’t seem to be troubled by it at all.  Every now and then you would hear the sound of granite against metal and know that the plow was passing by a rock, but they didn’t slow her up at all.  All these sounds were new and yet somehow familiar to me.  I used to just come home from school to find new gardens already plowed and seeded, and I think its fascinating to see how it is all done.

     After Dad finished plowing the patch, he pulled his super ecstatic helper, my youngest brother, in to weigh down the rake to break up the worst of the dirt clods. (Yes, we are a proud Virginia Tech family, and have VT paraphernalia everywhere. And all children are taught “Go Hokies!” as some of their first words)

     Danny, our lab, was very worried about this new game his people were playing and followed behind the tractor for a couple laps before settling down again to oversee the day's work.
     This is a day at our house.  

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