Sunday, March 24, 2019

Here We Go Again

A nifty thrifty website is

Because of it we were able to reuse this lovely thing again this year after a mere six year wait.

Marie Kondo might not approve of that kind of saving, but she will be even more disapproving of the length of time we will have to hang on to it for a third time use. 2019 calendars do not sync up with the yearly dates again until 2030.

Your 2018 calendar is usable again in 2029. Not bad.

If you are a first wave baby boomer you might as well give your 2020 calendar to a millennial packrat right now unless you plan on taking really good care of yourself so you can use it again in 2048. 

Have a good year!

Sunday, January 20, 2019

Trumpet Fan Fare

It doesn't look like much of an indulgence, 

but these Black Trumpet mushrooms 

dried and mixed with course salt give everything from scrambled eggs to your 
bloody Mary glass rim the flourish to take them from ordinary to extraordinary.

When this is gone we'll have to wait for quite awhile until we can make more.
 Trumpet salt definitely gives added incentive to next fall's foraging!

Sunday, January 13, 2019

Eating Locally

It doesn't get much more local than your own kitchen tabletop.

Look what we got on sale!

What else would a mushroom company have on Black Friday special?

Field and Forest Products, a Wisconsin company, offers tabletop fungus farms.

They are entertaining and delicious!

The block yielded about 20 mushrooms in its first fruiting.

After it rests a bit we will ask it to do it all again.

Breakfast just won't be the same until the shiitake crop comes in.

Sunday, January 6, 2019

Think Spring 2019

Come on y'all and Think Spring with your fellow gardeners. 
11 speakers on 13 topics plus lunch, vendors, and door-prizes.

Registration information here

Thursday, December 20, 2018

Fall Fungi Foray

Through the Cable Natural History Museum organized by Emily Stone 
and under the leadership of Tavis Lynch

of Tavis's Wild and Exotic Mushrooms of Cumberland, Wisconsin.

This is some of what we found. 
Chanterelle, Black Trumpet, Wolf Fart puffballs, Oyster, Shrimp of the Woods, 
and Bear's Head Tooth.

A participant who is already an experienced forager brought Lobster and 
Chicken of the Woods for us to try. Both were excellent.

We sorted and IDed them.

And then we cooked them up.

The Black Trumpet mushroom is easy to identify and has a very interesting, truffle-like taste.

The group found enough of these that we each got to take some home. After sautéing some for breakfast I made this. It was great.

Wild Foraged Black Trumpet Mushroom Spread

1 tablespoon ghee or butter
2 tablespoons finely chopped garlic scapes or shallots
1⁄2 cup coarsely chopped black trumpet mushrooms(cleaned)
8 ounce cultured cream-cheese
1 pinch sea salt (real salt) to taste
1 pinch white pepper to taste

In a skillet over medium/low heat, sauté garlic scapes in ghee until soft.
Add in black trumpet mushrooms continue sautéing until mushrooms are cooked through and any liquid is evaporated.
Reduce heat to low, add cream cheese (cut or scooped into roughly 1 tablespoon sized chunks). Stirring constantly until the cream cheese is melted and mixed thoroughly.
Transfer to an air tight jar or container and chill in the refrigerator for at least 2 hours prior to allow the flavors to come together.
Remove dip from at the refrigerator roughly 30 minutes prior to serving to allow it to warm to room temperature. Serve with crackers, toasted bread or raw vegetables.
Recipe Notes:
Use 1 ounce dried black trumpets that have been reconstituted in warm water in place of the fresh.
This recipe makes 16 servings

Sunday, September 9, 2018

Northern Hospitality

RCMP mug recently added to the stable of coffee cups. A fine new specimen for our Mountie collection as well. Thank you, Niece.

We may have been drinking from it when we recently read this book. 

We were afraid a book about 9/11 would be very sad, and it was, but the overwhelming feeling was amazement at the hospitality of an entire community towards the thousands of people stranded on their island when the events of the day caused the grounding of dozens of planes at their airport. 
So many acts of kindness! A beautiful result from a horrible act of violence.

A synopsis from Amazon:

When 38 jetliners bound for the United States were forced to land at Gander International Airport in Canada by the closing of U.S. airspace on September 11, the population of this small town on Newfoundland Island swelled from 10,300 to nearly 17,000. The citizens of Gander met the stranded passengers with an overwhelming display of friendship and goodwill.
As the passengers stepped from the airplanes, exhausted, hungry and distraught after being held on board for nearly 24 hours while security checked all of the baggage, they were greeted with a feast prepared by the townspeople. Local bus drivers who had been on strike came off the picket lines to transport the passengers to the various shelters set up in local schools and churches. Linens and toiletries were bought and donated. A middle school provided showers, as well as access to computers, email, and televisions, allowing the passengers to stay in touch with family and follow the news.
Over the course of those four days, many of the passengers developed friendships with Gander residents that they expect to last a lifetime. As a show of thanks, scholarship funds for the children of Gander have been formed and donations have been made to provide new computers for the schools. This book recounts the inspiring story of the residents of Gander, Canada, whose acts of kindness have touched the lives of thousands of people and been an example of humanity and goodwill.

A recommended by NDL read. And the inspiration for the Broadway play Come from Away.

Sunday, September 2, 2018


Out of this jumble of plants in the wagon nursery....

...this little monarch larva found the butterfly weed and started to munch.

It is probable that a monarch butterfly found the plant and laid her egg on it.

That would explain better how a very tiny caterpillar could get to the exact plant it needed to eat. Butterfly weed is part of the milkweed (asclepsis) family. It's the one with the orange flowers.

Although the idea of her daringly scaling the sides of the Radio Flyer to survive is the stuff of super hero stories. 

Caterpillar Girl and Wing Woman - the Origin Story. Look for it on Netflix soon.

Sunday, August 26, 2018

Pretty as a Peacock

And proud as one too.

The fanciest resident of the petting zoo we frequent. And yes, the ladies were definitely impressed.

Sunday, August 19, 2018

Chad the Container Car

American country cousin to Thomas the Tank Engine.

Hanging out in Bloomer, Wisconsin.

Looks like he's got a mischievous streak. 

And possible gang affiliations. 

We'll be looking for the episode in which he goes to visit his posh relatives.

Trouble, or at the least hi-jinx are likely to ensue.

Tomato Days

So many tomatoes! 

If only we could spread the bounty of the Wisconsin garden out through the year to have real, homegrown tomatoes instead of the pallid impostors passed of as tomatoes at the grocery store in the winter months.

But we can't, so all-you-can-eat BLTs, puttanesca sauce, caprese salad, and salsa are on the menu everyday, several times a day, in tomato season.

And to add to the wonderful experience is the annual reminisce that comes with pulling out a recipe card written in the hand of the giver. 
In this case, Tammy. 

Here is her salsa recipe with adaptations for a smaller quantity. We don't have a many friends as she does. Her recipe would feed a very large group. Ours is just right for a family weekend.

Tammy’s Salsa

4 cups fresh tomatoes (can use part canned tomatoes)
Cilantro to your taste (1/4 bunch)
1/3 large or ½ medium onion
1-3 mild jalapeno peppers, seeded (or more, or some hot ones if you like heat)
1/8 cup (1 ounce) lime juice
1/8 cup (1 ounce) vinegar
2 teaspoons cumin
2 teaspoons chili powder
½ teaspoon each salt and sugar

Chop finely or pulse in food processor.

Serve with chips (and margaritas if you are lucky).

This is pretty spicy stuff for a pastor's wife. We are going to send her some recipes from our church lady cookbook for times when canned soup combos are called for. Although we would never want to quash her spirit, culinary or otherwise, salsa as a funeral potluck offering might make some tongues wag, and burn! Tater tot hot-dish might put out more than one kind of fire.

Best of luck in your new role, Tammy. We're on stand-by with Jello recipes if you need inspiration.

Free Puppies!

Remember the bromeliad

She's quite the champ. Here is her fifth pup.

Going to a new home now that it is weaned.

We wouldn't blame her if she retired from the whelping biz, but it has been fun dividing and sharing her offspring.

Will there be more?

If NDL was a Bunny

This is the pattern of dishes she would eat off of exclusively. This is a serving platter.

Clover. From the '70s. 

By this company.

Would look great with a composed salad on top. And a ring of bunnies around it sharing lunch. 

Berries with a Chance of Bears

The Up North young people discovered a beautiful blueberry patch. Easily accessible, and bordering a lovely woods with just the right amount of potential for bears to come out and join in the picking. A hint of danger makes one pick faster so a pail was filled in no time at all. Let the baking commence!


We heard once that the average number of recipes that people use from a cookbook is three. Seems low, but realistic given that there is only one recipe we consistently use from The Berry Cookbook. T'would be a shame to tear out just that page, so here it is in our digital recipe record for when that cookbook finally winds up in the thrift sale pile. We give you:

Bessie’s Brown Sugar Blueberry Muffins

From The Berry Cookbook - Carol Katz

Makes one dozen

1 ½ c. sifted flour
¼ t. salt
1 T. baking powder
1 egg, well beaten
¾ c. loosely packed light brown sugar
½ c. milk
1 T. melted butter or margarine
1 ½ c. blueberries, well drained after washing and dredged in a little flour

Preheat the oven to 425F. Grease a muffin tin.Sift together the flour, salt, and baking powder. Combine the egg, brown sugar, milk, and butter, then mix into the dry ingredients.  
Stir with a fork until the mixture is moist but still lumpy. Fold in the blueberries.
Fill the greased muffin tins two-thirds full and bake for 15 minutes, or until done.

Please note:
Very little fat is used. 
We have substituted orange juice for the milk with good results. 
If you do not have a blueberry patch nearby, grocery store berries work just fine too.


Monday, May 21, 2018

Quilts in the Air

 On their way par avion to a new little one.

Kites, kids, 


and butterflies.

Winging their way across a big lake and two states to be playmats, changing pads, picnic spots, tents,  naptime aids, and who knows what else for a growing child. Sky's the limit for quilt potential with a little healthy parent and kid imagination.

Fenceline Fiddlehead Forage

Beautiful, tightly wound fiddleheads arising from their ostrich fern base.

Pick only one or two from each so the plants don't suffer. Make sure they are ostrich ferns!

Blanch in boiling water for a few minutes.

Saute in butter. Yum!

Tuesday, May 8, 2018

Gobble, Gobble

Turkey. Not just for Thanksgiving. 

This is a very nice soup.

Keep it in mind for the next soup weather day.

We recently made it on the last soup weather day.

Good anytime.

Turkey Meatball Soup

½ lb. ground turkey
3 T. grated Parmesan cheese
4 T. fine dried bread crumbs
1 large egg
1 T. fresh minced parsley or 1 t. dried
S and P to taste
1 qt. chicken broth
½ c. frozen or fresh peas
1 carrot, finely chopped
1 small zucchini, finely diced (optional)
½ c. precooked tiny pasta, such as orzo, shells, rings, or precooked rice

In a medium bowl, mix together the turkey, Parmesan cheese, bread crumbs, egg, parsley, and S and P. With moistened hands, form the mixture into balls about the size of marbles. Remove them to a large plate, cover with wax paper and refrigerate until ready to cook.

In a large pot, bring the broth to a simmer. Add the peas, carrots, and zucchini and cook for 5 minutes or until just tender. Slowly add the turkey meatballs, keeping the liquid at a slow simmer. Cook for 6 to 7 minutes or until the turkey balls float to the top. Add the cooked pasta, and heat through. Serve in soup bowls and pass additional Parmesan cheese if you wish.

From Susan Costner - Parenting magazine 1991

Thursday, May 3, 2018

Blizzard Bread

Just two weeks ago we were housebound by a spring snowstorm. Today the sprouts are sprouting, the buds are budding, and the grass is greening. Finally!

The good news about the late, last blast of winter was that we finally made bread after vowing to all winter.

We wanted a not too healthy, but wholesome bread that would make good breakfast toast. This recipe for Country White Bread from Taste of Home was perfect.

Punching down risen dough is so satisfying.

Just out of the oven and brushed with butter for a soft crust.

According to our vintage copy of the Farm Journal Country Fair Cookbook the "break" on the sides that we thought was not good, is actually desirable. Does it look "well shredded".

We won't be entering the fair with this recipe, but it is a winner and keeper for the collection. Now that it is documented here it will be available by an easy google search of "Next Door Laura bread" whenever we need it. How cool is that? Quicker than finding a card in a recipe box!

This is a great resource for figuring out "what went wrong?" with our many baking failures (with out having to pester our home ec major friends with questions too often). There is a similar page for each type of baked good - muffins, pies, cookies, biscuits, cakes, etc. And there are blue ribbon winning recipes in every chapter too.

Copyright 1975. Many batter spatters inside.

Monday, April 9, 2018

Country Weekend Ideas

 Bachman's Ideas House. Hurry. Ends April 16.

Living room,

adjacent sunroom,

and dining room are all pretty in

neutral with hints of pink palette.

Things are growing in the kitchen.

There are

Spring green accents


The entryway is an indoor farmyard with

tire swings,

garden fresh produce,

a clever rug,

tools near at hand, 

and inviting welcome

and nostalgic 

beverage stations.

Upstairs, one bedroom is succulent

and another resembles a conservatory.

The bathroom is the hive of the living quarters.


The third bedroom is for the birds.

And the last bedroom for the bird watcher,

butterfly collector, 


nature lover,  

and horticulturalist.

Downstairs we go again through the kitchen,


for one last look at the layers of detail.

Sorry, can't stay for dinner.

The flowers, kept refreshed everyday are delicious looking.

The living room bookcases feature a trend we hear is all the range. 

Turning books backwards for a less busy look to the shelves.

So beautiful. If we won the lottery.... fresh flowers all the time.

This was a very nice house, but on the scale of how much of a nightmare to dust....

It is about a 9.

We'll be reading up on the newest thing the Scandinavians are doing right* and we are doing wrong. 

 But we are pretty sure the designers did not get the concept of lagom The Lexin Swedish-English dictionary defines lagom as "enough, sufficient, adequate, just right". Lagom is also widely translated as "in moderation", "in balance", "perfect-simple", and "suitable" (in matter of amounts) - Wikipedia, when they over-accessorized this Ideas House.

Oh well, no one really lives here and has to clean around all the clever decor.

And to be fair, due to the very unusual April we have had, the outdoors has had to come in making for a bit of crowding.

Plastic greenery! Real stuff (and taking the tire swings out to the tree) ahead. We hope.

*Hygge. Swedish Death Cleaning.