Gratitude #63

This week, after having our first thunderstorm of the season, that is what I’ve decided I am thankful for.

tHunDeRstOrMs!

I love the sense of boldness and ferocity and power that they exude. It’s interesting that living beings can sense their coming by how it makes us feel, or what we smell, or simply sense.

Watching a thunderstorm is a reminder that there is something in the world far more powerful than the self.

thunderstorm

Ramps

Last Christmas I was gifted with a lovely cookbook by Katie Webster.
maple-cover-draft
If the cover isn’t enough to convince you of its loveliness, a quick glance inside would surely do so.

Katie Webster has created a lovely book with her superb photographs in and out of a Vermont kitchen. As a bonus she has included some fantastic recipes as well.

As often happens, I have taken the book off the shelf occasionally to peruse the recipes and enjoy Katie’s photographs. However, it wasn’t until I changed my diet a few weeks ago that I actually tried any of the recipes. Since eliminating processed sugar from my diet and only using maple or honey it made sense for me to go to this book when searching for a cake recipe for my mom’s birthday. The Maple Carrot Cupcakes with Coconut Cream Cheese Frosting (page 147) was the perfect choice. Then when my step-daughter’s birthday rolled around I opted for the Maple Apple Almond Torte with Maple Cinnamon Glaze (page 151).

In the introduction Katie reminds readers of several reasons to choose maple over other sweeteners. The one that resonates most with me is:

It’s healthier than other sweeteners.
Unlike refined sugars, maple syrup has not been stripped of its micronutrients during production. It contains trace amounts of calcium, potassium, iron, phosphorus, as well as more than fifty known antioxidants. With a score of 54, it falls lower on the glycemic index than many other sweeteners. It has anti-inflammatory properties as well.

(page 17)

Those birthday treats were such big hits that I began to look for some other new recipes that would fit my new diet. In several recipes I saw something called ramps, which I had never heard of. So, I googled it and here is what I learned from www.wildedibles.com:

Ramps (Allium tricoccum), or wild leeks, occur at higher elevations in Eastern North America from Georgia to Canada. Their sharp flavor is characteristic of a combination of garlic and onion. Ramps are easily recognized by their 1 or 2 broad leaves measuring 1 to 2 1/2 inches wide and 4 to 12 inches long. Foraging ramps has long been a popular activity throughout their range. Historically ramps were regarded as a spring tonic in the Appalachians. They are widely celebrated by tens of thousands of ramp lovers who attend numerous ramp festivals every spring. Ramp festivals are partly responsible for severely impacting ramp populations throughout their range.

Avoid the deadly lily-of-the-valley which looks similar to ramps. While ramp leaves have a pungeant garlic odor, lily-of-the-valley has no odor.

ramps

You may recognize these if you spend any time walking in damp wooded areas.

Well, wouldn’t you just know that a few days later, on a bike ride on Kingdom Trails I came across some ramps! I picked one and smelled the root and stalk to make sure and there was no denying their distinctive smell. So, we brought a few home
ramps (2)

and I cut them up and sauteed them in a bit of clarified butter and . . . OMG they were delishious!

I am anxious to go get more and try them mixed in a garden salad, sauteed with other veggies, mixed into a batch of pesto. . .
you get the idea. I have become a ramp fan and love that a walk in the woods can yield something to add to the dinner table.

Gratitude #62

This week I am oh, so thankful for all the caring creatures in the world.

One of the children stopped by for a visit and literally toted along a 3 day old goat kid. The mother goat had rejected this little one so Tara was trying to bottle feed him.

goat in a tote - Copy

3 days old - Copy

Isn’t he adorable?

I was not the only one who thought so. Along came a curious Midge to check him out and try to make friends~

making friends - Copy

It’s wonderful to live in a place where so many take care of one another.

Bees 2016

Well, it is the season for bees again. I am happy to report that our hive survived this odd winter and seems strong and healthy. We did have a second smaller hive going into the winter, but it was weak and we didn’t expect it to survive. It did not.

We recently made a trip to Northwood’s Apiary in Westfield, Vermont to purchase three new nucleus colonies.

Dave has been preparing for the new arrivals for weeks:

He built the boxes and has some plan figured out with the nucleus boxes on top.

Here are the new arrivals in their temporary boxes. This is how they are prepped for transport, with a queen and five frames inside each of the white boxes.

new homes 2 - Copy
We pick the bees up after the set has set and the bees have all returned to their colonies. When they arrive at their new home we are instructed to set them near their new location and remove the screen plug that has kept them safely inside the box for transport.

free - Copy

Though it was a bit chilly Saturday night, they were happy to venture out. A few thousand buzzing bees can really warm up a closed hive. We could feel the heat from the box when we put our hand near the screen plug.

Dave has not yet transferred the frames from the travel box to their new home as it has been so cold. 26 degrees this morning! I expect it will warm up today and he can make the switch to their permanent homes then.

In the meantime, we have been feeding the winter survivors with sugar water and pollen patties. While they seem to be foraging well – we see them return to the hive loaded with pollen – it’s best to be safe and make sure they have plenty to keep them going while we wait for the flowering plants to bloom.

feed tray - Copy

Here we go, starting another season of supporting the environmental balance in our own small way.

Gratitude #61

This time of year it is amazing to watch the world turn from dull gray and brown to green, green, green.

Therefore, today I am especially appreciative and thankful for all the greenness that has emerged in the past few days!

signs of spring 6 - Copy

The hunt 2 - Copy

Oh what a day! - Copy

SPRING - Copy

Study in Green 5 - Copy