seeds

Poblano Peppers and Home Canned Chili Verde.

Last year after our move, I was finally able to get a small garden in the back yard. The year was rainy and not everything that I planted grew well but the peppers seemed to like the wet, hot weather. I had wanted to add chili peppers to our garden for a couple of years but worried that the amount of rain in West Virginia gets would hinder their growth.Usually people think of the high arid deserts when you hear about chilies and hot peppers. Well let me say that my Ancho/Poblano chilies did very well last summer and by the end of Sept. I was over run with chilies. Here is a photo of the largest pepper plant I have ever raised it stood 4 1/2 feet tall and at one time had 22 chilies growing on it branches at one time. Eventually, Tom and I had to stake the pepper due to the fact that they were so heavy with fruit we were afraid that the stocks would break. In this photo you can see our plant touches the top of a 4 foot fence and we had not staked this plant yet.

Pablano/Ancho pepper plants in the Buckhannon, WV garden 2015

Poblano/Ancho pepper plants in the Buckhannon, WV garden 2015.

So what do you do with all these Chilies…. you make Chili Verde Sauce. Chili Verde is a stew like dish that comes from Northern Mexico. Green Chili is traditionally made with pork, hot to mild Chili peppers and Tomatillos . It can be eaten as dip, stew, or condiment like its brother Salsa. Our family loves it over burritos and over eggs in a dish called Huevos Rancheros. I also make a slow cooker pork roast with a Chili Verde dressing.

This winter when I broke open a jar of the Chili Verde, I remembered that wanted to share how to pressure can Chili Verde with all of you, using home-grown peppers from your garden. The process requires a pressure canner due to the use of pork in the ingredients.

Poblano peppers are a medium heat  chili pepper and these are still at the green stage.When fully ripened and red it is an Ancho pepper and is often dried and used as a crushed hot pepper. I used 12 to 15 peppers for this recipe.

2 1/2 pounds Pork butt or shoulder cut into small cubes

1 large onion

13 small Pablano peppers or 6 large peppers, roasted, seeded, skinned and chopped = 2 cups

2 Jalapeno peppers chopped whole for heat, remove seeds for mild

1 1/2 teaspoons chopped garlic =to about 3 cloves of garlic

1 pound Tomatillos, roasted,skinned and chopped or 16 oz jar Tomatillo salsa

1/4 cup wine vinegar

3 cups chicken stock

1 can diced tomatoes

2 Tablespoons salt

1 Tablespoon black pepper

2 teaspoons cumin, oregano, dry cilantro… if using fresh Tomatillos double these.

makes about 8 pints, cook time 75 minutes for pints and 90 for quarts,prep time 15 mintues.

Sink full of pablano chili peppers read to roast.

Sink full of poblano chili peppers read to roast.

The first step in cooking with any chili pepper is to roast them. I roasted trays of peppers in the oven this summer. The main requirement is to char the skin of the pepper on all sides and then place them in a container to sweat, making the skin easy to remove. Some people use paper bags some use a bowel with plastic wrap, I use a bowel with a tight lid and cook my peppers at a temperature around 400 degrees. Watching carefully to make sure I am not setting the broiled peppers on fire. It takes about 10 minutes to roast 12 to 15 peppers on a cookie sheet at one time.

Peppers chard and bowl with a lid to sweat after being removed from my oven.

Peppers charred and bowl with a lid to sweat after being removed from my oven.

I then remove the stems, most of the seeds and skins from the peppers. Letting them cool as I prepare the canning portion of this project.

1. I prepare 8 pint jars, lids, and rings for this batch of Verde sauce. Washing and sanitizing the jars and keeping the rings and lids in hot water until ready to used.

2 1/2 pound pork shoulder or roast.

2 1/2 pound pork shoulder or roast.

2. I dice the pork meat into bite size pieces making sure they will pass through the neck of a canning jar. I add  the meat to a 8 quart stock pot with 1 tablespoon vegetable oil and cook over med heat. The meat does not have to be done all the way through, the rest of the cooking will  finish while in the canner, but this does remove excess fat from the pork. Add salt and pepper and stir before setting aside. Drain away all fat but one tablespoon.

3. To the Tablespoon fat add chopped chilies, Jalapeno peppers, onions, and garlic. Saute this mixture for about 5 minutes until the onion is translucent. Add tomatoes, chicken stock, tomatillos, vinegar and spices.  Simmer on med heat for 15 to 20 minutes.

chili verde simmering on stove

Chili Verde simmering on stove.

What I used instead of fresh Tomatillos

What I used instead of fresh Tomatillos.

Where I live in rural West Virginia it is hard to find fresh tomatillos and if you do find them they look like this. I did not want to drive 30 minutes to see if I could find them so I used this canned salsa to add the mild richness that they provide in a dish.

Cut tomatillos

Cut tomatillos

They would need  roasted and chopped before being added to the stock pot.

4. After simmering for 15 to 20 minutes it is time to blend the sauce. I do not own a hand held blender so poured  mine into a blender a little at a time. I think this batch filled my blender three times. Blend for several minutes until smooth.

Blender full of green Chili

Blender full of green Chili

return to the stock pot and heat to boiling. The sauce must be hot when added to the jars so that the jars do not break when added to a pressure canner full of hot water.

5. Place browned pork into clean pint jars, filling at least half way to the top. We like more sauce so I use only fill mine 1/2.

6. Next ladle hot sauce over meat using a canning funnel and leaving a one inch head space. Use a rubber spatula to remove any air bubbles between meat. Wipe rim of jar and top with warm lid and rings. Process at 10 pounds pressure for 75 minutes for pints and 90 minutes for quarts.

cleaning rim of jars before canning

Cleaning rim of jars before Canning.

Home made Chili Verde 2015

Home made Chili Verde 2015

This recipe can be made without the added pork if you do not want to add meat to the sauce. I never found any information on how long to process a meat free version so I would continue to process it for the recommended time.

So this weekend my husband and I were able to eat a wonderful breakfast with this sauce. I made two large plates of Huevos Rancheros with Chili Verde. I made them with a warm tortilla on the bottom, topped with refried beans, two fried eggs, chili verde, and shredded cheese. A spicy way to start the day and a great way for my family to eat up all of those hot peppers!

Huevos Rancheros for breakfast on a cold morning.

Huevos Rancheros for breakfast on a cold morning.

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Categories: canning, gardening, pepper /chilies, peppers, Pork, seeds | Tags: , , , , , , | 5 Comments

Seeds, Magical, Mystical and Divine

Yesterday as I stood at the dock of our local feed store, Southern States, I watched small pellets of snow falling in the cold morning air. Yet when I looked closer at the mysterious dust that slowly covered the roof of my car and the shoulders of my sweater I realize that the white dusting is not snow at all but seeds. Seeds are wafting down through the air from the milling machine that I hear grinding away in the loft of the steel building. Some of the pieces appear as crushed corn, others are millet, cotton seeds and shells from soybeans. The mixture is for bird seed, I think, and the finches swoop in, landing on top of a stack of pallets at the end of the dock to steal what no human would want. My hair and sweater  are white in a matter of minutes and the older farmer standing next to me laughs at the sight of our hair white with corn dust. What a strange and wonderful way to start my day. It Reminded  me how wonderful, powerful and mysterious seeds are and what they can mean for us.

Cars at loading dock at Southern States

Cars at loading dock at Southern States

When I returned from Southern States I also started to clean out our garden. Trying to gather up the last of the died plants. The tomato vines,the pepper stocks, the Zinnia stems and a rotten watermelon are all that is left of the work that my garden did over the summer. As I move through the rows I come to Christopher’s Zinnia’s that bloomed like wild this summer. They died in mid bloom by a hard frost about a week ago. They are all that remains standing in the garden and still have seeds in side the brown dead blooms.  I though to myself that I should gather up some of the seeds for next year before the birds discover that in side this wrinkled crusty shell  there lives a hundred small seeds.

Deafd Zinnia Bloom in the Garden 2015

Dead Zinnia Bloom in the Garden 2015

So I gathered up about 12 seed pods and headed to the house to pull them apart. Remembering that before the frost I pulled the last few rounds of green beans off the plants to store as seeds for next year. I have been waiting for them to dry  so I can shuck the seed pods to store them for planting next year. So my garden will be full of green beans again.

Shucked green beans, leather britches or seeds for next years green beans

shucked green beans, leather britches or seeds for next years green beans

Dry Shucked green beans, Leather Britches, or dried white beans

Dry Shucked green beans, Leather Britches, or dried white beans

Then over the weekend my family also gathered the chestnuts and hickory nuts in our yard and the surrounding woods. this means I will have a few for winter cooking. The hickory nuts looked like they were ready crack open their hard shells and begin to grow if only the weather was getting warmer not colder.

ripe chestnuts in the back yard

ripe chestnuts in the back yard

Hickory Nuts with shell

Hickory Nuts with shell

What still surprises me every year that I plant a garden is the power inside a seed. That each one is the renewed life of what was lost only a few months ago. It really should come as no surprise to any of us that we instructed by Dr’s to eat more seeds, get more of our protein from seeds and try to get our oils from seeds instead of animal fats. They hold inside their shells the power and energy to renew life. They are the grand magic that holds with in them all the secrets of our living world. With just a little water and warmth, they begin the life cycle again in hopes that life will continue again, that we will see the spring flowers, see the fruit of their labor and again reap a harvest. It is miraculous that some how every thing we see in nature comes from a seed.

The seed is also one of the most used symbols in religious texts and a common metaphor used for writers and poets. It is the seeds ability to transform from a small brown stone, shedding its shell, pushing through the hard earth and reaching up to grow, that is stunning. How they survive the elements and sprout leaves and roots to one day become some thing enduring that fascinates me. It is hard to believe that about 6 months ago, this was just an avocado pit, a seed, that I lovingly planted in hopes of one day having an Avocado tree of my own.

Avacado tree from seed

Avocado tree from seed

One day the tree will be taller and stronger than me. It should live longer then I do and could produce fruit for generations. It can produce more seeds than we can count and one day may be the parent to a hundred trees. So with in one seed is the energy and potential to create hundreds if not thousands of trees. This is why the great texts  use the metaphor of the seed. To teach us about life, death and rebirth. That nothing really ever ends that it is only a transformation from one form to another. The seed lives in the fruit of the living tree, becomes the hardened seed when death and harvest comes, to sprout and regenerate when the seed roots,and finally grows sharing its new life. If only we could look at our lives in the same way and see the beauty that is found in the seed. That death and life are only part of a greater pattern of events. That life is the bounty of nature and that we are just simply seeds at heart.

popular tree seed pod

popular tree seed pod

Categories: Change, Fall, Foraging, gardening, Nuts, Preserving, seeds, water | Tags: , , , , , , , , | 6 Comments

Fall is Coming and so is My Barnwood Builder Episode

Fall has started to arrive here in West Virginia, squirrel and archery hunting season have begun, making my husband and son fidgety to get back out in the woods.The garden that I have not had time to write about was good and I am collecting the last of the tomatoes, peppers and squash this week. The aroma of roasting chilies and sweet peppers fills my house as the garden finally says good-bye. As the weather finally turns cold, I  will be ready to snuggle up and watch the new season of the Barnwood Builders. The season starts the first week in Oct and my families episode  airs  Sunday the 1st of Nov. So the weekend of Halloween looks full. Take the kids out Trick-or-Treating Saturday night and celebrate my birthday on Nov 1st with the a viewing party that includes cake and ice cream and a few close friends and family. The night should be unforgettable and I am still trying to figure out how this all happened to me.

I will post a reminder that week for those who want to see the show on the DIY or GAC networks that evening. Thanks for the support and cant wait to see what they have done with my little story.

Cinderella garden pumpkin

Cinderella garden pumpkin.

Queens Island blue squash

Queens Island blue squash.

Large chili pepper plant loaded and read to pick

Large chili pepper plant loaded with peppers.

two gallon harvest bucket

Two gallon harvest bucket.

fall leaves on wet step

Fall leaves on wet step.

Categories: About me, Barnwood Builders, Birthday, bow season, family memories, Halloween, Home Decor, home improvement, home remodeling, seeds | Tags: , , , , , , , , | 6 Comments

Seeds and Plants from the Seed Savers Exchange: Product Test of Live Transplants.

I am bit behind in writing about the seedlings and plants that we are trying out from the Seed Saver Exchange. I planted 32 (3 plugs are flowers from my mother) plugs of vegetable seeds and all but one sprouted and it is a cabbage seed plug so I am very pleased with the germination of these heirloom seeds. My rate would be in the upper 98%. With using a new company for my garden I wanted to try a few of their transplants to see if the extra price would be worth it in the future. Replacement plants are free of charge or exchanged for seeds. I was hoping to get away with not having to seed start my tomatoes and peppers in the future.

36 seed plugs ready for transplanting... lost a few  seedlings to our new cat.

36 seed plugs ready for transplanting… lost a few seedlings to our new cat.

As I prepared for the transplanting my seedlings, I finally noticed that some on my sprouts looked damaged, from what I had no idea. I discovered after moving the transplants back inside that our new cat may have caused the damage. She seems to like greens and sprouts and has chewed on several and even destroyed one of my house plants that is near her favorite resting spot. I have lost plants to just about everything in the past… dogs digging, rabbits, deer,moles/voles, birds but never in my life to a house cat. At least she seems to like tomatoes the best and I have more than my share of seedlings so this will not effect my garden plan.

I also received my  transplants in the mail just yesterday. The the plants were in plastic pots surrounded in a cardboard tube. Then all four tubes get packed in a bigger box. With a small cardboard shield over the top soil in each tube.  Here is a photo to give you a better idea what I got. The plants get delivered by UPS and left out on our front step. An e-mail message  arrived from the company that the plants were due to arrive that afternoon. They hoped this would prevent them from being frozen or roasted in the boxes . I love that they warn people that they are on the way so I could be looking for them.

Transplant tomatoes arrive from the Seed Saver Exchange

Transplant tomatoes arrive from the Seed Saver Exchange

At this point I had unpacked the plants as  genially as possible but dirt still went everywhere. The shield was off the smallest plant and it was almost up rooted in the tube. This is after I “Fixed” the plant back into the pot. Then as the instructions state  they needed watered ASAP. It was then that I noticed the damage to one of the large Brandy Wine tomato plants the stem had broken off at pot level. I removed the stem and water them all  putting them with the rest of my transplants. In this case they only look about two weeks ahead of mine and the Brandy Wine looks like it is ready to plant but the Amish past is still very frail. I will contact the Exchange about the one broken plant in the tube and the tiny Amish Paste. I want to see if instead of plants I can get Straw Flower seed for my flower box and crook neck squash seeds that my older son wanted in the garden.

As an update over the weekend 4 days from the plants arrival, the one damaged plant and one small plant both died. So my results  were about 50 % and that is not good enough for me. I will not buy transplants again any time soon as they are about 4 dollars a piece and are a lot of trouble to unpack. The plants were not as large as I had hoped even though they look healthy. I will stick with the seeds and start them at home and save myself the money for the plants to buy more plugs in the future. I wonder if they could package them better if they were to fallow some other companies shipping methods for plants. The bare root method would seemingly work here but I am just guessing. Large plastic bag, live plants with bare roots inside a box? I just think even the peat moss plugs that I use would be more stable to ship then plastic pots  with loose dirt and more earth friendly in the long run.

Now it is time to get started with the garden work that will be over the next three weekends. We are tilling up a new space and that will be a lot of work and getting some kind of fence up will take some time to finish so as always I am feeling behind and we have so much going on inside the house. Thank goodness Tom likes having a garden as much as I do and he will chip in his time to till and put the fence up for me. The rest is usually up to me and I think I am up to it as the days get warmer and longer I just feel the need to get in the dirt again.

Just in case the Seed Savers Exchange is hard up for the seeds to replace the plants, I will ask them if they have this seed….. They make me so happy just thinking about them. Happy Gardening from Mountain Mama.

Doughnut seeds

Doughnut seeds

 

Categories: flowers, gardening, Non-GMO, product testing, Seed Savers Exchange, seeds | Tags: , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Seed Shopping with Seed Savers Exchange

Tom and I have decided to try to have a totally Heirloom garden this year. We want to join the Seed Savers Exchange to save Heirloom , untreated, Non hybrid, Non- GMO seeds. So with a new garden and new seeds comes new challenges. We do raise our garden in an organic way so saving heirloom seed just makes sense. This is the process that my aunt, uncle and grand  parents  used to raise their gardens.They raised a crop, saved the best seeds and planted again, simple, direct and generally easy if the crop was healthy. This process does not work very well  with Hybrids. Have you ever tried to grow a fruit tree from seed at the grocery store? Have you ever tried to grow an acorn squash and gotten some other kind of squash from the seeds you collected… I bet you have!

Carnival squash... maybe ? seeds from store bough acorn squash hybrid

Carnival squash… maybe ? seeds from store bough acorn squash hybrid

The above photo is of an experiment Christopher and I did two summers ago. If you find the most wonderful vegetable, and want to grow it from seeds that you save, will you eventually grow what the parent crop was? The answer is No in most cases… and this is proof that Hybrids are not reliable in self-sustaining gardening. This is the result of growing a seed from a Hybrid Acorn squash from a Kroger grocery store. I understand that in this case the “Squash” needs more water to grow to a bigger size but I am thinking that this is not growing an acorn squash at all but a pumpkin crossed with an acorn squash.

I am looking harder at what I want to accomplish with my garden. First, I want to feed my family healthier food. Second, I want to learn better ways to become a self-reliant person. Third, I want to be able to reseed my garden if that time comes that I need to or that I want to. Seriously, I think that it is really wonderful that if I save seeds I can share them with others who also like the plants I grow and they too will have their own means to feed them selves without ever having to go to a manufacture to get food seeds or be left with seeds that do not produce.I also like the idea of seed sharing and  the history around some seeds. At the Seed Savers Exchange you are able to get the history of every seed in the catalog. Really cool stuff here if you like to know about where you food really comes from.  Here is a typical page in the catalog.

Bean pages of Seed Savers Catalog

Bean pages of Seed Savers Catalog

So today I am in the process of making a list of the plants and seeds I want to grow in the new garden. I have Sweet potato roots ( from stock that is 40 years old) from last year stored away and ready to sprout for this years garden. I will start them in my window in about two weeks. I want acorn squash that actually grows acorn squash, lots of pole beans (snap and dry), cantaloupe, watermelon, tomatoes, peppers (hot and sweet), brussels sprouts,cabbage, pumpkin and parsnips. I think that will get me through this year with a small new garden.

My husband is the one who encourages all of this craziness and is the one who also thinks we should join in some of the seed conservation. So I will become a member and start to save mostly pepper and bean seeds this year. With help from Heritage Farm  and their seed saving tutorials and classes I will donate back some of my seeds and store some for our families future use. Then share them with my friends and family and hope to keep at least one seed alive for the future. (I think I am seeing a trend here look up My Brothers gift of Memories and see why)

Again for more information on the Seed Saver Exchange and how it all works visit their website and look at the large verity of flowers, vegetables and apple trees these people are trying to save and share for future generations.

Seed Savers Exchange.

Categories: family health, gardening, heirlooms, Non-GMO, organic food, Preserving, pumpkin, Seed Savers Exchange, seeds, Sweet Potato | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | 5 Comments

My Brothers Gift of Memories

I know it maybe a little late for talking about Christmas gifts but this one just keeps me thinking about my childhood. The gift is really nothing of great value and  would not have any meaning unless you had grown up in a plant and flower loving family. My older brother who is now in his 60’s sent me a package in plain yellow envelope with a simple letter. The letter was short but made tears come to my eyes. The letter folded in half and on the interior page was  8 small hand-lettered packages. Each packet contained seeds. Really who in their right mind cries over seeds, I guess I do. As I read the letter from my brother it informed me that many of the seeds inside the letter were seeds from plants that grew in the yard of my childhood home. The home in Boulder, Co. sold in 1994 and I had already moved here to West Virginia.

letter with seed packets on the back

letter with seed packets on the back

My garden loving brother had for several years lovingly transplanted, split, graphed, stolen, seed headed many of the flowers from my mothers gardens. So when the house that we had all lived in almost 40 years  sold the flowers had moved to his home. He worked for years to cultivate and love them into mature plants and trees. Years passed and I had only randomly thought about her gardens and the love that my mother had for her rose gardens. It was a ritual to go see the Home and Garden show in Denver every spring. We talked with vendors and eat fun food and spent just a little money on fresh plants for the yard that every year. I had forgotten about many of them, until this Christmas.

While talking with my close friend Alex recently, I asked him about his collections and why do we even have collections. We debated about the need for all of us in some form or another to have physical things to recharge our memories. That some objects can bring about very strong memories responses, good and bad. That as humans we hold on to things that are meaningful to us. In my case my brother had the for thought to save plants and seeds. I on the other hand was raising a young child and taking care of a farm full of animals. I had no time to worry about what was being left behind at the house at the time.

As I opened one of the packets, a flood of memories flowed through my mind. The long hot Colorado summers with a yard full of flowers, bushes and trees. Where every other summer the money plant bloomed in beautiful purple flowers and by fall the flowers had turned into seed pods. I would ask my mother to pick and play with them with great joy. The seeds inside these paper pods look like penny’s between thin transparent paper. I would spend hours pealing the pods apart and collecting the seeds for play money or tossing them into the wind to sprinkle the world with new plants. I loved these flowers and missed them later in life. My eyes tear up at the thought of asking my mother if I could play with the pods. I am sure the she knew that I would eventually bring a huge spray of the flower pods into the house for her and  I would also destroy most of the others as I “played” with the delicate paper pods.

 

money plant, lunaria

Money Plant, Lunaria, flower catalog photo

The other packets held the seeds of other memorable flowers such as Oriental Poppies with Their huge orange flowers. My Mother had a bird bath garden surrounded by the blazing orange blooms. I loved that they were the only flower bed in our yard that never needed weeding. The flowers were so tightly packed that you could not see the soil between stalks. I loved to fill the bird bath and water the poppies. We watched as the huge buds would form in the heat of summer and as if they knew the hottest day of summer they would pop open shining their faces back at the sun. Their would be hundreds in bloom at once, drawing bees and birds alike. I would watch the stalks all summer as the blooms would fade and the petals fell to the ground. I would wait until the tall thin stalks dried and the seed pods would open and collect 4 or 5 in my hands and shake the tiny black seeds into my hands. Hundreds maybe thousands would fall from the hallow shell into my sweaty palms. Amazed I would wonder why one flower could produce so many life-giving seeds.

large orange poppy. thanks to the burpee catalog

large orange poppy. thanks to the Burpee catalog

The letter also contains Sage, with the purple flowers that love the hot weather of Colorado. The White Anemone that grew under the eve of the car port along with Larkspur and Columbine. Chives and Garlic that grew out back in a garden that my brother started while I was in 8th grade. He was 25 and just beginning to discover his love of gardening. All these flowers/ plants are over 30 years old and I knew them day in and day out. I know them as well as I still remember my first address and phone #.

As I fished up my conversation with my friend Alex, who collects toys and other nostalgia from our childhood, I realized how wonderful it is to travel back to those places and times. We talked about shucking peas, how many times we had watched Batman, what songs and music made us remember the “good old days”.  I shared with him my plan to not only plant these seeds but share my love of gardening and flowers with my son and  grand-daughter. They are the 3rd and 4th generations of my family to see, love and pick these flowers. The seeds were not only a gift from the past but a gift to the future. The future that started with old seeds and will end with this Grand MaMa having little hands bring her bouquets of fresh flowers from my yard.

I can never express how wonderful my brothers gift is, but I thank him for holding on to a part of my childhood that I hand almost forgotten. I love you Bill Lowrey and am so glad you are my brother.

 

Peace rose my mothers favorite rose from the Jackson and Perkins catalog

Peace Rose my mothers favorite rose from the Jackson and Perkins catalog

 The future is all held in the power of just one tiny seed.

Money Plant seeds

Money Plant seeds

Categories: About me, childhood memories, Colorado, Family, nostalgic, seeds | Tags: , , , , , , , , | 10 Comments

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