Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Cliffs Of Moher

We recently returned from a trip to the UK.  We spent most of our time in England, but took a few days to visit Ireland.  Neither of us had ever been there and it seemed a worthwhile side trip.

We did the usual things a tourist does in Dublin, pub visits, and a tour of the Guinness Storehouse.  That was a fun self-guided tour.  I'm not a huge Guinness fan, but the tour was fun!


We also took a day- long bus tour across Ireland, making several stops. The main stop was the Cliffs of Moher.  They are steep imposing cliffs on the western shore of Ireland.  Perhaps you remember them from the Princess Bride?   They were used for the Cliffs Of Insanity  This was where Fezzik climbed the rope pulling Buttercup and her captors with him.  No one would be able to follow them.  It was INCONCEIVABLE!


The day was overcast and rainy, but the rain stopped for us each time we stepped out of the bus to see something new.  Is this the luck of the Irish?  Not sure.


We stopped a bit farther on.  There were acres and miles of nothing but stone with small outcroppings of grass.  The guide told us that the British had cut down all the trees.  All of them.  The winds eroded the soil and this is what is left.  They are trying to reforest areas that were clear cut, but without much soil that will be a daunting task.


I saw this stone formation and wonder what caused it.  It looks like the teeth of a front loader on a tractor, but it is stone.


We enjoyed our brief overview of Ireland and vacationing with Trista.  Lee especially enjoyed the weather.    Imagine, cool and overcast in JULY!  He may be planning to move.

Thursday, July 14, 2016

Avocado Cream Cheese Sandwiches.

My daughter in law recently told me that my son used to bring her avocado and cream cheese sandwiches.  I had never heard of such a thing and was instantly intrigued.

Because avocado and cream cheese are both delicious, but rather bland, I decided to use some spices to add some flavor.  I used King's Hawaiian Sweet Rolls to make sliders, but any bread would do.

Avocado Cream Cheese Sandwiches

2-4 oz. cream cheese
1 large ripe avocado
1 teaspoon lime juice, to  add flavor and prevent browning
1/4 teaspoon garlic salt
1/2 teaspoon curry
1/2 teaspoon cumin
6 King's Hawaiian Sweet Rolls, or bread of choice.  Toast if desired.  I desired.


Stir the cream cheese until softened and smooth.  Add the avocado and lime juice and mash them together.


Add the spices you like.  Don't overwhelm the flavor.  I used cumin and curry.  You could also use the flavored cream cheese in the deli case.  In this case, you shouldn't add any additional spices or flavoring


Spread a generous portion on the bread of choice.  Serve with fruit and iced tea for a light summer meal.

Saturday, July 2, 2016

Peach Tea

In the summer I drink a lot of iced tea.  I also like Snapple iced tea, particularly the Peach Tea.  In order to keep my sugar consumption lower, I tend to drink the diet version.

My aunts like to make iced tea by boiling water and adding a bunch of tea bags.  After they steep, they pour the concentrated tea over a pitcher filled with ice.  It is probably better to let the hot tea cool a bit before you add it to the icy pitcher.  I do, because I don't want the rapid change in temperature to crack the glass pitcher.

Snapple is delicious, but can get expensive.  It is currently peach season, so I bought a bunch and sacrificed a few to the iced tea I wanted to make.

The first batch of iced tea, I used one peach.  The tea was insufficiently peachy.  The second batch I made was with two peaches and was peachier.  Because I was trying to keep this low calorie, in order to eat high calorie other stuff, I used Splenda to sweeten the tea.

Peach Tea

3 cups water
2 peaches, roughly chopped.
6 bags Red Rose Tea, or tea of your choice
1/2 cup Splenda

Chop the peaches up in medium chunks.  Don't bother to peel them, but remove the pit. 


Place the peaches in a large sauce pan and add the water.  Bring it to a boil.  Boil for about 15 minutes or until very soft.


Remove the pan from the heat and add the tea bags.  Let them steep for about 4 minutes.  You don't want to do this too long.  Tea can become bitter, so remove and toss the tea bags.

Add the Splenda or regular sugar to taste.  I used a heaping 1/2 cup of Splenda.  I like sweet tea, but not syrup tea as is frequently served in the south.  Stir to combine.  Add a few ice cubes to cool the tea a bit more.


Pour the peach tea mixture through a strainer into a pitcher filled with ice.  Use the back of a spoon to mash the softened peaches and get as much flavor into the tea as you can.  Discard the remainder of peach and peel.


Stir to chill and serve over ice.  Or place in the refrigerator for a treat all day long.

Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Blueberry Walnut Pancakes

When I find a recipe in a paper or magazine that I want to make, I cut or tear it out and add it to the pile.  I have a big pile.  When I can't decide what I want to fix for the next week, I dig through the pile.  I did that recently. 

What does it say about me that most of the recipes in my pile involve flour and sugar?  I am convinced it means I love spoiling those that I feed. 

I have been saving a recipe for pancakes that I found in Parade magazine that I get with the Sunday paper.  You shouldn't make pancakes for two people, so I waited until we had company and made them.

Blueberry Walnut Pancakes

2 cups buttermilk
1 egg
1 3/4 cups flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
3 Tablespoons butter, melted
1/2 cup frozen or fresh blueberries
1/3 cup chopped walnuts

Melt the butter first so that it will cool a bit and not curdle the eggs when added to the batter.

Mix the flour, baking powder, baking soda, sugar and salt in a large bowl.   Mix the egg and the buttermilk in a medium bowl and add to the dry ingredients, stir to combine.  Add in the melted (and slightly cooled) butter. 


Let the batter sit for about 15 minutes.  You can also make the batter and let it sit overnight in the refrigerator for a fast and easy breakfast.  In fact, I may add this to the B&B repertoire for the guests that need to get up and dash.  I used this time to set the table and heat up the griddle. I used oil on the griddle to prevent sticking.  You may also use butter.


Pour about 1/4 cup of batter on the griddle and then drop about 5 or 6 blueberries and 4 or 5 walnut pieces.  Actually, I filled the griddle with pancake circles and then added blueberries and walnut pieces to all of them  If you are using frozen berries, you should keep some wet paper towels nearby.  Your fingers will turn blue!  You will want to wipe them after each batch of pancakes are blueberried.  If that is not a word, it should be.  I can think of many recipes that will benefit from being blueberried.


Cook until lightly brown and the edges are set, then turn the pancakes.  Cook until they are lightly browned again, or about 4 minutes on each side. 


Serve with butter and syrup.  And coffee.  And OJ.  Maybe even bacon!  Accept adulation from all.  Post the recipe so someone will make them for you one day.

Next time I may double the berries and nuts.  It couldn't hurt.

Friday, June 24, 2016


The last few days have been full of dramatic weather.  There has been thunder, lightning and near constant rain.  This has resulted in some flooding in our small town of Buchanan. 

Buchanan's famous swinging bridge may soon be a floating bridge.


It is not the worst flooding Buchanan has ever seen.  We weren't here, but have heard 1985 was a bad year for that.  But the James River is coming up pretty high and worrying some of the people on Lowe Street.


This picture was taken five minutes later and the water is still rising.

The road in front of the Twin River Outfitters has flooded and they are moving their boats to higher ground.  Parts of the carnival grounds and the park are under water.


The James is swift and brown with lots of muddy water, trees and debris racing down river.  Not a good day for river travel or a leisurely boat ride.

I contacted a future B&B guest who is staying with us and then going out on the river, to make sure the Outfitters will be taking out boats next week and they assured her that things would be back to normal on Monday.


The Buchanan Carnival starts next week.  The water should have receded by then, but it may be quite muddy the first few days.


The closest tree line is normally at the edge of the embankment down to the James River. 


The gazebo in the park is partly underwater.



The north end of Pico Road is flooded.


The people of Buchanan have been through all this before.  Now that the rain has stopped the river will crest and start to recede.  And life will get back to normal!

Wednesday, June 22, 2016


We recently went to visit our granddaughter in California.  We visited our son and daughter-in-law, too.  But Rachel was the focus of this particular visit.  Lee hadn't been to see her and was anxious to do so.


The cat was not anxious for us to leave.  If I ever visit you and all my clothes have cat hair on them, just know that I really did wash them before I left.

Naturally Rachel is the smartest, most beautiful baby.  You may think your granddaughter is, and we will allow you your small delusion. 


We had a great time and enjoyed every minute with them.  I wish they lived closer to us.  But I doubt we will move back to California, dry and crowded.  Virginia isn't dry and Botetourt County isn't crowded. 

We hope they will move closer to us, but that doesn't seem likely.

So we will visit often and hope they will visit here often.


But we will miss Rachel.

Monday, June 20, 2016

Hay, there


We had a wet winter.  The hot summer took its time getting here.  Lately it has been hot and dry and now it is time to cut hay.  Other parts of the county were cutting hay last month, but the area we live in warms up later from winter and they always cut here long after we see other farms cutting their hay.


There is local farmer that has cows and has cut our hay for years.  We used to have horses and he would make some smaller round bales for them, keeping most of the hay for himself.  Now that we no longer keep horses, he keeps it all. 


Some people wonder why we don't have him pay us or why we don't sell our share of the harvest.  He has always been most accommodating of our needs.  He has helped to bring the hay into the barn.  He also cuts the hay on our steep hills that is mostly a pain for him, but is free mowing for us.  So, he can have as much as he can cut and is welcome to it. 


We love the look of our place after the hay has been cut.  I also love to see the giant round bales of hay waiting in the fields until they are picked up.  When people ask us what we farm here at Shenandoah Gateway Farm, we say hay!