Saturday, March 19, 2011

Violet Pie

Ummm, not really. I only wish the delicate scent could be ingested. I think people do candy violets...maybe one day I will try. This time I settled for their place as intoxicating scent/visual. Taking note from Barbara Kingsolver in her pursuits to eat locally I made an orange chiffon pie for our local fundraising event: The Hyampom Pie Auction. Oranges grow about two hours from here. This is outside of the range the Kingsolvers set for themselves in Animal Vegetable Miracle , but I forgive myself given that there is fairly extreme undeveloped mountainous terrain between here and there.

Orange Chiffon Pie with Chocolate Cookie Crumb Crust

1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 (1/4 ounce) envelope unflavored gelatin
2 tablespoons lemon juice
2 teaspoons grated orange peel
1/2 cup orange juice
1 teaspoon Cointreau or other orange flavoring
4 large fresh eggs, separated
1/2 teaspoon cream of tartar
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1 cup whipping cream, whipped
1 (9-inch) crumb crust

Prepare the crust first

1 package chocolate cookies wafers
1/4 cup sugar
6 tablespoons melted butter

Grind cookies in a food processor with sugar. Place into pie tin. add butter. mix to coat all crumbs. Press crust firmly into place to fill bottom and edges of pie tin. Set aside.

To make the pie:

In a medium saucepan, stir together first addition of sugar (1/2 cup), gelatin, lemon juice and orange peel. Stir in orange juice, Cointreau and egg yolks until blended. Cook over low heat, stirring constantly until gelatin is dissolved, about 5 minutes. remove from heat. Chill, stirring occasionally, until mixture mounds slightly when dropped from spoon, 30-45 minutes.

Meanwhile, in a large bowl, beat egg whites with cream of tartar at high speed until foamy. Add remaining 1/4 cup sugar, 1 tablespoon at a time, beating constantly until sugar is dissolved and whites are glassy and stand in soft peaks. Gently fold whipped cream along with chilled egg yolk mixture into egg whites. Pile mixture into prepared pie shell. Chill until firm, at least three hours. Garnish with violets and candied orange peel.

Candied Orange Peel

6 lemon peels, cut into 1/4 inch strips
4 orange peels, cut into 1/4 inch strips
2 cups white sugar
1 cup water
1/3 cup white sugar for decoration

Place peels in a large sauce pan and cover with water. bring to a boil over high heat. Boil for 20 minutes. Drain and set aside.

In a medium sauce pan, combine 2 cups sugar and 1 cup water. bring to a boil and cook until mixture reaches thread stage, 230 degrees F (108 C) on candy thermometer, or small amount dropped in cold water forms a soft thread. Stir in peel, reduce heat and simmer 5 minutes. Stir frequently. Drain. Roll pieces, a few at a time, in remaining sugar. let dry on a wire rack for several hours and then store air tight. Or place them onto a pie!

Thursday, March 10, 2011

More about Violets

How can the beauty of a violet be ignored? Even more so does love blossom for this delicate low growing treasure when one whiff of her fragrance is caught. A week ago a friend had a birthday and asked me to make a carrot cake. The white cream cheese icing just seemed to call for more decoration. I went out in the snow and found a little patch that had not been covered. These beauties are small. To gather them takes time. It takes dozens to make an impact. Fortunately these lovelies are profuse. It was satisfying to watch guests at the party dip their noses into the flowers tucked into the icing, inhaling deeply of her perfume.

I will admit I have spent a little bit of time on my hands and knees, on my belly, taking photos of these wonderful gifts from the earth. I fantasize an entire lawn filled with them. I am motivated to this fantasy by a lovely woman, Sis Moss, who passed away at nearly ninety. She gave me some of the violets that now fill my secret garden. Her lawn is filled with them. So romantic. I am satisfied with a small garden where the violets have happily scattered themselves everywhere underfoot in shades of purple, violet and white. Between the violets and the frog song I think I live in a slice of heaven on earth.

As spring progresses the wildflowers just get better and better. I have already spied the first Shooting Stars and Indian Paintbrush at lower elevations. They will appear here in another two weeks as this little micro-climate is colder than that in the valley below. Ever unfolding beauty.

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Frog Song

The crack in the window allows the storm fresh air in along with frog song loud enough to fill my ears  blocking out anything else. I went down to the edge of the pond on Sydney's suggestion. It's like standing at the edge of the stage at a concert. The different members of the orchestra can be heard with more discernment. I can tell when a note pops from the front edge of the water or from further away. Here inside the house the frogs are so loud that the concert comes through the windows and my friends on the phone can hear them! The frogs are loudest at night. I sit on top of the old row boat turned upside down. Outside in the dark it is hearing that takes the lead. Scent of the pond light. The brush of breeze on the face. This storm is warmer. No snow. All the snow has melted now.

I spent a lot of time in with the goats today. When I went outside this morning to check on animals Latifa did not want to eat her grain. Not good. In and out of the goat stall many times and many remedies later I think she might be trending in a better direction. We will see. She was fine yesterday. Main symptoms? She does not want to leave the stall much and she stretches her hind legs out behind her often, elongating her back it seems. I have learned in all the time with goats that when the darkness falls it is Mr. Peanut who snores and nods off first. His sister curls and sleeps quietly nearby. Tinkerbelle still has her nose in the hay. Luna walks to the edges of the sleeping herd and sniffs around. Flora is now in the kidding stall. Her very tiny shape and a 'maybe bulge' makes me think she is not pregnant, but her overall irritability and not wanting to be touched (uncharacteristic) make me think she is a tiny momma to be. I take precautions and give her all the minerals and TLC I offered to Latifa a few weeks ago. Another baby? I'd better start knitting again! One of the two coats I knit has been lost in the bramble. The other Luna still wears. She is growing so fast it might not be for too much longer. Luna is out of newborn and solidly in toddler heading rapidly for little kid.

Sydney has invented a game with Luna, a hide and seek where they run figure eights around the big fir trees in the pen and chase each other. They are fun to watch! A surprise visit today from a delightful family brought Luna out of the stall where mama recovers to romp with  Sadie and Aurora. It seems that young children and goat kids are natural pairs. Luna called to Sadie as they chased each other around. Fun for both all. Aurora is a natural with animals, finding good treats of fir tips to offer Latifa and Flora.