Our life living off the land in our log cabin, breathing fresh mountain air, and getting back to basics.

Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Chimes, Chimes and More Chimes!

I love chimes.  The sound they make resonates deep within me and fills me with serenity.  I have chimes hanging everywhere, all shapes, sizes, tones and styles.  I love when the wind gently rocks some of them around (which ones chime depends on the wind direction)...I also love when the wind is howling and no matter where I am in or around the cabin, I can hear the chimes harmonizing!

My favorite chimes are the ones with deep tones...the tubes of this chime are 3" in diameter and 4' long (it's so big I can't get a picture from top to bottom)...
...and it sounds like this (I had to push it to generate the sounds because we have no breeze accompanying the rain today)...if you receive this blog by email, you may need to click on the post title to be able to see the videos...

This one is not quite as deep sounding but it chimes in a low key (I won't make a video for each one, just a few for your listening pleasure...that is if you like chimes)...

My daughter Jessica gave me this one...when I look at the elephants think of her and smile...elephants never forget
It has a much lighter sound and usually only a few of the chimes ring at the same time because it hangs under the eaves and near the cabin wall...

This is a glass chime and it sits at the corner of the cabin between the logs that jut out...it only chimes when the wind is from the south or west...with a very light and gentle tune.

This one chimes in the mid range...the blue color is a little sparkly when light hits it.

This is more of a mobile than a chime, but it does give gentle tones when the wind hits it right and I like the way the balls glisten when the sun hits them...

This has a nice harmonious melody...

...and these mostly add color but chant lightly with the wind.

This is another deep gong, it's so heavy it only chimes with strong wind from the south or east...

This one chimes frequently but it also sticks together when it gets wet, and then it just swings around...

I even have chimes inside!  They gently sing with the ceiling fans whirring...

Some people don't like chimes...something I really don't understand, but hey, that's what makes the world an interesting place!  Do you like chimes?

Today, ABCWednesday is highlighting the letter C, perfect for a chime lover!  Visit the site for more posts and many thanks to the founder, Mrs. Denise Nesbitt, and to Roger for taking the helm.  And congratulations on the lucky 13th round!

Thanks for reading my blog, you are the best f/f/r/s/f's, see you tomorrow,

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Grilled Pork Chops with Apple & Sage Marinade Reduction

Yesterday was such a beautiful fall like day that I decided to be creative in the kitchen and prepare a meal that could be cooked on the grill...the end result was so good (if I do say so myself...Johny thought it was awesome too) that I want to share the recipe (I love to create in the kitchen, I love it even more when it's a success)!

Grilled Butterfly Center Cut Pork Chops with Apple & Sage Marinade Reduction


1 cup semi-dry white wine
2 apples
2 tbsp fresh lemon juice with pulp
2 tbsp chopped garlic
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
2 tbsp soy sauce
5 or 6 fresh sage leaves, chopped (from our herb garden)

2 butterfly center cup pork chops
fresh green beans (from our garden)
1 shallot
russet potatoes (from our garden)
heavy cream
salt & pepper to taste


Peel and finely grate the apples, adding the lemon juice as you grate to keep the apples from browning.
Whisk together the rest of the marinade ingredients, cover the bowl and put it in the fridge for at least an hour to the flavors can blend.

Forty-five minutes before you grill, liberally cover the chops with the marinade and allow them to rest on the counter, covered loosely.  Set aside about 1/4 cup of the marinade to use while grilling.

Pour the rest of the marinade into a pan (this part I did in the kitchen)...
...and bring it to a rolling boil.  Turn the heat down to low and let it simmer. 
Melt 2 tbsp of butter into the sauce (this was an afterthought so it's not in the ingredients)...and a few more chopped sage leaves (I decided this after tasting the sauce)...
...then use an immersion blender and blend everything together...
...to create a smoother consistency.  Keep the heat on low.

At the same time you are heating the marinade, have your potatoes cubed and in a pot.  Cover the potatoes with water, add a little salt, and boil them until fork tender.  Yes, I am a keep-the-skin-on kind of person...to many nutrients not too!

You also want to have your green beans cleaned with the ends cut off.  Thinly slice the shallots and put them in a bowl with a little olive oil, just enough to wet all the slices.

By this time you want to have your grill heating up.  Put the beans and shallots into a heavy duty sheet of tin foil and drizzle them with a little more olive oil, and salt & pepper to taste.
Use another piece of tin foil to cover the beans.  Fold the sides to create a package and place the package on the top rack of the grill, closing the grill lid.

When your potatoes are fork tender, add butter, heavy cream (or milk) and salt & pepper to taste and mash them. Cover and leave on low heat to stay warm.

Put the pork on the grill and brush some of the marinade on them.  Cook 5 - 7 minutes on each side with the grill lid closed (cooked temp should read 140 degrees)Notice the puffed package of beans...be sure to shake the package periodically to prevent burning, but don't puncture it...you want all that steam in there to keep things moist and flavorful. 
Turn the chops over (I use a timer) and brush more marinade on them, then close the lid and cook for 5 - 7 more minutes.

Take the package of beans off the grill...this is what you end up with.  The sweetness of the beans is enhanced by the shallot...these were divine!

Bring the pot of sauce back to a boil, reducing it further.  I accidentally left the burner on high when I went to get the pork chops, but it worked out perfectly...creating a very thick reduction of the marinade...almost like a really thick apple sauce. 

Put the chops on a clean plate with a little marinade on it and let them rest for 5 minutes.

The end result was a very juicy pork chop with a gently sweet reduced sauce that complemented the pork chop perfectly.   The green beans were divine (good enough to say that a second time!) and the mashed potatoes thick and creamy.  Yes, you see mushrooms there too, we can't have a meal without checking to see if there are wild mushrooms available...Johny sauteed them in a little butter...so good!
We shared a chop, they were too big for one person...and we enjoy leftovers and it means an easy evening in the kitchen will follow! I do know that presentation is everything, but I wanted to keep all the components separated to be sure I could taste the distinct flavor of each menu item.  If you were to prepare this, you could put the mashed in the middle of the plate with the chop leaning on them and the reduction on top of it.  The beans could be arranged around one side and the mushrooms on the other. 

This may sound like a complicated meal, but it really isn't.  Perfect for a feels-like-fall day!  If you decide to try it, let me know what you think!

Visit Flour Me With Love and Homestead Barn Hop for more interesting recipes.

Thanks for reading my blog, you are the best f/f/r/s/f's, see you tomorrow,

Monday, July 29, 2013

Feels Like Fall!

Yesterday was a slightly cloudy but wonderfully cool day with little humidity...but today, it feels like fall...delightful in every way...dry...breezy...sunny...cool (cold this morning)...blue sky.  I know I said this yesterday, but I sure do love this mountain cabin living!

Speaking of blue, we are jumping up and down with excitement that our blueberry bushes are producing this year (we haven't had any berries at all the past two years).  They are still a little rosy and holding on to a bit of tart and tang, but this cool weather should sweeten them up!

Speaking of berries, we found a few blackberries ripening...they have been hit hard with all the rain, so finding a few is pleasant.  The ripe ones are still quite sour, but we are hoping the cold kisses a little sweetness into them too!

With winter feeling like it's around the corner, we are really happy that our wood stores are built up...but alas, we don't feel like we should stop chopping (with as wet a spring and summer we've had, we are wondering if winter will also be wet, chilly and bitter) so Johny is going to build two more racks, one in the left corner where you see a pile of logs, and the other at the other end of the racks near the stairs (on the far side where you see Johny, bent over).  Bring it on, Mr. Winter, we're going to be ready!

I hope you don't tire of these mountain views, but on a day like today, I can't help but share...love this view (if you look at the picture of the cabin above, this view is seen when you are standing on the porch on the left side of the cabin just above the wood  racks you see in the picture above).

I do hope you are enjoying your day as much as I am...in celebration of this fall like day, I am creating a marinade/sauce for grilling pork (if it's good I'll be sure to share the recipe) and we will be eating fresh green beans and potatoes (mashed) from our garden ...life is good!

Thanks for reading my blog, you are the best f/f/r/s/f's, see you tomorrow,

Sunday, July 28, 2013

Today's Harvest

It is an absolutely gorgeous day...it's a little cloudy but the humidity is down to 69% and it's 77 degrees in the sun!  Ahhh, love mountain living!

I'm happy to say the garden is still producing nicely, in spite of all the rain...I'm very pleased with all our corn, especially after those heavy winds knocked them down.  I love the look of young, strong corn...the way the soft, shiny silk drapes over the small developing ear...this variety is especially pretty with the red!

We harvested more goodies today...beans and potatoes and squash...
...this is what's underneath all those potatoes and beans...
...the two round ones on the left look to be acorn squash, they were the surprises I told you about a couple weeks ago.  The oblong one in the center is also a surprise, but I have no idea what it is.  I also discovered a tiny butternut looking squash that is growing...using home made compost has many advantages!

I'll close with a few interesting photos...

We are seeing a lot more of the hummingbirds these days...I'm wondering if this one is young because it's chest is not solid white... 

I captured this pollen covered bee flying into this Rose of Sharon bloom...I thought it was interesting...

Sadly, the Pipevine Swallowtail chrysalis I told you about yesterday has not survived...this morning I went to go check on it and it was gone!  Completely gone!  This tells me it was eaten, probably last night by a bat.  C'est la vie!

How's your day been?

Thanks for reading my blog, you are the best f/f/r/s/f's, see you tomorrow,

Saturday, July 27, 2013

Random Little Bits

Since we live 30 minutes out of town, we try to limit those trips to once a week.  This means that we head out with a long list of needs...groceries, supplies and errands...and spend the entire day accomplishing everything on the list.  And today was the day.  We've been in the town of Franklin all day, in and out of the car, doing this and that until everything on the list was crossed off.  For some reason, we're more exhausted after a day in town than we are after a hard day in the garden or chopping and stacking wood!  The good thing is Franklin is surrounded by mountains, so everywhere we drive, this is what we see in every direction...not bad scenery to deal with while running errands, even on a cloudy day!

Since we've been gone all day, I thought I'd share a few little bits about things around here.  This is a glass chime I brought up here from our river place, and hung it up some time ago...it's in a corner of the cabin where the beams jut out, giving it a little protection.  Every now and then, when the wind comes from the south or south west, the chimes sing softly.  I really like them.

This is another Pipevine Swallowtail caterpillar getting ready to make it's cocoon...you can see the string (not sure what that is called) attaching it to the wall...
 ...this is two days after the picture above, and you can see the remains of the exoskeleton it shed before pupating...
 ...I thought that was kind of cool!  Maybe I'll get to see this one emerge...I'll be watching closely!

I told you about my new fly swatter so I could zap and splat those little insects that are eating our cabin...you can see it's gotten quite a bit of use.  I have to say, I do believe there are fewer of those bugs, though I doubt I will ever get them all (and yes, I admit I am feeling some pleasure in splatting them...it's one strategy to save our much loved cabin from them...better than pesticides!).  I have saved one to bring to the Extension service the next time I head into Sylva, to see if they have any solutions.

My last little bit has to do with my scavenging squirrels that I am trying to keep from our bird feeders.  One day I decided to throw a cup of water at the squirrel...I missed...but the squirrel didn't seem very fond of water being tossed in it's direction.  A few days later, Johny came home with couple squirt guns...and the battle has begun!  I do believe it's working, because when they see me coming, they run...it may not be a permanent solution, but it's fun to try to squirt them, and it's harmless. 

The things we do around here to protect our homestead! 

Thanks for reading my blog, you are the best f/f/r/s/f's, see you tomorrow,