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Tuesday, March 30, 2010

A Love Note & Taking Aunt Terry To The Phoenix Zoo...

My 83 year old Aunt Terry and her buddy, Ethel, were in Arizona from Texas for a few days. Aunt Terry (my mom's only sister and my only living aunt) is a gambler and Harrah's gives her trips to different properties they own around the U.S.A.. Well Auntie decided she hadn't seen me in many years so decided to visit Harrah's Ak-Chen Casino in Maricopa, AZ. so she could come visit me. Cool huh?

On March 21st Patrick and I took Aunt Terry and Ethel to the Phoenix Zoo. Below is the bridge across the water leading to the Phoenix Zoo. Side note: As a fund raiser almost 20 years ago the Zoo sold engraved bricks and as a surprise to me for Christmas Patrick bought 2. One for the bridge and one for me to unwrap at home! We looked for & found "our" brick before entering the Zoo. Auntie has emphysema so we rented a wheel chair to make it a little easier on her for touring the zoo. Patrick was pleased to be her "chauffeur". What a guy! Below are photos, in no particualr order, from our zoo trip. I hope you enjoy them as much as we enjoyed our trip. By the way, it was just a gorgeous day to do the zoo!
This is a behind the scenes view of the elephant enclosure.
G'Bye Phoenix Zoo. It was a great visit!!

Monday, March 29, 2010

A to Z Foods ~ Part2 of the Letter J

Grandma J mentioned JuJuBes on her blog today and it forced me to come back here and post an addendum to my A to Z Monday post---Please read my first post too though. Okay?

Short story to do with the candy called JuJuBes. This takes place around 1955 when I was a little kid, in 1st grade. It was Christmas time and I had no real concept of budgeting. Daddy had given me $5 so I could go to the Ben Franklin Store (the local 5 and Dime) to purchase my Christmas presents for the family. I assured him that I was a big girl now and didn't need any help in picking out proper gifts, so he let me walk the few yards across the courtyard from our hardware store to Billy Sick's Ben Franklin. I had 7 people to buy for. Mommy, Daddy, sister Harley, brother Wayne, Aunt Dot, Uncle Jim and Grandma. I remember buying my mother the "famous" dark blue bottle of Evening In Paris eau de cologne, the most expensive gift. I thought the bottle was beautiful and gave no thought to the smell of it's contents---capable of warding off the bubonic plague just as the original eau de cologne was thought to do!! But I digress. I'm sure I got some little metal toy for both my brother and sister, and a hanky for Aunt Dot and Grandma. I'm thinking I got Unc a balsam wood airplane because he was an airplane nut! Well, when it came time to get Daddy's gift I was down to 5cents in my pocket. So, I went to the candy counter and bought a box of JuJuBes for his present. I wrapped all my presents and put them under the tree with all the rest of the gifts. And, as was our tradition, we opened our gifts with family on Christmas Eve. Everyone seemed to appreciate their respective gifts from little Cassie...Then Dad opened his gift. He kind of scowled and held it up for all to see. I remember everyone laughing out loud and my father asking me why I would buy him a box of JuJuBes for a Christmas gift. I confessed I had basically run out of money by the time I got to buying his gift and that was all I could afford. He told me that I was obviously not old enough to go shopping by myself and I sensed his displeasure with my gift. I felt badly about that for quite some time, and of course my big sister never let me live this sad present down for years to come. It doesn't make me sad to reminisce about this. It only makes me ultra aware of how little things like that can stick with you for life. I was always referred to as "ZsaZsa" or the "bubble head" by my family so worked extra hard in school to get top honors to prove I wasn't a brainless blonde.

Ah yes, once again, those were the days my friends! All together now: Poor Cassie!!

A to Z Monday ~ All About Food ~ The Letter J

Not just any jam. Huckleberry Jam. Made by my dear friend Ilse and me! I either picked the berries myself in Idaho or bought them there (highest price $45 a gallon.) from 2004 through 2007. In 2006 Ilse had surgery on her hand and wrist so I did all the grunt work and she barked orders at me. No kidding. She's a real task master when it comes to making jam!! Everything is done to a T: From setting out the pure white clothes used to set the filled jars on, and for wiping the threads before putting on the lids to popping all the air bubbles on each filled jar with a tooth pick. And heaven forbid I not stir the bubbling pot fast enough. She told me I was "stirring like I was playing with it...Speed it up girl!!" I love that lady.

Ilse's getting a bit older and has pain in her legs so we haven't made any jam together the past few years. I made blackberry freezer jam in 2008. It was quite simple and surprisingly tasty, but nothing like Huck Jam. And in 2009 Patrick and I tackled Ilse's Huck Jam recipe together. We set everything up just the way Ilse taught me and it turned out great. You really need 2 people to make this kind of jam if you want it to be perfect. This year Patrick and I will make more Huck jam together. This stuff stays good for a very long time since we give it a boiling water bath, so I have saved a jar from each year...Kind of like a fine wine collection, to be broken out at the appropriate time. he he. Here's our recipe:

Ilse's Huck Jam

6 c. crushed huckleberries

1 package (2oz.) powdered pectin

8 c. sugar

Prepare 9 - 1/2 pint sized canning jars by washing in dish washer. It is important that these jars still be HOT when it is time to fill them, so timing is essential. Wash & drain berries. Put through food processor or whirl in a blender until berries are crushed. (NOT pulverized as it's nice to have a little thickness due to bits of berry!) Measure 6 cups of fruit into large (6 qt.) pot. Stir in the pectin and bring to a slow boil, stirring constantly. Add the 8 cups of sugar and continue to stir bringing mixture to a full, rolling boil. Let the fruit boil exactly 2 minutes. Remove from heat and skim off foam. (We like to eat the foam plain after it cools off.) Pour the jam into clean, warm jars to about 1/4 inch below rim. Pop as many air bubbles on the top of the filled jar as you can and wipe the rims with a clean cloth before sealing lids on tightly. We use rubber jar holders for turning lids tight. Place jars upside down on clean towel for 10 minutes. In the meantime follow the instructions for your canning pot so your water is boiling by the time the filled jars have rested 10 minutes. Set jars in boiling water bath so all are covered with water and then cover with pot lid. Let boil for 20 minutes. Remove jars. Gently wipe dry. Tighten lids again then set on clean towels covering your counter top. Now just sit back and listen for the gentle "plink" that each jar will make as it cools and it becomes vacuum sealed. What a lovely sound!

This recipe can be used with Blueberries, but if you do, be sure to add a squirt of lemon to the fruit or it will be too sweetsy. To clarify the difference between a true Huckleberry and a Blueberry here is what has to say:

Huckleberry: A wild, blue-black berry that closely resembles (and is often mistaken for) the blueberry. The huckleberry, however, has 10 small, hard seeds in the center, whereas the blueberry has many seeds, so tiny and soft that they're barely noticeable. Additionally, the huckleberry has a thicker skin and a flavor that is slightly less sweet and more astringent. Unless you pick them yourself, or have a friend who does, it's unlikely that you'll find fresh huckleberries because they're not cultivated. They're in season from June through August and are good eaten plain or in baked goods such as muffins or pies.

Jen has a list of other A to Z bloggers over at her blog, Unglazed. Go visit her. She won't bite, unless you look like food!! Have a great A to Z Monday. Blessings on all who pass this way.

love, Cassie

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Shadow Shot Sunday ~ #10 ~ Moose In The Shadows

This is our resident moose in Idaho.

She comes in out of the shadowy forest to drive our dogs bonkers!

For more Shadow Shots mosey on over to Tracy's Hey Harriet blog. Have a great weekend.

love, Cassie

Monday, March 22, 2010

A to Z Food Monday ~ The Letter I

I love icing! Just about any kind of icing. In fact, while looking through for icing pictures I was almost tempted to go into the kitchen and whip up a batch just to eat by the spoonful! (I did not.) When I was a kid I always used to say I was going to make an icing cake when I grew up and eat the whole thing myself. When I was a skinny little waif (until about 42yrs. of age) I actually did use to eat icing just plain. Those were the days my friends!!

I apologize for using stock photos 2 weeks in a row. My 83 year old Auntie was in town this weekend and Patrick and I were entertaining her. I'll post photos from our visit to the Phoenix Zoo soon. Here's hoping you all get to eat some icing from the top of a cake or from between an Oreo cookie this week! Now I'm heading over to Jen's to see what all the other A to Z-bees are up to. Come join me... just click HERE.

love, Cassie

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Happy St. Patrick's Day!!

We didn't make it to the St. Paddy's Day Parade this year, so I'm posting some of my favorite photos from last years parade in Phoenix. Ennis Ireland is the Sister City to Phoenix. Hope you all have a wonderful St. Patrick's Day. If you drink some of that green beer, please have a designated driver. Here's a special Irish blessing to all who pass this way today:
May the road rise up to meet you.May the wind always be at your back.May the sun shine warm upon your face,and rains fall soft upon your fields.And until we meet again,May God hold you in the palm of His hand.
love, Cassie

Monday, March 15, 2010

A to Z Monday ~ The Letter H

I Hate Honeydew (& cantaloupe) melon. The smell reminds me of the ether they used for my surgeries as a child!
Since I don't have any great H food photos for this week,

here is my pathetic attempt at H poetry

Haddock & Halibut are two yummy fishes.

Heavy cream on Huckleberries another of my fave dishes.

Horseradish is lovely on sandwiches or eggs.

I love nothing better than Huge King Crab legs!!

I'll stay away from Haggis, Ham, Honeydews and Horse.

Not one of those H's tempt me as first course.

And though I love Norwegians their Herring leaves me cold.

I could go without those fishies 'til I grow verrrry old.

But bring on the Halva, seeds with Honey as binder.

To eat this confection I need no reminder!

And Hummus is awesome when dipped with a pita.

Who'd have guessed that chickpeas would have ME as an eatta!

I've run out of H words that tickle my fancy.

So get over to Jen's blog ~ Yes, git now! Go Nancy!!

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Shadow Shot Sunday ~ Take Me Out To The Ball Game

These Shadow Shots were all taken last Saturday at a Spring Training baseball game between the Oakland A's and the Los Angeles Angels. I'm sure the spectators thought I was a bit nuts taking pictures of the ground! I hope you enjoy 'the game'!
For more Shadow Shot Sunday bloggers just click HERE and it will take you over to Tracy's place, Hey Harriet!

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Hoot 'n Holler Tree Farm

This is the road in front of Hoot 'n Holler. When I was 14 my friend, Claire Stopyra, and I started up our old Willy's Jeep and got it on the road...then it died. Neither of us knew what we were doing and started panicking since we were alone and knew we'd get in trouble if caught. Luckily Jerry Farrell, one of an all boy farm family that lived in the area, came along and got the Jeep started back up and parked where it belonged. I didn't say a word about this, but word got back to my parents & I got in trouble. After that Daddy saw to it that I learned to drive the Jeep, so I was able to drive a stick shift and today I still drive 4-on-the-floor!! This is a shot of Lake Wayne and the swimming pool. The lake was named after my younger brother. When we girls would complain that we didn't have anything named after us Dad always said the tree farm was named after my sister, Harley and me. I was Hoot and she was Holler. This is the old barn. Daddy used to let a farmer store hay in it and we kids would play in the hay loft. One summer when I was about 10 I fell from the top story of the hay loft and got a concussion. That's probably why I am how I am now. (Ha! I said it first!) The stone walls in this photo are dry set that an Italian stone mason named Acey Panachi (not sure of the spelling) laid for my dad the summer after he built the fireplace. John from Going Gently has inspired me to post these pictures since he is helping to build a dry set stone wall on the church land adjoining his property.
This was our summer home, Hoot 'n Holler tree farm. When Daddy bought it I was 4 years old and it was an old, dilapidated farm house with a barn, chicken coops, milk house. He remodeled the house a little at a time and had the fireplace built. Before that he had the Lake & pool dug. Then he had Christmas trees planted on about 60 acres all around us. The tall pines you see in these photos were tiny little trees when I was a kid. I was amazed when I went back to Pennsylvania and went to see the old place at how huge the trees had become. It was an idyllic place to spend time. I used to play in the creek behind the house even after the pool was dug, because it was full of frogs, crayfish (we called them craw daddies) and minnows which I would spend hours catching. In the winter we would toboggan, sled and ice skate on the lake. Sometimes we would have ice skating or tobogganing parties. Daddy's first cousin Doris,her daughter Sheila and best friend Helen had a trailer house at the farm for a few years too. I remember that Doris had the most beautiful garden where the pool was eventually built. She had a real green thumb. Also she had a section in the bottom of the barn where she stored a bunch of her stuff. We were told by Dad that we were NOT allowed to go into Doris' storage area. Well of course, you know the forbidden is always the most tempting. One time we were snooping and found that Doris had a cotton candy machine stored there. And there was a sign that not only said "Cotton Candy", but there was cotton candy on the sign!! Of course I had to sample this pink, cottony confection. Only problem was, this was not really cotton candy. It was spun glass made to look like cotton candy. Yes, I spit that out fast & that was the last time we snooped in cousin Doris' stuff.
The front body of water was our swimming pool, complete with white sand beach and dock with diving board. It was right next to our lake, Lake Wayne, which was stocked with bass, pickerel, bullheads, sunfish (bluegills) and bull frogs. There were also some good sized snapping turtles! Of course, that was 50 years ago and the pool has since been in decline. I guess there are still some fish in the lake. Daddy sold the house and a dab of lake frontage when I was in my 20's. That made me sad, as some of my best memories from childhood were spent at Hoot 'n Holler.
My 1st cousin, Mary, and me revisiting Hoot 'n Holler. Mary (my father's only sister, Auntie Vi's oldest) lives in Indiana but still had childhood memories of visiting us at Hoot 'n Holler.

All of these photos were taken in 2008 when Patrick and I went back East for my 40th high school reunion. I have other pics I want to share with you from that trip, but I'll save them for another time. I hope you've enjoyed the scenery from Pennsylvania's Endless Mountains and my childhood memories! Have a great weekend.

love, Cassie

PS-I forgot to tell you all that last Friday was my 2 year Blogoversary!!