I've often heard children say, "There's nothing to do today". I beg to differ. I'd like to inspire you to do something. Anything. Read. Bake. Hike. Fish. Plant. Sail. Climb. Play. Reach. Move. Laugh. Dream; and take time to sit with me on The Old Granite Step.

Saturday, November 29, 2014

Making apple cider on a snowy afternoon!

Several months ago, when the leaves were rustling on the trees and the breeze was still warm, we bought a cider press.  It was something we had talked about purchasing for a while so when the opportunity arose, we did it. 

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Homemade cranberry sauce; it's very easy to make!

I've heard people complain about making cranberry sauce.  It's runny or it never jelled.  If you follow the simple recipe on the back of the cranberry bag, it's actually very easy!
It doesn't matter what brand you use. 


Pick off any stems.

Bring sugar and water to a boil.

The sugar will dissolve and the mixture will look like water.

I love the different sizes and colors.

Once the water starts to boil, carefully add the cranberries.

Stir occasionally and boil for 10 minutes.  You'll see the cranberries start to split.

Wait for the mixture to return to a boil, then start your 10 minute timer.  Do not over cook.

The cranberries have begun to turn to jelly.

Pour into a bowl and let cool at room temperature.  Cover and refrigerate.  That's it. 

Done!  Time to watch the snow.

Use cranberry sauce on your Black Friday turkey sandwich. Enjoy!

Author's note:  Ten minutes after everyone was done with dinner I realized that I forgot to put the cranberry sauce on the table!  Guess what we'll be having with dinner tonight?!

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

A review.....Stuffing with cranberries; from a box!

We made our Thanksgiving trek to the supermarket several days ago hoping to avoid the crowds.  Apparently more people are planning outings like this since the store was very busy.  It was overcast and there were snow flurries.  Seasonal without treacherous driving.  I'm sure there will still be the last minute dash made by many but this year, but I won't be one of them.  I'll be home relaxing in front of the fire (right after I clean the house; especially the bathrooms, change and wash the sheets for company, peel the potatoes, make an apple pie, caramel apples, cranberry sauce and hand pressed apple cider.  Oh, and now it looks like we'll be shoveling snow.  How many hours do I have left?)

Seeing fresh chickens at a reasonable price, we chose that for our Sunday dinner.  When looking for stuffing, this box caught my eye.  Honestly, it was the Ocean Spray cranberry logo in the corner that caught my eye.  I had heard of Bell's but had never tried it since it's inception in 1867.  Now that it had cranberries mixed in, it was time.

I grew up in New England, but I had no idea that there was indeed a "Mr. Bell" and that he hailed from Boston.  William G. as a matter of fact.  Mr. Bell is famous for importing top of the line spices from around the globe; thus Bell Seasonings.  I also didn't know they were salt free and 100% natural.  I supposed I need to get to the grocery store more often!

It's a little more like 8 minutes prep, but all is forgiven.

I liked the photo but was cautious about the number of cranberries in the box.

It begins with butter; so far so good.....

I measured out the appropriate amount for our small roast chicken.  It seems as though there are quite a few cranberries.

After adding water to the butter, I poured the dry stuffing mix into the pot.

Gave it a stir according to directions and voila....

.....stuffing that actually smelled pretty good!  After letting it sit covered for five minutes, I fluffed with a fork and stuffed the chicken. 

Over the years, I've heard of people using all kinds of things to grease the bird.  I like good old-fashioned butter.  Personally, I think it makes the gravy taste better.

I had a little left over for another time.  I like to "bake" stuffing.  Approximately 30 minutes in the oven at 350 degrees and it's delicious.
It looked and smelled so good!  And yes, there were more cranberries in the stuffing mix than I expected.

Put on the platter and dinner is ready!  I know people say that you should not cook your stuffing inside the bird.  I've done it this way for 35 years and it always tastes wonderful!  All in all, this stuffing was very good.  There's a recipe on the box that includes apples.  Next time I'll try that one.

If you can't get Bell's stuffing mix in your local grocery store, they do have an order form on-line.  Enjoy!

Sunday, November 23, 2014

The Reawakening of a Door


An open door says, “Come in.”
A shut door says, “Who are you?”
Shadows and ghosts go through shut doors.
If a door is shut and you want it shut,
     why open it?
If a door is open and you want it open,
     why shut it?
Doors forget but only doors know what it is
     doors forget.

What does your door say about you?

Thursday, November 20, 2014

The Kitten; A Short Story.

Updated (with photos) 1/31/15
Several weeks ago, a fall nor'easter made its way up the coast of New England.  Several inches of rain fell from New Jersey to Massachusetts and snow covered northern New Hampshire and Maine.  The high temperature that day was only 44 degrees in Manchester, New Hampshire; not far from where our story takes place.  Needless to say, it was a raw, cold and windy day.  The kind of day we like to hunker down with a good book in front of a cozy fireplace.  Perhaps a quilt on our lap and a cup of tea on the side table.  Not a good day to be out.

So when her husband answered the phone that blustery afternoon, he didn't expect to hear the neighbor on the other end explaining what he had just found in the middle of the road.  "A kitten" the neighbor said.  Cold, wet and quiet enough to make him wonder if it was still alive.  "I thought you might like it.  It would make a wonderful house cat.  Maybe three or four weeks old."  Moments later, her husband hiked across the field in the cold teeming rain. As she waited with anticipation, rain continued to pelt the kitchen window.  The furnace rumbled on in the basement, like a train leaving the station.  Where in the world did this tiny creature come from, she wondered.  Her excitement got the best of her and she ran upstairs to grab the old fuzzy pink blanket for the visitor.  She waited expectantly at the kitchen door for the two of them to return.

As the old door creaked open, he stepped into the warm kitchen and opened his brown corduroy shirt.  Out popped her head...."I'd like you to meet Autumn" he said.

That's how Autumn Snow found her new home.  Yes, it was a girl.  Sopping wet like a wet rag, this sweet little kitten looked at her and blinked.  A tiger, she thought.  Memories flooded back to her of the tiger she had has a child.  He followed her everywhere and was even, on occasion, dressed up and put in the doll carriage.  She bundled the fury wet mass in the blanket.  The sweet little kitty seemed to smile as she opened her beautiful green eyes wider upon entering the warm house.  There was no question....Autumn Snow was here to stay.

Although it was a happy ending for Autumn, the story doesn't always end that way.  Please have your pets spayed or neutered!

I've received an update on Autumn Snow....

"Autumn has quickly adjusted to our little farmhouse and her big fluffy orange brother! He actually gives her a face bath every morning. Maybe he's trying to lick off her beautiful spots as she matures into a wild tiger ;-) That leads to her wrapping both her "arms" around his neck.  He puts up with that for about two minutes, then, it turns into a chase around the house game.  He better watch out, she might end up larger than he is.  She has her first vet appointment in a few weeks. Wonder what she'll be like in the car en route?  I think she'll be all tuckered out when she gets home."


Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Nanctucket cranberries and a recipe.

When you pick up that bag of cranberries in the grocery store, do you ever wonder how and where cranberries are processed?  A trip to Nantucket this time of year allows you a glimpse at what really happens at the bog.  Windswept Cranberry Bog is a small operation compared to much larger ones on the mainland in Massachusetts and other states.  It's fascinating to watch.

 Once the bog is flooded, the cranberries are "corralled" into one location where they can be vacuumed up.

 Windswept Cranberry Bog is owned by the Nantucket Conservation Foundation.

 Windswept consists of approximately 37 acres of organically grown cranberries.

 You can find Windswept cranberries at local island grocery stores.  If you live elsewhere, check with your local market to see if they carry a cranberry farmed closer to your home.

 Raking the cranberries is a peaceful production to watch.

 When we left the bog, we went directly to Bartlett's Farm and bought some of these wonderful cranberries!

  After chopping approximately 1 cup of cranberries, either by hand or in a food processor, mix with 1/2 a cup of slivered almonds.  Spread mixture on a small wheel of Brie.  Pour 1/2 a cup of honey on top and bake at 350 degrees until the cheese turns a golden brown.  While the cheese is in the oven, slice bread and apples to serve with the cranberry cheese mixture.  You may enjoy crackers and other fruit as well.
It makes a mouth-watering appetizer or a meal in itself!

You may wish to visit these websites for more information on cranberries: