February 28, 2011

Sausage Bread

I woke up today to a mix of snow and sleet. I knew I would be spending most of the day indoors. I did have to run out to the store for a few essentials. At the co-op, I found some breakfast sausage from a local farm down the road. Perfect for something I haven't made in a long time - sausage bread.

I thaw a loaf of frozen bread dough and brown about a pound of sausage with a chopped pepper (I use a red pepper to add some color) and a clove of pressed garlic. I quickly ran to the chicken coop and found two beautiful eggs. I separate one egg - saving the white for later. I place another egg and the egg yolk in a bowl with cheeses (I used mozarella and provolone this time) add the sausage and mix it all together.

Next I roll out the bread dough and spread the sausage mixture over the dough. Then roll the dough up jelly-roll style and brush the top with the remaining egg white. Into the oven to bake for about 40 minutes at 350 and it's done.

Let it cool a bit and slice it. Great to have with a glass of cold milk!

February 27, 2011

The Long Winter

After the foot of snow we got on Friday, I wasn't prepared for it to snow again today...and tomorrow too. I really shouldn't complain because the southern part of the state got snow and then rain...I can deal with just snow.

The Presidential Range
 Yesterday was a beautiful day to be outdoors. The sun was shining and the temps were decent. We decided to go snowshoeing at the Flume Gorge in Franconia Notch.

Discovered in 1808, the Flume is a natural gorge at the base of Mount Liberty. Although I have hiked the Flume in the summer, I just recently discovered the trails around the Gorge are open (at no charge) for activities like snowshoeing and winter hiking. 

Franconia Notch was bustling with activity. Cannon Mountain had more skiers than I had ever seen before. The snowmobilers were everywhere and I had no idea how popular the Flume would be with winter hikers and snowshoe enthusiasts. The great thing was that there were several trails cut through the woods, so for the most part it was quiet and it was just the two of us enjoying a beautiful winter day.

Now as I write, the snow is tapering off and the sun is working through the clouds...looks like the makings for another nice day!

February 25, 2011

The Hermit of Crawford Notch

On a hot August afternoon in 2009. Dan and I stopped at a general store in East St Johnsbury, VT. After looking around, I decided to purchase a thin paperback book with short New England Christmas stories. The book included a story of "The Santa Claus of the White Mountains" who was said to be buried at the Straw Road Cemetary in Twin Mountain, NH. A man who looked like Santa Claus and whittled wooden toys for children. He was especially kind to orphans. The writer was unable to find the gravestone of Jack Viallis among the 100 or so in the small graveyard.

Intrigued by the story, we set out to Twin Mountain in the late afternoon. We split up and began our search and within five minutes we found the grave of John Vials. Above his name were the words "The Hermit of Crawford Notch".

When we got home I decided to go online to find out more about this man buried in the small cemetary in Twin Mountain.

 He was known as "English Jack" and was thought to have arrived in Crawford Notch to work on the Portland and Ogdensburg Rail Road, which was completed in the notch in 1875.  He lived in a ramshackle  home built from scrap lumber from the railroad and he referred to the home as his "ship".  Tourists from the city would come to the White Mountains and would hike to see him. The railroad had posted a sign "the house that Jack built" to indicate where he lived. He entertained tourists with tales from his days at sea, sold a homemade brew, as well as postcards of himself and items he had whittled.
Some say he swallowed snakes and frogs to entertain tourists which may or may not be true.

English Jack postcard

In 1892 a small book written in verse "The story of Jack" was published. This was his life as he recounted to James E Mitchell.
Apparently Jack was born in London and orphaned by age 12. He wandered the docks looking for a position as a cabin boy to escape the workhouse. On the docks he found a young girl named Mary who was crying because she was lost and looking for her father. Jack helped her find her father who was Captain Simmonds of "The Nelson". The family took Jack in and he became the cabin boy on the The Nelson. He sailed with Captain Simmonds for the next nine years until a shipwreck occured. Jack was one of eleven who survived the shipwreck on a desert island but illness overtook the survivors. Jack and two others were rescued but only Jack lived. Captain Simmond's dying wish was that Jack care for his wife and daughter.
Jack returned to London and found that the wife had died and the daughter had been sent to the workhouse. He found Mary and enrolled her at a girl's school. He professed that he had fallen in love with her and they decided to get married after he made one more trip to secure their future. The voyage would be to China and would take nearly a year. When Jack returned to Mary, he found that she had died a month before his return.
Distraught, he went abroad and fought in the Crimean War eventually winding up in New Hampshire to work on the railroad.  Or at least that's the way Jack told his story.

In his older years, he wintered with a family in Twin Mountain. Jack died in the winter of 1912 while staying with the McGee family.The townspeople collected money for his headstone. His obituary was published in the New York Times.

February 24, 2011

Beating the Winter Blahs...

We got teased with some warm weather last week. Now I hear we could get a foot of snow tomorrow and maybe more on Monday. I have heard the same comment all day..."I'm done with winter".

Although I am happy to see the days getting longer, I am done with below zero temps, heating bills, and the colds that seem to be going around.

I really enjoy living in NH with the four seasons, but sometimes winter just gets too long. I think we are experiencing the winter blahs.
One thing that perked me up was the Amaryllis that I got for Christmas. It always excites me to watch something grow and that splash of color was beautiful.

Another exciting day was when my first seed packets arrived. I have spent many days dreaming of my garden and making plans for expansion.

It's a great time to feed winter birds. Over the last few years we have had boreal chickadees, nuthatches, woodpeckers, and cardinals at our feeder. This year a pair of red squirrels took over the area and like to chase all the birds away.

I am also comforting myself with food and trying to balance that with some exercise...walking and snowshoeing. Yesterday I made homemade bread and homemade butter. I know...carbs and fat... but it was so delicious!

If you have some tips on beating the winter blahs, please share them...I need some motivation!

February 5, 2011

The Year of the Rabbit

According to the Chinese Zodiac, the Year 2011 is the Year of the Rabbit, which began on February 3 and ends on January 22, 2012. 
According to Chinese tradition, the Rabbit brings a year in which you can catch your breath and calm your nerves.  It is a time for negotiation.  To gain the greatest benefits from this time, focus on home, family, security, diplomacy, and your relationships with women and children.   Make it a goal to create a safe, peaceful lifestyle, so you will be able to calmly deal with any problem that may arise.
The Rabbit is a lucky sign. People born in the Year of the Rabbit are reasonably friendly people who enjoy the company of a group of good friends. They are good communicators, teachers, and counselors, but also need their own space.   
Today I decided to give our two rabbits some extra attention.This included nail clipping and brushing out their fur. Rabbits molt their old fur and grow new up to four times a year. It is especially important that you groom your rabbit to remove as much of the loose hair as possible so that it doesn't swallow the hair while self-grooming. Swallowed hair can form hairballs in your rabbit's digestive system just like cats, but rabbits can't vomit like cats can and serious problems can result.
Because we have the three dogs in the house, our rabbits are not house rabbits. They did enjoy hopping around in the kitchen a bit after grooming was done.


February 4, 2011

The Friday Photo

I bought a box of buttons at an estate sale...trying to decide what to do with them.

February 2, 2011

Happy Groundhog Day!

We have a groundhog den in our sideyard. Two years ago there were four babies living in the den with their mother. So far, we have not had any problems with the groundhogs and our garden.

The legend of the Groundhog as a weather prophet came from Europe. The legend came along with the immigrants who worked in the coal mines in Punxsutawney, a town in the foothills of Western Pennsylvania. As the story goes, a local news editor tied the legend to the large number of groundhogs in the area.

Although considered a North American holiday by many, Groundhog Day has very deep roots. It evolved out of the  medieval Christian festival of Candlemas, and the ancient pagan celebration St. Brigid's Day.

Candlemas Day and its predecessor St. Brigid's Day fall between the winter solstice and the spring equinox and mark the midpoint of winter.

It was customary for the Europeans to watch for the hedgehog to come out of hibernation every February 2nd. As the legend goes, if the the hedgehog saw its shadow, there would be six more weeks of winter weather. If not, spring was around the corner. When these immigrants arrived in Pennsylvania, the groundhog was simply substituted for the hedgehog.


The average groundhog can weigh anywhere from 7 to 14 pounds. Groundhogs are rodents and are members of the squirrel family. They are clean living herbivores. Clover and alfalfa are their favorite foods.

Groundhogs also love fruits and vegetables, which is why many garden owners refer to them as pests. One reason groundhogs are abundant is that they are immune to the plague and to many diseases. They love cleanliness and their burrows even include bathrooms.