Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Snow Cream

Snow for children is a dream world of special delights: no school, sledding, snowmen, and snowball fights. Then there is the treasured memory of making snow cream and shivering with its stinging on your tongue from the icy cold. It is much colder than regular ice cream.
Snow for Ono County is normally wet and heavy, just the stuff for packing into balls or rolling to produced forts and snowmen. Snow cream requires a light, dry fluffy deep snow to produced the best ice cream. For us in the southern region of the US it is a rare phenomena.
I mentioned making snow cream in an e-mail to friends and the overwhelming response was, "I haven't had that since I was little." Strange, but my spouse, who is a Yankee, had never eaten it, but quickly became a fan.
We're using the left overs for a topping on fruit salad instead of a dairy whip, though it doesn't keep well in a frost-free freezer. It rapidly develops little ice crystals, but retains its unique taste. He has also been using it to cool his coffee.
For all our Ono County fans to keep for the next time an Artic Clipper blows cold dry snow down our way this is the recipe for a beloved memory of childhood. Snow Cream without all the calories of the original.
Collect a dishpan of clean light snow, avoiding any yellow snow. Store it on the back porch until you have the base ready to use.
Beat one egg until light and foaming. Add one 5 ounce can of evaporated milk, 1 cup of fat free milk, 1 teaspoon of real vanilla and 1/2 cup of sugar. Mix until well blended.
Incorporate the snow into the base in small batches much like you'd fold in meringue until you have the smooth consistency of ice cream. It is best eaten immediately with cookies and hot chocolate. Sit back and remember when grandmother made it as you watched every dip of her arm.
The old home way to make snow cream was to beat heavy whipping cream until it was thick just before it turned to butter then fold in the snow. Two ingredients, what could be easier?
Oh yes! You might save some for the kids and create a snow memory for them. It's a treat we can only enjoy every ten years or so in our neck-of-the-woods. Who wants to grow up when such deliciousness is in the offering?

I just remembered Laura E. Wilder included another use for snow in one of the few recipes she mentioned in her books. Molasses in the Snow, I think it's in Little House in the Big Woods, but there I maybe wrong. It makes a taffy like candy.

Monday, February 16, 2015

Backyard Visitors

The best thing about the big seasonal snow is being at home and watching the world go by from your window without having to clean the mess off your car or worry about driving on bad roads. From my safe spot I can see over the top of my computer what is a busy, busy world as birds of all kinds flock to the bounty we've provided to supplement that which nature is rapidly putting beyond their becks.
We have four feeders. Two are suspended on a vacant lot next door and are difficult to see unless you are standing at the kitchen window. They are exposed to the wind and elements, but ground feeding birds flock to them as small seeds fall to the ground. We cast a few handfuls around for their consumption, but the birds must compete with the squirrels for this food. On days like today the birds can search in peace because the squirrels are held-up in their nests awaiting the storm to pass.
The second feeder pole sits in a flowerbed behind out neighbor's garage protected from the winds and elements. It has hooks for two feeders, which defeat the best efforts of squirrels and are a constant source of food. This is the one we can see from our window as the birds hurry to maintain their body temperature during the storm. They have been coming and going since first light and will continue to do so until dark or the storm worsens.
While I have been sitting here keyboarding I've noticed Goldfinches, Nuthatches, House Finches, Juncos, Black-capped & Carolina Chickadees, Cardinals, Chipping Sparrows, Mourning Doves, Red-Bellied Woodpeckers, Tufted Titmouse, Ladderback Woodpeckers, Field Sparrows, Whited-throated Sparrows, Downy Woodpeckers, Eastern Phoebes, a lone Starling, and a Rufus-sided Towhee. Several of the above are not normally seed eating birds, but times of necessity makes seekers of them all.
A very rare visitor is a Blue Jay, which is seldom seen at backyard feeders, but he has made several flights to spear a kernel of dried corn. This is a sure indication that this storm will be severe.
As the congregation grows I can't help but wonder if birds have a telegraph service that sends out a message, "Hey food is over here." The way they cavort around jockeying for position it is also questionable whether anyone is getting much to eat.
We do not want the birds to become dependent on us as their major source of food, but we are willing to lend a helping hand when nature cannot supply their needs. We start filling the feeders about the end of December when we notice the natural food supply in overgrown fence rows has been exhausted. Then we keep them full until late April when we allow nature to supply their food.
The practice of having feeds has greatly expanded the original range of the Cardinal (KY state bird) as it was originally a tenant of bushes in southern climates. Today the feeding of birds has enlarged his range across much of the Eastern United States. His flashy presence in our yards is a welcome change from the winter colors of so many of our native feathered friends.
This calendar is a modern almanac given to friends and customers, besides the calendar is includes information for the cook to have on hand hanging on the refrigerator.
It is rare that snow falls almost like rain from 5 am until dark in Ono County and folks will be talking about it for the next 10 or so years.
We hope you enjoyed watching the birds and snow with us, it is never time wasted even if your writing suffers.
I don't normally post to the blog until the article has appeared in the Russell Springs Times Journal, but the storm of the season must be recorded in the almanac the day it occurred.

Saturday, February 14, 2015

Hearts and Racing

February 14th is St. Valentine's Day. History records several individuals with the same name who met their death at the hands of Claudius II during the third century. The most often cited person was beheaded on February 14, 270. So this is the day his fate has been observed over the centuries.
The person of St. Valentine has long been forgotten to be replaced by the many symbols of romance and love. We all enjoy the bright red color, the hearts, arrows, figures of Cupid, flowers, and chocolates that grace the giving to a special person on this day in mid-winter.
The custom of sending a valentine salute crossed the Atlantic with the early settlers. It is hard to imagine the starched and staid Puritans indulging in frittering their time away with romantic sentiments. Yet, John Winthrop, who later became governor of the Massachusetts Bay Colony, ended a letter to his wife with, "Thou must be my valentine for none has challenged me." It was written before he sailed to America in 1629.
In 1848 Esther Howland began a cottage industry of making valentines of lace and frills, which may have begun what we now know as assembly line production many years before Henry Ford used it in the automotive industry. Esther designed the cards and workers put them together, each person doing one thing to create the finished product. Esther and her ladies developed their business until it was grossing over $25,000/year from one company alone. This is the equivalent of one million dollars in today's economy. Her cards were treasured by their recipients and passed down through the generations. Today they are a rare collector's item and can be identified by a small red letter "H" on the back of the card.
Do you have an exceptional card buried in a drawer or hidden in a book that evokes remembrance of times past? Or maybe a memory that remains in your heart? Our frequently recalled event was when we stole daffodils from a neighbor's yard for our dinner table on Valentine's Day.
By the spin of the wheel 2015 has found Nash with a dilemma between his loves. Should he devote his time to watching Race Week of the Daytona 500 or take his life's companion out to dinner on Valentine's Day.
Types of valentines are identified by names: Rebus valentines had verses in which tiny pictures took the place of words.
Enjoy Nash Black's rebus card for all the fans who love auto racing and have waited all winter for the new season to begin.

Art work by Barbara Appleby and cut & paste by me.