A good day to be baking!

It was a lovely morning, as I did my rounds, with nothing at all to suggest we were going to be hit by a storm, later today!

As is now usual, I had a whole crowd of kitties waiting outside the door for breakfast. πŸ˜€

I counted 19, but it’s possible I missed one of the ‘icouses. They were milling about so much! I did get to pet a few furry butts, including several of the kittens that normally would have run off already, plus our newcomer.

Creamsicle Baby was battling it out with Agnoos for special attention. πŸ˜€

Butterscotch followed me while I was doing my rounds. She really likes that I now go to the corner of the property to check if the new sign has been vandalized yet, and switch out the memory card on the camera. She has taken advantage of the set up and uses the various posts to climb up and jump onto me, making it very hard to switch out the memory card!

While going through the yard, I spotted a few summer yard tools we missed putting things away, and brought a couple of our snow shovels closer to the sun room door. They are normally kept by the main entry, but we are avoiding using that door until we can get the door and frame replace; something we’d hoped to get done before this winter, but the budget for it just didn’t happen. I wasn’t even able to get the estimate done; I was going to call the same company that did the windows here, before we moved in, but I can’t find them! I do hope they haven’t gone out of business, like so many others have done in the past year and a half. 😦

When I was ready to come inside, I found this handsome fella waiting for me.

He even let me pet him and scritch his ears!

I think this one is Chadicous, but I’m not sure.

I love that pink little nose!

The general store the post office is in closes at noon on Wednesdays, so I headed out shortly after they opened. I wanted to get the battery we needed for the cat’s house smoke detector that I forgot to pick up yesterday. While there, I picked up another bag of flour, just in case.

I had a few general things planned for baking today. One of them was muffins, but I hadn’t settled on any recipes. After doing some searching, I found a couple of savory recipes I wanted to try.

The whole day of baking was about timing! The first thing I did was cook a package of bacon in the oven, until dry and crumbly, for one of the muffin recipes. Once that was cool and crumbled, I started a double batch of bread. I didn’t use our dough baby, because I forgot to set it to soak overnight. Instead, I used our basic bread recipe, which gets modified with whatever we have on hand. This time, it included oatmeal and chia seeds, with molasses for the sweetener.

While that was sitting for its first rise, I had time to make a double batch of apple bacon muffins.

Half of them were for the freezer, and half to have on hand. This recipe as a surprising amount of cinnamon in it, which accounts for the darker colour.

There is an entire package of bacon and two Granny Smiths in that double batch! The recipe sounded amazing, but it didn’t live up to expectations. Don’t get me wrong; they were quite tasty. However, I really expected to at least taste all that bacon! The predominant flavour was the apple. I’d definitely make them again, even if they didn’t life up to their hype. πŸ˜‰

When the muffins where done and cooling, the girls quickly took over the kitchen to make lunch for everyone. That gave me a chance to take a break – and see that the snow had finally arrived!

It has just changed from rain to snow when I took this photo. They’re hard to see, but there is at least one chickadee going for the sunflowers as they disappeared under the snow!

By the time we finished lunch, the bread was ready to be shaped into loaves and left for a second rising, which gave me time to make another double batch of muffins.

This time, they were cheddar cheese muffins. They were supposed to be smoked cheddar, but what we had on hand was sharp cheddar. The recipe included cornmeal and cayenne pepper. For a double batch, it would have been 1/2 to 1 tsp of cayenne, but there was no way I could use that much. I enjoy the flavour of spice, but have no tolerance for the heat. Still, I did add some. These turned out very nice. Better than the apple bacon, I’d say. Another keeper. Especially for the next time we get smoked cheddar. πŸ™‚

Once these were done, the bread loaves were ready to go into the oven. While they were baking, I started another double batch of bread. This one had oatmeal in it, too, (more specifically, rolled oats, softened in boiling water for a few minutes) and some hemp hearts I had left.

Also, I’m glad I got that extra bag of flour. We had just started a new bag, and I’ve already gone through half of it!

These are the oatmeal, molasses and chia seed loaves. I’m rather pleased with how they turned out! I’m a terrible one for using too much flour, and taking them out of the oven too soon, but I’ve gotten better. πŸ˜‰

Then, while the second batch of bread was rising, I made a batch of double chocolate cookies. Double as in, it has two kinds of chocolate (cocoa and chocolate chips), not a double recipe. A single recipe was enough to fill four baking trays. For so many, I had to get a daughter to tend the oven, as they baked very quickly, while I had to start shaping the bread for their second rising. This time, I made them into large buns instead of loaves. The timing turned out perfect. By the time the last cookies were coming out of the oven, the buns had risen enough to go into the oven.

I didn’t bother taking photos of the second batch of bread, nor the cookies. The cookie batter was the kind you drop onto an ungreased pan by spoonfuls, then they spread flat while in the oven. I ended up having to increase the cooking time, and they also turned out to be very fragile. Which is okay. Broken cookies taste just as good as not broken one! They just don’t look pretty. πŸ˜‰ As for the buns, even with the oatmeal and hemp hearts, they just look like white bread. πŸ˜€ Those were the ones we started on tonight. While two of the loaves of the first batch went to the freezer, along with half the muffins, I decided not to bother freezing any of the buns. Those are going to disappear very quickly!

In the middle of all this baking, I got a call from my mother. She was wanting to know if we had snow, too. By this time, it was coming down pretty heavily. She sounded so excited, and started going on about what a good thing it was we got her shopping done when we did. I agreed, mentioning that unfortunately, we didn’t get all the things we wanted to get done finished. She was completely oblivious. Instead, she started saying that, as long as the septic was covered, it was fine. She had seen the insulated tarp we had ready to cover it, the day she came out here, so she started giving me instructions on making sure it was weighted down so it wouldn’t blow away. I told her it was pegged to the ground. Apparently, she didn’t know that tarps have grommets on them, than can be used to fasten them down. She kept on going, telling me about how important it was to cover the septic tank. I ended up asking her, how long have we been living here? She thought three years. I said four, and we’ve been covering the septic every year we’ve been here. I know my mother thinks I’m stupid, but you’d think she would have noticed that the winterizing has been getting done, every year.

What I find strange, though, it that she was also talking about covering the well. In fact, she was talking about the septic tank and the well interchangeably, and then saying that if the well freezes, we’d have no water, and how terrible that would be. This was something she brought up last year. She insisted that the well cap had been covered with straw, every year, just like the septic tank. Which has never been done. Not only was it never covered with straw, but I know that even the accumulated snow was removed, likely with the Bobcat our vandal stole, as evidenced by the chips in the concrete, and one of the handles on the cover being broken right off, while the remaining one has been bent flat. Hidden by snow, it’s been hit and run over. Plus, the well cap is at least 12 feet down. It’s never been a problem in the almost 50 years since it’s been dug. She also had nothing to do with any of this sort of maintenance, so I don’t know where she is coming from on this.

It was a short phone call. I mentioned I was in the middle of baking, and she happily let me go. She just wanted to talk to me about the snow. It felt so weird. She’d been so nasty to me when she was here two days ago, and she has no awareness at all about it. I’d talked to my brother last night. My mother had just called him. I had filled my siblings in on how things went when she came out here, so he was in the loop. When my mother started talking about coming to see the sign, she was going on and on about how great it looked, how great everything looked here at the farm, and what a great visit it was. To which he said, no it wasn’t! He spent time time trying to encourage her to be kind and build people up instead of always tearing them down, to which she replied, “I’m not going to lie.” Apparently, the opposite of being cruel is to lie? She had said something about not saying that everything looked beautiful. Which isn’t what anyone is expecting and has nothing to do with simply treating people nicely. I’m grateful my brother stuck up for me, but we are both left rather perplexed by her inability to understand what it means to treat people kindly.

We may not have caught up completely, yesterday, but we did get the essentials necessary for winter, at least. This is our first real snowfall of the year, and while we will continue to be relatively mild, this is a snowfall that will stay. It is still coming down, and now the forecast says the snow will continue to fall through to Saturday, too. Our temperatures remain above freezing, so sleet is a major concern on the highways right now. We’re expected to get 10-15 cm of snow today (4-6 inches), with another 10-15 cm tomorrow, though the weather alerts say that our area might actually get more, due to the lake effect. It’s past 9pm as I write this, and we haven’t reached anywhere near the predicted levels, so who knows what will actually happen.

The forecasts do still say that today’s storm will become tomorrow’s blizzard. I was just looking at our weather history, and the record high for today was 13C/55F, in 2016, while our record low was -20C/4F, in 1991 – but our average high is 0C/32F and average low is -7C/19F, so the temperatures we’re having right now are not at all unusual. It just feels like it! Funny how that works.

Either way, it turned out to be the perfect day to stay inside and do a whole bunch of baking!

The Re-Farmer

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