Heaven on Earth

Heaven on Earth

Thursday, July 2, 2015

The Long HOT summer!!

A lot has been going on here since I last posted.  Time has flown by, and we've been busy.
We've had a University graduation this spring,
with a little trip thrown in before starting her summer job

That trip was followed by another vacation,

and a few stay-cations,
 We had some fun visitors stop by the Homestead.
and unfortunately a very small accident involving two of our cars and the neighboring construction crew with a big truck pulling a backhoe on a trailer.

Some knitting has happened.

It's been too hot here to do much else.  We had the hottest June ever on record in our state.
Thank goodness for cooler evenings.
Every little bit of respite helps.
I hope to get back here to post more soon.

How's your summer going?

Tuesday, June 2, 2015


Here we go again.  I told the story of the "Accidental Beekeepers"  in this post.  The feral hive that lived in our roof eaves for years was removed.  The beekeeper/contractor who we hired to cut them out, accidentally put the queen in the colony after he sprayed her with insecticide in the roof. He was trying to kill any bees he didn't remove so they didn't recolonize in the roof. OOPS.  Three days later, the whole colony died.  Then we bought a hive from a local IFA store  We later discovered that it hadn't really been taken care of very well when we got it; not very many bees. I don't think we fed it enough either and it absconded, which in beekeeper terms means the colony didn't like the accommodations we provided and moved on to greener pastures. This year, armed with more knowledge and hard won experience,  we are trying again; this time with two hives so we can compare the two.
The kitchen garden is providing some nice pollen and nectar right now.  The poppy pollen is bright orange.  It looks nice in the bee frames next to the bright yellow of the dandelion pollen.
One hive is stronger than the other but both are gaining in population and the queens are laying. We've had at least one hatch and this weekend I'll put a second brood box on each hive. The colony needs to more room to grow so the queen has comb to lay new eggs. The average life of a field bee (the foragers that collect nectar for honey) is about 3-4 weeks this time of year. They literally work themselves to death.  It takes 3 weeks for an egg become a bee so it's important the queen is laying well.

There is a great deal of pollen and nectar now and the hives are thriving so cross your fingers and hope we do better this time around.

This starling and his mate pulled out some mortar from the ice house eaves and they have a nest full of baby birds under the roofline.  The bird on the ridge was watching me pretty carefully with a worm in his beak.
And here's a photo of one the beekeepers.  Don't tell him I posted his photo though.  He's camera shy.
We both use a full bee suit when I open up the hive. B's allergic to bee stings and I just don't like getting them!  I could sit all day watching the hives and I don't use a suit for that.
This is the way to "mow" a lawn/pasture in my opinion.  Our neighbor, Peter, borrows his friend's sheep for the weekend. Love this breed and their black faces.
That's a pretty nice view from our back garden, don't you think?

Monday, May 4, 2015

Little Cotton Rabbits....hooray!

Aren't these just the cutest little animals you've ever seen.  Julie Williams' Little Cotton Rabbits are addicting to knit.  I may have knitted 35 or so a few of them.

It's been busy here.  Nothing earth shattering or bad...just busy.

We hived two new packages of bees last weekend and they're doing fine so far.  The queen is out and they're gathering nectar. We've had house guests and a family wedding coming up.  Abby graduated from university and Rachel got a new job. And tax season is over!   It's a good life.

I hope to get back here sooner rather than later.
Hope all is well with you.

Monday, February 9, 2015

Our Old House

Our town is a National Historic District and it's a beautiful place. Our limestone house, built about 1865, is one of the older homes in our state. We live in the western United States and our state was settled by non-native Americans in the late 1840's.  By the time our home was built in a rural area of the state there was a thriving city up north, but Spring City was the frontier; the wild, wild west.  

12 Pioneer families were sent to our area to settle in 1852.  They were burned out within one year by the native Americans who lived in the mountain range near by but they returned in 1853, only to be driven out again.  In 1859 they returned again with many more settlers and eventually built sturdy, permanent homes. The builder of our home arrived in 1860 and first inhabited a 2 room log cabin one block west of the rock house. Around 1865, Orson Hyde built this stone home of local oolitic limestone rubble.  

Our town has a heritage home tour once a year to raise money for historic preservation and occasionally we open our home for the tour.  The sheer volume of visitors take a toll on the house but the effort paid off when a great niece of the third owner of our house stopped by on the tour and offered to lend us a much earlier photo of the home than anyone new was in existence.  We were able to make a copy of the original thanks to her generosity.
She also provided the name of her great uncle in the photo and we were able to look up his genealogical records and date the photo by the age of the baby in his wife's arms. All of the six children on their pedigree chart are accounted for in the photo, enabling us to date the photograph. 

In 1909, the George Crawforth family documented their abundance and wealth by posing with not one, but three horses, in front of their home in this photo taken by a traveling photographer.  Often rural families would have their "picture made" to show relatives they left behind how well they were doing financially out on the frontier. Our home was the onetime Deseret Telegraph office in town and we noted that someone has moved the telegraph arms  from under the west window on the third floor to the east window where they are now.  The photo also proved that our porch was built sometime between 1909 and 1915 when it appears in the next known photo.  What a great gift we were given with this photograph!

Here's our house and property today, after lengthy restoration.   

The wooden hay barn collapsed under heavy snow during the winter of 1983 .
All that remains is the stone stable on the left, seen in the photo below
 from the north where the missing barn and wood stable used to be.
We've restored the ice house next to the stable
 and the Granary on the property as well .  
 Here's how it looks today as our guest house.

From our old house to yours....Have a good week! 

Monday, January 12, 2015

Chocolate Truffle Cake

Winter is "birthday/anniversary season" in our house.  It starts at the end of November, when Abby's birthday sometimes falls on Thanksgiving.  Our wedding anniversary is in mid December and my birthday is on Christmas.  Then we have daughters' birthdays just after New Year, on Valentine's Day and on the 2nd of March.  Bruce's birthday is mid-February and both of my parents birthdays, plus both of his siblings have birthdays in there as well.  So along with the REGULARLY SCHEDULED BIG HOLIDAYS,
we celebrate all of our birthdays from the end of November until March 2nd.  So I am posting dessert recipes as you all begin your New Year Resolutions to eat more healthy.  Sorry!!!  Save this for when you are not eating as healthy; like your summer birthday.

We get tired of birthday cake (really any sweets after the long holiday season) so I have fruit tart.  Some of us choose just ice cream and some pie.  Rachel chose to celebrate her birthday with this rich (once a year) Chocolate Truffle Cake.  It really is just a flourless cake.
It's easy to make and has only 5 ingredients; 6 if you count the raspberry sauce.

Don't skip the pan preparation or your cake will not come out......EVER.  I lent a pan once to a friend to make this cake and she returned it with dimples and dents all over the bottom of the pan after trying to bang the cake out with knife handles and who knows what else.  She never did get the cake out in one piece and I had to throw the pan away.  It was pretty amazing looking but so out of shape it was unusable.
I like to strain my eggs after beating them to remove the chalazae ( the little twisty white things that center the yolk in the shell).  They will ruin the smooth texture of the cake but you can leave them in if you want.
Your batter will be grainy at first ( like a brownie ) but keep whisking and the sugar will melt and 
the batter will become smooth like this after a bit.
Pour your batter into the pan and smooth the top.  I like to give the pan a few "whacks" on the counter to bring any air bubbles up to the surface before baking.  
Excuse the poor lighting.  It was dark!!! All of my photos need some better lighting.  You can put a candle in it for "The Birthday" (and you might want to center your cake a bit better than I did.
I serve this with a sauce made from my homegrown raspberries (albeit frozen at this time of year) and some unsweetened whipped cream.
You'll only need a small piece.  This is rich, flourless cake!

Chocolate Truffle Cake
8 ounces of dark sweet or semi-sweet chocolate
1 cup of butter, room temperature and cut into tablespoons
1 ½ cups of granulated sugar
5 eggs, beaten until foamy

12 ounces of semi-sweet chocolate
1 cup of heavy cream

Preheat the oven to 350ยบ F.
Prepare an 8-inch cake pan.  Out of parchment paper, draw and cut a circle for the bottom of the pan.  Measure the sides of the pan and cut strips to completely cover the sides of the pan plus 1 inch for overlap.  Butter the bottom and sides of the pan lightly.  Push the strips against the side of the pan, overlapping the ends slightly.  Push the circle into the bottom and smooth it out.  Make sure the parchment strips and circle completely line the pan.

Melt the chocolate and stir until smooth.  Remove from the heat and cool for 1 to 2 minutes.
Add the butter, bit by bit; beat with a wire whisk until smooth and incorporated.  Add the sugar, beating 1 minute with the wire whisk.  Add the eggs and beat until the batter is well mixed.  Pour into the pan and set the pan into a slightly larger pan.  Pour hot water into the larger pan so it is about 1 inch deep. 
Bake for about 1 ½ hours until the cake is cooked through.  Cool for 1 hour.  The cake should fall in the middle. 
Refrigerate for at least 2 hours. 

Boil the cream and take it the pan off the heat.  Add the chocolate, stirring until the chocolate is melted.  Refrigerate it until it is spreadable.  I do this while the cake is cooling. 

Invert the cake onto a plate and remove the parchment.
Spread the ganache on top and sides of the cake and refrigerate it until serving.

Take the cake out of the refrigerator about 20 minutes before serving and put a pool of raspberry sauce under a slice of drizzle some on top of a dollop of unsweetened whipped cream.

Raspberry sauce (optional):
Put about 4 cups of raspberries (fresh or frozen) into a pan.  Add about ¼ cup of water.  Heat until boiling.  Cook for a few minutes and then strain through a mesh strainer, pushing the pulp through but leaving the seeds in the strainer. Discard seeds and add sugar as desired.  Refrigerate until ready to serve.

*This sauce is great over any cake and even poured over fresh fruit.  I serve it over breakfast grapefruit.