Tuesday, December 30, 2008


It's shrimp fishing season in Maine, a time which we look forward to every year. Maine shrimp are not nearly as big as the Gulf shrimp most folks are accustomed to seeing. They are small and have a very sweet flavor and it's a lot of work for the amount of usable shrimp we get, but they are well worth the effort.

We purchased five pounds worth this morning and spent the afternoon prepping them.

First, we rinsed them and then Spike and Sluggo, the ever curious duo had to inspect them.

After giving them the sniff test and deciding they were not interested in the smelly little crustaceans, they went on to other, more exciting adventures before their designated nap times.

Never ones to waste anything, after boiling, beheading and peeling the shrimp, we put the peels and heads into a pot and simmered them to get all of the good flavor out of them.

After straining all the liquid out of the pot, the little carcasses were strewn upon the compost heap. After the crows have their fill, there won't be much left for the garden.

The resulting liquid was then brought to another simmer; carrot, celery, onion, bay leaves and parsley were added and then simmered until the broth was reduced by half. The resulting flavorful shrimp court bullion will be frozen and added to the next cioppino or boulliabaise I make.

On another topic, I noticed this beautiful knitted hooded cardigan in one of my knitting books. It's a gorgeous lacy pattern and I couldn't wait to get started. I made a working copy of the pattern, made sure I had the correct size needles and stopped by Shirley's, my favorite yarn store, and picked out a lovely raspberry red cotton yarn.

The problems began as soon as I reached the lace part of the pattern. For some strange reason, I kept coming up short on stitches and after "tinking" (that's knitting backwards, or tearing out all the work you've done) numerous times, I became disgusted and put it away for a while. I'm happy to report that I've begun again with renewed vigor and think I've found my problem. We shall see. I'll update occasionally.

In the mean time, I've made several eco market bags as they are mindless knitting and keep my fingers occupied while sitting in front of the tv in the evenings. Here is a picture of the latest one but I have to run out to purchase another ball of yarn for the handle. These bags take me an evening or two to knit and make great gifts. Rather than wrapping my gifts in paper, I just put them in these bags. They stretch nicely and can be used for grocery shopping, a book bag, or whatever.

The pattern is free and can be found at:



I also finished another hat - this one is for me for a change! Kinda looks a little "gnomey" don't you think?

Life is sometimes frustrating, but still good!

Hugs, Giddy

Friday, December 26, 2008

Christmas, 2008

We had a lovely time yesterday. Good friends joined us for Christmas dinner of Hungarian Goulasch, homemade spaetzle (little German noodles) and braised red cabbage.

The appetizer was hummus which I made very quickly in the food processor.

Ingredients were:

1 can of garbanzo beans, rinsed and drained
1 large handful of fresh Italian parsley
1 clove of garlic
salt and pepper to taste
a few dashes of hot sauce
enough olive oil to make a smooth paste
top with finely diced red pepper and capers

H cut whole wheat pita bread into chips, sprayed them with olive oil spray and baked them in a 425 degree oven til crisp and lightly browned. Sprinkle them with seasoned salt. YUM! A nice, healthy and very tasty appetizer.

The rolls, of course, were baked from a recipe from the much mentioned "Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day" cookbook. I made them from the Eastern European Potato - Rye dough.

Dessert was an old Italian delicacy called Panforte di Siena. It's a very dense, moist, spicy, fruit and nut filled cake, almost more of a confection. A tiny slice goes a long way. These honey cakes were first baked in the 13th century in Siena. I googled it and found the recipe and historical information on the net. Quite interesting.

The day was full of fun, good friends, good wine and good food and as the sun slowly sank in the west, a warm, holiday glow filled the house.

As we watched the sun, slowly sink behind Mount Desert Island, contentment and happiness settled in......

..... and Spike, draped over the back of the couch, was obviously the most content of all!

Life is Good,

Hugs, Giddy

Monday, December 22, 2008

The Morning After

Last night, the wind howled and snow swirled. Outside, the snow was steadily accumulating all around us and Mother Nature was in a whimsical mood. H opened the sliding glass doors to look out on the deck and see how much had accumulated. The wind was fierce and he quickly slammed the door shut. The resulting impact knocked snow off the door and left this impression of a black cat trying to get in out of the storm. Too weird!

This morning, we opened the door and tentatively looked out to see what the night had brought us.....
....this was about 8 inches of snow on the front porch.

Our beautiful wreath given to us by a dear friend was coated with the glistening stuff.

H and I, decked out in our long underwear and woolies, ventured out to begin what was to be a very long morning of plowing and shoveling. But first, we had to dig out the front gate so we could get out of the yard!

Yes, there is actually a truck under all that snow.

The deck had even more snow on it as we had not shoveled the initial 3 inches off before it started snowing in earnest. Big mistake. This morning, the grill looked like a space alien with his conehead sidekick.
You can see from the front door how the wind slammed the snow about last night.

Although H was a real trooper and managed to get the door yard plowed, the State plow truck had built a huge four foot wall of snow at the top of the drive and we were unable to get enough traction to plow the 13 inches of snow off the uphill driveway. Soooo, we ended up calling the local plow guy to come plow us out and we're still waiting for him to show up. Needless to say, he is quite busy today.

After all was said and done, this was the 13 inches we got overnight. We had already plowed 3 inches the evening before in hopes that we would not get so much overnight. So much for hope!

All totaled, the storm left us with 16 inches of fluffy, white snow. And it's only December. Oy!

Life is Good, honest it is

Hugs, Giddy

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Hunkering Down for the Blizzard!

The hatches are all battened down, the pantry and freezer are stocked, the generator is ready to fill in if necessary, the wood totes are full and I have several knitting projects in the works. I think we're ready for the blizzard that is predicted for us beginning later on today.

When I looked outside early this morning, I could see something was brewing. As I looked across the bay toward Mount Desert Island, I could see sea smoke rising from Frenchman Bay. That, and a steely cold sky usually portends some "weathah" coming our way. Sure enough, the weatherman is predicting a nor'easter along with high winds - a BLIZZARD!!!!

I dragged out the North Seas Shawl I knitted over the summer and put it on my chair so I could throw it over my shoulders as I sit knitting my new "big" project - a lacy, hooded sweater.

I also finished another Eco Market Bag with some of my leftover cotton odds and ends. This project is really easy, doesn't take much paying attention and is cute. I'm going to fill this one with lots of baby items for a friend who recently had an adorable baby girl.

Sluggo has already claimed his spot on the ottoman which is close enough to the wood stove to be really warm. He uses his favorite fleece blanket to "make biscuits" before settling down for a snooze.
We'll check in again tomorrow to let you know how we survived the Winter Solstice Blizzard.

Happy Winter Solstice to All! Now we get to watch the sun slowly come back north. Can spring be far behind??? (Only in my dreams)

Life is good in the GFN (Great Frozen North)

Hugs, Giddy

Friday, December 19, 2008


The lobster fishing industry is having a huge problem this year. It's not that there is a lack of the tasty crustaceans, but rather the selling price for them has dropped while the price of fuel for the boats and bait for the traps has gone way up!

Some of my friends husbands are lobster fishermen and in my feeble attempt to help them out, I purchased 4 lovely, lively lobsters from them, fresh off the boat. Now, I don't know how much folks are paying for thier lobsters elsewhere in the nation, but these babies were $3 a piece. No, that is not a typo.

If you are in the least bit squeamish, skip to the next paragraph, because these guys are about to be plopped into the lobster pot filled with boiling water and Old Bay Seasoning. The trick here is to take them right out of the fridge where they have been sleeping in a cold stupor and pop them in before they know what hit them. And if you are really feeling badly for them, just remember that they are just giant ocean dwelling cockroaches!

But, they sure taste good!

My other project over the past couple of days was to bake some hamburger buns. This recipe is so easy and the buns are by far superior to the soft, pasty ones that come packed 8 to a package in the grocery. Not only that, but have you ever read ingredient list of those things?!!!

These buns hold up to H's juicy pulled pork barbecue and freeze beautifully. I usually make 1/2 dozen at a time.

The Recipe:

1/2 C. Skim Milk
1/4 C. water
2 TBSP butter - melted and cooled
About 2 - 2 1/4 C. All Purpose Flour
2 tsp active dry yeast
3/4 tsp sugar
3/4 tsp salt
1 egg

Warm milk and water to about 100 degrees. Add the yeast and let sit til it begins to foam.

Mix about 1 3/4 flour and all remaining ingredients with the exception of the butter in the mixing bowl of your mixer. Add the yeast mixture and cooled butter and beat til smooth.

Continue adding flour in small amounts until the dough is smooth and not too sticky. You want a fairly loose dough. Knead with your dough hook for about 5 minutes more. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and let dough rise for 1 hour.

Scrape dough on to a floured surface and divide into 6 equal pieces. Shape into smooth balls and place on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper (or grease the pan). Flatten slightly with floured hands. Cover and let rise for 30 - 35 minutes.

Bake in 425 degree oven for 10 - 12 minutes or until nicely browned.

This recipe is easily doubled

And, so ended another lovely, warm winter day.

Life is Good (and tasty)

Hugs, Giddy

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Howling Winds, Again

We here in the GFN (Great Frozen North) are accustomed to cold windy nights and days, but yesterday was a doozy! The wind and gusts were by far not the worst we have ever experienced, but it seemed so much more frightening. I think it must have been because the wind was pushing directly toward us from the south. We normally get it from the north east, just giving us a glancing blow, but this wind buffetted the house with a direct hit. We thought the sliders were going to come crashing in at times.

We hunkered down for the duration and today, warily ventured out to see if there was any damage and how much. H's first sight was shortly after daybreak when he ventured up the road to fetch the newspaper at the end of the drive. There, he spied a huge spruce which had been uprooted and was perched on Route 1 almost over the center line. Fortunately, the Maine Dept of Transportation was on the lookout and promptly came by and cut it up. Unfortunately, they just left the rest of it for us to take care of later!

In the background, you can see stacks of Poplar from a previous blow down.

All totaled, we lost about 10 trees, but we couldn't get out to cut and stack them up as the wind and rain were still a huge problem.

While we were not without electricity, our satellite was wavering in and out, so I could not finish this post until today.

I spent the time going through photos on my computer and getting a few chores done. I also made a batch of English Muffins - they are delicious!

They may not be as even and pretty as Thomas's, but they sure do taste good!

And just look at those nooks and crannies! Can't you just imagine the butter melting into those toasted babies? Yum!

Not one to sit idly, twiddling my thumbs, I also knitted up this really neat bag. Just the thing for when the cashier asks if you'd like your groceries bagged in paper or plastic. My answer is always, "No thanks, I have my own bags".

And, of course, the boys were on task chasing all the Asian Beetles that seemed to come out of the wood work and buzz around the lamps. I guess they gave up on the mouse in the family room. We haven't seen hide nor hair of the little rat so maybe he was fortunate enough to find his way back outside.

And so ends another couple of days in the Great Frozen North. Hope your week has been warm and wonderful.

Life is Good,

Hugs, Giddy

Friday, December 05, 2008

Fa la la la...........Oh, Bother!

I am so in awe and envy of my fellow bloggers who spend hours planning and decorating for the holidays. My attempt at holiday decorating is quite sparse in comparison.

Now, I'm not exactly a Grinch, but I find the whole holiday business tiring. For one thing, the meaning has gotten way too lost in history. What started out as a celebration of the sun wending it's way back north to warm the earth and an anticipation of the return of earth's fertility and bounty has often turned into something quite different.

I love anything made of natural materials, and our good friends graced us with a homemade wreath of balsam, pine cones and reindeer moss. Just the perfect thing to decorate Giddy's door!

The only other decorations in the house are ones made by my mother. Her ceramic Christmas trees are dear to me and grace our home every year.

Mother Nature did her part yesterday by blanketing our little corner of the world with about 5 inches of sparkly white stuff.

Of course, it also has it's downside!

Oh well.

Life is always good!

Hugs, Giddy

Monday, December 01, 2008

A Faerie Tale

The faeries and wood nymphs came rolling out of the woods, groanin'. Their full tummies had about all the Thanksgiving blessings they could manage.

"Dear Giddy", they implored, "What in the world are we to do with all the leftover mashed potatoes"! We made wayyyyy too many and we don't want them to go to waste".

Now, Mother MacCree would not approve of wastefulness, so Giddy put on her thinking cap and came up with a solution. "Why, make Colcannon, she replied".

"Sigh, said the faeries and the nymphs, but we and the Leprechauns have had Colcannon up to our eyebrows. Can ye not come up with something new, hip and with it? Not that we don't like Mother MacCree's Colcannon, but we'd really like something that we can serve as a side dish, not a main dish. Can ye help us, Ms. Giddy"?

Ms. Giddy took pity on the poor babies and set about to come up with something one could do with cabbage, onions and mashed potatoes that would suit the woodland resident's needs.

First, Ms.Giddy thinly sliced the cabbage and onions and sauteed them in canola oil til soft.....

then, added the cold, leftover mashers.......

she added one egg and mixed well......

then, Ms. Giddy, who fancies her fine self as a bit cosmopolitan, with her wee wet hands, made little patties of the mixture and dredged them in Japanese Panko bread crumbs. Now, isn't that hip, and new? She then put them into a frying pan with a wee bit of canola oil and fried the tiny beggars til they were nice and golden brown on both sides. Oh, the joy! When ready to eat, they can also be topped with a nice shred of Cheddar and put under the broiler!

The faeries and wood nymphs were beside themselves, but the Leprechauns had long since tired of the process and heid themselves off to their hidey holes to count their gold coins and enjoy a wee dram of their Jamison stock.

In the end, the faeries and nymphs carefully wrapped their treasure in plastic wrap and then in aluminium foil and stored them beneath the twisted roots of cedar trees to freeze over the long, harsh winter for future meals. They were soooo happy and thanked The Giddy Garden Gnome for her inovative interpretation of a wonderful, Irish favorite.

Although Giddy was simply happy to help her friends, as payment for her services, they spread Irish blessings and good luck to all who sample her recipe.

The end.

O.K. kiddies, now that the tale is over, it's back to reality. For those of you who may think the Leprechauns shared their bottle with me, please rest assured that I'm as sober as the proverbial judge! The wee folk just got into my imagination today!

The next part of this post is the saga of "The Rat"!

We awoke this morning and noticed the "boys" were no where to be found upstairs. "Oh", says I, "I think they must have found a mouse downstairs".

Upon further investigation, it was apparent that Spike and Sluggo were on the hunt.

As suspected, I found them downstairs in the family room having obviously cornered the vermin under the armoire. They were both on point, taking their task quite seriously.

Unfortunately, despite my assistance with the flashlight and a long stick, we could not flush the prey from it's hiding place.

I left the boys to their chores and had to leave for another assignment. We will continue to monitor the situation and report accordingly.

Life, and sometimes a wee bit of fantasy, is Good!

Hugs, Giddy