Thursday, March 5, 2009

Yes Virginia, there really will be a spring in Iowa this year. (And Claire shares a recipe)

Today was, in a word, glorious. The sun was shining all day. The temperature absolutely soared for March 5 in Iowa. For those of us (including me) who speak Celsius, it was 23 degrees! For everyone else...uhhh....that was....(using calculator)....73.4 degrees Fahrenheit! Truly, it might have broken records around here. I did not want to be inside at the office all afternoon, so I left a bit early to enjoy my slice of the sunshine. The yard was rather sloppy, with all the melted snow and ice making some areas very muddy. The ducks were thrilled. The chickens slightly less so. I had to wear my wellies everywhere, but I was outside in a sleeveless top! Woo hoo!!

I spent longer outside than I had really intended to, but it was irresistible. I sat with chickens on my lap, then goats leaning on my legs, then sheep nibbling at my boots. I collected 13 eggs (good job ladies!) and just meandered about, enjoying the sun and my animals. It was just starting to get dark when I finally came inside, and as I walked past the south side of the house, I saw....could it be??? Was it REALLY a tiny bit of green??? A sudden thrill, and I had to get my camera. I know, you southerners will laugh, but I could just dance at the sight of these little green spikes, which one of the local rabbits is likely to eat soon. Still, they tell me that spring really is coming, and there will be flowers, and all of this mucky winter weather will be gone. Hooray! I think these are crocus.

Here, you can see my drip irrigation pipe that gets hidden under plants in summer. I think in the back I have some allium, and in the front some daffodils.
Nikki had asked for my custard recipe a couple of posts ago. It's really quite simple, and if you have a lot of eggs, it is a good way to use them. It came from the Carnation evaporated milk label, so it is a public recipe, not a deeply held family secret! It's very adaptable to modification too, which I like. I'll give you the original label version, and then tell you what modifications I often make.

Carnation Maple Creme
1 can Carnation evaporated milk
1 cup water
2/3 cup sugar
1 1/2 tsp vanilla
4 eggs
maple syrup

Heat milk, water and sugar in microwave until quite hot, not boiling. Stir to dissolve sugar. Add vanilla. In a separate bowl, beat eggs well. Add a thin stream of the hot milk mixture into the eggs while whisking. (This heats up the egg mixture because if you suddenly add cold eggs to the hot milk, it can instantly cook the eggs and make the custard taste too eggy). Then you can put the egg mixture into the milk mixture and blend well. Divide among 6 custard cups and bake at 350 degrees for 45 minutes in a water bath. (I boil the kettle and put the hot water into my glass 9x13 dish and set the custard cups in that. It only needs to be a half inch or so up the sides of the cups). Top when chilled with maple syrup to taste.

I use 1/2 cup of sugar instead, to cut back on the sugar a bit. I think you could use honey too.
Sometimes I use regular milk and/or a mix of regular milk and fat free half and half.
Sometimes I add 2 tbsp of instant coffee instead of the vanilla and blend it in for coffee custards.
Sometimes I add almond essence instead of the vanilla.
I have also added coconut into the mix.
I use my "small" eggs in this recipe and use 5 or 6, depending on size.

Use your imagination with this recipe - it's highly adaptable, easy, and quick!


Mom L said...

OH, wow - it was warmer in Iowa today than it was here!!! You sound as excited about your bit of green as I was Sunday with our snowy afternoon!

Glad you got "out" early to hang with your 4-legged friends. I'll bet you watched Luna romp, too!


Flartus said...

Congratulations! I know how you feel; I grew up in the snow belt, and to this day I have strong nostalgic feelings for snowdrops. Your outdoor reveries sound idyllic.

Love that recipe; we made our own maple syrup when I was a kid, and I just went back home in November and bought a 1/2 gallon. Sounds like a good way to play with it! Plus, y'know, those local eggs we got last weekend.

By the chicky pics??? C'mon; I need my fix! :)

Lola Nova said...

Spring magic = Crocus Pokus!
Our Daphne is blooming and it smells so good. We had a dark, wet cold one today, yuck.

Stacy said...

23 degrees in March! Fantastic! In Ontario we are at 9 degrees. On the plus side! Come on spring!

Don said...

I don't know whaat it is, but all of us Northerners are ready for spring. I think it started with the little warm up we had in Feb.

I am expecting your warm weather tomorrow!

I love custard!

Handmade Sunshine said...

Ah, it was wonderful in SE Iowa today as well. T-shirt weather all the way. Lovely lovely SPRING! (and just for the powers that be that might be listening...please make it not flood this year.)

Michelle at Boulderneigh said...

Today for the first time, I was waiting on a chicken to pop out an egg so I could sell an even dozen to my neighbor! Up until now, I've had a great plenty and have even prayed for more customers to buy the excess. My mom always warned me to be careful what I prayed for; now I may never have enough eggs to feel I can splurge on custard again!

Jennifer said...

Sounds like beautiful weather and not a day to be wasted indoors! Green means Spring! I get the same way when I see those first few sprigs of green come up!

Farm Chick Paula said...

Mmmmm... the recipe sounds wonderful!