Sunday, January 29, 2012

The Galloway Way

When I married Ed 25 years ago I had to learn "The Galloway Way" of doing things. The Galloway Way encompasses how one approaches life in general, but has at least three very specific components. Number 1: No whining. Number 2: (closely related to number 1) Be tough, buck up and push your way through pain. Number 3: Do not ever look at the picture on the box top of the jigsaw puzzle you are trying to work.

I have learned to embrace numbers 1 and 2, but this third one really stumps me. Do you have any idea how hard it it to work a 1000+ piece puzzle and not even know the subject matter?

In true Galloway fashion, Maggie and Mary worked their way through this Charley Harper puzzle. All those blue pieces were especially tough. Maggie's friend, Julie, who was visiting for the weekend, helped with the last handful of pieces. All done (except for one missing piece in the lower right corner.)

Time to break out a new puzzle. But, don't look at the box top! It's not the Galloway Way...

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Learn Something New

One of my favorite parts about our new life here on the farm is the unending opportunities to learn new things. Whether it is planting trees, brewing beer, blazing trails, making compost, extracting honey, or changing the furnace filter, I feel like I'm constantly boosting my brain cells. Yesterday, was one such opportunity.

I was invited to Foxhollow Farm to participate in a dry run of one of the new classes that are being offered through the Foxhollow Folk School. My Maggie (Galloway) and Maggie Keith were teaching a class on the art of canning, using both hot water bath and pressure canning. While I had canned a few jams and some beets and beans this past year, I had never tried pressure canning.

The two Maggies led us through canning exercises using produce from Foxhollow's own garden. We pressure canned butternut squash and hot water canned pickled beets. It was a nice to spend a cold afternoon in the toasty kitchen at Foxhollow Farm learning a new skill.

The Maggies have plans to offer the canning class throughout the year. So even though I've taken this class, I'm planning to sign up for the one in the spring where we can jams and ones in the summer that feature okra, beans, cucumbers and other summer crops.

The Foxhollow Folk School is also offering classes in natural beekeeping, felting, how to make the perfect french baguette, artisan cheese making, and bluebird house building. I think most of these classes are sold out, but more are being planned. Check out the schedule and let me know if there is a class that interests you. I'd love to take it with you. Let's keep those brain cells multiplying.

With the butternut squash that I learned to can yesterday, dinner can be ready in five minutes.
Just saute an onion, add some chicken broth, a bit of nutmeg, salt and pepper and voila!: Butternut Squash Soup.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Seedlings Now; Towering Trees Some Day

One day last month District Forester Ben Lyle from the Kentucky Division of Forestry spent the better part of an afternoon tromping around Farm Dover dispensing all sorts of useful information to Bobby (our next-door-neighbor), Ed, and me.

Ben was here to create a customized forest stewardship plan based on our goals and objectives for our property – free of charge! He showed up at noon. I fed him a bowl of chili and then off we went for a three-hour tour...a three-hour tour. He identified trees on our property, talked to us about which trees we could add that would flourish on our farm, gave us advice about ways to improve wildlife habitat, and told us about seedlings available from his division.

The next morning, I called his office and ordered sixty trees. Well, "trees" may be a bit of an exaggeration. Someday they will be trees. Today they are seedlings, 12- to 24-inches in height. Many of the variety we wanted were already sold out. No pawpaws or pecans. No dogwoods or redbuds. No coffeetrees or chestnuts. No willow oaks or river birch. I'll try again in the fall.

Instead, priced very reasonably, I ordered 10 bald cypress, 10 hazelnut, 10 white oak, 10 yellow poplar, 10 bur oak and 10 mulberry seedlings. They arrived on our doorstep this week and so this afternoon, Ed and I headed out with fence post diggers to plant the trees. Because the seedlings are not very big, we tied a bright orange ribbon to the top of each one so that we won't run over them with the mower.

Just think, the 18-inch bald cypress seedlings that we planted today on the far bank of our pond may grow to more than 80 feet and may live for more than 1000 years. So the work we did this afternoon may provide shade for an afternoon of fishing for our great, great, great+ grandchildren. Fun to think about....


Thursday, January 19, 2012

Tuesday, January 17, 2012


Just back from a week in Mustique with my three sisters. Our aunt had reserved a beautiful villa and, at the last minute, was unable to get away. So off we went in her stead. Mustique is a small (very beautiful) private island in the West Indies – not easy to get to, but worth the effort. We hiked on the beach, snorkeled in the aqua blue waters, hit tennis balls, biked, bird watched, listened to jazz at Basil's.... But mostly, we just enjoyed being together. 

Can you tell that our mother used to dress us alike?

Monday, January 9, 2012

Girl Time

Ed is off to fish at The Juniper Club this week. Mary and I are left at home to fend for ourselves – which we do quite well. While we dearly miss Ed, life goes on pretty much as usual except 1) I have to get up and fix my own coffee in the morning instead of Ed bringing me a cup in bed and 2) instead of watching the ABC World News and Jeopardy, we tune into reruns of Gilmore Girls and Indie movies from Netflix: last night's choice was Cyrus and tonight was The Other Side of Sunday.

3) Our other indulgence is to cook all our favorite vegetarian meals. Her senior year in high school Mary declared that meat was off limits and, in support of that commitment, I discovered some delicious meatless recipes. (A year later, she was back to a full omnivore diet.) While Ed is happy to go meatless every once in a while, I suspect multiple days straight would be a bit much for him.

So while he is enjoying fried chicken, barbecue, fried fish, pork chops, etc., Mary and I are enjoying Lemony Chickpea Stir-fry, Black Beans and Rice Your Way, and City Cafe Stew.

For breakfast this morning, we even whipped up a Wheat Berry Breakfast Bowl,
courtesy of 101 Cookbooks – one of my all-time favorite food blogs.
I'm happy to share our recipes with you.

Lemony Chickpea Stir-fry
This is Mary and my favorite vegetarian recipe. It is also good with roasted cauliflower added in. I think it originally came to us from 101 Cookbooks.

2 tablespoons olive oil
fine grain sea salt
1 small onion or a couple of shallots, diced
1 cup cooked chickpeas
(canned is fine)
8 oz. extra-fine tofu
1 cup chopped kale
2 small zucchini, chopped
zest and juice of 1/2 lemon

Heat 1 tablespoon olive oil. In a large skillet over medium heat and stir in a big pinch of salt, the onion, the chickpeas. Saute until the chickpeas are deeply golden and crusty. Stir in the tofu and cook just until the tofu is heated through, just a minute or so. Stir in the kale and cook for one minute more. Remove everything from the skillet onto a large plate and set aside. In the same skillet heat the remaining tablespoon olive oil and add the zucchini and saute until it starts to take on a bit of color, two or three minutes. Add the chickpea mixture back into the skillet, and remove heat. Stir in the lemon juice and zest, taste, and season with a bit more salt if needed. Turn out onto a platter and serve family style.


Black Beans and Rice Your Way
Adapted from Gourmet magazine, April 2007

For roasted sweet-potato cubes
1 pound sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into 1/2-inch cubes
2 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 teaspoon salt
For rice and beans
2 1/4 cups water
1 1/2 cups long-grain white rice
3/4 teaspoon salt
2 cans black beans
For toasted pumpkin seeds
1 cup hulled (green) pumpkin seeds (also called pepitas; not toasted)
2 teaspoons olive oil
cubes of avocado tossed with lime juice; tomatillo salsa; lime wedges; chopped white onion; fresh cilantro sprigs

Roast sweet-potato cubes
Put oven rack in middle position and preheat oven to 450°F.
Toss sweet potatoes with oil and salt, then spread in 1 layer in a large shallow baking pan. Roast, stirring and turning over once or twice, until tender and browned, 35 to 40 minutes.

Cook rice while sweet potatoes roast
Bring water, rice, and salt to a boil in a 2- to 3-quart heavy saucepan, then reduce heat and cook, tightly covered, until rice is tender and water is absorbed, about 15 minutes. Let stand, covered, off heat 5 minutes, then fluff with a fork.

Toast pumpkin seeds while rice is cooking
Toast pumpkin seeds in a dry 10- to 12-inch heavy skillet (not nonstick; preferably cast-iron) over moderate heat, stirring, until seeds are puffed and pale golden, 3 to 4 minutes. Transfer to a bowl and stir in oil and salt to taste.

To serve
Heat black beans, thinning with water if necessary, then serve along with rice, sweet potatoes, pumpkin seeds, and accompaniments, each in a separate bowl.


 City Cafe Stew
Served at Louisville’s City Cafe. In tonight's dinner, we substituted chicken broth for the vegetable broth.

1 medium butternut squash
1 tablespoon dried thyme
3 tablespoons olive oil
salt and pepper
1 bunch Swiss chard
1 medium shallot, peeled and minced
4 cloves garlic, peeled and minced
2 15-ounce cans Great Northern white beans, drained
1-2 cups vegetable broth
Parmesan cheese

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Peel the butternut squash, cut in half and scoop out seeds. Cut the squash into 1-inch cubes. Put in a large bowl, sprinkle with thyme and 2 tablespoons of olive oil, 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon black pepper. Toss to coat squash with oil and seasonings. Place squash in a single layer on a baking sheet and roast 45 minutes, or until browned and tender, turning once. Wash Swiss Chard well. Pinch off stems from leaves. Chop stems and leaves separately. Heat remaining 1 tablespoon of olive oil in a heavy pot. Add minced shallots and garlic and chopped chard stems. Saute until tender 5-8 minutes. Add drained beans, roasted squash and 1 cup vegetable broth . Bring to boil, reduce heat, and simmer 15-20 minutes. Add chopped Swiss Chard leaves and cook until wilted, about 5 minutes more. Add more vegetable stock if the stew seems too thick. Serve in bowls with shaved Parmesan cheese.

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Lay Straw While the Sun Shines

It's January 8th. The sun is shining and it is a warm 51 degrees outside – so warm in fact, that I shed my fleece and work in just shirt sleeves. My goal for today is to stake out the garden for the upcoming growing season and spread some straw on it so that it decomposes over the winter/spring and improves the soil underneath.

I pound some left-over tomato stakes into the four corners and string some twine amongst them to get a sense of the size plot that I am undertaking. I know I want it big enough to support a variety of vegetables, big enough to feed us, and big enough to share with friends -- but not so big that I get overwhelmed (yes, it happens easily to me.) I settle on a plot that is 25'x50'. It feels right. Time will tell.

I hoist the straw bales from the truck bed and march them one-at-time out to the staked-off area beside the cottage. I clip the twine that holds the bale together and begin laying the straw, working my way left to right, top to bottom of the plot. Four bales. Works out perfectly. 

Next steps include sitting by the fire and thumbing through seed catalogs and dreaming of what I want to plant, adding a layer of compost, starting seedlings from seed, nicely asking Danny to come plow, planning out what gets planted where and when, actually planting either the seeds or seedlings, weeding, watering, weeding some more, planting some more, weeding some more, harvesting, sharing, cooking, and offering thanks for the (hopeful) bounty. I can almost taste it now.

Saturday, January 7, 2012

A New Use for Our Coffee Bean Grinder

There has been a bowl of cayenne peppers sitting on our kitchen counter for months and today was the day I finally took action. I harvested the peppers in August from our garden and supplemented them with ones from our CSA box from Foxhollow Farm. Since then, I've simply left them to dry.

This morning, I cut off the tops and popped the peppers, along with their seeds, in our coffee bean grinder and hit the "grind" button. What came out was fresh and fiery cayenne pepper powder. I could see the peppers' heat rising out of the grinder and had to be careful not to breathe the vapors.

Now, if I can just figure out how to get our coffee bean grinder totally free of cayenne pepper specks. Otherwise, tomorrow morning's coffee will have an added kick!

Did you know...
  • Cayenne is a very good source of Vitamin A, Vitamin C, Vitamin B6, Vitamin K and manganese.
  • Capsaicin is a powerful anti-inflammatory.
  • Cayenne is said to relieve arthritic and rheumatic pain and inflammation.
  • Cayenne is thought to reduce cholesterol levels in the blood and therefore reduce the risk of all forms of cardiovascular disease.
  • Cayenne can be a useful cold, congestion and cough remedy.
  • Cayenne is thought to boost the body's immunity system and prevent infection and illness.
  • Contrary to popular belief, cayenne prevents the formation of stomach ulcers rather than actually causing them.
  • Hot spices such as cayenne can speed up a person's metabolism and help burn off calories much quicker.
  • Cayenne lowers the body's internal temperature, helping inhabitants of hot countries to cope with the intense heat and hot weather.
  • Cayenne prevents blood clots forming and keeps the blood thin, which is useful in the prevention of strokes and cardiovascular disease.
  • Cayenne is useful for diabetics, as it is thought to reduce blood sugar levels.
  • Cayenne is a popular stimulant, tonic and energizer -- even known to be an aphrodisiac!
  • Cayenne can be made into creams and ointments to be applied to the body externally in order to help heal bruises and muscle aches and pains.
  • Cayenne is an effective stimulant to the circulation, used to treat sufferers of poor circulation, cold hands and feet and chilblains.
  • One article I read said a cup of hot cayenne tea can even be used to treat a heart attack!  I can't imagine that I would be thinking straight enough to brew a cup of cayenne tea if someone was in the midst of an attack. Wish me luck.

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Something's Brewing in Our Laundry Room

Beer is living proof that God loves us and wants us to be happy. 
– Benjamin Franklin

Back in December Maggie and Ed hatched a plan to brew beer here at Farm Dover. They met at My Old Kentucky Homebrew, on Story Avenue in Butchertown and came away with a truckload of beer brewing paraphernalia. I think their plan centered on Ed buying the equipment and helping drink the final product. I'm not sure it included him actually learning how to brew the beer.

So, over the Christmas holidays, Maggie, with help from friend Nate, set about a 17-step process with instructions that began:
Buy some ice, drink some beer and sanitize everything...

Check. Check. Check. They then proceeded to bring a big pot of water to boil, seep a tea of grain malts, add malt extract, drink some beer (per instructions), add some hops, cool it all down in an ice bath, and pitch (?) the yeast.  It all looked like a mad-scientist experiment to me. At the end of the evening, the pail full of ale was placed in the laundry room. The door was closed and the beer began its primary fermentation.

A week later, Maggie was back to check the gravity and prepare the brew for its secondary fermentation in a glass carboy (see photo below). 

We've got another week or so to go before the beer is ready to be bottled. And then the bottles need to sit for about a week to carbonate. So, by my calculations, Farm Dover beer should be ready for consumption on or about my birthday. Won't you come celebrate with us?