Sunday, April 29, 2012

Road Trip - Part II

I'm back at Farm Dover after a whirlwind weekend in Floyd, VA. Let's see, I promised to tell you what I found in town while Maggie was attending her bee class, which started out at the Country Store and ended up at the Spikenard Farm and Honey Bee Sanctuary.

The town is tiny, all of two blocks long and one block wide, but jammed packed with locally owned places: a coffee roaster, farm hardware store, antique mall, yarn shop, several art galleries and a cozy coffee shop, located above a music book shop. Here's a look around...

After a morning in town, I headed out to the Blue Ridge Mountain Parkway with the intent of finding the Mabry Mill. It was purported to be the most photographed site on the entire parkway, and now you can see why. 

After a hike around the mill, I headed to the Honey Bee Sanctuary to pick up Maggie. Since founding Spikenard Farm in 2006, Gunther Hauk and his wife Vivian have been actively spreading their vision of sustainable biodynamic beekeeping. The Spikenard Honeybee Sanctuary provides on-site workshops, lectures, consulting and publications.

We celebrated Maggie's 25th birthday that night with dinner at Oddfella's, followed by moosetrack ice cream back at the Country Store, which was also the site of a very popular Saturday night country dance (think Grand Old Opry).

The next morning we had breakfast on the porch of the Ambrosia Bed & Breakfast, before saying goodby to our host, Caroline. On the way home, we listened to the first book of The Hunger Games, making the seven-hour trip back home go fairly quickly. As we pulled in the drive, we still had a chapter or two to go. We thought about sitting in the car and finishing the tape, but decided we had better go in and see how Ed survived the weekend home alone. It appears he did just fine....but he was glad to see us.

All and all, it was a lovely weekend -- especially nice to spend it with Maggie. I hope she decides to go back for another class and invites me along again.

Saturday, April 28, 2012

Road Trip - Part 1

Maggie signed up for a bee-keeping course in Floyd, VA and I signed up as her travel companion. We left Farm Dover early on Friday afternoon and arrived in the tiny town of Floyd, located on the crest of the Blue Ridge, just after dark. It was a pretty spring night and every person in town (population 432) plus a bunch of other people all showed up at the Floyd Country Store for the Friday Night Jamboree, which features local and area Bluegrass bands. We ducked into a jazz bar next door for a craft beer and asparagus pizza before heading to Ambrosia Farm Bed & Breakfast.

This morning I dropped Maggie off at the Floyd Country Store for her class and I headed out to explore the town. I'll let you know what I find...

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Making Birds, Bees and Me Happy

If all goes well, sunflowers, zinnias, and nasturtium should be popping up in my garden.
Photo by photofarmer, flickr®

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Yesterday's Travels to Paradise (KY)

Ed and I went to Paradise yesterday, but not before going to Owensboro for his Aunt Ila's memorial service. Ila was married to Ed's father's brother, Hugh. Back in the day, the two Galloway brothers ran Galloway's Market in downtown Owensboro.

I don't know that side of Ed's family very well, seems like I mostly see them when someone dies. I've recently connected up with three of his first cousins via facebook, so I'm hoping our friendships grow beyond funeral visits and status posts.

The service was at First Presbyterian Church with a lunch afterwards in the fellowship hall. Ed saw some long-time friends and cousins that he hadn't seen for a very long time, evidenced by the fact that they didn't recognize each other (I guess they -- and Ed -- had changed since he was a teenager and known to all as Eddie Lee.)

Before heading back to Shelby County, we rode out into the country, out past Windy Hollow, toward Glenview, Guffie, and Calhoun. We stopped at the old Fitts farm, which was much changed since I first saw it nearly 30 years ago. It was the home place of Ed's maternal grandparents, but today there are no tobacco barns, no old family farmhouse, no root cellar, no front-yard Maple shade trees -- nothing but 66-acres of rolling fields, dotted with some ancient-looking oil pumps. Ben Burns (Ed's great nephew) was out on a gigantic John Deere tractor getting the fields ready for planting.

I couldn't help but scan the ground as we walked around, just in case I caught a glimpse of the little gold ring that Ed's mother lost down the porch floorboards when she was a young girl. For over 75 years she searched for it, as did Aunt Gladys, as do my girls. I suppose for as long as that land is in the family, relatives will continue to look for a bit of shiny gold peeking out of the earth.

Oil rigs still pumping out black gold on the Fitts Farm.

Our journey continued. Just down the road was the old Galloway farm, which is still in farmland, but showed no evidence of the house where Ed's dad was born, weighing in at all of two pounds. We stopped at a couple of country graveyards, trying to find the grave stone of a revolutionary war soldier and ancestor of Ed's on his faternal grandmother's side, a Coloniel Lyttle. No luck.

Don't believe what you hear about words carved in stone: They do disappear with years.

Tichenor's Store at Guffie has seen better days.
From there, we made our way over a bridge of the Green River and toward Central City (which is where my maternal grandmother was born and raised). We had a general plan that we wanted to see the Peabody Wildlife Management area, approximately 60,000 acres in Ohio and Muhlenberg counties that are reclaimed strip mine lands. So we headed to where Paradise lay, but, like the John Prine song says, we found that Mister Peabody's coal train had hauled it away.

On the way to Paradise....
Despite almost non-existent signage, we managed to find our way to a portion of the Peabody Wildlife Area near the TVA plant. Most of the mined land has been reclaimed to grassland, small ponds, swamps and sloughs. The town of Paradise now looks more like a bird-watcher or angler's paradise. A Kentucky Wildlife ranger pointed out some good fishing spots on the map and told us we could camp anywhere that didn't block a gravel road or boat ramp -- an outing best saved for another day.

With the afternoon slipping away, we made our way back to the Western Kentucky Parkway, I-65, I-265, I-64, Simpsonville and then finally to Farm Dover. Nice day; nice to be back home. Paradise, in fact.


Reclaimed grassland and pond in the Peabody Wildlife Management Area with TVA stacks in the background.
photo by Robert Gundy via flickr®

Paradise, by John Prine

When I was a child my family would travel
Down to Western Kentucky where my parents were born
And there's a backwards old town that's often remembered
So many times that my memories are worn.

And daddy won't you take me back to Muhlenberg County
Down by the Green River where Paradise lay
Well, I'm sorry my son, but you're too late in asking
Mister Peabody's coal train has hauled it away

Well, sometimes we'd travel right down the Green River
To the abandoned old prison down by Adrie Hill
Where the air smelled like snakes and we'd shoot with our pistols
But empty pop bottles was all we would kill.

Then the coal company came with the world's largest shovel
And they tortured the timber and stripped all the land
Well, they dug for their coal till the land was forsaken
Then they wrote it all down as the progress of man.

When I die let my ashes float down the Green River
Let my soul roll on up to the Rochester dam
I'll be halfway to Heaven with Paradise waitin'
Just five miles away from wherever I am.

You Be The Judge

Could this be a Blue Ribbon Winner at the State Fair?

Monday, April 16, 2012

Celebrating Spring with Garden Bounty

Perhaps by August I will have calmed down about the produce from our garden. But for now, I get exceedingly excited by what's coming up in our garden and in our neighbors: Sandy and Jon's.

Last night, we had friends over for dinner and our appetizer featured radishes, pulled from the garden just ten minutes before our guests pulled down the drive. Earlier in the day, I had blended some softened butter with herbs from the garden. I simply washed off the dirt from the radishes, trimmed them up, and cut them in half vertically. I served them along side the the herbed butter and two kinds of salt: black smoked salt (from Montreal) and some course grained sea salt. They were delicious: crunchy and not too hot.

Straight from my garden, into the kitchen sink, and onto an appetizer platter.

For dinner, I made our family-favorite asparagus lasagne. It comes from a recipe that I pulled from a Gourmet magazine 20 years ago. Ed and I planted 25 asparagus crowns a couple of weeks ago, but it will be a couple of years before we can begin harvesting our own home-grown asparagus. Fortunately, my neighbors grow beautiful asparagus that they sell to restaurants in Louisville. I called Sandy as we headed to church yesterday to see if she could spare some for my dinner guests. I was in luck.

Asparagus is low in calories and is very low in sodium. It is a good source of calcium, magnesium and zinc.
It is high in fiber, protein, vitamin A, B6, C, E, and K, as well as thiamin, riboflavin, ruitn, niacin, folic acis, iron, phosphorus, pottassium, copper,
manganese, selenium, and chromium. Did I mention that is it also delicious? 

Here's the recipe.

4 pounds asparagus trimmed and cut into 1 inch pieces, reserve some of the tips
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
6 .7 x 6.25 inch sheets of instant (no boil) lasagna (from Lotsa Pasta)
1/2 stick of unsalted butter
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1-1/2 cups chicken broth
1/2 cup water
8 ounces mild goat cheese such as Montrachet
1 tablespoon freshly grated lemon zest
1-2/3 cups freshly grated Paramesan
1 cup heavy cream

Note: I sometimes add prosciutto in layers if I’m serving it to meat lovers. Last night, I used some country ham.

In each of two shallow baking pans toss half the asparagus stalks with half the oil, coating them well, and roast them in a preheated 500 degree oven, shaking the pans every few minutes for 5-10 minutes, or until they are crisp-tender. Sprinkle the asparagus with salt to taste and let it cool.

In a saucepan melt the butter, add the flour, and cook the roux over moderately low heat, stirring, for 3 minutes. Add the broth and the water in a stream, whisking, simmer the mixture for 5 minutes, and whisk in the goat cheese, the zest, and salt to taste, whisking until the sauce is smooth.

Arrange 2 sheets of the lasagne in a 9x13 inch pan. Spread the sheets with one fourth of the sauce. Top the sauce with one fourth of the asparagus and sprinkle with 1/3 cup of Parmesan. Continue to layer the pasta, the sauce, the asparagus and the Parmesan in the same manner, ending with a sheet of pasta.

In a bowl, beat the cream with a pinch of salt until it holds soft peaks. Arrange the reserved asparagus tips decoratively on the pasta, spoon the cream over the pasta and the asparagus tips, spreading it with the back of the spoon and sprinkle the remaining 1/3 cup Parmesan on top.

Bake the lasagna in the middle of a preheated 350 degrees oven for 20-30 minutes, or until it is golden and bubbling. Let it stand for 10 minutes before serving.


Sunday, April 15, 2012

LOOK! What's Coming Up in My Garden

We don't eat strawberries during 11 months of the year, but we eat them everyday when they are in season locally. And it doesn't get any more local than from the raised garden in our back yard. So, give it another week or so and we'll be celebrating everyday: Strawberries with yogurt for breakfast, strawberries on salad for lunch, strawberry shortcakes for dessert. YUM!

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

One more reason not to have to drive into town

I love being out here on Farm Dover and grumble a bit whenever I have to leave. I don't mind going as far as Shelbyville, LaGrange or Foxhollow Farm. So imagine my delight when we found our favorite chocolate bark at Foxhollow Farm Store.

Just this past week they started carrying Cellar Door's Sea Salt Almond Bark. We discovered this handcrafted gourmet confection a year ago at Cellar Door Chocolate's Butchertown shop. Since then, we have gone out of our way to pick up a bar (or two or three). I'm sure all the decadent and delectable delights from this artisan candy maker are delicious. But we just can't seem to move beyond this bar. It is the perfect combination of quality dark chocolate and salty, crunchy almonds.

So, if you haven't tried it, head to Cellar Door in the Butchertown Market or take a drive out to Foxhollow Farm Store* on Covered Bridge Road and pick up a bar. While  you are there, you might as well enjoy the best hamburger ever, grilled to order by none other than Maggie Galloway.

*The Foxhollow Farm Store is open every Saturday 10am to 5pm throughout the Winter. They serve burgers cooked-to-order and a seasonal soup from 11am to 3pm.

Monday, April 9, 2012

Homemade Granola, REALLY

Remember when I blogged about fruitcakes and how I like to know what's in them before I'll eat a slice? Well, I'm the same way about granola. I'm suspect of the sugary-as-dessert, expensive stuff you buy in a box in the cereal aisle of the grocery and even of the anemic-looking stuff from the bulk section of Whole Foods. A few years ago I started making homemade granola from a recipe in Breakfast Lunch Tea/Rose Bakery. I'd bag it up in cute little cellophane bags and send it to my kids for Valentine's Day (being heart-healthy and all). It is very good granola, but the recipe is a bit complicated and the ingredient list is long.  

A month or so ago I ran across another granola recipe on one of the cooking blogs I like: Orangette. The writer intrigued me when she wrote:

What sets this granola apart, I think, is its texture. It's so light and crisp that it actually shatters between your teeth. This is not the kind of drudgery that makes your jaw ache halfway through the bowl. It's mostly composed of the usuals - oats, nuts, and seeds - but what makes it special is that they're bound together by a dark slurry of maple syrup, brown sugar, and olive oil, and that slurry that caramelizes in the oven to form a thin, crunchy lacquer over each nub and bit.

I had to give it a try. I made one batch and then made four more. Then I kind of forgot about it until last week in Baltimore when I ordered granola with yogurt and fruit and immediately realized that my new recipe was ten times better. So, this week, I made another batch. And I'm considering making another one today.

Saturday morning breakfast on the back porch: Greek Yogurt with local honey, raspberries and homemade granola

Here's the recipe:

Olive Oil and Maple Granola
Adapted from Nekisia Davis, Early Bird Foods, and Food 52

300 grams (3 cups) rolled oats
125 grams (1 cup) raw hulled pumpkin seeds
130 grams (1 cup) raw hulled sunflower seeds
50 grams (1 cup) unsweetened coconut chips
135 grams (1 ¼ cup) raw pecans, whole or chopped
85 grams (packed ½ cup) light brown sugar
1 tsp. kosher salt
175 ml (¾ cup) maple syrup, preferably Grade B
120 ml (½ cup) olive oil
Dried cherries, optional

Preheat the oven to 300°F. Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper.

In a large bowl, combine the oats, pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds, coconut chips, pecans, light brown sugar, and salt. Stir to mix. Add the olive oil and maple syrup, and stir until well combined. Spread the mixture in an even layer on the prepared sheet pan. Bake, stirring every 15 minutes, until the granola is golden brown and toasted, about 45 minutes. Remove the granola from the oven, and season with more salt to taste. Cool completely on a wire rack. If you'd like, stir in some dried cherries. Store in an airtight container.

Yield: about 7 cups

The author notes that the mixture will keep for a month in an airtight container. But not if you leave it out on the counter and unscrew the jar and eat a handful every time you walk past it, like I do.


So, that's how I make homemade granola. But as I was making it, I realized that it is not completely far-fetched to think that I could make REALLY homemade granola, from the harvest of Farm Dover.

I googled "growing oats" and think we could figure out a way to grow a half-acre of oats, which is a lot of oats. I'll have pumpkin seeds and sunflower seeds from our garden. Ed and I planted two pecan trees this past weekend. Unfortunately, we will need to wait 8-10 years for our first harvest. We even have a number of maple trees on the place, so tapping them for syrup is not out of the question. The dried cherries will come from our two cherry trees – Maggie has built a food dehydrator that I bet she will let me borrow. That just leaves salt, olive oil, brown sugar, and coconut chips.

When I told Ed of my plan to REALLY make homemade granola, he joked that if global warming continues, we might well be able to grow olives, sugar cane, and coconuts right here on Farm Dover.

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Dreaming of Strawberry Shortcakes

It is always a couple of degrees colder in the country and tonight's forecast is getting dangerously close to being bad news for our strawberries and fruit trees.

We covered up our strawberries but not sure what to do about our fruit orchard.

Jack Frost stay away, please.

Monday, April 2, 2012

Baltimore: It Grows On You

Ed and I have been privileged to visit our children in their respective college cities. From day one, we loved visiting Maggie in Madison, WI and Jack in Montreal. Baltimore was another story. While we have loved visiting Mary at the Maryland College of Art, it has taken us three years to be charmed by Charm City. But it has finally happened.

We just returned from a weekend visit to Baltimore. Maggie was able to join us after she finished work on Saturday, so it was almost a family reunion. (We missed you Jack!) Mary's boyfriend, John, joined us for the weekend festivities.

Getting from the airport to our downtown hotel was easy; we just hopped on the light rail right at the airport and hopped off, one block from our Hotwire hotel. After a late lunch of half-shell clams and oysters at a raw bar at the Lexington Market, we headed over to Hamden, a quaint shopping area that just happened to have a great bar to catch the UK/UL game. Late dinner was at Woodberry Kitchen, one of our all-time favorite restaurants. Maggie's flight was delayed, but she slipped into our booth just as our Government Mule (organic vodka, housemade ginger beer, lime-ginger syrup) drinks were served to us in frosty copper mugs.

Sunday started with Palm Sunday church service at Brown Memorial Presbyterian Church. It was hard to focus on the sermon with the sanctuary's Tiffany stained glass windows for competition. Then lunch at a little cafe just down Bolton Street. Afterwards, I headed shopping with the girls while Ed and John toured a clipper ship in the Baltimore Inner harbor.

Today we walked from downtown to the inner harbor to Little Italy and then to Fell's Point and back. Then we popped back on the light rail to head to the airport. And now we are back home again. 

Thank you Mary and John for hosting us. Thank you Maggie for making the effort to get away and join us. What a fun weekend.

Ordering lunch at the Lexington Market.

Stopped in to gape at the Peabody Library.
We found some comfy couches to watch the UK/UL game.

We toured one of the art galleries that featured
MICA student art work. That's a bunny tree behind Ed and Mary.
After church.

John and the girls at the harbor.