Saturday, September 29, 2012

Father/Son Chain Saw Lesson

Initial instruction.

A word of caution.

T-I-M –

– B-E-R!

Finishing up.

Having What You Need

Whenever we get home from far-away travels I crave healthy, homemade food. Green things, in particular. So, last night for dinner, I made a sesame edamame salad.

I hadn't planned to make it. I was inspired to make it after seeing it on The Forest Feast, a website that Jack sent me because he thought I might like it. I do. The site features beautiful photographic recipe illustrations that are laid out visually. So, of course, I like it!

It was fun to make because I hadn't planned to make it and I had (almost) all the ingredients on hand. When we lived in town, I kept very little food stocked at home and shopped for fresh ingredients every day at Doll's Market. Now, my pantry is well stocked, my freezer full, and the fresh stuff comes from my garden.

I thought about Grandmommy as I put together this salad. I written about her before, here, here, and here. When the children were little, Mary B. Rinehart lived just around the corner from us and whenever I needed something out of the ordinary, I'd call her to see if she had it. And she ALWAYS did. It didn't matter what I asked for, she had it – or could make it from a scrap of something she had. It got to be a game between us to see if I could stump her.

  • Grandmommy, do you have any pimentos? How about a can of diced tomatoes?
  • Do you have a japanese kimono? 
  • Do you have anything that would work for elf shoes for one of the children's costumes?

She always had what I needed and was always happy to share it with me. So last night, when I decided to make this salad, I went down the ingredient list and realized I had edamame in the freezer, one perfectly ripe avocado, the last few mozzarella balls from a Cosco container, sunflower seeds left over from my granola recipe, some cilantro from my garden, and the three ingredients for the dressing in my pantry.

 In honor of Grandmommy and her ability to always have what I needed, I placed two edible nasturtium blossoms on the plate and used her serving pieces to scoop it up. She would approve.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Look what I found...

Ed and I took a run out to the mailbox this afternoon and came back with a bucket of wildflowers. Amazing what happens when you stick some goldenrod, poke berries, silky dogwood and honeysuckle into a vase and take a picture.

Out with the Old!

High time to start thinking about my winter garden. Maggie has promised to come over this weekend and help me get it going. I figured I better get the old stuff out of the raised beds before contemplating what goes in its place.

So Sweet!

I know I promised an account of our wild west adventure -- and I will, soon. But today I want to show you what came out of our garden. Potatoes -- sweet ones!

Early in the summer I planted four slips (shoots grown from a mature sweet potato). Once planted, I  mostly forgot them. The vines grew and grew and grew, taking over the back part of the garden. When we got back from our trip I realized that we must have had a frost as the beautiful vines now boasted curled black leaves. So today, I picked up one of the vines and traced it back to where it entered the ground. Using my hands, I pulled up the vine root and dug around, finding six or seven sweet potatoes at the end of each vine.

In my enthusiasm for the harvest, I brought them in and washed them. NOT a good idea. I was supposed to put them (dirt and all) in a newspaper lined box and let them cure for a couple of weeks -- giving the starch time to turn to sugar. They are supposed to be stored in a warm room with high humidity. I'm going to have to think about the best place to cure them.

While they are curing, I'll be planning a fall dinner that highlights the sweetness of my tubers: Nigerian Curry Stew.


Nigerian Curry Stew

 Maggie fixed this for us over Christmas break (2008) and we all thought it was terrific. The recipe comes from Willy Street Co-op in Madison, WI.


1-1/2 lb sweet potatoes, peeled and cubed
1 lb red potatoes, cubed
2 T canola oil
1 medium yellow onion, chunked
1 large carrot, peeled and sliced in coins
1 red pepper, diced
2 t. garlic, minced
2 t fresh ginger, minced
1-1/2 T curry powder
1 can 15-oz diced tomatoes
1/2 t coriander
1/2 t salt
1/2 t black pepper
1 t crushed red pepper flakes
1/2 cup chopped peanuts
1/4 cup cilantro, chopped
3/4 cup peanut butter
1/4 cup soy sauce
2 T balsamic vinegar
1 T each molasses and toasted sesame oil
1 T hot sauce, or to taste

Steam or roast potatoes until just tender, about 8 minutes. Set aside to cool. In a medium saucepan, over very low heat, combine peanut butter with 1 cup water and soy sauce, stirring until smooth. Add balsamic vinegar, sesame oil, molasses, hot sauce, black pepper and 1/2 teaspoon crushed red peppers. Heat through and set aside. In a large saucepan, saute onion, carrot and red pepper in canola oil until soft. Add garlic, ginger and 1/2 t red pepper flakes and saute 3 minutes longer. Add tomatoes, peanut sauce and seasonings and simmer over low heat 20 minutes, stirring often. Add potatoes, chopped peanuts and cilantro and serve.

Sunday, September 23, 2012

4905.2 miles; 16 days

Just pulled into our drive, back from our epic wild west adventure -- and what a wonderful adventure it was! I suspect that it may take me a few days to pull together an account of our trip but wanted you to know that we are back home again -- safe, sound, and happy to be back at Farm Dover. Stay tuned...

Monday, September 3, 2012

Natural History Museum Opens at Farm Dover

My collection is growing as I carefully curate what I add to my exhibit of found objects around our farm.

In addition to the two abandoned nests, the exhibit includes a brown bottle found in a long-abandoned dump down by the creek (anyone need a stove?), various feathers including turkey and red-tailed hawk, praying mantis cocoon, remains of a snake's skin, a cedar fireboard used with a spindle to start a friction fire (actually came from Fox Hollow farm). Ever since we moved here, I've been on the lookout for an arrowhead, but no luck so far.

There is no charge for my little museum and it is definitely hands-on. So come on out and experience it.

A Labor of Love

I reread the recipe twice. Yep, it said 20 pounds of tomatoes. Luckily, I had harvested that much in the last two days from our garden.

So I cored and quartered 10 pounds of Romas and 10 pounds of Long Keepers. I cooked them for 20 minutes in the largest pot I own along with a cup of onions and some garlic cloves harvested from my garden earlier in the summer.  Then I pushed them through a strainer with the back of a wooden spoon to extract the seeds and skins.

The resulting sauce is now simmering on the stove for a couple of hours. Later today, I'll add some fresh basil and can it in pint jars. Then, on a cold winter's night, I'll serve up some pasta with homemade tomato sauce. Mmmm good...


Note to self: When it was all said and done, 20 pounds of tomatoes yielded only 3.5 pints of sauce. Truly a labor of love!

Fashion Statement

Fashion statement today; Cayenne pepper flakes tomorrow.

Saturday, September 1, 2012

A Can-Do Attitude

We won't starve this winter...

All lined up:
Blackberry jam, peach jam, tomato jam, beets in red wine, roasted pickled peppers and honey from Maggie's hives.