Sunday, September 29, 2013

83 Years Young

My dad (otherwise known as Honey) turns 83 this week. He celebrated at Farm Dover today with his wife (my mom), all his girls (4), their husbands (4), and 8 of his 11 grandchildren, one grandson-in-law, and Maggie's boyfriend. We had gathered to honor Honey, who is the youngest 83-year-old, ever. He's up exercising at the crack of dawn, he hits balls or plays golf daily, before walking a couple of miles at the mall and then heading home to take care of my mom. I wish I had his energy.

Opening cards

It was the largest crowd that we have hosted here at Farm Dover. Somehow, I came up with enough coffee mugs, plates, forks and glasses to serve up a brunch.

This morning I harvested zuchini, tomatoes, kale, and herbs from the garden and combined them with ricotta cheese into three different frittatas. Added a coffee cake, bacon, biscuits, sweet potato muffins, a platter of sliced tomatoes, and fresh pineapple with honey yogurt.

Voila!: Brunch is served.

The Carpenter Girls
Dad and his sons-in-law
Grandkids out on the back porch.

Taking Aim

Out walking early this morning. Colors were amazing. Heard the Canada Geese coming up from the front corn field. I had only a minute to take aim and shoot -- with my camera that is.

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Substituting This for That

Dear Claire,
Thanks for sending me this link to 101 Cookbook's quinoa recipe. I know that if you like it, it must be good -- and a good way to use up my cherry tomatoes. I decided I would make it last night for dinner, especially since I've been trying to do Meatless Mondays and this looked like the perfect recipe.

I tried to follow the recipe. I really tried.  But I ended up substituting:
•  millet for the quinoa,
•  sweet onion for the shallot,
•  green beans and okra from the garden for the corn,
•  chard for the kale,
•  pine nuts for the pumpkin seeds
•  and fresh cherry tomatoes for the roasted ones.

Hmmm...looking at the original recipe, it seems that I may have strayed a bit, only the tofu and pesto remained true. But that is just how I cook. I have never been very good at following directions – not just with cooking, but with everything I do. Specifically when cooking, I read a bunch of recipes for general inspiration and then open my refrigerator or take a trip out the garden and improvise from there.

Anyway, our dinner was delicious and I thank you for getting me started with it. Hope all is well with you in Colorado.

Monday, September 23, 2013

Hanging On by a Thread

Mary and I went for a walk around the farm at dusk last night. We walked arm-in-arm to keep warm. We could feel the cold seeping up from the ground and could see our breaths in the night's air. The light was fading fast, but this spider caught our eyes. She was literally hanging by a thread.

Sunday, September 22, 2013

4 down; 96 to go

Yesterday I posted about needing to try 100 cherry tomato recipes. As I've been accused of occasionally, I might have been exaggerating just a bit. But in the last 24 hours I've blasted my way through four ways to use the glut of cherry tomatoes that are hanging on the vine for dear life in my garden.

Use #1
They make lovely birthday/hostess gifts.

Use #2
And a topping for a heirloom tomato salad.

Use #3
And a savory tomato jam that I can't wait to serve with pork or on top of cream cheese.

Use #4
And finally, lunch after church today: roasted tomato soup.

Saturday, September 21, 2013

Counting to 100

As I tucked three-year-old Jack into bed he would often ask me to give him 100 kisses. I'm not sure he really wanted the kisses, I think it was more of a delay tactic on his part. But as a mom, I couldn't resist. So together we would count to 100 as I kissed his cheek 100 times.

And, a homework assignment from Maggie's first-grade teacher was to bring in a collection of 100 items on the 100th day of school. Maggie spent the better part of an afternoon with her great grandmother sewing 100 large buttons onto an old sweatshirt. That sweatshirt was around our house for years, a reminder of what 100 means and a memory of a February afternoon with Grandmommy. 

On our last two trips, the going has gotten occasionally hard: the last portage through mucky swamp, the time we couldn't figure out where the take-out was for the canoe on an exceedingly windy lake, the last two miles of a ten-mile hike. In desperation, I'd start counting to 100. When I got to 100, I'd start over. Each time, I'd find myself a little closer to our destination. 

And today, when I went out to the garden I found my only two Sun Gold cherry tomatoe plants laden with ripe fruit. I started picking, and I started counting. When I counted to 100 seven times, I quit, leaving twice as many tomatoes still on the vine. 

Now, I've just got to figure out what to do with them. I'm sure there are 100 great recipes waiting for me to try. 

Friday, September 20, 2013

Have You Missed Me?

I know. I know. I haven't posted in nearly three weeks. Ed and I have been off on another of our expeditions, this time to Santa Fe, Taos, Mesa Verde, Zion, and the Grand Canyon (North, East, and South rims). Oh, and a night in Chicago (after missing our late-night connection back to Louisville). But we are back now; grateful for safe travels and a sweet home to come home to.

These last 12 months have found us in no less than 23 states and three foreign countries. We've had great fun and learned alot about how to travel. Give me a couple of days to get back into the swing of things here at Farm Dover and I'll share my Top 10 Travel Tips.

In the meantime: some trip photos.

Much of our trip followed the old Route 66: America's Main Street

Waiting outside the Cathedral Basilica of St. Francis of Assisi for a candlelight procession through Santa Fe.
Amazing views. This one taken on an early morning hike in Mesa Verde National Park
And another from Mesa Verde National Park
Two Mittens: Monument Valley, Utah. 
Mesa Verde Cliff Dwellings
Our cabin at Zion National Park
A great hike at Tent Rocks, NM. Looks like smurfs should live here.

Grand Canyon, North Rim Hike (10 miles!)

Tree hugger that I am. On hike out to Widfross Point, Grand Canyon North Rim.
We got home today about 3:00 p.m. Hungry, craving something fresh. But we've traveled through so many time zones, we couldn't even figure out if it was lunch or dinner that we needed to address. A trip out to the garden solved our dilemma: BLT. Nothing ever tasted so good. Nice to be home.

Monday, September 2, 2013

Sunday, September 1, 2013

Today's Field Report

Map of Farm Dover, created by Mary as part of her senior thesis branding project at MICA.
Ed and I have been working hard to get (keep) our fields in shape. Our goal is to get them all planted in native grasses and wildflowers and to keep on the defensive against invasive weeds and trees. It's a goal that is never-ending as the nature of nature is that it is always evolving. We want our farm to be a place where wildlife can thrive – and we can too.

Not all our field work is fun, but it is satisfying in so many ways. Most days, Ed and I work for a couple of hours in the morning and a couple more in the afternoon. When we get tired, we quit. Every day or so, we ride around the farm, taking mental notes of what has changed, what needs our attention.

Just this past week, we had two fields bush-hogged by a neighbor. We will plant them next month in winter wheat, just as a temporary measure until we can plant warm weather native grass and wildflowers next Spring.

Michael bush-hogging the sunflower field
After bush-hogging
Lately, we've been on the hunt for invasive Lespedeza, pulling up flowering Johnson Grass (considered to be one of the ten worst weeds in the world), cutting down small invasive Callery Pear trees that keep popping up in all our fields, and girdling Osage Oranges that are too big to tackle with a chainsaw.

Finding and destroying catepillar nest are also demanding our attention. Yuck.

On a happier front, our neighbor offered to build a bridge across a small creek that will allow us to more easily reach our top field. He placed a large pipe down in the creek bed and covered it in rock. Creek water can flow and we can drive our Polaris across. Our neighbor even bush-hogged a path down to the bridge for us. I have always loved this upper field and am thrilled to add it to my morning walks.

Our new bridge to the upper field. Thank you Bobby and Maria.
It is nice to think that we are making progress, or at least not going backwards.

Ed and I take the stewardship of our land seriously, always striving to use our land with respect and love. Wendell Berry, in one of his essays says, “...the care of the earth is our most ancient and most worthy and, after all, our most pleasing responsibility. To cherish what remains of it, and to foster its renewal, is our only legitimate hope.” I couldn't agree more.

And that's my field report for today.