Sunday, May 01, 2016


I stopped writing for the blog regularly awhile back, since I was working fulltime and we scaled back on our farming. This January, I didn't apply for my grant and have had time to paint, cook, and get ready for summer gardens. I'm very excited.

I'll keep the blog posted with our efforts for 2016!

Monday, February 09, 2015

The Farm Today

Today the winds are blowing, the snow is falling, and I'm home sick. When we had our cows, it didn't matter if you were sick, you had to take care of them - feed them, milk them, carry buckets of water to the barn in winter - because they were relying on you.

I miss having them, but not on days like today. The Dexters were a great breed for us - small, easy to manage, and pretty easy to breed and have calves. But when our youngest child was grown up and moving on to college, it seemed a bit silly to raise so much meat each year for Bob and me. So, we gave away or sent for processing our small herd.

Nowadays, I see a lot of cows that look like our Dexters. I do believe that we might not have had as pure a breed as we had hoped. I think we had a lowline Angus/Dexter mix. The meat was incredible. Also, I don't think our cows were as small as many Dexters are. The milk was delicious too - and they only produced a couple gallons of milk a day so it was manageable in terms of using it for our family. I'm pretty sure I'd get a female calf early on if I did it again, and handle her often so that she could be halter trained from the start, and used to being touched to be milked easily.

Sunday, November 23, 2014

Pies pies pies!!

I'm baking pies this week!

First - a chocolate refrigerator pie, then a pecan and a pumpkin pie. I'll use butter and lard to make the pie crusts - and will post recipes here.

I'm also catching up with some summer work -- making pickled jalapena peppers, kimchi, and raspberry jam. I can't wait!

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Vegetable Gardens and Seasons

This is the first year in literally dozens that I haven't grown a vegetable garden.

Our back yard is a five acre bowl, surrounded by a marble ridge that splits into a horseshoe shape. When we've had bee hives at the bottom of the field, the garden did well and everything was well pollinated. The last several winters were impossible for us to carry our bees through - and we more or less gave up having bees for now. This means a garden would be a huge challenge.

It's also a different season in my life. Running for office has meant going door to door in a lot of my free time. I'm working at my regular job but also working at meeting everyone in my district. It takes time and a little bit of fearlessness.

It takes some courage because I tend to be shy, although I have little fear for doing things like sitting down next to a 500lb cow and milking her for her first time and mine. Making cheddar, roquefort, camembert in a homemade cheese cave in the cellar was not easy, but I knew no one would lose an eye if I messed it up.  I'm not afraid to extend myself into a new experience.

In going door to door, I'm meeting people who are really courageous. Families dealing with kids with opiate addictions, folks with chronic and debilitating illness, elderly people who are trying to stay in their homes but have broken a hip, an ankle, or are going blind. They are the fearless ones - they may need a little help from government, but they are bravely and quietly waiting.

The garden I'm tending doesn't grow vegetables this year. It's full of new relationships. While some of the flowers in this garden will be annuals, many will be new perennials. It's really been a joy to have this new season in my life, even when it's hard work and even when it makes me feel overwhelmed. I want to be the voice of the courageous people in my district, as well as tired. I want to help empower people to have the independence and self-sufficiency that makes us strong.

Thursday, December 12, 2013


you worked all day. you have a few minutes to prepare dinner, then you can row/ride the stationary bike for an hour while it cooks --- here you go:

this is what we made tonight:

Beef Estouffade -- or beef cooked in red wine, what's wrong with that?

Cut up and saute in olive oil - some garlic, onion, carrots, celery, red pepper -- throw in some beef stew chunks and cook a little -- add some chopped up potatoes and parsley. then...add a pound or so -- compared to the volume of veggies -- of stew beef chunks. stir a bit then add 3/4 bottle of nice red wine. salt, pepper to taste -- add some oregano or thyme and/or red pepper flakes -- then bake for 1 hour at 350F.

ok - done. if you want to add mushrooms - super.

Sunday, December 01, 2013

Waffles and Coffee

Roasting coffee yesterday filled the kitchen with a great smell and helped me get back to enjoying cooking again. I cleaned out the fridges, the cabinets, and all the drawers and reorganized the pantry. This morning we're making waffles and drinking our freshly roasted coffee  - and it's really good.

We have an ancient McCall's cookbook, which is the source of our favorite waffle recipe: HRM's favorite waffles. Heck, if it's good enough for the Queen...

Lots of sources for the recipe online - although who knows if it's uncredited due to being the actual Queen's favorite waffles or not.

Saturday, November 30, 2013

Ginger Granola

Ginger Granola

I fought with the elves who stuck the lid on the big jar of our bee's honey. They really had me beaten for a few minutes there. I felt an overwhelming urge to go back to my favorite chair by the wood stove and give up. But I hung in there and got the pan of granola in the oven.

8 cups oats - (I used some Maine oats - organic and not processed as much as Quaker's oats - although that's a good choice too)
1 cup whole wheat flour ( I used King Arthur White Whole Wheat - called "white" but definitely is whole wheat)
1/2 cup ground flaxseed
1 1/2 cups sliced almonds
1 1/2 cups honey
1/2 cup olive oil
2 tsp vanilla
1 tsp ground ginger
1/3 cup finely chopped crystallized ginger

I combined the ingredients in a large roasting pan and baked at 250F for 1 hour, stirring every 15 minutes.

Reclaiming the Kitchen!

I've staked out a base camp on the counter in my kitchen. I'm battling the chaos made by kitchen elves who have messed up my kitchen and hidden the sifter and the biscotti pan. This weekend I'll attempt the summit, where all my Christmas cookie baking supplies will be ready for action.

I've spent 2 years working more than full-time on a job I love. One of those years I also had all the farm chores to do. But, this past year - we let go of the animals and simply had a large garden and an orchard. And, I stopped roasting green coffee beans once a week, and gave up baking our own bread.

I gave up cleaning the deep recesses of the kitchen drawers and cabinets too, it's apparent today. But, I'm reclaiming my kitchen. Almost every weekend for the last month I've straightened, scoured, and organized something in the dozens of cabinets and drawers in this big old farmhouse kitchen. I never knew how many candy thermometers I owned.

I also organized all my recipes. I love using base recipes to bake or make soups and stews. One basic scone, muffin, cookie, or biscotti recipe can be made very special by the kiwi, banana, white chocolate bits, or dried apricots on hand. Best to base baking around keeping the pantry stocked with the basics for baking, and develop one recipe for each type of baked good to suit fresh or special ingredients you happen to have to go with it.

When I'm working hard at work-work, as we call it, it isn't that I don't have time to cook or bake - it's that I don't have the bandwidth. I can't contemplate complication on top of work details at the end of the day. Even the weekends seem like an impossible time to bake since I have trouble being creative when I have to get the house clean and in order (on the surface, at least).

So, with my job changing a bit in 2014, I'm ready to start making use of the gardens and orchards in this kitchen. Watch out little elves, I will find that cool scone pan and maybe even the madeleine pan too!