Friday, May 29, 2009

Move Over, Strawberry Shortcake!

I was going to wait and tell you about this on Monday but I got scared and thought, "What if this baby comes over the weekend and I completely forget about posting this until after strawberry season?" That's how much I want to share this with you!

I know there are a lot of strawberry shortcake fans out there. I didn't grow up on strawberry shortcake, though. I grew up on Mrs. Davey Funk Cake and Tishy Fuloo. In my book, this is way better than strawberry shortcake but I don't want to start any fights, so I won't say more than that.

First off, what in the world am I talking about? In old cookbooks, especially old, Mennonite church cookbooks, the author of the recipe didn't have their name underneath their creation, they had their husband's name with a "Mrs." thrown out in front. So, we don't know the author's first name. We just call her Mrs. Davey Funk. Mrs. Davey Funk cake is a light, buttery cake topped with crumbs. These crumbs create a delicate crust which is a perfect platform for the Tishy Fuloo and strawberries.

What is Tishy Fuloo? No one in my family is exactly sure how to spell this, so I did my best to spell it phonetically (I think), so at least you're saying it right (if not spelling it right). Tishy is Fishy with a "t". Fuloo is DO, RE, ME, "FA"... with 'loo' at the end. You all know how to say 'loo', right? Like saying, "I have to go to the loo". Now that you know how to say it, Tishy Fuloo is a wonderful merainge that you put on top of your Mrs. Davey Funk cake.

KEY CONCEPT: Both the cake and the merainge are a CINCH to make. Seriously. And I bet if you have fresh strawberries, you will not have to go out and buy a single ingredient to make this. Ready for a picture???

Mrs. Davey Funk Cake

2 cups sugar
1/2 cup butter
2 1/2 cups flour
2 tsp. baking powder
2 egss
1 cup milk

In the bowl of your mixer, cream together the sugar and butter. Add flour and baking powder and beat well. Once crumbs have formed (scrape down the sides of your bowl if you don't see crumbs right away and beat again), reserve 3/4 cup of crumbs and set those reserved crumbs aside. Add the eggs and milk to the mixing bowl and beat until you have a creamy batter. Pour the batter into a greased 9 x 13 inch pan (OR into two 8 x 8 inch pans- this cake freezes very nicely once it's baked and cooled and this way you can pull the extra one out for company several days later). Sprinkle the top with the reserved crumbs and bake in a 350 degree oven for 20-30 minutes or until a knife inserted comes out clean.

Cakes before and after baking.

Tishy Fuloo (recipe possibly from Mrs. Davey Funk, but we're not totally sure)

1 egg white
1 cup crushed strawberries
3/4 cup sugar

Beat these ingredients in the bowl of your electric mixer (use the whisk attachment if you have one) for 3-5 minutes until the volume increases 300-400 percent and soft peaks form. Refreigerate until you are ready to serve it. If it sits several hours in the fridge, you may want to whip it up a bit again just before serving (a spoon or spatula will do for the whipping).

That's it. You're done! To assemble, serve the cake with a a large dollup of Tishy Fuloo on top. Top the Tishy Fuloo with sliced or crushed strawberries. I'm so glad I got all this out before I'm distracted by sweet little fingers and toes. Enjoy and (dare I say it?) prepare to be converted!

Pin It

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Chocolate Velvet Ice Cream

The other day I mentioned that we made ice cream. It was the first time this year. We were having company and I wanted to try a new recipe. A chocolate ice cream recipe. I found this one at which got stunning reviews. I now know why. I'm so sorry I don't have a picture for you. We've since eaten it all up. It was velvety, chocolaty and delicious.

I have a bone to pick with homemade ice cream. Part of the fun of making it, especially if you are having company (like we were), is that everyone gets to help turn the ice cream. My problem is this- when everyone is done turning and it looks ready, no one wants to wait for it to firm up a bit more in the freezer. So we all eat very soft, if not border-line soupy ice cream. It's delicious, of course, but it's not the way ice cream should be.

This is what happened this time- like all other times. What we ate was very soft (very good), soupy-ish ice cream. Then, we put the leftovers in the freezer and holy cow. This ice cream had the best frozen overnight consistency out of all other homemade ice creams we have made. It was like Turkey Hill or Edy's consistency. Perfect. This is why it was all gobbled up and I have no picture to show.

Do I have a solution to the homemade ice cream dilemma? Nope. I don't think there is one. Well, unless you make two batches. One ahead of time to have firmed-up in the freezer and then a new batch for company to crank (and you to eat later). That's not such a bad idea. Sometimes I just need to talk things out. Thanks for listening.

Chocolate Velvet Ice Cream (adapted from
makes about a half gallon

1 1/3 cup sugar
2/3 cup cocoa
6 egg yolks, beaten
4 cups heavy cream
1 1/3 cup half and half
2/3 cup semisweet chocolate chips, grated into small pieces by your food processor

In a large bowl, combine the sugar and the cocoa. Add the beaten egg yolks, cream and half and half, beating well with a whisk. Stir in grated chocolate chips and store in the fridge until you are ready to turn your ice cream freezer. Leftovers freeze splendidly.

Once again, I am sorry I don't have a picture of the ice cream. How will a picture of our irises do?

Update (5/29/09): Ok, you are right. Pictures of flowers won't suffice. Fellow-blogger Mavis gave me permission to post a link to her blog where she took pictures of this ice cream before they ate it all- smart lady. Thanks, Mavis! Click here to see pictures.

Irises along side Jamey's workshop, the old brooding house
Pin It

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Keeping Track

As we started thinking about introducing Emma and her three pullets to the rest of the flock, I started wondering how in the world I was going to be able to tell Emma apart from all of her sister hens. This really bothered me. It didn't bother Jamey. It bothered me because I wanted to know if Emma liked doing the whole setting and hatching chicks thing or if once was enough for her. If one of the hens started setting, I would wonder if it was Emma again.

Then, we have this new hen who is setting (sorry, we still haven't chosen a name for her) and I know I will wonder the same about her once she's back in the mix. What about their chicks? I will want to know whose chicks are whose. I just like to know these things.

Plastic Spiral Poultry Legbands from Cutler's Supply, Inc.

On line I went and came across these poultry leg bands. Problem solved. The other night, Jamey crawled into the chicken tractor and banded Emma and her pullets. Emma's band is red and her pullets' are pink. The other momma hen and her chicks will sport different colors. (The bands are more like bangle bracelets- they are not tight around their legs.)

How glad we were (even Jamey was glad) that we had banded them. Emma had started getting a little nasty toward her offspring. We weren't sure if it was an attempt to toughen them up or if it was her way of saying, "Get me out of this blasted tractor- I've been stuck in here with my kids for two straight months!"

The night we tagged them, we moved them into the roost with the others. Emma and the pullets stayed on the ground that night. The next day, they didn't come out of the roost (or weren't let out) until evening and when they did, the other hens chased the pullets through the fence into our non-chicken yard and were mean to Emma. We let the pullets back into the tractor to grow up a bit more and left Emma to find her place amongst the hens again. Since she has a red band on her leg, we always know where she is, or if she goes missing, can go look for her. Jamey found her the other afternoon quarantined in the roost by herself and felt sorry for her. He let her out into the non-chicken yard to free range for the rest of the day.

The hens found something yummy. See Marv coming up from the top left of the photo? "What are you ladies peckin' at?"

He just had to come see for himself.

So, that's where we are. The pullets are back in the tractor donning pretty pink bracelets. Emma is trying to fit in with the flock under our watchful eyes. Our second broody is still setting on 12 eggs- serious business that it is. Oh, and we may have another hen going broody.

This reproductive bug is catchy around here. Pin It

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Sadie, My Caterpillar Girl

I've mentioned before how much Sadie loves worms. Well, she loves caterpillars, too. She holds them for very long lengths of time- letting them crawl all over her hands, arms, legs, clothes and sometimes, she even puts them on her face and lets them crawl around there, too. She talks to them (calls them her "fends") and laughs at them (or with them, we aren't sure).

The other day, she was holding one outside and soon came into the kitchen, crying that she had lost her caterpillar. She was thrilled when I pointed out that he was crawling on the back of her dress. We handed it back to her and she squealed and went running back outside (because you are not allowed to have caterpillars in the house unless they are zipped up into the butterfly habitat, of course).

As she was running out, she tripped and her hand landed squarely on top of her caterpillar. Oh, the cries of pain and sadness! Jamey scooped her up and held her as she mourned (and I mean, really mourned) the loss of her pet. It took her awhile to calm down. But, as soon as we mentioned the possibility of heading outside to find another one, hope and a smile returned.

If only we can remedy all the losses she may face in life so easily.... Pin It

Monday, May 25, 2009

The Strawberries Are Coming! The Strawberries Are Coming!

About a week ago, we started picking one, two, then three strawberries from our patch in the garden. On Friday, we had my brother and his wife (I love saying that) over for homemade ice cream and Sam came out of the garden with a strawberry for each of us to put on top.

Yesterday (Sunday) afternoon I took a nap. Upstairs. In my bed. I hadn't slept well the night before. Contractions kept waking me up- not strong ones or regular ones, mind you. After I woke up I came downstairs and went into the kitchen to get a glass of water. Look what I found sitting on the counter.

Jamey had picked (about 8 quarts, according to him), cleaned and topped them. Oh, dear. What an amazing I-just-woke-up-and-am-groggy-and-thirsty-and-wanting-something-sweet snack. The kids were watching a Magic School Bus video and I kept hearing their pitter-patter as they took turns stealing strawberries from the counter to eat while watching.

Those strawberries sealed the deal for Sunday dinner. Strawberry Brunch Souffle was perfect. I have missed eating this for breakfast. I took a break from it because I ran out of frozen crushed strawberries and I have been trying to cut down on my kitchen duties so as to stay off my feet.

Our plans for these berries (and all those that follow)? To eat as many as we can without getting sick. To crush and freeze LOTS- not just for breakfast, but also to make more jars of jam for my sister's wedding favors.

Then, yesterday, I read about Mama JJ's Aunt Valerie's Blueberry Bars. My frozen blueberries are long gone, so I substituted in strawberries instead. Oh my goodness, these are so good. Mine are less bar-like, I think, because the strawberries are so juicy. No matter. Delicious, indeed.

Glory be. Our first pop-them-in-your-mouth-one-right-after-the-other-fruit of the season! Pin It

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Baked Lemon Pasta with Asparagus

No, we don't have a lemon tree, but let me explain myself.

Over the past week or so, I have been reading about lemon pasta recipes on a couple sites I follow. First came this one and then this one that added asparagus and goat cheese. My goodness, was my mouth watering. But, alas, I had no lemons so decided it was just not meant to be.

Then, eureka!, I remembered that tucked in my freezer were a couple little containers of lemon curd that I had made (two years ago?) for a Lemon-Swirled Cheesecake I made for some special occasion- the occasion escapes me now. Could I use lemon curd? The recipes I had found called for lemon zest and lemon juice (which lemon curd includes), but lemon curd has sugar in it, too. What was the worst that could happen? A semi-sweet and tangy pasta? That didn't sound too bad. So, I included some asparagus, left out the goat cheese, made some other minor adjustments and this is what we ate.

We all loved it and as long as I have lemon curd in my freezer, I will be making this pasta. The kids gobbled it up and were convinced there was cheese in it (which there is not).

Just a warning: You'll want to taste the pasta before putting it into the baking dish to make sure you've salted it properly, but BE CAREFUL. You may just eat a whole serving. You don't really have to bake it at all- you could serve it right away. I put it together in the morning, put it in the fridge once it cooled and baked it for supper. This worked just fine, too.

Baked Lemon Pasta with Asparagus (adapted from Pioneer Woman)

1 pound pasta, your choice
4 tbsp. butter
10-15 spears fresh asparagus, cut into 1 inch pieces (or the equivalent of frozen asparagus pieces)
3-4 cloves garlic, minced
3 tbsp. lemon curd (or the zest and juice from one lemon)
1 1/2 cups sour cream
1 tsp. salt
chopped parsley

Cook the pasta according to the directions and drain. In a large saucepan, melt butter and saute the asparagus and minced garlic until just tender. Take the saucepan off the heat and stir in lemon curd (or zest and juice) along with the sour cream and salt. Add drained pasta to the saucepan and stir until well-coated. Add parsley, combine and transfer to a greased 2-quart baking dish. Bake at 350 degrees, covered for 15 minutes. Take off the cover and bake another 10 minutes more. Pin It

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

These Days

Blah. That's how I feel. Tired, achy, no energy, no motivation, very little patience, starting to wonder how I am going to muster any patience once a newborn is added to the mix, sore legs, sore joints, puffy feet and hands, wide, running out of maternity clothes that fit, afraid I'm going to fall at my midwife's feet and beg for assistance tomorrow, grumpy, snappy, feeling inadequate, moody...blah.

Longing for the baby in my arms, the strawberries to come, the red raspberries to bloom, the kids to see their new brother or sister, to be taken care of, to be encouraged to nap during the day, to sleep on my stomach, to see my feet, to clip my own toe nails, to nurse, to learn the gender of the baby, to speak his/her name, to feel waters break, to push, to count fingers and toes, to be able to hold the bigger kids on my lap, to let my body heal...longing.

These are the ups and downs I experience several times each day. And, yes, I know that the hormone surges don't end when the baby is born. So, I pray. I try to give it all up. I ask for strength and patience. I ask for forgiveness, for stamina, for mercy. And I detect a glimmer of peace while I wait...peace. Pin It

Monday, May 18, 2009

Emma's Sister Hen

If you have been reading here very long, you know that early this spring one of our hens became broody (go to the right sidebar and click 'broody hen' to read more). This was our first one and we were thrilled. She ended up with three surviving chicks- all are doing well, still in the chicken tractor and will soon be transitioned to join the rest of the flock.

Here is Emma and her pullets/cockerels (we haven't bothered to figure out what they are yet).

And, here is one of Emma's sister hens (I prefer not to use 'sister wives', even though that's what they really are). Yep, we have another broody hen and once again, we are very excited.

Please excuse her poop. When you gotta go, you gotta go.

When Emma was setting, I was jealous that her chicks would come before my baby would. Not this time- I think I'm going to win this one.

My belly and knees (just in case you've never seen anything so large).

We need a name for this momma- the hen, not me. Any suggestions?? Pin It

Friday, May 15, 2009

Cherry Vanilla Ricotta Muffins

Well, I really didn't think I would post today. Jamey did such a good job writing about the current status of our garden yesterday. And I really didn't have anything to say. Well, I always have something to say, but not always something I think is worth putting in writing.

Then, I got hungry. About an hour after lunch it hits me. I was full after lunch (lunch today was leftovers from last night- pasta baked with ricotta, homemade sauce, fresh spinach and cheese). But, then, about an hour later I need something else. Nothing big. Just something- and cheese wasn't going to cut it like it did yesterday.

As I was scouring my kitchen for that particular something, I found this recipe. I had scribbled it down weeks ago and have been meaning to give it a go. I came across it on a friend's blog. So, I gave it a whirl and my, are these muffins good.

These muffins are light and fluffy, but have substance thanks to the ricotta. And the cherries, well, cherries are awesome- enough said.

Cherry Vanilla Ricotta Muffins (Bess' recipe word for word- my minor adaptations based on what I had on hand are below)

2 c. flour
1/2 t. salt
1 1/2 t. baking powder
1/8 t. baking soda
1 T. grated lemon zest
1/2 c. – 2/3 c. sugar
1 c. ricotta cheese
2 eggs
1 T. lemon juice
1 T. & 1/2 t. vanilla
1/2 stick melted butter
1 c. dried cherries OR 1 1/2 c. fresh/frozen cherries

Combine ingredients flour through sugar in mixing bowl.
In a separate bowl whisk together the ricotta and eggs (one at a time, whisk after each egg). Add the lemon juice and vanilla.
Then add ricotta mixture, butter, and fruit to dry ingredients.
Mix and fill greased or papered muffin tins. Unless you like your muffins really small (boring) you won’t get two dozen. You also won’t get just one dozen. You’ll get seventeen, or some random number. Which just makes baking all the more fun. Fill your empty muffin spaces with water.
Bake at 400 degrees for 20-25 minutes.

My notes: I left out the lemon juice and zest- I'm sure it would have tasted wonderful, but I have none. I used our dried sour cherries and they provide the perfect bite. I also took them out of the oven after 15 minutes.

Pin It

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Garden Update

Jamey here with an update on the garden. The potatoes, onions & peas have been in since early March & are coming along nicely.


Onions (strawberries to the right)

Peas planted along the fence all the way around the garden.

A few weeks later I got the beets, some carrots and swiss chard planted. Our average last frost is May 15, and with the 10-day forecast showing no danger of frost until then, I planted some sweet corn on 4/30. I would've done more that day, but ran out of time. With my final exams, a long stretch of rainy days and a weekend away from home, I didn't get anything else planted until this week (5/11) when I transplanted tomatoes, red peppers (I cheated and bought these as transplants), basil, jalapenos, broccoli and cabbage. The lettuce & spinach have been great & we've been having large salads two meals a day.





Lettuce, spinach and garlic

This is the back-garden (below). It's unfenced, so we're at the mercy of the rabbits out there--they weren't a problem last year, but we've seen noticeably more this year so we're keeping our fingers crossed.

This section is about 2000 square feet and at this point I have the following planted there (in 45' rows): 3 rows of sunflowers (will be used as a support for pole beans, for drying), 3.5 rows of bush green beans, 6 rows of sweet corn and a row of yukon gold potatoes. The picture shows grass clippings which I laid down in the paths between where the earlier corn is up. Straw and grass clippings keep the moisture in, the weeds down (or at least easier to pull out because the soil stays damp) and provides nice, clean paths to walk on after rain.

Everything is nicely weeded thanks to our friend, Bess. Bess, you rock.
Pin It

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Tis the Season...for Rhubarb

I have been trying to stay off my feet because if I don't they turn into lead balloons. I did not experience this during my other two pregnancies and am not enjoying it very much. Staying off my feet means staying out of the kitchen. I have not yet found a way to move from counter to cupboard to sink while sitting...with my feet propped up.

I have tried to remain content with the break from the kitchen, but occasionally the urge is just way too strong. I hobble (yes, I really hobble at this point), sometimes with feet already a-throbbing, out to the kitchen to mix up a pan of brownies (because I am craving chocolate like a lunatic) or to saute asparagus ('s asparagus! and it won't be with us forever).

What drove me to bigger lead balloons yesterday was rhubarb. It's here, folks. And, while we have some stunning plants along our fence row, I also knew I had a couple more bags of frozen rhubarb in our freezer from last year. Fresh? Frozen? Fresh? Frozen? Well, choosing fresh would mean me hopping over a chicken fence and becoming much closer than I want to to Marv (who has come after me recently and I am in no shape to kick or run from a charging rooster). Plus, I am more likely to use the frozen rhubarb now than I will later this year when my 2009 rhubarb is stacked beside it. Frozen it was.

While pulling the rhubarb from the freezer, I noticed that I had a couple more bags of frozen sour cherries left. Sour cherries will be coming our way soon, so I was motivated to use a bag of these, too. Thus, a new variation of a recipe (Sour Cherry Crunch) I have shared with you before was born. Instead of 6 cups of just sour cherries or just chopped rhubarb, I used half of each. My, did it turn out nice...with or without plain yogurt drizzled on top.

Pin It

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Inspiration For All of Us

One of our influences in vegetable gardening was reading Barbara Kingsolver's Animal, Vegetable, Miracle. If you haven't read it yet, please do. It's the story of how Kingsolver's family moved to southwest Virginia from across country and committed to either growing or buying locally all the food they would eat for a year.

The book provides lots of background information on the potential benefits and consequences of our different food choices. It also tells the story (Kingsolver is a wonderful writer) of how their family managed to achieve their year-long goal.

To the point, to the point. There is a website for the book which shows pictures, shares recipes and even has an online index for the book. I also just stumbled across a new link on the site, Vegetable Yardscaping. Take a peek. For those of you who don't have a lot of space, you can read about what others are doing in their suburban neighborhoods in the way of gardening.

Do you have a corner you hate weeding? Do you wish you could add some landscaping, but don't want to spend money on bushes and perennials right now? Check out the link, be inspired and plant some food. Pin It

Monday, May 11, 2009


I hardly know what to say. This weekend, my little brother married. It was a beautiful, meaningful day. Love oozed everywhere. Between the bride and groom, from their families, from their friends and heavenward in thanks for this union.

My brother and his wife left the church in my grandfather's Model A. This is the same car that my parents left their church in 39 years ago. And, it's the same car my sister and her husband will use this coming September.

We send them our prayers and all the love in the world as they begin their lives together. And, yes, I am weeping (for joy) as I write this.... Pin It

Thursday, May 7, 2009

White Chili

Friends brought us this chili back in the fall when I was sick. Even though I wasn't feeling well, it tasted so good to me. And, a dish that one eats when they are not feeling well and yet they still want to eat it again when they are just goes to show how stellar of a recipe it is. I know this is more of a cool-weather recipe, but we're bound to have a couple more cool days yet, right? It also pairs nicely with homemade bread or rolls and a green spring salad.

I have not altered this recipe (it is really wonderful the way it is), except for the fact that every time I've made it, I had trouble with the sauce thickening. So, I remove some of the sauce, combine it with a couple tablespoons of corn starch, add it back to the sauce and it thickens beautifully.

Do not be afraid of the mild green chilies- they really are mild and add only flavor, not heat to the chili. If you want some heat, buy hotter green chilies or use fresh ones (with or without the seeds) if you're really brave.

White Chili (ever so slightly adapted from Simply in Season)
Serves 4, freezes well

1/2 medium onion, chopped
1/2 cup green pepper, chopped
3 stalks celery, chopped (optional)
1/4 cup mild green chilies
2 cloves garlic, minced

In a soup pot, saute the above ingredients in 1 tbsp. oil or butter until just tender. Transfer to a small bowl and set aside.

I tripled the recipe- we were having company.

2 tbsp. butter
2 tbsp. flour
2 cups chicken or vegetable broth
1/2 cup milk
2 tbsp. corn starch (only if the flour doesn't thicken the sauce)

Melt the butter in the soup pot, blend in the flour and cook briefly. Stir in broth and milk. Cover and cook over medium high heat, stirring continuously until sauce thickens. If the sauce doesn't thicken for you, remove one cup of it and add to it 2 tbsp. corn starch- whisk them together and return it to the pot. Cook a bit longer, turning the heat up slightly until it thickens.

2 cups cooked navy or northern beans
2 cups corn
1 cup cooked chicken or turkey, chopped OR 1 cup pinto beans
1/4 cup sour cream
1 tsp. cumin
salt and pepper to taste

Add to soup pot with sauted vegetables and heat through. Garnish with chopped fresh cilantro and shredded cheese (optional).

Pin It

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

One Would Think I Don't Feed Them


Brown sugar.


Crust off a quiche.

These are just a few of the things my children have been sneaking from the kitchen (to eat) in the past few days...without my knowledge (until later) or permission. Do you think I should start feeding them lunch?

Do your kids do this? Pin It

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Answering Your Questions

Last week, in preparation for sharing in an adult Sunday School class at our church, we asked what questions you might have about our lifestyle and/or food choices. Your questions were good ones and we will do our best to answer them here.

How much to grow for a family of four...enough to eat for the season AND enough to preserve?/I'd love to see your rough calculations of how much to plant, succession plantings, etc.

We are currently a family of four, but two of us are small children and don't eat huge amounts. Below you can see our garden plans/number of plants we planted last year. This doesn't include our asparagus bed (25 plants), rhubarb (4 plants), red raspberries (about 50 feet of canes), wild black raspberries, one sour cherry tree, 10-15 laying hens (we did not keep track of egg totals), meat birds and back garden (mentioned below).

Double click on the image to see the full image (this is only about half the image).

For reference, the long edges of the garden (above) are ~60' and we use pretty standard plant spacing (for figuring how many plants per section). Combine this with the yields we got (a.k.a. Harvest Tally 2008) to see about what our food production was per linear foot.

What doesn't show up on here was last years pumpkin/squash/corn/sunflower patch, which measured about 50' x 50'. It was mostly squash & pumpkins which we didn't use too much of, but served the purpose of keeping the weeds down (less to mow, plus additional food stores).

The link to our harvest tally (what we froze, canned, dried, etc.) does not include all the fresh produce we ate all throughout the spring, summer and fall. Our stores have really held up well this year. Even in light of my month or so break from doing much cooking (morning sickness), I think we would have come out with more than enough.

We don't do much in the way of succession planting. We have plenty of garden/planting space, so we can plant what we want when we want to. We do space out separate plantings of lettuce, corn, etc., so we can enjoy these crops longer, we just don't have to wait or plan for the space to plant them.

So, in a nut shell, the garden we planted last year (pictured above) supplied our family of four (two of which are small children) with all the vegetables we needed for the year (with the exception of some bell peppers and a few other traded veggies). Our chickens supplied us with all the eggs and meat we needed (we don't eat a lot of meat and we did have some venison gifted to us). In addition to our own cherries, strawberries, rhubarb, pears and raspberries, we did buy peaches, blueberries and apples locally. All this kept us out of the produce and meat sections of the grocery store (with the exception of a ham for Easter, a couple of bananas for the kids' Christmas stockings [they were on Sam's Christmas list] and some oranges for citrus cravings during pregnancy).

Will you let us know the baby's name after it's born?
Of course we will:-).

Maybe you could address what crops you grow (if any) through the winter, bartering/trading (b/c it's not so realistic or traditional that we all grow ALL our food, and crops do fail).
We have not yet grown any crops through the winter, although we recently came into quite a bit of free plexi-glass that we are hoping to turn into a small greenhouse when we have time.

The only bartering we regularly participate in is food for child-care. Our neighbor watches our kids for us occasionally and we try to compensate her with bread, jam, sweets, etc. Also, I have watched friends' kids in the past and received food as payment (although it wasn't necessary:-)).

If we don't have enough of something we've grown, or if a crop does extremely poorly, we head to the farmer's market or do without. We actually don't go to the farmer's market much otherwise because we try to grow the things we want ourselves. Or, we'll poll gardening friends to see if they have a surplus of what we need and can compensate them with a surplus from our garden.

Last summer, I had just enough green bell peppers for our salsa and tomato sauce. I did not have enough to allow to turn yellow and red for freezing. Between the farmer's market, a generous friend who came into some free peppers and a box of red, yellow and orange bell peppers being sold for 25 cents a piece! at a local store (I bought them all), I had plenty to freeze and get us through the winter.

What is the trade off of living out of town (more potential driving) for more acreage to grow our own food?
There really isn't much of a trade-off for us. We are actually only 3.5 miles from the city limits. It takes us 5-7 minutes to get to the nearest grocery store and 10 minutes to get to church which is very close to the center of town/farmer's market/library, etc. Jamey has ridden his bike and has run into town numerous times in the past (to pick up/drop off our car or van if it's being worked on). Unfortunately, it's a fairly busy road into town with no shoulder for safe riding/running, so those trips are limited.

Even though we are fairly close, we are deliberate about our car trips, combining errands as much as possible. I try my best to avoid stores. Going to stores = spending money and I actually don't enjoy shopping very much. We make lists and when we can't make it another day without something (like toilet paper), we head to the store. We are really happy with the distance between us and town. We are close, but not too close.

One of the questions asked in class was What are some of the challenges?
At certain ages, children do not enjoy being in the garden with us as we need them to be. They'd rather be being pushed on the swing, walk all over baby plants or wander to areas of the property where we can't see them (not allowed). This leads to some tense moments and frustration- not unlike parenting in general:-). Thankfully, our first two have moved out of this stage (for now).

Another challenge is that produce does not wait to ripen until our schedule clears up (or until we are mentally ready to pick or can another bushel of this or that). This means sticking close to home during certain times of the year or spending Saturdays in the garden/canning instead of going for a hike or to the park.

There are many other challenges, but so far none of them have pushed us to the point of wanting to stop- the benefits are too great!

What are the benefits?
The results: avoiding chemicals (we don't spray), spending time with creation, teaching our children about food, respecting food (in light of all the work that goes into growing it), eating fruits and vegetables at their peak ripeness = peak taste and nutrient value, toting a basket and going shopping for dinner in the hen house and garden (or, come winter, shopping in the pantry and freezers) and saving money on groceries (we spend about $250 per month). Pin It

Monday, May 4, 2009

Loose Ends

The other week I asked for smelly-diaper advice. Thank you all so much for your tips. Since starting the dry bucket method, I had only seven diapers in the pail. Yep, my little Sadie kept her cloth diaper dry for three nights in a row, so we switched over to panties and except for one accident, she's doing great. I am going to have about one month of no diapers to change- whoohoo!!

I washed those seven soiled diapers and here is how it went down. I used the dry pail method, only sprinkling baking soda between the soiled diapers. They sat in the bucket for about a week. I washed them in cold water with less than a tablespoon of detergent and added vinegar to the rinse cycle. I ran the rinse cycle a second time (this time only with water) and hung them to dry on drying racks inside (it's been rainy here). In the past, hanging them inside would have meant that the whole downstairs would have smelled like pee. Not this time!! They have a touch of odor, but nothing like before. It seems that the dry pail method worked. I didn't want to change too many factors at once for fear I wouldn't know what worked (if anything did). I'm saving all your tips for once this new baby comes. Who knows how the amount of diapers and the content will change my results. Thank you, again!!

I haven't said much about Emma and her chicks lately, but they are doing great and growing so very big. They don't much look like chicks anymore. Here are a couple photos for you.

The kids have been cracking me up lately. Maybe it's because I'm spending a different kind of time with them nowadays. Instead of keeping busy with chores, I try to keep my feet up. This leads to a lot of reading and snuggling and talking. They are getting big doses of mommy time before this new one arrives. I hope they don't go into some sort of withdraw....

Anyway, the other day at lunch, Sadie asked for "four minutes more beets". I wasn't quite sure how to interpret that, but it struck me as very funny. She is also saying things like, "Somethin' smells fuzzy." Also, not sure what that means. Sam, after we said grace before lunch the other day, said, "Whew. I almost fell asleep. You're voice is so beautiful." Yes, he was talking to me. I don't know where in the world that one came from.

Sadie's activity of choice outside is digging up, holding and talking to worms. She even tells them that she loves them.

Our strawberries are covered in blossoms and baby berries which means lots are on the way. I hope this baby isn't allergic to strawberry milk.

That's all for now, but who knows...I might be back. I'm a bit flitty these days. Oh, and these are for you....

Lilacs and Snow Balls
Pin It

Friday, May 1, 2009

Fresh Greens, Homemade Dressings & Michael Pollan

We ate fresh greens from our garden last year and I used bought salad dressing. I didn't think too much about it. I did mix up my own now and then and they were very good, but the bought dressing was easy.

garlic, lettuce and spinach- photo taken yesterday

Two things have inspired me to switch over to homemade dressings this year. Earlier this spring, I came across a few recipes for dressings in Simply in Season and made a mental note that I wanted to try them. They looked extrememly easy. The greens started rolling in this week, so I tried a couple. What coincided with the greens has been my second inspiration- reading Michael Pollan's In Defense of Food. Oh, please, pretty please, go find this book- library, Amazon, where ever. Just drop what you're doing and go get it.

From the book jacket (this book was also just released in paperback):

"Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants." These simple words go to the heart of Michael Pollan's In Defense of Food, the well-considered answers he provides to the questions posed in the bestselling The Omnivore's Dilemma.

Humans used to know how to eat well, Pollan argues. But the balanced dietary lessons that were once passed down through generations have been confused, complicated, and distorted by food industry marketers, nutritional scientists, and journalists-all of whom have much to gain from our dietary confusion. As a result, we face today a complex culinary landscape dense with bad advice and foods that are not "real." These "edible foodlike substances" are often packaged with labels bearing health claims that are typically false or misleading. Indeed, real food is fast disappearing from the marketplace, to be replaced by "nutrients," and plain old eating by an obsession with nutrition that is, paradoxically, ruining our health, not to mention our meals. Michael Pollan's sensible and decidedly counterintuitive advice is: "Don't eat anything that your great-great grandmother would not recognize as food."

Writing In Defense of Food, and affirming the joy of eating, Pollan suggests that if we would pay more for better, well-grown food, but buy less of it, we'll benefit ourselves, our communities, and the environment at large. Taking a clear-eyed look at what science does and does not know about the links between diet and health, he proposes a new way to think about the question of what to eat that is informed by ecology and tradition rather than by the prevailing nutrient-by-nutrient approach.

In Defense of Food reminds us that, despite the daunting dietary landscape Americans confront in the modern supermarket, the solutions to the current omnivore's dilemma can be found all around us.

In looking toward traditional diets the world over, as well as the foods our families-and regions-historically enjoyed, we can recover a more balanced, reasonable, and pleasurable approach to food. Michael Pollan's bracing and eloquent manifesto shows us how we might start making thoughtful food choices that will enrich our lives and enlarge our sense of what it means to be healthy.

End quote.

Now, after all that reading I just made you do, you're probably hungry for some greens and dressing. Right?? Here are three recipes for you. Each of these recipes are super-quick. Just put the ingredients in a jar and shake.

Ginger Dressing (adapted from Simply in Season) serves 4

6 tbsp. olive oil
3 tbsp. balsamic vinegar
2 tbsp. brown sugar
1 tsp. paprika
1 tsp. dijon mustard
2-3 garlic cloves, minced
2-3 inches ginger root (peeled and minced) or 1-2 tbsp. minced ginger in a jar
ground pepper to taste

The original recipe called for 2 tbsp. soy sauce as well. We didn't like this addition- the soy sauce flavor was too over-powering. If you love soy sauce, try a little, adding more to taste.

Ginger Dressing

Basic Vinaigrette Dressing (adapted from Simply in Season) serves 4

2 tbsp. dijon mustard
2 tbsp. red wine vinegar
3 tbsp. olive oil
1 tsp. lemon juice
2 tbsp. honey
salt and pepper to taste

Lettuce and Egg Salad (recipe from my mom and Grandma)

This is not 'egg salad' on lettuce. You may even have this recipe or a very similar version tucked away in your recipe box- it's a classic. This salad is perfect right now when there aren't a whole lot of salad toppings for our greens yet. Depending on how much greens you have, you may need to double the dressing recipe in order to coat the greens well. I love this salad.

a large bowl of washed, dried and torn greens
7 hard-boiled eggs, sliced

1 cup mayonnaise
4 tbsp. sugar
4 tbsp. vinegar
salt and pepper to taste

Toss the dressing into the greens and 5 of the sliced hard-boiled eggs just before serving. Make another recipe of the dressing if your greens aren't coated well. Garnish the salad with the other two sliced eggs. Serve immediately.

Pin It
Related Posts with Thumbnails