Category Archives: Recipes

Small Town Post Office

It’s great living in a small town again. The Glen Arbor Post Office impressed me from Day One. As soon as we paid for our box, the woman behind the counter gave us not only our number, but the history of the box. A family had rented that small slot for decades, but the last owner had recently passed, something I’m reminded of each time I insert the key into the shiny lock, amid a lake of patina finishes.

photo 1It’s also the place where I was gifted a recipe idea, as I collected my first seed catalog of the season a few weeks back. “Have you ever made stuffed acorn squash?” the woman behind the counter asked.

I told her that I had often baked acorn squash with a little butter and brown sugar as a dessert, the way my grandmother used to do, but had not tried stuffing the acorns with anything.

She recommended a vegan recipe, which sounded good, but in the last few weeks I’ve been making adaptations to the original recipe which included toasted quinoa, black beans, and corn, toward something more akin to our flavor palette. This combination is my favorite photo 2and includes lentils, sweet corn, a bit of diced onion, and ground turkey sausage.

Cut and hollow the acron squash (cut the tips so the squash sits upright on a baking pan). Preheat to 350 degrees f. Saute the onions in butter, then add the sausage until lightly browned, then add corn (I use a small bag of organic frozen sweet corn), and one 15oz. can of lentils, drained. Cook together with some fresh, crushed thyme. Add sea salt.

After ingredients are heated through, spoon into squashes. Add a Tblsp butter to top each squash (this will melt into the ingredients and help soften the squash). Bake for one hour, if squash is small. If larger squash, I would recommend baking the squashes upside-down for a half hour before righting and stuffing.

Pairs well with 45 North Oaked Chardonnay.

Leftover stuffing ingredients go well with omelettes in the morning!

 

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Things to do when not farming…

The seed catalogs are piling up and it’s a constant reminder of how in flux we’ll be as of

photo 5
Identifying cool mushrooms…

June. It’s been a long time since I’ve not put in a large seed order, and frankly, I’m feeling a bit antsy about it this season. So, to take my mind off of what I won’t be doing, I’m thinking ahead to the things this extra time will provide in terms of opportunities for learning. An ever-growing, ever-bearing, zone 1-10 list of things to learn while not farming:

  • Tend to the travelling orchard
  • Improve spinning technique
  • Improve fiber processing set-up and technique
  • Experiment with natural dyes
  • Learn about medicinal herbs
  • Practice grafting techniques
  • Volunteer at school or public garden
  • Help a fellow farmer with farm chores, butchering, shearing, etc.
  • Learn old-fashioned candy-making
  • Focus on food preservation techniques:
    • Pressure canning
    • Smoking meats
    • Drying
    • Fermentation
  • Take a class in business planning for the fiber mill
  • Maybe, just maybe, learn a new knitting skill
  • Explore niche or value added markets
  • Take a botany class
  • Spend some time with growers using methods outside of your own, including conventional, biodynamic, and other permaculture or organic farmers and gardeners
  • Cut up seed catalogs to make art with the kids
  • Cut up seed catalogs to do some companion planting planning
  • Re-read Edible Forest Gardens

The list continues to grow and hope blooms eternal, so… suggestions are always welcome and may spring shine warm sunlight upon your gardens!

A Brain Food Lunch

photo (17)My kids are growing up. With one starting high school, I’m watching this child turn into an impressive little person, capable of organizing her life largely independent of her mama (No long sighs; I celebrate this!).

Knowing our eldest and the ‘younger’ children would be coping with greater demands at school, we decided to have a long talk before the first day about ways to reduce stress and stay healthy. This conversation included three elements: 1) Daily physical exercise, 2) A healthy lunch, and 3) Vitamin supplements.

I wasn’t expecting great results with the lunch, I’ll be honest. While our lunches have always included fresh fruits and veg, it was a huge waste. The kids ate everything, but.

This year, I have tried something different with huge success. I decided to only provide healthy options. They have brain-power-boosting nuts and seeds combined with some dried kale (all high in omega-3), a choice of fresh fruit for fiber and vitamins, a rice cake with peanut butter or sandwich that includes a protein, a “treat” containing additional seeds and fiber, and fresh veg like carrots or cauliflower. Yogurt or another additional protein is sometimes included, along with another dried fruit option. While, as an adult, I find any of these options enjoyable, it takes a bit more to motivate kids to eat well these days – especially when the high school flies stupid banners advertising fast food (Grrrr).

What we found was super reassuring. These elements of sweet and salty create a nice balance on the palate. The kids actually want to eat the apple, after eating a handful of nuts, seeds, and kale. And it follows that a rice cake with peanut butter is washed down nicely with a healthy quantity of life-sustaining water. The kids feel better, eat all of their lunch, and are choosing healthier options after school as well.

Another benefit? With three kids in school, packing a lunches can be costly, but these lunches are reasonable. I buy the seeds, nuts, and dried foods in bulk, which is a huge savings, and at this time of the year, some of these options are easily made right at home. Autumn olive fruit leather anyone? Bon appetit!

Toothpaste 1935-style

l-tr2v66leseshb7In preparation for 1935, I just concocted my own toothpaste made by combining baking soda with just a hint of cinnamon (for flavor), and water. Surprisingly, it didn’t taste terrible (though certainly less than enjoyable) and my teeth actually feel fresher than with the store-bought modern brand. Crushed calcium was added where available.

Butter Magic

There’s a kind of magic when butter is created from cream. It’s that moment when the fat molecules are freed from their milk-fat bond and allowed to clump together leaving us with clumps of fresh butter and a fresh buttermilk.

The result:

photo 1
Gorgeous butter!

While most of the kitchen was covered in buttermilk at the end of this video, it made for a bit of inspiration in determining how we would use all of that fresh buttermilk.

Buttermilk
Buttermilk

Buttermilk bread is one of many ways to make good use of the buttermilk remaining after the butter fat has been separated out. And of course, we can also make use of our freshly churned butter.

Old Fashioned Biscuits and Gravy

biscuitandgravyChris finally revealed his recipe for one of the best breakfasts he’s ever made us… old fashioned biscuits and gravy. And it’s so good, we want to share it with you in time for Christmas morning (or the New Year or any excuse you find for making them).

Biscuits (recipe thanks to themoveablefeasts.wordpress.com)

Preheat oven to 425F

2 1/2 cups unbleached, all-purpose flour
3 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon kosher salt
8 tablespoons (1 stick) salted butter, chilled and cubed, plus 2 tablespoons salted butter, melted and slightly cooled
1 1/4 cups buttermilk

Combine all dry ingredients with butter and, with your hands, combine until butter is crumbled. Then slowly add the buttermilk. If you’ve made butter the day prior (see our making butter post), you’ll have a fresh supply. On a surface lightly dusted with flour, flatten the mixture, then fold it over once. Cut your biscuits and place them in a greased pan. Continue this process until all dough has been used up. This recipe yields about six large biscuits. Bake for 20-25 minutes.

Gravy (inspired by thepioneerwoman.com)

Making good gravy really only requires two important elements. First, add ingredients at room temperature and secondly, add them slowly. After you’ve prepared bacon or sausages, add to the remaining fat a tablespoon of flour at a time until you have a creamy consistency (you may only need one depending on how much fat remains in the pan). Allow the flour to develop a golden hue, and maintain low heat to avoid burning. Next, slowly add one cup of cool to room temperature milk. Continue to gently whisk for consistency. Once you have the desired consistency, add salt and pepper to taste. Serve to the delight of friends and family.

A healthy substitute for mashed potatoes at the holidays

cauliAlthough Jerusalem artichoke is a nice alternative, a very easy and healthy alternative to traditional mashed potatoes at the holidays involves the magic of cauliflower. Even if you just want to reduce the amount of starch in your potatoes by replacing most of the potato with cauliflower, it still yields a very similar and delicious side dish everyone can enjoy.

  • 1 raw cauliflower – medium head makes about a pound of florettes
  • 1/4 Cup any combination of butter, milk, cream, broth, etc
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Add some minced garlic for added flavor
  • Add in a potato for texture.

Add the liquids, then steam until cooked through (remove stem – some people quarter the head of the cauliflower). When cooked through, begin mashing as you would potatoes.  (Add garlic! Yes! Do it!)  If you wish to use a potato, you’ll need to prepare this separately and add it in (or cut it up and steam it a bit longer than the cauliflower.

This recipe is also a great way to begin a good, homemade cauliflower soup.  Enjoy!