Friday confessions

This Friday’s confession is brought to you by our garden, and my apparent lack of creativity, as of late…

This isn’t even the whole lot. I processed a basket full two days ago and gave another basket full away to some neighbors.

I’m beginning to resent my tomato plants, they are producing too much, to quickly and I can’t keep up. So, maybe I actually resent my lack of ability to stay on top of all my to dos. Where did the girl go who could keep up with everything? Oh yeah, that’s right, she had two kids, gave up sleeping at night, vowed to live without certain conveniences (ones that might make things faster but were harmful to both her loved ones and the earth) and took on running a homestead. ¬†I am officially out of creative ways to prepare and preserve these pretty little gems. Actually, I lost some because I let them sit too long while I contemplated what to make with them. Not to worry though, the chickens enjoyed them as an afternoon snack the other day. So I guess we will be eating them one way or another. Eggs anyone?

So if you have any suggestions please send them my way. And hurry! Two days from now the amount of tomatoes will have double. Kevin’s, not so helpful, advice was to have a tomato throwing fight. I said that was wasteful. He said “not if we do it near the chicken coop or in the pigs’ pasture.” His reasoning here is, unfortunately, sound. I really don’t want to participate in his plan, so if you would like to save me from this embarrassment, send me your ideas. As added incentive, next week I promise to share a very tasty recipe in return. ūüėČ

Happy Weekend!

The weekend

The storm rolling in.

Is there really ever a weekend when you live on a farm? Certainly not in the sense of two days off at the end of your work week, but on the other hand, we never suffer from a case of the “Mondays”, so there’s that! The past two days here have been low on productivity with Saturdays highs reaching the mid 90’s and the heat index reaching well into the 100’s (not feasible with two babes that must follow us everywhere.) Sunday brought a, much needed, downpour that chased us all inside.¬†

The view out of our kitchen window.

We did manage to move the mobile chicken coop to a new swath of pasture, which ended up taking two extra people and two extra hours and ended in us darting for the house before the sky opened up. Because really, who wants to be handling electronet fencing in a thunderstorm? It is all quite hilarious looking back on it now, possibly even post worthy. I also harvested some produce, the most notable being 2 pounds of beans destined for pickling and was able to put up 8 jars of pesto. Outside of those accomplishments, and the usual daily chores, nothing else got done.

Waiting for a trim and pickling.

It has also been hard getting back into the swing of things after being away for 4 days. Upon arriving home, it seemed as if, the only thing that had grown were the weeds and I think we are both struggling with being extremely overwhelmed by how far behind we feel. So in that vein, and to please my Type A personality, here is our “To Do” list for the upcoming week:

  1. Make and can Dilly Beans.
  2. Weed herb garden.
  3. Harvest some lemon balm, parsley, basil, cilantro, sage, thyme, tarragon, and marjoram.
  4. Dry, freeze or otherwise process said herbs.
  5. Weed, weed, and more weeding of vegetable garden. Problem here is, by the time we get done weeding the entire garden the weeds are growing back in where we started.
  6. Create some kind of support for the sweet corn.
  7. Tend slicing and cherry tomatoes – prune, snip, re-tie/support.
  8. Come up with a way to trellis paste tomatoes. These have gotten quite out of hand and we are at a loss for a good way to support them that also allows us to easily harvest the ripe fruit.
  9. Try to train pole beans back onto their respective poles. I have never had a problem with this in the past but this year they just seem to have a mind of their own.
  10. Pick and trim swiss chard.
  11. Freeze what chard we do not use this week.
  12. Pick lettuce, beets, eggplant, peppers, squash, possibly fingerling potatoes.
  13. Weed sweet potatoes.
  14. Plant fall crops. We are kind of late with this but I would like to throw, at least, some peas and spinach in.
  15. Weed asparagus and rhubarb bed.
  16. Fence in pine trees in front pasture and move sheep into said pasture.
  17. Move Lilac out of front pasture, break-up middle pasture and move her into first section.
  18. Move pigs to other end of, what will become, the garlic patch.
  19. Lay down manure to “bake” in sun on the section pigs just rooted.
  20. Muck out chicken coop and lay down new litter for “deep bed method.”
  21. Muck out stalls and big section of barn.
  22. Pick up peaches from local orchard.
  23. Jam, can and freeze peaches.
  24. Pick rest of boysenberries off bush by barn and process.
  25. Name lambs and send in registration for all sheep.
  26. Find a Ram that fits all of our criteria and set up a plan for getting him here by October 1st, to use for breeding in November.
  27. Order hive and have beekeeper relocate the bees that have taken up residence in barn wall.
  28. Place grass-fed beef order for winter. Hopefully this will be the last time and next year we will be running our own steers.
  29. Go over budget and accounting for farm books.
  30. Work out plan for winter food storage.

Well, what do you think? Can we get it all done by next Sunday night? What is on your “To Do” list this week?

The one where I gush about Martha

Snoop Dogg baking brownies with Martha. photo courtesy of

I love Martha Stewart. Honestly, I have loved her ever since I was in high school, you know, back in the day when she did every show from her actual house and before she had street cred. That’s what happens when you spend time in prison, you become instantly cooler and rappers want to bake brownies with you. So, I loved¬†her even before her cool factor shot through the roof, that makes me a true fan, right? Anyway, Martha (yes we are on a first name bases, at least we would be if we ever actually met in person) has always spoken to my type A personality, my inner monster’s need for perfection, and my always present want (need?) to be crafty, in one way or another, everyday. She’s who sparked my interest to bake my own bread (I started experimenting making bread when I was a teenager, long before I had any idea that I would be making bread to feed both my family and to make a political statement about the state of our country’s food systems) and she was also the one who got me into collecting vintage dishes and bakeware, which may be considered more of an addiction than a hobby, depending on who you ask around here. I guess, in a sense, she’s the one who started me on this path toward self-sufficiency. Who would have thought?

My cooking experiences have not always turned out stellar. There have been a lot of bumps and wrong turns on that road, especially early on, but with practice and time, things have got much better. Yes, the deck most defiantly got stacked in my favor the day I married, a professionally trained, cook who was willing to teach me a few new tricks! Martha’s recipes, however, always turned out great, even in the early days. When my mom came upon this recipe in an issue of last summers Martha Stewart Living¬†I knew I had to make it and I knew it would only be more delicious using homegrown heirloom tomatoes and fresh-cut basil from the herb garden. It’s also a great summertime meal because it only heats up the kitchen when boiling the water for the pasta and comes together quickly for those nights that we linger outside, a little too long, not realizing that dinner should already be on the table. At least, not until after¬†one of us (usually PJ, my Dad or myself-oh no,¬†our family resemblance is showing, again), is on the verge of a low blood sugar induced meltdown of nuclear proportions.

Macaroni with Marinated Heirloom Tomatoes–¬†adapted from Martha Stewart Living, August 2011

Some heirloom cherry tomatoes-red, sun gold and black. The pottery bowl was a handmade gift from Kevin.

7-8 cloves of garlic, sliced thin

3/4 cup extra virgin olive oil

2 lbs of heirloom tomatoes* cut into bite size pieces.

3/4 cup torn, fresh basil

3 tablespoons of salt packed capers

zest of 2 medium lemons

1/2 teaspoon of red pepper flakes

sea salt and fresh ground pepper

1 1/2 lbs of bow ties, or another flat pasta.

*I used heirloom cherry and pear tomatoes because that is what is ripe, in our garden, right now but you could use any heirloom, even large slicers, just cut them it into the correct size.

 In a small sauce pan heat sliced garlic and 1/2 Cup of oil on low heat until garlic becomes golden-colored. Remove from heat, set aside and let cool.

Meanwhile, in a large bowl with a lid, mix tomatoes, 1/4 cup of basil, capers, zest of one lemon, red pepper flakes and a 1/2 teaspoon of salt. Pour garlic and oil over mixture, affix lid and toss. Let sit on counter for about thirty minutes tossing occasionally.

For this meal I used store-bought, organic, dried pasta. It would be even more tasty with homemade fresh macaroni but then it would no long fit under the heading of ¬†one of my, “I haven’t left enough time to get dinner made-before everyone starts complaining-oh crap what am I going to make fast so no one flips out” meals.

Once paste is al dente, drain, give a quick rinse with cool water to prevent sticking and place in a large serving bowl. Now, here is where Martha and I differ, I know, shocking. Right? Instead of adding 2 cups of cooking water to the pasta, I drizzle ~1/4 cup of olive oil and give a quick stir. I find that my homegrown tomatoes tend to be more juicy than their store-bought counterparts and when mixed with the extra cooking water, make the dish soupy. Stir in tomato mixture, salt and pepper to taste. Sprinkle with remaining torn basil and garish with the zest of second lemon.

It tastes even better than it looks, I promise!

What recipes have you been cooking up using the summer’s offerings?