Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Garlic Harvest

Last October I planted garlic for the first time. All it takes is one clove, buried 5 inches in the dirt-planting at least 20 cloves this way, then mulch by covering with a layer of clean straw. I used a 4x8 raised bed, only because my soil is heavy clay and does not allow for good drainage. This worked out better than expected, and was easy to keep the weeds in check. Today, I carefully dug the garlic plants/bulbs one by one, shook off the dirt off, and couldn't help having a great big smile on my face; after all, I have waited a long time for this moment to arrive. The entire garlic plants are now hanging in my barn to cure and dry.

Cool recipes are great for the hot month of July

Garlic Basil Pesto
A nice appetizer for summer barbeques.

3 cloves of fresh garlic (chopped)
1/2 cup of Basil leaves, more or less
1/4 cup of pine nuts
1/2 cup of extra Virgin olive oil
2 Tbsp of lemon juice
1/4 cup of dried tomatoes (chopped)
In a food processor add everything except the dried tomatoes, pulse a few times, now add dried tomatoes.Store in the refrigerator for and hour before serving...serve on sliced toasted baguettes. Serve with a chilled white wine.

Chicken and White Bean Salad
 Works best with left over grilled chicken or rotisserie chicken from the Grocery store.

1 lb of chicken, more or less, picked off bone
2 cans of navy beans (drained and rinsed)
2 garlic cloves (minced)
2 Tbsp of olive oil
1/2 cup lemon or lime juice
1/2 cup of basil (chopped)
1/2 cup of parsley (chopped)
2 plum tomatoes (chopped)

In a large bowl mix together all ingredients and chill for an hour-serve on baguettes. A white wine or Zinfandel wine is good to compliment.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

You Can Call Me "Honey" Any Time!

At the DMV in Maryland, I was behind a gentleman that called the clerk, "Honey." "Honey, can you process this for me?" he asked, with a little wink. The clerk's lips retracted and disappeared, her face got red, her eye brows were convoluted, and she replied, "Don't call me honey!" The gentleman leaned forward and said, "Well, you ain't gonna like the next thing I call ya!" So much for chivalry at the DMV!

Honey, is a compliment to sweeten life's daily food. It has many health benefits as well. If you have allergies, a tbsp of honey (60 calories) might help immunize you against the flowers that make you sneeze. Honey will also sooth the throat when you have a cold. Another benefit is if you have a cut or wound on your skin, honey may help prevent a scar.
Honey has been used for over 10,000 years; the Chinese domesticated bees with using hives. Honey was probably used more during the early colonial days, because of the expense and availability of sugar. I won't tell you that honey is nectar from a flower that has been regurgitated a few times before it can be processed in the hive, regurgitated? Did I say that?

Judy Janowski, author of  " Life is a Garden Party" was kind enough to let me know that you can substitute honey in a recipe in baking; reduce the liquid 1/4 cup for each cup of honey used and add 1/2 tsp of baking soda for each cup, also reduce the temperature by 25 degrees. So give it a try in your next cake recipe.

Honey Nut Oatmeal Bread (for the bread machine)
For a one lb loaf
Add in order.....
1 1/3 cups of water
2 2/3 tbs vegetable oil
2 2/3 tbs of honey
1 1/3 tsp salt
1 1/3 cups of oats                                                                
2/3 cups of whole wheat flour
2 cups of bread flour
1/4 cup of nonfat dry milk
2 1/2 tsp of yeast
Set bread machine for medium brown crust. Press buttons.

French Honey Bread (for bread machine)
A light crisp sweet bread....nice with smoked ham or sharp cheese.
For a 1lb loaf
In order....
1 1/8 cups of water
1 tbs of honey
1 tbs peanut oil
1 tsp salt
1 tsp sugar
3 cups of bread flour
2 1/2 tsp yeast.
Set machine for light crust as the sugars will brown the bread quicker.

Beehives; we get 8 gallons of honey each summer

Tuesday, July 12, 2011


Mozzarella Cheese

The origin of making cheese had to be invented by a shepherd on his 'whey' to work one day; he put milk in a goats stomach sack and during the day it turned to cheese. Rennet is found in a goat stomach, and that's what makes the cheese separate from the whey.
I wanted to learn how to make cheese since we are surrounded by dairy farms and that I love to eat cheese. I headed out on a venture that took me door to door asking Amish women if they made cheese? Unfortunately the youth might have skipped a generation on this process, because they shook their heads and acted a bit insulted that I thought they could make cheese just because they were Amish
It wasn't until one September day, that I saw Rachel on her scooter, and asked her about making cheese, and she said, "My mother makes cheese and she is coming up to visit next week, so why don't you talk to her!" Linda, Rachel's mom, a past generation, did come up to visit and shared her Colby cheese with us; and it was delicious. She sent me all the information, and with that information made some hard cheese. Linda broke the mystery of making cheese for me, and after that I tried making all kinds of cheese.
The one cheese that gives me the greatest pleasure to make is mozzarella.
Mozzarella is a very easy cheese to make; it takes maybe 30-45 minutes and gives you instant gratification. I have debated whether to give everyone the recipe for this because it is a bit lengthy  and decided to just link you to Riki "The Queen of Cheese" because that is where I learned the recipe....http://www.cheesemaking.com/ 
If you go to this website you can find recipes, troubleshooting, and everything you need to get started.
Whole milk works best
I use whole milk that is only one day fresh. Sometimes raw milk. Just don't use ultra pasteurized milk.
Fresh ingredients
Make sure you use up to date ingredients they can be found on web sites...like The New England Cheese Co.

Mix thoroughly
Make sure your utensils are clean and place them in a clean container while working.
Adding rennet
Rennet can be vegetable or animal and can be stored in the freezer for up to 3 years. A package goes a long whey! And don't throw that whey away...it can be used for bread recipes instead of water-just don't add salt to the recipe, marinade for chicken, and can also be tossed in the garden.
1 gallon of milk makes 1 lb of cheese

My hope is that you give it a try. Once you make it you will be hooked!

Saturday, July 9, 2011

We Eat Chicken-what else can I tell ya, okay this....

I can't apologize for raising chickens to eat, because most everyone eats chicken, just ask my foxes that have dined on most of them this spring! They are the Blue Plate special, the white meat and not the other. Raised for centuries, and now perfected meat producers in a short amount of time.
It's basically how they are raised that might bother our conscience. When I lived on the Del Marva Peninsula, they had long houses set up by Purdue to raise millions of chickens. Thousands of chickens in one house, ready in 5 weeks time; little fresh air, hot weather, pumped with food, and in confined spaces small enough to turn around. After passing a farm on the bicycle in July, it is well, not appetizing.

I had a chicken tractor built with skids so that it can be moved around, and I use it mainly in the summer to raise 50 chickens; 25 at a time. That is enough chicken raised to sell to some people that like old fashion raise chicken, and the rest is put in the freezer.
They have fresh air, a lot of space, and I make sure they are in a clean environment. And when that day comes, we usually fast them off the night before, and humanely butcher them (if that isn't a contradiction) It isn't pleasant, it isn't fun, but it is something we want to do- to get it behind us. And after that day, (chuckle) we don't feel like eating chicken for a week. But when we do eat our chicken it is a feeling of self-sufficiency. Knowing how they were raised compared to industrial farming is a much better thought as well. Don't get me wrong, I have remorse, and saying grace might have originated from trying to feel better about a sacrifice to feed our bodies.

A Cure For The Summer Time Blues...

The busiest time of year on the farm is July. We are harvesting vegetables from our garden, hilling potatoes, making hay and storing it in the barn. Raising chickens, pigs, lamb, or a cow for meat;  by good intentions we made early in the season when time was slow. Getting ready for county fairs, either bringing livestock for show, or going to check out new stock for a breeding program. Family, you gotta go to summer parties; graduations, birthdays, and holiday picnics. And then dare squeeze in a camping trip!
The extra sunlight wakes us up at 4am- not hard if you have to milk cows, but not welcomed if you don't. We rarely have any sick days and never get snowed in for an excuse. ..so if you are feeling worn out..do some relaxing techniques.

1. Find a comfortable chair in the shade with plenty of water and sit there for at least a half an hour...admire the surroundings and not the work that has to be done.
2. Go to bed early in the evening. Or during the day, go back to bed and sleep. Take the day off to rest.
3. Visit a friend and let them serve you something-tea, cookies, beer, wine, maybe even dinner.
4. Go to a movie.
5. Go for a drive.
6. Go out to dinner.
7. Do nothing.

I hope these suggestions are helpful. It takes some effort to be a slacker, the biggest hurdle is ignoring the guilt of not doing something.