Saturday, July 2, 2011

Demo, Pottery and Garlic: A Vacation Day on the Farm

It is 4th of July weekend. It is a time of fun and frolics. But not so on the farm.

No, there really aren't "vacation" days on the farm. No, not really.

Today was a very busy day. At least, I can honestly say, that most of hard work didn't involve me.

Almost 2 months ago, a large ash tree fell on our house during a storm. Well, today was the first day in the long road to actually fixing the house. DeGroot Construction was out doing demo - getting rid of debris and pulling off old, warped siding. They supported the old summer kitchen and tore down walls.

Hubby and I had come outside to see how things were progressing when Hubby noticed a pile of "stuff" on the grass nearby. He asked, "Did they find that stuff in there?". As we walked over, I saw the a piece of pottery, which I picked up and turned over. That is when I saw the words "Minnesota Stoneware Co. Red Wing" on the bottom.

I tried to keep from squealing like a little girl. I tucked it under my arm and hurried to bring it inside to wash off the dirt and grime. It is in excellent condition!

One of the guys said that they had found it in one of the walls that they were dismantling. Thank goodness they didn't just chuck it into the dumpster with the rest of the debris!

I fired off a picture on Facebook and called my Mom, an avid Red Wing Stoneware collector. She told me it looked like a spittoon and was probably pretty rare. "Take it to Larry!", she ordered!

Larry runs a fabulous Red Wing Pottery antique shop in Red Wing, MN. He is an expert on all things Red Wing Pottery. I walked into the shop, which had about half a dozen other Red Wing collectors (involved with the Red Wing Collector's Society). I have to say, I brought a bit of buzz-worthy stoneware in this morning! I may be in the next Red Wing Collector's Society newsletter! Larry confirmed it was a Lady's Spittoon and was quite rare. Everyone loved the story about where and how it was found.

This afternoon, Hubby and I harvested the garlic scapes. I proceeded to make a Walnut and Garlic Scape Pesto with Pastureland Cheddar. That only used up half (about 40) of the scapes. My hands (and breath) are quite garlicky. But, it is quite tasty.

Yes, it has been quite a day. I hope to do more posts this weekend about other things, including our Summer Festival on the Farm that we held last weekend. It was great - more the come.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

I'm Getting Old: A Reminder of Why I Don't Normally Go to Live Concerts

Ok, so maybe I'm not ready to while away my days in a retirement community. Still, sometimes I wonder if I am an old woman in a younger person's body. I like antiques, old furniture, and I'm getting into canning and preserving. I realize more and more folks 'my age' are getting into things like knitting, canning, etc. But there are times when I wonder.

It seems like I get reminded a bit more when I do certain activities - more so activities that I would have had no problems with 10 years ago.

Last night, I dragged Hubby to a live concert at First Avenue's 7th Street Entry. It was to listen to Johnny Flynn and the Sussex Wit. Johnny Flynn is a young Englishman (via South Africa) who has been part of the growing and popular new folk music. Think Mumford and Sons, the Avett Brothers, Iron and Wine, etc. I like his music and was excited that he was going to be performing locally.

The concert was supposed to start at 8pm with doors opening at 7pm. Hubby and I stopped in for dinner at the Depot Tavern (a post on that to come). We were done by 6:30pm. Ok, now what? We walk about downtown and spent some time in the Food and Garden sections of Barnes and Noble til about 7:15pm. Then we made our way back to the 7th Street Entry.

Nope, doors still not open. Noticing the line of waiting concert-goers are looking a bit young. Huh.

7:30pm. Doors still closed. 8pm. Doors still closed. 8:15pm. Door still closed.

To make a long story short: the opening act didn't get going until 9:30pm.

Johnny Flynn didn't take the stage until 10:30pm. Poor Hubby was very patient with me as my grumpiness increased. At least we were able to snag some stools to sit on. No, the idea of standing so long in a sea of 19 year old girls did not appeal to me. Go figure.

The concert itself was pretty good. I don't think there is an instrument that Johnny Flynn doesn't play. He played the guitar, mandolin, banjo, trumpet and fiddle at various points in his set - sometimes switching between two several times. Additionally, he has a nice tone to his voice and writes his own songs. This guy is not some industry manufactured persona. Like the rest of the new folk groups, actual music playing and writing skills abound.

Definitely take a listen to some of his music (along with the other bands mentioned). I personally like Barnacle Warship, The Water (with Laura Marling, another favorite of mine), and Tickle Me Pink.

But, now I'm am getting off track. This post was supposed to be how I don't like live concerts. Grrrrr....getting back to my angry place.....grrrrrr.....

The concert wrapped up about midnight.

People, I'm usually in bed before the 10pm news. It is an hour drive home from the concert. I get up at 5am for work.

So, yes, I am an old lady who gets crabby when things don't start on time and when I don't get enough sleep. I am thusly reminded why I don't normally go to live concerts - even though I do get to listen to some great music.

Now, staying up late and waiting around for good food and drinks - that I can handle.

Thank God I'm going to a craft beer event tomorrow!

Monday, May 23, 2011

Life is funny

Life really is funny. You have good intentions. You go about doing your thing. You get up in the morning, go to work, get in some fun, got to bed, and then do it all over again. Then, something happens to make you stop and reassess.

Sometimes it is illness. Sometimes it is a change in direction. Other times, it is a tree in your house.

Yes, we came home from work a couple of weeks ago to a large ash tree on and in our house. A storm front had come through. Our neighbors say winds were 50-60 mph. We believe a combination of wet spring soil, an old and internally rotting ash tree, and the wind combine to topple the monster into our house.

We were lucky. We were not home. No one was hurt. The damage was limited to one section of the house. We can still be in our home. The insurance company and the contractors are working out what will be fixed.

And then the tornadoes hit the Twin Cities and Joplin, MO.

Yep, perspective. We realize how lucky we are. We have not lost all that much. We are uninjured. We have the means to make things right. There are those much worse off who can't say that.

Our condolences to those who have lost so much. While we can only understand a little bit of the anguish and difficulty you are facing, we can sympathize with your plight.

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Yeah, yeah, it's been 4 months...

I know, I am the world's worst blogger. I never post.

So, at least this is a post - though very short.

Hubby cleaned out the chicken coop today to ready it for our new batch of chickens. We are getting Indian Game and Wyandottes and Ameraucunas. We also are getting Ruan ducks.

Also, the polytunnel experiment over the winter is a success. We are in MN but we have microgreens and spinach. It was a very small tunnel - only about 4 feet tall - and a small area. But, based on this, a large polytunnel or two is in the future. Hubby reported the ground under the tunnel is warm and workable, the greens are ready to eat (which we did!), and the air underneath about 75 degrees. Nice!

Also doing rabbits this year - just need to find a place to order some meat rabbits. Anyone know where we can get some?

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Grandma Clara's Peppermint Dessert

I am being proactive this year and working on several of my Thanksgiving dishes ahead of time. One particular dish, a tasty and minty dessert, is one from my childhood. It was a recipe my grandmother made and was something I looked forward to every year. It may not be the most "foodie" recipe, but eating brings me back to being 8 years old at my grandma's house surrounded by lots of relatives.

Here is the recipe:

Grandma Clara's Peppermint Dessert

Recipe by Clara Newman


8-16 oz. peppermint candies (use as much as you like)

1 pint heavy cream

1 tbsp vanilla

1/4 cup sugar

1/4 to 1/2 cup whole milk

8 oz large marshmallows

Graham cracker crumbs

1/2 cup chopped walnuts (optional)


1. Pour the whole milk into a large microwave-safe bowl. Add the marshmallows. Microwave for 1-2 minutes until marshmallows are puffy. Set aside to cool.

2. Place peppermints in blender or food processor. Run until the mints are a fine dust. Set aside.

3. Pour the cream into a bowl. Add sugar and vanilla. Whip cream until cream holds peaks.

4. Fold the peppermint dust into the whipped cream.

5. Fold minted cream into marshmallow mixture and incorporate. Mix in walnuts.

6. Fill the bottom of an 8x8 inch pan with graham cracker crumbs - patting down to create a solid "crust".

7. Pour mixture into the pan. Cover with aluminum foil.

8. Freeze pan (ensuring it is level).

9. When ready to serve, cut into squares and serve frozen.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Where Have I Been?

Yes, I have severely broken my New Year's resolution and had a complete lapse in my blog posting. What do they say about New Year's resolutions - most are broken halfway through the year? At least I did well through August!

Today's post won't have a lot of pretty pictures. Sorry, it is a boring word-only post.

Ok, ok, you don't care. You just want to know what I have been up to for the last 3 months or so. Right? I know you do!

We did a lot of eating from the garden. We got a nice crop of butternut squash this year as well as several pumpkins.

Our Swedish Blue ducks went for "finishing". Our friend took several of them and turned them into duck breast proscuitto and duck leg confit. Both are seriously tasty. We are really spoiled to have such a talented and sharing friend. A thin slice of the proscuitto is this wonderful combination of salt, funk and sweetness. I am in no mood to share it with anyone.

We had our 2nd annual Fall Festival on the Farm. This year we did goat instead of pig. We got the goats from Dancing Wind Farm, which is about 20 minutes from our place. We made a couple of curries with some of the goat meat (as well as a vegan butternut squash curry) and roasted a whole goat over a fire pit. Our friends and family turned out with some outstanding side dishes and the weather cooperated with sun and warmth. We are looking forward to next year.

Hubby and I attended a Women's Environmental Institute (WEI) training weekend north of the Twin Cities. It was done in conjunction with Growing Power, Inc. We got to meet Will Allen and spent the weekend building hoop houses, aquaponics units, worm composting bins and 10 foot-high compost piles. We met some really great people and had a lot of fun, despite the cold and rain (and vehicles getting stuck in mud).

While Hubby went up for deer opener, I went to a Slow Food MN event at Hells Kitchen in Minneapolis. I was a complete and total food geek by bringing our copy of Damn Good Food and having Mitch Omer sign it. He and his wife were so wonderful - very happy that we were there and graciously answering all sorts of questions. They also gave us some insight into the balancing act restaurants must do - complicated by adding local food sourcing. They would love to get local eggs, but their volume is huge. Most small, local egg producers just can't provide them with enough eggs. Hmmm....maybe Hubby and I should increase our flock...

So, that is a quick overview of what has gone on over the last 3 months. I will endeavor to be more consistent in my posting. After all, we do have that Mother-of-all food events coming up: Thanksgiving.

Sunday, August 1, 2010

The garden is going like crazy right now. It is all we can do to keep up. In fact, I believe we are failing to keep up. The chickens have had their fair share of huge zucchini (that hid from our eyes until they were the size of dump trucks - how do they DO that?). Our sungold tomatoes are starting to come ripe. Oh, what a lovely, tasty snack when you are going about the garden. They are like little sweet, juicy bombs going off in your mouth. So awesome!

This weekend, Hubby and I started harvesting the Borlotti beans as fresh eating beans. This is the stage after they are green (and can be eaten like a typical green bean). The beans themselves are fully developed and can be eaten out of the shell. But it is before the beans hardened and dry (when they are good for storing to use during the winter). Borlotti beans are absolutely beautiful beans.

You cannot find these in stores (at least around here), and it is a shame. They are good for eating throughout their various stages and are simply gorgeous.

We used these borlotti beans in an "around the garden"soup which also had onions, garlic, scarlet runner beans (green stage), carrots, courgettes (zucchini), turnips, beets, potatoes, sungold tomatoes and various herbs. Yum!

There will be more to come. I'm looking forward to all the tomatoes getting ripe to start making sauces.

How are the gardens going out there?