Sunday, August 28, 2011

Waiting for Irene

Farm guardian

Is it clear that for every life there should be some sort of purpose?  On a farm it can't be missed that every morning each of the animals has its own sense of purpose.
     Shiloh checks the storm tubes every morning.  If there's a chipmunk in there he's bound to find it, but the tube has an opposite open end that he doesn't know about.  He doesn't get the chipmunk, and still he sees it as a worthwhile pursuit.

Mick the Mighty Mouser
      Mickey is the successful mouser, snaker, and catcher of a variety of rodent-like pests.  He knows the job and he's glad to do it.
 Angel, the cat who appeared out of nowhere and decided to stay, makes it her mission to sharpen claws each day before going off for the hunt.


And finally, there is Ring Tail.  He makes sure that every bug and grasshopper knows this farm is no place to stay.  When that is taken care of there is not a single inanimate object that is safe from those paws. Similar to the Uncle Remus story about the tarbaby if it doesn't move when he wants it to he will bat at it until it does. 

Ring Tail
Not overindulged with food, free time, or human attention they go about each day looking for more food, free time, and human interaction.    Being overindulged just makes one -animal or human - want to curl up and wait to be given more. One could watch these animals and see the value in finding and developing a sense of purpose.

Such serious thoughts today - I guess that is caused by waiting for Irene.

Need a sense of purpose?  Try this recipe - so sweet, so good, so easy to make.
                     Strawberry-Lemon Shortbread Bars 5*
2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup powdered sugar
3/4 tsp lemon zest, divided
3/4 cup cold butter
2 (8-oz.) packages cream cheese, softened
¾ cup granulated sugar
2 large eggs
1 Tbs fresh lemon juice
1 cup strawberry preserves
Garnishes: sweetened whipped cream, fresh-- strawberry slices
Oven at 350
1. Stir together flour, powdered sugar, and 1/2 tsp lemon zest; cut in butter with a pastry blender until crumbly. Press mixture onto bottom of a lightly greased 13- x 9-inch pan.
2. Bake for 20 to 22 minutes or until lightly browned.
3. Beat cream cheese and granulated sugar until smooth. Add eggs, 1 at a time, and beat just until blended after each addition. Stir in fresh lemon juice and remaining 1/4 tsp. lemon zest, beating well.
4. Spread preserves over shortbread. Pour cream cheese mixture over
preserves, spreading to edges. Bake 28 to 32 more minutes or until set. Let
cool 1 hour. Cover and chill 4 to 8 hours. Cut into bars; garnish, if desired.
Adapted from Southern Living APRIL 2011

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

What a difference a day makes!

                                                                                            This was Monday evening - a peaceful beautiful sky very unlike the sky that opened up on Sunday evening with a line of storms.  As the storm line was approaching, my little lawnmowers - aka babydoll sheep - were nowhere to be found. The rain began to pour and still I could not find them.  Drenched as I was, I had to give up the search when the lightning began - wet is one thing, electrified wet is a whole different story. When the round of storms passed, I was back out again to get them in before the rain came through again.                                     This time I searched the area in the woodline next to the secondary fence.  Way down towards the bottom of the field, of course, there they were, huddled together in a thicket. 
    Trying to get them out just reinforced all the sheep expressions that have become so familiar in our vocabulary left over from the agrarian days of our society. "Like a flock of sheep" and "acting sheepish" came to mind. I, however, was hoping for "follow like sheep," but clearly I was not the one they wanted to follow.  Although it was probably a good idea for Little Bo Peep, I would not be able to leave them alone for them to come home.  There was a good chance they would become something's dinner.  With great effort I was able to break one away from the group, and then the rest realized that was a good idea and off they went.  They raced for home base wagging their tails behind them.
     My recipe for the day- spaghetti squash - the vegetable that acts like pasta!
            Spaghetti Squash Gratins with Chunky Tomato Sauce 5*

1 (2-pound) spaghetti squash
1 tsp olive oil
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 tsp kosher salt, divided
½ tsp freshly ground black pepper, divided
¼ tsp crushed red pepper
2 (28-ounce) cans whole tomatoes, drained and chopped
3 oregano sprigs
3 thyme sprigs
½ cup (2 ounces) grated fresh Parmesan cheese
2 tsp chopped fresh oregano
1 tsp chopped fresh thyme
1 (15-ounce) carton fat-free ricotta cheese
   Preheat oven 400.
    Cut spaghetti squash in half crosswise.  Place cut side down on a plate and microwave 8 minutes or until tender.  Scrape inside of squash with a fork to remove spaghetti-like strands to measure 4 cups.
     Heat olive oil in a pan over medium heat.  Add garlic; cook 2 minutes, stirring frequently.  Add ½ tsp salt, ¼ tsp pepper, crushed red pepper, tomatoes, oregano, and thyme sprigs; bring to a boil.  Reduce heat, and simmer for 20 minutes or until thickened, stirring occasionally.  Discard oretgano and thyme sprigs.
     Combine remaining ½ tsp salt, remaining  ¼ tsp pepper, Parmesan, and remaining ingredients.  Spoon squash in baking dish, spoon tomato sauce evenly over squash; spoon ricotta evenly over sauce.  Bake for 50 minutes or until lightly browned.
Adapted from Cooking Light 12/05

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Slow Down, Sheep at Work

Behold the best little lawn mowers. They trim easily in the hard to mow parts on the farm, as well as the rest of the farm.I had to take the time to enjoy these little creatures. Just an end of summer day moment to stop and enjoy before it goes away.Taking care of animals is time consuming; sometimes the time consuming part is to just stop and enjoy watching them.                                                   We have been enjoying our farm produce.  I am growing pool ball zucchini and found this recipe that is good for the pool balls, but would also work for regular zucchini.

             Spinach Stuffed Zucchini 5*
5 small zucchini pool balls, stem ends cut off
2 Tbs olive oil
3/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp ground black pepper
2 Tbs butter
1/2  cup onion, diced
1 cup chicken flavored stuffing mix
1 pkg fresh baby spinach microwaved, drained
     -- and chopped OR (10-ounce) package
     -- frozen chopped spinach, thawed and squeezed dry)
1/2 cup sour cream
1  cup shredded sharp Cheddar or Jarlsburg
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
2.  Cut squash in half. Parboil squash in boiling water for 2 to 3 minutes, or until tender. Scoop out pulp, keeping shells intact; reserve pulp.
 3. In a large skillet, melt butter over medium heat. Add onion; cook 5 minutes or until transparent. To the skillet, add stuffing mix, spinach, sour cream, cheese and squash pulp. Mix together and add salt and pepper, to taste. Cook for 3 minutes. Spoon mixture evenly into squash shells. Place on baking sheet, and bake 15 to 20 minutes, or until heated through.
Recipe Source: Paula Deen (Quick and Easy 2008)

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

A Change of Heart -

 sweet apple blossoms
This entire entry was rewritten.
The narrative originally written for this day just seemed too long. So much has happened since the last entry of this blog.  There just didn't seem to be creative brain waves to sit and write all that happened at the end of each day.    So here is the list of some of what took place from the last entry in February until today -  planning/ordering seeds for seed starting; read, reread, study directions for greenhouse; put together greenhouse; reread directions, take apart greenhouse, reread directions and put together again; start seeds; figure out how to keep seedlings from freezing until weather warms up; prepare for birth of lamb; birth of lamb; open an e-bay account and sell goose eggs; prepare for arrival of turkeys; study new ideas for vegetable garden; plan and plant garden; set up/organize a food stand for our farm produce; several visits to PA to visit daughter  and SIL; and caring for 2 horses, 1 dog, 4 cats, 8 geese, 14 chickens, and 13 turkeys.

When all is said and done, the best thought of this  time is the memory of walking in the evening to do night check and smelling the sweet fragrance of apple blossoms and wild honeysuckle.   

My new favorite recipe for spaghetti squash - easy and fast. 

Spaghetti Squash with Sausage 5*
 1 3/4 to 4-pound spaghetti squash, halved crosswise, seeded
1 lb bulk pork sausage
1 cup chopped bell pepper
 1 cup chopped onion
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 1/2 cups purchased marinara sauce
1/2 cup grated Parmesan or  Italian
sharp, or your favorite cheese

Preheat oven to 400°F
1. Place squash halves cut side down on a microwave plate. Microwave until tender, about eight minutes.  
2. Sauté sausage, bell pepper, onion and garlic over medium-high heat until sausage browns and vegetables are tender, breaking up sausage, about 12 minutes. Mix in marinara sauce.
3. Using fork, pull out squash strands from shells.  Mix squash strands into sausage    mixture. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Spoon mixture into lighted greased dish.
4. Sprinkle with cheese. Bake uncovered until heated through, about 20 minutes (30 minutes if previously chilled).  
 Adapted from Bon Appétit | September 1998