Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Home Again

a long, lost friend
    "Sometimes this old farm feels like a long, lost friend.  Ain't it good to be back home again."  John Denver

     There are so many kinds of friends in the real world and cyber world. Can a plant be your friend? Possibly, it just feels like a friend.
     Being away from the farm on a brief trip to New Orleans, it was hard to predict what changes might occur. The plants and animals would keep with their routine - either growing or eating, in some cases, maybe both.  
      But, upon return, the first day lily bloom had appeared. The flower of a day lily, as the name implies, lasts only one day.  Here it was joyfully balancing on a slender stem extending its greeting. My long, lost friend had come back.  It is nature's miracle that a plant can lie dormant all winter and then at the right  moment in time, reappear.
     It doesn't matter how many years go by, a thankful appreciation goes to all the flowers that reappear each year to brighten the farm.

Here is a easy and reliable slow cooker recipe for those hot summer days.

                               ANGEL CHICKEN
 6  skinless, boneless chicken breast halves, about 1 1/2 lbs.
 ¼ cup butter
 1 oz pkg. Italian salad dressing mix
 1 oz can condensed golden mushroom soup
 ½ cup dry white wine
 1/2 of an 8 oz. tub of cream cheese with chives and onion
                        Hot cooked angel-hair pasta or wild rice
                        Snipped fresh chives, optional

  1. Place chicken in crock pot.  
  2. Melt butter in saucepan; stir in the Italian seasoning mix. Then the golden mushroom soup, white wine and cream cheese until combined. Pour over the chicken.
      3. Cover and cook on low heat setting for 4-5 hours.
      4. Serve chicken and sauce over hot cooked pasta or rice.
Sprinkle with chives, if desired.

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Keeping Warm 101 - Farm Style

 Have a friend keep a watchful eye.
     The cold, the chill, it's still here. Yes, the cold and yes it's May and never mind that for two weeks in March it was deceptively summertime warm.  Well past April 1 there was a thin skin of ice in the ponding water - and now more tricks from Mother Nature. At least there are ways to get yourself warm, farm style that is. 

1. Dig hollow in dirt 2. Find friend
to keep watch 3. Cover nose.
     Curling up works real well.  Tuck everything in and under and plunk yourself down in the warmth of the sun's rays.  It's enough to make you want a cat nap. The best way is to lie as low as reasonably possible.  Dig out a hollow if you can.  Get out of the wind.

Keep your nose warm!

 Look to the animals for the secret to Keeping Warm 101, Farm Style.  The animals know how to warm up when the sun shines so brightly, but it is still really, really too cold for April and May.  The secret? The answer lies with the nose.  Yep, that's it, the nose.  If you keep your nose warm the rest of you will feel warmer as well.

 Here is a refreshing lemony summertime dessert to use with all the fresh berries ripening now.

               Lemon Semifreddo with Summer Berries 5*
½ cup sliced almonds, toasted
1 ¾ cups heavy whipping cream
1 1/4 cups plus 2 tablespoons sugar
7 large egg yolks
½ cup fresh lemon juice
1 Tbs  plus 2 teaspoons finely grated lemon peel    
¼ tsp salt
4 cups  mixed fresh berries (such as raspberries, blackberries, blueberries, and quartered

1. Line 9x5x3-inch metal loaf pan with plastic wrap, leaving generous

2. Sprinkle almonds evenly over bottom of pan. Beat whipping cream until soft peaks form. Refrigerate while making custard.

3. Whisk 1 1/4 cups sugar, egg yolks, lemon juice, lemon peel, and salt in a metal bowl to blend.

4. Set bowl over simmering water and whisk constantly until yolk mixture is thick and fluffy and instant-read thermometer inserted into mixture registers 170°F, about 4 minutes. Remove bowl from over simmering water. Using electric mixer, beat mixture until cool, thick, and doubled in volume, about 6 minutes. Fold in chilled whipped cream.

5. Transfer mixture to prepared loaf pan and smooth top. Tap loaf pan lightly on work
surface to remove air pockets. Fold plastic wrap overhang over top to cover.
Freeze until firm, at least 8 hours or overnight.
*Semifreddo can be made 3 days ahead. Keep frozen.

6. Gently mix all berries and  remaining 2 tablespoons sugar in large bowl.  Berries can be made 3 hours ahead. Cover and refrigerate.

7. Uncover semifreddo and invert onto platter.

6. Dip knife into hot water; cut semifreddo crosswise into
1-inch-thick slices. Transfer to plates; spoon berries alongside and serve.

 Adapted from Bon App├ętit, June 2008