Food

August 3, 2013 – Eclectic Food Day

Today was a serious putting food away day.

I have to lead with the most perishable item, this Dutch apple pie that Martin made with a jar of apple pie filling that didn’t seal.

But 11 others did seal for winter-time fruit pies.

A dehydrator batch of dried apples.

A couple of canner loads of various sizes of blackberry applesauce.  For blackberry fans, this combination, with a few splashes of lemon makes a great applesauce. Plus three more gallons of peeled, sliced apples went into the freezer.

Almost as an afterthought, some beans and broccoli were blanched and frozen.

In case none of this tastes good, a liter of brandy soaks up some sugar and blackberry to fend off winter colds!

July 26, 2013 – Pie in a Jar

With the abundance of apples, after freezing many bags, drying many trays, now we’ve moved onto making pie filling.

Here’s a jar that didn’t seal appropriately sitting in front of the apple tree.  Sometimes the headspace is tricky since the filling is so sticky and air bubbles get caught.  This one didn’t seal, so we’ll have to eat it soon -darn!

February 1, 2013 – Baked Alaska!

It’s cold and hard to do much outside, so what better  than throw some ice cream in the oven at 425 degrees.

Martin and Emma made a Baked Alaska recently.  This the finished product, seconds before slicing it open.

First step is to make a cake, throw it in the freezer, then top it with ice cream.

Then as quickly as you can, cover it with a thick coating of meringue.

Finally, throw it into the oven to cook the meringue. Voila!  The ice cream in the middle remains frozen and the dish that sounds impossible comes out of the oven!

January 29, 2013 – Winter Comfort Food

Emma had a hankering for lots of fresh vegetables and hot soup so she made up this Vietnamese Vegetarian Pho.

Here’s the completed bowl.

The process to prepare the ingredients was not trivial.  What’s invisible in this picture is what it took to make the pot of vegetable broth – all the vegetable that were boiled away and discarded (to the chickens) to make the broth.  It was a great mid-winter meal.

September 3, 2012 – Hot Peppers

The peppers are doing just fine this year.  We thought we’d try roasting some hot peppers just for fun.

Niece Jillian is here for a short visit, trying to keep busy on the farm (not usually much of a problem!)  Here she’s cutting the jalapenos.

A tray ready for roasting.

Linda hard at work, peeling the skins off the peppers.  They are good!

August 11, 2012 – ‘Maters Ready to Can

Today was the first flush of tomatoes in bulk.

I’ve kept them watered and they have rewarded us.  This is only the beginning. Let the tomato processing begin!

boil tomatoes

First step is to drop them in boiling water.  I use this propane turkey burner.  They are cheap after Thanksgiving and make it possible to keep the mess and heat out of the kitchen.  Leave them in there until the skins begin to crack.

tomatoes in ice water

Then put them in cold water until you can cut out the core and slip off the peels.  Usually we’ll put them in cans and process them, but we didn’t have enough time today, so we just threw them in bags and froze them until we have time to can them.

Here’s the yield from the baskets in the first photo – 10 gallon bags.

July 11, 2012 – What’s a Little Mess Worth?

Rumor has it that Martin and GJ are both known for making a mess in the kitchen when cooking. That’s why we’ll show the end products.

Today was no exception – on the summer menu: potato salad, deviled eggs, fresh cabbage and beans from the garden, along with some grilled pork chops from an heirloom variety.

Oh yeah, and home-made eclairs to top off the meal.  Unfortunately, the instructions say that the eclairs are best eaten within two hours of making them!

May 20, 2012 – Linda’s 15 Seconds

HBO came to Iowa to film part of a series on obesity. The following clip was taken from a roundtable discussion at Grinnell Heritage Farm. As a follow-up, Linda was later asked to go to D.C. present to the Institute of Medicine at the National Academy of Sciences.

This movie requires Flash Player 9

See the entire series free online at The Weight of the Nation.

December 24, 2011 – New Kind of Christmas Dinner

With Emma heading off with the Bobcat band to play in Orlando and in the Citrus Bowl parade (corporate sponsor intentionally left off), we couldn’t spend as much time as usual in Minnesota. So we were home Christmas Eve and after sugar-high crash, we were craving something green and fresh.

Linda made some spring rolls from scratch for the first time. We’ll work on the rolling, but they were still yummy!

Then it was a wok full of stir-fry for the main course.

November 24, 2011 – Thanksgiving High Hopes Style

This Thanksgiving, most of the items on the table were raised/grown on the farm.

The smoked lamb and turkey were simple, rustic smoked, and to die for!

Most everyone’s favorite side dish.

Some international flavors delivered by the saag.

Finally, some roasted Brussels sprouts.

September 30, 2011 – Raspberry Applesauce

In the never-ending quest to preserve apples, the third product is now on the shelf. First was canned apple pie filling, then dried apples for snacking, now applesauce.

These jars sitting on the storage shelves in the basement have a red color due to the raspberries added to the apples. One canning episode was good for about 44 jelly-sized single serve jars for lunches at work. We’ve had no trouble using our raspberries without going to market this year – we traded raspberries for buffalo meat, and handed off 18 lbs of berries to a vinter who promises us bottles of dry wine 6 months from now.

one year ago…”Thingmajig Thursday #227″

August 27, 2011 – Putting Tomaotes Up

Today was a long-anticipated day. Last year, we only had enough tomatoes to can seven quarts (it was a good thing we had canned 89 the previous year and had enough left over to get us through). This looks like a great tomato year. It was wet to get them going, hotter than blazes in July, now bone dry in August (avoids bacterial wilt and fungus).

Martin with the first sweep through the garden of the year looking for ‘maters.

A bushel of Romas waiting to be skinned and peeled.

To enable safe boiling water canning of tomatoes, we add 2 tbsp of lemon juice and a tsp of salt for taste.

We throw the tomatoes in boiling water until their skins crack and then put them in cold water to cool.

Then cut out the stem and slip the skins off.

Take about 1/6 of the tomatoes and crush them and bring them to boil, then slowly add the rest (no need to crush).  After all the tomatoes are added, bring to a boil and boil for five minutes.

Put in cans and boil for 50 minutes.  Today’s haul was 28 quarts of tomatoes.  Seems like a lot, but it’s only about two jars a month.  These are a staple in our cuisine.  Love them as the base of a minestrone soup and an essential part of red hot dish!

one year ago…”Ag Incubator Ribbon Cutting!”

August 13, 2011 – Treats from DC

Claire arrived home today, after evading the storms that brought the wreckage to the Indiana State fair. We were tracking her flight online and watched as the line of storms approached Chicago from the NW and her plan approached O’Hare from the southeast. With the plane at a few thousand feet and only a minute from landing, the plane icon suddenly turned away and headed away from the storm front.

The plane landed in Champaign-Urbana, which is about a 15 minute flight. They sat there for an hour, then headed back to O’Hare, taking a circuitous route over Missouri, Iowa, Wisconsin, and finally back to O’Hare. Of course, she missed her connecting flight home (and the next two scheduled flights) but did manage to catch the last flight out of Chicago for the day.


Before she left, she asked us to choose a cupcake variety from Georgetown Cupcake.

The boxes of cupcakes, ushered through security and three landings and take-offs.

A peek inside one of the boxes – mine was the blueberry cheesecake on the upper left.  Mmm-mmm.

one year ago…”Look for Linda on HBO”

July 24, 2011 – Dilly Beans

It’s that time of year – time to start putting food up in earnest.  One of the first to go this year are the “poor man’s pickles” or dilly beans.

They’re a “snap” to make – just put some galic and dill in a jar, cut the beans to length, and stuff the jars and seal with a vinegar mix.

You can even add a hot pepper if you’d like to spice things up a bit.

Here’s the Recipe we use from the USDA canning guide:

PICKLED DILLED BEANS
4 lbs fresh tender green or yellow beans (5 to 6 inches long)
8 to 16 heads fresh dill
8 cloves garlic (optional)
1/2 cup canning or pickling salt
4 cups white vinegar (5%)
4 cups water
1 tsp hot red pepper flakes (optional)
Yield: About 8 pints
Procedure: Wash and trim ends from beans and cut to 4-inch lengths. In each hot sterile pint jar (see page 1-14), place 1 to 2 dill heads and, if desired, 1 clove of garlic. Place whole beans upright in jars, leaving 1/2-inch headspace. Trim beans to ensure proper fit, if necessary. Combine salt, vinegar, water, and pepper flakes (if desired). Bring to a boil. Add hot solution to beans, leaving 1/2-inch headspace. Remove air bubbles and adjust headspace if needed. Wipe rims of jars with a dampened clean paper towel. Adjust lids and process.

Process 10 minutes in boiling water (15 minutes above 6,000 ft elevation).

one year ago…”Rockford Fossil Quarry”

February 6, 2011 – Totally Devoid of Blueberries and Pomegranates

Susan from Squash Blossom Farm alerted me to this video about Total Blueberry and Pomegranate cereal (in honor of my recent post about Dean’s Guacamole Dip that contains less than 2% avocado).  This cereal contains not a smidgen of either blueberry or pomegranate, and instead, a few food dyes to stand in place of the advertised fruit. Perhaps the box should read “Total Red 40 and Blue 2 Other Color Added Cereal.” For you fans of Monty Python or the old “Who’s on First” you’ll love this short video explaining the lack of blueberries and pomegranates from Total Blueberry and Pomegranate cereal.

For those who care, here’s the ingredient list:

Whole Grain Oats, Whole Grain Wheat, Sugar, Corn Syrup, Barley Malt Extract, Brown Sugar Syrup, Wheat Flakes, Malt Syrup, Rice Flour, Salt, Oat Flour, Whole Grain Rice, Canola Oil Natural and Artificial Flavor, Red 40, Blue 2 and Other Color Added, Soybean and Corn Oil Sucralose, Molasses, Honey, Corn Starch, Almond Flour, Nonfat Milk, Vitamin E (Mixed Tocopherols) and BHT Added to Preserve Freshness. Vitamins and Minerals: Calcium Carbonate, Vitamin C (Sodium Ascorbate), Zinc and Iron (Mineral Nutrients), Vitamin E Acetate, a B Vitamin (Niacinamide), a B Vitamin (Calcium Pantothenate), Vitamin B6 (Pyridoxine Hydrochloride), Vitamin B2 (Riboflavin), Vitamin B1 (Thiamin Mononitrate), a B Vitamin (Folic Acid), Vitamin A (Palmitate), Vitamin B12, Vitamin D3.

One year ago…”Clothes Humi-Dryer”

January 29, 2011 – Smallest Chicken Egg Ever!

There was a bit of a surprise in the chicken coop this evening – a mini-egg!  This egg was so small it would fall right through the egg basket!

smallest chicken egg

We’ve had some weird eggs before, but never one this small.  I guess if you were on a low cholesterol diet, you couldn’t get into much trouble eating this one.  I was hoping it would have a perfect little yolk, but it was all egg white inside.  Wouldn’t that have been cute in the frying pan?

one year ago…”How Much Noise Does a Skystream Make”

January 26, 2011 – Where’s the Beef?

After the post a few weeks ago when I discovered that Dean’s Guacamole dip contained less than 2% avocado, the Taco Bell meat controversy deserves some time as well. A class-action lawsuit has been filed against Taco Bell claiming that the products contain “seasoned beef” are misleading because the lawsuit claims the filling is only 35% beef. Taco Bell claims it is not true. It really shouldn’t take long to figure it out right?

Looking at the legal definitions, puts this at a whole ‘nother level. The USDA definition states that “Ground Beef” must contain at least 70% beef (the rest can be beef fat). Taco Bell claims that their “ground beef” contains “88% USDA inspected quality beef,” Creed said. The rest of the recipe includes: 3%-5% water, 3%-5% spices and 3%-5% oats, starch, sugar, yeast, citric acid, and other ingredients. So, if my math is right and you use the cheapest beef (70% beef) and subtract 12% for the ingredients Taco Bell claims it adds to the “ground beef,” you wind up with something that is about 62% beef.

According to the law, “Taco Beef Filling” must contain 40% beef. Tired yet? My point in this dust-up is that it is unreasonable to expect that when you plop down a buck for a dollar meal, can anyone think that the ingredients are top of the line, or even reasonable knock-offs of what they are imitating?

one year ago…”Aftermath”

January 14, 2011 – Martin’s First Lasagna

Martin had the afternoon off from school, so he had time for a new cooking adventure. We looked up a lasagna recipe and Martin was off to the races.

This was Martin’s favorite part, layering the meat mixture, noodles, mozzarella cheese, and cottage cheese mixtures.

It turned out wonderfully, and best of all, since we were making a big mess, Martin made one to eat and one to freeze.

one year ago…”Thingamajig Thursday #191″

January 5, 2011 – Happy Birthday to Mark!

OK, it’s not a milestone birthday, but it’s getting close!

Linda surprised me with a couple of great items.  First she made the northern Minnesota wedding/funeral dish, gulumpkes (cabbage rolls).  It was her first time, and they were great and it won’t take 20 years to make them again.

Following up the gulumpkes was a difficult task, but then she rolled out another item suitable for the northland waters – a graphite composite canoe paddle.  This paddle is so light, it feels as though you are holding air.  It will be a nice match to the black and wood trim canoe and should last as long as I do!

one year ago…”Winter Color”

January 4, 2011 – Holy Guacamole!

This holiday season we unwittingly had some Dean’s Guacamole dip. Or so we thought we had guacamole dip. The label looks nice – green with photos of avocados, tomatoes, and onion proudly displayed.  Better yet, it boasts 0 grams of transfat per serving.  But a closer look at the ingredient label reveals that it is only “guacamole flavored” and in fact, contains less than 2% avocado!

Here’s the ingredient label:

SKIM MILK, SOYBEAN OIL, TOMATOES, WATER, COCONUT OIL, CONTAINS LESS THAN 2% OF AVOCADO, WHOLE EGG, ONION*, SALT, DISTILLED VINEGAR, EGG YOLKS, SUGAR, NONFAT DRY MILK, WHEY (MILK), LACTIC ACID, SODIUM CASEINATE (MILK), ISOLATED SOY PROTEIN, TOMATO JUICE, VEGETABLE MONO & DIGLYCERIDES, SPICES, SODIUM BENZOATE AND POTASSIUM SORBATE (TO PRESERVE FRESHNESS), GELATIN, CORN STARCH, GUAR GUM, CELLULOSE GEL & CELLULOSE GUM, LEMON JUICE CONCENTRATE, LOCUST BEAN GUM, DISODIUM, PHOSPHATE, GUM ARABIC, XANTHAN GUM, CILANTRO*, NATURAL FLAVORS, EXTRACTIVE OF PAPRIKA, CITRIC ACID, ASCORBIC ACID, BLUE 1, RED 40, YELLOW 5, YELLOW 6. *DEHYDRATED.

Compare to a guac recipe that more people might think of:

  • 2 ripe avocados
  • 1/2 red onion, minced (about 1/2 cup)
  • 1-2 serrano chiles, stems and seeds removed, minced
  • 2 tablespoons cilantro leaves, finely chopped
  • 1 tablespoon of fresh lime or lemon juice
  • 1/2 teaspoon coarse salt
  • A dash of freshly grated black pepper
  • 1/2 ripe tomato, seeds and pulp removed, chopped

Should you be able to produce a food label with pictures of ingredients that make up less than 2% of the product?

one year ago…”Emma’s 2nd Wood Project”

November 25, 2010 – The Feast

After yesterday’s uncomfortable outdoor experience, thought it best to lead with something warm and turkey related.

smoked turkey

Here’s a slab of turkey in the smoker.  We baked one turkey and smoked another half outside in the smoker.  I was the best-smelling guy all day, tending the smoker.  This turkey was out of this world good.

Pie master Linda at work on the lattice top for the cherry pie.

cherry pie

The completed cherry pie.

apple pie

An apple pie.

pumpkin pie slice

And of course, a so-called pumpkin pie (actually it was squash from our garden –  many folks don’t know that even store-bought pumpkin pie filling from the store is squash).

Getting the vittles ready.

Still more vittle preparation.

Making the cranberry sauce from scratch (great with port).

turkey dressing

Finally, the turkey dressing getting ready to mix.  Happy Thanksgiving to all!

one year ago…”Turkeys Ready to Go”

November 12, 2010 – Who Picks Your Fruits and Vegetables and Where do They Sleep at Night?

There’s a little-discussed issue that immigration reform is bringing to the fore – whether you view the person who picks your food as an “illegal” when they require emergency health care or a “guest worker” if you are a large scale fruit or vegetable producer or consumer in the grocery store. More and more, I’m aware of the disadvantages small, family-scale farms run against. I often hear “Why can’t a small farm grow things cheaper than I can get in the grocery store?” The answer is they (we) can’t, because our tax dollars are subsidizing the larger producers directly and indirectly by caring for the “illegals” or “guest workers.” To start out, just a few examples of the direct subsidies that encourage “illegals” or “guest workers.”

Taxpayer-Funded Migrant Worker Housing
Many state and federal programs are set up to pay for housing for migrant workers. Jessie Lane, Washington Growers League says “It just didn’t make a lot of sense for growers to spend the money to build housing that was just going to sit there for 11 months of the year empty.” Gee, it doesn’t make sense for me to buy a hay baler that sits idle 360 days a year, or a tiller that sits unused 360 days a year. Do you think I can get the government to pay for it, like farm labor housing is being paid for by our tax dollars while the profits stay with the private companies who use the housing?

Here are just a few programs I’ve run across the last few months in the Vegetable Growers News magazine.

In New York, loan programs are available to help growers pay for housing that provides growers with 10 years of interest-free financing.

In Michigan – fruit growers have USDA duplexes, which are funded by a loan from USDA’s Rural Development program.

There are more than 100,000 agricultural workers in Washington, about one-third of whom are migrant workers, according to the Washington State Employment Security Department. In 1999, recognizing the need for more farm worker housing, Washington dedicated $8 million to creating new housing every two years. In 2007, the state increased this amount to $14 million every two years and added a $4 million infrastructure loan program for growers who wanted to build on-farm housing.

In California, President of the Nisei Farmer’s League says “We’ve recommended to many of our growers: Don’t put housing on your farms,” Cunha said.  “You’re asking for trouble.” Cunha envisions a scenario that might solve the state’s migrant housing problems: Let cities take over the construction and management of migrant housing.

Reliance on Migrant Workers

Of course, this is all due to the heavy reliance large growers have on “illegals” or “guest workers.” The US Homeland Security Secretary said “Efforts to secure the border will fail unless the magnet that attracts illegals is turned off,” the fact sheet said. “Unfortunately, the fines for relying on illegal workers are so modest that some companies treat them as little more than a cost of doing business. No sector of the American economy requires a legal flow of foreign workers more than agriculture.”

The treatment of these workers can be gleaned from this common-sense advice to growers from Vera Bitsch, an agricultural economics professor at Michigan State University. “Simple things like readily accessible drinking water can make a huge difference in worker productivity and morale.”  Really, someone has to say this?

There’s a reason that no one wants to touch this issue politically. Depending on where you sit, the same person is an “illegal” or “guest worker.” So when politicians rally about closing down the border and stopping the flow of illegals as part of campaign rhetoric, then cash the checks from their big agricultural friends, it’s not surprising that little reform of any kind happens.

I would like to point out that I certainly can sympathize with those that want to make a better life for themselves.  It points out that there are powerful interests at work that are not being truthful.  In the end, it’s all about how important we think food is to us (if you remember Maslow’s Pyramid of needs – shelter and food were at the top of the list, but while shelter is at the top of how we spend our money, food is not.)  The following tables highlight the differences from 1901 to 2003.

food expenditures

In 1901, shelter accounted for 32.8% of income, in 2002 shelter accounted for 23.3 % of income.

Food, meanwhile required 42.5% in 1901 and only 13.1% in 2003, with approximately 35% of that spent at restaurants.  I argue that we should pay the real cost of food at the store, and not in our income taxes.  If the real price of food was reflected in the grocery store price, more smaller farmers could compete, increasing rural vitality, and more people would find it worthwhile to grow their own, and be able to take more of their own needs, making them more resilient to economic downturns.

one year ago…”Thingamajig Thursday #184″

September 20, 2010 – Honey Extraction Day

Today was a big day at high hopes – honey extraction day! It was a rough year for beekeeping. We have three hives. Two of the hives were new this spring, so first year’s don’t often produce to much as they have to get organized and numbers bred up. The other hive swarmed, so lost some worker bees as well. Then, with the wet weather, it was hard for the bees to get out.

I missed Linda retrieving the supers from the hive – but here they are in the back of Sube. The idea is to get the supers during the day when many of the bees are out foraging. Then, you need to protect the stolen supers from the hive as they will try to retrieve the honey and the supers will be surrounded by an angry swarm. So, they are locked in the back of the car.

remove honey frames

Extracting is best done in a hot environment. The high today was 90 degrees, so the honey was warm and would flow easily. In addition, I turned on the propane heater in the garage to keep it warm after the sun went down. Since the garage is not bee proof, we wait until after dark and the bees are all back in the hive after sunset. Here Linda removes some frames from the supers. (No we are not on the payroll of the Ely, MN chamber as the car bumper sticker and Linda’s shirt may suggest.)

honey frame

Here’s a blue-ribbon frame – full and robust.

uncapping honey

Worth its weight in gold is the electric uncapping knife to slice off the wax caps from the comb.

Here’s a really angry-looking guy spinning the manual extractor. The spinning of the extractor slings the honey out of the frames. Spin for a bit and them turn the frames around and spin again.  He must have known that the next morning would bring aches of muscles usually not used!

Martin guards the honey gate at the bottom of the extractor.

The honey filters through three filters – a coarse mesh filter and a finely-woven fabric supported by another metal filter.

Finally, the honey safely tucked in jars. We ended up with about 10 gallons in total! The honey this year was very amber. That color is not what is typically is commercially available, despite the fact that dark amber honey has up to 20 times the anti-oxidants of run-of-the-mill commercial light honey.

one year ago…”Inaugural Chicken Butchering”

August 27, 2010 – Ag Incubator Building Ribbon Cutting!

Today was a milestone for local foods, Marshalltown Community College, and Linda.

It was the ribbon cutting for the new ag incubator building adjacent to the college and serving the farmers renting some of the land on the adjacent 140 acres of certified organic land.  Participating in the ribbon cutting are Linda, Rep Latham, Sue Martin Executive Director of the Martha Ellen Tye Foundation, and Conrad DeJardin, Community College Board of directors.

Our congressman, Tom Latham spoke – he was able to help secure some funding for a portion of the building through the Small Business Administration.

Here’s a shot of the front of the building.

Inside is an office, place for vegetable washing, storage, and coolers.  This is just the first part of a vision put forth by Linda seven years ago to help small entrepreneurial farmers, learn, produce, and market foods.  Next?  An incubator kitchen so producers can legally process foods and test recipes before going to a larger food processing facility.

Dr Linda Barnes Speaks at Ribbon Cutting

Iowa Valley Board of Directors Vice President Yvonne Mallory Speaks at Ribbon Cutting

Congressional Representative Tom Latham Speaks at Ribbon Cutting

one year ago…”Thingamajig Thursday #174″

August 21, 2010 – Canning Raspberries

When the berries come on fast, in addition to freezing, we like to can some whole berries – they are great in the winter in yogurt, cold cereal, and pancakes. they are easy to can as well.

First heat some water and sugar for the liquid to a boil – add sugar to taste.  Heat up canning kettle to boiling.  Soften up the canning lids by getting water to nearly boiling and putting lids in and then take off the heat.

Put berries directly in jars.

Fill to within a half inch of the top of the jar with the boiling sugar water mix.

Wipe the rim of the jars dry, put on lids, hand tighten rings, and put in boiling water bath for 20 minutes, making sure an inch of water is above the jars.  It’s a quick and easy way to put up food for later.

one year ago…”Conservation Reserve Enhancement Program”

July 14, 2010 – On the Land

Away from the water, the wild blueberries are abundant this year.

Some fun with a camera setting that just detects one color.

Wild blueberries in full color. Picking blueberries is rather relaxing and it’s a great excuse to get out and tromp around the woods, sphagnum bogs, and powerlines.  There’s a fine line between getting lost and not knowing exactly where you are!  I also managed to scare up a covey of young ruffed grouse.

Blueberries collected for human consumption!  We had blueberries on pancakes, blueberries in mixed fruit salad, and Linda made a blueberry pie as well.

Of course, we couldn’t go a whole week without picking and preserving some food!  In addition to the berries we ate fresh and froze, we canned over 30 jars of these delectable little morsels!

one year ago…”Overnight in the BWCA in the Rain”

July 10, 2010 – Goat Milk Cheese (Chevre)

We have (finally) produced a cheese that makes excellent use of our goat milk. Here’s the culture as it looks after sitting for about 24 hours. The liquid is whey and the curd is the more solid, cheesy looking stuff. We fed the whey to the chickens.

This is what it looks like after the curd was allowed to hang in the fridge for a couple of days.

This makes the cheese more firm as the last of whey drips out. We found this to be delicious on crackers. Some we mixed with garlic and chives, another with dill, and a third we made with salt and pepper. These can be frozen too.

one year ago…”Corny”

June 28, 2010 – Cherry Pie

Ya’ll saw the cherries a few days ago. Here is one of the finished products from blue-ribbon pie baker Linda.

cherry pie

She’s trying to pass pie-making down to children, but nobody quite has the knack yet. I think Martin may end up with the best chance to master it.  Claire has been posting various Indian sweets on her blog, so I thought we’d fight back with the heavy artillery!

one year ago…”Pipestone National Monument”

May 9, 2010 – Cuban Bread

It’s hard to go wrong with homemade bread, especially if someone else is willing to make it for you!  This is Cuban Bread, an easy cousin to French Bread.   Linda provides the recipe following the photo.

cuban bread

Ingredients:

5 to 6 cups of bread or all-purpose flour
2 packages dry yeast
1 tablespoon salt
2 tablespoons sugar
2 cups hot water (120-130 degrees)
Sesame or poppy seeds (optional)

I used my kitchen-aid mixer to mix and knead the dough. Prepare a baking sheet by greasing it or with corn meal or parchment paper.  I liked the texture of the corn meal.

Place 4 cups of flour in a large mixing bowl add yeast, salt, and sugar.  Stir until blended.  Pour in hot water and beat for 3 minutes with the mixer flat beater.

Gradually work in the remaining flour 1/2 C at a time.  I used a scant 5 cups.  Mix until the dough takes shape and is no longer sticky.  Knead using the mixer for 45 seconds (or 8 minutes by hand).

Place dough in a greased bowl, cover with plastic wrap and allow to rise in a warm place for 15 minutes or until the dough doubles in size.

Punch down the dough, turn it out on the work surface, and cut into 2 pieces.  Shape each into a round.  Place on the baking sheet.  With a sharp knife, slash an X on each of the loaves, brush with water, and if desired, sprinkle with sesame or poppy seeds.

Bake at 400 degrees (350 degrees in convection oven) for 45-50 minutes.  Place the baking sheet on the middle shelf of a cold oven.  Place a large pan of hot water on the shelf below, and heat the oven to 400 degrees. The bread will continue to rise while the oven is heating.  Bake for about 50 minutes, or until the loaves are deep golden brown.  Thump on the bottom crusts to test for doneness.  If they sound hard and hollow, they are baked.

Note:  Since the bread does not have shortening, it will not keep beyond a day or so.  Even though it may begin to stale, it makes excellent toast for many days and freezes well.

one year ago…”Bar Harbor, Maine”

May 2, 2010 – Local Meals!

To us, local meals are really local – as our daughter Emma has commented in the past “I live with my food.”  Many local foodies mark the miles the food travels from the farm to their fork, well, on the farm, it’s hard to be much closer. (Any closer would probably be very unhealthy!)

grilled chicken and asparagus

Chicken thighs – distance from the kitchen – approximately 200 feet;

Asparagus – distance from the kitchen – approximately 50 feet

local meal

Not to be redundant, the meal the day after the previous photo:

Marinated Turkey Tenders – distance from the kitchen – approximately 250 feet;

Asparagus – distance from the kitchen – approximately 50 feet

Shiitake mushrooms – distance from the kitchen, approximately 40 feet

one year ago…”Field Trip to Farmer’s Market”

April 25, 2010 – Locavoring at Church Conference

This weekend we attended our church’s regional conference in Davenport.  The conference put an emphasis on involving all ages, so we proposed a session from the kitchen on “cooking local” thinking it would be a nice change from conference center meeting rooms.

Here Martin is helping us to prepare – we made biscuits form scratch using local flours, and in the background you can see that we also set up to make jam – both raspberry and strawberry with frozen berries from the farm.  About 20 people signed up and all seemed to enjoy sampling the jam on the hot biscuits and bringing a jar or two of jam home as well.

one year ago…”Prom”

December 6, 2009 – 2009 Gift Boxes

Once again, it is time to offer the bounty of the farm for holiday gift-giving.  Many customers love the local, made in Iowa, non dust-collecting nature of the boxes.  The boxes contain various combinations of jams made from organically raised fruit from the farm, honey from the farm, real goat milk soap made on the farm from scratch (not the harsher glycerine type), and beeswax candles made with wax from other central Iowa beekeepers (our bees don’t produce enough for all our candles).

The large gift box contains two 4 oz. jam samplers, one 4 oz. honey sampler, two beeswax votives, a four inch beeswax pillar, and a half bar goat milk sampler soap bar along with a gift card offered for $25.00.

The medium gift box contains two 4 oz. jam samplers (or one jam and one 4 oz. honey sampler), a beeswax votive, and a half bar goat milk sampler soap bar along with a gift card offered for $15.

The small gift box contains two 4 oz. jam samplers, one 4 oz. honey sampler,  along with a gift card offered for $10.

The mini gift box contains two 4 oz. jam samplers along with a gift card offered for $7.50.

In all gift boxes, choice of jams and honey are interchangeable.  In addition, 4 oz. jams are available for $2.50 each.  Specific jam requests are available first-come, first serve – this year we have red raspberry, golden raspberry, blackberry, strawberry, strawberry rhubarb, cherry and plum.

We offer delivery to our workplaces or church, pick-up at the farm, or shipping to your destination with a shipping quote upon getting a shipping zip code.

one year ago…”Dinosaur Farming”

November 22, 2009 – Beer and Soap Day

This afternoon we went over to Morning Sun Farm to make soap and beer. It was set up as a nice learning experience for me, as I saw two important steps in beer brewing – the initial ingredient mixing and cooking, and the bottling of a batch previously prepared up to the bottling stage.

The final product – waiting in the bottles.

Some of the supplies all ready to go..

One of the last steps – siphoning into clean bottles. I did not attempt to get a step-by-step accounting of the process, but just walk through it.

At the same time as the beer brewing was happening, a couple of batches of home-made soap were mixed and poured – here’s the results of one batch cut and curing. These bars will sit for at least a couple of months before use.

one year ago…”Stringtown Grocery Visit”

November 9, 2009 – Buttercup Squash Yeast Bread

Remember it was a bumper year for squash? Linda ran across a bread recipe that makes a beautiful moist yeast bread with an orange tint.

The loaves were devoured quickly.  Here’s the recipe:

Ingredients

3 packages (1/4 oz each) active dry yeast
1/2 cup warm water (110 to 115)
2 Tablespoons sugar
2 1/2 cups mashed cooked buttercup or butternut squash
2 cups milk
2/3 cup packed brown sugar
2/3 cup softened butter
2 eggs, lightly beaten
3 teaspoons salt
13 cups all-purpose flour

Directions

In a very large bowl, dissolve yeast in warm water.  Add sugar; let stand for 5 minutes.  Add the squash, milk, brown sugar, butter, eggs and salt; mix well.  Add 6 cups flour.  Beat on medium speed for 3 minutes.  Stir in enough of the remaining flour to form a soft dough.

Turn onto a floured surface; knead until smooth and elastic, about 10 minutes.  Place in a greased bowl, turning once to grease top.  Cover and let rise in a warm place until doubled, about 1 1/4 hours.

Punch dough down. Divide into three portions; shape into loaves.  Place in three greased 9 x 5 inch loaf pans.  Cover and let rise until doubled, about 45 minutes.

Bake at 350 degrees for 35-40 minutes or until golden brown.  Cool for 10 minutes before removing from pans to wire racks to cool.

one year ago…”Ornamental Kale”

November 7, 2009 – Garlic Tasting

Today we attended a fundraiser for the Practical Farmers of Iowa.  Appetizers for the meal included a variety of roasted garlic varieties.

I was surprised at the vastly different tastes of the garlics.  The rest of the meal was ably prepared by chef Donna Prizgintas, who among other things, was Paul Newman’s personal chef.  The dinner included a beet gelee on a bed of microgreens, a main course of roasted white carrots and red peppers, along with two kinds of chicken.  The meal was topped off with a squash crumble.

Earlier in the afternoon, there was a stop at Northern Prairie Chevre goat cheese farm.  Next was a stop at Snus Hill winery, where the meal was served. It’s hard to say what was better – the conversation and company or food!

one year ago…”First Snow of the Season”

October 20, 2009 – October Stir-Fry

It’s nice that on October 20, the garden still supplies an all-farm stir-fry.

This dish contains carrots, cabbage, broccoli, fresh from the garden and onions and garlic from recent harvests.  The days of eating straight from the garden are quickly coming to an end – about all remaining are lettuce, spinach, kale, beets, and brussels sprouts.

one year ago…”Garlic Planting”

October 16, 2009 – World Food Prize Symposium Sessions

Part of tagging along with Claire meant I could participate in the symposium sessions.

One of the speakers was Bill Gates, a guy who used to work for Microsoft.  I was rather disappointed with the Register’s coverage of his speech as the headline read “Gates calls Biotech Seeds Critical to Fighting Hunger.” Although there is no doubt of that as he said “I made a fortune in technology, so it should be no surprise I’m a fan of agricultural technology.”  However, I took his real message as the he said the ONLY way to “solve” world hunger would be a improve the standing of smallholder farmers and working with their governments and local institutions. I don’t see how distributing GMO seeds to every remote corner of the world will be feasible, especially on an annual basis as the seeds cannot be saved from one year to the next.  The logistics of that are staggering.

Gates also pointed out that it also is important to avoid the environmental degradation linked with the Green Revolution in the 1960s, when increased use of fertilizer and pesticides helped boost crop production in Asia.  Of the 1.2 billion the Gates foundation money, about 5% is targeted to biotech.  All in all, I thought the headline was an easy out to focus on the most controversial part of his speech.  After all it’s much easier to write that than delve into the relatively boring details of working on world hunger.

Perhaps a session that was more interesting was this one hosted by former food prize laureate Catherine Bertini. The topic was one that sounded academic and dry, but turned out to be fascinating – “Gender in Agriculture, Nutrition and Health.  The take-home from this panel was that, when we think of worldwide farmers – think of a face of a woman, as 80% of the farmers in the world are women.  Typically women gather the food, prepare the food, and grow the food.

Studies have shown that women are also better stewards of the money for the household – using it more wisely to take care of children than men.  But women, around the world are much less educated, and previous aid programs did not consider the fact of who is dong the farming.  Foods would be sent to fuel-poor countries that took too long to cook – bags of seeds were sent in 50 lb bags, to heavy for women to handle.  Education and extension is delivered to men.  Educated women have fewer children, and thus an easier economic time.

Perhaps one of the best success stories was that relayed by the director of the Bangladesh Rural Advancement Committee.  Over the past 20 years, no country has lifted more people out of hunger than Bangladesh, primarily through BRAC.  This organization is certainly a model for other efforts – I urge you to take a look and also take a look at one of the student interns from the World Food Prize and her paper reflecting on her experience working with BRAC. It is enlightening, heartbreaking, and inspirational.

I found the symposium to present many points of view – including a panel that had the “Sustainability Director” of Syngneta, the Chief Economist from John Deere, a researcher from the Worldwatch Institute and a former Food Prize Laureate and current leader of the Millenium Institute!

Perhaps the most surprising session was one that dealt with global climate change and agriculture.  Unexpectedly, the strongest urge to action to stop human-induced climate change came from a 3 star Navy Admiral. He and other highest-ranking recently retired members of the U.S. Military called climate change the biggest threat to national security the United States faces.

Strategic decisions are, by necessity, based on trends, indicators and warnings because, as a chairman of our panel, retired Army Gen. Gordon R. Sullivan, said, “We never have 100 percent certainty. We never have it. If you wait until you have 100 percent certainty, something bad is going to happen on the battlefield.”

After carefully considering the threat of climate change and America’s current energy consumption to our national security, the  Military Advisory Board finds the trends and warnings are clear. Our sobering conclusion is that climate change and the U.S. energy posture constitute a serious and urgent threat to national security — militarily, diplomatically and economically.

Climate change differs from traditional military threats. It is not a well-defined enemy or a specific crisis spot with a fixed timeline for response. Rather, it is a threat multiplier that magnifies instability in the most volatile places in the world and increases a variety of threats across the board.

This will inevitably create a growing need for U.S. military intervention with missions ranging from humanitarian assistance, to peacekeeping, to the need to deal with dangerous conflicts over resources in regions critical to U.S. national security. The conditions created by climate change will vary across the globe and affect different locations, including in our own nation, in a variety of ways: drought, flood, extreme weather events, crop failure, acidic oceans, fishery collapse, starvation and disease.

These conditions will lead to conflict over scarce resources and cause mass migration by people in search of security and the essentials of life, creating sustained natural and humanitarian disasters on a scale and at a frequency far beyond those we see today.

This, in turn, will create great social and political instability where demands for basic human needs exceed the capacity of governments to cope. As fragile states become failed states, desperation, hopelessness and a vacuum of governing power create a dangerous breeding ground for extremists and terrorism.

When populations get more desperate, the likelihood of military conflicts goes up, and the more instability, the more likely and greater the pressure to use our military. Climate-driven crises are already happening. Darfur and Somalia are present-day examples of instability and failing states. In South Asia and in the Middle East, very densely populated regions with long-standing tensions, climate change will create greatly increased competition, and perhaps regional conflict, over traditional supplies of fresh water.

As the Himalayan glaciers recede, nations such as China, India and Pakistan will have to deal with internal and external unrest due to a much less reliable source of water to meet the needs of growing populations. There already exists a rapidly increasing competition for diminishing supplies of water for agriculture and basic human needs in the Middle East.

The danger of oil

At the same time, increasing demand for, and dwindling supplies of fossil fuels will lead to greater instability around the world, including many of the places worst hit by climate change. In our second report, the CNA Military Advisory Board concluded that America’s approach to energy has placed the nation in a dangerous and untenable position. The report identifies a series of current risks created by America’s energy policies and practices.

Militarily, our inefficient use and overreliance on oil adds significantly to the great risks already assumed by our troops. It reduces combat effectiveness and exacts a huge price tag in dollars and lives. It puts our troops — more directly and more often — in harm’s way.

Fuel convoys can stretch over great distances, traversing hotly contested territory and become attractive targets for enemy forces. Ensuring convoy safety and fuel delivery requires a tremendous diversion of combat force. As in-theater energy demand increases, more assets must be diverted to protect fuel convoys rather than to directly engage enemy combatants.

We saw this in Iraq and we are certainly seeing it in Afghanistan where the pace of military operations, the size of the force and its effectiveness is literally paced by our ability to get fuel when and where it’s needed. Consider the recent hijacking of fuel trucks by the Taliban in Afghanistan and the ensuing civilian deaths, greatly damaging the political goals that are central to the NATO and coalition mission.

The commandant of the Marine Corps recently deployed an energy audit team to Afghanistan to find ways to increase energy efficiency and to use more sustainable forms of energy in order to lighten the expeditionary load, lower logistics vulnerability and improve fighting effectiveness.

Beyond the military’s own fuel needs, our nation consumes more oil than any other single country. Ensuring the flow of that oil stretches our military thin — the men and women already fighting wars on two fronts. We rely on our armed forces to protect sea lanes and maintain a continuous high level of forward presence to ensure we can fill up our cars and trucks. The October 2000 terrorist attack on the USS Cole, while on a refueling stop in Yemen, was a tragic reminder of the convergence of oil, instability, terrorism and the need for ever vigilant forward presence by Americans in uniform.

And our nation’s dependence on oil — not just foreign oil — reduces our leverage internationally and limits our diplomatic options. We simply do not have enough oil resources in this country to ever meet our growing demand or to shield us from the volatile price spikes and shortages in a global market.

Using too much

Even accounting for the recent discovery of deep sea oil reserves in the Gulf of Mexico, America controls only 3 percent of the world’s oil supply while we consume 25 percent of the oil produced every year. Making the assumption that fuel is going to be available and affordable whenever and wherever we need it leads to a fundamentally flawed strategy. It will neither be available nor affordable.

The growing divergence of supply and demand curves for global oil dictates ever-greater scarcity and ever increasing cost. By remaining dependent on oil the United States will continue to be entangled with unfriendly rulers and undemocratic nations — simply because we need their oil. And we cannot produce enough domestic oil to change this dynamic. That is just a short-term solution that simply continues our harmful addiction to oil. We need to recognize that we cannot drill our way to sustained prosperity and security — we have to wean ourselves from our reliance on oil, starting now.

Economically, we are in the midst of a severe financial crisis, and our approach to energy is a key part of the problem. We are heavily dependent on a global petroleum market that is highly volatile. In 2008, we sent $386 billion overseas to pay for oil — a good deal of it going to nations that wish us harm. In the last year alone, the per-barrel price of oil climbed as high as $140 and dropped as low as $40. Just a $10 change in the per-barrel cost of oil translates to a $2 billion increase in the Pentagon’s energy costs.

This price volatility is not limited to oil — natural gas and coal prices also saw huge spikes in the last year. While coal and natural gas resources may be plentiful, they are increasingly difficult to access, and have associated impacts that are expensive. As we begin to recover from the current global recession, the price of energy will inexorably go up and with it, the risks to our nation’s economic and security future.

Hummer, be gone

There are those who say we cannot afford to deal with our energy issues right now. But if we don’t begin to address our long-term energy profile now, future economic crises will dwarf this one. The market for fossil fuels will be shaped by finite supplies and increasing worldwide demand, the volatile cycle of fuel prices will become sharper and shorter, and without immediate action to change our energy profile, the national security risks, economic and military, will worsen.

Every single day that goes by, we are more vulnerable to very real threats to our energy supply: a major hurricane in the Gulf of Mexico, Iran closing down the Strait of Hormuz, terrorist actions against major oil production facilities, or an oil embargo by OPEC.

Using the most reasoned and fact-based military judgment, members of the Military Advisory Board concluded that we must transform the way our country produces and uses energy. Diversifying our energy sources and moving away from fossil fuels is critical to our future energy security. This will inevitably mean moving to more renewable sources of energy, greater efficiency and to a significantly reduced dependence on fossil fuels.

As the largest single user of energy in the country, the Department of Defense can play a leadership role. As one of my colleagues on the Military Advisory Board quipped, “America, we gave you the Hummer when oil was cheap; now we’re taking it back!”

So if you ever run against someone who doubts the importance of climate change, you’ve now got the brightest minds of the US military on your side – in essence whose who deny the effects of climate change are essentially undermining United States national security.
one year ago…”Thingamajig Thursday #137″

October 15, 2009 – World Food Prize Ceremony

Claire had a fantastic opportunity this week – she was selected as a participant in the World Food Prize Symposium Youth Institute.  Usually a teacher accompanies the student to the three day all-expenses paid trip to the symposium, but Claire’s teacher had attended before and asked if Linda or I would like to attend in her place due to our professional and personal interests in agriculture.

The ceremony awarding the World Food Prize, essentially the Nobel Prize for food and agriculture, was held at the Iowa State Capital Building.  It was a formal affair.  Here the students line the stairway, ready to greet dignitaries and attendees to the ceremony and dinner.

A huge illuminated earth was placed in the capital rotunda.

Here, winner of this year’s food prize, Gebisa Ejeta, gets down with dancers from his native Ethiopia as part of the ceremony.

The actual ceremony itself was the only event that the accompanying teachers could not attend as the ceremony had sold out of the $450.00 dollar tickets.  In the past, it had not sold out, so teachers attended live – instead we were ushered in to the state capital law library and watched the broadcast of the event live, as it was broadcast statewide and on the internet via Iowa Public Television.

one year ago…”Pepper Harvest”

October 4, 2009 – Pizza Night

Sunday nights are always the same at high hopes.  Kids get a reprieve from the usual 1/2 per day of computer or TV and get to watch a movie and eat mac and cheese. Later in the evening it’s date night for Mark and Linda as Linda makes a pizza from scratch.

This is a good time of year – fresh from the garden – spinach, tomatoes, hot peppers and onions.

Topped with some mozzarella cheese and tiny peperoni, the tomato slices are eager to poke through the cheese.

one year ago…”Hops Harvest”

October 2, 2009 – Applesauce Day

I’ll spare you the details of the processing, but today might be a record canning day at high hopes!  The girls spent about three hours peeling apples, and we had some bags of apples in the freezer from earlier maturing trees. We made nine canner’s worth of applesauce.  Apples take a while to cook into sauce, so nine batches is a good day’s output.

You’ll notice that the applesauce is red – we had a bunch of frozen strawberries, frozen cherries, and plenty of raspberries.  So, the applesauce is mixed with those fruits – it is tasty!  The total put up for the day is 28 quart jars, 35 pint jars, and 32 1/2 pint jars which are great for lunches.  All in all, it’s the equivalent of about 53 quarts of applesauce.  Fortunately (or unfortunately), there are still lots of apples left on the trees!

one year ago…”Thingamajig Thursday #135″

September 27, 2009 – Big Tomato Day

We started on tomatoes about 2:30 and with GJ and Martin cutting up tomatoes for about 3 hours, we managed to put up 28 quarts of tomatoes today!  Tomatoes take a while as they need to process for 50 minutes, but there is nothing like the home-canned tomatoes.

Martin had a long time to think while he was cutting up tomatoes and made a step-by-step analogy between the previous day’s chicken butchering and the tomatoes.

Step One – Pick tomatoes/bleed chickens

Step Two – Blanch Tomatoes in Boiling Water/Scald chickens in 150 degree water

Step Three – Slip skins off tomatoes/put chickens in plucker to remove feathers

Step Four – Cut stem out of tomatoes/take out guts of chicken

Step Five – Cut up tomatoes/cut up chickens for freezing

Step Six – Put chicken parts in bags and freeze to preserve/put tomatoes in jars to preserve.

one year ago…”Harvest Table”

August 14, 2009 – New England Dining

Emma’s blogging again today…

While we were in Salem and Boston, we had the chance to eat some really great seafood and Ben and Jerry’s ice cream. A little restaurant I really enjoyed was a little seafood place with lots of open air places with a view of the sea. I went for lunch and I liked it so much, I went back for dinner the same day.

Fried clams for lunch.

A devoured plate of mussels. A favorite with the group.

Very delicious spring rolls in a mango sauce. Not exactly seafood, but good all the same.

While at the seafood restaurant,  I tried several new things including lobster, swordfish, and mussels. My personal favorite was the swordfish.

Following a long standing tradition of getting a “vermonster” on the last night, We got three. In less than ten minutes, all there were clean and washed. That’s approximately 60 scopes of ice cream, 16 ladles of hot fudge,  at least 2 containers of whipped cream, a jar of sprinkles, 12 cookies,  and 16 toppings including; gummy bears, bananas, Oreo cookies, and many others. It was, needless to say, very filling. A sweet end to and even better trip.

one year ago…”Thingamajig Thursday #128″

August 3, 2009 – First Serious Canning Day of Season

Today was the first serious canning day of the season.

The first batch of William’s Pride apples were ready to be something else.  With last year’s great success of canned apple pie filling, we decided to make that first.

The apple pie filling is in the center quart jars, a batch of dilly beans to the right and a couple batches of pickle relish to the left..

one year ago…”Envirothon Part 3: Competition and Wrap-up”

June 3, 2009 – “Classifoods”

Here’s another interesting approach to marrying editorial content with advertising in a print newspaper. This kind of coupling of content with ads has made Google rich – now here’s an example of a print paper – the paper serving the Bar Harbor, Maine area – melding features with local food advertising.

ELLSWORTH:  The Ellsworth American and the Mount Desert Islander today launch a new advertising vehicle for people who grow, raise, sell, eat or admire food. That vehicle is a classified ad that, instead of appearing in the Classified Advertising section of the newspaper, is published in the Arts section where the weekly food, restaurant, recipe and wine features appear. It’s a new concept “marrying the ad to the news content.”

New concepts call for new names, so we have dubbed these new ads  – Classifoods.

Here’s a really new concept: the ads are free this month. Free ads are one per customer per week.

General Manager Terry Carlisle cooked up the idea after attending a workshop in Boston at the annual New England Press Association (NEPA) convention in February.

At the NEPA convention this year, one of the presenters was encouraging us to think outside the box using classifieds as an example. Why do they all have to run in the back of the newspaper? Why not marry them with their news content if that makes sense? He showed an example of a successful food classified page that was running in the Lifestyle section of a newspaper next to the food page.

It was a recipe for experimentation.

To introduce Classifoods to readers and advertisers, the newspapers are offering the ads for free for the month of June. After that, regular classified rates apply.

Any food-related goods and services can appear in Classifioods – from seeds that grow into food to kitchen sinks where we clean up after a meal. Our first issue features a wide variety of foods, including pet foods.

one year ago…”Fruit on the Way”

January 26, 2009 – Apple Pie

Everyone seems to have one thing they are exceptional at cooking, at our house, it is Linda’s pies.  When we first moved here over a decade ago, Linda entered some pies in a local pie contest and won in the fruit pie and cream pie.  It was hilarious as we could see and hear all the local white-haired ladies asking “who’s Linda?’

So we are the beneficiaries of her talent.  This is an apple pie with the apple pie filling we canned last fall.  The filling gets two thumbs up!

one year ago…”Playing in the Snow”

January 20, 2009 – Local Foods Move to Mainstream

For many years, many small farmers have championed the benefits of local food production based on claims of supporting the local economy, freshness, and quality. Recent books by Michael Pollan and others have given the concept a wider audience. Now, I believe the biggest producers have noticed and will soon be marketing their products as such. Following are excerpts from a speech that Bryan Silbermann, President of the Produce Marketing Association gave at his “State of the Industry” address.

After years of becoming more corporate-like and delivering fresh produce to consumers cheaply and abundantly, the produce industry is heading in the opposite direction – meeting its customers face to face. People are moving back to basics, away from industrial agriculture and back to smaller stores and local foods and trying to find the face behind their fresh produce.

“Cheap and plentiful eventually has a price,” he said, noting that consumers are more fearful of their food – and producers haven’t benefited all that much either. Producers now get about 17 cents of the consumer dollar, down from 41 cents in 1940.

At the same time, consumers are realizing they want the freshness and taste of local foods, the open space farms provide and the other benefits local foods contribute to the community – including a greater sense of security. “It’s become a social movement as people are pushing back against industrial agriculture and the over-reliance on excessively processed foods. The next big thing is not more microwavable pizza.” Silbermann said that a “perfect storm” has engulfed the produce industry, combining elements from rising input prices, a shortage of labor, concerns about food safety and a growing interest in local, sustainable food systems.

I think that Mr. Silbermann is a very astute man, and his talk reveals just the extent and possibilities of a new type of food system based on local production – coming from the leader of an industrial food organization, it is particularly informing and encouraging to those in the trenches.

one year ago…”When It’s Wintertime”

November 22, 2008 – Stringtown Grocery Visit

Near Kalona Iowa is an Amish-run grocery store that we find to be quite fun to shop. On this trip we found 4 oz jelly jars that are not available in any of the usual places, and even online, we found few, and the ones we did find would be about $30/dozen jars after shipping. We found them at Stringtown for $6.98. Earlier in the year, we found a sleeve of 30 dozen canning lids that we purchased.

This horse and buggy are in the horse parking lot next to the store. The store is lit by gas lights, has the old wooden floor and lots of bulk items repackaged into smaller packages.  We had also hoped to go the the “Scratch-n-Dent” store next door, but arrived at 3:05 and it closes at 3:00 on Saturdays.

one year ago…”Thingamajig Thursday #96″.

May 7, 2008 – Shiitakes!

Today we found that the mushroom logs we had “planted” with shiitake mushroom spawn decided this wet spring was a good time to pop.  Earlier we showed the process to innoculate the logs by drilling plug spawns into logs.


Here’s a couple growing on a log.


Finally, here are a few in the kitchen on the cutting board.  We are looking so forward to trying some. Waiting a year after planting these is kind of like waiting 9 months to have a baby – you can’t believe it when they really arrive!

one year ago…”Trailer Guy”

April 12, 2008 – Local Food Challenge

Over the past few years there have been a number of web sites that challenge people to eat local foods. One I remember was a site where each week people posted a photo of a locally-sourced meal and told about it, giving mileages for each item. It’s harder in the midwest to do that at the end of winter, but tonight we had a meal I thought I’d share.


Egg drop soup with real free-range eggs from our farm and the first green harvest of the year – some chives from the herb garden can be seen adding a splash of color to the soup.


Second course is egg foo young, featuring, eggs from the farm, and chicken from last year’s broilers. We look forward to an increasing percentage of farm-raised ingredients in our meals.
one year ago…”Thingamajig Thursday #67″

February 2, 2008 – Iowa Network for Community Agriculture Meeting

Today we ventured to Cedar Rapids for the 13th annual Iowa Network for Community Agriculture annual meeting.  The morning’s speaker was tangerine farmer and film-maker Lisa Brenneis from Ojai, California.  You may ask, what is a California farmer doing in Iowa talking at a local food conference?  Quite simply, if you followed yesterday’s blog entry – she was taking us down a different road.

Her film “Eat at Bills” profiles the wildly successful Montery Produce Market – a kind of market that currently does not exist in Iowa.  It was her job to stretch our understanding how local foods could be offered to eaters.


Here’s Lisa showing off some of the just-picked Mandarin Oranges from her orchard.  We got to take some home to share with the kids!  What a treat in February.


one year ago…

December 10, 2007 – High Hopes Gift Boxes

Once again this year we are offering gift boxes with hand-made goodies from our farm, including hand-made goat milk soap, jams from organic fruit, and beeswax candles.


This is the large sampler box with jam, honey, goat milk soap, a beeswax pillar candle and two votive candles offered for $25.


This is the medium sampler box with jam, honey, goat milk soap, a beeswax votive candle offered for $15.


This is the small sampler box with three kinds of jam made with organic fruit from the farm offered for $10.

We offer these first to our regular customers but have a few left, so we are showing them on the blog.  They are in mail-ready boxes and we can mail them to you or your gift recipient for just the actual shipping charges. Contact us if you’d like to order some or get a shipping estimate.

one year ago… 

December 2, 2007 – Make a “Snow Day”

I think we needed a snow day. Yesterday while everything was shut down outside, it was time for something completely different.


It was time to make gingerbread cookies and homemade bread! The tasks that should availed themselves (house cleaning etc,) were just too risky because you just never knew when the power might go out in the middle of vacuuming a rug!  So, it was cookies and bread.  Martin loves the honey wheat bread – so much so he calls it “dessert” and doesn’t want anything on it.  He even wanted to bring a PB&J sandwich to school instead of a school lunch of corndogs!


Here Martin shows off his moose and Minnesota cookie with important places in Minnesota for him marked with an X. He’s at the age where he loves cooking.  A few days ago we were working in the attic and as soon as we got up, I realized I needed another tool, so asked him to find a good radio station on the dial while I went to fetch it from the garage.  When I got up,he had dialed into NPR and was listening to Lynne Rossetto-Kasper on the “Splendid Table” and he was all excited because they were talking about spices and reported that most cinnamon in the stores is fake.

one year ago…

September 25, 2007 – Putting Food Up

When people wander to the basement and see our assortment of canned goods, they accuse us of being Mormon or survivalists! Since we’re near the end of the canning season, I thought it would be a good time to show the canned goods. This reminds me a bit of the inside cover of Bill Bryson’s “Thunderbolt Kid” that shows a family of the 50’s posing in front of all the food they’d consume in a year. (Though, I didn’t drag out all the frozen stuff from the freezer or root crops for this photo.) I wondered how drastically that picture would change if you did the same today for the average American family – it would be dominated by pre-packaged foods and fast food containers.


The shelves contain stewed tomatoes, pickled dilly beans, peaches, blueberries, blackberries, salsa, raspberries, applesauce, and about six diffferent types of jam.

one year ago…

September 8, 2007 – Raspberries & Apples

Today was another big picking day – both raspberries and apples.  I even got tired of picking raspberries today.  We also started on the peach harvest, they seem to ripen better off the tree.  But those will be for another day.


So, 24 more jars of canned raspberries, 11 pints of peach-applesauce, and 22 pints of raspberry-applesauce.  The apple sauce was from some apples we had peeled and frozen earlier in the season, plus some apples the girls picked and peeled today. ‘Tis the season for harvest.  I was thinking, although it might seem like a lot, 33 pints of applesauce is not even one jar a week.  OK, you can subtract summer months when other fruits are in season, and that leaves us with one jar a week from today’s batch!

one year ago…

September 2, 2007 – Another Big Canning Day

Today was another big canning push.


We moved the stainless steel table out under the shade – the heat has returned, but not the humidity.


Today’s haul was 35 quarts of tomatoes and about 55 jars of raspberry jam.  It’s not bad with many hands.  One of Emma’s favorite tasks is blanching and cutting up tomatoes.  Even after all this, we still snarfed down sliced tomatoes at dinner – it’s hard to get sick of something so good!

one year ago…

August 26, 2007 – One BIG Local Meal Arrives

Finally, the meal begins!  We’re not sure exactly how many people ate, but it may have been around 110.
The first people move through the local food line.  We used up all the plates and forks! The dishes all had notecards explaining what the dish is and the source of the food.


This is one dish that Iowans can eat locally year-round – salsa and corn tortilla chips.  I enjoyed eating from the mobile salsa tray!


Finally, the meal is over and the event grand organizer can breathe a sigh of satisfaction following a first-time event pulled off successfully.

one year ago…

August 25, 2007 – One BIG Local Meal Prep

Today the preparations started for the all-Iowa lunch after church tomorrow. As part of the focus on sustainability this month in church, we helped plan a local meal for the congregation – so they could taste what local cooking can be and be mindful of where their food comes from.


When you start out with fresh, local ingredients, it’s hard to go wrong.


This meal was from scratch – we even picked up flour from Paul’s Grains in Laurel and the crew made pasta from scratch.


It was an afternoon of cooking, fun (and even some impromptu dancing) to get ready for the meal the next day. The woman Claire is dancing with is a good person to know – she was born in Venezuala and then moved to Italy before ending up here. Now there’s some cuisine! Linda decided that being this kind of church lady is a good thing!

one year ago…

August 19, 2007 – Local Food Resources

I thought I’d post the list of local food resources (many, but not all are specific to Iowa) for those of you asking – where do I find good local food?

Directories

Local Harvest

www.localharvest.org

Iowa Farmer’s Market Finder

http://www.agriculture.state.ia.us/farmermarket.asp

Des Moines Metro Buy Fresh/Buy Local

http://71.18.109.16/resources/marketing-and-food-systems-related-resources.html

Iowa Vineyards/Wineries

http://www.iowawinegrowers.org/

Iowa Apple Growers Directory

http://www.agriculture.state.ia.us/applegrowers.asp

Iowa Asparagus Growers Directory

http://www.agriculture.state.ia.us/asparagusDirectory.asp

Iowa CSA Directory (CSA)

http://www.agriculture.state.ia.us/CSAdirectory.asp

National CSA Finder

http://www.wilson.edu/csasearch/search.asp

Iowa Fruit and Vegetable Growers Directory

http://www.agriculture.state.ia.us/fruitvegetable.asp

Iowa Family Farms Meat Producers Directory

http://www.agriculture.state.ia.us/list1.html

Iowa Honey Producers Directory

http://www.agriculture.state.ia.us/honey.asp

Iowa Organic Producers Directory

http://www.agriculture.state.ia.us/organic.asp

Iowa Pumpkin Growers Directory

http://www.agriculture.state.ia.us/pumpkinGrowers.asp

Iowa Strawberry Producers Directory

http://www.agriculture.state.ia.us/strawberry.asp

Do it Yourself

Guide to Home Canning, Freezing and Drying Foods

http://www.uga.edu/nchfp/publications/publications_usda.html

Path to Freedom (city garden)

www.pathtofreedom.com

Yard Permaculture Examples

http://www.greenhousebed.com/Permaculture/permaculture_examples.htm

ATTRA

http://attra.ncat.org/

Social Networks

One Local Summer

http://www.pocketfarm.com/?page_id=507

Locavores

http://www.locavores.com/

Slow Food Iowa

http://www.slowfoodiowa.org/

Eat Local Challenge (and other challenges)

http://www.eatlocalchallenge.com/

General Information

Food Routes

http://www.foodroutes.org/

Iowa Network for Community Agriculture

http://www.growinca.org/

Practical Farmers of Iowa

http://www.practicalfarmers.org/

Edible Iowa River Valley

http://www.edibleiowa.com/

Reading List

Omnivore’s Dilemma

Michael Pollan

“One of the ten best books of 2006” – the New York Times. Pollan delves deeply into the natural history of four meals and traces the source of the food back to the source, whether in an Iowa cornfield with UUFA member George Naylor or hunting a wild pig in Northern California.

Animal, Vegetable, Miracle

Barbara Kingsolver

Kingsolver says “This is the story of a year in which we made every attempt to feed ourselves animals and vegetables whose provenance we really knew . . . and of how our family was changed by our first year of deliberately eating food produced from the same place where we worked, went to school, loved our neighbors, drank the water, and breathed the air.”

Coming Home to Eat

Gary Nabhan

In this intriguing yet unsatisfying volume, the author chronicles a year of striving for a diet consisting of 90% native flora and fauna, found within 250 miles of his Arizona home. Nabhan is an ethnobotanist with an interest in seed preservation and director of the Center for Sustainable Environments at Northern Arizona University.

The 100 Mile Diet

Alisa Smith

The authors of this charmingly eccentric memoir decide to embark on a year of eating food grown within 100 miles of their Vancouver apartment. Thus begins an exploration of the foodways of the Pacific northwest, along which the authors, both professional writers, learn to can their own vegetables, grow their own herbs, search out local wheat silos and brew jars of blueberry jam. They also lose weight, bicker and down hefty quantities of white wine from local vineyards.

Fast Food Nation

Eric Schossler

Schlosser’s incisive history of the development of American fast food indicts the industry for some shocking crimes against humanity, including systematically destroying the American diet and landscape, and undermining our values and our economy.

Chew on This

Eric Schossler

A version of Fast Food Nation for underage readers.

The End of Food

Thomas Pawlick

Canadian journalist and part-time farmer Thomas F. Pawlick documents the impending food crisis and traces its direct cause to the harmful methods of food production and processing currently used by the so-called agri-food industries to the detriment of everyone’s health and well-being. It’s a bleak picture, backed by hard-hitting evidence and true stories, but Pawlick makes it abundantly clear that it is not too late and devotes the latter part of the book to the many ways that ordinary citizens can take back control of the food supply by becoming active on a local level

Slow Food Nation

Carlo Petrini

The charismatic leader of the Slow Food movement, Carlo Petrini, outlines many different routes by which we may take back control of our food. The three central principles of the Slow Food plan are these: food must be sustainably produced in ways that are sensitive to the environment, those who produce the food must be fairly treated, and the food must be healthful and delicious.

one year ago…

August 18, 2007 – First Big Canning Day of the Year

Today was the first big canning day of the season. Â  We had made a few batches of jam earlier, but this is the first time we rolled out the stainless steel counter and old cooktop from the house and set up in the shed, since there was a chance of rain and it was hot out in the sun.


All the “stuff” ready to go. It beats making the big mess in the kitchen.


Martin got the jars ready for tomatoes – he measured out the lemon juice (for acidification to allow boiling water canning instead of pressure canning).  He also measured out the salt for the jars as well – stylistically decked out in his “Bob the Builder” apron! Can we can it, yes we can!


Emma’s job is to help blanch the tomatoes to get the skins off before making the crushed tomatoes.


Finally, the afternoon’s haul – 24 quarts of tomatoes, a few jars of blackberries and raspberries, along with the frozen beans.

one year ago…

August 11, 2007 – Party on the Farm!

In our quest to remain the undisputed “Live Music Capital of Logan Township,” (of course a township is a block of land 6 x 6 miles) we hired the Blue Moon Players and threw a party.  We hope this is the first of many such summer events.  There’s something nice about live music out in the country, with the wide-wide world of the farm and barn for the kids to run wild in. The older folks can forego the games of Sardines or capture the flag by sitting in the shade and listening to some great music.


For my money, any time you’ve got an upright string bass propped up on your hay wagon, you’re living the good life!  The day was incredibly hot, but we all managed just fine.


Of course, no party is complete without a spread of food, so here’s the food table showing some of the delights of a midwestern potluck in August.

one year ago…

July 22, 2007 – Dilly Beans

Finally, the finished product – 18 jars of dilly beans.


We’ve decided not to be as stingy with these as we usually are, so we are making more than usual this year. This batch is without hot peppers, the next ones will contain hot peppers. We started making these as in the past (decades now!) we didn’t have good luck growing enough cucumbers or canning pickles and keeping them crunchy. These are a nice alternative – dilled beans with plenty of garlic!

one year ago…

July 21, 2007 – Harry Potter and the Dilly Beans

Welcome to potions class, high hopes style.


Here are the instructions. Insist that each of the Harry Potter books be read out loud, together as a family. Link farm chores with additional reading. Kids are under the parent’s spells and gladly do work they may normally complain about! Today we read a few chapters while we prepared to make dilly beans – sitting around the kitchen table cleaning and cutting beans to the right length to stuff in jars.

one year ago…

July 18, 2007 – Local Food at High Hopes Gardens

Tonight we had a nearly all-farm meal for our guests, now joined by Linda’s Dad and his wife.


The menu tonight is marinated and applewood grilled extra-thick lamb chops (lamb and herbs from high hopes); less than day-old sweet corn from northern Marshall County; new potatoes fried with fennel and olive oil (potatoes from high hopes); fresh garden salad with feta (also from high hopes, except feta). Can it get any better than this?

one year ago…

March 7, 2007 – Iowa Foods

There’s a fairly new web site put out by the Iowa Arts Council and the Leopold Center for Sustainable Agriculture all about foods that have a story that connects to this place.  I’ll share with you the site’s opening paragraph to entice you to go there and poke around.

“Tasty Iowa pork tenderloins, creamy Maytag blue cheese, sweet and crispy Dutch letters, a juicy Muscatine melon – these are just a few of the foods that evoke a taste of place that transport you to Iowa’s rolling green hills, scenic rivers, and friendly small towns.”

The site is called Iowa Place-Based Foods and it is worth a spin.

one year ago…

February 6, 2007 – Enough Clamoring Already – Recipe

OK, OK, enough of the clamoring for the Senator’s favorite recipe! If it’s good enough for a Senator, it is surely good enough for the intelligent readers of this blog. Of course, to really match the flavor, use home-grown ingredients. The particular dish so favored by the Senator contained ingredients right from high hopes gardens (only the beans, salt, and cumin were sourced from the store!) the rest were frozen or stored from last summer.

This recipe comes from the Better Homes and Gardens Crockery Cookbook.

3 15 oz cans great northern beans, drained
2 1/2 cups chopped cooked chicken
1 cup chopped onion
1 1/2 cups chopped red/green, and/or yellow sweet pepper
2 jalapeno chili peppers, stemmed and chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 tsps ground cumin
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp dried oregano
3 1/2 cups chicken broth

Optional
Shredded Monterey Jack Cheese
Broken Tortilla Chips

1. In a 3-5 quart crockpot, combine the drained beans, chicken, onion, sweet pepper, jalapeno peppers, garlic, cumin, salt, and oregano. Stir in Chicken broth.

2. Cover; cook on low heat for 8-10 hours or high for 4-5 hours.

3. Ladle the soup into bowls. Top each serving with some cheese and tortilla chips if desired. Makes 8 servings.
one year ago…

December 4, 2006 – Gift Boxes

It’s now time for the shameless commerce portion of the blog. This year we’ve decided to offer gift boxes of products from our farm – various combinations of pure beeswax candles, hand made soap, and jams.

This is the big sampler box.

This is the medium sampler box.

You can look at all the boxes at the high hopes gardens web site.

For those wishing to order not in the local area, we’ll add actual shipping costs to the order and ship them where/when you want them to go. Just send us the shipping zip code and we’ll estimate shipping and let you know. The shipping should be between three and seven dollars, depending on location and shipping method.

You can pay us instantly via paypal or send a check in snail mail. Send us an e-mail to highhopes@prairieinet.net for more info or if you have questions.

one year ago…

October 1, 2006 – Slow Food

Today the good people at Two Friends Farm hosted an unofficial Slow Food gathering. Here’s a brief description of the movement lifted directly from their web site.

Slow Food U.S.A. is a non-profit educational organization dedicated to supporting and celebrating the food traditions of North America. From the spice of Cajun cooking to the purity of the organic movement; from animal breeds and heirloom varieties of fruits and vegetables to handcrafted wine and beer, farmhouse cheeses and other artisanal products; these foods are a part of our cultural identity. They reflect generations of commitment to the land and devotion to the processes that yield the greatest achievements in taste. These foods, and the communities that produce and depend on them, are constantly at risk of succumbing to the effects of the fast life, which manifests itself through the industrialization and standardization of our food supply and degradation of our farmland. By reviving the pleasures of the table, and using our tastebuds as our guides, Slow Food U.S.A. believes that our food heritage can be saved.

There was a great mix of folks – organic farmers, owners of Marshalltown’s only white tablecloth restaurant, recent immigrants, jambalya-toting former Lake Charles LA residents, a doctorate student in snake biology among others!

This is what it’s all about – if only manners didn’t prevent us from eating with such gusto!

September 17, 2006 – More Food By

Yesterday was a marathon food preserving day.

  • 24 8 oz jars of whole raspberries
  • 16 jars of raspberry jam
  • 16 jars of peach jam
  • 28 pints of canned peaches
  • 8 bags of frozen beans

Some of the jobs are quick – like the berries, just put whole berries in jar, fill with light syrup (sugar and water) and put in boiling water canner for 10 minutes.

Other jobs are more lengthy – like the peaches, blanch the peaches and slip off the skins, cut to remove pit, add some light syrup and bring to boil, then pack in jars and put in boiling water canner for 25 minutes.

The kids love the peaches and I love the berries on cereal and in yogurt for breakfast. It’s great in the winter when the fresh fruit supply dwindles, to be able to reach for a jar of fruit to add to any meal.

August 26, 2006 – Putting Food By and By

As today was the Memorial for Mildred Grimes, we weren’t able to go to market. I’m glad we went to the service – it was very beautiful. We were, however left with many tomatoes, beans, and raspberries to “use or lose.” Linda and Emma canned 21 quarts of tomatoes.

We’ve got our old kitchen countertop on wheels and old gas stove on a propane tank, so we can keep the mess out of the house.

Claire and I dug more potatoes. I had a crabby and happy picture of Claire, and chose the happy picture this time.

August 21, 2006 – Last Martin-Daddy Day!

I still can’t believe this day is here. Most MWFs since Martin was born were “Martin-Daddy” days. Today was the last one as he starts Kindergarten on Wednesday. I’m not sure what it means to him or me with him gone each weekday at school. He was my constant companion and helper for the last five years. He has shown a great willingness and aptitude for helping on the farm.

I sensed that he too knew today was the start of a new adventure for both of us. One way this expressed itself was that he made two lists:

One list was things that Daddy wanted to do. The other list was things that Martin wanted to do. He carried the lists around all day and if you look closely, you can see he crossed a few things off the lists.

Martin wanted to put together the baking rack that was in pieces in the barn.

Dad wanted to get the leftover tomatoes from Market canned – 7 quarts and 7 pints. There were more things on the list, but that’s just one from each of our lists.

August 14, 2006 – Fair 4H Projects

These are some of my favorite projects (that I’d like to copy) from the 4H building at the state fair. These are all from high school and younger 4Hers.

This arbor seat would look great in the garden. I wish I would have thought of this before building my walk-through arbor.

I like this barn-shaped shelf to display toy tractors.

I remember seeing these a long time ago, but not recently. We’ve been struggling with the best way to put a sign up for high hopes gardens, and I think this is it!

This entry wins in my re-purpose a broken item – it’s an old broken metal bar-b-q, with the main part removed and the framework reworked with weatherproof decking for a bar-b-q-buddy.

This was a creative re-use of an old claw-foot tub – it has been refashioned into a love seat. Martin wanted to crawl in and lay down. It would be great for sleeping through tornadoes in!
Finally, a quick update from the farm. Another 1.25 inches of rain fell yesterday, so we are up to over 3 inches in the last week – more than June and July combined.

We had a few leftover plums, so ended up with 21 quarts of canned plums. Martin poked the skins with a fork and packed them in the jars and had great fun doing it.

July 30, 2006 – Taste Highlight of the Summer

Our new peach trees are just giving their first few fruits this year. There are very few things that taste better than a warm, even hot, ripe peach picked right off the tree and devoured! Truly a taste highlight of the garden this year.

Yea, it’s still hot.

It’s also very dry – last week some storms rolled through, we got 1/3 inch which we felt grateful for, but just 12 miles south, they got 3.2 inches. In June, 0.1″ of rain fell, in July we had 1.5″ when we were gone and .33 last week, so in the growing season that we normally receive about 8 inches of rain, we’re at less than 2 inches.

July 4, 2006 – Fireworks and Broccoli

Happy July 4th! It’s wonderful to watch fireworks through the eyes of a 5 year old.

One of today’s tasks was to put up broccoli. We even caught it this year before any heads turned to flowers!

Broccoli out in the garden, unaware of the knife poised at it stem.

Broccoli florets floating in the sink in salty water – driving any insects out.

Finally, vacuum sealed broccoli vacuum sealed after blanching and cooling. I even chopped up the stems in the food processor and cooked it with the chicken broth from last week’s butchering and froze it to make cream of broccoli soup.

June 25, 2006 – Jammin’

Today was a jammin’ day. We made a bunch o’ jam yesterday and today.

We made strawberry, strawberry-rhubarb, and cherry. All day the rain danced around us – there was enough to make puddles in Melbourne (3 miles away) it rained in Marshalltown for a few hours (12 miles away) and we didn’t get any until a small cloud gave a brief shower and we got 1/10 of an inch! At least enough to settle the dust for a day or so. It also added 100 gallons to the storage tank that runs off the barn.

May 8, 2006 – Local Food!

More often than not, it seems we eat food that we or someone we know grows. Tonight, for instance,

asparagus from our garden, “happy pork” burgers, and our own milk. Add some spring rolls from Costco (not local) and you’ve got a meal.

Got broiler chick arrival and butchering arranged today – the first batch of 110 should arrive Thursday or Friday. Also ordered the organic nutri-balancer from Fertrells to have the local elevator mix in with the poultry ration.

April 29, 2006 – Spawning

We started the mushroom “planting” today. The dowels innoculated with shitaake mushroom spawn arrived and the logs were previously cut and ends waxed and ready to go.

Martin is holding the bag of spawn.

First holes are drilled in the log to one inch with a drill and collar. They are spaced about 6 inches apart in rows about 2 inches apart.

The dowels are pounded into the logs next.

Finally, wax is put over the holes to seal them up as the log needs to stay moist. According to the directions, we should move the logs into a shady spot, keep them moist, and in 6-18 months the picking should begin! This is a job that requires many hands and everybody can help.

April 25, 2006 – Got Milk?


Here’s the output from Blaze and Paullina (still with three kids nursing between them). We’re just milking once a day now. It’s time to put milk away for soap and making yogurt!

December 19, 2005 – Latke Night

Tis the season for Latkes (potatoe pancakes). The kids engulfed the pancakes topped with applesauce this evening.
latke
I know, I should have taken a picture of a kid eating a latke, instead of shooting a cake on the griddle.

August 24, 2005 – Over the Stove

Today was a very cool August day – a nice change – it didn’t get to 70 until mid-afternoon. So we took advantage of the cool weather and went nuts canning.

Today’s totals = 9 jars of raspberry jam, 5 jars of whole raspberries, 7 jars of tomatoes, 12 jars of applesauce (five of raspberry-apple and the rest cinnamon-apple). The tomatoes and applesauce are two of the most time-consuming things we can, and since it is the last day before school starts, I took advantage of the extra hands.
We vowed to do more of our own food this year before selling it and we’re doing very well with that. The freezers are filling up with veggies and fruits and we’re getting a little canned to save room in the freezers.

August 8, 2005 – Winter Meals Made Easy

At 9:00 am these carrots were in the ground and by 1:00 they were out of the pressure canner.canned carrots

While I was messing with the carrots, Linda was chopping up and freezing the bruised and imperfect onions. So now, all we need to make chicken soup in the winter is a few hours of cooking time – the carrots and onions are all cleaned and peeled, and chicken in the freezer.

It’s seemed a little bit like London in 1940 the last few days with the crop dusters buzzing around, especially when they are clearing the tree tops above our house by what seems inches. It’s amazing to watch them fly, but disconcerting knowing the imperfect applications of poisons they drop off. Watching the planes fly, I was wondering how many crash, and I saw in today’s papers that two have gone down this weekend, in a crop field in Green Mountain and in someone’s front yard in Osage.

July 30, 2005 – More Corn

I have not yet mentioned Emma’s return home. She was very homesick (you may have seen some recent comments from her at late hours of the night communicating with us when she was a way and sleepless at night). She is home for a couple of days before going to 4-H camp.

Yesterday, we set up the outdoor kitchen and got about 25 bags of corn frozen.


We had a little help from my mom who helped husk and my sister, who brought all the kids in town to see a movie! I also tried freezing some onions. I have not tried it yet and am curious as we had some onions that were damaged or had soft spots that would not store.

July 10, 2005 – More Food for Winter

Today, Linda was the food preparation maniac. She picked and froze 10 packages of beans (we’re getting the hang of our new vacuum-packed seal-a-meal). I am probably one of the few guys in the world who was actually excited to get it as a Christmas gift!

Martin and Daddy snapping the beans before blanching.

Linda also made a batch of raspberry jam.
I was more of a sloth. I worked a couple of hours for the town job, taking advantage of the quiet as the girls and Michael are off with grandma to Maquoketa caves and the grand water park hotel and Mississippi River museum in Dubuque. I also replaced a rotten wooden post in the household compost holder. We made it in a hurry when we moved in 8 years ago out of scrap wood, and now all the posts are rotten, so this fall, I’ll have to make a new one. I also shored up the bottom of the garage door, which is starting to rot and Martin and I started gathering vacation stuff.

This morning some Brazilians came over and bought some chickens and slaughtered them here. It all went well, things were cleaned up tidy and they seemed to prefer the old laying hens over the broilers. Maybe there’s a niche there?