Friday, February 29, 2008

The "Leap" Year......

Each year I do the same thing: try and squeak 'lots' of seed in before March! It is still very cold and not cost effective for us to fire the middle greenhouse yet and no point creating more stress for myself panicking as I can't plant stuff out till the fear of frost is gone anyhow. If we have a crappy, cold April like last year with little sun (Ohhhh I dread this!!) I couldn't push the plants along if I tried! I sit and stare at the seed logs from last year making sure we are on track and trying desperately to be just a 'touch' earlier (aka 'better') than last year. "Long time yet. Relax woman." is usually Ben's response to my useless worrying. You can truly annoy the hell out of someone by wandering around the house evenings shaking seed packets!! LOLOLOL, poor Ben. (I do wish we had more of a 'Californian climate' though.) It's a hell of alot of work to fill the greenhouses, so the sooner I start, the sooner it fills seems to be part of my annual reasoning. Now are the days I'm dreaming tomatoes as I seed each unique variety. I'm proud to say I have 74 different kinds of heirlooms seeded now! The challenge will be to keep all the varieties straight at harvest time. I have visions of my tough, strong, healthy tomato plants I start early. The ones that have rooted down hard because I cropped them good and monitored my watering. The ones that have stems almost the diameter of a loonie yet bend like an elastic!! And that tomato smell of the foliage. I open my eyes to a sea of snow, chill to my bones but get the hell out there with Ben to create the plastic barrier in the middle greenhouse so when we have to fire it up, all the heat will not disappear through the cracks in the glass. Hey, hello March! Truly nice to see you again! Our little retro tune for the week has been: "Small Town Boy" by the Bronski Beat. Check it out for a nice 80's flash back!
Homemade Mayo

My chickens are laying again! Time to make some REAL mayo! This is soooo easy!

Separate three eggs yolks from the whites. (save whites and make a boring egg white omlette later on.) Place 3 yolks in medium size bowl, put in 3 teaspoons of vinegar and get out your whisk! Whisk and add drop by drop oil. (Canola or veg. works, but why not use Olive for it's health benefits instead!) You have to mix the oil in slowly until it binds, then you can get a small stream of the oil going in while you continually mix. The amount of oil to use for 3 yolks for me is generally half a cup, but go with your own desired consistency. I then add seasonings: I add a tsp. of sea salt. 2 tsp. sugar, 2 tsp. of garlic powder. AND THEN I add fresh minced GARLIC! Depending on the season, I make all different kinds of flavours. Dill is really good! Lemon rocks too! My mayo is very yellow because our chicken egg yolks rock! Use a bit of this, some balsamic vinegar, olive oil and yet MORE minced garlic to create an amazing salad dressing! I'll include lots of recipes for dressings as the season progresses! As you can see in my one pic, I'm just getting ready to plant my herb seeds!! Eat well, stay warm, MARCH is here!!!!

Monday, February 25, 2008

And the Journey begins again.....

Hello again Dufferin Customers! Ahhh, seeding. It was a nice weekend, BUT more cold and snow in the forecast. Instead of firing up the middle greenhouse now, we use our insulated 'cooler' room in the barn and 'heat' it instead, saving huge on oil/wood costs for the furnaces! Germination can take place here and within a couple weeks we'll move all the seedlings out to the greenhouses for needed sun! At this time we have some tomatoes seeded and the majority of all our onions. We had some 'volunteers' this past weekend (my stepdaughter and a friend) who helped out! First they filled the open flats, then 'stamped' the flats to make neat little rows, and then I seed out the onions! We then rack everything and water it good. The last picture is the first of our tomato seedlings emerging! It's still hard to believe the time is here and a new season has begun!! We ate well this past weekend. Lots of homemade soups and for Saturday night we had a fish fry with Andrew's fresh fish from market! VERY, VERY GOOD!! I highly recommend ALL of Andrew's fish! I have been getting really angry lately about the crap that teenagers eat AND drink! Pop, even fruit juices just totally loaded with sugar, then the 'diet' crap with fake sweetners just full of nasty chemicals. I picked up a couple new water pitchers in town, bought a couple lemons, and I keep cold water with lemon slices in the fridge at all times. The girls really enjoyed this - however they really had no other choice! So 'Lemon' water is a good way to keep hydrated and healthy!! Greenfields have nice lemons at market, and just a couple last for a long time in the pitchers if you keep topping up the cold water! Lemons in green tea is just awesome too! Keep warm, think spring and eat well!

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Why Chicken Soup is going to taste great tonight....

Day before market, busy as usual on the farm. Ben's mom with be grading storage crops with me, then we are cleaning the cooler out to get ready for 'seeding'! Yup, we will germinate in that insulated room, which is much warmer this time of year. Ben's busy doing maintenance on the outter wall of one greenhouse; and I've also decided it's time to tackle cleaning out the middle greenhouse - sorting trays, sweeping up. Every once in a while I know I'll jump out of my skin, as a huge sheet of snow will slide off the glass roof - THIS is a nice sound! Ben's also decided to seed later this afternoon. Should be a great day, nice to see the sun. Nothing happens until all the animals are taken care of. This morn was weird, as our horse is extremely vocal in the morning. She was silent and I didn't notice her around outside as usual when I fed the cats. We soon discovered why! Ben said: "It's usually the child that leaves the gate open, this time it was me!" Ben brought her a big bail of straw for fresh bedding and left the gate wide open!!! Our horse got into the tack area of our barn where we keep all the saddles and her hay and she made a huge mess! She had been trapped in there all night, tore apart three bails of straw, ate the rest of her oats, and crapped it up nicely! My stepdaughter is VERY lucky her good saddle is in her bedroom, as Bug peed all over the stand where it usually is!! We just laughed, and I couldn't help but her hug her, as she's just soooo fuzzy this time of year! Anyhow, clean up took quite a while, the afternoon is going to be busy, so Chicken Soup is going to taste GREAT tonight!

Chicken Soup

For a nice stock, in a big pot boil 4lbs of chicken pieces (bone in, skin on) with 10 C. water for about 5-10 minutes. Skim off any foam. Then add a couple stocks of celery with leaves, one large onion chopped in big pieces, big carrot chopped in big pieces, some parsley, a couple bay leaves, couple cloves of garlic and 10 or so black whole peppercorns. Stir everything, bring to a boil and then let this stock simmer for 3 hours or so. Then remove the chicken, strain the rest to get some nice stock broth. Now, heat a bit of oil in a soup pot, add 1/2 cup chopped onion, 1/2 cup chopped carrot, 1/2 cup chopped celery. Cook till soft. Add stock, bring to a boil. (I then add perogie dough in tiny pieces! This is very good and kids love it!! You can throw in broken spaghetti pieces!) Then, you add your reserved chicken (that you should have de-boned and chopped into desired pieces!), more parsley and as much salt and pepper to your liking! This is great on a cold winter day! I've been known to also throw in some bok choy chopped with my chicken and before I eat my bowl of soup, I splash a good helping of hot pepper sauce in too! Ok, by the way, if you are whinning "But I don't HAVE 3 + hours to cook supper!!!" THEN do what I do: Cook the stock the evening before 'Chicken Soup' night!!! I let the stock cook during the evening while I sat at my computer and did seed exemption!! Next day it is simple prep for this wonderful family meal! Double or triple the stock and FREEZE it for another few FAST homemade soups!! No excuses, leave the microwave, oven ready crap at the store and EAT

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Better than candy..."Heart Shaped PEROGIES"!!!

Happy Valentine's Day! (I'm gone Thurs., may as well yap now..) There is just something special about my grandma. Our collaboration has proved to be effective and fun this week! We have created 'heart shaped' perogies for Valentine's Day, which just happens to be 'Dufferin Market Day'!! (I just had to take advantage of that fact, to show some 'love' to all my customers that I value sooo much!! Same price too, so just a special treat for all!! ) My grandmother taught for over 30 years at our local catholic school here in our small town. Considering we could NOT find large heart shaped cookie cutters ANYWHERE, the retired teacher stayed awake Monday night and came up with a plan AND she came loaded with bristol board templates and a yard stick to attempt to do the job on the dough! It was classic and anyone that had my grandmother for a teacher would totally recognize her perfect handwriting, straight lines on all these cutt out designs, just classic, alot of thinking went into this on her part!! Also that damn bristol board!! LOLOLOLOL!! We were both thinking along the same lines, using the idea of 'a diamond shape'. It totally worked, but I ended up throwing out the templates, much to Mrs. Rebuk's dismay and just eyeballing it. It's dough diamonds, they don't have to be perfect! We played around and Ben's mom figured out a great way to tuck, bend and voila!, a perfect, ruffly large heart - perfect comfort food for Valentine's Day! This was totally a labour of love and we all had a wonderful time! Ya know, it's funny the cookie cutters I do have: a star, tree, even a 'foot', but no heart! It was for a reason, as a heart cookie cutter would have WASTED too much dough! My stepdaughter and I had a riot this past weekend making perogies with the cookie cutters I do have at home. The 'gingerbreadman' shape is called a 'boy' template and you can truly have fun adding and removing anatomy before the boiling process! LOLOLOLOLOLOL! My stepdaughter and I also tended to our sick duck Petey currently living in our home, but that is another story. We are going to work extra hard next week at the Uky hall, as I really want to stock pile a decent amount of perogies, as GREENHOUSE work is coming fast!! If you're going to splurge for love day, may as well enjoy some soft butter-fried out perogies filled with delicate mashed potatoes loaded with organic cheddar....then chocolate!! Happy Valentine's Day!

Wednesday, February 6, 2008

Warming Recipes......

More recipes from my mother that Ben and I enjoy during winter.......

Creamy Cabbage Soup

6 cups shredded or chopped cabbage
1 chopped onion
1 stalk celery chopped fine
1/2 tsp. caraway seed or dill seed or both
1 tsp. salt
4 Cups Chicken Stock
Cook until all veg are tender. Blend 1/2 or so. Add 2 cups of milk and plenty of pepper. (You can serve this over chopped kobossa too! YUM!)

Sauerkraut Soup

1/2 pot full of boiled ham stock plus a very meaty ham bone
6 cups of frozen Sauerkraut
4-6 whole garlic cloves
1 quart chunky tomatoes
1 quart water
1/2 bag of elbow noodles
Early in the afternoon put the sauerkraut on to simmer in the stock with the garlic and tomatoes and water. Let this simmer for a few hours until the kraut is really tender. Add the noodles and cook 1/2 hr. more until they are tender. Add more water, some chicken stock even too or tomato sauce if it is too thick!