Monday, October 31, 2011

a different kind of meat and potatoes

This is a tried-and-true Vietnamese/American fusion dish (which, I might add, very much mirrors our household). The cooking method is a stir fry, meaning it literally takes longer to prep all the ingredients than it does to cook them. It makes a tasty sauce, which is really the key to this dish. As with all things, if you can use the best ingredients--pasture raised beef and organically grown vegetables--and take the time to make the French fries in this recipe from scratch, that is preferable. But don't let it stop you from trying this if you can't make the fries or afford the pastured meat. We have occasionally eaten this dish without the fries, but after you've had it with them, you will likely always want it that way. On one desperate, potato-less occasion, I may or may not have even used hours-old McDonald's fries. Not that I'm encouraging that. 

We call this "Ma's steak and fries with tomatoes" since it's a dish that originated with my husband's mom, who is a wonderful Vietnamese home cook.

~Makes about 4 servings (or 2 servings for a really hungry pair)

Ingredients:
2 large sirloin steaks, cut into bite-sized cubes
2 medium potatoes, peeled and sliced French fry thin
3-4 large fresh, very ripe, whole tomatoes, diced
1/2 of a small onion, thinly sliced
Peanut oil for frying

For the marinade:
2 heaping Tablespoons cane sugar
1/4 cup soy sauce
2 Tablespoons fish sauce (found in an Asian market or sometimes in the ethnic foods section at the grocery store) OR alternatively, a dash of salt and 2 Tablespoons soy sauce
1 teaspoon peanut oil
4 garlic cloves, finely chopped

Method:
1. Combine marinade ingredients and whisk until sugar is fairly dissolved
2. Add cubed steak to marinade. Mix well, and let sit for 30 minutes
3. Deep fry cut potatoes in your choice of oil, let drain on a towel
4. On high, heat enough peanut oil to coat the bottom of a wok or deep skillet
5. Add steak to sear for a few minutes
6. Add onions and continue to cook on high heat another minute
7. Add tomatoes and any remaining marinade. Cook an additional few minutes or until tomatoes release all their juices. You want to have a lot of sauce, so don't cook too long or it will start to evaporate--If your sauce has reduced too much, add another tomato and a little water.
8. Place fries in a deep dish or bowl. Ladle cooked steak, tomato, and sauce mixture over the top.
9. Eat with a large bowl of white jasmine rice, and enjoy how the fries and rice soak up the delicious sauce!

Friday, October 28, 2011

{this moment}

Joining Soulemama for: "{this moment} - A Friday ritual. A single photo - no words - capturing a moment from the week. A simple, special, extraordinary moment. A moment I want to pause, savor and remember.

If you're inspired to do the same, leave a link to your 'moment' in the comments for all to find and see."

Thursday, October 27, 2011

goats on film


While we liberated the trees from the heavy snow, the goats ventured out to feast on the leaves from the fallen branches. And, yes, that's Lizzy-bear; who is indeed a goat, not a bear ;-)

after the storm

before
during
after

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Typical Colorado

 In typical Colorado fashion, winter has temporarily annexed lovely fall at the height of her glory. No matter, though, she will certainly be back in a few days time, although a little worse for the wear.

So what does a farmer girl do when the first big snow comes just a tad too early this year?

First, she enjoys the magic of it like children do.

And animals do.

Well, not all the animals do.

Next, she contemplates what she will plant in spring.
Right now I'm planning on potatoes, and thinking about which new-to-me seed potatoes to order along with our old favorites. Colorado Rose? Purple Viking? Decisions, decisions....

Wishing you a little magic in your day, too, wherever you are.

that same view to the west...today

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

her toy basket

I wanted to share with you a very special project I've been working on: a basket filled with (mostly) handmade things for my little babe. I feel strongly that the best toys are those that encourage engagement (and as little babies grow into little kids, imagination), and that "less is more." With that philosophy in mind, I put things in this basket that either myself or others have made by hand and that I feel are of good quality. There are also a few current favorite books and a lovely CD we listen to at bedtime.

I knitted the bunnies using a pattern in the book Vintage Knits for Modern Babies.
The knitted lamb pattern is here. Mine is not exactly like the one shown on the pattern, but I made do with what I had on hand, so I'm quite happy with it.

Here you can see the colorful wolf given to us by a friend. The wooden rattle is from here.

I hope to add a few more goodies (knitted carrot for teething, maybe?) after the farm is all tucked in for winter. More on that tucking in process later this week!

Friday, October 21, 2011

{this moment}


Joining Soulemama for: {this moment} - A Friday ritual. A single photo - no words - capturing a moment from the week. A simple, special, extraordinary moment. A moment I want to pause, savor and remember.

If you're inspired to do the same, leave a link to your 'moment' in the comments for all to find and see.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

scenes from our day

Today...
there was much playing on the floor
laundry was hung out
leaves blew in and were swept up
a new project was cast on
the chickens were brought lots of treats to cheer them during their first molt
the once-yearly raging stream that runs through the middle of our property was admired
What was your day like?

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

a winter's hat for baby

Every spare moment these days is spent knitting. I'm a slow knitter, and the spare moments are few, but surely, row by row projects get completed. That's precisely how I finished this warm woolen pixie hat for my babe.
 The beautiful, soft yarn I used is from this shop, and the pattern is from here.

  I particularly like how there's room to grow with two buttonholes on the strap

And there was the ever-important choice of which button
And then the trying-on, accompanied by much oohing, ahhing, and picture taking
 And the outdoor testing (Repeat oohing, ahhing, and picture taking)
There's something comforting and very special about hand-making these types of items--a satisfaction that doesn't happen when you simply go to the store to buy a new hat. There's certainly not as much fussing and "big to-do-ing."
Best of all, there's plenty of yarn left for some of these matching leg warmers! Happy knitting.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Breakfast Waffles

A waffle iron is honestly something I never considered purchasing. It only seems fit to do just one thing, and I prefer to have things that can be used for many purposes. We received one as a gift though, and I have to admit, it does its one thing very well.

When I make waffles, I mix a huge batch and freeze the extras (already cooked). Just pull them out of the freezer and let them sit on the counter for a bit while heating an oven to 350 degrees F. Place them on a sheet pan and let them warm in the oven for about 7 minutes. They're even more delicious reheated, as the outside gets nice and crispy!

Breakfast Waffles
~adapted from How to Cook Everything by Mark Bittman
~makes about a dozen large waffles

Note: This is a batter that you prepare the night before or about 8 hours before you want to eat the waffles

Ingredients:
4 Cups flour (white or half white and half wheat)
2 Tablespoons cane sugar
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon dry instant yeast
4 Cups whole milk
8 ounces (that's 2 sticks or 16 Tablespoons) butter, melted and cooled
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
4 eggs
A couple handfuls of seasonal fruit when available. We like blueberries the best, with raspberries being a close second. Strawberries get too mushy for our taste, but work great as a topping, either fresh or as strawberry syrup.
Small dish of canola oil for brushing the waffle iron

Method:
1. Mix together the first 4 ingredients in a large bowl
2. Add milk, butter, and vanilla
3. Cover the bowl and let the mixture sit overnight
4. When you're ready to cook the waffles, preheat the waffle iron and brush it with canola oil
5. Separate the eggs, and stir the yolks into the batter
6. Beat the whites until they form soft peaks, then gently fold them into the batter
7. Gently mix in the fruit
8. Ladle batter onto waffle iron and cook per your iron's specifications (We get the best results by using the highest heat setting on ours)
9. Brush the waffle iron with oil after each waffle is cooked. The waffles lose their outer crispiness if not eaten right away, so eat them as they're made, or keep them warm in a low temperature oven.
10. Enjoy with your choice of toppings--maple syrup, butter, whipped cream with a bit of orange extract....

Monday, October 17, 2011

Kids these days...

...really have no idea where their food comes from. My nephew brought a friend with him to the farm this weekend. He was a bright, well-schooled, 10 year old boy. He wowed us with his knowledge of the word "aerodynamics." But, he had no concept of the fact that the eggs he eats come from a "Real. Live. Chicken." O...M...G. The fact that the chickens laid eggs fascinated him. He kept running back and forth to the chicken barn all day long, excitedly bringing in an egg each time he found one, and trying to guess which hen laid it.


I told him he could bring home all the eggs he gathered to share with his family, and he looked at me with a confused, quizzical expression. "Well, I don't think we can have chickens at our house." I asked what he meant, and discovered that he thought each of those eggs contained a fully formed baby chick. It was really freaking him out that I was telling him he could bring these eggs home to eat! Indeed, who wants baby chicks for breakfast? I decided to leave the birds and bees discussion to his parents (along with the larger philosophical discussion about veganism) but we had a nice talk about the similarities--and a few of the true differences--between eggs from the store and eggs from a farm like ours.


As we said our goodbyes, our new friend said to me, "I really had a fun time. There's just something about being on a farm, ya know?" Oh yes. There is just something about being on a farm. It changes ya, I'd say.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Weekend Bounty

My dad so generously shared a big crate of tomatoes from his greenhouse. He thinks his plants will keep producing for another month. That means we could still have fresh tomatoes around Thanksgiving. Amazing!

Friday, October 14, 2011

{this moment}

Joining Soulemama for: {this moment} - A Friday ritual. A single photo - no words - capturing a moment from the week. A simple, special, extraordinary moment. A moment I want to pause, savor and remember.

If you're inspired to do the same, leave a link to your 'moment' in the comments for all to find and see.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Whopper of an egg!

We found a HUGE egg this morning!
 It has two yolks.  
 Oh, the poor sweet hen who laid that one--can you imagine?! Mercy. I do hope she's okay.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Ed's Salsa

Many years ago, when I worked many varied summer jobs, I met a janitor named Ed. Well, janitor was his official job, but really that title doesn't describe him fully. He spoke with a stutter, but as eloquently wise and down-to-earth as you can imagine. He was the first to offer a helping hand to anyone in need, and he had a keen sense for anticipating what that need would be. Ed befriended me and a few of the other teachers working in a summer school for kids with Autism. Oftentimes, we adults gathered around the craft table, squeezing ourselves into child-sized chairs, and sharing lunch together between the morning and afternoon sessions.

After all these years, I haven't forgotten the first time Ed brought in his homemade and homegrown salsa to share. Divine! It's still the best salsa I've ever tasted. Perhaps this is not only because of its flavor, but also because of the love it was made with, and the kindhearted soul with whom we shared it. And really, isn't that what good food so often is? So much more than a recipe or technique, but a genuine connection with someone across status, culture, and even across time—that is what makes it so very special.

I have long since lost touch with Ed, and come to think of it, I’m not sure I even knew his last name. But his spirit is with me every summer in my kitchen when I whip up a batch of his salsa.

Ed’s Salsa
~Makes a few big mason jars worth--plenty to share! 

Ingredients:
Approximately 10 "garden-sized" (small to medium) red tomatoes of any variety
2 medium green bell peppers
2 small or 1 large white or yellow onion
1-2 small jalapenos
5 garlic cloves
1 small palmful fresh cilantro
1 small palmful fresh parsley
1 small palmful fresh oregano
20 ounce jar of tomato sauce (home canned, or a couple 14 ounce cans from the store will do)

Method:
1. Chop all the fresh ingredients as roughly or finely as you like your salsa to be. A food processor works well if you don't want to chop by hand. I like the jalapenos, garlic, and herbs chopped very fine, and the rest a bit chunky.

note: protect your hands with gloves or a towel while cutting the jalapenos--they can burn! I also start with just 1/2 of one jalapeno and slowly add more at the end if the salsa isn't spicy enough after I taste it
 
2. Add tomato sauce and mix well
3. Enjoy with some still-warm homemade tortilla chips

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Around this time last year...

Aki came in from his nightly rounds reeking of a skunk spray. He got hit straight in the face. Generous pup that he is, he decided the floor needed to share in his stinkiness, so proceeded to rub his face all over it before I coaxed him into the bathroom for a hose down and a concoction of soap, hydrogen peroxide, and baking soda. It took at least a week of open windows before the smell dissipated.

Tonight...(you know what's coming, don't you?)...

The same thing happened! Except this time he got his brother to share in the fun. Sorry boys, you're sleeping in the mudroom.
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