Monday, October 29, 2012

in autumn





The leaves felt like they changed color late this year, but once they did, if you blinked you'd miss all that grandness.

The stream to the pond finally started flowing again after a couple good rains to make up for a hot, dry summer. Three months with a dry pond. Oh how we missed that water. Such beauty and life returned the day the pond filled back up!

The chickens (or "bok boks" as baby likes to say), are all doing well, and growing lovely new feathers as they come through their annual molt. We haven't had any additional losses either, but we have them mostly confined to the (large) outdoor run attached to the barn. We're looking into some portable electric fencing as a possible way to allow more free-ranging again. I'm not completely convinced that will deter the fox, though. Anyone have luck with poultry fencing?

Our Sussex has been semi-broody for a couple weeks. I intended to let her sit on a clutch of eggs, but she seems a bit confused as to what to do exactly. One night she's in the top right nest box where the eggs are, and the next night she's in the top left. Oftentimes she sits near the eggs, but they don't actually seem to be under her. And she can't resist leaving them often in favor of enjoying a snack with the other hens. I told her that's perfectly okay - much of the time I have no idea if I'm mothering the right way either! 

We're tossing around the idea of breeding our two girly goats (also known as "ba bas" in baby talk) to the neighbor's buck. It's a big decision and one we need to make very soon!

All the garlic has been planted out! A couple old favorites: Sicilian Silverskin and Siberian Purple Stripe. Along with some new varieties: Russian Red, French Rose, German White, and Inchelium.

The cold frame is continuing to provide us with some nice fresh greens, and I'm starting a new row of lettuce soon.

These Autumn days are very good, indeed. 

Thursday, October 25, 2012

room to grow

Our October started out so cold that I really couldn't knit these baby longies fast enough! I'm a slow and distracted knitter, but here they are, finished just in time for the first real snowfall of the season.


My baby isn't technically a baby anymore, but I just can't help still calling her that (won't they always be our babies, after all?). She's growing so fast now in every way that I find myself feeling the moments slipping through my fingers while I struggle to grasp them a bit longer. Much like the stitches while knitting, no sooner do I complete one, than does it slide off the needle and another one takes its place. Connections are woven. The garment speeds toward completion. The casting off a bittersweet end. 
 

I thought much about these things as I worked on this pair of longies, making sure I added that extra inch to allow baby room to grow. Isn't it something that kids give us so much opportunity to grow along with them? They are more adept at it for sure, but if we let them, they will show us what a gift it is to never stagnate. To keep going even through the growing pains. It doesn't stop me sometimes wishing, though, that time would just slow down already


(Here you can see I had one of these moments, where I let the baby play with the ball of yarn to buy myself some time so I could finish just one more row. Then, I spent double that time untangling the baby and mess of yarn. Hrmn.)


Now onto some much needed mittens and a new hat

Thursday, October 18, 2012

the best chicken salad

The oven is back in use after a summer's rest, which means plenty of leftovers from a hearty dinner the night before. When I roast a whole chicken, one of my favorite ways to use up the leftover meat is to make chicken salad. I take my time to procure every morsel of meat off the roasted bird, including the back meat, which is so tender, but often passed over. I've tried many versions of chicken salad, and finally have a recipe that I'm completely happy with! This one is adapted from Jan Karon's Mitford Cookbook & Kitchen Reader.


Chicken Salad
~makes about 4 servings

Ingredients:
2 Cups roasted chicken, chopped
1/4 Cup diced pickles
1/4 Cup diced celery, including the leafy tops
2-3 green onions, finely diced
1/4 Cup homemade mayonnaise
1/4 Cup sour cream
1 Tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
salt and pepper to taste
(Optional: herbs of your choice, such as parsley and tarragon)

Method:
1. Combine the first four ingredients.
2. In a separate bowl, whisk together the rest of the ingredients to make the dressing. Stir the dressing into the chicken mixture and enjoy.


 Oh, and try it on this braided bread - THE best bread I've made to date!

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

bringing it in

Most of last week was spent hauling in whatever we could harvest from the garden. We've had several freezing and frigid days, and even a dusting of snow already!


Much of the corn was still immature (a bit too late planting that this year).


We found the very last raspberry.


YUM!


Farmer baby was a very eager helper, pulling up carrots, crawling around inside the raised beds to find the hidden peppers, and overjoyed to hear "yes, pick it!" when she pointed to any still-green tomatoes (instead of hearing my usual "not that one, it's not ready yet").


Her little baby doll (which was actually my favorite baby doll when I was her age!) comes nearly everywhere with us.


And gets to sample all the garden goodness, too.


The dogs stopped by to play for a bit.  


The sun came out briefly and cast a beautiful glow on all our hard work.


We filled our baskets full.


And after such a busy time in the garden, we decided to take a rest by the sandbox.


Where even more treasures were discovered.


This is the time of year we fell in love with this place.


Saturday, October 6, 2012

things you know you shouldn't do but do anyway and then regret later


An example:

1. Slice and de-seed roasted chile peppers with your bare hands because you're certain they're really not that hot, and there aren't any gloves around anyway. Then spend the next 6 hours soaking your hands in a bowl of iced milk. Ay yi yi. It burns.

2. Forego labeling about half of the pepper seedlings you planted in the garden this spring because you ran out of little wooden sticks, and think somehow you'll remember or be able to visually identify which plant is which. Then realize this isn't so. (See #1 above).

3. Bake this recipe with the roasted chiles because you're convinced it will be okay to eat them and really really want to use them. (Homegrown food is immeasurably valuable, after all, and not to be wasted!) Besides you like spicy food and you know for a fact these peppers are not habaneros. Then, have a beautiful dish that you used nearly the rest of your eggs, milk, and cheese to make, but which is in fact, super fiery hot and completely inedible.


Oops.

Monday, October 1, 2012

in my kitchen {spiced with some garden notes}


"Garden surprise" quiche, made in an actual quiche/pie dish I found at the thrift store for $1! Quiche may soon become a rarity due to the hens molting, so I'm enjoying this one quite a bit. The star of which is sweet Antigua peppers. They had a sad germination rate (1 in 5) and the one plant that did grow yielded only 3 peppers. BUT, they are the sweetest peppers I've ever tasted. I'm saving seeds from this one, hoping for a better season next year. Not pictured (but often accompanying) is a salad made of buttery tom thumb lettuce, which is thriving in the cold frame, and has me hoping for a steady supply of greens through winter. We'll see!


I heart banana bread in my (also $1 thrifty find!) heart-shaped pan.  


A pint-sized homegrown watermelon for my pint-sized girl. I've also (accidentally) mastered the skill of telling when a melon is ripe - wait for it to fall off the shriveling vine. Best watermelon yet. Who knew?


Almond butter, made simply by throwing a bunch of almonds and a little honey in the food processor and letting it rip until everything becomes creamy.


Vietnamese yogurt, which is by far my favorite of all styles of yogurt; thick, smooth, and sweet. I use this recipe, but rely on my electric yogurt maker (after the straining step) instead of a water bath. 12-15 hours incubation time does the trick. 


The 5-minute bread recipe also makes good (a tad chewy, but tasty) whole grain rolls.


All colors of tomatoes make for the most beautiful pasta sauce. This year was most definitely the year of the cherry tomato.


The first of our favorite soups have begun to make a regular appearance. This is Vietnamese "hu tieu."

What are you eating these days?
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