Archives for November 2011

Lover’s Leap

While driving up to Kent today to go riding I took a road I hadn't been on before and came across this bridge called Lover's Leap, in New Milford, Connecticut.

A Road Trip with Beyonce?

I’m not sure if you’ve read the blog post on The Bloggess about Beyonce the Metal Chicken, but if you haven’t, you can read it now by clicking the link here. You won’t be sorry; it’s hysterical.

I’ll wait while you read that….

I don’t even remember how I found this post on  Beyonce the Giant Metal Chicken, but I have a feeling it was Pinterest. I think it went viral in a blogging sort of way. I laughed for days over that post. I had actually seen that very same chicken at my local Home Goods this summer, but it wasn’t on clearance yet and I must have been thinking clearly that day for it not to have come home with me.

So my Southern Road Trip with my sister is right around the corner. We leave at the crack of dawn on Saturday morning to fly to Austin, where we will rent a car and drive all the way home, via Atlanta. A Foodie, Photography, Antiquing, Search-For-Bizarre-Things, Road Trip. And the reason we are driving all the way home from Austin, Texas, is so we can bring all the shit we buy home. We are sick of traveling and finding great things that we can’t have because we’re flying home. In fact, the last time I was in Texas I fell in love with an old sign and ended having them ship it to me.

I bought this for my office we have yet to build. It will proudly hang in it someday.

On that same trip last year with Amanda and India, while driving from Austin to Fredericksburg we passed this strange store that sold every conceivable kind of metal outdoor sculpture. We stopped to check it out, but they were closed.

They had a lot of sculptures like the terrific pigs that Jim got me for mother’s day that guard the goat house for me now.

Well, for some reason I’ve got it in my head that my sister and I need to stop at this same place on our way from Austin to Fredericksburg and strap our Beyonce to the roof of the minivan as the mascot for The Crafty Farm Sisters Southern Road Trip I just know that place is going to have them.

It’s not that my husband tells me not to buy towels when I go out to the store. He doesn’t. In fact, I probably could use some new towels. But I do buy things that he finds questionable all the time, and that blog post was just so damned funny.

Then to take my level of crazy up one notch higher I got to thinking we needed Crafty Farm Sisters’ Southern Road Trip T-shirts.

So this is what happens to me when I don’t get enough sleep on a daily basis, haven’t had a real vacation in too long, yet know one is just days away. I go a little off the deep end.

So if you see a minivan driving down the road next week somewhere between Austin and Connecticut with a giant metal chicken strapped to the roof, give a wave!

Another Rooster Development

We’ve had quite a bit of gloomy, steel gray skies around here the past few days, which aren’t very good for farm photos. It’s also been very warm for this time of year, so the animals have at least been enjoying that. Despite the warm weather, the goats are getting their thicker winter coats and are feeling very soft these days.

Remember this poor pathetic molting chicken back at the end of October?

She's looking pretty good now!

And one of the chicks that I had ordered this summer was a barred rock rooster. I ordered him because after seeing them again at the agricultural fair this summer I just couldn’t resist. They are so beautiful. This was one of the roosters at the fair.

Since there was one chick that was dead on arrival of the package, I’d never been certain if that might have been my rooster or not. But sure enough, the other day when I was out at the farm I noticed that one of my barred rock chickens was getting the distinct longer tail feathers, his comb was bigger than the other barred rock’s of the same age, and the neck feathers were becoming longer. I think it’s going to be my rooster! I’ll keep you posted as he develops.

In the meantime, my other rooster is looking more rooster-like every day.

And finally, I’ll show you photos of two of my hens. I have so many beautiful chickens, but when you carefully look at their feathers, it is really just astounding how beautiful their feathers are. Nature is so amazing.

Floating Chihuly

A few years ago the New York Botanical Gardens had an exhibit of Dale Chihuly glass sculptures. It was an enormous exhibit, but I loved the pieces that were floating in the outdoor water gardens the most.

Family Christmas Photo 2011

There are literally about 10 days a year when all 4 of my children, Jim and I are in the same place at the same time. We seized the opportunity this weekend to try and take a photo for our holiday card.This is what our family photos tend to come out like. When you've got 4 kids, 2 adults, 2 chickens, one dog, and a camera-shy goat trying to all look good at the same time, we don't. I particularly love the way my dog is longingly looking at Paula Deen, the chicken in my arms. Luckily, we did get a better photo than this one.

Ricotta & Chive Gnocchi

I recently posted gnocchi in a brown butter sage sauce that was delicious. That was the first time I’d made gnocchi in probably 25 years. It was fun! When I was at my local library for the lecture by The Beekman Boys for their new 1802 Heirloom Cookbook, I saw that Amanda Hesser and Merril Stubbs were going to be there this coming Monday promoting their new cookbook Food 52. I had never heard of this book (trust me, I own enough cookbooks already), but Erin, one of the librarians at the library, was explaining the book to me, so I checked it out on Amazon. It was really highly reviewed, so I decided to order a copy and bring it with me to the Library. I kind of liked getting out of the house at night!

There were so many delicious recipes in the book that I can’t wait to try, but while Amanda was home from college this weekend she was really looking for some of Mama’s comfort food. She asked me to make meatloaf’s for her that we froze and she took home in her suitcase. Apparently one fell out of her carry-on onto the kid  sitting next to her who exclaimed “sick!”.  She also had me make my spicy hummus, which she took home in small containers, and she made some of the chocolate chip cookies I recently posted to bring down to her friends, too. We decided this gnocchi recipe should be the first one we tried. They were terrific. The crust from frying them after you boil them made them extra yummy. I added

Ricotta and Chive Gnocchi

Recipe from The Food 52 Cookbook by Amanda Hesser & Merril Stubbs. Adapted (slightly), by Crafty Farm Girl, November, 2011.

Serves four to six

3 Russet potatoes
2 Eggs
1 c. ricotta
1/2 cup grated parmesan
1/3 cup chives
2 cups Flour (making sure you have extra on hand for rolling them later)
6 tablespoons butter
6 tablespoons olive oil
Kosher salt & pepper

Bring a large pot of water to boil and add the russet potatoes. Boil for 45 minutes, draing the water through a colander, and let the potatoes cool. Following what I learned from the earlier gnocchi recipe, I peeled and riced the potatoes carefully while still hot and spread them out to cool on a rimmed baking sheet. Discard the skins.

Once the potatoes have cooled down, add the eggs and stir into the mixture. Once the eggs have been incorporated, stire in the ricotta, parmesan, and chives.

At this point, the mixture should be very thick, but it needs to be thick and maliable as dough. Add the flour and stir together until you get that consistency. I found this easiest to do by turning the mixture out onto a clean work surface and kneading it until it came together. Continue kneading, flouring the work surface as necessary, until it’s more dough-like and doesn’t stick to everything in sight. Cut the dough into 4 pieces.

Begin rolling the dough, a section at a time, with your hands as if you’re forming a large snake. I found it easiest to cut the coil into two pieces about half-way through to make it easier to work with. Continue rolling until you form rolls that are no bigger than a quarter in circumference. (Any bigger and you’ll have difficulty cooking them.) I probably made mine about the size of a nickel around.

From the skinnier rolls, take a knife or pinch off little sections and roll them around in the palm of your hand to make the gnocchi. You may need to continue dredging them in a little flour as you go, which is fine. Set all the finished gnocchi on a large plate to the side. I found it easiest to cut all the gnocchi, and then I went and rolled each one to form a more evenly rounded shape.

Once all the gnocchi have been formed. Dump them into a boiling pot of hot, salted water. Boil the gnocchi for five minutes to ensure their centers are nice and dense. (They will automatically start popping up to the top of the pot once they’re cooking, but make sure you give them a little extra time in the water.)

Drain the boiled gnocchi through a colandar or remove from the boiling water with a strainer. Then, in a very large saute pan over medium high heat, add two tablespoons of oil and butter. Add just enough gnocchi to the pan where they have enough space to get a light, brown crust around them. I seasoned them with salt and pepper in the pan. Add more oil, butter, and gnocchi when the first batch is done. When plating the gnocchi, lightly season them with a little kosher salt, parsley, or extra chives and some grated parmesan.

Print This Recipe Print This Recipe

Over the Ridge

This beautiful old barn is right over a ridge at the base of Teton Village outside of Jackson in Wyoming. There's a motley pack of horses that are used for tourist trail rides at the base of the mountain every summer, and those poor horses are tied to fence posts in full tack most of the day long. At night, however, they are herded over the ridge and spend the night grazing in the field where this barn is. Sometimes I like to walk over and see the evening run to the field; free of heavy saddles and loose for the night with acres to run free on.

Young Farmers Conference & Other Farming Sources

Next Saturday morning at the crack of dawn my sister and I leave for our yearly Sisterly Road Trip. I am beyond excited for this trip.  We started the tradition two years ago with The Crafty Farm Sisters Great Plains Road Trip driving my vintage travel trailer from Wyoming to Connecticut. Last year we journeyed to North Carolina to attend The John C. Campbell Folk Art School; I took a class on spinning (wool, not bicycles), and she took a class on turning wood bowls on a lathe. This year we decided on another road trip. We fly in to Austin, Texas, and will be renting a minivan and driving home from there via Atlanta. You can ready more about the upcoming trip in an earlier post by clicking here.

We didn’t go to the John C. Campbell Folk Art School until February though. Right around this time last year my sister and I attended the 3rd annual Young Farmers Conference at The Stone Barns Center for Food & Agriculturein Pocantico Hills, NY. Stone Barns is also home to the very well known restaurant Blue Hill at Stone Barns owned by Dan Barber, a leader in the sustainable and humane farming movement.

Dan Barber, chef and owner of the restaurant Blue Hill at Stone Barns and a leader in the sustainable and humane farming movement.

Because of our Southern Road Trip this year we won’t be able to the 4th annual conference, Reviving the Culture of Agriculture,  held December 1 and 2, but I wanted to let you know about it in case you wanted to get on the waiting list (unfortunately it is sold out already), or to put it on your calendar for next year.

Stone Barns has state-of-the-art greenhouses that would be the envy of any farmer. Hard to duplicate, but nice to see and learn from.

It was an amazing event. I have attended all kinds of seminars, classes and lectures over the years on all sorts of subjects. This seminar, by far, was the most interesting one I have attended. Maybe that’s just because it’s a subject I’m so interested in, or maybe it’s because it was really good. The speakers were invigorating, the classes were informative, the setting (an old Rockefeller estate turned farm education center) is beautiful, and the people were so friendly. It’s attended by not just people from all over the United States, but by people from all over the world. I did find the seminar a little heavier on the gardening side of farming rather than the livestock side, but I’m hoping that will change over the years. Dan Barber gave the opening remarks, Bill and Nicolette Niman of Niman Ranch were keynote speakers after lunch the first day. I had already read their  book, but their speech was absolutely fascinating. Other keynote speakers included Wes Jackson, President of The Land Institute and more.

A greenhouse lecture.

You can find out more about the conference or about Stone Barns by checking the link above. If farming is something you’re thinking about doing, or are doing already, you might want to add this seminar to your calendar. Because they are trying to reach the people struggling to bring small farms back to this country, they keep the cost of the conference very low, which is great.

However, there are all kinds of conferences and classes available to people looking to learn more about farming or the sustainable/humane food movement. A quick search on the internet yields many choices. I’ve listed some good ones below:

The Northeast Organic Farming Association offers all kinds of classes and conferences, including  ‘The Modern Homestead’, workshops in farm design, organic poultry workshops, the MOFGA’s Farmer to Farmer Conference and so much more. A wealth of farming information is on this site..

The Midwest Organic & Sustainable Education Service (MOSES) hosts an Organic University and has all sorts of useful information.

Farm to School offers information and classes on people wanting to learn more about the farm to school programs and the farm to table movement.

In Washington State they host the Harvesting Opportunity conference as well as providing all sorts of useful agricultural and farming information.

But if traveling isn’t your thing, you can even take farming, agricultural courses or animal-specific courses online.


Thanksgiving Dinner

Well, another Thanksgiving is over. My family is tucked safely in bed and I’m as done cleaning up and doing dishes as I’m going to be for tonight.

I decided to do a short video of Thanksgiving this year. I started with setting the table, and I ended with the piles of clean dishes ready to go back in the cabinets. If I’d been a little more familiar with the workings of iMovie, this could have come out a lot better, but it’s still cute. It was even better when I had it set to Adam Sandlers’ Thanksgiving Song, but apparently that was against copyright rules. Sorry about that for anyone who tried to watch it earlier.

When I stopped drinking a little over 8 years ago, my poor husband’s social life fell off a cliff. Where I used to have elaborate dinner parties every few months, I can count on one hand how many I’ve had in the last 8 years. However, when I do host a dinner, like today, I like to pull out all the things I’ve collected over the years. The beautiful antique silver luster china my mother gave me ages ago. The depression glass. The silver(plate) flatware I’ve pieces together a few items at a time. The antique damask napkins. Mixed with these are the pieces I find at Home Goods occasionally, like the individual butter dishes, or some of the water glasses that had a lace-like silver pattern on them that went great with the china. A lot of things, like the silverware and napkins have initials on them, and few of them are mine, but I love them anyway. Nothing matches, and I like it like that. But somehow, when it’s all put together it works.

I hope everyone had a lovely Thanksgiving.

Happy Thanksgiving

I posted this comic last Thanksgiving, and I'm posting it again this year. I had it taped to my refrigerator for so long, I'm not even sure where I got it anymore. It always made me laugh, and reminded me of how real families are. I know we could have sat around my families Thanksgiving table and said very similar prayers over the years.

Happy Thanksgiving!