Monday, October 31, 2011

Happy Halloween!

Here's to you and your little trick-or-treaters. We don't get little ghosts and goblins out on the farm, but we will venture in to see them in town. Have a safe and happy Halloween!

Friday, October 28, 2011

Harvest Dinner

It all started with a sweet dumpling squash and an acorn squash. There were many varieties that were planted in our garden this year and these two were handy when dinner time rolled around tonight! The squash was cut in half. First the acorn squash was cut lengthwise and then the sweet dumpling was cut across the top, just low enough to open the seed cavity. They were both scraped clean, then a little salt and pepper were sprinkled over them and baked at 350' for about 45 minutes.

Next the garlic, onion, and apple were chopped and ready for the skillet. These were also grown right here on the farm as well as the squash. The acorn squash grows very well in Southern Oregon. Last year a student brought in seeds from an acorn squash she and her family had eaten. We dried the seeds and then one day my class went out to guerrilla garden! This is a form of gardening that uses vacant land, landscaped beds, city lots, or in our case, a raised bed built by a previous class of mine. The target bed had been pseudo planted by another group of students with lettuce. but the deer had nibbled quite a bit of it. We just helped embellish their planting with the seeds from one acorn squash. In the end, my class this year harvested 73 acorn squashes, hey, talk about the "Pay It Forward" mindset! The little third grade students are nearly convinced that it was magic! Back to the cooking..

The vegies in the skillet were sauteed until the onion started to soften and lose its shape. Then it was time to add some farm raised pork sausage. We have really enjoyed the sausage from the pigs we raised, along with the ham, pork chops, steaks, and get the idea! The students were sharing how and what they have done with the squash. Some of them had never seen or heard of an acorn squash and some of their parents were so curious why their little backpacks were so heavy this week! One of the families made acorn soup with cinnamon in it, another family roasted the squash, and another one is planning to use the squash as part of the centerpiece for Thanksgiving, then they will cut it open, save the seeds and cook it! By the way, one of the dearest ladies I work with at school talked about cooking her acorn squash this way and it inspired me to do the same. My class just wouldn't be the same with out our precious Mrs. Suits.

Rosemary. Mmmmm, there is nothing so savory delicious as the smell of fresh rosemary. This was picked by Grandson Tyler at his home and given to me yesterday along with the mint picked by granddaughter Anna so that "Papa and Nana could drink some tea". xo

The rosemary was added to the skillet of browned and drained sausage, apples, garlic, and onion. This was the perfect flavor addition and by this time the kitchen was smelling terrific! The apple was a golden delicious and all but three slices were used for the dish. The three escapees were devoured by yours truly in the making of dinner!

The roasted squash was removed from the oven and the sausage and vegie mixture was used to fill the open cavity of the squash. There were only a few bites left and Tim taste tested that while waiting on the finished dinner. After the meat mixture filled the squash, a little Parmesan cheese and some pumpkin seeds were placed on top to finish off the sweet dumpling and acorn squash. Then the pan was returned to the oven for another fifteen minutes for the cheese to melt and the pumpkin seeds to roast. Meanwhile, two carrots and a quarter head of cabbage were cooked to accompany the stuffed squash.

The finished product at the end of this gorgeous October month that allowed such a long season for harvesting. It is interesting to look back at all the hands and hearts that go into putting food on your table. If you can trace back the people that influence your dinner time, it is easy to realize it takes a village! For crisp! Thanks to my dear Tim for all of the picking and peeling! xo

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Nigerian Dwarf Goats

Early in October we drove out to a smaller town to the south of us and picked up what we thought would be two young (three month old) Nigerian Dwarf Goats. Tim answered an ad that was posted on the Feed Store wall. It turned out to be perfect timing for us and the goats!

We decided to reintroduce goats to the property to help the sheep with pasture maintenance. The two little goats were so tiny! At the site of the place we purchased these little guys, there were an abundance of other animals and the farm owner's passion was for the angora sheep, as the owner is a spinner. Needless to say, the littlest ones on the farm were just weaned and needing a larger place to roam. The kind spinner lady offered to throw in the other two as she was thinning down the herd. We know that when ads are placed for goats, there are all kinds of strange and even disturbing calls that come in, especially if they are free!

Well, we were only too happy to buy two get two free! The older two goats are six months and seven months. There are two females, aka does, and two neutered males, also known as wethers. The foursome will be in charge of pasture maintenance and fenceline trimming! We still need to figure out names for the little guys! It is nice to have the little goats on the farm and they have already held up their end of the bargain!

Friday, October 21, 2011

Chocolate Chip Zucchini Bread

Here is an old, old favorite recipe for Chocolate Chip Zucchini Bread. Thank you dear Vicky for asking! I received this recipe from a friend I grew up with and attended 12 years of school together. We were the Carrie and Kari team! This recipe has withstood the test of time, drips, spills, and even penmanship practice! I also went out to the garden and gathered these three bits of fresh zucchini, which Annie, to answer your question: We are not finished with our canning...yet! I love the writing by Tyler in the picture above. They stopped by today with a pumpkin card and lots of hugs!

Here is the recipe:
Chocolate Chip Zucchini Bread
Preheat oven to 350'
Combine and beat well:
4 eggs
2 Cups sugar
1 Cup melted butter
2 Cups grated zucchini
2 tsp. vanilla
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. baking soda
1/4 tsp. baking powder
3 tsp. cinnamon
Add and beat with above ingredients:
3 Cups flour
Stir in:
2 Cups chocolate chips

Spray non stick spray into pans of choice. I use a 6 cup bundt pan and 3 medium loaf pans to bake. You can also bake in muffin tins. The bread is done when it smells delicious and you touch the top gently and the bread resists your touch...about an hour!
Let me know if you bake it or if you add other ingredients like raisins or walnuts or even blueberries!

Here is our little farm. The walnut trees nearly swallow up the little farm house especially at this time of year. Notice just across the street from our house it looks a little congested? Well, the neighboring farmer runs a corn maze and pumpkin patch at this time of year.

This is the view directly across the street from our driveway. While it is great to see our neighbor save his farm with some good healthy outdoor recreation, it does add a very populated element to an otherwise quiet area! So many people love the opportunity to come out to the country to ride a wagon full of hay, walk through a corn maze, hunt for the perfect pumpkin, zip down a zipline, fire off a Pumpkin Canon, and eat a litte cotton candy!

There is plenty of room for everyone and the view is spectacular in any direction. It seems a little distracting as we are as tempted to people watch as the folks who ride past our home on a tractor or horse drawn wagon full of hay, pumpkins, and people! Here's to a productive weekend of canning and people watching! And hugs to Annie and Vicky for keeping me on track!

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Late Season Canning

It is October and many of the fruits that ripen in late summer are just ripening. There is about a three week delay in usual time frames, so the race is on to capture as many of the wonderful, fresh fruit off of our trees as we can. Here we have dehydrated pears. If you like chewy candy, gummy bears, gum drops, even caramel, then this is a healthy alternative. Ok, I know I am pushing it with caramel, but these dehydrated pears really are delicious. It takes about 10 hours at 135 degrees to get them dry and there are roughly 20 slices per whole juicy pear.

Nearing the end of the pears to be dehydrated. We use the Excalibur Food Dehydrator that we purchased from Cabelas years ago. There are nine racks with a good fan and various temperature settings to accommodate a broad range of foods.

And, of course, one more pot of garden sauce! This pot has garlic, onions, apples, carrots, eggplant, yellow squash, and many tomatoes topped with fresh basil that will cook down. It is all out of the garden and surprisingly, the garden is ready to ripen another round of tomatoes. The days are cooler, the sky has been cloudy, but the low temperatures are only mid 40 degrees and the high temperatures during the day are nearly 60 degrees. There has been snow in mountains already, but a warm fall is helping us bring in a late canning season!