Thursday, April 29, 2010

Break Out the Grill!

...or not. Just when we thought Spring had really arrived, we got hit with another cold snap. Hopefully it's warmer where you are! Still, I had summer food on my mind and so I used a grill pan to cook up some delicious Korean Barbecue Burgers.

If you're a fan of Korean food, these burgers really taste like bulgogi. If you're not familiar with Korean food, just be assured the burgers taste fantastic. I served ours on wheat buns (it's pretty simple to cobble together a hamburger bun recipe from whatever recipe you use for pizza dough) with some of our homemade kimchi on top. They would be great without the kimchi too, but I think it added a nice zip. Did you know you can get kimchi in the farm store? Or you can get whey at the farm store and try making your own. Don't forget that you can get grass fed ground beef at the farm too!

Korean Barbecue Burgers
recipe taken from Cooking Light

1/2 cup chopped green onions
1 1/2 tablespoons brown sugar
1 1/2 tablespoons minced peeled fresh ginger
3 tablespoons low-sodium soy sauce
1 tablespoon dark sesame oil
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 1/2 pounds grass fed ground sirloin

Mix all ingredients together, shape into patties, grill and enjoy! This recipe is easily doubled if you want to make extras to freeze for another time.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

An Easy Summer Bread

Debbie did an excellent post on bread baking last fall, and we've also talked about how baking bread fits in to the rhythm of the seasons, but when spring rolls around I'm much more likely to want to spend time in the garden than in the kitchen.

And yet, curiously enough, my family still requests regular meals.

I find that my cooking style becomes more streamlined and simple in the warmer months, and now I've found a way to still enjoy fresh homemade bread without requiring a huge time investment.

In their book Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day Jeff Hertzberg (a scientist) and Zoe Francois (a chef) outline a method for mixing and storing dough in the refrigerator, taking out portions as needed, that eliminates the need for kneading, long rise times, or additives. I'll admit that I was initially skeptical, but since getting this book I've made several of the dough variations and have achieved uniformly excellent results. The bread is well shaped, has a great crusty outside with a good texture and crumb inside. The taste is comparable to artisan bread from a bakery, just as the authors claim.

In addition to the basic recipe, which makes a boule loaf or baguette, the book contains a wealth of other breads ranging from Limpa (a Swedish bread made with cardamom, orange zest and honey), to za'atar flat bread, to na'an. Breads from all over the world are well represented in this book. The book also contains recipes using bread, such as Aubergine Tartine, Panzanella, Red Pepper Fougasse, and Fattoush. Many of the bread-containing recipes make use of fresh seasonal produce, which also makes the cookbook handy for the summer months.

I found the authors' section on alternative flours particularly helpful since they note that the different weights and compositions of flours, including how they are ground, influences the outcome of their recipes, and their instructions for substituting flours are clear and easy to implement.

Although there are few things as comfortable as making bread the old fashioned way in the fall and winter, if you're in need of a simpler method for spring and summer I would highly recommend this book.

Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Unconventional (for our times anyway) Lawn Mowing

Even though the weather has been dry my lawn has been growing at an astounding rate and of course, my Craftsman lawnmower is on the blink. Well, when that happens on a farm all you need is a little thought and a few well positioned fences and you can have your lawn mowed for free. No gas, no fuss. Well, O.K. just a little fuss.

Let me introduce you to my new lawn mowers, Domino is slacking in the back, Suzie is up front with Cordelia Grey and Peanut in the back. Elvira II and her two boys are lounging. For the past two weeks they have been more than happy to keep our lawn looking good, one small spot at a time. Our girls here at the farmhouse are Icelandic sheep and although they have horns they are surely enough girls.

Even as I sit here in the comfort of my living room with the windows slung open and the lace curtains flapping in the breeze I can hear chomping, wonderful grass removing chomping. In a section of fencing 150’ long it will take the girls and their babies two days to get the lawn looking good and evenly mowed.

Unfortunately there are always some slackers in the bunch. Elvira and her two babies decide to let the others mow while they rest.
Elvira’s one boy thinks he is getting away with it by hiding behind a basket of tools while the other one couldn’t care less if I see him laying down on the job.

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Posted by Catherine on behalf of The Farm, written and photographed by Debbie

Monday, April 19, 2010

Milk Consumption Tied to Lower Risk of Breast Cancer

A study published in the International Journal of Cancer has shown that childhood and adult milk consumption can protect against breast cancer.

Women who drank more than 3 glasses of milk per day had half the risk of breast cancer compared to women not drinking milk according to a study of 48,844 women in Norway. The results of this study are in line with earlier research results showing the protective effect of milk on breast cancer. A study published in the British Journal of Cancer showed that the women who consumed the most milk had less than half the risk of breast cancer compared to women consuming the least milk.

Milk's protective effect can be attributed to the cancer fighting substance conjugated linoleic acid (CLA) found in milk fat. Numerous studies indicated that CLA had a protective effect against breast cancer.

A recent Finnish study has shown that postmenopausal women with the lowest levels of CLA in their diet and in their blood had, respectively, a 3.3-fold and five-fold greater risk of breast cancer than those with the highest levels of CLA.

Milk from grass fed cows contains over 5 times the levels of CLA than grain fed cows!!
So drink up!

Here is a great way to get more milk into your diet without high levels of sugar. Brayden made this last night and we all went wild!

Brayden's Late Night Shake

2 cups Trader's Point Chocolate milk
2 scoops vanilla ice cream - homemade at best, Breyers at worst (check their ingredients, some contain high fructose corn syrup and other nasties)

Add all to blender and blend. Absolutely the best shake we have ever had!

Thursday, April 15, 2010

How to Hang a Clothesline - the Technical Part

Clothes and linens dried in the sunshine smell fresh and feel crisp. A clothesline is a wonderful addition to any back yard. Here are two ways to install one:

The first method is for a simple, single line that is easy to take down and put back up. The second is for a line that is a loop strung between two pulleys. Both are easy to tighten if they sag.For either version, you can use a cotton or plastic clothesline rope. I prefer the look and feel of cotton.

The height of the line depends on how tall you are -- make sure the line is comfortable for you to reach, and high enough that your laundry won't touch the ground. If you use the pulley system one end can be sent high in the air to catch every drop of breeze.

The length of the line depends on the size of your back yard, but 20 to 25 feet is average. You'll need two strong supports, such as trees or a post of your porch. Choose an area of the yard where the clothesline won't get in anyone's way.

For the single line, you'll need a heavy-duty hook, a metal eye hook, a cleat, a small metal fitting that you'll wrap the rope around to anchor it (imagine the device you use to secure a rope on a flagpole), and a metal ring.

Start by marking the height you want the line to be on each support. On one support, screw in the hook at the point you marked; start the hole with a drill. On the other, screw in the eye hook. Twelve inches below the eye hook, install a cleat. Using a tight knot, tie one end of the rope to the ring. Loop the ring over the hook, and walk the rope over to the other support. Thread the other end through the eye hook, pull it tight, and wind it around the cleat to secure.

For the double-strung line, you'll need two heavy-duty hooks, two pulleys, a line tightener, to allow you to take up the slack in the line, and a line separator to keep the top and bottom lines separate but parallel.

Screw the hooks into the supports at the height you want the line to be. Tie one end of the rope securely to the ring on the end of the line tightener. Thread the other end of the rope through the pulley, the line separator, the other pulley and the line tightener. Hang the pulleys from the hooks on your supports, pull the end of the rope through the tightener until taut and cut away the excess rope. Hook the line separator around the bottom rope.

If this is a little to technical for you, come out to the farm and I can walk you through my system so you can get a good idea of what works.

Happy Hanging!

Monday, April 12, 2010

Laundry on the Line

I have been a die hard clothesline fan since I purchased a kit from Martha Stewart and set up a proper line. Sure you can use a couple of hooks and a plastic line from Home Depot in a pinch but if you intend on committing to forgoing the dryer whenever possible you really need to respect the line, especially if you want to enjoy the process.

The first thing to think about is how you do laundry now. Do you like to do a load a day or do you save it all up for one day a week, put your head down and plow through? The answer to this question will determine how much space should be dedicated to your line. I have some Amish friends who have a 300 foot line from the back door to the top of their barn. My line is about 75 ft and with my Ecosmart washer that does me just fine. I have a Fisher & Paykel Ecosmart and with its 1000 rpm spin cycle I can get 5 loads done and folded in an afternoon.

Here is what you need for a great line.

1. Clothes line, I like cotton it runs through the pulley system easily

2. Line tightener - keeps the line good and tight - you tie one end and feed the other through

3. Spacers - to keep the clothes off the ground by pulling the lines together

4. Clothes pins - I like wooden but many like the plastic because they come in pretty colors

5. 2 pulleys - Rust proof is a must

I like to put one end of my line near my back door and the other I will put way up in the air somewhere like a tree or a tall post. The higher the clothes the more wind you can catch and the quicker they dry.

There is truly nothing like clothes fresh off the line for a sense of well being. Guests at our farm ALWAYS get bedding fresh off the line if the weather is co-operating and fresh linens off the line are a gift to my children of wonderful memories they will always cherish.

Friday, April 9, 2010

Time to Plant Beets

Most people will tell you they hate beets but that's only because they have only tasted the horrid red imposters sliced and jammed into tin cans. For shame!!! Beets are one of my favorite vegetables and dressed in Celtic Sea Salt and Kerry Gold butter, you just can't beet it!

I planted my beets in one long row along the edge of my peas. I planted three varieties, Chioggia (my personal favorite) stiped in red and white rings it is a sure kid pleaser, Detroit Red and Burpee's Golden.

Beets grow well near bush beans but don't like pole beans - go figure! They do very well near lettuce and most members of the cabbage family. I like to plant my beets very close together and then throughout the season I will thin, first for the tops in salads and then for baby beets. By then I have made enough room for the full grown beets. I will plant beets all summer since they can take a good frost and still come out fine. As long as you can get into the soil you can harvest beets so be sure to have plenty of seed on hand.

Remember we have Seed Savers Exchange seeds in the store and will keep a good supply of all the seeds you need for planting and replanting.

Friday, April 2, 2010

Happy Easter

Happy Easter from The Farm!