Archive for August, 2011

Home Life

School has started, and now the farm is more of a place to sleep than a place to live. It is exhilarating and exhausting to try and inspire 12 and 13-year-olds to be excited about grammar. We’ve been learning to excavate the simple subject and simple predicate from sentences. Several times a day I repeat: Is is a verb!

My evening energy level is low. There has been no running – not even on the treadmill. In the morning I hustle to milk, then feed the milk to the chickens. In the evenings I’ve been letting my growing calves nurse the cows dry while I throw food to the rest of the critters. Then it’s time for dinner. And once I sit down I find I have no desire to be on my feet one second longer. The result? An hour or so in bed playing Words with Friends (a new addiction) and a few more chapters of Anna Karenina. Then sleep.

My outdoor garden has given up the ghost. After the long, hot, dry summer, I decided to forego any attempts at a fall garden. I’m glad I did. Instead, I brought my gardening indoors and grew a flat of microgreens from a hydroponic kit I ordered at www.growmicrogreens.com. My first harvest was yesterday. The greens are fantastic – spicy and fresh and full of flavor. Looks like we have salad for the week.

My first harvest.

The rest of this weekend will be spent catching up: make butter from the milk in the fridge, whip up a batch of yogurt for my evening smoothie, and make a big stockpot of beef and vegetable soup to get us through the week. Already a loaf of fresh bread has made its way from the oven.

Fresh from the oven.

Oh, and with a lot of luck, I’ll finish the shawl that’s on the rented loom that should have been returned a week ago.

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What I learned in yoga – Be where your feet are.

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If this is the way the rest of the school year will go, I’m in for a real treat. My students were engaged, engaging and ready to learn.

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School started today. More later.

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Peachy Keen

Columbia Farmers' Market Peaches

Julia Child’s birthday was today and I wanted to do something big – say make her peach galette – but we kicked off the school year with a day long faculty meeting. I settled for leftovers.

But I did think of Julia today. A lot. She would love 21st-century technology. I just know it.

Through my mom’s personalized newspaper clipping service, I was introduced to Jeni’s Splendid Ice Creams at Home by Jeni Britton Bauer. I love ice cream. I own a White Mountain ice cream maker. And a Cuisinart ice cream maker. I milk my own cows. Need I say more?

So, I downloaded the book on my iPad. It took forever to load, and now I know why.

It contains videos. It’s like having Jeni in the kitchen with you. I watched her introduction and then her spiel on making caramel (the dry-burn technique). The next day I made a trip to the grocery store and farmers’ market.

I made the Peach Lambic Sorbet (no cream, but lots of fresh peaches) and the Salty Caramel (lots of cream). They are both extraordinary.

Salty Caramel Ice Cream

I can only hope that someone will take Julia’s PBS series and plug it into Mastering the Art of French Cooking. I would love to cook side-by-side with Julia Child.

Happy Birthday, Julia!

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It’s raining. Hard. I hope it keeps it up all day. It’s been so dry here it’s depressing. Mature trees have wilted leaves, we could have used a pick to help dig potatoes from the garden last night, the grass is dying and it shows in the butter I made on Monday. Monday’s butter was light yellow, a sign of poor grass; bright gold would mean the cows had been dining on bright green grass.

Still, it’s been cooler these past few days. You can see everyone’s spirits lifting. The dogs are back to harassing the wildlife in the brush piles, the chickens have stopped panting, and the cows are back to grazing. I’m hoping the heat is behind us.

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Making Butter

Every week I like to whip up a batch of butter. I skim six or so gallons of milk and add the cream to my electric churn. Years ago I read that if the butter seems slow in coming you should sing this song:

Come butter come
Peter’s at the gate
Wants a butter cake
Come butter come

Insert your name and sing to the tune of your choice.

You can see the butter has separated from the buttermilk.

I line a colander with fine cheesecloth and run cold water over the yellow lump to wash out all the buttermilk. Periodically, I'll wrap the butter in the cheesecloth and give it a good squeeze.

The final step is to shape the butter into a brick and wrap it in parchment paper. It then goes into the freezer.

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