Of Rocks and Friends

What farmer takes rocks out of the rock pile and puts them back in the yard? This one of course. As I talked briefly before, the flower beds are atrocious here. As best I can, I am trying to just clean them up and let them be for a year. This task in itself is much easier said than done. I have a touch of OCD when it comes to things around the farm especially yard and garden work. My farm OCD is coupled with farm ADHD which makes things really interesting sometimes.

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As fast as my husband can plant trees, I’m pointing out ones I would like cut down. I told him we just planted a whole row of “trees”… He didn’t find it as amusing as I did. None the less we are compromising which will go and which will stay. The dead ones and the ones in the flower beds will go. The rest will stay (for now).

He cut the few trees out of the front flower bed for me. This led to me wanting everything cleaned out of it. My best friend, Noellynn, happened to come to visit that day and let me tell ya, they don’t get any better than her. We found out that everything growing in the bed was growing on top of the garden fabric, trees and all. We did manage to get everything pulled up and out of there. We were reminded we are not a strong or young as we used to be. There was no edging on the front of this bed, which compared to some others, it was for the better.

Me, with my OCD, needs edging, not the black plastic edging but something more decorative, like field rocks. Wouldn’t ya know there are rock piles all over the farm! We hooked up the little green trailer to the four-wheeler and loaded it up with rocks. Too many rocks to be exact. The four-wheeler wouldn’t budge. After a little unloading of rocks and my jumping/rocking the wheeler I got ‘er movin’. We got one load to the bed only to discover I had rolled the tire off the rim and the trailer was out of commission.

wildflowerfarm.orgThis is where you can tell how great of friends you have. Noellynn and I spent the rest of the afternoon hauling field rocks, by hand, from the pile to the garden. Not only did we edge the garden but we filled most of it in with rocks. I don’t have a ton of extra time at this season, with the little boy, the cow, the birds, the garden, haying, well you get the picture. We filled most of the bed in with rock, I have spread some wildflower seeds among them. The rocks will cut the weeding way back and when it’s time to do some serious work to the garden I won’t have to worry about saving the plants if I want to start over.

wildflowerfarm.orgOnce we had had enough of rock carrying we moved to the back yard to pull out the metal “t” posts and roll up the fencing. Holy cows, what a job! and what a mess! After that project it was time to shower and hit the bar! That was a good day!

The next day was Mother’s Day. I went to church with my mom and then went home to work. In hind sight that was probly a double sin; working on Mother’s Day and Sunday. I wanted to get as much done as possible before the boys got back to town and boy did I ever! Dad and my brother got the green trailer fixed for me and I raked and hauled 10 loads of leaves from the back yard alone! There are still more to take care of this weekend. I hauled the rest of the rocks to all the flower beds and got wildflowerfarm.orga couple more of those cleaned out. What a great weekend and a great start to yard clean up! I did however miss out on more fencing, which I should have been over helping them with that too.

 

 

 

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A Peck of Pickled Peppers

The last few summers I could have been called Peter Piper because I picked a few pecks of peppers and pickled until I got sick of it. I was giving pepper away by the grocery bag full. Now, I love peppers, and you might expect my to say that I really don’t want another high yielding year, but I won’t. I can find so many ways to work peppers into our meals and for what I can’t use there is always someone in need of a few.wildflowerfarm.org

Pickled Peppers
To pickle my peppers I like to keep it very basic
1 tsp.  Kosher Salt
equal parts Apple Cider Vinegar and Water poured over the peppers that have been washed and placed in clean jars.

I opened a jar of chili peppers and one of jalapenos (the top two jars in the picture) today. I wanted to test the flavor of the peppers and wasn’t thinking apparently because I just grabbed a chili pepper and took a bite. These chili pepper were burning my fingers last fall when I was picking them. I like hot food, but I also like a little warning before I take a bite. A little warning with this one would have been nice. After I got over the initial shock, the flavor was pretty good. The heat of the peppers had lessened slightly since last fall.

I then tested one of the jalapenos. I was a little more aware of what I was doing with this one. They turned out relatively mild in my taste. A step above the pepperccini peppers I like to use in Bloody Mary’s. The flavor was great, a little vinegar, good pepper-ness, all around good. I see a new pickled egg recipe in the future as well as a pepper relish and of course some Spicy Bloody Mary’s.

Bloody Mary By the Glass
I like to make a meal in my Bloody Mary. I list the ingredients I use because there is no measuring when I make drinks a little of this and a little more of that, by the end of the night it’s a lot of this and a dash of that.

Tomato Juice
Pepper Vodka and/or Pendleton Whiskey
Tabasco Sauce
Worcestershire Sauce
A1 Steak Sauce
Pepperccini Peppers
Celery Stick
Green Olives
New Pickled Peppers

Everything in the glass and enjoy!
A peck, by the way, is an actual form of measurement.

1 US peck  = 1/4 of a bushel
= 2 dry gallons
= 8 quarts
= 16 pints
= 32 cups

By this measure I had at least a bushel of peppers and a few bushels of tomatoes!

 

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Oh The Bugs!

With spring in full swing (kinda) the insects will be coming to life and so will the risk of a few scary illnesses, namely West Nile Virus and Lyme Disease. I know the wood ticks are out for sure. The mosquitos will be here soon too.

West Nile Virus is commonly transmitted from mosquitos. Surprisingly 70-80% of people who get infected don’t develop symptoms. Those that do, can have any combination of fever, headache, body ache, joint paint, vomiting diarrhea or rash. Most people can recover completely from it, however the fatigue and weakness can last for a very long time to follow. Unfortunately there are no vaccines or antiviral treatments for West Nile.

Lyme Disease is contracted from ticks. Around here it used to just be deer ticks that carried it and they were few and far between. However, from what I’ve been reading that is not the case anymore. There is no cure for this though. It can be put into remission, if you will, with antibiotics but long term nerve damage is common for those infected without being treated quickly. The most obvious symptom is the bull’s-eye type rash that forms around the bite.

Our guinea hens will be arriving this spring that will help cut back the insects around the farm. I’m sure there will still be plenty of bugs to fend off, for that I make Insect Repellant.

Wildflowerfarm.orgInsect Repellent

1/2 ltr. Alcohol (I use cheep vodka)
100 g Whole Cloves
100 g Baby Oil
Combine the alcohol and cloves. Stir twice a day for 4 days. Strain the cloves. Add the oil to the alcohol. Pour in to a spray bottle and use.

Of course there will always be those brave little bugs that bite through and spray you use. For those bites I have an salve that’s super easy to make and will last all season.

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Even if you can avoid the bugs,  the annoyance of itchy bites can drives you crazy anyway. This salve is great at soothing the bites.

Insect Salve

1/2 oz.    Beeswax
3 oz.       Olive Oil
1/2 oz.    Shea Butter
15 drops  Eucalyptus Oil
Melt the wax and shea butter. Add the oils. Stir well. Pour into the desired container and let it set up.

 

 

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Cilantro and Parsley

As I was flipping through seed catalogues years back I was having a hell-of-a-time finding “Cilantro” seeds; apparently I was having a “blonde” moment at the same time…

cilantroCoriander also known as cilantro, Mexican parsley or Chinese parsley is one of my favorite herbs ( I think I say that about all herbs). When referring to cilantro it is the green part of the herb (leaf and stem) where as coriander is the dried seed. The seed is used in the kitchen both whole and ground. The leaves are used fresh, they are not good dried.

Growing cilantro/coriander is quite simple. It likes full sun and moist soil during germination. Once the plants have reached about six inches tall the leaves can be plucked for use. If left to grow, wispy, dill-like leaves will form. It will flower with little white flowers, then of course the seed will form. Let the seeds dry on the plant. A light shake into a paper bag is all you will need to harvest the seed. If left, the it will reseed itself.

Cilantro not only adds flavor to you favorite salsa and guacamole but it also helps the body rid itself of heavy metals that can get very toxic.

Parsley is grown in the same manner, however it take a second season to produce seed.  It is also will stand a partial shade spot in the garden and is slightly hardier when is comes to cooler temperatures. I have yet to seed a use for parsley seed other than propagation of the plant. The leaves and stems are used commonly in the kitchen. There are multiple varieties, all are used in the same manner. Parsley can be used fresh (I think this is best), dried, or can be frozen and used through out the winter.

Parsley is rich in vitamin C and A as well as lots of minerals. It is supposedly a natural remedy for garlic breath… I haven’t tried it, I rather skeptical about that one.

Avocado Cilantro Soup
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(cold soup) I am not a fan of cold soup but some are, and those that are seem to really enjoy this one.
Avocado Cilantro Soup
Print Recipe
(cold soup) I am not a fan of cold soup but some are, and those that are seem to really enjoy this one.
Ingredients
  • 2 each Ripe Avocados peeled and halved
  • 2 each Scallions roughly chopped
  • 2 cup Sour Cream
  • 1/2 each Lime juiced
  • 1/2 cup Chicken Stock
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp Cayenne Pepper
  • 1/4 cup Cilantro Leaves chopped
Servings:
Instructions
  1. Place everything into a blender. Blend until smooth.
  2. Serve with a dash of hot sauce and garnish with a cilantro leaf.
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Cauliflower Soup
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Cauliflower Soup
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Ingredients
  • 1 each Cauliflower head broken into florets
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 3 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 each Garlic clove chopped
  • 2 each Parsley Roots sliced
  • 1 each Parsley bunch chopped (leaves only)
  • 2 tbsp All-purpose Flour
  • 1 tbsp Paprika
  • 1 cup Cooked Brown Rice
  • 1/2 cup Sour Cream
Servings:
Instructions
  1. Steam the cauliflower until almost done.
  2. Saute the garlic and parsley root in the olive oil for about 5 minutes.
  3. Add the parsley.
  4. Stir in the flour and paprika.
  5. Add one cup of water, stir until thickened.
  6. Stir in the cauliflower and another 5 cups of water.
  7. Cook, stirring until thickened.
  8. Add the rice and sour cream.
  9. Serve warm.
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Marjoram and Oregano

 

I put Marjoram and Oregano together for one good reason, they are very closely related. Like Rosemary, these are also native to the mediterranean.

Marjoram and OreganoMarjoram can grow to be a rather large bush (2-3 feet) in southern climates. In the north it won’t stand the winter and must be replanted each spring and then it only has time to grow to a small, 1-2 feet, bush. The tiny flowers are usually white or lavender in color and show up mid-summer. Like we talked about in  All Things Lavender, marjoram can be propagated in the same ways; seed, cutting or burying a living stem. Any way you start them, be sure it’s in fertile soil, that is very damp (not root rotting wet though) and in a partially shady spot. Once established it will “self seed” if you let it. Marjoram is a shallow rooted plant making it great for pots too.

To harvest just cut stems or pluck the little leaves. It should be noted that some varieties are ornamental. Sweet Marjoram is the most popular of the “kitchen” varieties. It can be used fresh or dried and is very popular in Italian dishes, sausage and stuffing.

Oregano is usually about half the size of it’s cousin marjoram and can be planted much closer together. It too, comes in a few varieties. Do a little research about the varieties available to you. The wild varieties tend to have much less flavor than a Greek variety for example. I have had oregano make it through a North Dakota winter, we will see about a Minnesota one. Of course it can be propagated in the same manner as above and will “self seed” too.  Harvesting is the same as above too. Pretty easy.

Even though both will do well in pots you will notice a difference in the flavor of those grown indoors and those outdoors. Growing them outdoors is ideal.

Herb and Sausage Frittata
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Sometimes the ol' egg and bacon can get a little boring for breakfast, why not switch it up with something just as quick, healthy and easy.
Herb and Sausage Frittata
Print Recipe
Sometimes the ol' egg and bacon can get a little boring for breakfast, why not switch it up with something just as quick, healthy and easy.
Ingredients
  • 1/4 cup Butter
  • 1/4 cup Shallots chopped
  • 2 tbsp Parsley
  • 1 tbsp Marjoram
  • 2 tsp Thyme
  • 8 each Eggs
  • 6 oz Breakfast sausage cooked, crumbled and warm
  • 1/3 cup Asiago Cheese grated
Servings:
Instructions
  1. In a mixing bowl whisk the eggs and white wine together and set aside.
  2. In a large sauté pan, melt the butter and add the shallots. Saute until partially cooked, add the sausage and herbs.
  3. Pour the eggs into the pan very shortly after adding the herbs. Cover and let steam until cooked through. Top with the cheese. Cover and cook just until the cheese has melted.
  4. Serve hot. (with some really good coffee)
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