Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Eating Simply and Biodynamic Farming

As I slowly eat my way back to a normal diet, I've been eating very simply. The advantage of that is truly appreciating the favors of fresh food simply cooked.

I've become a big fan of Attitude Fraiche. Their salad mixes and  carrots are so fresh and delicious.



So for this meal I simply cooked some carrots, some French green beans and organic chicken. (I'm not usually a fan of chicken, but this was very good.)



Speaking of simple foods...

Reading Ruthy's post last week about farming reminded me of a segment I saw on the Today Show. Maria Shriver was visiting a biodynamic farm in Malibu. I fell in love.

They just published a new cookbook and the opening refers to the deep need society has to reconnect with nature. They refer to "a holistic and harmonious lifestyle" that "is at the heart of One Gun Ranch."

You can watch the Today Show episode here.





The LA Times also did an article on them. One Gun Ranch.

I am so curious about the idea of super soils making the food taste different. I really wish I could taste their produce!

Have you ever noticed a difference in the taste of your food based on the source? I'm spoiled in that I have easy access to fresh fruits and vegetables year round, but the produce they are showing in the video looks even more fresh. I also love that they are giving children a chance to experience the natural life.


Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Kitchens, Conference and No Cooking

Mindy here, getting ready to make my way back to the Dallas-Ft. Worth area for ACFW’s annual conference, so today's post will be short and sweet.
You know, normally, I can’t wait for ACFW. I anticipate it all year, plan my wardrobe weeks in advance and have everything carefully planned out. This year, though, there’s so much going on with the big house and other stuff that I’m almost finding it hard to break away. I mean, we’ve been in a painting frenzy for the past two weeks and still have plenty more to go.
 
Now we’re in the process of ordering cabinets, something that has turned out to be much more daunting than I thought it would be.

Oh, and did I mention that I have to breakaway from conference for a day to drive to Texas A&M for our oldest son’s Aggie Ring Ceremony?

Okay, deep breath. In. Out.

Everything will work out just fine. I’ll get to enjoy lots of hugs from those folks I only see once a year and, with any luck, I might even manage to relax. Something my dogs never seem to have a problem with.


Not sure when Maddie took to napping on the hearth, but I guess all that gopher chasing wore her out.
Now it’s your turn. I want to know what you’ve been up to. Are you eagerly anticipating fall? Are you busy, busy, busy or taking things kind of slow?




Mindy Obenhaus lives on a ranch in Texas with her husband, the last of her five children and two dogs. She's passionate about touching readers with Biblical truths in an entertaining, and sometimes adventurous, manner. When she’s not writing, she enjoys cooking and spending time with her grandchildren. Learn more at www.MindyObenhaus.com 

Monday, September 18, 2017

Prepared for Evacuation

Jan here, with a post that's going to be a bit different.

The events of the past weeks have made me think about emergencies. How prepared am I if a catastrophe happened here?

Smoke from the Montana fires over the Black Hills
on September 4, 2017
photo by Meg Brummer

We've mentioned pantries a few times here at the Cafe. We relied heavily on ours during the blizzard back in October 2013 (read about that storm here).



I also use my pantry throughout the year - I store what I use and use what I store! You can read about one of my pantry recipes here.

And I encourage you to have a pantry ready, especially as the winter months are approaching. You think you don't have any room? Get creative, and get simple. Do you have a place where you can store a few cans of soup? A box of crackers? That's all you need. Forget about running to the store to fight the crowds for the last loaf of bread!

However, pantries are for when we need to hunker down at home. Snowstorms and events like that keep us at home, either with or without electricity. But what if we would need to evacuate? I can't take my pantry with me, can I?

Well, in a way, I can...

Prepared for Evacuation



I'm sure you've heard that phrase, "when you fail to prepare, you prepare to fail." We've prepared a bag for each of us that we can grab in a hurry if we need to leave the house.

Why would we evacuate? Our biggest danger here in the west are wildfires. We only need to read the headlines to know how dangerous they can be, and if you're in the path of one, you need to get out - without wasting any time.

In other parts of the country and the world, you may face earthquakes, hurricanes or flooding. Or you may live in "tornado alley." In any of those situations, you may not evacuate, but your home may not be livable, either.

One name for these bags are "Bug-Out Bags," and they're always lumped in with articles about the "zombie apocalypse" and "survivalists." But don't let their extreme associates keep you from being prepared!

The rule of thumb for a bug-out bag is to be able to carry enough supplies for 72 hours - or three days. The idea is that by the end of three days, you should be in a place where you're safe, or where you can replenish your supplies.

The first step is to break down your supplies into categories:

- clothes
- food
- heat
- protection from the weather/shelter
- first aid supplies
- a way to keep clean (and healthy)
- water - one gallon per person per day is the recommendation

And finally, something to carry it all.

How do you do all this?

We took our clues from backpackers. There are products made for the situations we were imagining. Freeze-dried foods, backpacking stoves that burn any type of fuel, emergency heat-reflecting blankets, Lifestraws...

What are Lifestraws? I think these are just about the best thing invented in recent years. With this straw, you can safely drink from any water source.

Check them out here - Lifestraw  When you visit their website, you'll see the awesome potential for these straws. Not only for backpacking, they're invaluable in a situation like post-Harvey Texas. And think of the difference they would make in a place where safe water isn't available, like in third-world countries!

We each have one in our bug-out bag so that we don't each have to carry three gallons of water!

If you want more information about building your own bug-out bag, try these links:

Graywolf Survival

Ultimate Bug Out Bag List

You can also buy a pre-packed kit like these

Along with our bug out bags, we keep our camping gear handy. Sleeping bags and a roof over our heads would be welcome, no matter the circumstances.


The final key point is to keep gas in your vehicle. This should be a no-brainer - just get in the habit of always filling your tank whenever it gets down to the half-way point.

One important difference between preparing to evacuate and preparing to hunker down - while we use and replenish our pantry on a weekly basis, we hope we will never use our bug out bags.

But if the worst ever happens, we'll be glad we were ready.

What about you? Can you think of a situation that you would need to be prepared for?


Meanwhile, my dear husband and I went "off the grid" for a week, and headed west. More about our trip next week, but here's a hint of where we went....







Saturday, September 16, 2017

Pumpkin Cake for Kids


Hello, everybody! This here is a repeat from 2012 because as much many good intentions I have to blog ahead, most of the time I write my post at 6Pm on a Friday night! Tonight I didn't have anything to pull out of my hat (hard drive) because I just made secret recipe apple cake and posole, both of which I've done before. But I love this post because my kids look SO TINY. Even the teens! 


But rather than mope, I thought I'd post a retrospective as a bloggy sort of Psalm 148. (It's okay if you don't have it memorized, you can read it here... and then come back!).  Psalm 148
I want to go for one last glorious run through my backyard.
Fresh raspberries. Heaven on earth.
 Squash and zucchini from my friend Barb's garden.
 Piles of cukes from my stepmother's garden. We ate so many cucumbers, I'm surprised we're not green.
 Blueberries from Lampson Blueberries, just twenty minutes from our house, up in the hills. We picked over 150 lbs and they didn't even make it to October. Let's see: 8 people, 3 months, that's approximately 6 pounds of blueberries a month per person in our house. Not very much! Next year, we'll pick more. I say that every year.
Pears from my dad's pear tree. (Like my kettle? Very Pioneer-y.)
Peaches from one of our two peach trees. There were so many that I had to figure out how to freeze them. Ruthy's peach pie is my next project!
Our seedless grapes have finally rebounded from the drought of 2001. Had a wonderful crop this year and about 50 lbs went to a woman who made them into raisins. She bakes panattone for Christmas and ships it all over the US.
Pounds and pounds of perfect plums from my dad's orchard. The tree was so overloaded it was breaking its own branches. We must have picked a hundred pounds. My neighbors started pulling their curtains when they saw us coming with our bags of free plums. You can only eat so many...
Oops, how did this sneak in here?? We're supposed to be praising God's bountiful goodness. But I suppose zucchini bread with walnuts and chocolate chips is worthy of a little praise. :)

We also had bags and bags of our neighbors' goodies because we live in the sort of place that if you're growing it, you better share. It's just good manners. So we've had sweet corn and heirloom tomatoes and apricots, too.
I'm continually in awe of the massive blessings that God showers on us, for no good reason.
He's just that way. And this was a little 'taste' of the way He blesses us out here in ORYGUN.

 (And that pic was taken by Jeff Horner who works at our little hometown paper, the Walla Walla Union Bulletin. The guy is brilliant. Who knows why he lives way out here in podunk east, but we're sure glad he does.)
But as winter closes in, I'll try to remember what Mother Teresa said. "Love is a fruit in season at all times, and within reach of every hand."
When the memories of fresh raspberries and pears have faded and I'm staring out my kitchen window at the frost on the dead lawn, I'll just reach out and snag a toddler... and give them some loving. (Like this little dude, watching his cookies bake. He stared at them for a long time before they were 'done'.)
Hey, here's a cute one... And he's holding walnuts. Bonus.

Better yet, I'll snag a tweener or two. Hey, she looks hug-able...

This one is scaring me a bit. Too many ninja movies?
Oh, wait. This one really needs a squeeze. Cranky, naked toddler out of the bath stole her apple slices and then sat his naked tushie on her lap. Check out her face. She's thinking how much her life stinks right now. Long-suffering tweeners. Gotta love 'em.
 
So, to ease the transition to Fall, we're going to do what we do best. Make a cake!
Oh wait, I'm not good at cake. But I still like to eat cake, so I'll make one anyway. I've picked up a few tips over here on Yankee Belle Cafe, so let's go try them out.
I saw Hershey's has a chocolate cake recipe that didn't look too hard. And it's rated BEGINNER. I'll take that as a good sign...

2 cups sugar
1-3/4 cupsall-purpose flour
3/4 cupHERSHEY'S Cocoa
1-1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1-1/2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
· 2 eggs
· 1 cup milk · ( we were out but I used condensed, with some water. Am I just like a pioneer woman or what??)
    1/2 cup vegetable oil
   2 teaspoons vanilla extract
   1 cup boiling water
So, I mixed everything together (really, just like that except for the boiling water and the Hershey's powder, those I mixed separately and then added them) and let Edna do her magic. (Check out that gleaming chrome. Go, baby, go!!)
I think it was Mindy who said to dust the inside with cocoa powder instead of flour. MMMMMM.

And then Missy had a great tutorial on when a toothpick comes out clean it means done. Really clean, not sorta clean, with blobs. THEN she said to let it cool completely before trying to pry it out of the pan. (*lightbulb*)
SUCCESS!!!! And now I stuffed foil in there so the aliens wouldn't mess with its chocolate brain.
No, no, no. I have a plan. and it involves real pumpkin stem. So out I go to the porch...
And mix some frosting until it's just the right shade of.... salmon pink. Whatever. Use your imaginations.
At least the green was okay. And now for the decoration... Because you know I live in a zoo.
Uh-huh. Eat your hearts out, ladies. Multi-colored sprinkles dumped on by a 3 year old.
 
And check out that shirt. HE's ready for Fall! Even if I'm not.
Even if I'm dreading the six month trek through socks and shoes and jackets and coats and mittens and runny noses and being trapped in the house all day. 
Because it will pass, and we'll have some fun while we wait for spring to come around again.
(My friend Patty Jones' pumpkins, straight from the patch! She sold them on the cheap and donated all proceeds to the Humane Society. She rocks.)
 So, I raise my cake and say a prayer for friends near and far. Because LOVE is a fruit always in season, no matter how long this winter will last.

Until next time! Pop on over to my facebook page at Pride, Prejudice and Cheese Grits where I have all my new book news, or to my blog The Things That Last
 

Friday, September 15, 2017

What to Do While Preparing for a Storm?

Missy Tippens

With Tropical Storm Irma approaching this past weekend, I decided to try to use up any leftovers and produce in the refrigerator since the power was likely to go out. I had a large batch of leftover spaghetti noodles and two bundles of asparagus.



Thankfully, I also had plenty of canned tomatoes in the pantry. Thus, I made one of my favorite pasta dishes. I've probably shared some version of this before because I used to eat it for lunch quite often.


Heat some oil in a skillet. Add some chopped garlic, then add the chopped asparagus. Cook for a couple of minutes. Then add canned diced tomatoes.


I also like to add some olives or capers. This time, I added chopped kalamata olives. It adds nice flavor and saltiness that I so love! Also, to make the sauce a bit saucier, I poured in some of the olive juice. If you don't want something quite that salty, you could add pasta water (unless, of course, you're using leftover noodles like I was). :)


Toss in the noodles and let them heat through. And of course, top with parmesan cheese!! If you're part of the Missy Tippens School of Thought on Cooking, that means LOTS of it. Ha ha!

What do you like to make when you're trying to clean out the refrigerator?

P.S. 
We weathered the storm well. Lost power for about 16 hours. Lots of yard debris but no trees down, thank the Lord. We all need to be praying for and doing what we can to help those hardest hit by Irma and Harvey. One organization that I know of that gets top ratings is the United Methodist Committee on Relief. I hope you'll check it out.

www.missytippens.com

Thursday, September 14, 2017

Pumpkins, Pumpkins, Pumpkins!

"Down Time": A time of reduced activity or productivity.

There's no such thing on the farm this time of year! I remember years ago reading a Cherry Ames book  where the nursing motto was "Don't stand if you can sit, and don't sit if you can lie down."

Books from my older sisters Ronnie and Sweet Grass... then mine were the newer style. I loved Cherry Ames!
I thought that was funny back then, the flurry of nursing students running back and forth from classes, trying to get clinical time in, personal life and study....

Then I grew up and realized the truth, that some jobs, especially seasonal ones, are Go! Go! Go! during the season... and then you gear up during the quiet time for the next season!

Hi. I'm Ruthy and We Started A Farm.

Very few people do that these days... As my husband says, "If you have a quarter million, are you going to invest it in the market? Or in equipment that depreciates faster than your average car?"

So we went about this the old-fashioned way: Sweat Equity. Small tools. Roto-tillers. Back-pack sprayers. Hand-planted fields. When you watch those old movies with the family out there working the land?

Yup.

That's us. 

WHY DID YOU DO THIS? you ask?

Dave had a dream... Farmer Dave, the guy I married a long time ago... A dream of developing a farm where families could come and have fun and not spend their retirement income trying to get in the door. So the dream was like so many of those Holy Spirit nudges... our daughter said something a few years ago, about how folks love, love, love fall places... and we live in one of the prettiest fall climates of all, the lakeshores of Western New York...

And Dave knew he was ready to retire...

And God had blessed us with multiple book contracts so we would not starve. :)

And so it began with this:



And this:


And then a customer suggested THIS:


Novelty pumpkins... stacking pumpkins... at a reasonable price...

And that's how it began... We adopted the slogan "Home of the $5 Pumpkin" and pledged that no pumpkin will be more than $5. Families won't have to break the bank to have fun. By October 10th, 2016, WE SOLD OUT OF PUMPKINS... that was God's message to us that we'd hit our stride and found our niche...

We keep overhead low. We don't rent space to sell. Folks come right here, to the farm, and they breathe... and walk around... and get ideas for cooking and baking and babies and now...

We've got this:
And this!
And this...


And don't forget these!

And then, new to us two weeks ago are these new friends... just here for folks to love....

Alexis the miniature donkey, maybe expecting a baby donkey in summer 2018....

And this little girl came to us the same day, because I could not resist her!!!

We've got "Name that Donkey" contest going to give this pretty baby her formal name... She's six months old and precious... friendly... and so sweet. We can walk the donkeys... turn them out on grass... brush them... and people just like to pet them. It's Donkey Love time on the farm.

We organized a playground....


We rebuilt chicken coops and turned the old coop into the Donkey Shed...

And in between it all we bake breads and cakes and cookies and Whoopie Pies.... 

Because every good business begins with a dream... a goal... an approach. And wherever this takes us, I'm so glad to include all of you on the fun of following us on the farm!

A farm where kids will see crops and animals and meet nice people and play and climb. 
Eli helping cut asparagus....
Where they'll see that eggs come from chickens and not a cooler... where food comes out of the field... 
Our grandkids and their sweet mother Karen helping pick the pumpkins! 
...where frogs hop and play in the water gardens, and kids race barefoot across cool, green grass.

A place to be normal. A place where we have a six-week-old kitten ruling the house, and a solemn funeral for Big Green Frog, one of the bullfrogs that met its fate at the paws of a farm cat...

There aren't many fancy or even quick recipes going on here right now, but there's always bread for sandwiches... pots of soup... Quick burgers on the grill, and don't forget the Zweigle's hot dogs, our favorite!

Because during the season, customers come first... and showing people what we've got, what we've done, sharing our dream... well then they hop on over to facebook and they tell folks about us.

And the word spreads faster than water on a mountain creek... 

And then, in the dark of night, when all sleep deep, I creep downstairs and write sweet stories to make folks laugh... and sometimes cry.

And then the day begins all over again!

Multi-published, bestselling author Ruthy Logan Herne loves writing great books, laughing and praying with folks on facebook and sharing the crazy and fun life of being on Blodgett Family Farm... where today's excitement included saving the lives of bullhead guppies before the weather turns... we'll deliver them to the big farm pond out back.. and then get back to work, knowing we saved a few fish... which we might just eat in a year or two! :)