Thursday, June 25, 2009

Survey & Giveaway

Okay, this is more for fun than the giveaway. But I really want your input. I will be giving away a 1 inch "Support Local Growers" button to 5 people (that is if I get 5 people to respond). If I get more than 5 responders, I will choose the 5 using
To enter your chance to win post in the comments the answer to the following in regards to Beets:

If you attended a farmer's market, would you be more apt to buy
A. Beets fresh (tied in a bunch)

B. Beet chips (like potato chips only made with beets)

C. I would never consider buying beets

Thanks everyone! I will announce the winners sometime Friday afternoon so don't be too slow responding. Come out all you lurkers and join the fun!

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Summer Days on the Farm

I am loving every minute of living on the farm (except the minutes that I see a spider or bug trying to habitate INside rather than OUTside). I'm praying that the this isn't just the "newness" of it all, but that I really will find joy in farm life for as long as God has us here.

The past four or five summers have involved some type of baseball/t-ball schedule for at least one month. This year, both kids opted and out and I couldn't be more thrilled. Although we are wrapped up in selling every Saturday at the Farmer's Market, there is a freedom that accompanies this summer that seems like I haven't had since I lived here before 6 years ago. It is also reminiscent of my own childhood spent on this very same farm around 20 years ago. I am amazed that my children are the 5th generation to live in this old farmhouse.

I thought it only fitting to post some pictures of our days here on the farm. Enjoy!

The boys setting up the trampoline given to us by my hubbies family.
Enjoying a swim break on the back steps
(White Pear Tea and Sarah's Granola Bar)

Roasting Marshmallows over the Burn Barrel with next door cousin.

Breakfast on the back steps
(When you live on the farm you can step right out of bed and jump in the pool you know)

One of the many meals made with produce from our very own garden.

The leak in the living room when torrential rains hit from the west.

Cooling off with Daddy

My Mannequin's (Jeffery) view of the garden

"Enjoying" yet another drive to town on a road that has been being worked on since 2 days after we moved in causing us to go 10 minutes (at least) out of our way each way.
Picture me running and jumping in over the edge from the left.
My routine: Weed in the Garden, Jump in Pool, Weed in the Garden, Jump in the Pool.
It seems to keep the danger of heat exhaustion at bay.
Happy 4th Day of Summer!

Monday, June 22, 2009

Grandma Great's Caramels

My 92 year old Grandma made these caramels every Christmas for years. She finally made them with me one time when I was a teenager and I've been making them once in a while ever since. They seem to be real hit at Farmer's Market and perhaps I shouldn't give out the recipe. But, I've gotten so many good recipes from the blogs of others that I think it's only fair.
Last week, I enlisted my daughter and her 2nd cousin (also our neighbor in the country) to help with this "grueling" task. I thought it was as good as time as any to pass along the family tradition. The Recipe:
2 C. Sugar
1C. White Corn Syrup
1C. Milk
1/2C. Heavy Whipping Cream
1 Can Sweetened Condensed Milk
1/4C. Butter (plus extra to butter pan)
2 tsp. Vanilla
Butter glass pan or metal jelly roll pan (depends on thickness of caramel you desire). I started out using the jelly roll, but prefer the glass 9x13 for the size and thickness of caramels I'm making to sell.
Now is also a good time to get a spoon and a ice cold glass of water ready next to the stove to use for testing the hardness of the caramels later.

Pour all of ingredients in a saucepan or stockpot.

Cook over Medium Heat with Thermometer in place. Stirring occasionally until edges begin to bubble.
We will be cooking until the mixture reaches almost a "Soft Ball" stage approximately 235 degrees.

I always take this small window of opportunity before the constant stirring begins cut my wrappers out of waxed paper.

Once the mixture begins to boil, continuous stirring is required. Take care to scrape the bottom to prevent burning.

Take turns if you have helpers so your arm doesn't fall off.

The mixture begins turning a nice "caramel" color when it is getting close to being done. This is when it is sink or swim time.
The first time I made this recipe I followed the instructions to cook too 245 degrees. This produced a hard mouth sucking caramel. Because I'm going for a nice soft chewy (but not break your jaw chewy) caramel, I cook to a couple of degrees below "Soft Ball" which is marked on any candy thermometer.
You will notice when you are cooking the caramels that it takes a long time to break 220. But once you do, the temperature increases quickly. When the temperature his 220 you will also notice the bubbling liquid seems to be decreasing. QUICKLY, dip your tester spoon in the caramel and get a small spoonful and dip it into your ice cold glass of water. This works to quickly set your caramel to give you an idea of what the consistency of your final product will be. Grab the cooled caramel out of the water and chew it up to see if you like it. If you do, QUICKLY pull the pan off the heat and dump in 2 tsp of vanilla and stir like crazy.
Just as soon as the vanilla is mixed in, pour it into your buttered pan.

You might not get the desired hardness (or softness) the first time around, but after a few batches, you won't even need your thermometer because you'll just be able to sense it! Let your caramels get nice and cool (don't refrigerate).

I use a buttered pizza cutter to cut mine.
Place a caramel in a wrapper and twist the ends. I store mine in the refrigerator after a couple of days.
I hope you enjoy one of our family's greatest treasures!

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Project Potted Herbs

So by now, everyone knows that I'm only a creative copier right? I don't know that I ever create anything new, but I'm really good at copying other's great ideas. So here again is another example of creative copying, credit to Centsational Girl for her Sensational idea!

Prepare to make your own labeled pots.
Spray Paint
(They make special "Plastic" Spray Paint, but I read the back of the can of regular spray paint and it listed plastic as a surface that the paint could be used on, so I saved a couple of dollars)
Plants or Seeds
(I used both. I purchased these plants at Bomgaars at 30% off since it is a little late in the season to be starting herbs)
Letter Stickers
(Scrapbook Section. Pick out a pack that has several of each letter)
Plastic Pots
(I had these plastic pots leftover from last years attempt to grow tomatoes . They were too small for such a task.)

I attempted to use and old scrapbook tip by carefully placing the stickers on the ruler to produce a nice straight word with perfectly spaced letters to apply to the pot.
It didn't work well with the curvature of the pot, so I resorted to eyeballing it after the first attempt.

I found an iron rod to stick in the ground to serve as a holder for the pot while I spray painted it.

Spray paint the entire pot and allow to dry. I learned that the hard way as my impatience got the best of me and I peeled the stickers off too soon. I also found that doing a light coat where the letters are is best so the paint doesn't peel when you remove the stickers.
If you peel carefully, you can reuse letters for the next pot.

The finished product
If you like perfect outcomes versus a little shabby, you would want to use fresh stickers each time and perhaps measure out a straight line to place the stickers on.

Add some potting soil

and a plant (or seeds)

and have the cutest little collection of potted herbs you've ever seen!

Thanks again Centsational Girl!

Monday, June 15, 2009

The "Magical" Bookmobile

Anyone who has ever had the priveledge of entering the bookmobile will never forget it. As someone who loathes "magic," the bookmobile is the closest thing to magical I've ever experienced (and the closest I ever need to get).
Growing up, the bookmobile would come to the school and each class would get a turn boarding the book filled van. Only a few of us would get to visit at a time and our time was limited. We had to look around as quickly as possible and choose two books to check out until the next appearing of the bookmobile (it seemed like it only came a couple time every school year, but I'm sure it was more often).
I also recall that for some reason, some students didn't get to enjoy this adventure (which is why it seems like it must have been a priveledge). I was always fearful that for reason unbeknownst to me, I would be on the blacklist and not be allowed to enter. Fortunately, I was never on the blacklist. All I know is that the time I was allowed to spend during my allotted time slot was NEVER enough.

Once every couple of years, I will get a glimpse of the bookmobile driving around small towns on a journey to deliver books to kids in rural areas and with unusual excitement point and scream, "The Bookmobile!" My kids have never been able to relate with the excitement and they stare wide-eyed at my unusual outburst of enthusiasm at what appears to be an enclosed people-hauler. UNTIL NOW!

I happened to spot the van parked in the parking lot of my town's library and quickly swerved in at the last second to give my kids a chance to board the magical bookmobile. The door opened and I stepped up just like years ago. I was so relieved to find that nothing in the van had changed since I was a kid in elementary school (well except for the driver and some added book titles).
I quickly was informed (politely of course), that this was not a stop for kids to board but they were delivering books to the library. I was adamant to find out where and when (I didn't care how far I had to drive) could I have my kids experience this nostalgic event.
Here comes the best part! The driving librarian informed me that it was for rural families only during the summer and they make school stops during the school year. At this time, we were weeks away from making our move to the farm. WE would be a RURAL Family, which meant the bookmobile would COME TO US! I quickly signed up and returned to the car to inform the kids of the good news.

A few weeks later we received the schedule with our names on the route of stops each month.

We pinned the schedule to the bulletin board and my son looked it over about once a week and informed me each time that we had a 20 minute time slot. I kept track of the date by remembering it was the Tuesday after the first Farmer's Market weekend.
Well, I'm happy to say the bookmobile made it to it's first visit to our farm! It arrived early even so I didn't have to sit in anxiety waiting for it to show up. The van still had the low brum brum diesel engine sound of years past and the smell of old books ensued as you took the two steps up into the carpeted van. The driver swiveled her driver seat around to be seated behind her check-out desk and greeted us warmly. Her helper showed us the sections of Juvenile, Early Readers, and Picture Books.
The kids looked over the van and began their own magical adventure in the bookmobile. They checked out an armload of books each and reluctantly left the books-on-wheels bus, sensing they didn't have quite enough time to fully explore this mystical automobile. But that's okay, the "magical bookmobile" will be back next month!

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Gardening, Baking, & Daniel

Yes, it's really been 2 months since I last blogged! I have since moved 4 miles to a "farm" nearby and have been so busy with that, I just could not justify blogging about everything going on at once. I'm in the full thick of Farmer's Market season and I started a market AND I am a vendor at my very first ever market. Crazy?!? YES! But I am loving every minute of it. I think hubby and I were made for the farm. We are thoroughly (and I mean thoroughly) enjoying the freedom of living in the country again. I'd love to fill in the gaps between then (last bog) and now, but then I'd never be sitting here starting this back up...SO, I'm just gonna jump in right where I'm at.

Gardening: The last two weeks I've been harvesting these beaut's (Radishes that is). I made a delicious pesto using the leaves from the radishes I harvested the week before market started. I looked around the internet and I modified a few different recipes to make it my own. I passed out samples with the pesto spread on wheat thins and thinly sliced radish on top (the white icicle's were the best). My husband took one bite and much to my surprise went back for more. He is determined that there is something in that pesto that his body needs. It gives him a little zing of energy and a nice warm feeling inside. As you can imagine, I'm pushing this pesto on him every chance I get. Maybe we found a cure for bipolar!
Baking: We found baked goods to be a success the first week at the market so I'm not holding back for this week and have been inspired to try way too many things I'm sure...but you's my latest project so what do you expect.? I'm blogging right now as I try my hand at "Blessing Cookies" (formerly known as "Fortune Cookies"). I'm putting bible verses about blessings in each cookie. My 10 year old is at least amused as he sits here at 11:30 pm and waits for me to pull the next batch and burn my fingers...again. I am amused each time he reads a verse before he hands it to me to put in and he says, "I do NOT get it." I mean what's not to get about Jesus saying "Count yourself blessed every time someone cuts you down or throws you out, every time someone smears or blackens your name to discredit me." I do like "The Message" at times. Anyway, I hope to post some pictures.
Daniel: We've entered our 2nd portion of the Daniel study which begins the teaching on "End Times" events. And as "Loverboy" sang, I too am "lovin' every minute of it." I'm anxious to find out more about this "little horn" Daniel saw and John also spoke about in Revelation. Something from a familiar verse popped out at me for the first time...God always lures me ito Himself with new revelation. Revelation 13:8 "All inhabitants of the earth will worship the beast--all whose names have not been written in the book of life belonging to the Lamb that was slain from the creation of the world." I've always had this fear of being one of the deceived ones, but this verse set my mind at ease as it is those who are not written in the book of life that will worship the beast. I know I am written in the book of life...I guess if we see those who are deceived and worshipping the antichrist, we will know their name is not in the book right? Am I speaking as though I think I will see this in my lifetime?

In summary, God is good...very good. I amazed everyday at His mercy and grace. I don't say that as a cliche' Christian thing to say. I truly am amazed that He would continue to have mercy on me everytime I mess up and that by His continuous grace He sees me as a saint, blameless and holy by the Blood of His Son, Jesus.