Sunday, May 31, 2009

Easy Summer Picnic or Potluck Recipe:
Garbanzo Bean (Chickpea) Salad with Red Onion, Scallions, Cilantro, Parsley, and Feta Cheese

And the winners of Falling Cloudberries by Tessa Kiros


My new favorite way to eat organic garbanzo beans

This was such a fun contest. I loved reading all of your 'around the world' food and travel entry comments. What a wonderful collection of personal memories and stories—and what a well traveled (and well fed) bunch you are! I truly felt like I'd journeyed around the world without even leaving the farm.

The two random winners of Falling Cloudberries: A World of Family Recipes are:

Lisa, who said: When I was 11, I travelled to Australia to visit relatives and was horrified when I was offered lamb to eat, which I refused. Now, at 46, I am always on the lookout for new lamb recipes as I raise sheep myself. I never imagined it at the time, but I did always dream of living on a farm. My farm is small, but it's mine and it feeds me.

Missallizoom, who said: I am dying to try Edna Lewis's Fried Chicken Recipe. It is so simple sounding. I don't have lard on hand and want to go pick up a cast iron chicken fryer to do it right. Some day soon I will... it is supposed to be the best!

Congratulations, ladies! I think you'll really enjoy this book. Please e-mail me your shipping address (farmgirlfare AT gmail DOT com). As for the rest of you, I'll be giving away several more books throughout the summer—including a few great beach reads—so stay tuned.

In the meantime, here's another recipe from Falling Cloudberries that I've fallen in love with. I'm always on the lookout for new ways to use garbanzo beans (because it keeps me from munching on them straight from the can), and this refreshing salad caught my eye because it calls for two things I have plenty of in the garden right now: onions and cilantro.


Red Candy Apple onions—one of the nine varieties growing in my kitchen garden this year

Last year I asked you for suggestions on how to use up the 125 scallions I had in the garden (thank you!), and this year—because I'm crazy like that—I planted even more onions. Some of them have already formed good-sized bulbs, and yesterday I made another batch of this salad using the red beauties you see above.

If you love cilantro but have never tasted homegrown, I urge you to do whatever you can to lay your hands on some. You know how everything harvested from the garden has so much more flavor than storebought? Well, it's the same for cilantro. I haven't grown any cilantro in a while, but I planted some seeds on a whim back in March and was rewarded with a bumper crop.

Cilantro is easy to grow from seed as long as you keep in mind one thing: despite often being associated with summer and salsa, it's actually a cool weather plant. I've even had volunteer seedlings come up in the snow.

I never would have thought to put cilantro in a salad like this, but it really works. Of course that's what a new cookbook is supposed to do—surprise and persuade and inspire you, which is exactly what this one has been doing for for me.

While I definitely recommend Falling Cloudberries, I do have a small word of warning, as I've come across a few discrepancies with measurements. For example, this recipe calls for cooking 1¼ cups of dried garbanzo beans or using one 14-ounce can of beans, but a can is about 1½ cups, and 1¼ cups of dried beans will cook up into a fair amount more than that.

And the Greek-Cypriot Salad (which sounds wonderful) calls for one '6-ounce jar (about 3½ cups)' of Greek olives, but a jar that size won't hold anywhere near 3½ cups of olives (and it would be way too many olives in the salad). If you carefully read through the recipes, you should be just fine.

So what's your favorite way to eat garbanzo beans?




Garbanzo Bean (Chickpea) Salad with Red Onion, Parsley, Cilantro, and Feta
Makes about 5 cups—Adapted from Falling Cloudberries

**Click here to print this recipe**

Lately I've been converting my recipes to measured amounts of ingredients rather than saying 2 onions or 3 cloves of garlic, because I've come to realize that there is often a huge size discrepancy among fruits and vegetables. Just look at lemons. Some are golf-ball sized, while others will barely fit in your hand. The 'juice of half a lemon' could be almost anything.

I don't consider myself obsessive when it comes to cooking, and I admit to rarely following a recipe exactly, but this has started driving me a little nuts because there are times when it can make a real difference. 'Six apples' might literally weigh anywhere from 2 pounds to 5 pounds. Measuring ingredients by weight is often the best way to go, but not everybody has a scale (I love my Oxo Good Grips digital kitchen scale and use it almost every day).

That said, this is the kind of recipe where you don't need to be exact. Use my measurements as a starting point and adjust things to suit your taste. Next time I'll probably add extra red onion, and I'm thinking that using half red kidney beans and half garbanzo beans would be interesting.

The original recipe calls for lots more olive oil (like about a cup more) than my version does, so feel free to add extra, either while you're tossing everything together or drizzled on top just before serving.

Cooking the onions and garlic is the real trick here, as it makes them mellow and sweet, but allow them to cool before mixing them in or the feta cheese will melt. The optional olives add a flavorful, salty bite.

Tote this salad to picnics and potlucks, or serve it up along with a loaf of crusty bread and grilled chicken or steaks on those hot summer nights when nobody feels like cooking. You could also serve it on a bed of soft butter lettuce that you drizzled with olive oil and lemon juice.

As always, I urge you to seek out local and organic ingredients whenever possible; they really do make a difference. Organic garbanzo beans are a staple in my pantry and can usually be found for under two dollars a can.

1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil, plus more if desired
3 cups chopped red onion
1/4 cup finely chopped fresh garlic
2 15-ounce cans garbanzo beans, drained & rinsed (or 3 cups cooked garbanzo beans)
3/4 cup (packed) chopped fresh cilantro
3/4 cup (packed) chopped fresh flat leaf Italian parsley
1½ cups chopped green onions (scallions), green parts only
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
1 cup crumbled feta cheese
Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
A handful of chopped kalamata or black oil-cured olives, optional

Heat 1/3 cup olive oil in a large frying pan and add the red onion, stirring to coat it with the oil. Cook the onion gently over medium or medium-low heat, stirring often, until the it is soft and starting to brown, about 10 to 12 minutes.

Stir in the garlic and cook until fragrant, about one minute; don't let the garlic brown. Remove from the heat and let cool.

In a large bowl, stir together the garbanzo beans, cilantro, parsley, green onions, and lemon juice. Add the cooled onion garlic mixture. (If you're impatient like I am, you can mix the onions and garlic into the beans while they're still warm, and the other ingredients will help cool them down.)

Mix in the crumbled feta cheese and olives (if using). Add salt and freshly ground pepper to taste (remember that the feta and olives will already be salty) and up to ½ cup more olive oil if desired.

This salad tastes best if made ahead and allowed to sit for a few hours before serving. Serve at room temperature, with a squeeze of lemon and a drizzle of olive oil if desired.

Other Farmgirl Fare recipes that call for garbanzo beans:
A Perfect Spring Salad
Arugula Pesto (garbanzos are the secret ingredient)
Broccoli Onion Garbanzo Bean Soup
Colors of Summer Salad
Lowfat Swiss Chard Cabbage Salad (a fresh twist on coleslaw)
Quick and Healthy Cream (or not) of Artichoke Soup
Roasted Red Pepper, Tomato, and Artichoke Soup (and lambing with your mom)

Still hungry? You'll find links to all of my sweet and savory Less Fuss, More Flavor recipes over in the Farmgirl Fare Recipe Index.

© FarmgirlFare.com, the bonkers for beans foodie farm blog where Farmgirl Susan shares recipes, stories, and photos from her crazy country life on 240 remote Missouri acres.

Saturday, May 30, 2009

Saturday Dose of Cute: Tiny Tussle














Okay, You Two, Break It Up

© Copyright 2009 FarmgirlFare.com, the ram tough (and ewe tough!) foodie farm blog where little lambs learn early that their foreheads are as hard as rocks—and that bashing them into other babies is bad.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Thursday Dose of Cute: And She Sleeps


Annette and Her Twin Ewe Lamb (taken 4/5/09)

New around these parts? Here's a look back at lambing season:
4/2/09: Baa Baa Baby Baa Baa! Lambing Season 2009 Has Begun!
4/3/09: Black Babes for Black Beauty
4/4/09: Spotted Beast?
4/6/09: Whispering Sweet Nothings?
4/7/09: Think Pink
4/9/09: Oh, You Big Baby
4/14/09: Too Cute for Words?
4/16/09: Smile for the Camera!
4/16/09: Amendment to Today's Earlier Lamb Count
4/20/09: Morning Traffic Report
4/21/09: Snack Time!
4/22/09: Oops
4/26/09: Lamb Whisperer
4/26/09: An Important Message from the BABS
4/30/09: Reading Lesson
5/1/09: May Day! May Day!
5/21/09: Rest Stop

© Copyright 2009 FarmgirlFare.com, the always up for a nap foodie farm blog where we just came across an entire file of forgotten cute lamb photos that were never posted. The last lamb of the year may have been born several weeks ago (where does the time go?), but that doesn't mean the baby pictures have to stop anytime soon!

Monday, May 25, 2009

Book Review:
The Laws of Harmony by Judith Ryan Hendricks

Win a signed copy of The Laws of Harmony!

Back in March I received an e-mail message from Lisa at TLC Book Tours about a new book called The Laws of Harmony. Hmmm, I thought, a self help book. Wait. Judi Hendricks. I know that name. Of course—Judith Ryan Hendricks is the author of the bestselling novel Bread Alone and its sequel, The Baker's Apprentice, two of my favorite books (which both revolve around food and include recipes). How interesting that she's written a self-help book. Okay, nothing slow about me.

The Laws of Harmony is not, of course, a self-help book but a novel. The main character is a thirty-two-year-old woman named Sunny Cooper who lives in Albuquerque with her boyfriend Michael, runs a little company called Domestic Obligations, and works as a radio voiceover.

Harmony refers to both the name the commune near Taos, New Mexico (called Armonia, which is Spanish for harmony) where Sunny grew up, and a small town on an island off the coast of Washington state where she ends up starting a whole new life.

I received my review copy of The Laws of Harmony the same day my hunky farmguy, Joe, arrived home from a few days out of town. I'd been working like crazy for weeks and promised him I would take the entire weekend off (in as much as that's possible when you live with dozens of farm animals). I love novels but couldn't remember the last time I'd had a chance to read more than a few pages of a one at a time.

Saturday afternoon found me curled up on the loveseat with my new book, a glass of champagne, and the luxury of several lazy hours stretching ahead. By the second paragraph I was laughing out loud and reading snippets to Joe, and by the time Sunny was describing the medicine bundle necklace she'd worn since she was ten years old on page five, I knew I really liked her.

When I first got it, it was filled with the corn pollen that Navajos use in their religious ceremonies, but I kept undoing the blue wool tie and spilling the pollen, so now it just holds my Zuni bear fetish, carved from turquoise with an inlaid white shell heart line that represents the path to power in his heart. It's my talisman against drunk drivers, muggers, lightning strikes, inoperable brain tumors, falling down the stairs, or being dumped for a twenty-two-year-old cocktail waitress. I don't leave home without it.

By the end of the weekend I'd read 270 pages, totally lost myself in both the story and the far away locations (the San Juan islands are one of those places I've fantasized about moving to for years), and felt great. Maybe it was a self-help book after all.

While I suppose it would be categorized as 'women's fiction,' there's a little of everything in The Laws of Harmony: friendships, family, mother-daughter struggles (I laughed out loud when Sunny described her aging hippie mother, Gwen, as "like a cat, always attaching herself to the one person in a room who's least likely to want her around") humor, self-discovery, intrigue, deception, secrets and surprises, and tragedy. The story constantly moves back and forth between present day, the recent past, and Sunny's childhood at Armonia. Much of the book is dialogue, which I like. No recipes in this book, but food is ever present. I always love to read about what people are eating, and how food plays a part in their lives.

My sidewalk table [in front of the bakery] is just big enough for a book—a silly mystery about drug smuggling written by some local guy—a cup of coffee, and a giant, still-warm chocolate chip cookie, its caramelized edges and gooey chunks of chocolate making me want to cram the whole thing in my mouth at once. I force myself to break off little pieces and chew them slowly until they disappear. This is not the way I learned to eat.

Gwen, in spite of her back-to-the-earth lifestyle, had been raised with table manners, which she tried halfheartedly to pass on to Hart and me. But the reality of life at Armonia was, the last one in the dinner line got more rice and less chicken, more lettuce and fewer tomatoes, cukes, mushrooms, and green peppers. I learned to get it while the getting was good, and shovel it in quickly to make room for seconds.

I remember the first time I had lunch with Betsy, looking up, suddenly embarrassed by my clean plate, while she was still languidly spearing bites of asparagus, cutting an olive in half and smushing it against a crumb of Roquefort cheese. She's really the one who taught me to savor food, all the contrasting aromas, tastes, textures.


A few days later I'd finished the book and was relaying the rest of the story to Joe as we walked through the creekbed on our way back from checking on the steers. I told him I wasn't sure what to say in my review, which I reminded him would part of an official online book tour.

"I suppose there must be a happy medium somewhere between describing the entire plot—you know I don't read the back covers of novels and can't stand how movie previews always give the story away—and simply saying, 'I really liked this book, and you might, too.'"

"So it basically just tells about what happens to this girl from day to day?"

"No. Well, yeah. I mean, I guess. Well, no. It's not like the mysteries or thrillers you read where you're racing through the pages to find out what happens. I guess there must be certain ways you're supposed to judge a novel, but I have no idea what they are. All I know is that these characters are likable and believable, and I was interested in what happened to them. When I got to the end of the book, I wished there were another 480 pages."

"Then that's what you should say in your review!"

And now if you'll excuse me, I do believe today is a holiday. And since it just started pouring down rain, it's going to be a while before I can go out and plant one of the raised beds in the kitchen garden with the eggplant, sweet pepper, and basil seedlings in the greenhouse that are dying to be liberated from their cramped little plastic containers. What a perfect excuse to curl up on the loveseat and take another trip back to Harmony. Happy hour, anyone?

Related links:
The Laws of Harmony at Amazon.com
The Laws of Harmony Online Book Tour Schedule and Judi's bio
Upcoming events where you can meet Judi in person
An interview with Judi Hendricks at HarperCollins
Bread Alone at Amazon.com
The Baker's Apprentice at Amazon.com
The Kitchen Table (Judi's blog)
Sunny's Blue Ribbon Blackberry Brownie Recipe

Other book reviews on Farmgirl Fare:
Alone in the Kitchen with an Eggplant
Local Breads
Cooking with Shelburne Farms
Comfort Food
The Cornbread Gospels
The Artist's Palate
Falling Cloudberries
The Vegetable Gardener's Bible (my favorite gardening book)
Astrological Gardening: The Ancient Wisdom of Successful Planting & Harvesting by the Stars

Would you like to win a signed copy of The Laws of Harmony? To enter, leave a comment in this post telling us about one of your favorite novels in which food is featured in some way. If you can't think of one, then simply tell us why you'd like to win this book!

One entry per person, please. I moderate comments, so if I'm away from the computer it may be several hours before yours actually appears. If your comment doesn't show up right away, there's no need to leave another one.

You can enter through next Sunday, May 31st, and I'll announce a random winner on Monday, June 1st. Please check back to see if you've won, especially if I have no way to get a hold of you (for example, if you have a blogger profile, is it public and does it list your correct e-mail address?). Sorry, but the book can only be shipped to a U.S. address.

© Copyright 2009 FarmgirlFare.com, the book-loving foodie farm blog where Farmgirl Susan shares recipes, stories and photos from her crazy country life on 240 remote Missouri acres.

Monday Farm Photo: Highlight of the Holiday Weekend


Lemon Coconut Quick Bread with Garden Strawberries & Freshly Whipped Cream

Previous strawberry posts:
6/4/05: Strawberries
5/21/06:A Beautiful Breakfast!
5/27/06: The Turtles vs. Me, Cary, and Bear
10/28/07: Growing Strawberries & Preparing Your Bed for Winter
5/28/08: Successfully Growing Strawberries!
6/20/08: Strawberries & An Easy Orange Yogurt Loaf Cake
5/24/09: Sweet Strawberries & A Curious Cat

More fruit recipes on Farmgirl Fare:
Really Raspberry Tartlets
Blueberry Breakfast Bars
Just Peachy Blueberry Breakfast Bars
My Best Bran Muffins: Blueberry Banana, Cranberry Orange, and More
100% Whole Grain Ginger Pear Bran Muffins
Mexican Monkey Cake with Chocolate, Cinnamon, and Banana
Cranberry Christmas Scones (scrumptious any time of year)
Spicy Pumpkin Pecan Raisin Muffins
Yip Yap Whole Wheat Banana Snaps with Raisins and Chocolate Chips

© Copyright 2009 FarmgirlFare.com, the everything's-always-better-with-whipped-cream foodie farm blog where we realize the weekend isn't over yet, but are pretty sure that nothing will top this sweet treat (which we actually enjoyed three mornings in a row)—and we couldn't be more grateful to have two Jersey cows living a few miles down the road who provide enough milk and beautiful pale yellow cream for a few lucky neighbors as well as their owners. If you don't have any fresh strawberries handy, this Lemon Coconut Quick Bread is also quite tasty slathered with strawberry jam.

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Sunday Dose of Cute: Sweet Strawberries & A Curious Cat


Topaz Inspects My Freshly Picked Breakfast

Just getting to know our Tough Tortie Topaz (aka 3T)?
1/21/08: How Topaz, Sarah Kate, and Mr. Midnight Came into Our Lives
1/29/08: Farmyard Kitty
6/20/08: Meet Our New Hay Inspector
8/18/08: Tractor Cat
9/4/08: Even Kitty Cats Need to Eat Their Greens

© Copyright 2009 FarmgirlFare.com, the juicy red foodie farm blog where we're just glad that farm cats don't like
homegrown strawberries as much as the turtles do.

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Recipe: Slow Roasted Greek Style Leg of Lamb with Lemon, Oregano, Potatoes, and Swiss Chard

Slow Food Cooking with Less Fuss, More Flavor (and One Pan!)


This one pan meal is well worth the wait—and it tastes even better the next day.

It's easy to know what's in season and what everybody's cooking if you're plugged into the online food world. Since this is Memorial Day weekend, food blogs, foodie magazine websites, and e-mail in-boxes are overflowing with grilling tips, potluck recipes, picnic ideas, cool refreshing drinks, and ice cream.

So what am I suggesting you do? Turn on the oven and slow roast a leg of lamb for four and a half hours of course. Just because I raise sheep doesn't mean I always follow the flock.

Until we fell in love with grilled lamb legs steaks* a few years ago, I cooked all of our legs of lamb the same way: slathered with a thick layer of an onion and herb mixture similar to the one I put on my Herb Crusted Lamb Spareribs, cooked just until rare, and served as thick slices. This is an entirely different way to prepare leg of lamb, and I've fallen head over heels for it.

Unlike traditional roasted leg of lamb recipes, this one cooks for several hours, but the actual prep work is minimal—and the entire meal uses just one big pan.

With this method, the meat is cooked until extremely well done, but in a really good way. It comes apart with a fork, is sort of 'dry' like barbecue, and the texture is similar to my Slow Cooked Dutch Oven Lamb Shanks or Shoulder Roasts, only with some crunchy edges, which I think are the best part. The cooking time is also fairly flexible—which can come in quite handy—and it's pretty much impossible to overcook.

This recipe is adapted from one I found in Falling Cloudberries, a delightful cookbook written by Tessa Kiros, the London-born daughter of a Finnish mother and a Greek-Cypriot father who grew up in South Africa, traveled and cooked around the world, and now lives in Tuscany with her Italian husband and two daughters.

Full of color photos and friendly stories, this is the kind of book that's fun to sit down and lose yourself in for half an hour, even if you have no intention of cooking anything for the next month.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Thursday Dose of Cute: Rest Stop


Hanging with Mom and Watching the
Grass Grow

In the middle of a massive cute craving? These might help:
The First Daily Doses of Cute
Daily Doses of Cute Part 2
Daily Doses of Cute Part 3
Daily Doses of Cute Part 4
Daily Doses of Cute Part 5
Daily Doses of Cute Part 6
Daily Doses of Cute Part 7
Daily Doses of Cute Part 8

© Copyright 2009 FarmgirlFare.com, the lush and lovely little foodie farm blog where life when you're a one month old lamb in late May is about as good as it gets.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Tuesday Farm Photo: What Do May Showers Bring?


Lunch!

Want to see more of this place? (some categories may overlap)
Farm Landscape Photos
More Farm Landscape Photos
Snow Photos
Misty Morning Photos
Hayfield Photos
More Hayfield Photos
Same Scene, New View Photos (I need to get back to posting these!)

© Copyright 2009 FarmgirlFare.com, the greener than green, Ireland-has-nothing-on-us-this-month foodie farm blog where hay feeding season is finally over (with even a few emergency bales left to spare) and all of the sheep are now grazing on lush spring grass—which means, of course, that it's time to put up hay again. Unfortunately the big old tractor we use to cut and bale hay died this winter—in what appears to be a very permanent way. At least Joe managed to get the little diesel one going again. We're hoping to rent a big tractor from a friend for haying—as soon as they can get it fixed. It's old, it's paid for, and it sometimes even runs is definitely the motto around here!

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Sunday Farm Photo: For the Love of Power


One of My Newest Found Heart Rocks (Which amazingly now number about 300!)

Want a little more heart shaped lovin'?
6/13/05:
First Heart Rocks To Appear On Farmgirl Fare
8/22/05:
Heart Rocks By The Barn
11/10/05:
Hearts & Cats For Clare & Kiri

2/14/06:
Happy Valentine's Day
3/27/06:
Happy Birthday To My Sweetheart, Joe
4/12/06:
Hearts & Rocks & Numbers & Thoughts
6/17/06:
I Heart Homegrown Garlic
7/22/06:
Heart Rock Embedded In The Front Step
9/20/06:
Heart Rocks, Morning Sun
10/18/06:
My Little Girl Is Growing Up
12/2/06:
Snowstorms & Snowfall

1/17/07:
My Heart Is Embedded In This Place
6/12/07:
Hold Life In Your Hand & Keep It In Your Heart

1/9/08:
Adding To My Heart Rock Collection
2/8/08:
Handful Of Heart Rocks All Found At Once
2/14/08:
Happy Valentine's Day
3/8/08:
My Hearts Overfloweth
3/27/08:
Little Hearts, Big Love
5/13/08: Still Collecting Heart Rocks
7/19/08: Big Hearted
11/1/08: Winged Heart?

2/14/09: Heart Installation
7/21/09: Love Underfoot

© Copyright 2009 FarmgirlFare.com, the plugged in, hard-wired, and lit up like a Christmas tree foodie farm blog where I've said it before and will no doubt say it again: there's nothing like having the power go off for an extended period (8 days this time!) to remind you of just how much you heart electricity. (And leave it to Lucky Buddy Bear to place himself smack dab in the heart of a photo right as you're about to snap the picture).

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

The Laws of Harmony by Judith Ryan Hendricks
& The Laws of Electricity by Mother Nature

If you're the kind of person who never knows what she's going to find when she steps outside of her farm shack—and therefore has tremendous difficulty making deadlines, keeping appointments, and planning pretty much anything in advance—the idea of participating in a virtual book tour for one of your favorite authors is very appealing, especially if the date is a couple of months away. There's no pressure, no need to leave the farm, no way that even someone as terrified of commitment as I am could screw this up.

And then last Friday a big storm blew through and knocked the power out—and it still hasn't come back on. It's never stayed off this long before. Apparently 100 poles on our electric service line went down, and it's going to take a while longer to put them back up.

Our day to day life, which often feels remarkably similar to camping, is now even more so, except with freshly picked lettuce. We grill dinner, heat water on the propane stovetop to do dishes, and are bathing in the creek. It's getting pretty old, but things could be a whole lot worse. I hope to be plugged back in and catching up with everything online soon, so check back for my review of The Laws of Harmony (which I loved by the way), along with a chance to win a signed copy.

In the meantime, the next book tour stop will be at Peeking Between The Pages on Monday May 18th, and you can find a list of the entire book tour for The Laws of Harmony here.

© Copyright 2009 FarmgirlFare.com, the candle-lit dinner and early to bed foodie farm blog where it's always nice to have a long distance best friend willing to step in and take dictation for a blog post over the phone when you suddenly find yourself powerless.

Wednesday, May 06, 2009

Wednesday Dose of Cute:
Baby Cary is Three Years Old Today!


The Lamb and the Laundry Line (taken 5/18/06, when Cary was 12 days old)

Wondering who Cary is? Meet her in
A Tiny Tail For Mother's Day. Then see what she's been up to during the last three years here and here.

I've mentioned before that while things are constantly changing on the farm, in some ways they stay exactly the same. I looked back to see what I'd written last year on Cary's second birthday and realized it could have been written today.

It's hard to believe that my little girl is already two three years old, but that's what the calendar tells me, so I suppose it must be true. Cary had a quiet and uneventful birthday today, as the ewes and lambs spent the day stuck in the barnyard like they have every day for the past few months. We're just about out of our carefully hoarded homegrown hay, though, so tomorrow in a few days she'll get to gorge herself on some of those greener pastures. Happy birthday, baby.

Many thanks to all of you who have so kindly been asking after Cary. She is fat and happy and doing just fine. After much deliberation, I decided not to breed her last fall because of the terrible time
she had last year, but she's been living with the pregnant (and now nursing) ewes for the past month, enjoying the extra treats and special attention. I hope that you'll enjoy this little look back at some of my favorite yet never posted photos from her babyhood, along with a couple of more recent shots.



Looking for a Snake We'd Just Seen Slither Under the Steps (6/7/06)




Meeting Molly Doodlebug on 6/7/06




Riding in the Truck on 6/8/06




Visiting the Library on 6/8/06 (Yes, Cary has been to town—twice!)




In the Snow on 1/31/09



Scratching an Itch on 2/1/09

© Copyright 2009
FarmgirlFare.com, the proud mama foodie farm blog where it's amazing how quickly the time goes by!

Monday, May 04, 2009

Monday Dose of Cute:
What Donkey Girls Do During Lambing Season






Try to Look Extra Cute So You Don't Forget to Give Them
Treats

Want to see more donkey doings? (some categories may overlap)
Donkey Photos
More Donkey Photos
Dolores Photos
Daphne Photos
Esmeralda Photos
Evie Photos
Donkey Doodle Dandy Photos

© Copyright 2009 FarmgirlFare.com, the donkey loving foodie farm blog where—even if you aren't bearing a bucket of treats—all four of these very entertaining girls love to be hugged around the neck and scratched behind the ears. Resting your chin on their heads while you're hugging them is usually acceptable, too.

Sunday, May 03, 2009

Sunday Dose of Cute:
What Boys Do During Lambing Season


Not Much (as Evidenced Here by 13-Year-Old Big Chip and Donkey Doodle Dandy)

© Copyright 2009 FarmgirlFare.com, the big-boys-are-still-cute-too foodie farm blog where these two guys (and pretty much everybody else) are a little on the soggy side today, thanks to some wonderful weekend rain that is making the grass grow like crazy—and giving us the perfect excuse to ignore everything that desperately needs to be done in the kitchen garden (beans planted! beets weeded! Swiss chard harvested! leeks and onions thinned and weeded! tomatoes and eggplant transplanted!, compost piles turned! manure tea made! mulch, mulch, mulch!) and instead spend the afternoon baking up three big loaves of Honey Whole Grain Sandwich Bread (and if there's time, maybe some Yip Yap Banana Snaps—or another loaf of that irresistible Lemon Coconut Quick Bread). After all, a girl can't live on bread alone, even if it is homemade.

Friday, May 01, 2009

Friday Dose of Cute: May Day! May Day!


We Have a Situation Involving Extreme Cuteness in the Barnyard—Approach with Caution



Maaaaaaaaaaaa!

© Copyright 2009 FarmgirlFare.com, the leafing out all over foodie farm blog where it's hard to decide which is cuter—the biggest pink nose on a little lamb we've ever seen, or those black spots on the tips of her ears. Oh, the difficult decisions we're forced to make on the farm.

Lemon Coconut Quick Bread Recipe: A Little Slice of Toasted Heaven

Moist and flavorful, this hearty lemon coconut bread is my new favorite breakfast, snack, and dessert.

I love taking pictures, and whether I'm feeding the animals, working in the kitchen garden, picking up hay in the field, or walking on the ridge above the farm, my beloved little camera is strapped around my neck. The few times I don't have it with me, I usually miss some great shot.

Like the other day when my favorite 5-year-old cowboy, decked out in his kid-sized hat and boots, was holding one of the new baby chicks to his chest and nuzzling it with his chin. Or when he said, "Susan, look! I got the cat!" and I turned to find his skinny little arms wrapped around the upper half of a very patient Topaz, her tortie belly displayed to the world, bottom legs dangling nearly to the ground. Talk about a daily dose of cute.

I don't, however, have a whole lot of enthusiasm for food photography. When my friend Beth sent me an e-mail message yesterday that said, Have to figure out how to get a decent photo of my pomegranate limoncello sorbet... ugh, I knew exactly what she meant.

But the truth is, I don't have enough patience for all the technical aspects involved, not to mention the whole lighting and tripod thing. Confession: I've never actually used my tripod, and my lighting comes from two four-foot-long bare fluorescent bulbs on the kitchen ceiling.

I have no tolerance for positioning minced chives with tweezers and will never be able to fold kitchen towels in that perfect, magazine spread way. I'm a point-and-shoot girl at heart and would rather be outside finding farm art, snapping away at sunrises, or capturing cuteness than trying to make a delicious but murky bowl of soup or batch of brown bran muffins look appealing.

I also have a kitchen counter space availability situation—as in, I never have any available kitchen counter space on which to conduct a photo shoot. Sometimes I take stuff outside. Usually I just procrastinate.

Consequently, I know of at least two bowls of soup that went straight from the photo shoots to the compost bin because they still looked fine but were inedible. And the All-Purpose Arugula Cottage Cheese Dip/Spread/Sauce I've become addicted to lately was photographed in an itty bitty dish because I'd already eaten most of it—as well as the two previous batches.

This probably isn't the sort of stuff I should be admitting on a food blog.

When it came to taking pictures of this lemon coconut bread, the real challenge lay in the fact that I was unable to stop devouring it long enough to clear a space on the counter. When I finally did, I decided it was far too late at night to begin styling, so I had another slice and put the photo shoot off until morning.


Lemon Coconut Quick Bread
Makes one 8½-inch or 9½-inch loaf—Adapted from bills restaurant via Baking Bites

**Click here to print this recipe**

This easy recipe (no mixer required!) is Nic at Baking Bites' new lemony version of the coconut bread served at bills restaurant in Sydney, Australia. What first caught my attention was how much coconut is packed into one loaf—a full two cups.

Nic makes hers with sweetened coconut, but I strongly suggest you try the unsweetened kind. If you've never tasted natural, unsweetened coconut, you're in for a real treat. The coconut flavor really comes through, and unlike the sweetened stuff, it doesn't contain preservatives like propylene glycol and sodium metabisulfite. Look for it in the bulk section at natural foods stores, or you can order it online. It's only about $4 a pound, and you get quite a few cups per pound.

While I find that most quick breads are really cake in disguise, this is more like bread, which means you can eat a slice or two for breakfast with nary a twinge of guilt. Not that I've ever had a problem eating cake for breakfast. It's sweet but not too sweet, heavy and dense but not too dense (this is not a light and fluffy cake!), nicely moist, and altogether scrumptious any time of day.

Unlike last year's popular Orange Yogurt Cake, this lemon coconut bread doesn't cry out to be served up with fresh berries and a scoop of vanilla ice cream, though I think a dollop of lemon curd spread on a slice would be dreamy. Next I'm going to try replacing the lemon with orange.



A slice is very nice all by itself, but something heavenly happens when you toast it and slather it with butter, which is how they serve it at bills. If you do your toasting in a toaster oven (I love my Oster convection toaster oven), try dotting the toasted slice with butter and then popping it back into the oven for a minute or two so the butter melts into the warm bread. Mmmmm.

I made a few small changes to Nic's recipe: rounded the butter up to an even stick, added a little more sugar to make up for the unsweetened coconut, and baked it in a smaller pan because I prefer a taller loaf. You'll need to reduce the baking time by a few minutes if you use a 9-inch pan. As always, I urge you to seek out local and organic ingredients; they really do make a difference.

A note about loaf pans: Sizes vary! In the U.S., loaf pans are generally referred to as 8-inch and 9-inch, but the actual dimensions (measured across the top) of my Chicago Metallic 8-inch loaf pans (which they simply call 1-pound loaf pans) are 8½" x 4½" and they're 2¾" tall. (I love these pans for baking both quick breads and sandwich loaves like Farmhouse White.) If your pan is smaller than this, use a larger size for this recipe or the batter may overflow. (My Chicago Metallic 1½-pound loaf pans measure 10"x5"x3".)

2½ cups organic all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder (make sure it's fresh!)
½ teaspoon salt
1¼ cups granulated sugar
2 cups shredded unsweetened coconut
2 large real farm eggs
¾ cup organic milk
½ cup fresh organic lemon juice
1 Tablespoon organic lemon zest (or more if you want a bigger kick of lemon)
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
½ cup (1 stick or ¼ pound) organic butter, melted

1. Heat the oven to 350°. Grease and flour an 8½x4½x2¾ inch or 9x5 inch loaf pan (see note above regarding loaf pan sizes).

2. In a large bowl, mix together the flour, baking powder and salt using a rubber spatula, then stir in the sugar and coconut.

3. In a small bowl or large measuring cup, whisk together the eggs, milk, lemon juice, lemon zest, and vanilla.

4. Make a well in the center of the dry ingredients and pour in the egg mixture, stirring just until combined.

5. Add the melted butter and stir just until smooth; do not over mix.

6. Pour the batter into the prepared pan and bake until a toothpick inserted near the center of the loaf comes out clean, about 60 to 75 minutes. Ovens vary, so start checking to see if it's done after about 60 minutes (50 minutes if you're using a 9x5 inch pan). If the top of the loaf is getting very brown and the center isn't cooked yet, cover it lightly with a piece of aluminum foil.

7. Let the bread cool on a wire rack for 10 to 15 minutes and then carefully remove it from the pan. Try not to slice into the loaf until it's completely cool, but that probably won't be possible. Store in an airtight container for 3 days or wrap in plastic and/or aluminum foil, pop in a plastic zipper bag, and freeze.

Still hungry? You'll find links to all my sweet and savory Less Fuss, More Flavor recipes in the Farmgirl Fare Recipe Index.

© FarmgirlFare.com, the gladly going coconuts foodie farm blog where it's probably a good thing I didn't try toasting a slice of this bread until the loaf was already halfway gone.