Thursday, December 31, 2009

Thursday Dose of Cute: Cheers to You on New Year's!


Drink Up!

Thank you all so much for another fabulous online year. This whole blogging thing continues to amaze and surprise and delight me. I just love it—and I love how many wonderful people I've 'met' from all over the world. Here's hoping to find even more time to share photos, stories, and recipes from my crazy country life with you next year!

Anything you'd like to see more (or less) of in the coming year? Do speak up! I'm constantly fine tuning what I post according to your feedback and am always open to ideas and suggestions.

Fine feathered friend fan? Flap over and end your year here:
2/14/06:
5pm and Looking for Love
7/21/06:
And Sheeeeeeee's SAFE!

6/1/07:
Whitey Gets Her Wish
6/5/07:
I'm Just Wai-tin' On A Friend
6/17/07:
Whitey and her Baby Chicks
6/19/07:
Caution—Foodie Forming
8/2/07:
Curious Chickie
8/3/07:
Baby's First Perch
8/4/07:
Baby's First Dust Bath
8/5/07:
Mother As Landing Pad
8/9/07:
Cock-a-doodle-doo!
8/26/07:
Capturing a Quiet Moment
11/22/07:
Enjoying A Feast

1/26/08:
Faithful Chicken Guard?
3/6/08:
Do Chickens Ever Smile?
4/5/08:
Chicken Dance
4/9/08:
Rooster Two-Step
4/20/08:
2008 Chick Days Are Here!
4/22/08:
Who Needs Ducks?
4/24/08:
Country Classifieds
5/6/08:
Baby Cary Checks Out the Chickens
6/3/08:
Chicken Snacks (Not a Recipe)
10/2/08:
Gossip Central
10/11/08:
Farm Fresh Eggs, They're What's For Breakfast

1/28/09:
Snowed In! (scroll down for chickens)
2/11/09: Evie and Esmeralda Learn to Count
3/7/09:
Cluck! Cluck! Cluck!
4/13/09:
Chick Days Are Here Again!
6/12/09:
Last One Born's a Rotten Egg!
6/14/09:
Another Chick Pic
6/15/09:
Pizza Party
8/23/09: Morning Peace
10/25/09:
Egg Layers, the Next Generation
12/3/09: Look Up, Look Down

1/1/10: Little Guy with a Big Feathery Future
1/6/10: Easiest Guard Job Ever
1/18/10: Somebody's Laying Green Eggs
2/21/10: Two's Company
3/18/10: Chick Days Again?
4/5/10: Peep! Peep! Peep!
5/30/10: You Awake?
6/11/10: Just Hatchin' Out
6/15/10: Hangin' Out
6/23/10: Wordless Wednesday Dose of Cat and Chicken Cute
7/1/10: First Corn of the Season!
8/14/10: A Cheeky Chick
9/15/10: Um, Excuse Me

© Copyright 2009 FarmgirlFare.com, the no drinking and flying (and probably going to—yet again—fall asleep before midnight) foodie farm blog where in order to drink, chickens have to lean over and take in water through their beaks, then lift their heads and glug glug glug it down, then lean back over, lift and glug, lean back over, lift and glug. . . They're always amusing to watch, especially the baby chicks.

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Wednesday Dose of Cute: Snow Day!
















































Not white enough for you? Bundle up and hunker down:
12/2/06:
Snowstorms & Snowfall & Very Cold Hearts
12/3/06:
Bear is on Alert No Matter What the Weather
12/4/06:
I Said Show Business, Not Snow Business
12/5/06:
Same Scene New View—My Favorite Hayfield Landscape
12/9/06:
Molasses Ginger Spice Snaps Photo Shoot—The Whole Picture

2/3/07:
Stock Dog Extraordinaire and Sheep Shearing Snow Delays
12/16/07:
Winter, Take One
12/17/07:
It's Never Too Cold for a Tummy Rub

2/3/08:
Handyman Special
2/4/08:
Saturday Was a Snow Day—And Doris Was Thrilled
2/12/08:
Frozen Water Everywhere & Not a Drop To Drink
2/16/08:
Snowed In, Day Six
2/19/08:
Eco Art or Washed Up Junk?
2/20/08:
Our Resident Weather Girls
2/21/08:
Another Day, Another Ice Storm (Dan is Ecstatic)
2/23/08:
Please Don't Step on My Heart
2/24/08:
Snowed In More
2/25/08:
A Rare Winter Sight—And Geese!
3/2/08:
How Do Donkeys Order Lunch?
3/5/08:
Seasonal Eating

1/28/09:
Snowed In!
1/29/09:
Lone But Not Alone
1/31/09:
A Cold Breakfast Will Be Served in the South Pen
2/1/09:
Moping Marta?
2/2/09:
Icy Looks
2/4/09:
Still Snowed In
2/4/09:
Three Dog Sight
2/5/09:
Daisy Off Duty
2/7/09:
Being Watched
2/9/09:
When Eating and Sleeping Schedules Collide
2/10/09: So Long, Snow
3/3/09: Little Beagle, Big Snowstorm
3/3/09: Just How Deep Was that Snow?
3/4/09: Food as Furniture
3/5/09: Last Snow Photo of the Season
12/25/09: It's White!

© Copyright 2009 FarmgirlFare.com the work hard, play hard foodie farm blog where the only thing better than watching two happy dogs romping around and wrestling together is watching them do it in freshly fallen snow. When my foodie mom—who is visiting from California for the holidays—saw the photo I'd put up as my computer desktop background (the 11th one above), she couldn't stop saying, "That picture of Bear and Daisy is so cute!" to which I replied, "That's why I couldn't stop at just one." Sometimes you simply have to post the whole series.

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Tuesday Dose of Cute: Queens of the Hill


Also Known as Mamas-to-Be on a Mini Manure Mountain

Want to see more wooly wonders?
Sheep Photos 1
Sheep Photos 2
Sheep Photos 3
Sheep Photos 4
Sheep Photos 5
Sheep Photos 6
Sheep Photos 7
Sheep Photos 8

© Copyright 2009 FarmgirlFare.com, the high steppin' foodie farm blog where the fences are supposed to be taller than the sheep, but when I walked down to the barn this morning (yes—that's a corner of the new barn!), I found these two girls on top of a pile of bedding hay forked out of the barn during construction (sheep love to climp up on things) looking like they were planning to make a leap for it. Fortunately they decided to climb down and munch on some nice breakfast hay instead.

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Sunday Dose of Cute: Poring Over Old Photos


Martha (who is now retired) and Her 2006 Twins (previously seen here and here)

Can't wait until lambing season starts in April? These might help:
Lambing Season 2006 Photos & Reports
Lambing Season 2006 Part 2
Lambing Season 2006 Part 3
Lambing Season 2007 Photos & Reports
Lambing Season 2007 Part 2
Lambing Season 2008 Part 1
Lambing Season 2008 Part 2
Lambing Season 2008 Part 3
Lambing Season 2009

Lambing Season 2009 Part 2

© Copyright 2009 FarmgirlFare.com, the twins are twice as nice foodie farm blog where yep, this red wall is part of the old sheep barn. And yep, we've had a whole new Amish- and Joe-built sheep barn in its place for several months now. And yep, I still haven't posted any photos of the fabulous new structure. And nope, I have no idea what my problem is, except that I wanted to do a day-to-day series of photos so those of you who are interested could see the whole building process, and other stuff keeps getting prioritized ahead of that semi massive project—and I'm perpetually behind with pretty much everything. Thank goodness the actual construction didn't take anywhere near this long!

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Tuesday Dose of Cute & Last-Minute Gifts that Really Give


Happy, Healthy, and Plenty to Eat—the Best Gift of All



Okay, So Maybe Some of Us Could Always Use More Treats

Little donations made in the name of friends and family can add up to a whole lot of help. In case you don't already have a favorite needy charity, I thought I'd share some of mine (besides our always struggling and overcrowded local animal shelter, of course, where we rescued Topaz, Sarah Kate, and Mr. Midnight last year). All of these worthy causes are dedicated to helping provide good food and lives for people and animals. Most of them offer gift ideas with some sort of 'interactive' opportunity.

Menu for Hope 6
The annual Menu for Hope fundraising raffle is going on now through December 31st. During the past five years, food bloggers from around the world have raised nearly $250,000 to help feed people around the world. This year all monies will go to the United Nations World Programme's Purchase for Progress program, which assists low-income farmers to raise crops and support their local economies.

For every $10 donated, you earn a virtual raffle ticket for any one of the dozens of fabulous food related prizes (seriously, they just keep getting more and more amazing). One year I bought a ticket for a gluten-free goodie basket from Shauna for a gluten-free friend, and she won!

Dorothy's Café at the Blue House of Hospitality
Kelli Martin Brew lives with her family in a house of hospitality in Gainesville, Florida, where, says Kelli, "Our particular mission is to get healthy, delicious food to folks who most need it. We usually bake around 36 loaves of bread a week for guests who come to our 'free café,' and for day laborers with whom we share breakfast each Friday at several local labor pools."

Kelli's whole wheat 'bread for the people,' as she calls is, is made from locally purchased organic ingredients and costs about $2.50 a loaf to produce. Why not creatively break bread with others for the holidays? Bake up a batch of Kelli's Pain aux Raisins Secs et Noisettes ou Pacanes recipe (Bread with Golden Raisins and Hazelnuts or Pecans) which she shared with us over at A Year in Bread, and give a homemade loaf to friends and loved ones, along with a note explaining how you also made a four loaf/$10 donation (or eight loaf/$20 donation) in their name to the Blue House of the Gainesville Catholic Worker. You can read more about their projects here and find support information here.

A Place to Bark. . . and Meow
Bernie Berlin is one of the most hardworking, kind hearted people on the planet. Each year she singlehandedly saves hundreds of homeless dogs and cats from being put to death through her non-profit rescue project, A Place to Bark and Meow—and also somehow finds the time to blog about it.

Bernie is desperately trying to finish building a new shelter for the dozens of animals always in her care, and now through December 31st, all tax-deductible donations will be matched by the Zoline Foundation. Donation information is here.

Kitchen Gardeners International
Kitchen Gardeners International is a 501c3 nonprofit organization founded in Maine, USA whose mission is to empower individuals, families, and communities to achieve greater levels of food self-reliance through the promotion of kitchen gardening, home cooking, and sustainable local food systems. Their network of friends and supporters now includes over 19,000 kitchen gardeners from 100 countries, with new ones signing up each week (it's free to join, so go sign up!). KGI led the successful campaign for an organic White House Kitchen Garden—which now has a 'First Hoophouse' to extend the growing season!

KGI coordinates International Kitchen Garden Day, publishes a free e-mail newsletter, offers all sorts of online educational resources, and has a partnership program to help small, community-based groups start or scale up kitchen garden projects. There's also a kitchen gardeners' forum where you can connect with kitchen gardeners around the world. Donation information is here.

The Wild Animal Sanctuary
Established in 1980, The Wild Animal Sanctuary is a 320-acre state and federally licensed zoological facility and 501c3 nonprofit organization located 30 miles northeast of Denver, Colorado. It's home to more than 200 rescured carnivores—who eat a lot. The Wild Animal Sanctuary's mission is to rescue and provide life-long homes for large exotic and endangered captive wild animals, and to educate the public about the causes of, and solutions to America's captive wildlife crisis.

There are all sorts of ways you can help The Wild Animal Sanctuary, including by adopting an animal (what a neat gift!) or shopping for unique gifts at their online store. If you're in the Denver area, you can even visit the sanctuary and see the animals.

Kiva
Kiva's mission is to connect people through lending for the sake of alleviating poverty. This person-to-person micro-lending website provides microloans to unique entrepreneurs around the world. You decide who gets your loan money (I love supporting other sheep farmers), and you can reloan it over and over each time it's paid back. Learn more about what kiva is here and how their lending program works here. Printed and emailed kiva gift certificates are even available.

Farm Aid
Back in October, I was invited to attend the Farm Aid 2009 concert in St. Louis and do some live blogging for the FarmAid website. What an inspiring experience! (And of course the music was amazing.) Farm Aid is a nonprofit organization whose mission is to keep family farmers on their land.

Over the past 24 years, Farm Aid has raised nearly $36 million dollars to support programs that help farmers thrive, create and strengthen connections between farmers and eaters, take action to change the dominant system of industrial agriculture, and promote food from family farms.

Farm Aid’s mission is to build a vibrant, family farm-centered system of agriculture in America. Farm Aid artists and board members Willie Nelson, Neil Young, John Mellencamp and Dave Matthews host an annual concert to raise funds to support Farm Aid’s work with family farmers and to inspire people to choose family-farmed food, but donations are accepted throughout the year.

A Farm Aid membership makes a great gift, with or without some cool Farm Aid gear (a holiday sale with free shipping is going on now). Members can even watch this year's concert, along with past shows from Farm Aid's history. You can also take action
here, learn more about the Farm Aid community here, connect to the land and each other at Homegrown.org, or follow Farm Aid on Twitter here. Or simply go text FARMER to 90999 on your cell phone to give $5 to Farm Aid and help keep family farmers on their land.

A great big thanks to all of you who have so generously given to these and other causes I've written about over the years. Wishing you a joyful, fulfilling, and delicious holiday season!

© Copyright 2009 FarmgirlFare.com, the thankfully well fed foodie farm blog where everybody always has enough to eat—it's just that some critters think they're entitled to an endless supply of treats. But it can't be chocolate cake and organic carrots all the time now, can it?

Tuesday Farm Photos: Tree Trimming Party



More photos below. . .

Monday, December 21, 2009

Monday Dose of Cute: Howooooooooooooooo!


Solstice Celebration?

Happy First Day of Winter!

© Copyright 2009 FarmgirlFare.com, the just passing through foodie farm blog where this feisty little wayward hunting hound (who is now safely back at home with the donkey peddling cowboy) was tied up on the bed of our old ton truck for her own good—she made the mistake of raiding Bear and Robin's dog dish on the kitchen porch at six o'clock in the morning, and they wanted to rip her throat out. Our beagle baby Robin may be 13 years old, but she's still up for a food fight.

Update: My apologies to anyone who was concerned by this photo. This hound is happy and healthy. Please see my comments below.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Sunday Farm Photo: Ice Sculpture


Temporary Art Installment (you'll find links to lots more farm art here)

A year of farm photos ago:
12/9/08: Three's Company
12/20/08: An All Natural Early Christmas Gift
12/21/09: What a Cold Heart

Two years ago:
12/14/07: Good Next Door Neighbors
12/16/07: Winter, Take One
12/17/07: It's Never Too Cold for a Tummy Rub
12/19/07: How the Mighty Have Fallen
12/22/07: Strange Things Happen on the Solstice

Three years ago:
12/17/06: J2 with a Good View
12/18/06: Autumn Sunflowers
12/19/06: Cary Can Find a Snack Anywhere
12/20/06: Goodbye Autumn (Zen Donkey)
12/21/06: It Was a Beautiful First Day of Winter

Four years ago:
12/18/05: Weekend Cat Blogging—The Camera Never Lies
12/19/05: New Cat Isn't the Only One Fluffing Up for Winter
12/20/05: Farewell to Fall
12/21/05: Happy First (Snowy!) Day of Winter

And out of the kitchen came:
Molasses Ginger Spice Snaps
Cranberry Christmas Scones (tasty any time of year)
Lazy White Whole Wheat Scones with Currants and Oats
Italian Rosemary Raisin Bread (and bread bakery building progress)
My Experiments Baking That Now Infamous No-Knead Bread
Simple and Healthy Swiss Chard Artichoke Soup

© Copyright 2009 FarmgirlFare.com, the abstract foodie farm blog where beauty and art are where you find them—and around here that means everywhere you look.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Thursday Dose of Cute: Wooly, Wooly


What Cold Weather?

© Copyright 2009 FarmgirlFare.com, the R-19 factor insulated foodie farm blog where wooly is wonderful, but even the Katahdin hair sheep (who look like this) are all fluffed up and extra huggable this time of year.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Wednesday Dose of Cute: Busted


Heat Seeking Missile Molly Doodlebug on a Pile of Still Warm Jeans

I love my laundry line and use it all year round. Line dried clothes and sheets always smell so nice and fresh. And since our dryer only seems to have one heat setting these days—flame—using a clothesline not only saves electricity but severe disappointment as well. Who knew it was possible to shrink all your favorite t-shirts in one five minute stretch?

Around this time of year, though, my hardheaded determination to avoid the dryer means that a mountain range of dirty laundry starts slowly taking over the bedroom thanks to endless days of rain and/or snow and/or temperatures down in teens. There's nothing more disconcerting than a flannel bedsheet hanging frozen and stiff on the line (just ask my confused California foodie mom who is always willing to help whittle down that annoying laundry mountain when she visits, no matter what the season).

And while I'd rather let the laundry pile up and simply dress from the bottom of our clothing storage tubs (The Shack has a grand total of one little closet) than take a chance turning my favorite tees to size extra extra small, once in a while a pile of towels or Joe's jeans does emerge warm from the dryer—and The Doodle is on it faster than you can say snuggle up.

Want to see more of 4½ pound, 14-year-old Molly Doodlebug (who is, as always, purring on my lap as I type this)?
7/10/05: Meet Molly Doodlebug—aka The Doodle Monster
7/21/05: Warning—This Tea May Disrupt Your Sleep
9/3/05: Photoshoot Inspector
9/24/05: Window Washing
11/12/05: Cat in the Cookies

1/28/06: Weekend Cat Blogging
2/18/06: Herban Cat Crossing
4/1/06: Double Image
4/15/06: Cat in the Box
4/30/06: You Definitely Don't Want To Be on Her Bad Side
5/18/06: Big Day for a Little Lamb (scroll down to see Doodle)
7/1/06: Sharing Your Snack with a Lamb in the Living Room
9/10/06: Outside and Looking for Trouble

10/31/07: Happy Halloween!
1/7/08: Cute Things Come in Little Packages
9/1/09: Bright Light, Little Kitty

© Copyright 2009 FarmgirlFare.com, the washed and somehow eventually dried foodie farm blog where clothes can get pretty dirty, pretty quickly. I do my best to get out stains, but I'm not a miracle worker—and most of the time it doesn't matter. I can be freshly laundered head to toe and after five minutes outside you'd never know it. Joe says our laundry goes by the sniff test rather than the looks test: it may not look clean, but that's okay as long as it smells clean.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Monday Dose of Cute: Time to Punch In

















And Go to Work

Daisy is a Great Pyrenees livestock guardian. Her first loyalty is to her flock. Lucky Buddy Bear is an English/Australian Shepherd stock dog. His duties include everything from herding to babysitting to wool drying to breaking up barnyard brawls, and lambing season is by far his favorite time of year. He loves his sheep, but his first loyalty is to me (and Joe, when I'm not around). His heart, however, firmly belongs to Daisy. Fortunately she's pretty crazy about him, too.

Want to see more of what goes on out in this front field?
8/3/05: A Big Serving of Tranquility on the Menu
5/23/06: Oh, Green Grass!
12/13/06: Autumn Breakfast in the Front Field
5/15/07: All-You-Can-Eat Buffet

1/31/08: Breakfast Blend
8/9/08: Puppy Love
10/15/08: October Feast
12/9/08: Three's Company
12/31/08: Cheers!

6/5/09: Morning View
6/11/09: Breakfast Company
9/15/09: Follow the Flying Ears
11/19/09: Misty Morning Light
12/1/09: Tuesday Dose of Cute and Cold—December?

© Copyright 2009 FarmgirlFare.com, the carefully guarded foodie farm blog where Daisy works with Marta, an almost two-year-old Great Pyrenees mix who has lately been carrying home hunks of carcasses discarded by deer hunters that she discovers while patrolling the woods. There's nothing that helps while away the work hours like gnawing on an enormous bone—and there's nothing that makes a guard dog look more vicious than having her face and paws covered in blood.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Sunday Farm Photo: Living Art


Fungus on a Hunk of Handmade Fence

Want to see more farm art?
8/28/05:
Discard On Display
9/26/05:
Well Seasoned
9/29/05:
Heart Of Vine
11/27/05:
More Found Art
12/15/05:
The Weathered Look Is Very In Around Here

1/29/06:
Bird Nests Are Definitely Works Of Art
3/30/06:
More Old Stuff Just Hanging Around
8/9/06:
Feather Wait
8/29/06:
Seeing Things
9/16/06:
The Farm Is My Canvas
9/29/06:
Perfect Landing
11/19/06:
Farmyard Still Life

1/6/07:
Precious Farm Jewels
12/15/07:
Still Life With Barbed Wire & Buck Brush
1/27/08:
Fence As Farm Art
4/22/09:
Every Day is Earth Day—and I'm Eco-Chic (Who Knew?)

And then we have fungi photos:
9/18/06: Wild Mushroom or Miniature Alien Spaceship Crash Site?
5/26/08: Foraging and Finding Morels
9/11/08: A Very Local Dinner Starring Wild Chanterelle Mushrooms
11/13/08: A Wild Mushroom Feast for Your Eyes Only
4/20/09: Morels!

© Copyright 2009 FarmgirlFare.com, the visually stimulating foodie farm blog where being miles from any museum doesn't keep us from seeing art—thankfully it's everywhere you look.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Saturday Dose of Cute: Soft as a Baby's Behind


A Glance in the Rear View Mirror at Last Spring's Lambing Season (taken 5/2/09)

Want a bigger look back at little lambies?
Lambing Season 2006 Photos & Reports
Lambing Season 2006 Part 2
Lambing Season 2006 Part 3
Lambing Season 2007 Photos & Reports
Lambing Season 2007 Part 2
Lambing Season 2008 Part 1
Lambing Season 2008 Part 2
Lambing Season 2008 Part 3
Lambing Season 2009

Lambing Season 2009 Part 2

© Copyright 2009 FarmgirlFare.com, the nearly grown up foodie farm blog where this is the time of year when all the exhaustion and worry of lambing season has been totally forgotten, and the only thing you can remember is the bouncing baby cuddling cuteness—and how much you're looking forward to seeing it again.

Wednesday, December 09, 2009

Wednesday Dose of Cute: Eat Up, Kids!


It's Gonna Be a Cold One Tonight
3/26/08: Donkey Dietary Habits
4/18/08:
Cary is Too Hungry to Say Hi
5/7/08:
Daily Dose of Cute: All Day Hay Buffet
5/28/08:
Daily Dose of Cute: Back in the Hay Day
9/27/08:
Sheep Gone Wild!

1/23/09:
Feeding Frenzy
1/24/09: Keeping the Food Supply Safe
1/31/09: A Cold Breakfast Will Be Served in the South Pen
3/4/09: Food as Furniture

© Copyright 2009 FarmgirlFare.com, the chilled to the windchill bone foodie farm blog where the temperature out there is rapidly dropping toward zero, and we are (hopefully!) buttoned up and tucked in until morning. Goodnight!

Holiday Gift Ideas: Some of My Favorite Kitchen Essentials

Affordable and Useful Gifts that Will Last for Years


Freshly Baked Oatmeal Toasting Bread (recipe here, though I used milk in this batch)

I spend a lot of time in the kitchen, and the right equipment makes all the difference. When a friend came to visit a while back, she took one look around and said, "You could outfit a restaurant with all this stuff!" Actually, a lot of it did.

I spent many years in the restaurant business when I lived in northern California, including running my own little bakery cafe, and I quickly came to realize that heavy duty, well made items may cost a little more at first, but in the long run they're the best deals around.

These are some of the kitchen things that I use all the time and highly recommend. Whether you're buying for yourself or someone else this holiday season, they're sure to be greatly appreciated for many years to come. The loaf pans, baking sheets, and cast iron skillet are currently eligible for Amazon.com's 4-for-3 promotion—buy any 4 eligible items and you get the lowest-priced item free. More details on the product links below.

If you shop at Amazon.com by starting at any Amazon link on this site (no matter what you end up buying) we receive a small referral fee, which goes toward our treat bill at the feed store. Thank you!

Chicago Metallic Commercial Bread Pans, $11.99 & $15.50
I love Chicago Metallic's commercial bakeware, and their heavy duty loaf pans (pictured above) are awesome. I've been using mine for years for both quick breads and sandwich loaves and refuse to bake with anything else. They're available in two sizes, 1-pound (approximately 8"x4") and 1½-pound (approximately 9"x5"—they call it 10") and come with a 25-year warranty. Fill the 1-pound with up to 26 ounces of bread dough (such as my popular Farmhouse White) for big beautiful loaves.

Chicago Metallic Commercial Baking Sheets (2 for $24.99)
Never burn a tray of cookies again! Once you use heavy duty, rimmed baking sheets, you'll suddenly realize that everything else is vastly inferior. They're great for everything from baking rolls to roasting Brussels sprouts and are one of the best kitchen deals around. Treat them well (I usually line them with sheets of unbleached parchment paper—wonderful stuff!), and they'll last for ages. I've been using the heck out of some of mine for over 18 years.

KitchenAid Immersion Hand Blender, $37.95
This is quite possibly the best $50 I've ever spent in the kitchen—and right now the red and black versions are on sale at Amazon for $42.95, plus there's a $5.00 rebate available. Purées big pots of soup in seconds (no more scalding hot liquid flying out from the top of the blender!) and is a breeze to clean. It also works great for blending up large batches of homemade pet food. You can do all kinds of other stuff with it, too—I seriously underutilize mine, but my best friend Beth often uses hers several times a day. Comes with KitchenAid's 1-year, hassle-free replacement warranty.



Oxo Good Grips Digital Kitchen Scale, $48.45
I'm so glad I upgraded to this scale last year, which I use nearly every day. I love the fact that it weighs up to 11 pounds. The zero-out function makes it easy to just keep adding ingredients to your bowl, and the pull-out display is fabulous. Measures in 1/8-ounce and 1-gram increments. Voted #1 by America's Test Kitchen.

Pyrex Storage 14-Piece Round Set, $22.97
I finally found something even better than my 1940s vintage Pyrex covered dishes—new Pyrex of course! I bought this set a few years ago and used it so much I ordered a second one. I'm always storing dibs and dabs and leftovers in the fridge, and these save on plastic wrap and foil. And like the propoganda on the box says, you're much more likely to use something if you can see it. I can't tell you how many times I've opened the lid of a repurposed cottage cheese container to find a glob of moldy who-knows-what staring up at me. Glass is definitely the way to go. They make 10-piece and 6-piece sets, too, but the round sizes in this 14-piece set work best for me. Oven, microwave, refrigerator, freezer, and dishwasher safe.

Lodge 10-Inch Pre-Seasoned Cast Iron Skillet, $14.53
If you only own one frying pan, make it cast iron. Cast iron skillets are one of the best buys on the planet. For fifteen bucks you get a pan that will beautifully cook everything from bacon and eggs to steaks and cornbread, last for decades, and if treated well (no soap!) will only improve with age. This one is pre-seasoned for immediate use and comes with a lifetime warranty.

Cast iron skillets make the best cornbread (my new favorite recipe coming soon). Feed someone homemade cornbread and they'll eat well for a day. Give them a Cornbread Lover's Gift Kit and they'll eat well for life: simply tuck a bag or two of nice stoneground cornmeal and a copy of The Cornbread Gospels (this is such a fun book) in a cast iron skillet and tie it all up with a big red bow.


A Perfect Pan for Pasta (recipe here)

All-Clad LTD 10-Inch Fry Pan, $87.50
If you only own two frying pans, make the first one cast iron and the second one All-Clad. Their professional cookware is amazing. I have a few cherished pieces, but this 10-inch pan is the one I use most. I've used and abused it for nearly 20 years, and it's still as good as new. Even the blackest, scariest, baked on mess (think bacon or burgers—yeah, I know, probably should have used the cast iron) cleans up in a jiffy; just soak in hot soapy water for a few minutes and lightly scrub. If you cook for a crowd, the 14-inch size ($107.95) would be perfect. I'm lusting after one—how great would it be to be able to caramelize that many onions at once?

Taylor Classic Instand-Read Pocket Thermometer, $5.47
Perfect for stuffing stockings, this is a must-have item for any bread baker. With it you can quickly check the temperature of ingredients, rising dough, even the air in your kitchen (just put it in a glass of room-temperature water). The world-famous Poilane bakery in France requires each of its bakers to wear one around their neck. If you know a budding bread baker (or are one yourself), check out my Ten Tips for Better Bread—and come bake with us at A Year in Bread!

Have a delicious holiday season!

© Copyright 2009 FarmgirlFare.com, the cooking from scratch foodie farm blog where the only downside to serving up so much wonderful homemade food all the time is the continuous supply of dirty dishes—but the dishpan hands are definitely worth it!

Monday, December 07, 2009

Monday Dose of Cute: Lean on Me


Evie and Her Baby Brother Fernando

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

© Copyright 2009 FarmgirlFare.com, the restful foodie farm blog where Fernando is fluffing up so much for winter you can barely see his eyes—and he looks like a giant toy. Now if only he would let me snuggle him! Thank goodness Evie can't get enough pets and hugs.

Sunday, December 06, 2009

Homemade and Handmade for the Holidays


Cranberry Christmas Scones are Tasty any Time of Year (Recipe here)

Having my Cranberry Christmas Scones recipe featured on Sew Mama Sew's Third Annual Handmade Holidays series was the perfect excuse I needed last month to mix up a batch and finally take a more festive photo. (Any reason to bake, right?)

I enjoyed a few of the warm scones with butter and a hot cup of tea, then tucked the rest away in the freezer to save for my foodie mother's upcoming Christmas visit (because she'd rather brave the winter cold than show up for spring lambing season again). If you want to bake up fresh scones for breakfast or brunch, you can save a little time in the morning by mixing up the dry ingredients and cutting in the butter the night before.

Handmade Holidays is a month-long assortment of ideas to make the holidays unique, fun, and handmade, but you'll find enough crafty tutorials, gift suggestions, recipes, and shop features to carry you all the way through next year. The entire month is wrapped up on the Ultimate Handmade Holidays 2009 Master List.

If your skills tend more toward the kitchen than the crafts room, you might be inspired to do some holiday baking with these sweet recipes from the archives, all of which freeze beautifully.

These keep well—perfect for gift giving:
Molasses Ginger Spice Snaps
Baby Chocolate Chip and Toffee Shortbread Bites
Chocolate Biscotti for Beginners
Toasted Almond Chocolate Chip Biscotti

Sweet treats for anytime:
Easy Orange Yogurt Loaf Cake
Quick Emergency Chocolate Loaf Cake
Heavenly Lemon Coconut Quick Bread
Chocolate, Cinnamon, and Banana Mexican Monkey Cake

Indulge without the guilt—these aren't all that bad for you:
Whole Wheat Chocolate Chip Raisin Cookies (and How To Hug a Sheep)
Apple Blueberry Crumble Bars
Spicy Pumpkin Pecan Raisin Muffins
100% Whole Grain Bran Muffins (four different flavors)
100% Whole Grain Ginger Pear Bran Muffins
Autumn Pear and Apple Crisp (great for breakfast!)

Are you planning a homemade or handmade holiday this year?

© Copyright 2009 FarmgirlFare.com, the half baked foodie farm blog where these temperatures in the teens (not to mention the upcoming snow predicted) have us wanting to simply keep the oven going all month long. I mean, can you ever really have too many holiday baked goods on hand? Not if there's still empty freezer space!