First time mother Ida and her three-day-old baby boy.
I snapped these photos nearly a month (!) ago, but the barnyard looks just like this now—except these lambs are a lot bigger and there are a lot more of them bouncing around.
Until a few years ago, we didn't start lambing until March or April, so seeing lambs on snow was a rarity. This year our first lambs arrived on January 26th, and this winter we've had more days with snow on the ground than we probably have in the last 19 years.
It's white out there again today (though it's actually ice or ice pellets or whatever they call it when it piles up on the ground but is immediately slick as can be), and we're expecting an arctic blast and 3 to 5 inches of snow by morning. I always thought that zero degrees (F) was too cold for it to snow, but I guess we're going to find out.
Treacherous or not, the frozen landscape is lovely to look at, and our little lambs show up so much better against the bright white of snow than the usual dark winter ground.
Just layer on the outerwear and watch your step. Spring will be here soon enough.
I’ve always been a cat lover, and when I moved from urban California to rural Missouri 19 years ago, I brought four cats along with me. Then the remote farm I bought came with seven resident felines. Did I mention they were semi-feral?
By the time I was able to get everyone—including a couple more tomcats who showed up and decided to stay—spayed and neutered, the cat count was up to, well, a really high number.
Our current farm cat count is now a much more manageable six (Molly Doodlebug, Mr. Midnight, Sarah Kit Kat Kate, Jasper, George, and Skittles), but we still spend a lot of time in the cat food aisle. So when my publishing network, BlogHer, asked if my cats were interested in testing out some SHEBA® premium wet cat food as part of an upcoming ad campaign (that helps me and over 3,000 other mostly women bloggers bring you all of our content for free), we looked into the product and said yes.
It's lambing season! Still. We bred just 15 ewes this year, and the first set of twins arrived January 26th. But after 22 days of round the clock visits to the barn (I started my nightly checks a few days earlier than the first lambs showed up), we're only halfway through. In other years we've had as many as eight lambs born in 24 hours, so I was really hoping we'd be all done by now.
They're moist on the inside, with a nice light crunch on the outside (recipe here)
Beautifully golden brown and dotted with jewel-like dried cranberries and optional chopped pecans, these cute little scones are sure to brighten any holiday table. I named them Christmas Cranberry Scones the year I baked them all afternoon at a kitchen store holiday open house, but they're tasty any time of year.
Buttery and crumbly and rich, try them for breakfast, brunch, or afternoon tea. They also freeze beautifully.
If you've never made scones before, have no fear! This easy recipe is the perfect place to start, as you can see from these rave reviews:
Homemade biscotti is impressive. Even people who regularly make their own biscotti are impressed when you bake it for them. It's not difficult to make, but by definition it's a twice baked cookie, so it does require a fair amount of time.
Because it looks so perfect, and because it keeps so well, homemade biscotti makes a very nice gift. Package it in little cellophane bags tied with colorful ribbon and people will think you spent a fortune on them at a fancy bakery.
I came up with this recipe several years ago and haven't made it nearly enough since. It's a pleasant, not too hard, not particularly sweet biscotti cookie that lasts for days and even improves with age. It also freezes beautifully. It holds up to dunking but tastes great by itself, and I think it goes well with everything from hot coffee to cold champagne.
If you're craving a sweeter or fancier dessert, you could dip one side of each piece in melted chocolate. Or you could dunk your biscotti in amaretto, or break up a few pieces, stir them into some nice vanilla ice cream, and drizzle it with a little chocolate sauce.
Like I said, biscotti isn't difficult to make, but I did learn a few things while mixing up numerous test batches for this recipe. In case you find them helpful:
Raw brussels sprouts have a wonderful taste; it's as if the flavor from an entire regular sized cabbage has been concentrated down into each little sprout. And of course they're extremely good for you. It's always nice to be crazy about something that's heavenly and healthy.
The basic version of this salad recipe is wonderful, but I usually gussy it up with a healthy boost of either raisins and roasted almonds or dried cranberries and garbanzo beans. The brussels sprouts are quickly shredded in the food processor (or use a mandoline slicer or sharp knife), and the tangy dressing can be made several days ahead.
This salad would make a fresh and lovely addition to the holiday table, but if one of your goals for 2014 is to up your intake of cruciferous vegetables, it would also be a delicious way to usher in the new year.
Raw brussels sprouts at midnight, anyone?
Craving more than crunch?You'll find links to all my sweet and savory Less Fuss, More Flavor recipes in the Farmgirl Fare Recipe Index.
An old-fashioned treat that brings back—and makes—memories (recipe here).
I've been making these Big, Soft, and Chewy Molasses Ginger Spice Cookies all year round for at least a dozen years, but they always seem so festive during the holidays, reminding me of ice skating and red mittens and crackling fires and early Christmas morning. I started baking and selling over-sized cookies 28 years ago, and everyone from little kids to big tough men goes crazy for them.
Even better by the little dozen? (recipe & molasses ginger cookie lore here)
What's especially nice is when one cookie batter will give you two completely different cookies, just by changing the size. These 2-inch Molasses Ginger Spice Snaps are cute and crunchy, and one batch bakes up 12 dozen cookies that store really well, making them perfect for gift giving. I like to pack them up in little cello bags and tie them with a colorful ribbon. Both versions of these cookies also freeze beautifully.
Happy holiday baking!
Can't survive on just cookies?You'll find links to all my sweet and savory Less Fuss, More Flavor recipes in the Farmgirl Fare Recipe Index.
This quick dessert is perfect for holiday get togethers & goodie tins (recipe here).
It's Snowed In Day Seven! We probably could have climbed out of our cozy little valley during the past week if we really needed to, but thankfully we didn't. Tomorrow we'll see if we can make it to town 10 miles away to get our mail (the post office doesn't deliver out to the farm), stock up on dog food at the (only) store in town, and pick up a couple gallons of that wonderful Jersey milk from our neighbors.
We'll wait until next week to head to a 'real' city to load up with holiday groceries and 750 pounds of sheep feed. Friday we're expecting more ice and snow. Today the sun is out, the sky is bright, the snow has slowly started melting despite single digit temps each night (Saturday morning it was -6F), and we're craving chocolate something fierce. There's nothing like trekking out to Donkeyland through the snow (with Jasper!) or whacking through several inches of ice in 8 water troughs to work up and appetite and get your sweet tooth going.
I've been making these fudgy and foolproof Chocolate Streusel Bars for years. Like my popular Quick and Easy Raspberry Almond Bars, people always get so excited over them it's almost embarrassing to admit how easy they are to make. The top and bottom layers are the same batter, and the rich, fudgy middle is simply chocolate chips and sweetened condensed milk melted in the microwave.
They're perfect for holiday munching and gift giving because they look good, travel well, and stay fresh for several days. The 9"x13" pan makes plenty, and you can cut them large or small. Enjoy!
More easy Farmgirl Fare sweet treats that are perfect for holiday giving and munching:
We're snowed in! We have 10 inches of snow (over a layer of ice) on the ground, and it looks like it's going to be here for a while. Tonight it will probably dip down below zero (F), and the highs for the next several days are the usual lows. It's cold but beautiful.
Thankfully we had plenty of advance warning about this big storm, and except for a collapsed mini greenhouse full of baby spinach in the garden and the already frozen freezeless hydrant at the barn (which means lots of water hauling from the spring 200 feet away) things are, knock on wool, so far going smoothly.
Everyone has food, water, and shelter (not that most of them are using it), and we are tucked in for the night, binge watching 24 and basking in the heat of the glorious wood furnace, which is such a change from the little old pot bellied stove in the uninsulated Shack.
We have hot homemade pizza, cold champagne and potato chips, and a reassuring stockpile of chocolate. Inbetween feeding treats and breaking ice tomorrow I plan to slow cook a couple of lamb shoulder roasts for hours in the dutch oven and create a new sourdough starter.
These homemade chocolate biscotti are perfect for holiday gifts (recipe here)
Every year in early December my Easy Chocolate Biscotti Recipe becomes one of the most popular recipes on Farmgirl Fare. Holiday baking season has begun!
Have you ever wondered how to make biscotti? These twice baked, crunchy Italian cookies always look so elegant and perfect, especially when packed up in little cello bags and tied with a pretty ribbon, but they're easier to make than you might think.
My simple recipe is ideal for first time biscotti bakers for two reasons: the buttery dough is easy to work with, and the chocolate makes it dark, so no one will be able to tell if all your cookies aren't the same exact shade of golden brown.
These biscotti stay fresh for several days, making them perfect for gift giving. They also freeze beautifully. The cookies have a nice (not break-your-teeth) crunch that stands up to dunking in coffee, but they also taste great on their own.
But don't just take my word for it. Below is a sampling of what others have said about this recipe since I originally posted it back in 2005. I especially love hearing about all the signature touches. Mint chocolate chips mixed in to the dough? Yes, please!
This simple, flavorful cauliflower purée makes a healthy Thanksgiving side dish, but I like it all year round (recipe here).
Several years ago I fell in love with kohlrabi purée, and from there I went on to discover a whole delicious world of puréed vegetables. One of the most popular puréed vegetables is cauliflower, which is often called mashed cauliflower.
Recipes for mashed cauliflower abound, calling for everything from chicken stock and Greek yogurt to a stick of butter and a cup of heavy cream. My simple version, which has just 2 Tablespoons of butter and 2 Tablespoons of milk or cream, is low fat, low carb, easy to make, and really hard to stop eating.
You can dress it up in all sorts of ways—with sour cream and dill, cheddar and chives, even lemon juice and baby arugula—or just enjoy it plain.
Mashed cauliflower is usually touted as a low carb substitute for mashed potatoes, especially around Thanksgiving. But this really isn't fair to the cauliflower purée, because it tastes so good it shouldn't be considered a stand-in or alternative to anything.
If you have trouble eating enough fresh vegetables in autumn and winter, try puréeing them. I had no idea it was so easy to devour an entire head of cauliflower.
A healthy vegetable side dish that's nice enough for Thanksgiving, yet easy enough to make for everyday (recipe here).
Hip hip hooray, it's Brussels sprout season! This is a little shout out for my quick and easy, one bowl, one pan, super popular roasted Brussels sprouts recipe. There's no need to cut a little X in each stem or boil them before roasting. You don't even have to turn them while they're cooking. And oh, do they taste good.
I gobbled up two pounds last week (they actually reheat pretty well in the microwave) and have two more pounds of raw sprouts waiting in the fridge.
Toss them with lots of lemon juice and Parmesan or Pecorino, or gussy them up a little with some garbanzos and dijon. If you're lucky enough to have any leftovers (I always double the recipe), try tossing them with some bowtie pasta, crumbled bacon, and pan-fried (in bacon grease) fresh breadcrumbs. Oh my.
Need more convincing? Here's what Farmgirl Fare readers are saying about this recipe:
—I ended up making this last night as the vegetable accompaniment to our meat and it was a great hit! Even my younger brother who is an avid veggie hater ate these up!
—After reading your blog, I put a pan of these little cabbages in the oven last night. They never made it into a bowl. I had to try one, then two...Crunchy outside and butter soft inside.
—I did the "simple" with Orecchiette pasta and lots of parmesan. So savory and perfect! I never thought to cook them at such a high temp, but I loved it. Thanks!
—Just made the "gussied up" version for a mid-morning snack :) My house smells heavenly and I am one happy camper. I stuck a handful of split fingerlings around the edge of the pan that were due to be eaten, and life is indeed good. I am sharing this recipe with everyone who will listen!
—Made these slightly gussied up (no chickpeas) for Thanksgiving to rave reviews. Just delicious. And so easy!!!!!!!!
More Thanksgiving vegetable recipe inspiration from Farmgirl Fare:
In anticipation of our first arctic blast—which arrived several weeks earlier than usual—I harvested as much as I could from the kitchen garden on Monday and Tuesday, including a small bag of arugula, a big bag of mixed baby lettuce, a bigger bag of tatsoi, and a several bags of kale.
I see a lot of salads in our future, but on Sunday I dug up several pounds of the best looking Yukon Gold potatoes I've grown in years, so this scrumptious soup is also on the menu. It's hearty and healthy and full of flavor, especially if you use homemade chicken stock, which freezes well and is ridiculously easy to make (instructions on how to make your own chicken stock are included in the soup recipe).
No leeks? Just use onions. No arugula? Try spinach instead. The roasted leeks and potatoes also make a delicious side dish. Snuggle up and enjoy!
Love the peppery bite of arugula? Check out these other Farmgirl Fare arugula recipes: