Monday, April 24

Monday Farm Photos: Happy Monday.

Wishing you a week filled with little pockets of peace. (And for the rest of the time, there's always this.)

More (15-year-old!) Lucky Buddy Bear? Here and here.
More farm landscape photos? Here and here.
More of the wet weather creek here and here (which we're thrilled is already running for the second time this month, and even more thrilled that it isn't as high as it was on this day six years ago).

Sunday, April 2

Growing (and Using!) Your Own Fresh Garden Herbs: My Six Favorite Easy to Grow Varieties

Dividing and planting chives, one of my favorite herbs in the kitchen garden. Read more about them and my five other easy to grow favorites here. (I've been using my beloved hand-forged Korean garden tool to do nearly every job in the garden for over 22 years.)

The other day I read in a magazine that one $4 herb plant grows 15 to 30 of those $3 grocery store packs of "fresh" sprigs. Wow. So besides all the other joys and benefits that come from having your own little herb garden, even if you end up killing off your plants in a month, you'll still most likely have already eaten more than your money's worth.

A friend once told me she used to stand by the fresh herb display at the supermarket and try to convince everyone who reached for a packet of rosemary that they really should go buy a live plant instead.

Homegrown culinary herbs are an inexpensive luxury. They're easy to grow, cheap to keep, don't require lots of space or attention, and aren't usually bothered by diseases and pests, making them perfect for the organic garden. They're pretty to look at, smell divine when you run your fingers through the plants (thanks for the reminder, Sherlie!), bursting with flavor, and are far fresher than those pricey little packets at the store, which may have been sprayed with toxic chemicals. Fresh herbs make everything better.

Have you always wanted to try growing your own herbs? Early spring is the perfect time to start an herb garden, and I'm here to give you a little push. You'll find lots of helpful information and inspiration in this post I wrote a while back, Growing and Using Your Own Fresh Herbs: My Six Favorite Varieties.

Chives, basil, Greek oregano, lemon thyme, Italian parsley, and lemon balm have been favorites in my organic kitchen garden for years, not only because they taste good, but because they've all done well in our challenging Missouri conditions. The bounty starts in spring, and I'm often still harvesting well into November.

And because the chives, oregano, lemon thyme, and lemon balm are all cold tolerant perennials, this means you plant them once and they come back year after year.

One of the nicest things about growing your own herbs is that, unlike many vegetables, you don't need a whole bushel to make a worthwhile harvest; just a little bit will go a long way. Many can be grown in pots, and most herb plants actually benefit from from being regularly snipped back, even when young.

Are you ready? Let's get growing!

Looking for more kitchen garden inspiration? Check out these posts.

©, where a little freshly snipped flavor goes a long way.

Friday, March 10

Friday Farm Photos: Have a Long Eared Weekend.

Any plans this weekend? We watched this great movie last night (which we somehow didn't realize was produced and directed by Clint Eastwood until after it was over) and this song is still going through my head. But most of the time I keep hearing Michelle Pfeiffer's version from this great movie, so I'm thinking we may have to dust off our copy (on video!) and watch it tonight. Speaking of Clint Eastwood, we both really liked this movie too.

We're having freshly baked pain au levain and butter for dinner tonight in celebration of my finally making a 100% wild sourdough starter (I hope it tastes good!) maybe with a salad on the side, and then tomorrow I'm planning to roast a locally raised, pastured chicken on a big pile of sliced onions, carrots, and whole cloves of garlic tossed with salt and olive oil (which I finally learned to put in the oven 30 minutes before the chicken to cook off some of the moisture) while it snows.

Of course the best thing about roasting a chicken is making chicken salad with the leftovers: shredded (not diced) chicken (it takes longer and is messier but is worth it), chopped celery, scallions, and parsley, fresh chives if you have them (and you could because they're so easy to grow), lots of Hellman's/Best Foods mayonnaise, a little dijon mustard, a splash of vinegar (I use white balsamic), and my secret ingredientsome of the leftover roasted onions with their olive oily/chickeny sauce. Tastes even better the next day.

Meanwhile I'm still trying to wrap my brain around the fact that it was 75 degrees and sunny yesterday, and now they're calling for temps back down in the teens with ice and snow. Oh, and late yesterday afternoon a noisy thunderstorm blew in, put on a flashy light show, blasted everything with gumball-sized hail (my poor little seedlings out in the garden) and then rained for several hours before blanketing the fields with a light frost. March in Missouri always keeps you guessing.

And while my plan for this afternoon (sunny, breezy, high of 48°), after we work a couple of sheep, is to dig through my seed stash(es) in the freezer for the heat loving peppers, tomatoes, and basil that I probably should have already started in flats—along with more lettuce, swiss chard, and beetsI'm really in no rush for spring.

A good snowstorm is just the excuse I need to curl up with a mug of hot tea, a couple of cozy vintage blankets, and a riveting book (I can't decide whether to start this one or this onewe love Virgil!) and grow a calm and peaceful, hail-free, bug-free, disease-free, temperature controlled, overflowing-with-bounty, picture perfect garden in my head.

P.S. The donkeys are all doing fine, although they'd probably tell you they're in desperate need of a lot more treats.

Friday, February 24

Friday Farm Photos: Hot on the Trail

Of an exciting adventure.

Any plans this weekend? We're staying around the farm (quelle surprise!) and I'm hoping to take advantage of the break in this freaky hot and humid February weather (the daffodils are already blooming!) to start in on all the kitchen garden fall clean up and bed prep that I never actually do in the fall. The good thing about these too warm temps is that all the cold tolerant greens I decided on a whim to direct seed in the garden two weeks ago have already sprouted.

The few dozen broccoli seedlings, cilantro, and 96 plugs of lettuce (seven cold tolerant varieties) in flats under fluorescent lights in the mudroom are also doing well (no need for fancy grow lights; $10 two-bulb fluorescent shop fixtures from the home improvement store work great), but I have no place ready in the garden to put them yet. At least the ground isn't frozen solid like it usually is when I decide it's finally time to pull up all the dead tomato plants. Who knows, I might even turn the compost pile.

Tonight we're having lamb burgers with raw milk sharp cheddar and dijon mustard, and tomorrow I'm planning to slow roast a couple of lamb shoulders in the oven with lots of fresh rosemary from the two plants I've miraculously kept alive on a kitchen windowsill for years, served with rice (we love this organic rice so much we buy the long grain white and the short grain brown by the case and keep it in the freezer) and a freshly picked kale salad tossed with dried cranberries and pecorino romano and dressed with lemon juice and olive oil.

I'm also hoping to finally get around to mixing up a sourdough starter to replace the one I accidentally killed a couple of months ago. After 22 years of baking bread and acquiring a small mountain of bread books (some of which still feel overwhelming when I flip through them), I always go back to where I started, with my bread baking hero's easy to understand, now classic book when I need to make a new levain starter, or when I just want a little bread baking inspiration. (It was such a thrill to talk to him on the phone for nearly an hour last summer!)

I use the levain to make everything from Basil's simple and delicious pain au levain (page 189) to homemade pizza. Years ago I tried the San Francisco sourdough recipe (page 212) and with one bite was instantly transported back to the Bay Area where I grew up. I've been meaning to make it again ever since. The rye sourdough starter is also wonderful for making rye breads, but lately instead of trying to keep two starters alive I've just been using the levain to make my sourdough ryes. No complaints yet.

Since spring has apparently already sprung, there are several cleaning and decluttering projects in the house I'd also like to start (and finish) tackling, but that's a never ending, never very exciting year round list, at least around here. What's much more likely to happen is that I'll blow off the cleaning, close my eyes to the mess, and take a nice long walk with the dogs. It's a simple matter of priorities. Good food and time with the animals win out every time.

Tuesday, February 14

Tuesday Farm Photo: Happy Valentine’s Day (And a Few of Our Favorite Things)

Sending you valentine wishes from our hearts to yours!

And since I always enjoy reading about other bloggers' useful discoveries and favorite finds, I thought I'd share a few things we’ve been really loving lately:

—Getting back into print magazines with $5 subscriptions to Country Living, Martha Stewart Living, and Better Homes and Gardens. (I’ve also been lusting after a subscription to the gorgeous Country Living England version ever since my dear friend Beverley brought me several issues when she visited back in 2010, but it's a little more than $5).

—Using Dr. Bronner's pure-castile organic liquid soap​ instead of regular shaving cream. Works great, no scary chemical ingredients, and you need to use so little that the 32-ounce citrus scented bottle I bought several months ago will literally probably last for years, though you can also use it for everything from hair washing to floor mopping.

—Our Aeropress coffee and espresso makers. Two years ago we ditched temperamental espresso machines for these handy little gizmos and have never looked back. We have two and use one for coffee (we've been really enjoying this small batch organic coffee, which is only $16.99 for two pounds) and one for Crio Bru roasted and ground cocoa beans (so good, and so good for you; Joe likes it plain and hot, I drink it cold with lots of milk).

We heat the water in an electric kettle (also ​great for making tea; why didn't we get one years ago?​​) and check the temperature with a digital thermometer (another thing I waited far too long to buy; it's so much better than the dial kind) that ​I​ also use to check everything from roast chicken to rising bread dough.

—On a whim we bought a round Lodge cast iron bacon/grill press recently and are so happy we did. It works especially well with pork jowl meat, which curls up in the pan so much that it's hard to cook evenly. Not anymore!

—It was a bedtime reading life changer (for both of us) two years ago when I switched off the blinding spotlight small lamp on my nightstand and turned on this cute Mighty Bright book light instead. I use these rechargeable batteries in it, as well as in a bunch of other things around the house.

—Speaking of turning down the lights, all the natural light in our airy, upstairs ​bedroom is wonderful, but I don’t ever want to be without these ​Lewis N. Clark ​sleep masks​. We ​fell in love with ​them ​five years ago after trying so many others that were uncomfortable ​​or ​just ​didn’t work. I use mine every night.

—And lastly, these pretty blue glass spray bottles I bought a few months ago may not have been life changing, but they’re so much nicer than plastic. I’ve been filling them with homemade window cleaner and essential oil sprays and they always make me smile.

Okay, time to head outside to do chores, scare up some champagne and chocolate (and probably dinner too, I guess), and curl up to watch—what else?Valentine's Day!

Monday, January 30

Recipe: Classic Meyer Lemon (or Regular Lemon) Scones

These oversized scones are crunchy outside, moist & tender inside (recipe here).

It's citrus season! Meyer lemons are beautiful little fruits that are mostly grown on backyard trees, but their rising popularity in recent years means they can often be found at farmers' markets in warm climates, as well as at natural foods stores and supermarkets around the country. They're sweeter, less acidic, and have thinner skins than regular lemons. They also have a wonderful floral scent—and make delicious scones.

If you can't get your hands on any Meyer lemons, these scones—which freeze beautifully—are still very nice when made with regular old lemons. Or you can even use oranges instead.

This recipe is a variation of the traditional currant scones I used to sell at the little bakery cafe I had in my previous California life, back before I moved to the wilds of Missouri and became an enthusiastic but clueless farmgirl. British ex-pats loved them.

They taste great plain, but you can fancy them up by adding currants or raisins and/or sprinkling coarse sugar on the tops. Butter, berry jam, and a proper pot of your favorite English tea are optional. I recommend serving them warm.

More Farmgirl Fare recipes for lemon lovers:
Really Lemony Lemon Bars (so easy, low sugar)
Lemon Coconut Quick Bread (made with unsweetened coconut)

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

©, where homemade scones are always in season, but they're especially nice to cozy up and munch on during winter.

Tuesday, January 10

Recipe: Healthy and Hearty Roasted Garlic Lover's White Bean Soup

So good for you and so good tasting, this thick and hearty vegetarian white bean soup is cold weather comfort food at its best (recipe here).

After an unseasonably mild fall (including a swim in the river in October!), it finally feels like winter on the farm. In the last week we've had a snowstorm, a couple of arctic blasts, and one -5 degree F morning. Today it's supposed to get up to a freaky 60 degrees, but ice pellets, rain, and 40 mph winds are in the forecast. It's time for some homemade soup!

This Roasted Garlic Lover's White Bean Soup, which is so thick it should probably be called white bean stew, has been one of the most popular winter recipes on Farmgirl Fare ever since I originally shared it back in 2006.

It's packed with flavor and is so simple it can be made by nearly anyone. It can also be eaten by nearly everyone: it's vegetarian, vegan, gluten-free, dairy-free, and fat-free, and any ingredient except for the beans and water can be successfully omitted if necessary.

This recipe also happens to be cheap to make, freezes beautifully, smells divine while simmering on the stove, and is really good for you. But more important than all that? It tastes delicious—and it's even better after sitting for a day or two in the fridge. Enjoy!

P.S. Quick and Healthy Cream (or not) of Artichoke Soup and Ina Garten's Roasted Leek and Potato Soup with Arugula.

©, the winter loving foodie farm blog where there can never be too many cozy vintage blankets and quilts—or too much homemade soup.

Thursday, December 22

Recipe: Easy Cranberry Christmas Scones (and Rave Reviews from First Time Scone Bakers)

They're moist on the inside, with a nice light crunch on the outside (recipe here)

A little shout out for another long time favorite recipe from the Farmgirl Fare archives. . .

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 back in 2002 when 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 the rave reviews from Farmgirl Fare readers below.

Thanks so much to all of you who take the time to come back and comment on my recipes. And thanks for pinning them on Pinterest!

Wishing you a joyful, peaceful, and delicious holiday season!

Read the rave reviews below. . .

Friday, December 9

Easy Holiday Recipe: How To Make Homemade Chocolate Biscotti (and Rave Reviews)

It wouldn't be December on the farm without a shout out for this simple, scrumptious, and super popular chocolate biscotti, which makes a wonderful holiday gift (recipe here).

Looking for a heartfelt holiday gift that looks impressive, tastes delicious, and doesn't cost a fortune? Think homemade biscotti! I've been making and giving (and eating) this Easy Chocolate Biscotti for over 16 years, and it's always a huge hit.

I have to warn you, though; sharing it with friends and loved ones may start a holiday baking tradition you'll be forced to carry on each year. I have people who expect this biscotti for Christmas (and any other time I'm willing to make it for them).

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.

This 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 taste best if allowed to rest at least a day after baking and 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 shared it back in 2005. I especially love hearing about all the signature touches. Mint chocolate chips mixed in to the dough? Yes, please!

Thanks so much to all of you who take the time to comment on my recipes. And thanks for pinning them on Pinterest!

More below. . .

Monday, November 21

Recipe: Quick and Easy Roasted Brussels Sprouts with Lemon and Parmesan (and Rave Reviews)

Classic, simple, healthy, and delicious! (recipe here)

Need a last-minute vegetable dish for your holiday table? These Quick & Easy Roasted Brussels Sprouts with Lemon and Parmesan are a simple and scrumptious solution. I've been making them for years and still can't get enough.

This super popular recipe calls for just one bowl and one pan. There's no need to cut a little X in each stem or boil the sprouts before roasting. You don't even have to turn them while they're cooking.

And if, like me, you discover how easy it is to put away an entire pound of these thankfully healthy little things yourself (and/or you like eating leftover brussels sprouts for breakfast), you can just double the recipe. 

Try the slightly gussied up version with garbanzo beans and dijon mustard, or make it a main course by tossing the roasted sprouts with farfalle (bowtie) pasta and plenty of freshly grated Romano or Parmesan.

For a real treat, fry up some bacon, then sauté some coarse fresh breadcrumbs in a few Tablespoons of the bacon grease over medium heat until golden and crisp. Toss the pasta and brussels sprouts together, then top with the crumbled bacon, breadcrumbs, and cheese. So good.

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" version 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!!!!!!!!

Wishing you a happy and filling Thanksgiving!

More Thanksgiving vegetable recipe inspiration from Farmgirl Fare:

©, where vegetables, donkeys, and dessert live peacefully ever after.

Tuesday, November 1

Recipe: Honey Ginger Pear Bran Muffins Made without Bran Cereal (and Rave Reviews)

These moist and healthy whole grain bran muffins are sweetened with honey and contain oat bran and wheat bran instead of bran cereal (recipe here).

My foodie mom and I came up with the recipe for these 100% Whole Grain Ginger Pear Bran Muffins back in 2007 during one of her eat-a-thon farm visits, and we've been loving them ever since. At one point she declared them to be the best muffins she's ever eaten. Not just the best bran muffins, but the best muffins.

A scrumptious variation of my super popular 100% Whole Grain Bran Muffins, they're moist and flavorful and are made with hefty portions of both soluble fiber (oat bran) and insoluble fiber (wheat bran). They're sweetened with honey—although there is some sugar in the candied ginger—and they don't call for any store bought bran cereal, which is a pet peeve with me and bran muffin recipes.

The recipe makes 12 large muffins that taste even better the second day and freeze beautifully. I just toss them into a zipper freezer bag and pull out one or two the night before so they're defrosted for breakfast the next morning. They make a filling and wholesome snack and are the perfect thing to have on hand during the busy holiday season.

Need more convincing? Here's what Farmgirl Fare readers are saying about (and how they're adapting) this recipe:

Read the rave reviews below. . .

Wednesday, October 19

Recipe: Really Easy Low Sugar Pear Butter Cooked in the Oven

Very ripe pears are the secret to this flavorful, foolproof pear butter that keeps in the fridge for a few weeks and freezes well. No canning required! (recipe here).

Pears are in season, and there's nothing like homemade pear butter. This popular Really Easy Low Sugar Pear Butter I've been making for years in the oven is so simple and it tastes divine.

To make this recipe, you will not have to:

- Peel and core your pears.
- Fill up a sink with dirty pots and pans.
- Boil your fruit in water to cook it and then pour that flavor- and nutrient-filled water out.
- Babysit a simmering pot on the stove for hours, stirring every few minutes so that it doesn't scorch.
- Use anywhere near a cup of sugar per each cup of fruit (as many recipes do).
- Tell the lucky eaters of your fabulous homemade pear butter just how little effort it actually took to make it.

You will need a food mill and about two and a half hours of time, though the total hands-on work is maybe 20 minutes. You will also need very ripe pears; the riper they are, the sweeter they are. This is a great way to use up bruised and battered pears, which taste extra sweet.

Pears are plentiful and cheap right now, and in many places they're available locally grown. Unfortunately pears are also high on the Environmental Working Group's list of Most Contaminated Produce (strawberries and apples are #1 and #2 this year), so it's especially important to seek out organic pears if at all possible.

A good mature pear tree can literally produce several hundred pounds of fruit each year, so ask around. You might discover that a friend or neighbor would love for you to take a bushel or two off their hands. You can also search for fresh pears near you.

If you're facing a mountain of ripe pears, making pear butter is the perfect way to use it up. You can process jars of pear butter in a water bath canner, but it will keep unprocessed in the refrigerator for at least a couple of weeks (I never have any around longer than that), and it also freezes well.

Homemade pear butter makes a wonderful gift, and if you don't want to bother with the canning process, simply tell the recipient to stick their jar in the fridge and enjoy it right away.

Thursday, October 6

Recipe: Soft and Chewy Oatmeal Coconut Cookies Made with Unsweetened Coconut

Buttery and full of coconut flavor, these cute little oatmeal cookies are an old-fashioned sweet treat everyone will love (recipe here).

I came up with the recipe for these Soft and Chewy Oatmeal Coconut Cookies back in 2012 and they've been getting rave reviews ever since. They're thin, chewy, easy to make, and really hard to stop eating.

If you've never tasted natural, unsweetened shredded coconut, you're in for a nice surprise. The coconut flavor really comes through, and unlike the highly processed sweetened stuff, it doesn't contain preservatives like propylene glycol and sodium metabisulfite. A couple of years ago I discovered Saigon cinnamon, and the flavor is amazing.

These cookies taste even better the next day and they freeze beautifully. Pack them in lunches, try them with a cup of tea, or serve them up with a glass of cold milk for a satisfying after school snack. I even like them for breakfast.

Thursday, September 22

Recipe: Arugula Salad with Pan-Fried Herbed Potatoes, Cherry Tomatoes, Feta Cheese & Kalamata Olive Vinaigrette

A flavor-packed main course salad bursting with seasonal bounty (recipe here).

This scrumptious Arugula Salad with Pan-Fried Herbed Potatoes, Cherry Tomatoes, Feta Cheese and Kalamata Olive Vinaigrette is one of those dishes that becomes much more than the sum of its parts. And it's a perfect way to celebrate the flavors of late summer and early fall from the garden and farmers market.

Despite my Irish ancestry, I'd never been big on potatoes—often going literally years without eating any—until I moved to the country and for some reason decided to try growing my own. Wow, what a difference. Though what possessed me to plant 250 feet of potatoes that first year I will never know. I didn't even know what a potato plant looked like.

This year I have a much more reasonable 16 feet of Yukon Gold and (some already forgotten variety of) red potatoes in my organic kitchen garden, but they went into the ground so late I still haven't dug any up yet.

These crisp, herby potatoes also taste great on their own, and the quick kalamata olive dressing is nice on other salad greens too.

The best thing about arugula is that you can quickly and easily grow this cold tolerant and nutritious peppery green from seed (baby leaves are ready for picking in about a month) and if you let some of it bloom, it will reseed itself.

No arugula? Try some crunchy romaine lettuce instead; or use some of each. For the last few years my favorite variety of lettuce to grow has been an heirloom romaine called Parris Island Cos, which tastes great and is amazingly heat tolerant. I wish I'd discovered it 20 years ago.

The combination of ingredients and the vinaigrette are what's most important with this salad, not the specific amounts. So once you've made the recipe, you'll be able to toss everything together more quickly next time. To make it a more substantial meal, simply add some slices of leftover grilled chicken or steak.

As always, I urge you to seek out local and organic ingredients. They really do make a difference. I don't, however, recommend planting 250 feet of potatoes for two people, no matter how much garden space you have available.

Thursday, September 8

Green Tomato Salsa Relish Recipe: No Sugar, Super Simple, Totally Delicious!

Wondering what to do with green tomatoes? Try my no sugar, super simple, salsa-like green tomato relish. No blanching, peeling, or canning (unless you want to) required.

It's become a Farmgirl Fare tradition to re-post this little shout out each year, and in the sales pitch below you'll find rave reviews from fans of my super popular No Sugar, Salsa-Like Green Tomato Relish Recipe, which is a tasty, easy way to use up all those green tomatoes still out on the vine. Enjoy!

When the first frost threatens in fall, I pick all the remaining green tomatoes in the garden that I can. Green tomatoes will eventually ripen when stored indoors at room temperature (don't put them in the refrigerator!), although the flavor won't be nearly as nice as vine ripened. Of course any homegrown tomato eaten on Thanksgiving or Christmas tastes fantastic, but why not celebrate their greenness instead?

I created this no sugar green tomato relish recipe
years ago for Kitchen Gardener magazine. It doesn't call for the usual raisins or spices and is really more like a thick salsa. It's easily adaptable to what you have on hand, and there's no blanching or peeling required—you just chop everything up and toss it into a pot. And since it'll keep for several weeks in the refrigerator, canning is optional.

But don't just take my word regarding this recipe. Below is a sampling of what others have said about it over the years. Thank you all so much for taking the time to come back and comment on my recipes. And thanks for pinning them on Pinterest!

Read the green tomato relish rave reviews below. . .

Tuesday, August 30

Farmhouse White: An Easy Sandwich Bread Recipe for the Perfect BLT (or PBJ)

Does anything taste better than a BLT on old-fashioned, homemade bread?

The beginning of BLT season is something we eagerly and impatiently anticipate all summer long. For us, it's a momentous occasion that ranks right up there with birthdays and Thanksgiving.

The sandwiches, which we have for dinner, are always made the same way, with juicy heirloom tomatoes from the organic kitchen garden, meaty salted and smoked (without nitrates) bacon from a locally raised hog we have butchered to our specifications, lots of my favorite (and amazingly heat tolerant) Parris Island Cos lettuce from the garden if we're lucky, but most likely crunchy iceberg from the grocery store (hey, it's late summer in the Midwest), plenty of Hellman's mayonnaise, and perfectly toasted slices of freshly baked Farmhouse White.

We've already had BLTs several times this month, and we're nowhere near tired of them yet.

If you've been longing to learn how to bake your own sandwich bread, my easy Farmhouse White is the perfect place to start, and the recipe includes detailed instructions for beginners. I also offer lots of bread baking tips here and here.

Made with milk instead of water, this is a simple, traditional loaf that's nice and soft, but not too soft. It's great for just about any kind of sandwich and brings peanut butter and jam—a breakfast staple around here—to a whole new level. It's wonderful toasted, smells heavenly while toasting, and makes an awesome BLT.

The best part is that once you're comfortable with the basic recipe, you can go on to experiment by adding other ingredients to the dough. This can be a lot of fun, as even a slight change will often give you a completely different loaf. The bread in the BLT photo above was made using several cups of white whole wheat flour in place of some of the all-purpose flour.

I've been baking this bread for 16 years and have watched plenty of people who claim they never eat white bread gobble slices up. It's been one of my most popular recipes since I originally shared it back in 2011, and I've heard from many former nervous novices who are now confident bread bakers thanks to Farmhouse White. Maybe you'll be the next one!

Have you been enjoying BLTs this summer? How do you like yours?

More bread posts on Farmgirl Fare:
Easy French Bread Recipe: Four Hour Classic Parisian Baguettes

©, where it's not just a sandwich, it's a freshly baked, bacon-filled adventure.

Tuesday, August 23

Recipe: How To Make Your Own V8 Juice (Easy Homemade Vegetable Tomato Juice)

Bye bye, V8 juice! This healthy, homemade V4 version will blow you away (recipe here).

For the first time in ages (decades?), I actually managed to get some of my tomatoes planted early on time in the kitchen garden this year. And although it's been a strange tomato season so far (for one thing, I've plucked off more massively destructive—and totally creepy—tomato hornworms this year than in the last 20 years combined—yuck) a couple of reliable varieties have done really well, and we've been enjoying them on everything from BLTs and tacos to big dinner salads and frittatas.

And yet at last count I still have eight big colanders and bowls of tomatoes in various states of imperfection (cracks, big bite marks, just plain rotting) covering every flat surface in the kitchen. What to do?

Make a batch of this easy homemade tomato vegetable juice! It's a refreshing way to drink your garden veggies and keep up your stamina while working out in the heat, plus it'll help you quickly use up all those overripe, imperfect, or just plain ugly tomatoes.

This flavorful, rejuvenating juice is like Campbell's V8 juice but much better, and it's been one of the most popular recipes on Farmgirl Fare all year round (hello readers in the southern hemisphere!) since I originally shared it back in 2008. Did you know V8 juice is mostly made from water and tomato paste, plus a frightening amount of salt?

Technically my gardener's delight version is only V4, though you could certainly add more vegetables, such as beets, spinach, carrots, or sweet peppers, if you like. Either way, the homemade version will blow that V8 away.

To make it, all you do is chop everything up and toss it into a pot, simmer until soupy, then put it through a food mill.

This juice will keep for at least a week in the fridge, or you can preserve it in glass jars (canning instructions are included in the recipe) to enjoy the taste of vine-ripened tomatoes on a deep winter day, when the heat and sweat of summer are nothing but a distant memory.

P.S. Quick and Easy Gazpacho (totally refreshing chilled tomato vegetable soup) and Pasta with Easy Sun-Dried Tomato, Fresh Tomato, and Artichoke Pesto (I love this stuff).

Friday, August 12

Friday Farm Photo: Have a Homespun Weekend.

Any plans this weekend? We're looking forward to the arrival of a big thunderstorm that's supposed to bring a couple inches of rain and some sweet relief from this sweat-drenching heat. I realize it's the middle of August in Missouri, but we're all pretty tired of hearing that it's 96 degrees outside but feels like 109. Bring on that cool rain. Please.

Rainy day plans include bottling three cases of home brewed beer, baking a Mexican Monkey Cake (which freezes beautifully) with some really flavorful organic bananas, and searching through way too many containers of seeds in the freezer (this is after emptying out at least seven or eight containers last winter) for all the fall crops I probably should have started a couple of weeks ago. But it was way too hot.

I think it's too late in the season for the Maxibel and Masai haricots verts we love so much and that I never got around to planting in the spring (I haven't had good luck growing fall bush beans in the past), but I have high hopes that Swiss chard, tatsoi, mizuna, kale, arugula, broccoli, and several kinds of both heat and cold tolerant lettuces will soon be feeding us into the winter. That is if I can find any space to plant in the overgrown jungle that used to be my kitchen garden. Summer rain is always welcome (anything for a respite from watering) but boy, do the weeds go crazy after it. I can hear my hunky farmguy out there weed whacking now, so there's hope.

The weekend menu will be featuring freshly picked tomatoes, tomatoes, and tomatoes!

P.S. Greek Style Panzanella Salad with pan-fried olive oil croutons and Easy Italian Countryside No-Cook Tomato Pasta Sauce with basil, capers, and kalamata olives.

Monday, August 8

Recipe and Rave Reviews: Tomato, Mozzarella, and Basil Pesto Pie with and Easy Cheesy Biscuit Crust

Scared of pie dough? This easy biscuit crust is perfect for beginners (recipe here).

It wouldn't be summer on the farm without a shout out for this longtime favorite recipe from the Farmgirl Fare recipe archives. Enjoy!

Do tomatoes and basil say summer to you? Do you love pesto and savory pies and melted mozzarella cheese? Then you'll want to celebrate the bounty of summer with this Savory Tomato and Basil Pesto Pie.

This is one of my most popular recipes, and men seem to especially like it. My friend Susan in Vermont once said to me, "I'm making your tomato pesto pie for dinner tonight. I made it last week, and my husband fell in love with me all over again." You'll find more rave reviews below.

When my pal Finny, who has been known to live by the motto All pie, all the time, first tried this recipe back in 2006, she added a layer of insurance for her meat loving husband—cooked and crumbled Italian sausage. How brilliant is that?

If you want to try adding some, too, you'll find my easy recipe for homemade Italian sausage here (no casings required!), and there are helpful step-by-step photos of Finny's version of this pie here, which she makes every year with Brandywine and Better Boy tomatoes from her garden (warning: Finny uses bad words).

If you're scared of pastry crust, you're going to love this recipe. The  biscuit dough is practically foolproof, and the pie itself is easy to make but looks impressive and tastes delicious.

Don't believe me? Below is a sampling of rave reviews from the comments section. Thanks so much to all of you who take the time to come back and report on my recipes. And thanks for pinning them on Pinterest too!

Read the Savory Tomato Pesto Pie reviews below. . .