Friday, September 30

It's A Name That Sheep Contest! You Could Win A Sheep!

Help! I need a name!

Okay, that's a nice head shot there.

Now turn and show us your profile. Yes, yes, that's great!

And the other way. Perfect!

It can take a while to get a name around here. And if you do actually get one, there's no guarantee it'll be a good one. You might get stuck with something spectacularly uncreative, such as 'New Cat' or 'Whitey.' Or something just this side of embarrassing--like 'Snugglebunny.'

The lovely lady you see in these photos has been known as Yellow 21 for over two years, and she feels that this has gone on long enough. She wants a real name. A good name. A name a sheep can hold her head up high and be proud of.

This is where you come in. I have decided to hold a contest to come up with the perfect name for this sheep. And if your entry is chosen as the winner, you will become the 'honorary' owner of your newly named sheep! What does this mean? Well, if you so desire, you will receive (via email) periodic news about your sheep, including what she's been up to lately, how her health is doing, photos if she's willing to pose for them, and, of course, progress reports during her upcoming pregnancy and up-to-the-minute details of the birth--including adorable newborn baby lamb pictures!

Note: Being the winner does not mean that 'your' new sheep gets to come and live with you. No, she stays right here on the farm (and you don't even get to visit her). But, you do get to tell all of your friends that you are the proud owner of a sheep. You simply explain to them that your sheep lives in the country because she is much happier there than she would be in, say, your fifth floor apartment or out on the fire escape or eating up all of the landscaping in your lovely backyard.

So if you are still interested in entering, here's how it works:

1. No purchase necessary! Simply leave your entry submission in the comments section of this post. If you do not have a blog or email through which you can be notified, just check back here to find out if you won.

2. Anyone can enter no matter what age/race/species/country you are in/whatever.

3. You can enter any name you like, except names that begin with the letters A and B. For example, if you entered Alice or Barbara, you would automatically be disqualified. (Yes, there's a good reason for this which I will explain another time.)

4. You are welcome to enter your own name if you so desire (as long as it doesn't start with an A or a B). If you have a masculine name but still want to enter it, just give me a good reason why you feel it would be an appropriate name for this female sheep. If you know that I already have a sheep that shares your name, well, you need to come up with something else.

5. You do not have to give a reason why you entered the name you did, but it would probably help your chances of winning. (Hint: I am a sucker for silly jokes and bad rhymes. Cute also goes over well with me. Who do you think named Snugglebunny?)

6. You are welcome to enter more than one name.

7. And just to make things a little more interesting, here is a way you can increase your chances of winning: read through the other entries and suggest why they should not be chosen as the winning name.

8. All judging will be done by a select, secret panel of totally biased and partial farm inhabitants. I have the last word.

9. The winner must agree to have their name used in conjunction with this contest as well as any future Name That Sheep contests that may or may not occur on this blog.

Now I hope you'll all put on your thinking caps and Name That Sheep!

Thanks to everyone who entered! Click here to read "At Last! We Have A Winner!" and find out what we finally named that sheep!

Daily Farm Photo: 9/30/05

I Hope Everyone Is Getting Along

Thursday, September 29

Attention: Farmgirl Has Left The Farm

Up The Driveway And Down The Highway

Yes, it's true. Joe is dragging me away for a few days of road trip fun. Not to worry, my mother (who has five whole days of previous farmsitting experience) and her beau (who has no farmsitting experience but is very brave) will be keeping watch over everything while we are gone. We have left them with pages of detailed instructions, several emergency phone numbers, about 20 pounds of very ripe heirloom tomatoes sitting on the kitchen counter, five freezers full of food, and a nice long list of farm projects from which they can pick and choose.

As for Farmgirl Fare, my mother has my blogger password, and Whitey has promised to help her post some daily photos, because I know some of you need your daily farm fix. (I just might have to find a computer somewhere and get one myself!) So the farm will be here, but I will not be responding to comments.

And even if you can survive for the next few days without us, you should still stop by for a visit so you can enter The Exciting Contest that will be going on while I am gone. Details coming soon!

Note: My mother has declared that not only is she not an early riser, but that she is also still on California time. So if you thought this morning's photo was posted late. . .

Daily Farm Photo: 9/29/05

Heart Of Vine

Wednesday, September 28

Daily Farm Photo: 9/28/05

It's Starting. . .

Tuesday, September 27

Autumn Bloom

Daily Farm Photo: 9/27/05

My Sweet Teddy Boy Is Growing Up

Monday, September 26

Pita, Pita, It's Time To Eata!

BLT Pita & Garden Bounty

And about time, too. After two weeks of runaway preoccupation and dozens of little balls of dough, I ran out of steam (and stomach space) on what I now refer to as The Pita Project. (I also started hearing things like, "Pita, Pita, Where's The Meata?")
So no more excuses. I turned the oven off and the computer on, gathered together my photos and findings, and wrote a post much longer than originally intended. I had some fun, learned a lot, and am absolutely stuffed.

I appreciate your patience, and hope you will find it was worth the wait. Just click here to start reading all about How The Pita Puffed.

Daily Farm Photo: 9/26/05

Well Seasoned

Sunday, September 25

Weekend Dog Blogging #2

Lucky Buddy Bear Happy In His Hay Cubby

After 15 weeks of Weekend Cat Blogging, the dogs have finally been invited to play. This new event is called (not surprisingly) Weekend Dog Blogging. We missed last week's premiere episode, but as you can see, Bear isn't real upset about it. (Nothing gets that dog down except scary thunderstorms, and who can blame him for that? I'd be safely huddled under the house with him if I could wiggle my way down there.) If you'd like to see more fun dog photos and discover yummy new food blogs, head over to Sweetnicks on Sunday night for the complete round-up and links to participants.

Daily Farm Photo: 9/25/05

I Can't Resist These Pink Sunrises

Saturday, September 24

Weekend Cat Blogging #16

Window Washing

Attention Cat Lovers! It's time for Weekend Cat Blogging #16!
Food Bloggers around the world unite each week and share pictures of our favorite felines. See cute cat photos and discover yummy food blogs. You'll find all the links to this week's entries here at Eat Stuff in Australia (run by the adorable Kiri). We'd love to have you join us. Just send your permalink in a comment to Clare (Kiri's slave) at Eat Stuff and add a "Weekend Cat Blogging" tag to your post.

Daily Farm Photo: 9/24/05

Look What Flew Into My Photo

Friday, September 23

Thursday, September 22

Daily Farm Photo: 9/22/05

Happy First Day Of Fall

Wednesday, September 21

Daily Farm Photo: 9/21/05

Donkey Doodle Dandy Loves To Hang Out In Corners

Tuesday, September 20

What To Do With All Those Green Tomatoes? Try My Salsa-Like, No Sugar Green Tomato Relish Recipe!

Running out of time? Turn a dilemma into delicious!

Update: Many thanks to all of you who have taken the time to come back and tell me how much you enjoyed this recipe! Click here to read some of the many green tomato relish rave reviews. If you'd rather have your tomatoes red, check out How To Ripen Green Tomatoes Indoors the Really Easy Way on my kitchen garden blog.

The shorter days and cooler nights of September signify a slowing down for the kitchen gardener. It's a time for reflection: on successes and failures in the garden, on the quiet winter months ahead, and on the fact that all those green tomatoes still out on the vines are never going to turn red.

If you abhor the thought of letting any of your precious garden bounty go to waste, this frightful realization may bring on all sorts of irrational behavior. Frantically struggling to cover your tomato plants with enormous tarps in gusty winds and plummeting temperatures while praying to the garden gods for a late frost is not the way to deal with green tomatoes. Making green tomato relish is.

Tastewise, unripe green tomatoes bear little resemblance to their fully ripened counterparts. They are crunchy and slightly tart and completely lacking in that unmistakable tomato flavor. But when slowly simmered on the stove, green tomatoes come into their own.

Green tomato relish is traditionally a sweet concoction, often made with raisins, ginger, cloves, and lots of sugar. Unfortunately this tends to be the type of thing that people receive in jars as holiday gifts and eventually end up throwing out because they have no idea what to do with it.

The following relish, however, is not sweet at all; in fact, it does not contain any sugar. It resembles a thick salsa but is easier to make, as green tomatoes don't even need to be peeled. Nor do the apples; all you really do is chop everything up and toss it into a pot.

This recipe also takes full advantage of the late summer/early fall harvest; red peppers, onions, garlic, and apples are all called for. Adding the cilantro and jalapenos right at the end helps them retain their bright color.

Green cilantro and jalapenos coupled with red peppers gives the relish a festive color combination that lends itself perfectly to holiday gifts—that definitely won't get tossed into the compost bin.

Relishes are quite forgiving, so don't be afraid to adapt the recipe to what your end-of-the-season garden or farmers' market has to offer. Any type of tomato can be used, and you can mix and match varieties. Paste, or plum, tomatoes will require less cooking time since they're meatier and have less juice.

A touch of red on a few of the tomatoes is fine, as long as they're still very hard. Fully ripe tomatoes, though, will give your relish a completely different flavor and consistency.

Partially green sweet red peppers can also be used, and you can adjust the amount of jalapeno peppers to suit your taste, or leave them out entirely. Other fresh hot peppers can be substituted. Leave the seeds in if you desire more heat.

Green tomato relish makes a tangy alternative to traditional salsa in quesadillas and tacos, mixed into guacamole, or as a dip with tortilla chips. It can be eaten hot, cold, or at room temperature.

Stir it into refried beans or cooked rice for an instant fiesta side dish. For a spicy burrito filling, lightly brown some ground turkey or diced chicken in a skillet, add equal parts green tomato relish and water, and simmer until thickened.

Put green tomato relish on a Monterey Jack cheeseburger in place of ketchup and pickle, or use it to liven up grilled flank steak. Mix a little into diced home-fried potatoes, or even hash, just before serving.

Green tomato relish will keep for several weeks in the refrigerator, or up to a year in the pantry if the jars are processed in a water-bath canner, which is a worthwhile and affordable investment. A Granite Ware canner and this really handy 6-piece canning set will only set you back about $35.

Canning adds very little prep time because you can set up your canning equipment during the hour the relish is simmering.

And as its zesty aroma fills the kitchen, you'll be secure in the knowledge that although the temperature has dropped and the wind is howling through the garden, both you and your green tomatoes are safe inside and ready for fall.

As always, I urge you to seek out locally grown and organic ingredients. If you don't have a garden full of green tomatoes, you may be able to beg some from a neighbor (many people simply let them go to waste) or ask your favorite vendor at the farmers' market to pick some especially for you.

I don't recommend using supermarket apple cider vinegar, which is often simply distilled white vinegar with caramel coloring. Instead, look for natural (preferably organic), unpasteurized and unfiltered raw apple cider vinegar with 5% acidity that contains the naturally occurring 'Mother' of vinegar. We love Bragg brand.

Organic raw apple cider vinegar is amazing stuff that is rich in enzymes and potassium and has been highly regarded throughout history because of its numerous internal and external health benefits.

We drink 1 to 2 Tablespoons diluted in water or unsweetened cranberry juice (with a little local raw honey added) every day (use a straw to protect the enamel on your teeth) and have also started giving it to our sheep (mixed 50/50 with garlic juice) as a natural wormer and overall wellness tonic.

Farmgirl Susan's No Sugar Green Tomato Relish
Makes about 3 pints
Recipe may be doubled; increase cooking time by 10 to 15 minutes

**Click here to print this recipe**

2 lb. green tomatoes, cored and chopped
1 lb. white or yellow onions, chopped
3/4 lb. sweet red peppers, cored and chopped
1/2 lb. tart cooking apples, such as Granny Smith, cored and chopped
6 garlic cloves, finely chopped
1 cup 5% acidic organic raw apple cider vinegar (or less, see note below)*
1 Tablespoon kosher or sea salt
4 jalapeno peppers, cored, seeded if desired, and finely chopped
2 Tablespoons chopped cilantro
1 teaspoon ground cumin (optional)

Combine the tomatoes, onions, peppers, apples, garlic, vinegar, and salt in a large, nonreactive pot and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer, uncovered, stirring occasionally, until thickened, about an hour.

Stir in the jalapenos, cilantro, and cumin and simmer for 5 more minutes. Carefully purée the mixture using a stick immersion blender (my KitchenAid hand blender is one of the best things I've bought for the kitchen) or in a traditional counter top blender, in batches if necessary, until still somewhat chunky. Don't over mix; you don't want it smooth.

If canning, return the puréed relish to a boil, then ladle the hot mixture into hot jars, leaving 1/4-inch head space. Process 15 minutes in a water-bath canner. Store in a cool, dark place.

10 calories, 0g fat, 60mg sodium, 0g fiber, per Tablespoon

* October 2009 Update: Since I originally posted this recipe four years ago, many of you written to let me know how much you love it (thank you!), but a couple of people have told me that their green tomato relish ended up tasting much too strongly of vinegar.

The 1 cup of apple cider vinegar called for is to ensure that this is safe for water-bath canning (green tomatoes are acidic, but the other vegetables lower the overall acidity—1 cup is plenty), but if you're planning to store yours in the fridge—where it will keep for several weeks without processing—and are concerned it might be too much vinegar for your taste, you can safely decrease the amount of apple cider vinegar to 1/2 cup, or even less.

If you want to give jars of green tomato relish as a gift without having to process them, just make sure the recipients put the jars directly into their refrigerator.

Can't live on relish alone? You'll find links to all my sweet and savory Less Fuss, More Flavor recipes in the Farmgirl Fare Recipe Index.

©, the not always vine-ripened foodie farm blog where Farmgirl Susan shares recipes, stories, and photos from her crazy country life on 240 remote Missouri acres.

Daily Farm Photo: 9/20/05

Green, Green, Green--But Not For Much Longer

Monday, September 19

Daily Farm Photo: 9/19/05

Morning Moonset

I was so mesmerized by the flashy brilliance of this morning's sunrise that I nearly missed the rare scene playing out behind me. (Unfortuntely I did miss capturing the moon in its entirety, but I caught a glimpse just before it slid behind the clouds, and it was breathtaking.)

Phew! I didn't think I was even going to get to Daily Farm Photo #101--let alone #1,000. Since I started trying to post these photos, the sun has made its way across the entire sky. It just dipped behind this ridge, chasing after the moon. Time for me to tuck in the sheepsies--another sunrise will be here all too soon.

Sunday, September 18

Daily Farm Photo 9/18/05: Sunflower

This is my 100th Daily Farm Photo—and one of my favorites.

It's been amazing.*

I would love to know what some of your favorite photos are.
For those who may not be familiar with how Blogger works, the easiest way to look through several previous posts at once is via the Archives (located in the left sidebar). Simply click on a month, and you will then be able to scroll down through all of that month's photos and stories.

So do you think I'll make it to Daily Farm Photo 1,000? Or will I run out of subject material long before that? As always, your comments and suggestions are greatly enjoyed and appreciated.

I'm so glad you're here.

*amazing: adj. astonishing, fascinating, stunning, shocking, wonderful, surprising, bewildering, prodigious, awesome, unbelievable, astounding, incredible, marvelous.

Saturday, September 17

Daily Farm Photo: 9/17/05

J2 & New Cat Survey The Day From The Cat Cabin

Attention Cat Lovers! It's time for Weekend Cat Blogging #15!
Food Bloggers around the world unite each week and share pictures of our favorite felines. See cute cat photos and discover yummy food blogs. You'll find all the links to this week's entries here at Eat Stuff in Australia (run by the adorable Kiri). We'd love to have you join us. Just send your permalink in a comment to Clare (Kiri's slave) at Eat Stuff and add a "Weekend Cat Blogging" tag to your post.

Friday, September 16

Daily Farm Photo: 9/16/05

Trying To Reach The Dog's Water Dish

Thursday, September 15

Daily Farm Photo: 9/15/05

What Color Are These Volunteer Balsam Flowers? Joyful!

And I am, too, because the phone is working again! It seems that our phone cable was struck not once, but twice by lightning Tuesday night. The line is full of static, though, and there's apparently still a problem with the dial-up connection. I just spent the last two and a half hours trying to get (and stay) online. Since there's not much I can do at a connection speed of 9.6 Kbps anyway, I'm giving up for now and heading back to the kitchen to check on the latest batch of Simple Summer Harvest Soup and finish sopping up the pond. (Another big storm came through last night and dropped 1-1/2 inches of rain outside and slightly less through the leaky kitchen roof.)

Thanks for all your wonderful comments. Hopefully I'll be 100% back soon. Oops. Did I just say soon? Oh no! Well, if you've been meaning to delve into the Farmgirl Fare archives, now might be a good time. . .

Wednesday, September 14

I'm Alive, But The Phone Is Dead

Greetings from the library! Yesterday saw a record number of visitors at Farmgirl Fare, and I think that our little dial-up connection just couldn't handle it. I woke up this morning to find the phone line dead.

Okay, I suppose it might have had something to do with the fierce thunderstorm that blew in last night and knocked out the power not 15 minutes after Clare and I simultaneously published our trans-continental cookie posts. I was hoping the phone would miraculously fix itself, but since we're the last house on both the phone and power lines, often we are the only ones affected, and nobody knows there's a problem but us. I gave in at 1:00pm and drove into town to report the outage to the phone company. (Don't you just love it when you call to tell them that your phone is dead, and they want a number where they can reach you? And yes, I actually do have a cell phone. It starts working about 25 miles from the farm.)
After establishing the fact that yes, we do have livestock, but no, the front gate is not locked, I gave what I hoped were fairly clear instructions on how to find the farm. I was cheerfully assured that, despite our lack of a physical address and no way for anyone to reach me, someone would fix the problem within 24 hours.

I suppose I still have until midnight to get a Daily Farm Photo up. I'm grateful the phone was working yesterday, though I couldn't help but smile this morning when I realized the irony of ending last night's post by saying, Isn't technology wonderful?

Tuesday, September 13

Two Continents, One Recipe, Cookies All Around

Please Pass The Milk

So what do you get when you combine two foodie friends, one global book swap, an intriguing new recipe, and the magic of email? About as close to "baking together" as two girls on opposite sides of the world can get. (Along with the discovery that one can, in fact, wake up in the morning with a cookie batter hangover. Note: Eating nothing but the baked version of said cookie batter for breakfast and lunch the following day does not help nearly as much as you would think.)

I've said before that I'm a sucker for chocolate chip cookie recipes. And I certainly can't resist a baking challenge--even if it does begin a half hour before my bedtime. Here's what happened.

Back in July, my pal Amy at Beauty Joy Food organized a book swap. (If you missed out on this fun event, do not despair; Amy has promised to host future swaps. She is even trying to get me to host one.) Our pal Clare at Eat Stuff in Australia signed up and received a copy of the New York Cookbook by Molly O'Neill from her swap partner. She dove into it yesterday and came up with a simple recipe for chocolate chip cookies which she then emailed to me to see what I thought of it. It immediately piqued my interest for two reasons: 1)It didn't call for any leavening, and 2)It had such a high ratio of butter to dry ingredients. I wanted to make these cookies.

A brilliant plan was quickly hatched. We would try out the recipe at the same time and compare the results of what happens when you are baking the exact same thing half a world away. I already knew from experience that when I changed even one little thing in a chocolate chip cookie recipe, it often caused a completely different outcome. This was going to be interesting. We would each write about our experiences, comparing results and including the recipe--which Clare would convert to metric for her post. And we would simultaneously publish our posts.

And so, with a flurry of emails (What is your brown sugar like? First tray is in the oven! Where are those pictures? Are you sure it said teaspoon and not Tablespoon? Where ARE you?) and a dusting of flour, our trans-continental bake-a-thon began. It was almost too much fun. (It was definitely too much cookie batter. I am 100% convinced that I inherited a gigantic batter-eating gene from my mother.)

The original recipe is from David "The Cookie King" Leiderman in New York and is called "Delicious Butterscotch Chocolate Chunk Cookies." He describes the cookies as "easy to make and absolutely delicious," adding that "they develop a butterscotch flavor as they bake and are extremely fragile."

The recipe was easy to make, but it also didn't look like it would yield much. I decided to make two batches so I would have enough batter to play around with different kinds of chocolate and various sizes of cookies. I made two minor adjustments to the recipe. I used 1 teaspoon of vanilla extract instead of 1/2 teaspoon, and I used chocolate chips instead of chopped bittersweet chocolate.

Pure & Sweet

I used Horizon Organic butter, C & H golden brown sugar, farm fresh eggs, and Heartland Mill organic, all-purpose flour. The big chips are Ghirardelli Double Chocolate Premium Baking Chips which are larger than most standard, American semisweet chocolate chips. The tiny chips are Nestle Toll House Semi-Sweet Chocolate Mini Morsels. I used the double chocolate chips in one batch and the mini chips in the other. The only other changes had to do with the size of the cookies and the baking times. Even the Baby Bear cookies (which were about half the size the Cookie King called for) were not close to being done after 6 to 8 minutes.

I Stole These From The Three Bears

I used three different scoops to make three sizes of cookies. If you fill them with water, the "Papa Bear" scoop holds 1/4 cup (or 2 fluid ounces), the "Mama Bear" scoop holds 2 Tablespoons, and the "Baby Bear" scoop holds 1 Tablespoon.

As you can see, just those two little changes made quite a difference when it came to the finished products.

All These And More From One Recipe

All of the cookies tasted really good. As far as the "butterscotch flavor," well, if you nibbled on just the brown edges of the double chocolate chip Mama and Papa Bears, you could almost kind of sorta taste it. But one bite with chocolate and it was obliberated. On the other hand, all of the cookies except the mini chip Baby Bears were definitely "extremely fragile" as he stated. Although the brown edges appear to be crunchy in the photo, they are actually very soft. Why one would want to make cookies this susceptible to falling apart I do not know--except perhaps to use it as a handy excuse not to be able to share them with anyone. (In fact, I do believe I employed just that line of reasoning last week after I made a batch of Rae's amazingly chocolately Brownie Bite Cookies that she wrote about recently on Bunnyfoot.)

My personal favorites were the Mama and Baby Bear sizes made with the mini chips. They spread more evenly and also held together better than the others. Plus they're cuter. My notes for the cookies made with the larger chips simply say "weird." They were clunky and didn't spread right. And they really fell apart easily.

While this recipe did not shoot right up to the top of the New Favorites list, it is definitely a keeper. And I realized that because the cookies were so soft, they would be good for making ice cream sandwiches since all the ice cream would not smoosh out the sides like it does when you bite into one made with crunchy cookies. To make: Freeze the cookies, and then assemble sandwiches using slightly softened ice cream. Put the sandwiches back into the freezer until hard. (Or enjoy right away with large napkin at the ready.) I made some with vanilla bean ice cream, and they were very, very good. I bet they would be even better with my favorite, coffee ice cream.

Save Some Cookies And Make A Few Of These
So that's my version of our all night/all day, highly entertaining baking adventure. We are both low on sleep and high on sugar right now, but it was worth it. The recipe, including my changes, is below. To hop over to Sydney and read Clare's side of the story, all you have to do is click right here. Isn't technology amazing?

David Leiderman's
Delicious Butterscotch Chocolate Chip Cookies
As Interpreted By Farmgirl

2 sticks (1 cup) butter, softened
1 cup packed light brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 large egg
1-1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1-1/3 cups chocolate chips (about 8 ounces)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Combine butter, brown sugar, salt, vanilla, and egg in a bowl and beat to make a smooth batter. (I used an electric hand mixer on medium speed for about 1 minute.) Add flour and chocolate chips, stirring with a rubber spatula until no traces of flour remain. (My butter was really soft, so I put the finished batter in the freezer for about 10 minutes to stiffen it up a bit before baking.) Using a scoop or spoon, drop batter onto a parchment-lined, heavy duty baking sheet. Bake until barely brown (or a little longer if desired). Cool on a wire rack. Yield depends on size of cookies. Makes about 4 dozen Baby Bear (1 Tablespoon) size.

Baking times in my oven:
Papa Bears: 16-17 minutes
Mama Bears: 14 minutes
Baby Bears: 10 minutes.
Note: Because the instructions said "bake until barely brown," I may have erred on the side of caution and probably could have baked all the cookies a little longer. This might have helped with the fragility factor.

Daily Farm Photo: 9/13/05

You Can't Fence Out A Sunrise

Monday, September 12

Daily Farm Photo: 9/12/05

One Hot & Happy Beagle

Sunday, September 11

Daily Farm Photo: 9/11/05

Bird Envy

Saturday, September 10

Simple Summer Harvest Soup

Freshly picked Aconcagua Sweet Peppers

Well, I couldn't be expected to subsist solely on pita bread this past week, now could I? (I really did try, though). But my favorite sweet peppers in the garden have finally turned red, and so I decided it was time for some soup.
This is one of the easiest soups you will ever make. I went from unwashed garden bounty to sample spoonfuls in less than 40 minutes. The combination of yellow squash and sweet red peppers gives it a unique flavor and gorgeous color.

The key, of course, is using the best ingredients you can find. Homemade chicken stock really does make a difference (in almost any recipe), and I always try to keep at least a few quarts of it in the freezer. It comes in very handy for impromptu soup making sessions.
You can vary the amounts of vegetables called for to suit your taste; more will give you a slightly thicker soup. You could use orange peppers instead of red if you happen to have some handy. My orange bells in the garden are so sweet and so few, I always end up cutting them into strips and just eating them raw or tossing them into salads.
This soup is also a good way to disguise vegetables from picky eaters. Because it is pureed, even ardent little squash haters would be hard pressed to correctly identify the offending ingredient.

It's healthy and light and yet heavy with the deep flavors of summer. It's delicious hot, cold, and at room temperature. It makes a delightful first course, or a perfect light supper when served with a simple garden salad and a hunk of warm crusty bread.
You can dress it up with a few fresh chives and a dollop of sour cream. You can toss in a few very ripe, chopped tomatoes when it is cold, and you can swirl in some nice pesto and instantly give it a completely different character when it is hot.

Or you can just stand over the stove and eat it straight from the pot, slurping it up with your big wooden stirring spoon. All in the name of recipe development, of course.
As with so many soups, this one tastes even better after sitting for a day or two in the fridge, if you can make it last that long.

Not in the mood for soup just yet? Pour it into plastic containers and freeze it until many months from now when all you are craving is a tasty dose of sunshine.
Farmgirl Susan's Simple Summer Harvest Soup

Serving up summer

2 to 3 Tablespoons good olive oil
2 large yellow or white onions
(about 1 pound), chopped
3 or 4 sweet red peppers
, bell or other shaped (about 1 pound), chopped
3 or 4 yellow summer squash
, such as crookneck or lemon (about 1 pound), cut into quartered slices
6 cups (48 ounces) homemade chicken stock
(or top quality store bought)
Optional garnishes:
Chopped fresh chives, sour cream, basil pesto, arugula pesto, chopped vine-ripened tomatoes

Heat the olive oil in a large pot over medium heat and add the chopped onions, peppers, and squash. Let cook for about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally, making sure to cover the vegetables with oil.** 

Add the chicken stock and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer with the lid cracked, stirring occasionally, until the vegetables are very soft, about 15 to 20 minutes.

Using a counter top blender or immersion blender (I love my KitchenAid hand blender), carefully puree the soup to desired consistency. Salt and pepper to taste, and serve hot or cold, garnished if desired.

*Check out my post, The Pita Project, to learn how easy it is to make your own delicious pita bread.
**Note: You can skip this step, and your soup will still taste wonderful. Just toss all the ingredients into the pot (without the olive oil), bring to a boil, and follow the rest of the instructions.

©, the soup slurping foodie farm blog where Farmgirl Susan shares recipes, stories, and photos from her crazy country life on 240 remote Missouri acres.

Daily Farm Photo: 9/10/05

New Cat Spends Most Of His Time High Above Dog Level

Attention Cat Lovers! It's time for Weekend Cat Blogging #14!
Food Bloggers around the world unite each week and share pictures of our favorite felines. See cute cat photos and discover yummy food blogs.
You'll find all the links to this week's entries here at Eat Stuff in Australia (run by the adorable Kiri). We'd love to have you join us. Just send your permalink in a comment to Clare (Kiri's slave) at Eat Stuff and add a "Weekend Cat Blogging" tag to your post.

Friday, September 9

Thursday, September 8

Daily Farm Photo: 9/8/05

Sedum Autumn Joy Is Blooming & Buzzing

Wednesday, September 7

Pita Update

A Pile Of Freshly Baked Pitas

So where is the recipe already? Is this yet another stalling tactic? Well, yes. It seems that what started out as just a colorful photo taken and posted on a whim (along with the promise of a recipe) has turned into quite The Pita Project. First, of course, I was waylaid over the weekend by all those ripe tomatoes. Then I ended up making four batches of pita bread in the last two days. I learned a lot and even took some helpful photos. I also became just a teensy bit frustrated, but I'll save those thrilling details for the actual post (yes, there is going to be one). In the meantime, I'm seriously considering changing the title from Pita, Pita, I Too Much Eata (even though that is more true now than ever) to one of these:
1. Pita, Pita, What A Stupid Idea
2. Pita, Pita, Why Won't You Just Puff Already?
Or there's the short and to the point:
3. Oh, Stuff It
Though I think I may end up going with the one suggested by my very understanding pal, Clare, at Eat Stuff in Australia:
4. What On Earth Made Me Tell You I Would Post About Pitas?
But, dear fellow bread lovers, do not despair. I will be posting not only the pita recipe and step-by-step photos, but also a surprise bonus recipe that is incredibly easy and instantly addicting. So when will all of this actually appear? Oh, I'm sure you know the answer to that by now. Soon!

Daily Farm Photo: 9/7/05

The Hornets Have Been Busy

Click on "The Hornets" above to see where they were a month ago. To see a series of photos of this amazing creation and learn about its builders, please click here. My apologies to those who are creeped out by this picture, but I couldn't resist sharing it. I find it fascinating.

Tuesday, September 6

Anyone For Spam?

No Thanks, I'm A Vegetarian

I didn't think so. Unfortunately, some ever-clever computer people have begun surreptitiously serving up enormous quantities of the stuff--disguised as blog comments that are actually advertisements usually linking to an unrelated site. They are known as "comment spam," and the problem seems to be expanding more rapidly than yeast cells in a batch of very happy bread dough.
And so, like many of my fellow food bloggers, I have been forced to activitate the Word Verification Option offered by Blogger. For those of you who have no idea what I am talking about, I will swipe's explanation:
"People leaving comments will be required to complete a word verification step. . . What this does is prevent automated systems from adding comments to your blog, since it takes a human being [or a chicken or a cat or a sheep] to read the word and pass this step. A lot of comment spam is done automatically by software which can't pass the word verification, so enabling the option is a good way to prevent many such unwanted comments."
So what does this mean for you? It means that you will have to decipher and type in a short series of very odd-looking letters (that never actually spell anything) before you can leave me a comment. What does it mean for me? That I have to hope you will put up with this extra step and still continue to leave your wonderful comments on Farmgirl Fare.
It's really not that bad. It's almost kind of fun (for about the first three times you do it). And if you find that the letters look so strange that you simply cannot figure them out, you have two options. 1) You can go ahead and enter the wrong answer and then be given a new set of (hopefully easier) letters to decipher. Or 2) You can start leaving all your blog comments late at night when you are very tired and have had a glass or two of wine because for some reason at that time all the letters are absolutely crystal clear. Of course, this may not be the best time to be leaving comments. . .
Thanks for your understanding. Your comments are an integral (and very entertaining) part of Farmgirl Fare. I hope to hear from you soon (yes, even if it's only to gripe about my activating the Word Verification Option).

Daily Farm Photo: 9/6/05

The Hay Is In, So Now It's Firewood Season

Monday, September 5

Shrinking Summer

This Should Keep Us In Sauce Through The Winter

Or Maybe Not. Just Seven Little Pints. So Where Did The Rest Go?

To A Few Tomato Loving Sheep!

Daily Farm Photo: 9/5/05

Back Rub For Big Chip

Sunday, September 4

Daily Farm Photo 9/4/05: Living in High Hen Style

No particleboard for our chickens - this coop even sports a handmade walnut door.