Wednesday, July 30

Wednesday Farm Photo: Super Market

Local Amish Front Yard Produce Stand

© Copyright 2008, the award-winning blog where the only thing better than 25 cent freshly picked cucumbers and containers of little ones for a dollar (besides growing and picking them yourself of course) is when you stop to get the mail at your postage stamp-sized post office on the way to pick up your locally raised, 270-pound hog at the Mennonite meat processor and the substitute postmistress asks if you need any cucumbers, and when you say, "Do you have some?" she smiles, holds up a plastic bag, and says brightly, "Three left, just for you—and they're even the burpless kind!"

Monday, July 28

Monday Farm Photo: Country Billboard

Tasteful Advertising

© Copyright 2008, the award-winning blog where even though our cucumber plants in the kitchen garden are just now beginning to flower (running late!) and our melon seeds are still in their little packets (maybe next year?), we've been feasting on enormous wedges of sweet, juicy melon for breakfast (we're out of cake) and more crisp, cool cucumbers than we care to count (is it possible for a person to eat too many cucumbers?)—thanks to our new enterprising and green thumbed Amish neighbors. Oh, and some of the best sweet corn (freshly picked while I waited) we've ever eaten, too.

Saturday, July 26

Saturday Farm Photo: Morning Commute

One of the Mini Flocks Heading out for Breakfast in the Hayfield

Want to see more?
Hayfield Photos
Haying Season Photos
Farm Landscape Photos
Same Scene, New View Photos
Homemade Swing Photos
Sheep Photos

© Copyright 2008, the award-winning blog where that small black speck on the right side of the photo is Lucky Buddy Bear doing a little morning surveillance.

Friday, July 25

Friday Farm Photo: Let Me Out Already

Cary Still Likes to Be
First Through the Gate Each Morning

Wondering who Cary is?
Meet her in A Tiny Tail For Mother's Day

Want to catch up with Cary?
Big Day For a Little Lamb
Cary Is Two Months Old Today!
Cary Is Three Months Old Today!
Cary Is Four Months Old Today! (And still allowed in the house)
Cary Is Five Months Old Today!
Cary Is Six Months Old Today!
Cary Is Seven Months Old Today!

Carybunga! Nine Months Old & Coming At You!
Cary Is One Year Old Today!
12/7/06: Cary Goes Grunge
1/7/07: What I Learned From Cary Last Year (Plus lots of links to photos of Cary laying waste to in the kitchen garden)
2/11/07: Cary's First Woolcut
12/6/07: Finally, A Cary Update
3/12/08: Cary Babies?
3/13/08: Cary, No Baby
4/18/08: A Cary Update
Friday Daily Dose of Cute: A Little Look Back at Cary

© Copyright 2008, the award-winning blog where, for various reasons, we currently have the sheep divided into five rather time-consuming mini flocks (which partly explains where I've been all week) and even though she doesn't have twins or need any extra TLC, Cary (who is doing great) is in the one that's right up by The Shack, where every morning she races ahead of the lambs to the hayfield gate (if she isn't already standing there impatiently waiting for me to open it). It's nice having her nearby again even though, unlike most of the other ewes, she rarely has time for pets or kisses.

Saturday, July 19

Saturday Farm Photo: Big Hearted

Love in the wet weather creek bed

And The Whole Picture

Want to see more heart rocks?
First Heart Rocks To Appear On Farmgirl Fare
Heart Rocks By The Barn
Hearts & Cats For Clare & Kiri
Happy Valentine's Day
Happy Birthday To My Sweetheart, Joe
Hearts & Rocks & Numbers & Thoughts
I Heart Homegrown Garlic
Heart Rock Embedded In The Front Step
Heart Rocks, Morning Sun
My Little Girl Is Growing Up
Snowstorms & Snowfall
My Heart Is Embedded In This Place
Hold Life In Your Hand & Keep It In Your Heart
Adding To My Heart Rock Collection
Handful Of Heart Rocks All Found At Once
Happy Valentine's Day
My Hearts Overfloweth
Little Hearts, Big Love
5/13/08: Still Collecting Heart Rocks

©, the award-winning blog where you may not always see the whole picture, but Lucky Buddy Bear is usually in it — and it's always a good idea to sign up for the super duper extended coverage AAA membership when you live in the middle of nowhere, since yesterday we broke our previous 'farthest we've ever been towed home after breaking down' record of 100 miles by another 70 miles.

Yep, we rode 170 miles in a tow truck, and as he unloaded our pickup in front of The Shack, the driver announced that we'd won both the Longest Tow and Most Remote Location awards. He also asked if we'd ever seen the movie "Deliverance." I told him everybody asks us that. (I've never actually seen the movie — and have been told more than once I don't need to.)

Tuesday, July 15

Tuesday Daily Dose of Cute:
How to Cool Off in the Middle of a Hot Field

Return of the Water Babies (aka Marta and Lottie)

Want to see more puppy pics?
4/27/08: Woof! Woof!
4/28/08: Meet and Greet with Cary
4/29/08: Marta Ready for Her Close Up
4/30/08: Bear Doesn't Play
5/3/08: Day Two - Pups on Patrol
5/7/08: All Day Hay Buffet
5/8/08: Lamb Crossing - Don't Mind the Puppies
5/9/08: In the Dog House?
5/10/08: Fiber Deficiency?
5/15/08: Pup & Robin
5/16/08: Splish Splash!
5/22/08: Off Duty (Very Off Duty)
5/24/08: On Duty or Off Duty?
5/29/08: Tug-O-War
6/24/08: Sisters in Paws

© Copyright 2008, the award-winning blog where (finally!) both fluffy white livestock guardian pups (who are a Great Pyrenees, Komondor, and Anatolian Shepherd cross — and are getting huge) have names! Lottie actually got hers a few weeks after arriving on the farm back in March, and right from the start we wanted to call the other one Clare, but that rhymes with Bear and — um, we'd better sign off before we break into showtunes.

Monday, July 14

Monday Daily Dose of Cute:
Itchy Itchy, Scratchy Scratchy

If Only She Could Reach That Backy!

© Copyright 2008, the award-winning blog where having two adorable baby donkeys around has proven to be very distracting—and we're loving all the wonderful 'E' names you've been suggesting for Daphne's little girl (pictured above). It definitely won't be easy to choose the perfect one! Hmmm, maybe she needs a two-name name.

Sunday, July 13

Sunday Daily Dose of Cute:
All Dried Off & Raring To Go

Daphne and Her Baby Girl, Age Two Days (taken yesterday)

© Copyright 2008, the award-winning blog where Daphne's as-yet-unnamed little girl (it has to start with E!), who was up and running not long after being born, apparently thinks racing shouldn't just be for horses and spent part of the morning galloping around and around and around an imaginary track at top speed while we cheered her on from the sidelines and a slightly confused Daphne watched, turning back and forth and back and forth, from the center of the ring. Then she veered off course and headed straight for the milk bar.

Friday, July 11

Friday Daily Dose of Cute: Up and Running

Maybe She Was Trying to Air Dry?

Need A Bigger Cute Fix?
The First Daily Doses of Cute
Daily Dose of Cute Part 2
Daily Dose of Cute Part 3
Daily Dose of Cute Part 4
Daily Dose of Cute Part 5
Lambing Season 2006 Photos & Reports
Lambing Season 2007 Photos & Reports
Lambing Season 2008 Part 1
Lambing Season 2008 Part 2

© Copyright 2008, the award-winning blog where Dolores' new baby is named Esmeralda, and Daphne's new baby (pictured above) will be given an 'E' name, too (2004 was 'A' names, 2005 was 'B' names, etc.), but I wanted to see how she looked dry first — quite fluffy! As soon as she and Daphne stop hiding out from the heat in the dark and shady woods, I'll snap some more photos and show you what she really looks like.

Thursday, July 10

Thursday Daily Dose of Cute:
It's Another Birthday Girl!

Still Wet — And Not Just Behind the Ears

Apparently Daphne felt bad that she hadn't gotten me anything for my birthday yesterday since Dolores had, so a couple of hours ago she gave birth to this darling little girl. Mother and baby are both doing fine. Way to go, Daphne — and Daddy Dan!

Want to see more of our expanding donkey gang?
(There will be some repeats because of the way I label blog posts)
Daphne Photos
Dolores Photos
Dinky Photos
Donkey Doodle Dandy Photos
More Donkey Photos
Even More Donkey Photos

© Copyright 2008, the award-winning blog where yesterday I was wrong - there is a cuter birthday present a farmgirl could ask for than a baby donkey: two baby donkeys of course! And the winners of the Comfort Food book and totebag giveaway will be announced just as soon as everybody's done giving birth around here, which technically should be now but you never really know. (And for the last time, that doesn't mean I might be pregnant!)

Tuesday, July 8

Tuesday Farm Photo: Winged Spectacular

Just as Busy as the Bees

See the comments section for notes about my beloved point and shoot camera and how I took this photo (no technical expertise required!).

© Copyright 2008, the award-winning blog where the echinacea is so popular we've been seeing pollinator pile ups on the brightly colored blooms — which are also called purple coneflowers but are actually quite pink.

Sunday, July 6

Sunday Farm Photo: Been Busy

Abuzz With Activity

Want to see more pollinator pics?
4/10/06: Look What Landed At My Feet
5/11/06: Butterfly Conference
6/22/06: Farms Depend On Pollinators
6/23/06: You Can't Have Too Many Pollinators Around
6/28/06: Butterfly Paradise
7/08/06: The Stuff Of Life
7/16/06: Butterfly Bonanza
8/18/06: Luna Moth Love (scroll down)
6/24/06: Pollinators & Sheep & I Love Spiderwort
6/29/06: Obsessed With Bunnies & Butterflies
8/26/06: Butterfly Photos Are Better Than Nothing
5/11/06: My Good Deed For The Day

© Copyright 2008, the award-winning blog where the echinacea (which we love!) is blooming like crazy, literally covered with bumblebees and butterflies, and pretty much the only thing around here not about to collapse from the heat.

Thursday, July 3

A Fresh, Lowfat Twist on Cole Slaw: Swiss Chard Cabbage Salad Recipe with Garbanzo Beans, Broccoli Stems, & Cottage Cheese

Colorful, crunchy, and good for you - pass the salad, please!

During a live chat last year with Julee Rosso and Sheila Lukins, authors of the bestselling Silver Palate cookbooks (and The New Basics, one of my all time favorite cookbooks), my foodie friend Sonia asked an interesting question:

I think that we all tend to read a recipe and then make it our own by adapting it to our tastes or to what is readily available in our areas. At least, that's how I usually cook. For example, the stuffed tomatoes recipe in the Silver Palate calls for ricotta and spinach, and although ricotta is readily available here in in Hawaii, I have a goat farmer friend up the road who makes chevre, so I use that recipe, along with Malabar spinach from my garden.

I'm curious, though—when someone tells you they have changed your recipe around, does it bother you, or are you pleased that you at least gave them a starting point?

And Julee replied:

I really take it as a compliment that someone has made [one of] our recipes and chosen to make it their own. That's what cooking is all about. I have an insatiable curiosity, and so sometimes I want to make the familiar, sometimes the new!!

Since I started Farmgirl Fare three years ago, I've heard from people all around the world who have made my recipes. While I love to know that you've enjoyed them, I also love it when you tell me that one of my recipes inspired you to head into the kitchen and create something of your own.

The other day I received this note from Sarah:

I read your blog regularly, and the other day I was bored at work so I was looking back through your archives. I was intrigued by your broccoli soup with chickpeas. I didn't follow your recipe at all except for the suggestion of an addition of a can of chickpeas.

I had a 2 month old head of cauliflower in my fridge and so I put some onions, garlic, celery, and cauliflower in some broth, cooked it up, added a can of beans, pureed and voila! I did have some pesto on hand so I added a teaspoon of that to the soup and it was amazing. My cat even ate a small bowl of the stuff! Thank you for the inspiration! I don't usually follow recipes but read them compulsively and rework them.

So not only did I inspire Sarah to whip up something delicious with that languishing head of cauliflower in her fridge, but I now have a tasty sounding new recipe for cauliflower soup as well.

Fortunately my dear friend Kat feels the same way as Julee and I do, because although I doubt anyone would recognize her Fresh Veggie Salad in this recipe, it was my inspiration.

Two things about Kat's salad jumped out at me: the intriguing combination of cabbage and spinach (something I'd never thought to do), and the addition of cottage cheese, which I've been tossing into all kinds of stuff lately, like this Fiesta Cottage Cheese Veggie Dip.

With those two ideas in mind, I simply took her recipe and ran with it.

Kat's version is versatile; she's rolled it up in chicken breasts, used it in omelets, and even tossed it on a pizza. Mine might be versatile, too, though I have yet to move beyond just gobbling it out of a bowl—or straight from the dish in the fridge.

This flavorful salad is low fat, low carb, and packed with fiber—but you don't have to share that part if you don't want to.

Farmgirl Susan's Swiss Chard Cabbage Salad
Makes about 8 cups - Inspired by Kat's Fresh Veggie Salad

This is actually the second Kat-inspired salad I created. The first version was made with spinach, but since I never got around to planting any spinach this past spring, I simply made due with what I had on hand this year—and that was plenty of homegrown Swiss chard.

I also took advantage of our scallion bounty. I'll hopefully get around to sharing the spinach version, too, but since I know a lot of you are looking for new ways to use up all your gorgeous Swiss chard right now, I figured this one needed to come first.

Freshly harvested Swiss chard from the Kitchen Garden

There's a nice crunch to this salad, in part because Swiss chard—which is easy to grow from seed—gives you a bonus veggie: the stalks can be chopped up and used like celery. Choose colorful varieties of chard such as Pink Lipstick, Canary Yellow, and Orange Fantasia and you'll have some of the prettiest 'celery' around.

If you tend to throw out broccoli stalks and only use the florets (shame on you!), this is a great place to toss them instead.

This pseudo slaw—which would be perfect for picnics and potlucks—looks best right after it's been mixed up, but it tastes best after it's chilled for a couple of hours. I use a large serrated knife to thinly slice the cabbage and a big chef's knife to slice the chard, which I kind of roll up into a bundle before cutting.

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

4 cups thinly sliced Swiss chard leaves
1 cup chopped Swiss chard stems
2 cups shredded green cabbage
1 cup shredded purple cabbage
1 or 2 large handfuls peeled & chopped broccoli stems
7 or 8 large chopped scallions (green onions)
1 15-ounce can organic garbanzo beans (chickpeas), drained and rinsed
1 16-ounce carton cottage cheese (I use low fat)
1/3 cup white balsamic vinegar
1 teaspoon onion powder or granulated onion
1 teaspoon garlic powder or granulated garlic
Salt & pepper to taste

More chopped scallions for garnish

Combine Swiss chard leaves, Swiss chard stems, green and purple cabbage, scallions, and garbanzo beans in a large bowl. Add cottage cheese and mix well.

Add vinegar and stir to combine. Sprinkle with onion and garlic powders and mix well. Salt & pepper to taste, adding a little more vinegar if desired. Garnish with chopped scallions and serve.

So how do you use recipes? Do you follow them to the letter? Improvise with what you have on hand, is in season, or that you think might taste even better? Or do you simply look for inspiration and then just totally wing it? If you've written about a favorite recipe creation on your own blog, you're welcome to include a link to it in your comment.

Related posts:
How To Grow Swiss Chard from Seed & Why You Should
Recipe: Hot Swiss Chard Artichoke Dip (and other ways to use Swiss Chard)
What To Do with 125 Scallions
How To Grow Arugula — Seed to Salad Bowl in Less than a Month
How To Grow Your Own Gourmet Lettuce from Seed

Other salads & potluck/picnic fare you might enjoy:
Swiss Chard Tuna Salad with Scallions & Kalamata Olives
Sour Cream & Onion Dip (and foodie travel)
Fiesta Cottage Cheese Veggie Dip (and factory tours)
Mexican Jumping Bean Slaw & Quick Vegetarian Tacos
Colors of Summer Salad
On Loving Lettuce & Eating Salad for Breakfast
Summer in a Bowl
The Easiest Greek Salad Ever

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

©, the greener than green foodie farm blog where Farmgirl Susan shares stories, photos, and recipes from her crazy country life on 240 remote Missouri acres—and we're slightly obsessed with salads (and cake).

Wednesday, July 2

Wednesday Daily Dose of Cute:
Happy First Birthday Dinky Donkey!

A Year Ago Today: Dolores & Just Born Dinky

© Copyright 2008, the award-winning blog where we actually have a whole little series of newborn Dinky photos that we'd planned to share, but time got away from us even more than usual tonight. It must have been baking the late night Parisian Daily Baguettes (beautiful!) that were immediately followed in the oven by a batch of White Whole Wheat Raisin Oat Scones (breakfast!). The rest of the Dinky photos will hopefully be posted tomorrow or Friday. We haven't forgotten about explaining the haying process either but, for obvious reasons, birthday announcements must come first.