Wednesday, October 29

Wednesday Daily Dose of Cute: Lookin' For Love

© 2008, the award-winning blog where everybody knows that happiness is a warm puppy. And for those of you sharp-eyed sheep sighters, this little ewe is indeed a Katahdin hair sheep (tails aren't docked, no shearing required, not sure about the little horns sprouting from her head). Last spring we decided to diversify—I just haven't gotten around to telling you about it yet. I know, I know, along with about a zillion other things. And for those of you with really sharp eyes, I'm pretty sure that in the bottom photo this silly lamb is smiling.

Tuesday, October 28

Monday Farm Photo: Just Doing Her Job

Warning: This Area Protected by Marta Guard

© Copyright 2008, the award-winning blog where we find non-stop, all night, coyote-scaring barking to be sweeter than the sweetest lullaby that sends us off into a deep and peaceful sleep each time we hear it—but it's probably a good thing that our nearest neighbors are several miles away.

Sunday, October 26

Sunday Daily Dose of Cute: Mostly Marta

She's Growing Up, but She's Still a
Water Baby

© Copyright 2008, the award-winning blog where yes, I did in fact name Marta after the main character in my second favorite movie (the first is "Out of Africa"), a quiet little German gem called "Mostly Martha" (pronounced Marta in German). I've watched this movie numerous times and think every single thing about it is wonderful, including of course that it's all about food. Unless you're trying to eat dinner while watching it, you barely even realize you're reading subtitles. Last week I took my chances and bought a used copy of the American remake, "No Reservations," despite it's poor reviews, since I love "Mostly Martha" so much and am a Catherine Zeta-Jones fan, but I turned it off before it was halfway over. I highly recommend the original!

Saturday, October 25

Saturday Farm Photo:
A Different Kind of Autumn Color

Courtesy of the Kitchen Garden

A year of Farm Photos ago:
10/16/07: A Beautiful Autumn Scene (it's the donkey)
10/19/07: New Face in the Cat Cabin
10/21/07: A Flash of Brilliance
10/25/07: Absolute Autumn

Two years ago:
10/18/06: My Little Girl is Growing Up
10/19/06: High Wire Act
10/23/06: Patchy Cat on the Old Porch
10/24/06: There's That Distracting Sky Again
10/25/06: I Get This Look A Lot

Three years ago:
10/22/05: So Brief, So Beautiful
10/22/05: Farm Cats Rescue Themselves
10/23/05: Flaunt It While You've Got It
10/23/05: Are You Smiling Yet?

And out of the October kitchen came:
Easy Little Chocolate Babycakes
Whole Grain Cottage Cheese Sandwich Bread
Factory Tours & Fiesta Cottage Cheese Veggie Dip
Fresh Tomato & Basil Whole Wheat Sourdough Bread
Quick & Easy Garden Gazpacho
Homemade Tomato Vegetable Juice

© Copyright 2008, the award-winning blog where we've past our official October 15th frost date without any frost, though we often get frost even earlier since we're tucked down in this little valley. Colder weather is headed our way, and while the majority of our green tomatoes are already safely in the pantry (some will turn red on their own and the rest are headed for a batch of my salsa-like green tomato relish), we couldn't help trying for a few more vine-ripened red—and orange!—ones (the ones ripened off the vine won't have anywhere near as much flavor). Thanks to floating row covers and old bedsheets we toss over the plants at night, we're still enjoying a few more—and oh how we're savoring each one. Update: Okay, so between the time I wrote this last night and woke up this morning, the farm has been completely covered with frost. Tonight we'll have the last BLTs of the season for dinner (made with bacon from the locally raised hog we had butchered this summer and served on toasted homemade bread) while the woodstove keeps us toasty warm. What a delicious contradiction!

Thursday, October 23

Thursday Daily Dose of Cute: Snuggled Up in Blue

Feeling Cozy & Safe - Or Just Continuing the Boat Theme?

Like to see more lambies?
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 we're gearing up for sheep breeding season 2008—which means lambing season 2009 is already on our minds (and will begin approximately five months after breeding season starts). Meanwhile here's a little look back at lambing season 2008—because cute baby lamb photos are always in season.

Wednesday, October 22

Wednesday Farm Photo:
Somewhere Under the Rainbow

Just When I Thought My Favorite View Couldn't Get Anymore Colorful

© Copyright 2008, the award-winning blog where there probably wasn't a pot of gold under the rainbow that popped out for just a few minutes after an unexpected little rain shower the other day, but we didn't care because our emotional bank account was overflowing with beautiful, peaceful (and pleasantly cool!) scenery.

Saturday, October 18

Saturday Daily Dose of Cute:
Getting to Know You (Come On, Sing Along!)

Getting to Know All About You

© Copyright 2008, the award-winning blog where stock dog Lucky Buddy Bear (who is half English Shepherd and half Australian Shepherd) knows that one of the most important parts of his job is to sit back and let the farm animals inspect him. He also knows that patience is a very handy virtue. Oh, and Evie looks a little bit odd because she's wet from munching grass that's covered with thick morning dew. Esmeralda isn't as fluffy so she doesn't get quite as damp—or else she's just learned how to eat without getting soggy.

Friday, October 17

Friday Daily Dose of Cute: Baby Love?

Or Just Pestering Mom?

I'll Let You Decide

Need more cute in your life?
Baby Donkey Photos
Donkey Photos
The First Daily Doses of Cute
Daily Doses of Cute Part 2
Daily Doses of Cute Part 3
Daily Doses of Cute Part 4
Daily Doses of Cute Part 5
Daily Doses of Cute Part 6

© Copyright 2008, the award-winning blog where baby Evie did indeed chomp down on Daphne's ear right after that last photo was taken—and we've decided that, besides being incredibly cute and entertaining, Evie's antics are the perfect payback for all the times Daphne has gotten into mischief.

Wednesday, October 15

Wednesday Farm Photo: October Feast

Lucky Cherry Enjoys a Little Lunch While I Enjoy the View

Want to see more fall color?
10/29/06: I Don't See Colors Like You Do. Let's Go.
11/3/06: From One Week to the Next
11/4/06: Grace & Beauty Are Everywhere (a favorite)
11/7/06: Walk in the Woods
12/14/06: Summer in the Barn, Autumn on the Ridge
12/18/06: Autumn Sunflower 2
12/20/06: Goodbye Autumn
9/23/07: Hello Autumn!
9/25/07: It's All in the Light
10/16/07: A Beautiful Autumn Scene (it's the donkey)
10/25/07: Absolute Autumn
10/28/07: Oh, October!
10/29/07: Frost is on the Pumpkins, Hay is in the Barn
11/6/07: Hayfield Grazing Rights
11/14/07: Ram Lamb Transport
11/16/07: Exercising with a View
11/17/07: Random Barn Shot

© Copyright 2008, the award-winning blog where we're not yet sure how spectacular the 2008 leaf changing show is going to be, and we're also not sure if sheep notice (or care about) the gorgeous colors of fall, but we certainly do. October is one of the best months on the farm. Does it look like autumn where you are yet?

Sunday, October 12

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

 Cooking with Less Fuss, More Flavor

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

Would you rather have your refreshing summer vegetables raw? Check out my quick and easy gazpacho recipe. Is your garden full of green tomatoes that won't have time to ripen? Turn them into my super simple, super popular salsa-like green tomato relish. Or learn how to ripen green tomatoes indoors the really easy way.

I have a sheep farmer friend who recently told me that she swears by Campbell's V8 juice when working out in the heat. She says it's more rejuvenating than drinking water or Gatorade and literally makes the difference between wanting to keel over and being able to keep going for hours.

This is the kind of stuff I need to know—especially during haying season.

But Campbell's V8 juice is mostly made from water and tomato paste, plus a frightening amount of salt. (Since you lose so much sodium while sweating, this may be part of the reason for its revitalizing abilities.) So what would be better than V8? Homemade V8!

Technically my version is only V4, but you can add more vegetables if you like. Either way, this healthy, easy to make vegetable tomato juice 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 (I have this one and love it). It's a great way to use up overripe, imperfect, or just plain ugly tomatoes, which you can sometimes find for a deal at farmers' markets. The first time I made it I used a bunch of tomatoes from my kitchen garden that had all cracked after a recent rainstorm and needed to be dealt with immediately.

Tuesday, October 7

Tuesday Daily Dose of Cute: Hey Good Lookin'

Lucky Buddy Bear in the Creekbed

© Copyright 2008, the award-winning blog where our stockdog Bear is half Australian Shepherd, half English Shepherd, and 100% Extremely Jealous Attention Hound. No matter where you are on the farm, if you bend down to pet somebody (dog, cat, sheep, little lamb, baby donkey—doesn't make a difference) he instantly appears and puts his wiggling, excited self smack in the middle of the love.

Sunday, October 5

Sunday Farm Photo: Little Beagle, Large Backyard

Robin in the Hayfield

Want to see more pup pics?
Lucky Buddy Bear (Stockdog Extraordinaire)
Fluffy White Livestock Guardian Puppies

© Copyright 2008, the award-winning blog where, at nearly 12 years old, Robin's daily inspection routes around the farm are a lot shorter than they used to be (and her time spent in the house impossibly curled up in a cozy cat bed is a lot longer than it used to be), but our little beagle baby still gets around—when she's not busy keeping those crazy donkeys a safe distance from The Shack and her yard, that is. (Robin hates donkeys. Hates them even more than cows, and she hates cows a lot.)

Saturday, October 4

Saturday Daily Dose of Cute: Cleanup Crew

Will Work for

A year of Farm Photos ago:
9/27/07: Made for Each Other?
9/30/07: It's A Stock Dog's Life
10/2/07: Love on the Rocks
10/5/07: Staredown

Two years ago:
9/28/06: Our New Ram Is Showing Some Style
9/29/06: Perfect Landing
9/30/06: Seeing Double
10/1/06: He Looks More Like a Bodyguard than a Nanny Bear
10/2/06: Be Back Soon I Hope
10/3/06: Follow the Yellow Dirt Road

Three years ago:
9/27/05: Autumn Bloom
9/28/05: It's Starting. . .
9/29/05: Heart of Vine
9/30/05: Name That Sheep Contest! You Could Win a Sheep!
10/1/05: I Wonder if Anyone Has Noticed I'm Gone
10/1/05: Weekend Cat Blogging #17—I Heart Patchy Cat
10/1/05: Weekend Chicken Blogging #1—Whitey Gets Even

© Copyright 2008, the award-winning blog where people often ask if our donkeys do anything besides look cute. The answer is sort of. The idea was that they would help protect the sheep by chasing off the coyotes, but as Joe puts it, now that we have a whole herd of donkeys, they pretty much just like to protect each other. They do eat a lot of weeds and brush that the sheep don't care for. And of course their entertainment value is priceless. Besides, you know how far cute goes in my book.

Thursday, October 2

Thursday Daily Dose of Cute: Gossip Central

Chickens Love Company

Something Wrong With That?

Want to see more feathers and wool?
Baby Chick Pics
Rooster Photos
Chicken Stories
Chicken Photos
More Chicken Photos
Lambing Season 2006 Photos & Reports
Lambing Season 2007 Photos & Reports
Lambing Season 2008 Part 1
Lambing Season 2008 Part 2
Sheep Photos
More Sheep Photos
Farm Stories & Farm Life Tidbits
A Tiny Tail for Mother's Day
The Tail of Two Mothers (starring Snugglebunny)

© Copyright 2008, the award-winning blog where the sheep like to stake out favorite sleeping and resting places that they return to day after day, and for the past several weeks Snugglebunny's afternoon spot has been over next to the chickens. Talk about cute.

Wednesday, October 1

Quick & Easy Gazpacho (Chilled Tomato Vegetable Soup): A Healthy No Cook Summer Recipe

It's All About Less Fuss, More Flavor

Simple and refreshing no cook gazapcho (chilled tomato and vegetable soup) -
Beat the heat with this simple and refreshing, healthy gazpacho that's packed with tomatoes, cucumbers, sweet peppers, onion, and garlic.

It's funny how you can go so long without ever knowing about something, and then once you do you're instantly bombarded by it. That's what happened to me a while back with sherry wine vinegar.

I'd never heard of it before, saw it listed in a recipe, and then suddenly it seemed like half the recipes I came across during the next couple of weeks were calling for the stuff—which I still haven't been able to find for sale anywhere (update: found some!).

Then it was the phrase 'my bad.' I saw a book of cute animal photos called I'm Sorry. . . My Bad!, couldn't figure out the title, and the next thing I knew I was hearing my bad everywhere—including in a seven-year-old movie I'd already watched twice.

Lately it's been gazpacho. Of course I was already familiar with this cold soup, but I'd never actually made or tasted it. Back in August I was served some during a Sunday brunch with friends, and after one dainty slurp I was hooked.

"This would be the perfect thing to keep in the fridge all summer long!" I exclaimed, and immediately demanded the recipe. The hostess opened up a battered copy of Mollie Katzen's beloved New Moosewood Cookbook and proceeded to tell me how she'd personalized the recipe over the years, including stirring in a little yogurt and garnishing it with a dollop of sour cream.

That afternoon the gazpacho flood began. I found a recipe for it sitting in my e-mail in-box when I arrived back the farm. And another one in a magazine I flipped through that evening.

Gazpacho was suddenly everywhere on the web, too, and I discovered my foodie pal Finny had just whipped up a batch using tomatoes from her garden. On and on it went. I took this as a big red sign and dove in.

Gazpacho is, according to this article in Saveur magazine, "the definitive Andalusian dish, and—with the possible exception of paella—Spain's most famous culinary export." I've also learned that it has approximately three million variations.

The basic idea is that you combine bread, olive oil, and vinegar with some other ingredients (often fresh tomatoes and cucumbers), blend it up (or not), and serve the resulting mixture chilled. But just what are the other ingredients?

During some quick research I found recipes that called for—are you ready?—all of the following things: tomato juice, V8 juice, fresh tomatoes, canned tomatoes, tomato sauce, stale bread, bread crumbs, cucumbers, green peppers, yellow peppers, red peppers, piquillo peppers, jalapeno peppers, chopped green chiles, radishes, leeks, garlic, celery, white onions, yellow onions, red onions, scallions, shallots, olive oil, vegetable oil, dry white wine, white wine vinegar, red wine vinegar, tarragon vinegar, sherry wine vinegar, lime juice, lemon juice, lemon zest, unflavored gelatin, green olives with pimientos, chicken stock, a beef bouillon cube, chipotle chiles in adobo, sugar, maple syrup, honey, Tabasco sauce, Worcestershire sauce, cayenne pepper, paprika, cumin, basil, oregano, tarragon, chervil, chives, cilantro, dill, ginger, parsley, yogurt, sour cream, fava beans, avocado, almonds, green grapes, crab meat, zucchini, and water. Water?

The June 2008 issue of Martha Stewart's Everyday Food has a tropical gazpacho made with mangoes, cucumbers, and buttermilk. In The Silver Palate Good Times Cookbook, authors Julee Rosso and Sheila Lukins included a recipe for green gazpacho that calls for arugula, watercress, yogurt, and three raw eggs.

In The New Basics Cookbook (one of my all time favorite cookbooks), Rosso and Lukins offer up a more traditional version and admit that they've been known to add a bit of vodka to their mugs "so that it becomes a Spanish Bloody Mary," which I thought sounded like a very good idea.

Gazpacho garnishes ran from chopped tomatoes, peppers, cucumbers and onions to black olives and chopped hard-boiled eggs. Croutons were mentioned all over the place.

Ultimately I decided to go the very simple route with both ingredients and technique. I've never understood the common practice of adding purchased tomato juice to gazpacho when you could just use more fresh tomatoes instead, which is what I did.

I also skipped the traditional stale bread, went easy on the olive oil (one recipe I found called for 1½ cups!), and used white balsamic vinegar because that was what I had on hand.

There's no need to blanch, peel, seed, or force anything through a sieve in my version, and all of the vegetable goodness ends up right in your bowl. I wasn't trying for traditional, but I did leave out the gelatin, shrimp, and raw eggs. Besides being delicious, this gazpacho also happens to be extremely good for you.

If you've never had gazpacho, I urge you to give it a try, even if, like me, you're not a big fan of cold soups. This recipe is basically a thick juice, which can be sipped rather than slurped—and easily made thinner—if desired.

What do you like to put in your gazpacho?

Some people refer to gazpacho as liquid salad.

Farmgirl Susan's Simple Summer Gazpacho
Makes about 6 cups (48 ounces)

**Click here to print this recipe**

While flavorful, vine-ripened tomatoes are of the utmost importance here, this is a perfect opportunity to use up those not-so-perfect-looking specimens you might have hanging around. Make it a day ahead if you can, as the flavor increases dramatically after sitting overnight in the fridge.

Weighing your ingredients makes things so much easier, especially when you're dealing with the often disparate sizes of fruits and vegetables. As always, I urge you to seek out local and organic ingredients; they really do make a difference.

2½ pounds vine-ripened tomatoes (about 8 medium), preferably heirloom and organic, chopped
2 medium cucumbers (about 13 ounces), chopped
2 small sweet red peppers (about 8 ounces), cored and chopped
1 yellow or white onion (about 8 ounces), chopped
3 to 4 cloves garlic (1 heaping Tablespoon), finely chopped
1/4 cup white balsamic vinegar
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1 Tablespoon honey (or 2 Tb. if your tomatoes aren't real sweet)
1/2 teaspoon cumin powder (or more to taste)
1 teaspoon salt
Freshly ground pepper

Sour cream
A squirt of hot sauce, such as Sriracha
Celery stick and a splash of vodka

Combine all ingredients in a large bowl. Using a counter top blender, purée the vegetable mixture in small batches until smooth. Combine and stir well. Adjust seasonings to taste. Let sit for several hours or overnight in the fridge.

Serve chilled, with a little yogurt stirred in and/or a dollop of sour cream on top if desired, along with any other garnishes you like. This gazpacho will keep for three to four days.

Got a bumper crop? More Farmgirl Fare recipes featuring fresh tomatoes:
Sun Dried Tomato and Fresh Tomato Artichoke Pesto (for pasta and more)

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

©, the fresh picked foodie farm blog where the mornings may be nice and nippy (hooray for polar fleece season!), but our late-planted tomatoes and cucumbers in the kitchen garden are just now at their peak, and since putting up portable electric fencing is still hot and sweaty work even if it is only in the 70s outside, I see at least one more batch of refreshingly cool gazpacho being whizzed up in our early October future.