Monday, September 28

Monday Farm Photo: Welcome and Progressive Pioneer Readers!

Summer Work is Winter Food

I was thrilled to learn that has included both Farmgirl Fare and In My Kitchen Garden on its list of Sites We Love. I've been reading Saveur magazine, which focuses on exploring the world of authentic food, since the very first issue came out, so this is an especially nice honor for me. And of course I love that the cover of the current issue says 'Why Lamb Rules' in big bold letters! (Through September, both new and renewal Saveur subscriptions are only $14.95 at

Readers often ask me if we eat the any of the grass-fed lambs we raise, and the answer is yes. Not only is the all natural meat incredibly delicious, but I also love knowing that the animals who become my food lived happy, healthy, stress-free (and dare I say spoiled?) lives. You'll find several of my favorite lamb recipes here.

One of these days I really will get around to writing up that Frequently Asked Farmgirl Questions page, but in the meantime, Amy Thompson asked me all sorts of questions during this interview for her wonderful MamaViews series on Progressive Pioneer. (Technically I'm not a mother, but I suppose that raising dozens of animals grants me honorary mama status. And of course there's my baby Cary.) The interview even includes a couple of photos you've never seen before: Amy, one of my favorite ewes, with her newborn triplets in 2007, and me with the donkeys out in the front field.

Reading Amy's What is a Progressive Pioneer? essay brought tears to my eyes, and I'm very proud to be one. I think many of you will really enjoy her lovely site, where she writes about everything from urban chicken farming and unschooling to bee keeping and natural family living.

Are you a progressive pioneer? In what way?

© Copyright 2009, the windows have been closed for the first time in months foodie farm blog where you know I love autumn, but after all these years in Missouri, the first 40 degree night (that would be tonight) still comes as a surprise. Thanks to the miracle of online weather forecasts, though, all the tomato, tomatillo, and basil plants in the garden have been safely (I hope!) swaddled up in old bedsheets and are ready to face the oncoming chill. Bring on the quilts and polarfleece!

Monday Dose of Cute: Tails in Tandem

These Working Girls Are on the Job (Unless They're Napping)

Want to see more of Marta?
Marta Baby Pictures
7/27/08: Siesta Time
10/26/08: Mostly Marta
10/28/08: Just Doing Her Job
11/6/08: Maybe Marta

1/24/09: Keeping the Food Supply Safe
2/1/09: Moping Marta
2/4/09: Three Dog Sight
2/7/09: Being Watched
3/4/09: Food as Furniture
11/27/09: Thanksgiving, the Morning After
1/12/10: You Shouldn't Take Chances with the Food Supply

And ditto for Daisy?
1/27/09: Losing Lambs and Lottie (and Acquiring Daisy)
1/28/09: Snowed In! (scroll down to see Daisy)
2/5/09: Daisy Off Duty
2/9/09: When Sleeping and Eating Schedules Collide
3/19/09: Nap Time
3/23/09: Bear Hug

4/18/09: A Girl's Gotta Sleep Sometime
4/29/09: Standing Tall and Smiling Wide
6/11/09: Breakfast Company
7/4/09: The Dog Days of Haying Season
8/20/09: Work All Night. . .

10/8/09: The Boss Lady is Back?
10/11/09: Relaxing in the Afternoon Shade
12/14/09: Time to Punch In
12/30/09: Snow Day!
1/16/10: On the Lookout
1/19/10: Oh, Look

© Copyright 2009, the big dog foodie farm blog where our livestock guardian girls have the run of the farm—and we finally realized who (despite being served very large dinners) has been sneaking up and ransacking Bear's dog food dish on the kitchen porch, Smudge's cat food dish on a chest freezer on the kitchen porch, Whiskers' cat food dish up on his porch railing, and Sylvester and Topaz's little Fiesta dish on the potting bench in the middle of the night. Any big white guesses?

Thursday, September 24

Summer Pasta Recipe: Sun Dried Tomato & Artichoke Pesto, Cherry Tomatoes, and Fresh Basil with Linguine or Farfalle

Cooking with Less Fuss, More Flavor

Enjoying more fast farm food from the kitchen garden

Tomatoes and basil on the third day of fall? You bet. The calendar may say summer is over, but the kitchen garden keeps to its own schedule, and mine says that tomato season is finally (finally!) in nearly full swing. The beautiful green and purple basil I've been picking since the end of June is still going gangbusters, too.

There's no better—or simpler—way to celebrate your garden fresh tomatoes and basil than to toss them with hot pasta, but adding this quick sun-dried tomato and artichoke pesto to the mix brings the dish to a whole other level.

I've made this with larger tomatoes chopped into chunks, but cherry tomatoes really work best. A mixture of red and yellow looks especially nice. I like to make this with fettuccine or farfalle (because bowties are always so much fun), but other pasta shapes would probably be good, too.

Wednesday, September 23

Wordless Wednesday Dose of Cute

Want to see more little lambs?
Lambing Season 2006 Photos & Reports
Lambing Season 2007 Photos & Reports
Lambing Season 2008 Part 1
Lambing Season 2008 Part 2
Lambing Season 2009
More Sheep Stories & Photos
Farm Stories & Farm Life Tidbits

© Copyright 2009, the getting ready for breeding season 2009 foodie farm blog (and lambing season 2010 in the exciting new sheep barn which is already almost done! More photos soon!) where moments like the one above always make me smile—and this photo has been hiding in my files since I snapped it back in May of 2007.

Monday, September 21

Monday Farm Photos: Sunflowers!

So Long, Summer

We'll See You Next Year!

Previous farewell to summer photos:
9/22/05: Happy First Day of Fall
9/22/06: Morning Calm Before the Storm that's Rumbling Overhead
9/23/06: Last Night of Summer Spectacular Show
9/20/07: Kissing Summer Goodbye with the Easiest Greek Salad Ever
9/21/08: Last Day of Summer

More sunflowers:
9/18/05: This is My 100th Daily Farm Photo
12/26/05: In Loving Memory of my Brother
11/2/06: Autumn Sunflower
12/18/06: Autumn Sunflower 2

© Copyright 2009, the sunflower-loving but really looking forward to fall (my favorite season!) foodie farm blog where I have no excuse not to try growing big, beautiful sunflowers (which I never get tired of looking at) next year, since these gorgeous specimens sprouted up, up, up in a garden just a few miles down the road.

Saturday, September 19

Saturday Farm Photos: Bye Bye Sheep Barn!

Wednesday, 8:30 am

9:30 am

10:15 am

11:05 am

11:45 am

11:57 am

Auntie Rose isn't the only one around here who's surprised by the sudden change of scenery. One minute my hunky farmguy was saying we really need to rebuild the sheep barn before it falls apart even more, I said, "It's not that bad yet, is it?" then idly wondered aloud if maybe our Amish carpenter neighbors (whose front yard produce stand has been supplementing our kitchen garden bounty) would be interested in taking on the job, and the next thing I knew measuring was under way, dates had been set, a guy from the electric company arrived to disconnect the power down there and put a new breaker box on the pole, we ordered a whole bunch of rough cut siding from the nearby Amish sawmill, large piles of money were handed over to the lumberyard and metal roofing manufacturer, a horse and buggy pulled up, and our beloved little sheep barn had been flattened (except for the rock walled feed room which we're saving).

Now all they have to do is build it back up! More photos to come.

In the meantime, want to take a peek at past barn pictures?
10/2/05: Where Sheep Sleep
10/17/05: Fall Color by the Barn
10/27/05: Where Sheep Sleep, Take Two
11/10/05: Where Sheep Sleep, Take Three (the Frosted Edition)
12/3/05: Same Scene, New View Barn Shots
5/29/06: Sun Hits Morning Mist
11/12/06: Beyond This Door There Be Treats
12/2/06: Snowstorms & Snowfall (and Heart Rocks)
11/17/07: Random Barn Shot
3/19/08: Flood Watch
9/21/08: Last Day of Summer
12/3/08: The Notorious Scratching Post Gang

© Copyright 2009, the demolished foodie farm blog where employers in cities may be encouraged to provide on site daycare, but out here you need to have buckets of fresh water and a spot for your workers' horses to hang out—preferably with some nice tasty grass growing in it (see the fourth photo above).

Tuesday, September 15

Tuesday Dose of Cute: Follow the Flying Ears

And It's Cary in the Lead (That's My Girl!)

Don't know who Cary is? Meet her in A Tiny Tail for Mother's Day, and then see what she's been up to during the last three years here and here.

© Copyright 2009, the racing out to the best breakfast spot foodie farm blog where baby lambs grow up, but in some ways they stay exactly the same—for Cary, that would be the flying ears.

Friday, September 11

Baby Chocolate Chip and Toffee Shortbread Cookies: A Really Easy Dessert Recipe

These buttery little cookies are so cute—and you know how we love cute!

"Hi!" said my friend Beth.

"It's about time you called."


"I've practically gobbled up half this cookie dough already. Talking to you is the only way I'm going to stop eating it!"

This dough really is good, and the baked cookies are even better. While I adore a good butter cookie—and am constantly amazed by the number of bad butter cookies out there—I've never been much of a shortbread fan. And maybe it's just me, but shortbread recipes often seem rather fussy.

This dough comes together in less time than it takes the oven to heat up, and there's no patting anything into a pan or making decorative designs with a fork.

These cute little cookies are a like scrumptious cross between butter cookies and shortbread, combining the best qualities of each. They go well with mugs of hot coffee or cold glasses of milk, would make a dainty addition to an afternoon tea tray, and travel well so they're perfect for toting to picnics and potlucks.

I usually make my cookies extra large, but after doing some experimenting, I've decided that these taste best when small. I also applied my More, More, More philosophy, upping the mini chocolate chips and toffee bits, but ultimately reduced the amount called for in the original version. That way you taste more of the buttery cookie.

Like most shortbreads, these will keep for several days (which makes them a wonderful choice for holiday goodie boxes mailed to faraway loved ones), and I think they taste better the day after baking. They also freeze beautifully. Pack them in little cello bags tied with a colorful ribbon for handy gifts, perhaps tucked into oversized cappuccino cups. Everyone loves them.

I have no idea if they're good warm from the oven, because by the time they've finished baking I'm always way too full of batter to want one.

Baby Shortbread Cookies with Mini Chocolate Chips and English Toffee Bits
Makes about 4 dozen 1¾-inch cookies — Adapted from the kitchn

**Click here to print this recipe**

The original recipe has you shape dozens of spoonfuls of dough into tiny balls and then press them lightly onto the baking sheet to flatten the bottoms. I don't have that kind of patience, so I just use a little scoop instead.

I also skipped the part where you dip half of each cookie in melted chocolate because I've never been able to do that without making a big mess, plus my chocolate never seems to completely dry. If you want a fancier looking cookie you might try it, though I think they're perfectly fine without.

I'm a sucker for any recipe that calls for English toffee bits, but these would also be good made with all mini chocolate chips or mini chips and finely chopped pecans. And for shortbread purists, I bet they'd be very nice without anything extra added at all.

1 cup (2 sticks/8 ounces) organic butter (I use salted), softened
1/2 cup powdered sugar, sifted
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
2 cups organic all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup mini semisweet chocolate chips
3/4 cup English toffee bits,
such as Heath (the ones without chocolate)

Heat the oven to 350°.

With a hand held electric mixer, cream the butter and powdered sugar until smooth, about 1 minute. Beat in the vanilla, and then add the flour and salt. Reduce the speed to low and mix in the mini chocolate chips and toffee bits.

With a small stainless steel scoop (these are so handy; for this recipe I use one that's 1¼" across), drop cookies onto a heavy duty baking sheet lined with unbleached parchment paper. (I love my commercial half sheet pans and have been using some of them for 20 years, for everything from baking lemon scones to roasting Brussels sprouts. Two dozen of these cookies will fit on one sheet, so the whole batch will bake on two trays. Unbleached parchment paper is wonderful stuff, and you can reuse each sheet several times.)

Bake until the edges are just starting to brown, about 12 to 15 minutes. Cool on a wire rack and store in an airtight container or freeze.

Still have a sweet tooth? You might also enjoy these:

Cookies and Bars
Molasses Ginger Spice Snaps
Chocolate Biscotti For Beginners
Toasted Almond Chocolate Chip Biscotti
Whole Wheat Chocolate Chip Raisin Cookies (and how to hug a sheep)
Yip Yap Whole Wheat Chocolate Chip Banana Snaps
Choco-Oat-Butterscotch-Coconut Crazy Cookies

Blueberry Breakfast Bars
Just Peachy Blueberry Breakfast Bars
Apple Blueberry Crumble Bars

Muffins and Scones
Spicy Pumpkin Pecan Raisin Muffins
100% Whole Grain Bran Muffins (four different flavors)
100% Whole Grain Ginger Pear Bran Muffins
White Whole Wheat Scones with Currants and Oats

Cakes, Tarts, and More
Autumn Pear and Apple Crisp
Quick Emergency Chocolate Cake
Chocolate Babycakes
Easy Orange Yogurt Loaf Cake
Heavenly Lemon Coconut Quick Bread
Chocolate, Cinnamon & Banana Mexican Monkey Cake
Really Raspberry Tartlets

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

©, the dessert first foodie farm blog where we sometimes start the day by eating cookies for breakfast—with a big glass of milk to make them healthy of course.

Thursday, September 10

Thursday Dose of Cute: Love Those Longears

Daphne and Fernando (taken 7/25/09)

Want to see more of this sweet little guy?
7/25/09: New Baby Donkey Alert!
7/27/09: Mama Love
7/30/09: Sacked Out in the Sun
8/19/09: Wordless Wednesday Dose of Cute (I really love these photos)
10/13/09: Who's Soggy Now?
10/17/09: Have You Heard? Winter Weather Is on the Way!
10/26/09: One Scene, Two Angles
11/30/09: Um, Excuse Me
12/7/09: Lean on Me

© Copyright 2009, the soft and cuddly foodie farm blog where somebody around here doesn't seem to get the 'cuddly' part—as in, he still won't let me touch him. We're getting closer, though; today he kept creeping toward me as his curiosity got the best of him while watching Evie and Esmeralda practically crush me (in a good way) with hugs and affection. I'm determined to win him over soon. In the meantime, isn't the word longears the best? I'd never heard it until a year or two ago, but I immediately fell in love with it. It's even the name of the American Donkey and Mule Society's website.

Tuesday, September 8

Tuesday Dose of Cute: Baby Turtle Blogging

Okay, inspection's over. You can go back to the garden now.

We have something like 16 different kinds of turtles and tortoises here in Missouri, and as long as they're not anywhere near my strawberry bed (turtles LOVE strawberries), I really enjoy finding them around the farm.

Whenever I take the time to inspect these little prehistoric creatures, the more I realize just how truly fascinating they are.

Want to see and read more about our turtles (and their passion for my strawberries)?
5/6/06: Spotted in the Backyard
5/12/06: Damn Turtles!
5/27/06: Bear and Cary and Me vs. the Turtles
6/15/06: I See You Looking at Me, Turtle
6/25/06: Weekend Baby Turtle Blogging
6/23/07: Looking for My Strawberries?

©, the hard shelled foodie farm blog where I found this cute little critter hiding in a weedy kitchen garden bed back in early July (and then promptly forgot about these photos).

I probably should have relocated it far away from my strawberry plants, but since this year's berry harvest was already over, and next year's is many months away (too bad, as all this strawberry talk now has me desperately craving a big bowl of this—though if you grow strawberries, the time to ensure bigger berries next spring is now, and here's how) I decided to let it stay in the garden.

I'll no doubt be sorry next spring. And yes, I washed my hands really well after touching this turtle.

Friday, September 4

Friday Dose of Cute: Sacked Out Sylvester

Not To Be Confused with Passed Out Patchy Cat

Wishing you a relaxing holiday weekend!

Want to see a little more of Sylvester?
1/8/09: Meet the Newest Member of Our Feline Family
7/29/09: Surprise! There Are Naked Ladies in My Front Yard
8/5/09: The Pollinator and the Pussycat
1/5/10: Cold Lover
1/23/10: Staredown
2/1/10: In the Snow
2/8/10: Weathered Wood and a Little Cute

© Copyright 2009, the upside down, white-bellied foodie farm blog where the ridiculously warped boards on my potting bench don't seem to bother this pussycat one bit—though I'm angling for the construction of a whole separate potting shed, decorated with all my vintage gardening stuff of course (wish me luck).

Thursday, September 3

Thursday Farm Photo: The Farm Aid 2009 Concert Will Be October 4th in St. Louis—and You Could Win a Trip for Two and Front Row Tickets!

A Farmgirl's Eye View

"We all see what's happening with agriculture, what's happening to our small towns. They are going out of business. That's a direct result of the farm problem. We're still doing Farm Aid because it is contributing. It's doing a job."
—John Mellencamp

Woohoo! Can you believe it? The Farm Aid 2009 fundraising concert is going to be in Missouri!

What is Farm Aid?
Farm Aid is a nonprofit organization whose mission is to keep family farmers on their land. Over the past 24 years, Farm Aid has raised nearly $36 million dollars to support programs that help farmers thrive, create and strengthen connections between farmers and eaters, take action to change the dominant system of industrial agriculture, and promote food from family farms.

Farm Aid’s mission is to build a vibrant, family farm-centered system of agriculture in America. Farm Aid artists and board members Willie Nelson, Neil Young, John Mellencamp and Dave Matthews host an annual concert to raise funds to support Farm Aid’s work with family farmers and to inspire people to choose family-farmed food.

Want to get involved? Find out how you can take action here, become a Farm Aid member here, learn more about the Farm Aid community here, connect to the land and each other at, or follow Farm Aid on Twitter here.

What is Farm Aid 2009?
The Farm Aid concert is a chance to celebrate the strength and importance of America's family farms. It features the best that music has to offer, while remaining true to Farm Aid's ultimate mission. This year's concert will take place on October 4th in St. Louis, Missouri, and the incredible lineup includes Willie Nelson, Neil Young, John Mellencamp, Dave Matthews, Jason Mraz, Wilco, Jamey Johnson, and Phosphorescent.

Farm Aid will also be setting up their Homegrown Village, where concertgoers can get their hands dirty and learn about food production, growing your own, composting, how farmers care for the environment, beekeeping, etc. In addition, there will be other farm related events.

What's this about winning a trip for two and front row tickets?
It's the Farm Fresh Pics Photo Contest!

We're looking for photos of farms, farmers and farm families, tractors and barns, the perfect tomatoes you bought at the farmers' market or your favorite farm animals—anything and everything that shows the vibrancy and beauty of the American family farm.

Anyone can enter photos and/or vote on their favorites. Each tax-deductible $1 donation ($5 minimum) buys you one vote, with all the monies going directly to Farm Aid. This fundraising contest is about supporting and celebrating farmily farmers, and the person whose photo receives the most votes will win an expenses-paid trip to St. Louis and two front row tickets to Farm Aid 2009 Presented by Horizon Organic. There are lots of other prizes, too.

You can upload your photo(s) and start gathering votes, or you can browse the contest gallery and find a Farm Fresh Pic to vote on, or you can go vote for my best friend Beth's farm pic (I love this photo) and help her win the trip so we can finally meet face to face! Hurry, though, as new photos must be uploaded by 11:59 pm EST on Sunday, September 6th. Public voting will end at 11:50 pm EST on September 20th. You can read all the Farm Aid Farm Fresh Pics contest rules here, and there are FAQs here.

And why am I especially excited about Farm Aid 2009?
Because I'm going to be there! If all goes according to plan, on Sunday October 4th, I'll be wandering the streets of Homegrown Village, listening to some of my very favorite musical artists, enjoying ridiculously delicious Missouri grown food, and doing a little live blogging for the Farm Aid website (the entire concert will be broadcast live through their webcast).

I can't wait. (As fate would have it, my hunky farmguy Joe has to be somewhere else that weekend, so please send mental messages to Mother Nature and all our critters begging them to behave so we'll both actually be able to leave the farm for a couple of days!)

Are Farm Aid 2009 tickets still available?
Yes! You can purchase tickets here and see the seating chart here.

“There's a new food movement sweeping the country and Farm Aid is doing all we can to promote that movement.”
—Willie Nelson

© Copyright 2009, the singing along to our favorite songs foodie farm blog where this is definitely going to be one amazing weekend.

Tuesday, September 1

Tuesday Dose of Cute: Bright Light

Little Kitty

Just getting to know 4½ pound (and 14 year old!) Molly Doodlebug? Catch up with her here:
7/10/05: Meet Molly Doodlebug—aka The Doodle Monster
7/21/05: Warning—This Tea May Disrupt Your Sleep
9/3/05: Photoshoot Inspector
9/24/05: Window Washing
11/12/05: Cat in the Cookies
1/28/06: Weekend Cat Blogging
2/18/06: Herban Cat Crossing
4/1/06: Double Image
4/15/06: Cat in the Box
4/30/06: You Definitely Don't Want To Be on Her Bad Side
5/18/06: Big Day for a Little Lamb (scroll down to see Doodle)
7/1/06: Sharing Your Snack with a Lamb in the Living Room
9/10/06: Outside and Looking for Trouble
10/31/07: Happy Halloween!
1/7/08: Cute Things Come in Little Packages

© Copyright 2009, the sunlit foodie farm blog where the other night we were watching The Golden Compass (which I confess to having known nothing about—either the books or the movie), and a few minutes into it, Joe turned to me and said, "Doodle is your daemon!" And he was right—if she isn't on me (she's sitting on my lap as I type this) then she's always close by. This explains a lot, since she even scampers alongside me when I get up to pee in the night. I've never had another cat like her, and I'm sure I never will—and I can't believe it's been over a year and a half since I've posted a picture of her!