Friday, December 31

Recipe: Old-Fashioned Pumpkin Spice Cake with Orange Cream Cheese Frosting

Pumpkin Spice Cake with Orange Cream Cheese Frosting
Let's end the year with cake!

I love it when cake and fate come together.

Back in October, I tried a recipe in The Little Big Book of Comfort Food (this is such a cute book) for a 9"x13" pumpkin cake with cream cheese frosting. The name of the recipe was actually pumpkin bars, but it seemed like cake to me. It tasted good, but it wasn't fabulous, and I was pretty sure the reason was the lack of any butter or oil in the batter (it had a cup of applesauce instead).

A few weeks later I came across two forgotten cans of organic pumpkin in the pantry and thought about making the cake again, this time with some butter, but decided not to. About an hour later I found myself at Beauty that Moves, where Heather was raving over her friend Cathleen's incredible pumpkin cake with orange cream cheese frosting, and taunting me with a mouthwatering photo.

I had all the ingredients, including the orange. (Dashing out to the grocery store for one or two ingredients isn't something I do these days since it requires an 80 mile drive). Like I said, cake and fate.

Wednesday, December 29

Sunday, December 26

Sunday Dose of Cute: No Matter What the Weather. . .

You Can't Fence In a Farm Cat
You still can't fence in a farm cat.

©, the may get down to zero degrees tonight foodie farm blog where I've been out sick for the past week (finally on the mend—yay), so my hunky farmguy Joe has been doing all the farm chores. And apparently he needs some supervision, because today Sarah Kit Kat Kate decided to accompany him into one of the chicken coops while he fed, watered, and checked for eggs in the snazzy new nesting boxes the girls got last week for Christmas and have so far been afraid to lay in (until today!). Kit Kat reportedly had a great time leaping from perch to perch, and the chickens took this furry surprise visit very well.

Friday, December 24

Thursday, December 23

Holiday Recipe Ideas for Breakfast, Brunch and Beyond: Muffins, Scones, & Quick Breads

Whether you're looking for something to serve on Christmas morning, New Year's eve, or for afternoon snacks inbetween, these seven recipes from the Farmgirl Fare archives are sure to bring smiles to the table. They're some of my most popular recipes, and all of them can be baked ahead of time and frozen. Click on the 'read more' link below to see the rest of this post, and click on each title to go to the recipe. Happy holidays!

Cranberry Christmas Scones
I named these Cranberry Christmas Scones the year I baked them all afternoon at a kitchen store holiday open house, but they're tasty any time of year. Buttery and crumbly and rich, try them for breakfast, brunch, or afternoon tea.

Wednesday, December 22

Easy Holiday Recipe Ideas for Dessert: Ten Sweet Treats

Feeding a crowd? There's nothing like a little homemade love for the holidays. I hope these favorite recipes from the Farmgirl Fare archives will inspire you to turn on the oven and share something sweet. The baby shortbread bites, crunchy biscotti, and little molasses ginger spice snaps keep well and make great stocking stuffers or gifts. The other cookies and bars—and even the apple pear crisp—all freeze beautifully so you can bake them whenever time allows. Click on the 'read more' link below to see the other nine desserts, and just click on each title to go to the recipe.

For more easy holiday recipe inspiration, check out these three roundups I put together last month. They say they're for Thanksgiving, but everything would be right at home on the Christmas or New Year's table, too. Or, like us, serve them on any day of the week just because!Recipe Ideas: Appetizers and Snacks
Recipe Ideas: Vegetable Side Dishes and Salads
Recipe Ideas: Quick Breads, Rolls, and More

baby shortbread cookies with mini chips and toffee bits
Baby Chocolate Chip and Toffee Shortbread Bites (these little cuties literally mix up in about five minutes)

Monday, December 20

Saturday, December 18

Saturday Dose of Cute: Hard at Work

Kit Kat Holding Down the Tarp
Holding Down that Tarp

Our Kit Kat Kate is always busy:
12/3/10: Moving In

©, the feeling lucky foodie farm blog where a farm cat's work is never done—and that's just the way they like it.

Thursday, December 16

Thursday Dose of Cute: Chicken Crossing

Chicken Crossing

©, the crawling with critters foodie farm blog where I've decided that what this place needs is more signage. We still have this one (which I love), there's a little sign in the barn that says SHEEP COUNTRY, and last year I couldn't resist a round metal sign that says MANURE MOVERS OF AMERICA (I can't even imagine life without my marvelous sheep manure), but now I'm thinking CHICKEN CROSSING, SHEEP CROSSING, TREAT ROOM, BIG DOGS ON DUTY, STOCK DOG AT THE READY, WELCOME TO DONKEYLAND, and of course at the entrance to the barn during lambing season, WARNING: SERIOUS CUTE OVERLOAD INSIDE. Is 20 degrees too cold to cut up a few pieces of wood and get out the weatherproof sign paint?

Wednesday, December 15

Wednesday Dose of Cute: Nibbling on Cedar Trees

Eating Cedar Trees
It's a Holiday Tradition!

©, the tippytoed foodie farm blog where some people decorate trees for Christmas and others prefer to eat them. (Joe refers to all the animals as people—but don't tell him I told you.)

Tuesday, December 14

Book Recommendations: Gifts Cooks Love, Eating Local: The Cookbook Inspired by America's Farmers, & More

If you've been reading this blog for very long, you know that I'm a huge fan of giving books, especially cookbooks, as gifts. They're fun, informative, inexpensive, and—slow, spine-breaking death by loving overuse aside—will last nearly forever.

So what's the only gift better than that? One that lasts a very short time because it's edible.

Speaking of gifts and cookbooks, in case I don't get around to writing more about them anytime soon, In the Kitchen with a Good Appetite: 150 Recipes and Stories About the Food You Love ($18.15) by New York Times columnist Melissa Clark and Nigella Kitchen: Recipes from the Heart of the Home ($17.50) by Nigella Lawson are wonderful—especially if you like reading about food as much as cooking and eating it. They both make me laugh out loud each time I pick them up. Nigella's oversized chocolate chip cookies received rave reviews (you know we love big cookies around here), and Melissa's Garlic and Thyme-Roasted Chicken with Crispy Drippings Croutons is awesome.

I realize I'm a little late suggesting Gifts Cooks Love: Recipes for Giving in time for this holiday season, but it seems like things have been even crazier than usual around here lately. And besides, you know I rarely do anything on time—although I did actually manage to get my garlic in the ground on schedule this year for a change. Woohoo!

Anyway, Gifts Cooks Love: Recipes for Giving (hardcover; 192 pages; full color; cover price $25, available for $16.50 at amazon) is the latest book from national kitchenware retailer Sur La Table (Can you believe I've never been in one of their stores? I'm so deprived.) and the fourteenth cookbook for co-author Diane Morgan. Previous Sur La Table titles include Things Cooks Love: Implements, Ingredients, Recipes (hardcover; 352 pages; full color; cover price $35; currently in the bargain section at amazon for $14.00) and Tips Cooks Love: Over 500 Tips, Techniques, and Shortcuts that Will Make You a Better Cook! $10.20 (paperback; 384 pages), a perfect little stocking stuffer or host/hostess gift, especially for a budding cook.

Saturday, December 11

Saturday Dose of Frustration and Cute: Slowing Way Down (and Not by Choice)

Daphne Doesn't Like to Share
Daphne Defending Her the Treat Barrow from Little Gnat

Out here in the middle of rural nowhere, high speed Internet service isn't an option. Instead we rely on satellite, which runs a lot slower and costs a whole lot more. For a full time blogger, this can be pretty annoying, but I make do with what I've got and try not to complain. Until now.

Wednesday, December 8

Wednesday Dose of Cute: Patiently Waiting for Santa

Patiently Waiting for Santa
Smudge, who loves leaves, takes a laid back approach to the holidays. (Mr. Midnight, on the other hand, is a little more impatient.)

©, the no fear of heights foodie farm blog (well, except for me, Miss Terra Firma) where that ladder lives against The Shack so my hunky farmguy Joe can climb up on the roof to sweep the leaves off (which helps keep the rain in the kitchen down to a minimum)—and so Smudgie can get up there more easily.

Tuesday, December 7

Recipe: Big, Soft & Chewy Molasses Ginger Spice Cookies with (or without) Raisins

Big, Soft, and Chewy Molasses Ginger Spice Cookies
An old-fashioned, inexpensive treat that brings back memories—and creates them.

There's no doubt about it—big cookies make people happy. I started baking and selling oversized cookies 25 years ago, and everyone from little kids to big men goes crazy for them.

Bite-sized cookies, like these addicting
Baby Chocolate Chip and Toffee Shortbread Bites, are perfect for serving large crowds or filling holiday goodie boxes, but the rest of the time I always circle back to the big ones.

What's especially nice is when one cookie batter will give you two completely different cookies, just by changing the size. My 2-inch Molasses Ginger Spice Snaps are cute and crunchy, and one batch bakes up 12 dozen cookies that store really well.

But stir in some raisins and portion them out with a large scoop instead, and you get two dozen soft and chewy treats that make me think of ice skating and red mittens and crackling fires and early Christmas morning—and are always greeted with smiles even bigger than they are.

Sunday, December 5

Sunday Dose of Cute: When All Else Fails. . .

Evie and Dolores Looking for Treats
Head on out to Donkeyland

And if that doesn't do it, bake yourself a quick chocolate cake, because it's definitely a chocolate emergency.

©, the wide eyed foodie farm blog where petting donkeys beats working on html blog code anytime—at least if you're as technically uninclined as some of us around here. Thank goodness for the loving distractions of those longears.

Friday, December 3

Saturday, November 27

Saturday Dose of Cute: Sun Spots

Smudgie on the Old Porch
Cats Are So Good at Finding Them

Want to see more of Smudgie?
10/22/05: Smudgie Up High

©, the rock solid foodie farm blog where the foundation of the older half of The Shack—which dates from the 1800s and includes this rotting porch off the bedroom—is made from stone, as in straight sided rocks simply stacked right there on the ground, as you can see in the bottom left of this photo. Plentiful and free, and no worries about termites. They do look pretty cool (you know how much I love rocks), if a little unprofessional.

Friday, November 26

Friday Dose of Cute: Share and Share Alike, Version Two

Share and Share Alike Version 2
Gnat and Esmeralda (click here to see version one)

©, the nippy little foodie farm blog where Thanksgiving Day's pleasant rain turned into ice pellets by afternoon and 15 degrees this morning. After reading the weather forecast yesterday, I went over to the new house and came back with my arms full of clothes. Joe took one look at me and started laughing. He knew exactly where I'd been—into the 18 gallon storage tub (we have no closets in The Shack) labeled POLARFLEECE. I love that stuff. Meanwhile, the donkeys just deal with the drop in temperature by getting fluffier and fluffier (this photo was taken back on 10/15).

Thursday, November 25

Thursday Dose of Cute: Happy Thanksgiving!

Sacked Out Daisy and Marta

Thankful. . .
For these two amazing guard dog girls.
For a wonderful rainy day.
For the cozy warmth of wood heat.
For plenty of bowls and buckets to stick under the ceiling leaks.
For lots of progress made on the new house during the past week (which doesn't leak!)
For so many wonderful blog readers—many of whom are now friends.
For homegrown and homemade food so good that every meal is a celebration.
To share the farm with dozens of loving, adorable, and always entertaining animals.
To be surrounded by so much natural beauty.
To see and hear the migrating geese overhead (and yesterday, thousands of songbirds, too).
To live in a state of constant, total amazement.
To call these acres home—and to be with someone who loves farm life as much as I do.

What are you thankful for today?

Thanksgivings past:
11/27/08: Gobble Gobble

©, the polarfleeced (at last!) foodie farm blog where the sound of rain falling on an old tin roof and the barking of the big dogs is music to our ears—and everybody knows that the best thing you can do after working all night or feasting all day is curl up with someone you love and take a nice long nap. Happy Thanksgiving!

Thursday, November 18

Thursday Dose of Cute: Roadblock

Wooly Roadblock
Protesting Something?

There's nothing like a ewe with an attitude. At 13½, Martha is the last of my old girls. Long since retired from breeding, she now spends her time complaining loudly over the slightest injustice, leading the rest of the flock through the woods and around fences in order to get closer to any feed buckets she might hear rustling, and sitting down wherever the heck she wants.

Contrary to what Martha may claim about being chronically treat deprived (despite getting to eat with the pregnant ewes all winter because she's old and I'm a sucker), I think she's led a pretty good life.

Want to get to know this old girl better?
(click here to see all these posts on one long page)
2/21/06: It's a Boy! It's a Girl! It's a Boy! (scroll down to see Martha and her newborn twins)
1/19/10: Oh, Look—More Snow (scroll down to see a thrilled Martha)

©, the four wheel drive foodie farm blog where bouncing around the farm in our beloved little '93 Suzuki Sidekick (nicknamed the S.U.B. by Joe, for Sport Utility Bug because it's even smaller than a Mini Cooper) always makes me feel as if I'm living in a Disneyland ride—in a good way.

Wednesday, November 17

Thanksgiving Recipe Ideas: Vegetable Side Dishes & Salads

These six favorite recipes are the second installment in a series of Thanksgiving recipe inspiration from the Farmgirl Fare archives. Part one was Thanksgiving Recipe Ideas for Appetizers and Snacks. Click on the 'read more' link below to see the other five, and just click on each title to go to the recipe. Enjoy!

Quick Roasted Brussels Sprouts with Lemon and Parmesan
Quick Roasted Brussels Sprouts with Lemon and Parmesan (or slightly gussied up with garbanzos and dijon—or if you're lucky enough to have any leftovers, tossed with bowtie pasta, bacon, and pan fried breadcrumbs)

Sunday, November 14

Thanksgiving Recipe Ideas for Appetizers and Snacks

I'm hoping to post a few favorite recipes soon that would be perfect for the Thanksgiving table, but since you never know what's going to happen around here (there's nothing like a ram who decides ten girlfriends aren't enough and breaks through eleven strands of barbed wire in order to reach all the ewes you really didn't want to breed this year—that would be yesterday's excitement) for now I thought I'd offer up a few tasty ideas from the Farmgirl Fare archives. Just click on each title to go to the recipe. Recipe roundups for Thanksgiving vegetable side dishes, breads and rolls, dessert, and more will follow. Enjoy!

Artichoke and Rosemary White Bean Dip

Thursday, November 11

Wednesday, November 10

Wednesday Dose of Cute: Scratching an Itch?

Gnat Holding Up the Tree
Or Holding up the Tree?

You never know with baby donkeys!

© 2010, the resourceful foodie farm blog where little Gnat is very cute, but he still won't let us pet him. Meanwhile, rapidly growing Gus (I can't believe how big these boys are!) is in the running for friendliest donkey ever. That guy loves being snuggled and brushed.

Tuesday, November 2

Tuesday Dose of Cute: Off to Vote

Cheeky Heading off to Vote
See you at the polls!

Want to get to know our feathered farmyard friends better? You'll find links to all sorts of chicken photos here. And we keep links to the baby chick photos here.

© 2010, the equal treats for all foodie farm blog where we know that every vote really does matter. Way out here in the country, many elections are literally decided by three or four votes. The most important thing isn't who or what you vote for—it's that you exercise your precious right to cast yours. Just please don't let Cheeky know that, except for barnyard ballots, chicken votes still don't count.

Monday, November 1

Monday Dose of Cute: Well, Look at That

Three (Sun Bleached) Black Sheep in the Frosty Hayfield
It's a Whole New Week

I love the black sheep, which sun bleach to brown or grey, the best—except for my baby Cary, of course:
11/18/05: Frosted Snugglebunny
4/8/06: BB and Her Newborn Baby
4/28/06: Snugglebunny's Twin Girls Always Stay Together
6/27/06: Snugglebunny's Twin Girls Heading Out for Breakfast
7/10/06: BB and Her Mother Tana Are Always Together
9/30/06: Seeing Double

2/9/07: I Love Black Sheep! (Sheep Shearing Photos)
3/14/07: Tana and Her Baby Boy, First Morning Outside
3/20/07: All Booked Up at the Bonding Suite Inn!
5/13/07: The Tail of Two Mothers: A Mother's Day Story from the Farm
10/11/07: Living by the Light
12/5/07: Spy Sheep

4/4/08: Anybody Need an Experienced Sheep Dryer?
4/20/08: Raa Raa Black Sheep! Another Black Baby Lamb
10/2/08: Gossip Central
4/3/09: Black Babes for Black Beauty
4/14/09: Too Cute for Words?
6/9/09: Stop, Look, and Listen
7/15/09: Getting Ahead. . .
3/7/10: Sunshine and Snuggling Up

© 2010, the can't believe it's already November (November!) foodie farm blog where this is the time of year when the sheep start looking extra snuggly—and suddenly need a lot more square footage per critter at the treat troughs. But at least now when they slam into you, it's padded!

Sunday, October 31

Halloween Night Dose of Cute: Critter Crossing

Critter Crossing

© 2010, the spooky foodie farm blog where, despite local superstition (seriously), we consider it very good luck to have a black cat cross our path—especially one as wonderful as Mr. Midnight, who spent 8 months at the shelter and made several 200 mile round trips to the adoption center at PetSmart before coming to live with us nearly three years ago. I'm so glad he waited. Oh, and that glaring white tub some of you are probably wondering about—it's full of (poorly) sprouted wheat for the chickens, which I showed you a while ago but still need to tell you how to easily grow your own. Thanks for your patience—and Happy Halloween!

Sunday Farm Photo: Happy Halloween!

Happy Halloween!

Want to see more spooky stuff?
10/31/05: Happy Halloween!
10/31/05: All Hallow's Eve
11/8/05: Did the Goblins Get Them?
10/31/06: Boo!
10/30/07: Halloween Construction Zone
10/31/07: Scare Cat
10/31/09: Pumpkin Substitutes
10/31/09: Don't Let the Goblins—or this Little Brown Bat—Get You!
10/31/10: Decorating the Kitchen Garden for Halloween

8/21/05: All in a Night's Work
6/26/06: It's Been a While Since I Caught a Spiderweb
10/19/06: High Wire Act
1/6/07: Precious Farm Jewels
2/2/08: The Return of Chucky
4/27/08: A Sunday Feast & a Mysterious Owl (more owl photos here)
6/13/08: Cloudy Morning Sparkle
8/15/08: Trying to Blend by the Barn
8/5/10: Flying Squirrel, Anyone?

© 2010, the eight-legged foodie farm blog where after living so far out in the country for all these years, you don't get frightened by much, and generally we love spiders, but the black widow that bit Joe twice last summerwhile we were asleep in bed—did give us both quite a scare. Thankfully he's fully recovered, with only two red marks on his arm and chest as spooky little reminders.

Friday, October 29

Friday Night Dose of Cute: Share and Share Alike

Share and Share Alike
Daphne and Her Three Month Old Son Gus (aka Gus Man, Guster, etc.)

© 2010, the fluffing up for winter foodie farm blog (24 degrees this morning!) where real donkey boys don't mind eating out of bright pink buckets—especially with their mommies.

Wednesday, October 27

Book Review and Giveaway: Hothouse Flower and the Nine Plants of Desire

Hothouse Flower cover imageI inadvertently became interested in tropical plants because that's what the man at the Union Square Green Market sold me. I used to believe that sentence, but now I know better. Now I know that it was meant to be. Here's how it happened.

And so begins Hothouse Flower and the Nine Plants of Desire, the exotic debut novel by Margot Berwin.

I was about two-thirds of the way through the book when I finally figured out what it reminded me of: one of my crazy, technicolor dreams. You know, the kind filled with fantastical situations and outlandish characters where you blink awake thinking, How in the world did my brain come up with that?

The seed of a dream usually comes from reality—something that happened during the day, a childhood memory, a thought you had while drifting off to sleep. Then, helped along with a hefty dose of superfertilizer known as your subconscious, what grows, at least in my case, is often something along the lines of Jack and the Beanstalk.

Or if you're awake and have the imagination of Margot Berwin, that little seed of reality turns into a seductive adventure of a book. Says Berwin:

Wednesday Dose of Cute: Marta in Motion

Marta in Motion 1

Tuesday, October 26

Tuesday Dose of Cute: Spoiling the Sheep

Big Teddy Under His Personal Awning
Who, us?

© 2010, the tenderfooted foodie farm blog where Big Sweet Teddy, another one of my, ahem, 'useless' pet wethers has been in quarantine due to an unfortunate and tenacious case of foot rot. He may be living apart from his flock (he can still see them), but with plenty of daily treats, a nice dry hut to call his own, and a specially made personal shade device (compliments of my handy hunky farmguy), he definitely isn't suffering much. In fact, some days I wonder if he's even trying to get better.

Recipe: All Natural, No Refined Sugar Peanut Butter Cookies Made with Honey

Honey Peanut Butter Cookies
These soft and cakey peanut butter cookies are refined sugar-free and sweetened with honey.

Here's a simple and scrumptious cookie recipe from The Little Big Book of Comfort Food. Featuring over 100 charming, full color vintage illustrations, this sweet little 350 page hardcover book would make a perfect gift. 

All Natural Honey Peanut Butter Cookies
Makes about 16 2½-inch cookies (or 30 smaller cookies)
Adapted from
The Little Big Book of Comfort Food

We're fortunate to have a local source for wonderful raw honey, and one of my goals is to start baking with this natural sweetener more often. As soon as I saw this recipe I knew I had to try it. What goes better with honey than peanut butter?

These soft, cakey, not terribly sweet cookies taste even better the next day. This makes a small batch, so you may want to double the recipe. Ice cold milk is a must.

I've been using ice cream scoops to portion out cookie dough since I started baking commercially back in (gasp) 1985, and have had some of mine for nearly as long. They effortlessly make perfectly shaped cookies, and are a very worthwhile investment. I have five or six different sizes; the scoop I used to make these is about 1½ Tablespoons and is similar to this one.

Larger scoops, like this size and this size, are great for muffin batter and giant cookies, such as my Big, Soft, and Chewy Whole Wheat Chocolate Chip Raisin Cookies. I use a small scoop to make the Baby Chocolate Chip and Toffee Shortbread Cookies, and an itty bitty scoop makes darling—though slightly time consuming—mini cookies.

A couple of heavy duty 
commercial baking sheets are a great investment, and once you try them you'll never want to use anything else. I use them for everything from baking scones to roasting brussels sprouts and have had some of mine for 20 years.

As always, I urge you to use local and organic ingredients; they really do make a difference and often don't cost much more. We love Trader Joe's organic peanut butter, and it's just $2.99 a jar. Organic butter often goes on sale this time of year and freezes well for months, and organic flours are practically mainstream. Look for local honey and real farm eggs at the farmers' market. is a great resource for finding locally produced food.

1/2 cup honey
1/2 cup creamy or crunchy organic peanut butter (I used creamy)
4 Tablespoons (1/2 stick/2 ounces) organic butter, softened
1 large real farm egg (maybe even a green one!)
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 cup all-purpose organic flour
1/4 teaspoon aluminum-free baking powder (I like Rumford brand)
1/4 teaspoon salt

1. Heat the oven to 375°. Line a heavy duty baking sheet with unbleached parchment paper (you can use the same sheet for the whole batch of cookies). 

2. Put the honey, peanut butter, butter, egg, and vanilla into a medium bowl and beat with an electric mixer on medium speed for 2 minutes (I use a hand held mixer).

3. Gradually add the flour, baking powder, and salt. Mix well. This is a very soft dough; I chilled it in the freezer for 20 minutes to make it easier to scoop.

4. Drop cookies onto the baking sheet, and then use a fork to gently press a crosshatch pattern into the top of each one.

5. Bake until lightly browned, about 12 to 15 minutes (a little less for smaller cookies). Transfer the cookies to wire racks to cool. Store in an airtight container or freeze.

Other twists on peanut butter cookies from food blogging friends:
Lower-Fat Peanut Butter Banana Cookies from Fat Free Vegan Kitchen

Sweet tooth still not satisfied? Try these other Farmgirl Fare treats:
Cookies and Bars

Muffins and Scones
Cranberry Christmas Scones (tasty any time of year)
100% Whole Grain Bran Muffins (four different flavors)

Cakes, Tarts, and More

©, the soft and chewy foodie farm blog where Farmgirl Susan shares recipes, stories, photos from her crazy country life on 240 remote Missouri acres—and everything's better with cookies.