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.

Monday, October 25

Monday Dose of Cute: Woollies in the Woods

Woollies in the Woods
It's Acorn Chasing Season!

© 2010, the foraging foodie farm blog where it's a good thing we leave all the black walnuts that fall from the trees around The Shack for the poor squirrels to feast upon during winter—rather than bagging them up and selling them in town—because the squirrels don't stand a chance against the sheep when it comes to snuffling up acorns.

Saturday, October 23

Saturday Farm Photos: These Blustery, Mustery Days

Beacon Blankets 1
Are Perfect for Blow Drying

Before I got into vintage quilts, I collected old Beacon style blankets, and for years I kept them safely tucked away in storage boxes. Not anymore. Life's too short to keep the stuff you love the most packed away where you can't enjoy it, especially when it's something as useful as a blanket.

Friday, October 22

Wednesday, October 20

Wednesday Dose of Cute: Anybody Up for Raking Leaves?

Sacked Out Smudge 1

Sacked Out Smudge 2
Not right now.

© 2010, the bare branched foodie farm blog where we've never bothered raking up the ten million leaves that fall to the ground each autumn, but last spring, after reading about how great leaf mold is for the garden, I bought myself two giant composting bins meant specifically for leaves. More leaves blew off the trees today than have in the past few weeks combined (I love these blustery days!), but so far the bins are still empty. I just couldn't bear to bother Smudge. And I doubt he would have helped with the raking anyway.

Tuesday, October 19

Tuesday Dose of Cute: Let the Games Begin! Not.

Donkey Ball 1
A few weeks ago I bought the donkeys a special non-toxic, almost indestructible, made in the USA, never needs air, green apple-scented ball to play with.

Sunday, October 17

Sunday Dose of Cute: And She Sleeps

Daisy and part of her flock
It Was a Long Night

We love our Great Pyrenees Crazy Daisy!
(click here and here to see all these posts on two long pages)
1/28/09: Snowed In! (scroll down to see Daisy)
3/19/09: Nap Time
3/23/09: Bear Hug

12/30/09: Snow Day!
1/19/10: Oh, Look
2/11/10: Girl Power (one of my favorite photos)

5/27/10: Barn Life
6/10/10: Sharing the Shade (this one always cracks me up)

© 2010, the all night bark-a-thon foodie farm blog where Daisy's livestock guarding partner is Marta (aka Marta Beast and Marta the Mess), a tri-mix (Great Pyrenees, Anatolian Shepherd, and Kommondor) who looks and moves like a big goofy, adorable Muppet and is usually too busy working to pose for cute pictures. She's doing just fine—and is now even bigger than Daisy! I'll be writing more about Marta soon, but in the meantime you can see some recent pictures of her here(there's also a bunch of information about how our three dogs work around the farm in the comments section of this post), and get to know her better here.

Wednesday, October 13

Wednesday Farm Photos: Vintage Quilt Love (Again)

Quilt 1

We haven't been out cutting firewood yet this fall (we've been busy catching up with other stuff, like cutting 310 more bales of hay), but there's no chance we're going to freeze. I have an ever growing stack of cozy vintage quilts to keep us warm.

Sunday, October 10

Sunday Dose of Cute: Haying Help

Lucky Buddy Bear Helping Us Bring in the Hay
The Cheering Section

We're very grateful to our ever faithful stock dog Lucky Buddy Bear, who took time out from doing chicken surveillance (Bear LOVES his new job—more about that soon) to offer moral support and root us on with his winning smile while we were toiling away in the hayfield yesterday and today.

© 2010, the so ready for dinner and a glass of champagne (Happy 10/10/10!) foodie farm blog where I don't want to talk about Haying Season 2010 Part 2 until I've blocked it out for a few days first, except to say that it's finally over, everyone survived, it may have actually been worth it—and I hope we never put up hay in October again. The rest of the story, with photos, will be up sometime this week. I think.

Recipe: Arugula or Spinach Salad with Cherry Tomatoes, Black Olives, Pecorino Romano, Sliced Chicken Sausage, and Homemade Buttermilk Ranch Dressing

Arugula Salad with Cherry Tomatoes, Black Olives, Chicken Sausage, and Romano with Homemade Buttermilk Ranch Dressing
Simple, healthy, high in protein and fiber, low carb (dressing recipe here)

When you raise your own meat, your attitude towards buying it naturally changes. It's harder to justify spending money on chicken or pork if you already have several hundred pounds of grass fed lamb and black Angus beef sitting in your freezers. And then there's the wild venison our hunter friends supply us with each year, too. Buying somebody else's meat has become a special treat.

Since lamb chops and sirloin steaks are everyday fare for us (you'll find links to my favorite lamb recipes here), roasting one of the ten big pastured chickens we order and pick up at the farm each year always turns dinner into a celebration. Splurging on Volpi Red Wine Italian Salami during trips to St. Louis when we already have 40 or 50 frozen packages of our own custom made beef bolonga, salami, and pepperoni waiting to be eaten at home is an infrequent guilty pleasure. Grilled bratwurst and sauerkraut night is a big deal around here, and we get very excited over chicken salad sandwiches.

Wednesday, October 6

Wednesday Dose of Cute: That Autumn Look

J2 in the Cat Cabin
It's in the Light

We call this neat little antique structure, which is made from hand hewn logs and sits just few feet away from The Shack, the Cat Cabin (you can see more of it, including how it's slowly sinking into the ground, here and here). The grandson of the couple my hunky farmguy Joe bought this farm from 20 years ago (who also happens to be the donkey peddling cowboy) told me that his grandmother always referred to it as The Smokehouse.

Two elderly brothers in overalls, who showed up one day a few years ago to visit and reminisce because they were related to an even earlier owner of the property, told me that at one point there were 13 children down here and this was the boys bunkhouse. (I can't remember now exactly when this was, and just how these two entertaining old guys were related to them, but I have it all written down somewhere.) I asked if there had been some kind of chinking between the logs back then, since it would have been awfully drafty in the winter. They couldn't remember, since neither of them had been down here since they were kids in the 1930s.

Sunday, October 3

Sunday Dose of Cute: Weighing In

Auntie Rose's Big Baby Boy in a Bucket
Auntie Rose's Big Newborn Boy (taken 3/20/07)

This picture cracks me up every time I see it. It's been moved from one 'to post' photo file to another for three and a half years, yet for some reason has never actually been posted until today.

We don't usually weigh our newborn lambs, but this one was so big when he popped out of Auntie Rose (who also cracks me up) that I was curious. We have a 200-pound hanging scale in the sheep barn for weighing buckets of feed, so I put him in a three gallon bucket and—very quickly because mama was already having a fit—hung him on it. He was a whopping 14 pounds. The only other baby lamb I've weighed was my sweet Cary's—the one who was stuck inside her and would have killed her if the vet hadn't made that late night visit out to the farm. He was 15 pounds. Big lambs are good, but that's just a little too big. (Don't know who Cary is? Meet her in A Tiny Tail for Mother's Day. She's doing great by the way.)

Speaking of weighing things, my wonderful 11-pound Oxo Good Grips digital kitchen scale, which I often use several times a day (and which lists for $55.50), is currently on sale at for $37.44 with free shipping. I've raved about this scale before—most recently in this morning's In My Kitchen Garden post on six worthwhile kitchen investments for gardeners (or any foodie with access to a good farmers' market)—and I no doubt will again. The pull out display is awesome. If you've been thinking about buying a kitchen scale, I highly recommend this one. It would also make a great gift.

©, the accurate to an eighth of an ounce foodie farm blog where sheep breeding season is going to start in a couple of weeks (more about this soon), which means that lambing season 2011 will start in mid March. Thankfully for those who can't wait for all that upcoming cuteness, it's always lambing season online!