Wednesday, August 31

Wednesday Dose of Cute: Donkey Admiration Society

The Donkey Admiration Society, aka Dan's fans -
Also known as Dan's fans

It's the end of an era! The vet will be here soon to 'de-jack' our beloved Donkey Doodle Dandy, as well as young Gus and Gnat. It seems that somebody around here thinks a herd of seven longears is plenty, and that this whole baby donkey business needs to stop.

I'll certainly miss having adorable baby donkeys around each year (although there's a slight chance, ahem, Evie might be pregnant), but it'll be great to be able to let Dan go back to running with his people rather than with the sheep.

The farrier is coming this afternoon, too. He'll help hold Dan completely still while the vet puts the shot of sedative in his neck, and he'll also give Dan a much needed pedicure—probably while he's still sedated.

I'm a little worried (okay, a lot worried) about all this, especially since dear Dan is 10 years old (you can read about how Dan joined the farm family in The Tail of A Donkey and His Ratty Blue Halter). Cross your hooves that all goes well.

In the meantime, I can't believe I blew it. I should have saved this photo for today's announcement!

©, where I've found that it's always a good idea to hand out bribes treats to the hired help, so I have two bags of giant oatmeal raisin cookies and a couple of big hunks of old-fashioned banana cake with cream cheese frosting ready to go.

Tuesday, August 30

An Easy Recipe for Old-Fashioned Blackberry Crisp (and Life in a Very Small Town)

Old-Fashioned Blackberry Crisp 1 -
This simple crisp is a sweet comfort treat for breakfast, snack time, or dessert.

Because our farm is located several miles past the last mailbox on the local delivery route, the U.S. postal service won't come out this far. Instead, they provide us with a post office box in town at no charge.

'Town' is ten miles away and consists of a church, a tiny post office—where you can only collect the mail in your box when the office is actually open for business—and a general store where the gas is full serve and you pay with cash or put it on a tab.

The small, dark store, which is freezing in winter and a stuffy furnace in summer, has three chairs lined up just inside the heavy white front door (that jingles each time it opens), allowing whoever is sitting around shooting the bull an excellent view of everyone coming and going.

If the owner is in the back slicing up deli meat or making a sandwich or out front pumping gas, the area next to the cash register quickly fills with patiently waiting customers.

More below. . .

Monday, August 29

Friday, August 26

Farmhouse White: A Simple, Old-Fashioned Sandwich Bread Recipe for the Perfect BLT (or PBJ)

BLT on Farmhouse White bread with heirloom tomatoes from the organic kitchen garden -
Does anything taste better than a BLT on homemade bread?

The beginning of BLT season is something we eagerly and impatiently anticipate all summer long. For us, it's a momentous occasion that ranks right up there with birthdays and Thanksgiving.

The sandwiches, which we always have for dinner, must be made exactly right, with juicy and flavorful heirloom tomatoes from the organic kitchen garden, really nice bacon (preferably from a locally raised hog we had butchered to our specifications), crunchy iceberg lettuce (hey, we're in the Midwest), a thick slathering of Hellman's mayonnaise, and perfectly toasted slices of freshly baked Farmhouse White.

The season opens tonight.

If you've been longing to learn how to bake your own sandwich bread, my easy Farmhouse White is the perfect place to start, and the recipe includes detailed instructions for beginners. There are also lots of bread baking tips here and here.

Made with milk instead of water, this is a simple, traditional loaf that's nice and soft, but not too soft. It's great for just about any kind of sandwich and brings peanut butter and jelly, a staple around here, to a whole new level. It's wonderful toasted, smells heavenly while toasting, and makes an awesome BLT.

I've been baking this bread for 11 years and have watched plenty of people who claim they never eat white bread gobble slices up. It's one of my most popular recipes, and I've heard from so many nervous novices who are now confident bread bakers thanks to Farmhouse White. Maybe you'll be the next one!

Have you been enjoying BLTs this summer? How do you like yours?

More bread posts on Farmgirl Fare:
Carrot Herb Rolls (and a wonderful bread baking book for beginners)

©, busy counting down the hours until dinner.

Thursday, August 25

Thursday Dose of Cute: Farmgirl Fare on Facebook

Gus and Finny share a little kiss -

Are you on Facebook? Let's connect! I announce each new Farmgirl Fare and In My Kitchen Garden post on the Farmgirl Fare Facebook page, often with a chatty intro, so following along via Facebook is an easy way to keep up with what's happening here on the blog.

I also share timely links to seasonal recipes and gardening posts from the archives that I think you might find interesting and helpful.

It's been fun to hear from so many of you over on Facebook, and I really appreciate your spreading the word about Farmgirl Fare and In My Kitchen Garden (the offshoot blog where I sporadically write about my organic heirloom garden and greenhouse).

Thanks to all the current Facebook fans and welcome to the new ones!

©, where Donkeyland has been so overrun with starving, treat-crazed sheep that the donkeys have to be fed in the safety of a impenetrable fortress (aka a temporary corral). Thank goodness the sheep are also friendly.

Thursday, August 18

Sunday, August 14

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

A simple and delicious way to celebrate summer's bounty (recipe here)

Despite planting several different varieties at several different times, this isn't turning out to be The Year of the Tomato in my kitchen garden.

At least I have the ravenous, tomato loving blister beetles under control, thanks to my trusty food grade diatomaceous earth. (You can read more about the many ways we use this wonderful stuff—which is 100% organic and totally safe for people, pets, and the environment—around the farm, house, and garden here.)

My beloved Arkansas Traveler tomatoes are finally starting to ripen, and I'm hopeful that the first sorry specimens are just a fluke, and this heat and humidity tolerant, crack and disease resistant pink heirloom will perform as well as it has in previous years. (I list more of my favorite heirloom tomatoes to grow here.)

In the meantime, the three volunteer cherry tomato plants I allowed to stay in my new little perennial bed now cover over 100 square feet of garden space (I think the perennials are still in there somewhere), and I've been picking lots of tiny red, pink, and orange tomatoes every day.

Sometimes I think we'd starve if it weren't for the volunteer vegetables.

The gazpacho and homemade tomato vegetable juice I've been craving all summer will have to wait, and I don't think I'll be needing my Seven Second Tomato Glut Solution anytime soon.

But the basil is also going gangbusters, which means it's time to feast on Pasta with Cherry Tomatoes, Fresh Basil, and Sun Dried Tomato & Artichoke Pesto!

sun dried tomato artichoke pesto with fresh tomatoes - Copy
Adding fresh tomatoes to the pesto made it even better (recipe here)

Two summers ago I discovered this dish and lived on it for most of a month. I even ate it for breakfast. While mixing up the third or fourth batch of  quick and easy pesto, I took a cue from my favorite basil pesto recipe and added some fresh tomatoes to the mix. Yum. This version is a little thinner than the original, with more tomato flavor and fewer calories.

Both versions, which also taste great spread on hunks of crusty bread (either plain or mixed with cream cheese and more romano), are hard to stop eating.

Are there cherry tomatoes in your garden this year? What's your favorite way to enjoy them?

©, getting redder and riper all the time.

Saturday, August 13

Saturday Night Dose of Cute: Day is Done

Daisy tries to get some shuteye 1 -
The lambs have been fed and everyone is safe. . .

More photos below. . .

Thursday, August 11

Recipe: Easy Blueberry Bonanza Breakfast Bars with an Oat Crust and Streusel Topping

Easy Blueberry Bonanza Breakfast Bars with Oat Crust and Streusel Topping -
Celebrate blueberry season with this anytime sweet treat (recipe here)

I never heard from my local blueberry supplier this year, so I don't know if the harvest was too small to cover all his customers or I somehow got knocked off The List. Either way, once again I didn't get my annual five gallons of berries.

Feeling and craving blue, on a recent St. Louis shopping trip I splurged on a couple of pounds of fat organic blueberries, with a pan of these Blueberry Bonanza Breakfast Bars specifically in mind—and then I ended up eating all the blueberries either straight out of hand or blended into breakfast smoothies (yogurt, milk, whey protein powder, fresh or frozen fruit, this amazing raw honey, and ice). I should have bought more berries.

I originally wrote about these scrumptious bars—which can be made with fresh or frozen berries and don't have to be eaten for breakfast—back in 2006, and they've become one of my most popular recipes. Don't let the three separate layers scare you away; they come together quickly and you only need to dirty up two mixing bowls.

If you don't have quite enough blueberries left, you could try the Just Peachy version or the Apple Blueberry version, which call for just two cups of blueberries each. Or use your imagination and what you have on hand ; other readers have reported delicious success using blackberries, frozen cranberries, stewed apricots, and raspberries.


©, where almost everything tastes better topped with streusel—and I'm slowly but surely adding printer friendly versions to all my archived recipes, including this one.

Tuesday, August 9

Tuesday Dose of Cute: Random Lamb Snaps 2

Yesterday we started planning the upcoming fall breeding season, and today I found a whole flock of unshared lamb pics in my files. How about a little look back at last spring's lambing season cute?

Random lamb snaps 1 - lambing season 2011 -

More photos below. . .

Friday, August 5

Recipe Ideas: Wondering What To Do with Purple Basil?

Growing and harvesting green and purple basil in the kitchen garden 9 -
First harvest of the season on 6/28: a pound of Red Rubin basil from three plants.

Four years ago I grew my first purple basil—and had no idea what to do with it. And then I turned it into pesto. Wow. Except for the fact that purple basil doesn't look as pretty as the green in many dishes, and makes a rather oddly colored pesto, I would probably quit growing the green stuff altogether.

After a surprisingly rough start this spring (since basil is one of my few never-fail crops), I now have three Red Rubin purple basil plants flourishing in my kitchen garden (although they're not yet flourishing in that post). They've given me over 1½ pounds of beautiful bounty so far, and there's already more that needs to be picked.

For my favorite pesto recipe, along with lots of other ways to use purple basil, check out this post: Growing Purple Basil and What To Do with It, Plus My Purple Basil Pesto Recipe & the Easiest White Bean Appetizer Dip/Spread Ever. I've added printer friendly versions of the recipes, and there are links to all my basil growing posts and favorite basil recipes included, too.

Have you ever grown or purchased purple basil? What do you like to do with it?

©, where we're deep in the heart of pesto season.

Thursday, August 4

Thursday Dose of Cute: What To Do on a Rainy Day

Mr. Midnight and Beagle Bert sacked out on the daybed 1
Not a lot. . .

Mr. Midnight and Beagle Bert sacked out on the daybed 2
At least if you're a beagle or a pussycat (who happen to be the best of friends).

©, where, busy or not, we all enjoyed a brief but blissful break from the relentless heat this morning, which was a much more pleasant way to start the day than yesterday's several hour power outage. We even got a half inch of rain, which should really help the fields and the farm as we head right back to blistering tomorrow. Has it cooled off where you're at yet?

Tuesday, August 2

Tuesday Dose of Cute: A Refreshing Drink

ewes and lambs drinking from water tanks with diataomaceous earth to keep down algae -
Of cloudy water? Yep.

We've been buying 50 pound bags of food grade diatomaceous earth (which also comes in smaller quantities) for years, and yet we're still finding great new uses for it, like to keep algae from growing in the animals' water. What a time saver. We sprinkle it in everything from the little chicken waterers (just a teaspoon or two) to the 250 gallon tank (a few handfuls) that we use to haul water from the spring out to Donkeyland and the front field.

Diatomaceous earth isn't 'earth,' but the fossilized remains of the microscopic shells created by one celled plants called diatoms. It's a totally natural, very fine powder that looks like glass shards under a microscope but is safe for people, pets, and the environment.

We use it for all sorts of things around the farm, garden, and house, including feeding it to the animals—and lately, ourselves! I finally got around to writing about some of the many things you can do with diatomaceous earth in yesterday's In My Kitchen Garden post, Attack! Using Organic Diatomaceous Earth on Blister Beetles and Other Pests in the Garden and Around the House and Farm.

Even if you're not a gardener, you may want to check it out. I know that discovering diatomaceous earth has really changed and helped our lives. And it thankfully seems to be working on those blasted blister beetles!

Diatomaceous earth has recently become more well known because it's apparently a good way to naturally get rid of bed bugs. If you can't find 100% pure, food grade diatomaceous earth locally, you can order it online.

Do you use diatomaceous earth for anything?

©, where every little green thing really can make a big difference.