Monday, December 31

Last Farm Photo of the Year: Farewell, 2012

Heading out to Donkeyland on the tractor -
We're heading out in a beautiful blaze of white.

Thank you so much for all of your kindness and support during the past year. We wouldn't be here without you!

I'm really looking forward to sharing lots of new recipes, stories, and photos with you in 2013. In the meantime, if you'd like to take a look back at life on the farm during the past year, you can check out all 24 of the 2012 Friday Farm Fix posts here and here (scroll down to the bottom of each link to start with the oldest posts).

Happy, happy, new, new!

©, where I do believe I hear some chilled champagne and potato chips calling my name. See you next year!

Sunday, December 30

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

Pumpkin Spice Cake with Orange Cream Cheese Frosting
Ring in the new year with a scrumptious homemade cake (recipe here).

Is there any better way to celebrate a new year than with an old-fashioned cake? Not if it includes orange cream cheese frosting, one of the best things on the planet.

This Old-Fashioned Pumpkin Spice Cake with Orange Cream Cheese Frosting is my favorite kind of cake: comforting and homey, easy to make, freezes beautifully. It's perfect as an after school snack or at tea time, but it's nice enough to serve at a New Year's eve party. And of course it's wonderful for breakfast with a tall glass of ice cold milk—or champagne.

Happy, happy!

Can't live on cake alone? You'll find links to all my sweet and savory Less Fuss, More Flavor recipes in the Farmgirl Fare Recipe Index.

©, the still white foodie farm blog where there is supposedly more snow on the way. Time to snuggle up inside and celebrate bake!

Saturday, December 29

Saturday Farm Photo: Whiteout

Drying clothes on the line in a snowstorm -
Can you tell we weren't expecting it?

After finishing our chores and loading up the truck with bags of recyclables and donations for the thrift store, we headed out about 11:30 yesterday morning to run errands and stock up on feed and supplies.

During the winter we try to keep at least a couple of week's worth of feed for all of the animals (dogs, cats, sheep, chickens, donkeys) on hand because we live a half mile down a really steep driveway and 10 miles from the nearest town (which consists of just a tiny post office and a small general store).

Most of the time we can climb out of our little valley in the snow and ice if we really need to, but it's much better if you don't have to.

It was warmer than it had been the past few days, so before we left I uncovered the kale and Swiss chard (so easy to grow) and lettuce (lettuce!) that are still thriving in my kitchen garden despite nights as low as 9°F because I've been protectively swaddling them up each night (and sometimes during the day).

By the time we made it to the second town (slightly larger, 17 miles away), something that looked suspiciously like tiny snowflakes had started to fall from the sky. We hadn't checked the weather before we left the farm, but everyone we talked to during our 17 stops said the forecast had only called for a 30% chance of a few flurries in the morning.

When we got home less than five hours later, it looked like this.

It kept snowing into the night, and we ended up with about three inches total. The flakes were big and wet and coming down fast at first, the kind of snow that quickly piles up on even the tiniest of branches and turns the entire landscape into a winter wonderland.

It was beautiful and quiet and oh so peaceful—and those shirts dried just fine overnight in the toasty warm house. (I love these clothes drying racks so much I bought three of them).

More snow? Here.
More laundry line photos? Here.

©, where we get just enough snow that it's pretty much always a welcome event.

Saturday, December 22

Recipe: Easy Christmas Cranberry Scones (and Rave Reviews from First Time Scone Bakers)

Christmas Cranberry Scones Recipe with dried cranberries and freshly grated nutmeg-
They're moist on the inside, with a nice light crunch on the outside (recipe here)

Beautifully golden brown and dotted with jewel-like dried cranberries and optional chopped pecans, these cute little scones are sure to brighten any holiday table. I named them Christmas Cranberry 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. They also freeze beautifully.

If you've never made scones before, have no fear! This easy recipe is the perfect place to start, as you can see from these rave reviews:

More below. . .

Friday, December 21

Recipe: Shredded Raw Brussels Sprouts Salad with Pecorino Romano, Chives, and a Lemony Caper Dressing

Raw Brussels Sprouts Salad with Pecorino Romano, Chives, and a Lemony Caper Dressing 1 -
This healthy, festive salad—gussied up here with dried cranberries and garbanzo beans—is packed with antioxidants, beneficial ingredients, and flavor (recipe here).

I love this raw brussels sprouts salad even more than I love my Quick Roasted Brussels Sprouts with Lemon and Parmesan, and you know I love them a lot. I created it back in 2009 and have been devouring it for breakfast, lunch, dinner, and snacks ever since. My recipe notes from 4/15/09 say I mixed up that batch at midnight. You've been warned.

Raw brussels sprouts have a wonderful taste; it's as if the flavor from an entire regular sized cabbage has been concentrated down into each little sprout. And of course they're extremely good for you. It's always nice to be crazy about something that's heavenly and healthy.

The basic version of this salad recipe is wonderful, but I usually gussy it up with a healthy boost of either raisins and roasted almonds or dried cranberries and garbanzo beans. The brussels sprouts are quickly shredded in the food processor (or use a mandoline slicer or sharp knife), and the tangy dressing can be made several days ahead.

This salad would make a fresh and lovely addition to the holiday table, but if one of your goals for 2013 is to up your intake of cruciferous vegetables, it would also be a delicious way to usher in the new year. Raw brussels sprouts at midnight, anyone?

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

©, the slightly selfish (at least when it comes to brussels sprouts) foodie farm blog where I don't have a lot of feedback from guests about this recipe because I usually just gobble it all up myself. I did make a double batch while my foodie mom was visiting once, and she thought it was delish.

Thursday, December 20

Recipe: Savory Chive and Sharp Cheddar Scones

These simple yet impressive scones are perfect for breakfast, brunch, and beyond (recipe here).

Looking for an easy and interesting addition to your holiday bread basket? Light and moist on the inside, with a pleasant little crunch on the outside, these Savory Chive and Sharp Cheddar Scones are made with softened cream cheese instead of butter and mix up quickly.

Serve them warm from the oven instead of rolls: plain, buttered, or with cream cheese, goat cheese, or homemade herbed yogurt cheese. I like to split and toast them in the toaster oven for breakfast, then slather both crunchy halves with butter. They're great for making little sandwiches, and I've even used them in place of burger buns.

These scones also freeze beautifully, so you can make them now and serve them later. No chives? Try my original scallion and feta cheese version instead—and learn how easy it is to grow your own chives here.

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

©, where the arctic wind is howling and it's sort of snowing outside!

Wednesday, December 19

Wordless Wednesday Dose of Cute

Bert lapping up a puddle -

More wordless cute? Here and here.
More beagle Bert? Here.


Monday, December 17

Recipe: Really Easy Baby Shortbread Cookies with Mini Chocolate Chips and Toffee Bits

A scrumptious cross between butter cookies and shortbread, perfect for giving and munching (recipe here).

Think you don't have time to do any holiday baking? Think again. These cute baby chocolate chip and toffee cookies are perfect to have on hand this time of year, and the batter comes together in less time than it takes the oven to heat up. Pile them on a pretty plate and serve them to guests as a light dessert with coffee, or add them to an afternoon tea tray.

They keep for several days and travel well, making them a wonderful choice for holiday goodie boxes mailed to faraway loved ones. They also freeze beautifully, so you can make them now and enjoy them later. Pack them in little cello bags tied with a colorful ribbon for handy gifts, perhaps tucked into oversized cappuccino cups. Everyone loves them.

I'm a sucker for any recipe that calls for English toffee bits, but these cookies 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.

Here's a sampling of what others are saying about this recipe:

— Oh, how dreamy and delicious they are - many, many, thanks!

— I made SEVERAL batches of these last week—for dessert for guests, for a church meeting, and then for a bake sale. Of course, I had some here and there and they are marvelous. One of my favorite cookies now.

— I made these cookies and they are awesome! They taste even better the next day. My husband couldn't stop eating them.

— I made these as part of the Christmas cookie assortment that I make for my coworkers. First, they were easy. Second, they came out looking just like yours. And third, they are fantastic! Everyone loves them.

— I made those cookies a little over an hour ago. I think I ate half the batter and thereafter half the cookies. I'm currently typing this out of sight of the freezer so I won't go steal more.

More easy Farmgirl Fare sweet treats that are perfect for the holidays:
Christmas Cranberry Scones (tasty any time of year!)
Easy Chocolate Biscotti Cookies (a great recipe for first time biscotti bakers)
Quick and Easy Raspberry Almond Bars (made with raspberry jam)

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

©, where cute is a way of life—right down to dessert.

Thursday, December 13

Thursday Dose of Cute: Slowly Defrosting

Slowly defrosting in the hayfield (1) -
Looking out the bedroom window across the hayfield, 9:30 Tuesday morning.

Much of our 240-acre Missouri farm is tucked several hundred feet down in a narrow little valley, which means that on a clear night this time of year it often gets at least ten degrees colder than the forecast. It also means that at 9:30 in the morning, we're still deep in frozen shade.

The sun slowly works its way across the hayfield toward us, finally reaching the kitchen garden about 11am. By four o'clock, it's already dropped down behind the ridge, sending us back into the shade.

It's the season of very short days.

Two mornings ago it was nine degrees (that would be Fahrenheit) at 8:30, which is when I'd worked up enough nerve to check the thermometer. Yesterday morning at 6:30 it was twelve. What always amazes me is how after just a short time in the sun, everything goes back to looking as if there had never even been a frost.

11 more photos below. . .

Monday, December 10

Recipe: Easy Fudgy Chocolate Streusel Bar Cookies with (or without) Roasted and Salted Almonds

Easy Fudgy Chocolate Streusel Bar Cookies with Roasted and Salted Almonds 1 -
This quick dessert is great for holiday get togethers & goodie tins (recipe here).

I've been making these fudgy and foolproof Chocolate Streusel Bars for years. Like my popular Quick and Easy Raspberry Almond Bars, people always get so excited over them it's almost embarrassing to admit how easy they are to make. The top and bottom layers are the same batter, and the rich, fudgy middle is simply chocolate chips and sweetened condensed milk melted in the microwave.

They're perfect for holiday munching and gift giving because they look good, travel well, and stay fresh for several days. The 9"x13" pan makes plenty, and you can cut them large or small. Enjoy!

More easy Farmgirl Fare sweet treats that are perfect for holiday giving and munching:
Christmas Cranberry Scones (tasty any time of year!)
Easy Chocolate Biscotti Cookies (a great recipe for first time biscotti bakers)
Quick and Easy Raspberry Almond Bars (made with raspberry jam)

Can't live on dessert alone? You'll find links to all my sweet and savory Less Fuss, More Flavor recipes in the Farmgirl Fare Recipe Index.

©, rounding out all that chocolate with plenty of freshly picked kale.

Saturday, December 8

Holiday Giveaway! Who's in the Mood for a Ghost Story?

Enter to win a copy of Christmas Ghost Stories: A Collection of Winter Tales by Mark Onspaugh!

Daphne and her two year old son Gus looking for treats -
How about you skip the story and just hand over the treats?

I've met so many interesting people since I started Farmgirl Fare back in 2005. Take my friend Tobey Crockett for example. She's a transformational coach who lives on the "idyllic central coast of California" and offers everything from business coaching and marketing consulting to White Heart Readings using her one of a kind, handmade modern Tarot deck.

Tobey spends a lot of her free time in various Native American and indigenous ceremonies, and during last summer's devastating heat and drought she even asked a shaman friend to do a spiritual investigation and see if a rain ceremony would work for our farm and the surrounding area.

She and I have been e-mailing sporadically for years, but I didn't discover until recently that her husband, Mark Onspaugh, is a writer. He's been nominated for a prestigious Pushcart Prize and is delighted to have been compared to his favorite authors, Ray Bradbury and Stephen King.

Mark's new book, Christmas Ghost Stories: A Collection of Winter Tales, features 16 "sometimes funny, sometimes scary, and occasionally bittersweet stories that can be read alone or sewn together and are perfect for sharing aloud by the fire or cuddling with someone (or something!) toasty on a moonless December night." After just a few pages, I was longing for candlelight, hot cocoa, a cozy quilt, and somebody reading to me.

Read more and enter to win a copy below. . .

Thursday, December 6

Molasses Ginger Spice Cookie Recipe: Make Them Big, Soft, and Chewy or Tiny, Cute, and Crunchy

Big and Soft Molasses Ginger Spice Cookies 1
An old-fashioned treat that brings back—and  makes—memories (recipe here)

I've been making these Big, Soft, and Chewy Molasses Ginger Spice Cookies all year round for at least 10 years, but they always seem so festive during the holidays, reminding me of ice skating and red mittens and crackling fires and early Christmas morning. I started baking and selling oversized cookies 27 years ago, and everyone from little kids to big tough men goes crazy for them.

Molasses ginger spice snap cookies 2
Even better by the little dozen? (recipe & molasses ginger cookie lore here)

What's especially nice is when one cookie batter will give you two completely different cookies, just by changing the size. These 2-inch Molasses Ginger Spice Snaps are cute and crunchy, and one batch bakes up 12 dozen cookies that store really well, making them perfect for gift giving. I like to pack them up in little cello bags and tie them with a colorful ribbon. Both versions of these cookies also freeze beautifully.

Happy holiday baking!

Can't survive on just cookies? You'll find links to all my sweet and savory Less Fuss, More Flavor recipes in the Farmgirl Fare Recipe Index.

©, where that freaky December heat wave is over, and we're back to frosty mornings, favorite quilts, hearty homemade soup, and snuggly sweats. It's the coziest time of year!

Wednesday, December 5

Wordless Wednesday Dose of Cute

Livestock guardian dog Marta in the front field - -

More Marta Beast? Here and here.
More wordless cute? Here and here.

©, tougher than we look.

Tuesday, December 4

Recipe: Easy Chocolate Biscotti Cookies (and Rave Reviews for Them)

These homemade chocolate biscotti are perfect for holiday gifts (recipe here)

Every year in early December my Easy Chocolate Biscotti Recipe becomes one of the most popular recipes on Farmgirl Fare. Holiday baking season has begun! Have you ever wondered how to make biscotti? These twice baked, crunchy Italian cookies always look so elegant and perfect, especially when packed up in little cello bags and tied with a pretty ribbon, but they're easier to make than you might think.

My simple recipe is ideal for first time biscotti bakers for two reasons: the buttery dough is easy to work with, and the chocolate makes it dark, so no one will be able to tell if all your cookies aren't the same exact shade of golden brown.

These biscotti stay fresh for several days, making them perfect for gift giving. They also freeze beautifully. The cookies have a nice (not break-your-teeth) crunch that stands up to dunking in coffee, but they also taste great on their own.

But don't just take my word for it. Below is a sampling of what others have said about this recipe since I originally posted it back in 2005. I especially love hearing about all the signature touches. Mint chocolate chips mixed in to the dough? Yes, please!

More below. . .

Monday, December 3

Sunday, December 2

Sunday Farm Photo: Hello, December.

Chainsaw Joe turning a fallen oak tree into fuel for the wood furnace -
We're getting ready for you.

The calendar may say December, but the thermometer here in Missouri says it's a balmy 70 degrees. Two days ago I was watering the kitchen garden. It's a little disconcerting. But those 20-degree nights will be back soon, so on Friday afternoon my hunky farmguy Joe set out with his chainsaw to start turning the huge oak tree that fell during a storm back in July into a nice big stack of firewood.

Yesterday we went to town and bought 500 pounds of sheep feed, 30 pounds of flour, several bags of chocolate chips and toffee bits (I'm making these scrumptious baby shortbread cookies for gifts), and an extra five-gallon gas can. Tomorrow we'll head out in another direction to have some work done on our 'new' (2002) main truck, then pick up some other parts for it and the '81 flat bed ton truck, along with 100 pounds of dog food, a case of Irish malt for brewing beer, and a new stack of books and audio books from the library.

When bad weather hits, we'll be ready.

If you'd rather hunker down at home than face the holiday crowds, check out my Holiday Gift Ideas for Bakers and Cooks: 15 Favorite Kitchen Essentials, Most Under $25. These are the kitchen tools that I love and use all the time. Whether you're buying for yourself or someone else, they're sure to be appreciated for many years to come.

And if you're looking for a useful gift or stocking stuffer that's under $10, how about with these handy dandy Fiskars Take-Apart Softgrip Garden Shears ($8.35). I have two pairs and have used them nearly every day for the past year and a half. I rave more about them here.

Thanks so much to all of you who have been starting your amazon shopping trips at a Farmgirl Fare link. We receive a small commission no matter what you end up buying, and I can't tell you how much we appreciate your kind support.

©, the cold weather loving foodie farm blog where the two three tubs packed with polar fleece are ready and waiting. Bring it on!

Friday, November 30

Friday Farm Photo & The Wise Woman Council (I'm In!)

Morning over the hayfield -
Morning over the hayfield—breathing it all in.

The World Wide Web is an amazing thing, isn't it? It's so incredibly vast, and expanding so fast it's hard to even fathom, and yet in some ways it feels really small. So when Lisa Claudia Briggs and I finally connected last month, we were both kind of wondering the same thing: How come we hadn't found each other sooner?

E-mail started flying back and forth as we realized how much we have in common (she even lives on a farm), and we've quickly become fast friends. Lisa is an intuitive, a psychospiritual therapist, and a sacred streetfighter helping women keep their promises to themselves. She describes her work as mystical-meets-practical-meets 25 years of psychotherapy experience, and she's all for getting rid of that whole pesky perfectionism thing (yes!).

Lisa has a very special website called Intuitive Body (don't you just love that name?), which includes a blog and is all about simple, sacred solutions to living beautifully in your body. One of her Intuitive Body projects is The Wise Woman Council, which she describes as a kind of online gathering at the well for women to quench their thirst. In Lisa's words:

More below. . .

Wednesday, November 28

Wordless Wednesday Dose of Cute

Gus demonstrates the donkey chin rest -

More wordless cute? Here and here.
More Gus? Here.
More donkeys? Here.

Tuesday, November 27

Recipe: 100% Whole Grain Ginger Pear Bran Muffins Made with Honey (and Rave Reviews)

100% whole grain ginger pear bran muffins sweetened with honey
Moist and healthy bran muffins made without bran cereal, sweetened with honey. Going whole grain never tasted so good (recipe here).

I bought six pounds of pears during a recent shopping trip, so the other day I whipped up a quick batch of these 100% Whole Grain Ginger Pear Bran Muffins. The trick is to wait until the pears are so ripe and sweet they look bruised and battered and pathetic.

My foodie mom and I came up with this scrumptious variation of my super popular 100% Whole Grain Bran Muffins during one of her eat-a-thon farm visits a few years back. They're moist and flavorful and are made with hefty portions of both soluble fiber (oat bran) and insoluble fiber (wheat bran). They're sweetened with honey (although there is some sugar in the candied ginger) and they don't call for any store bought bran cereal (a pet peeve with me and bran muffin recipes).

This recipe makes 12 large muffins which taste even better the second day and freeze beautifully. I just toss them into a two gallon zipper freezer bag (these are also great for storing big loaves of homemade bread, like Farmhouse White) and pull out one or two the night before so they're defrosted for breakfast the next morning. They make a filling and wholesome snack and are the perfect thing to have on hand during the busy holiday season.

Need more convincing? Here's what Farmgirl Fare readers are saying about (and how they're adapting) this recipe:

More below. . .

Monday, November 26

Monday Dose of Cute: Long Weekend Recovery Mode

Daisy and Bert in weekend recovery mode -

Did you eat well this past weekend? We sure did. There was apple streusel pie and vanilla ice cream for breakfast (three times), champagne and grilled cheese sandwiches on freshly baked bread for lunch, roast chicken, rice, and gravy with garlic and lemon thyme from the kitchen garden, bacon and fried egg sandwiches (the hens are laying again!) on homemade onion rye rolls, homegrown grass-fed cheeseburgers on onion rye rolls, freshly picked raw kale salad, open-faced toasted chicken and Swiss sandwiches, honey ginger pear bran muffins, hot buttered popcorn. . .

Bert finally caught a rabbit (I think it's the one he's been tracking for about a year and a half), and after eating his fill, while growling menacingly the entire time, he kindly shared his catch with Mr. Midnight, Kit Kat, and Bear (although Mr. Midnight usually gets his own rabbits in the garden).

Celebrating is always fun, but re-entry can be a little rough:

©, the well balanced foodie farm blog where our usual day to day menu includes a lot more vegetables, a little less champagne, and hardly any gravy.

Sunday, November 25

Sunday Farm Photo: A Peaceful Sunday Afternoon

Pregnant ewes grazing in the hayfield -
Sunshine, blue skies, and some fresh green grass for these pregnant ewes.

When I was a kid I used to love the board game Payday. I remember one time when I was probably about ten, a friend who lived around the corner and I were both home sick with the flu for several days, so our moms let us hang out together on the big sofa bed in their family room. We played a continuous game of Payday that lasted so long we had to make our own extra money.

The game board is a calendar month, and you drew various cards, etc. depending on which day you landed. Nothing ever happened on the Sunday squares, they were simply all labeled Sweet Sunday, which always seemed so boring. Now it sounds just perfect.

More sheep? Here.
More farm landscapes? Here.
More totally peaceful farm moments? Um. . .

©, the seven day a week, Sheep Working Sunday foodie farm blog where life is not a board game, but it's still a lot of fun to play.

Thursday, November 22

Thursday Dose of Cute: Happy Thanksgiving from All of Us to All of You

Daisy posing with part of her flock -

What are we so very thankful for? You.

Farmgirl Fare Thanksgivings past:
(click here to see all these posts on one long page)
11/22/07: Enjoying a Feast
11/27/08: Gobble Gobble
11/25/10: Post Feast Nap

©, where it can be so hard to get a decent holiday family picture.

Wednesday, November 21

Wordless Wednesday Dose of Cute

Daisy, Bear, and Bert heading down the driveway -

More wordless cute? Here and here.
More farm dog photos? Here.

©, the stay at home foodie farm blog wishing all of you who are traveling this Thanksgiving a safe and pleasant journey. If you find yourself in need of a little farm fix, we're planning to be around and posting all weekend. Of course you never know what's going to actually happen around here. Sticking to the plan isn't something we're very good at, which is why, at this point, all we're planning to have for sure tomorrow is homemade apple streusel pie and ice cream. As soon as I head back downstairs and finish making it.

Tuesday, November 20

Tuesday Farm Photos: This Morning

(1) Drying whites and hungry hens -

There were pictures everywhere this morning. Care to join me as I check on things around the farm?

19 more photos below. Descriptions at the end, or hover over each image. . .

Saturday, November 17

Recipe: Easy Roasted Sweet Potatoes with Onions, Apples, and Hint of Orange

This pretty & healthy side dish would be perfect for Thanksgiving (recipe here).

For years I prepared sweet potatoes the same old way: cut into chunks and then steamed, mashed with a fork, and sprinkled with lots of salt. I loved them, but this scrumptious roasted sweet potato recipe requires only slightly more effort and yet is ten times tastier.

This dish is nice enough to serve to company, though I usually devour it all on my own. The roasting does take a little time, but it will make your kitchen smell marvelous.

More Thanksgiving recipe inspiration from Farmgirl Fare:
Easy, Creamy Mashed Cauliflower with Garlic
Kohlrabi Purée (I love this stuff)

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

©, where if you're like me, you make these vegetable recipes every other day of the year, because on Thanksgiving it's all about the stuffing and the gravy—and dessert. Oh, and the turkey.

Friday, November 16

Recipe: Easy, Creamy Mashed Cauliflower (Cauliflower Purée) with Garlic

Easy Creamy Mashed Cauliflower 1 - - Copy
This easy mashed cauliflower makes a healthy Thanksgiving side dish, but I enjoy it all year round (recipe here).

Several years ago I fell in love with kohlrabi purée, and from there I went on to discover a whole delicious world of puréed vegetables. One of the most popular puréed vegetables is cauliflower, which is often called mashed cauliflower.

Recipes for mashed cauliflower abound, calling for everything from chicken stock and Greek yogurt to a stick of butter and a cup of heavy cream. My simple, healthy version, which has just 2 Tablespoons of butter and 2 Tablespoons of milk or cream, is low fat, low carb, easy to make, and really hard to stop eating. You can dress it up in all sorts of ways—with sour cream and dill, cheddar and chives, even lemon juice and baby arugula—or just enjoy it plain.

Mashed cauliflower is usually touted as a low carb substitute for mashed potatoes, especially around Thanksgiving. But this really isn't fair to the cauliflower purée, because it tastes so good it shouldn't be considered a stand-in or alternative to anything.

If you have trouble eating enough fresh vegetables in autumn and winter, try puréeing them. I had no idea it was so easy to devour an entire head of cauliflower.

©, where you'll always get a healthy dose of good food and cute critters.

Thursday, November 15

Thursday Dose of Cute: Chase me, Gus! Please?

Bert trying to get Gus to chase him (1) -
Bert, Gus, and Daisy in the front field

Beagle Bert is by breed a hunting dog, which means he happily spends several hours each day tracking (but rarely ever actually catching) rabbits through the woods and across the fields. There's nothing like the sound of an excited beagle on the trail, especially when it's echoing through a narrow little valley. After 15 years of living with a beagle (first with Robin for 13 years, and now with Bert), that unique canine call still cracks me up.

Bert loves doing all the usual beagle things, but what he loves more than anything in the world is being chased—by anyone he can get to come after him. The other morning he had me chasing him around and around the pickup truck in the farmyard. He was too fast for me, and much better at taking the corners, so I tried to fake him out, turning around and heading the other way to ambush him as he raced around. He quickly got wise to me and starting darting right under the middle of the truck instead. We both had a great time.

A few hours later Bert, Bear, and I walked out to the front field to check on the sheep and the donkeys, and while we were out there Bert somehow convinced two-year-old Gus to chase him around the grass (the green grass!). After surviving a slightly terrifying game of chase the beagle out in Donkeyland not long after we adopted Bert, he laid off the donkeys for a while, but now he's back to the challenge.

Gus only made a half-hearted effort, and the game didn't last very long, but it was still the highlight of Bert's afternoon.

Eight more photos below. . .

Monday, November 12

Recipe: Jamie Oliver's Traditional English Cornish Pasties with Beef, Onion, Potatoes, and Carrots

These classic-style British meat hand pies (with updated ingredients) from Jamie's Great Britain are perfect cold weather comfort food—portable, filling, and they freeze beautifully.

Jamie Oliver's Great Britain is a neat cookbook. Laid out like Jamie's America, it's a 400-page hardcover packed with color photos of people, places, and mouthwatering food, along with commentary and interesting tidbits. I've already spent a couple of hours just leisurely reading through it.

The chapters range from Breakfast, Pub Grub, and New British Classics to Afternoon Tea, Pies and Puddings, and Sunday Lunch. There's a section on wild food that has me thinking about cooking rabbit—either the Honey-Roasted Lemon Rabbit or the 12 Hour (!) Rabbit Bolognese—for the first time ever (my mother won't believe I just said that). The short Condiments chapter at the end tells you how to make things like Curried Mayonnaise, A Quick English Mustard in Seconds, eight kinds of flavored vinegar, and The Best Piccalilli.

Some of the recipes I've bookmarked include Bubble and Squeak (a quintessential classic that dates to the early 1800s), Minted Zucchini Soup, Quick Fresh Tomato Soup with Little Cheddar Soliders, Epic Roast Chicken Salad with Golden Croutons, Shredded Rainbow Salad (you just throw everything into the food processor), Kate and Wills's Wedding Pie with Beef and Beer Filling, Guinness Lamb Shanks, Speedy Butter Beans with Tomatoes and Swiss Chard or Cabbage, Sour Cranberry Bakewell Tart, and Rainbow Jam Tarts.

Recipe below. . .

Sunday, November 11

Sunday Dose of Cute: Looking Out

Mr. Midnight on the kitchen windowsill -
Toward a brand new week.

Wishing you a beautiful one.

More Mr. Midnight? Here.
More of the hayfield? Here.

©, sleek, black, and able to easily see long distances (thanks to the pair of binoculars we keep in the kitchen).

Tuesday, November 6

Tuesday Dose of Cute: This is Not a Political Post

All seven donkeys in the front field -
Because everybody knows that cute is nonpartisan.

Get out and vote!

More donkeys? Here.
More politics? Nope.

©, where we had a record 100% turnout for the farm vote, and the results are already in: 80 to 2 in favor of a lot more treats.

Saturday, November 3

Recipe: Really Easy Low Sugar Pear Butter Made in the Oven

Really easy low sugar pear butter made in the oven -
This flavorful pear butter really is easy to make (recipe here).

Pears are in season, and there's nothing like homemade pear butter. This Really Easy Low Sugar Pear Butter recipe I shared a few years ago is so simple, and it tastes divine. There's no peeling or coring required, and because it cooks in the oven instead of on the stove top, you don't have to babysit a simmering pot for hours. It's also a great way to use up bruised and battered pears, which taste extra sweet.

Pears are plentiful and cheap right now, and in many places they're available locally grown. Unfortunately pears are also high on the Environmental Working Group's list of Most Contaminated Produce (apples are #1), so it's especially important to seek out organic pears if at all possible.

A good mature pear tree can literally produce several hundred pounds of fruit each year, so ask around. You might discover that a friend or neighbor would love for you to take a bushel or two off their hands. You can also search for fresh pears near you.

If you're facing a mountain of ripe pears, making pear butter is the perfect way to use them up. You can process jars of pear butter in a simple waterbath canner, but it will keep unprocessed in the refrigerator for at least a couple of weeks (I never have any around longer than that). Homemade pear butter makes a wonderful gift, and if you don't want to bother with the canning process, simply tell the recipient to stick their jar in the fridge and enjoy it right away.

©, where even the donkeys love pears.

Tuesday, October 30

Tuesday Dose of Cute: Farmgirl Fare on Facebook, Pinterest, and Twitter

Daisy and Marta outside the sheep barn during lambing season March 2012 -
Don't let anything stand between you and your farm fix!

Farmgirl Fare on Facebook
Farmgirl Fare on Pinterest
New posts are (mostly) announced on Twitter

See you there!

Attention Farmgirl Fare Facebook fans: If you follow the Farmgirl Fare Facebook Fan Page and are no longer seeing my new post announcements, it's because Facebook recently made changes to get people to pay to promote their posts. It's easy fix: to continue seeing all my new posts on Facebook, go to the top of the Farmgirl Fare Facebook page and under "Liked" click "Add to Interest List." Please share that info. Thanks!

©, where this photo of Daisy and Marta, our awesome livestock guardian dogs, was taken outside the sheep barn back in March. Need a bigger dose of little lamb cute? You'll find lots more lambing season photos here.)