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!