Wednesday, December 24

Wednesday Dose of Cute: Baa, Baa, Baa!

Merry Christmas!

Wishing you a joyful, peaceful, and beautiful holiday season.

— Susan, Joe, and 53 cute farm critters (including 7 donkeys; Dan just got pushed out of the picture)

Tuesday, November 25

Recipe: Quick and Easy (and Healthy!) Roasted Brussels Sprouts with Lemon and Parmesan

Need a last-minute vegetable dish for your holiday table? These popular Quick & Easy Roasted Brussels Sprouts with Lemon and Parmesan are a scrumptious solution (recipe here).

Do you have any plans for Thanksgiving? Joe's brother is arriving from out of town tonight in time for a dinner of freshly ground venison burgers on homemade Farmhouse White buns, and on Thursday we're all going to our friends' house down the road for a big feast, an all-day homemade candy buffet (peanut brittle! fudge! divinity!), lots of laughs, and possibly a team Scrabble tournament. Last year we got there at 10 a.m. and stayed for 14 hours.

Assuming I can get my act together in the next two days (which is starting to look doubtful), I'm bringing my Easy Chocolate Biscotti and Toasted Almond Chocolate Chip Biscotti, Mini Pecan Tarts, Savory Chive and Sharp Cheddar Cheese Scones, and this Napa Cabbage Broccoli Slaw with Radishes & Creamy Dijon Dressing, which I fall back in love with each year.

On Friday I'll be making a couple of pounds of  these Quick and Easy Roasted Brussels Sprouts and eating them all myself.

This super popular recipe calls for just one bowl and one pan. There's no need to cut a little X in each stem or boil the sprouts before roasting. You don't even have to turn them while they're cooking. And oh, do they taste good.

Need more convincing? Here's what Farmgirl Fare readers are saying about this recipe:

—I ended up making this last night as the vegetable accompaniment to our meat and it was a great hit! Even my younger brother who is an avid veggie hater ate these up!

After reading your blog, I put a pan of these little cabbages in the oven last night. They never made it into a bowl. I had to try one, then two...Crunchy outside and butter soft inside.

I did the "simple" version with Orecchiette pasta and lots of parmesan. So savory and perfect! I never thought to cook them at such a high temp, but I loved it. Thanks!

Just made the "gussied up" version for a mid-morning snack :) My house smells heavenly and I am one happy camper. I stuck a handful of split fingerlings around the edge of the pan that were due to be eaten, and life is indeed good. I am sharing this recipe with everyone who will listen!

Made these slightly gussied up (no chickpeas) for Thanksgiving to rave reviews. Just delicious. And so easy!!!!!!!!

Wishing you a happy and filling Thanksgiving!

More Thanksgiving vegetable recipe inspiration from Farmgirl Fare:

©, where vegetables, donkeys, and dessert live peacefully ever after.

Monday, October 27

Green Tomato Salsa Relish Recipe: No Sugar, Super Simple, Totally Delicious!

Wondering what to do with green tomatoes? Try my no sugar, super simple, salsa-like green tomato relish. No blanching, peeling, or canning (unless you want to) required.

We've already had a couple of light frosts this year, but from the hot and humid weather we've been having lately you'd never guess it was the end of October in Missouri. By the end of the week they're saying it'll dip back down to 30 degrees F, though, and I think I'm ready to focus on the kale and other cool weather greens and finally call an end to tomato season in my kitchen garden.

It's become an annual Farmgirl Fare tradition to re-post this little shout out each year, and in the sales pitch below you'll find rave reviews from fans of my super popular No Sugar, Salsa-Like Green Tomato Relish Recipe, which is a tasty, easy way to use up all those green tomatoes still out on the vine. Enjoy!

If you'd rather have your tomatoes red, check out How To Ripen Green Tomatoes Indoors the Really Easy Way on my kitchen garden blog.

And if your ripe tomatoes are still plentiful, learn How To Make Homemade Pizza Sauce Using Fresh Tomatoes or How To Freeze Tomatoes the Really Easy Way (and Why I Don't Do Much Canning Anymore), which includes links to all my tomato growing posts.

When the first frost threatens in fall, I pick all the remaining green tomatoes in the garden that I can. Green tomatoes will eventually ripen when stored indoors at room temperature (don't put them in the refrigerator!), although the flavor won't be nearly as nice as vine ripened (learn more about ripening tomatoes indoors here). Of course any homegrown tomato eaten on Thanksgiving or Christmas tastes fantastic, but why not celebrate their greenness instead?

I created this no sugar green tomato relish recipe
years ago for Kitchen Gardener magazine. It doesn't call for the usual raisins or spices and is really more like a thick salsa. It's easily adaptable to what you have on hand, and there's no blanching or peeling required—you just chop everything up and toss it into a pot. And since it'll keep for several weeks in the refrigerator, canning is optional.

But don't just take my word regarding this recipe. Here's what others have said about it over the years:

More below. . .

Tuesday, September 23

Recipe: Italian Countryside Raw Tomato Pasta Sauce and a Tomato Growing Report

This simple and flavorful fresh tomato pasta sauce with basil, capers, and olives lets you escape to the Italian countryside for an end of tomato season celebration (recipe here).

Autumn already? Yes, please. The leaves have started to turn here in Missouri, and the oppressive heat and energy-sucking humidity of summer are history (I think). But just because we've already had a few nights down in the low 40s doesn't mean I'm giving up on the heirloom tomatoes and basil in my kitchen garden just yet.

As usual, I was late getting most of my tomato plants into the ground this spring, although I did manage to start them all from seed, along with a bunch of pepper plants, for the first time in years. Unfortunately I somehow forgot to start any basil seeds, despite probably having five or six different varieties in my stash, so I ended up with just a few purchased purple plants because by the time I realized I was basilless (new word), everybody was already sold out of green. (Got some beautiful purple basil? Here's what to do with it.)

My four sprawling gold nugget cherry tomato plants, which were loaded with sweet little fruits and planted first so I would get ripe tomatoes as soon as possible, were finished weeks ago; I highly recommend this cheerful variety.

And the usually prolific and flavorful San Marzanos are just about done after battling some kind of wilt all summer and offering up a small and lackluster harvest. It may have been the new (to me) strain of this classic paste heirloom that I tried, or maybe it was just the weather. You never know around here. We haven't been eating them all, so I've been drying a bunch for winter.

But the tasty and reliable VFN slicers (a disease resistant variety I bought from a tiny co-op back in 1995, my first year gardening in Missouri, and have been saving seeds from ever since) and the pink Arkansas Travelers, a pretty, longtime favorite with great flavor that tolerates heat and humidity really well, are finally just coming into their prime.

No problem. A few bed sheets draped over the plants on those cool nights and we're still good to go. After tomorrow night, it's supposed to be in the 80s during the day and stay up in the 50s for at least the next ten days, so I'm looking forward to a little more vine-ripened bounty before I bring all the green tomatoes indoors to ripen

This easy No-Cook Fresh Tomato Pasta Sauce is my version of the simple, flavorful pasta sauce made with chopped raw tomatoes and uncooked seasonings that is eaten in country houses all over Italy, and it's the perfect way to celebrate the last juicy tomatoes of the season.

Capers, kalamata olives, garlic, and fresh oregano and basil amp up the Mediterranean flavors, while tossing the hot, drained pasta with some of the tomato sauce juice is a neat trick that makes the whole dish taste lustier. A hunk of crusty bread to sop up every last drop of sauce is optional. Enjoy!

So how did your tomatoes do this year? Any spectacular successes? Massive failures? Tips, tricks, brilliant discoveries? New favorite varieties from the garden or the farmers market?

©, always garden fresh.

Saturday, August 23

Recipe: Easy Homemade Vegetable Tomato Juice (like V8 Juice, but better)

Easy Homemade V8 Juice (Vegetable Tomato Juice) -
Bye bye, V8 juice! This healthy, homemade V4 version will blow you away (recipe here).

Wow, it's hot out there. Two weeks in the 90s, blazing sun, and not a drop of rain. I think today it's supposed to hit 99 degrees (Joe won't let me look at the forecast) and stay there into next week. Despite twice daily watering, pretty much everything in my kitchen garden is looking haggard and unhappy. I'm drenched in sweat, and the fields are crunchy and parched. How can it be so dry and humid at the same time?

The sheep spend their days camped out in the shade, and the chickens are laying around panting. This may just be a typical late August in Missouri, but I can't help dreaming of cool breezes and a nice big thunderstorm. I'm sure they'll be here one of these days.

In the meantime, a chilled glass of this easy homemade vegetable tomato juice is a refreshing way to drink your garden veggies and keep up your stamina while working out in the heat.

This flavorful, rejuvenating juice is like Campbell's V8 juice but much better, and it's been one of the most popular recipes on Farmgirl Fare since I originally posted it back in 2008. Did you know V8 juice is mostly made from water and tomato paste, plus a frightening amount of salt?

Technically my gardener's delight version is only V4, though you could certainly add more vegetables, such as beets, spinach, carrots, or sweet peppers, if you like. Either way, the homemade version will blow that V8 away.

To make it, all you do is chop everything up and toss it into a pot, simmer until soupy, then put it through a food mill. It's a great way to use up overripe, imperfect, or just plain ugly tomatoes, which you can sometimes find for a deal at farmers' markets—or languishing in your own garden.

This juice will keep for at least a week in the fridge, or you can preserve it in glass jars (canning instructions are included in the recipe) to enjoy the taste of vine-ripened tomatoes on a deep winter day, when the heat and sweat of summer are nothing but a distant memory.

Stay cool if you can.

P.S. Quick and Easy Gazpacho (totally refreshing, chilled tomato vegetable soup) and Simple No-Cook Fresh Tomato Pasta Sauce with Basil, Capers, and Kalmata Olives (escape to the Italian countryside!)

Tuesday, July 1

Recipe: Make Ahead Antipasto Baguette Sandwiches

Make Ahead Antipasto Baguette Sandwiches with artichokes, mozzarella, green olives, and salami -
These scrumptious sandwiches, piled high with salami, mozzarella, marinated artichoke hearts, and an easy homemade green olivada, combine the flavors of an Italian antipasto platter in a handy, portable form (recipe here).

As we head toward the 4th of July weekend, I thought I'd highlight a few favorites from the Farmgirl Fare recipe archives that are perfect for summer picnics, parties, and backyard get togethers. Enjoy!

The only thing better than a big homemade sandwich? One that actually improves in flavor if allowed to sit for a while. Convenient and better tasting? That's my kind of food.

These Antipasto Baguette Sandwiches taste best when prepared the day before serving, making them perfect for toting on picnics, hikes, and road trips, or even packing in school and work lunches. Or just enjoy the simple pleasure of knowing that a delicious feast is waiting for you in the fridge.

If you're serving a crowd, you can use a 16- to 20-ounce loaf of rustic bread and double the ingredients to make one giant sandwich; serve on a cutting board with a big serrated knife.

Offer a bowl of colorful cherry tomatoes on the side, or make a quick salad by tossing chopped garden fresh tomatoes and cucumbers with some of the homemade green olive paste or a simple vinaigrette.

P.S. Lemony Tuna and Artichoke Cooler-Pressed Sandwiches and easy homemade Four Hour Parisian Daily Baguettes (a great recipe for beginning bread bakers).

©, listening to the lovely sound of thunder rumbling and rain falling on the first day of July and getting ready to cut another batch of hay on the second. And also thinking that the two half-gallon jars of fresh mint sun tea sitting outside (in the rain) probably aren't ready just yet.

Monday, June 30

Recipe: Easy & Refreshing Confetti Crunch Coleslaw with Creamy Lemon Caper Dressing

Confetti Crunch Coleslaw Recipe with Creamy Lemon Caper Dressing -
A healthy, crunchy slaw that's made with cabbage, scallions, carrots, and sweet peppers and tossed with a tangy lemon caper dressing (recipe here).

As we head toward the 4th of July weekend, I thought I'd highlight a few favorites from the Farmgirl Fare recipe archives that are perfect for summer picnics, parties, and backyard get togethers. Enjoy!

We had out of town family visiting the farm last week, and this Confetti Coleslaw with Creamy Lemon Caper Dressing was a big hit at the dinner table.

If you love coleslaw but are tired of the same old mayo-heavy recipes, liven and lighten things up with this colorful, flavor-packed version of an all-American classic. It goes well with all sorts of summer meals and is great to have on hand in the fridge for a healthy snack or the fastest dinner salad ever. I even like it for breakfast.

The tangy lemon caper dressing, which is made with mayonnaise and yogurt and lots of Dijon mustard, can be quickly mixed up a day or two in advance; it also makes a tasty dip. A few months ago I started making my own milk kefir, and this time I used some in place of the yogurt. Yum.

Hit the farmer's market for fresh homegrown vegetables and this easy recipe will really shine. You won't believe how much flavor plain old raw cabbage can have.

©, where the a/c is cranked up on high and the houseguests never leave hungry.

Friday, May 23

Friday Farm Photo: Have a Freshly Picked Weekend.

Heirloom lettuce direct seeded in the kitchen garden the first part of April. Want to grow your own gourmet lettuce from seed? In this popular post I show you that it's easier than you think!

Do you have any plans this weekend? We usually hunker down at home for the holidays, though I do wish I'd thought to buy some potato chips the last time we were out.

In between munching on homemade sourdough rye French bread (a new experiment—so good toasted and topped with melty cheese and freshly laid fried eggs) and as much of this gorgeous lettuce as possible (we're racing the heat clock here), I'll be trying to get 50+ heirloom tomato plants, a few dozen heirloom pepper plants (after a several year break, I'm finally back to starting my tomatoes and peppers from seed!) and a bunch of other stuff in the ground.

More below. . .

Sunday, May 11

Sunday Dose of Cute: Happy Mother's Day

Lokey and her 11 baby chicks, April 2012

More chick pics? Here.
More chickens? Here.

Other Mother's Days:
5/12/07: Just in Time for Mother's Day. . .
5/11/08: Mother To Be
5/11/08: Newborn Bliss
5/8/12: Green Grass, Hungry Twins
5/13/12: Chomp, Chomp
5/12/13: Happy Mothers, Lots of Lambs

©, the currently peepless foodie farm blog where Lokey, our top hatching hen (a friend once said she's worth her weight in gold), hasn't yet gone broody this year—perhaps because she's still recovering from raising 20 chicks in 2012. But that's okay, because right now ten hens and two roosters living in two separate coops is probably plenty, although I do miss all that peeping cute.

Monday, May 5

Black Cat Love: The Tail of Mr. Midnight

Mr. Midnight in the snow -

Do you like black cats? I've always loved them, and I know I'm not the only one. I even have a book left over from my previous life as a graphic designer called The Black Cat Made Me Buy It!, filled with antique and modern packaging and advertisements featuring black cats.

But black cats aren't so popular at animal shelters. In fact, they're by far the least likely cats to be adopted. There are various theories regarding this sad statistic, including the whole bad luck/superstitious thing. Another reason is because black cats simply don't photograph as well as lighter colored cats, which explains why there's often a surplus of black dogs at shelters too.

Mr. Midnight snuggled up in a vintage galvanized tub in the greenhouse 1 -

Back in the fall of 2007 we were down to just one indoor cat, so my hunky farmguy Joe suggested that I head to our local overcrowded, underfunded animal shelter and adopt a couple of new cats. And then he let me go there alone.

More below. . .

Friday, April 25

Friday Dose of Cute: Have a Tri-Colored Weekend.

Henry says it smells like spring.

Hi! What have you been up to? We've been busy tackling lots of little outdoor projects, digging in the kitchen garden, mowing grass (already!), playing catch-up after several weeks of both being down with the flu, getting the sheep sheared and the lambs sold, baking lots of sourdough French bread, mourning the death of my camera, enjoying the biggest and brightest daffodil display we've had in years, trying to figure out why I haven't been able to access Blogger (and create blog posts) on my computer in months, snuggling sheep and petting donkeys, picking gorgeous salad greens every night, getting to know our wonderful new (old) beagle, Henry, who is our sixth (!) dog, creating an enclosed outdoor play area for George and Skittles, the two cats that live in The Shack who I don't think you've ever actually met, buying manuals and tracking down all the parts so we can rebuild the engine on our little old diesel tractor that's been out of commission for over a year (because we can't find anyone to fix it for us), watching the deer and wild turkeys out in the hayfield, listening to what sounds like thousands of tiny birds chirping in the trees, eating homemade yellow cupcakes with chocolate buttercream frosting, building a new cedar potting bench (because my old one collapsed several years ago), hunting for useful treasures at the junk store, admiring the hillsides full of blooming dogwoods, plotting and planning, dreaming and scheming . . . It's already been quite a spring!

©, the flowering foodie farm blog where the days keep getting longer and dinnertime keeps getting later and later. It's the busiest time of the year!

Friday, March 28

Friday Dose of Cute: Have an Off Duty Weekend.

More Daisy? Here and here.
More farm dog photos? Here.

©, well guarded around the clock.

Monday, March 24

Monday Dose of Cute: Kit Kat Capers

What is she thinking? We'd all like to know.

[Scene: the kitchen of a quiet farmhouse in the middle of nowhere at dawn, where two cats and two dogs are sleeping peacefully and a third cat is about to jump onto the windowsill.]



Woof. Ruff. Ruff!





Welcome to my mornings, courtesy of Kit Kat Kate.

More below...

Sunday, March 2

Sunday Dose of Oh Snow Cute

First time mother Ida and her three-day-old baby boy.

I snapped these photos nearly a month (!) ago, but the barnyard looks just like this now—except these lambs are a lot bigger and there are a lot more of them bouncing around.

Until a few years ago, we didn't start lambing until March or April, so seeing lambs on snow was a rarity. This year our first lambs arrived on January 26th, and this winter we've had more days with snow on the ground than we probably have in the last 19 years.

It's white out there again today (though it's actually ice or ice pellets or whatever they call it when it piles up on the ground but is immediately slick as can be), and we're expecting an arctic blast and 3 to 5 inches of snow by morning. I always thought that zero degrees (F) was too cold for it to snow, but I guess we're going to find out.

Treacherous or not, the frozen landscape is lovely to look at, and our little lambs show up so much better against the bright white of snow than the usual dark winter ground.

Just layer on the outerwear and watch your step. Spring will be here soon enough.

Seven more photos below. . .

Thursday, February 13

Thursday Dose of Cute: Welcome to Babyland

FLB's four-day-old twins on January 30th.

It's lambing season! Still. We bred just 15 ewes this year, and the first set of twins arrived January 26th. But after 22 days of round the clock visits to the barn (I started my nightly checks a few days earlier than the first lambs showed up), we're only halfway through. In other years we've had as many as eight lambs born in 24 hours, so I was really hoping we'd be all done by now.

More photos and the rest of the story below. . .

Friday, January 24

Friday Dose of Cute: Have a Wild and Wooly Weekend.

Lambing season is going to start any minute.

More photos below. . .

Monday, January 13

Monday Dose of Cute: Rise and Shine

And be brave.

Wishing you a wonderful week!

More chickens? Here.
More snow shots? Here.

©, where some of us enjoy the snow more than others.