Friday, 4 April 2014

Finally, Rain

This endless winter is killing me, said Lily.
This endless winter is killing us all, sweet child, I replied.

The storms that rolled in were so welcomed that we sobbed more tears than it poured from the sky. We danced. We fell down in the 25 mile an hour winds with 40 mph gusts. Geesh.

Still. Winter is on her way out.

I have been sick. A lingering sick, tired, and grouchy. Spring fever maybe? Every time I opened my computer to write, what I wanted to write wouldn't come out. Other things did instead. Poems mostly. A few brief interactions with friends too.

I need warm weather to come back. I bought summer shirts at the local thrift shop and as I arrived home at the farm it snowed. It freaking snowed.

So, I close my eyes and dream of sweet tea, sweaty days working in the garden, berry picking, and sunshine picnics. I need summer.

Sunday, 30 March 2014

Farmhouse Chicken and Dumplings

I found one last chicken in the deep freeze. It was a small bird, but I was really needing to do something special with it. I made chicken pot pie. We had chicken on pasta. I made nearly a gallon of broth.

We were on our last 2 quarts of broth and I had a nagging in my belly for this. A friend made it for me last fall, but I knew I could spice it up a little and make it my own.

So. That is what I did.

For the Soup Base: 

Chicken broth simmered with onions, celery, carrots, tarragon, turmeric (just a pinch), swamp fire salt (basically garlic, cayenne, and pepper if you don't have any, but you should get some from us.....), and chervil, and thyme. Then I took my pie crust recipe and rolled them into small dough balls with some Aleppo pepper. Once the carrots were cooked (about 30 minutes), I dropped the dough into the simmer and covered for 30 minutes.

Then I added 1/2 cup of cream. The flour from the dumpling balls thickened the soup base too.

That's it. That's all.

For the dough balls:
3 cups of all purpose unbleached flour. I use Bob's Red Mill or the local Paul's Grains High Gluten. Either one works well.

1 teaspoon of kosher salt.

3/4 cup SALTED sweet cream butter frozen and then cut into 1/4 inch pieces. I prefer to make my own butter BUT there is no noticeable difference between that and store bought in this recipe.

1/4 cup of frozen lard. Pig lard. I'm not kidding. Use local, pastured pig lard if you can. HUGE difference. (If any of you local ladies want to try it let me know and I'll share a bit.) Cut into pieces.

1/2 cup of very cold water.

I also added Aleppo pepper and thyme to the dough. That's optional though.

Put the dry ingredients in the food processor and pulse to blend. Then add the butter and lard. Pulse until mixture is crumbly. Fluff the mixture if needed. Add the water slowly while pulsing and stop once the mixture starts clumping like course crumbs.

Take mixture out and knead with your hands on floured parchment paper. Form into two balls and squish into disks. Wrap in plastic or paper and stick in the fridge.

When it is time to make into bitesized balls, take out and work the dough quickly. Makes about 30 small bites.

Thursday, 27 March 2014

Library Day in Knoxville

We love the library in Knoxville. The kids section is isolated in the upstairs, the librarian really friendly, and the set up is just calming for the kids. They do well at this library.

Not all libraries are kid friendly, even if they try to be.

We also had a connect 4 tournament and LILY almost beat me! It was a draw.

I love Knoxville, but it is 45 minutes away, so my goal is to create experiences closer to home for the summer and drive less. I may have to if Chad can't fix my car, whoo baby is the farm truck expensive to drive!

Tuesday, 25 March 2014

Baaaaaa Humbug.

We have a bottle lamb. That's what I will say took  me from blogging this week, (not the real reason which was that I was frantically and freakingoutedly submitting carefully reworked and reworked and reworked again pieces for submission and meeting deadlines like a BOSS).

So, as an apology, which is made of the stuff that heals relationships.....I present to you (and to Aerica) pictures of baby lamb!

We had to tote it to town with us when it was getting feeding every 2-4 hours.

But then she wouldn't poop and got lethargic. Oh. The things we do for lambs.....I got grumpy about her living in the kitchen too. In my dream kitchen there will be a mudroom with a tiled, with drain, heated animal/lamb area.

We got her to poop finally. We asked for a couple tips. One of them was don't feed her like this.  Put the bottle much lower to the ground than I am showing here. Isaac was just too cute though. He stuffed all his grapes in his cheeks and grabbed her bottle. Oh honey.

No worries, we got her running and jumping and pooping. SO MUCH POOPING.  Our schedule is now just three feedings a day and she stays outside in a pen with another sheep after lunch, gets brought in at bedtime. The other ewe (Cream Puff) is not a cuddler and it is still cold here. 23 degrees and SNOWING this morning.

So that's what's up here. I'll fill in the other missing pieces tomorrow, but stay tuned for more cute kid pictures, two recipes (Chicken and Dumplings and Venison Roast), and a waxing poetic about waxy poetry.....and another, less happy story from the farm and why Cream Puff is up by the house. Don't read that one if you are hormonal and cry easily. It's not nice.