Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Playing with my new Christmas gifts

I had a great Christmas, lots of great food and visits with family.  Lots of neat gifts.  One of my gifts from my daughter Nikole and her fiance Brad was a French baguette pan.  It is kind of a funny looking pan made of curved metal with tiny, closely spaced holes.  It is used to make two loaves of French bread.  Today, I had a chance to make my first loaves and I was very happy with how they turned out.  I wrote about it including the recipe here.

Here is a picture of the pan:

And a couple pictures of the bread.

Several of my gifts were kitchen or food related.  I love kitchen gadgets and tools.   

Sunday, December 14, 2014

a little farm update

It has been an interesting few days of weather at the farm an it appears that it will be interesting for the next day or two as well.  We had the big snow in November which had been pretty much sticking around.  Where it was packed down or driven on had become treacherous, the wind had polished the packed snow into a glare ice situation.  We had  lost a bit of snow earlier this week but yesterday and today the snow really left in a hurry.  Yesterday was in the 40s and today was over 50.  I was outside today without a jacket.  It was cloudy and damp but even overnight more snow disappeared.  Two days ago the ground had a white layer that was still several inches thick and today there are big swathes of grass.  It isn't going to last for long, already there is a winter storm warning for tomorrow predicting rain followed by snow.

I did take advantage of the snow melt to do a couple of things that didn't get done before the big snow came.  My white gate that sits at the edge of the orchard was still decorated for Halloween/fall.  So now that the snow was gone I was able to move away the soft pumpkins and gourds and move the bench and milk can to the shed.  I got the snowflake out and hung and took a quick picture of the gate before it was dark.  All around you can see the grass.  

I am probably the last person to get my tree up and decorated.  My mom and sister have had theirs done for a couple of weeks already.  We always do a real tree and last year our closest Home Depot had tabletop trees and we tried it and it worked out really well so we are doing the same thing again this year.  I have had the tree for a while and last time Cait was home we got the table ready for it in the corner.  It makes the most sense as my rooms are small and things get a little chaotic when we all get together.  This year there will be seven dogs.  There is a possibility that they won't all be in the house at the same time but I am not betting on it.  I can brag a little that this I am farther along with my shopping than is usual for me.  I have just to wrap up my purchases and finish up the loose ends.

I mentioned the seven dogs.  Today I made a triple batch of homemade dog treats.  These are Harley's favorite treats.  The recipe is here.   I plan to package them up and send some home with the doggie parents.  I am also planning to send a jar with Caitlin to take to her work.  She works at an architectural firm and there are several dogs that come to work with their humans.  Tomorrow I am going to be roasting some pumpkin and making a second kind of homemade dog treat, a soft pumpkin treat (recipe here).  Here is a picture of my dog treats from today.

I have a small artificial tree in my kitchen which I put up yesterday.  It is decorated with red lights, miniature red-handled rolling pins, faux gingerbread boys and candy canes.  My gingerbread boys are the recipe made with applesauce and cinnamon.  I made them quite a few years ago and they still have a subtle holiday aroma.  I bag them up in a zipper bag when I take the tree down

gingerbread boys

I also put some garland on the shelving above my stove.  It has red lights, small wooden spoons and spatulas, copper cookie cutters and bigger miniature rolling pins.

I hope to soon have the blog post done about our Norsk baking day with links to all the recipes.  And Mom shared that she has decided on a plan for her Christmas eve menu.  In addition to our traditional halupsha she is going to be serving appetizers and hors d'oeuvres.  I think that will be a fun theme and it will work out well with the timing of church services.  I am excited.  I have an extensive collection of pins on pinterest that are appetizers, dips, nibblers and snacks and other bite sized treats and party food.  It should be fun.  :)


Sunday, December 7, 2014

fun stuff going on at the farm

With the holiday season in full swing there is lots of stuff going on and I have gotten behind on sharing farm news.  Here are some of the happenings...

The farm has a new dog.  For about ten years we have had two big dogs, a white one (Sadie) and a black one (Codie).  Both of these dogs are one-half Great Pyrenees and they have been guardians for our herd and farm.   About the time that Caitlin started mentioning we should get another dog while our aging dogs are able to train it I got a phone call from a friend about a dog that they had that they were looking for a home for.  When they got new Pyrenees puppies for their farm they brought an extra one home for a relative and it turns out the relative was not able to take it after all and the dog was available.  So she came to live at the farm with Sadie and Codie and the herd and me.  Her name is Elke and she she is an absolute joy.  She came to us at five months of age.  She has brought a new youthfulness to Codie and they run and wrestle and roll in the snow every day.  Even yesterday Sadie looked like she briefly wanted to get in on the fun. 


This year we held a first annual Norsk Baking Day on the Saturday before Thanksgiving.  We got together three generations of bakers at my mom's home and spent the day making the traditional family favorites that were originally made by my paternal grandmother.  Every Christmas season she would make donuts, rosettes, krumkake, lefse, kringla and popcorn balls.  Some years she would make peppernuts.  We made all but the popcorn balls.  We had a great time, put some of the goodies in the freezer for Christmas and sent some home with the bakers.  We enjoyed meeting the newest member of the family.  My niece, Steph, and her mom, my sister-in-law Patty, visited at the beginning of our day with Steph's children including her brand new baby girl. it was great to do a little new baby cuddling. We also enjoyed having Bobbie, Brad's mom, join us and we had a quick toast to celebrate Nikole and Brad's engagement.  It was a fun day. There were pictures taken but not by me so once I have them I will share them.  I also have a couple of recipes to collect and then I will share those as well. 

The greenhouse is up and running.  I have spent a little time on projects there.  I put up a shelf to hold the heat mat for seed starting.  I have been using the mat on my tables and moving it to the wall shelf will allow for a few more tubs of greens. 
new shelf holding the heat mat

Caitlin has taken some greens to sell to her coworkers at the architecture firm where she works and we are hoping to get a CSA started.  November is a slow month for growing as it is generally more cloudy but once we start getting more sun I am hoping the volume of greens that we can grow in our small space will take off. We have ordered new seed varieties so it will be exciting to try some new things in our salad mix.  We have grown greens for our personal use the past couple winters but having survived (and learned from) last winter I am more confident we are now ready to take on members.

some greens

greens growing in tubs

8 ounce bag of salad mix

our salad mix on a platter
This generally is not a craft blog but I have been doing a little crafting.  My sister, Lisa, and her friend Judy and I attended a class that Lisa signed us up for at a nearby Home Depot.  The project was to learn how to make a marque sign. 
The sample of the finished project

Lisa drilling and my mom, Jan, holding the board

We do not have ours done yet but we completed the class and are able to finish the project at home.  It needs a second coat of paint on the letters and to attach the lights and build the optional frame.  

I have also been doing some paper crafting. My mom is a snowman fan and her tree is decorated in mostly snowman themed ornaments.  This year I have been seeing a lot of buntings used as decorations and a lot of crafts made from sheet music.  I used Caitlin's cricut to make a bunting.  It was made with small enough triangles so that it could go on a Christmas tree or on the wall.  Mom's tree was already decorated so she hung it on a tall, glass fronted cabinet. I made some paper snowflakes to use as gift tags or hang on the tree.  I also cut apart some greeting cards and made them into ornaments.  I am also doing some paper lanterns.
The bunting says "let it snow!"

ornament from a box of Christmas cards.

snowflakes for mom in white and blue

I made some for Lisa in kraft paper and white
paper lantern