Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Cranberry --Almond Biscotti

Sometimes -- I think biscotti can have as much flavor as shoe leather. So I really like this flavorful recipe. It keeps a long time -- but not in this house!!!! Maybe freezing it would be helpful! So here we go..........

Pre-heat the oven to 325 degrees.

1 stick of butter (1/2 cup)
1 cup sugar
2 eggs
Finely grated zest of one orange
1/4 tsp of almond extract
2-1/4 cup of all-purpose flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
3/4 cup dried cranberries (craisins)
1 cup slivered almonds.

Cream the butter, sugar, eggs, zest and extract until light and fluffy.

Whisk together the dry ingredients and the cranberries. Stir that into the creamed mixture until a stiff dough forms and pulls away from the side of the bowl. Stir in the almonds.

Divide the dough in half -- and shape into logs 12" x 3" flattened logs. Place at least 2 inches apart on an ungreased cookie sheet.

Bake for 25-30 minutes until lighted browned and cracked on top.

Reduce the oven temperature to 300 degrees.

Remove from the oven and let cool for 10 minutes or so. Loosen the logs with a wide spatula and transfer to a cutting board. Cut into 1/2" thick slices and return the slices -- cut side up -- to the baking sheet.

Bake another 20-25 minutes-- rotating if necessary to ensure even baking. They will still be a little soft but will crisp up nicely as the cool.

Let the biscotti cool another 30 minutes or so on the baking sheet. And enjoy!!!

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Too much energy!

I hate bad weather days in the spring! And yesterday was one of the worst on the west bank of the Mississippi. We got rain. We got sleet. We got ice. We got snow. And to top it all off -- we got wind. Must have been a meteorologist's dream! But for us flower farmers...... it was a nightmare!

All I wanted to do was work in the garden -- organize seating areas -- re-decorate some areas. Basically, a Miss Effie's spring cleaning day. Instead ........... I got the above-stated weather event.

So ........... I cooked. And baked. And added to the lbs. that I put on this winter!!!!

I started out with the typical loaf of ABin5 bread. Four, maybe 5 days a week, I bake bread. Nothing new. Then I made yogurt. Then the lbs-packers began. I made apple crisp. I made orange-cranberry biscotti.This was after shaping and its first bake. I really like this recipe..... nice flavor, not as dry as some biscotti. It's from one of my favorite cookbooks ....... Hay Day Country Market Cookbook.

Then (I'm sorry, egg-customers!) I used some of our eggs. One of my favorite egg customers picked up eggs on Friday and mentioned that she was going to make a quiche. Quiche. I love quiche. I have not made quiche in ages!!

So quiche was what was on the supper table. I found a savory pie crust recipe that called for fresh herbs but since my chives, oregano, and caraway were under several inches of ice and snow by that time .......... I used dried. A little local spinach, some local cheese, my fresh eggs and lots of mushrooms .... supper was delicious! The savory crust was nice with the quiche. I'll do that again.

And finally .......... to use just a bit more of my pent-up energy........ I washed a fleece. Now -- I have no idea what kind of fleece this is. Sheepie Neighbor's shearer dropped off a bunch of fleeces to her. These were from last year's shearing and the sheep's owner doesn't want them. Sheepie gave me two and I'm going to try to do something with them.

I started out by washing them in the tub. YUCK!! Two washes -- three rinses...... My 50 gallon hot water heater had a tough time keeping up!!!!
Then I put the fleece in a pillowcase ... ran it through the wool cycle on the washer (without soap) and then did an extra spin to get all the moisture out.

The fleece has a nice crimp but is fairly short. I did a little carding with a small section that had dried nicely. I'll keep working on it. I'm not certain how it is going to turn out. I'll let you know.

So all my energy was used up. And it was Earth Hour yesterday. Every one was to turn off their lights at 8:30 pm for one hour. That was easy ....... cuz it was lights out for me by 8pm!!!

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Chez Miss Effie's???

I really don't think that anyone would mistake my kitchen table for a 5-star dining experience........ but this was pretty darn good! Chicken breasts stuffed with sauteed local spinach and garlic with pine nuts and local feta (Thanks, Nostalgia Farms!) roasted asparagus and couscous with Kalamata olives, capers, sun-dried tomatoes and a sprinkle of Asiago cheese.

Now comes the hard stuff .......... what do I make for supper tonight?????

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Pizza What????

There are moments in my life, I dislike homemade pizza.

I dislike homemade pizza when friends call and say "Would you like to go out for a slice of cheesey goodness?" and I say "No." because I know I will be served a piece of cardboard with a funky tomato sauce or fake cheese.

I dislike homemade pizza when I hear co-workers call in an order for pick-up and their supper will be ready in 20 minutes. And my supper will take at least an hour after I get home.

And I dislike homemade pizza when I ate half the pizza when I should have had only one slice. Yea ...... I'm always watching my weight. Most of the time, I watch it go up!!!

But I NEVER dislike homemade pizza when its in the oven -- the smell of roasted veggies on it -- the wonderful spicey but rich tomato sauce -- and especially, when I make the mozzarella to go on top.

I talk about making pizza a lot. And that's because its a twice a month event at Miss Effie's. So here is my recipe for pizza crust.

This one is made in a bread machine. Honey bought me a bread machine several years ago. I searched out recipes forever .... I quit baking bread in the bread machine cuz I didn't like the funky hole in the bottom of the loaf of bread from the paddle. But I continued to use it to mix and raise the dough --- until No-knead bread and ABin5 came into my life. Now ...... the bread machine is used for pizza. So .... if you have one sitting around, put it to good use and make pizza dough.

Preheat oven to 425 degrees.

Pizza Dough

5/8 cup of warm water
1 TBSP olive oil
2 cups of white bread flour
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp sugar
1/2 tsp instant yeast

Put into the bread machine and put on pizza setting. If you don't have a pizza setting use the dough setting but the dough only needs to rise once...... it most cases, it will be ready in an hour.

Let it rest a few minutes and shape. You want to bake it on an oiled pizza pan or sprinkle your pizza stone with cornmeal. I will shape the crust on an oiled cookie sheet and slide it onto the preheated pizza stone.

Bake the crust only for 5-7 minutes. Then pull it out of the oven and put on the toppings. Then back into the oven for another 10-15 minutes.

Last night -- we used our home canned pizza sauce, roasted mushrooms with garlic and red onions, pork sausage from Geest Family farms and my homemade mozzarella. It was great!

Now the crust I made last night had 7-grain flour in it and a tsp of Italian seasonings. When I do that -- I use 2/3 to 3/4 of the white bread flour and a 1/4 to 1/3 of the speciality flour. So last night -- I used 1-1/2 cup white bread flour and 1/2 cup of the 7-grain flour.

And for the record.......... I never dislike homemade pizza when I am eating it!!!!

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

I just had to do it!!

A cowboy named Bud was overseeing his herd in a remote mountainous pasture in California when suddenly a brand-new BMW advanced out of a dust cloud towards him.

The driver, a young man in a Brioni suit, Gucci shoes, RayBan sunglasses and YSL tie, leans out the window and asks the cowboy, 'If I tell you exactly how many cows and calves you have in your herd, Will you give me a calf?'

Bud looks at the man, obviously a yuppie, then looks at his peacefully grazing herd and calmly answers, 'Sure, Why not?'

The yuppie parks his car, whips out his Dell notebook computer, connects it to his Cingular RAZR V3 cell phone, and surfs to a NASA page on the Internet, where he calls up a GPS satellite to get an exact fix on his location which he then feeds to another NASA satellite that scans the area in an ultra-high-resolution photo.

The young man then opens the digital photo in Adobe Photoshop and exports it to an image processing facility in Hamburg , Germany

Within seconds, he receives an email on his Palm Pilot that the image has been processed and the data stored. He then accesses an MS-SQL database through an ODBC connected Excel spreadsheet with email on his Blackberry and, after a few minutes, receives a response.

Finally, he prints out a full-color, 150-page report on his hi-tech, miniaturized HP LaserJet printer and finally turns to the cowboy and says, 'You have exactly 1,586 cows and calves.'

'That's right. Well, I guess you can take one of my calves,' says Bud.

He watches the young man select one of the animals and looks on amused as the young man stuffs it into the trunk of his car.

Then the Bud says to the young man, 'Hey, if I can tell you exactly what your business is, will you give me back my calf?'

The young man thinks about it for a second and then says, 'Okay, why not?'

'You're a Congressman for the U.S. Government', says Bud.

'Wow! That's correct,' says the yuppie, 'but how did you guess that?'

'No guessing required.' answered the cowboy. 'You showed up here even though nobody called you; you want to get paid for an answer I already knew, to a question I never asked. You tried to show me how much smarter than me you are; and you don't know a thing about cows...this is a herd of sheep. .

Now give me back my dog

(kind of reminds you of H.R. 875, huh???? Thanks, Linda ..... I needed this today!!)

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Trying to be nice to Honey..........

I was told the other day that I should be nicer to Honey. Yea ... I admit it. I work Honey pretty hard. He has a longer to-do list than the President's economic team. But he has taken that "little"
comment ....... and ran with it!! I've heard "you should be nicer to me" for a week now!!! Yep -- he really liked the comment!!!

I worked at Retail-Hell 4 out of 5 days last week so suppers were slow cooker meals, quick pasta dishes, salad .......... easy stuff. Not marathon cooking events.

But Thursday ........ I hit the kitchen. Hard. I baked bread. Yea ... that's a given. About 5 times a week I bake bread. Then I made noodles. If there are noodles eaten in this house -- they are now homemade. (wasn't like that BC -- before chickens!) Then --- the main marathon event.

Short ribs in wine sauce with onions and mushrooms. I love short ribs. But short ribs have 2 major drawbacks. They are 1) VERY fatty and 2) take a long time to get melt-in-your-mouth tender.

I'd post a recipe -- but I combined 2 or 3 from allrecipes.com -- added herbs and spices we like -- a few extra veggies. Yea -- I just winged it!!!!

But my major tip -- brown the short ribs in a 450 degree oven for 1-1/2 to 2 hours. You will be amazed how much fat is there!! Then add the marinade or sauce and cook slowly in the oven. I cooked them another 7 hours at 300 degrees and they really could have gone longer.

But they were rich and yummy and delicious over homemade noodles. And I was nice to Honey. Now can I have a nut roll???

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

I feel like Tigger!!!!!

I am jumping and jumping for joy and excitement!!!!

Ok -- I will calm down.........maybe.

I just got a phone call from Des Moines. Meredith Corporation and Midwest Living Magazine. (Ok -- Sit, Cathy. No jumping out of your chair!!!)

Midwest Living Magazine is doing an article on cutting gardens in the May issue. And they are listing little ol' Miss Effie's at the end of the article as a place that you can buy cut flowers. Now -- I know its a little blurb. But its a little blurb!!!!

My first national exposure!!!

I'm excited!!! Can you tell???

The Pumpkin Man Cometh...........

You know you meet people in your life and for some reason ......... regardless of the years, the miles, your experiences ........ you are friends for life.

I'm very very lucky to have lots of very special friends. Debbie and Nancy and I have been friends since first grade. Cyn and I have been friends since college ..... she has been through every up and down moment of my life. She knows me better than I know myself. And she still likes me!!! Go figure!!!

Then there is the Pumpkin Man. Pumpkin Man says that we have been friends for 35 years. He is wrong!! That is not possible!! Particularly since I am only 32 .. 33 ..... maybe, 34. Something like that. (And my drivers license says that I weigh 105 pounds!) But we both agree that we hadn't seen each other in 25 years.

So it was fun when he dropped a note .... saying that he was going to be in Moline, visiting the John Deere Pavillion and wondered if I had time for a cup of coffee.

Well, no upstanding Iowa farm wife would just meet for a cup of coffee. Its supper time on the west bank of the Mississippi!!! Midwest hospitality oozes out of Iowa and this household is no different.

So the Pumpkin Man got to meet my darling Honey, eat some good Iowa pork and tour Miss Effie's in the dead of winter. Not much to see there!!!!! Nothing like glistening snow on dead zinnias!!!

But I learned a lot. The Pumpkin Man is one of the original innovators of the agri-entertainment industry. So we compared victories, mistakes and frustrations. My business is very small -- his is quite large. But we both do battle with weeds, worry about customers injuries and fight local and state regulations in a industry that few politicians understand. We are farms that are dependent on happy customers and their referrals.

We had a fun evening. Honey got to meet a good friend of mine. And I got a cool piece of yard art for my barn! We all know how much I like rusty things. I think its a hoot!

So, Pumpkin Man ..... don't wait another 25 years to show up for a visit. The zinnias may not be the only thing that is dead by then!!!!

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Blogging, Barn Quilts and Back Pain!!

I seriously love blogging! I am certain it is because I was a frustrated writer in a previous life! But I enjoy expressing my thoughts and views (probably too loud, too strong and too opinionated -- but that is me! And the major reason of my mother's disappointment!!!)

I didn't paint the sign on the end of the barn "Well-Behaved Women Seldom Make History" because I thought it was cute. It is something I strive to achieve. Yea -- I could have hung out with Susan B Anthony and Rosa Parks.

I also enjoy sharing the little delights of my life. I like having friends that don't shake their heads when I have 8 bushels of tomatoes to can. You guys say "Only 8 bushels? I have 15 bushels on the porch right now." I can say ABin5 and everyone knows what I mean!! I don't feel alone.

We talk of the important things of life .... handmade soap, the sounds of spring, baby bumps on ewes. We look at the moon, smell the rain and watch for little green shoots of happiness in the garden. And no one laughs at us. I love my blogging friends!!

So I get great delight in 1) Seeing that people read this little blog. 2) That they take note of it.

Yesterday, I somehow stumbled on this. First of all -- thank you for such a nice note. But secondly -- How cool is it that we can connect this way over the web???? I tell ya .... I love blogging!!!

And one quick note on the future barn quilt for the potting shed. Jill hit the perfect one.... actually, she linked two perfect ones!! But I'm not sure about my taping skills for this one. Can I tape in a circle??? Let alone two circles?? Honey says no. He has seen my painting skills. Lots of drips, lots of runs, lots of errors.

And finally ...... I am currently seeking an audition with Rice Krispies cereal. The sound effects that are coming from my spinal column would be perfect for any of their commercials!!! I would soak in the whirlpool but I'm not certain if I would ever get out!!! Six gardens cleaned -- only 20 --21 gardens to go! I can do this!!! By the time I reach garden #15 -- the sound effects will be gone!!

So ... Mr. Ad Agency for Rice Krispies ........... call me fast!!

Monday, March 16, 2009

All in a half an hour!!!

The scientific results from gardening while on Plavix!!!! All of those cuts in less than a half an hour! I need to buy more band-aids!!!! Or find another weeder. :((

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Why you should plant lots and lots of basil!!!

It's time to be planning those vegetable gardens for summer preserving. One of my favorite pasta dishes is linguine with pesto. I love pesto and I finally found a recipe that takes that summer goodness and keeps it all winter. So here we go................

Cut 2 quarts of basil. Just fill up a couple of quart plastic storage bags. Then with scissors, trim the leaves off the stems and drop into a large bowl of water. The leaves are going to float. There may be a lot of sand and dirt in the leaves so it may take 4 or 5 waters to get them clean. You want no sand sinking to the bottom of the bowl.

Spin the leaves in a salad spinner to dry. And lay them out on paper towels for 2 hours minimum. You want the leaves very dry.

Then with the food processor or blender....... put in 1/2 c good quality olive oil, 2 thinly sliced cloves of garlic, a pinch of salt and 2 cups of packed basil leaves.

Pour into a freezer container and label.

Now -- in the dead of winter -- when you are dieing for a taste of summer...... thaw the container of pesto. Grind about 3 tablespoons of pine nuts (you could use pecans or walnuts if you like) in a mortar and pestle. Grate 1/2 cup of parmigiano cheese and 2 tablespoons of romano cheese and soften 3 tablespoons of butter. Mix the cheese together in a bowl, add the pine nuts and pesto mixture and mix well. Add the butter.

Serve over hot pasta .... you may want to reserve a couple of tablespoons of the pasta cooking water to loosen the sauce. If you would like, serve with sauted mushrooms and garlic and toasted pine nuts.

This is pretty flexible -- you can use almost any hard Italian cheese, most any nut and definitely any pasta.

So plant lots of basil.............

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Green things... Fuzzy things ... Bright things!

It's time to get back to the really important stuff that makes up my so-called life!!! Green things, fuzzy things and bright things!!

Let's do cute first!!! Ok -- the other day there was Craig's Listing for 3 bantams hens. Two cuckoo silkies and one black silky. Well -- I've been wanting some bantams and these are almost 4 monthes old. No heat lamps -- on regular laying mix -- and reasonably priced.

I responded to the post and got a very hestitant email back. "Do you have chickens? Are you familiar with bantams? We want them to go to a good and permanent home". Aaaah. My kind of people-- they weren't going to send them home with the first person that called.

I sent my website address -- the link that shows my Animal Welfare Approved status and a short note. FIVE minutes later -- I get an email back.... "You can have the bantams! We know you. You are a friend of Sheepie Neighbor!"

It's nice having friends in high places!!!

So these are my new babies!!! Cute, huh??? The black silkie is Cruella DeVille. And the middle one ......... crows. Three hens???? I'm thinking ..... not so much!!!!

The day was beautiful .... sunny and relatively warm. So I hit the garden with hopes of getting one bed cleaned. I decided to work on the herb garden. Not a huge garden but about 50'x8'. It is bordered with lamb's ears .... nice border but easily overwhelms the rest of the garden. The ground is still has ice in areas that don't get the direct sun. So this was a starting point. But look what I found!!!!
Oregano ..........................

They aren't the beautiful crocus and daffodils that I have been seeing on the web....... but they are green!!

And finally .... I told you had two more barn quilts painted and ready to go. So here they are.
This one is "Double Pinwheel" and is in the herb garden.
And this is "Hens and Chicks" and resides on the side of the chicken coop ..... appropriately enough. One more to go ..... but I am stumped so any suggestions would be appreciated. It is going on the side of the potting shed.......... flower theme would be good.

It was a wonderful day ..... from meeting my sorority sister Karen, an former co-worker Joyce , and my friend AnnaBelle from my home town... all at the Freight House Market. I then got to bury my head is Sheepie Neighbor's glorious fleece. (I missed shearing!!) And we will finish off the day with linguine with pesto and portabella mushrooms. And yes, Leslie .... the recipe will follow!!!!

And oh ..... the first picture. That's just Izzie being cute! It was that kind of day!!

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Congressional sex .... part 2.

My favorite part of the sermon at church is the "So What" moment. Pastor John has read through the Bible verses, connected them to his message and at the end, does the "So What" moment.

So what does it mean in my life??

And that is where I am with H.R. 875. So what does it mean in my life??

Maybe nothing. The Center for Science in the Public Interest says that we should be voting for this bill.

I agree with food safety. Food poisoning is not fun. I didn't enjoy 5 days in the hospital. I didn't enjoy being off work for 3 weeks. I was compensated for my illness ... $900 for being off work 3 weeks. Not much.

But I go back to why I farm. In a previous lifetime, I woke up in the morning, put on stockings, high heels and a dress. I "did" my hair and make-up and everything I owned coordinated. I dressed and played the part of an interior designer. I was miserable.

My soul was freed when I started to grow things. Flowers, tomatoes, peppers. Hmmmm? Why do I feel strong, independent, opinionated when I am growing things?? Why do I feel confident in my knowledge and my strength and my abilities? Why do I feel like myself?

I made the decision to grow naturally without the use of pesticides and herbicides. I had my farm certified as Animal Welfare Approved because I believe in the humane treatment of all animals. But I made those decisions. Not the government. I decide what I want to feed my girls and how I want to fertilize my flowers.

Those decisions would now be subject to Sec 206 -- sub-section c regulations. And what if their standards don't meet my values???

c) Regulations- Not later than 1 year after the date of the enactment of this Act, the Administrator, in consultation with the Secretary of Agriculture and representatives of State departments of agriculture, shall promulgate regulations to establish science-based minimum standards for the safe production of food by food production facilities. Such regulations shall--

(1) consider all relevant hazards, including those occurring naturally, and those that may be unintentionally or intentionally introduced;

(2) require each food production facility to have a written food safety plan that describes the likely hazards and preventive controls implemented to address those hazards;

(3) include, with respect to growing, harvesting, sorting, and storage operations, minimum standards related to fertilizer use, nutrients, hygiene, packaging, temperature controls, animal encroachment, and water;

(4) include, with respect to animals raised for food, minimum standards related to the animal’s health, feed, and environment which bear on the safety of food for human consumption;

(5) provide a reasonable period of time for compliance, taking into account the needs of small businesses for additional time to comply;

I wanted to be a farmer because I wanted independence. Independence from high heels, independence from a time-clock, independence from bureaucracy, independence from the grocery store and Cargill. I wanted to be responsible for my own life ..... my own existence.... my own paycheck......my own meals.

I am proud to be a farmer. I like being a farmer. And I'm not sure if I will like being a "food production facilitator" as much as I like being a farmer.

I do my best to assure a quality product for my customers. My eggs are as fresh as they can be. I won't sell a faded flower or a wilted herb. Why?? Because I eat those eggs and enjoy my flowers and savor the herbs. We as small farmers are our very best customers. And our customers are not nameless or faceless......... they are our neighbors and friends. Knowing my customers by name ....... getting Valentines from their children ..... is far better incentive to farm responsibly than fear of regulation.

What is the "so-what" moment? I'm still not sure what H.R. 875 means to me. I do know the regulations could discourage many small farms. We don't know what the extra expense may do to a farm. But I do know what it means to my customers ....... there will fewer options to feed their families with quality locally grown food. And that's just not right.

Congressional sex .......or the screwing of small market farmers!!

OK -- Cue the soap box!!!

I spent yesterday reading the House of Representatives Bill H.R. 875: The Food Safety Modernization Act of 2009. A little light reading for my light-weight brain.

And if I am wrong .... someone correct me. I have broad shoulders -- I can take it.

Let me first say, food safety is a priority to me. I spent 5 days in a hospital due to improperly cooked hamburgers from a national fast food restaurant. Someone didn't wash their hands. Yea... that was TMI for me!!! Spinach with e coli, peanut butter with salmonella, e coli out-breaks at White Castle are not acceptable. But this legislation is doing just the opposite to encourage food safety.

The safest food you can eat in America is raised by small conscientious farmers. Farmers that care for their animals, the food they grow, the jams they process, the bread they bake. Why??? Because they eat the products too. The USDA for years has encouraged farmers' markets. Food gurus like Micheal Pollan, Alice Waters, Eliot Coleman have prodded Americans to eat local fresh foods.

Now..........Ms Rosa Delauro has introduced this legislation that will take farming to a whole new level. Well -- maybe not a whole new level.......... just the level that Monsanto, ADM, and Cargill wanted ..... no organic, no small farms.

Ok -- first of all here is the link to get the bill. Fill your printer. Its 65 pages long.

The big concerned to me .... and to most of you........ should be in section 1 -- sub-section 3 (Definitions) Lets talk food establishment. Did you know ...... most market farmers will be a Category 3 Establishment because we sell "fresh produce in ready-to-eat form. Hello!!! Tomatoes!!

I personally think I am a category 2 food establishment. I put eggs in a carton to sell. (But they are brand-new, clear plastic, very pretty egg cartons!)

So I am reading away ..... thinking there has to be an exclusion from all of this for the small market farmer. I think I found it!!

(B) EXCLUSIONS- For the purposes of registration, the term ‘food establishment’ does not include a food production facility as defined in paragraph (14), restaurant, other retail food establishment, nonprofit food establishment in which food is prepared for or served directly to the consumer, or fishing vessel (other than a fishing vessel engaged in processing, as that term is defined in section 123.3 of title 21, Code of Federal Regulations).

Ok ---What is a food production facility? Next paragraph ...... here it is.

14) FOOD PRODUCTION FACILITY- The term ‘food production facility’ means any farm, ranch, orchard, vineyard, aquaculture facility, or confined animal-feeding operation.

Uhhhhh........... that would mean me. And you. And what does that mean for us????

Well -- hop on down to Sec. 206 where the fine Congressmen have included the inspection of Food Production Facilities. Yea. At anytime, your friendly auditor from the newly-formed Food Safety Administration can pop in and say "Hello! Where are your fertilization records? And where did this seed come from??"

So along with everything else we do (most of us, by ourselves or with limited family help) we get to keep food safety records that will include the following:

(3) include, with respect to growing, harvesting, sorting, and storage operations, minimum standards related to fertilizer use, nutrients, hygiene, packaging, temperature controls, animal encroachment, and water;

(4) include, with respect to animals raised for food, minimum standards related to the animal’s health, feed, and environment which bear on the safety of food for human consumption;

Oh -- they will take "into account the needs of small businesses for additional time to comply".

How sweet of them.

I have called my Congressman and Senator ----- with no response and a so-what attitude from the staff. I should be a tad more understanding ...... but they acted like this just doesn't matter!!! Just to make this clear -- I live in First District Iowa and my Senator is chairman of the Agriculture Committee. Obviously, they have my votes for the next two years and by that time -- I will be out of business so they don't give a f*ck!!! But they did thank me for my call.

In 2007, Miss Effie's was featured in the Travel Iowa campaign and their national Iowa Tourism Calendar because we were a unique farm that reflected the values of Iowa and the Iowa farmer. We were one of the few private venues that was featured..... most were festivals and community events. We were honored to be there.

But that is what we all are ..... unique farms that reflect the values of America and the American farmer. And Ms Delauro wants to shut us down?????

So ..... I am asking you to contact your congressman and ask him/her to vote against H.R. 875.
Forward this blog to your friends. Let's get some action going.

I don't mind being screwed ....... but I would like to be kissed first!!!

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Bits of Radish........

If you haven't explored my friend Leslie's blog ..... you should. Two fun stories from the recent issue of the Radish Magazine.

First one -- "Carrots before Karats .... A Farmers Love Story" is about online dating for farmers. Oh -- you notice a familiar name?? Yep -- my dating life from .... long time ago!!

And the next one "How to be a Frugalista -- a frugal fashion story" features my good friend Greenhouse Gwen's lovely daughter Alexa. Alexa is smart, funny, hard-working and very level-headed. Makes you proud to know her.

So admire Alexa's sensibility and know that you can find love without a bushel of tomatoes. Of course, Honey did buy me a bushel of green beans for my birthday the first year we were together!!!

A local pot of Gold...........

I got an email from my friends at the Davenport Freight House Farmers Market. This St. Paddy's Day go green at the market and find your pot of gold. Dennis Kraklio is doing corn beef and cabbage.... if its anything like his hot dogs ........... YUMMMM!

So watch the only bi-state St. Patrick's Day parade in the nation on the riverfront and visit the Freight House to have a really green day.

March 14: St. Patrick's Day Event - Go GREEN With the Freight House Farmers' Market

Davenport Freight House Farmers Market - (Davenport, Iowa)

Be Irish for the day at the Freight House Farmers' Market. Beginning at 8:00AM we will be giving away 170 reusable Market Totes to the first customers through our doors. Dennis Kraklio, owner of Big Dog's Hot Dogs, our amazing in house food prep king, will be preparing and serving an Irish feast of LOCAL corned beef, supplied by Ives Grossman of Grossman's Meats with delicious veggies donated by Blossom Farm's Hal and Dawn Dykema. Rhonda Groh of the Bakery will be baking Irish Soda Bread to complete the meal. All children in attendance will be encouraged to participate in coloring St. Patrick's Day coloring book pages that will decorate the market walls until our Easter Event and all those little artist's will be thanked with free green-themed cookies baked by our own Angie Kent from Cookies by Angie. The perfect Parade-day activity for families along the beautiful Davenport riverfront!

Saturday, March 7, 2009

Queen of Domesticity.... or how I spent a rainy day

It has been a gloomy rainy day on the east coast of Iowa. One of those days that you just want to stay at home under a blanket. But I had waaay too much energy today to stay under the blanket so I hit the kitchen ............... hard.

I started my morning by making laundry soap. What?? You make your own laundry soap?? Well -- sort of. Its kind of the cake mix of laundry soap. First of all -- you get your soap bars from one of my favorite soap makers ..............Maggie at Prairieland Herbs.

You grate it on a cheese grater .... mix it with 2 cups of Borax, 2 cups of washing soda and 1 cup of baking soda. I love this stuff!!!! If you need a stain stick -- just swipe an extra bar on the stain. It is wonderful stuff and I feel very accomplished. And look how pretty it looks in my jar!

The next project was cheese. Homemade mozzarella cheese for homemade pizza tonight. This was the best batch yet. OMG!! This is good. Ok -- its better than good. It was great!!! The tutorial I use is on this great blog.

This is while I was draining the whey. Most of my cats don't care for the whey ..... but my calico Mama cat loves it!
Isn't that just beautiful!! Shiny and smooth and delicious. I'm getting close to doing a class. Anyone interested out there?????

I made the cheese this morning because I thought the perfect Saturday night supper would be homemade pizza. Tonight's pizza featured a 7-grain and herb crust. Then I roasted onions, garlic, white mushrooms and the very last of my morel mushrooms for the topping. I used some turkey sausage for Honey. But my, it was good.
Not the prettiest pizza I have ever made .............. but it didn't live here long enough for any one to notice!!!! YUMM!

Then on to more cooking related activities. We eat a lot of yogurt here. And I have been pretty lazy about making yogurt ...... Yoplait is just too easy. But I can do so much more with my homemade yogurt. And seriously, how hard is yogurt when you have a yogurt maker?? There are days I could just shoot myself for being so lazy!!!!!And finally ........... bread. ABin5 seems to be my lifeline. Between ABin5 and Mark Bittman's no-knead bread, they have revolutionize bread baking in this household. Today -- I took the basic boule and used whole wheat flour in it. Did you know that you are suppose to let the bread cool before you cut it so the texture can develop completely???? Won't happen in this house!!

I'd say I have my bread baking done for the weekend and I will be set for the beginning of the week .................. but you haven't met Honey. Honey loves homemade bread..... maybe a little butter.... a little artisan cheese. Yea .......... I'll be baking again tomorrow night!!!

I squeezed in time for a little spinning, lots of laundry, a little painting and started working on a new apron project.

I think I have used up all that energy and I'm ready to hide under that blanket. If I could only find it..................hmmmm?

Friday, March 6, 2009


I love it!!! The colors are perfect on the barn and in the yard. And what a great eye-popping treat for my customers this spring.

A few more pictures..........
I'll still be doing a few new things on this side. I received a great piece of handmade yard art from my friend, The Pumpkin Man when he traveled through this area. So that needs a place on this side of the barn. And I need a new sign ........... have to tell everyone what this place is all about now, don't we???

I have a lot of gardens to clean. OK -- 2-1/2 are done. Out of about 30. But its going to rain all day tomorrow ......... so I will be painting a couple of more barn quilts. Smaller ones to go along the side of the coop and to brighten a fence. Yea .......... I'm hooked.

Thursday, March 5, 2009

I am a dirty girl!!!

I love this time of year!!! I love the freshness of spring and the promise it offers. This year .... my garden will be perfect!! There will be no weeds. My Black Knight Scabiosa will stand beautifully. And I will get 3 cuttings of larkspur and my lisanthus will bloom in June. Rain will fall gently on Mondays only (I am closed on Mondays) and it will be the perfect one inch of rain!

Today .... it was well over 60 degrees and beautiful sunshine was everywhere. In town -- I saw a gal in a tank top and flip-flops. But on top of my hill -- I still needed a sweatshirt in the wind. I got my fingers in the dirt .... I cleaned another small garden. It is ready for fertilizer and mulch. Peeking under the dead leaves and debris were the bright green tips of the daylilies. My knees were muddy and muck was stuck to my polka-dotted boots. I am in my glory!!! I could never be happier than in the spring.............. with the promise of new gardens.

I have worked for my good friend Greenhouse Gwen in years past ...... we trade my labor for her plants. It works out better for me than her............ I drool on the plants a lot!!!

At the greenhouse ..... things are small little specks of green at the moment. Everyday, she fills the germination chamber with new treasures. I delight in seeing the tiny leaves push their way out of those little seeds.

My favorite is cabbage. I have no idea why......... they look like tiny dust bunnies and I have plenty of those at home. But look!!!
Each of the cells are approximately 1/2 inch square. In a couple of weeks we will be transplanting the cabbage into 4 packs. But now ....... and for a very few days...... they are tiny fuzzy creatures.

For the next few weeks ........... I'll be taking two showers a day. My jeans will be stain-sticked and soaked and washed on "Heavy". My fingers will be scrubbed raw. My nails will be ragged and dirty. My boots will be muddy. My hair will be naturally wind-blown!!! I will eat my lunch with grimy hands and track in mud on the kitchen floor. I am a dirty girl.

But my soul will be refreshed................ and hopes of the perfect gardens will live in my dreams. For it is Spring........... and all things are possible in Spring.

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Maybe I should be Amish.........

Ok -- I haven't been doing anything worthwhile lately. It seems I have become addicted to Pandora (internet radio) and I have trouble walking away from it.

But I have had one little project. I LOVE the giant quilt blocks painted on barns. I have decided that I needed one........ so Sunday after church, I started one.

There are so many fantastic quilt patterns, it was hard to choose. But this one fit the bill -- Goose Tracks. A poultry reference so I was happy.

I need to do a little touch-up but I am out of yellow paint -- I'll pick some up tomorrow when I'm in town. I love the colors and the large graphic design.

It will go up on the barn on Thursday or Friday .... weather permitting. And since I have a potting shed and a chicken coop with expanses of blank walls...... they will get smaller blocks. I think the customers that come to the farm will appreciate them.

I founded Miss Effie's based on the history of a farm wife's work..... the veggies, flowers, making jam, hanging clothes out on the line, canning, selling eggs, knitting, spinning. Every day tasks for a farm wife at the turn of the century. And what could be more symbolic of the pieces of a farm wife's life than a quilt?

Yea ....... there will be more blocks to come.

Sunday, March 1, 2009

Butternut Squash Soup Recipe......

Ok -- Here is my recipe for Butternut Squash Soup. I love this soup. It is perfect when its consistency is like velvet. I use Fat free evaporated milk for the cream at the end .... but I have heard of Fat Free Half & Half and that should be awesome in it!!!

Cut one large butternut squash in half. Rub the cut sides with olive oil and season with salt, pepper and thyme. Cut the very top off a head of garlic. Place in a foil-lined roasting pan and pour olive oil it. Place the squash in the pan cut side down. Roast for 45-60 minutes until very very tender. Cool slightly so it is easily handled and scoop the flesh from the shell.

In the meantime, heat 2 to 3 cups of chicken stock. Puree the roasted garlic and the squash with a cup or so of chicken stock. And to the rest of the stock and heat thoroughly. Finish it off with a little more salt and pepper and drizzle cream in it.

I use stored squash ..... I like the carmelization that the roasting does to the squash. But frozen squash can work. I have done this with frozen pumpkin or added frozen pumpkin to the soup if I felt like the squash was too small. And don't limit yourself to butternut.......... use acorn or buttercup or hubbard if you want. Or pumpkin.

Enjoy........... its what we are having for supper!!!