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Agrarian Harvest

Wholesome. Organic. Experience. All about our farm, food, and small farm life.

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cooking

Recipes . . . . Collard Greens

As a farmer’s wife, it is thrilling for me to be able cook meals with ingredients that come directly from our farm. And I love doing it on a daily basis, however, with farming life tends to get really busy when the produce is abundant. We get consumed by task that need to be done on the farm and don’t make time to cook meals from scratch some days. On busy days we come in the house late and everyone is really hungry and tired, we tend to fall back on eggs for our quick and easy go to supper. There are so many ways to cook eggs and it is quick, then we can fall into bed to get some rest.

 

I’m always willing to try new recipes or ways to prepare things and like to experiment with my cooking. The farmer teases me from time to time that our kitchen is more like a lab.  So when I have successful new recipes or favorites I want to share it with you. I may even let you know about some of my failures. I’m wanting to spread my joy of cooking farm fresh food. I’m hoping to share on a regular basis some of our recipes that we use for preparing our produce and meat. We always eat what is in-season and readily available on our farm.

 

So at this time my focus is going to be on collard greens. I’m actually new to growing and eating this leafy green. We have been told it is a southern food. So I turned to our aunt and uncle that lives in Alabama for advice on how to cook these greens.  Tcollard greens 2hey gave me some ways to cook collard greens and I came up with some of my own ideas after search the website for recipes. Then, of course, I didn’t follow any reci
pe exactly. I do my own thing, always do!

 

Here is how we have prepared and ate collard greens so far:

  • Saute in a frying pan with bacon grease, salt, pepper, and chopped green onions and green garlic. Cook them this way on a grill and they will taste even better!
  • Throw them in a soup!  I made my version of Italian Wedding Soup, which involves just cooking sausage (not making meatballs . . . .  that takes too much time) and throwing everything in the pot to simmer. So I used collard green in the soup instead of kale. It was delicious!
  • I  boiled a ham hock with water and chicken broth. Then added sauteed onion, green garlic, salt and pepper. The ham hock simmered for several hours, then about 45 minutes before we wanted to eat I put the collard greens in the pot to simmer. This turned out like a soup, I had lots of broth in the pot. It was very good, the kids even loved it!
  • Cook the collard greens  in a pot with a little chicken broth and onions, season with paprika, salt and pepper; then drop in cornmeal dumplings on top. Put the lid on and steam the dumplings until done. This one is a favorite of our aunt and uncle from Alabama. I have yet to make this but plan to be cooking it up this week, except I plan to add chopped fried bacon to the greens. Yummm!  I will most likely post on our facebook page how it turns out.
  • Substitute them in any recipe you would use kale or cabbage.  They can be tough when ate raw, but I think they make an excellent Cole Slaw salad.

 

I am loving collard greens now! They are so versatile and don’t cook to mush, unless, of course you cook them waaaayyyy too long. Then they can turn to mush.

February Awakening

I like to do what I call human hibernating for the winter. I stay in the house, keep the fire stoked, homeschool, read several books, watch movies and go outside very little. The farmer on the other hand stays inside most the day too, but there are still chores to do and animals to care for.

. . . .  Then in February, it feels like there is a great awakening among plants, animals and people.  The weeds start to grow, the tulips and daffodils are peeking out of the ground, the fruit trees are pruned and developing buds; and we feel alive and full of energy again. It’s like the sun suddenly rose shining warmth and new hope for the first time in months.

 

Our seed orders start to arrive in February and the weather starts to break. A true change in weather takes place; the air is warmer and the precipitation changes from snow to rain, transforming into Spring. We started our February by working the ground in the cold frame getting it ready to plant. Then the exciting part, actually planting our first seeds of the year: arugula, spinach, lettuce, and onion. The arugula is up and the spinach should be soon behind it. Spinach has longer germination than arugula. The lettuce was planted a couple of weeks after the spinach and arugula so we are still waiting for it to come up too.

 

The first part of February also brought our first pig roast. We had a Super Bowl party/birthday party for the farmer and decided that was great time to e20160206_181331xperiment with roasting our first pig. Who doesn’t want to be invited to a party to eat an experiment?!!!  Be aware before you read on, how we cooked this pig may sound or actually be a little redneck-ish, but, hey, that’s just how we are. We started it the night before in a pit we lined with rock. We started wood pellets and 10 pounds of charcoal briquets on fire and got it hot and cooked down. We torched the hair off the pig with a weed burner and wrapped the pig in woven wire and put it in the pit. Then cover the pig and pit with a piece of tin roofing. It cooked and smoked all night. We checked it periodically and rotated it a couple of times. We thought it was done at noon the next day, but we didn’t take it out of the pit until 3:30. The Farmer put the whole thing in a large cooler and brought it in the house. When we were ready to eat, we started cutting it up and taking chunks off. It was good, although, I like my meat well seasoned. So I can’t say it is my favorite way to eat pork. But it was a fun experience and very neat to have a whole roasted pig for all the guest to see before we ate.

 

The sight and sound of new life really is in the air of our farm now. Our chicks have arrived and the brooder is full. This causes great excitement and happiness on our farm. Spring, hope, growth, energy and life are in the air and happening at Agrarian Harvest!DSCN7272

Thanksgiving Traditions

For Thanksgiving, we go to the parents’ houses for big family gatherings. And we always eat turkey, the bigger the better, that way there are lots of leftovers. Four years ago, we started our own little Thanksgiving tradition. We cook our own Thanksgiving feast at our house for our little family the night before Thanksgiving. That way we have our own Thanksgiving leftovers to eat the days after Thanksgiving.

I usually cook a chicken or two, once again the bigger the better, or a turkey. Whenever I buy a turkey, I always buy the biggest one I can find. We love poultry leftovers and you can make freezer meals of the leftover meat! This year I didn’t buy a turkey since we raised so many chickens this summer and still have lots in the freezers. So the plan is to cook a couple of chickens.

It is has been a desire for me to cook or roast a whole pig. I know people do it all the time, we have customer who come buy small pigs from us to roast whole. So I’ve had this strong desire to roast a pig ever since this Spring when we had piglets that kept getting out and rooting up my yard, flower beds and garden. When they would get out and make a mess or kill my plants, my first reaction was being mad. . . . .  then I started looking at them a different way. . . . . . they were a feast on legs. They were the prime size to kill and roast whole.  We have not done that yet, but I have tried to convince the other half to do it since it is too big of task for me to do on my own.  I kept thinking that summer would be a great time to do it, but it was so very busy for us so we didn’t take the time to try something new. And those pigs have grown up and gone to the butcher, but we have another batch that are the perfect size to roast whole again. Now I’m thinking that Thanksgiving and Christmas is a good time to roast a whole pig for those large family feast! 20151125_102403

So if your family already has a tradition of roasting a pig for Thanksgiving or Christmas and you are looking for a pig, or if this is a new desire for you too and you need a pig, then give us a call (visit our Buy page or Contact Us page). We have pigs of all sizes and pork available by the cut.

Happy Thanksgiving and Happy Feasting!!! We hope everyone has a Thanksgiving full of blessings and love!

Our New Family Favorite

We have not had our first frost yet. It has been cooling down though. We can now feel the coolness in the house every morning, which means that we are now starting a fire every morning to take the chill off. Then I am looking out the window at all the produce we still have growing and start to think of what I can cook  using this wonderful abundance of produce.

So I’m going to share a recipe that I have made repeatedly this year. BaBa Ghanoush (pronounced bah-bah-gah-noosh); this amazing dip has become a household favorite. We use it for meat or veggies; great with tomatoes, cucumbers, carrots and celery. It can be spread on crackers, sandwiches or put on a salad. The kids have actually gave up ranch and request this dip instead. And it uses several eggplant that I used to look at and wonder how are we going to use all these eggplant. That is not a problem this year. I now make several batches of this at a time and freeze some so we can enjoy this wonderful dip all winter.

BaBa GhanoushDSCN7078

2 large round eggplant or several of the slender Chinese eggplant (1 pound)

2 TBSP Olive Oil

2 cloves of garlic

2 TBSP basil or if you cook like I do, just use a handful

1/2 tsp salt

2-3 TBSP lemon juice (optional) I don’t use the lemon juice; I don’t like the lemon taste and don’t mind the dip turning brown.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Cover a baking sheet with aluminum foil. Wash the eggplant and use a fork to prick each eggplant all over. Put them on the baking sheet and place in the oven.  Cook for about an hour or until they start to collapse. You will know if they are done if they are soft inside. Let cool, until they are cool enough for you can handle them.

Split the eggplants open and use a spoon to scoop the inside (flesh) out, putting it into a food processor. Add the remaining ingredients and process until smooth. You will still have some seeds in the mixture. If you don’t want the dip to turn brown, then add 2-3 TBSP lemon juice and mix. Scrape the dip into a bowl and serve.

Camping

We had our first family vacation away from the farm this summer. We went camping this past week. I know some people don’t think camping is a vacation, but for broke farmers it’s a chance to get away from the farm and that is most likely the only “vacation” they will take. For the family member that has to do the packing, unpacking, and clean up it doesn’t feel like a vacation, but there are perks to camping.

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One of my favorite things about camping is the breakfast. It’s always the best tasting breakfast and a bigger breakfast than we normally eat – bacon, eggs, spuds & onions, sometimes toast, or pancakes. All cooked over the fire with coffee boiled in a pot with loose grounds, what we call sheep herder coffee.  Nothing compares to how good the food taste in the mountains cooked over a fire.

This leads to my next favorite thing about camping; I don’t do the cooking! Years ago the other half and I made a deal that he had to do all the cooking while we’re camping. That way I can consider camping a vacation – getting away from home, relaxing, having fun, and being taken care of. If I do  the cooking at home, then the other half does the cooking at camp over a campfire. Cooking over a campfire is not my specialty anyway, I’d much rather prefer to use a stove. It’s already way more work for me to go camping than it is to stay home. There is all the packing and prep to get ready . . . . . .  packing  clothes, bedding, tent, and then there’s all the food. Since we live as cheap as possible and homestead like there is no store-bought-canned food to pack. This means I have to spend a full day cooking just to get ready to go so I do the cooking to go, but don’t have to cook while are there. This involves making homemade snack foods like granola bars, caramel corn, muffins, chili, stew, salads, fried chicken, and baked potatoes. I also pack fresh fruits and veggies from the farm, bacon, steak, hamburger,and our indulgence – hot dogs.

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Sometimes I wonder if the only reason the  other half agrees to get away from the farm is because he sees it as a necessity, a working trip. We don’t just sit, read or enj20150812_102056oy hiking. We cut and load the horse trailer with firewood. Yes, another task that has to be done in the summer and fall because that’s how we heat our house in the winter, with a wood burning stove.

Once we are done loading wood and are dog tired, I make the family hike to the top of the mountain in search of every high mountain lake we can find.  I have an obsession with high mountain lakes. I would love to hike to as many high mountain lakes as possible i20150811_121816n my lifetime. High mountain lakes are such majestic, breath-taking works of art with the only way to view them is to hike into them by foot or horse. There is nothing like a strenuous hi
ke to make a vacation enjoyable, seriously. Even if you have to leave the other half and kids at the lower lake and hike up an over the mountain to the third lake by yourself. You truly feel like a champion when reach the saddle! There is also nothing like standing on top of a saddle, looking at all the peaks in view being eye level and feeling like you’re on top of the
world. And we might just be for just a short period of time.

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So, yes, we call camping a vacation. We work, we hike, we sit around the fire and read and, most importantly, we have fun. We may create more work for ourselves by making our vacation a working trip and then more work to unload the trailer of wood when we get home, but I don’t thi20150811_140325nk we would know what to do or how to behave on a real vacation

Now to get caught up on the farm work! There is lots of produce to harvest and a ton of very large overgrown zucchini to deal with.

Strawberries, Rhubarb, and Our Farm Boy

All of our kids impress us everyday. They have their own strengths and interests. But this time I’m impressed with our little farm boy. He is involved and loves every chore and task that takes place on the farm. He gets up early on his own, get his breakfast, does his feeding chores and then heads to his garden to check all the plants and weed.All of our kids have their own garden space to tend and grow as they see fit. Our farm boy gets just as excited to harvest as he does to plant. And then once the “fruits of his labor” are harvested he’s ready to make them into something nourishing to eat. He loves to be in the kitchen cooking and creating just as much as he loves the outdoors. It just amazes me how he embraces all aspects of growing, tending, harvesting, and cooking food.

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This week’s harvest and abundance is rhubarb and strawberries. The kids have been going out to the berry patch everyday to pick those juicy, sweet first strawberries of the summer. Usually eating most of the berries before they make it back to the house with the bowl, but this time our farm boy took his own bowl out to save the strawberries he picked for making a yummy, creation in the kitchen. Strawberries, rhubarb and a hungry, creative minded child in the kitchen; any guesses what he wanted to make? He has his father’s love for pies so, of course, his choice was a pie (I’m sure the picture gave it away too). I mixed up the crust and he did the rest himself; rolling out the crust, the chopping, mixing and all the finishing touches. A strawberry rhubarb pie for dessert. I can’t wait to eat this creation!

Our next harvest and abundance is going to be garlic scapes. And it is my turn to create something wonderful in the kitchen with garlic scapes. I want to come up with something more creative than presto, although I do love pesto. Any suggestions?

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