We have two farmdogs, and we frequently call them good dogs -- but to be clear, what we mean by that is that we love them! They are often NOT particularly good dogs -- or, in the parlance of good parents everywhere -- they often do not BEHAVE very well. They dig holes, they jump on the furniture with muddy paws, they jump on PEOPLE with muddy paws, they roll in disgusting things, they eat things they are not supposed to, and usually it's something that WE had been hoping to eat
( I will never forget one of them eating an entire ziplock full of lobster that I had just spent hours picking out of the shells, and had created a fragrant and oh-so-promising lobster stock for. In the 30 seconds it took to pick the fresh herbs? Bam. Lobster gone. It was like a slow motion movie when I saw the ripped ziplock on the kitchen floor -- "NOOOOooooooo!!!") . Anyway, I'm over that now. And I do love them! I recognize that their so-called bad behavior stems from their never-ending enthusiasm and zest for all things fun, and for meeting any person or animal of any sort, and for all things even vaguely edible. And enthusiasm is a good thing! Whenever I ask them " Do you want
to _____ ?" It doesn't matter what the ending of the question is. The answer is always, " YES!!! Yes, we'd love to! We really would!! Yup, yup, yup, we want to do that thing you asked if we wanted to do!! Let's do it! We're in!!" How often do you get that reaction when you ask someone if they want to do something? Especially if they might look a little silly doing it?
But the boys don't care. They're happy to help in whatever way they can, even if they sometimes don't quite understand the point of the activity. For example, one year we decided to try to make a Christmas card with the two dogs pulling a sleigh full of farm produce. They were happy to participate, but were a bit unclear about what we were trying to accomplish.
As you can imagine, there was a fair amount of tying everybody up in knots ("do you know why Dad's tying these things onto our collars?" "Nope! But it's pretty fun, let's run around!") before we managed to snap a shot of them looking in generally the right direction.
But if you want to talk about a job that they DO understand, here's one of their best talents:
helping clean up the kitchen after a dinner party. They do the job, they do it well.
So even though they do things like this...
and this... and this...
and this... and this... and this...
they're still the most cheerful farmhands, and that counts for a lot!!!
To get to the gorgeous bounty of summer ...
While the snow was still piled up outside, I dug up the weeds that had taken root in the beds, swept the debris off the floor, and cut down all of last year's support strings.
If all goes according to plan, it won't be too long before these little seedlings turn into tall and prolific vines...
... and then the fun really begins! I can't wait to take you along with me as the farm year progresses. I want to show you all the tricks I've learned to preserve healthy, fresh, organically-grown food, and even more importantly, the techniques I've developed to cook with frozen, dried or canned produce so that it's still bright, flavorful and delicious! It's cheaper, it's faster, it's lower impact on the planet, it lasts so much longer than fresh, and it's better for you than a fresh veggie that's traveled halfway round the world! All good, right? So stay tuned!
Now, back to the garden! See you next time!
My seeds have sprouted and now I am just waiting for them to grow...and for the spring to actually become springy! The dog walk was FRIGID and WINDY this morning, so when I came in, I decided to make soup. What's better, on a cold day, than having a simmering pot of fragrant soup on the stove?
Now-- I just want to prepare you for the fact that I have a casual approach to recipes! I think that the joy of cooking happens when you are using your hands to measure, toss, and sprinkle, and letting your creativity and your food supply lead the way! Feel free to make substitutions. As long as you are using good ingredients, everything should turn out alright. Have some fun!
So, I started by making the stock (but of course you don't have to -- a nice prepared chicken broth will be fine!). If you are up for the stock-making, first put a chicken carcass in a pot (be sure to save all the yucky-looking but great-tasting gelatinous drippings from the pan or plate for later!) cover it with water, and put it on to boil. Meanwhile, gather up some flavorings...
Let simmer ( and warm up your kitchen!) for an hour or two. The longer it simmers, the more flavorful it will be. When you're ready, take the pot off the heat, and put the chicken on a plate to cool.
Now we'll move on to the soup! If you are using store-bought stock, start here.
Drizzle a few circles of olive oil into a large pot. Add a chopped onion, a couple of chopped carrots, and a couple of stalks of sliced celery, and saute til slightly softened. As you can see, I used carrots that I had frozen last fall -- some yellow and some red.
Meanwhile, pick all the remaining chicken off the chicken carcass. Or chop up some raw chicken into small pieces. Or both!
If you have the gel and drippings from the chicken, add it now, and stir. ( it makes a BIG difference!) Then either pour your homemade chicken stock mixture through a colander into your pot, or add a couple of boxes of chicken stock. Bring to a simmer.
Add the chicken and 4 big handfuls of rice -- maybe 1/2 cup-- and simmer for about 1/2 hour, until rice is almost done. Then add broccoli and green beans ( again, I used my frozen ones)
and simmer about 10 minutes more. And that's it!
Although it should be delicious as it is, I think any soup really benefits from cooling and reheating. And that's one of the great things about soup! It makes enough for a lot of meals, and it just gets better as time goes by! And if I've made more than I think we can eat in several days, I put some into pint ball jars, (filled to about an inch from the top) label them with painters tape, and put them in the freezer. All set for another day! Yum!