Monday, July 19, 2010

Summer on the Farm

It has been a busy month. A foal was born, there has been lots of gardening, cooking, fence mending, farm clean-up, a show or two and a fair amount of horsing around.

The foal was born about five weeks ago. She is quite stunning and we have named her Cielo Azure's Fantasia (Fannie for short). Fannie is an elegant girl, very tall and with a very long neck and legs. She is quite the looker. I made a little movie of her when she was a few days old.

As Fannie has grown up, we have discovered that she is about the friendliest little filly around. She just loves to interact with us and follows us around like a dog.


I have been particularly proud of our vegetable garden this year. It has kept us with a constant flow of tomatoes, basil, peppers, squash, herbs, cucumbers and swiss chard. Earlier in the season, we had lettuce, parsley, spinach and radishes. Yesterday, I harvested the first potatoes. Last night's dinner was from start to finish from our land. We scrambled eggs (from our chickens), hash browns made from freshly dug potatoes and a side of small tomato and cucumber. Yummy!

Cooking has always been something I enjoy. A way to give back to my family. As we are vegetarians, I have developed many recipes based on the cooking I grew up with (my parents were British immigrants), which I have modified for our meat free diet.

A favorite recipe of mine is Split Pea Soup, which I have written out to share with you all:

Vegetarian Split Pea Soup (Easy and healthy)

1 pound dried split peas
3 to 5 carrots (about a half cup sliced)
1 medium or 2 small onions
½ tsp thyme
1 tsp salt
½ tsp oregano
1 tsp white pepper (black works also)
¼ cup butter
1 box vegetable broth (16 oz) or two cans or veggy boullion cubes (2 or 3 cubes)
1/3 to ½ cup chopped parsley
1/3 cup nutritional yeast
½ cup sliced celery
1 cup textured vegetable protein (I like Hammish bits made by Harmony foods*. If you use unflavored TVP –you might want to add a touch of liquid or powdered smoke flavor to taste)
Water to cover all ingredients.

Rinse the peas well, and throw out the water. Prepare and place all of the ingredients into a large pot. Add water to cover (plus and extra two to three inches). Bring to a boil and let simmer for about an hour or a bit more, stirring occasionally. More water may need to be added –keeping the liquid level just above the other ingredients. Once peas are soft, use a hand held electric blender to puree the soup. If you don’t have a hand blender, you can either serve it as is or pour it all into a blender to puree. Add more water if you like a thinner soup. Taste and season again –if needed. This recipe is easily modified to add more of less of any of the ingredients. Fresh vegetables, such as asparagus may be included or substituted.

This time of year, I have parsley, oregano and thyme in the garden. So, I tend to use a mix of store bought (dried) and garden grown herbs –depending on the season. The thing about using fresh herbs and spices, as well as garden produced dried is that different varietals, different growing environments and different drying conditions produce different levels of intensity in herbs. So, my cooking tip is taste your food frequently while cooking and season “to taste.”

* I buy TVP in bulk over the Internet, as NW Georgia isn’t known for its great selections in the local supermarkets. Harmony foods has TVP in many sized chunks, flakes and flavors and they sell it in bulk much more cheaply via the net.

For the sweet tooth:

Here is an old fashioned English recipe for lemon curd from my mother, Iris Glasspool. Lemon curd is like a lemon jam only tart and creamy. It can be used in place of syrups, as a filling for cakes or on bread.

Lemon Curd

¼ pound butter (melted)
rind one lemon
juice from 3 lemons
¼ tsp salt
1 ½ cup sugar
3 egg yolks + 3 whole eggs (beaten).
Note about eggs: My sister just uses 5 whole eggs and that works too.

In a saucepan, combine lemon juice, lemon rind, sugar, salt, eggs, and butter. Cook (stirring gently), using medium-low heat until thick enough to hold marks from the whisk, and a few bubbles appears on surface.

This recipe keeps for about a week. Cool before using.

Finally, I leave you all with this image of Robert and I taken by our son, Spencer at a local draft horse show. Having fun in the show ring, what could be better?

Enjoy this wonderful summer, it will be gone before we know it!