Category Archives: Living from Scratch

Pick Your Own

Don’t those look like delicious raspberries?

Too bad they’re not actually raspberries… they’re unripe blackberries.  Joshua likes to pick and squish raspberries, so when he grabbed a berry from the blackberry bush I thought that was what he was going to do.  Instead, he decided that after days of squishing berries he was ready to eat one.  He’ll probably never eat one again!

Later that day, while visiting my family’s farm, we went for a wagon ride and picked some sweet corn and peaches.  I hoped a sweet, juicy peach would make up for the unripe blackberry incident.

To my surprise, Joshua ate half of that very big peach, skin and all! He loved it!

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Filed under Adventures, Food, Living from Scratch, Local Agriculture, Outside, parenting, Photo Essay

Scalloped Potatoes and Leeks

As far as I’m concerned, the best part of eating ham for dinner is having scalloped potatoes alongside it on your plate.  We have a freezer full of ham steaks that need to be used up before December, when our next round of pigs will be all grown up.  Have I shown you piglet pictures yet? I can’t remember, so here you go!

Anyway, I had a big bunch of local leeks in my fridge, so I decided to add them into my normal recipe and it was delicious! I don’t measure when I make this recipe, since it’s all about the layering, so these measurements are just estimates.  Seriously, you want to make this recipe!

Scalloped Potatoes and Leeks

  • 1 clove of garlic
  • half stick of butter
  • 3-4 large potatoes, peeled and thinly sliced OR 8-10 small red potatoes, washed and thinly slided (no need to peel them!)
  • 2 large leeks, well washed, halved and sliced
  • 4-6 Tbsp flour
  • 1 1/2 cups shredded cheese (I used cheddar this time, but any cheese you like will do)
  • salt and pepper to taste (I like LOTS of black pepper, and add a little bit to each layer)
  • 2 cups whole milk

Preheat the oven to 375°F.  Cut the garlic clove in half, then rub the cut side on the inside of the a 9 x 9 pan to flavor it, then use 1 tsp of butter to grease it.  Begin with a layer of potatoes by placing them in the bottom of the pan.  Sprinkle them with salt, pepper, and about a Tbsp of flour, then dot with about 1 Tbsp of butter.  Add another layer of potatoes, more salt, pepper, flour, and butter.  Next layer in about half of the leeks.  Add another layer of potatoes, salt, pepper, flour, and about half the cheese.  Add another layer of potatoes, salt, pepper, flour, and butter.  Add the remaining leeks, then another two layers of potatoes, salt, pepper, flour, and butter.  Pour in the milk until the potatoes are mostly submerged, then press the layers down with your hands.  Top with the remaining cheese, some more pepper, and maybe even some more butter.  Bake for an hour until bubbly and the cheese is nicely browned, then let sit for about 15 minutes to cool and thicken before serving.  I’ve found that if I double the recipe I need to bake for up to an additional half hour to make sure the potatoes aren’t crunchy.

Ham? What ham? Pass the scalloped potatoes and leeks, please!

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Filed under Food, Living from Scratch, Local Agriculture, Recipes, What's for Supper?

World Breastfeeding Week

It’s World Breastfeeding Week! When a friend asked me if I was going to be blogging about it, I said probably not. I’m kind of all blogged out when it comes to breastfeeding, having written for a year now at the Breastfeeding Diaries.  My monthly check-in column “Yes, We’re Still Nursing!” is just about the perfect amount of writing.  Breastfeeding is part of our normal life now, as normal as me snacking on berries, eating fresh-caught fish, or having a big glass of water by my side at all times.  It’s how we live, it just IS.

That’s not to say that I don’t think about it or talk about it.  I’ve been happy to help out some of my loved ones who are new mommies with questions about nursing and expressing.  I laugh about it, like when the UPS man encountered my nursing bra-turned-swimsuit drying on the front porch.  I’m also really proud of the fact that I have nursed Joshua every single day for the last 16 1/2 months.  That’s just amazing to me.  I wish I had that kind of endurance in other areas of my life (dieting, exercise, laundry…).  I’m very happy with how our nursing relationship is right now. I nurse Josh when we’re together and don’t worry about it when we’re apart. There’s no pumping, bottles, measuring, washing dishes, or any of the stuff that stressed me out about being a nursing, working mom.  He nurses way less now than when he was a newborn, but I’d say he probably nurses about 10 times a day, just usually for shorter periods of time.  But to me it’s no big deal. It’s just what we do. 

I’ve thought about night weaning, but I don’t think Joshua’s ready for that yet.  I do believe that he’ll wean when he’s ready, but I see no reason to push it at this point.  I joke that I have no idea how I’d ever get him to sleep without nursing, as he nurses to sleep every time he’s with me, with the exception of falling asleep in the car a few times.  Though he falls asleep fine when we’re apart. 

Over the past 16 1/2 months, I’ve lived and breathed breastfeeding.  While eating, in my sleep, in public, in private, without a cover (but sometimes with), in the bath, in the pool, at the beach, at a parade, at a tractor pull, at picnics, in a parked car, in the shade, in the sun, on the couch, lying down, walking around, sitting on the floor. Whenever, wherever.

So what’s the plan? There is no plan. I have no plans to wean him at X age, just as I have no plans to keep going until X age.  If I had to make a prediction, I’d guess that his nusing duration would be measured in years, but we’ll see.  We just go with the flow.

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Filed under Food, Living from Scratch, parenting

Green Moms Carnival – Food Preservation

Welcome to the July Green Moms Carnival! I’m so excited to be hosting the carnival especially with Food Preservation as the topic because I think that food is one of the first ways that many moms choose to “go green,” by opting to eat seasonally and locally.  Once you’ve found your farmers you can learn to save money and enjoy that produce year-round by buying in bulk and preserving it.   Please take the time to visit each post!

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Food Preservation Basics

Tiffany from Nature Moms Blog gives a nice summary of different types of food preservation, along with some tips for getting started in her post Bringing Food Preservation Back to Our Kitchens.

Katy of Non-Toxic Kids (and my Moms Clean Air Force teammate) shares 3 Ways to Preserve the Summer Bounty.  Berry picking is a great way to teach your children where their food comes from and get some great pictures of ruby stained faces.  Katy also suggests pesto (yum!) and baked goods as ways to preserve.

Laura of Pug in the Kitchen shares tips for preserving food with little ones underfoot in her post Preservation: Pickles, Jelly and Sanity.  I’ve found that my canning has dropped way off (as in, come to a dead stop) since I had Joshua because big pots of boiling and a baby who wouldn’t let me put him down were not a combination I wanted last summer. 

Michelle of Green Bean Chronicles writes about canning, freezing, dehydrating, fermenting and not preserving in her post There is More Than One Way To Skin A… at The Green Phone Booth.

Canning

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There are so many different ways to preserve food, but many people think of canning first.  I have loved seeing the resurgence of canning in the past few years.  It’s hip to can! Can you believe it? 

Deanna of Crunchy Chicken, one of my long-time favorite blogs, contributed some fantastic canning recipes.  Just the titles make my mouth water!

Lisa from Condo Blues and Lazy Budget Chef writes about her first canning experience in I Canned Jam and Nobody Died.  There are so many people who are afraid of canning, but once they try it they realize how easy it can be! It’s blueberry jam, by the way.

Mary Clare from In Women We Trust totals up the return on a $20 seed investment in her post Can Yourself – Grow Money, Grow Friends.  You’ll be shocked!

Anna from Green Talk shows us how she has worked on Greening the Tomato Sauce Process.  There are great pictures to walk you through the steps of using a tomato press.

Linda of Citizen Green shares her tried and true recipe for marinara sauce in her post Use Your Garden Tomatoes in this Sauce.  It’s versatile and can be canned or frozen.

For those of us with a pressure canner and nerves of steel, Jena from Married to the Farm tells us about Pressure Canning Green Beans.  Don’t be scared!

I want to also share a few of my own favorite canning recipes from here at Farmer’s Daughter:

Freezing

Photo Credit: Laura from A Pug in the Kitchen

Lisa from Condo Blues and Lazy Budget Chef shares step-by-step tips on How to Freeze Fresh Tomatoes, for those of us who are a little too scared of the pressure canner.

Zoie at TouchstoneZ shares various ways to make organic strawberries from the local farmer’s market last and finds making freezer jam is even sweeter with her kids and a little reggae on the side in her post We’re Jamming.

Anna from Green Talk walks through the steps of Cooking Pumpkin and Squash for Easy Winter Storage.  She reminds us not to forget the seeds!

Karen from Best of Mother Earth explains that while she doesn’t do a lot of preserving, she does cook from scratch and makes sure not to waste the leftovers in her post How Do You Preserve Food?

Emily from Live Renewed shares a step-by-step tutorial for freezing fruit, along with a neat tip for pitting cherries, in her post Preserving Summer’s Bounty – Freezing Berries.

Lori of Groovy Green Livin shares how to find, freeze and thaw blueberries, as well as their health benefits in Preserve Summer: How To Freeze Blueberries.

Diane from Big Green Purse Blog shares a step-by-step tutorial on how to freeze tomato sauce in her post Make Your Own Delicious, Organic Tomato Sauce. Here’s How.

I love to freeze sweet corn for use in soups, stews and cornbread throughout the year. 

Drying/Dehydrating

Deanna of Crunchy Chicken shares Drying Herbs for Idiots.

Beth of My Plastic-free Life shows us how to make dried apple slices and fruit leather in her post Dry Summer Produce to Keep Through Winter Plastic Free

Mama Bear runs through a pro/con list of dehydrating in her post Kitchen Adventure: Drying Strawberries.   She outlines how to use the oven to dehydrate food.

Cold Storage

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Jena from Married to the Farm shows us how to store carrots throughout the winter in her post How to Store Carrots, and Save them for Seed

Dairy

Deanna of Crunchy Chicken shares:

Marci of Down on the Farm has two grass-fed Jersey milk cows and is in my opinion an expert cheesemaker! Check out her how-to’s:

Do you know what kefir is? I didn’t until I read the following two submissions. Now I want to try some! I have one question, how do you pronounce “kefir”?

Micaela of Mindful Momma‘s husband John shares how he makes homemade kefir in his guest post Kefir Madness.  Can I just say how cool it is that there’s a DAD joining the Green Moms Carnival?

Jen of Puddle Jumping shares her very low-maintenance kefir making system in her post Easy Homemade (Refrigerator) Kefir. I’ve gotta get me some of that kefir.

Baking in Bulk

Betsy from Eco-Novice shares her recipes for baking in bulk and freezing, which means she can have homemade food in a pinch!

Miscellaneous

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Deanna of Crunchy Chicken shares Homemade Rosolio and Candied Orange Peels.

Brenna of Almost All the Truth shows us how to reduce food waste and eat more of the green leafies with her post Getting Greens with Organic and Fresh Green Smoothies.

Phew! What a huge carnival! There were a grand total of 45 submissions! (Unless I counted wrong, my eyes are tired from all this typing!)  I want to send a special welcome to our new participants Marci, Zoie, Brenna and Jena.  Jena is a VERY new mom to her son Kent. Congrats Jena!

Thank you everyone for joining the Green Moms Carnival! Next month’s topic is Back To School and will be hosted by Micaela of Mindful Momma. The deadline is August 4 so get writing!

Please join in by sharing a link (or two, or a few) to your favorite food preservation post.

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Filed under Adventures, Food, Living from Scratch, Local Agriculture, Recipes, Sustainable Living

Celebrating 365

Years, that is!

Cross-posted at Moms Clean Air Force

My family’s farm, Rose Orchards, is celebrating 365 years of continuous farming by the Rose family.  We’re having a great big celebration on July 23, with lots of events and activities for family fun.

I love to think about what life was like in those early days, back in the mid-1600′s.  Life was surely much harder, but families were much more self-sufficient and lived sustainably.  I imagine that their biggest concerns were to grow, harvest and put by enough food, chop enough firewood, and make enough warm clothes to last throughout the long, cold New England winter.  Growing crops, raising animals, canning, sewing, knitting, crocheting, other handcrafts, fermenting, drying food, cooking and baking were means of survival, not the spare-time hobbies of today. 

Was it less or more stressful to live back then? I often wonder, as I can see both sides.  On one hand, they didn’t have to worry about climate change, polluted air, polluted water, depletion of fossil fuels, endangered species, population control, and other contemporary environmental concerns.  On the other hand, there was a constant need to provide for yourself and your family, prepare for cold weather, and the aspects of life beyond control: drought, or floods, illnesses, injuries, infection, never quite knowing if you’ve split enough wood or put away enough hay.  Though my ancestors’ daily activities were much more strongly tied to their survival than my own, I think their lives were harder and maybe more stressful, in a different way, than my present-day experience.

As my family gears up to celebrate 365 years of Rose family farming, I find myself so thankful to have grown up in this place.  I’m thankful to each of the thirteen generations for keeping the farm going, reinventing it so it can survive and be passed down.  I love to listen to stories from my parents and grandparents, and I miss talking to my great-grandmother.

And so, when I think about what role I will play in keeping the farm alive for another generation, I know it’s different but still important.  I no longer live on the farm, though it’s a few minutes away and we visit often.  I don’t spend my days working on the farm or contribute to the family business in any measurable way.  But yet, I love it.  I am connected to that land in a way that many people can’t understand. 

I fight for family farms with my dollars, my votes, and my blog.  I know, admire, and support my local farmers.  I frequent farmer’s markets.  I contact my representatives when I see threats to family farms, and I vote accordingly.  I am an environmental activist, in essence, because I love family farms and I see that they are hit particularly hard by environmental problems like pollution of our air, water and soil.  If I stand up to polluters and demand that my representatives do the same, then I am standing up for family farms.

Please join the Moms Clean Air Force to help us fight for clean air for our kids. We need your voice! If you haven’t already, please email the EPA to show your support of the new Mercury and Air Toxics rule. Thank you!

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Filed under Living from Scratch, Local Agriculture, Sustainable Living

Homemade Light Box

I saw this idea on Play At Home Mom, my new favorite blog and Facebook page.  Since I store our Christmas lights in a clear container anyway, this was a quick project!

My only concern was that Joshua decided to climb up on the box.  I’m storing it out of reach when we’re not using it, and supervising him very closely when we play with it.  I may pick up a shallow clear box to use instead, but this one works for now.

I have high hopes for many more easy, simple, cheap/free homemade projects this summer!

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Filed under Fun Family Learning, Living from Scratch, Natural Learning