The Entertaining Farmgirls take on Spring

The password to get into the dinner party was “Strawberry Wine” and the guests did hope that there would be a glass waiting.  We did not disappoint!  The guests at Wildflower and Fawn’s popup dinner party were greeted with cold glasses of strawberry rhubarb wine from a vineyard in the Palisades.

Shyanne had the idea of writing the menu on the glass pane of the old door in the dining area with chalkboard pens.  It looked whimsical and illustrated the evening’s fare.  Lots of herbs would be showcased in our late spring supper.

Shyanne and I had a vision for this supper club that would incorporate local, organic produce, preferably from my garden.  Fresh, seasonal food prepared in a unique fashion to give party goers something different, something exciting, and a treat to the senses.

The first course was a cool, refreshing strawberry soup to go with the wine.  In a good blender combine a package of frozen strawberries, or other fruit, with a few cups of milk of choice (we used the last of our local goat’s milk), and a 1/2 cup of sugar.  Process than place in fridge until ready to serve.  Pulse one more time before pouring out frothy, creamy soup.

The second course was an easy salad with fresh greens, pickled eggs and beets (click for recipe), and drizzled with the malt vinegar the eggs were in, toasted pecans, and walnut oil.  Sprinkle with salt and pepper.  I had a loaf of homemade bread on the table too.  This course was enjoyed with housemade strawberry kombucha.

The next course was a duck egg frittata, eggs compliments of my good friend, Alli (who taught me how to make kombucha!).  The frittata was filled with eggs and fresh herbs from my garden, and grape tomatoes.  Eight eggs, 1/2 cup of milk of choice, 3 Tablespoons of herbs (we used thyme, lemon thyme, oregano, chives, chive flowers, clover flowers, cilantro, rosemary, and sage), and 1/2 cup of tomatoes.  Whisk together, pour into heated oiled pan and cook over medium heat until sides and top are almost set, without disturbing, then place under broiler for five minutes.  This was served with couscous and dried cherries with preserved chokecherry sauce.

This course was served with my homemade chokecherry wine.  How to Make Chokecherry Wine was my number one post last year so those of you who made it may want to know that after sitting on its side for twenty months, oh my gosh, it is sooo good.  Semi-sweet, dry, really good wine.

And lastly, the course we were all waiting for was Shyanne’s cake.  Shyanne took a recipe from the vegan cookbook I wrote some years ago (which is coming back into print) and added minced herbs and lemon.  She deftly minced lemon balm, lemon verbena, and lemon thyme.  There was a pile of herbs on the counter for garnish.  I asked her if she had put them in the cake.  She replied that she had put a little in.  “It’s mint, right?”

“Catnip.”

“What?!” she said in horror.  With her yummy lemon frosting and a cup of cardamom coffee, it made for a delightful dessert.

We so enjoy having various folks over to treat them.  Our next supper club is in August and will preview many fresh ideas from our garden.  Sign up early so you can be at the next supper club!  We’d love to entertain you.

Homestead Anywhere and How to Preserve Rhubarb

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This sentiment is going around facebook and I read some of the comments.  Impossible.  You need at least so many acres.  Too hard of work.  But it isn’t all or nothing, folks. We are all where we are supposed to be through circumstances of decision or fate.  I am in an incredibly urban environment right now, decidedly un-homesteady.  But, there are still many things I can do to homestead because the result is so delightful.  I will have a freezer stocked with nutritious food, a gallery of canned goods in the living room, healthy drinks at the ready, flowers and herbs and a community garden.  No one is an island, Lord we learned that on our last farm and we’ll remember it on our next, but it isn’t all or nothing.  One can homestead anywhere.

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Putting up rhubarb, for instance.  A reward all year!  Aunt Donna had us over to harvest some of that delicious, crisp summer treat, a celebration of getting through winter, a testament to survival, a perfect meal to surprise folks with at Christmas should you have any left!  I have mentioned it before but it bears repeating how Aunt Donna taught me to put it up.  I have canned it and it is good, syrupy and soft and still quite fine, but the easiest way, and the way to keep it crisp and fresh as the day one snaps it off at its base, is to freeze it.

Cut stalks, discarding far ends and rogue strings, into 1/2 inch chunks.  4 cups of rhubarb go into a quart sized freezer bag.  Now, don’t skimp, you know how cheap trash bags are….same with freezer bags, get the good zippered ones.  I despise freezer burn.

Add 1 cup of sugar.  Zipper to one inch then suck the air of the bag with your lips and finish closing it.  Label and freeze.  One large bag yielded enough to share and 5 quarts of frozen rhubarb.  Thank you, Aunt Donna!

It was lovely to have a glass of my own homemade raspberry mint kombucha while chopping.  For dinner we had a pile of freshly harvested dandelions prepared in a Cherokee fashion  with crisp bacon (from a local heritage pig farm) and the fat from the pan poured over the cold, tart greens sprinkled with salt.

Self sufficiency on any level is quite nice.

 

How to Make Kombucha (and Home on the Range)

We drove out past Elbert to our friends’ house and arrived on their doorstep just as it started to rain.  The turkey followed to see what we were up to.  One of her pups had gotten into the calf pen but couldn’t get out.  Her other sweet dog snuggled up to the wood stove in their large dog house.  Two calves lay under a tarp trying to gather strength.  Two were in the field jumping in the rain.  One had died earlier that day.  Mud started to form around the ranch.  Evening had come.

Inside, the house was filled with children squealing by, grown ups gathered in the kitchen, beers being passed out.  Neighbors dropping by, laundry on the couch waiting to be folded, chili on the stove, laughter in the air, farm life.  While Doug entertained the kids with his juggling act, Alli showed me how to make kombucha.

This was important because Doug and I have gotten somewhat addicted to the stuff and at three dollars a bottle (x2 every day), it was high time I learned.  What is kombucha, you ask?

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Kombucha is a sweetened, fermented tea beverage that has been around and has been enjoyed for over 2000 years.  It contains a SCOBY (a Symbiotic Colony Of Bacteria and Yeast) or mother, much like vinegar.  And like vinegar it contains about .06% alcohol.  Quite negligible.  The mother looks like a mushroom and contains probiotics used to detoxify and aid the digestive system and other organs.  It contains glucosamine which helps with joints and the skeletal system.  (Any good thing undergoes scrutiny in the US, pestering from authorities, and non-sense speculations, but as in herbalism, anything that has healed for thousands of years is good enough for me.)  I feel better, more energetic, and healthier when I drink the stuff.  Alli taught me to make a gallon at a time.

  • Boil 3 1/2 quarts of water
  • Add one extra large tea bag and one cup of sugar.
  • Turn off heat and let tea brew until it is at room temperature.
  • In clean gallon container add 2 cups of reserved kombucha.
  • Pour in tea.
  • Separate SCOBY on a clean plate with clean hands and place part in friend’s new batch, and in her own new batch.  You only need to separate it when it is over 1/2 inch thick or when friends come by seeking mothers. (She started hers by using a live bottle of kombucha from the store and let it sit in the tea mixture for three weeks.)
  • Let sit for 5-7 days on counter with cheesecloth secured over opening.
  • Every week, brew a new batch and add the reserved 2 cups and move SCOBY over to new gallon jar.

With finished kombucha, place in a jar 3/4 full and add frozen fruit, lemons, or ginger…anything that sounds delicious and let sit on the counter for three days until carbonated.

After that made we wandered downstairs to see the baby turkeys.  Alli picked up one of the little birds to show us.  Round the clock bottle feeding calves, endless chores and housework, she smiled, “It’s a lot of chaos, but we’re having a great time.”