Pizza Night Wednesday January 15 – 6 o’ clock

Come to the farm for pizza night. We have a farmer who is experienced at cooking pizzas in a wood fired oven here, so we are doing it ! Another week of it. Come if you like, bring toppings and drink of your choice. See the farm, enjoy vegetables from the gardens.

Just come there will be plenty. Salad and vegetarian fare as well.

20140113-203154.jpg

Stone Soup -cooking from the garden, whatever the season

Garden in July 026
I’m afraid I’m quite boring in my use of spices, although most of the spices I use come straight from the garden. My husband and kids don’t like spicy food much or strange herbs, even curries. So my standby is a good base of fresh veggies, whatever is currently growing, plus an onion usually parsley or celery. Lately I love the herb sage especially with Chicken, Rabbit or pork. Thyme, oregano, rosemary, chives usually always fresh from the garden or ones I dried from the garden. I’m not exotic in my spice choices but it makes good home cooked food.
chard 4
Today I’m making a soup, we’ve had a week of lot’s of sickness going around, finished with me, the nursemaid getting the flu. Soup sounds really good to all of us.

My soup base today-varies with season
1 lg. onion diced
green garlic from the garden 5-6 sliced well into the green
carrots a large bunch from the garden-diced
1 lg. parsnip scrubbed- diced
parsley, stems and all-when it’s fresh the stems are delicious-1 large bunch minced
1 bunch of fresh thyme chopped
dried sage a lg. pinch
salt and pepper to taste

I always saute veggies first in my trusty cast iron skillet before adding to the soup pot
saute in 3/4 cube of butter (yes, this is a lot, you can use less, but adds lot’s of flavor)
First I add in the onions while I’m prepping the other veggies, then the garlic and the carrots, parsnip, thyme -after a saute and the onions are translucent add to soup pot

Add water- today I’m making chicken soup with either potatoes or barley or if I felt better some home made noodles. So I’ll add the organic, washed chicken- without innards- plus whatever else I’m putting in the soup
Bring to a slight boil, turn down to a simmer cook one hour, never let it boil! Take out the chicken, let it cool and take the meat off the bones. Add it back into soup- adjust seasonings. I’m going to add a large bunch of swiss chard at this point, Reheat to serving temp.

Summer canning
Summer canning

You could have also made cauliflower soup this way- pureeing the base with the potatoes. Or crispy bacon, clams and cream for clam chowder.
Or add in beef stock or wine( instead of water) and chunks of browned, floured meat for a stew. Or tomatoes sauce(instead of water), cooked white beans and sausage .

I love to cook food from our garden. You have to be creative to use what’s in season and make substitutions for recipes. But have fun with imagining what you can make. Then try to figure out how to make it from ingredients at hand. Don’t forget the bread with the soup !
IMG_0038

Happy Life in the Country

DSC_2162
New Years Day working in the garden. So much garden work to do at this time of the year. I’m pruning deciduous trees and shrubs, fruit trees, roses, hydrangeas, fushias. Cutting back perennials. Transplanting or planting out new plants. I have an area where I make cuttings and they have now grown there for a year and need to be moved to their real homes. I’m transplanting climbing roses, pruned first, where we removed a fence, to another fence they need that support. I have large olive trees that I have grown in one of my fertile garden rows since they were rooted cuttings, three years now. They will transplant out to line the road to the garden.

Summer Garden Roseman Creek Ranch
Summer Garden Roseman Creek Ranch

I came in from working to eat my breakfast; a piece of seeded sourdough bread, two of our chicken eggs over easy, saute’d swiss chard. Such an abundant life. The fruits of our labor showing up everywhere.
DSC_2026
Fruit trees we grew and grafted to root stock, some from seed (indian peach, apricot and pineapple guava), veggies grown from seed in our well composted beds. Baby flowers coming up in the beds from reseeding. Plants I made from cuttings; roses, hydrangea, buddleia, viburnum growing large. Artichokes from seed, asparagus from seed, rhubarb from divisions. Gardens don’t have to be costly, using the natural abundance of nature to our advantage if you know how. Homemade naturally leavened bread from our brick oven, fired with our wood. Our warm cozy house thanks to the serious efforts of my husband and a chainsaw.
Oven bread baking
The life we envisioned six years ago when we bought this property is so much more than we could have imagined. Self sufficiency just an idea then now a lived experience. I want to tell you it’s quite possible. It takes diligence and hard work. Knowledge of traditional tasks and garden experience.

The Calif. Food Act Has Passed !

the California Homemade Food Act, was signed into law today. The California Homemade Food Act legalizes the sale of homemade, “non-potentially hazardous” foods by creating a two-tier system of “cottage food operations” based upon the point of sale. Having captured the imagination of food lovers in California and beyond, AB 1616 was among the most anticipated bills to be considered by the Governor this year.

The Assemblyman made a commitment to helping aspiring micro-entrepreneurs start their businesses by improving access to locally produced, artisan foods after his constituent, Mark Stambler, was shut down by the Los Angeles Department of Environmental Health for selling his homemade, brick-oven breads to a neighborhood cheese shop. “I am proud to have delivered this victory to my constituents and to aspiring business owners throughout the state that are looking for ways to develop their businesses and purchase healthier, more locally produced foods for their families.”

Prior to the California Homemade Food Act, outdated statutes and local ordinances strictly prohibited everyone from home-based, artisanal bread bakers to small-scale, jam and preserve vendors from selling their products. Now, cottage food producers will be permitted to produce and sell every-day foods such as breads, tortillas, dry roasted nuts and legumes, cookies, granola, churros, jams, jellies and other fruit preserves to their communities. Producers choosing to sell directly to consumers will register with the local health department, and those choosing to sell to local retail shops, such as the neighborhood coffee shop or corner store, will be subject to initial inspection and permitting by the local health department. All producers will also be required to complete a food processor course, verify that the home kitchen meets specific standards, and disclose on the product label that the product was made in a home kitchen.

“Providing people with the opportunity to make and sell these foods directly to their neighbors at the local farmer’s market or through the specialty shop up around the corner is a matter of access to opportunity,” said Gatto. “I am happy that the Governor has joined me in my efforts to restore economic activity to our neighborhood economies and to the state of California by allowing people to produce and healthy, nutritious or culturally relevant foods in their homes.”http://californianewswire.com/2012/09/21/CNW12480_133126.php

Putting Up Tomatoes

I had One day to relax after cooking for twenty two people all local food three meals a day. The cob workshop was fun here, but exhausting. So what happens the next week ? My husband shows up with twelve huge boxes of the most beautiful, splendid tomatoes. Grown by his brother at their “home place”, Mom and Pops; in sunny hot Geyserville. Usually we’ve been putting up about 50-60 quarts of tomato sauce, salsa and spaghetti sauce, all we need for the year. We typically do this over two to three different harvest periods. This is manageable. But the last week we put up 92 quarts, all at once, plus about 35 pints and half pints of tomato sauce, enchilada sauce and salsa. Also some oven roasted tomatoes for the freezer ( yum! pizza ). My friend Maria help all one day my husband helped the whole time and more. Whew.

My mother in law confirmed that if your jars are washed, sterilized, hot, packed with boiling hot sauce, placed with a boiled hot lid, water bathed for the time specified, that everything should be fine, provided the lids seal. Store in a cool place. I know that I’m doing the easy canning, not meat, fish or green beans, but the higher acid foods like tomatoes.

I now have many questions about canning.

When do you need to use a pressure canner?
How do you use a pressure canner ?
How to you make pie filling ?
What else can you do with apples? I know- apple butter, apple sauce, chutney.
What if I want to can dried tomatoes in olive oil ? Maybe some garlic ?
How do you can soups ?

I will reread my BALL jar caning book and my other caning resources, anyone have any other feedback ?

Rural farming

Rural farming

The economies of farming kept eluding me till I realize again and again that it’s not about financial returns, making lots of money, or what seems a fair wage for my hours. Instead it’s about quality of life, and a community alive . A community that lives for each other, with each other, not pitted in competition against each other. If one. Fails we all fail, shall be our motto. Maybe one might end up with more holdings than another, but not at the expense of the others. Money and wage does not define the life, instead ones respect and value within society . Are you well loved? 
Here in Italy, everything happens around the small town center. People visit and watch, young and old have a place. They support each other because they realize their inter-relatedness. The importance of all, encouraged by the diversity, not despairing in it. My grandmother used to say the world or god was like a large sun, all the rays different but all important to the whole. 
  Here they build their houses , very small apartments, close together, approx. five feet between, stories high. Keeping privacy with their shutters, but close to everything. The gardens are terraced up extreme,y steep hills in this coastal Chinque Terra  region. The wine grapes bent over trellis that shade the greens growing underneath. Olive trees planted on these steep slopes that have been producing the local oil for generations. A self sufficient area with fish, local vegetables, wine, oil and fruit. The meaning of life is satisfaction in great food, a lively community to share glories and tragedy, beautiful days in a beautiful place close to earth and god .

Food For A Community

Summer Garden Roseman Creek Ranch

Today, reading and thinking about rural cultures that still have an agricultural base. Where local food is produced by small farms and you can buy and eat seasonal vegetables, fruit and even meat and local dairy products . Where a farmer or rancher can sell a quarter of a cow that was killed there on the farm, in it’s own pasture. Where a small farmer could make money on a dairy cow, selling milk, cream, buttermilk and cheese. Why can’t our food policy , many policies, be based on size ? That someone with eight cows to milk doesn’t have to conform to the same standards as a dairy with 35 plus cows ? Why can’t we make policies to help sustain a rural culture, businesses that are economically viable in a rural area ? See it as a way to enrich our community, make it solid. Try to support it even if it’s not as cheap as it’s tax subsidized big box store.

Today,inspired by a book about Italy I’m reading, and realizing the wood fired oven had stayed hotter than usual after baking bread yesterday, since it was fired mid week. I made a beautiful pie out of summer’s fruit frozen in the freezer. The huckleberries and boysenberries made a wonderful tart-sweet combination.Then I put a pot of cannelli beans pre-cooked in bay leaves, rosemary and parsley, covered with tomatoes canned from last summer ( we put up 60 quarts ), wine, local sausage, and seasonings. Now finishing off and stirring in chard and kale out of the garden. I have this big pot of bean stew, a beautiful huge loaf of my sourdough bread and a great pie. Why can’t I put a sign out at the bottom of the road for Katie’s Trattoria ??? That’s what you can do in Italy or France. Rural areas like this should encourage such industry.

Let’s cook together !