Buttermilk honey scones

Today’s experiment (which began yesterday) was to use up the buttermilk from this week’s butter-making. I’m pleased with the results!

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Clockwise from top left: strawberry, cinnamon & ginger, orange, plain

The strawberries were fresh from the market last Saturday, and the oranges had been dried last year and re-hydrated for this recipe.

I used the recipe from The Messy Organic Mum, with a few changes (always!) – I used my fresh-ground hard white wheat for the flour, and I soaked the mixture overnight in the fridge, then brought it to room temperature before adding the extras and baking.

For next time? More cinnamon and ginger because the flavor was too subtle. I used roughly 1.5 teaspoons of each – I could barely taste the cinnamon, and couldn’t taste the ginger at all. Maybe add some more orange pieces, too.

This one is a keeper, and the sweet or savory possibilities are endless.

 

 

 

Whole grain lemon donuts

Finally got around to using my new silicone donut pan, and tested out a baked lemon donut recipe I found. Of course, I modified the recipe to what you see below ūüôā2016-05-10 09.18.28

1 1/2 cup whole-grain flour

1/2 cup honey

1 tsp baking powder

1/2 tsp baking soda

1/4 tsp salt

1 egg

6 oz plain yogurt with lemon juice to taste

1/3 cup olive oil

1/3 cup milk

Because I used all whole-grain flour, I mixed everything up and let it soak in the fridge overnight, then baked at 325* for 20 minutes (donuts were lightly browned on top). Glazed with 1 cup powdered sugar + 4 Tbl lemon juice whisked together.

 

They turned out pretty good – not too dense, and when glazed, a good lemon flavor.

For next times:

  1. Add more lemon juice to the yogurt – the unglazed donut didn’t have much lemon flavor, but when the glaze was added, it tasted very good.
  2. Roll in cinnamon/sugar mixture instead of glazing with lemon
  3. Use applesauce or a banana instead of olive oil

More whole grain success

Too darn cold to work outside, except to feed the critters, so why not play with some more whole grain recipes?

I’ve (re)discovered that the longer you soak the grain flour, the better the finished product will be. 12-24 hours seems to be the conventional wisdom.

Yesterday morning I started a batch of tortillas, pancakes, and bread. I left the bread dough to soak all day, and the tortillas and pancakes soaked overnight.

Results?

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Whole grain pancakes

 

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Whole grain tortillas

Thus far, we are pleased with the pancakes, tortillas, pita, and pizza crust. I did a batch of whole grain buttermilk biscuits with a longer soak, and they turned out much better.

The bread is a work in progress – maybe I’m soaking it too long, maybe the yeast is not active enough, maybe it’s in too warm/too cold of a place to soak, maybe… It’s rising, but this past batch only came out around 3″ high – better than the first batch, but not quite sandwich bread yet!

I still need to tweak the hamburger buns recipe with a longer soak to see if that lightens them up a bit – they were pretty dense.

Nothing has been inedible (yet!), which is reassuring!

 

Winter markets 2015

We are pleased to be part of two new markets this winter season!

Troy Night Market: 1st and 3rd Tuesdays from 4-7pm at the Troy Rec (runs October-May)

Winter market at Crossroads Christian Fellowship¬†in Tipp City: Saturdays from 10-2pm (runs November 7, 14, 21, 28 and December 5, 19) ¬†They also have a cafe for you to get some good lunch while you’re there!

We will have our custom roasted coffees, several varieties of sprouts, pottery, and handicrafts –¬†choose to support local producers!

 

100% whole grain

We have wanted to transition to using flour that we grind ourselves, and I just recently used the last of the King Arthur flour, so have been searching for recipes that use 100% whole grain flour. So far, we’ve been happy with the buttermilk biscuits and hamburger buns.¬†I have recipes lined up for pita, tortillas, bread, pizza crust, and bagels – will report on those as they happen.

The thing I’ve noticed is that once the dough is mixed, it needs to rest (anywhere from 2 hours to overnight – the recipe will specify). This allows the moisture to soak into the grain, and you end up with a lighter end product. This means you need to plan a bit more, but the end product is worth it!

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As easy as garlic

garlic

 

If I would have realized that garlic is so easy to grow, I would have done it long before this year.

Garlic should be planted in the fall, according to The Old Farmer’s Almanac. Be ready to plant about 6-8 weeks before frost.

*Do not use the stuff from the grocery store! If no one at your local farm market grows their own, buy from a good seed company. We support companies like Baker Creek.

Break apart garlic cloves a couple days before planting.

Plant about 4″ apart and 2″ deep. Plant the pointy side up and the flat side down. Mulch well (I used straw).

In the spring, remove the mulch (I forgot to do that…). When they flower (called “scapes” and very good to cook with), cut off the flower to keep the energy in the root.

For us, harvest was in July. Loosen the soil around the bulb and dig it out – don’t pull it like an onion. I read several ways to know when the bulb is ready – when the stem is anywhere from 1/2 dry to all dry. I harvested when they were a little more than 1/2 dry.

Dry the bulb (with the stem still on it) in a dry place, out of direct sunlight. Put them up on something so the air can get all around. When the whole bulb is dry and has the papery outside, it is ready to cut off the stem, brush the dirt off, trim the roots off, and store. You can also keep the stem and braid them all together.

These bulbs were on the small side, but I planted them in a new area that hadn’t been worked before – I expect that with looser soil, the bulbs will be much bigger.

 

I’ll be planting a lot more this year – the almanac says our first frost will be around October 25th or so. I guess that means I better be getting an area ready very soon!

 

Swinging for the fences

The one part of our farming adventure at Innisfree on the Stillwater that has dogged us since the beginning is the fact that we have continued to lease our 100 acres of tillage ground, mostly for the sake of the … Continue reading

The one part of our farming adventure at Innisfree on the Stillwater that has dogged us since the beginning is the fact that we have continued to lease our 100 acres of tillage ground, mostly for the sake of the cash rent. Of course, that lease meant a compromise in the form the use of herbicides and pesticides on that ground every year, but the money was hard to turn down.

Taking back over that ground has always been a part of our plan, and with the upcoming end of the current lease, it has been a regular topic of conversation for us.

This year, as the result of the advent of glyphosate-resistant weeds, the ante got upped with the application of 2,4-D to the entire 100 acres, which fact proved to be a bridge too far for my wife and me. As a result, we’ve decided not to renew the lease and to start working that ground ourselves.

This is a significant step for us, mostly in that it involves a loss of about a third of the farm’s cash income over at least the next couple of years as we transition to new endeavors. Irrespective of the cost, we plan to follow through on this because it is the right thing to do.

Sure, maybe we’re radical and idealistic, but we actually want to leave our little part of planet earth better than we found it for future generations. And so, we will take that ground back over and farm it the way we believe is right.

For us, that means planting about 40 acres of it in grass hay and about another 30 acres of it in fast-growing hardwood trees we plan to sustainably lumber for a variety of farm uses, especially for fence posts for our animal operations. The remainder will function as both a prairie area and for small food plots.

This transition is going to be risky and stressful, but neither of us have any doubt it is the right thing to do. We firmly believe Innisfree represents the future of agriculture, and that fact alone makes what we have decided worth it.

Here’s to hoping and to swinging for the fences.

DLH

[UPDATE: Edited for content]

More gardens

Growing herbs in pots is great, but I wanted a more permanent solution to growing culinary and medicinal herbs that didn’t involve lugging large planters around. Enter 24×4 cinder blocks, lots of sticks, and lots of dirt.

These are a type of hugelkultur raised bed, which uses sticks and logs as the base, and dirt piled over them. This website has a good explanation, with pictures! And since we have plenty of sticks around here, it’s a good way to use them.

 

First, set up the cinder blocks, and add sticks. The two closest beds don’t have sticks yet, but the two farthest to the right do. Break up the sticks, toss them in, and when you have a good pile inside the blocks, stomp them down. Repeat until the sticks are more or less halfway up the blocks.

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Beds filled with dirt. And a chicken…

 

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I will be filling the side holes for herbs, but the main bed is ready to go. I’m going to let it settle for a few days to let the dirt get in between all the sticks. It’s supposed to rain, which will also help tamp down the dirt. After that, add more dirt to even it up, and start planting.

Since we have free-ranging chickens, a welded wire cover for each bed is in order. I’ll build those¬†while I’m waiting for the beds to settle.

Cinder blocks around here are usually about $1.00. We used dirt dredged from our creek, but just about any dirt will do. You can put topsoil over the “fill dirt” if you like, or add compost. It doesn’t have to be an expensive process to get a nice raised bed. And if you decide to take the bed down at some point, the blocks can be reused, and the dirt/sticks (or what’s left of the sticks) can be spread around.

 

 

 

The problem with making your own food…

The problem with making your own food is that you actually have to make it. It’s amazing to me how, in certain ways, lazy we moderns are compared to our ancestors or people living in parts of the world without our standard of living. Granted, all sorts of measures say we’re the most productive humans … Continue reading The problem with making your own food…

The problem with making your own food is that you actually have to make it.

It’s amazing to me how, in certain ways, lazy we moderns are compared to our ancestors or people living in parts of the world without our standard of living. Granted, all sorts of measures say we’re the most productive humans ever, but those measures treat modernity as the pinnacle of civilization to this point, which fact remains to be proven.

It wasn’t all that long ago that failing to produce one’s own food meant starvation and death rather than a late night run to the grocery or Taco Bell even in our own culture. Perhaps our ancestors weren’t as productive on the modernity scale, but they certainly knew how to survive without the incredibly large¬†and fragile web of dependence we’ve created for ourselves.

Nevertheless, I consider returning to a form of their productivity worth pursuing, but for me, it’s a constant battle to actually do it. I have to remember to proof my sourdough starter before the bread runs out or start my next cheese run in enough time that it’s ready when I want to eat it.

Perhaps the problem is that I have the luxury of thinking of it as a problem. For my ancestors, it was life itself. For me, at least as of yet, it’s a luxury and a novelty. I’m not saying I want to be at risk of starving, but I do want to take the undertaking more seriously.

DLH