Monday, December 31, 2007

I'm overwhelmed by seed catalogs

Really. There are just too many choices. I've gone through the last several years of garden journals and have the basics listed, but we have to think about the tailgate market and our own consumption. One thing I do know, we need more potatoes and onions. It was hard to keep up with demand at the market.

I have room for at least one new red slicing tomato. I'm still in search of the perfect paste type. Amish Paste succumbed to about every blight and fungus as soon as it was in the ground. The old stand-by Roma is pretty resisitant, but just so-so in flavor. Any suggestions? I will be ordering Spear's Tennessee Green, Flame, Kentucky Beefsteak, Principe Borghese, and Stupice.

What are your favorite varieties of bell pepper, pumpkin and squash? Lettuces? I have my favorites, but am always willing to experiment. Any other additions you've tried and loved? And you southern gardeners, any luck in a good keeper onion?

Back to looking and dreaming. It supposed to be rather warm today, so I may get out and finish preparing the new no-till beds before the snow flies tomorrow (and I'll believe that when I see it).

Sunday, December 30, 2007

Random thoughts of the holidays

We decided when we moved to the mountains of Western North Carolina to take it easy during the holidays. Charlie, the child of divorce, wanted the Monkey to wake up in her own house on Christmas morning and not be shuffled from relative to relative. I just really hate driving this time of year and also dislike jumping from place to place. It is really much nicer to visit relatives without the odd stress of the holidays with all it's ill-placed expectations. It's nicer to visit the midwest in the summer anyway. Also, it is difficult to find someone to watch 3 dogs, a cat, 2 goats, 2 turkeys, 3 geese (a laying, mind you), 4 ducks, 6 guineas, and 20-some chickens.

So, we stayed home and enjoyed a quiet, yet festive family dinner on Christmas Eve. We woke up at our leisure (o.k., Monkey's leisure) and lazily drank coffee by the tree while opening up our presents. While things stayed pretty low key in the gift department, there were a few stand outs. If you happen to look at my flickr page, you will notice a different camera listed under the photo stats. It was totally unexpected, and somehow tied to the company, but I just hug myself and giggle when I use it (which means some shaky pictures. I've got to stop that). I received skeins of local handspun yarn to play with. Our family has come a long way on the sustainability front in the last couple of years.

That leads me to mention other changes as well. I think we are wearing off on some family members. While Monkey did get the Barbie doll she craved, she also found a peg loom, wooden hand-crafted games, books and art supplies under the tree. I had said no to plastic toys this year. Grandma bought the Barbie, although we had asked her to. And Monkey was happy. It was the year of the shopping bag. Not only were presents wrapped in reusable cloth bags, but one aunt sent us a set of these. What hip patterns and colors! And they roll up so small that there's no excuse not to have them with you on any shopping expedition. We also received gifts from women's co-ops and organizations that help others. It was nice to feel good about what was under the tree. I do have to mention though, that it took more searching than usual to find stocking stuffers that were not plastic and not made in China (I have concerns...). Luckily, there's a Ten Thousand Villages in downtown Asheville - it was almost one-stop shopping during lunch one day.

And one more thought - you know you are surrounded by great people when you here someone pipe up at a holiday party, "Wow, it's raining and the Burpee seed catalog arrived on the same day - it's a sign!" And with more seed catalogs arriving every day, I need to sit down and make the list and start ordering.

Friday, December 28, 2007

28 December, 2007

28 December, 2007, originally uploaded by maggiesfarm.

Rain. Rain all day long. I'm happy. The ducks are happy. The chicken and goats are not so elated.

Monday, December 24, 2007

A little holiday spirit

While a certain english type has been waxing poetic about mulled wine and mince meat, I've been thinking of a different sort of Christmas cheer. It was in Gourmet a few years ago and now happens to be Santa's favorite. He would have enjoyed it with delicious little gingerbread men, but the dogs managed to eat all of those off the kitchen counter yesterday (I'm blaming the beagle, because a border collie would never do something so heinous and Biscuit is still recuperating from surgery).

Aztec Sluggers
makes two drinks
(the name does not denote Christmas at all, I know, but the flavor!)

1 cup fresh strong coffee
1/4 cup bourbon
1/2 oz. Kahlua or other coffee liqueur
2 oz finely chopped bittersweet chocolate
6 tablespoons heavy cream
1 teaspoon sugar

Heat coffee, bourbon, Kahlua, chocolate, and 2 tablespoons cream in a heavy saucepan over low heat, whisking away, untlit the chocolate melts (Do not let boil - as that would be a waste of bourbon!)

Whisk remaining cream with sugar until it holds soft peaks.

Divide coffee mixture between two large mugs, then top with whipped cream.

Repeat as necessary.

Sunday, December 23, 2007

Back from a break

I figure I needed a little break. This time of year always sends me into a spiral of too many commitments and not enough time. For the last couple of years, Christmas has been a dreaded season. Last year I spent most of the month of December working on school budgets, contracts and other drudgery. This year I've been taking it much easier and have managed to accomplish much more. I even sent out Christmas cards this year. And I've been scouring seed catalogs, contemplating flock additions and traipsing through every square inch of our new tract of woods.

I've also been busy with several projects...

scarf trio
There were the scarves for Monkey's teachers (a mohair/wool blend knitted in a moss stitch, a mohair pocket scarf, and an extra long stretchy hand-dyed wool),

little dancer
Monkey's dance recital (her first - and she's a total ham),

monkey hat and throw
a cheery red hat with little ear flaps for the Monkey (in a chunky hand-dyed wool) and a mohair throw (which was originally meant for my mother...but has turned into Monkey's favorite - it matches her eyes),

local hat
and now I'm busy knitting up a chunky ribbed hat with yarn spun by a neighbor from another neighbor's flock of shetland sheep. How's that for local living? My ears will be warm whenever winter finally decides to arrive. It's 50 degrees today and raining. I won't complain about the rain - we need it, but I would like a little chillier weather.

Here's to the days getting longer!

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Poor Biscuit

Poor Biscuit, originally uploaded by maggiesfarm.

Biscuit the Wonder Dog had to have a tumor removed from her leg. Luckily, the tests came back benign. The cone torture ends on Saturday and life should return to normal.

She's milking the sympathy for all she can.