Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Preparations for Christmas

We enjoy another weekend of record breaking temperatures.  The chickens still peck the last flesh from the fallen apples under the red delicious tree, and find grubs in the dirt.  I uncover a hideaway of eggs nestled in the hay stall.  Two light brown eggs and one chocolate brown.  The shells are strong and take a few whacks to crack open.  The yolks are firm and the color of an orange sunset over Lake Ontario in the summer.  I savor the flavor of them over easy, cooked in some butter, and a slice of toasted bread.  The simplicity is hard to beat.  The sleigh and lights find their way to the front porch for the Christmas season.  We set the tree in the living room and prepare some favorite snacks for a tree decorating celebration.  Smoked cheddar and oysters.  Grapes, marinated mozzarella balls, crackers and some fresh cut pinneapple.  Mom and I carefully unwrap each ornament and the girls hang them on the branches.  Louis Armstrong sings in the background.  It reminds me of my father and how much we will miss him for the holidays.  We  are joyful though, taking time to sing and laugh and decorate the tree.  Christmas is a time to celebrate the birth of Jesus and Dad is with him for the holidays and for eternity.  This is our faith.  It is as simple as that.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Happy Thanksgiving from Stonehollow Farm!

Today we are thankful for good company and pleasant food.

Turkey & Stuffing
Mashed White Potatoes and Gravy
Our Own Hierloom Waltham Butternut Squash
Green Beans
Homemade Bread
Cranberry Chutney
Stonehollow Carriage House Bakery Pumpkin Cheesecake with Gingersnap Crust
Apple Crumb Pie
Local White Wine

The cranberry chutney was new to the table this year.  Cranberries were introduced to the Pilgrims by the Native Americans, who used it as a natural preservative thanks to its benzoic acid.  I thought I would share my version from the original published in Grit Magazine Nov/Dec 2011 issue.

CRANBERRY CHUTNEY
12 oz fresh cranberries
3/4 C natural cane sugar
1/2 C brown sugar
1/2 C raisins
2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground cloves
1 tsp ginger
1/4 tsp allspice
1 C water
1 C chopped sweet onion
1 C chopped local apple
1/2 C shopped celery
  1. In a large saucepan, combine cranberries, sugars, raisins, spices and water.  Cook over medium heat until juice is released from the cranberries (about 15 minutes).  Stir frequently.
  2. Add remaining ingredients and reduce heat to simmer.  Cook uncovered for 15 minutes, or until mixture thickens.  Stir occasionally.
  3. Chill before serving
  4. Enjoy!

Monday, November 21, 2011

Thought from the Farm

November has been warm and pleasant.  Fall cleanup continued this week with a thourough sweep of the stalls and mulching leaves in the yard.  The chickens shadowed me, first happily inspecting the bare stall floors and then the fresh cut grass and leaves I'd just raked.  I was also able to fit in wrapping the young fruit trees with cheesecloth to protect them from the deer.  Later I washed and spread out some birdhouse gourd seeds for planting next spring, and spent time turning through the pages of my tree catalog.  I've chosen 10 varieties to add to the orchard including a Persimmon and some Hierloom Apple.  It reminded me of a silly phrase I had written years ago. "Penelope Penquin picked a Persimmon and placed it in a pot.  She added some spice and ooh it smelled nice with cream and some mint served hot!"  I look forward to experimenting in the kitchen with my own Persimmon's in the future.

Friday, November 18, 2011

Baking Day at Stonehollow

Baking day at Stonehollow.  The horses require more hay this time of year, the squirrels have returned to the farm in droves to collect the black walnuts on the ground, and peoples appetites for desserts are increasing.  We bake two pumpkin, two chocolate cream a chocolate cake, two peanut butter pies and a large pan of apple crisp.  The kitchen is warm and busy with activity.  Smells of pumpkin and cinnamon seem so inviting as the days get shorter.  We share stories of the past few days and laugh at the antics of our Jack Russell "Maddy".  We recite recipes we've seen lately and suggest improvements to our standards.  We plan to put up the carriage house so we can increase production and share the farm with our neighbors. This is one of the many treasures that come from living at Stonehollow.  The everyday chores are time spent bonding together and to this place.  I am blessed.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Stonehollow Journal November 2, 2011

 It is a beautiful fall day.  The sun is bright and there is a light breeze.  The ground is beginning to dry after weeks of rain.  We meet at the Albrecht's after work to buy hay.  Fifty more bails tucked away in the barn.  They are heavy, clean bails with no dust.  They make the barn smell so good.  The horses nicker with delight as we carry them in.  I finish filling water buckets and switch off the light.  I would like to linger a while and enjoy the sound of munching but I need to be at church in a half hour.  I say good night as I close the doors.  One sits awkwardly on its broken track.  I've ordered some new ones made and have a new track upstairs on the second floor.  I'll have to call tomorrow to check on the progress.  It would be ideal to get them installed before the snow flies.

Margaret

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Stonehollow Journal November 1, 2011

5:30 AM.  It is a struggle to get up today.  The darkness outside this time of year fights my ambition.  The house is cool but not cold and I wake up to stillness; no rumbling furnace.  I'm thankful for that, both for a lower gas bill and for the impressive pile of gourds outside my back door.  It seemed so innocent when I casually planted a handfull of seeds in the manure pile at the south border of the farm.  The crop surprises me.  We count nearly 90 birdhouse gourds as I snip the stem from the vines and we load them into the wagon.  They need to get into the basement before they freeze.  Jeanna mentions a show she watched on finishing them and I see characters emerge from the pile.  They make it as far as the back door, and I take an armful downstairs every time I come in and out.  I calculate how many times I will need to climb up and down to get them all stashed.  Time to call in some help.  I know the calendar is working against me.

Margaret

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Stonehollow Journal October 30th 2011

The last of the raspberries are hanging on the bushes. Most of the leaves have fallen away so they stand out against the brown dreariness like red jewels. I stop the tractor and pop a few of the darker ones in my mouth. They seem sweeter than earlier in the season. It must be the cold nights that bring out the sugar. I resume my ride out to the burn pile to drop off the leaves I've raked from the front yard. It's been so wet that I've had to delay much of the fall cleanup. I drive passed the new orchard Jeanna and I planted this spring. Six new trees. I lost the two cherry in the drought this summer but the apple and peach did well and seem to have been established. I need to get back here soon to wrap them. The deer are numerous and I don't want to lose the trees to them during the winter.

Margaret