Wild Things Farm

  (Crab Orchard, Tennessee)
Farm life adventures of the Happy Hoer
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German Potato Soup

I just made the most awesome soup.  The recipe was on The Old Farmer's Almanac website.  There are many potatoes still in the cellar waiting to be a part of a meal (some will be seeds for this year's crop, but shhhhhh, don't say anything).

Anyway, the recipe goes like this.....

Take 3 pieces of bacon and cut into little pieces and saute in a large saucepan until they are crisp.  Drain off the grease.

Add 3 cups diced, peeled potatoes, 1 small onion, finely chopped, and 2 stalks celery, finely chopped.  Add 1/2 tsp salt and 1/8 tsp pepper.  Cover all this with water and cook for about 20 minutes, or until the potatoes are tender.

Pour 1 cup of flour onto a cutting board and in the middle of this add 1 slightly beaten egg and 1/2 tsp salt.  mix this up--I had to add a little water to make it moist enough to mix--and then cut it into little pieces to make "rivels".  They should be about the size of peas.  Drop them into the boiling soup and stir them in to keep them separated.  Add 2 cups milk and 3 tbs butter.  Cook for about 10 minutes more, until the rivels are done.  I added a pinch of sage to the pot. 

This is kind of  a cross between potato soup and chicken and dumplings, without the chicken.  I like it!.....A Lot!

P.S.  It's not very good as a leftover......


Get to know your veggies--Kale

Kale is a number one nutritious green.  I'll have to admit that I'm not much on cooked greens--story time.....Several years ago...well, about 10 years ago, my family and I were eating supper one night.  Supper was the typical Southern supper which consisted of pinto beans, cornbread, and greens.  Believe me, I've tried to eat cooked greens for years and I really don't like cooked greens, but...anyway, back to the story.  My two sons (young at the time) and their father and I were eating supper, and I announced to all of them that I was 40+ years old, never liked greens, and I thought I was old enough to not have to eat them anymore!  The kids laughed and kept on eating (I was glad for that). 

Kale is a very nutritious green and I have learned to eat it when sauteed lightly and not canned or cooked for hours!  Kale is high in carotenoids, vitamins and minerals such as calcium and magnesium, and like most veggies, it's low in calories.  Kale also shares all the cancer-fighting properties of the brassica family.

Kale is rich in lutein and zeaxanthin, which protect the plant from UV damage.  They protect your eyes in similar ways.  Studies show that a lutein-rich diet will reduce your risk of developing age-related eye disorders, such as macular degeneration and cataracts (my former mother-in-law has macular degeneration and it's not fun at all). 

Like its relatives broccoli and cabbage, kale releases  sulforaphane when sliced or chewed.  This stimulates the liver to make enzymes, and these enzymes break down cancer-causing molecules. 

Kale is also loaded with vitamins, especially vitamin K.  This allows the blood to clot and also keeps your bones strong.  Our bodies can't store vitamin K real well, so we need to eat it more often to make sure it's available.  This helps defend against osteoporosis too.  Sidenote:  My great grandmother "Granny Wilds" had a hump on her back and that used to scare me when I was a little girl.  Now I know that osteoporosis caused it and I don't want to be scary to my great-grand kids, if I'm lucky enough to live that long!

Kale also protects your lungs.  Vitamin A protects those exposed to either first-or secondhand smoke from developing diseases like emphysema.  One cup of cooked kale provides more than 300 percent of your recommended daily needs for A. 

Cooking kale releases healthful carotenoids but can also destroy the anticancer properties.  Avoid this by slicing kale, then letting it rest for five minutes.  Then lightly steam the sliced leaves for exactly five minutes.  This is just the right amount of time to release the caretenoids while preserving the other health properties.

Sautee'd kale is great with chicken, rice, pasta, and beef, and probably pork too.  I just add it when I need something "green" to go with supper and kale is around--sautee' and toss; it has a really good flavor!

The "vegucation" info for this article was gleaned from the February/March issue of Organic Gardening.


Get to know your veggies--Spinach

When I was a kid we had never heard of "fresh, raw spinach"; all we were ever offered was slimy canned stuff that mom had put some sort of meat (fat usually) to give it some kind of flavor.  I can remember choking it down just so I could get up from the table to continue playing barbie dolls or whatever I was doing when I was so "rudely interrupted" to eat supper at the table, with the family.  (imagine that!) 

In my early twenties I was introduced to fresh spinach--it's WONDERFUL!  It's got texture, a rich flavor, easy to grow, easy to prepare and it's one of the most nutritious veggies we can eat.  Here goes..... (USDA guidelines)

 In a 3.5 oz serving, you will get  

23 kcal of energy, .4 g of Sugars, 2.2 g of dietary fiber, .4g of fat, 2.2 g of protein, and the following percentages of the minimum recommended daily allowance of these nutrients:

Vitamin A- 52%
      lutein and zexanthin
Folate (Vit. B9) - 49%
Vitamin C - 47%
Vitamin E - 13%
Vitamin K - 460%
Calcium - 10%
Iron - 22%

(No wonder Popeye didn't need a can opener)

The best way to prepare spinach is to simply wash the leaves and spin them dry in your handy-dandy salad spinner (or pat with paper towels).  Spinach mixes well with most "usual" salad ingredients;  tomatoes,  cucmbers, onions, and.......bacon bits!  Blue cheese crumbles are tasty and honey mustard dressing complements the nutty-like flavor of the leaves.  It's also great on sandwiches instead of lettuce.   Sorry, but if you like it cooked you're on your own :)

Eat More Spinach!


Old Man Winter

I never really thought about just how hard winter is on "everyone", but since I've been a farmer, I've come to realize that  it's really hard on all the critters that live outside during the winter.  They all need extra attention this time of year; the cats, dogs, cows, chickens, horses; everything needs water, which is FROZEN this time of year.  That's a chore in itself.  For the chickens I keep two waterers; one in the shop to thaw out, and the other one to use for them to actually drink out of.   My dogs all have nice warm houses, and the cats sleep in the warm loft of the shop. 

What prompted this particular blog is that Buckshot, one of the horses on the farm, cut his foot today.  It's a pretty bad gash, and he was limping and kicking his foot.  I cleaned out a stall for him, he got doctored, and we put some nice clean sawdust in the stall for him,  and he immediately laid down when he was settled in.  I think he appreciated the dry, warm spot to be when his foot was hurt. 

His buddy Whitt is still in the pasture, with a full bale of hay, but he is hollering for his buddy every few minutes.  Horses sure are tribal.  It's funny how they fight when they are together but miss each other when separated--are they like us humans, kind of?

Winter is hard; it's a time of reflection and rest.  But, there are still chores to do and animals to care for.  Take care of any animals in your care.


Get to know your veggies-Chocolate!

With Valentine's Day just around the corner, I thought it appropriate to highlight the most popular vegetable for this holiday, and that would be chocolate, of course. 

Chocolate is one of the most versatie veggies in the kitchen; well it's probably the one veggie that's eaten away from the kitchen more than in the kitchen.  It can be consumed "raw" at room temperature, or melted and combined with fruits, nuts, pretzels; just about anything you want is better dipped in chocolate.

Just like with the other vegetables, "they" say that the more colorful it is, the more vitamin and mineral-rich it is.  So it is with chocolate.  The dark chocolate has better health benefits than milk chocolate, but here are some of the virtues of chocolate: 

 Cacao, the source of chocolate, contains antibacterial agents that fight tooth decay. Of course, this is counteracted by the high sugar content of milk chocolate.

The smell of chocolate may increase theta brain waves, resulting in relaxation.

Chocolate contains phenyl ethylamine, a mild mood elevator (great post-argument).

The cocoa butter in chocolate contains oleic acid, a mono-unsaturated fat which may raise good cholesterol.

Drinking a cup of hot chocolate before meals may actually diminish appetite.

Men who eat chocolate live a year longer than those who don't.

The flavanoids in chocolate may help keep blood vessels elastic.

Chocolate increases antioxidant levels in the blood.

Mexican healers use chocolate to treat bronchitis and insect bites.

The carbohydrates in chocolate raise serotonin levels in the brain, resulting in a sense of well-being (woohoo!)

You might be saying to yourself that chocolate isn't a vegetable.  I beg to differ: If you check out the definition of chocolate on Wiki, this is what you'll see:

Chocolate is derived from the seeds of a fleshy pod from the fruit of the cacao tree. The scientific name of the cacao tree is Theobroma cacao, which means "food of the Gods" and it is classified as a vegetable.

By the way, by definition, fruits are vegetables. The fleshy part of the fruit of cacao is also edible. 

Now for the recipe:  Mexican Chocolate Chili

It's in the Allrecipes.com website and here's the link.


Enjoy, and EAT MORE CHOCOLATE!  Don't you think the world would be a happier place if everybody ate chocolate every day? :)


Get to know your veggies-Swiss Chard


Swiss Chard is a wonderful plant to grow in the garden.  Not only does it taste good, it's pretty as well.  At Wild Things there are several different varieties of Swiss Chard in the garden; Lucullus, Bright Lights, and Sea Foam are the three main varieties grown.  Lucullus is a very hardy plant, withstanding summer heat better than the other varieties, but Bright Lights is colorful and happy and "they" say that colorful veggies are the best choices for more nutrients. 

Swiss chard is one of the most nutritious veggies around.  It contains anthocyanins and fiber, which prevent colon and digestive cancers; iron, supporting the body's ability to utilize oxygen; vitamin A to protect your lungs and prevent heart disease; vitamin C to boost your immune function and protect against heart disease; vitamin K to keep bones strong and allow blood to clot. (whew!)

My favorite way to prepare Swiss Chard is to wash it, remove the stems, tear the leaves up, and eat them in a salad.  If you like fresh spinach salads, you'll like Swiss Chard salads.  It's thicker and meatier than spinach, and is great accompanied by the same things that like to go with spinach salads. 

Swiss Chard is also good sauteed lightly and added to recipes.   Swiss Chard may be substituted in a lot of recipes that call for spinach and many of the chefs on Food Network have been using Swiss Chard in their recipes, so I would suggest checking out their website for specific recipes.

The "vegucation" info in this blog was gleaned from Organic Gardening magazine, in the February/March 2009 issue.


Get to know your veggies—Cabbage


I know that things are going to “get wild” around here pretty soon, so I’m getting a head start on “vegucation” about the vegetables grown on the farm.  This article is about cabbage.

The cabbage grown at Wild Things is a mix of mini-cabbages including a purple cabbage, savoy cabbage, and green cabbage.  The heads are about the size of a softball, and are a great size for a meal, without tons of leftovers to deal with.  Cabbage is a cool-weather crop, so it’s planted in the spring and the fall.

Cabbage is an excellent source of vitamin C and a good source of vitamin K, which both benefit the liver.  Cabbage contains indoles, naturally occurring nitrogenous compounds known to lower the risk of a variety of cancers, including lung, colon, breast, and ovarian.  Cabbage also contains manganese, calcium, potassium and magnesium, as well as vitamins B1, B2, B6, folate, vitamin A, omega-3 fatty acids, protein, and tryptophan.

The potent sulfur-containing compound sinigrin in cabbage helps detoxify carcinogens in the body, but this is also partly responsible for the strong odor when cooking cabbage.  To get the maximum health benefits from cabbage (as well as other vegetables), thinly slice the raw leaves and eat them raw in recipes, or saute or steam them quickly with other veggies and herbs to retain their freshness and flavor.

Cabbage can be stored in the crisper for several weeks.  I like to wrap it in a plastic grocery bag so it can breathe, but still maintain moisture.  If some of the outer leaves get a little wimpy, just peel them off and toss in the compost pile. 

One of my favorite ways to prepare cabbage is to pour 1 or 2 tbs evoo in a pan, heat it on medium heat, add a sliced onion, sliced cabbage and stir it around a little to get the veggies coated with oil and they start to cook a little.  Add a dash of water and put a lid on the pan.  Steam the cabbage until tender, add salt and pepper, dash of hot sauce if you like, and serve. 

The statistics on cabbage were gleaned from The Herb Companion, March 2009.



Mid-winter in the Holler

I subscribe to the Old Farmer's Almanac newsletter and today's newsletter was on the subject of Groundhog Day.  The newsletter stated that this day traditionally marked the midpoint of harsh winter weather......yuk!  I was sure hoping we were over halfway by now.  Mr. Groundhog isn't going to see his shadow here today because we're just coming out from under several inches of snow, then enough frozen rain to make it nice and "almost" crunchy enough to walk on--that means it's really hard to get around the farm on foot  to feed critters.  It's a really good aerobic workout though!   I did snap a few really cool pictures of the water frozen on the trees though.

wintry scene

Even though the temps outside are in the teens and 20's at night and 30's during the day, the greenhouse gets a toasty 80 degrees during a sunny episode.  I may move a chair in there for some vitamin D during these short days.  I can tend the onion seedlings while I'm at it!  A couple of weeks ago I started onions, swiss chard and lettuce just "playing in the dirt".  Everybody seems to be doing fine even though they're not being babied at all.   As soon as the ground is suitable, these babies will be out under the hoops!  Meanwhile I go back to my quilting project......Happy Groundhog Day, y'all!

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