Wild Things Farm

  (Crab Orchard, Tennessee)
Farm life adventures of the Happy Hoer
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Summer Showers

It's been exceptionally hot and dry here this summer.  I've been able to irrigate most all the gardens except for the corn, sweet potatoes and assorted winter squash and melons, but even with regular irrigation, it "ain't like Mother Nature" did it. 

Yesterday, last night, and this morning we were fortunate enough to have showers in Crab Orchard.  The rain gauge this morning measured 2.1" of rain--Yippee!  Summer showers are welcome!!

There's another kind of summer shower that's welcome.  You know, when you've been out all day long, gotten drenched with sweat a few times and dried, then sprayed insect repellant, smeared sunscreen on at least 2 times, then sweated some more?  When I finally decide that I can't stand myself any longer, I head for the shower, and I use that as my excuse to "clock out" for the day :)

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Time for Gazpacho!

Even though it's been sweltering here for the last several weeks, it just doesn't seem like summer until the first big batch of gazpacho is chilling in the fridge.

Gazpacho, or cold soup, is a very loose recipe; you can add to or alter the ingredients pretty much as you like.  I wouldn't advise adding okra to it though.  Don't get me wrong, I LOVE okra, but it does not work in gazpacho.   It turns the otherwise yummy tomato soupey base into a tomato slimey base. 

Here's my recipe for a manageable size batch:

Gazpacho

2 cups tomato or v-8 type juice

1 beef boullion cube dissolved in 1/2 cup water or 1/2 c beef broth

4 cups chopped tomatoes

1/2 cup chopped onion

1/2 to 1 cup chopped and seeded cucumber (this is a good recipe to use some of those kind of big ones that hid from the last picking

1/2 to 1 cup chopped green and or red bell peppers, banana peppers, jalapeno, it doesn't matter what kind as long as you don't make it too hot to eat

1-2 TBS fresh basil, chopped

2 or 7 cloves of garlic :)

generous dash of worcestershire sauce

salt and pepper to taste

Add the boullion cube to the water and tomato juice (I use a big tupperware bowl that has a lid) and set aside.  Chop all your vegetables and add those and everything else to the tomato juice.  Stir well and let it set in the fridge for at least 2-3 hours so the flavors will blend.  It will keep in the fridge for several days but it won't last that long!

 
 

Something is pooping on the porch.......

The farmhouse has big wide wrap-around porches which are great for sleeping dogs, porch swings, and the occasional break from gardening. 

To hide the empty space between the ground and the bottom of the porch, last year I planted native coral honeysuckle and am training it to climb up a wire fence that has been nailed in place.  The honeysuckle is doing great, is climbing up the wire fence and the porch rails, and there is an almost constant showing of hummers and butterflies visiting the everblooming honeysuckle.

Yesterday I noticed little black specks on the porch underneath the railing--technically speaking, I think it's called "frass", but to me, it's just bug poop.  I got to looking around and sure enough, there were telltale signs of leafless twigs and bites out of leaves, and I found the culprit.......(actually about 4 of them)

Being the inquisitive person that I am, I came in and "Googled" what I saw.  It's the caterpillar for a really cool bug called a Hummingbird Moth or a Clearwing Hummingbird Moth.  The first time I ever saw one I wondered if it was a bee, bird, or what.  They are really cool, and I'll let these guys munch on the honeysuckle until, well, they sprout wings and fly, of course!

 
 

Another good Summer Squash recipe

This time of year squash is really "doin' its thang", so another yummy squash recipe should be welcome.  The original recipe calls for zucchini, but I can't tell much difference in the summer squashes, so I call it "Squash Fritters".  This is also a good recipe to use up some of those squash that were hiding the day before and got kind of big to greet you the next picking day!  I still haven't perfected the art of picking every single squash or cucumber--has anyone? :)

  

Squash Fritters

2 small summer squash (yellow, pattypan, zucchini) OR 1 larger one, with most of the seeds removed

4 minced scallions (or green onions, or onions)

¼ cup parsley

¼ cup dill (can use dried dill, sparingly)

1 beaten egg

¾ cup parmesan cheese

¼ cup flour (I used panko)

 Grate squash into a colander and toss w/ 2 tsp salt, let sit 10 minutes.  Squeeze out liquid.

Then mix squash with other ingredients and pan-fry spoonfuls of the mixture in olive oil, flattening with a spatula, 3-4 minutes per side, until golden.  Drain on paper towels & season with salt.

 

 

 
 

Tabouli or not tabouli; that is the question

Tabouli or not Tabouli, that is the question

I’ll admit when I was looking for recipes for tabouli I didn’t even know how to spell it.  I started with “taboulah”, then “tabouleh”, “taboula”, and I’ve seen tabboulah and tabbouleh,  and FINALLY tabouli.  It’s spelled every which way on the net though, so it’s not just my spelling.  I choose the shortest, tabouli.

My son told me about a grain he was eating called “Quinoa”, pronounced “ken-wa”.  I think I remember seeing it in the stores maybe and thinking grits or oatmeal, but it’s fantastic!  It has more protein than any of the other grains, like 16% and can be substituted for meat in a meal. 

The quinoa needs to be washed, which is the most challenging part of cooking with it.  The grains are tiny and must be washed in a sieve-type colander.  I just put a cupful in there and swished it around with my hand under running water.   I read somewhere in my searches that there’s a bitter coating on the grains.  It must have washed off though, I tasted nothing bitter. 

I put one cup quinoa to 1-1/2 cups water and cooked it for about 10 minutes.  Be sure to not cook it too long or it will become like grits or oatmeal and be mushy.  You’ll see little curly-q’s like worms in the pot when it starts to get done.  I just kept tasting mine.  It should still be firm to the bite, but done.

After the quinoa was done, I turned it off and set it aside and started chopping and preparing the other ingredients.  Please note that all of these ingredients can be altered, omitted, or supplemented as tastes demand.  The recipe works no matter what the amounts or types of ingredients are added. 

Quinoa Tabouli

 2 cups cooked quinoa (don’t overcook it; should be still somewhat firm, not mushy—I used 1 cup Quinoa to 1-1/2 cups water cooked for about 10 minutes—keep tasting for doneness)

1-2 tbsp lemon juice

1 tsp salt

1 tbsp evoo

1 tbs chopped parsley (the original recipe calls for 1/2 cup–I thought too much)

1 tbs chopped basil (same as above)

1 chopped cucumber

1 chopped tomato

3 chopped green onions (I used Vidalias because I didn’t have any green onions in the house and it was dark outside)

Ground pepper

The recipe also called for chopped mint leaves but I didn’t think I would like that taste so I omitted the mint.  All the ingredients can be adjusted to your taste preference.  I added a tbsp of minced garlic to my recipe and I liked the addition.

Mix the quinoa and parsley and basil together.  Add rest of vegetables.  Add lemon juice and olive oil, then taste it and adjust ingredients accordingly.  Refrigerate and enjoy because it gets better every day.

It only lasted 2 days at my house–very tasty, cool and refreshing for a summer meal.

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Frantic Mama

This morning on the way to the garden I heard an unusual amount of tiny chirping noises that seemed like they were coming from all around.  I looked down and almost stepped on this:

 

Teeny tiny baby bird just out of the nest

 

It startled me because a couple of weeks ago Oliver the cat found a copperhead in that same area, and yesterday I stepped on some sort of snake that I never could see but it still gave me the willies. 

I looked around for mama bird and there she was up in the tree fussing away at me.  Too bad she doesn't have arms to carry her baby away to safety.

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The Latest in Equine Seasonal Fashion

Whit and Buckshot (the 2 horses on the farm) are sporting a "shimmer weave" fly mask.......these masks are supposed to blend in and reflect the horse's natural color instead of looking like a Halloween mask.  I didn't choose them for that reason, I chose them because they were $1.00 cheaper. 

Whitt posed for a Hollywood moment to let me take a picture of his mask. 

 

The flies still get around the lower edges of the mask but at least they aren't crawling around in their eyes!

Buckshot refused to have his picture made and I figured everyone knows what a horse's butt looks like!

Happy weekend!

 

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How to cook a flying saucer

Well, they look like flying saucers anyway.  Once summer squash starts coming in boy howdy, you better keep your windows rolled up when you park your car around here.  Not that it might get stolen or anything like that, but somebody might throw some squash in there (it's a local joke) (well, maybe not too local.....)

Anyway, I really haven't taken the time to enjoy any summer squash so far this season, so the other night I got in early, around 8:30, so I thought "wow, I have time to cook".  I decided to attack one of the cool squashes I had been harvesting for a couple of weeks.  This is a rendition of a recipe I found on veggie ventures kitchen parade blogspot.  It's a stuffed ufo. 

First, I selected which one of the aliens would be invited to my oven.  I chose a pretty yellow one.  Next I retrieved my favorite paring knife and proceeded with the evening's main course. 

 

 I bet you're looking at that and thinking "what kind of countertop is that?"  It's an awesome slab of Crab Orchard stone, courtesy of my handy-dandy friend, Shane. 

Back to the squash.  Cut a circle out of the squash.  I pretty much followed the green circle.  Then take a spoon and scoop out the insides and put them aside for chopping.

 That little chopper is a great tool.  It's a Black and Decker and it sits on top of the cup and you press down on it and push one of the buttons on the front to make it go--easy to use, easy to clean up.

Put the squash and some onion, I used a green onion, in a pan with a drizzle of evoo.  Saute until tender, remove from heat, then mix it in with 1 T flour, egg, and about 1 oz of feta cheese. 

 The recipe makes 4 squashes and I was too tired to split one egg into 1/4's, so a whole egg went in the one squash.  The feta cheese I used had basil and tomatoes in it (courtesy of a friend who didn't like it). 

Stuff all this into the hollowed hole of the squash.  Pop into a 350 oven for about 30-40 minutes, or until the squash is tender.  I sauteed a chicken breast with sun dried tomatoes and added sour cream to make a sauce and browned a piece of polenta to accompany the flying saucer to my belly.  I felt like a queen eating something besides cereal for supper!

 

 
 

More places to get recipes for the summer's bounty

Okay, so I'm a magazine junkie.  My mom, two of my sisters, and one of my best friends share the same addiction.  While perusing the March 2009 issue of Southern Living (courtesy of Mom), I ran across an article for great recipes that had tasty Gulf Shrimp in them.  That statement, sadly, doesn't mean the same thing today. 

I did make an awesome find in the magazine though.  Southern Living is famous for their amazing recipes, and their recipe website is http://www.myrecipes.com/.  It looks very easy to use,and  has over 46,000 recipes and everyone knows you can't have too many recipes!

Just yesterday one of the "on-farm pickups" came to pick up her box and she told me about a great blogsite called A Veggie Venture and that address is:  http://kitchen-parade-veggieventure.blogspot.com/.  It's an upbeat site with yummy-sounding different vegetable recipes.  Today the author posted a recipe for "Toad in the Pattypan Hole" for breakfast.  After looking at more pattypan squash recipes, I'm going to try the stuffed pattypan squash tonight.  The squash are doing great in spite of the drought we're deep into around here.

 

 
 
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