Pleasant Valley Farm

  (Tionesta, Pennsylvania)
Real Family Farming in Tionesta, PA

Cooking in the Living Room

2010 is here, and it's brought quite a winter storm with it!  We're forcasted to get up to another foot of snow by Sunday night, with wind chills of zero.  There have been a number of snowmobiles riding up and down the road, and other than the state plow trucks there haven't been too many travelers our way.  I'm just glad to be home before it hit, as I was visiting family in North Carolina for a few days earlier in the week.  In my opinion, the only thing worse that a 9 hour drive home is a 9 hour drive through a blizzard!

I was gifted with some new cast iron cookware for Christmas, and it's something I've wanted to become better at using.  It's been really cold here, and we heat the house with a cast iron woodstove in the living room.  The stove is very hot and has a flat top, so I've been wanting to try cooking on's kind of like a primitive crock pot, and I love cooking with my crock pot! So I decided to try something fairly foolproof.  I defrosted a smoked ham hock and added some beans and the other necessary ingredients to make barbecue beans (crushed tomatoes, cider vinegar, molasses, Worcestershire sauce, etc).  I mixed it up and set it i the middle of the stove.  After a few hours, the meat was falling off of the bone, and other than a slight amount of scorched beans,  Dan and I declared it a success, and a perfectly warm and filling meal for a cold January night.


 So, why bother when I have a perfectly good crock pot?  Even though a crock pot uses only a little electricity, it does use some.  And my home is no colder for using the woodstove as a cooking surface.  Plus, I do have a wood burning cook stove in the kitchen, perhaps someday I'll be bold enough to cook meals on it, just to see if I can.  I like to challenge myself to learn new things.  In the past, for instance, I have taught myself to can and to make balloon animals.  While at the time they didn't seem like necessary, everyday skills, you'd be surprised how often I find myself making pink parrots or blue elephants, and of course the canning became a big part of our farm stand this year.  I'm never sorry when I learn something new, except that I may not have enough time for everything I'd like to be doing!

So, I guess you could say learning is always my New Year's resolution.  I'm also planning on learning to make my own vinegar from wine or cider this year, and when it is warm enough that the sheep won't need their fleeces, I'd like to try doing something with the wool, perhaps making a braided rug or something easy.  (I don't know how to knit...yet, at least!) So best of luck to all of you on your resolutions as well, if they haven't been broken already, and Happy 2010! 


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