Monday, February 24, 2014

Laughter, Fun, Food Flying at our Farm Fresh Chicken Pot Pie Class

We had a class this week, called Learn to make a Country Farm Fresh Chicken Pot Pie using fresh ingredients and it is a quick recipe, for those busy families; also we made Fresh Chicken Soup and a Quick and Fabulous tasting Basil, Kalamata Olive, Cherry Tomato Pasta.  My cooking style is when I am in the kitchen, I want to make wholesome foods, but also make enough so I can freeze some. 
In the summer, there are so many evenings when Frank and I drag ourselves into the house after working in the fields all day and neither one of us has the energy to cook.  It is nice to pull out a home made chicken pot pie or a wholesome soup from the freezer.
When I make my chicken pot pie, I normally will make enough for 2 pies; freeze one. 
And if I have enough chicken and vegetables, I chop up enough extra and put it into a soup pot.  So while the pot pie is cooking in the oven, I have a great chicken soup on the stove cooking at the same time basically using the same ingredients; and freeze the soup for later or save 1/2 of it to eat the next day and freeze the other half.

The turnout was great, not too many for everyone to have their hands in the pie, as they say.  One lady would be chopping carrots; another cutting up the chicken; someone stirring the soup; another rolling out the dough.  Candice, Editor of the Edible Shasta-Butte Magazine attended also to take some photos for the Spring/Summer edition of the magazine.  Our farm is being featured in it as a CSA membership farm.  It got pretty wild in the kitchen with cutting boards and flour flying; lots of laughter; people getting to know others in the class.  There is nothing like a cooking get together to bond new friendships. 
One of my good friends, Sarah had her birthday on the
night of the class.  I had baked a lemon/vanilla pound cake with lemon and lavender topping.  We sang the birthday song and cut the cake. Oh, and I forgot to mention the food I had prepared at the class.  I wanted the class members to be able to tell the difference between a store bought pie crust and a home made pie crust.  The day before the class, I made two chicken pot pies, using one of each crusts.  The night of the class, I heated the pies up and had them eat a piece of each pie. 
Then we started the class.  Of course, the store bought crust is a quick alternative to the home made for the working moms or busy moms.  But I demonstrated making home made dough using my food processor, while someone was opening up the store bought package crust and putting it into the pie pan.  I almost beat the time, just needed to roll it out in about the same time. 
The door prizes were:  2 people got to take home the two pies we made in the oven during the class; one cooked, store purchased chicken for someone to take home and use in their own chicken pot pie; a package of Pillsbury pie crust; a chicken broth concentrate package; and a hand knitted Kindle/Nook cozy.  Everyone was happy for the people that won the gifts.
Our next Windmill Farm class will be Bringing In Spring By Making Your Own Laundry Soap"; we will also be making a Gardener's hand scrub and a Scented Hand Wash; all using natural ingredients and scents.  Date will be March 20th 6-8:30pm.  Sign up early as the classes fill up fast and space is limited.
Are my posts interesting to you?  Would love to hear comments or feedback. 

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Gearing Up For Our 2014 CSA Season (Community Supportive Agriculture)

It seems to me the world already knows what CSA Memberships or also called partnership/shares/subscription farming is all about.  But occasionally I will spout out those letters and I get a blank look.  Believe it or not, most "seasoned" CSA members will be signing up with their new or last year's membership farm between February and March, many months before the spring/summer/fall growing season begins.
Here is what the Localharvest.org describes as a CSA farm:
"a farmer offers a certain number of "shares" to the public. Typically the share consists of a box of vegetables, but other farm products may be included. Interested consumers purchase a share (aka a "membership" or a "subscription") and in return receive a box (bag, basket) of seasonal produce each week throughout the farming season.
This arrangement creates several rewards for both the farmer and the consumer. In brief...
Advantages for farmers:
  • Get to spend time marketing the food early in the year, before their 16 hour days in the field begin
  • Receive payment early in the season, which helps with the farm's cash flow
  • Have an opportunity to get to know the people who eat the food they grow
Advantages for consumers:
  • Eat ultra-fresh food, with all the flavor and vitamin benefits
  • Get exposed to new vegetables and new ways of cooking
  • Usually get to visit the farm at least once a season
  • Find that kids typically favor food from "their" farm – even veggies they've never been known to eat
  • Develop a relationship with the local farmer who grows their food and learn more about how food is grown"
In 2007, we started growing vegetables to sell at our local Farmer's Markets along with fruits from our mature orchard.  We were brand new to our area and met so many wonderful people.  I especially became friends with Mayor Jerry Fichter (a lady mayor) who was also new at running our Gridley Farmer's Market as part of her new task of being head of Gridley Business Improvement District.  Jerry was so helpful to me to figure out the ins and outs of selling at Farmer's Markets.  It was a lot of work though!!!
The next year, we decided to try farming as a CSA membership farm at the urging of a friend.  She knew I had some reservations about the Farmer's Market because most of the people who purchased our carefully & sustainably grown produce, didn't care about our Windmill Farm and we didn't know who they were either.

I was nervous that people wouldn't join our CSA farm, so we only committed ourselves to have 10 shares/memberships.  My friend was right, if we grow it, they will come. 
We have increased our membership, but remain small in "farming standards" because we want to be able to know our members; and maintain our love of our land and be good stewards of it.
Back to the point, our cycle starts again. Seedlings in the greenhouse; fields disked waiting for plants; plans are in place of plant locations.  Waiting to figure out whether we are still going to use the ditch water converted into drip systems; or use the house well.  It all depends on water allocations; and costs, of course.
Check out localharvest.org; or read your area fabulous magazine, "Edible", they carry lots of information regarding all the farms in your specific area.  Ours is called Edible Shasta-Tehama-Butte as it covers our county and a few neighboring counties.

CSA baskets are a great way to be inspired about food.  Last year I had some parents give a season's subscription to their son who lived in Butte County.  It made them feel good that their son would be eating healthy foods while going to college.  It is trivial on my part, but it is nice to get a piece of fruit or vegetable that DOESN'T have a sticker on it!! Right from the farm.
Have a wonderful weekend.

Sunday, February 16, 2014

A Great Week!!!

This week has been great.

  •   It rained and is still raining

  •   I put my taxes together and dropped it off to my tax guy-early this year!

  •   The Blue Birds are making a nest in our bird boxes around the garden

  •   The Tulip Tree-Magnolia is blooming

  •   The snowdrops are blooming
 

  •  I got my handouts done for my Learn To Make the Best Farm Fresh Chicken Pot Pie class I have scheduled for February 20th.

  •   Got a sweet card from my honey, Frank

  •   The family is coming this weekend to visit.  Love those grand kids.
Hope you had a great week too!!!

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Upholstery of Antique Chair



I love finding old furniture.  But it is getting harder and harder to find due to the Chalk Paint/The Mustard Seed paint craze with everyone taking old furniture and painting it with chalk paint.
There is a fairly new Antique co-op place called Hazel Street Vintage downtown, Gridley.  At first, I thought maybe it wouldn't be all that great thinking it would be more of a used item store.  But, boy was I proven wrong.  It is totally fabulous, great prices, interesting items that change all the time.  The unique factor about the store is that they are only open once a month for a Thursday, Friday, Saturday during the first of each month.  With each month, the lines out front of the store on Thursday have gotten longer because of the great pricing of great antiques and collectibles.  The owner sure knows who to pick to become a vendor at the co-op because each one compliments the others.
Several months ago, I found a chair that I liked with nice lines to it.  Very sturdy and it was $45.00 at the Hazel Street Vintage.  It has been sitting in my garage until I had the time to upholster it.  The rain was predicted, so I went to a fabric store and purchased 2 yards of two different fabrics that I like with the colors of my kitchen.  That is where I wanted the chair to be placed.
I took lots of pictures of before, during and the final chair.  One thing is for sure, it had 100s of brass tacks.  Frank reminded me there is a tool made just to remove tacks.  Perfect!!!  He went to the local hardware store and got one for me which made it a lot easier, but still took me 1 1/2 days to remove all the tacks, clean it up and take the old fabric off it it.
Horse Hair stuffing
Using old fabric as pattern
Almost done
I am not good at this by any means, but it was fun to try it.  I have made slip covers before, for chairs.  And took a few upholstery classes over the years.  It just takes patience; trial and error; and a bit of courage too.  But lots of fun. 
I ended up sewing new cushions for my two other wicker chairs and covered the seat of my kitchen stool.  I was on a roll. The fabric was 50% off so I got 4 yards of fabric for the cost of 2 yards.  I have a wing back chair that belonged to my mother in my office.  I had made a slipcover for it a few years ago.  The next rain storm, that will be my next project!!.

Monday, February 3, 2014

Dreaming of Peonies Today

Unbelievable yesterday, we went to Tractor Supply while the rest of the world was watching sports.  There were hardly any cars on the road; fast food places were empty; parking lots were empty; we even thought Tractor Supply was closed because there was only a few cars out front.  Maybe the game helps the grocery stores sell snack items; but the rest of businesses might as well have closed up.
We went to Tractor Supply to get some paint for a project Frank is working on in his shop.  I went to the dog food section to pick up some snacks for Bella and Annie, but a mouse ran across the isle, so I detoured into the garden section.  My scream brought the sales staff over; I wasn't really scared, it just surprised me.  Their great answer was funny, ranch people don't scare easily, they said "well a few get past them every now and again, they keep the feed scraps off the floors".
At the garden section, I was so excited, they had new seeds and bulbs in on a huge display.  My favorites ended up in my basket, I bought 2 boxes of peonies, each box had 3 bulbs of different pink colors for $9.99, I was so excited.  One bulb is normally around $5.  Then I saw a box that contained a Pink Limelight Hydrangea and that ended up in my basket too.  How did that happen when we went for paint?
And I found bags of seed potatoes, so those ended up in my basket as well.
I found a magazine called Pot Pies, perfect because we are giving a Learn to Make a Country Farm Fresh Pot Pie-made easy class on February 20th.  That will be great to pass around for people to see.
All in all, we had a great time milling around in an empty store.  It was like range eating, but instead we were shopping.  Great buys and always a treat to be around anything ranching and farming.  Guess we helped the sales of the store for the day.
Hoping for more rain soon.

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