the farmwives kitchen: fruits of the rain

I love kale.  There’s no way I could live like this and not love it.  But this is the time of year that I yearn for something else.  Here’s our latest experiment in the quest to satisfy the craving for something new….  shiitake egg foo yung.

It started with the first warm rain, which brought on a small surprise flush of shiitake mushrooms.  Beautiful, joyous surprise that was!shiitake

I chopped them into cubes and sauteed them in coconut oil.  The trick with sauteing these mushrooms is to let them get all juicy – they’ll give off quite a bit of water – then keep cooking them until they soak it all up again.  It takes a little patience, but it’s much worth the wait, because it’s THEN that they can get crisp.  I may have thrown some chopped garlic in with them in those last couple minutes.

Sprouts were a key inspirational ingredient here, as well.  In our desperation for something fresh and crispy to eat this season, we’ve been making sprouts – I highly recommend it for a much-needed crunch during the hunger moon.  Happens that I had a jar of healthy looking bean sprouts in the fridge.sprouts

I was out of ginger root, which would have been a natural here, but went out and found some cilantro that survived the winter by keeping low to the ground.  Yum.  A healthy handful of that plus a big hank of wild green onions out of the garden’s edges filled in where celery and standard green onions might otherwise have stood.

We mixed the sauteed mushrooms with the chopped onion and cilantro, then poured a great many well-beaten eggs on top.  The sprouts went in last, with a sprinkle of salt and pepper.  eggs

Small scoops of the batter were fried on a hot cast iron skillet, and kept warm in the oven with the pilot light.  I found it helpful to beat the batter from time to time – the cakes stayed bubbly and more consistent in their texture.  We served them with rice, a sprinkle of tamari, and hot sauce for those so inclined.

Everyone enjoyed this meal, and there’s a lot to be said for that!egg fooyoung

ready?

i feel strange right now. according to all reports an arctic front is headed our way. my day was spent in the quintessential calm before the storm. with the wind blowing fierce and warm, this mid winter balminess that can only mean one thing. something strong is in the works.

i try not to live in fear, i tend to steer away from all of the media that gets your heart rate going, but still, with livestock and wood heat and a much-needed food supply and exposed pipes i can’t help but muster a  bit of energy for preparedness.

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the first stop was the pig pen. with 6 piglets less than 2 weeks old, we certainly wanted to be sure these little dears had a bit of extra bedding for the sub zero temperatures ahead. plus some for the rest of the gang as well.IMG_0413

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next, the sheep. with their woolen coats we don’t worry too much about the flock, but we did want to move them to a sunnier paddock with some fresh forage (as fresh as you can find in january anyway).

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our milk cow is already cozy in her winter paddock with access to barn and hay, so she wasn’t on my circuit. that made the very next priority my food! we are eating out of our high tunnels right now. when the temperature hovers around freezing, we can get a little sloppy with the end walls and closures of these structures. the greens inside will be fine. honestly, i have no idea what happens to the produce in the high tunnel when the outside temperatures are near zero, but i did want to spend a little time with my wiggle wire to make sure we have the best chance of eating fresh greens once this weather moves through.

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the sun is setting behind dark storm clouds, the precipiation has just begun. the question now is do you go to bed when it is 50 degrees knowing that it will be 5 degrees when you wake up? am i ready?readiness is just so relative. i keep glancing at the sky, knowing that she swirls and twirls with a mighty front headed our way.

alas, as always this time of day,  i turn to the family, prepare a healing soup to nourish and warm us. i believe we are ready.

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sleep cozy friends and may your water be running when you wake…..

full house

it seems people’s biggest fears about the rural life stem around the issue of “isolation”. it is true, we live much farther away from our nearest neighbor than our urban counterparts.we live even farther away from our closest friends, some dear family and most of our like minded peers. we are however far from isolated, why you ask, because for some reason, people flock to this place.

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they come for so many reasons it would be hard to name them all. people land here for learning and for resting. they live with us for a short while or nearly a year. visits are often in the summer, but winter on the farm has attracted quite a few. our reasons for hosting are as numerous as our guests: we welcome school groups here because long ago we were asked if we could provide this experience.  we invite apprentices to learn with us because we feel it necessary to share what we have learned. japan, france, australia, canada, germany, and most states of the union have all been represented in the hollow. all ages, all types;  children and retired all learn something here: farm life transforms everyone that lives it, if only for a day.

for us, we love to host, this time of year the farm is always full of life. the freedom of summer allows folks to come in so many ways: they come to work and fish and play in the creek and breathe deeply.  

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this is a place where you can escape the pressures of your own life and embrace a rhythm defined by the rising and falling sun, the daily chores and the weather. it’s uncomfortable: you get bites in unthinkable places by unidentifiable bugs, you will be hot, sticky, tired, sunburnt, and more. but it is satisfying, to fill your belly on farm raised food at the start and end of a hard working day, it changes you, it feeds your body and soul:  it is good for everyone.

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when we first met mel he was designing his camper. he would have a self made mobile home, perfect to house him as he moves about to satisfy his wanderlust.  i am not sure any of us knew then he would be back, years later, with his wife setting up a temporary home along the creek in that very camper.  right now, the camper is being readied to keep these two comfortable as they envision the next spot to settle, another step on their journey. it is an honor to have them starting here.

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this week also we get to watch another rite of passage unfold: the farm camp. these visits are special indeed. you see, the young friends that arrive on the farm solo and integrate into our farm family life are rare. for now, our farm camp is only for those we have known  for many many years.  sasha’s best buddy is here this week. these teens have been friends since toddlerhood, i know this week together will be steeped with adventure and meaning for all of us.

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the days ahead will be full to the brim with chanterelles and blueberry pies and guests. we will be busy and excited and most definitely not alone. isolation in rural life might be a possibility, but not here, not now.