Wednesday, February 27, 2013

S'mores Brownies

My candy, er, cookie, jar

In attempt to shake up the usual boring? batch of brownies I made S'mores Brownies.  I gave up sweets for Lent and can't taste them, but the family said they were good!

S'mores Brownies

Start with your favorite brownie recipe.  I love the Baker's Chocolate One Bowl Brownies recipe.

Put it in the oven and bake for 20 minutes.  While it bakes, mix together, 2 cups mini marshmallows, 1 cup broken up graham crackers, and 1 cup chocolate chips. 

Take the brownie pan out of the oven.  Press the marshmallow, graham cracker, chocolate chip mixture into the top.

Put brownies back into the oven for 10 minutes or until the marshmallows are golden.  Cool before cutting and eating.  

A little trick I learned.  Line your brownie pan with parchment paper before adding the batter.  You'll be able to pull the brownies and any mess right out of the pan!  


Monday, February 25, 2013

Coudersport Farmer's Market Is Shaping Up For A Great Year!

On Sunday, we had our second Potter County Farmer's Market group meeting and I feel that all the farmers are becoming very excited about the upcoming season.  We have a few new people joining the group and I know that our customers will be excited by the new additions.  Our market continues to grow, evolve and diversify!  

The meeting was a potluck and most everyone brought something that has elements of the food grown on their farm.  The pasta with pesto was divine.  The french bread had the perfect crunchiness.  Dilled garlic scapes made a fiery and tasty hit.  Lamb pate?  I've never had it before, but I hope to have it again!  Chili, lasagne, and much much more.  Every bite tasted absolutely delicious!  

When I get this season's scapes they will be canned in a dilly bean brine.

Thank you to the Metzger's of Metzger's Farm for hosting us!        

Saturday, February 23, 2013

Gotta Love Calvin and Hobbes!

by Bill Watterson

Oh, I do so wish......  

My knees will only be snowy, wet, and cold by the end of this maple tree tapping day!

Friday, February 22, 2013

Maple Update February 2013

We have a few of our sugar bushes (this is what an area of tappable maple trees is named) tapped, but oh boy did the weather turn cold and nasty!  It is just too cold for humans to be outside when the temperature is 15-degrees, the wind is howling, and snow blows by sideways for hours at time.  There's nothing like a few inches of fresh, powdery, slippery snow to make everything a little more difficult.   Needless to say, we're a bit farther behind on tapping than we would like to be.

However, we finally had our sugar shack inspected by the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture and we are officially certified to start bottling maple syrup and honey!  So when the wind howls outside we can still stay busy inside getting everything ready for sales.  

You will see a link to our web page as soon as we are fully operational.  Happy days!

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Aaaah, Yes. Maple Season.

Clearing falling branches from sap lines.  Repairing squirrel and chipmunk chewed lines. Moving giant sap collection tanks into place.  Cutting wood.  Climbing hills laden with tubing.  The excitement of watching drops of clear maple sap drip from trees after you drill the hole and before you tap the spile into place. 

Maple season is here!

Spile and tubing in maple tree.

Over the next few weeks you'll see trucks with giant white tanks driving around.  The tanks look like they're filled with water, but what they're actually carrying is pure maple tree sap!  That sap will get taken to evaporators to be boiled and boiled and boiled some more.   After a whole lot of steam boils off, 40 gallons of that sap will reduce to one gallon of delicious maple syrup.  

And as I look out at very thickly falling snow, I know that spring can't be too far behind!

Saturday, February 16, 2013

First Baby Plants 2013

Isn't there something so very exciting about the very first baby plants peeping - and then leaping up from the soil?

First Planting 2013:

Lettuce: Lolla Rosa
Lettuce: Black Seeded Simpson
Lettuce: Green Oakleaf
Lettuce: Buttercrunch
Pak Choi
Swiss Chard


Thursday, February 14, 2013

Happy Saint Valentines Day 2013!

Happy Valentine's Day

I used this same photo last St. Valentine's Day and simply couldn't find another as wonderful!

Source: Elk Valley Times

I remembered that I have a nice recipe for a quick little chocolate cake.  Perfect for St. Valentine's Day!  This recipe comes from a very old issue of Taste of Home.  The cake is wonderfully moist and has a very dark, rich chocolate taste. 

Moist Chocolate Cake

1 cup flour
1 cup sugar
1 cup hot water
1/2 cup baking cocoa
1 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. baking soda
1 egg
1/4 cup butter melted
confectioner's sugar

In a mixing bowl, combine the first six ingredients.  Andd egg and butter; mix well.  Pour into a greased 8-inch square baking pan.  Bake at 350-degrees for 30-35 minutes or until cake tests done.  Cool.  Dust with confectioners sugar.  Yield: about 9 servings.

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Lady Bella Mellini

The farrier came to the barn the other day to trim my horse's hooves.  

That's right - my horse.  My entire life I've wanted a horse and I finally, finally have one!  

She's not the most beautiful horse.  She won't win any prizes for conformation, but I think she's wonderful.

She has the mane of a unicorn ( a little messy right now).

And a beautiful face (oops, I tried to get out the "red eye" and gave her a bit of a black eye).

How did this happen?  Last fall, I went to the big annual auction at an Amish farm.  I was eyeballing all the horses - all cart horses - and fell into conversation with a lady.  She said she had a horse for whom she needed a home.  I thought, "I wonder if this is legitimate?" 

The lady, named Carol, in a number of conversations told me the story behind my horse.  

"I drive a school bus for Head Start.  One day I drove the bus out of my driveway and needed to go back to get something.  As I drove home, I saw this starved, hipbones-sticking-out horse walking down the road towards my house.  I put it in the barn and fed it.  Three days later I called the owner to let him know his horse was at my house.  He hadn't even noticed she was missing.  Previously, this horse' (Lady's) field mate had died.  Now, I suspect it starved to death.  The horse (Lady) had been at my farm a time or two before.  She must have known where to go for help.  I've had her for a year now and she's nicely fattened up.  I breed Fjord horses and have eleven of them that I'm feeding and vetting already and really don't need the expense of one more horse.  I only want to sell her to recuperate the cost of the feed she had for a year." 

Carol is part of a riding club and we decided that she would bring the horse to the next club's ride and I could "test drive" her.  We met, I talked to all the people, and I rode my horse for four hours.  We went on every kind of terrain, up hills, down hills, over ditches, through creeks, cars drove past, four-wheelers drove past, dogs nipped at her heels - I loved her.  She went everywhere I pointed her without balking a bit!  She was a comfortable ride and she's small (about 14 hands) so I can get on and off her easily.  I had been looking for a horse for quite a while and this just felt right.  

A few weeks later, I met Carol and had myself a horse!  

Her new name is Lady Bella Mellini - I love the flow of it.

Lady - the name of a white horse of a dear German friend from a long time ago
Bella - Beautiful
Mellini - the name of the hotel we stayed in in Italy this past October (and minus one 'l' its the name of a darn good Chianti wine!)

I'm in a very fortunate position where I can keep my horse in the pasture (with five other horses) right beside my property.  The gentleman who cares for the five horses kindly includes my horse in the care and I can check on Lady from my front door!

I've ridden her a few times since I got her home.  The weather turned nasty shortly after I had her.  She's a bit barn sour and I'll have to work with her on that.  She definitely has issues with separation from the other horses - she whinnies for them while we're out.  The minute the weather gets better I'll be working with her a lot.  And I'm going to be going on trail rides with the riding club! 

The other day when I went to see her she was out in the run-in.  I called her name, she saw me, and she came trotting up to me!  

Monday, February 4, 2013

The Cogs of Spring Begin to Turn - Maple Season

In my mind, I picture a great mechanism made up of all kinds of big and little cogs fitted together - like the inside of a very intricate clock.  During winter, those cogs have stood still and silent.  Maybe they've collected a little dust and maybe a cobweb or two.  But now, finally, those many cogs have begun to slowly, painfully, laboriously creak to a start.  

Maple season never truly ends, but the most labor intensive period of maple season - collecting and boiling sap - begins in a few short weeks.  We've begun cleaning out our evaporator pans, tidying and setting up our sugar shack, checking sap lines for squirrel damage, removing tree limbs that have fallen on the lines, installing new lines to new areas, and the myriad of other tasks that comprise Maple Season.    

The evaporator pans aren't too dirty.

Fitz power washes the evaporator pan.

Maple sap evaporator pan

Power washing the pan.

The cogs of spring have begun to turn.

I'm happy to see it come.