what a difference a month makes

i promised an update post as to how much things changed here at mantorpg√•rd while sabin and i were away. if you want a refresher of how it looked mid-july, go here. just as i suspected, the plants have taken over the greenhouse! in fact, it's a little overwhelming! we're eating loads of cucumbers and putting colorful nasturtiums on our salads.

husband didn't do such a good job at keeping the weeds back in the melon/squash patch! and i've been stopped from the task myself several times by swarms of flies! it's miserable out there and i suppose our squash crop will reflect how much competition the plants had from the weeds. i found a few zucchini (enough to make zucchini bread) and have used flowers to make delicious stuffed and breaded tasty treats, but they're not going like gangbusters like they should be. i hope the fly problem abates soon!

the tomatoes are lush and jungly and it smells HEAVENLY in the greenhouse, but so far, no red ones. i spotted a couple with a bit of a blush, so perhaps soon.

the eggplants are doing well and full of blooms - if our weather holds out as good as it has been for the past week, we'll surely get to eat some before the season is over. we had such a slow-starting, cool early summer, so plants didn't get going like they should have initially.

the cucumbers LOVE the new conditions in the greenhouse. they're doing MUCH better than they were last year. we filled the boxes with rich compost that's free at the local recycling center and they seem to LOVE it. the higher walls also seem to create a level of humidity and heat that's been just what the cucumbers ordered. that's lucky because we have an 11-year-old who would eat cucumbers for breakfast, lunch and dinner. and now she can!

husband's sawmill project didn't come as far as i thought it would, but what you see here represents FAR more work than you might imagine. the cement truck is coming today to pour the floor, but just going from bare ground to a foundation that's ready to receive the cement has been a BIG job. husband has been driven indoors on more than on occasion by the same flies that keep me from weeding the squash patch. it's a weird year for flies. which is actually kind of strange, because we don't have horses or cows on the place this summer.

the day after we got home, the last two remaining nesting hens hatched out 6 new chicks. i took away the eggs that weren't going to hatch and now they've divided the 6 between then, 3 and 3, and are contentedly teaching them to scratch and peck and take dirt baths. there were 5 black and one brown chick. i guess it's true what they say about swedish girls...(heehee).

and the chicks that were little when i left are now this big and seem to be tended by only one mama now - ten chicks following her around. there are still 4 following a different mama and one that's a bit bigger and part of the big flock now. it seems that husband managed to lose 3 chicks while i was away, but in all, it's been a good chick season - we've had a total of 25 since easter. pretty good considering most of the websites you read say it's impossible to let your hens raise their own chicks.


Farm To Table

When we were in California the beginning of July, B and I had several opportunities to treat ourselves to nice meals out.  For starters, we eat predominantly seafood when we are in California, we can't seem to get enough of it.  At the first meal that we went out to on a 'date night' we were disappointed that the food was just so-so.  We critiqued discussed the experience as we were eating and began to realize that either our expectations were way to high, or we had just gotten to the point that with the love and effort we put into our cooking and the enjoyment we get form our 'tastebuds' dinner club, we can do it, and better.  I know this sounds horribly conceited, but maybe our tastes are just more towards the slow food we cook than what was laid in front of us.

This experience and a bottle of wine later, we began to talk about how fun it would be to do a farm to table dinner a couple of times a summer (best after fair week) for maybe 6-8 people at the homestead.  This idea was blossoming in the back of our mind during the rest of the trip.  While we were tossing the idea around, I mentioned it to a good friend and fellow tastebud.  She was super excited and a couple of days later I got a text from her about a small catering job that she couldn't do and would I be interested in picking it up.  Leave it to dear friends to give you that little push off of the cliff you find yourself on the edge of! :)

This morning I completed 80 tea sandwiches for a wedding shower.  The ideas for them flooded to me easy enough and I just made sure to get all of  my prep work done in advance so that this morning was all assembly.  I was nervous about the sandwiches because if they sit too long they can tend to get soggy.  I took some precautions against this making sure to coat the inner bread with a portion of ingredients that would help stave off dreaded sogginess.  What I ended up with was three creations in a farm to table theme:  A tarragon poached chicken with blackberry aioli and arugula micro-greens, a play on a farm caprese salad; hazelnut pesto with buffalo mozzarella and cherry tomatoes in a balsamic reduction, and finally a farm fresh egg salad with green tomato relish.  I was excited about how it turned out and hope that it is a taste of a farm to table segment at the homestead.  Thanks D!

I'm afraid I was a bit redundant here, as I was so excited today that I decided to post it here and on Tilting At Windmills too :)
~ Amy