Friday, November 29, 2013

Christmas Cookie Tag-Wanna Play?

Remember the days of tag?  When you'd run and run and run, trying to avoid the one who was "it"? 
How you'd get sooooo close to being caught and you'd arch your back to just squeak by without being caught? And then you'd run *just* a little closer to the "it" person, but never close enough to actually get caught. You'd spend your whole recess trying to be safe. And you'd celebrate with tired legs and rosy cheeks if you made it the whole recess being 'safe'.
Well, we have a new type of tag for you. But this one it is FUN to get caught and you MUST get caught. Because what we have to offer you is so delicious that you wouldn't want to NOT be caught. That's right. 
You want to be caught right in the middle of our Christmas cookie baking game of TAG.

Whoever is "it" bakes cookies and posts the recipe for everyone to enjoy. And then she tags the next blogger, who will also be in charge of baking and adding a recipe to our TAG game. And she'll tag the next. And the next. And the next. And before you know it, we'll be up to our ears in delicious cookie-ness. Cookie-ness is the very best state of being during the holiday season. Cookie-ness really ought to be a word. 
 And now I'm hungry.  

Please join:
Jackie from Born Imaginative
Daisy from Maple Hill 101

We'll be tagging each other for the next three weeks bringing you 12 delicious cookie recipes 
for your Christmas holiday! 
We hope that you check back with us 
to see who's going to be the next "tagged" person!! 
The fun starts next week!

Let the baking begin!

homestead barn hop linky

Manic Mother

Thursday, November 28, 2013

Greetings of Gratitude

Thanksgiving is my absolute favorite holiday.

We are sending you the warmest of holiday wishes.

Thank you to all who have nurtured me with support, wisdom and generosity.
May you continue to be blessed...

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Homemade Living Series-Krunchy Kale Chips

Welcome back to the 
Homemade Living Series.
This week Staci, Sue and I share our homemade ideas.

This Red Russian kale was acquired from my farmer friends Faye & Lynn.
I've never been able to eat anything in the brassica family
because it just plain, tears me up.
After a bit of research on this true superfood,
I decided to give it a try.
Kale is rich in fiber, calcium and iron, all nutrients I could use more of.
Kale chips seemed like the way to go.

I rinsed the greens.
They are pesticide-free, so a quick bath did the trick.

Drying is the most important step in the process.
The greens must be totally dry or the chips won't crisp up.

I even laid them on tea towels outside for a bit.

I tossed them with a little olive oil, salt and garlic powder.
You can make them spicy or not.
They were baked in a 275 degree oven for 10 minutes,
then turned over and cooked another 10 minutes.

They fill the need for that crunchy craving 
while adding so many good nutrients.
Hmmm, what else can be made into chips...

Next Wednesday Jackie, Mary and Tammy
  will share their ideas as our Series continues.

homestead barn hop linky

Manic Mother

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Maple Hill Hop 8

Maple Hill Hop
It's Tuesday and time for the 
Maple Hill Hop,
where we share what's happening outside our doors.

We were recently gifted with a tour of a unique garden.
Roosevelt Academy is an alternative school for kids with learning disabilities
in nearby Lake Wales.
Among other venues, this school is the site for
a large horticultural program,
overseen by Ray Cruze.
Mr. Cruze gave us a tour of the facility
and shared his wealth of knowledge of hydroponic farming.

 It's quite a setup.
Row upon row of these styrofoam vessels greet visitors.

Some areas are covered, while others are open.


We were so impressed with the sheer amount of food that could be grown here.

We visited during a slower part of the year,
and many plants were finished for the season.

 Here you can see how the drip irrigation system works.
Water usage is efficiently maintained.

The crops were loaded with fruit and flowers.

We had tomato plants soaring over our heads.

The freshly picked produce is sold nearby at a thrift store
and at special events.
This allows folks to afford pesticide-free veggies
at a reasonable price.
The profits go right back into the program. 
(The school also houses a culinary program
which uses the produce grown on campus.)

The cherry tomatoes we sampled were fantastic!

Coir is one of the main ingredients used in their successful growing.

These are pepper plants growing right in the bags.

This is one of the tricks they use to keep the crops pesticide-free.
Contained in these bags are swirski mites,
which help to control thrips. 

Coir is also used as a planting medium in pots.

A wonderful array of herbs are displayed
and were a feast for the senses!

Future plans include adding aquaponics to the progam.

What an inspirational operation.
This school offers many opportunities
for kids who need the most guidance.
They are even active in job placement,
allowing these students to feel a sense of belonging.
This is so much more than a farm, folks.

Let's HOP!

Monday, November 25, 2013

Farm School Fall Series Week Ten

Blustery was the word of the day at Farm School this week.
With a cold front moving through,
we had cooler temperatures and overcast skies.

Perfect conditions to complete our tasks.

The overview of the garden showed that the new expansion area is filling up fast.
Lynn recently added 1,000 square feet to this side of the garden.

Two types of kale are grown here.
You can see Red Russian up front and
the Dinosaur variety further back.
This is one of the crops that does best in cooler temperatures.

The Romas are looking promising.
Each plant has a multitude of clustered gems on the vine.

We've tried to grow these previously without much success.
These are just weeks away from harvest.

This little beauty came home with me.
Not to worry,

there are more on their way.

The lettuce is getting close to being ready to pick.
Three types grow here, including (from front to back) Simpson Elite, Romaine and Buttercrunch.

The broccoli is starting to show its stuff.
Here's a newbie popping out of the center of the plant.

While this cutie is a little farther along.
When the central head is harvested,
shoots grow out all over the plant
and are harvested as a bonus crop.
This plant just keeps on giving.


These New Zealand Spinach plants will most likely be brought to the farmer's market
for those who want to start their own patch.

Radishes germinate within days of planting and are harvested in a matter of weeks.

We checked on "Peaville" to see how the  plants are doing since being fertilized.
Seems they responded well and are looking healthier.
We sampled a few peas on the older plants and were pleased with their flavor.

 Some are unable to contain themselves within the growing area.

This new batch was planted just days ago.
You won't hear me complaining about too many peas.

We'll need to reseed where some didn't come up.
This is hands-down my favorite task at the farm.

The okra is still putting out a smattering of veg.
We managed to harvest a handful to fill an order.

 Some fell short of the preferred size,
but as they are diminishing in production, we'll take what we can get.
These will be pickled .

We worked on sowing more lettuce seeds today.

These tiny seeds are best planted by using these handy-dandy tweezers.

One seed per cell is sown in these six-packs.
Twelve packs fit on a tray,
and we planted three trays worth of lettuce,
each a different variety.
 That's over 200 plants comin' our way!
Get the ranch dressing ready!

After the seeds are sown, the cell pack is gently patted,
to settle the seeds and close up the planting holes.
This knife gingerly pressed on top ensures that they are snug as a bug.

After being misted, the tops of the trays are put in place,
and they are monitored carefully for light, moisture and air circulation.

Lynn calls this "Seed Central".
He's got his own way of organizing the many varieties he uses.

Lynn decided to start some cucumbers in this area next to the fenceline.
They will be grown vertically.
He calls it "Cucumber Alley".

Two varieties were sown,
"Burpless Beauty" and "Salad Slicer"

 We scratched up the dirt and planted away.
The packages say the last planting date for our area is in September,
but Lynn enjoys pushing the boundaries whenever he can.

Lynn's garden log

This garden is amazing.
And what it does for my peace of mind is even more incredible.
I always leave feeling centered, fulfilled and renewed.
Ready to face the challenges of the week ahead.

Hope you have something that feeds your spirit.

Peruse the humble beginnings of Farm School here.

homestead barn hop linky

Manic Mother