Lunch in the Greenhouse

Friends came over for lunch and a farm tour (who can resist lambs and kids??) the other day.  Since my husband works from our living room, I entertained in the greenhouse.  I made roast beef and boursin cheese sandwiches with buttercrunch lettuce right from our greenhouse bed, lemon pasta salad and avocado with blood orange vinegarette.  My friend Kathleen brought a bottle of her homemade wine.  My friend Lora brought chunky brownies with a ganache frosting that should be it’s own food group.  She provided this photo.  Don’t we know how to party in the middle of the week?

You Know You Want Some

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We made the mistake of watching some TV show last weekend on fried chicken.  I couldn’t defrost a chicken fast enough!  I didn’t have buttermilk so I dipped it in regular milk (we’re a 20 minute drive from a grocery store).  If you can, get buttermilk and make biscuits with the leftovers!  I make a coating mixture with flour (a cup of flour will coat a whole chicken), garlic powder, dill, salt, pepper and a dash of cayenne.  I toss that all together in a bag.  Recognize the Target bag?  I put two pieces at a time in the bag with the coating mixture and shake.  These go right into my deep fryer.  That photo is unfortunately a little blurry.  It’s a Fry Daddy that I’ve had for about 20 years, it’s so easy to use.  No temp setting, just plug it in and wait a few minutes for the oil to heat.  It’s ready to go when a droplet of water dropped into the oil sizzles.  The entire chicken can be fried at once, just occasionally turn the pieces with tongs.  We determine doneness by the color.  Doesn’t it look good?  Don’t you want some fried chicken now??  I’m just passing on the craving.

Early Bloomers

This season has been crazy.  We had ten degree weather early December and it was in the 70’s last week.  After two solid weeks of unseasonably warm weather, our daffodils have decided it’s time to show themselves.  I’m not complaining, I’m just kind of wanting to dye eggs for some reason.

Potting Up Tomato Seedings

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I spent a few hours yesterday potting up tomato seedings.  We live in gardening zone 7 and the greenhouse allows us to get a jump on seed starting for our area.  We grow only heirlooms for a few reasons; they taste so much better than hybrids, my customers at the farmer’s market want them, and you can save their seeds to plant next year.

If more than one plant comes up in a single tray compartment, I take my tiny sewing scissors and cut two of the three.  If you try to pull the other two out, you run the risk of damaging the roots of the plant you want to keep.

When your plants have three sets of leaves, it’s time to transplant them.  It took five weeks from the day I planted the seeds for the plants to get to transplant height.

We’re still two months from our last frost date so these plants are going into one cup sized peat pots.  I write right on the pots with a sharpie.  These are brandywine tomatoes (BW).  I’m also experimenting this year with wooden swizzle stick plant markers.  I’m writing on those and sealing my writing with clear nail polish.  We’ll see how it goes.

Before you try to remove them from their compartment cells, water thoroughly.  This will hold the roots in the potting medium and make the plant easy to remove.  I use a fork to remove the plant from the cell and place it into the peat pot.  Never touch the stem of a plant, just the dirt and leaves if you must.  For tomatoes, it’s important to plant them as deep as possible.  The stems will grow more roots and improve the stability of your plants.  I fill the pot with a 50/50 mixture of seed starting mix and potting soil with a few Soil Moist crystals thrown in to help maintain moisture.  They’re hard to find and expensive but we use them.  I’ve found them both online and in a very upscale garden center (not near here!).

It’s very satisfying to grow your own food.  Go ahead and give this a try, you know you want to!

Hermione’s Buckling

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Hermione’s little boy is getting bigger.  He’s much softer than the wooly lambs, like a puppy.  Jenna finds him fascinating.  She ignores the adult goats but keeps close watch on the kids for some reason.

Spinach Salad

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It’s incredibly easy to dress a spinach salad.  Just three ingredients.  I take a small whisk and plop about a tablespoon of dijon mustard into a small mixing container.  I then add approx. 2 tablespoons of sherry vinegar and the same amount, 2 tablespoons of olive oil.  Whisk together and drizzle over spinach.  Those plates of spinach are from our greenhouse.  I served it with fresh avocado, there are a ton of other add-ons that go really well.  Craisins, walnuts, goat cheese and blue cheese are all fabulous.

Let Us In

Sometimes we need to move a single sheep from our large pasture to the small one across our driveway.  For instance, to keep an eye on an injury or to separate our ram from the ewes.  Even with our border collie Jenna’s help, it’s near impossible to separate just one from the flock so we usually just have her move them all to the small pasture where it’s easier to control their movement.  From there we just let them out one by one until the only one left is the targeted sheep.  It’s a potentially dangerous move because the flock is left to run amok until we’ve finished sorting.  Luckily, they see the pasture gate and head straight for it.  This shot is from the outside of the large pasture.  Good sheep!

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