HeirloomExpo

National Heirloom Expo Squash Mountain – Baker Creek Seeds photo credit.

Most small farmers (though the USDA defines small farms as earning less than $250,000 a year, and classifies 91% of all US farms as small farms) get into farming because they want to sell direct to the end consumer. Growing products for farmers markets, providing CSA boxes (CSA stands for Community Supported Agriculture) and stocking a farm stand is all about developing a personal relationship between the farmer and their local customer. About telling your own farm story. We small farmers, in general, have wholeheartedly rejected the large scale commodity model of farming that accounts for 85% of the value of crops grown in the United States. In many cases, we don’t come from a history of farming on a large scale. Read the rest of this entry »

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Steps of the supreme court.

My husband, as part of a year long leadership course with his job, had a trip to Washington DC scheduled in mid April. I hadn’t been to DC since I was in the 8th grade, and markets haven’t started yet. We were in between babies (lambs, turkeys, rabbits) being born and mostly out of the frost worries, so I decided to go with him (we got a farm sitter – yes, its hard to go out of town when you own a farm, lol). Read the rest of this entry »

IMG_20190320_171952891_HDRwatermarkI didn’t grow up with Tamale Pie, a mixture of ground beef, tomatoes and chili powder topped with a boxed corn bread batter and baked. In fact, it wasn’t until we were staying with my mother-in-law some 20 years ago that it came to my attention. I was doing a lot of the cooking while we were staying there, between college graduation and wherever the next job took us. My mother-in-law requested it.

An internet search turned up lots of recipes, which I refined into my own, and it’s become an occasional weeknight staple ever since. Inexpensive, tasty, and a good way to use up homestead staples like canned tomatoes and frozen corn and bell peppers, it can really hit the spot during those long winter months where a little extra comfort can go a long way to helping you believe that spring will eventually come again.

Tamale Pie

  • Servings: 6
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

Weeknight comfort food

Filling

  • 1 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • 1 bell pepper, diced
  • 1-2 tbsp chili powder
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp pepper
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 lb ground beef, pork, turkey or chicken
  • 1 small can (4 oz) diced green chilies (or frozen)
  • 1 14 oz can corn (or frozen)
  • 1 14 1/2 oz can diced tomatoes (or one pint home canned)
  • 1 15.5 oz can beans of choice – optional
  • 1 small can sliced olives – optional
  • 1 cup shredded cheddar cheese

Topping

  • 1 package 8.5 oz Jiffy corn muffin mix, made to package directions, or from scratch corn bread recipe of your choice

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

In large oven proof skillet, heat oil over medium high heat and saute onions, peppers, ground meat and garlic, cooking to break up clumps, until meat is no longer pink, about 5 minutes. Add in spices and saute until bloomed and fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add in tomatoes, corn, green chilies and beans/olives, if using, and bring to a simmer.

Meanwhile, prepare corn bread mixture.

Top meat mixture with cheddar cheese. Spread cornbread batter over cooked meat/vegetable mixture and spread evenly.

Place skillet in oven and bake until cornbread mixture is cooked through in the center, 20 to 25 minutes.

(If you don’t have a heat proof skillet, pour meat mixture into a casserole dish, top with cheese and cornbread batter, and bake, uncovered.

© 2019 Miles Away Farm, where February was brutal and we’re about 2 weeks behind in terms of the spring warm up, but the daffodils are finally blooming, the lambs are bouncing around the pasture, and spring is FINALLY here!

 

So how about this snow right!?

After getting away with a crazy warm winter, in which we were starting to get bud swell on the fruit trees in late January, this happened.

Temp Miles Away Farm Jan/Feb 2019

Yeah, that’s right. Even though the official low on the Airport Walla Walla weather station said 11,  we had a low of -2 on our on property weather station (AcuRite 5 in 1) on February 7th. (We’re officially zone 7a, which is a minimum average temp of 0 to 5.) As low as I’ve seen it get here. And probably a sign that my almond trees, fig trees and persimmon trees are toast, or at least killed back to the ground. The snow insulated the ground, but not the above ground parts. If you roll the dice, eventually it comes up snake eyes. Nice to have an on site confirmation of what we’ve always known, which is that our property tends to run 5 to 10 degrees colder than in town. Read the rest of this entry »

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Grain Silos and Wind Turbines are both common sights in eastern Washington. Loco Steve. Horse Heaven & Shepherds Flat. Used under Creative Commons License From Flickr.

If you live in farm country, you’ve probably seen cement or metal grain silos dotting the landscape. But did you ever think about how all that grain storage actually works? Read the rest of this entry »

Yin Yang Beans - aka calypsoI’ve written on this blog, quite a lot actually, about my love affair with dried beans. I’ve always loved them. Ever since I was a kid eating Navy Bean Soup. Sometimes when I eat at a Mexican restaurant, I’m really just there for the refried beans. And if the beans at a Mexican place AREN’T good? Well, then I tend to steer clear of the place from then on, regardless of how good the rest of the food is. Because if you can’t do justice to this humble staple, how much do you really care about the rest of your offerings? Read the rest of this entry »

IMG_20181221_151229290watermarkI love following food/health trends. I get a huge kick out of how things come into vogue, and then fall out of vogue. I’ve enjoyed the whole coconut oil and kale trend of the last 5 years (or maybe its been 10. Seems like forever.) I even sometimes poke fun at the million and one things you can do with coconut oil, including remineralize your teeth (um, yeah, not getting on that band wagon, but if it works for you, more power to you).

One of the latest trends is all things turmeric. You can google this spice and read all about its amazing abilities, some of which are actually backed up by real science (anti-inflammatory,  Alzheimer reduction). Used in Indian cuisine, and as part of the ancient practice of Ayurvedic Medicine, its a fairly uncommon spice in the American kitchen, except as part of that 17 year old bottle of curry powder in the back of your cupboard.

But because of its rising popularity, this cousin to ginger is often now available fresh at your local grocery store. Evidently the whole “golden milk latte” trend was started by Gwyneth Paltro on her website Goop (which was almost enough to make me never try it – because Goop is what you get when you have way too much money and way not enough science between your ears).

But I kept seeing the fresh turmeric roots at the grocery store. And with the increasing aches and pains of age and its reputation for being anti-inflammatory, I finally decided to give golden milk a try. My biggest worry, soon put to rest, was that it would taste like liquid curry. It does not.

Recipes vary. A lot. But the three things most have in common are turmeric (fresh or powdered), ginger (fresh or powdered) and black pepper. You’ll often see cinnamon, cardamon, star anise and clove included. I based my recipe off of one from Epicurious. Because yes, even they have gotten on the band wagon. And of course, coconut milk. Because for the love of all things holy, we need more coconut milk. Wink.

You can just throw all of these powdered spices into a hot milk of your choice (cow, nut or otherwise), stir and drink. In fact, you can buy premade mixes that do the combining for you. But the spices don’t tend to stay suspended in the milk, and like hot cocoa, if you don’t keep swirling your mug between sips,  you have a really gritty mouthful at the end. Other recipes have you simmer the whole spices in milk. But who has time to do that on a daily basis? And the milk tends to separate during the long simmering.

So I take the same approach I do with my chai concentrate, and make a turmeric/spice concentrate with water, strain and store in the refrigerator, and then mix it half and half with my milk of choice when I want a mug. The concentrate will store in the fridge for at least 3 or 4 days.

Miles Away Farm Golden Milk Concentrate

  • Servings: 6-8
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

An anti-inflammatory turmeric tea worth sipping.

  • 2 small fresh turmeric roots, skin on, sliced thin (it has a lovely spicy earthy grassy smell)
  • 2 inches of fresh ginger root, skin on, sliced thin
  • 2 cinnamon sticks
  • 1/2 tsp whole peppercorns
  • 4 cups water

Bring mixture to a low simmer, cover, and simmer for 30 minutes to an hour. Short on time? Bring to a boil, turn off heat, and let it seep on the stove until its at room temperature.

Strain and store in the refrigerator.

To make a mug of “golden milk”, use equal measurements of milk of your choice (honestly, I like regular old cows milk) and spice concentrate and heat in the microwave or in a pot on the stove until hot. Stir in a spoonful of canned coconut milk (I just can’t do actual coconut oil here – its just an oil slick on the surface) and sweetener of choice if desired. I prefer honey.

Note: Turmeric STAINS. Which you know if you’ve ever made curry and stirred it with a wooden or rubber spoon. It’s actually used as a natural colorant in soaps. So, be careful not to spill and assume your cutting board will look a little weird after slicing fresh turmeric.

© Miles Away Farm 2018, where we’re miles away from jumping on every band wagon, but think this one might just be worth doing. Turmeric milk is evidently an Indian mother’s equivalent of a Jewish mother’s chicken soup for curing what ails you. And who am I to question mothers! AND, after 9 years, I’m finally able to embed recipes for easy printing. Now to go back and do that to all the ones I’ve written. Ugh.

Bullnose bell peppersSome time ago, on some Facebook group somewhere, the subject of organic certification of food came up. And someone chimed in with something along the lines of, “Organic certification is all big corporate BS anyway, and is meaningless. Don’t even bother.” Sigh. Got to love the negative Nellies who wait with self righteous anticipation for our impending doom. I did my best to educate the naysayer from a farmers perspective, but I’ve have been meaning to write a post about what organic certification really means ever since. My apologies up front. This post is LONG. Read the rest of this entry »

Ginko leaves in fall

Ginko. We love it because its the last remnant of an ancient plant line that has all but died out, but also because of the color and shape of the leaves in the fall.

Well, we’ve had a frost, though not a hard hard one (I still have a few late season paprika peppers hanging on that I blanketed with some agribon). The popcorn was finally harvested. The few winter squash I grew for us (we have a terrible squash bug issue here, so I don’t grow them for market anymore) are tucked away in the garage pantry. The sheep have been let into part of the garden to finish up the green tomatoes. Read the rest of this entry »

Overgrown kohlrabiAre you familiar with kohlrabi? It’s related to cabbage, broccoli and cauliflower, which are technically all the same genus/species! It’s most closely related to broccoli in terms of flavor, essentially broccoli with a modified stem that turns into an above ground alien looking bulb. You peel and eat the bulb (though the whole plant is edible), which tastes like a crisp broccoli stem when raw, and mild broccoli when cooked.

A lot of people like kohlrabi raw, just sliced and used in a crudité (ie raw veggie) tray with dip or humus. I know one farmer who eats them like an apple! We personally love them shredded and cooked like hash browns with a bit of parmesan cheese thrown in at the end.

I plant them every spring, mostly because it’s really fun to introduce people to them at farmers market, and you rarely see them in the grocery store. Normally, you harvest them when they are about the size of a baseball/softball.

This year, I had a few that were still small when I was doing my main harvest, and so I didn’t harvest them…and then I ignored them for 3 months. They are now decidedly NOT small, resembling a small football. Kohlrabi can get woody, especially at the base, when allowed to grow large.

But as we move into fall in earnest, I’m craving all things soup and stew, including a broccoli cheese soup we love this time of year. My spring broccoli has long gone to seed, and my fall crop is still tiny and may not make it to harvest before it gets too cold. BUT I still had kohlrabi in the garden. What if I treated it like a potato, peeling and chopping it, and then cooking it until soft and pureeing it? Would that work instead of broccoli in this soup?

Turns out it worked like a charm.

If you DON’T happen to have a giant kohlrabi on hand, feel free to make this with broccoli like a normal human. Grin.

diced kohlrabi for soupKohlrabi (or Broccoli) Cheese Soup

  • 1 1/2 lbs peeled, diced kohlrabi (or chopped broccoli), woody parts removed.
  • 3/4 cup diced onion (or leek)
  • 1 tbsp olive or vegetable oil or ghee
  • 1 cup diced potato
  • 4 cups chicken (or vegetable) stock
  • Pinch nutmeg
  • 1/2 tsp ground black pepper (or to taste)
  • 3/4 tsp salt (or to taste)
  • 4 oz grated cheese of choice (the original recipe called for blue or Gorgonzola – I used a pepper jack we had on hand)
  • Half & half or good olive oil for drizzling (optional)

Sauté onions in oil of choice with a good pinch of salt in a large saucepan over medium heat until softened and just beginning to brown, about 5 minutes. Add potato, kohlrabi or broccoli, stock, salt, pepper and nutmeg.

Bring to a boil, cover, and then turn the heat down to low. Let simmer until the potato and kohlrabi are very soft, about 30 minutes.

Kohlrabi and potato soupStick blend using an immersion blender (or alternately, transfer to a blender in small batches) and blend until smooth. Over low heat, add shredded cheese to soup in small handfuls, stirring between each addition, until cheese is melted and incorporated. Taste for salt.

Serve immediately, with a drizzle of cream or a good olive oil and a grind of fresh pepper.

Bring on fall!

Looking for gifts for the holidays? Here’s where I’ll be. (This information can also be found, in more detail, on the “where to find me” page tab above). Miles Away Farm Holiday Show schedule

© Miles Away Farm 2018, where we’re amazed at how fast our brain and stomach switches from salads to soups as the weather gets cooler, and are surprised at how fast our October calendar is filling up!

 

Jennifer Kleffner

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