Monthly Archives: May 2010

Weekend Reading at the Library

It has been less hot this week then last but I am a lot more comfortable due to the window air conditioner Proeun installed. Normally I would be all for naturally experiencing the change of seasons but pregnancy is a different case and I want to be cool. So after the farm work is done I like being inside. And what better to do when you are inside but


Even though it was a busy warm week we made a sojourn to our local library this afternoon. If I had thought of it I would have brought the camera to photograph the event but I am not used to bringing my camera everywhere. We have a great old neighborhood libary with classic architecture and a community room. Oh and a wonderful section of readers. It will be closed for the next 3 days so we had to get our weekend stash in.

Whenever I feel like I don’t have enough time for myself I realize a couple minutes journaling and reading a good book does wonders. Farm work has been really heavy right now so journaling and reading just to center myself is a must. I have been working my way through the most recent issue of Homeschooling Today magazine. Also my trip to the library brought home a copy of Weekend Sewing by Heather Ross. I heard about this through Soule Mama. She wrote about making a smocked dress for her little girl and I knew my girls would love one as well. There are oh so many great patterns in it, I’ll have to  pick one or two to try.

I also noticed a book I picked up at this spring’s MOSES conference called, Ecopreneuring by John Ivanko and Lisa Kivirist. I heard them speak and was really impressed with their overall philosophy of life and business. Life has been so busy since then and this great tome has been neglected. Now it is calling to me, perhaps for this weekend’s reading? I am taking the weekend off, be back Tuesday.

Good Brown Bread

Even though the hot, humid Minnesota summer has arrived a bit early it is still  time to make bread. The past couple of days have seen all the shades drawn and children lounging around the house in diapers, shorts and tank tops. I hadn’t even replaced the winter clothes in their drawers yet! So now I am scrambling to find all those summer clothes i packed away nearly 8 months ago.

The warm weather finds me craving salads–with lots of dressing, but heh I need the calories right? Last night I boiled a bunch of eggs intending to make egg salad sandwiches but then discovered that my bread was all dry and crusty. Luckily it stormed last night so there is a bit of a break in the weather and I am trying to get the bread in the oven before the heat really comes on.

My grandmother always made homemade bread. For me it was a huge treat eating bread warm from the oven with melted butter. I never expected that I would be a bread making mama, but with the price of good quality bread at around $4.00 a loaf I decided I had to try it. Here is my favorite recipe. it is 100% whole wheat but nice and light. The trick is a long kneading period–15 minutes. I used to do this by hand. I actually set the timer on the stove and would knead away (15 minutes is a long time). I had great forearms, but not much enthusiasm for bread making days. Then Proeun bought me a Kitchen-aide and now bread making is a snap. Whether you are doing it by hand or with a mixer the taste is totally worth it.

Our Favorite Whole Wheat Bread

3 cups hot water
1/3 cup olive oil (I use soy or vegetable oil for price sake)
1/3 cup honey
8-10 cups fresh ground whole wheat flour
1 TBSP salt
3 TBSP gluten flour
2 TBSP yeast

Mix hot water, oil, and honey with about 3 cups of the flour. Stir well. Add the yeast, salt and gluten and continue stirring. Slowly add remaining flour, stirring until you have a small amount of resistance: it is important that you do not add too much flour at this point as it will make your bread heavy.

Sprinkle a small amount of flour out onto a dry surface. Pour dought onto flour and being to knead you bread, adding remaining flour as you find it neccessary to keep the dough from sticking to your hands. Knead dough for at least 15 minutes. The longer you knead your dough, the better the bread will be.

Place dough back in a large bowl. Cover with a damp towel and allow to rise in a warm oven for 20 minutes. Pour dough onto dry surface and once again knead for at least 3 minutes. Form into loaves and place in well oiled bread pans. This recipe will make 2-3 loaves. Allow loaves to rise for 30 minutes. Preheat oven to 350 degrees and bake for 35 minutes. Put on racks to cool.

It you have a mixer you can do all the steps up to placing in loaf pans with that.

From the Best of Veggies by Mary Bernt

Homeschooling Today in the Doeun Home

Our first year of homeschooling is almost completed. Though we are taking a very very laid back approach it has been really fun to pick topics and begin the process of educating at home–though some would argue that educating actually beings in utero. At least every couple days I am so grateful for the decision we have made, especially when I look at my precious boy who is getting to be quite the little man.

In the midst of a crazy busy week last week we got the most recent copy of Homeschooling Today Magazine

Even though I am a writer and reader I try to limit the number of subscriptions we hold for the sake of budget and money, but this one magazine is my preferred resource homeschooling information. Whenever it comes I am tempted to drop everything and read it cover to cover and If ever I am feeling overwhelmed with the magnitude of the task ahead of me, I find it a great encouragement. It is a great feeling when someone asks the children if they go to school and the children confidently say, “we go to school at home.”

Next winter I think we will start a reading program and beef up the family cooking and of course this summer is all about nature studies even though we are officially off.

Plastic Mulch Complete

Plastic Mulch is in. Last year was our first experience with it so we knew what we were prepared for and planned accordingly. Apparently our car and the weather didn’t get the memo. After car trouble and almost a week of straight rain we were finally able to complete it yesterday only about a week late. So now our crazy planting week–which is actually Proeun’s week off from his regular work is almost over. The corn, bush beans, soybeans, broccoli, cauliflower, tomatoes and peppers are all in. the plastic mulch is complete and waiting for melons and pumpkins. We have some trellising to do and some direct seeding yet to do–really the work is never completely over–but today is the day we stretch our back and rest. Well at least for a little bit.

Soon it will be out to the greenhouse for more seeding, mowing our crazy lawn that has been all but neglected for the last couple of weeks and get caught up on things around the house. But it does feel good to have it done. We went to Rice Palace to build up our strength after all that work and as a special treat for the children. They were real troopers this whole week!.

So I will be back on Monday. Have a great weekend.  

Planting as a family

Our busy week of planting plods on. It has finally dried up enough to get the tractor in the field and finish getting our beds set up. So now the next couple of days feature planting in earnest. After a couple appointments yesterday morning we were out in the field as a family planting broccoli. it was much easier to plant then the onions and the children were champs at helping. Actually yesterday is exactly what I always wanted farming with children to be like?

Proeun and Two marking the rows on our bed with the seeder. Our farm manager had already come through with the tractor to make beds.

Then Proeun would go through with a piece of 2 X 2 and punch holes for the broccoli. The little transplants fit so well in it! For awhile we would go through and I would have one child put the little broccoli in the hole while the other came along and filled in the hole. Planting went really fast when that went smoothly. There were also a couple of times when Mavis needed my attention and the older 2 were able to take over without me overseeing their work–not bad for 4 and almost 6! When I came back Avril even told me to find something else to work on since she was handling her job just fine.

Even Mavis was getting her share of planting in, though we had to make sure she didn’t pull them out again after planting. The kids really loved being involved and feeling like their work was valued. We we loved having them work side by side with us.

Today though we are giving them a break. They get to spend some quality time with grandma and Proeun and I will go and try to get caught up on the planting. It will be a couple days before I can check in again, but rest assured we are working.

Camping Away

It’s amazing how the weather can change in a couple days. Last week we were working in rain and drizzle and mid sixties for temps if we were lucky. After a weekend retreat on family owned land we come back to almost 80 degrees and I am trying to remember how to keep my house cool. Oh well we had a great time. Here are some pics from our trip.

It was a bit of a working trip. Proeun and his brothers hunt on the land and so there is much preparation for next year. Here’s Proeun and his brother Samnang working on a chainsaw to do some clearing. We are fortunate to have this land to go to and it has become a bit of an outdoor mecca for both sides of our family whether hunting, fishing, hiking, relaxing, or,


The ATV was a hit,

as was the tractor.

Then there was tadpole hunting.

Cards at night. And relaxing with family. We had both sides up including two of Proeun’s brother, 3 cousins, my mom and dad and 2 dogs running around.

Matthew and Naomi love camping.

Sambath and Junior relaxing.


The girls enjoying the camera.

It was so worth it getting away to the great outdoors. We found some wolf scat (poo) and heard frogs all night long.

Now back to work, although Proeun took off the rest of the week to get our planting in.

Handmades: Mavis’ Sweater

It’s finally finished, a sweater for my sweet girl! Once I got creative in finding time to knit, i.e. knitting in the car on the way to the farm it actually knit up pretty quick. This is my first non diaper cover project completed in a long time. It feels great to create something. I really have the bug now. I started a sweater for Avril using the same pattern but different color. I am really pleased with how this turned out but I will have to do some adjusting on the button holes.

Yesterday when I was trying the completed sweater on her I got real worried when she started crying to take it off. Luckily turns out she was just hot and once we got outside everything was fine. The original pattern has handmade knotted buttons after a few attempts it was off to the yarn store.

One the way home we saw a boy about 7 years old walking on the side of the road. Two was all concern saying, “why is he by himself, doesn’t he have a family?” Obviously our family loves going places together. Apparently I didn’t give the right answer, something like, he probably has a family he’s just by himself now. Two says, “Maybe he could be our brother. Let’s ask him if he wants to be in our family.” I told Two he was a good boy but that doesn’t cover the half of it.

I would really like to make something for Two but what? He is so hot blooded I don’t know what he would wear. Proeun suggested a hat, but I honestly haven’t seen him keep one on. My dad is the same way so once I made him a vest but I have only seen him wear it a couple times. We’ll see what ideas I can come up with.

Eggs Eggs Eggs

Our chickens are now in their productive part of the year. Even with only four of them they are keeping us pretty well in eggs. At times we even have extras. Then I hard boil a bunch and keep them in the frig for snacks.

I am trying to be really conscientious of eating enough protein to keep this baby well supplied. Plus Proeun and I have made the switch to meat from carefully raised animals (organic or otherwise). Eggs have now been an important part of filling in our “meat gap.” The only problem is I don’t really like eggs–or meat for that matter. So I am trying to be creative in how I cook and enjoy them. Since I am allergic to dairy products this limits me a little more.

Last night I tried something new. A little bit of my artichoke spaghetti boiled up real quick. While it was boiling I beat an egg and added a little salt, pepper and garlic to it. As soon as I had drained the pasta and put it in a bowl I poured the egg over it and stirred slowly till cooked. I was so excited to try it and honestly when I did it was real bland. So I added some kimchi  I had made from the Farmama recipe. I had been a little nervous to try it but it was really good on my concoction.

So if anyone has any recipes for eggs to share that would be really helpful.

Small Miracles and Wisdom Teeth

Friday Proeun had the wisdom teeth removed from the right side of his mouth. We had done the left side last November and were anxious to get it all completed. I cleared my calendar of all farm jobs and jobs for the newspaper I write for, cleaned the house earlier in the week, and made crock pot meals for the day so I could just focus on taking care of him.

We scheduled the appointment early in the morning and when we got home mid morning all he wanted to do was sleep. Wow I didn’t have anything else I had to do, he was sleeping and it was cold and rainy outside the perfect day for getting some projects done.

Here are some of the projects I have been working on. A sweater for Mavis, a quilted picnic blanket and a photo album of our California trip (yes from last August). Austin (the black cat) just loves acomfy spot, like I set it up just for him.

I had cut out the pieces for the quilted picnic blanket last February when I was first introduced to Soule Mama and her book Handmade Home. The top is now completed and since the book has long since been returned to the library I have to remember how to do the back. All the material in it is from other projects.

I love sewing and knitting and doing all kinds of projects but have had to accept that this is not the time of my life to work on these projects very regularly but I am getting better at finding time to fit them in. Like working on Mavis’ sweater while driving to the farm. I am using some great Peace Fleece yarn from years ago when my mom and I had a big enough order to order wholesale. Then I ran out of the yarn early last week. I quickly ordered some more hoping the dye lots would be close.I ordered on Tuesday then realized that Friday would be a great day to work on the project. Friday morning I prayed for a small miracle, that my yarn would arrive that day. I didn’t really think it would but hoped. And it did, even early. So I had plenty of time to work on it. The body is finished and one sleeve almost. Soon I will be finishing it. The pattern is  Little Turtle Knits Swing Thing. I love their diaper cover patterns as well.

And the photo album. My camera is getting pretty full. I try to clean off the work pictures and the blog pictures I don’t need printed but still I have of 1,200 pictures on it. So I am working on printing some of the old ones and  putting them on CDs if neccessary but it is quite the project. But it’s great to have all these albums to look at!

All in all it was a pretty great day and Proeun is feeling much better.

Jordan Ranch–A Local Food Haven

Driving on Upper Afton Road in what is now the suburb of Woodbury is a hold over to the days when all food was local food. Jordan Ranch is about as local as local food can get in the East Metro. The family still runs a thriving business that is a presence at most area Farmer’s Markets. They also run a market in season on site. They are surrounded by upscale suburan homes but have been able to keep their business grounded in a country ethic.

In addition to providing food for local communities they also provide supplies to farmers from all over the state. People come from miles around to purchase from Jordan Seeds, a side business of Jordan Ranch. We had to pick up some plastic mulch for our tomatoes, peppers, melons and squash, some remay (row cover) for greens, t-tape for drip irrigation, harvesting baskets and our CSA boxes just to give you an idea of what they carry in addition to the plethora of seeds.

As Proeun was waiting to load our supplies the kids and I explored the grounds. Here is the old barn complete with large black farm dog that was very friendly.

Here are the great horses I grew up with. My grandmother lives in a neighborhood bordering Jordan Ranch and in the summer we would come visit and go to the park. From the park we could see the pasture. There were more horses then. Now there are only 2 left and no one seems to be able to remember their names.

We brought carrots and apples to share with them. We were told they probably wouldn’t be around but never underestimate the power of a carrot. We had to go back later in the day since Mavis left Avril’s favorite toy horse on the counter and brought back more food for the horses. They saw us coming and came running over right away. The children were so happy to know they had made a couple friends.

Two was so quick with the feeding I couldn’t get a picture of the contact but oh well. Avril was happy to pet the horses but allowed Two to do all the feeding.

The sheep were a different story. They enjoyed tufts of long grass we pulled up.

Proeun tells me to stay away from politics but I do have to say there was one sour note to the day. The pastures are now gone, replaced by this charter school, a bi-product of imminent domain. In neighboring St. Paul we will have no less the 4 schools vacant do to budget cuts. Woodbury is having its own issues. With farm land close to the city at such a premium it is very upsetting to me that it would be taken to build a school. Once taken it can never be returned. Not that schools aren’t important but maybe we should try to fill the ones we have. 40 acres were taken for the school site. Sometimes I can’t help but feel down at that fate of farms close to the city. As we look for ours we have to take into account the proximity of cities that are definitely “sprawling.” We will have to “transition” for several years with Proeun commuting to work. Trying to find an affordable farm close to the city that won’t be taken away in a few years is not so easy. Well hopefully Jordan Ranch will be around for years to come.