Monthly Archives: June 2010

Rain, Rain Go Away

June has been an odd month for us. It seems like we had clouds and rain for just about every day the first 28 days of the month. Last Friday we got one of those big Minnesota plains storms in the city. The kind the were fun and exciting as children before you knew something could really happen to your house. Anyway, we were not in the danger zone but there were several tornado hot zones around us. Proeun was driving bus that night and kept getting calls from dispatch warning him not to drive through water. Apparently in some areas man hole covers were missing. Yes the sewers filled up with enough water and pressure to push the covers up and flot them away.

Luckily the next week is supposed to be beautiful growing weather, mid-80s and clear.

Today were out doing field estimates on one of my summer favorites–zucchini. They are “coming on” nicely we just have one problem gopher to deal with. The little bugger chewed through 9 of our plants in a row leaving the whole top above ground to wither and wilt. Hopefully the traps will get him.

It’s hard to believe that just about a month ago these were baby plants, sometimes the life cycle is just too fast on a farm. But I suppose it has to be in our short growing season.

Mavis was enjoying copying Mommy and Bpa out there counting and making notes. By the way the dress she is wearing is my new favorite. My mother has really gotten into quilting but after a couple actual quilts she wanted to try some techniques on a more fun project and this dress was born. Avril is anxiously waiting for hers, but in the meantime it seems like the perfect little farm girl dress for my current youngest. Too bad I didn’t get her with her dad’s hat but the batteries were dying.

Today also held some weeding before a couple of big harvesting and packing days.

For lunch I sauted up some swiss chard with garlic and a dash of white balsamic vinegar. I then beat a couple of eggs and seasoned with salt and pepper. Then I poured the eggs over the greens for a quick scramble.

We also sliced zucchini about 1/2 -3/4 inch thick, drizzled olive oil and sprinkled salt on them and put them in the toaster oven at 400 degrees for about 10 minutes. They were perfect, tender and sweet with just a hint of salt. Summer eating sure is good. The whole meal took me 10 minutes to prepare from chopping to eating.

Harvest Weekend Eating

We are now really getting into the swing of things at the farm. This week marks our 3rd delivery to our CSA customers and we are so excited to be offering zucchini. Some of them were ready this week and would have been too big by Thursday so we took them home to sample. Radishes continue to go strong. We sell some crops to a larger CSA and this was our first week delivering radishes as well.

Once harvesting starts farming really gets exciting, especially in Minnesota when we have such a short growing season and long, cold winter. But with all this time spent harvesting sometimes it is hard to find time to cook and enjoy all that yummy produce. Luckily I am craving salads, those are easy enough. Also this weekend we did a quick stir-fry with shitake mushrooms and pac choy and bean thread noodles and tonight was a special but surprising quick dish, Yeh Hanh. Using all our own greens was extra yummy.

And for those fans of carrots,

They are on their way. Even though we keep telling ourselves that we need to always always bring food to the farm, it is so tempting to think we’ll just go for a couple hours and come home. Normally we find one more thing that needs to be done. So the children get hungry but at least there are plenty of good healthy snacks around.

Two even shared one with his sister. It will still be a couple weeks until they are really big enough to eat, but they are definitely coming.

A great dinner for a great day

Yesterday was a great day. As I was waiting for customers to pick up all those boxes of yummy food I was getting very very hungry. My tastes differ a lot from the rest of my family so sometimes it is really hard to get motivated to whip up a really satisfying dinner for one. Though sometimes I have to admit the children really surprise me with what they decide they want to eat–like grapefruit but that is a different story.

Anyway I was hungry and had all this good food lying around so I decided, “Let’s do dinner.”

I find myself craving beans a lot and though red lentils are not officially beans they are in the legume family and when you haven’t planned ahead fit the bill for beans quite nicely. This is my favorite way to cook them, my own variation on an authentic mid-east recipe from Madhur Jaffrey’s World Vegetarian. I paired it with mustard greens cooked using a basic greens recipe, fresh radish and raspberry and nettle leaf tea for beverage.

Armenian Red Lentils

1 cup red lentils
4 cups water.
3/4 tsp salt
1/2 tsp tumeric
2 TBSP vegetable oil
2 bay leaves
1 tsp mustard seeds
1/2 tsp anise seeds
4 cloves garlic chopped
squeeze of lemon

Cook the red lentils in the water. I sometimes adjust slightly to make it thicker depending on my mood. Last night was a thicker night.
After the beans are cooked add the salt and tumeric. Adding salt too early can make your beans hard.

Heat oil in a frying pan, add the bay leaves, mustard seeds, anise and garlic. Stir constantly until garlic is golden. Be careful the mustard may start popping and it really hurts if it lands on you. Add the flavored oil to the lentils and finish with a squeeze of lemon. Eat over rice. We tend to eat a lot of Jasmine rice (a favorite with Southeast Asians) but i love it over brown rice also.

Then I was in the mood for dessert so we had

Banana Bread! using a mix of white flour with the germ and whole wheat flour. For sweetening I used sucanat.

Sometimes a nice meal made from your own hands using quality healthful ingredients can be so satisfying.

Getting into the Groove

Working on a farm it is sometimes pretty hard to carry a camera around but here is a picture of me packing boxes for today’s delivery.

It is our 2nd week delivering for CSA and already it feels like we are starting to get into the groove–and our vegetables too. Soon zucchini and carrots, peas and broccoli will grace our boxes and table. This week we have one of my spring time favorites-radishes.

We are all feeling better and getting good food in our bellies makes it even better. I have discovered another added blessing to CSA day–having an excuse to stay at home. We are a one car family. Often during the winter, especially if a storm is suspected Proeun will drive himself to work and we will be without a car for the day. Honestly I really enjoy the excuse not to go anywhere and hunker down at home. During the summer though I take him to work almost every day. So here is my opportunity to stay home and get some important things done around the house, like mopping floors, scrubbing the stove, fixing a slow sink and getting some rest time in.

With this pregnancy I definitely have to be very careful to keep myself hydrated and well fed. Being home makes that all the much easier! Plus I get to see a few of my customers.

Here is the newsletter for this week.

Herbs and a command to rest

For those of you that don’t see me on a regular basis these past 4 days have been very interesting to say the least. I ended up with and intense stomach bug which lead to one symptom after another until it got to the beginning stages of a bladder infection. Not good as bladder infections can cause contractions. So I have now been commanded by my midwife to rest. That is exactly what I have been doing the past couple of days. Resting is not easy when there is so so much to be done but wonderful when it can get accomplished.

Proeun has been holding down the fort at the farm and home while I spent most of the past couple of days in bed. Now it is back to work for him and I am at least able to take care of myself and the children.

One good thing that this sickness has done was give me ample opportunity to try out some herbs. I have been drinking Raspberry and Nettle leaf tea for general health, unsweetened cranberry juice for the bladder infection, and using Witch Hazel, Comfrey and White Oak bark for my other ailment, those familiar with herbs can probably figure it out from that list.

I have contacted a couple herbalists in the area with plans to take classes with them and have begun my wish list for an herb garden

St. John’s Wort

I have Susan Weeds book Herbs for the Child Bearing Year and am particularly interested in the section on “After Pains” another great time to rest. At least then I will be done with the season. If anyone has any suggestions on how to deal with after pains I would greatly appreciate it. With the last baby it was pretty intense, worse then labor I would say.

So tonight I am up and about a little bit more. My task for tonight was to restock my lagging supple of healthy convenience food, mostly granola and bread. On tonight’s menu is meatloaf and mashed potatoes and gravy. I am feeling a little light after my unintended starvation diet. I’ll write more later, I promise. Back to resting.

First CSA delivery day!

I can now breathe a little sigh of relief. We have now completed our first day of CSA drop offs. A farmer friend of mine told me that she always worries and worries and worries until the first week is done. I hadn’t realized it but some of that worry has rubbed off on me. I would find myself in the field willing plants that should be bigger then that to grow spontaneously overnight. Amazingly some did, but not all. So this week has been a week of analyzing crops and revamping our box list and it really wasn’t finalized until late last night when I had to start writing the email.

Then today we wanted to make sure we packed the boxes in an attractive way and that we had directions and instructions for all the drop sites. The children were really excited to finally take food to our customers, though they wanted to just sit somewhere and sell it. Anyway, I am really breathing a sigh of relief. One week down, 17 more to go. Sorry no pictures today.

Here’s the Newsletter for week 1

Vegan Vietnamese Noodle Soup

A friend of mine was interested in the Pho recipe but being a vegan it was not a good fit for her. So here Katie is a Vegan Vietnamese noodle soup. I have made it fairly regularly before marrying a carnivore in denial. It is from The Volumptuous Vegan Cookbook one of my favorites for vegan recipes that are phenomenal and not something I could come up with on my own.

Vietnamese Noodle Soup

4 cups vegetable broth of Southeast Asian Stock (also from the cookbook)
1 jalapeno, sliced in thin rounds
1 lemongrass stalk, cut into 2-3 pieces and bruised
3 TBSP shoyu or soy sauce
1 TBSP Maple syrup
1 14 ounce can of unsweetened coconut milk
2 ounces rice noodles
3 TBSP creamy peanut butter
2 TBSP fresh lime (or lemon) juice
2 cups shredded napa cabbage
1/2 cup thinly sliced snow peas
1 cup mung bean sprouts
2 TBSP fresh mint leaves
1/4 cup cilantro leaves chopped
1/4 roasted peanuts crushed

1. Add the stock to a medium pot. Add the jalapeno, lemongrass, shoyu (or soy sauce), maple syrup, and coconut milk. Bring to boil over high heat, lower the heat and simmer, partially covered for 15 minutes.

2. Meanwhile, place the noodles in heatproof bowl. Pour boiling water over them to cover and let soak for 10 minutes. Put up additional water to boil so that it is ready when your soup is.

3. Remove the lemongrass from the soup and discard. Place the peanut butter in a small bowl. Add 1/2 cup of hot soup to the peanut butter and whisk them together until the peanut butter is well dissolved. Add the peanut butter mixture to the soup along with the lime juice. Add a pinch of cayenne and sprinkle with salt to taste.

4. Drain noodles. Put the napa cabbage, snow peas, bean sprouts and noodles in a a strainer. Pour boiling water over just to heat them. If you are eating only a portion of the soup, pour boiling water only over the portion of vegetable you are going to eat.

5. Divide the vegetables and noodles among the soup bowls. Pour the hot soup over each portion.

Garnish with scallions, mint, cilantro and chopped peanuts. Serve with a wedge of lime.

OK I am really hungry now!

Mangalitsa Pigs on a dream farm

Yesterday the farm work was of a different nature–community building and education. We are so lucky to have some great organizations in our area doing a great work of bringing farmers together and offering up to date training on a variety of topics. So yesterday we made the journey to Taylor’s Falls (about an hour away) to learn all about raising Mangalitsa pigs.

These pigs are a fat-type heritage breed from Austria and Hungary. Not many years ago there were less then 200 left in the world. Stephen Jones and Cristina Cruz-Jones have taken their restaurant background and passion for food to farming and a beautiful union was born.

They have found a good niche market to foodies and local restaurants serving foodies. Last year then “finished” 4 hogs and this year they upped the number to 18.

Of course the children really wanted to touch them.

Stephen and Cristina are a passionate young couple about our age, with 2 girls, age 7 and 2. And they had a beautiful farm–one that gives us hope we might one day find our dream farm.

Also on the farm were a couple favorites–


a somewhat crazy Crested Polish Rooster who had been through alot an is now retired,

And a tree frog.

They have 20 acres and a lot of fun on their place.

The plastic boots were fun. I guess they are an important way to protect the animals from diseases transported between farms. What a great day.

Family Meal Table-Pho

Today I got my wish–rain on the weekend when we had no place pressing to go. We did get up this morning and go out to the farm getting in about 3 hours before the rains began. On the way home we were talking about lunch and Proeun said that it was a good Pho day. For those who don’t know Pho is the national dish of Vietnam and variations of it are family favorites all over Southeast Asia. I had never eaten it before eating Proeun but now it is one of my favorites. I consists of a mildly sweet and intensely flavorful beef broth served over rice noodles with meat balls or other pieces of meat and lots of cilantro, thai basil and green onions on top.

We stopped at our local Asian store for beef neck bones, meat balls, thai basil, and cilantro then home to start the magic. As with so many dishes I have learned from my in-laws it is really hard to give specific measurements. But what we did was start the bones in salted water and slowly cook it for like 5 hours. Skim off the fat and add more water and seasoning as needed.

We also like to roast an onion by wrapping it in foil and placing it directly on the burner until the inside is nicely burned. Then chop up the roasted onion and add to the broth.

For seasoning we used anise and cinnamon, sugar, salt, black pepper and some fish sauce. That makes the broth, alot of time patience and working with your tastebuds. It doesn’t need to be overly seasoned because it is traditional to add a variety of condiments.

Deep fried red onions, hoisin sauce (Chinese barbeque) Sriracha (pepper paste), preserved cabbage, Pho paste, cilantro, green onion and thai basil. Lemon or lime is also really nice.

Everyone selects and puts on their own choices to taste.

To assemble the bowls, soften the dried rice noodles in boiling water. Strain and put in bowls. Select the meat you chose, tonight it was sliced beef and meatballs plus the beef neck bones and cook or warm in a strainer on top of the broth. Add to noodles and ladle the broth over it. The noodles really soak up the broth so you will probably need more then you think, then add the condiments of your choice.

It’s one of our families favorites.

Chicks from Anoka Ramsey Feed

It has been a couple years since we got our chickens. While they are still laying a tolerable amount each day I can tell they are slowing down. I got the idea of getting a couple replacements about a month ago but it seemed like way too much with everything going on planning and plantingwise. However the children have really been clamoring for more baby animals, chicks especially. So yesterday it was raining. I decided it would be a good day for a drive. I took out all our chick supplies and after dropping Proeun off at work we began our journey.

To Anoka Ramsey Feed and Seed. It’s not too far past the sprawl, actually right on the edge of it and about 40 minutes from our house. For those in the cities it has been the key for keeping a connection with the country. They have become the spot for chicks and baby bunnies and plants for all kinds.

Back behind the old barn they keep adult chickens, geese and ducks. This is where we got our chickens 2 years ago and have been very happy with them.

Here’s Two picking out one from a mixed group of chicks and ducks.

The children were very disappointed that bunnies were not on the shopping list.

We brought a box to transport our chicks in. Two wanted to hold the box all the way home. I knew there was no hope for a nap after getting those chicks in the house, but I needed a break so I went to take a nap. I knew I should have made the kids put the chicks in their home before I laid down but I was exhausted. When I woke-up I didn’t see any chicks. I asked Two where they were. He said, “they are in their ship.” I thought he meant the box we brought them back in .

I was wrong. I am so glad we selected chicks 2-3 weeks old rather then the day olds we originally planned on. The chicks have been real troopers but I do have to remind the children to put them down frequently for a break and water. When we picked Proeun up last night 2 chicks came with. Proeun said, “you didn’t bring the chicks did you?”

Two has been really working on being responsible, cleaning up after them and keeping them safe. I told Proeun when we move to the farm we probably better try to have some baby animals every year.

Two kept saying, “I can’t believe I have a baby chick.”