Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Early Summer Flowers

Excuse Dad's knees and the coloring book

There were so many flowers in bloom all the sudden, I decided to cut a few to beautify the sunporch for my parents' visit. The above arrangement is a combination of peonies (they're a little faded, but I wanted to make the mot of them before the rain completely demolished them!), old English shrub roses, and another variety of shrub rose that has the most lovely little clumps of white flowers and brilliant yellow centers. The scent was unbelievable.

Dave brought me these little cuties the other day, just because (he's the best husband!). I cut them down (and removed the baby's breath that came with them), and arranged these mums/daisies, carnations and roses in this little urn. Yes, it's the same urn as the first picture - I bought a matching set at a Syracuse, NY flea market for $5!

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Cute Quilts

My mother in-law, Christine, is widely known for her creativity and talent when it comes to quilt making. In fact, she teaches many classes and has helped her students develop a true eye and passion for this time-honored craft.

The last time Dave's family came to the farm for a visit, Christine presented us with these two beautiful quilts.

Sorry for the bad photos, I wasn't really sure how to capture these beauties!

They are smaller than bed quilts (the quilt below is about 3'x3', the one above is slightly smaller).

I think it would be really nice to build a shadowbox with a hinged, glass front that I can rotate and display these in. I would probably hang it in the entry, or above the fireplace once the kitchen remodel is completed.

This is the label on the back of the quilt to identify when and where this quilt was made.

We have two other queen-sized qulits that Christine has made. I'll have pictures of them when I reveal the new guest room. Thanks for your generosity Christine!

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Pecan Shortbread

Earlier in the week, Dave's colleague, Dr. MacDonald, came over to the farm to start in on a new work project. I always feel terrible if I don't have some sort of little treat to offer our guests (even though I know most of them could care less), so I decided to try whipping up a batch of shortbread.

Dave is, without doubt, a shortbread junkie. Especially when we went to Scotland, he was pretty psyched for all the shortbread we were offered. So I knew Dave would at least be happy. But to be honest, I had never made shortbread before, and because it requires such few ingredients, there was little room for error. I was worried everything that went into making this little morsels had to be top-notch, or else they just wouldn't taste right.

Well, I didn't have the highest quality ingredients, but I had pretty decent ingredients, and I think this shortbread turned out great. It went quick, at least! The key is making sure the butter stays really cold, just like when you make pie crust, biscuits, or any other pastry. I used the shortbread recipe from Better Homes and Gardens New Cookbook: Celebrating the Promise.

Makes 16 wedges*

1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
3 tablespoons granulated sugar
1/2 cup butter

1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees Fahrenheit. Combine flour and sugar. Using a pastry blender**, cut in butter until mixture resembles fine crumbs and starts to cling. Knead until smooth and form into a ball***.

2. To make wedges, on an ungreased cookie sheet, pat dough into an 8-inch circle. Make a scalloped edge. Cut circle into 16 wedges. Leave wedges in a circle. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes or until bottom starts to brown and center is set. Recut circle into wedges while warm. Cool on cookie sheet for 5 minutes. Cool on a wire rack.****

*I cut mine into 8 wedges, just because 16 seemed a little skimpy.
** Don't worry about fancy tools like a pastry blender. They have useful applications, but for recipes like this, just cut the COLD butter into cubes and use your fingers. It allows you to really feel the dough and judge its texture.
***I found the dough to be a little dry, so I added 1 tablespoon of cold water. It made a perfect dough.
****I had some finely chopped pecans on hand, so I threw in about 1/4 cup of those pecans in. It was a really nice touch. I also decided that these shortbreads needed some chocolate, so I melted 6 ounces of semi-sweet chocolate, 1 tablespoon of butter, and about 1/4 cup of whole milk (though you could use cream) over a double boiler. I just drizzled this "ganache" over the shortbreads after they were cooled and then sprinkled some more pecans on top, because I like it when food looks like it tastes, know what I mean? I kept them on a cookie sheet and put them in the freezer for about 15 minutes to make sure the ganache hardened properly.

These pictures definitely aren't the best, sorry!

That's it! It was really easy, and I think my first attempt at shortbread was a decent one. Dave and Dr. MacDonald were very productive at their "dining room table" meeting. I'd like to think it was because of the brain fuel I provided them via these cookies, but in reality, it was just because they are both young, brilliant and motivated. Ah, well.

Friday, June 11, 2010

Sundays on the Sunporch: Buttermilk Scones

So, you're back for round 2 of "Sundays on the Sunporch," eh? Glad you liked what you saw earlier, and I hope you'll find joy in this recipe, too.

This recipe is something I turn to again. And again. And again. It's virtually no-fail, and I've created so many different versions of this same basic recipe, that the cookbook falls open right to the "scones" page on it's own (the opposite page bears the recipe for baking powder biscuits - another favorite at Silly Goose Farm). The preface of this recipe says it all: "Think of scones as British biscuits. They are made in a manner similar to biscuits and, in fact, share biscuits' buttery-layered texture, but their name, their shape, and the fact that they're served with tea rather than gravy lift them to the level of fancier fare." There are many ways to prepare scones. You can add basically anything to them (chocolate, dried fruit, whatever your mood presents), and serve them in many ways (in the American style, with coffee and jam, or Brit-like with tea and clotted cream). This recipe comes from none other than our beloved Jooolia (you must say it as you hum, and as if you've had a martini or two, in the classic Julia way), via Baking With Julia, written by Doria Greenspan.

Buttermilk Scones
Makes 12 triangular or 24 rolled scones

3 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup sugar
2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
3/4 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 sticks (6 ounces) cold unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
1 cup (approximately) buttermilk
1 tablespoon grated orange or lemon zest
1/2 stick (2 ounces) unsalted butter, melted, for brushing*
1/4 cup sugar, for dusting**
4 tablespoons jam or jelly and/or 4 tablespoons diced or small plump dried fruits, such as currants, raisins, apricots, or figs for filling (optional)***

1. Position the over racks to divide the oven in to thirds and preheat the over to 425 degrees Fahrenheit.

2. In a medium bowl, stir the flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt together with a fork. Add the cold butter pieces and, using your fingertips (the first choice), a pastry blender, or two knives, work the butter into the dry ingredients until the mixture resembles coarse cornmeal. It's OK if some largish pieces of butter remain - they'll add to the scones' flakiness.

3. Pour in 1 cup buttermilk, toss in the zest, and mix with the fork only until the ingredients are just moistened - you'll have a soft dough with a rough look. (If the dough looks dry, add another tablespoon of buttermilk.) Gather the dough into a ball, pressing it gently so that it holds together, turn it out onto a lightly floured work surface, and knead it very briefly - a dozen turns should do it. Cut the dough in half.

4. To make triangular-shaped scones: Roll one piece of the dough into a 1/2-inch-thick circle that is about 7 inches across. Brush the dough with half of the melted butter, sprinkle with 2 tablespoon of the sugar, and cut the circle into 6 triangles. Place the scones on an ungreased baking sheet and set aside while you roll our the rest of the dough.

5. To make rolled scones: Roll one piece of dough into a strip that is 12 inches long and 1/2 inch thick (the piece will not be very wide.) Spread the strip with half of the melted butter and dust with half of the sugar.
If you want to spread the roll with jam and/or sprinkle it with dried fruits, now's the time to do so; leave a narrow border on a long edge bare. Roll the strip up from a long side like a jelly roll, pinch the seam closed and turn the roll seam side down. Cut the roll in half and cut each piece into six 1-inch-wide roll-ups. Place the rolled scones cut side down on an ungreased baking sheet, leaving a little space between each one. Repeat with the remaining dough.

6. Bake the scones for 10 to 12 minutes, until both the tops and bottoms are golden. Transfer the scones to a rack and cool slightly. These are best served warm but are just fine at room temperature.

7. If you're not going to eat the scones the day they are made, wrap them airtight and freeze; they'll stay fresh for a month. To serve, defrost the scones at room temperature in their wrappers, then unwrap and reheat on a baking sheet for 5 minutes at 350 degrees Fahrenheit.

*I use a simple egg wash (1 egg and a tablespoon of milk, cream or water, beaten together) in place of the melted butter, brushed on top of the scones just before baking to give a beautiful golden sheen.

**I like using Demerara, or raw, sugar for this type of baking. When sprinkled on top of the scones, it adds a subtle crunch without deterring from the flakiness.

***I added about 5 ounces of chocolate chips to the scones for a little extra "deliciousity." Be sure to use a good-quality chocolate, as lesser brands often contain high amounts of vegetable wax which causes the chocolate to not melt thoroughly.

 This cake stand was a wonderful Christmas present from my darling husband, and can be found here 

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Blueberry Buckle

My parents were at the farm over the weekend, and whenever they come I always make sure to feed them. The main reason they come to visit is, of course, to play with their grandkids, but I usually have some project I need them to help me with when they are here. Making sure my folks are well-fed is a small price to pay for their help. Plus, I don't want them to start thinking I only keep them around for the cheap labor (just kidding, Mom and Dad!).

So, this weekend, I made a meal of yummy vegetable pasta salad, grilled corn-on-the-cob with a little lime butter, and London Broil marinated and seasoned in the Montreal style and cooked to medium over slow-burning charcoal. But to me, no meal is complete without something sweet at the end. I needed to whip up dessert quick, and also had fresh, plump, richly indigo blueberries on hand.

I decided to make this delicious Blueberry Buckle. I found the recipe in the Ginsberg's Cookbook that celebrates the company's 100th anniversary (Ginsberg's Foods was one of my clients, and I assisted them in the planning and publicity of their 100th anniversary celebration. Hi Nancy and David!!). The recipe is so easy, and the results are divine (this was my first buckle, and I think it turned out great).

Dot's Blueberry Buckle

2 cups flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup butter
1 egg
1/2 cup milk
1 cup fresh blueberries*
Crumb Topping (recipe follows)

Mix dry ingredients together. In a separate bowl blend sugar and butter until creamy; then add egg. Alternate adding dry ingredients and milk to egg mixture.** Fold in blueberries, batter will be thick. Pour batter into round greased cake pan. Equally distribute crumb topping over cake batter. Bake at 375 degrees for 40 minutes. This recipe doubles easily.

Crumb Topping

1/2 cup sugar***
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon****
1/4 cup flour
1/4 cup butter, softened

Using a pastry cutter, blend ingredients.

*I think you could use frozen blueberries for this, but allow them to thaw and drain before use. Too much liquid will make this buckle heavy and soggy

**When alternating wet and dry ingredients, be sure to always incorporate dry ingredients last. This ensures the smoothest batter.

***I used brown sugar in this recipe, just because I could :-)

****I also doubled the cinnamon, again, just because.


I think this is best served warm with a dollop (or two... or four) of homemade sweetened whipped cream. I add a little vanilla to mine. This buckle is very reminiscent of a light and airy blueberry muffin, but the crumb topping sweetens it to dessert level.

Ever had a "buckle" before? Do you prefer simple Americana desserts like this, or sweets that are more complex and indulgent?

Random Pictures

Just a few random photos from life on the farm. This pasture is used for dry cow and cows that are pregnant. It's so fun to see little baby calves in the pasture right after they are born (I'll try to snap pictures next time one arrives)!

These cows are actually heifers, meaning they've never had a calf before. Once they do, they can be milked and officially called "cows."

Here's a picture of the North side of the house. The back half of the house will look much different once we complete the remodel (the roof will be raised, chimney moved, and dormers installed).

And finally, a picture of "farmer Dave" out mowing the back yard.

Friday, June 4, 2010

A Little Weekend Listening

As I (begrudgingly) try to do some work this sun-shiny morning, I've truly enjoyed listening to the new tunes from Sharon Jones and the Dap-Kings. Have you heard of them? If not, get familiar. I highly recommend them. I think you could easily play this entire album at a easy-breezy summer party instead of trying to create the perfect playlist.

Any new albums (or old, for that matter) that you can listen to from beginning-to-end? I'm always looking for new tunes. Leave me a comment and let me know what you're jamming out to lately.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

New Project Sneak-Peek!

I have some new, exciting projects to share with all of you, but they're not quite "blog ready" yet. Here's a bit of a sneak-peek to hold you over. Can you guess what it is?

Why I Love Living on Silly Goose Farm: Reason Two


Because whenever I want fresh flowers to gussy-up my house, I just walk outside and cut them!

Poppies, although they never last long
Bud vase by me

Sweet little roses from the bush near the pantry window

I scour tag sales and flea markets to find old salt and pepper shakers - they make the perfect bud vases!

Phlox from the cow pasture
Bud vase by me

Sundays on the Sunporch: Streusel Cupcakes

It's always nice to have one day a week to just bum around, isn't it? I think that is what Sundays are for. Wake up. Maybe change out of your jammies. Read the paper. Spend time with the ones you love. So on Sundays at Silly Goose Farm, Dave and I are hanging out with the kiddos on the kitchen sunporch. And since I have tons of cookbooks to test and recipes to try, I've decided to wake up a little earlier on Sundays and try a new, tasty morsel for us to enjoy.

The first recipe in this series comes from everyone's favorite domestic diva... the one, the only, Marthaaaa Steeewaart! (just say it as if you're the announcer at a professional wrestling match - you'll get the idea). We call her "Marfa" around here. For our anniversary, Dave gave me the Martha Stewart's Cupcakes book. I couldn't wait to try all the delicious (and adoreable!) recipes, and though the Streusel Cupcake option was perfect for Sunday brunch on the sunporch.
Streusel Cupcakes
(Makes 24)*

2 1/2 cups all-purpse flour
1/2 teaspoons baking soda
1 1/4 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoons coarse salt
1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons (1 1/4 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
1 cup sugar
3 large eggs
1 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups sour cream
Streusel Topping (see recipe below)
Milk Glaze (see recipe below)

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line muffin tins with paper liners. Whisk together flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt.

2. With an electric mixer on medium-high speed, cream butter and sugar until pale and fluffy. Add eggs, one at a time, beating until each is incorporated, scraping down sides of bowl as needed. Stir in vanilla by hand. Add flour mixture and sour cream; stir until just combined.

3. Divide batter evenly among lined cups. Sprinkle half the topping over cupcakes, gently pressing it into the batter. Sprinkle evenly with remaining topping. Bake, rotating tins halfway though, until golden brown and a cake tester inserted in centers comes out clean, about 20 minutes.** Transfer tins to wire rack to cool completely before removing cupcakes.

4. To finish, place cupcakes on a wire rack set over a baking sheet; drizzle evenly with milk glaze. Glazed cupcakes can be stored up to 3 days at room temperature in airtight containers.
Streusel Topping
(Makes enough for 24 cupcakes)

2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 cup packed dark brown sugar
2 1/4 teaspoons ground cinnamon
3/4 teaspoon coarse salt
1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons (1 1/4 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature

Whisk together flour, brown sugar, cinnamon, and salt; cut in the butter using a pastry blender, your fingertips, or two table knives until combined but still crumbly. Refrigerate 30 minutes before using.
Milk Glaze
(Makes enough for 24 cupcakes)

1 1/2 cups confectioners' sugar, sifted***
3 tablespoons milk

Whisk together ingredients until smooth. Use immediately.

*I used a larger muffin tin, so I ended up with 12 cupcakes. I thought this was the perfect serving size for a light, quick breakfast or brunch option. However, if I was serving this at a more formal brunch, I would stick with the standard cupcake size.

**I ended up baking these little buggers for closer to 30 minutes, since they were the bigger size. BTW - I'm sure Marfa has endless cake testers at her disposal, and I'm sure they're all gold-plated, but I use toothpicks or wooden skewers, and those work just fine.

***I though the glaze was a little thin, so I added 1/4 cup more confectioners' sugar. I think adding a 1 tablespoon of coffee or maple syrup to the glaze would be a really nice addition, in which case reduce the milk by 1 tablespoon.

I can't wait to dig up more recipes and continue this tradition. Of course, dear friends, you are always invited to come join us. We would love to have you!

What do you do on Sunday mornings? Is there another day of the week that is your "relaxation" day? I would love to hear!

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

If It Were Only This Glamorous

Why can't farm life actually be this glamorous? Sure, it has moments of beauty, but I don't know if I'd call it glamorous.

Isn't she stunning? And so natural. I'm jealous.

Images via

Thanks Daniella!

The Roses Are in Bloom at Silly Goose Farm

The roses are blooming here on the farm, and the scent is intoxicating. This is our third summer on the farm, and I've never seen so many blooms and buds. The rain we received earlier this week must have done the trick. There are lots of random rose bushes all over the property, and I would love to transplant them to better areas.

Please excuse the peeling paint!

This beauty lives right outside our dining room, and you can smell the roses from inside the house. It's very overgrown, and I think I'll need to trim it down, or even move it elsewhere.

Anyone have pointers about caring for roses? I'd love to hear your thoughts! Leave a comment below or email me at