Thursday, July 28, 2011

Garden 2011 Update

Barnside Movie at Silly Goose Farm

The garden is progressing quite nicely. Last time you saw it, it looked something like this. It has survived a heatwave and recently got a nice cold drink with the slew of rainstorms this week.

Barnside Movie at Silly Goose Farm

The radishes are done (though I still have a slew in the fridge), and lately I've had the pleasure of picking and eating peas, lettuce greens, zucchini, cucumbers, squash blossoms, and lots of different herbs. Garlic was discovered and dug-up around the property, and I'll be saving some of it to plant in the fall for next year's garden. All the blackberries and raspberries are gone, but will soon be replaced by big bunches of grapes. Tomatoes are dripping off the vine, and I'm hoping some (especially the yellow pear tomatoes) will be ready for snacking this weekend. Carrots are close to perfect, while the peppers grow closer to ripe each day. Before I know it, we'll be harvesting pumpkins, butternut squash, pears, and apples (they already have a blush).

Barnside Movie at Silly Goose Farm

Few things in life are as glorious as picking your food from your backyard (or porch, stoop or fire escape).

Photos courtesy of the lovely Christine

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Chocolate Chip and Toasted Coconut Ice Cream Sandwiches

Ice cream sandwiches have sort of become the signature highlight of our Barnside Movie parties. I feel like the pressure is on to create tried-and-true pairings alongside interesting flavor combinations. This year, I decided to marry two of my favorite flavors together (chocolate and coconut), which led me to create Chocolate Chip and Toasted Coconut Ice Cream Sandwiches. Essentially, this is just a chocolate chip cookie recipe teamed with coconut ice cream. Sounds kind of boring, but when you taste it, fuggitaboutit, it's amazing. I hope you'll try it!

Chocolate Chip Cookies
Makes approximately 30 cookies

2 1/2 cups flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup butter, softened
3/4 cup brown sugar
3/4 cup white sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 eggs
8 oz chocolate chips

1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit. Combine flour, baking soda and salt, set aside. Combine butter, sugars, and vanilla in a large bowl, beat until creamy. Beat in eggs.

2. Gradually add the flour mixture and blend well. Stir in chocolate chips.

3. Drop cookies in rounded spoonfuls onto ungreased cookie sheets. Bake for 8-10 minutes. Allow to cool.

Toasted Coconut Ice Cream
Makes approximately 2 quarts

4 large egg yolks
1/2 cup sugar
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
2 cups heavy cream
1 cup whole milk
8 ounces unsweetened coconut milk
4 ounces sweetened shredded coconut (or more/less depending on your preference)

1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit. Place the shredded coconut in a single layer on a baking sheet. Place in oven until golden brown (about 10-15 minutes). Be sure to stir and re-arrange coconut frequently to prevent burning. Allow to cool completely. Note: The shredded coconut lends a chewy texture to the ice cream. Add more or less, depending on your preference (I like more!).

2. In a large bowl, whisk together egg yolks and sugar. Set aside. In a larger bowl (or in the sink) prepare an ice bath.

3. Combine heavy cream, milk, and coconut milk in a large pot and cook over medium-high heat. Bring to just shy of boiling. Slowly stream the milk mixture into the egg mixture, whisk feverishly.

4. Once approximately half of the milk mixture is added to eggs, add entire egg mixture back into the large pot. Cook until thickened, continuously whisking and scraping the pot (a good trick to knowing it is thick enough is when the mixture coats the back of a wooden spoon, run your finger along the spoon. If the track stays, it is thick enough). This will take only 2-3 minutes.

5. Voila! You have an ice cream base. Add the base to the large bowl and stick the bowl in the ice bath. Add the vanilla. Stir the base for several minutes to cool and release steam. Place a piece of plastic wrap over the base so that is touches it. This will prevent a skin from forming. Place the bowl in the refrigerator for several hours or overnight.

6. When the ice cream base is completely cold, and it to your ice cream maker and follow manufacturer instructions. Once the ice cream is nearly done churning, add in the toasted coconut. Transfer to a freezer dish. The ice cream will need to cure and harden for several hours or overnight.

Assembling The Sandwiches
Makes approximately 15 sandwiches

1. Pair like-sized cookies together. For each '"set," place a rounded scoop of ice cream on one cookie and smoosh the second cookie on top. Press until the ice cream nearly reaches the cookies' edges. If desired, press until ice cream it reaches the edges, then smooth the ice cream flush with the cookies with an off-set spatula.

2. Wrap cookies in freezer paper or plastic wrap. Allow to firm up for at least an hour.


Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Summer Essentials

Summer seems to be flying by (August is nearly here!). I've still managed to scoop up some items I consider my summer essentials. Hopefully you can grab some of these, as well!

1. Tucker Panel Mini Dress, $385 Dave loves when I wear Tucker dresses (probably because many are so short! :-)

2. L.L. Bean French Sailor's Shirt. $29.50 This shirt embodies the "it" trend of the moment (nautical stripes) while maintaining a classic silhouette. Perfect for chilly mornings and evening on the water

3. Land's End Classic Open Toe Ballet Flat, $15.19 Dress 'em up or down, a great go-to shoe

4. Sperry Top-Sider Angelfish Boat Shoe, $75 Another classic. So comfortable I could wear them all day, every day

5. Levi's Signature Cut-Offs, $4 I bought a pair of these jeans at Salvation Army, cut them off and cuffed them

6. Smith's Rosebud Salve, $5 The perfect sheer pink for lips (smells good, too)

7. Physicians Formula Organics Mascara, $7 Blacky-black, and without all the nasty chemicals (paired with the rosebud salve, that's my entire make-up routine for summer)

8. Land's End Starfish Roll Sleeve Open Crewneck Top, $10.39 Perfect for bumming around the house, working in the garden, or a quick run to the farmers market

9. Alba Botanica Pure Lavendar SunBlock, $13.59 Keeps me looking pasty and smells good, too!

10. Moroccan Oil Treatment, $33 An investment in hair-care terms, but it works wonders, keeps frizz down on even the most humid days, and a little goes a long way (I have super-thick, relatively long hair, and this lasts me 5 months)

11. Arbonne Baby Care Body Oil, $9 I first came across this product when I had Edith, and I fell in love with it for the summer months when regular lotion is just to thick and sticky

12. Dogeared "Captain Of Your Ship" Necklace, $72 This was a lovely present from Dave and has an even lovelier message behind it

13. Ray-Ban Rounded Wayfarers, $179 I love that these glasses have the timeless Wayfarer shape, but are jazzed up a bit with a slightly rounded lens (I bought mine at Macy's on sale for only $99!)

What are some of your summer essentials? I'd love to hear! PS - most of these items fit one of the Sustainable Living credos: Either it is made from organic, all-natural, and/or sustainable materials; is an American company; is made in America (particularly by individual craftspeople and independent companies) and/or; donates regularly through a charitable giving program.

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Herbal Digestif

I made this herbal digestif for the food swap I recently attended. This is a simple recipe with spectacular results - perfect to keep on hand for last minute host gifts and to offer guests at impromptu drop-ins. Herbal digestifs are great aides for digestion (especially after a large meal) or to help alleviate other ailments (simply match the herbs used to the desired treatment). This version is also great for cocktails (see the recipes below). Any herbs or whole spices can be made into a digestif or infusion, so use your imagination and my below selections and a guideline. You can find similar glass bottles at kitchen supply stores.


Herbal Digestif

Clear, neutral alcohol, such as a decent quality Vodka or Everclear (I used Fleischmanns)

Selection of fresh herbs, approximately 6-7 sprigs of herbs for each quart (32oz) of alcohol (I used tarragon, rosemary, common thyme and lemon thyme)

1. Thoroughly wash selected herbs. Place in clean, dry container (such as a mason jar or glass bottle with stopper) and set aside.

2. In a saucepan, warm enough alcohol to fill bottle over medium-high heat. Bring to just under boiling. Remove from heat and pour into jar or container (use a funnel if needed).

3. Secure the top or lid of container and store in a cool, dry place for at least a week. Shake container each day for the first week to help release oils from herbs.

4. After one week, the digestif is ready to use (it will be a lovely shade of chartreuse). Filter with cheesecloth and discard herbs, if desired. Will keep indefinitely in a cool, dry location. Drink approximately one ounce each evening or after large meals for digestive aide, or serve in a cocktail. Enjoy!

Bloody Mary Mary Quite Contrary
Serves One

2 oz. herbal digestif
6 oz. tomato juice
4 drops Tabasco sauce
1/2 tsp. horseradish
1 tbsp. lemon juice
1/2 tsp. Worcestershire sauce
Celery salt and pepper, to taste

Combine all ingredients and shake with ice. Strain into a highball glass with ice, Garnish with a celery stalk.

Herb's Harvest
Serves Two

2 oz. herbal digestif
5 oz. pear puree
5 oz. lemon juice
1 oz. cranberry juice
1/2 oz. almond syrup

Combine all ingredients and shake with ice. Strain into an old-fashioned glass with ice. Garnish with a sprig of rosemary.

Garden Select Vodka Tonic
Serves One

1 tbsp. lemon juice
2 oz. herbal digestif
5 oz. tonic

Stir ingredients together in a highball glass with ice. Garnish with a rosemary sprig and a lemon slice.

Garden Ale
Serves One

2 oz. herbal digestif
1/2 oz. dry vermouth
1/2 oz. sweet vermouth
Ginger Ale

In a collins glass, combine herbal digestif and vermouth. Add ice and top with ginger ale. Garnish with an olive.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Food Swap Recap

On Sunday, I attended my second food swap held in collaboration with From Scratch Club (a blog and food community I write for - amazing stuff!). I have to laugh sometimes - where I grew up, food swapping wasn't a thing, it was something you just did. I think it's funny that many of the principles I grew up with are now en vogue. It's something I've grappled with, and I'll admit, I have had a bit of a chip on my shoulder about the whole thing until recently. The foodie and local/farming/homesteading movements that have become popular over the past several years adhere to the old-timey practices I was raised on. Sometimes I still get upset when people take an old notion and act like it's totally revolutionary. I definitely fit into the "First Adopter" role in many of these cases (to through some fancy marketing terms around), and sometimes I want to hop on my high-horse and say, "Listen, idiot, that's something people where I grew up have done for generations. Just because you're doing it while wearing skinny jeans doesn't make your method new, better, or hip." Instead, I've learned to embrace a different role. I'd be putting my parents, my aunts and uncles, my grandparents, my great-grandparents, and the rest of my ancestors to shame if I didn't take my knowledge and try to help others with it. Instead of competing over each other, it's my job to offer ways of collaboration so that these roots of my exsistence carry on for future generations. I'm trying to bolster what other people are doing, because I believe that what they are doing (well, most of them) is the right thing to do. Besides, I'd rather be seen as a becon of knowledge rather than a bully of originality.

Okay, enough ranting already!

Where was I? Oh yes, food swap. So, the food swap was held at All Good Bakers and organized by Christine (yes, that Christine, the one I'm forever raving about - she's awesome!!) and Chris with From Scatch Club. I was late (as per usual), but I was so excited to see all the new faces in the crowd and watch them get jazzed for their first food swap. Food swapping is quick and dirty: First, you set out what you brought (samples are always a good idea), and fill out a handy little swap card detailing your item. Second, everyone goes around and takes notes on what they like. Next, we all write our names, as well as what we can swap for, on the card of the item(s) we desire. Finally, we look at our own cards to determine who wants to swap with us, and if we want to swap with them. Swapping is based on a 1:1 ratio. For every one item you bring, you swap for one item. For more on how food swapping works, check out this handy recap.

I made a Herbal Digestif for my swap item. Great on its own or in a cocktail, it is easy to make and can be used in many ways (recipe to follow). I included a recipe card in the form of a "Cootie Catcher," because who doesn't love alcohol paired with silly games? I made four jars of the digestif and swapped it for garlicky pesto (which we paired with bacon and linguine for a tasty pasta dinner), a jar of corn relish, a jar of salsa, and a bar of rosemary soap (yep, soap is techincally allowed at a food swap, the main rule being you have to swap something you made/grew yourself. No store bought items!!).

I had a great time at the swap, and look forward to the next one soon (and here's the recap of my first food swap). If you are in the Albany area, contact me for more information about the whys and whatnots of our next swap! Food swapping is a great way to lead a sustainable lifestyle because it keeps food production local and helps create a community of like-minded individuals. I hope you will give it a try!

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Barnside Movie Party - "A League Of Their Own"

Barnside Movie at Silly Goose Farm

We hosted the 2nd Annual Silly Goose Farm Barnside Movie Party on Saturday (sounds very official, eh?). It was a blast, and it seems everyone enjoyed themselves. This year, we showed A League Of Their Own (we kept with the baseball theme from last year's The Sandlot). The weather was perfect (although a little humid and buggy - seriously, I think I have 50,000 bug bites), and the night was magical.

I kept the food and drink simple this year (well, more simple than usual). For beverages, I served a mint lemonade, white wine sangria, and assorted beers and juice boxes for the kids (sangria recipe coming soon!).

Barnside Movie at Silly Goose Farm

Barnside Movie at Silly Goose Farm

Barnside Movie at Silly Goose Farm 

Food was kept to a popcorn station (everyone loves an old air popper!), brownies and a yummy jalapeno dip brought by friends and neighbors, and ice cream sandwiches.
Barnside Movie at Silly Goose Farm

Barnside Movie at Silly Goose Farm

I made four flavor combinations of sandwiches, including peanut butter-chocolate, chocolate chip-toasted coconut, chocolate-mint, and oatmeal raisin-scotch vanilla (I made everything from scratch except for the mint and chocolate ice creams. I ran out of time! Recipes to follow).

Edith was having a rough day, and slept through the entire event. Eric, on the other hand, was in the middle of the action all night.

Barnside Movie at Silly Goose Farm

Barnside Movie at Silly Goose Farm

The orange moon was nestled behind a grove of trees for the evening, which allowed the stars to twinkle. I'm not sure which was brighter - the stars or the hundreds of fireflies that hovered around us, flashing their little lights like the most steadfast theatre attendants.

Barnside Movie at Silly Goose Farm

Barnside Movie at Silly Goose Farm

We are hoping to have another movie night before the season is over. I would like to do this every year (show a family-friendly movie (I'd love to show You've Got Mail or Bringing Up Baby), and perhaps a more "cult" movie - topping my list are The Royal Tennenbaums, Harold and Maude, and The Big LebowskiI get the feeling that no matter what we choose to show, we'll still have a great time.

Have you ever watched a movie in plein air? What are some of your favorite movies? I'd love to hear! Let me know in the comments, or tell me about it on Twitter! I'll be posting recipes and how-to's from the party soon, including tips on making your party fit within a sustainable lifestyle. And a very special thanks to my lovely, gracious friend Christine, who took the lovely pictures you see here!

Weekend Update

Hello friends, how was your weekend? Mine was busy busy busy! We held our 2nd Annual Barnside Movie party on Saturday, and on Sunday I attended a food swap held by the amazing From Scratch Club. I'll have pictures and recipes coming right up, but in the meantime, I thought I'd share some photos from around the farm over the past few days.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Where to Find Me

I maintain a lot of blogs. Maybe too many. Between personal blogs, collaborative blogs, and ghost-writing for clients, sometimes it feels like my whole day is filled to the brim with blogging! Clearly, you've found me here at Silly Goose Farm, but if you are ever wondering where else to find me, here's a quick sampling:

Lady of the Lake: This is where I post pictures that inspire my "someday" life (honestly, I feel like I do have my "someday" life, but the only thing that would make it that much better is a lake house and vintage automobile, and that's about it).

Marketing and Design: This blog is part of the Times Union community. I was asked to participate and offer my professional opinion and expertise (if you can call it that) on the world of communications, social media, blogging, public relations, marketing, etc...

From Scratch Club: I'm a newbie to this blog, but I already feel like such a welcomed member of the family. From Scratch Club was created by Christina in efforts to connect with other moms who deal with food allergies, but has grown into a hotspot for those who not only enjoy food, but make it a priority to try make as much food from scratch as possible and know the farmers and growers who provide the food we put on our tables. PS - From Scratch Club also plays host to some amazing food swaps. Awesome!!

I hope you'll take the time to check out these blogs and leave me a note! Each highlights a different aspect of my life, and it will help you get to know me a bit better, if you're into that sort of thing. Happy reading!!

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Garden 2011

Here it is, my long-overdue post on my garden this year. I planted two beds that are probably about 6'x15' each. My hope is that later this year, I can move the cow fence back a bit, add four new beds of the same dimension, and place a fence around the entire garden. 

The layout of the garden is as follows:

Bed One:
Row 1: Tomatoes (Yellow Pear, Red Currant) and Marigolds
Row 2: Tomatoes (Jet Star) and Marigolds
Row 3: Tomatoes (Beefsteak, Jet Star, Sweet Aroma Hybrid) and Marigolds
Row 4: Tomatoes (Big Rainbow), Peppers (Jalapeno, Jupiter), and Marigolds
Row 5: Peppers (Sweet Pepper Mix, Yellow Bell, Revolution, Portugal Hot ) and Marigolds
Row 6: Radishes (Raxe)
Row 7: Carrots (Danvers 126)
Row 8: Carrots (Danvers 126)
Row 9 Herbs (Dill, Rosemary, Spearmint, Basil)
Row 10: Herbs (Cilantro, Rosemary, Italian Parsley. Chives)
Row 11: Originally had onions but transplants didn't survive. Will be used for fall plantings
Row 12: Lettuce (Rainbow Microgreens, Salad Bowl)
Row 13: Lettuce (Valeria Red Leaf)
Row 14: Originally had Dahlias but transplants didn't survive. Will be used for fall plantings
Row 15: Peas (Garden Sweet)
Border plantings include Pumpkins (Long Island Cheese, Jack-O'-Lantern), Gourds (Small Fancy Mix), Melons (Cool Green Honeydew, Hearts of Gold Cantaloupe, Sugar Bowl Watermelon), Zucchini (Foodhook Organic), Squash (Waltham Butternut), and Cucumbers (Picklebush)

Bed Two:
Row 1: Tomatoes (Jupiter, Brandywine) and Marigolds
Row 2: Tomatoes (Juliet) and Marigolds
Row 3: Tomatoes (Juliet, San Marzano) and Marigolds
Row 4: Tomatoes (San Marzano) and Marigolds
Row 5: Tomatoes (San Marzano) and Marigolds
Row 6: Tomatoes (San Marzano) and Marigolds
Row 7: Tomatoes (San Marzano) and Marigolds
Row 8: Tomatoes (San Marzano) and Basil
Row 9: Horehound, Catnip, Parsley and Basil
Row 10: Broccoli
Row 11: Cauliflower and Cabbage
Row 12: Brussels Sprouts and Celery
Row 13: Carrots (Rainbow Blend)
Row 14: Lettuce (Mesclun Mix)
Row 15: Lettuce (Mesclun Mix)
Row 16: Blank, will be used for fall plantings
Row 17: Hollyhocks (Heritage Outhouse Hollyhocks Single Mixed Colors)
Border plantings include Pumpkins (Small Sugar, Jack Be Little), Zinnias (Heritage Pumila Mixed), Cosmos (Heritage Sensation Mix), and Blanket Flower

I laid grass clippings as mulch between the rows, around the bed, and around each plant. This helps to smother out weeds, retain water, and keep the soil warm. I am hoping I can find enough old bricks on the property to create a little border around each bed. The space between the beds is big enough to fit the lawn tractor and wagon for unloading grass clippings, fertilizer, etc.

The kids and my mom helping to plant the garden

It's not a Martha Stewart garden, but it does the job for now. I've already harvested lots of lettuces and radishes, and soon I'll be able to have my pick of everything else (we have lots of green tomatoes raring to turn red!). In the fall I will plant more lettuce and radishes before I till everything together and plant winter wheat, winter rye, and garlic. To get to the garden, I have to walk under an old Ben Davis apple tree that is dripping with fruit. I set-up our antique lawn furniture next to the garden, as well, so I can watch it grow with morning coffee or evening cocktail. The cows come and visit, too.

Did you plant a garden this year? How is it growing? Are you trying to install your own container herb garden? I'd love to hear about your garden activities this year!