My Christmas haiku…ahem…

I just love Christmas

I bake a lot of cookies

For our cookie jar

It is 8 days before Christmas here at our little New Hampshire homestead and I’ve decided to take next week off my my D.J. (day job) which means I will have plenty of time to bake cookies. I have been going to sleep at night, planning out the batches. There are many types of recipes in my repertoire (origin: French répertoire, from Late Latin repertorium meaning, “Big-ass recipe book up in the cupboard). The tried and true recipes passed through the generations (Coconut-Oatmeal cookies that make your arm hurt from stirring the thick batter), coveted recipes given to me by others (my ex-mother-in-law’s Chocolate Chip cookies that I tweaked a bit to make my own), new recipes I can’t wait to try (I saw this recipe for truffles that looks pretty easy! I STINK at melting chocolate, so we’ll see how it goes) or recipes I married (Rum Balls which make the whole family happy).

I bought a cute cookie jar a few years ago. He’s a happy Santa. I’m not a “cute cookie jar” kind of person, so the fact that this object 1) was purchased 2) was not returned 3) was used 4) was carefully stored and 5) repeat steps 3 & 4  COMPLETELY amazes me. It does, however, make Keith happy and THAT, my friends, is what Christmas is all about. So, the SECOND it comes out of storage (ok, well if you’re going to be literal about it, it is actually approximately 2 hours after it comes out of storage, gets washed and dried and then patiently waits while I whip up and subsequently cool a batch of cookies) it gets filled with homemade goodness. (Ok ok!  So this year, we had Oreos, Jelly Bellys and some packaged biscotti in there until I could make cookies a few nights after we took it out of storage, sheesh, give a  girl a break here. I’ve been BUSY!) (Please go back, read that sentence again and say, “BUSY” in the same tone as Gollum says “PRECIOUS” in this scene, you’ll then understand the tone of how busy I have actually been.)

Here we have those famous chocolate chip cookies. I experimented with three of them and crumbled some bacon into the batter. I haven’t tried them yet, but since baconygoodness is usually a good ingredient, not matter what the dish, I expect them to taste divine.

Each year, I buy holiday plates or platters and arrange a cookie medley for hostess gifts. I also put some in those clear cellophane treat bags (available at Michael’s Crafts), tie with curly ribbon (it doesn’t matter how old I get, curly ribbon and I will never be parted) and give to friends when we see them. We bring an entire platter to Roy and Jen’s for our New Year’s bash each year. They never go to waste. There’s really something about receiving homemade cookies at Christmas that makes the giver, and I hope the receiver, (gosh, imagine if I’ve been giving them all these years and everyone’s like, “Damn, more burned blobs with chocolate!” I doubt that, my cookies rock) happy.

So, although this post wasn’t about our gardens, it was about our little homestead and the feeling that comes from doing it yourself.

My repertoire

My October rain haiku…ahem…

Picking in cold rain

Not very much fun, but I

Wanted a damn farm

A long time ago, someone I knew (Ok, ok, she was my Mary Kay Director, I sold Mary Kay cosmetics for a while, what of it!?!) was trying to instill the value of hard work into me. (Now let’s stop right here. I WAS a hard worker. I just realized that accosting a woman at a grocery store, “Hi, that is a lovely shade of lipstick, you’re wearing. You look so nice in it. I sell Mary Kay and I’d love to give you a free makeover” was not my thing and so my sales were slowing down. Also, right around this time, my marriage to Paul was failing too… which is a pretty good excuse.)

Here’s what she said, “You still gotta milk the cows. Grandma dies? You milk the cows, THEN you go to the funeral.” Them’s powerful words right there. It has been 14 years and they still stick with me. Responsibility. So it is raining (dumping, really) outside and I can see red tomatoes and mature carrot and parsnip tops from the window. So, I’m going to finish this post, put on my mucks and hoodie raincoat and go outside pick veggies. Yet, all I want to do is stay in my jammies, grab my knitting bag (thank you @eweknitwits, I love it!) and curl up on the couch to watch back episodes of Project Runway (Oh, Tim. You know how to make it work!)

(Keith walks in)

Me: Mornin’ sweetie!

Keith: Want to go to Betty’s Kitchen for breakfast?

Me: Sure! Let me go shower.


Don’t judge. Betty’s makes a mean pumpkin pancake.

This will be a picture-less post, but I promise you, it will have the same humor throughout, I am just too damn-ass tired to get the camera and plug it in. Sorry, but read on if you care, this post has been festering in my head all day.

The garden is in. Here’s a breakdown:

Growing: Lettuce -(I plant more seed every few week) Red Salad Bowl, Drunken Woman, Bibb, Green Leaf, (I think some more, again, too tired to get my ass up and check the seed packets); Spinach; Arugula; Garlic, Red Onions, Bush Beans – 2 kinds; Snap Peas; Edamame (yippee!); Tomatoes – Reistomate (supposedly it is like little cherry tomatoes that grow together in a cluster), Sweet Baby Girl, Roma, Striped Roma, Marmande, Red Grape; Husk Cherry; Bell Pepper; Bulgarian Carrot, Indian PC151 and Tepin hot peppers.   

Herbs: Chives; Garlic Chives; Catnip; Oregano; Golden Oregano; Basil (a lot!); Cilantro (not enough!); Thyme; Italian Parsley; Dill; Rosemary.

Fruit: Strawberries; Raspberries.

Seeds just put in: Green Onions; Parsnip; Carrot (I’ll re-seed those every week), more Bush Beans, Broccoli; Beets; Cucumber – 3 varieties

Sounds great, right? Sounds like a wonderful bounty of veggie, herb and fruit goodness, doesn’t it? I can hear it now, “Oh my! Look at all the food you have canned, you’ll be eating all winter!”

So why am I so PISSED OFF? I’ll tell you why. Any self-respecting gardner should have figured it out by now. Go back, read that again. Anything missing?

I FORGOT THE GODDAMNED ZUCCHINI!!!!!!! What the hell? I should just shut the laptop, put on the fucking mucks for the last time and stomp through the gardens, putting a stop to this whole bloody experiment. FOR SHAME, Jenn, FOR SHAME (said in that whispery, condesceding voice. Can you hear it? Listen very closely, it’s there, shaking it’s head in disgust). The problem is, we didn’t plan, we just bought seeds that sounded good, and, well, shit, I forget the damned zucchini, (Oh, but I remembered Shit! Keith did anyway. He reminded me to put a pinch of the guano-in-the-white-bag in the back-fill soil when I planted the tomatoes and the guano-in-the-plastic bag in when I planted everything else.)

“So, what’s the big deal? Why not plant some, Jenn? Don’t give yourself such a hard time. It’s only Mid-May, there’s plenty of time.”  Yeah, well, shut up, annoying positive voice! We’re out of room. I had to pull the Asparagus (planted last week) to make room for the Peppers. 12 Asparagus roots are now hanging in a Valentine-heart-decorated gift bag from the basement rafters. (I told you I was a hoarder, right? Yes, I have an entire collection of gift bags, gift wrap and ribbon for every occasion.) I know that is a random place, but I won’t 1) lose them or 2) forget them if they’re there.

I even discussed zucchini and butternut squash here, in this blog and still forgot them. So, what lesson did I learn? Whatever, I’m too pissed at myself to try to make this into a lesson (the condescending voice just switched into that nasal, mocking voice).

So now what? We are out of wood to build another bed (yes, I said, ‘wood’), I don’t want to put it in our flower beds (I just re-landscaped the front of our house last year and don’t want to mess with it cuz I think it looks pretty if I do say so myself), we don’t have a truck to get more supplies to build more beds, and we can’t just plant it in the ground – beneath our grass/dandelion/ajuga lawn is a very thick layer of nothing but clay. Nothing grows in that!

I think that I have a small amount of either ADD (I am not mocking it, I really wonder!) or something, because that sentence about our clay soil structure just made that scene from Ghost flash through my head. Just for a second, but it was long enough to make me stop, ask myself how I even ALLOWED myself to have the scene from GHOST appear in the first place. That is embarrassing. I will not have chocolate tomorrow in penance.

Source: Wikipedia (Oh look, a picture!)

So, when I realized this morning that I had forgotten the zucchini, I tried to reason with myself (as insane people do sometimes, right?) telling myself, “We don’t really need zucchini. It’s overrated” and “It’ll be plentiful at the Farmers’ Market, go support your fellow farmers even though you can’t call yourself that anymore you silly little gardener” and then it hit me. It’ll be ok.

I have 13 quart-sized ziploc bags of last year’s zucchini, carefully blanched and shredded, hoarded in the basement freezer.

I am so full that I had to change into sweatpants. Tonight’s dinner: Burgers with beef from Normanton Farm. Each burger had a slice of Cabot cheese and bacon from Popper (if you haven’t checked out Popper’s Sausage Kitchen, you MUST!)  Topped with some of our Arugula and lettuce and Appledore Cove’s Chipotle Lime Ketchup. Num num. Local (well sort of, Vermont isn’t within 50 miles). Oh, and the bun was from Nissen bakeries – also New England. Hey, check us out, Barbara Kingsolver!

So what the hell? It is mid-May. I know, I know, my parents always told customers to not plant anything until Mother’s Day. Well, that was last weekend and we’ve had some 34 degree nights and lost a few seedlings in the Chef’s Garden to the frost. We’ve been shmucking (shlepping + mucking) the tender plants into the basement in the evening and out to the greenhouse in the morning in order to try to protect them (yes, before and after the DJ-Day Job).

As you can see, things are getting quite big.

I left control plants of peppers, basil and a husk cherry in the greenhouse to see how they fared each night. We did well – a few ruined leaves, but the flowers hung in there. Whew. So, it hit 34 degrees again last night and everything did fine. I buttoned the house up, putting blankets in the doors where there’s an air gap and we haven’t lost one thing. As a matter of fact, we have flowers.

See the little husk cherry already forming?

Buds on a tomato plant.

The lettuce and arugula are doing well in the Chef’s Garden. The bean sprouts are pretty dead, however, and the edamame was hit by frost so badly, it looks like it was regurgitated. The onion, planted a few weeks ago, seems to not have changed a bit. I know I’m impatient.

It’s just that I am anxious to get everything planted outside. It’s strange, actually, how often I think about our little Patch during the day. I ordered business cards with our logo (Daisy in the daisies) and somehow find a reason, just about daily, to force them on someone – usually some unsuspecting non-gardener who probably couldn’t give a crap but says, “Really?” and so, sounded interested. Poor soul. Here’s our card.

This is a good place to thank my wonderful non-gardening friends for their readership and support. I am sure that reading about slugs, worms, bat shit and tomato (ooh, just pulled a “Dan Quayle” by spelling that with an “e” at the end. At least I was smart enough to delete it. The snotty-spelling-bee-kid in me was just completely disgusted with myself for that) flowers must bore them to tears, but they (thankfully!) read my posts and comment with gusto.

The Gig Girl who quit her, “full-time-full-salaried-full-benefits-with-a-big-girl-office-and-even-a-window job” to be a stay-at-home Mom and is exploring home-based income opportunities in the process (with much humor and wit!) and Gillis Marketing who jumped with both feet and no swimmies into the world of SMM (no, silly, Social Media Marketing) where she tries to educate (dare I say, ‘enlighten”) others in the process. Here’s what she says, “Join me as I learn, communicate and educate my colleagues to use these tools. Join in the discussion… Consider this your therapy, your reality check, your informational portal. I feel pain – you may feel it, too.” Both very bright women who know their stuff.

Tonight’s lesson kids? Eat local, shop local and read local. You’ll feel better about your food and possibly support your sweatpant-wearing neighbors in the process.

Often, when Keith asks me what I’ve been up to, my response is, “Puttering.” That is my word for little errands. I have a tough time sitting still. That is why, when my friend introduced me to knitting, I felt like I had found the perfect indoor hobby for me (see her web page here – great resource for all things knitting as well as a fun hub for blogs she likes – The Daisy Patch has made it to this esteemed list!) But, this post isn’t about knitting.

I woke up yesterday morning at around 7 and set about Puttering. I donned the new mucks, went to the basement, checked on everything. Sadly, the Edamame does NOT look good. I think it missed a day of watering. So, I decided to plant some more seeds. I planted more Edamame, beans and some flowers. I watered the plants in the basement and then brought them outside to harden off on the eastern side of the house.

Hardening off gradually exposes seedlings to the elements to toughen them up a bit – wind, sun, rain, temperature fluctuations. On the eastern side of the house, they were exposed to a breeze and the warm morning sun, then, as the sun moved, it would get a little cooler. Good conditions.

I planted more lettuce, mache, arugula and spinach seeds in the Cook’s Garden (new name for the Side Garden/Kitchen Garden/Peber’s Point). These little guys are three weeks old. Succession planting is important because we’ll constantly have seedlings coming up and plants growing to replace the ones we harvest. As I’ve mentioned before, I have been dreaming of fresh lettuces from the garden and am going to town on planting a lot of salad greens.

Arugula microgreens

You might recall from Togethergoal, the tray of Arugula microgreens failed, so we didn’t have a chance to try them. I tried it yesterday. Yummy! Nice and peppery. Keith is going to make some Beef Carpaccio tonight and we’ll put some microgreens on it. I think that’ll be really good.

Drunken Woman lettuce.

I read about Drunken Woman lettuce in the seed catalog. We have loved every red speckled lettuce variety we’ve tried so I decided to order some. Besides, the name itself belongs in our garden. Here’s a link to someone’s blog describing this lettuce. I thought it was a nice post and the picture is great. Now that I see it in full splendor – 1) Yay! I can’t wait! and 2) Crap, I’ll have to thin it. That’s ok, lettuce seedlings are great in a salad.

What else did I do during my puttering? I watered the garlic. We ordered 3 different varieties of garlic last Fall and I took up the entire 12’x3′ bed in the Cook’s Garden to plant them. They look great.


I can’t wait until we get scapes. Garlic Scapes are the shoot of a hard neck garlic variety. Here’s a better description and a small ode to the scape. The scapes end up in the saute pan or in pesto. Yumzy. Small concern – I have no idea if these are the varieties that send up scapes. We shall see. I hope so.

Back to the putter session. I weeded our small strawberry patch.

I put flowers in that pot last year and just decided this Spring to add the trellis. I think I’ll put a flowering climbing plant on it for some color. Gardener followers of the Patch – if you have any ideas, do share. Nasturtium?

I also visited our flowers. At the beginning of this post, I put some pictures of dwarf early tulips in the sun. This color is so different – it isn’t orange or peach, it is this wonderful translucent tangerine. Love these tulips.

Bleeding Heart

I watered the bean pot (you know, pot full of bean seeds and a trellis just waiting to support them) and then headed to the backyard. There, the mound of screened topsoil (4 cubic yards – more like a small mountain!) and the empty raised beds Keith built just looked at me.

You see, they weren’t in close proximity to each other. The delivery guy couldn’t go into our yard very far to dump the soil due to the wet weather we had been having. If he went very far, he might not have been able to get out of the mud. The first one (dirt) had to get into the second one (planter beds) somehow. That somehow was us.

Again, since we are basically weekend warriors, the soil pile just sat there during the week, getting rained on. So, I grabbed the shovel and started loading.

It has only been a month since gall bladder surgery and I was warned, “No heavy lifting for 6 weeks!” so at first, when talking about Mt. Dirt Everest, the plan was that I would load the wheelbarrel while Keith finished building the supports in the garden beds, and then I’d call him over to bring the wheelbarrow to the beds, then I’d unload with the shovel.

But he was inside and I was in Putter-mode, so I figured I’d start small – little 1/2 wheelbarrows. Fill with the shovel, bring the wheelbarrow to the garden bed, unload with the shovel. I did this a few times and then got the guts to lift the wheelbarrow to dump the soil into the bed. No pain, no ripped stitches or anything. Let’s go.

Muck, muck, muck, shovel, shovel, shovel, LIFT!, muck, muck, muck, HEAVE HO! Rinse and repeat. After 5 of these trips, Keith came outside and asked, “Whatcha been up to?” Puttering, my usual response. I went in, changed to tank top and shorts, (sassy look with mucks may I just tell you?), put the hair up, bandana on and grabbed a bottle of water.

As he drilled in the braces on the rest of the beds, I continued my attack on Mt. Dirt Everest. Every once in a while, we’d say something to each other, but it was mostly quiet work. He asked me if I thought I’d finish filling the beds today. “That’s the goal – it is supposed to rain tomorrow,” was my response.

When he finished, he grabbed a shovel and helped. We took turns. The loads I carried were 1/2 to 3/4 full and his were full. We took a few breaks during the day, heading inside for some water, choosing to skip lunch. It was good, satisfying team work. Once, I did hit his shovel with my shovel, sending shockwaves and a stab of pain into his shoulder for which I felt horrible and apologized profusely, but mostly, we worked in silence, tackling this togethergoal with determination. You know, like farmers who have to get the soil moved before a rainstorm turns it to mud? Like that.

It took us about 4.5 hours and who knows how many trips back and forth. I stopped counting. When we were done, we headed to the front yard , where Keith sat on the front steps and we talked a bit while I pulled some weeds under the lilac. There were a few more errands we wanted to do, hooking up hoses, weeding, spreading bark mulch – then I said the magic words, “We worked pretty hard today, let’s go get some lunch.”

It has become a ritual for us to finish up a particularly tough day of yard work at Margarita’s. I call it the “Board Room” because it seems all our planning happens over a glass of their Original on the rocks.

When we got home around 6:30, it was time for a nap. A full day of yard work and sunshine with 2 margaritas for dessert made me just want to lie down. So much for napping, I woke up this morning at 7 and feel sore as hell. Really sore as hell. I snuggled up to Keith and asked how he was. Sore as hell. I told him how great I thought yesterday was – we worked really hard, got a lot done, worked side by side, and ended the day with a nice time at the bar.

The only way to get the soreness out of your muscles is to use them, so I was back, mucking and puttering by 7:15. Now, to tackle those weeds and the rest of Mt. Bark Mulch before the rain comes.

I’ve been mucking in and out every morning and every night putting a blanket on our lettuce seedlings. They’ve been surviving pretty solid frosts. Upon waking up this AM, I was nervous, the outside temp said 33. Uh oh. Donned the mucks, took of the blanket and they are JUST FINE.  Huh! Look at that, they ARE cold weather crops. Whoda thunk it? I think with the greenhouse cover and maybe a little heat (the good neighbor gave us a used wood stove), we definitely can have lettuce all Winter if they can make it through a 33-degree night. Sweet.

So, the mushroom thingy decided to give us mushrooms. Well, one mushroom.

It looks pretty good, actually.

And it isn’t small. It is bigger than the palm of my hand.

I wish I had a better camera to be able to show the gills underneath. Oh, I looked it up, ‘gills’ is the right word. Who knew?

Okay, okay, a better question is…”Who cares?” Actually, as we plan(t) for our future, I realize that I do. I plan on spending some time researching vitamin and mineral content of our crops  (ooh, farmer word!) so that maybe we can get nutrition from the backyard, not a bottle of supplements.

Exciting update: 69 garlic bulbs are doing VERY well. When we harvest them in June or early July, I plan on reusing the garden bed for a quick crop (there it is again!) of something before planting garlic again in the Fall. I wonder what it’ll be!

Stay tuned, I’ll make my Thai Spring Rolls using that mushroom and put up the recipe.

I got mucks!

They're called Bogs!


That is all. Thank you. Have a nice day.

Current DaisyPatch stats:  1 gallon maple syrup, 199 plants, 0 mushrooms and I started the Edamame this morning. Wish us luck with that.


Things have been a bit crazy. Our friend, Popper, invited us to dinner last week. He’s planning to open a deli/local food marketplace in Dover in the next few months which is very exciting for him. Funny, I am usually detail oriented, but the days up to the dinner were very rushed and I didn’t even get to read the directions to where we were having dinner until our car was speeding a mile a minute in the rain. (New Hampshire has been seeing record rainfall amounts, the President just declared disaster relief funds due to all the flooding.) Keith was driving while I was juggling my blackberry and using the travel lint-rolleron my Daisy-hair-covered black pants.

Dinner was fantastic. For appetizers, Popper laid out some Mortadella, Summer Sausage and Proscuitto along with some homemade bread slices and yummy cheese. There were some unique beers and about 8 bottles of wine (glad we brought one, my mother said to never arrive empty-handed). At this old NH farmstead, they raised pig, chicken, duck, and I think I heard turkey and guinea fowl. Give me a glass of wine and an audience and I’m just fine so while snacking and trying to not look like I was inhaling the food (that proscuitto was to die for) we learned about the other dinner guests.

This was a crowd I could relate to, or aspire to relate to. Several grew their own food and had read my two fave food-movement books, Omnivore’s Dilemma and Animal, Vegetable, Miracle so there was plenty to discuss. One was a food writer and the other a web designer. Two were chefs (one of whom was Popper). All were good folk. I admired the frut-and-flower-covered lemon and lime trees in the living room and chatted with Maria, the homeowner, and got some growing tips.

The dinner was to die for. Confit-stuffed farm-raised chicken, rustic bread, vegetable Quark, roasted parsnips, a delish rice dish and chocolate/bacon ice cream. Let me break it all down for you. I thought it would have been rude to take pictures of the meal, so I’ll do my best to describe it (see if I have what it takes to be a food writer myself…)

First, the chicken. The white meat was obviously pounded, then stuffed with the most moist, flavorful duck stuffing, rolled up and cooked. It was juicy when I cut it, and I didn’t need a knife. The stuffing had an earthy, twinge-the-back-of-the-jaw taste that can only be described as Umami. Let’s take a side-road for a second and describe Umami, the story of Umami and how it came to be in my vocabulary – not necessarily in that order.

Remember in school, we were taught the senses of taste? Bitter, sweet, salty, sour. Can you see the drawing of the tongue with the locations of each taste buds? I can remember, I think it was in Ms. Black’s 4th grade. (Ms. Black’s name changed from Mrs. BiglongnamethatbeginswithD to Ms. Black sometime in the middle of the school year. I guess I also learned about divorce while  learning about the senses of taste.) Well, in 1908, a Japanese scientist discovered a 5th sense of taste called Umami. It is the sense of Savory. Keith and I discovered it quite by accident.

We attended a destination wedding in the Albany, New York area a few years ago. In our room were menus to local restaurants. One of the restaurants was called Umami Cafe. The Truffle Mac and Cheese caught Keith’s eye. We ordered take out via the phone and I went to the restaurant to pick up our order. I called a few minutes before closing and they were nice enough to put in the order for me. I waited in the lobby area while it was being prepared and, as is my nature, I sought something to read. (I’ll read anything. I once read everything on a  jar of Comet – ingredients and all. Don’t think I’m strange, this bathroom had no reading material and it was the only thing under the counter that was within reach.)

The restaurant menu explained the history of Umami and how it is used in all the foods at the restaurant. Umami can be described as  savory, meatiness, brothiness or “mommy food,” meaning, “comfort food.” We LOVED the Truffled Mac and Cheese. I have since purchased The Fifth Taste cookbook  as well as some truffle oil – an expensive splurge.

I hope you enjoyed my little scenic detour. Back to the main road – the dinner. The bread was obviously homemade and cut into slices on to which I spread generous amounts of the thick, cottagy quark. (I doubt “cottagy” is a word, but it wasn’t creamy, it was like super, super thick cottage cheese, hence “cottagy.” Don’t fight me, just go with it.  Accept “cottagy” into your life.) Oh look, honey, another scenic route, this time to “Cottagy Quark.”  Can we go see what’s there? Yes, dear.

I discovered Quark at the Portsmouth Farmers’ Market last Summer. One of the famers, I am so sorry I do not remember which one as I would like to give credit, had Quark. It looked like chunky cream cheese. It was “cottagy.” One was herbed and the other was plain. They had it out for sampling. Yuh-umm. Quark is an un-aged fresh curd cheese. It is much lower in fat than cottage cheese, but to me, had that nice little sour bite that cream cheese has.  I bought a jar, (wait, 9 bucks!, oh, jar deposit) and brought it home. Keith didn’t want any. All for me. I brought that jar back during a market visit a few weeks later and picked up some more. I didn’t try to cook with it, I just spread it on low-sodium Ritz crackers. Gosh, I could have lived on low-sodium Ritz and Quark last Summer. I think I’m going to try to make Quark this year.

Meanwhile, back at dinner, (please tell me if you read that in your best Ted Knight voice I need to know I am not alone), I have to fill you in on the rice. I can not accurately describe the rice dish. I think it was Forbidden Rice. I am unsure, but will definitely be asking for the recipe. The rice was black/purple and had popped open during cooking. I think it was made in a risotto style. Here’s what I know was in it – duck fat, thyme and crisped chicken skin.  It was so flavorful and so savory and just damned bloody good. (I am not british and I do not mean there was blood in it, but the term “bloody good” seemed very appropriate right there.) Keith made chicken for dinner last night and I saved the skin from mine. It is crisping in the oven right now. I can’t eat it just yet due to restricted diet, more on that later.

Parsnips. I never met a parsnip I liked. Yuck and double yuck. Bitter (thanks Ms. Black, I know what that means), awful stuff. What person in his/her right mind would Eh-VER eat a parsnip? Dare I say my tastes are changing as I get older (gracefully) or were previously attempted parsnips not cooked correctly? Methinks both. I tentatively put two small ones on my plate in that, “I guess I should be polite and try everything since I am at someone else’s house and they made me dinner but if I put just one it’ll look like I don’t like it and am just being polite, so I had better put two, but I’ll make them small ones so they’re less conspicuous” sort of  fashion. They were whole and off-white, looking like a carrot that didn’t get any sun. Butter and a little rosemary can make styrofoam packing peanuts palatable, and neither were detected in the serving dish, increasing my sense of dread.

I have gotten more adventurous in the last few years when it comes to new food. About 12 years ago, I was thinking about becoming a vegetarian.  While wandering in the bookstore for something completely unrelated, I saw a book with a title akin to, “So, You’re Thinking About Becoming a Vegetarian?”, bought it and went cold turkey. No turkey, actually, and that was the problem. I stopped after 6 months – I just wasn’t getting it right. I didn’t like a lot of vegetables and I really missed turkey. I would say that now, I could be a successful vegetarian if I wanted to be, since I have tried and learned to like many different kinds of vegetables, but I don’t plan on it.  Turkey and I can never be parted again.

I hope you’re still with me, we’re talking about dreaded parsnips. Here goes. I loved them and went back for more. I can’t explain them. They were sweet. Not as sweet as cooked carrots, but a nice mild sweetness with a tone of what can only be described as earthy. It is obvious the trick is in the preparation. If you know a good parsnip recipe, please share. They will be on the DaisyPatch this year.

Onto the ice cream. The latest bacon craze has people putting bacon in everything. Keith saw a t-shirt that said, “Bacon is the new Jesus.” (Actually, I think the shirt will be arriving in the mail any day.) I think it is true. Maxim magazine (we get it for the articles) mentions a new bacon product every now and then, including bacon-flavored lollipops. We bought bacon band-aids for our friend, Jenny. Her gifts get wrapped in bacon-printed gift wrap. Get it? Having Popper for a good friend means that sausage and bacon, the good stuff, not the sodium-laden, bacon-favored, sizzle strips sold in your megamart, but the real stuff from a local chemical-free pig, is in our larder at all times. Yup, I said larder. Homestead word. Just trying it on for size.

This ice cream sounded weird, but then I thought about it. Insert bacon thought bubble.

My chocolate chip cookies have sweet milk chocolate chips in them. What brings out the sweetness of the chocolate? That extra pinch of kosher salt that I add. Why should it be any different in this ice cream? Picture tasting the duskiest, most chocolatey cocoa you’ve ever tried. Put that in a frozen sweet cream base. Now, at the exact moment that flavor is being deposited from the spoon into your mouth and you’re detecting the sweetness, you can sense, I thought I smelled it before I tasted it, the smoke from a bbq. Then, the saltiness from miniscule bits of bacon hit you, while your sweet taste receptors are still going off. (Despite what Ms. Black told us, you don’t just taste sweet on the front of your tongue, there are taste receptors for all senses throughout your mouth.) The saltiness, the smoky aroma, the dark, almost savory, chocolate and the sweet cream all mixed together into a little tiny dish of delight. I was not given enough, but after my gluttony with the rice dish, did not ask for more. The ice cream was paired with a little ginger shortbread cookie. It was good, but only got in the way really. I had to eat it just to get it out of the dish so my spoon could attempt to scrape up more of the ice cream.

This meal from heavenfarm occured one week ago today and I am still thinking about it. It is easy for me to understand why that is. I had my gall bladder taken out a few days ago, am home recovering and am restricted to a low-fat, bland diet (read: boring) during recovery. I asked the surgeon during the pre-surgery consult (which is basically the meeting where you hear all the ways you’re going to die on the table, then sign a sheet of paper to acknowledge you understand these risks), “Did I do this to myself? Did I eat wrong?” (thinking the Summer of Quark and Ritz sent my little gall bladder over the edge). He assured me that, no, gall bladder disease and gall stones are hereditary and quite common and I didn’t inflict this upon myself through my diet. I repeated this to myself during the farmstead dinner which was 36 hours before surgery. Perhaps the fact I knew I’d be in for flavorless meals for the next few weeks made me savor and appreciate every bite that much more.

I think it was more than that.  It wasn’t just the delicious new foods and flavors. It was new friends, new stories, and a newfound camaraderie as we all were there for one reason – to support our friend, Popper, and to support the idea that good food can come from our backyards.


Since you hung in this long, with only one picture, and a stupid one at that, here’s a little treat. Make sure you have the volume way up.