Friday, July 4, 2014

GIANTS








Colvin Family Farm
Week 5





Can you guess what is growing in
our high tunnels.


Greetings from the farm! It's week 5 in our CSA and with the variety of vegetables coming in, it will be a fun week to experiment in the kitchen! I did that today, but I'm getting ahead of myself...I'll show you latter what I made for dinner today.




Cooking has taken on a new challenge for me over the past few weeks. You see, 15 weeks ago I had an accident on the farm stepping over a pile of wood. One misstep, and a tomato stake (oak, about 4 1/2' tall) sprung up and smacked me square in the face, gashing my chin..I can see it to this day right between my eyes! Then there was a thud (I can still hear that too) as I landed on the back of my head on a rock. I've been recuperating from what they called a "mild concussion". (Really?!)   I won't go into all I've/we've been through since that life changing day, but it's been a long road of relearning skills, trying to remember clearly what I knew in the past, and a myriad of lessons the Lord has taught me through this trial. 

One such lesson is what I call, "Seeing Giants". When Moses sent the ten spies into the Promise Land to spy out the land, they saw giants. "And there we saw the giants, the sons of Anak, which come of the giants: and we were in our own sight as grasshoppers, and so we were in their sight." Numbers 13:33 KJV As God taught me, giants stand for great difficulty in our lives. We all have giants stalking us.....in our families, in our workplaces, in our friendships, in our churches, even in our own hearts. If we do not overcome them, they will "eat us up" (vs.32) even as the eight spies said of the giants of Caanan.  

Eight? You said there were ten spies. Joshua and Caleb were the two of the ten spies that stood apart. They too saw the giants, BUT  they also saw God! They stood alone and said, "Let us go up at once and possess it, for we are well able." Joshua and Caleb, the spies who believed said, "for they are bread for us:" In other words, they knew that the nation of Israel would be stronger by overcoming them than if there were no giants at all to overcome. 


There are many "giants" in all of our lives. Here on the farm there are the giants of drought, flooding, plant diseases, financial hurdles, mechanical problems, time restraints, physical weariness, and relationships among the family members. If we face these  giants together as a family farm we will emerge stronger and more unified than if we had no struggles (giants) to face. 

 So, while laying for weeks recovering God has asked
me time and time again, "Will you face your  personal giants?" With His assurance that I'm never alone I answered, "Yes."

Giants in my mind appeared first...clouded with pain and confusion they marched forth. In the power of God's might I slew them one by one. Praise His name! A straggler appears in my mind occasionally ...should I lay down my "sword" in defeat? No, it's another chance to allow God to be strong through me.

Next, giants of my abilities and strengths appeared. Surely I thought confidently they'd be easily won...no, they had too had to be faced and won also in God's might till the giant called Pride lay dead at my feet. As I lay there on the "battle field" the Lord assured me He could still use me...but maybe in a different capacity. Was I willing? How could I, the humbled and weary solider do anything for my Lord than submit? 

Another giant loomed in my mind...the farm...it's future!  You see, I've had the joy to be there from the beginning. I helped the boys as toddlers tentatively plant their first seeds. I shared in their wonder as the plants emerged. I even watched two of them pull up perfectly healthy plants so they could, "see the roots they eat with". I designed their school work

around our LARGE raised bed gardens, figuring square feet, projected harvest per square foot, graphing the harvest, journaling their experiences, drawing plants and vegetables, and
calculating the savings from buying at the grocery stores all the while delving into books, magazines, and latter websites that feed their hunger for knowledge only found on the off beaten trail of the time of Sustainable Agriculture.  Then I also wrote their botany courses in high school which led to earning Distributive Education credits as we started our first CSA in Dayton in 2002. As young teenagers we set up at the courthouse and out marketed the old timers there. They learned to approach local restaurant
owners to present their Certified Naturally Grown produce, (we were the 3rd farm to be certified in the state of Tennessee) and to earn their respect through a long term relationship. They also took their leftover produce to the local United Grocery Outlet where they learned to package and resell what would have been counted a loss. 

These days are long gone, and the boys are now known as up and coming 
farmers. They've run a 300 member CSA during a flood and drought year, bought equipment straight from China without a middleman, established the farm in 9 farmer's markets, they've made their presence known on Face Book and Twitter, designed a website that is the hub of our business, taught a social media and the farm class at a southeast regional farmer's convention, and are learning every day to grow better, wiser, more efficiently. I'm proud of them. (Can you tell?) But back to my giant...it was time for me, their Momma to step aside and let her men stand alone with what the knowledge and wisdom God had given them. In reality I physically had done that a few years ago...but in my mind, I was right beside them...trying to teach...guard them from mistakes...and make sure they learned each lesson that a failure held. 

God gave me a picture of Jochebed, Moses' mother while copying Exodus. Jochebed, to me is the picture of trust. She trusted God to protect Moses after he was born, as the Pharaoh was killing all the male

babies. When she could no longer hide him, she made a little ark and daubed it with mud and pitch. All the while she was bent over the little ark daubing on the mud and pitch I see her praying to God for Moses' protection! My heart broke for Jochebed as she placed her 3 month old baby boy Moses in the ark, and then placed the ark into the alligator infested waters of the Nile!  As a mother of 13 children I could feel a lot of what she felt..then it struck me...I must be like Jochebed and pray and trust. I/we had "built the ark", (raised my sons for God and trained them as He directed) and now it was time to "set it to float on the Nile". So in my mind the giant of letting go fell...I must be like Jochebed and pray...watch...and pray some more!  I am confident that my sons will see God work MIGHTILY in their lives as Moses saw Him work in his IF they keep their faith centered on Him alone. 

Our Cinnamon rolls are now being sold
at the Crossville market. They're made
like our breads with freshly ground
wheat.
So, I'm now beginning to cook more. Cooking came easy for me after 33 years of marriage...now though it requires a great deal of thought, and calculation. I've faced my fears (giants) and will do all God gives me the                                                   strength and wisdom to                                             do. 

Until we restarted our CSA and began The Farmer's Wife letters in 2010 I've been content with old style cooking. Steaming, baking, stir frying...now the "foodies" of the Internet have raised the bar. Pintrest makes me feel like everyone else is creating "pinable" meals every night! In reality, my family likes simple fair with an occasional "WOW" meal when time and my energy allows it. When I cook, I must cook for around 18 as my HUNGRY farmer boys can really clean up a table! For most recipes it takes forever to do a
The meal we fed our work crew after
packing shares last Friday night.
Lasagna, Cold Pack Pickles,
Steamed Broccoli & Cauliflower, and
Zucchini Chips. The cheese and noodles 

were the only parts of the meal produced 
off the farm.
"pinable" meal for a crowd, whereas I can have lasagna for 30 in the oven in around a half hour. So my recipes will mostly be old time fare with an occasional "pinable" twist.
Here is what I made today.


For this recipe I will not list quantities needed. You can picture what your family will eat as you cut up the vegetables. I stopped when I had two large 3/4 size cookie sheet full. 



Roasted Vegetable Medley


broccoli
zucchini
onion
red potatoes
green tomato
green beans
  Radish seed pods 
(Surprisingly voted our favorite vegetable!)
kohlrabi
Optional:
Chili Peppers
Jalapenos

Cut all the vegetables into small cubes. Place on a parchment lined pan that you have drizzled extra virgin olive oil on.  (The parchment paper saves clean-up time and prevents burning!) With clean hands toss the vegetables in oil. Judge whether you need more...they should be shiny, but not oily. Sprinkle with your favorite seasonings. We like garlic salt, season salt, or Cajun Seasoning. Place in HOT oven (450) for 15-20 minutes. If your pan is FULL, you will need to stir it a couple of times for even cooking. They will have browned areas and be slightly crispy when done. If you have a convection oven, lower the temperature 25 degrees and bake. Rotate the pan for even cooking. Serve hot!

This past week I had the privilege to invite three
young ladies to cook with me. (They really came to pack vegetables with my sons!) We had a great time making zucchini chips. I did find this recipe on Pintrest and thought of ya'll. It will be a long season of squash...so I'm always on the lookout for new ways to cook with squash. It will be in your shares for most of the season, and if you are like me any new ideas on how I can cook with it are greatly appreciated. This is one of those "pinable" recipes that wouldn't normally be a good fit for my kitchen feeding a crowd. But the old saying, "many hands make light work" rang true as I had three gals to help me try out this recipe. Allison,
Shelby, and Destany (my boy's "friends") chatted and enjoyed getting to know each other as we worked. (A squirt gun attack on the boys interrupted our cooking time...but it sure was fun!) The whole
work crew decided this recipe was a winner and should be included in the blog this week. 





Oven Zucchini Chips



2 medium zucchini (about 1 pound)
3 T. milk
1/4 C. grated Parmesan Cheese
1/4 C. plain dry bread crumbs
1/8 t. salt


Preheat the oven to 450 degrees. Either spray the cookie sheet with cooking spray or line it with parchment (recommended). First mix the bread crumbs with all dry seasonings. Next wash the zucchini, and slice it in 1/8" slices. Dip each zucchini round into  the milk, then into the seasoned bread crumb mixture, coating both sides. (It is best to move most of the bread crumbs to one side of your dish and only dip the wet zucchini into a small portion or you will have a hard time getting the crumbs to stick. If this happens, just press the crumbs into the slices as you coat them. Working with a small portion at a time helps prevent this.) Place them on your prepared cookie sheet. Spray with olive oil or canola cooking spray. Bake 25 -30 minutes until browned and crisp. Serve immediately.

This week has really been hot and muggy. I'm thankful that the mountain breeze continued to cool us down here on the farm. I'm also thankful I have about 2
 gallons of cold pack pickles (see last week's blog for the recipe)left in my frig! On these hot days I can dip
 some out to "cool off" a sandwich meal, or to add a zippy cool treat to an evening meal without extra work. We highly recommend you try this recipe! I'm going to try a new refrigerator pickle recipe prayerfully this week. 

Other great quick meals I fell back on this week were what we call "Chips and Cheese". This is a special treat, and the  older children can make them in single serve if they need to. We buy the large boxes of tortilla chips at Sam's. (I know they aren't the healthiest chip I could buy, but they are in our budget.) We also buy our shredded cheese there also in 5 pound bags. So, it turns out with the addition of our vegetables to be an inexpensive meal. We also like to serve our homemade salsa mixed with our canned pinto beans with the chips. So I reassure myself that there is some nutrients in it. This week I'm going to try sauteing thinly sliced Swiss Chard with onions and using this also as a topping like we did with the pizza in week 4.



Farm Style Chips and Cheese


onions, diced
cherry tomatoes, sliced in quarters
(or slicing tomatoes cubed)
Bell Pepper, cubed
Jalapeno Pepper, sliced thinly
Chili Pepper, sliced thinly
Salsa
Pinto or Black beans, drained

Place a single layer of tortilla chips on a baking pan. Sprinkle liberally with grated Cheddar Cheese. Top with your choice of vegetables. Place pan in 350 degree oven until cheese has melted and vegetables look "wilted". 

Simply mix a jar of salsa with your choice of beans. Heat and serve in a small bowl with the chips and cheese.

ENJOY!

 It was when the nation of Israel was going forward that the giants appeared. When they turned back into the wilderness the giants disappeared. So, forward I go facing my giants...who wants to wander in the dessert of life? I'm bound for the "Promise Land". Are you?

"We came unto the land whither thou sentest us, and surely it floweth with milk and honey...and there we saw the giants... fear them not." 
Numbers 13:27-14:9

Abundant Blessings,
The Farmer's Wife

The Famer's Wife


Here's some more pictures of the farm this week!

The Farmer & His Wife



Late tomato seedlings went in. These will taste
great this fall!


A light moment
during packing.
Titus 






The children have been picking blackberries that have come into season.



The melon patch is looking good!






The boys cooling off after a long, hot day in the field.



Charity cooling off after a hot sticky day.

A little friend that came to visit this week. One of our ways
to kill bugs naturally in the fields.