Saturday, July 25, 2015

Weathering the Storms...

It's an eerie sound in the stillness before a storm to hear the rain inching its way across the field towards the farmhouse. When the storm hits it blows through the trees in the woods, it races around the corner of the farmhouse, and sends the porch swing banging into the house.

 The storm races my personal life "storms" rage at times. Too often though I initially cringe as oncoming winds of a storm race around "the corners" of my life. I cry out, "Why Lord?!" instead of crying out, "What Lord would you have me to learn of you through this storm?"....

The frequent storms we've had lately nourish our crops, and fill the farm ponds we use to irrigate. So we count them a blessing from God's hand! 

The guys have been digging potatoes in the mud, harvesting greens in the rain, and at best getting soaked from the knees down a lot this season. For some vegetables, it's a blessing as they soak up the moisture. For others, they've rotted in the ground. Such is life on a farm. 

The children and I have been playing in the kitchen this week. I don't have any grand experiment of my own to post...though I did "perfect" my zucchini pizza and have amended last week's post with pictures and my new recipe, which can be found just below this one. Give it a try as it's DELICIOUS! 

This blog is dedicated to all the children that read our blog...even the child at heart among us! I've asked my children to share their inventions with you. Here are a couple of the recipes I heard them narrate to me this past week...

Charity Rose (7) is my first "guest chef" this week on the blog. She makes a great stir fry and isn't encumbered by any traditions or rules, so she has a fresh perspective in the kitchen. Her new ideas repeatedly make me take a double-take! So, let's look at what she made a few weeks ago...

Charity's Gleanings
Stir Fry

"Open the refrigerator door and look at what you have. I had a turnip, Swiss Chard and Arugula greens, onion, garlic, and herbs. I use whatever makes me hungry! I like squash and kohlrabi too!"

Wash all your vegetables and gather a cutting board, knife, saute pan or wok, olive oil, and a spatula. 

Heat the pan on medium high, add a couple tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil or coconut oil.

Slice an onion thinly.

Chop a large clove of garlic real small.
(For little hands, I find a Pampered Chef chopper is easiest to use. I use it a lot myself too!)

 Add the onion and garlic to your pan and stir real good.

Gather washed greens. It's OK to use several different kinds!

 Slice the greens into long pieces, then cut across to make it easier to eat.

Add the greens to your pan with the onions and garlic. Stir until greens are wilted. Season with salt, pepper, Italian Seasoning, or other herbs you like. Optional: Squeeze a half of a lemon over the finished greens.

(A mother's notes...When Charity chooses other vegetables she throws them all in a bowl together and adds them together. I've grown up arranging all my vegetables on a round tray in order of how long they'll take to cook. I like Charity's time-saving methods, and it tastes yummy to boot!)

Recently we had a shake and popcorn night here with the younger children. We had eaten a late lunch and it was know the feeling as a Mom or Dad...Everyone was a little too hot to eat, but they needed to eat SOMETHING! I declared it was shake and popcorn night, and everyone came scampering to the kitchen with rekindled spirits! 

If you'd like to try this, I recommend laying down a few guidelines...for us it was ask permission for ingredients, and let the adults help you learn to sweeten your shake. We talked about what veggies and fruits work together well. Then they worked out their own recipes! We had fun and the outcome of their efforts were amazing!

Faith Anne's 
Market "Sorbet"

2 C. Raw Milk
1 C. Frozen Blueberries
5 Small Carrots
Double Handful of Ice Cubes
Dash of Vanilla Extract (we use imitation, so adjust)

Blend milk and ice cubes on high in a blender. Add the rest of the ingredients. Sweeten to taste, blending again.  Serves with popcorn for a light meal when it's REAL hot!

(A mother's notes...If you'd like more of a shake, use 1 handful of ice cubes. Faith Anne ate hers with a spoon!)

Levi was the winner in our shake night meal. At 9 years old he too is very creative, and has an eye for the unusual like Charity. This is a frugal way to use Swiss Chard STEMS.

Levi's Green Shake

4 Small Carrots
1 Bunch of Swiss Chard STEMS
 (Reserve greens for another recipe!)
1 C. Frozen Blueberries
5 Ice Cubes
2-3 C. Milk (Keep the vortex moving, add milk to thin.)
1/2 C. Peanut Butter
Splash Vanilla
2 T. Sugar or Sweet Blend to taste

Blend milk and ice cubes in blender on high. Add remaining ingredients. Adjust sweetness. Serve immediately. 

Why does it take me so long to submit to the "Wind"? He has shown Himself so loving, patient and, protective in past storms...the rains nourish the soil of my life allowing the fruits of love, joy, and sweet peace to bear fruit that feeds my spirit. 

 This season of my life is right in the midst of a tempest where the storm rages the fiercest! God's Spirit has whispered encouragement to me that I know by faith will help me come forth with a stronger faith, a closer walk, and a greater picture in my heart of my awesome God!

Are you in a "storm" of a trial right now? Maybe this poem, sent to me by my son Matthew a few years ago will has for me, each time I read it! (Thanks Matthew!)

Desperately, helplessly, longingly, I cried:
Quietly, patiently, lovingly God replied.

I pled and I wept for a clue to my fate,
And the Master so gently said, "Child, you must wait."

"Wait? You say, wait!" my indignant reply.
"Lord, I need answers, I need to know why!
Is your hand shortened? Or have You not heard?
By faith, I have asked, and am claiming your Word.

My future and all to which I can relate
Hangs in the balance and YOU tell me to WAIT?
I'm needing a "yes", a go-ahead sign,
Or even a "no" to which I can resign.

And Lord, You promised that if we believe
We need but to ask, and we shall receive.
And Lord I've been asking, and this is my cry:
I'm weary of asking! I need a reply!"

Then quietly, softly, I learned of my fate
As my Master replied once again, "You must wait."

So I slumped in my chair, defeated and taut
And grumbled to God, "So, I'm waiting...for what?"

He seemed, then, to kneel, and His eyes wept with mine,
And He tenderly said, "I could give you a sign.
I could shake the heavens, and darken the sun.
I could raise the dead, and cause mountains to run.

All you seek, I could give, and pleased you would be...
You would have what you want--But, you wouldn't know Me.

You'd not know the depth of My love for each saint;
You'd not know the power that I give to the faint;
You'd not learn to see through the clouds of despair; 
You'd not learn to trust just by knowing I'm there;

You'd not know the joy of resting in Me
When darkness and silence were all you could see.

You'd never experience that fullness of love 
As the peace of My Spirit descends like a dove.
You'd know that I give and I save...(for a start),
But you'd not know the depth of the beat of My heart.

The glow of my comfort late into the night,
The faith that I give when you walk without sight.
The depth that's beyond getting just what you asked
Of an infinite God, who makes what you have LAST.

You'd never know, should your pain quickly flee,
What it means that "My grace is sufficient for Thee."
Yes, your dreams for your loved one overnight would come true,
But, Oh, the Loss! If I lost what I'm doing in you!

So, be silent, My child, and in time you will see
that the greatest of gifts is to get to know Me.
And though oft' may My answers seem terribly late
My most precious answer of all is still, "WAIT".

For further encouragement please read,  "Five Words That Can Change Your Life". This is a post I wrote during another "storm" in my life. May it be a blessing to you.

"I have called thee by thy name; thou art mine. When thou passest through the waters, I will be with thee; and through the rivers, they shall not overflow thee; when thou walkest through the fire, thou shalt not be burned; neither shall the flame kindle upon thee. For I am the Lord thy God, the Holy One of Israel..."
Isaiah 43:1b-3a

Abundant Blessings,
The Farmer's Wife
Val Colvin
"Lill' Val" (The Farmer's Wife) with "Big Val",
Valerie Siricco my aunt

P.S. Don't forget to view my updated version of Zucchini Pizza's in last week's blog below.

Friday, July 17, 2015

What Are You Craving?

What are you craving? 

Yummy Shares!

As the cold winter days gave way to spring I had cravings for crisp, buttery salad greens, sweet-tart
strawberries, and crisp spears of asparagus! I anticipate these first crops of the season for months! 

During the cold days of winter we eat what we've dried, canned, frozen, or sprout fresh, so a live, crunchy meal is foremost in my mind as I prepare the last meals of the frosty winter. 

This was Sunday's  dinner. We stir fried a variety of vegetables and put Italian sausage in it. Yummy and quick! The addition of corn on the cob made the meal a DELIGHT!
As we head into summer what did you crave? For me it was corn on the cob!! We were blessed with some last Sunday for dinner after church. I REALLY relished the buttery sweetness...cob after cob! From the looks on my children's faces and the quietness that fell around the 12' farmhouse table, I think they too were ENJOYING it!

I've been listening to our customers as the
vegetables begin to appear in shares or on our table at farmer's markets..."TOMATOES!!", one lady exclaimed as she began telling me of all she was going to do with that first "mator". Another gentleman's eyes "caressed" the squash when it appeared on table. He walked away with several pounds and had shared 3 ways he was going to use them. Yesterday an older woman "danced" at the sight of the table's display of tomatoes! We all look forward to summer's bounty in some way!

Maybe you're into sweets instead of vegetables. We

Our new Apple Pie Jam
have customers like this in Crossville! That's the one market we can sell our breads, cookies, and quick breads at. Folks slathered spoons of Apple Pie Jam or Seedless Blackberry Jam onto small slices of fresh stone ground wheat bread...their eyes would close and they began to sway! They eagerly buy a jar or two to enjoy. 
The next week, here they came again! :) They ran out, and were craving another jar of the tart sweetness of the Apple Pie Jam. 

We have a lot of tourists at that market as there are a lot of time share places nearby. I had my first couple come last week craving my cinnamon rolls that they'd enjoyed for the last 3 summers. What an honor!

Cravings...we all have them. I learned today that they mean something! I thought it just meant I really
liked something and wanted to satisfy my desire again! No...if I'm craving sweets I may be deficient in carbon, phosphorus, sulfur or get this one...Tryptophan! The good news is that these nutrients are found in  Broccoli, Kale, Cabbage, Horseradish, Sweet Potatoes, Spinach, Cauliflower, Brussels Sprouts, Kohlrabi, and other yummy vegetables!

I hear many gals say they live for chocolate! Believe it or not it can be a sign your body needs magnesium! You can "cure" this craving (if you REALLY WANT to! ha ha!) by eating
raw nuts, seeds, beans, and fruits to satisfy your body's needs. I guess taking magnesium like I do prevents the cravings I once had for it! 

As we pack your shares each week I begin craving all the possible dishes that come to my mind as I put
This week's share!
the vegetables in each box. Kale chips (salty craving) as I put the bunches of kale in...Grandma's Potatoes as we bag the new potatoes...steamed carrots as I slide the colorful bundles of carrots in. I could go on and on! 

There's another area of my life I have "cravings" in also. I long for time alone with Jesus! When I sit at His feet for a time of quiet devotions I anticipate hearing His wise voice, feeling His comforting or healing touch, and being close enough to feel His heartbeat for me.

My days as a farmer's wife and Momma to many are
Eleven of our children this spring at
Caleb and Shelby's wedding.
filled with so many "voices". There is my dear husband, the farmer directing me...the children's endless chatter, and my voice teaching, directing, and even chastening at times. There is the loud ad on Pandora a midst my instrumental hymns, or the phone calls wanting me to take a "short" survey. Lately, even my own mind is loud...asking searching questions, condemning myself, or puzzling situations out. 

I CRAVE quiet time with my Lord! Over the years I've seen a pattern in my life time and time again.  When I don't have my personal time with Him I am weaker, more distracted, and shorter on patience. I hate the unsettled feeling of distance between me and those I love...especially Jesus Christ! 

The Lord lovingly gave me the solution to this dilemma years ago. He put a picture in my mind of Him sitting in our living room in my husband's chair, which is next to mine, early in the morning. He was beckoning me to come. Each morning I see this picture in my mind, and sit with Him for awhile to fill my mind with His truth, and wisdom, for mine is inadequate for the day. It's a love relationship.

What are you craving? If it's a love that is far reaching, peace that is unexplainable, or acceptance despite your inadequacies turn to Jesus Christ!  

In our farmhouse kitchen we've been falling into the rut of what's quick and easy that satisfies our cravings. I don't like being this busy. Thankfully I have several quick ways to use our vegetables that are quick. Here's some quick ideas I use often.


Squash Medley

To make this filling "side dish" cut up the amount of vegetables that look like they will feed your family cut up in coarse chunks. 
Yellow Squash
New Potatoes

Next, crack an egg or two into a small bowl and whip with a fork. Set aside.

Put at cup of cornmeal into a bowl and season it with salt and garlic powder. Taste to see if you can taste the salt, without it being too strong.

Pour the egg over the bowl of coarsely chopped vegetables. Mix with clean hands. The vegetables need to be wet with egg without any extra egg on the bottom of the bowl.

Finally pour the seasoned cornmeal over the vegetable mixture, mixing it again till coated.

Cast iron works best for this recipe, but use any pan you have. If you aren't in a hurry, use the oven method (use an oven proof pan) :

Heat the oven to 450 degrees. Put your pan in the oven to preheat. When it's good and hot, put a bit of bacon drippings and oil of your choice in the bottom of the pan to 1/4". Heat again. Next, pour a good "single layer" of vegetables into the pan and return it to the oven. I have found it's good to have a couple pans baking instead of putting too much into one pan.

Let bake until the bottom is brown. Flip or stir the vegetables and bake until they are well browned all over.  Serve hot. Enjoy!

A quicker way to make this recipe is on the stove top. I find it ties me to the hot kitchen this time of year, so I prefer the oven method. Be careful, they burn easily.

Preheat a cast iron skillet on the stove top. Put a bacon drippings and oil into the pan until you have about 1/4" of oil. When the oil is hot, add your vegetables. Stir when the bottom is browned. Add oil when/if needed. 


Zucchini Pizza

Eight Ball Zucchini (round ones)
extra virgin olive oil or spray
Sea Salt
Pizza Sauce or Chopped Tomatoes
Pizza Toppings of Choice
Mozzarella Cheese

Cut the nipple end of the zucchini off. Using the stem end as a handle, cut your zucchini into 1/3" slices.
Place them onto a baking sheet, and spray or wipe with oil. Sprinkle with salt. Place in a 400 degree oven until crisp tender.

Remove the squash and think pizza! Put a small amount of pizza sauce in the middle of the zucchini and top with your favorite toppings. Sprinkle Mozzarella cheese onto the  zucchini. 
I sauted onion and our mushrooms and topped chopped tomatoes with this mixture. Sprinkled it with basil, topped with pepperoni and cheese.

Place the pizza into the oven until the cheese is melted. Remove and serve! Enjoy a lighter pizza meal tonight!
Here's my version...chopped tomatoes really help "upgrade" the pizza!


Here's what's been going on here on the farm as we learn and live together...all 17 of us!

We had our next batch of meat chicks shipped to us this week. Over half arrived dead. It's a big loss as we're on a time table. The replacements will be shipped next week.
We began to harvest our new potatoes!

We had our first BLTs of the season with all of our own
vegetables, bread, and Greek yogurt. Yummmy!

The tomatoes are beginning to come in strong!

We finished our seedless blackberry jam and began the peach jamming season!

Folks are pretty excited about the Apple Pie Jam! 

We're REAL proud of Allison, Adam's new wife!
She picked wild blackberries and made 17 half
pints for the first time!

Allison and Faith Anne peeling and cutting up early summer
apples for me as I make our new Apple Pie Jam.

The aftermath of jamming day!
Apple Pie jam has a tart sweetness with a mixture of slices and smooth
jam to tantalize any taste bud!

After my dining room and kitchen makeover I decided to start on the living room...I'm decorating one wall with piles of canning jars!

One  morning everyone worked together to label hundreds of jars of jam .

We are making apple cider vinegar with all the scraps from making the jam. I've always wanted to do this, and we have LOTS of good peels and cores that we pray will work great! 

Farmer Steve helped me finish up late one day. Here he's helping to pour sugar water to cover the apple scraps in canning jars. We've covered the jars with cheese cloth and have them in the dark to "work". In 6 weeks we'll see if the grand experiment worked! I've got my fingers crossed!

Charity (7) is learning to bundle greens, using a digital scale.
Real life home schooling.

Faith Anne (14) jumps in to help prepare vegetables
for a mid-week market.

The guys are preparing greens for market early one morning on our front porch.
It's hard to believe, but the end of July is coming into sight! Before long, folks will be talking about their cravings for fall crops! As you begin your weekend, ask what I'm craving going to make me stronger (physically or spiritually) or weaker?

Abundant Blessings,
The Farmer's Wife