Be Warned

The beautiful brown eyes of my children glaze over when I string together more than a few sentences that do not end with the words, “do you want something to eat?” So, this is the perfect place for me to express myself about farmhaven, growing children, growing and selling food and flowers and yes, of course, eating. Blogging is cheaper than therapy too! Be warned, I am half Sicilian and love food. I love to eat it, read about it and watch it being prepared on TV.

One of my personal goals this year is to get my kids to eat more vegetables, especially if we are growing them. They tend to like their vegetables the way they like their donuts, fried. Fried okra, fried zucchini, fried squash, fried eggplant, fried mushrooms, fried  potatoes, fried pickles, fried jalapano peppers. Ok, vegetables are really, really good battered up, golden and crunchy on the outside and soft and extra tasty on the inside. Sprinkle them with a little salt and pepper while hot and they are better than good, they are delicious. I find the only way to stop my children from eating too many fried vegetables for dinner is to constantly taste-test them during the cooking process.  Portion control is important, I read about it all the time in my cookbooks.

Frying is delicious but infrequent at our house. I save it for special occasions because it is so messy. If my mom is reading this, she stopped at messy –  it should be my middle name, but in my defense I do like a clean kitchen and I don’t have a deep-fryer. I haul out the ancient, black, cast iron skillets that weigh a ton. These skillets are artifacts from another time in the kitchen. They can be found at goodwill, yard sales and if you’re lucky, at the bottom of your cabinet. My boys like fresh broccoli cooked in a cast iron skillet. Heat a little bit of olive oil in the pan, and then add the cleaned, cut florets. Stir until the broccoli turns bright green and season to taste with salt, pepper and, if you’ve got it, some good parmesan cheese.

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Buying local. Eating local. Sourcing local. Supporting local. Good Neighbors. Common catch-phrases, but this year Linda and I have learned how much our local community has to offer. We are committed to the idea of natural sustainability, so we have done a lot of reading from the likes of Eliot Coleman, Rodale and other nationally recognized experts on organic practices. We are also realizing the incredible resources available locally.

Our Forsyth County NC Agricultural Extension Agent, Mary-Jac Brennan, is fabulous. There is a wealth of knowledge and experience available from NC State University,, and CFSA, the Carolina Farm Stewardship Association, Always around for good advice and information are neighbor farmers and friends like Kevin Frack at TerraSol Farms, While Eliot Coleman’s book, The New Organic Grower, is a must read so is Vegetable Gardening in the SouthEast by regional expert Ira Wallace, a gardener and part of the Southern Exposure Seed Exchange. It is a valuable seeding, planning and harvesting guide specific to our area. Of course, it was Kevin Frack who recommended the book. We went to Slow Food Piedmont’s Annual Seed Swap at the end of January and learned about several local vegetable varieties.

One of my goals for 2015 is to look closer to home for the expertise and advice I need first. Yesterday I was describing to a new neighbor, Wade, that I was going to have to learn how to keep deer out of our fields this coming season. Wade mentioned prior to retiring he was a professional fencing contractor. He described the type of fence that would be the most effective, told me where to find it, and like a good neighbor, offered to help us with it. Most often what makes a place a haven, is the people around us. We love this haven.

Thick, thickest, thicket…

It was a beautiful day to search for new wood and prune the thick,overgrown mess that is our very, tiny vineyard. A sleeping princess would not have been out of place in the mad tangle. Farmer Al’s dad, pictured at the corner post, is an accomplished wood carver but this job required more blunt force than finesse. Despite the severe pruning we are hoping for a few sweet, bronze scuppernong grapes toward the end of summer.