Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Freezing Herbs for a Winter Treat for your Chickens

I grow an abundance of herbs and edible flowers each spring and summer to use in my cooking and also to share with the chickens fresh from the garden. Throughout the summer I also dry the excess using my homemade Tiered Herb Drying Rack and then add the dried herbs to our chicken feed in the winter for extra nutrition when they can't munch on fresh grasses and herbs. I also freeze some herbs for a nice 'green' surprise for the hens when snow is on the ground. It couldn't be quicker or easier.

Monday, August 18, 2014

Blackberry Rosemary Herbal Simple Syrup

Fresh rosemary paired with blackberries really gives this simple syrup a nice, complex taste. I love to whip up a batch of the syrup, then add it to a glass of ice and club soda for an all natural flavored 'soda' in the summer. 

Saturday, August 16, 2014

A Week in Farm Photos - August 10th - 16th

This week was bittersweet. We lost one of our Saxony ducks to advanced liver failure which was quite a shock. Then our Lavender Orpington rooster, Emilio, really tore up Truffle, our Chocolate Orpington so he's now going to be finding a new home (email me if you're in the Hampton Roads, Virginia area and interested!) and she's being cared for in the hospital ward. We don't tolerate bullying or drama in our chicken yard any more than I do online. 

But the week ended on an upnote as I finished up a 6-part series I am writing for HGTVGardens and got my outline worked out for Book #2. I also finalized a deal with an exciting new sponsor. I'll be helping them develop a brand new product line for spring which I'm really eager to get started on! Enjoy this week's photos.

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Ball® Canning International Can It Forward Day + Giveaway

Saturday, August 16th will mark the 4th annual International Can-It-Forward Day sponsored by Ball® Canning. I am honored to have been asked to be an Official Ball® Ambassador and help them promote this fun-filled day for both new canners and experienced alike! I am also excited to be partnering with them to offer you the chance to win an awesome prize package which includes the Limited Edition green canning jars! 

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Easy Cardamom Ginger Zucchini Bread with Streusel Topping

'Tis the season of an overabundance of zucchini in every backyard garden. This zucchini quick bread is one of our family favorites because it uses fresh eggs, homegrown zucchini and one of my favorite spices - cardamom. It also comes together very quickly and is easy to make at a moment's notice.

Monday, August 11, 2014

DIY Wood and Wire New England Clam Hod Egg Basket

When you raise backyard chickens, you can never have too many egg baskets. Since both my husband and I are New Englanders born and bred, I have long admired the traditional Maine clam "hods" which were used to gather and rinse shellfish and have also recently gained popularity as garden baskets for collecting and rinsing produce. Pure Yankee ingenuity, the wire and wooden clam hods are functional as well as artistic. Generally holding a half bushel, they can be used as picnic baskets, knitting baskets or even a place to store kindling wood for the fireplace. And of course, would make a wonderful egg basket.

Saturday, August 9, 2014

A Week in Farm Photos - August 3rd to 9th

Photo: Enuf said. #fresheggsrock

Another cool, wet week here in Virginia which was great for the garden. We've been harvesting cucumbers and zucchini like crazy! I don't mind the rain since I've been passing the summer writing a few articles for several magazines and working on my second book. My first book will be back on the shelves next month, already in its 3rd printing (yay!) with the addition of a brand new index. 

I'm also excited that I'll be presenting my first talk on Beginning Chicken Care next month, so I'm preparing for that. I will also be doing some filming for two national television shows in September. So stick around for what is shaping up to be a very exciting year around here! Who would have ever thought that my 'hobby' would turn into a full-fledged career? I honestly couldn't be happier with how things have turned out. Here are the girls and guy who are my daily inspiration. Our chickens.

Friday, August 8, 2014

COOKBOOK REVIEW: Extra Virgin by Gabriele Corcos and Debi Mazar

One of the fun things about being an author and blogger is that I get sent lots of book to review - and I mean lots. On all different topics. I can't possibly read them all, nor do I want my blog to turn into book review central, so I am extremely choosy about which books I ultimately do decide to review. Extra Virgin: Recipes & Love from our Tuscan Kitchen  was a no-brainer. 

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Good Bugs vs. Bad Bugs: The Struggle between Good and Evil in the Garden

The combination of warm sunny days, cool nights and plenty of rain has conspired to help our melon and squash garden flourish. There are cheerful yellow blossoms everywhere and even the beginnings of some tiny fruit. Bees are buzzing around - which makes me so happy considering the plight of the honeybees and how beneficial they are in pollinating all of the beautiful blossoms.

Of course bad bugs have taken up residence as well, but hopefully the toads and bats along with some good bugs are controlling their numbers. As with much in life, it's a constant struggle between good and evil, even inside the confines of garden fencing.  Come take a look!

Monday, August 4, 2014

Basic Backyard Chicken Keeping Etiquette

Raising backyard chickens is a wonderful and joyous undertaking. From the adorable cuteness of baby chicks, to anxiously awaiting their first egg, you will quickly become enamored with everything chicken from the very start. But beware, not everyone will share your joy - and some basic etiquette must be followed if you expect to continue to be well-liked by family, friends and neighbors.

Saturday, August 2, 2014

A Week in Farm Photos - July 27th to August 2nd

Photo: We all know that duck eggs are best for baking, but they make every dish shine. What is your favorite recipe to use your duck eggs in?

What a week! This has been THE best summer here in Virginia hands down in all the years we've lived here. Sunny days with low humidity, cool nights and plenty of rain. Our gardens are thriving and our ducks are so very happy! The chickens...well they could do without the rain, but I'm sure they're glad we're not experiencing the normal summertime heat and humidity. So all in all, life is good here on the farm. Enjoy a peek at our week.

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

DIY Mason Jar Flower Frogs

Mason jars make THE best flower vases. I especially love the new Ball Canning Heritage series of blue jars and green jars and matching blue and green lids and rings. But regardless of what color jars you want to use as vases, making these easy flower frogs for the lids will ensure your bouquet stays put in the jar.

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

BOOK REVIEW: Milk Cow Kitchen by MaryJane Butters

It's no secret that I want a cow. Not only do I think cows are absolutely adorable, but I want access to fresh milk (it's illegal here in good ole' Virginia to buy or sell raw milk) so I can make all kinds of homemade butter, cheeses and ice cream. So when Brian Ogle (son of Mary Jane Butters of Mary Jane's Farm fame) asked if I would be interested in reviewing a copy of his mother's new book Milk Cow Kitchens: Cowgirl Romance, Backyard Cow Keeping, Farmstyle Meals and Cheese Recipes, he didn't have to ask twice!

Sunday, July 27, 2014

Classic Crème Brulee

One of the many wonderful benefits of fresh eggs is that they elevate any recipe from merely delicious to truly divine. That holds true especially with this classic Créme Brûleé recipe. Using only four ingredients, this is my go-to dessert for special occasions. Easy to make, it lets the freshness and taste of your fresh eggs shine. The combination of the sweet brittle sugar coating atop a silky smooth custard underneath is irresistible. Since today is Natural Créme Brûleé  Day, I thought it appropriate to share my recipe.