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Archive for July, 2013

Day Tripper

Sunday driver, yeah.

I work freelance. No sick days. No vacations. If I don’t work, I don’t get paid, so vacations of the take-the-family-to-Disneyland, rent-a-beach-house type just don’t happen.  The last time we took an actual trip was in 2007, when we went to see my daughter in California when she was on tour with Disney On Ice.

So I’m the master of the day trip. (I refuse to call it a staycation, a dreadful neologism that just makes my teeth hurt.)

Daytripping can happen a mile from your house, or across the state; the key is there and back in 24 hours. It might include a stay at a hotel, or it might just be “Tourist Day” downtown, where you ride the double decker bus, go to the top of the Sears Tower, have lunch at the tourist trap and buy a fake Chicago street sign for a souvenir.

Or it might be a concert in Woodstock Illinois, where they filmed Groundhog Day, about an hour out of town. Or lunch with a friend who has managed to actually retire.

I like to take “mental health days” since “weekend” is also an elusive concept when you’re self employed. You work when there’s work, not because the calendar confers some magical income-freedom on Saturday and Sunday. So you head to the museum, or the prairie bike trail, or the nature preserve.

And if you’re lucky enough to live in Chicago, you can even walk to the beach.

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It is nice to get away and be able to get a break from daily life every now and then. Whether it is a day trip or a full-on vacation, it helps refresh and re-energize yourself.

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I (Sincerely, Emily) used to travel a lot and I loved it. Now, I love to stay home. That doesn’t mean I don’t travel, I just love to be home and doing things around here. 146It has been a tough year and up until recently I haven’t been able to travel. A few weeks ago we went to a family Reunion near Erie, PA.It was more than I should have done, but it was a lot of fun.

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Have you been able to get away and re-energize?

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Tanglewood Farm is growing! Well, kind of.

I have two young horses over at the farm down the road where I run my lesson program and they are best friends. Declan and Breallen are the cutest buddies! They spend countless hours nibbling each other, scratching each other and even napping side-by-side.

Declan is 3 years old and Brea is just over a year. While Declan is well started under saddle, he’s technically not doing much for the lesson program right now and Brea, being so young, is obviously not doing much other than eating and pooping. After doing some number crunching I’ve decided it will be considerably less expensive to bring the two to my home farm and then they can help the sheep mow down the rest of the field, since they’re unable to keep up with the grass growth.

Declan in his adorable little hunt saddle!

 

Unfortunately I’ve been sick this past week (with coldmageddeon!), while I was supposed to be putting up fences to divide off a section of the field! I plan to keep them on a small spot of land for now so that they don’t eat too much grass at once. It’s important to ease horses slowly onto new pasture or they can colic (which for horses can be deadly). Anyway, I managed to get the step-in posts up this afternoon briefly and all that’s left to do now is string up the electric tape and connect the charger!

… and patch the water trough, and install the hay feeders… and walk the field checking the footing, and clear the barn for horse-hay-storage, and stack the hay and…

It’ll definitely be more work, but I can’t wait until I get to wake up to see the cutest little faces I know, every morning!

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This past Sunday a few of us gave you a glimpse at what we have growing on our gardens. This week I wanted to share with you what I do with some of that fresh produce that comes out of our garden.

One of the salads that I make a lot is tabouli (or tabbouleh). It is great in the heat of the summer not to have to turn on the stove-top or the oven.bulgar tabouliSome tabouli recipes you find will have you pour boiling water over your bulgar, but I just soak mine. Again, any reason not to turn on that heat-producing appliance!

This salad can be made with the traditional way using bulgar or cracked wheat, but it can also be made using quinoa (need to follow quinoa cooking instructions for that)

Tabouli

  • 2 cups bulgar or cracked wheat
  • 1 tbsp.  salt
  • 2 tbsp. olive oil
  • 2 tbsp. lemon juice
  • 1 1/4 cup chopped cucumber
  • 1/4 cup chopped red onion
  • 1/2 cup chopped tomato
  • 1/2 cup chopped flat leaf parsley
  • 1/2 cup chopped cilantro
  • 1/2 chopped mint

Put your bulgar in a bowl or sauce pan and cover it with water an inch above the bulgar. The bulgar will soak most or all that water up and you may need to add more. I let mine sit for at least 45 minutes, usually longer. The last thing I want it to take a bite and come down on a hard piece of wheat.

Chopping Mint

Chopping Mint

If you do end up with more water that your bulgar soaked up, just use a mesh colander and strain it.

While your bulgar is soaking up that water, start chopping all your herbs and vegetables. It is up to you whether you want to de-seed your cucumbers and tomatoes.

I toss things together as I chop. Once your bulgar is ready, toss it with all the vegetables and herbs. Mix your lemon juice and oil olive together ad pout it over your bulgar mixture and toss again.

You want to allow time for all the flavors of the herbs and dressing to mingle so give yourself a minimum of 30 minutes to let everything marinate before serving. If you are in the area of the kitchen, give it a toss and stir as you walk by to bring any of the marinade up into more of the tabouli.

If you want your tabouli heavy on the vegetable and herb side, either double the amounts of the herbs and veggies or knock the bulgar amount down by half. Up to you! This makes a pretty big bowl.

I love making this using all the fresh herbs from the gardens along with the fresh tomatoes and cucumbers. It is a great way to celebrate summer and the harvest from your garden or local farmers markets.

What are you cooking with things from your garden?

Sincerely, Emily

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When I was in college and living by myself, I used to make a big pot of something– spaghetti sauce, pea soup, stew– on Sunday nights, and then eat it all week.  I mostly did it because then I didn’t have to cook all week.

Here at the other end of my journey, I find myself in the same predicament, but it’s more because I just can’t get the hang of this cooking-for-one-person thing.

I’ve actually come up with strategies– I work late on Tuesday and Wednesday, so I need something easy to fix when I get home at 8:30. I need leftovers. So I make my too-big meals on Sunday and Monday, and reheat on Tuesday and Wednesday. This doesn’t help much with Thursday, when I work at night, and have to come up with something early, which I hate to eat early, and I end up having cheese and crackers for dinner at 10 p.m.

Which I suppose is a step above a bag of oreos.

One of my cooking-for-one innovations (you’ll be amazed to hear this is my own innovation; no one in the history of living alone has ever come up with this, in case you need to know who to credit), has been the amazing ability of the top of the fridge to actually freeze things.

I mostly use this for breads. I’ve discovered (NO, I did not read this in Barbara Kingsolver, okay maybe a little) that you can make pizza dough in large quantities ahead of time, divide and freeze, then just pull a single-pizza size out of the freezer a couple hours ahead of cooking, and voila– pizza! Same thing with pita. Since I make it myself, it was such a drag when it would go moldy or stale on me, until I read on the internet figured out (ahem) that I could bake them one at a time. Of course, you have to heat the baking stone at 450 for 45 minutes, so it’s not exactly energy efficient, but I don’t waste pita anymore.

It works for scones, too, which I learned from a scone-baking class, figured out about a month ago! This is helpful not so much for the problem of scones going bad, as for the problem of scones going in my mouth a dozen at a time, because I’m really good at scones and they are delicious.

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What are you (not) cooking?

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Last week we gave you a glimpse into what is growing in our gardens. This week we will focus on what we are cooking.

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In the summer time I (Sincerely, Emily) prefer not to turn on the stove or oven if I can avoid it. There are so many different salads that can be made using many fresh garden veggies and herbs that are growing. Last Sunday I shared a photo of the Armenian cucumbers we are harvesting. They go great in the bulgar tabouli that I make.

bulgar tabouliI will follow up later in the week with a complete recipe!

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Of course, they were so delicious, that I (Alexandra) ate them before I remembered to photograph them, but I’ve had a string of meals that are all garden– roasted turnips with garlic and shallots, and today a poblano pepper, lined with a beaver dam pepper and stuffed with fried tofu, peppers, pine nuts and garlic, mixed with golden tomato sauce and rice. Topped with fresh mozarella from the farmers market. Delicious. Can’t prove it though. All I have to show is the harvest.

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What have you been cooking with things from your garden?

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It’s been a LONG time since I’ve posted here at NDiN, a really long time, probably over a year, maybe more (so sorry). You may have been wondering if I fell off the face of the earth. That didn’t happen, but I did buy a place in Maine, meanwhile, we fixed up our home in Ohio, then we moved to Maine, sold our place in Ohio and proceeded to spend every waking moment catching up on work (we’re self-employed). While I was able to keep my main blog Chiot’s Run and podcast (Cultivate Simple) going, most everything else fell by the wayside. How is my life different after being gone for a year?
Welcome 2
I have a HUGE garden. After being limited to about a quarter of an acre in Ohio, I now live on 153 acres in Maine. Most of it is wooded, but about 10 acres are cleared. My edible garden space consists of about 6,000 sq feet. YIKES, that’s a lot of weeding!
Welcome (1)
I have chickens, and guineas, and ducks, and more chickens, oh yeah, and a couple of pigs. Keeping chickens was always on my wish list, in our small lake community in Ohio they were viewed as “livestock” and too agrarian for the posh lake lifestyle of our neighbors. When we purchased this place it came with an instant flock of 12 chickens and a rooster. We’ve lost a few and added a few. We currently have a flock of 15 laying hens with a beautiful Silver Laced Wyandotte rooster. We also have 17 meat birds on the front lawn. Three guineas were added to the mix a few months ago, they hatched out 15 keets a few weeks ago.
Welcome
We bartered maple syrup for some Muscovy ducks last fall, a few were eaten by foxes (along with a few of our chickens), the rest graced our table. We have one pair that remains, and she just hatched out 9 beautiful ducklings. These little guys will hopefully build up to become a decent flock, providing fowl for our table in the coming years. They’re so much easier than chickens if you’re interested in meat birds.
Welcome 1
This spring, we took the plunge and got some pigs. Crazy – I know. Two piggies were introduced to help us clear the garden of weeds and to help keep the undergrowth in the woodlot under control. So far pigs have become our most favorite barnyard animal. What will we ever do with that much bacon? Not sure, we’re thinking that we can use the extra pork to barter with other goods from our neighbors.
Welcome 3
It’s been a crazy busy ride, things will hopefully settle down this winter. Lucky for us we’re full of youthful energy still and are highly motivated to get things done. We have dreams bigger than our budgets and time, but don’t we all. Life is really all about trying to find a balance, working hard but still finding time to enjoy what you’re working so hard for.

What have you been doing over the past year?

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