Magic…..

Wow… This is what the farm looks like in the early morning after a snow. It is fresh, crisp, and just magical. 🙂

 

THIS is another reason we moved to the farm. 🙂

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New Home For Recipes

Hi Friends!

I’ve decided that it is important to keep the integrity of the Brambleshire Farm blog and use it to document our journey here on the farm. SOOO… I’m moving my food, craft, and goodies blog to http://www.winkerdoodles.com .

Please head over and join that site. Today, I’m sharing the most WONDERFUL recipe with my readers. I’m excited to share fun things with you. I hope you’ll come with me and be my friend! I can’t wait to hear how you like my first recipe on winkerdoodle’s!!
-Deena

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“Baby it’s Cold Outside”

On our farm in Colorado, I get cold. Like REALLY cold. With rheumatoid arthritis, cold is not a good thing. It causes me to be really stiff and ache. I often feel guilty about it because there are lots of tasks that need to be done on the farm and I don’t want anyone to feel like I “can’t” do something because of RA. I may be slow when I move… I may need someone to open a jar for me or manage a button for me… but I strive to be as useful and helpful as I can when it comes to farm chores. My wonderful husband, Keith, does just about anything in his power to keep my joints warm.

Well this past weekend, we got a nice dose of Winter. Like most of the country, we were hit with the arctic cold front. It was COLD. It was snowing when I took Tay to school on Friday morning and had to cover all of our outdoor garden containers so we could try to squeeze a few more veggies from this season. Keith was WONDERFUL and built a fire for me in our wood-burning stove. It was a true act of selflessness. Our home is very well insulated and stays quite warm… especially if I’m cooking and the oven is on. But, because he is wonderful, he lit the stove, stoked it, and stripped down to a t-shirt and jeans so he won’t sweat too much.  🙂 Such a sweet man.

Cold weather always makes me want to cook soup, stew, or some other warm and cozy meal for the family. So… I decided to make some soup… Tomato soup, to be exact.  I was fortunate enough to have a bowl full of homegrown tomatoes that I could use… but this simple recipe can be made with canned tomatoes too! It’s so easy and SO yummy, you’ll never go back to that red and white can of condensed soup again.

Roasted Tomato Soup

  • 2 cups diced tomatoes (fresh or a couple of cans diced tomatoes, drained)
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon pepper
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 4 cups chicken broth or stock
  • 1/2 teaspoon thyme
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1/2 cup whipping cream
Instructions
  1. Heat the oven to 400°. On a baking sheet, combine the  tomatoes, 2 tablespoons of the olive oil, and the salt and pepper. Toss the ingredients to coat evenly and spread them in a single layer. Roast the tomatoes until they are shriveled with brown spots, about 35 to 45 minutes. They will look a little sticky… it’s exactly what you want!
  2. In a large pot, heat the butter and the remaining tablespoon of oil over medium heat. Add the garlic and onion and sauté until softened, about 6 minutes. Add  the broth,  thyme, bay leaves, and the roasted tomatoes, including any liquid on the baking sheet. Bring the mixture to a boil, then reduce the heat and simmer, partially covered, for 40 minutes. Remove the bay leaves.
  3. Use a stick blender or food processor or regular blender (be careful) and puree the soup until it’s smooth. Return it to the pot and stir in the cream. Without letting the soup boil, warm it over medium heat, stirring often, until steaming. Add salt and pepper, if necessary. (If you are using fresh tomatoes, you’ll probably want to strain your soup at this point. Since your tomatoes aren’t skinless, you’ll want to strain them out of there.)I serve this soup with good ole grilled cheese sandwiches. But, you could serve this soup by itself with cheese, goldfish crackers, sour cream, whatever!

    I know you’ll love this soup! The next time you don’t know what to serve… and it’s a very blustery day… run to the pantry, grab a couple of cans of tomatoes and whip it up! You won’t be disappointed!

    -Deena

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The Rescue

Meet Hunter.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

(Sorry the photos are so blurry, He was really excited).

I do not own Hunter. I don’t know him. Then what is he doing in my car? I “rescued” him. He was running down the middle of the road and heading toward a very busy highway. So… I picked him up. In retrospect, I probably should have been more careful. I don’t know this dog. Does he bite? Will he ride okay in my car? He ended up doing fine. I called the number on his tag and called the owner. No answer. I looked at his tag again and got his address. I decided to drive him home. Hunter lives in a big, beautiful home on a hill that has a wall of windows and glass doors facing West so they have a gorgeous view of the Rocky Mountains. I approached the house cautiously and was puzzled because I couldn’t find the front door. WHERE is their front door. The entire front of the house was glass. Were those glass doors that open to a beautiful deck the FRONT door? There is no doorbell. Hmmm. I decided not to approach the house.  I let Hunter out of the car and he ran immediately to the deck and into his dog house. No fence. No front door or doorbell. Nothing to keep Hunter at the house or alert someone at the house that Hunter was home. I called the number again. Still no answer. I left another message and told them I was dropping off their sweet dog… and drove away watching in the rear view mirror to make sure that Hunter didn’t follow me. Mission accomplished.

As I drove home, I thought about the look on Hunter’s face when I first saw him. He was running full-force down the middle of the road with a wide grin and ears flapping in the wind. He was completely free. He was happy. He did NOT need rescuing. But, as I thought about it, Hunter was blissfully ignorant that he was approaching an extremely busy highway crossroad. The encounter would probably abruptly end his happy jaunt… and probably his life.

All of this made me think about my own life. Aren’t we all like this sometimes? We trek along in our life… blissfully ignorant…. not knowing of any danger ahead.

Let me explain ….

Since we moved to the farm, I make a 60 minute round trip to Taylor’s school each morning and evening. We leave at 6:45am (as long as Taylor’s hair and clothing is perfect by that time), drive to school and I pick her up at 6pm after drama rehearsal. To say the least, I am usually just ready to be home on these trips. I time myself and see if I can beat my last time, without speeding, by taking a slightly different route. The other day, I was heading to pick up Tay and got caught by EVERY red light on the way. I was extremely irritated. THEN, the two-lane road that I usually drive was blocked. It was closed. There were two police cars blocking the road and the officers were directing traffic to turn off onto a side road. I didn’t WANT to be on the side road. I want to just go about 3 more blocks so I could get to Tay. I found myself frantically trying to understand where I was in relation to the theater building at the school. I finally arrived at the school 16 minutes late. I ended up having to go almost to the next town to get around the blocked street. I was not happy… in fact I as angry. I HATE being late. AND I had used up more of my precious gasoline that has now become like gold to us. Grrrr….

I found out the next day, that there had been an accident on my usual road and someone lost their life. There was a drunk driver speeding down the road at nearly 70 miles per hour (mostly residential area) and someone, who was not delayed by traffic lights, ended up in the path of this out-of-control car. Then there was the realization that my being delayed by red light might have actually saved my life. It took my breath away. WOW… talk about a change of attitude.  Without getting too preachy… I believe that I was being watched over that day.  I couldn’t get it out of my head that I needed rescuing… but I had NO idea. I was blissfully ignorant. God intervened… and probably saved my life. I am supremely thankful. So, next time you are caught in traffic, or delayed by red lights, or your teenager can’t find the “perfect shoes” and you leave late… remember Hunter. Nothing happens by accident. There is a reason… and the reason just might be that you are being rescued.

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Seasonal White Knuckle Grip and Support for Orphaned Snack Food

They announced on the news this morning that we are expecting snow tomorrow night. SNOW! I know that, here in Colorado, we expect our first frost in the days surrounding the end of September and the beginning of October… but I’m totally not ready for snow.  Besides the fact that we’ve got a ton to do on the farm before winter, I LOVE Autumn and want to hold on to it as long as I can. The infamous “death grip” would be more like it.  I like crisp days and chilly nights. I love seeing the leaves change to deep red, orange and gold. I love apple picking, corn mazes, and the sun bright in the sky that seems to call you outside to play.  Now, don’t get me wrong, I  like snowy days and cooking cozy dinners of soup or stew with a crusty homemade loaf of bread. But, there is  something about being able to enjoy outside venues like the Fall festivals and farmers markets. I definitely miss football games in central Texas… but, it never seemed to get chilly enough there for me to be completely happy. I mean, wearing shorts and flip flops on Halloween is just wrong.

So, because I am wanting to suck the last bit of pleasure out of  the outdoor days this year, I’m sharing a simple recipe for you to make while tailgating or at Market Days (if you’re from Wimberley.) or any other outdoor activity in your town. It’s “Walking Tacos”. Now, I started making this recipe a long time ago when I used to buy those big variety packs of the little bags of chips for school lunches. The ones at our house that are ALWAYS left in the bag are Fritos. Not sure why, but nobody wants those. They fight over the Cheetos and Sun Chips and abandon the rest. Poor forgotten Fritos. Well, this is a way to stick up for the underdog! And, of course, keep you from feeding your corn chips to the birds. 😉

This recipe has been passed around a million times and is nothing new. But, sometimes I need to be reminded of those easy meals that the family loves. Maybe you do too? The fun thing about this recipe is that you can whip it up in a flash and be out the door in just minutes. (Though it’s a bit too chilly in the mountains here to camp anymore, these are great for camping too!!)

photo courtesy of the Dallas Observer

 

AUTUMN Walking Tacos

Ingredients:

  • 1 lb. ground beef
  • canned pinto beans rinsed and warmed
  • 1 package taco seasoning mix or one of your own
  • chopped tomato
  • shredded lettuce
  • salsa
  • grated cheese
  • sour cream
  • guacamole, chopped onions, olives, jalapenos, etc.
  • individual lunch-sized bags of nacho chips or corn chips

Directions:

  1. Brown and drain ground beef…add taco seasoning and prepare according to directions on package.
  2. Prepare and arrange all toppings on a tray…next to the hot meat sauce.
  3. To serve…crush an individual bag of corn chips slightly…then open the bag by slicing along the side… OR, if your spoons are long enough,  just open the top. Start adding toppings as desired…beginning with the meat, and adding whatever you desire on your taco salad. Stir up your taco salad …then eat it right out of the bag! DELISH!!!

Now, you should know something. I cheat a little when it comes to the meat in this recipe. I know, I know… shocking, right? Well, cheating might be a strong word. You see, when I get home from the grocery store, I think about how I’m going to be using my ground beef or ground turkey. If the recipes I want use browned ground meat, I go ahead and brown the whole batch with salt, pepper, and garlic. I, then, drain it, cool it, and put it into a freezer container. (Sometimes I put it into half-pound portions and put them in individual freezer bags. Then, when I’m making a dish (like this one) that needs browned meat, I pull it out and heat it up. It takes me like 3 minutes instead of 20. SUPER SIMPLE! The other reason I do this is that I HATE (notice the all capital letters??) wasting food. Have you ever bought meat and stuck it into the fridge to use later that week and, because something came up, you didn’t use it and it went bad?  I vowed to never let that happen again! I do this with lots of different meats… like bacon and sausage, etc. I wouldn’t do this with steak or chicken… just the ground stuff.

Now, want to make this REALLY easy? Same recipe. Leave out the meat and beans. Open a can of chili with beans and heat it up. Ta-da! It’s a walking Frito Pie! 🙂
I hope you enjoy this recipe. Maybe you already make this at your house. I will be sharing some wonderful AUTUMN favorites at our house in the next week or so. You won’t want to miss these! So, go to a fair, watch a football game, hit a corn maze… and enjoy time with your family this Fall while giving a much-needed nod to the Frito! 🙂

TTFN! (Ta-ta for now!)

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Second Thoughts, Well Aged Dirt, and Lobotomized Sharks …

What have I wrought?

Anyone out there a second guess type person? Is that really a “type”of personality? Type SG Personality? I am afraid that second-guessing myself and my decisions is something that permeates my very existence on a daily, if not hourly, basis. At 17 I enlisted in the Navy, and then thoroughly questioned that decision when I was first categorized as a “magot” by my Company Commander, upon my arrival at bootcamp. Around my 19th birthday, Iraq invaded Kuwait, and on that day I came before my Commanding Officer, demanding (respectfully of course) to be on the first boat crew that was deployed to the Gulf. A month later, while “hanging out” off the coast of Iraq, I began to question that piece of brilliant decision making. Even at the tender, innocent age of 4, having my kindergarten class picture taken, while sporting the ever popular plaid turtle neck and hand-me-down Toughskins, I began to question my sense of style. Where am I going with this, you ask? (Although I am pretty sure that you, my brilliant and astute readers, already know where this is headed.) I find myself periodically looking out over the farm, seriously questioning my current mental state. Some days I have all I can handle with work, commuting, and the odds and ends that seem to gobble up my time at an alarming rate. Honestly, it is a stretch to call this place a farm at this point. It is 3 acres, zoned “Ag”<insert random hand gesture> (Street-cred again! Hollar!), with a house and garage. That’s it. Well, that is not entirely true … this little slice of heaven came with extremely generous portions of both Grasshoppers and Genetically-Engineered House Flies. What in the world am I doing here??

When I reach the point of dousing myself with a combustable liquid and look for an open flame (think human torch) I come full circle. We want to transform this blank canvas … restoring the fauna and flora, raising chickens for organic eggs, goats for environmentally friendly soap and delicious cheeses, and vegetables, brambles, and fruit trees that are toxin free (as much as possible). While a nobel pursuit,  it is not enough. While becoming self-sufficient is certainly appealing, I need more purpose, the kind of purpose that isn’t quite so “self-centric”. It is at these times that I remember our real goal … feeding and aiding those in need. Providing healthy, organic food to those who may otherwise not have access to that type of sustenance.  I endeavor to keep that foremost in my thoughts while tacking this part of my life.

Old as Dirt …

If you read Deena’s latest blog, then you know that I am not a huge fan of birthdays, well, to be more specific, my birthday. And it’s not because I am in denial about aging, although that level of ignorant bliss does have its appeal! However, I did get the best email this week titled “Relief for Senior house owners”. Really? Are there little evil minions out there that monitor birthdays, so they can start spamming you with “Senior-based” email and snail mail, once you hit that certain, special age? There is definitely something about hitting a particular age, when it becomes a convenient scape goat. That sore back from slouching on the couch too long watching TV suddenly becomes “Man I am gettin old!” The sniffles that come with common allergies become an urgent trip to a specialist and reviewing your last will and testament  My favorite is masking my nightly ice cream ritual by stating “I need the extra ‘calcium’ in these advanced years”. (Note: If that isn’t plausible to who I am talking to, I quickly switch to the old stand-by, “I am not quite sure how much time I have left.”) I am sure this is where I am supposed to have yet another life changing epiphany, where I share something inspiring with you, and you go forth with that little nugget to do great and amazing things. However, this old boy is just too dog-on tired, and needs to wrap this up so I catch Hee Haw, work on my bunions and turn in before 8.  🙂

The Sharks Thing …

Honestly, I just tossed that little ditty into the title on a whim. It is Friday night after all and I needed a snazzy title to convince you to blow 10 minutes of your life that you will never get back. (That’s asking a lot, come to think of it. Now I have shame … dang.) On another note, I hope to survey the property this weekend and get an accurate drawing put together and posted. I also hope to get a building plan and blue prints for the chicken coop published for your reading pleasure. No need to thank me.

Have a great weekend!!

K&D

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Paint and a Painting Disaster… And Keith’s Un-Birthday Cupcakes

We’ve still got SO many things to do on the farm before Winter. Lots of those chores are ones that I can’t really do by myself. Keith is TOTALLY the “Mr. Fix-it” around here. But…. If it’s not a bad pain day for me… I can PAINT! And BOY, do we have painting to do. So, today, I painted the entry, the hallway and did some touch-ups in the family room. (Well, “family room”, “Living Room”, “Great Room”, “Not-so-Great” room… whatever you want to call the main gathering room in our little farm house.)

Anyway, I was feeling pretty proud today… UNTIL I decided to paint the front door. Now, something you might not know… I certainly didn’t… is that you have to figure out if your door has been painted with oil based paint or with latex BEFORE you decide to paint over it. You see, if your door was painted with exterior latex paint, then you can paint it easily with latex paint in any color you want. HOWEVER, if your door is painted with oil paint… your latex paint will not stick to it and you’ll end up with a big GIANT mess. Are you getting where I’m going with this? Yep! You guessed it! My door had oil paint on it… and I painted over it with RED latex paint. Take a moment and just imagine me painting and then, as I go over the place I just painted… and the paint peeling up and wrapping up around roller. Oh yea… it was awesome.  😐 I finally just tried to cover the door with one coat and  made plans to buy our new door at the Habitat for Humanity ReStore this weekend.  I would have showed you a photo of  my handiwork on the door… but I’m just too embarrassed!

It’s a good thing that we live way out in the sticks…. our old HOA would have had a hayday with this. We used to live within a VERY strict HOA. It was so strict that, if you wanted to paint your house, they gave you a diagram of the shape you had to paint your selected colors on your garage so they could approve it. Oh yea… good times! *Blech! Let’s just say that I will be leaving the painting of the new front door to Keith. Lucky, lucky man.

Monday was Keith’s birthday. I love birthdays… Keith, on the other hand, does not. He’d rather just forget that he even has a birthday. I always want to make a big deal of it even though he tries his best to push it into the shadows.

Last year, I threw him a little surprise party at work. I worked with his teammate, Andrew,  and we secured a meeting room and an “important meeting” that Keith had to attend in that room. I was thrilled that we pulled it off… though Keith made me promise that I would never do that again. Hehehe.

As I prepped for the party, I baked lots of little treats. But, one of the favorites, turned out to be my Chocolate Cream-Filled Cupcakes. They were like a delicious, homemade version of the famous chocolate cupcake with the little white swirls on top that we used to bring in our lunches. Well… I never got them, even though I really wanted them and all my friends got them. *tear.

Here is the awesome recipe for those little special cupcakes. Everyone loved them and I think you will too!!

Keith’s “Don’t Ever Surprise Me Again” Birthday Cupcakes

  • 1 1/4 cups cake flour
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 10 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 1 1/2 cups sugar
  • 3 eggs
  • 1/2 cup buttermilk
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Vanilla Cream Filling:

  • 3 tablespoons shortening
  • 3 tablespoons butter, at room temperature
  • 1 cup confectioners’ sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 cup light corn syrup

Vanilla Cream Filling: With an electric mixer, beat together the vegetable shortening and butter until blended. Turn the mixer down to its lowest setting and gradually add the confectioners’ sugar. Turn the mixer back up and beat a high speed until light and fluffy, about 5 minutes. With a drizzle, gradually beat in the vanilla and corn syrup until the filling is the consistency of mayo, about 2 minutes more. Scrape the vanilla cream into a pastry bag fitted with a 1/4-inch plain tip.

Ganache Frosting:

  • 5 ounces semisweet chocolate chips
  • 3/4 cup heavy cream

Ganache Frosting: Put the chocolate in a small bowl. In a small saucepan, over medium heat, bring the cream just to the simmering point. Pour the hot cream over the chocolate and, working from the center out, gently stir with a whisk to melt the chocolate and blend until smooth.

Directions

Set a rack in the middle of the oven and preheat to 350 degrees. Using either mini or regular muffin tins, fill pan with cupcake liners.

Into a large bowl, sift the flour, cocoa, baking soda, baking powder and salt together three times. In a mixing bowl, beat the butter and sugar together at high speed for 15 seconds, until combined. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating until each is incorporated. Continue beating until light and fluffy, about 6 minutes more. With the mixer on its lowest setting, beat in a third of the flour mixture. Beat in the buttermilk and vanilla, then another third of the flour. Beat in the coffee and then the remaining flour. Fill the cups of the muffin tin two-thirds full and bake for 15 minutes, or until the centers spring back when lightly pressed and a cake tester comes out clean. Set the pan on a rack to cool.  Fill with vanilla cream. No need to cut a hole in the cakes… just stick the tip into the top and squeeze. Be sure that there isn’t a lot of filling sitting on top of the cakes. If there is, just use a butter knife and take off any extra.  Chill for 15 minutes. Dunk the cupcakes into the ganache to coat, then place on a rack, frosted side up. Transfer to the refrigerator for 20 minutes to set before serving.
I hope you enjoy these treats. They are absolutely delicious! Happy Baking!!!

-Deena

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