Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Making beds

Fall has finally crept into the Ozarks. The trees are reluctantly donning their bright season colors. The mornings are now wool sweater chilly. The evening icy tip of my nose lets me know that frost is imminent.
I have been enjoying using herbs from the garden at the Ozark Folk Center in my cooking there at the Country Kitchen. The many flowers and plants that line the walkways are marked with informational labels so I have been able to learn while I bustle from one craft house to another. I've loved the gardens from a distance, but until today, I really hadn't had a chance to play in them. But now the craft grounds are closed for the season - and I have a few extra minutes... until I fill them :-).
I told Miss Tina Marie that I would love to help her and Kathleen in the heritage herb garden this winter, if they needed a hand. She didn't let me forget my offer. Today I got to help prepare the new beds for next year.

Tina Marie Wilcox and Kathleen adding amendments to the beds for next year's garlic in the Heritage herb garden at the Ozark Folk Center.

Kathleen digging and weeding the new garlic beds.

You can catch Tina Marie's weekly column, Yarb Tales in the Ozark Folk Center Newsletter.
It is full of all kinds of wonderful information about herbs and Ozark life.

I learned so much today. When I have a chance to process it - I'll pass it on! One of the more interesting things to me was the use of alfalfa pellets as an instant green manure and amendment to the new beds. Tina told me that it provides an instant boost to the young plants.

And on the Foxbriar Farm homefront - we have bunnies again. Shawn brought home 3 french and 2 satin angora bunnies from the Bella Vista show. I have so missed having the little warm fuzzies. Thanks to Lena and my parent's hard work, the buns have a nice rabbitry in the the barn.
Pequena was having a bit of species confusion, so we had to build a fence to keep her out of the rabbitry. Even though she has the big ears and soft brown eyes, she is a llama, not a bunny!

'Til next time - have a bright and shiny day!

Friday, October 12, 2007

Fall colors

All of a sudden, it started getting cold at night. One night, a bed sheet was too hot to sleep under, the next, we needed the down quilt. I had to break out my woolies for my feet this evening. It's been 46 degrees and dark the last few mornings when I started chores.

So, I expect the trees to start changing into their fall dress colors any day now. But they haven't, yet. We are headed to Bella Vista craft show in north western Arkansas next week and I would love to see the hills in all their glory. But they haven't even started changing colors, yet.

Lena has been dyeing wool and mohair for us to sell at Bella Vista. The colors she is getting are fantastic. She just pulled the latest roving out of the roaster - and - suddenly, as she hung the hanks of roving out to dry - I had my fall colors!

Have a fantastic fall weekend everyone!

Tuesday, October 09, 2007

Blurring the lines

My days of late have been spent in the past - the 1890's Ozarks. I have been cooking a variety of delights on my new favorite toy - a 1931 Kalamazoo wood cookstove at the Ozark Folk Center. She is just about the sweetest thing for cooking since maple syrup.

Just this week I've experimented (very sucessfully!) with peach cobbler made with fresh peaches, scottish shortbread, apple and oatmeal cookies, venison pies, cranberries cookies, chicken vegi stew thickened with cornmeal and butternut squash pies. I am having Fun!

It has left me with little time to record all the wonderful stories and ideas that have filled my days. I hope I can remember enough of them to write them down when I have a bit of time...
And it makes me even more aware of how different our life is from most people's though. My answers to the many questions I get each day are a good illustration of this.

The most common question is -
"Aren't you glad you don't have to cook this way at home?"
Um... actually, when I have a home again - I want a wood cookstove just like the one at the Folk Center. And, right now, that is the best cooking facility I have. Depending on how crowded it is, I answer that question with a negative and explain the details as well as I can.

"How long did it take you to learn this?"
Well... Thanks to my parents, I've been cooking all my life and we did enough camping that cooking with fire makes sense to me. It really is no different than modern cooking. Really. I rarely use recipes, but today I decided to look up a recipe for pumpkin pie in our 1915 Golden Rule Cookbook and adapt it to the butternut squash pie I was making. I was stunned when the recipe's first ingredient was "1 can pureed pumpkin". Obviously this was a townie cookbook! Pumpkins store just fine in the pantry without putting them in cans!

I gave up on recipes and made very good butternut squash pie. I had lots and lots of compliments on it and one question that kind of stumped me. One lady, after tasting it, said, "You didn't make the crust, too, did you?"
Umm... If I didn't make it, where did it come from? Is there a pie crust tree in the herb garden that I don't know about?

Sometimes I don't even realize my answers come from a different reality than the question.

"Why don't you churn your own butter here?" asked a young woman.
I answered honestly, "I don't because I have goats and you can't get cream from goat's milk without a cream separator. So I just have to make-do with store bought butter."
I thought a minute and then I added, "But I do have a neighbor who has a cow. Maybe I could ask Dave for some cream."
The young woman seemed to think I was doing a fine job of staying in character...
Tomorrow I'll see if I can pick up that cream on my way down the mountain.