Wednesday, June 29, 2011

for Kay

My (also) wonderful friend Kay is summering in northern Michigan.  (What charmed lives others lead -- trips to Africa, cool-weather resort vacations -- even my sister is going to Marin County in a couple of weeks!  Me?  Well, all Monday morning was spent at the doctor's office with my mom, and Tuesday we had a big storm that caused a serious electrical brown-out here at the house and the co-op told me to throw circuit breakers and unplug all the appliances until they could take care of it, which took about two hours and nonetheless caused our HVAC to burn out a contact switch of some sort, so yesterday afternoon as the indoor temperature approached 80 degrees our repairman -- also wonderful, by the way -- came and replaced it, and Thursday Mother's having a transfusion so there goes a baking day.  I won't go on; I promised not to get all personal on this blog.)

Kay has long been an inspiration to me.  She got me back into knitting, and got me into spinning, and we have spent many many hours reveling in one another's company.  Kay has been following my summer project here and has been nothing but supportive and encouraging and helpful, and she wants some cookies.  And some rosemary knots.  And  some Dilly Bread.  And an apron.  (Is that everything, Kay?  Did I get it all down?)  She suggested once that I include photographs on the blog of works in progress.  I have to some degree taken that suggestion to heart, but you may have noticed that I'm not a very skilled photographer, or food stylist.  Pioneer Woman I am not, nor do I pretend to be.  (My daddy wasn't an orthopedic surgeon, and our family doesn't rank among the top 100 largest land owners in the U.S.)  Experiments of a Farmer's Daughter is not actually a food blog, per se, either.  Though I do covet the Drummond kitchen. . . .


Here, Kay, is evidence that your Espresso Pixies are shortly on their way and you should have them before the Fourth (I hope to ship out this afternoon).  Also in this package are the molasses spice cookies and a little extra surprise.  I love you!


I have some wonderful friends who have a daughter who is in the Peace Corps.  I'm so admiring.  She's in Zambia.  They're going to visit her next week!

Her mom, Libby, comes by my bread stand just about every Saturday and is a loyal platinum-level shopper (that means she buys generously).  She's usually sort of late and on occasion, by the time she shows up, I've run out of what she wanted.  But she just gets something else instead.  (Platinum.)  On Fathers Day weekend I introduced the Suds beer shampoo at the FM.  I told Libby that beer is a great hair conditioner.  She said her hair didn't need conditioner (lucky lucky woman).  But she bought some Suds anyway.  (Like I said, platinum.)

That was two Saturdays ago.  Last Saturday when Libby came she told me she really liked the shampoo and she's been trying to tell people how much she likes it.  So that was neat.  But it gets better:  she bought another bottle to take to Blair, the altruistic -- and I mean that in a GOOD way -- daughter.  And she had seen my earlier Bagatelle post.  I hadn't brought any of the bags to market last Saturday because I was still tweaking the pattern, but I said, "Libby, you need one of those bags."  She said she was the ultimate bag lady and had more than enough bags, so I said, "Well, then, Blair needs one."  (I'm such a subtle saleswoman.)  And she agreed!  Now I have a bag all finished and ready and set aside for Libby to pick up come Saturday.

So my Suds shampoo, and my Bagatelle market bag, are headed across the pond next week!  Akiddledidivy's gone international!

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Review and reassess

The Kennett Community Farmers Market has migrated to the west side of the square.  The motive for that was that we thought we might avail ourselves of morning shade cast by the courthouse.  Somehow the sun found us anyway and it was, once again, a hot morning.  And here I'd worried about rain.  Yesterday we had six vendors (including me), which I think was pretty good.  One fellow came late pulling a flatbed trailer loaded with corn -- wow!  And he drew a lot of attention.  So we had pretty good traffic, too, but we were doing all right before he got there.

"Pretty good" twice in one paragraph?  My skill at articulation is apparently not at its optimum presently.

I finished up the zukes from Grover (which I had shredded and refrigerated earlier) by making two more batches of zucchini bread, baked 8 loaves of the savory herbed bread, 6 of the honey oat, and 4 of the dilly bread.  All of that excepting one of the herbed bread sold.  I had 16 dozen cookies -- snickerdoodles, hermits, Toll House and banana nut -- and almost all of them went, too.  And even though the powdered sugar dusted on the top of the fresh apple cakes kind of melted as the cakes warmed up out in the sun, no one cared and they all sold out.  It's interesting -- I'm trying to keep my wares changing from week to week, but when I don't bring some item I'd had previously, inevitably I'll have a customer ask for it.  And that's great -- I'm not complaining!  So next Saturday I'll be sure to have STBO bread again, and the applesauce cake mix, and scones, and molasses spice cookies.  I may have to set up a "By Special Request" corner.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011






 After and in progress:
All cotton and oodles bigger and stronger than a Walmart bag, with straps wide enough that they won't cut into the bend of the arm and deep enough to slip over the shoulder.

Saturday, June 18, 2011

And I said to myself, "Self,

this is what ten dozen cookies look like at a quarter to five in the morning."

Two dozen more in the oven and another four dozen to go.  Sold 'em all in less than two hours.  Bring it on, Girl Scouts.
For the curious, clockwise from upper left:  cinnamon raisin oatmeal, molasses spice, orange macaroon.  The fourth kind was espresso pixie.  Without reference, I believe about a pound and a half of butter went into the making of these beauties.

I love to bake cookies and have about twenty different kinds in my immediate repetoire.  I'm going to make a concerted effort to add a rotating selection to the weekly fare this summer.

Friday, June 17, 2011

New Bread on the Block -- er, the Square

Honey Oat Bread.  Beautiful.  Yummy.  Eat 'em up.

And I've made Dilly Bread again for the FM this weekend.  I bought a couple of new baking dishes just for this bread, because I wanted to bake two loaves at once (which hasn't worked out, but anyway), and the loaves bake up so high in them they look like babkas!  At least, I guess they do -- I don't think I've ever personally seen a babka.

More Savory Herbed Loaves, more scones, more snackbreads (cherry vanilla this time). . . .

Father's Day Stuff for the Farmers Market

I think that Father's Day gets the short end of the stick.  Mother's Day is the big blowout and Father's Day is kind of an afterthought, like, oh, yeah, Dad, I love you, too.  And I don't know about you, but my dad was always really hard to buy for (sorry about the dangling preposition -- it's the sort of thing up with which I dislike putting, but expediency is the issue this afternoon -- I need to get this posted!).  It didn't help that he had a habit of buying himself whatever he wanted so that we were left puzzling over what to give him come gift-giving time.

Okay, so blah blah blah -- I'll get on with it.

I've got some items made up for Father's Day gifts for the Farmers Market tomorrow morning.  None of those "World's Greatest Dad" mugs or stupid ties here!

Dads around here work in their yards and their fields and they play golf and they fish and since I just heard on the afternoon weather report that it's been above 90 degrees every day for the past three weeks, it's a good bet they've been getting hot and sweaty doing these things.  This is big gimme cap country:  hair gets all sweaty, slap a gimme cap on it (or wear the cap all day long and let the hair get all sweaty underneath it).  To the sweaty hair rescue:  Suds beer shampoo.

Yes, there is beer in it (Miller High Life, to be precise, but the alcohol's been cooked out of it so I won't be checking your children's IDs when I sell it) -- and beer is a terrific conditioner.  Suds doesn't smell like beer, either, and that's a good thing -- who wants beer-smelling hair?  So how about that for a fun Father's Day gift?

There's something about men and pancakes.  Specifically, men like to make pancakes.  Mostly they like to flip them.  And eat them.  And make them for their kids on weekend mornings.  But most men don't like to make pancakes from scratch; they go with a mix (it's easier).  However, pancake mixes taste like mixes, and they've got all kinds of preservatives and who knows what-all in them.  They're not healthy.  My pancake mix, however, is healthy.  I know everything in it -- oatmeal, whole wheat flour; just good stuff.  And it has no preservatives but will last for weeks in the fridge.  So I've made up jars of it for Father's Day gifts, with a brief note of preparation instructions attached.

And check these out: 

 Aren't they neat?  Little tiny succulents!  Cacti!  Not much bigger than a quarter!  Well, actually, that's not quite accurate but I had a quarter handy when I was making these shots and wanted to show them to scale.  The pots are about the size of a business card.  The plants are, every one of them, thriving, and it's hard to kill a cactus, even for most dads.  Regardless, I'll have care instructions included.

Remember the zucchini bread in the previous post?  Good dad stuff.  And there will be zucchini muffins tomorrow, too.

Cookie samplers:  I'm making up little trays of an assortment of cookies, four to six different kinds (I'm not sure yet, so no photos).  Good dad stuff.

Last week I baked some fresh apple cakes for Farmers Market and they were a hit.  I plan to bring a few of those tomorrow as well.

I love this grilling apron as a Father's Day gift.  And see how the dishcloths match?

So tomorrow morning, come shop the Kennett Community Farmers Market (I think that's what it's called) for different gifts for Dad, all under $10 (and most in the $2 - $5 range).  You won't find any of these anywhere else.

Oh -- and we've moved to the west side of the Courthouse so we're in the morning shade now, which is great!

To adapt an adage concerning citrus:

When life (or in my case, my wonderful FM neighbor Grover the Gardener, who always trades with me) hands you zucchini



Thursday, June 9, 2011

My boyfriend's back!

There he is!  Photographed through the window screen, I'll grant, and I was standing precariously on a tiny stool and leaning over a sink of water, afraid I'd drop the camera (one of those Peter Lik moments) -- all in all, an unsteady hand, but isn't he amazing?  Can you blame me?  I'll be singing Leslie Gore the rest of the afternoon.

Sorry for the digression but I just had to show him off.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Right Out of the Oven

Dilly Bread.  For the curious, yes, there are dill seeds in it, and onion, and a secret ingredient.  Okay, that's enough arm-twisting.  The secret ingredient is cottage cheese.  But you can't taste it.  Or at least I can't.

My mom is having it right now on a cold plate of baked ham, cheese, olives and apples.  That's her supper.  I'm having it right now with butter globbed on it.  That's my supper.

Wow, is this tasty!  And I understand it's better the next day but it may not last that long around here.  (Kidding!  This is a big loaf.)  I can already imagine it as toast and as a terrific sandwich bread.

I'll have this at Saturday's Farmers Market.  It's too good to pass up.

The Baker, the Bathers, and the Bathos

I was a college freshman soaked in lovelorndom, nights of Joni Mitchell's "Blue" playing in my dark dorm room, blueberry-scented candles burning.  There was this boy. . . .  My best friend that year (who was much more successful in affairs of the heart) and I wasted lots of time spring semester snipping up magazines for interesting images and odd but meaningful phrases to glue onto boxes and various other small items, and one of the things I "decorated" was a pencil cup which, now faded and tattered, I still have.  Among the bits I found the very apropos (for my situation) line "and spend all day watching out the window for him. . . " and of course it took a place of prominence around the top of the pencil cup.

Well, here we are decades later.

With all the baking I've been doing for the FM, I seem to be continually washing up beaters and bowls, measuring cups and wooden spoons.  It's inefficient to load the dishwasher because I use the same bowls and utensils over and over throughout the day.  My hands are in dishwater a good deal of the time and yes, it's obvious.  Thanks for your concern.

I have a window over my kitchen sink.  Who doesn't?  Mine looks out onto our very countrified farmstead back yard (read: I need to get the weedeater fixed and I need someone to mow my grass), where we have a water tap that evidently leaks underground a bit (another thing I need to get fixed).  The leak has formed a depression around the pipe that stays filled with water, for which I apologize to the people of Third World countries who walk miles every day for a muddy bucketful.  I truly do feel guilty about this.  However: the birds LOVE this puddle.  They congregate around it from midmorning to late in the afternoon.  They get right into the middle of the pool and duck their heads and flap around and get all wet.  They hover over the water and then land in it, pretending to be waterfowl.  They visit like old men at the local cafe, and I suspect they'd play Moon and 42 if they had a set of dominoes and opposable thumbs.  I figure they gossip and tell bird-lies ("And that worm was th-i-i-i-s-s-s long!").  Lately I've had mostly redwinged blackbirds and purple martins (yay!  Take that, mosquitoes!) and grackles, but last month there were four beyond-beautiful jewel-tone indigo buntings -- which in all my years we have not had on this place -- who hung out nearby.  And there are a couple of pairs of cardinals and a few brown thrashers who come around; the mockingbirds drop in occasionally and yesterday I saw a pair of doves.  A killdeer kind of stands to the side of the flock, watching.  We have barn swallows who have made their nest directly over the hood of my car, as they do every year, but they don't frequent the pool, at least not when all the other birds are present.  For a while I had a bluejay who parked on the faucet but I haven't seen him lately.  Where am I going with this?  Well you may ask.  About a week ago I had my hands in the dishwater and looked out through the window and spotted a spectacular bird -- about the size of the killdeer but with a black-and-white speckled body.  He had lengthwise stripes down his head that looked almost like a racing bike helmet.  But his throat and breast:  oh, my!  a brilliant yellow, with a deep black V like Guido's open shirt collar.

Well, of course I had to fly to my bird book and try to identify this glorious creature and so I did:  he's an Eastern Meadowlark.  He's been back just about every day since, and although I have my camera in the kitchen windowsill I haven't been able to photograph him yet, so this is a borrowed image from Wikipedia or the likes, but this is exactly what he looks like.

I'm in love again.  And I'm spending all day watching out the window for him.

Saturday, June 4, 2011

Jeepers, it was hot out there!

From whining about rainy Saturdays so that I can't go to market, now I'm complaining about such heat this morning at the FM that I couldn't stay for the duration.  I had my straw hat, I had my two super-sized mugs of iced water (more than half a gallon), I had my patio umbrella, there was a little breeze, I was thinking, okay, the worst of the heat won't hit until the afternoon.  By ten I began to fret.  The Mix-in-the-Pan Chocolate Cake, with the bag of chocolate chips and walnuts, was a casualty:  the chocolate chips had completely melted.  (Fortunately I only had one of these left.)  I was not getting sunburned -- I kept moving to stand under the umbrella's shadow -- but my skin was getting hot.  I packed up before eleven and headed home.  I couldn't stand the heat.  I went back to the kitchen.

But it was a good day!  I sold all the STBO bread, all the scones, all but one of the snackbreads, all the Rosemary Knots, all but one of the Savory Herbed Loaves.  I sold apricot honey and jars of baby carrots in sweet balsamic vinegar with red peppercorns.  I have no more dog biscuits!  I sold a scrub-and-soak set (left over from Mother's Day weekend), and Granola-to-Go Bars.  And all that's off the top of my overheated, aching head -- I haven't made an inventory yet.  I came home with much much less than I took.  I traded for gorgeous yellow squash and another of the vendors generously gave me her last bag of green beans before she left.  The people across the way sold out their zucchini before I could get over there to snag some.  They had potatoes, beautiful big onions, and peck baskets of green beans.  Eye-popping veggies -- and the gardens are only just starting to come in.

We had steady traffic all morning.  Maybe next Saturday the temperature will be a bit less oppressive, but I'm starting to think that I'm going to keep abbreviated hours out there, at least in high-summer conditions.  All my baked goods are wrapped, and as hot as it was today, they were sweating.  I'm concerned about compromising my products -- nice crusts go soft, for instance.  Yep, this is an experiment, all right.

Friday, June 3, 2011

Li'l' D's long-promised cookies and so on

I have a long-ago sweetie who presently makes his digs in Florida.  Earlier this year I baked and sent him some cookies, and some time back I promised more, but the whatevers have gotten in my way.  I finally got these baked up for him last night:

They're called Espresso Pixies, and here's kind of why:  they contain crushed espresso beans and they're like little brownies; in the fairy world, apparently pixies are mini-brownies.  Very chocolate-intensive and about the same diameter as an Oreo (but pudgier), Espresso Pixies are also loaded with walnut pieces.  These cookies essentially have the same chewy-with-a-crust texture as brownies and are seriously addictive, but beware the coffee beans!  The first time I baked these, I quickly ate more than I should have and got a caffeine buzz.  I'll be offering Espresso Pixies by the dozen at Farmers Market in future weeks.

And these are Rosemary Knots -- bite-sized to eat with cheese and fruit.  Like breadsticks, they're sort of hard on the outside but soft within and are fragrantly laced with rosemary. I'll have a few dozen of them at FM tomorrow morning.

More Savory Herbed Loaves, STBO Bread, and scones (I'm thinking lemon apricot this time, along with more orange cranberry) will be available tomorrow, as well as snackbreads, Granola-to-Go Bars, and some of the other items I've had in the past weeks.  I'll also be bringing a few small jars of baby carrots in a sweet balsamic vinegar with crushed red peppercorns (sooo good!) and some apricot honey.  And this time I plan to have a tasting table so a selection of these goodies can be sampled.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Digression / Distraction

Today I have to attend a potluck luncheon meeting of the planning committee for next year's Book Club meetings.  Our hostess asked if I could bring a meat dish.  I was too lazy to go grocery shopping so I made do with what I had at hand -- which was bacon, cheddar cheese, broccoli, yellow bell pepper, and green onions -- and I hope it fits the bill:

Personally I love quiche.  And I love a rustic crust -- it says "homemade".  I could have made a prettier one but again, this was a lazy woman's project this morning.  I figure this is appropriately retro for our little group.  By the way, this month's Bon Appetit says "no more cold pasta salads!" but I'll bet I'm the only one who'll be at the luncheon who read that.

I've written this post to support the prediction that my Wednesday's likely shot so that I'm going to be crunching time the rest of the week to get ready for Saturday's FM.  Oh, well.