The Farmette Cookbook [Review]

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I fell in love with Imen McDonnell’s blog Farmette long before she released her cookbook early 2016. Originally working in broadcast production, Imen met and married an Irish farmer and essentially uprooted her life to move to Ireland. Looking at the gorgeous photos that she posts on her blog of her life in the Irish countryside – who wouldn’t?

When I heard about The Farmette Cookbook, I knew that I wanted to get my hands on it. In the age of the internet and Pinterest with its slew of yummy recipes, for me to actually want to own physical cookbook is proof as to how magical her writing is. I added the book to my Christmas list and was thrilled when it appeared under my Christmas tree. Traveling home with my boyfriend from my mom’s house, I couldn’t help but to share my excitement with him as I flipped through the pages.

“Oh my god babe! There is a chapter on making items from dairy.”

A few minutes later.

“Oh my god babe! There is an ENTIRE chapter on just potatoes!”

I’m sure it was a long ride back home for him.

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Even months later as I flipped through it yet again, I found myself still completely in love with every page. This cookbook can easily be considered one of my favorite cookbooks. The recipes tend to be more on the simple side (i.e. rustic) but produce fantastic results (such as the dairy section which shows you how to make items such as cream cheese or sour cream). The ingredients either already exist in my pantry or could be picked up at my local grocery store.

Some of my personal picks from this cookbook are:

  • Buttered Eggs (page 10) – A seemingly simple recipe that produces a rich, buttery flavor in eggs. This is a great recipe to use the fresh eggs from our girls.
  • Best Brown Bread (page 41) – Long before Imen’s cookbook was published, I found her blog by doing a search for an Irish brown bread recipe. I came across this easy recipe and fell in love with her blog.
  • Sweet Farmer Cheese Danish with Elderflower Glaze (page 135) – A danish is the perfect addition to a weekend breakfast and the idea of making it from scratch tickles me. Plus, you get to use the Basic Farmer Cheese recipe from page 12 as well! The use of Elderflower in recipes is still a bit of a novelty stateside I think.
  • Pasty Pies (page 185) – I love anything wrapped in pie dough and this recipe will lead to a delicious end product without a lot of work.
  • Buttermilk Fried Chicken (page 237) – Now this might get my Southern card revoked, but I have never made fried chicken. It just seems so labor intensive to me (even though I know it’s not). Imen’s recipe looks so nice and crispy that I think I’ll give it a shot one day.

I can’t say this enough – go and buy this book. You won’t regret it.

Food in Jars Mastery Challenge: Shrubs

For March’s Food in Jars Mastery Challenge, we had the option of choosing between making a jelly or making a shrub. Since making a shrub has been on my agenda for a while, I decided to go with that option. We already have quite a few jars of grapes jelly canned so it was nice to have the option to try something else.

So exactly what is a shrub? There are a couple of different beverages that go under this category – one being liquor mixed with sugar and citrus, the other being what we are going to focus on. Popular during the American Colonial area, a shrub (also known as drinking vinegar) is a combination of fruit, sugar, and vinegar left to infuse for a few days to create this wonderfully sweet/tart liquid. The resulting liquid can be added to cocktails, sparkling water (for a healthy drink that gives you the feel of soda), salad dressing, or really anything you can think of. It was developed as a way to help preserve berries and fruits at the end of season.

Food in Jars recommends a ratio of 1:1:1one part sugar, one part vinegar, and a handful of fruit – easy enough, right?

March isn’t exactly the best month around here for fresh, local fruit. It’ll be another month or so before strawberries start popping up in the fields and our fruit trees have only just began to bloom. That’s sort of a bummer to me as it feels a bit like cheating to purchase fruit from the grocery store.

I already knew that I wanted my shrub to have ginger. I love ginger (in fact, I just purchased plants a few days ago to grow my own ginger to get fresh-fresh ginger). I combed the grocery store looking for the best looking fruits before settling on a mixture of blueberries and blackberries. Robb loves both of those berries so I knew that he would enjoy eating what I didn’t use.

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In a quart mason jar, I added one cup of berries and one cup of organic cane sugar, muddling them together. Then I added 1 cup of vinegar. In any other circumstance, I would have used apple cider vinegar, but I had a bottle of homemade peach vinegar in my pantry that I had purchased from my local farmer’s market a few months ago.

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I gave everything a quick stir and grated about a 1.5 -inch piece of ginger on top. Stirring one more, I covered the jar with a lid and stuck it in the fridge.

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After two days in the fridge, I did a quick strain (to get out more of the pulp, you’ll probably want to use cheesecloth or something similar). The leftover berries went straight to the chickens! I packaged my finished shrub in a leftover Kombucha bottle.

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Eager to try it out, I poured a glass of water and added a bit of my shrub – yum! I want to pick up some sparkling water for next time, but I loved the almost kombucha-like taste of this shrub.

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A Week or Two in Pictures (3/12 – 3/27)

We started the week off with a gorgeous – HUGE – full moon.

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After a bout of cool weather, Spring hit and the temperatures have been lurking somewhere about the 50-60° range. It’s been so warm that I’ve moved my seedlings outside along with my citrus trees.

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One of my lemon trees has been doing especially well and is covered with sweet smelling blooms. I attempted to hand pollinate some of the blooms but after moving it outside, I’m hoping that the bees will take over the job for me. I just realized yesterday that I had an orange tree. My citruses were all left at mom’s for the year or so I was transitioning to Robb’s house and included a lime tree. One tree died and I was so certain it was the orange. I was sad to discover that it was my lime!

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Robb and I went down to the beach last weekend and had a great time, depsite the rain. We ate at Two Roads Tavern, picked up donuts from Duck Donuts, and had a fun time at the Manteo Aquarium. For more of a recap and a review of Two Roads Tavern, visit The Edible Coast.

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This past Sunday was a great day for outside chores. We messed with the chicken coop (the chickens received new straw under the coop and new pine shavings inside of the coop), planted Swiss Chard and Brussels Sprouts, and generally enjoyed the good weather.

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Our newest chicken, Ipsy, is the chicken on the left hand side (below photo). She is a Silver Laced Wyandotte and as you can see, she is missing quite a few feathers on her backside from an overzealous rooster. Since I’ve brought her home, she has already put on a little more weight and I can see feathers starting to grow back.

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The straw from the chicken coop gets put into the garden to give the plants an extra boost.

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We officially listed our house for sale! We are going by the route of “for sale by owner” and I am confident that I can get the house sold. We are determined to move forward with finding a place with more space so we can grow our homestead.

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I tried to get a nice picture with Belle as we were all relaxing on Sunday, this is the one that came out the best. She saw the camera and just started acting like a diva.

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I decided to make fish tacos on Sunday, so I made a fresh pico de gallo. Unfortunately none of the produce was from our garden but hopefully the next time I make it – it will have all homegrown items (except for lime… sadly).

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Our delicious Alaskan halibut tacos with cilantro, pico de gallo, coleslaw, and a lime crema. What a great end to a busy weekend!

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DRINKS.com on MavenX

Remember about a month ago when I posted about my BPI Sports Board on MavenX? Well I’m back with another great board to show you! MavenX recently partnered with DRINKS.com to share some great deals with several wine sites: Wine Insiders, Heartwood & Oak, and Barclays Wine.

The assortments include great deals like the Winter Wine 6 Pack shown below which comes with a variety of wines making it the perfect package for your upcoming Ladies’ Night! The 6 pack includes wines from around the world and would make a great package if you were hosting a wine tasting event.

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For more information on this great deal, click here.

I’ve also created a Pinterest board that features some great recipes for using your wine as well as some neat food and wine pairings that are guaranteed to make your next Ladies’ Night a success.

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Wine, Beer, and Booze – what more do you need?

There’s a sneak peak below of some of the other great assortments I feature on my MavenX board. It wouldn’t be a bad idea to purchase one of the larger assortments to have a bottle on hand just in case you needed a host/ess gift or a last minute birthday gift.

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Want to check out the other assortments I featured? Click here.

What is your favorite wine, beer, or cocktail to serve at Ladies’ Night?

Food in Jars Mastery Challenge: Salt Preserving

Guys, I kicked butt on Sunday. I swiffered the walls (to get rid of cobwebs), scrubbed the toilets spotless, picked up dog poop in the backyard, swept/vacuumed/swiffered the floors, planted my tomato seeds, made the beds, did laundry AND did the dishes.

But somehow during all of that I found the time to process almost 13 total pounds of lemons I had purchased from Lemon Ladies Orchard. Based in California, Lemon Ladies Orchard offers delicious and fragrant meyer lemons which are Certified Naturally Grown.

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My first order – 3 pounds.

Earlier in the week I made lemon bars, following it up with a lemon pie on Saturday. My big “lemon” day was on Sunday when I canned a lemon and ginger concentrate, dehydrated lemons, and made a lemon and rosemary salt for the Food In Jars mastery challenge.

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Starting the dehydrated lemons.
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Dehydrated lemons – after.

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One of three 1/2 pint jars of a lemon and ginger concentrate.

 
I love canning and trying to preserve as much of my garden harvest as I can. I tend to stick to jams/soup bases/pickles but am always looking for ways to expand my skills. When I came across the year-long food preservation mastery challenge hosted  by Food in Jars earlier in the month, I knew I had to participate. The challenge focuses on a different skill each month.
 

Calendar of Preserving Skills

January – Marmalade

February – Salt Preserving

March – Jelly OR Shrubs

April – Quick Pickles

May – Cold Pack Preserving

June – Jam

July – Hot Pack Preserving

August – Low Temperature Pasteurization

September – Fruit Butter

October – Drying and Dehydration OR Pressure Canning

November – Fermentation

December – Fruit Pastes

 
Though I missed out on January, I was excited to hop right in with February’s challenge of Salt Preserving. Since I already have a jar of preserved lemons hanging out on top of the fridge that I started back in January, I decided to create a citrus salt.

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As I was making my lemon and ginger concentrate, I zested each lemon before juicing them. I spread the zest out on a pan and added coarse Kosher salt, mixing until I found the ratio I liked. I decided to make it a little heavier on the zest than on salt to reduce my overall salt intake. Using some fresh rosemary from my mom’s house, I clipped rosemary into small chunks, mixing them into the zest and salt mixture.

I’m letting it sit until dry (which if you are in a rush, you can heat it in the oven on your lowest setting until dry), stirring it around whenever I venture into the kitchen. It’ll probably take about 2-3 days for the mixture to dry before I place it in a jar.

I’m excited to use this salt mixture the next time we cook some of our Alaskan halibut. Lemon Ladies Orchard also included some fresh Bay leaves in my box and I can’t wait to use those as well.