Sunday, April 19, 2009

Nettles Spanakopita Hand Pies

Another marathon weekend under our belts and nary a drop of rain!! The Homestead Herbalism Saturday and Sunday classes came around this weekend to explore the fine wild cuisine of northern Chester County. In two days, we devoured 3 gallons of Spring Tonic Soup, 2 qts of chickweed and garlic mustard pesto and well over 30 nettles spanakopita hand pies. Holy Smokes~ that was was some darn good eatin'!
((simply divine))

Here is the wild commando version of this recipe (which means, use what you have, don't worry about the quanities so much. It is a very forgiving recipe)

Steam roughly 3-4 quarts of early spring nettles tops, which will reduce to a few cups (you could substitute spinach if the nutritious nettles don't live nearby) Drain well.
two blocks of feta cheese, crumbled
cracked black pepper
a teaspoon or so of lemon zest
and a sprinkling of lightly toasted pine nuts
1 pkg thawed phyllo dough
Mix the first five ingredients together while the greens are still warm to get a nice creamy mixture.Unwrap the phyllo dough and use only three sheets at a time, cover the rest with a tea towel or damp paper towels. Don't let it dry out!!
Cut the sheets in three equal size  pieces (the long way), put about two heaping TB of the mixture at the end of the sheet, and do the flag fold all the way to the end of the sheet! Brush with olive oil or butter and pop into a 350 degree oven until lightly browned and crispy, about 15-20 min. Just try to let them cool off before devouring.

oh my...

Weeping with Joy

This is a an early Mother's day gift from my kids. A lovely Weeping Willow tree. It is replacing a beloved maple that we lost in this place a few years back. We all missed having a tree in this part of the yard. There is underground spring here and so my years long wish to have a willow has been fulfilled!! Thank you, my loves!

'Gut Buch' Read

A gift from dear friend Carol, from the Homestead Herbalism Grad Class...this vintage book "Dr Frau" is such a good read!!! It's a first hand account of a woman doctor/midwife in the sixties in nearby New Holland, PA, just up the road from here. Her descriptions of Amish farm life and home birthing balanced with her own juggling of career and family in the early sixties is a cultural eyeopener on many fronts. I am enjoying this book so much I don't want it to end. It is 'bath-bed-book' perfection! Thanks so much Carol. Mom, you have to read this!

Greenhouse Update

Apparently, Hobby Greenhouse has 'upgraded' their plans and materials since the last one we purchased. Needless to say, the MAN was none too happy about the changes. 'nuff said. The building hasn't gone up as smoothly because of said changes and hence cost the guys much valuable time. Darkness came before the job was completed. A run of bad weather, including unrelenting wind and a bout with the MAN getting the flu has caused serious delay in getting the job done. Easter afternoon found us outside in powerful winds shoring up the fragile sides that strained to be airborne. Visions of greenhouse number 2 careening down the road created frayed nerves and flared tempers. Keeping fingers crossed for a finish this week. oy....

No laying down on the job!

Dreaming the NEW Garden...

When I reorganized my library a month or two back, I stumbled upon an old friend, Mel Bartholemew. This was my very first gardening book,which I purchased in 1981. Mel's PBS show back in the day, inspired my very first garden. Although my gardening preferences have shifted over the many years since then, I still plant while keeping his methods in mind. While teaching the "Dreaming the Herbal Garden" class a few weeks back, I actually inspired myself to make some major changes this year. I had been considering revamping the garden to include a traditional PA German Four Square Garden for a few years, all the while remembering my first garden fondly. Then I stumbled upon a magazine photo that sealed the deal. This was the year!
I spent a few days measuring the newly tilled garden and sketching out some ideas on graph paper, then calculated the board length of lumber I needed. A trip to Lowe's intimindating Man World Lumber Yard was next. I decided to bring the IceMan along so as not to feel too vulnerable. He was a big help maneuvering the 12 foot boards back to the cutting station and loading 32 board pieces and 6 cedar fence posts. Lowe's happened to be pretty quiet that day, so my cutting requests were tolerated...although barely. Half way through the cutting, the machine decided to blow a fuse. The cutting machine fella rolled his eyes while taking the ten minute walk to go flip the breaker. I used that time to go find four inch galvanized wood screws. Another intimidating aisle, but I perservered and found just what I needed. Pretty soon we loaded up and brought the pile home. As you can see it all fit nicely into my truck.
Within an hour, we had the first box together......
We pre-drilled the holes in the boards so that the screws wouldn't split the wood.We nailed on these inexpensive little 1X2's on the bottom of all the boxes. When the wood rots over time, these will be replaced instead of the more expensive 2X10's. Do I have enough nails?

Pretty soon there were four...

And by dinner time there were seven...
In just a few hours there were nearly two ~ four squares nicely matching my paper design, but a smashed fingernail, miscalculation of number of nails needed and a drill bit hopelessly stuck in a horrendous knot on a board put a finish on the day. Back to Lowe's to grab more nails and replace the MAN's drill bit before he got home from work (yikes...better grab a whole new set!) Anyway, despite the minor setbacks, this was afternoon well spent.Now comes the chore of filling the boxes with nice fluffy garden soil. So much to do, so little time ...and garden tour bus #1 will be here in exactly one month!

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

The Last Laugh

I am guilty of letting the demands of farm life, family and fun take precedence over blogging the last two weeks...what an incredibly busy and productive time it's been. I have lots to share, but first things first.I need to post a follow up from the April Fool's day post where I planted some fake eggs in the nesting boxes. The fake eggs eventually have been accepted once again and the girls have been putting out a steady stream of good sized eggs for us to enjoy. There were several extremely large eggs in the last week...the first pictured above. This morning, I cracked two of them into the pan, fully expecting double yolks, but was totally surprised to find a completely formed tiny egg, shell fully intact, along with a double yolk, inside one of the big eggs. This is a first!!

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Who's the April Fool??

You'd think it'd be easy to fool a bunch of gals whose brains are literally the size of a pea, right? Well, I did...and it worked for a week or so. But being that today is April Fool's Day, I guess they decided to turn the tables on me. Wish you could have been there to see my face! My girls have a habit of forgetting where to lay their eggs if all of their gifts are collected at the end of the day, so I decided to fool them by buying some realistic looking plastic eggs I found on an Easter display at our favorite mom and pop hardware store up the road. They are the speckled ones in the photo above. I tossed a few into the empty nesting boxes and the girls sit right on top of them and lay more. I collect the real ones at the end of the day and first thing in the morning they go back and sit on the nest where the plastic eggs live. For the past week, I have been smuggly celebrating my genius... until this morning when I opened the coop and found most of the dozen eggs of various colors kicked out of their various nesting boxes and unnecessarily sh*t upon. How rude! Not sure who or what might have tipped them off, but I'll not be so easily deterred. I brought the soiled imposters into the house and scrubbed them until the dirt and the spots came off. When the girls were out hunting worms in the rain this afternoon, I ran back up to the coop and inserted just the brown eggs back in the nests.
Hmmph, we'll see who's the last fool....


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