Monday, December 30, 2013

Recipe Archive: Scape Soup

adapted from The Farmer's Market Guide

Scapes are the flower stalk of the hardneck or "ophio" garlic. Growers cut off the stalks to increase growth in the garlic bulbs underground, but chefs know that for about three weeks every year there is a delicious vegetable that tastes like a cross between asparagus and garlic. Great for sautes, soups, and flower arrangements.

Chop the buds off the scapes and cut the stems into bite-sized pieces. Cut the stems off the spinach and chop the leaves finely. Melt butter in a large saucepan and sauté scapes for 2 minutes minimum.

continued in The Book Stall
The Farmer's Market Guide With Identification Guide and Recipes by Jennifer Loustau
Recipe Archive
Farm Kitchen

Home Grown: Girdling

"Because phloem tubes sit on the outside of the xylem, and just under the bark, trees and other woody plants can easily be killed by stripping away the bark in a ring on the trunk or main stem. This process is known as girdling or bark ringing.

"Incomplete girdling (i.e., leaving about one-third of the bark intact) can be used to control a plant's growth. It can curb excessive leafy growth and help promote flowering and fruiting. It is a very useful process for unproductive fruit trees, with the exception of stone fruit."

Continued at... Girdling and Ringing

Home Grown
Home and Garden Center
Seed, Plant, and Nursery Catalogs
Artwork: Bark Ringing explained on 1938 Wills Garden Hints trading card #38

Friday, December 20, 2013

Mesquite Rocking Chairs from Plantersville, Texas

Now available with Furniture in Handmade:
Mesquite Rocking Chairs from Plantersville, Texas.

Handcrafted in a creative woodworking studio, these rocking chairs are made with mesquite, an exotic hardwood.

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Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Rural Delivery: A Winter's Sleep

These are the longest nights. From now until mid-January the sun will set before most of us are done with the day's work. We'll be coming home in darkness and leaving the house again before dawn. Some folks never see their home in daylight this time of year except on weekends.
This is a time of torpor, when many mammals take to their burrows for hibernation. Colder weather and shorter days signal biological changes in the Earth's creatures, including man. Holidays alone are not the reason we do more shopping, put on more weight and feel more tired than usual.
Each of us comes with a built-in biological clock that affects virtually every function of our bodies, including sleep. Blood pressure rises and falls, pulse quickens and slows, and glands secrete proteins according to daily -- or Circadian -- rhythms established by this inner timepiece.

Continued at... A Winter's Sleep.

by Michael Hofferber. Copyright © 1995. All rights reserved.
Rural Delivery
Second Nature
Out There
Artwork: Hibernation by Gun Legler

Market Watch: Increased Global Grain Production Means Lower Grain Prices for U.S. Growers

Thanks to increased global grain production and lower domestic demand for grain for ethanol, crop producers will find 2014 to be tougher than the past few years and should prepare now for lower prices..

“Prices reflect that we have moved from an era of scarcity to one of adequate inventories and prices have responded by moving lower,” said Matt Roberts, an Ohio State University Extension economist. “We are already seeing lower prices come into the market, and unless U.S. or South American acreage declines, those prices are likely to continue to move lower.

“The prices we had earlier in the year aren’t guaranteed to return.”

Thanks to several factors including no growth in ethanol demand and expanded global crop acreage, markets are moving back toward matching supply and demand, Roberts said.

Add another year of 160 or more bushels per acre yields on corn and 42 bushels per acre soybean yields, and growers can expect to see even lower prices that are well below the cost of production on land that has been purchased or cash-rented in the past three to four years, he said.

“Prices will only return to profitable levels if supply declines due to acreage leaving primary row crops or demand returns. This will likely create a significant financial strain in crop-growing areas.”

In order to prepare for the impact of lower prices, farmers should build a working capital cushion of a year to 1.5 years of land charges above what they typically need to operate.

Ohio State University College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences

Market Watch
Nuts and Grains
Farm Supply
Farm Magazines
Artwork: Win a Good Harvest: Increase Grain Production

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Mount St. Helens Christmas Ornaments from Curtis, Washington

Now available with Christmas Ornaments, Stockings and Decorations in Handmade:
Mount St. Helens Christmas Ornaments direct from the artist in Curtis, Washington

Hand blown from the volcanic ash of Mount St Helen’s, these colorful glass Christmas ornaments are perfect gifts for the ornament collector and anyone who enjoys and appreciates fine art glass.

An ornament stand is included with each ornament display year-round on a desk or table.

Available in four different colors: Azure, Evergreen, Ice, Rose.

Christmas Ornaments, Stockings and Decorations
Holidays and Notable Events
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Contests and Drawings: Crunchmaster® Gluten Free Recipe Challenge Recipe Contest

Crunchmaster®, maker of gluten free crackers, is holding a six-month competition seeking original, gluten free recipes from home chefs across the country.

Crunchmaster will award monthly prizes of $500 and $250, and a grand prize of $2,500 for the best recipe submission. All winning recipes will be featured in a unique Crunchmaster cookbook.

In addition to including a Crunchmaster product, each recipe submission must include a secret ingredient that Crunchmaster will announce each month at The secret ingredient for December is Greek Yogurt.

Recipes will be judged on Simplicity (easy to prepare with readily available ingredients and clear directions), Creativity, and  Flavor (a great-tasting, gluten free dish).

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Recipe Archive

Monday, December 16, 2013

Out of the Past: A Right Jolly Old Elf

"He was chubby and plump, a right jolly old elf,
And I laughed when I saw him, in spite of myself"
    -- C. Clement Moore

This Santa Claus is certainly a magical fellow. He flies through the sky, is rarely seen outside of shopping malls, possesses an uncanny intelligence about who has been naughty or nice, and has a seemingly inexhaustible supply of toys.

Some say he is descended -- or evolved -- from Kris Kringle, a legendary figure from Norse folk tales. Or perhaps he's related to Odin, the Lord of the Winds who rode through the stormy nights on an eight-legged flying horse.

Continued at... A Right Jolly Old Elf

by Michael Hofferber. Copyright © 2003. All rights reserved.

Rural Delivery
Out of the Past
Holidays and Notable Events
Artwork: Spirit Of Santa by Tom Browning

Sunday, December 15, 2013

Home Grown: Tabletop Christmas Trees

Not everyone is able to enjoy a full sized Christmas tree in their home. For some, budgets may be stretched or space can be at a premium. Others may not have the time to put up a tree this holiday season.

Whatever the reason, an alternative to full sized Christmas trees are tabletop plants that can be decorated for the holidays, offered as holiday gifts, and in some cases can be used for several years.

Continued at... Tabletop Christmas Trees

Home Grown
Home and Garden Center
Christmas Trees
Artwork: Norfolk Island Pine - The Indoor Christmas Tree

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Rural Delivery: A Carol's Tale

Most songs don't keep. People sing them for a few years, then lose interest. New tunes replace the old in a continuous cycle and yesterday's lyrics are soon forgotten.
Even Christmas carols, the most traditional sounds in American music, have fairly shallow roots. The most popular Christmas song to date, "White Christmas," was composed by Irving Berlin in 1942. "Do You Hear What I Hear?" only dates back to 1962 and "Away in a Manger" is just over a century old.
Hardly anyone sings old Christmas classics like "La Bonna Novella" and "Nowell" any more. Both were big European hits in the 16th and 17th centuries. So was the German carol "Es ist ein Ros' entsprungen" ("Lo, How a Rose E'er Blooming.")
Like a well-worn pair of boots left on the back porch, old songs lie forgotten until they lose their usefulness. Then they don't seem to fit any occasion.

Continued at... A Carol's Tale

by Michael Hofferber. Copyright © 2007. All rights reserved.

Rural Delivery
Out of the Past
Holidays and Notable Events
Artwork: Church Choir Singing by Mary Evans

Friday, December 6, 2013

Rural Delivery: Risk Assessment

You know it's going to be a bad day when an official from the Environmental Protection Agency shows up at your door and wants to test your water.
A few years back my wife and I lived in an old mining camp high in the Pioneer Mountains of central Idaho. It was a incredibly scenic location, couched in a mountain valley with rugged snow-capped peaks rising in all directions. Our home was a prospector's cabin fashioned from rough-hewn lumber, rustic and full of character.

Early century miners drew tons of silver ore out of the nearby hills, crushed it to a fine powder and separated out the precious metals. They left behind mounds of overburden and large lagoons of mill tailings, the kinds of rock piles and mine wastes seen all across the American West.

Continued at... Risk Assessment

by Michael Hofferber. Copyright © 1992. All rights reserved.
Rural Delivery
Out of the Past
Here's How To... Test a Well
Artwork: Tailings pit, outbuildings at Camp Bird gold mine

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Growth Spurts: Weeds Welcome Global Warming

As temperature and carbon dioxide levels in the atmosphere increase, growers may see things pop up in their fields that they haven't seen before. Unfortunately, they won't all be good.

In a session on climate, carbon dioxide and invasive weed species at the University of Illinois AGMasters Conference, USDA-ARS crop systems specialist Lewis Ziska discussed how rising carbon dioxide levels and rising temperatures may cause invasive weed populations to change. 

"Carbon dioxide provides the raw material needed for plants to grow, and as it increases, plant growth will be stimulated. Carbon dioxide is not a smart molecule -- it can't distinguish between crops and weeds. So with increased growth of crops comes increased growth of weeds as well."

Continued at... Weeds Welcome Global Warming
Growth Spurts
Farm Supply

Photo: Kudzo Vine