No surprise here -- Thanksgiving is all about the food.
While the turkey may think its the star of the show - grabbing all the attention - in my book, its all about the appetizers, sides. leftovers and perhaps most importantly: The Pie.
This also comes as no surprise (considering we raise honey bees), but honey plays a prominent role in many of my Thanksgiving dishes, starting with the appetizer, holding its own with the side dishes and coming on strong through dessert.
Not many appetizers are needed on this stuffed-to-the-gills day. Just something simple to keep the crowd happy while they smell the turkey cooking.
One of my go-to appetizers is Baked Brie with Honey & Cranberries. I'm sure the Pilgrims ate this at the very first Thanksgiving while the turducken was roasting on the spit.
It's really a very easy recipe. You can throw it together while the relatives are arguing over football or waiting for Santa's arrival at the end of the Macy's parade (Is it just me or does anybody else have Seeing the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade In Person on their bucket list of things to do?)
Baked Brie with Honey & Cranberries
Place a 6 - 8" round of brie on a microwave serving dish. Combine about 1 cup of dried cranberries with 1 cup of toasted chopped pecans. Place this mixture on top of the cheese. Drizzle with honey. Microwave on high for about a minute, or until the cheese just begins to ooze. Serve with sliced pears that have been dipped in lemon juice to prevent them from browning.
And that's it. Easy as can be. Just stand back and let the compliments begin.
But don't limit your honey use to just an appetizer. On Friday, we'll give you recipes for a few Thanksgiving side dishes and on Monday we'll post dessert and drink recipes starring honey.
If you need honey for your Thanksgiving table, we'll be at the Countryside Farmers' Market this Saturday from 9 a.m. until noon. And our farm store will be open from 1 to 5 p.m. on Saturday as well.
Recently, I had the good fortune to win a clambake from Edible Cleveland magazine. Now don't go thinking skill had anything to do with this win. It was a simple, luck-of-the-draw kind of contest -- something I had an actual chance at winning!
I've attended plenty of clambakes before and they've all been great fun. But I've never had to put one on. And frankly, the idea was a little intimidating. It looked like a lot of food that had to be ready at once ... and all cooked outside. Over a little burner. A tiny burner.
But, when you win a clambake, you win a clambake. There was no way I wasn't going to do this. So with my gift card to Heinen's in hand, I threw myself on the mercy of the seafood person behind the counter. Luckily, she could spot a rookie a mile away and took pity on me: One clambake for nine ordered, detailed written instructions included.
Clambakes are typically held outdoors. However, when the National Weather Service assures you it WILL rain, and maybe even sleet, the day of your party, you make alternate plans.
The alpaca barn was the only logical choice.
Most people think clambakes are all about the clams. But I'm here to tell you they're wrong. Clambakes are all about the pumpkin pie and cider. At least in my book they are.
Thanks to the time-sucking, love-of-my-life that is Pinterest, we found a cider recipe with a little bit of kick to it. You start by combining some cinnamon and sugar together on a plate. Then you take an orange wedge and run it around the rim of your glass before dipping the rim in the cinnamon/sugar mixture. Next comes a splash of whiskey followed by the fresh cider. They suggest garnishing with a sprig of rosemary, but since I loathe the taste of rosemary, we left it out and never missed it.
Setting up the bake was much easier than expected. It was a simple matter of layering everything in a gigantic pot.
First, the bags of clams went in, followed by the chicken on one side and sweet potatoes on the other. A bit of water and some seasonings were added and the lid put on.
And then it was hurry up and wait time.
So we visited with the alpacas.
Did a bit of gate climbing.
Sampled some local pumpkin beer from Fat Head's Brewery and kept our fingers out of the pie . . . for the most part.
An hour or so later, everything was almost done so we took the chicken out and threw it on the grill to crisp it up while we put the corn in the pot to cook.
And that was it. Fifteen minutes later, we drained the broth, plated up the bbq chicken, clams, sweet potatoes, corn and coleslaw and sat down to eat. It couldn't have been any easier. (The fact that I had two good friends who happen to be excellent cooks helping may have contributed to the ease of the whole thing!)
The youngest among us went straight for the broth and sweet potatoes.
The rest of us didn't discriminate. We ate it all. Every last bite. It was a flurry of eating.
The food was outstanding. One hundred percent, totally delicious.
I'm thinking this will have to become an annual tradition at the farm.
Normally, on the second and fourth Wednesday of the month, we hold a Sit-N-Knit, Spin or whatever your fiber hobby of choice is.
But, being a small farm, things sometimes have to change and adjust to our crazy, out-of-control schedules. And this is one of those times.
We're going to have to cancel these bi-weekly craft sessions. We've simply run out of available time for something so very scheduled.
We will, however, hold once-a-month Saturday craft alongs. Stay tuned for updates and scheduled dates.
That'll Do Farm is throwing open the barn doors this weekend and inviting you in for a visit.
Join us Saturday and Sunday from noon to 5 p.m. as alpaca farmers all across North America open their gates FREE to the public.
- Feel the alpaca fleece
- Tour the farm
- Experience live demonstrations
- Learn about raising and breeding alpacas
- Shop for alpaca products
- Enjoy a fun day at the farm for the whole family
Bring your knitting and a chair to join other fiber lovers who will be spending the day knitting under the trees.
Bring the kids and your camera. You won't want to miss them feeding the goats. (Heck with the kids. YOU'LL want to feed the goats!)
At 2 p.m. both days, we'll pull a few frames of honey from one of our 20+ hives and give you a taste straight from the frame.
Plus, our farm store will be open and stocked with raw wildflower honey, creamed honey, homemade vinegars, handmade soaps, yarn, roving and art batts for spinners, alpaca socks and much, much more.
The farm is located at 34634 State Route 303 outside of Grafton. We are about 2 miles east of Route 83 and and about 5 miles west of Valley City.
For more information or directions, call Andrea at 440-829-3644.
See you this weekend.
Yoga and farm-fresh food -- a perfect combination.
Bring your mat and join us this Sunday, August 17 at 9 a.m. for an hour of yoga out in the back fields of the farm.
Maggie Osborn, the farm's ace soap maker, is also a certified yoga instructor. She'll lead us through an easy hour of stretching and relaxation as we enjoy the beautiful surroundings of the farm's fields and pastures.
Don't worry, you won't actually be IN the pastures with the animals. Although I do believe the alpacas have been known to practice yoga.
Both beginners and experienced yoga practitioners alike will enjoy this class.
After class, we'll take a stroll to the hen house to gather eggs for breakfast, which will be cooked outside as you're visiting with the alpacas. Hash browns, fresh fruit, juice, coffee and pastry will round out your breakfast.
Pre-registration is a must and space is limited to 20. Cost for the hour-long class and breakfast is $20 per person.
You can register on-line or by calling Andrea at 440-829-3644.
Yoga and Breakfast
Update: We have a winner! Thank you Sarah for the name Éclair. We think its perfect for the daughter of Flair. Honey and yarn is yours.
Thanks to all who entered!
Lots and lots of crias.
That's what spring and summer have brought. From mid-May on, we've been on pins and needles waiting for babies.
Alpaca babies are no different from human babies in that they arrive when they want to arrive, not necessarily when we want them to arrive. So every week has been an exercise in "hurry up and wait." Will this be the day? Which mom will deliver today?
And we've been very lucky. All seven crias were born healthy and are running the pastures like they are race horses.
The latest cria, born on Sunday, is so darn cute we can hardly stand it.
She's white with a few spots of tan on her head.
And she needs a name. This is where you come in. Starting today through Sunday night (August 3), we are having a naming contest. Come up with the perfect name for our cuter-than-pie cria and a skein of alpaca yarn and a jar of honey are yours.
Here are the rules:
All alpacas born this year will be given names starting with the letter "E." This helps us keep track of the year they were born. Only names starting with the letter E will be considered. If you're looking for inspiration, this young lady's mother's name is Flair and her father's name is Black Midnight.
Enter with as many names as you like. If two people suggest the same name, the earlier entry will be chosen. You may leave a comment here on the blog or on our facebook page.The contest ends at midnight, Sunday, August 3 with the winner announced on Monday morning.
Bonus: we have one more cria due this Summer. If we don't use the name you suggest for our current, unnamed cria, but use it for the soon-to-be-born cria, you too will receive a skein of yarn and a jar of honey.
Take a good look at our young lady, just a few minutes old in this picture, and her mother with the big hair, and give us your best name.
Summer on any farm is a busy time, and That'll Do Farm is no exception.
In addition to new crias being born,
and vegetables to plant, harvest and weed (and weed, and weed, and weed!!)
we have a full line-up of classes and events.
The second and fourth Wednesday of every month, we offer a free, all-day Sit-N-Knit, or Sit-N-Spin or Rug Hook. If it's a fiber arts hobby you're into, you are more than welcome at the farm! Tell your friends and bring your project for an hour or two (or the whole day) at the farm. We are open these days from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m.
And every Saturday, we are at the Countryside Conservancy Farmers' Market from 9 a.m. to noon with our creamed honey, flavored vinegars, yarn, art batts, roving, handmade knitted gifts, laundry soap and a surprise or two.
Our handmade soap is a popular item and, on Sunday, July 27, you can learn how to make your own version.
Registration is open for the "Making Cold Process Soap" class, which starts at 1 p.m. The cost is $25 for this hands-on class. You'll go home with several bars of your own soap, plus instructions on how, with a few simple ingredients, you can make more at home.
Payment is due at time of registration. To register, click on the "Add to Cart" button below.
Soap Making Class
Then, on Saturday, August 2 at 11 a.m., Sheryl Mandeville of Gemstone Alpaca Farm is teaching a Tri Loom Weaving Class. This class is for beginners. You make a 30" shawlette. All materials are included in the price. Class size is limited to eight so register early.
Registration, along with the $50 class fee, is required.
Tri-Loom Weaving Class
On Sunday, August 17 at 9 a.m., join us for Morning Yoga and a Farm Fresh Breakfast. Start your day our right by stretching and strengthening outdoors in this gentle yoga class, suitable for all skill levels and taught by a certified yoga instructor.
Bring your yoga mat (we'll have extras if you forget yours) for an hour long class out in the quiet and peaceful fields of the farm. After class, we'll take a trip to the chicken coop to collect eggs for a hearty farm breakfast cooked over the open fire.
Registration, along with the $20 class/breakfast fee, is required.
Yoga and Breakfast
This past Saturday was the annual North Central Ohio Rug Show at Kingwood Center in Mansfield. Human dynamo Katie Allman, of Kidl'-de-Divey Woolens, puts this show/hook-in on every year and it's one of my favorites. I'm not sure how she does it, yet I'm awfully glad she does.
The setting is beautiful.
And the gardens are stunning.
Plus, they have peacocks walking around showing you their posteriors.
Kind of reminds me of the farm.
We have pretty flowers.
And we have animals showing you their posteriors.
See, it's exactly the same as Kingwood. Minus the meticulous, weed-free garden beds. Other than that, I'm sure it's exactly the same.
Lots of rug hookers brought rugs to display in the show. This sunflower rug was my favorite.
Vibrant colors on a dark background really make this rug pop.
This pumpkin rug was another favorite.
And what self-respecting Buckeye wouldn't pick this rug as a favorite.
There was lots of wool to ohh and ahh over.
I did pick up a pattern for my next rug. The designer assures me it will only take me a day or two to hook it.
That's what they said about this rug too.
Two years ago.
But in all fairness, in order to finish a rug in a day or two, one has to actually work on it. I'm very good at acquiring the pieces parts to make the rug and very bad at finding the time to sit down to hook.
And that's why I like hook-ins and rug shows. They inspire me to work on my rugs.
Let's hope this is the year that inspiration sticks.
The garlic is growing happily and it's time to harvest garlic scapes.
Scapes are the curly flower stalks of a hardneck garlic plant. They can be left on the plant, but we cut them off the so the plant's energy goes into bulb production and not stalk production.
Plus, using the scapes is like getting a two-for-one plant: harvest the scapes now and harvest the bulb in another month or two. One time planting, two times harvesting. I like the work to harvest ratio of that.
Scapes can be used like green onions: cut into salads for a mild garlic flavor, sautéed in butter and tossed over chicken, mixed in with scrambled eggs, or even made into pesto.
Try this garlic scape pesto over some pasta for an easy meal.
Put a dozen scapes, 1/3 cup pistachios, 1/3 cup grated Romano chees, and some salt (omit the salt if your pistachios are salted) and pepper into a blender or food processor. While the motor is running, slowly pour in 1/3 cup really good olive oil.
Pour over warm pasta and start smiling. It's delicious. So much flavor from such a little bit of a plant.
Scapes are sometimes hard to find in a grocery store. But check out your local farmers' market. This should be a big week for scapes.
I spent the good part of today weeding the garlic, but finally had to give up. Clover has taken up residence between the plants. It needs to come out because it's robbing the garlic of water. But whenever I started to pull the clover, it buzzed to life with many, many, MANY honey bees.
So after carefully weighing my options (pull lots of clover in 90 degree heat vs. leaving clover for the honey bees), for the good of the bees, I decided to leave it. I can just tell people that my garden isn't really messy, it's a planned haven for honey bees.
We've had a nice, long string of outstanding weather here in Northern Ohio. I really even hate to say that in writing for fear of jinxing it. But I'm throwing caution to the wind and stating it in bold letters: It Is Beautiful.
And we deserve it. It was a long, cold Winter ... and early Spring wasn't exactly a picnic either with much more rain than we needed, wanted or could use.
But the last two weeks have been beautiful.
It's a pleasure to work in the garden.
The bees have found the chive blossoms and are hard at work.
And while we are not growing vegetables for a CSA this year, we are still putting in a large garden. Most of the tomato plants are in. I say most because I'm never sure if we have enough.
Are 25 plants enough? Fifty? I'm in the camp that says you can never have enough tomato plants. I think 60 tomato plants sounds like a nice number. Not too many to keep up with, yet enough to have some for canning. Let's hope I don't get to August and regret this conservative number and wish I'd gone with 75 plants.
Spinach, lettuce, herbs -- all are in.
After today, the melons and squashes will be in.
Planting is the fun and easy work. Now comes the hard stuff.
And more weeding. And after that, even more weeding.
But it will be worth it come August when we are rewarded with this:
After a Winter spent indoors, it is a pleasure to be outside digging in the Earth again.