Monday, August 8, 2011

Honeycutt Hooch

My dad made plum whiskey (Slivovitz - another Czech thing) when my brothers and I were kids. He started it off in large plastic bins which attracted fruit flies by the hundreds. I think by the time the fruit was ready to distill we had generations of fruit flies around the barrels. My grandfather and dad devised an oven top still from a huge clam bake style pot and copper tubing that ran through ice.

Oh man, that stuff put hair on your chest.

Forward 30 or so years

This year on the farm we had a bumper crop of table grapes. Seems that the Japanese Beetles enjoyed the leaves but left the fruit alone.

When life gives you grapes - Make Wine
Mighty fine Wine

It is a simple process that only uses a couple of ingredients.
Water - 1gallon
Fruit - 3 - 4 lbs.
Sugar - 3 lbs
Yeast (optional)

I started the wine August 1 and it is "supposed" to ferment 30 days. You then strain it and bottle it. Where it is supposed to sit for another 6 months. Thats it!! Easy huh

Sure easy for you to say. Hopefully I will be able to keep at least 1 bottle for the whole 6 months.

Taste testing equals Quality control

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

The Last Iced Coffee Recipe You'll Ever Want!

My Mom Loves Iced Coffee -

But she is very conscientious of her waistline. (sugar free vanilla syrup and fat free milk)

I on the other hand LOVE Creamy and Sweet Iced Coffee.
I HATE paying over $4 a glass for it at some fancy-schmancy coffee house!

Being the frugal gal that I am - I figured out how to make the perfect creamy & sweet Iced coffee for pennies a glass!

You have to make your coffee concentrate.
(This is the only part of the process that takes some time)
Don't worry,  the gallon of coffee concentrate you end up with will make enough to last you for a month in the fridge!

You do NOT want to brew a normal pot of coffee for your iced coffee.
You want to cold-brew it.
This leaves you with a smooth, acid-free coffee base that we all love for a refreshing cold drink.

Iced Coffee Concentrate. 

  • 1 gallon water
  • 1 lb bag of your favorite rich coffee (course ground if ya can get it)
  • Coffee filters or several layers of cheesecloth
  • a fine mesh strainer.
  • a large bowl
  • pitcher (big enough to hold a gallon)
  1. Pour gallon of water into your large bowl.
  2. Dump the entire bag of coffee into the water/bowl.
  3. Stir to make sure all grounds are saturated with water.
  4. Walk away, for 12 hours or overnight.
  5. line a mesh strainer with a coffee filter or several layers of cheese-cloth, set the strainer on top of your pitcher.
  6. Pour (or ladle) your coffee mixture into the strainer. (this part takes awhile...)   If using coffee filters, you might have to replace them several times during the filtering process.
  7. Once all the coffee concentrate has been filtered, stick it in the fridge (it will last for a month!)

Sweet Cream
  • 1, 12oz can of evaporated milk
  • 1, 14oz can of sweetened condensed milk

  1. mix both cans together, refrigerate. 

  1. Grab your favorite glass and fill it to the top with ice.
 2. Pour iced coffee concentrate into your glass, filling it a little more than half-full.

 3. Add Sweet Cream into the coffee/ice glass until full (or to taste)

 4.  stir to combine.

 5.  Enjoy!

Monday, July 18, 2011

This One's for You, Dad

My Dad loved a good bread. You know the kind that is all crusty on the outside but moist and airy on the inside. Something that your grandma (or mom) made and you could smell it baking in the oven before you walked into the house. But, my Dad was a diabetic so he had to limit the amount of carbs he consumed. I on the other hand do NOT limit the amount of carbs and absolutely LOVE a good homemade bread.
Growing up on Long Island, you had your choice of great bakeries. French or Italian. There was no shortage of the crusty loaves. But moving to North Carolina (living in a very rural SouthEast County) the closest I have come  is the WalMart Bakery. Soft and White and Bland. Something that a French Baker wouldn't waste his spit on. So I had to learn to bake my own bread. I started with Unbleached White Flour -  and it was good. Then started using Whole Wheat Flour - and it was better. And then I started to experiment with Sourdough. JACKPOT!!

It may take a while to grow the sourdough, but it is so worth it.
Growing with wild yeast

On a previous blog I explained what sourdough is and mine has been growing for a week. It was time to bake.

You see real sourdough bread does not use commercially manufactured yeasts to help it rise. It is made with wild yeast strains that are floating around. So my bread will taste different than sourdough bread made anywhere else. Unique to Honeycutt Road - which is where I live.
Rising dough

I can hardly wait. Oh Brown Betty!

If you get the chance and you feel up to a challenge, it is well worth the effort to make your own bread. Nothing can compare to a warm loaf straight from your oven.

And I'm sure that my father is looking down from Heaven on me and smiling. Waiting for a smear of goose fat with a sprinkle of salt to go with his. (It's a Czech thing)!

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

An Ancient Antidote for Modern Maladies

 Last year at the Farmer's Market I met a couple from North Carolina who introduced me to Kefir. I guess I must have told them that I had an abundance of goat milk and needed something new to do with the milk. The next week they brought me a small water filled jar with kefir grains in it. I had to do a little research on kefir and found it to be truly remarkable.

The grains resemble a small head of cauliflower
Kefir (I pronouce it ke-feer) is a fermented milk drink that originated with shepherds of the Caucasus region. They discovered that fresh milk (probably goat milk) carried in their leather pouches would occasionally ferment into an effervescent beverage. Traditionally kefir was hung in skin bags by a doorway where it would be knocked by anyone passing through the doorway This would help keep the milk and kefir grains well mixed. In Arabic it means joy or pleasure. And what a pleasure it is!

The naturally occurring bacteria and yeast in kefir combine symbiotically to give superior health benefits when consumed regularly. It is loaded with valuable vitamins and minerals and contains easily digestible complete proteins. For the lactose intolerant, kefir’s abundance of beneficial yeast and bacteria provide lactase, an enzyme which consumes most of the lactose left after the culturing process.

Easily digested, kefir cleanses the intestines, provides beneficial bacteria and yeast, vitamins and minerals, and complete proteins. Because it is such a balanced and nourishing food, it contributes to a healthy immune system and has been used to help patients suffering from AIDS, chronic fatigue syndrome, herpes, and cancer. Its tranquilizing effect on the nervous system has benefited many who suffer from sleep disorders, depression, and ADHD (attention deficit hyperactivity disorder).
Kefir is rich in Vitamin B12, B1, and Vitamin K. It is an excellent source of biotin, a B Vitamin which aids the body’s assimilation of other B Vitamins, such as folic acid, pantothenic acid, and B12. The numerous benefits of maintaining adequate B vitamin intake range from regulation of the kidneys, liver and nervous system to helping relieve skin disorders, boost energy and promote longevity.
peaches and cinnamon

I enjoy the tart flavor (similar to yogurt) by making a smoothie type of drink. Some people like it neat (or straight up), but I like to add honey and fresh fruit to make it a little sweeter. When we had wild blackberries growing on the farm (earlier in the summer) I added them by the handfuls. YUMMY!!

The grains can be kept going by allowing them to colonize new batches of milk. The beneficial bacteria and yeasts help to prevent the kefir from spoiling but it gets very sour and fizzy.
Definately not for the fainthearted!

After straining I reuse the grains in a new batch

Monday, July 11, 2011

Farmgirl Sisterhood

I love to read about women in farming. Whether they are born into it or thrown into it by choice. One of my favorites is MaryJane Butters. Author of numerous books and magazines - (MaryJanes Farm).
MaryJane was a carpenter, waitress, janitor, wilderness ranger, entrepreneur and environmental activist. She has worn many hats and now is an inspiration for "farmgirls" of all persuasions. She says "Farmgirl is a condition of the Heart." So even if you don't own a tractor or will never plant corn, MaryJane encourages a simple, authentic, wholesome lifestyle.

Its Alive, Alive
Today I am making a sourdough starter.

I love bread, a real carboholic. Sourdough bread has that unique tangy taste that is missing from store bought loafs. Baking bread using a sourdough starter is better for you because the starter pulls in wild yeasts familiar and unique to your body from the air around you.

I started it with a whole wheat flour and added distilled water. Covered with a paper towel I will "grow" it everyday adding additional whole wheat flour and water until it is ready to use about a week from now. On the 7th day the starter will be ready. If all goes as planned it should be bubbly and smell pleasantly sour, like stout beer. It will be ready to make bread, biscuits, pancakes and more. Even if you can't use it every 7 days, you could get a friend hooked by giving them a cup of the starter.
Pass it on.

Friday, July 8, 2011

A Pretty Amazing Plant

Summer blooms on my Brugmansia
When I lived on Long Island my family had a group of plants that grew in pots on our deck. Back then I knew them as Datura but somewhere along the line their name was changed to Brugmansia or Angel's Trumpet. When my family moved to Northern Virginia we left the Brug's on Long Island. You see each plant was probably 8 feet tall and extremely heavy. They survived until winter that year and I figured I would never see them again.

When I got married and moved to North Carolina, practically everyone had them growing in their landscape. Little did I know that the Angel's Trumpet is a relatively hardy plant in the south. I had to get me some.

One of my customers at the Farmer's Market gave me some branches from her plant and told me that they would root in water. I kept two branches going the whole winter in a cool back room. The roots grew. And when it was time to plant in the late spring, in the ground they went. That was 2 years ago. The first year both plants grew and bloomed. I was amazed. They were beautiful. And had the most heavenly night time fragrance. INTOXICATING!! Somewhere between Honeysuckle and Bubble Gum! Then came winter. The winter in North Carolina was long and cold. I did not given them much hope.

Early morning buds still closed
Spring arrived and to my surprise shoots appeared. They seemed to grow overnight. Both plants are about 5 feet tall and filled with blooms. The bud start out in a cream yellow color turning to a pinkish salmon. And each blossom is huge. Measuring 8" long and 6" wide. The bees love them.

Brugmansia's are native to Central and South America and are related to the Datura species. As with Datura, all parts of Brugmansia are highly toxic. The plants are sometimes ingested for recreational or shamanic intoxication as the plant contains the tropane alkaloids scopolamine and atropine; however because the potency of the toxic compounds in the plant is variable, the degree of intoxication is unpredictable and can be fatal.


Brugmansia are easy to grow in pots if your winters are cold. Be sure to let them overwinter inside. They also like some sun but I have read they will also do well summering outside in the shade.
Amazingly Pretty

Brugmansia are a real conversation piece that are easy to grow. If you are considering a Brug please check out
Gardens by Kasha

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Preserving Our Heritage

If you have a garden (big or small) chances are you will grow some kind of tomato. More than likely you will grow cherry tomatoes. You know the kind that seem to produce forever. Sometimes continuing to fruit into the fall. Last year I had a cherry tomato that was approximately 10 feet tall. I let it sprawl on the ground after outgrowing the cage that surrounded it.

Heirloom cherry tomatoes of all shapes, colors and sizes
But I do not grow supermarket variety tomatoes. I prefer to grow the old timey kind. You know the ones our grandparents grew. The tomatoes with incredible flavor. (No cardboard taste here). With names like Aunt Ruby's German Cherry, Pike County Yellow, Mortgage Lifter and Violet Jasper. Violet Jasper being my favorite. A strikingly beautiful violet-purple fruit with iridescent green streaks!
Violet Jasper

I grow all my veggies from seed. Starting them indoors in the middle of winter. I do NOT use any synthetic and artificial fertilizers in my garden, relying instead on my composted heap of discarded hay and straw, goat berries, chicken poop and kitchen waste. I turn my compost pile with the help of worms (who in turn leave me with their castings). Mother Nature at her finest.

I love looking through seed catalogs when it is cold and dreary out. And I order my seeds through a wonderful company based in Missouri - Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds.

Their catalog is amazing. It is expertly photographed and worthy of coffee table status. The company offers over 1,400 varieties of vegetables, flowers and herbs—the largest selection of heirloom varieties in the U.S.A. Baker Creek carries one of the largest selections of seeds from the 19th century, including many Asian and European varieties and has become a tool to promote and preserve agricultural and culinary heri­tage.

Excerpts from the Newsletter of 
Baker Creek Company Founder Jere Gettle
"Thanks to you, the local food and home gardening movements are starting to become a real food revolu­tion, and it is shaking the “dirt” from our food supply. In fact, Monsanto saw its stock plummet 40% as its profits fell steeply over the last year. Just as suddenly, Walmart has decided to go after the “green” and is jumping on the “local” produce bandwagon. Our company is dedicated to changing the way America looks at seeds, patents and life. We feel that food and life are rights that should not be controlled, manipulated and polluted by a few multi-national corporations. Genetic engineering is even start­ing to scare the farmers who grow it. Scientists are finding these manipulated genes showing up in ground animals and insects. Studies show that some strains have sickened mice and rats. Some types have gone “wild” and are now becoming almost uncontrollable weeds. Soy allergies in humans have doubled since the introduction of GE Soy. Scientists are now questioning how this might affect fish after finding living, genetically-modified genes in streams for many months after the crops’ harvest season. Sadly, we humans are the ultimate “guinea pigs” of the chemical cor­porations, who engineer many crops so farmers can spray nearly unlimited amounts of the same corporations’ own herbicides. This chemical spray kills almost everything... except the engineered crop! Remember the same compa­ny that brought us DDT and Agent Orange is now bringing us this new technology."

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

New Residents of The Funny Farm

Huey and husband James
What happened to my cute little balls of fluff?

My post lady told me to get ducks. Their eggs are so rich. Great for baking. And I do a lot of baking!

So when the nearest Tractor Supply had chickens and ducks for sale this Spring I just had to get some. My husband bought himself 6 White Leghorn chickens and I bought myself the cutest little yellow Pekin ducklings.

I named them Huey, Dewey and Luey!

They didn't stay little for long.

Apparently Pekin ducks grow quickly and are at market weight in about 8 weeks. (perish the thought). They grew, it seemed, before our eyes.

Enter Muscovy Ducks
For the past couple of years My husband and I have been involved with the local farmer's market in Dunn. North Carolina. I sell my all natural goat milk soaps and whatever heirloom vegetables we may be growing that year. This year it is cherry tomatoes. But that will have to wait for another post. Next to our tent at the market is a lovely couple, Marie Johnson and Dale Parker. They grow all kinds of vegetables and sell local honey from their bees. This year Marie had some of her Muscovy ducklings with her. There is no stopping me now. I bought 6.

Ducks in a row
Farmer Dale and Marie Johnson at the market

Muscovy Ducks (my mother thinks it sounds like a brand of wine from Trader Joe's) had been domesticated by various Native American cultures by the time Columbus arrived. The first few were brought to Europe by the European explorers at least by the 16th century.

If you're into alternative health treatments Oscillococcinum (thats a spelling bee challenge) is a homeopathic preparation made from Muscovy Ducks that is supposed to relieve influenza-like symptoms.
Adult drake
The Muscovy ducks are also quieter than my Pekins.

Which is a good thing!

Duck in training. Step away from the duck Mr. Fong

Friday, June 24, 2011

Sunshine on My Shoulders Makes Me Happy

Sunflowers are one of my favorite flowers.

From 1 pack of seeds they grow all over the farm
They come in many colors
The common sunflower is an American native plant. The American Indian was the first to use the sunflower, but there is no written record. Sunflower seeds have been found at several archaeological sites in the United States and early explorers notebooks and journals have information about Indians gathering seeds for food. At prehistoric sites in Arizona, several sunflower disks have been found, as well as designs of the flowers incorporated in their pottery.

After the discovery of America in 1492, the sunflower went to Europe, then onto Russia, and was then reintroduced into America from Russia. Practically all the flowers now cultivated in America were of Russian origin.

This species of sunflower is extremely variable. There are branched forms with small flower heads, which are common in the wild. I love to see them growing in the ditches and abandoned farms in North Carolina. Unbranched forms with massive flower heads, which are cultivated for their oily seeds; and still others with red or double flowers which are grown for their ornamental value.

The greatest medicinal use of the sunflower that has been used throughout the world is for pulmonary problems. It was the main medicinal use of many Native Americans. A decoction was made from the sunflower head, which the Dakota and Pawnee Indians would drink for respiratory ailments, like bronchitis.

Sunflower oil is used in salad dressings, for cooking and in the manufacturing of margarine and shortening. It is used in industry for making paints and cosmetics. The roasted seeds make a coffee type drink. In countries where they grow sunflowers the seed cake that is left after the oil is extracted is given to livestock as food. In the Soviet Union the hulls are used for manufacturing ethyl alcohol, in lining for plywood and growing yeast. The dried stems have also been used for fuel.

The Chinese have used the fiber from stems for fabrics and paper. The interior of the stalk is one of the lightest substances known. The plant’s ability to absorb water from soil has been used to reclaim marsh land in the Netherlands.

The sunflower is a plant to be valued and appreciated for more than just food for birds or an ornamental plant in a summer garden.

Add a few sunflowers to the garden next time you plant and they will put a smile on your face.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Thats so Cheesy

"Well life on the farm is kinda laid back"
The business end of Mary
Lyrics from John Denver's Thank God I'm a Country Boy.
I know John has never been to THIS farm. Always something to do. Animals need feedin', barn needs cleanin', babies need birthin', fences need mendin' and the garden needs tendin'.
I milk my small herd of Nubian dairy goats every morning which leaves me with a lot of that creamy white stuff.
My morning routine
Good thing my husband and I love cheese. But we also love goat milk ice cream, goat milk yogurt and goat milk fudge. (Sometimes I think a little too much.) Not to mention the all-natural goat milk soap that I make.

Mary is the herd queen and up on the milk stand first
Yesterday I made cheese. It is a soft, fresh cheese called chevre. (pronounced chev). From 1 1/2 gallons of milk I can make about 3 lbs of chevre.
After putting rennet into the milk, the curds form
The flavor is mild and is suitable for both sweet and savory recipes. Personally I enjoy it just flavored with sea salt.

My goats have a great stress free life. Green grass, warm sunshine and no worries. It shows in the cheese.

The following recipe was sent to me from my mother's nursing school friend in Florida.
Chevre on toast with my homemade jelly

Goat Cheese Truffles
 6 oz goat cheese
1/4 cup chopped almonds
1/4 cup chopped dates
1/4 cup chopped fresh basil
Make 36 small 3/4 inch rounds of cheese using a melon ball scoop.
Then roll 12 of them in the almonds
12 into the dates
12 in the basil
These are a great accompaniment to tea sandwichs or mini quiches.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Happy Summer Solstice

Summer has officially started with the longest day of the year.

Lucretia and Hannibal Lecter

I love my guinea's. A friend once asked my "WHY" would I ever want guinea's. They are soooo noisy. She was right. Guinea's make the most grating sound. They are the guard dogs of the fowl world.
Up on the roof

But they did warn me when a fox was making rounds on the property and when we had a six foot rat snake trying to get into the chicken coop. But boy can they be annoying when they are sitting outside an open window trying to compete with me when I am making an important phone call. I have even had to go after them with my broom.

Guinea's have a voracious appetite for insects and weed seeds. Even consuming the tick that causes Lyme's Disease.

They also aren't the prettiest of birds.
Looking like some prehistoric dinosaur with a cone head.

My male bird is Hannibal and his lady friend is Lucretia. Lucretia was hit by a car about 2 months ago. I found her laying in the middle of the road. She had a couple of feathers missing and walked with a bit of a limp but Hannibal found her irisistable. She's a tough bird. Guinea's also mate for life. No wonder Hannibal was frantic.

Lucretia has been sitting on a clutch of eggs for the past 2 weeks. They should be hatching in another 2 weeks. The baby Guinea's are called keets. I also put 2 of Lucretia's eggs under 1 of my broody hens. Boy will she be surprised when those eggs hatch!

14 eggs

Lucretia on her nest under the electric fence
Hannibal keeps a close eye on Lucretia

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

I'm Doin My Happy Dance

I guess if you want the rain to come just make a trip to WalMart. The rain came down in buckets. But boy did we need it. And I didn't even have to kill and hang up a black snake.

Monday, June 20, 2011

Is There ANYTHING Redeeming about Japanese Beetles?

I feel that there is a reason for everything!
Everything except Japanese Beetles.
The bane of my existence.
Yes, they may be pretty in an iridescent art nouveau kinda way. With their shiny blue green carapace and cute antennae. They seem innocent enough. But wait till they get hungry and attack your plants (in my case grapes and plum trees) in numbers that are hard to imagine.

Feeding on my grapes
In Japan (their birthplace) they are not as destructive because they are controlled by a natural predator. The United States does not have one. Yet! Brought to New Jersey, aboard an iris in the early 1900's. They have found refuge. No state is safe.
After a day of gorging
Waiting in the buffet line
According to the University of Kentucky the trick of attracting them to a beetle trap with pheromones is proving to attract more to your garden than it catches. They can fly far distances. And I swear mine come all the way from Asia to feast.
 But I have found something that is safe for the environment and immediate demise of those nasty beetles. CHICKENS. My chickens love them so much that they run and wait under the grapes.
 Shake a fully loaded branch or vine and open your mouth. Down the hatch.

Those beetles don't stand a chance.

Friday, February 25, 2011

And Baby Makes 8

About 45 minutes old
Yummmmmmmmmmy in my tummy
This morning Heidi put an official end to the kidding season. Baby buck was born. He is a healthy, big boy. I am actually thankful that Heidi had only a single birth. When my husband and I first started out in the goat business we did not know a whole lot. How much could a girl born in the suburbs of Long Island know about goats? It seems Heidi had, what is known as a precocious udder. Which means that her udder developed without being pregnant. Before we new it, she was huge. It developed into a mastitis condition which ended up causing scar tissue to be formed in the udder. She has a beautiful udder from the outside but it will only hold about half the amount of milk she should be producing. It also makes milking her a little difficult. Needless to say, she had twins last season and could only feed 1 of her kids. The buck, who was the stronger of the two kids, pushed his sister (who I named Carmela) aside. Carmela became my bottle baby and to this day tries to crawl into my lap like a little baby. Except she now weighs about 60 lbs!
Maggie and Bo welcoming the newest addition to the farm
Thankfully all my goats are very tolerant of the dogs around their kids. And as a result all the kids are very fond of the dogs.
Poor Rocky - Not the baby anymore!
Well that makes 4 does and 4 bucks this time around. It takes a lot of jostling around everyone in the evening (I separate the kids from their moms at night) but it is well worth it. The moms need a break from their kids (they can still see and hear each other) and I get enough milk in the morning to make my soaps and cheese. Planting time is fast approaching. The Farmer's Market is only 3 months away!

Monday, February 21, 2011

Computers...The Cause and Solution to All the Worlds Problems

Don't get me wrong, in this day and age everyone needs a computer. But to make a long story short this blog started last week and since my computer (HAL) has a mind of his own it will get continued today. Somehow it decided that last weeks post was finished. It published it and that was that. No Editing, No Previewing and no Comments from anyone. Well today I take control. MAYBE!! Unfortunately we only have a dial-up connection out here in the boonies and that may be the problem. Apparently Honeycutt Road is (to quote from one of my favorite movies "Oh Brother Where Art Thou"............. 2 weeks from everywhere!

Maggie and Rocky sleeping SHHHHH!
Charlie and friend
Bo, Maggie and Rocky
This truly is the Funny Farm. Almost a Noah's Ark. Everyone must get along together or else there would be complete chaos here.
Dogs must get along with the goats and the chickens; Chickens must get along with goats and dogs; and the goats must get along with everyone.