Food

First Year Farmers

Monday, December 19, 2011, we celebrated our one year anniversary of moving to the farm! We are amazed at all this past year has held for us… how we have learned and grown in more ways than we ever could have dreamed!  We shared a taste of our year as “First Year Farmers” in an article from our Christmas Newsletter that we mailed to friends and family… enjoy!

Reilly Family

First Year Farmers
You might be wondering, “How did that kooky family that decided to go and become farmers actually do this year?” We’re here to write that we survived. Actually, we more than survived. We thrived! The winter months here were sweet with settling in and exploring the farm and local community. We quickly re-started our educational endeavors home schooling our children, and especially enjoyed our Nature walks and animal adventures as we neared Spring! We began our Farm business in April with the purchase of 125 baby chicks that we would raise for our first layers. The kids loved caring for these active little birds!
We then added broilers (meat chickens) in May, really picking up our farming pace! Over the Summer, we continued to add broilers in intervals, reaching a total of 200 that we raised on our lush green pastures and processed on the farm.

This past Monday, December 12th, we sold the last of our broilers! People are hearing more and more about Four Corners Farm… through word of mouth, our flyers and posters out and about, and best of all, from our regular customers. The relationships that have formed through our farm have encouraged and energized us in many ways. And the support of our family and friends continues to bless us and spur us on in the passion and purpose we’ve found in family farming.

One of the blessings in our transitioning into farming is that Ian was able to continue working for the University of Florida. This continues to be a gift and is helpful in so many ways, allowing some financial freedoms as we venture forward in farming. We were able to utilize this income toward feed costs, product packaging needs, and other farm investments.

As we look back over the last year, we see many failures and successes. Whether we failed or succeeded, we are not to decide, but choose to thank God for His leading and direction, for the dream planted in our hearts. We give God the glory for our first year farming, failures and all, as He used all the experiences to teach us and grow us, in more ways imaginable!

Autumn

Well, we have had such a busy autumn! From a family trip to Williamsburg, VA, to a Dinner and a Movie (FRESH) showing here at the farm, to a big family reunion… our fall has been a blur!

Throughout the last couple of months, I have been reminded over and over (and over and over!!) to slow down. Even if it is simply my breathing! Moments can just slip away without notice and I feel within my soul this lurching forward to grab it back. Maybe even take back something that may have spilled out of my unthoughtful lips and ungrateful heart. It is sad that when we allow the busyness to overtake us, that we so easily slip into selfishness, control and defense mode. At least I tend to. Amongst the to-do lists and laundry, tears and smiles, there are moments of calm. Peace. The presence of my Creator.

All the seasons are so defined here in Virginia… this Florida girl is cherishing the transitions between them. As we experienced our first autumn here in Virginia, I sensed God speaking to me through the falling leaves. Some ripped off by the breeze, others ready to be released and tossed gently in the wind. Regardless of how, the trees were ready to be bare. Preparing for dormancy and rest. Quiet. Solitude. I believe that our souls need to experience changes of seasons also. It is important for us to have a time of unloading, “de-leafing”, and shedding an outer layer of ourselves. A time to peel back and then in the winter, explore a little deeper within what we believe. Making room for quiet and even rest for our weary souls. We must not forget that Spring always comes… with its glorious greens and vibrant colorful flowers… our souls re-awaken from the quiet, ready to march ahead and shout for joy at the newly discovered depth of relationship with our Maker! And then into the flourish of Summer. Busily sowing and harvesting, growing and serving, praising the One who encourages us on. Until again, we return to Autumn, ready to let go a little more of ourselves and prepare again for restoration in the peace and quiet presence of Winter.

And so the Season cycle goes… for our world and our souls. I pray that we will seek time this Christmas Season to have solitude and reflect on the Seasons of our soul. To allow God to work in us and deepen our faith.

Peace to you and yours…

Milk!

We have been enjoying milk from our family cow (Buttercup) for just about a month now… What a blessing to have a nice supply in our refrigerator of fresh, raw jersey milk! We have even enjoyed homemade yogurt (I will post the recipe later this month), butter, & ice cream!

It was not necessarily an easy journey getting to this point, but I will say that I am very grateful to all the hands that helped us get here. First of all, my Father-in-Law, Jerry… he designed a beautiful Milking Shed for us to build while visiting here in July. Without his precise plans, who knows where we would be milking Buttercup!? Secondly, to my Mom, Betty… she helped build the milking shed, sweating and working diligently, looking ahead to the days when she could get her hands “milky!” At this point, she is the primary milker… very thankful for her confidence and motivation to have our own family cow. And lastly, to my sweet husband, Ian. He worked hard building the milk shed, on top of farming responsibilities, his daily telecommute to his FL job, and being a husband and Daddy! He persevered and did a magnificent job… Thank you honey!


So, for all of those who poured forth so much to help us enjoy the fresh milk we daily receive, we wish to dedicate a poem that Evelyn has loved for years:

The Cow
By Robert Louis Stevenson

The friendly cow all red and white,
I love with all my heart:
She gives me cream with all her might,
To eat with apple-tart.

She wanders lowing here and there,
And yet she cannot stray,
All in the pleasant open air,
The pleasant light of day;

And blown by all the winds that pass
And wet with all the showers,
She walks among the meadow grass
And eats the meadow flowers.

Grrrrrrrrrranola

Okie doke. Here’s the deal. I’ve had many different people over the last year ask for our granola recipe. We’ve taken it with us on family trips, camping, and usually have it as a staple in our house (whether for breakfast or an afternoon snack with plain yogurt). So here it is!

Our Crunchy Granola Recipe
Preheat oven to 350 ̊
Ingredients
4 cups of oats
½ tsp cinnamon
¼ cup unsweetened coconut flakes
¼ cup sunflower seeds
¼ cup pumpkin seeds
¼ cup almond slices
¼ cup ground flax seeds
¼ cup sesame seeds
1/3 cup coconut oil (can use melted butter)
½ cup honey
¼ cup molasses
1 tsp vanilla extract
½ cup raisins
½ cup craisins
¼ cup currants
½ cup of chocolate chips (that’s right, chocolate!)

Mix dry ingredients in a large bowl. Add in coconut oil (or butter), then honey, molasses and vanilla extract. Stir well until all oats are moist. Spread out the oat mixture evenly onto a baking sheet (preferably one with edges). Drizzle some honey across the top and place in oven and bake for 10 minutes. Remove and stir the oats, being sure to scrape away from the edges mixing thoroughly. Evenly spread the oat mixture again, place in oven for another 10 minutes. Repeat this step one more time… While the oats are on their third bake session, I usually get the dried fruits and chocolate ready (and snack on a few while waiting). Once you remove the pan for the 3rd time, stir in the dried fruit and spread evenly. Then let the chocolate chips fall randomly all across the top. Place in the oven for a final 10 minutes of baking. Remove and let cool on a rack. I always like to have a bowl of warm granola with cold milk once its cooled a little. Enjoy!

Now, if you’re like me, you can play around with the ingredients. I’ve added different nuts and left out some if I don’t have them on hand. Don’t use the chocolate if you don’t want to… but who doesn’t want chocolate for breakfast?? Most of all… just have fun making up your own granola mixture… be brave!

Summer Photos Part II

We have been blessed with guests over the last couple of months… We also have been busy getting our farm launched and announced! Our logo has been finalized and our website is up (click here if you’d like to visit it!). I personally am doing my best to savor every moment and step as we live out the dream God gave our family. There are moments of absolute awe as I ponder and realize, “we’re really doing this!”. No, it has not been easy, there have been challenges and slow downs, but oh, how I’m learning that God allows these to keep us relying on Him and to make the accomplishments even more worthy of celebration and outpouring of a joyful heart. Through the difficulty, we grow and are shaped. We choose to either run from it or walk through it. Let us all face the challenges in life and embrace the hand that reaches out to lead us through the valleys and hard times… God is there. Always. We can rejoice in that fact.

I hope you enjoy the photos… this is just a snippet of the happenings here in the life of our family farm! (P.S. If you would like to see the photo descriptions, once you hit play, click on the “Show Info” tab within the slide show window).

A Joyful 2nd Birthday Celebration

What a special day we had celebrating Joy Elizabeth turning 2 years old! Enjoy this precious video of her!

Joy birthday #2

Honey Roasted Pork Chops with Apples and Onions

This is an absolutely delicious and easy meal to make! The recipe is from The Grassfed Gourmet Cookbook by Shannon Hayes. We love using pasture raised pork for this… I encourage you to find a local farmer who raised pastured pigs and then support them! A great resource for finding a farm near you is Local Harvest.

Honey Roasted Pork Chops with Apples and Onions
Serves 2

1 tablespoon salt
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
3 teaspoons rubbed sage (I didn’t have any sage on hand, so I substituted with Marjoram)
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 pork chops (rib, shoulder, loin, and country ribs are all okay to use)
1/3 cup apple cider or juice
1 tart, firm apple, cored and cut into thick slices, but not peeled
1 small onion, thinly sliced into rings
1/4 cup raisins
2 tablespoons honey (we use raw honey)

Preheat oven to 350̊ F.

Combine the salt, pepper, and sage; rub into the meat.

Pour the olive oil into a heated ovenproof skillet (we use cast iron), and sear the chops over medium heat, 1 minute per side or until browned. Remove from heat, add the cider, sliced apple, onion, and raisins. Drizzle with honey, cover and roas for 1 1/2 hours or until fork-tender.

You have to try this recipe!!

Winter Photos

You may also view this set of photos with description by clicking here.

Pot Pie

Today is our four week anniversary of being in our farm home! We have done a lot of settling and are slowly getting into a routine. School is back in session. All the joys of home-life are in full swing. There is not one dull moment here!

My latest fun has been exploring new recipes with a great cookbook we got for Christmas. It is called “The Grassfed Gourmet Cookbook: Healthy Cooking and Good Living with Pasture-Raised Foods” by Shannon Hayes. One recipe that is super for using up leftover chicken or turkey is the Chicken Pot Pie with Herbed Crust. Everyone loves it, and it has turned out delicious with either chicken or turkey (yes, we’ve had both since we’ve been here!). Here’s the recipe:


Chicken Pot Pie with Herbed Crust
Serves 6

For the herbed pie crust:
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour, plus some extra for rolling out the dough
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 teaspoon dried thyme
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
8 tablespoons butter or lard
6 to 8 tablespoons ice water

Combine the flour, salt, pepper, and dried herbs in a medium bowl. Use a pastry blender or fork to cut the butter or lard into the flour mixture until it is crumbly. Add the ice water gradually, mixing quickly with a fork until the dough is just moist enough to hold together. be careful not to add too much water. you may not need the full 6 tablespoons. Shape the dough into a ball, then place on a floured surface and roll out to a rectangle at least 9×13 inches.

For the filling:
6 tablespoons unsalted butter
3 small stalks celery, coarsely chopped
3 carrots, scraped and finely chopped
1 large onion, sliced into thin wedges
1/2 teaspoon coarse salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
3/4 cup fresh or thawed whole corn kernels
1/2 cup fresh or frozen peas
3 cups cooked chicken or turkey, shredded
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
2 cups chicken broth
1 cup whole milk
1/2 cup half-and-half
1 teaspoon dried thyme, or 1 tablespoon fresh
2 tablespoons dry sherry

Preheat oven to 400`F

Melt 2 tablespoons of the butter in a large, nonreactive saucepan, then saute the celery, carrots, and onions over medium-high heat until they are crisp=tender, approximately 4-5 minutes. Remove to a large bowl, and keep warm. Add the salt, pepper, corn, peas, and shredded chicken or turkey to the vegetables, and stir gently until well combined.

Melt the remaining 4 tablespoons butter in the saucepan. Turn off the heat, add the flour, and stir in quickly. The mixture will be pasty. Over medium heat, stir in the broth, milk, half-and-half, and thyme. Bring the liquid to a boil, stirring occasionally; lower the heat and simmer, stirring often, until the sauce is thick and rich. Stir in the sherry.

Pour the sauce over the meat and vegetables, and mix gently. Season to taste with additional salt and pepper. Pour the entire contents of the bowl into a 13-x-9-inch baking pan, and top with the herbed pie crust. Fold down and crimp overlapping edges so that the crust fits inside the pan. Pierce the top several times with a sharp knife, and bake for 35 to 45 minutes, or until the top is golden brown and the filling is bubbling.

Bon Appetit!

Carob Brownies


A dear friend of mine gave me Nourishing Traditions for my birthday this year… We have loved trying out the recipes and learning more about foods that are truly nourishing to our bodies. One recipe that we have enjoyed is Carob Brownies.

Carob Brownies
Makes 24
3 coups freshly ground spelt, kamut or whole wheat flour (I use whole wheat flour)
2 cups buttermilk, kefir or yoghurt (I use either buttermilk or yoghurt… plain yoghurt)
3/4 cup butter, softened (I use coconut oil)
1 1/2 cups Rapadura (this is a yummy, natural sweetener… can be found a most health food stores, we buy from Ward’s)
4 eggs
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
1 tablespoon chocolate extract (optional)
1 teaspoon sea salt
3/4 cup carob powder
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 cup chopped crispy pecans (we don’t like nuts in brownies, so I used 1 cup of semi-sweet chocolate chips)

Soak flour with buttermilk, kefir or yoghurt for 12 to 24 hours in a warm place. (Those with milk allergies may use 2 cups water plus 2 tablespoons whey, lemon juice or vinegar in place of undiluted buttermilk, kefir or yoghurt.) Cream butter (again, we use coconut oil) with Rapadura. Add eggs, extracts, salt, carob powder and baking powder. Blend in soaked flour and fold in nuts (or chocolate chips). Pour into a buttered and floured 9-inch by 13-inch pyrex pan. Bake at 350 degrees for about 40 minutes. Allow to cool thoroughly and cut into squares.

Enjoy!