Life is too short to eat bad food! Sharing great recipes, farm life, stories and photography from our Northern California dairy farm.

September 30, 2011

How to make your own Pumpkin Pie Spice

















Photo from Google Images

With Autumn here, winter coming and the holidays right around the corner, if you're like me, you will go through a lot of Pumpkin Pie Spice in your home this time of year.  Rather than buy a seperate bottle of it at the store, it's so easy to make your own with spices you probably already have stocked in your cupboard. 

This is too easy not to do yourself!

All you need is:
1 teaspoon of ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon of ground nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon of ground ginger
1/8 teaspoon of ground cloves

Mix it all together in a bowl and store in an air tight jar.  Now you're ready for the season!

Enjoy!

Thank you for taking time out of your busy day to leave a comment. I love to hear from you! Have a fantastic day!

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September 29, 2011

My Top 5 Places to Shop for Kids

Living the farm life, my kids go through a TON of clothing; they're worn at the barn, on the tractor, playing in the feed bins and need to be durable enough to go through many washings and worn to school as well.

Today it's all about shopping for kid's clothing. I never pay full price for a clothing item.  Finding good deals, sales and coupons is like a treasure hunt for me.  And when we've reached the end of a season, I stock up for the following year, if I can.

A favorite online site I was recently turned on to by my daughter’s teacher is Zulily.com.  After signing up, you’ll receive a daily email with the 'event of the day'.  You can expect boutique brands and a hand picked selection of high-quality goods that are on sale for up to a 90% off retail.  They have plenty of children’s clothing and shoe inventory to choose from. {adult items as well!} Each sale event lasts only 72 hours and normally the popular items sell out within the first day {or hours}, so if you see something you like, buy it. 

Here are a few of their recent items:


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September 28, 2011

TT: Paige's Praying Mantis

Just the other night, later in the evening at 7 p.m. or so, the weather was balmy and warm, an unusual feeling here in northern California.  Paige was outside playing when she suddenly comes running in at full speed screaming for me to come out and look at the "inthect" out on the deck.  She wasn't screaming in fear, just excitement.

"The 'inthect' is just like the one in our book!!"

Sure enough, Paige had spotted a Praying Mantis just like the one in our insect book right on our very own deck.  Now I've only found one Praying Mantis, ever here on the farm, three years ago.  It was a beige colored one, just like this one and I found it here........
















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September 27, 2011

WW: Ladies Day at Deer Camp

Here in northern California, deer season lasts for six weeks from August to September.  Every weekend during the season, the men and the kids head to Deer Camp to hang out, eat, play cards, many sleep overnight and oh yes, hunt in the morning of course.  It's a multi-generational family tradition in most cases.

I've heard some of the older generation women describe themselves during the six weeks of deer season as being "Weekend Widows".  But in a bit, I'm going to let you in on a little secret.  {The men don't read this blog, so they'll never find out}.  

 \













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September 26, 2011

Beef and Black Bean Nachos - For Dinner

A few weeks ago, while hanging out in Carmel with my friend, Katie, who is a source of inspiration to me on many levels and is the one and only reason my kids speak of North Dakota on a daily basis in our household, was telling me about a platter of nachos she made up to feed her family dinner one night.......now, why hadn't I ever thought of that?! 

After all, the chips are just like taco shells and I could throw on some garden fresh toppings for some healthy veggies, not to mention the beef and beans for protein. 

It's like a healthy, hearty, one dish meal you can throw together within 10 minutes!  Genius!......go with me on this.

















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September 23, 2011

BOTW: Tex Mex Pumpkin Burgers

So, as you may have noticed, I've been using a lot of pumpkin puree lately and rather than toss the remaining canned pumpkin, I use it in other dishes.  As I was searching the web for additional recipes that include pumpkin, I came across this fabulous find.  Pumpkin Burgers. 

I changed it up a little bit by adding ground beef to the recipe..... my boy is not eating a burger unless it has meat in it.  Period.  Oh, and his will be served up on a bun.......Dominic's too for that matter, but you get the idea, everything can be modified.

If you prefer the veggie version, just omit the ground beef and when cooking the patties in a skillet, use some oil.




















Photo by Eating Well

Tex Mex Pumpkin Burgers

Ingredients:
1 pound of ground beef
6 teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided
1 medium onion, chopped
1/2 cup finely chopped red or green bell pepper
1/2 cup fresh or frozen corn
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 teaspoons chili powder
1 teaspoon ground cumin
Tomato Salsa, optional
1/2 cup canned unseasoned pumpkin puree
1/2 cup shredded Monterey Jack, or Cheddar cheese
1/2 cup toasted wheat germ
1/2 cup fine dry breadcrumbs
2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
1/2 teaspoon salt
Freshly ground pepper, to taste
6 8-inch flour tortillas, {soft-taco size}
2 cups shredded lettuce


Preparation:
1.  Heat 2 teaspoons oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium heat. Add onion and cook, stirring often, until softened, 5 to 7 minutes. Stir in bell pepper, corn, garlic, chili powder and cumin; cook, stirring, until fragrant, about 2 minutes more. Transfer to a large bowl; let cool to room temperature, about 10 minutes.

2.  Place ground beef in a bowl and .......

3.  Add pumpkin, cheese, wheat germ, breadcrumbs, parsley, salt and pepper to the onion mixture; mix well. With dampened hands, form the vegetable mixture into 1/2-inch-thick patties, using about 1/2 cup for each.

4.  Preheat oven to 325°F. Stack tortillas and wrap in aluminum foil. Place in the oven for about 15 minutes to heat through.  Or heat them in the microwave.

5.   Cook 2 to 4 patties at a time in a large nonstick skillet over medium heat until browned and heated through, about 4 minutes per side. Adjust heat as necessary for even browning. Wrap the patties in tortillas and serve immediately, garnished with lettuce and Fresh Tomato Salsa, if desired.


Thank you for taking time out of your busy day to leave a comment. I love to hear from you! Have a fantastic day!

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September 22, 2011

Pumpkin Brownies

Some days I wake up and am immediately in the mood for baking.  This occurs more often as autumn comes into view.  Maybe it's all the pumpkin recipes that are flooding the Food Network channel right now or maybe it's receiving the fall issues of my foodie magazines that are being delivered to my mailbox lately.  Well, whatever the reason, today was a day to try Pumpkin Brownies. 

You can add almost anything to brownies and call it good, right?!
















So, I hunkered down, made myself a homemade pumpkin spiced latte and got to mixin'.
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September 21, 2011

A Weekend in Fort Bragg, CA

It's Thankful Thursday and after visiting Fort Bragg, CA this past weekend, I have yet another thing to add to my list of things I'm thankful for. 

Fort Bragg is a three hour, long, curvy drive through a majestic redwood forest from our house.  Quite a long, not so easy drive, which explains the reason I've only been there one other time in my life.  But after my experience this past weekend, I wonder why I haven't visited more often. 

We stayed at the Beachcomber Motel, with the beach at its backyard, this was the view from our balcony patio.  We lucked out, the weather was gorgeous.  I was expecting it to be foggy and dreary but no fog in sight the entire weekend.
















We arrived in Fort Bragg at around 6:30 p.m. and took advantage of our patio to soak in the view.  Fort Bragg has many outdoor activities to offer, from horseback riding, hiking, wine tasting, shopping, museums, art galleries, even riding the Skunk Train.  Our purpose in Fort Bragg was the Portuguese Holy Ghost Festival taking place, where Paige marches as "Little Queen" for Petaluma.  I would have liked to add one additional day to our trip and explore some more, but I was thankful I was able to drag Dominic off the dairy farm for two nights in a row.















The next morning we were up at the crack of dawn.  Bryce is always the first one up when we're traveling.  The excitement of being in a new and unfamiliar place has both the kids giddy every time they're away from home.

By 8:30 a.m. we were showered, had eaten breakfast and were out the door ready to explore the area.  Just outside the Beachcomber is the newly refurbished Pudding Creek Trestle, heading south, it will take you into town. 

















After a mile walk, we headed back to Pudding Creek Trestle and the Beachcomber.















We took a narrow trail down to the beach and played in the sand for a couple of hours.  The kids jumped rope with seaweed, built battle stations out of sand and eventually got their clothes wet in the surf.

 Such a fun day. 

















What are you thankful for this week?  Feel free to link up & grab the Thankful Thursday button or just comment below if you care to share!



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September 20, 2011

WW: Mushroom Ice Cream~My New Love

We just got back from a weekend in the picturesque town of Fort Bragg, CA.  Paige was in a Portuguese parade there and when considering the three hour drive, the curvy road to get there and the fact Paige becomes car sick, we traveled a day early so we could have some down time before she had to walk in the parade.  I'm so glad we did because if not, I wouldn't have discovered my new found love of Mushroom Ice Cream.

Yep, that's right, Mushroom Ice Cream.


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September 19, 2011

Tips on How to Can Pears

Well I finally did it.  I tried canning for the first time ever.  And you know what?  It wasn't as scary as I thought it would be.  Canning 14 jars of pears only took about two hours from start to finish.

My parents have a pear tree at their house and tons of pears that were ready for harvest, so she and my Dad and 20 pounds of pears made their way to my house a few mornings ago.  I remember growing up, my Mom would can peaches every year, it was nice to have her here with me to make sure all went smoothly.















I bought some supplies; a guide to canning book by Ball, jars, boiling water canning pot, jar lifter and sugar.
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September 16, 2011

BOTW: Moscow Mule {and some poison oak}

It's Friday. 
It's been trying week. 
It's cocktail hour in my house. 

Normally I can handle almost anything thrown in my direction but coming home from my weekend away, I found my almost 7 year old had been exposed to poison oak.  Now, he's had poison oak one other time, but we realized it right away and scrubbed him up in the bath as soon as we were able to.....not the case this time.

Tip #1 when hunting with Dad:  DON'T pee in the woods!

Let's just say, something that should look like a small sausage link on a 7 year old.......should NOT look like a water balloon!

That's all I'm saying.

Now, on to this week's Best of the Web:
Moscow Mule ~ I had this drink for the first time ever in Carmel on the Farm Fresh Tour and fell in love with how refreshing it was!
















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September 15, 2011

Strawberry Fields ~Organic and Conventional

To conclude my Farm Fresh Tour with Know a California Farmer we toured Naturipe Farms, a strawberry farm in Watsonville, CA.  They grow conventional and organic strawberries and if you are a lover of strawberries, you've probably eaten theirs at some point in your life.

Tom, from Naturipe explains that a lot goes into growing berries and that the perfect soil conditions play a big part in the success of growing them.  We learned the compost used to fertilize the soil is based from fish meal and once this was heard, conversation ensued mentioning that our vegan friends may not enjoy learning this tidbit of information.

We learned that along with state inspections, which are conducted regularly, big box stores, such as CostCo can and do  pop in inspections at any time they please to inspect the farm as well, making sure it meets their standards. 

Naturipe also grows berries in Mexico and all packaging must be labeled showing where the product is grown.  Tom told us that Naturipe abides by the same farming standards and practices no matter what country or state the berries are grown in. 
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September 14, 2011

TT: Family Farming on 30,000 Acres

To continue on from yesterday's post, the first stop on the Know a California Farmer Farm Fresh Tour began at a family farm that produces lettuce as its main crop.

Tanimura and Antle Farm in the town of Spreckles, close to Salinas, farms produce on 30,000 acres in California and in Arizona.  This family farm provides 20% of the nation's lettuce supply.  Some of their products include artisan lettuce and artisan red onions, iceberg, beets, bok choy, celery, and broccoli just to name a few.

The Tanimura family, as first generation Japanese-Americans, built a successful iceberg lettuce business in the 1920's.  During WWII, they lost everything and spent three years in Japanese internment camps.  In 1947 the Tanimuras began farming again.

Lester Antle began as a lettuce packer in 1930.  Lester and his son, Bud, opened their own lettuce operation in 1942.  The two families worked side by side and in 1982 formed Tanimura and Antle.

I had never visited a family farm of this size before but have driven by many going through California's Central Valley and was very excited about getting an up close look at the hands-on farming I witnessed at Tanimura and Antle.  I found the farm's employee statistics and benefits interesting as well.  Here are some of them:
  • They employ 2,500 people, 133 of them are proud members of what they celebrate as their "20 Plus Years Club". Employees for 20 years or longer.
  • Employees are given full benefits
  • Vision and life insurance
  • 401 {k} with  match and profit sharing
  • Free bus transportation
  • Free on sight day care for children up to five years old
  • pay can range up to $16.00 per hour
Even with all the benefits at Tanimura and Antle and the high unemployment rate in California, Americans don't seem to want these jobs. Brian Antle told us that after publicizing a hiring of 450 field jobs, not one American applied.

This is Tanimura and Antle's artisan lettuce, planted in rows with five varieties.  Harvested at the same time, it is packed in boxes or clam shells right in the field and sent off to restaurants and stores.  From farm to truck within hours of harvesting.


















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September 13, 2011

WW: The Farm Fresh Tour Kick-Off

This past weekend I met my friend, Katie in the town of Carmel by the Sea for quite an amazing event  she was overseeing for a client of her firm, Know a California Farmer. Know a California Farmer invited six California food and or mom bloggers to tour a couple of family farms located in the Carmel and Salinas area who were eager to learn more about how our food is grown and how it gets from farm to fork. 

Friday afternoon, I arrived to meet Katie at 4 p.m. in Carmel and after settling in we met the rest of her colleagues at a fun little bar in downtown Carmel, A.W. Shucks Oyster and Cocktail Bar.  Being so close to the ocean and farmlands at the same time, it is a real treat when visiting a restaurant, especially if you're from North Dakota like Katie is.  We enjoyed deliciously fresh prawn cocktail, scrumptious calamari and a delicious artichoke appetizer.

To wash it all down, I enjoyed my first ever Moscow Mule cocktail.  It's made with ginger beer, vodka and fresh lime.  I'll be making these at home for sure, it was so refreshing.














Later in the evening, to kick off the Farm Fresh Tour participant meet-up, we all met at Grasing's Restaurant roof top patio for a gorgeous locally grown, fresh dinner.
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September 12, 2011

An Invasion at the Farm

Invasion, it’s a funny thing sometimes. Normally in September we’re invaded by an ant army that has found their sneaky way into the house in search of water, but when there’s an almost 7 year old boy in the house, invasions could be an entirely different thing.

One would think, growing up on a dairy farm, an almost 7 year old’s treasures and toys would mostly include toy tractors, cowboys, excavators, horses, dump trucks, etc. But, my almost 7 year old goes in the extreme opposite direction.

No more tractors, no cowboys, no more excavators….it’s all about Star Wars and it has been for the past couple of years.

We’re being invaded in our own home.....

by Droids.













Oh wait, silly mommy, these aren’t Droids! These are CLONE TROOPERS!
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September 9, 2011

BOTW: Party Food ~ Mini BLTs

Football season is upon us.  Whether you're into college football, high school football or professional football or even if you're not into football at all, I bet you would enjoy a football party all the same.  For this week's 'Best of the Web' I went for some party food and boy, did these look good! Perfect for a house party or a tailgating party.

Make this recipe even easier by buying slider buns and toasting them up instead of baking biscuits!

Mini BLTs by Country Living



















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September 8, 2011

New Born Beef Twins

Well, I warned you I would be back with additional baby and mama beef photos.  It didn't take long!
Here's a sweet pair of twins born to this mama.  They were no more than a few hours old and still getting their walking legs underneath them.  SO cute!
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The Winner of the Hallmark Giveaway is....


Congratulations to #3, Molly Brown!! Molly, please email your contact info and mailing address so you can receive your Hallmark Back to School confindence package!

email me at :  The Wife of a Dairyman {at} gmail {dot} com

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September 7, 2011

Thankful Thursday: Easiest EVER Mango Salsa

I refuse to let go of summer completely, just yet.  I just love the freshness of all the summer fruits and vegetables we have access to during this time of year.  I am thankful for the abundance of it all.

I attended a Pampered Chef party the other evening and the sales rep put together the simplest, most refreshing mango salsa I've ever shoveled into my mouth.  I could have eaten the entire bowl.  My friend, Cindy, the hostess, noticed how much I loved it because she sent me home with the remainder of it after the party.













The leftovers didn't last long in my house, because between me and my little farmboy, it was gone by noon the very next day.  

Which only means one thing.

Time to make my own.

Here's what you need........
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September 6, 2011

WW: Mamas and brand new baby beef

With the entrance of September comes many things; back to school, autumn weather, harvesting and for us, newborn baby beef calves.  Mid September is about the time when our mama beef cows begin to have their babies. 















We took a drive out the other day to check up on how progress was coming along.















All of our beef cows have been moved down the hill to the flat area to have their babies.  We have only spotted a few babies thus far. 













Here's one.  She was so very curious of the big camera pointed in her direction.















And if you look close, you can see this mama decided to stick her tongue out at the camera.

After the mamas calve, they'll breed with the bulls from October - April (who have been patiently waiting for the return of their mamas), graze, nurse their new born calves, and wait to be moved again in April.

Driving out to check the beef cows and newborn calves is one of my favorite things to do on the ranch, stay tuned for more photos.

Linking Wordless Wednesday to:
Pinke Post
Project Alicia
Live and Love Out Loud

Thank you for taking time out of your busy day to leave a comment, I love to hear from you!. Have a fantastic day!

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September 5, 2011

Crock Pot Asian Beef Broccoli

In honor of having heard Temple Grandin speak again yesterday, I'm sharing a Crock Pot beef dish with you today.  Over a year ago, Dominic and I had the pleasure of having lunch with Temple at a friend's house and then attended her speaking engagement afterwards. She is always so inspiring. I love her no-nonsense, tell it like it is approach. 


With the kids after school soccer practice and other activities this fall, I sometimes feel like a taxi cab driver, I'm sure you all can relate.  It seems most practices and activities, 4H meetings and such are scheduled either right before or just after dinner time, so preparing a home cooked meal can sometimes be tough.  My Crock Pot is definitely going to be my best friend in the up-coming months.

We raise our own pasture raised beef, so we typically have a freezer full of meat.  Perusing the freezer, I discovered we have quite a variety of roasts to choose from.  My kids like roast but they much prefer steak, venison or hamburgers.  I pulled out a Chuck Roast and tried this new recipe for Crock Pot Asian Beef Broccoli and it was a hit!  My kids even ate the rice without any threats or bribery on my part.

Here's what you need for success....












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September 2, 2011

Eco Fair Marin this Labor Day Weekend

If you live in the Marin County area and are looking for something to do this Labor Day weekend, there's a brand new event in town and it's titled Eco Fair Marin.  It will be held at the Marin County Fairgrounds on Sunday the 4th from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m.


The idea behind Eco Fair Marin is to celebrate Marin's leadership in sustainability.  Temple Grandin is the keynote speeker and there are panels and discussions held on various stages all day long.  My husband, Dominic is speaking on the "Local Leaders of Sustainable Farming" panel, right before Temple goes on.

Some of the other discussions include: 
  • Green Ways to School
  • 81 Days at Sea - Whale Wars in Antartic
  • School Gardens
  • High School Programs
  • The Story of MALT in Marin
  • How to Finance Sustainable Agriculture
  • Social Media for Social Good
  • The 3-R Path to New Living:  Remembering, Reforming and Redesigning
  • Best Ways to Save Water Inside and Outside Your Home
At the Kid's Area, kids can participate in:
  • Bean Mosaics
  • Eco-Bookmark Puzzle
  • Puppet Show and Puppet Making
  • Trash to Art:  Creation Station
  • Build a Bug Village
At the DIY Stage, you can learn and hear about:
  • How to Build Your Own Furniture Without Using Power Tools
  • Gray Water Technology For Conservation
  • How to Raise Chickens in Your Backyard
  • Why to Keep Bees in Your Backyard
  • Cheesemaking Class by Louella Hill {this is the same cheesemaker I took a class from}
  • Make Your Own Cleaning Products
  • Relax and Strengthen with Tai Chi and Deep Breath
Different bands are scheduled to play throughout the day as well.  Admission is $5 for adults and kids 17 and under are free.  Click here for a full list of Eco Fair Marin's schedule.

I'll be there for a couple of hours at least, what are you planning for Labor Day weekend??


Thank you for taking time out of your busy day to leave a comment, I love to hear from you!. Have a fantastic day!

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BOTW: Mississippi Mud Pie

I'm not sure if I chose this week's "Best of the Web" recipe because it uses two of my favorite things; ice cream and chocolate OR because I just love spelling out {out loud} M i s s i s s i p p i!  Do you remember doing that as a kid?  So much fun, and so is this Mississippi Mud Pie recipe by William's Sonoma! 

Mississippi Mud Pie


















Ingredients:
1 cup semisweet chocolate chips
4 Tbs. {1/2 stick} unsalted butter
1⁄4 cup heavy cream
2 Tbs. light corn syrup
1 cup confectioners’ sugar, sifted
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1 cookie crumb crust, made with chocolate cookies {either home made or store bought}
1⁄2 cup toffee bits or coarsely chopped
toasted almonds {see Note}
1 quart coffee ice cream, softened
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September 1, 2011

A Hallmark Giveaway!

On my recent trip to the BlogHer Conference in sunny San Diego, I had the chance to meet with different companies and Hallmark happened to be one of them.  I just received this fun back-to-school confidence package from them.

Before I even had the chance to introduce this little red bug to the kids, Paige found the box and wanted to know immediately if it was for her....I can't hide anything from my little farm girl.















The package also included a few Hallmark cards, themed around school and a bite-sized pad of Lunchbox Notes.  The idea behind the bug, an Encouragement Bug, is to challenge the entire family to support each other by passing it around...one person begins by filling the bug in the zipper pouch with treasures, a coupon {such as good for one bed making, etc.}, a note, etc. and leaves the bug where the recipient will find it.  Once it is found, that person is now in charge of surprising another family member by passing it on.  Fun, right?!
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