Monday, December 27, 2010

Michael Makes Chevre' in My Kitchen

Life on a suburban farm is always busy. This one night, my husband (our farm cheese maker) made me laugh so hard...while making his cheese

Market at The Farm This Week . .

. . . is closed until NEXT Tuesday, January 4th bright and early at 9:30 am.  You can be sure that we'll have wonderful produce  and beautiful herbs.  If you've yet to have a little tour around our farm, just ask and we're delighted to tell you our story.

In the meantime, Michael and I are enjoying time with family in Portland, Oregon.  

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Chef Gwen's Christmas Kale Chopped Salad

We're growing four varieties of kale here at The Simple Farm - and all ready to be harvested.  I think most people avoid kale because they don't know quite what to do with it and because they really don't know how amazing it is?

Kale, a winter crop, is rich in calcium, iron, lutein, Vitamin A,C, and K and it's a great source of antioxidants along with being excellent fiber (that we all need more of!).

One source I read said that kale has naturally occurring phytochemicals that may protect against cancer.

With all these benefits of kale, it's a MUST for the table. I have a recipe here for Tuscan kale salad and Chef Gwen has this incredibly looking Christmas Kale Chopped Salad that I am definitely going to make!

The question is: have you had your kale today?  We are growing four kinds of kale here at The Simple Farm.

Quick Happenings Around the Farm

Midst the holiday preparations of tree trimmings . . .

cookie making. . .

and cake baking for to celebrate my husband (Michael became a year older this year and our dd made THIS amazing cake) . . . 

planning a trip to PDX for a few days, writing out milking schedules for Anita (our farm manager), pulling weeds, trimming goat hooves, making goat milk fudge for our Simple Celebration of Christmas here at the farm, planting new seeds, preparing and planting new starts of herbs, tomatoes and peppers to sell at our Tuesday market . . .

and regular home front care - Michael's building a green house (and by the way, I'm incredibly proud of him...he designed and built it himself!) . . .

and breeding goats - today . . .

. . .no, it's not a full life at all!  Ha! Ha!

No matter how full a day gets and no matter how many speed bumps we run into (that's a constant on farm life) or how many projects we're simultaneously working on (which is often farm life), we LOVe what we're doing and get to do what we loVE.

And, so . . . that's just a little update for today!  We hope you all have a wonderful and Merry Christmas!

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

French Breakfast Radishes - The Beauty of Them

I think we grow some of the loveliest French Breakfast Radishes at our farm (other ones too).  Something we value is discovering the "specialness" of everything we grow and then passing that on to you.

For example, did you know that French Breakfast Radishes are part of the root vegetable family and they have the more gentle and sometimes sweet flavor of all the radishes?  I have started a 'love affair' with these FBR when I found out they are a wonderful source of B6 (needed for your nerve endings), riboflavin, magnesium, copper and calcium.

Another interesting tidbit about FBR is that the French simply call them breakfast radishes - les radis petit déjeuner  an unlike Americans, they eat them for breakfast and Laura writes that they are also French children's snacks with butter and salt. She shows the way she eats them too and makes a few recommendations.

Our market at the Farm (right now) is open on Tuesdays and you can be sure that the next market day (we're closed the week between Christmas and New Year) we'll have more FBR.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Freshly Picked - Tuesday's Beauty At the Market At Our Farm

Did you know that there is a farm in YOUR neighborhood? Yup, right here in N. Scottsdale - off Cactus and the 101...and Tuesday's our farm market is OPEN. Stop by from 9:30 - 11 ish and then again at 4:30 until 6 ish.

Here's a bit of today's fresh picked produce.

We're The Simple Farm located at 9080 E. Cactus Rd, Scottsdale, AZ.

Monday, December 20, 2010

Swiss Chard, Kale, Red Carrots, Fresh Herbs and . . .

. . . will be at our market at The Simple Farm on Tuesday.

We'll also serve up some spicy greens - arugula and endive along with mixed greens and baby spinach.

There will be TONS of radishes: white icycle, cherry belle, French breakfast and another nice gentle tasting red radish.  Carrots are popping up....I just pulled a nice red one today....with more to harvest Tuesday morning!

We'll have a bit of broccoli and few beets: Detroit red and chiogga on our market table.

Herbs? We have lovely herbs:
Parsley (both kinds)
Chives (garlic and common)
French Chervil
French Sorrel

The market opens at 9:30 till 11 ish and then again at 4:30 till 6 ish.

9080 E. Cactus Rd. Scottsdale, AZ

Recently we started  "you snip your fresh snipped herbs" faire here at the farm.

Red Carrots At The Simple Farm

I just pulled this carrot....isn't it beautiful!!!!!!  These will be available at our market at the farm tomorrow!  Gates open at 9:30 - 11 and 4:30 - 6pm.

The Farm In The Neighborhood - The Simple Farm

We love being known as the farm in the neighborhood and we love having our farm be opened to the neighbors on Tuesdays.

Why you ask?  Not only are we meeting so many new faces, but we get to provide families with quality and fresh vegetables and herbs.

Tuesday morning early, you'll find a few farm volunteers picking what is fresh and lovely.  Others you'll find setting up our simple market display at the south side barn (near the goat yard).  Others will be hustling about making some coffee to set out for morning and afternoon market shoppers.

Besides selling YOU our produce and herbs (flowers soon - and eggs soon) we love showing you around a bit.  Everyone is curious about The Simple Farm. It's not every day there is a farm like ours in the middle of suburbia.

Hope to see you this Tuesday at our market - right here on the farm!  9080 E. Cactus Rd. in Scottsdale!

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Christmas Eve Gathering At The Simple Farm

WHAT: You are invited to The Simple Farm for a Simple Celebration of Christmas for the Simple Farm Soup and Christmas Carols.  We'll eat and talk and sing.

When & Time: Christmas Eve at 5:30 - 7 p.m.

Where: 9080 E. Cactus Rd. Scottsdale, AZ - outside with a few fire pits burning (hopefully it will be a free burn day!)

Details:  Farm volunteers will be cooking and serving homemade (vegetarian)
Simple Farm Soup & Salad (made with some fresh produce from our farm), goat milk fudge and cookies.  

RSVP: There is a limited seating (50) to this first Farm Affaire so please RSVP by emailing us at thesimplefarm @ gmail dot com with your name, how many and contact information.

Cost: Nothing. Absolutely Nothing. It's our gift to our community .

Saturday, December 18, 2010

We Can't Forget These Little Helpers . . .

. . .getting the mice, rats and scaring the rabbits off.  Such sweet kitties.

Cooking With A Solar Oven

With all this sun we have in Arizona it's not hard to harvest the sun and cook with it.  A few years ago Michael and I invested in a Solar Oven and I've had success roasting chicken and beef, baking bread and making cookies in it.

Every chicken and beef came out moist.  Sun cooking maintains all the natural juices which you can use to make stock/broth for soups.

In all honesty, it's been awhile since I've used my sun oven and just writing this blog post makes me feel a bit guilty - I have no excuse.

The benefits are incredible - just think about harvesting the sun and its natural energies let alone lower your gas/electric bill.  Double dipping is what I call it.

Let's see . . . what should I cook in the sun oven?

Below is a little video I did awhile back . . .

Friday, December 17, 2010

What's Happening At The Farm Today

That desert rain was wonderful yesterday and it gave Michael and I bit of down time catch up time.  Yesterday we researched ideas for putting together a green house that could accommodate all the starts I've seeded.  As Michael can attest to, I sorta can get ahead of myself. I start planting things and then forget how we're going to water it.

Or, like the starts - with all this wonderful weather I thought it'd be just as wonderful to start some starts - heirloom tomatoes (can you tell I'm anxious for them?), basil, dill, and peppers . . .and now we need a green house type of thingy to house them through another few months. Oh, well.

Today, Michael finished the last of the two gates around The French Garden. Looks nice if I say so myself.  I'm working on an area that I noticed quite a few gourmet lettuces popping up - in spots and in pathways we didn't seed them.  So, I'm in the process of expanding that area to accommodate the lettuces and I have seeded some lovage, mammoth sunflowers, garlic chives, nasturtium and for fun I tossed in a few Italian Pole Bean seeds next to the sunflowers (even though it's not quite the season for them).

. . . and, that's what's happening today! Hope you have a great weekend and that you plan to come to the farm this Tuesday.'s our market day.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Chef Gwen Interviews The Simple Farm Farmers

For awhile, I've followed Chef Gwen via twitter and periodically I lurk around her blog Pen and Fork.  Well, yesterday I received a message from her saying that she wanted to come and interview us and do a blog post about the farm. Seriously? How cool is that!

Chef Gwen's photo.

So, Gwen popped in around 4:30 on Tuesday and I am sure I talked her ear off as she followed me around.  You can read the scoop, news and nibbles here.  And, while you're reading all about us and more - do leave a nice comment for Gwen and snoop around her blog - it's amazing!

French Sorrel Soup - A Classic French Dish

I am crazy about French Sorrel. It's a wonderful herb with a lemony-taste and I love to watch the different reactions when I offer a little sampling from one of the several French Sorrel plants around our farm. 
Sorrel is a perennial herb that has been used in France in an assortment of dishes for years. I think it's a "must have" in the garden.
Here's a recipe to try (quoted directly from here) but there are lots of different variations, give it a try and let me know how you like it!
Sorrel "melts" down into a sauce after a few minutes of cooking, be sure to start with two or more bunches from your local farmers market.
Wash the leaves, and de-rib them if they are large to elimate any stringiness. This is easy to do -- simply hold a leaf, folded lengthwise, in one hand and pull of the stem and center rib with the other.
The recipe below is adapted from the classic French sorrel soup found in cookbooks by the likes of Julia Child and Patricia Wells. The more cream and potato you add, the milder the sorrel taste will be. 
This soup is also excellent cold, with some plain yogurt swirled into it.
 Sorrel Soup
2 bunches (about a pound) fresh sorrel
6 cups water
Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
1 pound potatoes, cubed
2 large eggs
1/2 cup crème fraiche or heavy cream
1. Wash the sorrel and de-rib the leaves if necessary. Put it in a saucepan over low heat. Cook, stirring, until the sorrel has melted into a purée and nearly all of its liquid has evaporated.
2. Add the water and salt and pepper to taste. Bring to a boil. Add the potatoes and cook over low heat until the potatoes are cooked through — about fifteen minutes. If you prefer a creamy rather than a chunky soup, put the soup into a blender or food processor and then return to the saucepan.
3. Combine the eggs and crème fraiche in a warmed serving bowl. Mix until well blended. Add a ladle of the potato and sorrel mixture and blend well. Pour in remaining potato and sorrel mixture and serve immediately. Makes six to eight servings.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

A New Farm Market Go-Er Picks Her Own Herbs

Can you name these herbs?

A new face showed up at the farm this morning with her little guy. After giving them a little tour and offering a sampling of our gourmet herbs she took one of our silver plates, a pair of scissors and headed to a few herb garden spots to snip her own fresh herbs.  Now, how cool is that?

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Herbed Butter With Italian Parsley and Oregano

Our family has benefited from our daughter's new cook book:

And tonight was no exception. I made Italian with turkey meatballs, a salad of romaine from the garden and Candace decided to try Lucinda's herb butter from her book Mad Hungry.

I made a little trek out to one of the herb gardens on our farm and gathered some Italian parsley and oregano.  Candace chopped both herbs and spooned it into some soft butter then spread this yummy butter in between slices of a wonderful baguette and baked it (wrapped in aluminum foil) for about 15 minutes @ 350 degrees.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Today's Farm Project

Today my husband made another roosting perch for the 48 Black Astralorps that are just a few months old.  We now have a good amount of hens with three different ages and are anticipating the second batch of girls to begin laying the beginning of February. That's exciting because we'll have a good supply of dozens of farm fresh eggs for sale - directly from our farm. . . right here in the middle of Scottsdale Suburbia.

Another project Michael's been working on is completing the gate into the back section of our farm. It's the one that gates the whimsical part of the farm from the field. I've watched him ponder and mediate and research which gate option would be the best. I think he's going to be delighted to be done and check that one of the list of "Many Farm Projects To Do."

Today, he finished the last of two signs he'd been working on . . .the ones that say . . .

Monday, December 6, 2010

Our Diary of Suburban Farm Life

Michael and I are going to start doing a VLOG (video log) of some of the daily happenings here at The Simple Farm.  This is our first one for you to see a little bit about what happens on a suburban farm.

Baby Scarlet Nantes Carrots

Sunday, December 5, 2010

For All You Beet Lovers . . .

. . .golden beets, chiogga beets, red detroit beets will be popping out of the ground in a few weeks.  Got a favorite recipe? Send it to me - thesimplefarm @ gmail dot com

I Just Spotted French Scarlett Nantes Carrots in the Asparagus Patch

. . .and a nice bunch will be freshly picked for this Tuesday's Market at The Simple Farm.  French Scarlet Nantes are finger carrots that are sweet, tender and delicious.

Your Farm Market (in the neighborhood) opens at 9:30 am.  I'll set up the French Press coffee to help take off that morning chill.

Saturday, December 4, 2010

In Another Month Or So These . . .

. . .will be back at the farm. Purchase your farm fresh eggs directly from us. $5 per dozen. Can't get any better than that.  Eggs will be available at our Tuesday Farm Market as well as other days through out the week. Interested in eggs? We're thinking it should be the beginning of February and we can hardly wait.

We Love Our Goats - Our Goat Story

Years ago I experienced the joy of owning a small herd of dairy goats. Circumstances and life took me down other paths that goats weren't possible in my life.  But, what did happen is that goats got in my heart. They have this way of doing that. . . getting in your heart.

So, when the opportunity came to rent the house on Cactus Rd. and lease the land - the possibility of having a few dairy goats seemed more like a reality. We spent many many months in preparation - building, tearing down, putting up and cleaning out the spaces on this property to not only house our dairy goats but to reclaim the land to be the farm/ranch it used to be years ago.

In the meantime with all the building, planting, etc. I'd spend time searching online for 'our' Nubians.  I wanted Nubians because I think they are adorable with those long ears and I liked the butter fat content they produced.

My search took me to Kathryn and David's ranch in Show Low - Black Mesa Ranch.  Michael didn't fully understand (yet) my love of Nubians and he was so sweet to just go with it.  After many conversations with Kathryn about our needs and goals we settled on Lavender and Cinnamon knowing they'd be perfect for our suburban farm here in Scottsdale.

During this time, I started researching and reading and talking to other goat owners. Michael and I needed to go into this new adventure in becoming goat herders with a little bit more confidence.

So, that led me to a few conversations with Rhonda Crow of Crow's Dairy.  In April, the Crows were so kind to invite Michael and I out to Buckeye to their dairy for a visit. It was an invaluable visit with a little training session and what that has turned into a precious friendship for Rhonda and I. I call her my "Goat Mentor."  In our opinion, Michael and I think that Wendell and Rhonda are two of God's very best and their cheese is the hit of this town - being sold in many restaurants and farmers markets.  They've recently even opened up the dairy to the public for tours. Go here for more info on Crow's Dairy tours.

In May, I started ordering goat management supplies along with the milking equipment we'd need.  We also took a two week trip to India to visit friends and attend a wedding.

I also took a quick trip to Pdx to visit our daughter and three incredibly amazing grandchildren.  Goats require a commitment and I knew that once our girls came to the farm, I'd be limited on the time to get away.

While in Portland, I also bought seeds. . .

. . . and books on cheese. . . and then finally the day came in June we headed up to Black Mesa Ranch to pick up Lavender and Cinnamon. . .

. . . and spend a bit of time with David and Kathryn . . .

  . . . totally enjoying these two amazing people and of course David's cooking.
's not advisable to wear flip flops around a bunch of goats.

A highlight of the trip to Black Mesa included seeing the last of David and Kathryn's does kid. Amazing.

Michael had never milked a goat before and so here's his first 'training' session milking our Lavender.

It was quite an interesting trip home. It's about five hours from Scottsdale to Show Low and when you have two goats in the back of your van - you have to go really slow. I became the designate driver and Michael sat in the back with the girls who flagellated all the way home.   I never laughed so hard in all my life.

There's this strange thing among goat lovers. It's hard - really hard to have just two (you must have two - goats are herd animals and would be horribly unhappy being alone).  It didn't take long before I returned to Black Mesa Ranch web site to see if Kathryn had any other does for sale.  She did and it was fairly easy to convince Michael that Storm needed to be at our farm.

In the beginning of September, Marie and Charlie came to the farm too. Both are amazing Nubians and were loved immediately.

And, now the rest is history. . . we are hopeless goat lovers, love goats milk and the cheese Michael makes.  Goats aren't just a "Lylah" thing - they're an "us" thing. They've gotten in Michael's heart just as much if not more so than mine.  He's the one who gives them their cookies and massages their backs and talks to them.

It's now breeding season for us and many goat owners.  And so I imagine this is just the first of many goat stories we'll get to share with you.