Battling forces

Yesterday at the farm a quiet, but fierce battle took place.  On a sunny, quiet winter morning I had to choose between what I should do….

and what I want to do….

It got a bit stormy in my head, I’ll admit.  After all, the bed was so warm and cozy and I’m up to my eyeballs in the gorgeous stories and cream-filled recipes in Molly Wizenberg’s A Homemade Life.  In the end, reason won out and the workout was completed.  Regrettably, the austerity plan is still required.  Plus, the kids did it with me, which made it at least funny.  I also got a decent amount of office work done this weekend, but somehow all of that feels wrong.  Doing anything I have to do seems incongruous with this place where everything is about what I want to do.  What I want to do at the moment for example,  is obsess over four-square kitchen gardens like this.

And read, and knit, or even cook.  I’m still dreaming of the radishes we ate last weekend, both roasted with carrots and sweet potatoes and in this salad.  Long live the farm box!

For now though, the city beckons us back.  And the battle between farms musts and farm wishes will have to wait to be resumed next weekend.

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Northbrook birthday

Yesterday I celebrated my birthday.  I turned…older than 29, younger than 50 – let’s leave it at that for now.  My wish was to do nothing at all.  No cooking, no cleaning, no skating, no hiking.  Nope, I planned to sit on the couch and read or lie in bed and nap all day.  Mission accomplished.  It was this lazy girl’s idea of a good time.

Plus, there was the birthday bounty…

…perfection, with a smartie on top.

Crime Scene

A few years ago the fairy grandmother delivered to our house (deep in the city) the gift of nature. She brought something called ‘the Squirrelbuster’.  It also came with two other feeders and a stand from which to hang the feeders.  Being the fairy grandmother of course she also brought all the seed we’d need.

We hung all of this up, for the children, we said, and then we waited.  One day the birds came.  First sparrows, which brought house and purple finches.  Then came chickadees, nuthatches, woodpeckers and a faithful pair of cardinals.  In the winter we have junkos hopping around on the ground, and very occasionally we’ll see a few goldfinches fly through in mid-summer on their way somewhere much more glamorous.  Somehow along the way I realized I really loved birds.  It’s as though birds were an adult surprise.  How, I wondered, could I have coexisted with these amazing creatures and somehow never noticed them before?

As fall came at Northbrook we brought our birdfeeders from the city.  We hung several of them just outside the kitchen window.  This has been incredibly convenient for watching the birds.  Here we have hundreds of goldfinches, a few sparrows, nuthatches, chickadees and woodpeckers.  There’s a family of blue jays that lives in the treeline at the edge of the property.  They’ll come by for a quick look, but they’re skittish and don’t linger.  All in, the birdwatching has been lovely.

Pretty great, no?  I especially love showing the birds to our truly urban friends when the come up.

However, a few times lately on arrival we’ve come across the following crime scene:

At the moment we don’t have any really great ideas other than to do our best to secure the feeders and to keep filling them.  I’d be really mad except I love to imagine the joy of whatever animal(s) when the mission was accomplished.  Joy, and a full stomach.

Valentines Day

We celebrated Valentine’s Day this year with oysters from Hooked fish shop in Leslieville (delicious), blue-cheese crusted filet mignon, warm tomato and spinach salad, incredibly yummy sweet potatoes from the farm box and my best bread pudding yet (I substituted maple syrup for half the sugar and added dark chocolate chunks).  It was a lovely dinner with my favourite guy.

Today I’m missing my other love…is it odd that I sometimes find myself looking at pictures of the farm from my computer in the city?

Counting the days until we’re back – luckily a long family day weekend awaits!  I’m looking forward to spending hours with my Valentine’s gift (below)…warning,  the obsession with the garden is coming soon.

The food box, part 1

Somehow it’s almost time to pick up the next food box, and I’m not even through with the first one!

Here’s what we got almost 2 weeks ago:

  • Lintzer Delikatess potatoes
  • round beets
  • green meat radish
  • leeks
  • Jerusalem artichokes
  • garlic
  • kale
  • buttercup squash
  • cabbage
  • carrots
  • greens
  • cornmeal
  • pickles
  • AND jam!

And here’s what we did with it…

  • mashed potatoes, leek and potato soup
  • beets with chevre (for dinner tonight)
  • the garlic went into everything – and it was delicious
  • kale Mediterranean salad from the Lululemon blog
  • buttercup squash (apparently also called sweet potato squash) soup
  • Salads with the greens
  • the kids gobbled up the carrots raw
  • jam went on the Sunday morning pancakes (yum)

Here’s what we haven’t found a use for yet:

Jerusalem artichokes (other than tasting them and discovering them), the radishes (same thing), and the cabbage.  The pickles and cornmeal can wait but I’m afraid we may be throwing out the artichokes.  Any ideas for next time???

Weekend with friends

I’m posting a week late, and from the city no less.  Last weekend blogging had to wait as we spent the first half entertaining friends and the second half cleaning, catching up and enjoying the last few moments of country quiet.

On the menu last weekend were steaks, mashed potatoes from our organic vegetable box, and roasted asparagus.  There was also no shortage of wine and we finished up with apple crisp – always good, although not nearly as wonderful as when we make it from our own Northbrook apples.

Weekends spent entertaining are delightful.  For me, having a place where friends and family could enjoy a getaway with us was a big plus.  It makes for a different weekend – the difference between a looking at  a great book and a blank page..both are enticing.

The kids loved skating, playing in the snow and exploring the forest with their friends.  And of course, fireworks in the snow was a huge hit.  The adults enjoyed great conversation and the closest Scrabble game I think I’ve ever played.

The next day we all feasted on A’s amazing pancakes – I have no idea how he makes them this fluffy and since weekend breakfasts are his main contribution to the family’s feeding, I’m willing to let that secret stay with him!

Steaks and fireworks are a lovely part of having friends and family at Northbrook, but the best part is definitely getting to share it with our favourite people.