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Monthly Archives: March 2015

Baked

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The drought continues. The clouds of dust scratch my throat, making it hard to breathe. An hour working outside is parching, yet inside is little cooler and just as dusty. I’m thankful to have a well, for it allows me to keep the garden somewhat alive, and to keep the pond full for the swarms of bees and other beneficial insects who would otherwise be suffering – or going elsewhere. The heat has hit early this year, with no sign of rain coming in to break this vicious cycle of summer come early – not a good sign for the upcoming mango season.

DSC_7914I’m going to keep it brief this week, for I have cement to mix (the door sill), watering to do, wood to haul, and grass to cut for the chickens. Life ambles on, with always more things to do than daylight hours in which to do them. It was exciting this week to receive the new jars (cute hexagonal ones) and labels that can fit a logo and actually adhere to the jar properly! By next week I’ll have taken some “professional” photos of the new packaging, but meanwhile I’m proud to have made a long-awaited step towards having an easily recognizable product line.DSC_7912Speaking of packaging, I’m in desperate need on egg cartons! When all else fails I go old-style and sell eggs in paper bags, but if there are egg cartons to be re-used, that’s always preferable. I can also still use clear beer bottles, and can always take compostables (see previous post for more details). Thanks for any and all efforts to reduce land-fill waste on St Croix!DSC_7902Easter is coming up, and while you’ll probably find no Cadbury’s easter eggs around here (Seriously? Yes, I’m guilty of looking for them in the stores), you can get pretty blue eggs from our roadside stand on Wednesday, along with freshly baked Hot Cross Buns! Everyone needs Hot Cross Buns! We’re also doing our Artisan Focaccia this week, don’t miss out.

‘Til next week, cheers!

Rising and recycling

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Last week’s market special: shortbread cookies with mango ginger jam.

Here’s a little rant – feel free to skip to the next paragraph if you’re likely to be offended by a little feminism. So, as a woman, in a world of farming and construction, one is constantly faced with men assuming that one has no idea what one is doing or talking about. Now, I’m not saying every man is this way, for I know and have known many who are extremely supportive and respectful, giving as much space as is needed, lending a hand or giving advice only when it is asked for. To the latter, I thank you, for you are rare and precious beings. To the former, enough! If I need help in the hardware store, I’ll goddamn ask for it! If I’m in a corner minding my own business, getting what I need to get, stay away! If you ask if I need help (I get it, you are required to ask everyone if they need help, it’s your job), and I say “no thanks”, then go find someone else who really does need help (who knows, they might not be female, young, and pretty, but that’s too bad)! Do not stand there badgering me and trying to tell me how to do something when -guess what- I didn’t ask for your advice. Last week it was a guy trying to tell me how to measure out screws. Well guess what, old man? I am standing there slowly adding screws to a bag (a small bag, because I don’t need many) because while I add screws a few at a time I’m mentally calculating how many I need for each of the 15 projects I need them for. Trust me, I could fill the bag up quicker than you…or that bigger bag that you’re showing me too…if only I actually needed that many! Did I ask you how to put screws in a bag? No? Then why are you trying to tell me? I just built a house – what have you done in the last year? Annoyed a few hundred women who knew what they damn wanted and were just trying to mind their own business? Over and over and over this kind of thing happens, and it’s so tiresome. So, guys who work in hardware stores…next time a man and a woman walk into the store…ask the man if he needs help first. Because let me tell you, he is the one who will refuse to ask for help if he needs it. I may be prettier, but you’re here to serve customers, not to flirt. While I’m on the topic, if I’m at work and come out to load something into your vehicle, 99.99% of the time I’m doing it because it’s my job to do so, not because I wish to flirt with you. That’s a 1 in 1000 chance that I’m wishing to flirt with you, ok? The odds aren’t good.

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Last week’s full spread!

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Toasties, shortbread cookies, and lemon curd, all available at our roadside stand, Wed 2:30-6:30pm.

Thank you for bearing with me through that, and apologies for not posting anything last week! My computer charger suddenly went to heaven, leaving me technologically handicapped until a kind friend responded to my plea for a charger until one might arrive in the mail. Island problems, yet also great island friends who are there when we need them!

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One of the more active rows in our original vegetable garden.

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Arugula and marigolds (edible flower) seedlings in a mounded bed.

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Arugula (I think!!), basil, tomatillo, and marigolds in another bed – all in the Nid’s front yard.

The last few weeks have been a whirlwind of activity, what with the coffee morning (a huge success, thank you to everyone who came out in support of Good Samaritan Foundation of Haiti!), packing everything for the big sailing trip to Haiti, and then sending everyone off! Things are finally peaceful again, so I have resumed my digging, planting, dog training, and gathering of cooking inspiration. I finally got a chest freezer (thanks to my big brother – a very late Xmas present), so fresh fettuccine will soon be on the “specials” list now and then, along with other fresh-frozen goodies. We’re open for suggestions and requests for menu additions too! Mango season is of course coming up, so we’ll be premiering a few products featuring those delectable fruit along with our tried-and-true Mango Chutneys.

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First mango of the season, made into a quick mango salsa to go with some sausage.

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An old sculpture of mine now growing watercress by the edge of the pond – re-purposing!

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Water hyacinth and guppies cohabiting the pond – more aquatic plants welcome if you have extra!

You may notice on our “Products” page that wholegrain sourdough has been replaced by an oat sourdough – we tried this out for the Coffee Morning and it was a huge hit, so it’s now on the menu for good. This is a yummy loaf with whole rolled oats in it, and is encrusted with freshly ground oatmeal. Give it a try this week – please have your orders in by 6pm on Tue.

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The doors!

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Open the doors….and see NO people!

Did you see the Nid doors on our Facebook page? Well, they’re up, with some help from boat friends, Eric and Lynne – hanging doors is no easy task! Just have to plane some edges, touch up a little paint, and they’ll be all set. It’s amazing how much real doors change the atmosphere, for suddenly the Nid feels like a real house – even when the doors are open. They add a certain dimension to the building, plus a feeling of security that you just don’t get from curtains! Edwin is still getting used to staying indoors at night, but at least he’s not had any accidents thus far (puppy problems 101).

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Garlic, sage, onions, thyme, “mint”, stevia, and cilantro all growing in a mound of coconut husk between a couple of large logs – experiments!

One last thing before I peace out for the week: recycling! We live on a tiny island; where does all that trash go? The landfill fills….and fills…and fills….and still we have more trash. Do you compost? Reuse? Recycle? Well, I do! I know that composting can be tricky depending on where you live, so I’d like to help. Several people already collect up their kitchen scraps and compostables for our chickens and tortioses – you are very welcome to do the same. I can accept both veggie and meat/eggs scraps (eggshells too), along with shredded paper, cardboard (no tape/staples, please), wood shavings (non-treated only, please), leaves, grass trimmings from non-treated lawns, and garden weeds. The chickens eat what they fancy, the rest gets composted! Kitchen scraps can be fresh (up to a week old) or frozen, whatever is convenient for you, cardboard is best flat-packed. If you’d like to participate, just email me to arrange a drop-off time, or stop by on Wednesday during market hours. I’m also accepting egg cartons and plastic bags – any extra get distributed to other farmers who can use them. Mason jars are always welcome too, I give a 50c farmstand credit per jar. Currently I can use a case (24) of empty clear beer bottles (caribe or any other clear beer bottle with a removable label) if anyone happens to have – please email me! I look forward to working with you to reduce our landfill waste – don’t forget to bring your re-usable bag when you shop at the Farmstand on Wednesday afternoon!

‘Til Wednesday, cheers!

The chicken, or the egg?

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Ready for a chicken tale? If you keep chickens yourself, you’ll be nodding your head already…if you’re considering keeping chickens, well, keep positive, they are a great addition to a homestead or backyard and the eggs are delicious. Some days the chickens themselves look pretty damn tasty too…

wpid-20150228_134632.jpgNo, that’s a pineapple, silly. Well, soon to be. Back to the chicken story. Picture Friday morning. I’m half asleep – stayed out too late the night before – dragging my feet as I get ready to leave for work. The chickens are squawking for their breakfast and I can hear them moving their empty water bowl around the coop as they become ever more impatient. If you get chickens, expect never to sleep in again. So I stumble out there – now, I have a routine: corn, feed, water – I focus my half-open eyes on the empty water dish, and in that moment that’s all I care about – they still have feed left from yesterday. Silly silly me. When you have a routine, stick to it! So I’m filling the water bowl, and a hen slips out the door. Not just any hen, one of my smallest, sliest hens. I finish what I’m doing, giving her some time to settle down after her escape, crossing my fingers that Edwin doesn’t start a game of chase-the-chicken. Then, I herd her around the outside of the coop about three times; she stays just out of my grasp, and spooks every time we near the door. Forth time lucky, she’s in! But with one hand behind the escapee and the other reaching for the door…the rooster escapes! With another wily hen in tow. Now, perhaps you’ve got a relationship worked out with your rooster, but I don’t so far. One hen, I can catch. One rooster and eleven hens in under 30min? No way. So, I sadly survey my beautiful beds of baby greens, just 2 days short of first harvest, my bushy mass of sweet stevia, my vigorous chocolate mint…
Chickens are destructive. So very destructive. By the time I got home from work all of my greens, all of my stevia, most of my mint, my just-sprouted onions and cilantro…had all turned into chicken. Plump, satisfied, sleepy chicken. Aarrrggg! Let that be a tale to remember, next time you say “let’s get some chickens, they’re so cute!”.

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Spot the chickens.

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Before the escapade…

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…and after the escapade. Thieves! As an afternote, they also tore apart my entire kitchen, getting on the counter, finding the egg basket, knocking everything else off, removing chimneys from lamps…

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In other news, the baby tortoises have a new pen – a lean-to adjoining the chicken coop.

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More shelves up in the kitchen!

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Making lye from wood ash.

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Making soap from homemade lye, lard, and essential oils.

wpid-20150301_141549.jpg The Nid is nearly ready for her doors, the last coats of paint dry as I write. These doors have been a long time in the making, but they will be well worth the wait, with their carved designs and bright splash of colour. Gradually the interior also comes together, with a shelf here, a wall framed in there, a bit of plaster to fill in a hole…

The cooking gets ever more elaborate – well, you know me by now – with achievements this week including flour tortillas, garlic butter-naan, lemon custard, and fresh pasta. It’s becoming hard to buy anything pre-made, for the freshly made goods are so much tastier! You might say, but that’s the whole idea, isn’t it? Well, yes…but “quick and easy meal” has taking on a rather different meaning these days. Your “taco night” always means fresh, hand-rolled tortillas, right? The fresh pasta remains my favourite, however:wpid-20150228_175007.jpgwpid-20150228_192605.jpgwpid-20150228_192708.jpgWe’re open for orders now through 6pm on Tuesday, with our featured special being an Artisan Focaccia for $10. You may order through our Products page for pickup at Cruzan Gardens or at our Nidulari roadside stand. For C’sted pick up please order through the Prime Produce website. We do have fresh eggs available also, at $4/half dozen, they are delicious and the shells are perfect for Easter crafts! Stop by our roadside stand for fresh greens, treats, and snacks, as well as our full range of preserves.

Don’t forget that next Sunday is our Good Samaritan of Haiti coffee morning fundraiser event! There will be extra cinnamon buns for sale and lots of other goodies, so come by, bring your friends, and have fun!

Hope to see you all on Wednesday or Sunday – cheers!