This Above All…

Farmgirl posing before school on picture day Circa 1977     “I now see how owning our story and loving ourselves through that process is the bravest thing that we will ever do.” ~Brené Brown   “Never betray your values. Never betray yourself.” ~Walter Rieley (My dad)   “This above all: to thine own self be true…” ~William Shakespeare   […]

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Rosebud’s Lesson

 Butterbean, Sweet Pea, and Truffle stoically watching their fallen friend.   This post was originally published November 1st, 2018 It’s hard to believe it’s been a year. However, the lesson is still there.   I squatted uncomfortably in the pasture. My left shin gently pressing on Rosebud’s back with the remainder of weight shifted to my right leg. My left hand disappeared into the coarse wool on her chest, above her heart. As I carefully caressed Rosebud’s face, the feathery sensation of her long eyelashes brushed against my hand as she opened and closed her eyes.  Her heartbeat was faint. Although Rosebud was still grazing and eating grain regularly, we recently noticed she had lost weight and seemed to be lying around more. She was nearly 12-years-old now–elderly for a sheep. However, even though a bit slower, she was always grazing with the flock and never missed an opportunity for a grain treat…until Wednesday morning. After feeding the sheep, I walked back to the house, feeling my chest tighten and heaviness gather in my shoulders. Once inside, I picked up the phone and dialed our local vet’s office. A young girl answered, “Bedford Animal Hospital.” I was struck by the contrast of the cheerful, sunny voice at the other end of the line to the worried, grayness of my inner landscape.  The receptionist informed me that the doctors’ schedules were full, and that no one would be available for a […]

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Pan-Roasted Pear Salad with Parmesan and Pecans

I enjoy salads all year long–mainly, because they’re healthy and don’t take too long to prepare. Salads with roasted vegetables and/or fruit are a favorite.  Roasting adds so much flavor and helps create a more satisfying meal. For this pear salad recipe, carmelizing the pears on top of the stove prevents them from becoming overcooked–as they do when oven-roasted.  The balsamic vinegar is used to make a fruity vinaigrette that accentuates the pears’ flavor.  In addition, a couple of extra tablespoons of the vinegar is stirred into the hot pan while cooking the pears, creating a glazy coating.  For the greens, a mix of crunchy, mild green leaf lettuce works well.  Add salty Parmesan to offset the pears’ natural sweetness and pecans for buttery richness.  And, you have a lovely autumn salad with lots of appeal! Finding a suitable wine pairing for salad can sometimes be challenging, especially when balsamic vinegar is involved.  However, this salad pairs well with sparkling wine or Champagne. Enjoy!   Pan-Roasted Pear Salad with Parmesan and Pecans: Serves 6 *Use organic ingredients when possible Ingredients: 1 1/2 pounds pears, quartered lengthwise and cored Salt and pepper 2 tablespoons olive oil 3 tablespoons plus 1 teaspoon balsamic vinegar 1 small shallot, minced 1/2 teaspoon sugar 1/2 small head green leaf lettuce (4 ounces), torn into 1-inch pieces or loose mixed greens 1 cup shaved Parmesan cheese 3 tablespoons chopped pecans, toasted Method: –Toss pears with 1/4 teaspoon […]

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Tuesday Tunes: The Grapevine

Meadows of Dan, Virginia  Blue Ridge Parkway   Recently, Farmguy and I participated in the grape harvest at a local winery just off the Blue Ridge Parkway in Southwestern Virginia.  Located in the Rocky Knob American Viticultural Area (AVA), Chateau Morrisette Winery sits at an elevation of nearly 3500 feet.  Boasting spectacular views, it’s amid one of the most rugged and mountainous parts of the state.  Although the winery is at 3500 feet, most of its vineyards are down the mountain at 1600 feet. Chateau Morrisette Winery was founded by David Morrisette in 1978, making it among the oldest wineries in Virginia.  It has 13 acres of land and produces approximately 70,000 cases of wine each year. Chardonnay, Viognier, Chambourcin, Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Petit Verdot, Petit Manseng, and Vidal blanc are among the varietals used in making Chateau Morrisette’s wines.  Besides growing many of its own grapes, the winery also buys grapes from other vineyards in Virginia.  Due to the state’s climate and growing season, Viognier and Cabernet Franc are some the winery’s most successful varieties. In the photos, Farmguy and I are harvesting Niagara grapes—a variety of the North American grape species Vitis labrusca.  Niagara grapes are one of the few grape varieties that can grow at such a high elevation. These green grapes are table grapes and are also used in making jams, juices, and wines.  They are mainly used in Chateau Morrisette’s sweet/dessert wines—Sweet Mountain Laurel and Red […]

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Fall Favorites: Spiced Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Muffins

With the arrival of fall, thoughts turn to cool, crisp mornings, fields full of pumpkins, the smell of a crackling fire, and the taste of hot apple cider.  This time of year often causes us to reflect on happy times.  I always find it interesting how our senses ignite memories.  Memories that take us back to a single, meaningful experience.  The senses of smell and taste, in particular, tend to evoke the strongest memories for me.  The smells of freshly cut hay and buckets of Dad’s ripened tomatoes, or the taste of Mom’s homemade Thanksgiving dressing.  These smells and tastes take me right back to my childhood. It’s such a visceral experience.  I think that’s one reason we enjoy the seasonal routines of planting gardens, visiting a pumpkin patch, or preparing and eating a holiday feast.  The sights, smells and tastes associated with these activities bring back a familiar comfort. So, here’s the thing.  With the many signs of fall, including pumpkins appearing at the local farmers’ market, I  remembered one of my favorite recipes:  Spiced pumpkin chocolate chip muffins.  I hope you’ll try this recipe and maybe even add it to your fall favorites.  Enjoy! Spiced Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Muffins: *Use organic ingredients when possible Ingredients: 1 2/3 cups all-purpose flour 3/4 cup sugar 1 tablespoon of pumpkin pie spice 1 tablespoon curry 1/4 teaspoon turmeric 1 teaspoon baking soda 1/4 teaspoon baking powder 1/4 teaspoon salt *************** 2 […]

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Drops of Jupiter…And a Little Bit of Heavenl

Fattoria della Talosa–Vino Nobile di Montepulciano, Ornellaia–Super-Tuscan, Cordella–Montalcino   In May 2018, I spent a delightful week in Tuscany.  I wasn’t alone, though.  Melody, author of the blog, Meals With Mel accompanied me on this little adventure around Florence and the Tuscan countryside.  We had a fabulous time wandering around the beautiful city of Florence and marveling at the many masterpieces of Renaissance art and architecture—including the Duomo, a cathedral with a terracotta-tiled dome engineered by Brunelleschi and a bell tower by Giotto. We visited The Galleria dell’ Accademia which displays Michelangelo’s, “David” sculpture as well as the Uffizi Gallery which exhibits Botticelli’s, “The Birth of Venus.” Once in the countryside, we enjoyed lots of sunshine and blue skies while truffle hunting at a beautiful farm and vineyard called, Fattoria Santa Vittoria.  And, of course, we had some of the most beautiful wines in the world—mainly, but not entirely, comprised of the Sangiovese grape, an Italian red grape variety that derives its name from the Latin sanguis Jovis, “the blood of Jupiter.” For those of you who may not be familiar with the wines of central Italy, The Apennine Mountains, which run the length of the Italian Peninsula, dominant the wine regions of this area. Grapes are planted in the hills and valleys of this mountain range with altitude providing a moderating influence on the hot climate.  It’s also important to mention that the coastal areas on both sides of the country […]

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So, What Vintage Are You?

Farmgirl celebrating her 4th birthday   September is my birthday month, and thankfully, I’m turning another year older.  I am now firmly into my fourth decade–or as Farmguy corrected–fifth decade, because you count 0 to 10 as your first decade…..okay—whatever!  The bottom line….I am forty-something and well into the journey of my life.  And, with this understanding, I started considering […]

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