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Heirloom Recipe: Tomato Soup

When we hear someone speak of a family heirloom, we may envision a pocket watch, silver teapot or even a quilt.  Recipes are also treasured pieces of family history passed down from generation to generation.  This tomato soup recipe originally belonged to my great-grandmother, Delia Crumpaker Rieley and dates back to the 1800s.  I remember watching Grandma Rieley making it during the winter months with juice from tomatoes canned the previous summer.  Last week, with temperatures dropping, I decided to make my family’s heirloom recipe for tomato soup; I made it in my great-grandmother’s kitchen with homemade juice from tomatoes grown on our 106-year-old family farm.  I loved being part of that continuity.  In taking time to carry on simple traditions, not only do we connect with the past, but we perpetuate memories that we hold dear. My great-grandmother most likely made this tomato soup with fresh milk from Green Hill Dairy Farm and the summer’s bounty of tomatoes picked from my great-grandfather’s vegetable garden. It is very simple, only requiring 3 ingredients; however, don’t let its simplicity fool you.  It’s delicious!  Just the thing on a cold evening–it really hits the spot!  Serve casually in a mug or in a bowl garnished with a little basil for color (my addition).  Oh, and don’t forget oyster crackers–the perfect accompaniment.  Enjoy! Heirloom Recipe:  Tomato Soup *Use organic ingredients when possible Serves 4 Ingredients: 1 quart tomato juice (homemade is best) 1 […]

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Green Hill Farm: A Retrospective #3 — Faith

  *This post originally appeared in September 2014.  It is the last post in a trilogy titled, Green Hill Farm: A Retrospective.  I posted the second part of this journey yesterday as I am celebrating the completion of the restoration of my home and sixteen years of living on Green Hill Farm this month.  A kind thank you to everyone who took the time to read or re-read Retrospective #2.   In looking back on the experience of saving my family’s homeplace, I’ve realized that not only was it a gesture of love, but more importantly, it was an act of faith. Faith, or wearing my rose-colored glasses as I like to say, sustained us through difficult times and propelled us forward. I don’t know where we would have been without it. At the beginning of this journey, shortly after my parents offered us the homeplace, my mom and I took a walk through the house. I remember walking through the dark, dimly lit downstairs hallway, the musty smell of rooms left undisturbed for too long, and cobwebs carefully covering yesterday’s treasures. I remember slowly climbing the stairs, counting each one as I went up. It made me think of Granddaddy. He once shared a story of the time his Grandmother Rieley visited when he was just a boy; She asked, “John, how many steps are there?” He quickly replied, “Sixteen!” He told me that he knew the answer because […]

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Green Hill Farm: A Retrospective #2 — Perseverance

  *This post originally appeared in September 2014.  I was celebrating ten years of living on Green Hill Farm (purchased in 1912 by my great-grandparents) and the restoration of my family’s homeplace. I thought remembering this milestone seemed like a good way to start the blog, Fourth Generation Farmgirl.  Every May, I like to re-publish this post for new readers.  It’s an introduction to this blog, but even more, it’s a nice reminder for me of the importance of continuity. May 2020 marks the 16-year anniversary of living in my ancestral home (circa 1790). For those of you who may have already read this post, I apologize for its repetition; however, if you choose to read it again, you have my thanks. : )   There’s a sign that hangs in our vestibule or small covered porch that reads “PERSEVERANCE,” and it’s been our mantra since moving to Green Hill Farm. My husband and I were in our early 30s when we decided to take on this project. Sometimes when we look back at pictures we say, “WHAT in the world were we thinking? Were we INSANE?!!” Whatever the answer, it was the path taken. This path has lead us on a journey that has been difficult and challenging at times but rewarding and enriching, too. Anyway, we all know that anything worthwhile isn’t easy. Which brings me to the next piece of our story. The first day we visited the house after construction […]

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Tuesday Tunes: Paris Highlights

    Eiffel Tower Sunset Paris, France October 2017   Farmguy and I visited Paris, France a few years ago, and we absolutely loved it.  It’s a fabulous city for walking, especially since there seems to be a gem around every corner. From its beautiful architecture, fantastic museums, lovely gardens, amazing history, and of course, food and wine, it was difficult to choose a favorite experience; However, if I were pressed, I think it would be visiting the historic art store, Sennelier—which we happily discovered while looking for something else. Located on the Left Bank of the River Seine, directly across from the Louvre museum, this crowded little shop has provided supplies to artists for more than 100 years. Gustave Sennelier opened his art supply store in 1887, just a few blocks from the most famous art school in Paris, Ecole des Beaux-Arts.  In the beginning, Sennelier sold paints made by various manufacturers. Later, he decided to produce his own paints, traveling all over Europe to buy the best raw materials. It was such a thrill to walk through this old art shop choosing paints and brushes from the very same place where Cézanne, Picasso, Gauguin, and van Gogh bought oil paints and pastels so many years ago. Here’s the thing:  Paris is full of treasures. All you have to do is be willing to explore!           Have a wonderful day!  

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Asparagus!

I love asparagus, not just because it’s delicious and has lots of fiber, vitamins, and minerals.  I love it, because it’s perennial.  No matter how long and cold the winter has been, that dutiful spring vegetable is one of the first signs of life in my kitchen garden every year.  And, is it ever welcome! However, I must admit that I owe its presence entirely to my dad. Dad is the most talented and diligent gardener I know, producing picture-perfect vegetable gardens with enough corn, squash, beans, and tomatoes to feed a small country.  He started this little asparagus patch a few years before I moved back home.  He was gardening on the very same spot that my great-grandfather and grandfather cultivated years ago.  Dad really liked this particular area as it has about a foot of premium topsoil.  So, I have to say that he wasn’t overly excited when I requested that he relinquish it so that I could start my own kitchen garden.  He impressed upon me that I needed to take “good care” of the asparagus patch, because it was “QUITE an endeavor” to get it established:  first, a trench is dug deeply enough to protect the root system of the plant during the winter months; second, it must be kept clean–no weeds; third, don’t cut foliage down until after first frost (necessary for photosynthesis for next year’s crop); fourth, fertilize annually; and last, it takes about […]

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The Weekly Bleat: Are Ewe Okay?

BAAAAH!! Just a little “hello” from my sweet woolly, Buttermilk. ❤️   Buttermilk is a lamb full of spunk and personality. He had a rather rough start in life. First, his mother died and left him an orphan and a bottle baby. Then, neighboring dogs attacked him. After surviving that terrifying experience, he endured an uneven shearing in order to […]

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Eggs, Eggs Everywhere!

Growing up on a farm as a child afforded many wonderful experiences.  Meaningful experiences that shaped my values and inspired me.  I remember when I was about 6 or 7 years old, Dad decided that it would be nice to have fresh milk and eggs.  So, he bought a Holstein cow named Bessie and ordered chicks.  I remember sitting in our living room early in the morning before school with an old towel on my lap, carefully cradling a warm, fuzzy chick in my hands–marveling at its tiny body and feet as well as the soft, little sounds it made.  Every morning over the next 2-3 weeks, I would hurriedly get dressed and eat breakfast so I could hold one for a few minutes before the school bus came.  I loved those little chicks! As the chicks grew into hens, they free-ranged all through the pastures and even around the house; but, for some reason, though, they didn’t like to lay their eggs in the coop.  Much to my surprise and joy, while walking along outdoors, I would just FIND an egg laying in the yard or under a bush. It was like an Easter egg hunt!  After making the discovery that the hens were laying eggs all over the place, I remember enthusiastically running into the house and searching for my Easter basket.  “This is going to be fun!” I thought.  And it was. The hens free-ranged and laid their […]

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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   Although I wrote this post a while ago, I think the story of Rosebud may be a timely lesson–a reminder that we can do hard things, find our strength in the midst of suffering, and decide not to be defeated by circumstances we cannot control. xoxo   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 […]

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Heirloom Recipe: Colonial Queen Cakes

  I found this recipe for tea cakes in a cookbook called Southern Cakes.  It features some of the most delightful and delicious desserts associated with Southern baking:  Everything from sweet potato pound cake to red velvet cake.  Reading this cookbook and admiring the lovely photographs of beautifully baked cakes so reminded me of Grandma Rieley.  My grandma was a wonderful Southern cook, and she loved to bake.  She also appreciated a well-baked cake.  I can still hear her saying what to do or not do for a cake to turn out just right–not too dry, but perfectly moist with good texture. Watching and helping Grandma Rieley bake was one of my fondest memories.  I think she would have approved of these small, elegant tea cakes. According to Southern Cakes, Colonial Queen Cakes were enjoyed in Virginia homes during Colonial times.  Popular long before baking soda and baking powder debuted in the kitchens of the mid-nineteenth century, queen cakes depend on well-beaten eggs to make them rise, just as pound cakes do.  Their texture is dense, closer to a delicate corn bread than to today’s muffins and cupcakes.  This tea time treat is scrumptious and simple to make.  So, go ahead and put on the kettle, they’ll be ready before you know it! Colonial Queen Cakes: This recipe is from Southern Cakes. * Use organic ingredients when possible. Ingredients: 1 cup all-purpose flour 1/4 teaspoon salt 1/4 teaspoon ground mace or nutmeg […]

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