One of our two apple trees is dropping these sour lil baby apples all over our walkway. Its startles the cats and me on occasion when they drop on the tin roof! Summer is here marked by sudden thunderstorms and sweat. The Farmer’s Market is in full swing, and darkness doesn’t fall until well after nine. I love the longer days. More time to be productive (when I’m adequately motivated, that is!)

This summer is flying by with remarkable speed. I’ve been on the road a good bit interviewing various farmer’s across Western North Carolina for a research project I am doing with WNC Ag Options. I can’t complain. I basically get to hang out with all sorts of farmers, ask them about how they’re making it work and see lots of beautiful mountain scenes as I drive from place to place. Plus I’ve come home with a bucket of carrots, a pepper, and a hops nugget in my pocket.

Unfortunately, this busy schedule doesn’t leave much time for cooking, canning, and other domestic things. I’m doing my best to keep up with the garden as it tries to make it through this hot and dry weather. We’ve had several visits from different animal neighbors and lost our cabbages, kale, beets, carrots, sunflowers, and lettuces, and even two squash plants to their voracious appetites. Despite the setbacks we’ve still been able to harvest some lovely things like peas, beans, garlic, and an eggplant here and there. The cucumbers just started coming in and we’ve had two ripe tomatoes off of our 15 plants. And although I’ve been told profusely that  okra just won’t grow in this part of the mountains the okra is trucking right along in the sun and heat! Pickled okra party anyone? Continue Reading »


While this cake did not turn out anything like it was intended too,  in this case its probably the best thing that could have happened. Susan, my darlin’s mother called it rustic. I think it fits. Fancy but not pretentious. A cake you can eat.

My darlin, Walker and I were charged with making a dessert for his co-workers wedding and it took us at least a week to decide what to make. A wedding is a special day and Walker was hesitant about trying out a new recipe. So we set out to make what we thought was a standby carrot cake. The recipe I used is supposed to make one 9 in. cake. But since this was for a wedding I wanted it to be a bit more elegant, and feed more folks.  I figured I’d just double the recipe. Simple, right? Then I realized that our cake pans were only 8 1/2 inches. Well, we’ll just make three layers.

But, there was so much batter we had to make four!! Yes, a four layer carrot cake. When it came time to remove the cakes from the pans, even though I had buttered and floured the pans before hand the first batch did not want to come out. I think I was a bit eager and tried to get them out before they had cooled sufficiently. But we rescued them nonetheless (after  some time in the fridge). Plus, its amazing what frosting can be used for – in this case, cake glue. Continue Reading »

My spinach from last year’s fall garden has survived the harsh NC winter like a dream, and we’ve had more than we know what to do with here at the Bighorn Barn. And,when you have an over-abundance of lovely things like fresh eggs and spinach the easiest thing to do is make a quiche. Since I was already making one, it wasn’t much more effort to make two and we had more than enough ingredients to go around. Continue Reading »

Easter, like most holidays in my family include lots of good food and family in one place. After we’d all dressed up in our Easter Sunday best (flower dresses for all the ladies; I’m disappointed people aren’t wearing easter hats like they used, too) for the Sunday service, we headed to my Grandmother and Grandaddy’s house for lunch. My contribution was this coconut cake that had been tempting me for over two weeks. And when I realized Easter was right around the corner I had an excuse to bake a layer cake! Continue Reading »

Well its official I just became a farmer – sorta. Maybe a homesteader would be more appropriate.

This afternoon I brought home four new additions to our household, and they really know how to give back! After a few (sporadic) months of preparation we introduced four lovely Golden Comet layers to their new home atop the hill behind our house. And just this afternoon they had already laid two eggs; they handled the car ride home quite well I must say! Continue Reading »

My boyfriend’s brother Jake was lucky enough to get to travel with his girlfriend’s family on a sailing trip to Belize for spring break. He was gracious enough to share his pictures and this beautiful sounding recipe for conch chip dip!
Here is a dish that I found out about during my travels to Honduras and most recently Belize. It is a chip dip that is popular among the garifuna communities (one of the few indigenous people of these two countries) and in this particular one I was able to use conch. The recipe is pretty flexible with what vegetables you use but the most important thing is lime. Here is what was in the one shown: (1-2 limes, half a tomato, one onion, one to two sticks of celery – very good, a bit of salt, and a conch) You want to make sure everything gets soft and the lime gets into the vegetables. As far as the conch goes: you have to find the third ring on the shell, punch a hole in it and cut the two muscles that attach it to the inside of the shell. Then just pull her out and cut everything that doesn’t look like meat away. ENJOY!

This is a picture of the sailboat that we were on  while traveling through Belize (She’s at anchor). What a fantastic trip!

I was recently let in on a little secret, and I now have a source for fresh, raw  whole milk! It’s only a short drive through the countryside from  my home to the dairy. We pulled up bottles in hand, turned the handle and fresh milk started flowing faster than I could blink and before I knew it I had a gallon and a half of milk! We put our money in the cabinet, and went merrily on our way back home, after waving good-bye to the Holsteins in the field.

Continue Reading »