It is St Patricks day here in the USA and you might want to add a little Irish Soda Bread to your dinner.
Or even easier: Make Soda Farl. Only four ingredients and they take literally minutes to put together.
Easy. Simple. Fast. These are my favourite words when it comes to a recipe.
You can have steaming Soda Farls on the table beside a great big mug of steaming hot tea (or coffee) in 30 minutes.
What is the difference between Soda Bread and Soda Farls? Soda bread is baked in the oven, farls are cut into quarters and are always cooked on a skillet on the stovetop or fire. Farls in Gaelic means fourths.
I think you could bake these on a hot rock Mad!
If you are running short of time or your oven is on the blink or you are travelling around New Zealand in a van , (yes I am talking to you Deb), ou can make these little breads in a heavy bottomed pan on your tiny stove top.
I have read them described as farl and farls so I need a real Irish person to pop in and set me straight. Aunty Google does not always get these things right.
I was looking about for the recipe and found that A_Bolyn has been cooking these too! – Farls Good morning Ms Bolyn!
If you don’t have buttermilk
These really are quite delicious and being only a small portion of bread (which is a good thing around bread gluttons such as myself), there was only a tiny bit left before I remembered to take a photo for you!
The word ‘Farl’ comes from the Scottish word ‘fardel’ which refers to a three-cornered cake or the fourth part of a round.
Enjoy a little Irish today.
PS Six generations ago my Irish ancestors came to New Zealand from Galway. So my children are 7th generation New Zealanders and my grandchildren are 8th generation New Zealanders. And we love to be able to tell people we can trace our heritage back to Irish, Italian and good old British.
Though we are New Zealanders through and through.
Families are such convoluted things!
How lucky we are to have a Planet. Its a big responsibility.
– A planet all of our own. I said.
– I write about how we can look after it. I said.
There was a pause.
– But, what should I do first? He said.
My optometrist gazed deeply into my eyes.
Optometrists do that you know;
Almost an occupational hazard I would say.
– We do try. He says, with the slightest raise of his shoulder.
We had been talking about healthy living,
Being The People with a Planet to Care For.
My chemical free life intrigues him,
He has to get me special drops without preservatives
(The preservatives in liquid tears dry your eyeballs out after a while. Like the chapstick that leaves you wanting more chapstick. Eye drops that mean you need more eyedrops).
My optometrist and his wife have a young family,
– We just don’t know where to start.
His eyes are so dark the pupils look like night pools with lights.
I notice his black hair has begun to recede in recent years
I wonder if he dyes it.
But that is not what optometrists do;
Dye their hair,
Dentist always have good hair,
It is a requirement.
-Great question. I say.
My favourite question actually.
My optometrist and I
Have been meeting behind closed doors for years now.
The dimness in his room creates a confidential atmosphere.
The assistants chatting outside the door feels comfortable.
– I will make a plan for you. I say.
That is what I do.
Help people make a plan,
That they can sustain.
Ahmed and his wife
It needs to be a simple plan
I tell him:
Food waste is a major problem.
For the environment
He nods in agreement.
Let’s start there.
On Saturday go to the farmers market and buy vegetables
(only the ones your family likes to eat)
Sunday: prep two fresh meals –
Monday and Tuesday’s meals.
Pack your lunches each night –
As you serve your dinner.
Make a Monster Mama Coleslaw with the rest of the vegetables.
Hold the dressing.
Three days of healthy food.
It is a good start.
I will email you the Sustainable Food Plan.
Don’t forget my eggs next time, he says.
And maybe some of that pizza flour.
I will email you the link to the pizza recipe, I say.
He helps me on with my coat and opens the door.
See you in two weeks
Call me if anything changes.
4 times a day for the drops, this week,
Then 3 times a day next week.
We smile into each others eyes.
I miss eyes.
We don’t meet peoples eyes much in the online world.
Where did you begin?
Farmers and gardeners spend a good deal of their time (and sleep) planning the changes. Trying to establish some kind of order on a sustainably managed property with so many moving parts is a tough task.
And sustaining those changes is difficult. We need to make peace with the fact that things will change all the time. Especially when there is weather involved. Winter came and is now on its way out – time for the clean up.
All winter we plan our gardens. All summer we prepare for winter. All week we are planning which stock moves in which direction. All day we rush about trying to make those plans happen. Then changing the plans. You have to be able to change your mind. To change a plan.
I changed my mind. About where Nelson is going to spend her summer.
As soon as it gets warmer Nelson is going to be moving from her day-porch to the chicken hospital. We have not had a sick chicken in years and this lovely hutch has been empty. It is in good order. It sits under the willow tree beside the barn and with some pruning can get lovely morning sun and tons of afternoon shade.
I have added the yards to the list of areas that need a lot of work. Winter changed some things on the concrete pad. Trees have come down and fences are compromised. We need to get this fixed before the calves arrive.
More fencing! My favourite – Not.
Lots happening in the glasshouse. Plans are afoot for the new garden. Remind me to show you where it is going.
I know that trying to establish order in an organic world which is determined to choose its own direction is like banging ones head against a tree. We need to work with the land – not against it.
We also need to plan for enjoying it all.
And yet! Fences need fixing.
Have a lovely day
PS Sawson our Chef in Disguise posted a lovely poem about coffee. It is rather beautiful. Pop over if you have a chance and tell Sawson I sent you!
FreeBee is a gentle giant of a hog. He poses for the most adorable farmyard hog pictures for such a huge animal. Sitting usually. FreeBee likes to sit.
But let’s not forget that he is around 450 pounds of happy Hereford hog with very sharp teeth. And long tusks. I am guessing at his weight – it may be significantly more.
He does have a naturally sweet loving face though. A bit like Sheila but rounder. Sheila was a lean machine of an animal. FreeBee looks cuddlier.
He is vocal but in a low pitched and calming kind of way.
Jude is the dominant pig in the pigsty so I put multiple bowls of small portions of food all down the line then as Jude pushes FreeBee out he has time to rush to the next bowl to grab a bite before Jude reaches him.
Technically he is a barrow. (which means he is no longer in possession of his testicles). They are both barrows.
Yesterday I noticed that FreeB grabs mouthfuls of hay and carries them around the back of their trailer. FreeB does eat a lot of hay so I wonder if he is stockpiling. Jude also grabs his mouthfuls and takes them into the sleeping trailer. He spends a lot of time stacking dry bedding (and any sticks) in there.
I bet it annoys him that FreeBee eats his bed!
FreeBee arrived on the farm years ago with a group of plonkers destined to grow in my fields for a while. After we had unloaded the bunch of fat piglets, the son leapt out of the trailer cab with the tiniest piglet ever under his arm.
-You are the only person I know who would take this pig. The farmer said. He is the runt and fought to survive but he is too small to sell. I have no use for him. (Well, we all know how that could end)
-I will throw him in for nothing. He said.
-We will call him FreeBee then, I said. Taking the tiny pig into my arms.
FreeBee went off to keep Jude company at the teaching farm where they ate a LOT of vegetables and grew into big strong hogs. They came back five years later and FreeBee is not a sweet little piglet anymore.
Still sweet but not little. And living his best life as a hay thief and a gardener.
And a Sitting Hog.
By the way Jude will still sit on command! I tried it the other day holding up his egg, sit I said in a stern voice and down went his bum! I am going to try and get that on video!
Have a lovely day!
A New Zealand Winter has finally arrived. In March. In Illinois.
New Zealand winters are damp, and cold, and wet. And long.
The Illinois March is too damn long.
Which is why I hate March.
March in Illinois has snow, rain, wind, sun, cold, storms, floods and everything in between and sometimes all on the same day.
March cannot make up it’s mind.
The herbs and spring greens are being sown and grown in the little glasshouse (I love that bit) but breaking ground outside will have to wait – it is too wet and too cold so far.
More snow in the night. Just cold, nasty, messy stuff.
And a big fat robin sat in the ornamental pear tree outside my study window this morning and calmly ate the berries.
March Mud. More often than not it is all about the mud in March.
The cows want to get into the fields but the ground is too soft to be trod on by those beasties and anyway they are still breaking in and fertilising the 2022 garden.
March is always an odd month – it can’t make up its mind.
I hate inclement, bad mannered March.
But the chickens are laying!
Oh and the ducks have started laying too. Everywhere. Lucky Tima got locked up in time.
Take care – talk soon.
Fencing is my least favourite job. But BooBoo is always happiest outside with me.
Ton is not fond of fencing because he hates loud noises (especially when I am driving in the fencing posts with the post bommy-knocker thingy) and he will always race back to the house.
But once Boo has put his toys away he always comes outside with me.
Yesterday I rolled up all the snow fences, pulled out the T posts and began to lay out the hog panels.
Once I am out in the field I cannot believe it took me so long to get to this fencing job. When I was milking I was out in the fields every day.
You will remember that this field I am creating will be for Hey Jude and FreeBee. They will root around in here for the summer and turn it all over, eating up all the weeds and fertilising as they go. It will be next summers garden. Once it is finished I will sow it in oats and once everything is greened up I will lead the big-as-a-fat-pony pigs over here and set them to work.
Today I will drag over more hog panel; they are stashed in all kinds of weedy out of the way places so it will be a job. The number of panels I can find will determine the size of the field for Jude and FreeBee.
And like all choices the panels will determine the size of 2024 kitchens garden.
Look below, apparently the heated water bucket (unplugged for obvious reasons) is the favourite place to lay an egg.
Can you see WaiWai’s little nose poking out from under his bed. He makes that bed himself through out the day then burrows under from the bottom until he is totally covered.
Have a gorgeous day!
PS Here is a shot of one of my gardens from 2015. Working full time at the mill made the gardening tough, then I was away, then I was teaching.
But today I sent in my resignation to the online teaching crowd.
So I look forward to getting back to The Kitchens Garden.
Spring is coming and there is a lot to do before I commence my annual journey to Australasia.
I will restructure my travel next year (2024) so Hey Judes garden will get tons of summer attention. But this year it will be spring and late summer gardens.
What an enormous question! I don’t feel like I make that many choices a day? I feel tired just thinking about it.
And all our choices – even the unconscious decisions – can have a profound effect on the people in our lives, the homes we live in, the planet?
From when to sow your tomato seeds to how you clean your woodwork to where you place a lamp.
How many of our choices do you think we make after due consideration? (Don’t answer that!).
Mr Flowers made the choice to react badly to a duck trying to share. leapt out of the way and the ducks rushed in to fill the void.
I call this video Ducks Revenge.
Many of our choices are unconscious. Instinctual. Reactionary. Luck.
When I was a child and we lived in the big house by the beach, there was one light suspended from the ceiling in each room. The light fitting was placed in the center of the ceiling with a little umbrella light-shade over it. Thats it. One light with one light bulb per room. There was no extra lights over the kitchen bench. No lights beside the beds. No lamps on sweet little tables on either end of the couch. No outside lights. No special reading lights.
The house had been designed in the 1800’s to rely on natural light.
There was a window above the kitchen sink.
The kitchen table was close to the French Doors.
A reading chair in the big window.
Stuff like that.
So, dinner was prepped early, we ate at 5pm and had the dishes done before sunset. In the winter we just ate earlier. Homework was done at the dining table under that one light. All together.
Dad would read the paper and was always saying to a kid – ‘ Move; you are in my light.”
Then, when my parents designed the open plan kitchen+dining+living room upstairs in the 70’s (it was upstairs so we all had the best view of the sea), Mum incorporated lights above the work stations in the new kitchen. She discovered lights that would attach to walls and found table lamps. (Though she still arranged all the reading chairs by the big windows with the ‘best light’). There were light switch panels! Light was everywhere! Lights above new desks and two lights above our enormous dining room table.
All these light choices changed the way we lived. That one decision to light the kitchen in a way that enables night work meant that we baked at night and left the dishes until later and when it was peach season we bottled well into the night.
With her choices Mum literally extended the life of our day. We ate later and went to bed later. And the electric lights scattered everyone around the house to create their own spaces to read or do homework.
I wonder if she thought about that?
She also made the choice not to let a television into our big open plan living room. That choice had some really amazing consequences too.
Choices. I need to think more consciously about where each of my choices will lead my sustainable farm and my sustainable home.
And now I am going to make the choice to go outside and begin the summer fields for Hey Jude and FreeBee.
I will make another thousand choices out there and will work very hard to be present for at least some of them!
Do you think Decision Fatigue is part of getting old? The oldies just get tired of having to make so many decisions across the course of the day. Starting with what to wear? Or what chair to sit in? Making a choice about dinner becomes too hard? (Personally I wish I could go back to a school uniform and I am not even old yet!!).
Maybe I will fry some left over macaroni cheese with bacon before I go out. Have you ever made the choice to fry your macaroni? You should. It is SO Tasty!
Roosters have their own territories, especially roosters who do not have a flock of chickens.
And often (here on the Farmy) a lone rooster will attach itself to an animal. At least to the area that a particular animal lives in and the promise of two free feeds a day. Let’s be honest!!
There are roosters in the fields with the cows.
The plonker has a whole passel of roosters in the barn with him.
Jude and FreeBee have two roosters that hang out in the trailer with them.
(WaiWai does not have a rooster he prefers cats).
And Tima has her own rooster. He is an old fella who has been around the block a time or two and I suspect he can speak Pig.
All winter Tima arrived with her rooster at the back door growling and banging on the glass for someone to hurry up and feed her.
Now that Tima is behind a gate in her summer pastures her rooster has been appearing at the back door by himself – around about dinner time. Sent there by Tima I am fairly sure.
He is quieter than Tima. Apparently content that his very presence will be enough to remind the humans that it is dinner time.
Now what would you think if you were the farmer?
The moment I step outside with the bucket he runs off across the track to Tima and waits with his pig behind the gate. I just shake my head and feed him a little extra. Being an old rooster and all that.
Here are the mobile manure spreaders advancing across the wheat pasture.
We made it.
In the old days we did not have Ikea and Walmart and cheap loaf tins. We used what was in the cupboard.
Bread can be baked in almost any container.
My Mum baked her bread in whatever she had handy – usually a cast iron or enamel meat loaf tin. Sometimes coffee tins and sometimes even terracotta plant pots.
Coffee cans (we call then tins in New Zealand) were collected by my mother and my grandmother – they had a myriad of uses: paint tins, nail tins (we straightened and sorted all old nails), button tins, scoops, etc and of course baking cans for puddings and bread.
The lids were metal and pried off with a key in a similar fashion to a sardine tin. More recently they have a plastic lid.
So, when John came home the other day with coffee in a can I was thrilled.
The metal inside the tin is not lined so it is fine for baking in. In fact if you can’t find a tin with coffee in it you can buy empty coffee cans on Amazon specifically for bread baking.
If, like me, you are buying coffee cans with coffee in them you will need to take off the lip at the top of the tin. Use a regular can opener. Make sure any metal filings are smoothed off.
The best thing about coffee can bread is the crust is soft and the slices fits perfectly into the toaster.
You can make four loaves with this recipe. (Though I have collected only two coffee tins so far).
This recipe will fill four coffee cans or two cans and one loaf tin.
You can use any of your favourite bread recipes. Below is the one I used for these loaves.
TIPS: Rising times depend on the weather (humidity and temperature) , and the flour – if you poke your finger into the dough and the hole does not bounce closed immediately your dough is ready to bake. Bubbles are another good indication of rise.
TIPS: Any high protein bread flour will do. But if you can find a local mill in your area grab a bag. Using at least part of the flour from a local source will strengthen your local food economy and strengthening your local food economy makes big waves in the self sufficiency of your region. Plus if you can find 100% extraction flour, that contains all the germ and the bran, your gut will thank you.
Real stone ground flour is so much easier to digest.
If you do have a local mill let us know in the comments! Our wheat is milled down the road at Janie’s Mill.
Time for me to start some dough.
What do you bake your bread in?
Have a great day!
Pop in and see Dale from Aussie! She has been blogging for years too! It is wonderful how many of us are still around.
The New Blog Renaissance is just around the corner. Blogging is on the cusp of a revival.
With the slow monster emergence of AI and Chat GPT (I find the panic enormously entertaining to be honest) – there is a great hush in the world of content creators. We are holding our breath waiting to see what is going to happen next.
Many of the writers, content creators, ghost writers, social media strategists, and influencers that rely on Social Media in all its many manifestations are deeply worried that the AI army is going to render them useless.
Personally I believe that writers and content creators – (though I prefer to be called a writer rather than a creator of content), will be scrambling to start blogs or sites that allow them to showcase exactly their own work, prove provenance and control their outcomes. To have control over their work.
So us old bloggers are WAY ahead of this particular game.
No-one can boot us off our own platforms.
We can prove that we have been around and writing exactly this way for years and indeed prove that we are human and that the words you are reading are not the text of a clever AI program.
Because that will be a thing soon. We will want to know who is doing the writing. We are already second guessing the provenance of an opinion. At the behest of an individual AI can write and publish an opinion piece that will further influence the opinions of the people around us. This is a thing.
Which is why I am never going to clean up my grammar. Or my short imperfect sentence structures. Perfect text will be a dead giveaway! So I am fine! No-one will think I am a bot!
Have a wonderful day!
Prove you are not a chat bot – what do you think – leave me a comment in the Lounge of Comments!
(Oh my God – imagine if there were an AI chat bot that wandered about, leaving comments and making friends!!!). No. Not a Thing. Yet.