Archive for the ‘Farm’ Category

Purple Beans

Monday, July 27th, 2009
Purple Beans

Purple Beans

Aren’t these just the cutest things? I have to admit, I do love beans, but only the kind that begin w/”B.”

Until now, my favorites were yellow wax beans, which we also are growing. And the haricots verts may be taking over the world. So far, I’ve picked & frozen (and trimmed & blanched) about 6 qts.

But these little guys are so darned cute~ and the vines & flowers are purple, too. I’m told that if cooked w/an acid (vinegar or lemon juice) they stay purple. Otherwise, they turn green when cooked. Where’s the fun in that?

So I picked about a quart tonight, and also did some weeding in the yellow wax beans. (I plan to enter the next Olympics in the chickweed toss event.)

Anyway, I can hardly wait to eat purple beans. And maybe try them out in a 3-bean salad.

Invasion of the Hite-Bowman Clan

Sunday, July 26th, 2009

Whew! One of the downsides of living on a historic property is that all the descendents think they need to revisit their roots.

The guy (Isaac Bowman) who built this house in 1812 had 80 grandchildren. So you can imagine, when they have their reunion every two yrs, how many people show up.  (And this is VA, where every conversation starts w/a pedigree.) The other local properties are handled by foundations & the commonwealth of Virginia.

Until this yr, Mt Pleasant has not been on the tour, for various reasons. But we decided this yr to allow them in. Thank goodness for cousin R.U. (Edward  Randolph Underwood) who directed parking, and friends M & S who handled the upstairs. The mater handled gardens & I did downstairs.  There were Hite-Bowmans from all corners of the earth. One had even written a book.

We were working until wee hours getting the house in order. I spent the day pointing out mantels and elbow-latches & the original hearth. Oy, I don’t have much in common w/British royalty, but one day of ppl traipsing thru the house, pointing out woodwork just about did me in. I don’t know how they do it. I wonder how many B-H’s will return home, discussing the Brad room, the Martha room & how to get heartwood pine floors.

And then in the last group, someone asked me if we were open every weekend. FREAK OUT does not cover it. “This is not a museum. We LIVE here. It’s a working farm!  We opened the house to descendents who had legitimate interest, but the next public access will be sheepdog trials in November. That will be the grounds, NOT the house.” I’m sure one of the Hite-Bowmans caught my panic, b/c he very seriously thanked me for allowing them access.

The funniest thing is that we really are FFV (First Families of Virginia); my mother is a Randolph. But we have absolutely no connection with Bowman/Hites, beyond owning their house. (Except that I think one of my Beatty forebears fought in the same unit in the Revolutionary War. See, I’ve caught Virginia fever.)

So now it’s back to normal, after I pour myself a very, very  stiff Screwdriver to savor on the screen porch & watch the rain pour down. And then start blanching beans.

Field trip (ha!)

Sunday, July 12th, 2009

Dayton Farmers Market

Dayton Farmers Market

Well, I was getting a bit restless again, so Friday we (Mom & I) decided to take a little jaunt down to Dayton Farmers Market, south of Harrisonburg.  (She got a taste of what my little jaunts are like and was still recovering the next day. I think I need to find a new co-conspirator.)

Anyway, we fed all the livestock (8 cats & a dog) and took off about 10 on Friday morning w/a full tank of gas & Pete’s CD playing.

After we passed Luray, VA, we were in new territory for me, so I was oohing & ahing all over the place. Really liked what I saw of Harrisonburg, which is home to James Madison University and also Eastern Mennonite University.

Then we saw what Mom remembered as a really super thrift shop. She was right, so we spent about an hour there. I finally found the step basket I’d been wanting for a LOOONG time. (It’s a basket made to sit on steps. Very cool. I’m always setting things on the stairs so that I don’t forget to take them up or down. Now it looks nice, instead of trashy.)

Sooo… On we went to Dayton. Really liked the Farmers Market, although it was not exactly a farmers market. More like a collection of cool little shops.  (For more info, click the picture above.) We spent a couple hours there, b/c once again, I had to touch everything. (Maybe Hanuman should be my shopping buddy. Just a suggestion.) And then, we found an espresso stand there. So of course I was happy, but mater had had nothing to eat since about 10 AM & was not looking so hot. (more…)

Wineberries & plums

Monday, July 6th, 2009


Well, it’s wineberry season on the farm. We have brambles growing at the edge of the woodland & a tenant who enjoys picking them, so there you go.

What are wineberries? Well, a lot of the folks around here think they’re better than or as good as raspberries & blackberries. I wouldn’t go that far, but they’re pretty good. Here‘s an article w/recipes.

What we’re doing with them is putting them into a steam juicer, which is a relatively trouble-free way to get wineberry juice. Then we can the juice and can either drink it or turn it into jelly later.

Well, when our tenant was bringing a bucket of wineberries to the back door, TEBB was bringing plums to the front door. He & Mom have a deal where he supplies the produce & she supplies the rest.

I’d decided that one of the things I’d like to learn about this summer is canning, so I stuck around to help/watch.

What I learned:

  1. Canning season is the hottest time of the year.
  2. Making jam involves simmering hot liquid for HOURS in an already hot kitchen.
  3. You can’t open windows b/c drafts will crack the jars, spilling hot (VERY hot!) goop all over.
  4. It takes about 5 hrs to make a batch of jam.
  5. I don’t like jam all that much.