Wednesday, December 30, 2009

The Scene Outside My Window

When life gives you snow...go sledding!!

Friday, December 25, 2009

The Peace After the Feast

My three-year-old nephew shares a little quiet Christmas time with our cat Daisy. It was like experiencing our own little Christmas miracle, as only minutes before he had been chasing her round and round and round the house. May we all have a little peace this holiday season.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Crack Pretzels - The Recipe

When I created this recipe, I called it Toffee Pretzels, but friends Maggie & John got a taste and promptly renamed them Crack Pretzels, because they are just that addictive.

It's one of my favorite holiday recipes, ok honestly, I make it whenever I have an excuse during the winter. And unless you live in an arid location, I recommend that it remain a winter tradition as humidity turns it into a sticky mess. I based the recipe on my Grandma Henderson's Butter Toffee recipe and just went from there. I don't think she'd mind, though I wish I could have shared them with her.

Its a simple recipe, but you do want to have your ingredients measured ahead of time and ready to go. Also, a reliable candy thermometer is a must.

Crack Pretzels
1/2 bag small pretzel twists (traditional pretzel shape, the small ones) (2010 update, use the square ones!)
1 cup butter (use the real stuff)
1 cup sugar
3 TBS water
1 TBS corn syrup
6 oz semi-sweet or dark chocolate chips (I like Ghiradelli for this)

Place pretzels in a single, solid layer on a jelly roll pan (cookie sheet with sides), put aside.

Melt butter in a heavy sauce pan.
Add sugar and stir until dissolved.
Add water and corn syrup, stirring to combine.

Heat to 290°, stirring frequently. Watch closely after 280°, it goes fast.
As soon as temperature reaches 290°, remove from heat and pour quickly over pretzels, covering as many pretzels as possible.

Allow toffee to cool slightly (a couple of minutes), then sprinkle surface with chocolate chips. Allow chocolate to heat through (it will become glossy) then spread over surface of toffee.

Allow to cool completely, then break into bite sized (pretzel-sized) pieces.
Store in a cool location and try not to eat them all at once!

Hint: Don't discard the little bits that remain in the pan after removing the toffee pretzels, those bits make a killer salty/sweet ice cream topping!

12/21/09 Update: I tried the recipe with Butter Twist pretzels today and they are very tasty. More density of pretzel flavor and saltiness (but also more expensive). Either way, its a decadent recipe that makes a great little gift, stocking stuffer or bribe : )

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Winter News

18" of snow in 36 hours was kind of fun, until the 50 mph winds started in with the subzero temperatures, then it quickly became less fun. It took us a couple of days after the blizzard to get out to the high tunnels. As soon as I got the first door open, I felt my heart was the smell of rotting vegetables. Damn! We've never had significant problems with crops freezing in the tunnels, and certainly never this early in the season, but here it is. Everything suffered at least some damage and many of the crops were a total loss...again, damn! Some of those crops will likely recover, like the kale, spinach and some of the salad greens, possibly the broccoli (much to Sean's dismay). But the cabbage, radishes, peas, beets and choi are just gone...sigh.

Ah well, another lesson learned another layer of experience added. It would have been so much more convenient to learn this lesson AFTER the winter market this coming Saturday, but nature isn't too much interested in our schedules. Thank goodness for our other farm-made products!

There was one bright note this week, our friend Cathy writes for and she recently wrote a post listing 12 Great Places to Shop Across Iowa, and included BGF as one of those places! We are honored to appear alongside many of our favorites as well including, Prairieland Herbs, Picket Fence Creamery, Seed Savers and Frisian Farms. You can see the full list here:

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Farm Safety

Everyone says that safety is important. Many of us talk about it around the dinner table or at a gathering of farmers or to kids around the farm. But then we go outside and in a rush to get through the endless list of chores we take shortcuts with our equipment (and our safety) to try and get just a little more done. I would hazard that we have all done something along those lines at some time. Maybe it was something small like forgetting to wear safety goggles when using a chainsaw or weedwacker, or maybe it was running a tractor across a slope that was just a little too steep. Regardless, you never know when things might go wrong.

This is a video that was recently released by ISU Extension on Farm Safety. It features our friend and neighbor Kristi and her family. I hope you will watch it and share it with anyone who works with machinery big or small, we could all use a reminder.

my name is Kristi from Iowa State University Extension on Vimeo.

Monday, December 7, 2009

A Preview

Well so much for doing a better job of keeping the blog up-to-date.
As I sit at the computer today I can look out the window at a beautiful snowy wonderland. We got about 4" of fluffy snow last night, and suddenly its winter on the farm. This is only an appetizer though as we are predicted to get up to 12" in the next couple of days.
Hard to believe a week ago we were harvesting radishes, salad and other greens outside. This likely marks the formal end of the outdoor gardening season for us, and I sure am happy that we have the high tunnels, as we still have one CSA delivery and one farmers market to go.

I will try to get pics of the high tunnels posted in the next day or so. The crops in there are still lush and beautiful.