Cairn Hill Farms Summer 2017

  

Hello Friends!

The 2017 Farm Market Season has finally arrived!! Hope you have time to visit this summer:

Friday’s Middleville (8-1)
Saturday’s Hastings (9-1)

This year, Cairn Hill Farms is offering the following products:

Farm fresh eggs from our happy hens who wander the farm and surrounding woods

Beeswax Lip Balm:

Paddy’s Peppermint
Just the Bees (unscented)
Tangerine Tea
Wild Irish Roses (tinted with hibiscus powder, unscented)
Lavender Nettle
Cherry Hibiscus (natural cherry flavor tinted with hibiscus powder)

Sprays (Use as facial toner, in the kitchen, or even on linens):
Now in two sizes (8ml sample size and 4 oz)!

Lavender
Citrus
Morning Mist (a blend of jasmine, orange, and lavender)
Sinus Blend (peppermint, eucalyptus, and rosemary-8ml only)

Nettle iced tea by the glass and dried nettles gathered on our farm (many products are infused with nettle as well)

Body Butters (Perfect when heavy moisturizing is needed):
Peppermint (infused with nettle and lemongrass)
Lavender

A final bit of fun…
Sparkle plenty-I made a small batch of sparkle lip balm and shimmering lotion (at this time I have VERY LIMITED quantities, so stop by the market or send a message if interested).

Can’t make it to the market? Many of these items are also available on my website.

Happy summer!! Thanks for reading!

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Civil War Sweethearts and a Character Witness for a Cannibal

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Once or twice a year, I like to share an earlier, memorable post.  This one is from my father’s unpublished memoirs regarding a bizarre family connection to America’s first convicted cannibal:

…My dad’s family roots were Irish on his father’s side and Scots-Irish and Welsh on his mother’s side. The Roche’s were Baltimore Catholics from County Cork, following the 19th Century lure to the “land of opportunity.” The next generation, my Great Grandfather Roche came to Denver as a young man, following the lure of the West. My Great Grandmother Roche was quite a character. She had been a former girlfriend of General Lew Wallace, Civil War leader, governor of the New Mexico Territory and author of Ben Hur. From all family reports, Great Grandfather Roche remained jealous of Lew Wallace for his entire married life. The colorful General Wallace was a frequent cause of controversy at the Roche dinner table.

Your colorful Great Grandmother Roche had another claim to fame as well. In the San Juan Mountains of southwestern Colorado during the rush of silver and gold strikes in the 1870s, a party of five miners and their guide, Alferd Packer, were trapped in a crushing blizzard and were not seen again that winter. The next spring, Packer walked out of the mountains, alone.

Subsequent investigation revealed that Packer had survived the winter in a cave, where he had killed and eaten the five prospectors. At the trial, the judge, in his summary to the jury, addressed Packer, “There were only seven Democrats in Huerfano County, and damn you, Alferd Packer, you ate five of them!” That summation to the jury became the basis for an appeal and second trial some years later. Packer was already a confessed murderer and cannibal, so the second trial revolved around questions of Packer’s character.

In the famous second trial, a case watched closely across the country and especially closely in Colorado where the trial occurred, his attorney’s defense was based on finding anyone who had known Packer during his life and had a positive comment to make. Great Grandmother Roche had grown up in the same Pennsylvania town as Packer and had known him as a boy. There was nearly a divorce in the family when Great Grandfather Roche discovered that his wife was to testify as a character witness for America’s only convicted cannibal. My Grandfather Roche would seldom mention these stories and when he did, it was always said with a pronounced sigh.

Today, you can see a plaque at the University of Colorado, Boulder’s cafeteria, fondly named by the student body in the 60s, “The Alferd Packer Memorial Grill.”

Thanks for reading!

Admitting a problem is the first step…

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I recently acknowledged a serious problem: I am well on my way to becoming a book hoarder. Instead of shopping for the latest fashions, I prefer to spend my time in bookstores and libraries, adding books to a reading list beyond completion. On weekends, I’d rather relax on the back deck and read for a few hours than spend “a night out on the town.” My parents only encouraged this behavior with regular gifts of books. I even decorate with books!

We have lived at Cairn Hill Farms for almost four years now, and with the departure of kid #2 to college, I started to unpack the many, many boxes of books in the basement. However, it quickly became evident that we lacked the shelf space to utilize the vast collection. So I began the challenge of drastically reducing our family book collection.

To start, some piles were quite easy: We do not need 40 cookbooks (I kept our 10 favorites). We also didn’t need dated reference materials. Certain tomes were easier than others. One son enjoyed the Gary Paulson books, so these were set aside in the chance that he might want them later. Certain popular series were worth keeping: Anne of Green Gables, The Lord of the Rings, The Narnia Collection, Harry Potter, Little House, etc.

Sentimental books presented tougher choices. Favorite nightly readers from childhood like Goodnight Moon were saved as were books inscribed to the kids. In fact, giving books with cherished inscriptions is a family tradition in both the Roche and Murphy Families, the copy of Smoky by Will James from my parents, Horse Stories for Children signed by one of my first riding instructors, the copy of The Imitation of Christ signed by Dr. Febes Facey (a high school graduation present). There are also books that provide insight in my parents’ lives, Dad’s graduate school copy of The Hedgehog and the Fox filled with handwritten notes.

Throughout this process, I recognized sentimental attachments that didn’t really connect to books. For example, I held onto a copy of Ken Kesey’s Sometimes a Great Notion. While the movie was a favorite of the men in the family, I didn’t connect with Kesey’s stream of consciousness, not worth keeping for me, personally.

What should be done with all those extra books? I started by piling them on the dining room table and asking family, friends, and neighbors to take a few. Then some books were donated to local libraries, donated for fundraisers, or donated to Goodwill. In closing, purchasing books can be rather costly. Do you have some just gathering dust? Share! Donate! You never know when a book will start a memorable adventure.

Thanks for reading!

Got Naan?

Have you ever walked down the bread aisle and saw a unique collection of flat breads? Ever tried naan bread? While personal favorites include homemade pita with a lamb and beef gyro or crusty, authentic French bread with Irish butter, Naan bread is another favorite in the Murphy kitchen.
Naan is a flat bread made with a leavening agent. This bread offers many possibilities in the kitchen.

  
 While the traditional bread compares to the size of a small pizza, some stores carry a toaster size, ideal for topping with peanut butter and jelly or for dinner with a bit of butter, garlic powder and Parmesan. 

  

In addition, we make custom pizzas using naan, easing family dinner with a vegan living in the house. Only taking 4-6 minutes at 425 degrees, the bread offers a unique combination of crunch around the edges and chewy consistency in the middle. We even found garlic naan bread at a local store, adding some extra flavor. 

  

Naan bread also provides a tasty alternative to regular sandwiches, toasted for a minute or two (or microwave for 20 seconds) and then fill with ham, cheese, tomato, and mayo. We even have a list of ideas for future menus: Naan grilled cheese, panini, or even small pieces served with spinach dip or olive oil and herbs.
Any ideas? Please share!
Thanks for reading!

The Journey Home

 

It seems like a lifetime has passed since December’s post. Early December brought pneumonia for me, and then after Christmas, life proceeded to worse. Chad suffered a serious fall and the next day, Patrick’s friend was killed in a car accident. Chad’s on the mend, and we are attempting to help our son through his loss. As a parent, the challenges of bridging this horrible passage never occurred.

Most generations remember losing and mourning a friend gone too young. I remember those friends lost in high school and college, the pain, questions, and numbness. As parents we sit by helplessly, attempting to ease the grief. While we can certainly be there for support, nothing helps more than letting our young grieve together. Perhaps this is part of letting go; our children need the chance to be with their peers to truly sort things out. As a woman, I also didn’t expect how certain difficult, manual activities provide closure for our men, my father-in-law building his granddaughter’s coffin twelve year’s ago or my son and his friends actually picking up shovels and burying their friend.

When dealing with death, I often think of J.R.R. Tolkien’s glimpse through Gandalf’s words in “The Lord of the Rings”:

“…The journey doesn’t end here. Death is just another path…One that we all must take…The grey rain-curtain of this world rolls back, and all turns to silver glass…and then you see it…White shores…and beyond. A far green country under a swift sunrise.”

I don’t begin to know or claim what’s to come, but I have often found solace in Tolkien’s words and prefer to follow my parents’ words of wisdom. “We all have a journey ahead, a topic worthy of reflection.” The following song, from the late 70s has often brought me peace. Also, after witnessing the visitation, bagpiper’s procession and funeral (and later, watching my husband’s stubbornness and strength to get back to work), I truly understand what Maureen O’Hara meant when she said, “We Irish are a fighting people.”

RIP  Jeremiah

wrestling Patrick and Jer

 

 

Food, Family, and Heirloom Recipes

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Food traditions abound in our family. Both the Murphy and Roche Families gifted a love of food with celebrations. Whether the Timinski Family pickle recipe or the Roche Family sausage stuffing recipe, food remains a strong connection to happy memories.

Many years ago when I was having a bad day, my mom, in her unique, upbeat manner, offered some words of wisdom, “You should get in touch with your happy, French Canadian roots!” Mom shared stories of our ancestors, settling in Quebec in the mid-1600s. In fact, she mentioned one particularly obnoxious youth who was sent to be raised among a local Indian tribe (Is that the equivalent of boarding school on the frontier?). I also came across a lovely song book by Ann Arbor based songwriter, Kitty Donahoe, celebrating both Michigan and Canadian history through songs and stories. I even had the opportunity to see her in concert, hearing even more stories.

I was particularly drawn to her tales of the first fur trappers and their survival during the long, northern winters. Apparently, when all the food ran out and the weather was too rough to hunt wild game, many survived on beaver fat and sawdust (Yuck!). In later research, I came across another unique dish, the tourtière.

The tourtière is a meat pie, a French Canadian Christmas tradition. Scholars think the dish, dating back to Quebec in the 1600s, is named after passenger pigeons, or “tourtes,” probably the meat used in the original recipe. The tourtière can also be prepared with any meat, even fish. We have prepared the pie with venison and sweet potatoes, but our favorite remains ground pork with potatoes.

Many versions of this dish can be found on-line. In fact, regional areas across Quebec each offer an individual recipe, some shared and some secret (This reminds me of the many versions of stuffing across the United States at Thanksgiving). Each recipe is a piece of history, offering a glimpse into which ingredients were available or affordable in the various regions. More important, these recipes, handed down to each generation, contain more than food; they contain family memories from long ago, ready for the next generation.

What are some food traditions in your family? Are there any recipes worth preserving for future use? What a fabulous conversation to have with loved ones this holiday season. Thanks for reading!

Mom’s Writing about Coconut Oil and Nettles Again…

As the drier, colder winter months approach, I wanted to share one of my newer products that you might find useful this holiday season. Last year, I created a “body butter,” made with avocado oil, beeswax, coconut oil, and Vitamin E. I personally use the product during the drier winter months. I also quickly sold out of my initial offering at this year’s farmer’s market. Even in the summer months, clients used this thicker lotion as an overnight treatment for the face, hands and feet.
I offer two varieties: Lavender (great for dry hands, esp right before bed) and Peppermint infused with nettle and lemongrass. Nettle is a natural anti-inflammatory while lemongrass essential oil soothes minor muscle pains. I occasionally have pain in my right hand and use the peppermint right before bed as a natural remedy for those days when my hand aches.

 “After going through surgery which resulted in a 6 inch scar along my ankle, the peppermint butter helped by providing a cooling and soothing effect around the incision. I continued using the rub throughout my recovery because it wasn’t greasy, moisturized the skin near the scar, and helped the incision heal. The smell is lovely! My husband enjoyed the smell so much that he would rub my ankle if he could use the peppermint rub! I continue to use the rub daily and would recommend it for anyone who wants a rub that soaks in well and leaves skin feeling moisturized all day.”

-C. Fairley

Body Butter

In addition to my line of lip balms (peppermint, cherry, unscented, tinted with hibiscus, and tangerine tea), I’m offering a limited batch of lavender and nettle lip balm, my new favorite! Did I mention that nettle also has anti-wrinkling properties?

 “I love this lip balm! It’s nourishing to the skin and protects from the elements. I have one in every pocket and purse.” -J. Drake


Lip Balm

This Cyber Monday, I’m offering free shipping plus a gift with all orders! Be sure to enter the promo code: FREESHIP

You can find many other items on my Etsy site, including rare books and other unique finds.

Thanks for reading!!! Happy shopping!!