Farm Markets, Nettles, and the Start of Summer

This past weekend was the annual nettle harvest, and Chad made a batch of nettle and asparagus soup (a favorite of Chad’s homemade soups, perfect with crusty bread, and a dish the vegan will eat). I’m excited to begin the Farm Market Season. This weekend, Cairn Hill Farms will have a stand at these markets:

  • 5/25 Middleville (8-1)
  • 5/26 Hastings (9-1)

We offer the following products:

    • Beeswax Lip Balms: A blend of coconut oil, avocado oil, beeswax, and vitamin E
    • Sprays: Enjoy as a room spray or facial toner
    • Essential Oil Blends: Add to a favorite lotion, make a spray, or use for aromatherapy
    • Salt Scrub: Treat your feet with this lovely new product!
    • Farm Fresh Eggs, Veggies, and Nettle Iced Tea

Can’t make it to the market or want a custom blend? Please message me cairnhillfarms.net

Orders can be shipped.

Nettle and Asparagus Soup

Below is Cairn Hill Farms Summer 2018 Newsletter.

Thanks for reading!

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Saying Goodbye…

Here we are on the last day of April, and this month’s post remains incomplete. I planned to share pictures of our baby goat. However, I either recorded the dates incorrectly in my calendar, or that goat ain’t pregnant! I can always count on humorous chaos from the goats. It was appreciated this weekend.

Once or twice per year, I like to include an earlier, memorable post. After the loss of someone special over the weekend, I knew which post to share! Reflecting over the past few days, I encourage you to take time to connect with loved ones. Have time for a visit? Stop by! Too far to travel? Send a note or call! I’m grateful that I had the opportunity to spend a long weekend with Donna last summer, and while difficult this past weekend, I’m grateful that her son held the phone to her ear, so I could say a few last words. Has someone special been on your mind? Today is the perfect day to get in touch!

RIP, Donna

Seeing America: The Long Weekend Road Trip

Originally published, July 6, 2017

By Maggie Murphy

The summer remains a busy time around here with gardening, the farmers’ market, summer classes at the college, and the upcoming county fair. However, Chad and I recently found time to enjoy a long weekend in Tennessee. The primary reason for the trip was to visit an old friend, Donna. Growing up, the demands of my parents’ work kept them from home for months each year. Donna worked for my parents for over 25 years. She was there to greet me most mornings, often provided rides to Fowler’s farm where I boarded Goldy, was there for many overnights when Mom and Dad were fundraising for the college, and was always a phone call away for any of us kids.

Donna commanded respect. She was one of the few people who would tell Dad if she disapproved of his actions regarding the kids, and he would even seek her advice during our difficult teen years. Donna also never hesitated to put us kids or our friends in our place. When she used my first and middle name, I was in trouble!

We had time for several visits with her and dined at her son’s restaurant in Knoxville. We even arrived in time to watch the prep work for the smoker. Chad particularly enjoyed trading poultry smoking tips with Donna’s son, Randy. On a later visit, there was time for an impromptu concert for Donna and the other residents at the senior living center (Strumsticks are perfect for road trips!).

We stayed in a lovely one bedroom cabin, just a stone’s throw from Marble Springs, the home of Tennessee’s first Governor, John Sevier. We found time to hike the grounds and view the log cabins on the property. Our cabin also had a covered front porch with rocking chairs, perfect for sipping morning coffee, reading, and even playing music.

On our last day, we headed south to the Great Smoky Mountains and hiked Middle Prong trail and drove Rich Mountain seasonal road near Cade’s Cove. The long weekend went so quickly! I look forward to returning someday for more hiking, fishing, swimming, good eats, and perhaps even some white water rafting.

(The Sinks-A swimming hole near Townsend)

Thanks for reading!

(Traveling to Knoxville? Check out Mario’s Pizza and Grill-10943 Kingston Pike)

Move over Fondue: Introducing the Raclette Grill

We finally had the opportunity to try out a new foodie toy: The Raclette Grill. Historically, the Raclette referred to a block of hard cheese shepherds packed for long treks with their flocks. At the nightly camp fire, they would heat one side of the block and scrape softened cheese on their bread.

While this is one tasty aspect of the modern Raclette, many more food choices are available. This is similar to fondue, but rather than using pots of heated oil, people gather round a grill. Adding a light coating of oil and a dash of salt on the grill surface, diners enjoy a healthier option, avoiding the vast quantities of oil required for fondue. The Raclette also offers a broiler section with individual pans, so diners can utilize two cooking areas at the same time.

The broiler section is best for melting cheese, poured over potatoes or baguette slices. We also broiled pear slices with some dark chocolate and later topped with whipped cream.

Other items we enjoyed included steak, shrimp, oysters, mushrooms, zucchini, and summer squash. Items can be grilled individually or on skewers. There were even enough choices to keep our resident vegan busy!

Finally, Raclette Grills are affordable, ranging in price from $50-250 (Based on size and extra features, such as a marble cooking top). I highly recommend gathering around the table with friends or family and trying this wonderful tradition!

Thanks for reading!

Introducing Kilkenny Corkers

Recently, I performed at a new venue, the house concert!

According to Wikipedia, “A house concert or home concert is a musical concert or performance art that is presented in someone’s home or apartment, or a nearby small private space such as a barn…or back yard.”

Such performances provide a more meaningful experience, as the music fills the room, the artist has the opportunity to share more stories and later visit with the audience (Where else could I share how Great-Grandpa and his graduating class were kicked out of medical school?). Ideal for acoustic music, the atmosphere is casual with each guest usually bringing something to share.

Colleen, Paula, and I are proud to present, Kilkenny Corkers. We are a Celtic music group, performing Irish and Scottish folk music. Our music includes a mix of slow ballads, history, a few family stories, and those fun, rowdy pub tunes. An evening with Kilkenny Corkers goes well with a few pints and a few friends.

While we are “moms with day jobs,” we do still have limited availability for the St. Patrick’s Day season. Need Celtic music for your venue? Please share your request on the Contact Information tab.

Thanks for reading!

Dollars and Sense: Frugal Foodies

money pic

 

Whether we are making healthier food choices, exercising more, or organizing our surroundings, a new year can be motivating. I personally love organizing. Chad and I just spent an afternoon completing our yearly budget overhaul. While certain larger expenses are easily spotted budget saboteurs, we fail to notice many of the little things.

The yearly budget often overlooks a few key areas, such as food waste. According to the American Chemistry Council, the average American household throws out just over $650 worth of food each year. I recognized that we can save money by committing to a few simple changes:

 

A List of Staples
I find it helpful to plan a half dozen meals in advance, purchasing grocery staples from a list. Then I am less likely to buy items that are never used and later thrown out. Also, included in this list are a couple quick meals.

Quick Meals
With our busy, modern lifestyle, take-out food has established a prominent role at meal time. To help reduce the need and cost of take out, we created a handful of easy recipes. For example, every fall I spend an afternoon and put up 10 lbs. of Italian meatballs. These make quick meals, ready from freezer to table in less than an hour. We pair them with vegetables, rice, and of course spaghetti night.

A New Spin on Pizza Night
Try purchasing less pizza and pair with a veggie and some fruit or make naan bread pizzas

The Charcuterie Board (That’s a fancy way of saying a meat and cheese tray)
With 30 minutes of slicing some meat, cheese, veggies, and opening a can of olives and sleeve of crackers or slices of baguette, you can enjoy a lovely, simple meal. We enjoy carrots, celery, and radishes paired with slices of prosciutto, adding a small bowl of black olives and a small chunk of goat cheese with herbs (Also a nice variation of date night).

Change your Way of Thinking
My grandfather was a Navy cook on the U.S.S. Virginia during WWI. As a result of his training, many of the family dinners handed down were rich and calorie laden, required to maintain energy through a hard day’s manual labor. Our modern tasks rarely require so many calories. Have you ever tried making dinner a lighter meal?

Left over Night
Take a night each week and consume what’s left in the fridge. To combat our waste of lettuce, we keep tortillas, a can of diced tomatoes, and a can of refried beans in the pantry. If the lettuce needs to go, we use up the lettuce, along with any extra cheese, hot sauce, sour cream (or none if we’re out) and make bean tacos.

 

By reducing waste, organizing your grocery list, and decluttering the fridge, you will have less stress, be more focused, and perhaps end up with a few dollars in your pocket.

Happy New Year and thanks for reading!

Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas

Amid baking tourtieres and gingerbread goats, I’ve dedicated more time to music lately, singing at our local Commission on Aging and developing more Celtic music (stay tuned for an important announcement in a few months). This time I tried something new, recording a song only using the instruments on GarageBand. I learned so much, particularly the process of adding new sounds and polishing tracks. However, I must admit that I prefer the “heart and soul” emerging during a live performance.

I recorded a holiday favorite, “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas.” Evoking memories of watching “Meet me in St. Louis” and Judy Garland’s stunning rendition, this song includes the bittersweet side of the holiday, reminding us that it’s ok to have some sad amid all the happiness this time of year. Or to quote a favorite toast, “To Life, it doesn’t have to be perfect, to be perfect!”

So here’s my gift to all of you! Take some time this holiday season to pause amid all the stress, relax in the moment, and enjoy your many blessings.

Thanks for reading!

Shopping with Dad and Keeping a List through the Holidays

I recall one afternoon, sitting in the car with my father after a trip to Penzey’s spice shop. Dad stared in silence at the large bag of recently purchased spices in his lap; then sighed, “I’m sure a sucker for cooking spices. Most of these will probably remain unopened.” This memory reminds me of the current interest in essential oils.

We inhale the lovely aromas and learn how essential oils improve our daily lives; then later, our purchases often remain sealed, only a few seeing regular use. I’m guilty of this, too, even running my farm business. So to avoid Dad’s experience with spices, I put on my organization cap and examined which essential oils I use on a regular basis:

Peppermint: This is my most used oil!

  • Evict mice, bugs, and spiders (simply add a few drops to a cotton ball and place near doors, windows, etc)
  • Laundry need a boost? Add few drops in the washer or dryer
  • Aromatherapy to ease nasal congestion

Lavender: This wonderful oil helps relax at the end of a long day!

  • Make a spray for pillows at bedtime
  • Add a couple drops to hand or body lotion
  • Blend a custom facial toner

Orange: I enjoy this lovely scent year round!

  • Use 1-4 drops in a diffuser
  • Add 1-2 drops to clay mud mask
  • Serves as an antioxidant, the perfect addition to a custom facial toner

Peppermint, lavender, and orange essential oils are my “Big 3,” used daily in my room sprays, personal facial toner, and all-natural cleaning solution. They are also important ingredients in my homemade salt scrub and clay masks. If you are interested in adding essential oils to your life or gifting to friends this holiday season, start with these three. Essential oils truly add quality to our lives!

For the holiday season, I’m offering a starter kit containing my “Big 3,” including a worksheet to create all of the products above.

Essential Oil Sampler Kit

Stocked up on Lip Balm for the winter?

Beeswax Lip Balm

You can purchase through my Etsy site, or please message me for custom orders.

Thanks for reading!