Saturday, November 5, 2011

Wild Edible Foods!

We recently bought Nature's Garden, Samuel Thayers book on foraging for wild edible plants, and I can't say enough about how awesome it is. Not only does the book go into great detail about 40 or so American wild edibles, but 98% can be found in North Carolina where we live. Samuel provides enough information to make you feel confident about exploring wild food in a safe manner. As Sam explains, you should never eat anything you're not absolutely confident about, but learning to tell the difference between wild varieties can often be as easy as telling the difference between a head of cabbage and a head of iceberg lettuce. We can all do it, it just takes basic observation skills, committment, and time.

Our first foray into wild food was not in Thayer's book, but since I'd observed and researched the above mushroom over an extended period, we felt very safe digging in. This is a cauliflower mushroom and is typically found at the base of conifers in our region during the late summer and early fall. Even though we were super confident on our identification, we took Samuel's advice and only ate a few bites the first night as never know how you'll react to any new food - wild or otherwise. Fortunately, we found this mushroom simply delectable!

Day two we went all out - spicy Guinea Hog burgers topped with Guinea Hog bacon, cheese, and sauteed wild mushroom . . . yummmmmmmmm!

We will definitely try this one again!

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Best Sweet Potato Pie . . . Ever!

Scott finally made that sweet potato pie he promised - our sweet potatoes, home-rendered lard, and farm fresh eggs plus a few non-homegrown ingredients.

Here's our recipe for a 9" pie.

If you have time, make crust and chill overnight.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees before baking.

Pie Crust
1 1/3 cup all purpose flour
1/2 heaping teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 cup well-chilled lard
3-4 tablespoons bourbon (water can be used, but bourbon or vodka will produce a more tender crust)

Sift flour into large bowl
Add salt and mix thoroughly
Add chilled lard and cut in with two knives until lard is the size of peas
Add just enough bourbon to form a dry dough ball
Refrigerate for at least 30 minutes (overnight is better)
Place ball on well floured surface
Mash out with hands until approximately 6 inches in diameter
Flour top of crust and flip
Flour top again and roll to desired thickness
Gently fold in half and place in pie plate
Gently form to plate and trim or crimp edge

Here's what a 1/2 cup of our homemade lard looks like.
Crisco can be substituted.

Cutting in the lard.

The bourbon and lard are Scott's secret to a tender crust.

Pie Filling
1 pound of baked sweet potatoes
1/2 cup butter, softened
1 cup dark brown sugar (firmly packed)
1/2 cup milk
3 medium-sized farm fresh eggs (or 2 large eggs)
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/2 teasponn ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon dried ginger

Bake sweet potatoes until tender, then remove skin.
Mash sweet potatoes in bowl.
Add butter and mix thoroughly (we us a Kitchenaid mixer).
Stir in sugar, milk, eggs, nutmeg, cinnamon, and ginger.
Beat on medium speed until smooth, then add vanilla and mix.
Lastly, run through ricer to guarantee smooth consistency, and pour filling into unbaked pie crust.

Cooking Directions
Cook pie for 50-60 minutes at 350 degrees (until knife inserted in the center comes out clean)
Cool pie to room temperture, add homemade whipped cream, and serve.

Sunday, July 31, 2011

Spanish Goats and Sweet Potatoes

Well, it's been a busy summer. Between two graduate classes, traveling to Atlanta and Spokane, and working full time for Scott, I haven't had much time to blog, so I'll do my best to sum up what's been going on at the farm in this post.

The garden did horribly this year. It's just been too hot! We harvested a few ears of sweet corn last month, but our field corn (which was shoulder high and beautiful at the beginning of June) didn't produce at all. Our tomatoes grew like crazy, but most got blossom end rot and had to be thrown out, and any that were edible were consumed by the rabbits. Thank goodness our sweet potatoes did well! We harvested them today and look forward to devouring some very soon - think SWEET POTATO PIE!

Yesterday we delivered four gilts to customers and picked up two 4-month old Spanish goats for ourselves. Godiva, the brown one, is extremely curious and outgoing, while the black one (Snickers) is a bit shy. The girls are currently in a holding pen so they can adjust to their new home, but we hope to introduce them to more of the property (and the pigs) very soon.

These little ladies will be the foundation of our breeding stock and will be in charge of landscaping all fenced areas of the property . . . let's just hope we can keep them out of the orchard!

Nothing quite like sweet feed for making friends!

Looking forward to FALL!

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Hot Weather; Cool Pigs

The weather has been miserable hot in Southeastern NC since about mid-May. . .  
but we've got some really cool little pigs.


Magnolia had a litter of three boys and five girls on June 7th. Unfortunately within two days of their birth, two baby pigs were dead. We think Magnolia smothered them but can't say for sure. We assured her that our freezer had room for extra sausage, and she's been a doting mother ever since.

All six remaining babies are spoken for at the moment, but we're hoping Scarlet is pregant and will have a litter herself within a couple of months. Here are some pictures of the happy and healthy little guys and gals.

If interested in getting a pig from Scarlet's litter, email

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Decorative Hand Hoe

Scott got an order for another hand hoe, so he banged one out while heat treating knives for the Blade Show in June. See what you think.

Which reminds me . . . I need to hoe the garden!

If you want to see more of Scott's metal work, go to, and I'll post more on the garden soon.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Making Traditional Bark Baskets

Over Easter Scott mom decided that we needed to try making baskets out of tree bark. She has a traditional style bark basket from the North Carolina mountains, so using it as a template and a handout as a guide, we trudged into the forest to find the right trees for our project.

Scott's parents live just north of Raleigh, NC on a heavily wooded tract of land. The handout on making traditional NC mountain baskets stated that poplar tree bark should be used for the basket and hickory bark for the thread, and specified that the deed should be done in mid-July around the time of the full moon. Well, being in an area quite a bit warmer than the mountains, and given that we might not be at her house in July, Peggy decided that Easter week was the right time for making baskets in central NC and declared that full moon or not, we had a mission to fulfill.

Scott found a poplar and tested the bark to see if it would come off after being cut with a hatchet and pounded upon with a hammer. The pounding separates the outer bark from the inner tree but will only work at certain times of the year. Voila'! It worked like a charm, so he broke out the chain saw and dropped the tree on the ground.

Well you didn't really expect us to make the baskets in the forest did you? It's tick season.

After cutting the poplar into manageable sections and finding a few small hickories for thread, we headed back to the shade of a tent beside the house and set the entire family to work. Check it out - these folks are all expert bark basket makers now!

Scott found an old dogwood cudgel that he made as a teenager and put it to work separating the bark from the inner tree. It was the perfect tool. Once beaten to submission, the bark will pull away relatively easily in large sections.

Next, you have to scribe a football shaped line in the outer bark near the center of the basket to make the bottom. This has to be done carefully to prevent cutting through the inner bark, and allows the basket to fold into shape. Here's Bonnie doing a fine job with one of Scott's custom knives.

Apparently it is very important to have lots of supervisors when scribing! Good work Grandpa and Dylan.

Next you have to make holes for the thread. Yes, we cheated again - power drills definitely make the job easier. Hard to tell in the picture, but Conner is pounding hickory bark to get the inner strands off for thread while Jacob drills holes in the basket.

Soak the bark to make it thread easily, thread away, tie it off, and . . . viola' . . . you have a basket!

Hmmmm . . . since we're supposed to be in the mountains this July . . .

Monday, April 18, 2011

Vintage Gravely Walk Behind Tractor - SOLD!

Scott, the kids, and I spent the weekend cleaning up this 1961 Gravely walk-behind tractor with mower, sickle, and chipper attachments. It's a great machine that we thought we'd use around the farm a lot after Scott aquired it, but the purchase of a shiny new BCS walk-behind tractor/tiller for the garden quickly relegated this antique to the shed. We considered restoring the Gravely to take along when demonstrating blacksmithing at the local farm shows, but we simply don't have the time between graduate school, work, the farm, and Scott's knifemaking . . . and we could really use the space:)

So, we've decided to sell. If you're interested, let us know. If  you know someone who might be, pass the info along. This is a highly restorable, mostly original, very functional Gravely tractor. The engine is the original Gravely and, although a few things could be tweaked, everything works.

The chipper was originally green, as indicated by a few spots where the tan paint didn't adher. 

The sickle has a few broken teeth, but all the parts move freely, and the attachment link is immaculate.

We even have the original manual, some maintance records and other Gravely artifacts.

We're asking $1000 for everything and are located in Clarkton, NC. Email if you have additional questions.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Lake Waccamaw Southern Farm Days

In March the entire family demonstrated at the Lake Waccamaw Southern Farm Days Festival. Scott, the bladesmith and blacksmith, forged over green coal and was assisted by his two sons - Jacob and Conner.

Scott's mom Peggy, daughter Bonnie, and nephew Cullen cooked traditional style.

 Apple dumplings - Conner helped by eating the peelings.

 Fire roasted apples

Chicken roasted in a traditional reflector oven

Corned beef . . .  

. . . browned to perfection by Cullen . . .

. . . under a salamader blacksmithed by E. Scott McGhee.

Cowboys, wranglers, saloon gals, and all kinds of interesting folk attended the event.

See you next year!