The Comfort Farm
Following My Heart October 05 2013, 0 Comments[caption id="attachment_559" align="alignnone" width="209"] 16 X 20 Repurposed Pallet Sign[/caption] Following the heart. This is something that I have struggled with. I have typically been one to analyze and over analyze stuffs and situations. I have lived in this fear of following my heart. Always letting my head tell my heart of the what ifs or becauses. My head would always tell me all the reasons why I can't do something. My head often tells my heart that its path is unconventional. But does that mean I am happy and I enjoy every aspect of my life? If i answer myself truthfully, the answer is no. Family, friends, and acquaintances can see the passion and love in the things that truly inspire me. So why haven't I acted on my passion and love? A four letter word called FEAR. That is the only thing keeping me from my dreams. Yeah!!! Can you believe that?!? Not a good thing. So this is where I have to call in reinforcements. I have the support of family and friends. So I think I am good in this aspect. But the majority of it has to come from me. First of all I need Courage. Following my heart is a big step, so Courage is what is needed. Since I have garnered the Courage, I need my Faith. I think I cannot have one without the other. The Courage has to start the process, but Faith will carry me through. This will be the biggest challenge that I have faced, but for once there is no fear. I am looking at this as a wonderful journey. One in which I will meet many interesting characters and have many opportunities for many learning experiences. A sweet wonderful journey. A journey that I want to take many of you on. This will follow in the repurposing of myself and my life. And for all you that may be interested: the sign is a repurposed pallet sign, 16 X 20. And I can customize these signs. Please message me with your questions.
Cooking Lessons: Artisan Bread Loaf January 13 2013, 1 Comment
Whole Grain Artisan Bread LoafEveryone has seen the beautiful artisan breads that Whole Foods and other bread bakeries are selling. I just love the sight and smell of these artisan breads. I found Healthy Bread in Five Minutes a Day by Jeff Hertaberg, M.D., and Zoe Francois. This book has revolutionized the way that I make bread. It has made it super super easy. No kneading required. It saves the hands and the shoulders!! Mine are saying a big thank you. It doesn’t require much hands on. And the results are amazing. I know that bakeries charge $4 to $6 a loaf. Believe me this bread is made for less than $1 a loaf. Incredible!! So let’s get started.
The Master Recipe
- 5 ½ cups whole wheat flour
- 2 cups all purpose flour
- 1 ½ Tablespoons granulated yeast or 2 packages yeast
- 1 Tablespoon kosher salt
- ¼ cup vital wheat gluten
- 4 cups lukewarm water
- Seed mixture (I used a mixture of sunflower, flax, sesame, and poppy seed. I roughly used 1 to 2 teaspoons each)
Next add lukewarm water to the dry ingredients. (Lukewarm water will feel slightly warmer than body temperature.) Mix everything together till there are no dry patches. Do not knead, just stir.
Cover the dough with a lid, make sure it isn’t an airtight lid. If you are using a bowl, it can be covered with plastic wrap. With my dough-rising bucket, I leave the top cracked to prevent build up of the gases from the proofing yeast. Allow your dough mixture to rise for two hours at room temperature.
After the two hour rise you will notice that the top of the dough slightly flattens. It is now ready to go into the refrigerator. I prefer to work with refrigerated dough because it is much easier to handle. You can refrigerate for 3 hours or use within 14 days.
On the baking day prepare a pizza peel with cornmeal, be very generous with the cornmeal. This will prevent the bread from sticking. If you don’t have a pizza peel you can use parchment paper with a little cornmeal.
Sprinkle a little flour on the top of your refrigerated dough and cut a grapefruit size portion (roughly 1 pound) with a serrated knife. Lightly flour your hands so that the dough does not stick to them. Gently stretch the dough around the bottom of your dough. Do this several times. Gently form a narrow oval shaped loaf and put on your pizza peel.
Now we let the loaf rest for about 90 minutes. Cover loosely with plastic wrap. I always cover with a towel also. (I know I am still using my Christmas towels.) During this time it won’t rise much, but will spread a little.
When there is 30 minutes left on the rising, place a baking stone on the middle rack. Then place a metal rimmed baking pan on the bottom rack. Next preheat the oven 450 degrees. Just before the bread is ready to bake, use a pastry brush to paint the top with water. Sprinkle the seed mixture on top of the loaf. Next make slashes with ¼ inch deep parallel cuts with a serrated bread knife. Your bread is now ready to bake. If you are using a pizza baking peel you need to go a quick forward jerking motion to get your bread to slide onto the baking stone. If you just using parchment and you have no baking stone not to worry, just use a baking pan in place of the stone and place your bread and parchment onto the baking pan. (If you are using this method, after 20 minutes remove the parchment paper.) Now quickly pour 1 cup of hot water into the baking pan you have on the bottom shelf. Close the oven door to trap the steam.
Bake the bread for 30 minutes or until the crust is richly browned and firm to the touch. Allow the bread to cool completely on a wire rack before slicing.
When cooled bread can be sliced and enjoyed with your favorite butter or spread.
I loved this bread!!! It has the taste and crumb of the expensive breads I have purchased at Whole Foods and other bakeries. It is super super easy and it is worth your time to try it.
Look out this New Year, because I am ready! January 13 2013, 0 Comments
Believe.My mantra. That is what I continue to tell myself. Believe in the goodness and prosperity The New Year has. I believe in all the possibilities for this wonderful year. (I keep telling myself this one.) Looking back on the past year, yes it has been another tough year, but the past year was a good year in a lot of ways. My oldest daughter, Larissa, got married to a wonderful guy, Les. Sara, the youngest, has grown and learned valuable lessons. It has shown me with all the struggle that I have had over the year I experienced that there are still wonderful people in this world. I, myself, have grown and explored territories that I have only dreamed of. This New Year has given me the belief that I can accomplish all of these wonderful things that I could only dream of such as my dreams of a job that I wouldn't think of as work, the ability to help others and be able to bless them, and countless other things that will come out as the year unfolds. So stay tuned to all that wonderful goodness that is sure to come. So now back to the usual humor. I know you have been waiting for it. I found actually kind of stole it from the Shabby Cowgirl Facebook post.
Happy New Year from Marie & The Comfort Farm! January 02 2013, 0 Comments
“Tomorrow is the first blank page of a 365 page book. Write a good one.” -Brad PaisleyTo think of the year 2013 as a 365 page book, that puts a new spin on it. Hey maybe it could actually be a good thing. Maybe I could write a book. Oh I know!!! I think too too much. Well after contemplating this past year, I have been thinking a lot about New Year’s resolutions. Not that I actually make any and actually stick to them. We all seem to make the same resolutions year after year with the same results. It has really got me to thinking (you might say really?). Well but of course. What things are most important and what can I improve on. Well I would say that could be a very loaded observation; but I will give it my all. Well first and foremost, family and friends. These are the people who are there when you need them most. I am not just saying that, because I feel that I have to. These are the people who have seen me at my absolute worse. And my absolute worse can be pretty scary… I have to give them kudos for that. The little things in life, for those are the things that make up the bigger things. Maybe my one smile may brighten someone’s day. What does it cost me? Nothing but a little effort. How about when Nicky, my grandson, gives me one of his sweet kisses that absolutely melt me. Those are the little things that I will remember as I get older. I will work at keeping Christmas in my heart all through the year. Notice I said will. For it seems at Christmas we are most generous, what about the rest of the year? Don’t many of those same people that we think of at Christmas are the ones that have those same needs the rest of the year? I often time think of these things. Maybe that is my problem… I think a lot… So I think that this might actually be a good start to the New Year. You noticed I said start. I can’t overload my wagon too much. It might be too overwhelming if I did. However, I do need to add one more thing to this year. I will be posting more to my blog. I know that I have been very lazy in posting. There have been many changes here on The Farm; a new website design by some very wonderful people, new ideas, and hopefully some really awesome changes. Who knows maybe I will write a whole book this year! ;)
A Bridal Shower March 11 2012, 2 Comments
Not just any bridal shower, but my daughter, Larissa's bridal shower. Isn't this a cute pic!!! It isn't from her bridal shower but from her engagement party. I just had to use it. She always takes the best photos. She just seems to exude this cheerfulness. Actually her name means cheerful or lighthearted. I do have to say that is her. Can you tell?Okay, I know. I am suppossed to be discussing her bridal shower. I got somewhat sidetracked, well let me call it like it is, alot sidetracked. I couldn't help myself. So where was I? Oh yeah bridal shower. Well I was asked to do all the cooking for the shower. So I devised a menu for this shower. I decided on Shrimp Bowtie Pasta, Ham and Cheese King Hawaiin Rolls, Sweet Chili Glazed Wings, Spinach and Artichoke Dip, Roasted Red Pepper Molded Dip, and Cheese, Fruit and Crackers. Of course there was sweets!!! Chocolate Dipped Strawberries, Painted Decorated Cookies, and a Vanilla Bean Cake with Strawberry Raspberry Basalmic Filling.
This is part of the setup for her shower.
This was the Vanilla Bean Cake with Strawberry Raspberry Basalmic Filling. Noticed I said was.
Chocolate Covered Strawberries
Painted Decorated Cookies
And this was the last of the cake. It was totally demolished!!!! Is it safe to say that it was a good cake. Girlfriend likes her cake!!!Now on to other escapades!!!
Ugly Duckling February 02 2012, 0 CommentsYes it was quite an ugly duckling. In fact it wasn't the only one. It was triplets. Triplets you may say. I know, talking out of my head again. You see, I went to the auction and was actually loading up when the triplets came up. No one wanted them... that is until I saw them.. Yep you guessed it, I got them all for one money. Well needless to say it was love. You know what I mean... the just have to get it and see how I can rescue it kind of love.
Well it has taken some major TLC to make something pretty amazing with this ugly duckling. I sanded her down. It was like giving her a really good bath. And I decided since it was a relatively hard wood, that I wood give her a pickle finish. Yes it is a her. Because that ugly duckling will be beautiful. So on with the rest of the story. I liked the pickle but decided i wanted to tone it down a bit. I like it what I would call dirty. Yes a dirty pickle. Haha. Really talking out of my head now. Well dirtying it up a bit help to tone down the white pickle.Next I had to give her new electrical. So now she would feel all new. Then I did repurpose a lamp shade and it did sit there for about two weeks. It just didn't do it for me. So I decided to get another lamp shade and embellish it a bit. I added some burlap rosettes and leaves. I was so happy with the end result. She is now sitting at Nest Interiors in Ponchatoula waiting for her new home. I am sure someone will take it and put her to very good use.
Embroidered cookies February 01 2012, 0 Comments
I did say embroidered cookies. I know, I know; they don't really look embroidered. To tell the absolute truth, they are painted. What you say? Painted? Yes painted. Not in the traditional sense, but I did use a paint brush and royal icing. What do you think? I think they came out really nice for a first try.I am actually making some of these for my oldest daughter's wedding shower. You saying What again? Yes my oldest is getting married in April. Along with the list of other things I have going on. However, if you would like some of these very special cookies, I can do them. Just note, it will take approximately 3 days for me to do these or any decorated cookies. This all depends on the weather. As you all know we have had some really crummy weather for the past week, very humid and it really takes longer for the cookies to set and dry.
The Cookie Chronicles: Part I December 05 2011, 0 Comments
You may ask why the Cookie Chronicles? Well this is the time of year when I start my holiday cookie baking. This year will be a great year for cookies!!!! How do I know this? Because here at The Comfort Farm we intend to spread the joy of these wonderful magical cookies. Oh how are they magical? That is an easy one. Each cookie is made with fresh ingredients such as sugar, flour, eggs, butter (can't forget the butter), spices and all those wonderful cookie things that make cookies cookies. Oh and one last thing that makes these cookies extra extra special: the joy that I put into each one of these cookies. Many of my friends and family have their favorites. And this year I intend to make those and add a few new ones to the mix.
The first cookie I made tonight was the gingerbread snowflake cookie. It has been made with all those wonderous things that make cookies magical. I personally think that it looks somewhat magical. It is iced and then flocked with sugar. I sometimes tint my sugar a light blue, really looks pretty. These little pretties will be perched on the edge of a mug that has homemade marshmallows, cocoa mix, and a candy cane for stirring. It will be one of the items offered this Christmas.
These little cookies are windmill cookies. These were the second cookies that I decided to make tonight. They are called windmill cookies because they are shaped like the blades of the windmills in Holland. It is an excellent spice cookie with almonds. They complement tea or coffee.
And the last cookie tonight is actually the cornmeal cranberry cookie. I know; it sounds weird, but it is actually very good. It does have cornmeal, cranberries and orange zest in the dough. It is a rather crumbly textured cookie, not too sweet.
This was the first part of my cookie chronicles. As I mix and bake more cookies, I will post them. Of course anyone could have a bit of this Christmas magic when you order my cookie tins. I make a variety tin or for those of you who have faves I can make tins with one kind of cookie. Just email me with your special request and I can send pricing to you.Continue to look for other cookies in the coming week. Happy Eating!!! ~Marie
Cakes Galore!!! November 28 2011, 1 Comment
I had a friend that I used to work with that asked me to make her daughter's wedding cake. She told me that she always loved the stuff that I brought to work and liked that I made things from scratch. Well I was a little skeptical at first. I asked her if her and her daughter were comfortable with me making her cake. And she said yes. So I undertook the project. I brought samples to them for a tasting and adjustments were made to the filling. She decided on a vanilla almond cake with pineapple curd filling for two layers and chocolate ganache filling for the others. She chose a traditional buttercream for her frosting. For the groom's cake she chose a strawberry cake with a traditional buttercream.I started a couple of days before, however, the day before and the day of the wedding the weather was not cooperating at all. By the day of the wedding it was raining and I was having major issues with icing. I was on the verge of tears at one point, but the bride's mom said no worries. Well I worked on it and finally decided enough was enough and decided to put ribbons, pulls, and monograms on. Everyone who walked by thought that it was a fondant cake and were surprised when I told them it was buttercream. The bride's mom texted me the next day and said that everyone thought it was beautiful and was the best tasting cake they have eaten. The grandmother had eaten several pieces of the wedding cake. I was so ecstatic of the good comments, I was once again almost brought to tears.
This is the Smore's cake that I made for my daughter to bring to her future mother in law's Thanksgiving. It was a dark chocolate cake with a malted milk frosting and then had two layers with a toasted marshmallow filling. This was actually a six layer cake. Talk about rich. Also had several good comments on this cake also. It wasn't a small cake. LOLHope to be bringing you bunches of yummy treats in the coming weeks. Happy Eating!! Marie
Pies, Pies, Pies, Oh my!! November 28 2011, 0 Comments
There I have said it. Pies, pies, pies. The pies have it. I have made several of these beauties before Thanksgiving for orders. I made sweet potato and pecan pies. I also made a smores cake for my oldest daughter to bring to her future mother-in-laws. Everything I make is from scratch - even my pie crusts are from scratch. I will continue to take order for pies and other sweet things. Just give me a couple days notice.
One Potato, Two Potato November 19 2011, 0 CommentsWow!!! I was truly blessed with not one but three cases of sweet potatoes. You may ask what do you do with sooooo many sweet potatoes. Well let me tell you - sweet potato butter (Larissa puts it on graham crackers), sweet potato bread (sweet potato butter is also good on it), and pie. I am sure that I will be working on a few more recipes for all of those sweet potatoes. By the way, I do sell my items. You can inbox me.
After canning 3 dozen jars of sweet potato butter and making 4 loaves of sweet potato bread I still have over two cases of these wonderful little jewels. If any of my readers have any ideas for sweet potatoes, please post.
Spicy Orange Fig Jam September 12 2011, 0 CommentsA few weeks ago I decided to enter a contest for the Baton Rouge Farmer's Market. I decided to enter my Spicy Orange Fig Jam and my Tomato Basil Simmer Sauce. Well I have attached the results.
I was excited to win first in the fig category!!!Canning Competition Winners Awards for the Market's 1st Canning Competition were given out last Saturday by special guests Glen Davis and Mayor Kip Holden. Edith Johnson took the Grand Prize with her delicious peach preserves! Congratulations to all of the following winners: Jams, Jellies, & Fruit Preserves 1st Place – Peach Preserves, Edith Johnson 2nd Place – Wild Pear Preserves, Carol Anne Blitzer & Virginia Noland 3rd Place – Pear Honey, Joyce James Honorable Mention – Mayhaw Jelly, Teresa Olinde Honorable Mention – Strawberry Jalapeno Jam, Caroline Tyler Figs 1st Place – Spicy Fig Orange Jam, Maria Anastasia Knight 2nd Place – Brown Fig Jam, Gwen McDaniel 3rd Place – Fig Preserves, Edith Johnson Honorable Mention – Fig Preserves, Chris Frink Pickling 1st Place – Squash Pickles, Liz Nassar 2nd Place – Spicy Love Pickles, Amanda Love 3rd Place – Squash Pickles, Lori Melancon Honorable Mention – Spicy Pickled Everything, Abigail Spaht Honorable Mention – Bread & Butter Pickles, Gwen McDaniel Savory Sauces, Soups & Spreads 1st Place – Duck Gumbo, Marilyn Milton 2nd Place – Pepper Jelly, Ashley Savoy 3rd Place – Olive Salad Topping, Andrea Smith Honorable Mention – Caponata "Italian Relish", Lori Poirrier
Tea and Scones August 31 2011, 0 CommentsI had the chance today to have wonderful tea and scones at the English Tea Room in Covington, LA. I can say that I am very picky about my scones, but theirs were some of the best ones I have ever had. My mom had the cranberry orange and I had the plain jane vanilla. They also served the clotted cream, lemon curd, and preserves on the side. How delightful. And the tea. It is so nice to be able to share a pot of tea with someone and just spend time with them and enjoying being with them.
The atmosphere was wonderful and the waitstaff were most entertaining and gracious. I do foresee another trip to the Tea Room in our future.
Back To My Roots August 30 2011, 0 CommentsYes that is where I am going - back to my roots of some sort. It all started with my Dad. Well actually you could go back further than that, but I will stick with immediate family. My Dad was or should I say is an oyster fisherman. I think once one always one. He would fish oysters as a young boy and worked on one of the first oyster boats in Plaquemine's Parish. Her name was the Oyster Queen. He has gone back to this trade several times in his adult life and occasionally fishes.
Like I said I was going back to my roots. I myself am not an oyster fisherman. I am not a fan of oysters at all. I don't eat them. I detest the slimy little critters, but that is my personal choice. Which brings me to the present. I saw Lisa at Nest Interiors a couple of weeks ago and she suggested ornaments from oyster shells, well you know me. My Dad told me he had buckets of oyster shells at his house. Yes you know what happened next. They ended up at my house, well let's just say one bucket did. So I bleached and dried them. Next came the varnish and paint. This is what I came up with. I don't think it is too shabby for repurposing a shell.
Cake Balls and Tomato Sauce July 29 2011, 0 Comments
Yes it was a day of Sweet Potato Spice Cake Balls and Tomato Basil Simmering Sauce. But let me tell you how it all started. It started at the produce stand. Really now, no joke. I went to the local produce stand to buy one case of canners. I was actually supposed to pick one up the day before but when I got there they were closed. So I went back yesterday to see if they had any. The owner told me to go look at some tomatoes that were on their way out. I ended up with two cases and when I asked how much I owe and he said we would work it out later. WOW!!! Free!!! I don't know about you but that is my favorite.So I made it to the house so I could sift through the tomatoes and ended up with roughly 40 pounds of tomatoes between the two cases. So then it was time to boil water to dip the tomatoes in to make them easier to peel and chop. This is waht 40 pounds of chopped tomatoes look like.
Doesn't look like 40 pounds. After cooking and reducing the sauce and adding all the other wonderful herbs, sundried tomatoes and roasted garlic I ended up with 15 pints of wonderful yummy goodness. See above for the finished product.Now you are probably asking what did you do while you were waiting for the sauce to simmer. Well a few weeks ago I came up with a recipe for a cake while sleeping. That puts new meaning to working 24/7. And then I decided I would incorporate it into a cake ball. I know crazy stuff. So I started my experiment in true Comfort Farm style. Let me tell you I thought it was the moistest cake. Then I crumbled it up and added the homemade cream cheese icing. Then rolled and dipped. Pure yumminess in a ball. Of course I am somewhat biased. If anything I thought they would make a good photo prop. That was just part of my day. Read on in my repurposed life for the rest of my day.
Eggs Anyone? July 29 2011, 0 Comments
Some of you know that I display my products at select Arts and Crafts shows. Well I have applied to the Baton Rouge Arts Market. I had to include 5 pictures of each product and 2 actual pieces with my application. Well I decided to design a new piece based on a sign that I saw elsewhere and this is what I came up with. I knew it would be a great piece to bring for the application process. It has quickly become one of my favorites. I should know something within the next couple of weeks. I will keep everyone posted.
Saying Good bye July 24 2011, 0 Comments
I know it has been some time since I have posted. It has been a very hectic week. I had to say good bye to one of my dear friends, Miss Ginny. She had been missing for about 6 weeks and decided to show up on a Sunday. She was nothing but skin and bones and severely matted. She was never a small cat, she was more on the portly side and to see her like this was very shocking. I tried to get her to eat over a couple of weeks, but unfortunately her kidneys and liver were shutting down. The vet confirmed what I already knew and stated that it was best that she wouldn't suffer any more. Most of my animals have come to me in some unusual of circumstances. Miss Ginny was no different. She is what I called my Katrina cat. She belonged to college students. These students left her with a friend that left her outside and dogs ran her through a barbed wire fence. Well when they actually asked me to take her, her hind quarters were shaved and stitched. However, at that time her name wasn't Miss Ginny. It was Gwen Biffani, leave it to a college student. At that time she didn't like anyone and was scared of everything even her own shadow. Well they say that love and kindness can cure and with time she came to love me. Needless to say I loved her from the beginning. She became one of the best companions in my life. Miss Ginny's final home is next to Starr Dogg down by the pond. Starr's demeanor will be most comforting to Miss Ginny. And Starr can show Miss Ginny the ropes so to speak. My life has been enriched by these gentle creatures and they will forever hold a very special place in my heart.
Repurposing Fanatic July 13 2011, 0 Comments
Some people wonder what I do all day now that I am unemployed. Well I don't want any of you to worry, I stay very busy. Recently my creative juices have been flowing quite freely. Maybe I should say that they have flooded my mind and creativity. This could be a good thing or a very bad thing. Sometimes my poor little mind is overwhelmed with possibilities. And yes I have many. I see creative ideas of others and improve on them and make them my own. Sometimes I come up with my very own. Imagine that!! Well today I made a little hanging vase out of some repurposed wood and took a jelly jar and some strapping material and upholstery tacks and made this. I think it came out pretty awesome. I have a few other things in the works, but sometimes it is a trial and error kind of thing. But don't worry your pretty little head, where there is a will there is a way! Check back in a day or so and see some other fantastic results.
Busy, Busy, Busy July 11 2011, 0 Comments
Some days it just seems like you don't get much accomplished, but if you sit back and actually look at it you see you have accomplished more than you thought. I first started the morning out with an iced coffee and decided how I would actually tackle my day. Some think that being unemployed that I sit around and eat bon bons all day. There is nothing farther from the truth. I think I may actually work harder than I do when I am actually employed. I first started my red beans so they could slowly simmer. Next I prepared my tomatoes for the simmer sauce. All the tomatoes needed to peeled and chopped. Once all of that was started I then began on some signs that I want to include at Nest Interiors this week. I decided to start with my Believe Slate which is similar to the one that I sold last week. Also I am working on a new Strawberry sign. This sign when finished it will look sort of old and antiquey looking. I am kind of partial to this style of signs. While the signs were drying I decided to work on some Blueberry Scones. I love making scones. The butter and heavy cream has this wonderful smell. And when they come out the oven they smell even more delicous... That was my itinerary pretty much for the day. Of course that didn't include the feeding of the critters, the washing and putting up the dishes and any of the other daily things that I ave going on. So I think I can safely say that I was a little busy today.
Happy Fourth!!! July 04 2011, 0 Comments
“Life without liberty is like a body without spirit.” Kahlil Gibran So for my very first post to my fledgling website I give you a little food for thought. On this Fourth of July, what does life and liberty mean to you? For me life and liberty is everything, without it would be like not having air to breathe. So as we celebrate today, stop and think what it really means to you as America.