Tag Archives: pie

Happy Thanksgiving!

Really, this is the best holiday quite possibly ever invented.  We gather around a table with family and friends to share a meal and literally give thanks for all that we have been given.  I can definitely count myself as one who is truly blessed:  with good health, a wonderful life partner, a loving family, a very satisfying life, with lots of adventures to look forward to.  We continue to wait to close on our property, which we first saw last year on Thanksgiving Day.  The seller needs to put in a working septic system, and we have figured out where that will go, and then the driveway over the culvert needs to be widened to the fire marshal’s satisfaction.  We expect closing to happen sometime in January, hopefully around my birthday if all goes well.

extra southern style pecan pie, with a western take on an east coast classic cocktail...

extra southern style pecan pie, with a western take on an east coast classic cocktail…

Above all, I am thankful for the brilliant invention of pie.  This year’s Thanksgiving home run was a Sorghum Molasses (crushed and cooked up by my oldest friend and her team of Belgingers in NC) Bourbon Pecan Pie.  It was delicious.  And speaking of brilliant inventions, I invented a mixed drink this fall after infusing some mid range bourbon with Marionberries:  a blackberry Manhattan I have called the Black Friday.  The ingredients are the usual proportions of Blackberry infused bourbon, vermouth, bitters, a couple of tablespoons of blackberry apple cider puree, and garnished with a couple of the bourbon pickled marionberries.  Dark, smoky, sweet, and berry-licious.  And it goes fantastically with Bourbon Sorghum Molasses Pecan Pie.  To infuse the bourbon, I simply filled a jar with berries, topped it off with bourbon, let it infuse for a month, and then filtered.  I kept the bourbon pickled berries for garnish, clearly.

Here is the recipe for Sorghum Pecan Pie that I used, just add a couple of tablespoons of bourbon, and there you are.  Happy Holidays!


What’s in a name?

Before I get into all that, some quick farm news.  We hear back from the county next month….I am pretty wore out with waiting, luckily work has been busy and keeping me somewhat focused.  Somewhat.  The apples from the old tree at the Bunion are excellent, and we put as many as we could to good use.  I think it is a Gravenstein.

this was really good pie.

this was really good pie.

And, they have finally finished the logging.  I am really glad that they got the bulk of that work done before we bought, as they have grrred all over the farm.  The upside, we got a lot of new rock on the farm roads and should have quite a stash of firewood from the slash piles.  The downside, well, you can see the downside.

progress? progress.

progress? progress.



I have been spending a lot of my spare time in the last few years trying to acquire the skills and information I’ll need to make my business and farm work.  I have never had my own business before, and while I feel pretty good about my abilities to raise animals (at least rabbits and honeybees and chickens) and grow vegetables, and in general build stuff like greenhouses and fences and animal housing, I am much more nervous about the business end of things.  In particular, marketing.  The first thing I need?  A good farm name.  I played around with this for a long time, and came up with a lot of names:

Here’s a partial list:  corny names (Soggy Pocket Farm),slightly off color names (Horny Goat Farm, Dirty Hoe Farm), just plain bad names (Silly Goose Farm) names that were already taken (Sidewalk’s End), Portlandia style names (Do It Yourself Farm), minimalist farm names (Earthy), obscure literary reference names (Yeasty Ferment Farm), brutally honest farm names (What You Really Want is a Pony Farm, Midlife Crisis Farm), bad pun farm names (Wiseacre Farm, Rural Growth Boundary Farm), low moment farm names (Invasive Nonnative Farm, Weed and Feed Farm), homage to Joel Salatin farm names (Your Ass is Grass Farm), gen X farm names (MudHoney Farm….may be some trademark issues with that one, but a pretty good Oregon farm name I thought!), AC/DC inspired farm names (Dirty Deeds Farm)….the list went on and on.  And there, at the very end of the list, maybe 4th from the bottom of over 60 possible farm names, there it was.  Long Run Farm.  Now this farm name has a story, which is the second thing I need for marketing.

Long Run is what my family has always called that beautiful piece of land outside of Shelbyville, Kentucky that my grandfather Roscoe Dalton bought with his cousin Ed Dumesnil back in the late 50’s.  Papa D bought that place I think not with an eye to its usefulness as a piece of agricultural ground (the soils are mostly clay, though there is some decent bottomland along the creek) but because it was beautiful, and in particular, it was really good foxhunting country with its gently rolling ground, brushy thickets, and year round streams and ponds.  It was also good for raising some beef cattle and hay (and a LOT of white tailed deer), which is primarily what that farm has done ever since.  But my grandfather started Long Run Hounds, and was famous for sweet talking all the neighboring farmers into letting him and his friends ride through the country chasing red and grey fox every winter, and he may have even convinced the horsier ones to come along.  The creek that runs through it was always known locally as Long Run creek, though it was not officially named so until the 90’s (the name is actually redundant, as a creek in that part of Kentucky is often referred to as a ‘run’).  When the hounds get on the scent of a fox and take off, and the field of riders follow behind as fast as they can get across the country, that is also called a run, so of course the name for us has always been a double entendre.  When I was a kid we would have a big fish fry by the creek every summer, under a beautiful old sycamore.  In the fall we would go to the Blessing of the Hounds, the opening day for hunt season, and of course, whenever Dad could drag me out of bed (which I am very sorry to report was not very often!) I would join the hunt in the winter time.  The best part of the hunt really was when the day was over and we would all gather for a potluck around a roaring fire in the lodge, and I would listen to my uncle Stuart and Carl Rankin in particular tell hilarious anecdotes with the particular dry low key humor unique to that region (if you have read any Wendell Berry fiction you have had a taste of it).   A lot has changed over the years, most of the surrounding countryside has been lost to development, the old sycamore is gone, but my family still owns that land (and the ‘back farm’, an additional property that was purchased later on).  The hunt lodge is still there with it’s millstone step up to the porch, with pictures on the walls of my grandfather, my uncle, and lots of other colorful characters that are gone now too.  Every time I go home my father and I make time to go out there and ride (or lately, drive) around the place.  It is as beautiful as ever.

So, I will take the name Long Run for the Bunion as my little piece of family and of Kentucky that I can put into this Oregon venture.  If we land the Bunion, I will have a little clay, a little bottom land, a year round creek (though it is by no means long, I think it heads up less than a mile from its mouth in the Tualatin), and lots of brushy thickets.  And of course, it is a double entendre for us too, it has been a long run getting to where we are now (currently we often refer to it as Long Wait Farm), and we hope we will be there for a good long run, and of course, we will farm it with an eye for the long term too.  Maybe I will plant a sycamore down by the creek some day…though perhaps it should be a red cedar, and we should have salmon bakes instead of fish fries under it, Oregon style.

an early attempt at a logo

an early attempt at a logo….time to pull in the professionals!

Fall is the time for apples

you can guess how long an apple tart lasts around my house

We had a great crop of apples this year, in spite of the long wet spring.  A lot of trees in the neighborhood got pretty scabby, and I had my first instance of fire blight that I have ever seen (in my vast 12 year experience with two apple trees).  In spite of the disease pressure, the intense insect pressure (my neighborhood was formerly an orchard, and there are a LOT of old untended fruit and nut trees) and the cold spring we had a perfect weather window for pollination.  The Prima apple, which has a tendency to bear biannually anyway, was loaded with fruit, and I thinned it 3 times.  I still can’t make use of all the apples unfortunately, in spite of canning applesauce, freezing slices for future pies, and pressing 100 pounds for cider, I still have ground up 6 five gallon buckets worth of windfalls.  The bunnies get apples every three days or so, and so did the chicken until I “passed the salt” last week to Square Peg Farm.  It makes me wish we had a pig to finish.  The Prima is a very disease resistant early-midseason (early Sept) apple that makes fair to middlin’ pie, sauce and cider.  It is ok to eat out of hand, but nothing special, and it doesn’t keep for very long.  My other apple is a mid season (mid-late September-early October) called Fall Russet.  It is supposed to be an excellent eating and cider apple, though this is the first year it has borne any kind of harvest.  The apple is small, homely, with a rough potato like skin, and it browns almost immediately upon cutting, but it tastes beautiful (which is why I planted this variety in the first place).

Fall Russet apple

This tree is more susceptible to scab and other apple plagues, and my insect pressure is so high it is hard to keep apples for any length of time unless they have been footied to keep the apple maggots out or chilled to keep the bugs dormant.  I footied a few, we will see how they do.

Fall russet with footie

Of all the things I have tried to grow using organic methods, I have to say apples are far and away the hardest.  The list of viruses, fungal infections and pests for this fruit are legion.  It doesn’t help that there are a hundred trees within a few blocks that are acting as annual breeding sites for all of these pests….it is almost pointless for me to try to trap, spray, and keep my mini orchard free of windfalls.

sorry this is blurry but you get the picture. The apple on the left was ‘footied’, the apple on the right was not.

The next generation only has to fly a few hundred feet to find my trees.  That said, I love apples with all my heart, and can’t wait to plant a pie, winter keeper and cider-focused orchard!  We keep visualizing our little farm….and are going to a big harvest party this weekend where we will spread the word about our quest to 150-plus fellow revelers.  I will try to harvest the russets this weekend, and maybe press some more cider (and make my husband some birthday pie).  The Comice pear also bore a small harvest, but the tree has gotten so tall and out of hand (I have not kept up on pruning it like the apples) that most of the fruit is out of reach of my pickin’ pole.  For some reason, the bugs don’t really bother this winter pear, which is another reason to love it.
And now…bunny pics.

a good indicator of pregnitude….a well stuffed bunny nest

Snack’s last batch of kits growing quickly!

Fall in the garden

Well, I try not to.  The pears sure are doing so, and sometimes when you step on a rotten pear…..

Speaking of pears, the Comice had the best crop of winter pears ever this year, after the coolest rainiest crummiest spring imaginable.  The good weather window must have been open when this tree blossomed.  Winter pears can be tricky, they need a long chilling period to ripen properly.  The comice pear is in my opinion the best in hand eating pear, so it is worth the effort.  For proper ripening I chill mine by bagging the best, biggest, unblemished pears up in old grocery produce bags or ziplocs, fill the bags with my hot air as best I can and stuff them in the back of the fridge….for at least 30 days.

If you let these pears ripen on the tree they will ripen from the core outward, so when the pear appears to be ripe on the outside it is basically rotten on the inside.  Chilling somehow evens out this ripening process, allowing the fruit to ripen evenly all the way through.  You pick these pears when they still look pretty green, I picked the bulk of mine in late September, this also keeps them from getting too gritty in texture.  You want to bag them in the fridge, otherwise the fridge’s arid environment will dry them out.  When they have been chilled long enough, I take a bag out at a time and let them ripen on the counter.  My favorite way to eat a perfectly ripe comice pear is sliced fresh, and consumed along with a nice stinky blue cheese (Stilton is a classic pairing).  I also make a simple tart of pear baked with honey, a dash of cinnamon, and a few fresh rosemary leaves.  And if you have more pears than you know what to do with?  Slice them up and dry them in the food dryer, and I guarantee they will disappear.  Having a big pear harvest also is a great motivator for me to clean out the fridge, although Huz really gets the credit this round for doing the full edit of old mystery jars and long in the tooth condiments.

Here is the simple pear tart recipe:


1/2 stick butter (4 tablespoons)

2 tablespoons lard

1 cup flour

1/2 teaspoon sugar

1/4 teaspoon salt

3-4 tablespoons ice water


2-3 perfectly ripe pears



fresh rosemary leaves

blend the flour, sugar, salt in a bowl.  Dice up 1/4 stick of butter and using a pastry tool, break up the butter in the flour until the mixture is the texture of course cornmeal.  Add the other 1/4 stick of butter and lard (you can substitute an additional 2 tablespoons of butter if you don’t have lard) and blend until the butter and lard is the size of small peas.  Add a couple of tablespoons of water and toss gently, don’t squeeze or mix too vigorously, this will make your crust tough.  Add more water as needed until the mixture seems appropriately moist and looks a little ‘ropey’.  Place bowl in fridge to chill for about a half hour.

Slice perfectly ripe room temperature pears and toss with a few tablespoons of honey.  Let them sit for a few minutes, so the fruit can macerate slightly.

When fully chilled, make a ball of the crust mixture, and roll out the dough (I usually make 5 or 6 single serving sized crusts)on a well floured board in a circle that is about 2 inches larger in diameter than your finished tart.  Moving around the edge of the circle, fold the crust inward about 1/2 and inch or so to create a shallow cup with a scalloped edge.  Spoon an appropriate amount of pear/honey mixture in the middle of the tart, and add a few crushed leaves of fresh rosemary and a dash of cinnamon.  Brush the edges of the tarts with milk or cream and sprinkle some coarse sugar on them if you like.  Pop in the oven and bake at 400* until the crust edges are toasty brown and the pear filling looks bubbly.  Wonderful for breakfast with good strong coffee.  Also lovely for dessert with aged or stinky cheeses.

I need to stay on top of collecting the down fruit, some of which goes to the hens, but most of which is ground up in the compost grinder for faster decomposition.   This helps reduce  next year’s population of fruit pests, and also limits the likelihood of living up to this blog’s title. The big box of pear seconds has been left in the basement to soften up for a week or two, and I am hoping to press those for cider this week.  Otherwise, pear butter is not a bad secondary option (if I have enough mason jars left….)

Goodbye summer

Summer here was late late late!  For a vitamin A deprived compulsive gardener a long rainy June was cruel and unusual punishment.  But I am going to try to remember summer 2010 for it’s good parts.  It never got too hot or dusty.  We upped our apiary from 1 hive to 4, which all seem to be in pretty good shape for winter.  We found a new fishing spot for fall chinook in the Columbia, and caught some nice steelhead too.  It was far too short, but maybe October will smile on us with some extra sun.

Beneficial pollinators.  After a presentation from a member of the Xerces society at my local beekeeping group I wandered around in the garden and shot this, a species of miner bee with big pollen baskets.

And a friend called me to go sour cherry picking in the Columbia Gorge after I failed to pick any in the Willamette Valley.  Result:  delicious pie.

Think I will make another one of these for my husband’s birthday this weekend….let them eat cake, we prefer pie.

And, though they were late, they came in by the bushel over about two weeks:  delicious, beautiful tomatoes.

pacific rim tomatoes: Portland developed Gill's All Purpose and asian Tsi Bu.

the italians: striped roman and principe borghese

the super reliable and delicious southern slicer: purple cherokee

We try to can at least 52 pints of tomato sauce every fall.  I had to buy 40 additional pounds of tomatoes this year to make it, but we have over 60 pints which should get us through until next tomato season.

We also had a great harvest from our Prima apple.  For the first time I used nylon footies to cover some of the apples which protects them from both codling moths and apple maggots, and thinned the tree twice as it tends to bear every two years otherwise.  It is an early apple that doesn’t keep well but makes great pie.  The ‘footied’ apples were pristine and perfect!  My other apple, a golden russet, struggled with scab as a result of our cool wet spring.  I can’t wait until the day when I have room for a real orchard and a cider press, with the full spectrum of in hand eaters, bakers, keepers and cider apples.  Till then, pie and apple sauce from the two I have will have to suffice.  Apples are a great transition into Oregon fall, season of chinook fishing on the coast, and chanterelle mushrooms!  A great online resource for all things apple, and fruit growing generally is the Home Orchard Society webpage and forum.