Dinner Menu ~ Weeks 11 & 12

We’re approaching 3 months without stepping foot in a grocery store.

3 months!!!

Information about the challenge here:

So, how do we feel about conquering winter?

Guys, this is the mack-daddy of unprocessed food challenges, and many people have voiced that this year would be completely unrealistic for themselves or their families. “My kids would never eat those vegetables!” It’s too much work!” I encourage you to take a baby step approach…start with locally sourcing only one weekly staple….then focus meals around what’s in season…..your tastebuds, wallet and health will be positively impacted! ūüôā

I know it’s not easy. The planning and workload can be intense, but¬†I’m learning the importance of¬†diligence and determination….to keep going when it doesn’t feel all warm and fuzzy.

The best part: I absolutely love meeting the same farmers’ again and again….and knowing my husband’s hard-earned money is going to a local farmer clad in dirt-covered Muck Boots who just harvested the vibrant, crisp vegetables that I will use to nourish my family for a week….the beauty of farm-to-table.

All in all, I feel like the closing of the winter season puts the hardest part behind me. I’m looking forward to adding bright asparagus to our menu in the coming weeks and foraging for morel mushrooms on our family hikes!

Dinner Menu ~ Weeks 11 & 12

Day 1
Beans & greens

Day 2
Spaghetti with meat sauce

Day 3
Roasted chicken & collards

Day 4
Kale, bean and sausage on cornbread cakes

Day 5
Rabbit rillettes with roasted butternut squash

Day 6
Beef stew

Day 7
Burgers and kale salad

Day 8
Shepherd’s pie with butternut squash

Day 9
White chicken chili

Day 10
Radish leaf pesto with fettachini

Day 11
Chicken salad over greens

Day 12
Breakfast for dinner: Pancakes

Day 13
Chicken with turnips & shitakes

Day 14
Steak fajitas

Day 15 

Day 16
Spring vegetable pot pie

Day 17
Spaghetti and meatballs


Japanese sweet potato slips

  • Cut sweet potatoes in half and place in a shallow pan of water.
  • Place the pan in a sunny window and keep the water filled halfway up the cut potato.
  • Look for sprouts at about 4 weeks!


When Farming Aches

This week has been painful….the deep lump in your throat kind of ache.

I don’t have a success story, no happy-ending to the lambing season. Instead, only lambs buried in the deep wet earth.

We awoke before dawn this morning to check on the ewes. Our expecting Mom did not greet us at the barn stall door as usual.

My heart sank.

Cliff rushed just outside of the barn door where she was busy licking her newborn lamb. The statistics were racing through my mind….he HAS to stand as quickly as possible. (Healthy lambs are typically up and nursing within 10 minutes). For every one minute he doesn’t stand and nurse, his mortality rate increases.

I wiped the mucus from his nose and dried his tiny little fluffy body to give him a fighting chance. He made some movements clumsily forward but as the minutes passed….he steadily declined.

Cliff had to leave for work….So sitting on the barn floor next to a nearly lifeless lamb and a concerned mother, I called my neighbor in tears. I gave him some lamb colostrum to try and give him the energy he needed to pull through. Tiffany arrived for support. I knew how this was going to end, I had just had it occur less than 48 hours before.

I bundled him up and rushed him inside. His breathing became labored while I held him close…using a hair-dryer to try¬†and bring up his body temperature. He took one final breath.

Did they become pregnant too early?
Was he too cold?
More grain?

The doubting….The questioning…..It’s all learning.

We’re new sheep farmers. We glean as much information as possible from breeders with much more experience than ourselves. However, in the panicky early-morning hours when you’re faced with new circumstances that are not going as planned…that are outside of normal….that fill your heart with fear, you make the best judgement call you can and face the results…however harsh they may be.

So now….even though I want to run and buy a loft in the city, I take a deep breath and another and try to remember¬†that this road isn’t easy….In fact, it’s really really hard….to stay the course….to continue being a loving steward of these precious animals and pray that the future looks a whole lot brighter.



Dinner Menu ~ Weeks 9 & 10

After a dreary few weeks, we carved out some time to visit the Franklin Farmer’s Market last weekend. To be honest…I was resisting the trip on Saturday morning; I had been awake for 24 hours celebrating our son’s 10th birthday and then to the hospital to support a sweet friend while she welcomed a precious new baby into the world! However,¬†I’m glad Cliff made the call for us to go then and sleep later….he knows me well. ūüėČ


Photo credit: http://franklinfarmersmarket.com

The Franklin Farmer’s Market is one of the only markets open year-round in our area.

We saw many vendors selling homemade goat’s milk soap, cheese and other impressive handmade items, but I only wanted one thing….GREENS!

Only one farmer had a variety of local vegetables that morning: Kirkview Farm.

We picked up bunches of kale and collards, turnips, red potatoes and the most colorful, delicious carrots. I knew the work that went into this harvest during such harsh winter conditions, and I appreciated the nutritious addition to our meals. Thank you, Jesus!


This abundance was exactly what I needed to power through the final few weeks of winter!

Dinner Menu  ~ Weeks 9 & 10

Day 1
Roasted winter squash & sausage

Day 2
Sweet potato, egg & kale hash

Day 3
Pancotta (Tuscan bread soup)

Day 4
Chicken tamale pie

Day 5
Meatballs and twice baked sweet potatoes with kale

Day 6
Spaghetti with tomato sauce

Day 7
Gnocchi with mushroom ragu

Day 8
Butternut bean soup & cornbread

Day 9
Kale, cheese and bacon quiche

Day 10
Homemade sloppy joes & collards

Day 11
Butternut squash, kale and sausage bake

Day 12
Breakfast for dinner: Waffles

Day 13 

Day 14
Grilled steak, sweet potatoes and kale salad

Day 15
Chicken soup with fresh bread

Have a great week!


February Snapshot: How much did it cost?

Native Americans have long deemed February’s full moon as the¬†“Hunger Moon.” We’ll refer to this month as the “Hungry Month.”

We are not starving….but the variety is minimal. The robust inspiration and colorful pictures of a bountiful garden harvest is not the reality of local and seasonal eating in winter, especially not this winter.

We’ve considered moving. Talked about the weather in Alabama or Hawaii….or even farther, Italy, just for the cheese and olives. This is the lack of bananas talking.

We press on. Get more creative with meal planning. Look forward to rising soil temperatures and longer days.


We’re hopeful. Anticipating the changing season like never before….

I’ve talked to farmers all over Middle Tennessee this month inquiring about current offerings with the standard answer: “We’re growing icicles.” “We’re frozen but hope to get something harvested in the next month.”

We have met a few true farmer gems.

Nature’s Promise Farm is about 10 miles from our home. We pulled into Farmer Steve’s driveway with a mission in early February….He had baby kale and mushrooms. It was perfect timing, we’d get snow in the following weeks, which would eliminate any potential harvest. We bought 5 pounds of baby kale. (I blanched and froze the kale into meal-sized portions.) The shitake mushrooms deserve accolades….the best we’ve ever had!

Here is our February breakdown:

Nature’s Promise Farm¬†= $50.00 (Baby Kale *5 pounds, Mushrooms, Eggs)
Country Pantry = $49.57 (Wheat Berries, JDs yogurt, Spices)
Country View Mennonite Market = $29.00 (Honey, Freshly-Ground Peanut Butter, Homemade Bread)
Lasaters = $24.03 (Coffee)
Bloomy Rind = $43.49 (Cheese, Nashville Jam, Local Ketchup)
Tennessee Grass-Fed = $265.00 (1/4 cow divided by 3 months)
Giving Thanks Farm = $194.00 (Chicken, Pork, Eggs)
Crossed Hearts Homestead = $11.25 (Eggs)
The Turnip Truck = $77.51 (Olive Oil, Locally-Roasted Coffee, KY Maple Syrup, Sweetwater Valley Farm Cheese, Nashville Jam)
Milk Share = $45.50 (13 gallons)
Grand Total for January = $789.35

You can find the information for each one of these sources under the Community Resource Guide.

Have a great week!