Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Merry Christmas!

Christmas Eve on the farm has us all pulling on our boots and hats and mittens and coats and tromping outside to sing carols beneath the December sky and to give all the animals special treats in honor of the Christchild's birth in a stable so long ago. For the cats, a bowl of warm goat's milk, carrots for the horses to snuzzle from our mittened palms, and oats for the goats and sheep. On this night ordinary bales of hay and straw take on mystery and meaning, as the stuff which first warmed the wriggling toes of the Divine. Our annual Christmas puppet show will be performed in front of a crowd this year in our snug little farmhouse...necessitating the bringing inside of many bales to sit on...it will be our own version of the Polish custom of spreading straw on the floor of the house on Christmas Eve to call to mind that Bethlehem barn. We always serve masses of freshly baked bread for the party and so the days before are spent in a kitchen flurry.

The tizzy of Christmas baking and making in the Kitchen this last week before Christmas day is definately more New York City Plaza Hotel with Eloise dashing about than it it is "Silent Night" in Judea 2000 years ago. There's bread to be baked for the Christmas party, sprinkles to be sprinkled, frosting to whip up, and cookies galore to garnish and taste...We fly about the kitchen to whatever jollity is playing on MPR, covered in flour, cocoa powder, and butter with Kay Thompson's Eloise ringing in our ears:

"Oh zippety jingle and dash away tingle

to shout out loud and clear

Oh come All Ye Faithful

It's me ELOISE Nanny dear!"

"Fa la la la fa la la lolly ting tingledy here and there.

Blow music of trinkles and drinkles of glass there's Christmas everywhere!"

Christmas Eve we crowd the tree and have an official lighting ceremony...

it is the first time we all see the tree aglow...and it is simply magical. We tuck the girls in amidst their sighs of absolute contentment...St. Nicholas has not even made his visit yet, and filled their stockings and crowded the tree with gifts...and yet they are content. Well stuffed with the satisfaction and wealth of a cozy Christmas at home

One Christmas Eve, after the girls were in bed "with visions of sugar plums dancing in their heads" We stole out into the snow to go and watch over the sheep and imagine the shepherds in the fields that first of all Christmases. Our two rams came over to the fenceline for petting and scratches on the head...as we watched our breath beneath a starry sky and sang carol lullabies to the sheep it was little wonder to us why the Incarnate Son of God chose to be born amidst sheep, donkey, cow, and horse and not in some palace, draped in silk. It was as if that monumental night was to confirm once again and once and for all, that the farm is not just home to the animals, but home to the whole world.

Merry Christmas to you! From all of us, hoofed, and non-hoofed at Little Flower Farm!

Garlic and Rosemary Studded Focaccia

(adapted from Beard on Bread)
2 1/2 C all purpose flour

1/2 tsp salt

3/4 tsp active dry yeast
1 C warm water

2 cloves garlic, thinly sliced

2 Tbsp rosemary
olive oil

salt and pepper
Combine flour, salt, yeast, and water in a bowl. Blend well. Then knead for about 15 minutes on a lightly floured countertop. Grease a bowl with olive oil and place dough inside it to rise till double (about 2 hours). Cover with plastic wrap.

Turn dough back onto countertop and knead once more. Let rise again. (About 45 minutes).

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Punch down dough and pat it into a rectangle about 1/2 thick. Press slivers of garlic into the dough, along with the rosemary. Slather it with olive oil and sprinkle with course salt and pepper. Bake on a baking stone for 15 minutes or until golden brown. It will fill the house with an incredible aroma...cut into wedges and serve at your Christmas party...or with Christmas Eve dinner!

Chocolate Truffles

(from Cook's Illustrated Magazine)
12 ounces bittersweet chocolate, roughly chopped (I use chocolate chips)
1/2 cup heavy cream
2 tablespoons light corn syrup
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
Pinch of salt
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut in to small pieces and softened

1 cup Dutch-processed cocoa
1/4 cup powdered sugar

Melt the chocolate over low heat while stirring. Warm the cream, add to it the corn syrup, vanilla and pinch of salt. Pour over the chocolate. Stir till smooth. Finish the ganache by adding the pieces of butter one at a time and stirring till melted into the ganache. Grease an 8 x 8 dish and line with two pieces of parchment paper overhanging the 4 sides of the dish. Pour ganache into this and let cool for 1-2 hours. Then chill for 2 hours in the fridge. After this combine the coca powcer and powdered sugar and pull the bars out of the dish using the overhaning parchment. Cut into squares and roll into balls to coat in the cocoa/sugar mixture. Chill before serving.


  1. Hi! I just found your blog a few days ago and am heartily enjoying all your posts. My husband and I are passionate about the restoration of Catholic culture through all things domestic and agrarian. I would imagine that we have read many of the same books by authors like Wendell Berry and Joel Salatin.

    This time of year is one of the best for uniting faith and culture, and I long for a time when every month can be marked by feasts and seasons--actual ones and not just noted at Mass. Lately, I have begun to incorporate prayer into my kitchen work. I got the idea from a sweet little book titled, "My Russian Yesterdays" by Catherine de Hueck Doherty; granted, she writes of a vibrant religious culture in Orthodox Russia, but she later became Catholic and her cause for canonization is now under way. The book describes different facets of Christian culture in Russia, with prayers before shearing the sheep, gathering healing herbs, cleaning the house, and so forth.

    I dearly long for a vibrant and rich Catholic culture, and my husband and I pray daily for the time when Our Lord will lead us to a little farm near a monastery/convent, with lots of Catholic neighbors. Right now, we are renting 5 acres in Albuquerque, NM but hope soon to move to our own homestead, perhaps in the Tulsa area. Blessings to your lovely family and Merry Christmas!

  2. Merry Christmas! I still miss having you here in Michigan, but it is wonderful to see how well you are doing in Minnesota. I am so happy to be able to enjoy your blog and get inspired every time I read it.

  3. I don't know anyone else who can combine Eloise, chocolate truffles, and hay warming the wiggling toes of the Divine so seamlessly in one post. Or create the same in one living environment, come to that. Thanks to you and Mr. Farmer for sharing it with the rest of us.
    Happy Third Day of Christmas!

  4. Katie Rose,
    Sounds like if you lived next door we'd never get anything done. We'd just sit by the fire, drink tea, and talk about everything and anything. Thanks for the mention about Catherine Doherty...I've ever heard of her, but she sounds wonderful...will have to procure a copy...
    We are reveling in the richness that is Nubian milk...and remembering you with fondness every milking. Come visit!
    Banana Grams and Ginger Lemon tea tonight made for a rawther festive 4th day of Christmas. Tea bags make excellent hats you know...

  5. Yummy! I'm going to try the focaccia recipe today, thanks for sharing it ;)