The Art and Cooking Report


This past Saturday and Sunday was the Creative Blast — Art & Cooking Retreat here at the farm. We had a full house with 12 attendees (my limit for the studio class size). Kelly Walker was here leading painting workshops–canvas and gourd birdhouses–and I led the Julia Child cooking workshops. We cooked and painted our feet off, let me tell ya. I was so tired yesterday, I sat on the couch all day and ate bon bons. (Just kidding. I was eating leftover chocolate mousse from the workshops.)

I think/hope everyone had a great time! The food came out really delicious–Julia Child doesn’t do anything halfway or low calorie–and I was quite impressed with the art that was created over the weekend. I never take as many photos as I wish I took during a retreat because I’m always too busy and I completely forget about my camera. Here, in their opening activity, I had everyone chopping up vegetables for the chicken fricassee they were about to prepare for supper.
And that was the last photo I took of anyone preparing food! They made chicken fricassee, french bread, chocolate mousse, Queen of Sheba chocolate-almond cake, and creme brulee. They learned to cut up a whole chicken, saute and stew it for a fricassee, and how to braise and stew vegetables. I did take a couple pictures of breakfast one morning. For a typical workshop morning, I serve eggs, ham, biscuits, and apples–a classic country breakfast.
Here, I’ve got some apples halved, cores removed, with a mixture of equal parts butter, flour, and a maple-brown sugar instant oatmeal made into a streusel topping. Bake in the oven for about half an hour, then drizzle on some maple syrup. This is delicious, trust me. And so simple.
My friend Jerry stopped by and took some photos of the artistes at work while I was in the studio prepping the next meal. Here, they were working on their gourd birdhouses.
I managed to grab a photo of them working on their canvas projects.
Notice we had a couple of men in the group! Ladies, please don’t be afraid to talk your husbands into coming along! (Or men, come on your own!) We have a great time with the men here, and sometimes they come in especially handy if something goes wrong. One couple was staying here on the farm in their RV and when I needed a few minor repairs in the barnyard, he was generous enough to help me out. (Thank you, Mike!)

It wasn’t all work at the retreat, and attendees always have an opportunity to sit out on the deck enjoying the view, talking and relaxing, feed treats to the animals (I had Maia out of the barnyard the first day and up at the studio visiting), or take a walk. This photo was taken by Jerry also.
Thank you to everyone who was here–I enjoyed your company so much! I also want to thank Kelly Walker–I was proud to have her here leading workshops with her wonderful talent and good cheer.

I have more workshops coming up this summer. There are just a few spots left in the June Cheese, Bread, Soap & Herbs retreat with co-teacher Laura Phillips, if you’re interested in that. Also, Kelly and I will be hosting another Art & Cooking retreat on the weekend of September 13-14–there will be different art/craft projects and a different theme (pioneer style!) to the recipes. More information coming soon. There will also be a second cheese/baking/soap retreat coming up at the end of August–more information about that soon, too! The studio is going to be a busy place this summer! Come join us! Watch the blog for details on upcoming retreats, or check this page.

See you at the farm!

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Posted by Suzanne McMinn | Permalink  

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The Coming of the Green


I hate this goose.
See how he comes after me? This time, I had a fence between us. When there’s not a fence between us, he follows after me, nipping at the backs of my legs.
Then he gets angry and takes it out on the other animals, making them all run away when he starts honking and flapping his wings madly.
Goat Burger: “I don’t get it, man.”
Maia: “Can’t we just all get along?”
She’s my sweetheart. Though she’s been a little upset since I turned on the electric fence in the barnyard, preventing her from pushing out under the fence. The green, it is here! And if I let her out every day, she’s going to eat all of it.
It is, apparently, finally SPRING. I present the evidence:
I’m still so used to looking out onto a white world that I find myself slightly shocked every morning at my view.
And tonight, we’re supposed to have a frost. But that’s just winter throwing a fit, like a goose nipping at the back of my leg. All I have to do is turn and say BOO and it runs away. It’ll be back to the 70s in no time.

Winter’s just full of air (albeit cold not hot) at this point.

If it was water and it was hot, I’d put that goose in it, heh.

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  1. IMG_1836

    April 2, 2014 - Spring in Swing

    Update on the studio! The repairs are all but finished, just a few minor details left like putting the dishwasher back.

    The wall looks perfect. You can’t tell there was ever a hole there.

    It’s cleaned up, straightened up, and ready for re-stocking for this year’s workshop season!

    I have a special … Continued…

  1. IMG_1741

    March 24, 2014 - This Is the Before

    I have a workshop retreat weekend in a month and this is what the studio looks like right now.

    It’s a wreck. A winter sideswipe. An ice-inflicted disaster.

    A lot of plumbing parts are involved. And torn out walls. And neighbors.

    The walls had to be opened up in two … Continued…

  1. IMG_1620

    March 13, 2014 - Final Snowfall

    After a long-running series of wild tantrums, Winter stepped on Spring’s toes in the door and smacked her backward. Before Winter could be stopped, she had tossed a fresh coating of white “stuff” everywhere.

    She was immediately called in to the office by 2014 and expelled from the calendar.

    “We’ve worked with her for months,” explained 2014 coordinator Richard Corcoran. “We’ve seen no improvement in her behavior. … Continued…

  1. IMG_9965

    February 24, 2014 - Spring 2014 Creative Blast Retreat

    Come learn at the farm!

    Spring 2014 Creative Blast Retreat — Art and Cooking!
    Saturday, April 26 – Sunday, April 27, 2014

    This retreat will last two days. Retreat days will be full days, through supper! ZERO cooking/baking or art experience is required. Come as you are–whether you are a beginner, … Continued…

  1. IMG_2139

    February 12, 2014 - Summer 2014 Cheese, Bread, Herbs and Soap Retreat

    Come learn at the farm!

    Summer Cheese, Bread, Herbs & Soap Retreat
    June 19 – June 23, 2014

    This retreat is offered with options to choose the entire retreat or only parts. The retreat will last five days, but it’s up to you whether you choose one day, two days, three days, … Continued…

  1. IMG_4312

    February 4, 2014 - The Letters I and H

    The world the way I vaguely remember it.

    This post brought to you by the letters I, for ice, and H, for hope.

Daily Farm


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The Slanted Little House

"It was a cold wintry day when I brought my children to live in rural West Virginia. The farmhouse was one hundred years old, there was already snow on the ground, and the heat was sparse-—as was the insulation. The floors weren’t even, either. My then-twelve-year-old son walked in the door and said, “You’ve brought us to this slanted little house to die." Keep reading our story....

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