July 2011 Chickens in the Road Newsletter

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*Feature: Vote Front Porch

*Kitchen Extra: The Summer Kitchen

*My Favorite Thing Right Now: The Big Girl

*Recent Highlights: Morning Cocoa Rolls, Party on the Farm, Back to the Bull, and More

*Sneak Peek: Mr. Pibb

*Farm Bell Recipes: High Canning Season

*Blast from the Past: Picking Hot Peppers at the Old Farmhouse

*Feature: Vote Front Porch

Take a drive down any one-lane country road dotted with century-old homes then swing through a modern suburban neighborhood and you’ll see one glaring difference—the front porch, or lack thereof. The front porch as we know it is a purely American creation, meaning it was the combination of cultural influences from the architectural heritages of a number of countries. The result was our classic understanding of a front porch as a transitional space between the family’s private interior and the free-for-all exterior. The front porch, by its very nature, is public, open and welcoming.

It’s been replaced today by the back patio or deck, which is, in contrast, private, exclusive, by invitation only.

Front porches started disappearing as a common architectural element around the end of World War II as air conditioning started appearing. People didn’t need to sit outside to be cool. But the front porch isn’t only about the shade. The front porch is a way of life.

The front porch creates a bridge between the home and the community. Whether it’s a wave to a passing neighbor’s car, or whether that passing neighbor pulls over and comes up to sit a spell, the front porch welcomes interaction and connection. It’s sociable and inclusive. The front porch never knew a stranger. It encourages down time with its rocking chairs and porch swings, fosters conversation, and offers a view not a television.

Few modern homes are built with spacious porches anymore. If a newer home has a porch, it’s more likely a small, “decorative” porch, just big enough for a rocking chair from Pier 1 and a few perfect-looking planters, certainly not enough room for half a dozen neighbors to stop by and everyone have a seat while they shoot the breeze.

In fact, we really don’t want our neighbors to stop by, especially if unannounced, and if they do, we don’t want them to stay long enough to sit down. Did we become this way because we stopped building front porches, or did we stop building front porches to foster more private lives?

It’s a chicken and egg question, but either way, the disappearance of the front porch has had a huge impact on the way we live and connect with our neighbors, an impact that trickles through society in layer upon layer.

I found out firsthand how much it costs to put on an old-fashioned front porch when we built our new “old” farmhouse a few years ago. It’s no wonder people today are unlikely to put their resources into a front porch, but it’s a value I haven’t regretted. Even secluded and surrounded by trees as we are, I can see the road and the river, making me feel connected with the small country community around us. Neighbors stop by and the transitional space of the big front porch offers an easy place to invite them into with its informality and lack of pressure. It’s a setting that demands freedom and relaxation, providing an atmosphere and a tone that no indoor space—or back deck—can recreate.

If it’s true that all good things come back around, maybe the classic American front porch will make a comeback. As with anything, supply is all about demand. The next time you buy or build a house, “Vote Front Porch.”

Your country is depending on you.

*Kitchen Extra: The Summer Kitchen

Summer kitchens are in the air lately! Birdi wrote about her new summer kitchen (which is delightful–if you missed it, click that link!) on the Farm Bell Recipes blog recently. Community member LaurieJo told us all about her new summer kitchen, too, on the Chickens in the Road forum. In the olden days, almost everybody had a summer kitchen. In a world without air conditioning as an option, cooking and canning indoors could turn the house into a miserable place. In fact, in the olden-olden days, kitchens–even the main kitchen–was away from the house, often as an outbuilding, to keep the heat out of the house, and also because of fires. These days, we just turn our a/c up and cook in the house, but that’s not environmentally-friendly–or frugal. If there’s any way you can make a summer kitchen outside in a small outbuilding, or if you have a basement area you can turn into a kitchen, it’s a great green and thrifty resource, not just for home canning, but for baking and other cooking during the summertime. Short of any of those options, in the past, I’ve even canned on the burner on our outdoor grill. However you do it, full-blown summer kitchen or a propane burner on the grill, if you can keep the heat out of the house–and keep the a/c down or off, it’s a good thing!

Guess what that is? NO, DON’T BOTHER, I can’t wait, I have to tell you. It’s copper gas line. Crossing fingers my downstairs kitchen will have a working stove this weekend!

*My Favorite Thing Right Now: The Big Girl

It’s a bird, it’s a plane, it’s a giant ball.

Does she need gastric bypass surgery or is she pregnant? Don’t worry, Nutmeg–we’re laughing with you, not at you! PROMISE! (Stay tuned to see if she pops.)

*Recent Highlights: Morning Cocoa Rolls, Party on the Farm, Back to the Bull, and More

Barn: July was all about Beulah Petunia when she went Back to the Bull and came Home, with Drama. We’re crossing our fingers and knitting booties! Meanwhile, the goats lived the dream when they made Trouble in the Garden. Find all my farm animal stories here.

Cooking: Get your chocolaty goodness here with Morning Cocoa Rolls, check out my 30-Minute Burrata, and start Saving Squash and Zucchini. Don’t miss a thing in my kitchen! Get all my recipes.

Country Living: Read How I Spent My Summer Vacation. Hint: It involves PAINT. And–Party on the Farm 2011 Registration Is Open! Are you coming? See all my country living stories.

House & Garden: Check out how I transformed the staircase in The Next Step, how the kitchen came together in The Kitchen Cometh, and the Problem Area (and Solution!). I’m working hard on the downstairs project! Browse all my posts in house & garden.

*Sneak Peak: Mr. Pibb

He’s back with the girls.

Watch for the story coming soon of how Mr. Pibb became the king of the hill!

*Farm Bell Recipes: High Canning Season

It’s serious canning time, and even if you’re not a serious canner, if you’re ever going to can, now is the time. The garden’s in! The farmers markets are overflowing! The neighbors are leaving squash on your doorstep! (Silly neighbors.) Farm Bell Recipes is chock-full of delicious preserving ideas. Here is a sampling:

Roasted Roma Tomatoes
Crisp Cucumber Freezer Pickles
Mom’s Cinnamon Pickles
Coleslaw to Can or Freeze
Stuffed Pickled Peppers
Summer Garden in a Jar
Chile Pepper Jelly
Pickled Watermelon Rind
Spiced Pickled Peaches
Pickled Banana or Jalapeno Peppers
Corn Cob Jelly

For even more delicious recipes, browse the Preserving category at Farm Bell Recipes.

To submit a blog post and enter to win the latest contributor giveaway, go here. The July contributor giveaway winner was Rachel.

July 2011 Farm Bell Recipes blog contributors:

CindyP — Chippewa Creek ~ Our Life Simplified
Granny Trace — Granny Trace Scraps and Squares
Kathi N — How We’re Gonna Do It
Larissa — The Henway
LizPike — Horseshoe Gardens
MaryJ — Retriever Soapworks
Rachel — The Henway

Robin from Rurification — Rurification
Rose Weist — Toothsome Teacups
Sheryl — Providence Acres
Syrup and Biscuits — Syrup and Biscuits

THANK YOU! Please give them a visit!

*Blast from the Past: Picking Hot Peppers at the Old Farmhouse

This post explains why I really shouldn’t even be allowed in the garden.


The vegetables, they don’t respect me! Read it all in Picking Hot Peppers at the Old Farmhouse.


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We have a few spots left. Don’t miss CITR Retreat 2011!

What are you fixing for supper tonight? Browse the goodness at Farm Bell Recipes — your cooking community!

*I’m giving away a Ball Blue Book Guide to Preserving once a week (sometimes more!) so don’t forget to watch the blog for The Ball Blue Book Project days.

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