Tuesday, January 31, 2012

A Lovely Morning Ritual

Every morning before my day starts to get crazy, I take time to fix myself a proper cup of coffee or as Bockie called it "coffee milk".  When I have guests at the farm, it's even more delightful to share in this ritual with others!   
It's quite simple, but there are certain steps to my coffee craziness. 
The first thing I do is put on the kettle so the water will be scalding hot!
Then I grind the beans - my preference is a mild breakfast blend.
The coffee station
I always use a french press vs. a regular drip coffee maker.  Nothing against the later, the french press is just a personal preference.  We use the regular coffee maker quite often as well! 
Almost ready! 
Once the coffee is ready, I froth some milk in my Nespresso Milk Frother (best creation ever!). I use 2% milk as it really gets the best "frothiness".  As a final touch, I sprinkle some cinnamon on top.   And no regular coffee mugs for me - I use my white soup bowls that Deborah got me!  
A lovely way to start the day


Thursday, January 26, 2012

Is it really January?

This year's Farmer's Almanac predicted a mild winter and they sure got it right! It doesn't even feel like a typical January at Lowfields.  Especially compared to last winter when we had snow!  
A mild winter is actually a GREAT thing for cattle.  They are less stressed and the grass that is left is not covered in snow.  We also had such a great hay year that we have plenty of hay in our barns.    What does this all mean?   Basically, it means they will be well fed through winter.  As we have said before on the blog, Happy Cows are Healthy Cows and they are all looking great right now!    
An early winter morning

Happy Cow

Charlie & Fred feeding the cattle

A lovely milky drink for one of the babes! 

Enjoying their meal - served chilled of course! 

Friday, January 20, 2012

A Gift That Keeps Giving..

For my birthday I recieved some great gifts.  My dear friend from childhood, Cathi, gave me a very special personalized gift...hand towels for all the houses at Lowfields!  Cathi is an incredibly talented & creative crafter and seamstress.  She put the appropriate color ribbon on the towels to match each bathroom in the houses and then embroidered the house's name as well.  Not only does this look fantastic but it helps in keeping things organized for the many properties on Lowfields, which I could ALWAYS use help with.   Thank you Cathi - these truly are the gifts that keep giving! 
Bunk House Bathroom 
A towel for the bathroom in Cold Comfort Hall

Up close - the ribbon is beautiful! 

The bathroom in Whimsy Cottage

Up close

Thursday, January 19, 2012

A Peaceful Place

Today marks the one year anniversary of my father's death. When he died last year, we decided to build a cemetery at Lowfields.  We had always wanted a resting place for our family and beloved pets and as odd as it sounds, it's quite common on old family farms.  We want to keep loved ones close, even though they have moved on.  

Over the years, I had collected a huge amount of old wrought iron, gates and finial posts but there always seemed like there were other projects to do, as is my life on the farm.  About 8 years ago I bought a beautiful French cross at an antique show and knew one day it would have a home and a purpose! 

We got Ted and Larry to oversee and mastermind all the different elements from building the foundation, to bringing in the bricklayers and welders.    
Foundation building & brick laying 
Lots of welding! 

Finished but without the cross
After months of construction, Curtis, one of the welders, brought in the French cross on its base. As they were placing it in the cemetery, it broke into pieces!   We were all so disappointed because it would not be ready to show my family at Christmas.   Low & behold, the week of Christmas, I was walking everyone over and nearly dropped to my knees in complete shock...the cross was there and in place!  Truly a Christmas miracle - Curtis had snuck in and placed it in its home.  
A Christmas miracle - the cross is in place! 

Floyd checking out the finished product

The cemetery faces east and is on a bluff overlooking the James River and the Blue Ridge mountains, a very serene and peaceful view. I think big Frank would have approved. Resquiat In Pacem.

A view of the cemetery location from Cold Comfort Hall during sunset

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Post Holiday Exhaustion

Everyone was worn out after the big week of celebrating... 
most especially the dogs! 
Clara Belle




Peanut (with toy)

New Year's Eve Cocktail

Since Sister is the mixologist of the group, she came up with a holiday drink that we all partook in for New Year's Eve!    We are calling it "The Happy New Year".   I know, not so creative, but it speaks for itself..   Wishing everyone a healthy, happy & prosperous 2012!   

The Happy New Year
Raspberry Sherbet
Splash of Raspberry Lemonade
Rim Glass with Sugar and garnish with a raspberry

The Happy New Year 

Cutty's Favorite Spot

Cutty's favorite spot was the space in the main room with all the dog beds.  It's behind all the seating but in front of the windows so I think he really enjoyed the view of the mountains!   Sometimes he would encounter his buddies sleeping but other times it was like an open obstacle course for him to play in.  

Cutty & Uncle Angus conquering the dog beds
Cutty, Picnic Aunt & Floyd enjoying the view

Saturday, January 7, 2012

A Grand Meal At The Hall

Even with Christmas behind us, we still felt the need to celebrate since we had everyone here with us at Lowfields.   Charlie was saving a beef tenderloin and a bottle of Chateau Margaux for just such an occasion!   

He began marinating the tenderloin the day before, simply in just some olive oil, garlic and salt & pepper.  Then he just roasted it in the oven until it was the perfect temperature - we like it RARE!    We served it with some lovely mashed potatoes and a mixed green salad.  The grand accompaniment was of course a delicious bottle of 1986 Chateau Margaux to be drank by all!   

A fabulous bottle of wine for a fabulous occasion

A lovely dinner
Zoey and Percy were hoping for some scraps but none were to be found! 

Bunk House Cocktail Party

With Patrick & Fred staying down at the Bunk House, they wanted to host a holiday cocktail hour so everyone could come down to visit.     Kenny arrived just in time and was able to come with us.  Even Cutty was able to attend although underage... 

Not your typical transportation to a cocktail party
Lovely bites

The perfect assortment of cocktail goodies

The lovely hosts - Patrick & Fred

Cutty is curious about what's in Patrick's punch!  
Even the "Landlord" was invited!  

Friday, January 6, 2012

Pizza Night!

When planning the meals to have during our Christmas week of fun, Nutmeg and I decided to have a pizza night!   I actually made the pizza dough ahead of time using a recipe from the back of an active yeast packet.  I made enough for 4 large pizzas, wrapped the dough balls up and threw them in the freezer.  

On the day we decided to make them, it was super easy to take out the dough in the morning and let it rise all day at room temperature.    We then used anything & everything we could find in the fridge and pantry to come up with some lovely pizzas.   This is a great entertaining idea when you have a lot of people in the house - it's casual, delicious and has minimal clean up!  

Here the final list of pizza offerings/combinations that we came up with:  
Ham, Gruyere & Caramelized Onions
Goat Cheese, Sautéed Mushrooms & Peppers and Mozzarella
Chicken & Pepperjack Cheese
Sausage, Vodka Sauce and Mozzarella 
Spinach Sauce (from Eggs Lowfields), Sausage and Mozzarella

Wait - are we in Italy??    

Easy serving right off the kitchen island

Cutty Meets A Cow

Clean Up Crew

It's lovely having guests at Lowfields that take part in everything - including the cleaning!  Every night after dinner, the "Guncles" Patrick & Fred took to the kitchen and cleaned it from head to toe...  even Percy was trying to help with the turkey carcass after our Christmas Eve dinner.  
A tidy kitchen is a happy kitchen

Fred & Patrick in the midst of a Christmas cleaning

Percy trying to help with kitchen duty

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Is This The Breakfast with Santa?

I love waking up on Christmas morning knowing there will be a day filled with love and excitement ahead.  And of course, this year with Cutty here with us, it was sure to be a big day!    As mentioned in my previous posts, we did table top trees this year so we wouldn't have to worry about him getting into too much trouble.   I put a tree in the middle of the main room and when we were putting out presents, we realized how great it was to have a GIFT tree!  So that's what we did - we put them all around it and even IN the actual tree.    Everyone also had their own stockings filled with lovely small items - most of them quite useful like dental floss or pet hair removers!  
Pajamas and coffee on Christmas morning

The "gift" tree! 

It was fun to sneak presents into the tree itself! 

Ready for opening!

Clara Belle guarding the stockings

Cutty had 2 stockings this year - lucky duck! 

Not quite sure what to make of the whole thing

Pure Christmas Joy
After presents, we got started on the big Christmas Day brunch.   This is truly a tradition we started here at Lowfields as it is the birth of Eggs Lowfield, a dish we created many years ago on Christmas morning.   The key to the dish is to use all the leftovers from the dinner the night before.    We turn the mashed potatoes into fried potato cakes, the spinach soufflé into a lovely sauce and we fry the remaining oysters. We top it all with a lovely poached egg.    Sister also makes her famous cheese grits and we have some breakfast sausage. The meal is truly the highlight of the day as we will then only have small bites and champagne for dinner.  

Eggs Lowfield
Leftover Mashed Potatoes
Leftover Spinach Souffle
Fried Oysters
Poached Egg

Add flour and egg to mashed potatoes and form patties large enough to be the base of the meal.  Fry in cast iron skillet until golden on each side and set aside.   While you are frying the cakes, make a cream sauce with milk, flour and butter and add the spinach soufflé to make a sauce.     Toss oysters in whichever frying mixture you prefer and fry until crispy.    Poach an egg.   Layer on plate from bottom up - potato cake, poached egg, fried oysters, spinach sauce.   ENJOY!  
Nutmeg making the potato cakes

What could possible be better than this?? 
Eggs Lowfield on Christmas Morning