Finally Frigid

I wanted to give a brief update to my post on Winter Sowing.

We had expected precipitation coming in the form of rain and then snow and I was excited! This was going to be perfect but I needed to get my containers for my winter sowing project ready quickly. I had a warm, sunny day to work outside but I needed to hurry. It was the calm before the storm as they say.

I got out my materials, my tools, and my trusty helpers and we got started. They supervised and I worked. I needed a drill, soil, containers, duct tape, and the nuts/seeds I wanted to sow.

There isn’t really a hard portion to this process, although it did take some time to drill the holes in the containers. Wrapping the duct tape around the containers was not fun. It kept sticking to me as I was trying to cover the slit (see below).

Once the containers were drilled, I then cut them about 90% the way around leaving an area that could act as a hinge. The cut was a little more than halfway up from the bottom of the container. The next step was to fill with moistened soil. I used soil from my compost pile, but you could use potting soil or seed starting soil. Since I was planting nuts and pits, I was not worried about the soil. However, if you plan on using the winter sowing method for things like tomatoes, peppers, or other garden plants, please use a more sterile form of soil such as a seed starter mix. You don’t want any pathogens affecting the germination of those tiny seeds. As what I was planting would regularly grow wherever they fell from an existing tree or were carried by wildlife, I figured I would be safe with soil from my compost pile. Only time will tell though.pecan, hazel nuts, cherry pits ready for winter sowing

I was planting seven pecan nuts, six hazelnuts, one acorn from a red oak tree, and some cherry pits I had saved from summer eating. These had been soaking in water in my refrigerator for a week. The soaking is necessary for the process. If any of these grow, great. If not, all that I am out is my time.

I would be absolutely tickled if the pecans and the hazelnuts grew. I do have two ten-year old pecan trees already on the property, but I would love to have more and I have been doing research on growing hazelnuts. They can be left to grow as a shrub that wildlife use as food or habitat, or pruned to become a tree. In good growing conditions, hazelnuts will start to produce nuts in three to five years. My husband loves toasted hazelnuts and they are only available for a limited time at my local store. It would be wonderful to harvest our own for winter eating by the wood stove.

The final step in this process is to wrap the area where I made the cut with duct tape. This will hold the two portions of the container together and form a sort of greenhouse to aid in germination when the weather begins to warm. Don’t forget to mark your containers so that you know what seed is in which container.

I placed the containers on a plastic tray and put them in a shady spot on my deck. If there is a spike in daily temperatures before spring arrives, it could cause the nuts/seeds to germinate too early and the tender seedlings could be killed when the temperatures dip below freezing again. By keeping them in the shade, I can hopefully minimize any loss if we get a freak rise in the mercury this winter. It has been known to happen here. Many years ago, one January we had temperatures in the 90s for a whole week! That would really screw up my winter sowing project. If we have some freak of nature like that this year, I can simply move the containers into my basement until temperatures drop back into a more normal range for the season.

With the onset of continual frigid temperatures, the soaked nuts will begin the necessary cold stratification that they need in order to germinate. The freezing and thawing as the thermometer rises slightly above freezing and dips back down will help crack the shells of the nuts so that the little seedling can emerge when the weather warms with the spring thaw. Fingers crossed that my little project will not be in vain and that at least a couple of these nuts will become “free” food for the homestead.

Thank you for stopping by the farm today. Let me know what you think of my project. What do you think the outcome will be this spring?




Apple Cake

Apple Cake

When I was a child, we took our lunches to school. My mother always baked something so that we would have a little sweet thing with our lunch. These sweet items would run the gamut from bars, fudge, cookies, or cakes. All homemade. She made several really great cakes. Actually, all of her things were great. She was, and still is a fantastic baker. I did not get that from her. I do okay baking (getting better with time) but I was not a “natural” at it as some individuals.

In time, I may get around to sharing more of her recipes. But one of my favorites, was her “Jewish Apple Cake”. Yes, that was the name of the cake. She found the recipe in the local paper. Probably around one of the Jewish holidays. Back then, the local paper would have sections devoted to special things like that – Easter, Rosh Hashanah, Christmas, etc. and no one thought anything negative about it. It was recipe sharing based upon different yearly events. Heck, one year when the Seventeen Year Locust came to town, they printed recipes using locust. The one I remember most was fried locust as an ice cream topping. My apologies. Not trying to get you to lose your appetite. But you get my point – lots of things got printed in the paper and Mom saved a lot of recipes over the years.

In this whole “PC” world we inhabit these days – that is code for ‘political correctness’, I am not sure if I am supposed to call this what it was called all of those years ago, or just call it Apple Cake. To me, simply calling it Apple Cake takes away from what it was, a Jewish Apple Cake made during one of the holidays. So to me, it is a recipe saved by my mother for Jewish Apple Cake. Call it whatever you like.


Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Filling: 4 apples, 1/4 cup sugar, 2 tablespoons cinnamon

Batter: 3 cups flour (all purpose works fine), 2 1/2 teaspoons vanilla, 2 1/2 cup sugar, 1 cup vegetable oil, 4 eggs, 3 teaspoons baking powder, 1/2 teaspoon salt, 7 tablespoons orange juice.

Peel and chop the apples, add cinnamon and sugar, stir to coat apples. Set aside.

Mix all other ingredients for batter. Grease a tube pan. Alternate layers of batter and apples. Making sure to put batter on the bottom and apples on the top. Bake 1 to 1 1/2 hours depending upon oven at 350 degrees.  It is done when a butter knife comes out clean.

Notes: I use a stoneware bundt baking pan. I grease and flour the pan before filling and it bakes for about 90 minutes in my oven in the stoneware. If using organic apples, I do not peel them.

This cake is one that I feel tastes better the second day. If you can wait that long to cut it. If not, it is great for breakfast, snack with an afternoon cup of tea, or dessert after dinner. No matter now you slice it, it just tastes delicious.

Thank you for stopping by today and I hope you will give this recipe a go. If you do, please let me know how you liked it. It checks all of the boxes for me; not a lot of ingredients, super easy to assemble, and super tasty.

Vintage Pineapple Upside-Down Cake

I was clearing out a cluttered drawer and came upon an envelope containing handwritten recipes from my Grandmother and Great-Grandmother…

Great-Great-Grandmother Grace and Great-Grandmother Mary Lilia (Maysie) at the farm.

My Great-Grandmother was born in the 1880’s on the family farm in St. Mary’s County,  Maryland. She was born into a world of no electricity, horse power, trains, and steamer boats as the only means of transportation. An uncle ran contraband to the Southern army from the pier at the back of the property. Planes, moon walks, and microwaves were invented during her lifetime. As a child I was so in awe of someone who had been alive to witness so many inventions and technological advancements. She came from a period in time where some of the inventions could not have even been considered. Her father was the first doctor in the area, and as late as 2010 his portrait hung on the wall of the local hospital in Leonardtown, Maryland.

My Grandparents, John and Jane.



My Grandmother, though not a child of the Depression, had many stories to tell about it. The second World War followed on the heels of the Depression. She was thrifty. She married my Grandfather in 1937. Seventy years later on the anniversary of their wedding, I would marry my husband in remembrance of them. They were two very special people in my life. They contributed a great deal to who I am as a person. I am grateful for their influence, thankful that I had them in my life.

Back to the recipe…

It was handwritten on a piece of paper that had thinned and faded with age. I know the handwriting of both of my grandmother’s and do not recognize the hand in which the recipe was written. So I am not sure who would have cooked a pineapple upside-down cake. Pineapples were initially canned in the 1880s, however they were made popular and became more common place 1903 by James Drummond Dole. I do know that my Grandmother would make pineapple upside-down cake for me – it was one of my favorites to eat, but she would use a box cake mix. Or, I should say she taught me to make it using a box mix. She may have forgotten about this long ago written recipe, or just found it easier to use a box mix than make it from scratch. I don’t know. What I do know is now that I have this recipe, I am going to see what one of my favorite cake tastes like when made from scratch. Yes, I do know I could have found a recipe for the cake online, but this recipe was found among my Grandmother’s things. That makes it more special than any recipe I could “google” these days. Besides, it specifically is cooked in a cast iron skillet. One of my favorite ways to cook.


1 stick butter

1 cup brown sugar

Pineapple slices

Melt butter and brown sugar together slowly in a 12 inch cast iron skillet. Allow to cool some before placing sliced pineapple rings in bottom of the pan.

1 cup sugar

1 cup flour

3 eggs separated

Pinch of salt

1 teaspoon baking powder

5 tablespoons pineapple juice

Beat sugar with egg yolks until light and fluffy. Alternate juice and flour into sugar and yolk mixture. Add baking powder, and fold in beaten egg whites.

Pour into pan and bake at 350 for about 30 minutes or until done. Turnout, bottom upward and serve with whipped cream if desired.

If you decide to try this vintage recipe, I sure hope you will stop back to let me know how you fared. As always, thank you for visiting the farm today.


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