Monthly Archives: May 2012

Fresh Grapefruit Creme Brulee

We are drowning in grapefruit at the farmhouse!  It is literally life-threatening to stand under that tree right now–you can hear them hitting the ground all day and all night.  So naturally, I’m trying to use them in as many ways as I can….the latest?  Creme brulee.  I am cuckoo for creme brulee, for anyone who is wondering.  No one’s actually wondering, I get that.

Essentially, this recipe is a variation on just normal, vanilla creme brulee.


2 eggs

6 egg yolks

1 cup sugar

1/4 cup fresh-squeezed grapefruit juice, pulp strained.  (Our grapefruit is, I think, Oro Blanco, which is a tart, light-yellow fruit, but I am sure that sweet pink grapefruit would work just as well)

Zest of one grapefruit

2 cups heavy cream

1/2 cup granulated sugar for brulee-ing

Start by preheating the oven to 300 degrees.  Fill a large pot with water and get it to a boil on the stove top–once it has boiled, keep it hot, you’ll need this later.

Whisk together the eggs, egg yolks, and 1 cup of sugar until they are light yellow and stiff.

Add the cream, zest, juice and mix gently until well-blended.

Line a baking dish with either a damp dish towel or damp paper towels, and set your ramekins on top of the towel.

Carefully pour the mixture evenly amongst the ramekins.

Now, take your hot water from the stove and even more carefully pour this into the baking dish so that the water comes up about halfway on the ramekins.

Place the baking dish on the center rack in the oven and cook for approximately 50 minutes.  They should be set along the edges, but still wiggly in the center when you take them out.

Remove the ramekins from the water bath and let cool to room temperature, then put them in the refrigerator.

When you are ready to serve, take them out of the fridge, coat in a pretty decent layer of granulated sugar and torch those puppies.  This is kind of a trial and error process–keep the torch moving, but let it hit the sugar long enough that it melts it to a lovely dark brown.  Let cool and then crack in!

Note: for presentation, I cut some slivers of grapefruit, coated in sugar, then torched them, as well.



Memorial Day at the Farmhouse

I’ll start off on a serious note….we are humbled by the men and women who serve and have served in this country’s armed forces, and are infinitely grateful to them for their sacrifices.  Our hearts go out to those that have lost their loved ones, or who are waiting and waiting for them to come home.

As usual, the physical manifestation of Memorial Day came in the form of cocktails and a garden cook-out at Farmhouse38.  You can judge us if you want, but you know you were doing the same irreverent thing.  Because this was a garden party, I turned to the yard for inspiration.  Currently, our herb beds and grapefruit tree are ripe with offerings, so I incorporated as many of these elements as possible into the recipes and decor.

The tablescape was comprised of mason jar flower arrangements and mason jar votives surrounded by an assortment of citrus collected from ours and friends’ yards.

Each setting got a mason jar of minted ice water (gotta stay hydrated!), as well as a sprig of baby grapefruit in the center of each plate.

I wish I could say the sunflowers came from the garden, but these did not.  If it were later in the season, they probably would have!  The green hydrangea and grape leaves are most definitely homegrown, though.

For small gatherings, such as this one, I get to pick from my assortment of random old chairs to use as seating.  Love this!  Also, I like to bring indoor pillows out to add a little extra comfort and texture.

Here’s a pretty decent shot of the hanging crystals and mason jars that are a permanent fixture on the grapefruit tree.  The jars contain battery-operated timer candles that come on at dusk everyday.

The girls arrive, looking for cocktails…heh, heh….see what I did there?

Eloise considers my decor choices.

Mojito Sparkler with pineapple mint from the garden–YUM!  I’ll post the recipe shortly.

‘Saucy Mutt’ cocktail….check out for the recipe.

A bowl of harvested citrus, and some aMAHzing lemon cookies.

This was some gorgeous crudite…thanks, Jill!!!

It isn’t a party without cheese.  Am I right?!

Anyone who knows me can vouch for my sick obsession with creme brulee.  In honor of our citrus theme, I put a spin on these….grapefruit.  Yes, grapefruit creme brulee.  This was seriously good, if I do say so myself.  Recipe to follow.

The afor-mentioned lemon cookies, which came from a recipe I found on Pinterest.  Yay, Pinterest!  Check out the Farmhouse38 ‘The Farmhouse Sweet Shoppe’ board ( to see this recipe:  And go ahead and follow us while you’re there!!

After the candlelit gorge-fest, the small fries ran off steam before we busted out the sparklers.

Firesticks are purty.

Sparklerglyphs.  This spells….something….

It’s all fun and games until someone lights their head on fire.  Just kidding.  Safety first; the kids were sober so they were the ones that got to handle the pyrotechnics.

Bathing Beauties

I know, I know.  I am a little over-fascinated with my chickens.  It’s just that they are so durn….chickeny.  I’m obsessed.

This morning, when I noticed a dust cloud rising from my fairly green, lush garden, I grabbed my camera and ran.  There is just nothing better than a fat, happy chicken taking a roll in the dirt.  Comedy at its finest.

There is a tiny bare patch in the back corner of the yard that I intended to plant a little something in; nestled between rose and lavender bushes, it gets a delightful batch of morning sun each day.  So, when I was recently doling out seedlings, I popped a few sunflower sprouts in to see how they’d do.  Fortunately, I planted plenty of sunflower sprouts elsewhere in the yard, because these ones don’t stand a chance.  The chickens have discovered this lovely little spot, with it’s morning-warm dirt and aromatic lavender.  It is now the chicken day-spa.

For anyone who doesn’t know, dust baths are part of a chicken’s daily routine.  Rolling in dust or sand helps them to clean their feathers, apparently.  As a chicken-owner, you’re supposed to provide them with this.  I was getting around to it, I swear!–they just beat me to the punch.  I guess I could put in a sandpit somewhere where I’m not attempting to grow seedlings, but once those girls make their minds up about something, it’s pretty hard to negotiate.  This spot is theirs, and I might as well just accept it….mix in some sand to make it even better….provide some cucumber-infused ice water.  And move the seedlings that I had the audacity to plant there.

I love how Eloise looks surprised that I caught her.  You can see one of the struggling sunflowers directly in front of her.

Clementine decides to snuggle into the sun next to Eloise.  They look deranged when they fluff out their head-feathers in the sun….better not block that glorious sun with my annoying camera.

The dirt-flinging begins.

Gertie joins the action.

They pause to look at me like, “WHAT.”

Some Kitchen Moments

Some bits of inspiration from the farmhouse kitchen as we gear up for a Memorial Day Garden Party:

It’s officially summertime if we’ve got cherries.  Says me.

Everything including the kitchen sink.

Flea market found seltzer bottles–can’t get enough of these!  Seriously, if anyone wants to buy me something, I want more.  Need.  Need more.

Blowing the (flour) dust off the old mixer…gettin’ my bake on for the party!  Check in later to see the damage.  BTW, how killer is that chicken dish towel?  Serial.  Thank you, World Market (!

I wanted to show off our adorable kitchen dog bed (yes, the dogs have a bed in the kitchen, as well as every other room in the house), from Garnet Hill (  I have a real obsession with cute dog beds.  When you are literally tripping over them, the least they can do is not be an eyesore.

Then this happened.  Classic Abbie photo-bomb with trademark yawn.

Visiting with the Ladybirds

C1 holding Millie.

The birds got a visit from their favorite kids yesterday.  It is astonishing to look at these photos and compare to the ones taken just a few months ago.  Where does the chicken time go?

Sweet Samantha

She is just too precious.  What a fun shoot!


The 5th Chicken

The only thing better than glancing up from my computer and seeing the chickens scurrying around the yard?  Glancing up from my computer and seeing the chickens and their stage-5 clinger.  She is convinced that whatever they are pecking at must be some great treat that she is missing out on.  Ah, barnyard harmony.

Coop du Jour, Part Deux

What’s the coop du jour?  It’s the coop of the day.

Sorry.  It doesn’t get old for me.  Twenty points to anyone who calls the movie that’s ripped from.

Anyway, back to the chicken coop.  It is complete (ish)!  I’ve got a few more minor aesthetic adjustments to make, but for my husband’s sake, we’re done.  This was yet another addition to our long list entitled, “Projects We Grossly Underestimated”.  But the girls are happy, and safe, and the thing is not an eyesore, so it’s a win for everybody.  Except my husband, who keeps losing all his free time to these sorts of situations.

The roosting box, complete with privacy curtains.

The ladybirds wander in their private coop garden.

Orangey Arrangement How-To

With this current demonstration, I wanted to show how to make a fairly decent arrangement just by grabbing a few bunches of standard-issue farmers’ market bought bouquets.  As you can see, I also stuck a couple of sprigs of garden cuttings in there, too–but this was a last minute embellishment that really isn’t required.

I grabbed one bunch of a dozen orange roses, and two bunches of a dozen orangey-yellow tulips. Monochromatic arrangements are a really quick way to get a lot of visual pop without having to over-think it. It even looks really great if you’ve got different shades of the same color (like, for instance, these roses don’t perfectly ‘match’ the color of the tulips, but they’re all pretty orange, wouldn’t you say? Good enough!). Don’t ever try to match flower colors–it is a battle you cannot win.

I picked one of my favorite metal containers from Ikea (the other holy land). It’s about 7.5 inches tall and 5 inches wide at its rim. This is kind of a low, rounded arrangement, so it needs a low container with a wide mouth.

Oh, Ikea….you complete me.

Stripped tulips. Scandalous.

Stripped roses. Also scandalous.

Next I stripped those flowers. Typically speaking, you want to strip all the leaves off of tulips, unless, like me, you might want to see a little green here and there, peaking out. If so, leave maybe the top one or two leaves and gently yank the rest of them off of there. Get every last leaf off those roses–if you’ve got a rose stripper, great–if not, just pluck each one off.



It’s go time, people!

I always start an arrangement by putting in the flowers that take up the most volume first–in this case, it’s the roses.

Grab the whole bunch in one hand, and then fiddle with each flower until they kind of form a nice, rounded, even bouquet. Don’t make it flat; have the roses in the center be a little higher than the ones around the edges. Maybe you lucked out and the way you grabbed them looked great. Again, this does not have to be perfect.

Now, while holding them still in the bouquet, you’re gonna cut the stems to the length you want. For these sorts of arrangements (the full, low, mounded sort), I like to cut the length so that the flower heads are gonna theoretically sit right on the top edge of that container. But to really get this right, you don’t want to cut the stems to be exactly 7.5 inches long (the height of this container)–you want to cut them a little shorter than that. Maybe more like 7 inches. You’re better off cutting them a little on the short side instead of the long side.

Next, just drop them in the container and let them fall where they want. They’re gonna naturally produce some gaps, and this is where you want to start sticking tulips. One at a time, cut each tulip to a length of about 7 inches, and start sliding them in there.

What you absolutely DO NOT want to do here is try to space things evenly. This is a lost cause. You want the tulips to look like they’ve grown up through the roses naturally with no space-planning. You should wind up with a haphazard vein of tulips peeking through the roses.

Now fiddle with the flowers individually to give the arrangement as a whole a soft, mounded look. This is where cutting the stems a little (only a little) on the short side comes into play–it is really helpful to be able to push and pull the flowers to the appropriate depth. Again, don’t try to make the shape perfect; by morning, those tulips will have grown a half inch taller (they keep growing the whole time, and you either have to embrace this and let them do their thing, or keep adjusting them everyday). I happen to love this about tulips.

At this point, you’re really, actually finished! This is a cute monochromatic arrangement that only required three bunches of flowers and a vase that you, hopefully, had at home.

But maybe you’re not satisfied. Maybe you want to get crazy and add a little more color. So get crazy. Stop whining about it. Go see what you can find in your yard to add in. Sparingly. The main oomph of the arrangement is the tulips and roses–accent flowers and greens should be just that–accents. Don’t go overboard. It’s really easy to junk it up. Use only one or two more materials….if you bring in five more types of flowers and greens from the yard and shove them all in there, it’s gonna look manic.

A few suggestions about yard clippings: greenery is pretty easy to deal with. Most tree and shrub clippings are pretty hardy. Vines work pretty well for the most part. Flowers are temperamental; not all of them are gonna survive being cut and put in water. The only way to know for sure is to try. But such is the beauty of this arrangement: if your accents don’t work, pluck them out and try again with something else, or just leave them out altogether.

I brought in about six pieces of dark blue salvia and five small bits of live grapevine from the yard. The blue is really bold against the orange, so I only wanted to just tuck a wee bit in. As usual, I did this in a very asymmetrical way: three or so clustered just a little off-center, and then the rest spaced around one side of the arrangement. Don’t try to evenly space them around the whole arrangement. It will look too contrived. The grapevine mostly gets tucked in around the base of the flowers, although I always like to have one or two little bits of greenery poking out of the top.

Hopefully, you rode out this long instruction manual and now have a gorgeous arrangement of your own creation. If so, congrats! If not, you’re probably swearing at me right now, and I totally understand.

Please let me know if you have any questions about or what you thought of this tutorial by leaving me a comment.

Photo Shoot with the Nephew

This.  Child.  Is.  Too.  Adorable.  Perhaps I’m a bit biased….but he’s my favorite thing.  He is three years old and is the perfect storm of mischief and sweetness; he’ll melt your heart with exquisite manners and then feed the dog all of the purple Play-Doh.



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