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The Winding Down of Summer Means Dahlia Season

Posted on September 12, 2014 by Rebecca | 2 comments

 

I don't know what it is about me and Dahlias.  Maybe it is that they are so easy to grow; maybe it is the tremendous variety.  Perhaps it is the vibrant colors.   Either way, I rarely have the heart to pick them.  I leave them in my garden for as long as possible to enjoy the enormous, colorful blooms that are like candy canes in my flower beds.  During the Great Geauga County Fair, I was able to sneak away from the Draft Horse Barn long enough one evening to visit the Dahlia display, the largest entry of flowers at the Fair, by far.  Probably due to the fact that the end of summer is this tuberous's most prolific showing before our first frost.  They are entered and displayed so simply; in a vintage glass milk jar or simple clear bottle.  Some of the blooms are as big as platters - they measure over 12 inches in diameter.  Some are no more than an inch across.  The colors are like a fireworks display, each leaf looks like they have been hand painted, sometimes in multiple colors. There is also a sense of symmetry about this plant like no others that I know.  Doing a little research,  I found that the great variety of these flowers results from dahlias being octoploids—that is, they have eight sets of homologous chromosomes.  Apparently, most plants have only two. In addition, dahlias also contain many transposons—genetic pieces that move from place to place upon an allele—which contributes to their manifesting such great diversity.  Who knew?! Usually, there is a hush in the flower barn as everyone assembles their dahlia entries, it is a reverent quiet,  almost hushed environment in the flower barn compared to the vast chaos of the rest of the Fair.  It is my treat every year to go view the splendor of the Dahlias, reflecting and contemplating upon the end of the summer and the arrival of early Fall, one of my favorite seasons.

 

 

 

 

Until next time, Enjoy!!

 

Best - Rebecca

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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My Favorite Time of the End of Summer: County Fair Season!!

Posted on August 12, 2014 by Rebecca | 0 comments
The days are getting shorter and the gardens are in full swing providing us with all of that wonderful produce that we have been working so hard to nurture.  Last night, we had a glorious super moon that was fiery orange in the sky.  There is no denying it.  Fall is around the corner.
 
The end of the Summer in Northeastern Ohio signals County Fair season and in Chagrin, our fair is the Geauga County Fair, the oldest County Fair in Ohio, dating back to 1823.  Over the course of five days, tens of thousands of people enjoy one of America's most authentic agricultural and animal-based events.  Anywhere you can assemble two barns full of draft horses and almost a dozen eight horse hitches is a serious fair.  My favorite time is check in on Wednesday evening, when all of the animals come in and the Junior fair are carrying in their arms anything from turkeys to rabbits to ducks in all sizes, shapes and color.  There are cattle everywhere - pigs with kids chasing behind them and a generalized chaos, but in a good way.  It puts all of our tech savvy world of cell phones, video and Wii games on the back burner - even if just for a few days.  It reminds me of the roots of our country and makes me grateful that we haven't forgotten what farming is or what an impact that animals truly have on our lives.
 
I'm sharing a few photos from last year, including some of our Percheron girls. 
Camlyn at our house, getting ready for Fair!!
 
Derek and Camlyn, ready to go!
 
Did someone say "Fair?"
 
The Midway one evening...
 
Nothing better than Maple Sugar Candy from the Maple Capital of the US!
 
Yummy!
 
Canning for Fall
 
The Flower Exhibit Buildings - one of my favorites!
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I'll take lots of action shots during the fair to share with you as well.  Happy End of Summer!  Find a County Fair near you, enter a pie and take a child with you so they know what Farmers do!
 
 

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Traditional Home Magazine Photo Shoot

Posted on June 13, 2014 by Rebecca | 0 comments

We have just finished one of the most fun projects on which we've ever worked on.  A few weeks ago, Stephen Carlson, our good friend and Rebecca Ray Designs Marketing and PR expert who owns DVG Group, called me one evening and said, "How would you feel about the Farm being featured in the September Fashion Issue!?"  After I let out a giant squeal of joy like a small girl, I regained my composure and tried to sound matter-of-fact (but I'm certain Stephen wasn't buying it!!).  There was a small catch, Stephen mentioned, "They are on a very tight time line and they'll be arriving in 12 days. Is that OK with you?"  "Sure!" I gulped- the same kind of "Sure" you use when you hear that unexpected house guests are 10 minutes away and you are cleaning your closets! 

I got off the phone so excited... and then I looked around.  As you know, we were absolutely ravaged by a record breaking winter, and Spring was at least 6 weeks late. The 100 year old roses had been killed back to the ground from the below 30 degree temperatures. Builder Bob was just finishing the new barn building and there were still piles of dirt all over and a rather unattractive dumpster sitting in front of the barn.  Game face I thought.  We can do anything in 12 days, right?  No worries that Derek, my heavy lifter and my right hand was traveling for work and wouldn't be home until about an hour before the Senior Architecture Editor of Traditional Home touches down in Cleveland.  In fact, maybe they could share a ride home from the airport... but I digress.

 

 

So, "any-who" as Lizzie would say, we got to work, and fast! My family, who is pretty reliable in a pinch, came to my aid. My aunt spent countless days gardening with me and transplanting perennials.  My mom came to help me plant my baskets and planters while my dad rode old Fergie (the 1954 Massey Ferguson) with the big gang mover dodging the rain and lightening. Andrea went above and beyond helping me with the animals. I rode my little John Deere tractor (which Derek reminds me weekly, is not a brush hog - whatever) and I answered my texts and calls as I was on the tractor out in left field.  

 

Within 10 days a magical transformation had occurred. The gardens were back up and everything started to bloom on cue.  

      

The hedges were trimmed and the patio furniture sparkled.  

 

Even the horses seemed to know to stay clean - there was no extra time to give them baths!  

 

On the appointed day, the Traditional Home crew arrived!  We suggested that they stay in the Village of Chagrin at The Inn at Gamekeepers, a historic hotel.  We took them to several of our favorite places to eat, including Lemon Falls, a delightful luncheon spot in Chagrin where they make the best egg salad, home-made soups and bakery.  

 

It was fascinating seeing how they make all of their shots so beautiful by arranging flowers and furniture. We all had a blast!  

    

The Traditional Home team was absolutely delightful and we can't wait to see the Farm in the pages of their gorgeous magazine.  Look for the September Fashion Issue, coming out in mid-August.

 

In the meanwhile, I'll be recovering!!!!

 

Rebecca

 

 

 

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I Never Met A Beet I Liked Until I Met Chef Ryan!

Posted on February 06, 2014 by Rebecca | 0 comments

As I've mentioned before, Derek and I have been enjoying participating in a Winter Farm Cooperative with Fresh Fork Markets, where once a week we get a wonderful delivery of all local, farm fresh seasonal produce, eggs and meat. But, I've got to admit - I've been a little stumped with some of these root vegetables and mounds of kale. I freely admit, I am not a beet fan. The thought of a jar of pickled beets is not my happy place. Fortunately, we have a wonderful, good friend who just happens to be a Culinary Institute of America trained Chef! Ryan wowed us at the Rebecca Ray holiday party with several creations including a beet and arugula salad that was fabulous. So now our great friend Ryan is also our Resident Rebecca Ray consulting Chef! So on a snowy day last week, with a counter full of root vegetable, I called Ryan and said help!

Ryan began my beet transformation by informing me that "beets (and all tubers) are naturally the gem of the winter". He added that beets are a "luxurious winter vegetable with an amazing versatility - they can be served raw, roasted, shaved and juiced."  Who knew? For beet beginners like me, Ryan suggested trying to roast a candy striped beet - available at most farmer's markets and quality grocery stores. They actually look like a peppermint stick when you slice them! Place sliced candy striped beets on a cookie sheet, brush them with a good quality extra virgin olive oil, sprinkle them with a little wonderful salt (his favorite is Maldon Salt - I used the smoked version), put a little orange zest over them, and bake at 350 degrees. Yum!! I'm already a beet convert. Then, if you want to move up the skill ladder, Ryan suggests shaving a raw beet and gently marinate it in a mixture of citrus and salt, and pour it over your salad or fish.

To get really fancy, here is another one of Ryan's roasted beet recipes: Make roasted beets by slicing them down and roasting them on a shallow pan. Brush with olive oil and squeeze the juice of an orange over the top before baking. According to Ryan, while these terrific tubers are roasting, they naturally convert their starch to sugar, which in turn caramelizes and turns to a sweet sauce (He advises trying the same thing with turnips, rutabagas, colored carrots, etc). Take out the beets, wait until they cool, peel the skins off, dice them, and arrange on a bed of Arugula. Then, take the drippings, add some more olive oil, and throw in some shallots and fresh herbs like thyme or rosemary. Whisk and pour over your beets and arugula; finish with some goat cheese. Absolutely fabulous. If you roast a rutabaga the same way, then mash it with some extra virgin olive oil and fresh herbs, you suddenly have a unique starch to serve along side a meat dish.


The final eye opener for me is Ryan's kale recipe. So easy and so wonderful! Simply sauté some diced pancetta and shallots. Once they begin to caramelize, toss in the kale and a little chicken stock over low heat. Delicious! Ryan urged me to keep a few winter staples at home: Maldon Salt (or any other quality gourmet salt), really good extra virgin olive oil, sherry or champagne vinegar, brown sugar and fresh citrus to zest and squeeze (lemon, limes and oranges). You can make so many wonderful concoctions with just those items and fresh produce.

Derek, Lizzie and I now no longer are at a loss with the tubers!! We are enjoying roasted winter vegetables every night!! Thanks Chef Ryan!!

 

Meet Ryan!

Chef Ryan Young, of Pepper Pike, Ohio, is an undergraduate in hospitality Management at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas as well as a graduate of the Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park, New York. Ryan's career has taken him all over the country and he has been fortunate to cook in many high profile venues, including Le Petit Bistro in New York City, Trio in Chicago, and and Fix at the Bellagio in Las Vegas. Ryan has recently returned to his hometown, Cleveland, to join his family's business. Additionally, he is in great demand, creating fabulous charity dinner parties. Ryan is a big a believer in the farm to table movement as supports all of Cleveland's local farmer's markets. He can be spotted regularly shopping at the Shaker Square and Chagrin Falls' Farmer's Market as well as the West Side Market downtown, where he is scouting out the freshest seasonal ingredients for his artfully presented dishes! To see some of Chef Ryan Young's beautiful culinary creations, be sure to visit his Facebook Page: Ryan Young!

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Winter Harvest - Calling All Squash Recipes!!!

Posted on December 06, 2013 by Rebecca | 0 comments
This winter, Derek and I joined a Farm Cooperative called Farm to Fork that provides it's members with a weekly harvest from their crops.  It is a great way to get fresh vegetables, eggs and meat and we love knowing that we are supporting our local farmers.  We've gotten to try root vegetables that I might not have tried without receiving them from the cooperative and having really fresh greens every night is a treat.  However, we seem to have had an over-run on Squash - every kind imaginable.  They are beautiful, colorful and decorative, but I'm running out of innovative ways to use them!!  Anyone have some great recipes out there that you'd like to share with us and our readers?
To share your recipes e-mail them to info@rebeccaraydesigns.com and we'll select our favorite reader recipe for a Rebecca Ray prize.  E-mail recipes by midnight, Wednesday, December 11th.  Happy cooking!!

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