Tuesday, October 29, 2019

Three Sisters Planting Method

European settlers arrived in America in the early 1600s, American Indians had been growing the “three sisters” for over three hundred years, by this point.
The vegetables sustained the Native Americans existence along with meat and nuts
In an Indian folklore,  the plants were a gift from the gods, always to be grown together, eaten together, and celebrated together.

Each of the sisters contributes something to the planting. Together, the sisters provide a balanced diet from a single planting. 
  • As the eldest sister,  the corn offers the beans needed support and a climbing tower.
  • The beans, the caring sister, pull nitrogen from the air and bring it to the soil for the benefit of all three. 
  • As the beans grow through the squash vines and up the cornstalks toward the sunlight, they hold the sisters close together.
  • The large leaves of the squash protects the three plants by creating living mulch that shades the soil, keeps it cooler, moist and prevents weeds.
  • The prickly squash leaves also deter pests.
Together, the three sisters create sustainable soil fertility as they provide you a healthy diet.


We plant the corn in early May (after last frost). Soak the seeds for 4 hours before planting in a slight hill or elevated row and keep the soil moist

When the corn plants are 6" tall we plant squash, pumpkin or zucchini between every other corn.

Then plant pole beans in the skipped spaces. We plant this in long rows, many forms of this technique suggest circles or a square pattern. We find the circle/square is harder to maintain and weed. The row method allows access on both sides to pick vegetables and weed.

Note that this style of planting should be repeated each year as the nitrogen converted by the beans, will not be left till the plants are nearly mature and they have broken down.  You may need to use organic fertilizer the first year.

One little trick Brad loves to do is as the watermelon, cantaloupe and pumpkin vines are dying, he plants his seeds for snow peas in the ground.  The vines add a bit of warmth and protection to the young plants.  While they are about 6 in long and have not spread- he cuts the summer plants away and lifts then off the new peas.

Enjoy and love you garden!

Friday, September 6, 2019

Pear Harvest Time & Pear Tart Time

One of our largest crops would be our Pear harvest.  We pick nearly 500lbs of pears each fall.

Pear has become such a versatile fruit for us.  It gives us so many uses.

We keep about 50 lbs in a cool dry dark location sprinkled with dry lime.  We will be able to use the fresh pear in salads, desserts and breakfast fruit for nearly 4 months.

The remaining 450 lbs, we peel, core and freeze in bags of 16 pears each.  This gives me food to use for the winter months when the garden is far more selective in what it will produce.  Freezing food in a quality manner is a good way to preserve foods.

We also dry about 50lbs as well, that we serve on our Charcuterie trays.  Typically we dry, pear, fig,  and cantaloupe each year for the Charcuterie Trays.

One of my main uses for pear is to get a large 8-gallon pot and place the frozen pears (96) on a very low stove for 6 hours.  I will often add a bit of honey, cinnamon, nutmeg near the end.  I pour off the liquid (which is usually about 2 gallon) for our pear juice to serve with breakfast.  Then I use my immersible blender and emulsify the pears.  I use this puree for charcuterie pear butter, for fruit kolaches, I add it to make my curried pear vinegarette and I
use it in some of my fruit bread.

French Country Tarte


1/2 cup whole-grain flour or whole wheat flour
1/2 cup ground oats
3 teaspoons granulated sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
4 tablespoons cold butter or coconut oil
2 tablespoons yogurt
3 table of spoons ice water
4 medium pears
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 tablespoon cornstarch
2 tablespoons brown sugar
1T Honey
1/8 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon Nutmeg
1 C good quality ricotta mixed w/ 1 C powdered sugar
1 tablespoon honey
1/4 teaspoon boiling water


  1. Crust: whisk together the flour, oats, sugar, and salt. Add the butter - cut the butter into the flour mixture until you get a pea size course texture. Combine the yogurt and ice water. Using a fork, gradually mix the yogurt mixture into the flour mixture. Pat the dough into a 5-inch round and wrap in plastic wrap. Refrigerate for 25 min.
  2. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees, and prepare the filling. Peel the pears, core them and cut into 1/4-inch slices ( use a mandolin if you have it). In a large bowl toss the pear slices with the lemon juice. Sprinkle in the cornstarch, brown sugar, nutmeg, honey, and cinnamon and toss until the pears are evenly coated. Set aside.
  3. Place the dough in the bottom of a tart pan.  Press chilled dough to the edges and up the pan sides.  If the dough breaks - patch it up with your fingers.
  4. spread the ricotta mixture on the bottom of the pan.  Arrange the pears in a fan effect around the top to form a pattern.
  5. Bake the tart for 15 minutes at 425, and then reduce the oven temperature to 350 degrees F, keeping the tart in the oven all the while, and bake for another 40 minutes, until the pears are tender and the crust is golden brown.
  6. In a small bowl stir together the honey and boiling water to make a glaze. When the tart is done remove it from the oven and brush the honey glaze all over the top of the fruit and crust. Transfer to a plate to cool slightly. Cut into 8 wedges and serve warm or room temperature with vanilla ice-cream or fresh whipped cream.

Saturday, June 22, 2019

Cold Cocktail Time By the Pool!

    Pool time   -   Fun time!    

This time of year, nothing says summer better than easing back into a chaise lounge, with a cold delicious cocktail in your hand. As you close your eyes and slowly melt into the cushion with the trickling sound of water cascading from the pool fountain, you begin to feel the slow yet soothing waves of relaxation take over.

Wait - let's add the cocktail!

Daniel- our favorite Cocktail maker and son, has given us an amazing Craft Margarita, which he will be showcasing for us at our wild and crazy Fourth of July bash!

  Daniels Secret Craft Margarita Recipe:      

Squeeze 2 small or 1 large lime, & 1/4 orange into shaker. Drop squeezed orange and 1/8 cut of squeezed lime into skaker

1.5 oz tequila 
.75 oz grand marnier (or orange liquor of choice)
3 Finely cut slices of fresh jalapeno 
If you prefer sweeter taste, add spoonful of agave nectar 
Shake hard, add ice, shake again

Garnish with salt mixed with cayenne pepper, garlic powder, chili powder


    My Captain  Morgan  Rum  Punch     

2 OZ RUBY RED GRAPEFRUIT JUICE (do not use canned)
squeeze of lemon
Tsp honey



     Marcia's Midori   Splash!     


  • 2 ounces Midori 
  • 1-ounce vodka 
  • 1-ounce coconut rum
  • 3 ounces of orange juice 
  • 2 ounces ginger ale 


  1. Shake all the ingredients together in a cocktail shaker. 
  2. Pour over ice into a highball glass. 
  3. Garnish with melon balls, and serve.

Do Not Drink and Drive.  Stay at Elm Creek Maonr!  Enjoy Your Summer!!

Saturday, June 1, 2019

Spring Always Brings Lots of Growth and Births At the Manor

As a Fully Farm to Table Inn, renewal is a necessary and rewarding necessity.

Master Chef, Marcia creates all of our artisan cheeses from our own Goats milk.  Typically we have 2-3 dairy goats at all times.  With this number of lady goats, we receive about 1 1/2 - 2 Gallons a day.  Half of our milk goes into Chevre and the other half is used to create our hard cheeses ( Gouda, Cheddar, Asiago, Gorgonzola, etc).
This year we have 8 little adorable kids, that bound around the pastures and show off to our guests.

Many of our egg hens are naturally broody and we encourage this natural method of hatching chicks.  We do not use heaters or artificial methods to hatch our chics.  Typically in one year, we have 7-9 hens that will hatch out approx 70-90 egg laying chickens.  We keep the younger hens and allow these hens to lay for 2 years. After that time we use them as meat for our family, but not guests, as they are larger and not as tender as our younger meat chickens, we use for the guest's entrees.

We maintain an Aquaponic greenhouse year round and plant traditionally as well.  Our Spring/Summer gardens are the big suppliers for our fruit and vegetables. The volume of fruits and vegetables that are gathered from this garden provides us with not only our fresh supplies to feed our guests amazing breakfasts, lunches, and dinners, but allows us to pickle many of the vegetables that we use for our Charcuterie trays. We also dry many of the fruits and vegetables to use throughout the Fall/Winter when the Fall/Winter garden is not offering the variety we are Blessed with, in the Summer.  

We also practice a very traditional and ancient farming method called "three sisters" 

 When the corn is 6 inches tall, beans and squash are planted around the corn, alternating between the two kinds of seeds. This agricultural knowledge has been used for 5,000–6,500 years.  

The three crops benefit from each other. The corn provides a structure for the beans to climb, eliminating the need for poles. The beans provide the nitrogen to the soil that the other plants use, and the squash spreads along the ground, blocking the sunlight, helping prevent the establishment of weeds. The squash leaves also act as a "living mulch", creating a microclimate to retain moisture in the soil and the prickly hairs of the vine deter pests that bother the corn and beans. Nature working to help nature in a healthy and organic ecosystem. 

Monday, May 6, 2019

Wild Foraging

One of my favorite times of year is Spring. As Brad is an Organic Farmer and me, a Master Chef, we are always looking for unique and lovely foods to enhance and highlight the meals we prepare for guests. Mother Nature is the best artist in the world and is very creative; growing unique, strange and wonderful things that are delicious and edible. These little gems are able to be found through “Wild Foraging”. Foraging for wild food is a great way to experience the natural world and connect with something ancient and primal within ourselves. Each spring and summer you can find us out foraging for amazing foods such as our coveted Morel Mushrooms, Curley dock, Lady Fern Fiddleheads, Ramps/wild leek, Dandelion Flowers, Chickweed, Clover, Wildbriar Shoots and

I have included some photos to see how pretty 
and fresh these wild things can be.

Prickly Pear

Several Rules apply to wild foraging.  

1)Never consume wild food unless you are 100% sure of its identification. 

2)Know the look-alike plants (some look alike are poisonous).

3)Know the season to pick each plant,  

4) Don't harvest all the plants, leave some to grow wild, so they go to seed and replenish for next year, prepare your wild things correctly.  

5)Never pick in places subjected to pollution

6) Go slowly try a new plant in small bits.

7) Avoid all plants with white berries

8) Try to avoid plants with white sap (some exceptions- Dandelion, Fig,  Thistle

Wild Mustang Grape
Foraging is a wonderful thing to learn for oneself and to teach others to respect nature and learn about the environment.

Sunday, February 17, 2019

The Night Belongs to the Mud Bug!

 Crawfish boil night is one of our local annual fundraisers that I love, the Sacred Heart School Crawfish Boil.  I'll be honest... I'm a convert.  I never liked crawfish. I have become a tail cracking, corn eating, full fan, lover of the mudbug!

3rd Annual Crawfish BoilMy kids went to school at Sacred Heart, so I went to the first of these annual events to support the school, but I had a blast!  I caught up with old friends and made new ones. The first year I would not go near the crawfish, I just enjoyed the company and the band.  They always bring in a great act.

Image may contain: one or more people and people on stage The next year I was there and found myself in a showdown , at a table with a group of friends, I sat and sipped my chardonnay as they wolfed down tail after tail of the red tiny lobsters.  Then it happened... the gauntlet was laid down by a beer fueled challenge from a friend of ours. 
They offered me a twenty dollar bill to try one crawfish. I scoffed at the idea.  Then through the laughter, the pot was raised.  "Fifty Dollars!" another friend shouted and threw another twenty and a ten into the pot. No, my pride and taste could not be bought! Then another friend tossed in a hundred dollar bill on top! Now... I'm not a woman who escapes her convictions by any means... but I am an accountant and the numbers were crunching in my head. About 10 seconds of chewing for $150 does come out to an hourly rate of $900. 
Before I could let that sink in another friend piped up and threw in another hundred and before I could say anything, my right hand grabbed the money and my left grabbed a crawfish off of my husband's plate! 
Image may contain: food
Apparently I did have a price! 
I looked at the thing.  I wasn't sure what to do with it, but everyone else was. So encouragement and directions came from all sides as I stared down the thing... literally... it had eyes.
I broke the tail off and cracked the thing open.  I pulled the meat out and cringed as I could smell it.  I slowly moved my hand to my mouth,  wincing at the thought.
Then I opened my mouth.
I took the bite.IT. WAS. DELICIOUS.
I savored the flavor.  It was like a guilty pleasure.  A dirty little shrimp. I had no clue what I had been missing out on!
The peanut gallery erupted at the obvious pleasure on my face!  They cheered and laughed.
I? I went to the crawfish bar and got myself a plate of mudbugs with the easriest $250 I ever earned in my pocket!
I also won a mani-pedi at the silent auction, for oddly enough... $250.

Should Auld Acquaintances Be Forgotten....

This is one of my favorite times of the year. New Year's Eve is the culmination of a month of good times that starts on Thanksgiving. I get to see my family, as all of our kids come home at one time or another throughout the season. This year my son who lives in Denver came for Thanksgiving and Christmas! But NYE is the cap to the season. Every year, at the end of the season, we do a special celebration for our past guests. Our annual New Year's Eve Murder Mystery Dinner is a blast!
We sell out as soon as we announce the theme, usually in June or July, and the event is only open to guests who have stayed with us before. It's our own little way to say thank you to our guests and a fun exciting way to get to know everyone on a more personal level.  
We always get to meet new people and love making friends with our guests when the occasion arises. Some of our closest friendships we have forged over the years have come from the insanity that comes on this night!
We go all out to decorate the manor for the occasion and spend the whole day preparing the food for the event.
All of the guests dress up in costume to match their character, and we offer prizes for different contests, the favorite one being the best costume prize. Some of our guests have truly gone all out, with one year that had an American Revolution period theme included a gentleman that stayed in his powdered wig the entire weekend!
The food is always fun with a 6-course dinner on the agenda, I love stretching my chef's muscles!  
We have the dining room decked out to set the stage for the event of the season. It was so well done that when my son came by to drop off a late-arriving Christmas gift (thank you Amazon!), he thought there was an actual crime that had happened!
We start at 6:30pm after all the guests have had the day to relax, get massages,  play with the goats while relaxing with a handcrafted charcuterie delivered to guests, with house-made chevre, asiago, gouda, and Brads smoked meats to set the mood. The evening has gone along with all participating in the Murder Mystery as our staff brings both food and clues along the way. Things always get exciting as the free-flowing wine works it's magic and the night progresses.  
At the culmination of the evening, we all go outside to ring in the New Year with our great fireworks display, a champagne toast, and singing of Auld Lang Syne!

Come stay with us for a getaway soon, and then be eligible to join our Murder Mystery, with raucous fun next year!