Red River Gorge 2013

Located in East Central Kentucky, the Red River Gorge is a 30,000 acre canyon system on the Red River.  The many sandstone cliffs, waterfalls, natural bridges and the beautiful Red River make the “Gorge” a great place to spend a few days hiking, kayaking or just camping with family and friends.  This weekend I spent a few days hiking the trails and enjoying the fresh air that can only be found in the forest!

Above, the Red River running through the Red River Gorge in East Central Kentucky.  Much of the Gorge is located in the Daniel Boone National Forest.

Below, a few picture of the Silver-mine natural arch in the Red River Gorge.

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Victory Garden… 2013

Popular during WWI and WWII, “Victory Gardens” were a common sight on the private property of many Americans’ homes.  The “Gardens” were a way for the average citizen to contribute to the war effort by lessening the pressure on the public food supply by producing vegetables, fruit and herbs for personal consumption.  This year I have decided to raise my own version of a “Victory Garden.” Not because we are, unfortunately, still at war in Afghanistan, but because I want to learn how to produce a portion of my own food!  My own food that I can control how it’s produced!  Over the decades since WWII, the private family farms that were once so common, have dwindled, now replaced by large-scale commercial mega-food-producing farms.  A few articles I have recently read say that the trend seems to be reversing itself… as more and more Americans are once again growing a portion their own fruits and vegetables.  They are interested in learning the art of vegetable gardening and at the same time becoming more self-sufficient!  
What are some of the advantages of growing your own food…?  
-You know where your food comes from.
-You can raise the food in a healthful manner, free of pesticides.
-You can save money….
The list goes on and on…….  Not to mention that it’s enjoyable watching the seeds you sow, produce something you can pick fresh and eat a few mins later.  
 My “Victory Garden” for 2013 has everything from artichokes to watermelon and 15 vegetables in-between.  I hope to be able to eat some of the “vegetables of my labor” in about 3 weeks.  
My kale should be ready by then!    

 Above, my “deer-proof” planter, with radish, broccoli, kale and cabbage.

Below, some of my square-foot gardening technique planters.  Not “deer-proof” but hopefully big producers nonetheless!

Below, some of the other vegetables on the farm!

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Thermal Cooker Lamb Stew.

Today I finally paid a visit to the Lexington Farmer’s Market.  I have been wanting to go for the last few months, especially since I have a pretty nice garden going this year on the little farm.  I was really impressed with the variety of vendors as well as the number of patrons.  The Market was pretty busy for early morning on a Saturday!  Since it was my first visit, I was more interested in seeing what local produce is available rather than doing a lot of shopping.  My garden won’t produce any vegetables until probably mid-July or early August and in the meantime, I’d like to have some healthy options where I can buy good quality, local produce.  I like supporting local, small-scale farms, because I know they work hard and in my opinion deserve a fair price for their products.  I saw a few farmers selling locally produced lamb.   Lamb is one of my favorite meats so I decided to buy some and the necessary vegetables to make a stew.  I bought zucchini squash, onions, tomatoes, garlic, new potatoes and a pound of ground lamb.  It was my first visit to the Lexington Farmer’s Market but it certainly won’t be my last!  
For more information about the Lexington Farmer’s Market, checkout the link below,
http://www.lexingtonfarmersmarket.com
Back at the farm, I broke out the Coleman Apex II camping stove and my Tiger thermal cooker.  I’ve posted articles before about thermal cookers, but still can’t say enough good things about them!  They really are a wonderful way to cook with minimal effort and minimal fuel use!   After washing and chopping the produce, I put all ingredients (see pictures below) including the lamb, into the thermal cooker inner-pot and placed it over the burner.  Once the contents have reached a rolling boil, in about 10 mins, I placed the inner-pot into the outer (thermal) pot and simply waited about 4 hours until the ingredients were fully cooked to enjoy!  For about $15.00 dollars I was able to make a healthy meal that fed me and 3 friends!  

Above and Below the ingredients of my Lamb Stew.

Above, the ingredients washed and chopped, ready to cook!

Below,  the thermal cooker reaching a rolling boil.

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