It's not difficult to find ways away from the range; there is a whole outside range beyond the kitchen windows that needs attention. We have been harvesting potatoes nearly every morning when the fog is still thick and the air is cool. By noontime we have to call it quits because it's already too hot. Ideal temperatures for potato storage are between 45 F and 57 F. And unfortunately, the early morning hours are all we have at this point. There is no rain in the near forecast either, which has forced us to break out the irrigation system after we had already stored it for winter. The fall cabbage, broccoli and cauliflower crops are under stress, so we had no choice.
We are, however, definitely moving towards winter, even though it feels like we're going back in time to July. Once the market season lightens up a bit, that will provide us some much needed extra hours - all of which we will quickly fill. The men are going to begin filling our silo soon. It seems like we are always behind schedule, but somehow make it work. Even though stress has been high this season, I can't help but be grateful; uneventful, ordinary days are happy days.
The coming days are shaping up to be a bit cooler, but by mid-week we'll be facing warmer temps once more. Am I talking about the forecast...again? It happened. I'm that person. I live on a farm and now a growing percentage of my daily thoughts are weather-related. Instead of being the millennial that checks their Facebook or Twitter every ten seconds, I am the millennial that updates the Weather Bug app at least once an hour if the phone is near me. We are those people that only turn on the TV in the evenings for the headliner, which is the local weather report. Anything that follows never receives our full attention. The historical record temperatures drive me wild - I love that piece of information most, "The record high for this day in 1972 was 97 F..."
PLEASE SEND HELP.
More than anything, I want it to feel like fall. Campfire season is real and it's the most wonderful time of the year. I have such positive associations with campfires; they were a constant in my young adulthood. Only recently did I realize how many important moments during my transition from high school to college happened around campfires. So many profound conversations and real, potent points of connection with other people. It's not a surprising revelation since fire is such a primal part of our collective past. The only times I feel truly nostalgic are when I think about those campfires of youth. But it's not a yearning to relive the past, it's more so reminder of how powerful and important those quiet, contemplative, communal moments are.
Chocolate Orange Campfire Cakes
Makes 12 small or 6 large cakes
2 cups (212 g) all purpose flour
1/4 cup (21 g) cocoa powder
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp baking soda
1 cup (198 g) sugar
1/3 cup vegetable oil
1 tbsp white vinegar
1 cup hot water or coffee
Prepare your fire first. Let the fire get established and after about an hour, the large flames will have calmed and you will have a nice, hot, ashy base. If you want to bake the cakes in a dutch oven, set it over the fire, but not directly on the flames. Let it preheat while you make the cakes. Alternatively, you can wrap each cake in aluminum foil after assembly, however I find that the Dutch oven method allows you to check on the cakes without as much risk of getting burned.
Assemble your orange cups: slice a small bit of the rind off the bottom of each orange so it will stand upright. I like to save these little bits to use as patches if there are any holes in the rinds of your oranges. Next, cut off 1/3 of the top of orange and save those as well for decoration. Hold the oranges over a bowl and run a paring knife between the flesh of the oranges and the rind, then use a spoon to scoop out the centers. The bowl will catch al the segments and juice, so you can make OJ later.
When all the oranges are hollowed out, set them on a level tray lined with a couple pieces of parchment paper.
To make the cake, sift together the flour, cocoa powder, salt and baking soda. Whisk in the sugar.
Pour the oil, vinegar and hot water or coffee into the dry ingredients and whisk vigorously for about 30 seconds to combine everything into a smooth batter.
Fill each orange cup with batter no more than 2/3 full. Carefully remove the lid from your hot Dutch oven. Grip the parchment paper on opposite ends and carefully lower all the orange cakes into the oven. Put the lid back on and let them bake away. Check the cakes after about 15 minutes; depending on your fire, they make take longer. When they are baked through, remove the Dutch oven from the fire, remove the cakes, top with their orange lids to keep them warm, or sprinkle them with powdered sugar. Let the cakes cool slightly and then enjoy.