Preparations for winter continue at the farm. This week, night time temperatures have started to plummet into the 20s, with some strong winds during the day.
To stay organized during seasonal transitions, we follow a schedule of tasks from one year to the next. Among these chores, it’s important to replace all the screen windows and doors with storm glass, ensure all the hoop houses are properly insulated, and cover valuable shrubs, hedges and garden ornaments with burlap. Winter officially begins December 21st, so the entire outdoor grounds crew is quite busy.
Here are some of our photos… is your home ready for winter?
Storm doors have a lot of benefits – they provide added insulation and more protection to the exterior door. They also offer more security for the home. Swapping door inserts when seasons change is easy to do and doesn’t take up a lot of time.
Most storm doors are made of wood (like mine), fiberglass or aluminum, and have interchangeable glass and screen panels. Some doors use screws and brackets to hold inserts in place, while others use spring loaded clips.
Each of my storm doors has about six brackets to hold the inserts in place. They are controlled by brass screws. Some of my larger storm windows have eight brackets.
A regular screwdriver is used to turn the screw clockwise or counterclockwise to release or retract the bracket into the wooden frame of the insert. When changing storm door inserts, be sure to label them well, so there is no confusion when it comes time to changing them again. And store your inserts in a cool dry place during the off season.
There are still a lot of leaves surrounding the houses. Each day, more leaves are blown and delivered to the compost pile.
Wilmer cleans the garden beds one more time – raking leaves, cutting and removing dead foliage, and then fertilizing with an organic formula.
Bales of hay are lined up around every hoop house to provide a little insulation especially where drafts are possible.
This is the hoop house across from the chicken coops – it holds many precious plants during winter. It’s vital to keep the temperatures controlled during the colder months.
I have many container seedlings, which are waiting to be planted. In the meantime, to keep them protected, I wanted to also cover them with a layer of hay.
Here, Wilmer spreads the hay over all the potted trees.
These seedlings are located in front of my main greenhouse, so they can be monitored closely. Eventually, they will all be transplanted into the woodland.
More urns are covered with burlap – this is one of two giant burlap-covered urns at the entrance to the cutting garden.
By my Winter House, Chhewang is putting up the frames for more burlap covers.
These frames are about eight feet tall and span lengthwise in between the shrubs.
Chhiring unravels a long burlap cover. Each roll is 300-feet long. Many of these covers require several burlap pieces to be sewn together, so they fit over the hedges and shrubs. It is a lot of fabric, but worth every bit to protect these specimens.
Here is Phurba securing a diagonal support stake for the wooden frames.
One side of burlap is pulled over the frame. These frames are very strong and hold the burlap secure all season long.
Chhiring sews one side together, making small knots first, so the fabric is secure as he sews.
The fabric is pulled snug at the ends and sewn.
Another one down, and still many more to go, but it is all coming along nicely.
If you're looking for something fun to make for your family and friends this holiday season, why not make some of my jelly-filled donuts, or a dozen - or two, or three - of our festive fruit bowl cookies?
If you caught my Facebook LIVE yesterday, you know just how easy these treats are to make. I invited our director of food development, Thomas Joseph, to join me and we had so much fun talking about donuts and cookies, sharing our favorite tips and ideas, and answering all of your questions. It's the perfect time to start baking for those holiday gatherings, so if you missed my Facebook LIVE special, you can still watch - just click on this highlighted link. Enjoy these photos.
Thomas and I always have lots of fun working in the kitchen together. Here we are with all the ingredients for our jelly filled donuts. Whenever cooking or baking, it is important to prepare everything you need ahead of time, and to clean up as you go – it makes everything so much easier and more enjoyable.
We are making yeast risen donuts. The recipe for these delicious treats is on my web site. http://www.marthastewart.com/1147707/jelly-filled-doughnuts
Thank you to Domino for being a steadfast sponsor and supporter of our Facebook LIVE broadcasts and my television show, “Martha Bakes”.
Domino is used on the east coast, while their C&H brand sugar is used on the west coast. https://www.chsugar.com https://www.dominosugar.com
The dough should be kneaded until it’s smooth, soft, and bounces back when poked with a finger – about eight minutes, and then set aside to rise. This dough is all ready to be rolled out.
Once it is rolled out onto a lightly floured surface, cut out the donuts with a two and a half inch round cutter – and try to use up all the dough, so there aren’t any scraps.
Place them on cookie sheets, cover with plastic wrap, and set aside until they almost double in size. This recipe should make about 20-donuts. Do you know… more than 10-billion doughnuts are made in the United States each year?
Look how golden brown these donuts are once fried. Watch our Facebook LIVE to get our baking tips. We answered a lot of your questions. Be sure to keep these donuts in a cool place if you’re making them a day before your holiday party.
For the jelly, we used disposable pastry bags with long filler tips – Ateco 230. These tips are specifically made for filling donuts or eclairs, etc.
We are also using Domino confectioner’s sugar for the glaze. Confectioner’s sugar is a finely ground sugar produced by milling granulated sugar into powder.
Always sift confectioner’s sugar to make a nice, smooth glaze. Sifting confectioner’s sugar will remove any hard nuggets that may have formed in the box.
Here is our counter all set up for our second treat – almond enriched fruit bowl cookies.
These cookies are made using a two and a half inch biscuit cutter. We filled ours with apricot, blueberry, and cherry jam in the center.
The recipe for these cookies in this month’s Living Magazine. This issue has lots of great ideas, tips and stories for the holidays – you’ll love it. http://www.marthastewart.com/854165/magazine-subscriptions
My newest collection from Macy’s is called “From the Garden” and includes this White Flowers hand soap, with a lush bouquet of fresh white flowers, blooming with gardenia, tuberose and jasmine. goo.gl/zBx9DA
Look how pretty these cookies are fresh from the oven. These are about quarter-inch thick with a dollop of jam in the center. Watch the broadcast to find out how easy it was to make the fun crumb edge of these cookies.
Place the cookies in a single layer on a decorative tray or cake stand – the colors are so festive, and you can use any jam you like.
These cookies are wonderful for the holidays, and so easy to make – you and your guests will love them.
What is your favorite go-to comfort food on a cold and snowy day?
I hope you caught this week’s Facebook LIVE when I made two very popular cold weather comfort foods - grilled cheese and tomato soup! According to historians, the modern version of the grilled cheese sandwich originated in the 1920s when inexpensive sliced bread and American cheese became readily available. The similar French croque monsieur is a baked or fried boiled ham and cheese sandwich, which originated in European cafés and bars as a quick snack. Both are so delicious and both can take on so many variations - I shared several grilled cheese ideas during our broadcast.
Our New York City studio is set up with all the ingredients for making grilled cheese and tomato soup – two easy recipes that can be made quickly after work, school or any time you crave them.
We love doing these Facebook LIVE shows – I shoot one nearly once a week when I am not traveling. Many of them are done right here in our Martha Stewart Living “Turkey Hill Kitchen” from The Home Depot. http://www.homedepot.com/c/SPC_BRD_MSL_Kitchen
For these sandwiches, I am using Borden® Cheese, which is brought to you by a cooperative of more than 8,000 family-owned dairy farms across the United States.
We also have lots of other ingredients for our grilled cheese, including fresh tomatoes, bacon, pickles, mustard, pears, apples, and ham – the possibilities are endless.
I prefer to use fresh bread for my sandwiches – bread made at one of my local bakeries or bread I’ve made myself, such as brioche, whole grain or country white. What type of bread do you like with your grilled cheese?
Kevin Sharkey loves grilled cheese, so he joined me in the kitchen for this special broadcast. Kevin chose a grilled cheese with gouda, tomato, bacon and pickles on white bread – sounds very tasty.
And, while some prefer to butter their bread, others like to use mayonnaise – what do you use?
Keep the flame on low, so the bread does not burn – it should just turn a nice brown color.
How do you stack your grilled cheese? I like to use three pieces of cheese, but watch the show for my special tip to prevent the tomatoes from making the grilled cheese soggy. I am using my favorite Enameled Cast Iron Pots. This deep cranberry is so popular, but they come in several different colors. They’re available exclusively at Macy’s and make great holiday gifts. goo.gl/L4KuDR
Our SVP Managing Director of Corporate Development stopped into the studio with his friend, Cory Rosen. Maybe they’d both like some grilled cheese…
I made Noah a grilled cheese with Colby and Monterey Jack, and bacon on whole wheat bread.
Oftentimes, grilled cheese is paired with a bowl of hot tomato soup. Our recipe is so easy to do – made with crushed tomatoes, chicken stock, onion, salt and pepper – watch this Facebook LIVE for the how-to. It’s so easy to make your own. https://www.facebook.com/marthastewart/videos/10154818080866289/
Here, I am pouring the chicken stock. If you make a lot of tomato soup, just store in containers and freeze it for later.
You can use your own garden fresh tomatoes, but you can also use canned crushed tomatoes.
And here is one of our grilled cheese sandwiches – perfectly browned with lots of melted cheese.
Grilled cheese with delicious tomato soup – the perfect pair on a cold, snowy day.