By: PenPower | June 29, 2016

With the heat hovering at 100 degrees, I don’t know about you, but my usual burger has taken a back seat to lighter fair, greener things and edibles that don’t sit in my stomach (or thighs) like a lead balloon. It would be a great time to go on a diet – IF it was cool enough to walk or do something outside that burned a few calories (other than dragging around watering hoses). Or there is the indoor gym, but who has the energy or wants to get into that metal oven called a car to get there? Swimming seems to be an option but not for this Cosmopolitan Cowgirl – not a country club in sight and no cement pond out here at the farm.


But there are lots of beautiful leafy greens in the garden and I’d like to share a few of my favorite salad recipes. This spinach salad is a hit and a perfect side for any 4th of July BBQ!

RR Spinach Salad

Serves 6-8

10 oz organic spinach

3 hardboiled farm fresh eggs - sliced

3 strips of fried bacon (gluten free preferred) - crumbled

8 sliced raw mushrooms- sliced thin

4 thin slices of red onion (paper thin – add more or less to taste)

ground pepper to taste

Combine in one large bowl. Or, if you have the time and the group is small enough – divide onto individual salad plates so each serving gets an equal amount of each ingredient.


1/4 cup balsamic vinegar

1/8 cup good olive oil

Tbsp Dijon mustard

Pour ingredients into a glass jar and shake vigorously. The ratio is 2 parts balsamic to 1 part olive oil – so if you like a heavier dressed salad add proportionately. Pour on salad just before serving.

Happy Fourth of July!

Judith Hennessey, July 2016

By: PenPower | May 18, 2016

I’m relieved to learn that I haven’t lost my Viking Gardener to the degradation of – well lets just say – adults only entertainment (please refer to previous post – Who is This Masked Viking?). I’m sure James's lovely wife, Michelle, the mother of his child, had something to do to with him staying on track. Or perhaps it’s just him answering his calling – or one of his callings - to the farm at Ravens Ridge.  


Kale Man has been busy in the garden, planting, wedding - I mean weeding – and now harvesting the cool weather crops that have somehow managed to escape the crazy unpredictable Missouri torrential rains, death-defying hail, and tornados. Seriously, you need to be a Viking Gardner just to survive our up-and-down temps and straight-in-line winds that make me feel like I’m Dorothy in The Wizard of Oz.

Mother Nature flexed her muscles at the Creve Coeur Farmers' Market last Saturday - the first market of the season. The die-hard growers that showed up were busy, all right, but not with customers. James reported tents collapsing and bags bouncing across the parking lot like tumble weeds. It wasn’t a tough call to forget about putting up a sign as most of them were flying off in the wind like kites.

The customers were few and far between. Business-wise, it was a blowout but not the good kind. Heart heavy from defeat, the Viking Gardener loaded up his baskets of lettuce, spinach, radishes, and of course kale, and headed home. Lets pray for better luck and better weather next week!

Judith Hennessey, May 2016

By: PenPower | May 11, 2016

This is the Viking Gardener, my fearless and very strong gardening partner at Raven’s Ridge! For real! When he’s not protecting his clan, swinging his hatchets, chopping off heads (he participates in pretty ferocious reenactments) you will find him peacefully walking behind his tiller or gently planting seeds in beautiful Mother Earth.


Ok – get your mind out of the dirt! I think you understand what I mean.His name is James Miller, now aka Kale Man, since my husband and I had him show up at a bachelorette party my stepdaughter Mia was throwing for her BFF, Christiana Horn. You can only imagine James walking up to the house, in full chain armor, helmet, sword in one hand and a bag of ? in the other. The shocked and somewhat scared posse of young women had NO IDEA what was going on. Friend, foe or stripper?

James is always a good sport – let’s face it, he loved the attention of a group of gorgeous women - played along as the stripper. He swung his sword (no – he was still in his armor) and announced that he would bless the upcoming nuptials by carrying Christiana off to his tent. The tiny bride to be had big, terrified eyes, clearly ready to run for the hills. A few of her friends did leave, I’m not kidding. So James fessed up and told them he was just there to deliver the kale for their Caesar salad. 

A good laugh was had by all. The girls poured him a few beers in his horn stein (stop it – no pun intended) as he entertained them with a few not-so-tame Viking stories, creating a life-long memory for Christiana and the wedding clan! Congratulations and Best Wishes to Christiana and fiancé, Riley!!

FYI – You can meet Kale Man May 14th at the Creve Coeur Farmers Market (see Facebook for more info). I can’t promise that he’ll be in his infamous armor, but I guarantee he will have beautiful, organic veggies! Look for Miller’s Organics at Ravens Ridge!

Ali Cantino, Mia Hennessey, Alex Bryan, Jennifer Nolan, Christiana Horn, Kaitlin Wagner, Casi Stewart, Abby Millman, Louise Bush, and Sarah Tonkin