Chickens, Eggs and Breakfast Meats

This little girl just loves animals! Cats, chickens, what have you, her little hands go out and she “calls” them to her, in the chicken’s case a little grain brings them running.

DSCN9191

DSCN9215 DSCN9210

The boys are excitedly locating nests that the chickens have tucked away here and there. Finding an egg is like finding treasure! If you are lucky, you’ll find one of Sunbeam’s eggs (the only chicken who lays blueish green eggs). Then, you just might have to cook it up immediately (!) lest anyone else eats it first. Supposedly they tastes better.  We’re still in the enjoying stage of having “lots” of eggs. Scrambled, poached, hard boiled…you’d be amazed how many eggs these guys go through, and at how good Noah and Ezra have gotten at cooking eggs!  We even made up a new way to cook an egg in a nest with out bread: make a circle out of sausage and add the egg in the middle.

   

While we’re on the subject of chicken and breakfast meats, if you haven’t tried  bacon wrapped chicken you need to… tonight.  We prefer smaller pieces of chicken which need about a 1/2 of a slice of bacon wrapped around it. Place in an oven safe dish and roast till done. Don’t be afraid to chop up some veggies and cook them up in the rendered bacon fat. Just don’t count on leftovers.

 

 mossy_stone

 

 

 

 

Advertisements

What We’re Making

DSCN9071

We’re ready for Spring!

 If the weather starts warming up soon Miss Molly might even get to wear her poncho this Spring. I’ve finished the main body; just the trim and the hood to go! The cold is lingering this year, making me wonder if we might end up with a bit of a maple syrup shortage. The sap hasn’t been flowing and it’s getting rather late in the season.

DSCN8988Ezra finished his barn last week and we also made him a little stuffed bear. He saw a bear he liked, made out of a glove, so using ol’ google I found an image showing where to divide the glove to make all the parts of an animal. Looking for it now I found this page, where it is broken down into a tutorial, apparently it is from a book: Happy Gloves. It’s pretty simple. It is for a chipmunk but, sans the tail, makes a pretty decent bear too.

 

Ishmael is big into pirates right now, here he is in his “get up”. It’s hard to make out but he even drew himself a scar across his cheek (and that box be his treasure, of course).

DSCN9042mossy_stone

The First Steps

 I try to use as much as I can from what we are able to produce for ourselves. We produce eggs, some of our meat, goats milk (for a few more days before they are off to a new home) and veggies. The garden just might be the largest source of our food, well, eggs are abundant and full of protein. Either way, the garden is certainly the cheapest, most varied and most convenient way to feed ourselves. I can be assured that our veggies are organically grown, and are clean and fresh.

DSCN6925When you grow your own food you’re part of the cycle. You plant the seeds, care for the plants, harvest the veggies. You know the struggles of pests, droughts or too much rain, and the joy of rain when you need it. You know the importance of beneficial insects (or reptiles, e.g. snakes and toads) who eat those pests and/or pollinate your plants. Food doesn’t just magically appear on the shelves nicely packaged. Real food involves dirt, animals, including insects, blood and guts, sweat and even some tears of frustration and loss. This is the reality of life.  DSCN6922

Perhaps even more importantly, is the link between our food and our freedom. We all need to eat but if we can’t produce anything to eat ourselves we are utterly dependent on those who do produce food and subject to their whims. To quote Gene Logsdon: “[We must] realize the danger of depending absolutely on politically motivated governmental processes for food, clothing and shelter. In the world we must live in from now on to produce our own food is the beginning of independence and to accept that responsibility is the first step toward real freedom.”

So we try. We’re nowhere near producing all of our own food but, we’re taking our first steps- and getting a little steadier on our feet. Our kids are learning that ultimately food sprouts from the earth, that sunshine and rain are equally important and that not all insects are “bad”. By growing our own food we avoid pesticides, GMOs, high fructose corn syrup and overly processed (and packaged) products. Here are a few ideas to get the most out of your garden.

  • Start small – don’t get overwhelmed.
  • Grow what you eat. You’ll know what to make with it and you won’t have to buy it.
  • Leafy greens grow quickly and are packed with vitamins. Plants like lettuce, spinach, and kale can be picked and will grow back repeatedly.
  • Plant more than once. Get two harvests, or more… arugula and radishes grow fast (about 30 days to harvest). This leaves lots  of room for trying again if you lose a planting to misfortune.
  • Thin your seedlings for larger and healthier plants. Some seedlings can be replanted further apart or eat those thinnings. Try beet seedlings in salad or, if the thinnings are older, use the greens as you would spinach or swiss chard. Onion thinnings are similar to chives or green onion tops, try them in a potato salad.
  • Examine what you’re tossing. I’ve always thought radish and carrot tops were suppose to be tossed. Not so! Radish tops can be roasted. Try this carrot top pesto next time you roast carrots.
  • Feed your scraps to your livestock. No livestock? How about a worm bin, or compost it.
  • Remember it all starts with the soil. Healthy soil = healthy plants.
  • Try, try again. Goats eat your plants? Chickens eat your seeds? Garden in too wet or too sunny of an area? And, that’s just in the last two years. A new (fenced!) garden area is paying off. There’s always more to learn- from failures and from successes.

 

mossy_stone

sharing with Fight Back Friday and Fat Tuesday and Farmgirl Friday

 

 

Because We Like To Eat

DSCN6279

After a long winter I’m still feeling a bit spoiled when I gather our daily harvest: a half-gallon of goats milk and almost a dozen eggs. Now I can make a huge (9 eggs!) omelet for the whole family and not think twice about whether or not I’ll have enough eggs for the rest of the week.  Since the snow is gone the chickens are free ranging, upping the vitamin content of their eggs, and finding a good bit of their own food. Plus, they always get a pailful of kitchen scraps. The chickens see us coming and gather ’round for their treats.

DSCN6256

DSCN6258

Indoors we have only a few types of seeds started. This is mostly due to the lack of space, or a least space that has decent lighting and is where little kids can’t (inevitably) spill the containers. We did start some sweet peppers (man, do we have some pepper eating fiends around here!) as well as cauliflower, a couple of cucumbers, and some melon.

To maximize our growing season, and space, I made a cold frame out of an old wood box and some windows that came out of the barn.  I filled it with composted bedding and a good inch thick layer of worm castings (plus worms) from our worm bin. We have mostly lettuce in there for now.

DSCN6270Then we have the old pig pens. I like planting in these because they’re well fertilized, fenced off from the goats and No Grass!

DSCN6224 So far we’ve started planting our cold tolerant plants: peas, spinach (or were those sprouting broccoli seeds?), kale and radishes. We’re still 3-4 weeks out from our last frost date so I don’t want to get too carried away.

Here’s hoping the garden will start producing before we’re completely sick and tired of eggs!

mossy_stone

Best Ever Pecan Waffles {GF/SCD}

Have you ever tried to bake up some grain free goodness? Likely you ended up with grain free but not so good results. I know I have. Every new grain free recipe feels like a gamble. How will this recipe turn out? Good? Edible but not quite like the real thing? Or just a huge waste of time and ingredients? This time fear not. These pecan waffles are the best!

DSCN5903I adapted this recipe from Eat Well Feel Well. Eat Well Feel Well is one of my favorite grain free, and Specific Carbohydrate Diet (SCD) complaint, cookbooks. If I’m trying to maximize my chances for tasty grain free results, or make a special meal, this is the cookbook I turn to. These pecan waffles are quite filling. For the best results use a food processor or blender.

DSCN5890

Pecan Waffles

2 cups unsalted raw pecans (use soaked nuts if you can), or pecan meal

4 eggs

1 stick butter- melt 6 Tlbs for the waffles. Use the rest for greasing the waffle iron.

1/4 cup honey

1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract

1/2 tsp baking soda

pinch of salt

Preheat your waffle iron. Warm up your oven (200F) if you want to keep them warm or just serve as they’re ready.

If using whole pecans grind them into a fine meal in the food processor, otherwise place the pecan meal in the food processor. Add the rest of the ingredients. Blend well-till smooth and then run the food processor a bit longer for best results.

Grease your iron. Add 1/4 cup batter and cook until the waffle is golden brown. Keep warm or serve. These waffles cook a little faster than regular waffles so keep an eye on them until you get a feel for how long they take.

Top with honey cinnamon “syrup” and bananas sautéed in butter and a touch of coconut oil. For the syrup combine 1 cup of honey with 1 Tlb cinnamon.

Freeze any leftovers. I think they’re tasty right out of the freezer but you can thaw them and reheat them as well.

DSCN5899

Enjoy!

mossy_stone

sharing with:

real food wednesday, gluten free wednesday, fat tuesday

fightback friday

{In the Kitchen} Foraging

Now that spring is finally here all the wild shoots, blossoms and roots are resurrecting from the winter’s freeze. Over the winter I read several intriguing posts on foraging and using stinging nettle most notably from And Here We Are: nettle mead, and this post on nettle pasta, which is the one I used, although I made 6x the recipe and froze some for future use.

DSCN1194

There was plenty of nettle to be found and all of it was below knee height.  My little helper boys and I picked a whole lot, wearing a shared pair of gloves, until our bag was full and one by one they accidentally touched the nettle and poor Ishi fell hands first into a patch. Sting nettle really does sting. Growing up my brothers and I always called it seven minute itch as that’s about how long it really itches for- give or take. It was time to call it quits.

When we got back I sorted through, rinsed and then blanched the nettle. It only takes about 30 seconds for the nettle to wilt, then the stinging aspect is gone. It’s important to really squeeze the nettle as not to make the pasta too wet. By the way the green water from the nettle makes a great dark green natural egg dye.

DSCN1185

It was really very simple to make. Just like making regular pasta and it has that same great fresh pasta taste. I’ll have to try making spinach pasta next. After kneading a bit and resting the dough I rolled it out using a vintage cast iron pasta machine my older brother gifted to me. I’ll go a tad thinner next time.

DSCN1189

DSCN1193

Here it is cooked and lightly buttered. To be honest the nettle didn’t give much flavor but it does add a lot of nutrients. I’m thinking of using part of the frozen dough as lasagna noodles.

DSCN1200

We’ve also been enjoying the spring by foraging wild blossoms for jelly and trying woodchuck (aka groundhog) for the first time in a pot pie.

DSCN1146

What do you enjoy foraging?

mossy_stone

sharing this post with

Make your own monday, fat tuesday, frugal days sustainable ways, wildcrafting wednesday

Macaroni with Tomato Sauce, Baked Eggs and Ricotta

Man have our new chickens been laying! Up until this past week they had been laying 8-10 eggs a day (out of the 10 chickens we have left now that a pig decided to have one as a snack). I find myself adding eggs to anything I can think of. This book: The Good Egg by Marie Simmons is solely egg recipes. I made Macaroni with Tomato Sauce, Baked Eggs and Ricotta one day a while back for lunch. It’s basically lasagna using macaroni. I made mine gluten-free by simply using gluten-free noodles. I like the brand Heartland cause they hold up and come the closest to “real” pasta. The eggs cook up with a soft yolk and creamy whites – actually quite good and adding protein.

DSCN7905And the recipe:

DSCN7899Adding the eggs. One just happened to be a double yolk. The recipe only calls for 4 eggs but this definitely serves more than 4 so you could either add a couple of eggs or perhaps someone might want the sans egg option.

DSCN7894Top with cheese and bake.

DSCN7896

DSCN7902

DSCN7904This dish goes together quickly; even faster if you could use leftover pasta. I’ll definitely remember this for a last-minute dinner – especially if there are unexpected guests. The eggs really do make it a meal and it’s vegetarian. Add a salad and maybe a baguette and some wine and your set.

mossy_stone

sharing this post with:

melt in your mouth monday,

hearth and soul hop,

clever chicks

gluten free wednesday

frugally sustainable

food on friday

Fred’s Campa

Meet our two newest additions to Fried Farm: Mercedes (the all white one) and Lexus.

We’re very happy to have pigs again! We miss Rosalie (our previous sow) and especially  Sanchez (our big red boar- see photo below) and all the subsequent little piglets. Of course there were many hours of frustrated pig chasing/fence fixing with the little ones in tow or as in the case of our youngest, strapped in the baby wrap and I sincerely hope not to repeat those adventures.

So far we seem to be off to a great start. Since the big barn will be coming down in the spring we needed a different place to shelter the animals- ideally mobile so we can move their housing about to new pastures. Struggling_along found just the thing: a pull behind camper.

He stripped it out (saving the stove for a future outdoor kitchen!!) and partitioned an area for the chickens on one end:

The hatch struggling_along is looking thru is for easy cleaning out the coop. The Freds also  have a small door for access to an outdoor run and the old storage cabinets are now laying boxes. The Freds are laying very well! I don’t know if it’s the breed (Gold star sex-links) but compared to other chicks we have gotten in the years prior these have started laying sooner and are very consistent. Right now we have 11 freds and we usually gather 9 eggs everyday. All the boys LOVE the chickens but I think Ishmael does most of all. He just can’t wait to go feed them in the morning or visit them any chance he gets to wander over there. Give him 30 seconds and he’ll have one in his arms.

On the other side of the camper- after leaving a spot for grain and shaving storage-is an L-shape stall for, right now, the piglets but struggling-along built the walls high enough we could but the goats in there too.

Just have to slap a little tin on the roof and we’ll be ready for winter. The best part is that this campa project only cost us 150 dollars. Scratch that- the best part is that we’ll be having Fried eggs and bacon.

mossy_stone

sharing this post with

frugally sustainable, homestead barn hop, down home blog hop, simple lives thursday, farm girl friday

The Morris Tribe Blog Carnival

In the Kitchen :: Nourishment

Each morning, after a cup of tea, I don my insulated overalls and a bundled baby in a back carrier and make my way down to the goat barn.  How lucky we are that each morning we can harvest a few free ranged eggs and a quart or two of fresh raw goats milk. After several months without either these basic staples they feel all the more luxurious- especially when these simple ingredients are transformed into decadent puddings, custards, french toast and omelets. Snacking on fresh homemade cheese and deviled eggs (yummy with mango chutney…) feels like a treat. And since we’re getting all that important calcium and protein we might as well indulge.

Here are a few of our favorites from the past week:

Peanut butter Chocolate Chip Cookies (with a tall glass of milk of course)

Pudding has been a huge favorite- rice pudding and especially the leftover queen’s butterscotch pudding. I don’t have any scotch so we’ve just been adding extra vanilla. Noah has declared this his favorite.

photo from the leftover queen- click on photo to go there

It’s been exciting to be making cheese from our own goat’s milk,this one is just a simple cheese made by heating milk and adding an acid like vinegar or lemon juice.

And, while these are neither eggs nor dairy I have to tell you about these fermented fries. Oh my are they delicious. Everyone LOVED these. The hardest part is waiting the 3 days they take to ferment. We’re pretty much starting a new batch as soon as the first one is done. I don’t have any tallow right now so I’ve been frying them up in bacon drippings. Sorry no pics of the fries finished- they were devoured too quickly but here’s one of them fermenting. Notice the air lock cap, these can’t be fermented in an open crock (click on the link to go to cookingtf.com for the explanation).

Now if I could only find a ketchup recipe that actually tastes like ketchup….

mossy_stone

homestead barn hop, monday mania , melt in your mouth monday, make your own! monday,  hearth and soul , fat tuesday, traditional tuesday, weekend gourmet, slightly indulgent tuesday, real food wednesday, what’s cooking wednesday, gluten free wednesday, frugal days sustainable ways, healthy2day, simple lives thursday, freaky friday, scratch cookin, sunday school, fight back friday, friday food flick

One Morning In Maine

                                  It was a gorgeous morning so we ventured out for a little walk.                                   In spots it was rather muddy,

and it was so sunny it felt like spring. (Except when the wind blew.)

                       Tex (the goat) came running up-as he does every morning- and proceeded to run about in a very dog like fashion.

Noah came down and we checked in on the rabbits, giving them some treats.

(This photo makes me think of Beatrix Potter’s Flopsy Bunnies.)

I was excited to find some eggs and some thyme growing.

And Noah was excited to find a bone with teeth in it.

We headed back in- grabbing some firewood-

to refuel with hot cocoa and some scrambled eggs and bacon (and maybe do some clomping about pretending to be dinosaurs) before heading back out and finishing up our chores.

Thanks for coming along!

mossy_stone

Farmgirl Friday

Blueberries

In Downeast Maine just about every road has a blueberry field somewhere along it. In the spring the fields are green, in the summer a sea of blue, autumn brings reds and purples until finally, they rest under a blanket of white snow.

A really small part of a blueberry field.

The colors of autumn.

Fun Fact: Maine produces 99% of the countries wild blueberries.

Here’s a link to the University of Maine Cooperative Extension for Wild Maine Blueberries for more info on Maine’s wild blueberries and they have a short slideshow with some nice photos of the blueberry fields and a tractor harvester (blueberries are harvested by a tractor harvester or by hand depending on the field).

We love blueberries! The boys eat them everyday if they can. Last year we froze 40 lbs to get us through the winter but we ran out early even with rationing towards the end. Our favorite recipe using fresh blueberries is blueberry pie. Frozen they usually go into smoothies, muffins and of course pancakes.

Perhaps you already have a favorite pancake recipe but if you’re looking for one- especially one that incorporates real food (fresh ground flour, kefir…) and traditional methods (soaking) look no further!

SUSAN’S WHOLE WHEAT KEFIR PANCAKES

1 1/4 cups whole wheat flour, fresh ground if possible (you can use other flours as well if you’re gluten free or use sprouted flour if you don’t want to soak the flour).
1 1/4 cups kefir (can also use yogurt or cultured buttermilk)
2 eggs
1/4 cup honey
1 teaspoon baking powder (heaping) (aluminum free)
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 cup coconut oil
1/8 teaspoon real salt

Directions

In a bowl, mix together the flour and kefir; add a bit more flour if mixture seems thin. Cover with a towel and let soak overnight, 8-12 hours. In the morning when ready to prepare, whisk in the remaining ingredients; mixing well. Preheat skillet over medium heat. Pour about ¼ cup of the batter on the skillet. When edges begin to bubble (about 2 minutes), flip to other side. Cook until both sides are golden brown. We serve with raw butter and maple syrup or honey.

These are delicious! I have found that the kefir can be substituted for by yogurt or buttermilk with fantastic results. I have also subbed maple syrup for the honey and almond or grapeseed oil for coconut oil in a pinch.

For blueberry pancakes I sprinkle a few on each one as I cook cause I like even distribution. If the blueberries are frozen I run them under water to help them thaw (no raw spots in the pancakes) and this also gets rid of all that blue that otherwise stains hands and the batter that not so appetizing blue-green color. This works for muffins too.

Enjoy!

If you try these and like them please follow the link to Susan’s site and let her know how great her recipe is.

mossy_stone

sharing this post with: traditional tuesday, real food wednesday, simple lives thursday,

frugal days sustainable ways

 

Butter-and-Eggs

Butter-and-Eggs, also known as Yellow Toadflax,  is a common “weed”; often found along the side of the road. The cheery flower, similar to that of  snapdragons, are a rich yellow accented with an orange spot.

     Yellow Toadflax also known as Butter-and-Eggs  (Photo by Phil Lucas  )

The boys and I have been taking nature walks collecting plants and leaves for closer study and identification. We often have a little fun exploring common names and speculating on how it came to be. The first time Noah (our first born) saw an Orange Hawkweed in bloom he said “look! a paintbrush!”.  Lo and behold a common name for the Orange Hawkweed is Orange Paintbrush!

      Orange Hawkweed or Orange Paintbrush (Photo from flicker)

The name butter-and-eggs struck me because while it should be obvious that the yellow is the butter and orange the yolk I bet a lot of kids would ask “why is it orange?”. These days butter is white and yolks are yellow.

One of Our Free Range Eggs. I wanted to show a side by side comparison but I don’t have any store ones to show you right now.

Free-ranged birds are not only healthier than factory farmed supermarket producers but also also produce healthier eggs. Testing done by Mother Earth News  has shown that eggs from pastured birds contain 1/3 the cholesterol, 1/4 saturated fat, almost 3xs the vitamin E, 2xs the omega-3s, 4-6xs the vitamin D and7xs the beta-carotene as the USDA’s standard data does. The higher level of carotenoids are what give the yolks their deep orange color.

Support your local farmer and buy free ranged eggs- it’s better for everyone. (Or try your hand and raise a few chickens yourself- you’ll be glad you did).

Linking to: Real Food Wednesday @ Kelly the Kitchen Cop and Simple Lives Thursday @ GNOWFGLINS and Fight Back Friday