Over the Summer {Garden 2015}

The last time I posted about the garden seeds were just sprouting! We’ve had a full summer and a few frosts since. Only the hardy greens are left; the end of the season always revives my appreciation of having fresh veggies right outside the door. With the coolers temps here stews and braises are a welcome way to use those veggies too!

 

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Praise the Lard

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Actually this is suet, but I love how pumped Ezra is about cutting up fat and rendering it. He is quite the helper in the kitchen these days. In fact, he is known for making the best scrambled eggs; just ask and he’ll whip you up a batch! He’s pretty good at pancakes too.

We also rendered lard when we butchered the pig. Lard and suet are wonderful healthy fats and make the best roasted veggies (they don’t get soggy like they can in oil). Plus, I feel we must be as respectful as possible when butchering an animal, to me that means using as much of the animal as possible. While there are a few edible parts I have not yet tried we do keep the majority of the organs, the bones (for bone broth), the fat and, of course, the muscle. That doesn’t leave much behind!

 

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The key to rendering: low and slow.

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Cold Hardy Veggies

The fall gardens are thriving, but it won’t be too long before the ground freezes. Until then I’m relishing every trip to the garden. Fresh (and free) veggies! I let the chickens into the gardens to help clean them up and give the top layer of soil a stir (to help kill off insects  that over winter there, like flea beetles). They did a surprisingly zealous job, pecking most of the greens down to the stems! It’s a trade-off I’m willing to pay. Still lots of carrots, celeriac, kale, beets and leeks to get in before it’s too late!

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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.

 

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sharing with Fight Back Friday and Fat Tuesday and Farmgirl Friday

 

 

Chicken Kiev

DSCN9992As far as chicken dinners go chicken kiev is one of my family’s favorites. It looks fancy but it’s pretty easy to make. This recipe was passed down from my mother-in-law when struggling_along and I married 10 years ago. I still remember the first time I made chicken kiev. Having never made it before, I did not realize that the chicken was supposed to be wrapped around the filling. I had simply rolled them up, allowing all the butter and herbs to melt right out into the bottom of the pan! It was still edible but it’s even better if you succeed in keeping the butter and herbs sealed in the center of the chicken.

The Recipe

First prepare 6 boneless, skinless, spilt chicken breasts by flattening them so that they are even in thickness and a bit larger, which makes them easier to roll up.Then combine the herbs in a small dish:

1/4 tsp dried tarragon

2 Tlb  dried parsley

1/8 tsp pepper

1/2 tsp salt

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Then, using 1 Tlb butter for each piece of chicken, dip the butter into the herb mixture and coat well. Place the herbed butter in the middle of each piece of chicken.

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Roll the chicken up, around the butter, trying to tuck in the ends of the chicken. Secure with a tooth pick.

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Coat in a 1/3rd cup flour (or cornstarch if you want it gluten-free). Use the flour to help seal the ends of the chicken.

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Then dip the floured chicken into 1 egg beaten.

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Coat in 1-2 cups of bread crumbs (use gluten-free bread to make gf crumbs).

DSCN9959Place in a buttered baking dish. I like to use a Pyrex dish.

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Bake at 425 for 5 minutes then turn the oven down to 400 and bake for 40 minutes or till done. Baste with any butter that does melt into the pan.

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DSCN9982Serve and enjoy! Serves 4-6. This chicken goes well with a lot of different sides. For this particular dinner I made roasted potatoes and peas but any veggies, mashed potatoes, rice pilaf or what have you works well.

DSCN9991Here’s the recipe again, in short form:

Chicken Kiev

6 pieces chicken breast

1/4 tsp tarragon

2 Tlb parsley                   -Mix these herbs together

1/8 tsp pepper

1/2 tsp salt

6 Tlb butter                   -Coat in above herb mixture

Roll up chicken around butter and secure with a toothpick. Dip chicken into (in order)

1/3 cup flour

1 egg beaten

1-2 cups bread crumbs

Place in a lightly buttered pan. bake at 425-5 minutes then at 400 – 40 minutes. Baste with any pan butter.

That’s it.

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Chèvre Stuffed, Bacon Wrapped Chicken

I’m been meaning share more from Nourishing Traditions but lately most of the recipes I’ve been using from Nourishing Traditions have been simple and basic: sauté in butter, season to taste with salt and pepper and maybe a splash of lemon juice. Simple, good but not really enough for a post. But this chicken, stuffed with herbed chèvre, wrapped in bacon is definitely post worthy. I saw a similar recipe on Pinterest and later when it was time to get dinner going and I had some freshly made goat cheese and chicken on hand…well one thing lead to another.

First I pounded the chicken to make it uniformly flat and just a little bigger so it would be easier to roll up. Then I mixed up some of the goat cheese I made earlier with some oregano and rosemary I have growing in the kitchen and some salt and pepper. This time I made a simple goat cheese from some yogurt I made from our goats’ milk and strained until it was thick. It was a tad more soft and spreadable than the somewhat chalky bars of goat cheese sold at the supermarket. Store brought goat cheese will work too- just cut a few slices and season (or buy pre-seasoned). Then roll it up and wrap two pieces of bacon around each piece of chicken and secure with toothpicks. The bacon not only lends flavor but helps keep the goat cheese inside.

The next step is to brown it on the stove top- and preheat your oven to 350F. I love my cast iron and it works well for the transfer to the oven. Otherwise brown the chicken and transfer to an oven-safe dish. Bake in the oven till done.

Then serve. I made wild rice and green beans. As you can see in the photo below the goat cheese and herb is absorbed and infuses the chicken with flavor but there isn’t a separate layer inside like when chicken is stuffed with ham and cheese. And if anyone doesn’t like goat cheese you can always skip the goat cheese and just wrap with bacon. Although, in my opinion, they’d be missing out.

Enjoy!

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simple lives thursday, fightback friday, freaky friday, farm girl friday,homestead barn hop, monday mania, make your own! monday, melt in your mouth monday, fat tuesday, slightly indulgent tuesday, hearth and soul hop, scratch cookin, weekend gourmet carnivalclever chicks, ,real food wednesdaygluten-free wednesdaythis chick cookswildcrafting wednesday,healthy2dayfrugally sustainable,


Fermenting

Now that we’re getting settled I figured it was time to get the ferments going again. I had brought a few things along that were “in progress” such as apple cider vinegar, preserved lemons, preserved limes (which are all rather low maintenance), and some much neglected dairy kefir. But it was time to attend to them and venture once more into fermenting veggies.

I had tried making fermented carrots before from Nourishing Traditions but they where so salty I couldn’t eat them. I even made another batch halving the salt but they were still too salty and more of a chore than a joy to get through. So I was feeling a little leery about wasting the time and effort and veggies. Then I read (parts of) The Art of Fermentation by Sandor Ellix Katz. I also have his book Wild Fermentation but I much prefer The Art of Fermentation; it really made me want to get in the kitchen and get a jar going. And the next thing I knew there I was with a jar full of chopped veggies. And the best part is that even though I wasn’t able to have a garden this year every single vegetable was given to me by a friend who grew it in their garden. How sweet is that?!

Here’s what went in: carrots, radishes,yellow summer squash,garlic (some fresh picked, some   that was starting to sprout), chard stems, a small green tomato, basil. How heavenly it smells, how delicious it tastes!

I immediately started another jar this time zucchini spears with garlic.

Again, success! As my oldest Noah said “they’re just so good. I want to eat them all up.(followed by a lip-smacking slurp I can’t replicate)”. So I did it. I started a batched of shredded carrots.

And for a little compare and contrast I started a jar or pickled beets with onion in raw apple cider vinegar.

We haven’t tested these last two yet but the beets look lovely and the carrots, with a little help of the brine from the first batch of mixed veggies, are smelling wonderful. Next up? A jar full of basil! Seriously, it tastes like licorice once it’s fermented. Divine!

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fat tuesday, scratch cooking tuesday,weekend gourmet, what’s cookin wednesday,real food wednesday, gluten-free wednesday, this chick cooks, wildcrafting wednesday, healthy2day, frugally sustainable, simple lives thursday,homestead barn hop, monday mania, make your own! monday, melt in your mouth monday