Friday, August 17, 2012

Moroccan Tagine with Apricots and Honey

Moroccan Tagine with Apricots and Honey

This is one of the first Moroccan Lamb Tagines I created years ago. I started with a rather complicated recipe I found in a North African cookbook and simplified it to maximize taste while keeping ingredients easy to find, most of which I keep on hand. 

Moroccan Tagine with Apricots and Honey

2-3 pounds lamb shoulder chops
1 teaspoon ground turmeric
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon fresh cracked pepper
1 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 large onions, halved and sliced
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 cup chicken stock
1 – 14.5 oz can diced tomatoes
8 threads saffron, crushed
2 tablespoons honey
12 fresh cilantro, chopped
1 cup dried apricots
1/2 cup golden raisins

Preheat oven to 325 degrees.

Cut lamb into one inch boneless cubes. Season with turmeric, ginger, cinnamon, pepper and salt.

Heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil in heavy bottom Dutch oven over medium high heat. Add lamb in small batches to allow for plenty of room. Using tongs turn meat and brown on all sides. Remove lamb and set aside. Repeat until all lamb is browned. Set aside.

Add sliced onion and garlic to Dutch oven. Cook until onions are translucent, scraping bottom of pan to release all the browned bits. Add cooked lamb, chicken stock, diced tomatoes, saffron, honey, cilantro, apricots, and raisins to pan.

Remove from stove, cover and place in a 325 degree preheated oven and cook for 1 1/2 to 2 hours or until meat is fork tender.   

Serve over jasmine rice or couscous.

Moroccan Tagine with Apricots and Honey

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Weeknight Baked Ziti


Weeknight Baked Ziti
Whenever I make Old Fashioned Spaghetti Sauce, I always freeze a couple of pints. These make great back up dinner meals on hectic weeknights. Just thaw, reheat and serve over spaghetti noodles or use to make any number of other pasta dishes.

Baked Ziti

1 pint frozen Old Fashioned Spaghetti Sauce
1 cup dried ziti or penne pasta
1/2 cup ricotta cheese
2/3 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
1/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese

Bring salted water to a boil. Meanwhile reheat spaghetti sauce over low heat.

Cook pasta as directed on box. Remove from heat and drain. Return noodles to pan, add half of the spaghetti sauce and stir until thoroughly coated. Transfer sauce covered pasta immediately to baking dish.

In a small bowl, mix together ricotta and Parmesan cheeses. Using a spoon, place dollops of cheese mixture evenly over pasta. Cover with remaining spaghetti sauce. Top with mozzarella cheese.

Place baking dish under broiler until cheese has melted and begins to brown.

Serves two.        

Note: I often pop the frozen sauce out of its container and place directly into a small pan to reheat. Just be sure to keep the heat low, stirring often. By the time your noodles are ready, your sauce should be nice and hot. 


Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Old Fashioned Beef Spaghetti Sauce


 
I have wonderful childhood memories of spaghetti. Of all the dishes my mother fixed, this was one of my favorites. She would always leave the sauce to simmer the day away while Dad read the Sunday paper and watched football on TV. It didn’t take long before I began to associate the smell of spaghetti with family and lazy days at home. Even now when I make spaghetti for my own family, I have an odd craving for the sound of football playing in the background.

Like my Dad, Corey is a no nonsense eater. No onions. Hold the garlic. Nothing fancy. (Of course, unless we are talking desserts. Now that is a different story.) This is one of the many reasons I thoroughly enjoy cooking for the farmers markets. I can explore any ingredient including exotic spices and far away dishes without the face of a picky eater staring me down. So be assured this spaghetti sauce recipe is one that even the pickiest of eaters will enjoy.

Old Fashioned Beef Spaghetti Sauce

1 pound ground beef
2 -28 oz cans tomato sauce
1 – 6 oz can tomato paste
½ teaspoon garlic powder
1 ½ teaspoons dried oregano
½ teaspoon dried thyme
½ teaspoon dried Italian seasoning
Salt and pepper, to taste

Brown beef in 3-4 quart pan over medium heat. Drain fat. Add garlic powder, salt, and pepper. Stir and allow to cook for an additional 30 seconds to season meat.

Add tomato sauce, tomato paste, and herbs. Reduce heat to medium low and simmer for at least two hours. If sauce begins to bubble, reduce heat slightly.

Serve over angle hair spaghetti.

Note: Pictured is one of the sauces we sell at the farmers market. I took the basic recipe for Old Fashioned Beef Spaghetti Sauce, tweaked it considerably and added onions, minced garlic and carrots to make our Lamb Bolognese Sauce.

Lamb Bolognese Sauce

Lamb Bolognese Sauce

Friday, August 3, 2012

Perfect French Toast


I can only imagine how many thousands of pancakes, waffles, and French toast Corey and I have made in the past twenty five years. With four kids, family breakfasts and quick-n-easy dinners revolved around these stables.

Corey is Breakfast King when it comes to the syrupy dishes. Me, I prefer bacon and eggs. However, when Corey is gone and the kids are craving sugar and starch, I can be persuaded into fix French Toast. Don't tell Corey, but the kids will unanimously admit that my French Toast is the best, at least that is what they assure me when begging for this favorite dish.

Perfect French Toast

2 fresh eggs
1/2 cup milk
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon (plus more)
1/4 teaspoon vanilla
8 slices bread

In a  medium size bowl (I prefer flat and wide) beat eggs. Add milk, cinnamon, and vanilla. Wisk until eggs are thoroughly incorporated.

Meanwhile, heat large skillet over medium heat. Spray with cooking spray.

Working with one slice of bread at a time, place bread into egg/milk mixture wait 5 seconds. Flip bread over and coat other side in egg/milk mixture, waiting 5 seconds. Add additional cinnamon as necessary.

Place bread into hot pan. Cook until lightly brown on both sides.

Serve with maple syrup or powdered sugar.

Note: For the absolutely best French Toast use thick sliced stale or lightly toasted bread.

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Food Photography: Digital Heartburn from a Bowl of Chili

For years, our business had a web site with a blog on the side. Our site was professional, informative, and well, not exactly cold, but not warm and engaging either. Bored with our static online presence I was looking for something more dynamic. It was time to give our blog center stage. But that meant I was going to need a continual stream of interesting photos for our new show and tell format. 

So I was on the hunt. I read every web site and article I could find on cameras and food photography. I finally decided on an older model Canon EOS 550D with a 50 mm f/1.4 lens. The price was right and the added features of the newer models were not needed for what I was doing.  

But who would have guessed there was so much involved in still life photography. I think my photos are getting better or at least I hope they are. I find I am naturally starting to think my way through how I want to style a dish as I am cooking. But when the time comes for the photo shoot, there is still so much to consider. What dish shows off the food best? Does it need accessories to better cue the viewer about hidden ingredients? Is the light right or are the shadows too dark? Oh, darn, is that frig in the background too distracting? The list seems to go on and on.

So I have been practicing by taking photos of all the dishes we make in the kitchen for the farmers markets. These won’t necessarily be added to the blog but I can use them as marketing tools. 

The shoot the other day included Three Bean Lamb Chili, one of my favorites. This dish is full of great ingredients including a stout beer. My kitchen window has the best light, so I snapped the shots there and then ran to the office to download the photos. It had been a busy day so after a quick look, I returned to the kitchen and finished cleaning up. It wasn’t until later that I sat down to review each photo. 

I had simply spooned the chili into the bowl, not really moving any of the ingredients around preferring a more natural look. Or so I thought. But then I began to really look at all the photos. How is it that all the tomatoes are on one side of the bowl and all the kidney beans on the other? I mean, how is that possible! It’s hardly noticeable from the front shots, but my favorite shot, of course, is an overhead picture that clearly shows my blunder. Ugh! 


It wasn’t a total loss, as I’ve unquestionably learned the most from my less than successful photos. For example, never, ever rush. Take a breath if necessary, and just enjoy the moment. And always take an extra minute to focus on each of the different elements of the photo.  

Who knew there would be so much to see thru the lens.

Monday, July 30, 2012

Veal Stuffed Peppers

Since we began selling Rose Veal at the farmers market, I have had several customers ask for recipes for ground veal. I posted a blog last week on Pasta with Veal, Capers, and White Wine and today I have another great recipe for Veal Stuffed Peppers. 

I also have a recipe for Awesome Meatloaf that I will post sometime soon. It uses a trio of ground meats include pork, beef, and veal.







Veal Stuffed Peppers

1/2 - 3/4 pound ground veal
1/3 cup long grain rice
2-4* large green peppers
Olive oil
1 rib celery, finely diced
1/2 small red onion, finely diced
1 clove garlic, minced
1/4 - 1/3 zucchini, finely diced
1 tomato, finely diced with juices
1/4 cup freshly grated parmesan cheese
3/4 teaspoon dried oregano
1/8 cup flat leaf parsley, chopped
1/4 cup panko bread crumbs

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Rinse rice under cold water. Put in small pan with 3/4 cup water and bring to boil. Once boiling, reduce heat to low and cover. Allow rice to sit for 15 minutes. Rice should be slightly soggy. 

Slice the tops off of the peppers and remove seeds and stems. Dice tops, leaving the bottoms whole as they will serve as the bowls for the stuffing mix. 

In a medium skillet add celery, onion, and garlic. Cook for 5 minutes. Add zucchini and tomato and cook until onions are translucent and vegetables start to soften. Salt and pepper to taste.

In a medium bowl, combine cooked rice, oregano, parsley, cooked vegetables, cheese, and most of the breadcrumbs. Stir until evenly distributed.

Spoon stuffing mix into pepper bowls. Place in a loaf pan with one inch of water in the bottom. Sprinkle with additional panko bread crumbs. 

Bake for 45 minutes. 

When peppers are done remove from oven and top with additional cheese.


Note: As someone who tries to focus on seasonal vegetables, I tend to improvise quite often in my recipes. I happened to have had beautiful dirt grown tomatoes and zucchinis when I wrote this recipe. Feel free to add, subtract, or swap based on your preferences. You could try various types of squash or eggplant. Just be sure to dice them relatively small. In the winter months I substitute stewed tomatoes.

*Because I add whatever vegetables I have on hand, my stuffing often outgrows my pepper bowls. The above recipe is intended for two large peppers but I often end up with enough stuffing mix for four. If this is the case, simply stuff the extra two peppers and freeze them in a sealed baggy before cooking them. Later pull them out of the freezer, allow them to partially thaw, and then bake.

Saturday, July 28, 2012

Breakfast BLT

Hardy breakfasts have always been a tradition in my family. Everyday my uncles got up early to go to the barn to milk cows. Sunrise was mid-morning to these boys! Their day began while it was still dark, rolling out of bed at 4:00 am. For the record, I am definitely not a morning person. Talking to me before my first cup of coffee should be done at one's own risk. And I am not the only slug in the family.

Three of my uncles split the milking schedule so that two always milked in the morning and two always milked in the afternoon. The other uncle was in charge of field work. He got plenty of help when needed, but plowing, planting, and harvesting was his domain. Dad once told me a story of Grandad trying to get "field worker" uncle up in the morning to milk cows. After his third warning Grandad sent him to the barn in his underwear. Believable? Yes. This totally sounds like my family. Me? I preferred doing my chores once the sun was happily up to greet me (and I was fully dressed). However, my uncles and I never did agree on what time that was. ;-)

Once the morning milking was done and bottle calves fed, everyone would head to Grandma Hazel's house for breakfast. And although cereal might be a great evening snack for this crowd, breakfast always meant plenty of eggs, bacon, and sausage... oh yes, and fresh milk!



Breakfast BLT

1/2 pound bacon
4 fresh eggs
1 large tomato
1/2 cup lettuce
8 slices of bread (4 slices for open faced sandwiches)

Place bacon in large pan over medium heat. Turning every 2-3 minutes. Once bacon is done to your preference, remove from pan and place on paper towel on plate to absorb excess fat. Keep in mind that bacon will continue to cook after being removed from heat.

Meanwhile, slice tomato and wash lettuce.

Using a clean pan, add 2 tablespoons of bacon grease and heat over medium heat. Once hot, gently add eggs to pan being careful that they have enough room and do not touch. Fry only two at a time if necessary. For sunny side up, fry eggs until white is completely cooked and no longer clear. If you prefer firm yokes, carefully turn egg and continue cooking.

Once eggs are done, assemble sandwiches.

Dad (second from left) and my Uncles, 1959


Thursday, July 26, 2012

Watermelon Rind Pickles

Watermelon Rind Pickles
I don’t remember my Grandmother Hazel canning, but most of what I remember was after her five sons had moved out and she was living alone. Corey’s great-grandmother however, canned everything! As she had either forgotten that all her children had left the nest or found it hopeless to convince PawPaw White not to plant their larger garden. 

This is another one of Corey’s grandmothers, Nanny Bea. She was the cafeteria manager at the local high school for over thirty years. And in her day, every bit of food that came out of the school cafeteria was homemade with the freshest ingredients from hot cross buns to green beans seasoned with pork to cinnamon scented baked apples. And she lived her preference for real food at home with a garden the size of our entire backyard. Then again, she lived in a time when all food was real food.

This is Nanny Bea’s recipe for Watermelon Rind Pickles, an absolute I-will-not-share favorite of Corey’s.

Watermelon Rind Pickles

1 large watermelon
3 tablespoons salt
6-8 sticks of cinnamon
2 tablespoons whole cloves
2 quarts white vinegar
16 cups sugar

Slice watermelon into one inch sections and remove all of the pink fruit. Using a potato peeler remove the green peel from rind so that you are left with only the white section of the rind. Cut rind into one inch squares. 

Add to a large pan and cover with water. Add salt and bring to a boil. Simmer until rind is tender.

Drain. Chill rinds in very cold water preferably overnight but for at least two hours. Drain water. Set aside.

In another large pan, add vinegar and sugar. Bring to a boil. Once boiling add cinnamon sticks, cloves tied in cheesecloth, and the drained watermelon. Simmer at a low boil until rind is clear and transparent.

Remove spice bag and cinnamon sticks. Pack the rinds into hot sterilized jars. Cover with the boiling hot syrup and seal immediately. Makes 6-8 pints.

Note: Depending on the size of the watermelon you may need more or less of the vinegar/sugar mixture.  This is fine. Just be sure to keep to a 2:1 ratio of two parts sugar to one part vinegar.

These pickles do not need to be processed in a water bath. Using hot jars and boiling hot syrup is sufficient to cause the jars to seal. After jars cool, test seals by pressing the center of each lid. If lid does not pop up and down it is sealed. If any lids do not seal properly within 24 hours, refrigerate and eat promptly.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Looking Back to 1957


I found this old newspaper clipping of my dad and uncles in a Hecht Company ad in the Washington Post dated 8-19-1957. Left to right, Michael Stiles, Kenneth Stiles, and Dad, Blair Stiles, getting their calf, Playmate, ready for the Montgomery County (MD) Fair.

Pasta with Veal, Capers, and White Wine


I found this recipe in an old Food & Wine magazine years ago. I originally made it with lamb and absolutely loved the saltiness of the capers. Recently I tried it with our Rose Veal and believe it may have been even better!

Pasta with Veal, Capers, and White Wine

1 tablespoon olive oil
1 medium onion, diced
1-2 garlic cloves, minced
1 pound ground veal
½ cup dry white wine
1 ½ cups chicken stock
1 teaspoon chopped thyme
1 teaspoon chopped rosemary
2 tablespoons small capers, rinsed
3/4 pound pasta*
1/2 cup fresh grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
1/8 cup flat leaf parsley
2 tablespoons butter

In a large skillet, heat olive oil. Add chopped onions and garlic and cook over medium heat until soft and translucent.  Add veal and cook until no longer pink. 

Add white wine, turn heat up to medium high, boiling the wine until it has almost entirely evaporated. Reduce heat to medium. Add chicken stock, herbs, and capers and simmer until the liquid is reduced by half. 

Meanwhile, cook the pasta in a large pot of boiling salted water. Cook until al dente. Drain pasta and add to skillet along with cheese, parsley, and butter. Continue to cook, stirring frequently, until the sauce is thick and creamy. Serve immediately.

*I made it with campanelle pasta as that’s what I had on hand. Orecchietta pasta would have also been an excellent choice for this sauce. 

Note: If your house is anything like mine, it is easy to get distracted and overcook this dish. This will result in too much evaporation of the liquids. If you do, simply add a little extra chicken stock before adding the cheese, parsley, and butter.

Monday, July 23, 2012

What to do with all the Watermelon!

Just a few weeks ago I told you Caprese Salad was my all time favorite summer side for just about any meat on the grill. Well give a women a surplus and one might be surprised with what she comes up with.

Corey has been after me to make Watermelon Rind Pickles. So off to the local farmers market I went and after a short discussion with the farmer's wife, I chose a beautiful, oblong, seeded melon. Seeded? I *know*, with all those wonderful seedless varieties now. Turns out the seeded watermelon has a wonderfully thick white layer of rind, which is what I was after.

So now I was left with finding something to do with the rest of the melon. Or at least what was left after the kids and I got our fill. Then one night we had Summer Corn Chowder and hamburgers on the grill. Looking for something cool to balance the meal, I came up with this super easy Watermelon Salad.



Watermelon Salad

Watermelon, 1 inch cubes
Feta Cheese, crumbled
Basil, chiffonade
Balsamic vinegar

Cut watermelon into one inch cubes and add to medium size bowl.

Sprinkle with a good amount of feta cheese and basil, enough to get some in every bite.

Then drizzle with a small amount of balsamic vinegar. Toss and serve.


Note: The first time I made this salad, I simply sprinkled the salad with a little salt (pictured above). And although it was good, it was missing something. The second time through I chose an aged balsamic vinegar instead, which really jazzed it up. Definitely go with the balsamic vinegar!

Friday, July 20, 2012

Easy to Peel Fresh Eggs for Making Deviled Eggs

With so much of Corey’s family within a five mile radius I have had the privilege of hearing quite a few stories about Corey’s great-grandmother, affectionately known as Mama Childs. She was a true farmer’s wife, canning in the summer, being known for the best applesauce cake in five counties, and raising backyard chickens. What I wouldn’t do for a chicken coop like the one she had. It was gorgeous even from a distance. It was painted a beautiful dark green color to blend in with her gardens and circular with one door. I never saw it up close, but I would guess that it was at least twelve feet across. Every morning she would let her proud brood out and every evening back in they would go. Corey remembers more than once helping her chase a new chicken out of her garden and back to the coop for the night. I never met Mama Childs, but I know I would have loved her company. Anyone who is famous for talking to her chickens is all right by me.





Fun Chicken Facts

Chickens are omnivores. They’ll eat seeds and insects but also larger prey, like small mice and lizards.

There is no distinct difference in the taste between brown eggs and white eggs. What makes a difference is diet. Pasture raised chickens have darker, richer yokes due to the diversity in what they eat.

A top producing commercial hen can lay over 300 eggs per year. Most of the heritage breeds of chickens here on our farm lay somewhere between 220-280 eggs each year.

The record for egg laying was set in the 1920’s when a hen laid 364 eggs in 365 days. 

One of the downsides to fresh eggs is that they are notorious for being hard to peal. Solution? Try steaming them.  



Deviled Egg Recipe 

6 eggs
4 tablespoons mayonnaise
1 teaspoon prepared mustard
¼ teaspoon of vinegar
Pinch of salt
Pinch of sugar

Begin by placing your eggs in a vegetable steamer set over water. Be sure to give them plenty of elbow room. Steam for 10 minutes covered. Remove from heat and run cold water over eggs to cool quickly.

Once eggs are cooled completely, peel. Using a sharp knife cut eggs in half lengthwise. Put cooked egg yolks into a medium bowl, while putting egg whites carefully on a tray or plate.

Using a fork, mash egg yolks until they resemble a fine crumble. Add mayonnaise, mustard, vinegar, salt, and sugar. Mix well.

Spoon the egg yolk mixture into egg whites. Sprinkle with paprika. Keep refrigerated until ready to serve.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Summer Corn Chowder


I absolutely love soup and enjoy fixing it year round. I consider it the ultimate lunch, regardless of whether it is a light fare or approaching a hearty stew. Pair soup with a rustic bread and a green salad and dinner is served. 

Sweet corn being one of my favorite seasonal vegetables and the very essence of summer, I couldn't wait to create this easy summertime chowder. Growing up on dairy farms, both Corey's and my family use to plant acres and acres of corn for silage for the milk cows. Unfortunately field corn is not the same as sweet corn. It is exponentially tougher and without the sweet, tender flavor that makes even the most proper of us eat it like we are manual typewriters. The solution? Our families always planted two rows of sweet corn around the outside of the corn fields.


Summer Corn Chowder

Fresh Corn

I typically use a chicken stock as the base for most of my chowders, but for this yummy summer soup, I decided to kick up the flavor with a homemade corn broth. Should you prefer, you can always substitute low salt chicken stock for the corn stock.

Monday, July 16, 2012

Seasonal Sides: Insalata Caprese

Insalata Caprese

As one might expect, I am truly a meat and potatoes kind of girl. There are exceptions of course, for example Insalata Caprese or Caprese Salad. I will plan an entire meal around this dish! And it's super easy to make.

Layer sliced tomatoes, sliced mozzarella cheese, and basil. (Normally I layer them overlapping slightly on a plate. I placed them directly on top of each other here for a more interesting photo.)

Drizzle with olive oil and season with sea salt and fresh cracked pepper.

For a little extra spice we often add a sprinkling of red pepper flakes or drizzle balsamic vinegar over the top.

My favorite summer meal?

Grilled farm fresh hamburgers topped with Gorgonzola cheese, corn on the cob, and Caprese salad. ♥ For me it doesn't get any better than this!

What's your favorite summer meal?

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Chicken Salads for Lunch on the Patio


Chicken is one of my favorite proteins. Nothing beats a good chicken stock and nutritious soup when feeling under the weather or brings everyone home for Sunday dinner like a slow roasted chicken with root vegetables. And when the heat spikes in the summer it is the go to meat for an easy and light salad.

Here are two of my favorites.

Orchard Chicken Salad

Orchard Chicken Salad

·         5 boneless, skinless cooked chicken breast, cut into small cubes
·         2 medium apples, chopped
·         ½ cup sliced celery, diced
·         ¼ cup golden raisins
·         ¼ cup dried cranberries
·         ¾ cup mayonnaise
·         ½ teaspoon celery salt
·         salt & pepper, to taste

In a large bowl toss chicken, apples, celery, raisins, and cranberries. 

Season with celery salt, salt, and pepper to taste. Mix in mayonnaise. 

Serve chilled in lettuce cups or on brioche rolls.

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Meat. What's in Season?

There are times when new customers approach us at the farmers market and get frustrated when we don’t have a specific type of meat that they are looking for. Pointing to our canvas sign above the coolers, they remind us that we advertise lamb, goat, beef, pork, and poultry. So where is the {fill in the blank}? Often they totally overlook the word seasonal that precedes our offerings. 

We don’t blame them, as most Americans never consider their meat supply as seasonal. Between different climates found in the US, imported meat, the ability to harvest meat within a window of time (think weeks/months vs. hours/days for vegetables), and that wonderful invention we call a freezer we are spoiled.  But if you are someone who appreciates local food, it’s time to take a look behind the scenes. 

LAMB
Sheep are wonderful creatures and our favorite livestock here on the farm. As in most places, our sheep naturally lamb in the spring. The spring lamb you eat isn’t really referring to the time it was harvested but when it was born.  We have a huge demand for Easter lamb, and, well, that poses a slight problem. Seldom do we have lambs ready by April or May. The bulk of our lambs are born in January and February and most are harvested at 7 to 9 months. That puts them market ready in September, long after Easter. We have been able to meet the needs of our customers by having a few of our lambs born in the fall.  But that is not an easy task. Sheep breed based on hours of daylight. And try as we may, most like to {snuggle} with the ram between August and November. Picky aren’t they! 

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Peaches, Peaches, Peaches

I love this time of year and the ample supply of fresh food off the farm. It begins when asparagus first peaks out of the warming soil and strawberries are begging to be harvested and then continues through dirt grown tomatoes, juicy ripe peaches, and the smells of autumn ushering in the apple harvest.

Until I break down and finally plant our own small fruit orchard, I am blessed to be spoiled by Emily at Black Rock Orchard. This past Sunday the boys brought home a bushel of gorgeous peaches from the Dupont Circle Farmers Market. So Jordan and I cleared our schedule and spent the day canning peach halves and peach jam. We even had enough to freeze a little peach sorbet.

In my experience, late season cling free peaches make the pretties jars of canned peach halves (and it never fails those gems always ripen to perfection the week of our county fair!).

Whenever I work with a batch of peaches, I always start out making canned peach halves and am ready to adjust to peach jam if I find it difficult to pit the peaches. As I did today.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Hatching Eggs... Again!

The chickens here on the farm are definitely a Mom project. Yes, everyone helps with feeding, watering, and collecting eggs, but I am the one who can sit for hours reading Backyard Poultry magazine or surfing the internet for pictures of chicken tractors. So when we decided to look at making our chicken enterprise more sustainable, I was all over it. I spent hours choosing breeds that would fit our production needs and more hours finding breeders with bloodlines that mirrored our own goals.

For the past ten years, every spring I would pour over the hatchery catalogs, placing my order for pullets (young female birds). Two questions I chose to ignore: First, how close where the chicks I was buying to the original heritage breeds? Think about it. Hatcheries are interested in selling chicks which translates into hens that lay the most eggs. Good when it comes to egg production, but what about other traits, where they being lost? And more importantly what happens to all those male chicks? I didn’t really *want* to think too hard on that question.

Monday, July 2, 2012

Rose Veal

We are very proud of our customers and their devoted interest in where their food comes from. It does not surprise us that many have asked us to raise and offer veal along with our other meat selections.

Veal has a rather dark cloud hanging over it, as veal operations have come under more and more scrutiny in recent years. Believe it or not, that gallon of milk you purchased this week has quite a bit to do with the US veal industry.  The commercial dairy farmer has one interest when it comes to cattle – females. Each female calf born grows up to be a productive member of tomorrow’s milking herd. The problem is that statistically 50% of the calves born are bull (male) calves and they are of little or no value to the dairy farmer. Ah, here is where the infamous veal industry comes in, they buy up all the bull calves to raise on milk replacer (powdered milk) to harvest as veal. Little did any of us realize the horrific conditions many of these animals were subjected to in the past.

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Spring Garden Remembered

I’ve been working in the garden all morning and decided it was time to take a much needed break as well as grab some lunch. I am afraid those beautiful days from earlier in the week of low humidity and highs of 80 are gone for the summer

I thought I would share some of the photos of my gardens from last spring. First I should warn you, I have my gardens subdivided into several smaller gardens. I am definitely a perfectionist by nature and perhaps a bit of a control freak. This allows me to keep my sanity by being able to get in and work in a garden finishing whatever needs to be done. I also like to focus on different types of plantings in different areas. Let’s see, there is the…
  • Raised bed vegetable garden — unfortunately, time got away from me this year and I only have a few herbs and tomatoes planted.
  • Perennial sun garden — mostly drought resistant plants.
  • Hydrangea garden — that boosts a gorgeous dogwood along with ferns, spring bulbs, and a liriope border.
  • Deciduous garden — with an oriental feel, it is full of beautiful specimens of dwarf cypress, evergreens, and a Japanese maple.
  • Shade or hosta garden — mostly hostas, astilbes, and bleeding hearts.
  • Bird bath garden — partial shade/sun, really a mixture of plants, mostly spring perennials and summer annuals.
  • Echinacea garden — small area near the shed where I decided to focus solely on all the beautiful types of echinacea.
  • Butterfly garden — with three butterfly bushes as well as other wonderful flowers all chosen to attract butterflies.
  • Rose garden — lines the front of our fence with roses, boxwood, and hostas.
And one garden that is still under construction — the fragance/herb garden. Someday on the list would be a night garden (only white flowers) surrounding the back patio and a small fruit tree orchard. I am thinking 2 apples, 2 pears, and 2 peach trees along with a handful of blueberry bushes. I have to admit though, being so spoiled by all the wonderful fruit and orchard vendors at the farmers market this one might not happen any time soon.

The Bird Bath Garden


Perennial Sun Garden

Shade or Hosta Garden

Shade or Hosta Garden

Climbing Rose on Shed

Over the years, I have collected quite a few chicken garden features.


Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Go To Cookbooks

I have lots and lots of cook books… some by celebrity chefs, a full arsenal of soup & stew cookbooks, and those with irresistible photos on the covers. But truth be told, there are only six books that really qualify as my go to cookbooks. What are they?



My most basic recipes from macaroni and cheese to apple crisp come from my Better Homes & Gardens New Cook Book. I can’t remember when or where I received this cookbook – I believe it was a wedding present years ago. My mother had one. My grandmother had one. If I was told to pick only one, this would be my first choice for its wholesome tried-and-true home style recipes.

I am not a big baker, I prefer recipes that can easily adjust to whatever ingredients are in season. I am definitely a dice and dump cook as I seldom measure ingredients. But even I will admit nothing beats the smell of fresh baked bread. When I am in the mood for baking these are the three books I go to:



The Best-Ever Book of Bread by Christian Ingram is my all time favorite bread cookbook. I don’t know of any type of bread that is not in this cookbook. Even when I receive recipes from customers or find interesting recipes in magazines or on websites, I always compare them to recipes found in this book.



Ratio by Michael Ruhlman. This book revolutionized the way I think about cooking. It’s not so much about recipes as it is about ratios of ingredients.



Farm Journal’s Country Fair Cookbook. This is the book I turn to when looking to bake a unique cake, pie, or other sweet treat. It has an endless supply of great desserts and sweet breads. This was actually one of Corey’s cookbooks when he was in 4-H.

I love to can and preserve fruits and vegetables when they are at their peak.  Whether it is jams, jellies, pickles, relishes, or preserves there is a certain feeling of self accomplishment and preservation that comes from having a cellar full of canned food. I have two books I constantly go to during the peak of the growing season.



Home & Garden’s Home Canning and Freezing. This is a hand-me-down from Corey’s Grandmother. Open it up and you will find notes from three generations of women. (By the way, if you aren’t writing in your cookbooks, you need to. I am constantly making notes about what I like and don’t like as well as changes I have made to recipes.)



Ball’s Complete Book of Home Preserving.  This is a relatively new addition to my library. I love the new and creative twists it adds to old school jams, jellies, and relishes. Although I have only tried a few of the recipes thus far, it has twice as many as my H&G Home Canning and Freezing cookbook.

What are your favorite cookbooks?

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Weeds

I recently heard the following sports quote…

“Slumps are like a soft bed. They’re easy to get into and hard to get out of.”  — Johnny Bench

That’s when it hit me, I was in a slump! No, not a batting slump, but a mental slump.

As a proactive optimist, I have always been one of those folks who could do anything I put my mind to. Expand the farmers market entrée menu? Love to. Return to school at 43. No problem. Deciding to coach high school soccer, cook for Virginia Lamb, be super mom, and go to school simultaneously? You bet. Adding physics on top of my math major? Why not. Somewhere along the way, I heard the warning signs. You know the nagging thought that one has crossed over into survive mode instead of thrive mode.

Then summer break hit. The crazy intensity was over. I looked around and was all but paralyzed by the amount of life that had piled up. The weeds had taken over my gardens, the sheep needed to be shorn, there was fence to be fixed and painted, and the list felt endless and overwhelming. Instead of digging deeper and finding strength, I just froze. I kept hearing over and over again in my head all the things I had to do. That is when the slump hit. I was functioning day by day. I still loved spending time in the kitchen. But somehow the spark had grown dull.

So I reached out to a fellow gardener from the northwest. Reading her daily gardening adventures, I slowly began to feel the need to play in the dirt. You see, gardening has always been a representation of life to me… the work that must be put in to reap a successful harvest… the often necessary solitude of weeding, watering, and transplanting to reflect on life. My gardens reflect my moods, my inner strength, and my clarity of vision. Lately, I had been avoiding the garden as the weeds seem to bear witness to the endless list of chores I had hanging over my head. Then it hit me. I always have an endless list of chores. And when it grows too short, I add all kinds of interesting to-dos to the list like learning to make pasta, wanting to making homemade soap as Christmas presents, or reading up on medicinal herbs.

It wasn’t my list. It wasn’t the weeds. I just needed to unwind and recharge. I needed a mental make-over. And the one thing that always brings me back into balance? Gardening.

Bear with me over the next several weeks, as there are bound to be posts that encompass weeding, tilling, and lessons learned as I recapture the beauty of my gardens.



I was so focused on the weeds, I almost missed the roses!

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Art (via Smart Phone & Photoshop)


Chicken Barbecue Sauces

As the weather turns hotter, the count down begins. For those of you who have not found your way to the Clarke County Fair, I would definitely add it to your summer fun list! Yes, there are carnival rides, rodeos, petting zoos and all that exciting fair stuff, but the crowning jewel of the whole event, bar none, is the Chicken BBQ. Marinated just right. Slow cooked all day. Mouthwatering at its finest. For us, it has become the final exclamation point on a summer well spent.

Although the official barbeque recipe used by Clarke County Ruritan members is top secret, here are a few recipes I have collected over the years.  The following sauce recipes are enough to grill 10 halves, so you may want to reduce the recipes by half or store leftovers in an airtight container in the refrigerator. We recommend salting the broiler halves before cooking, so salt is not included in any of the recipes. By the way, these sauces also work well on pork, lamb, goat, and beef!

Garrison’s Famous Broiler Barbecue Sauce
2 c. cider vinegar
½ t. red pepper
1 c. vegetable oil
½ t. garlic powder
1 t. Tabasco
Spicy and Sweet Barbecue Sauce
1½ c. water
¼ t. Tabasco
1 c. vinegar
¼ t. paprika
½ c. vegetable oil
¼ t. black or red pepper
1 lemon or 1 oz. juice
¼ t. onion powder
2 T. brown sugar
¼ t. garlic powder
New England Sauce
2 c. vinegar
1 c. water
1 c. vegetable oil
2 t. black or red pepper
Chicken Barbecue Sauce
1 c. vinegar
2 t. Tabasco sauce
1 c. vegetable oil
3 t. prepared mustard
1 c. tomato catsup
1 lemon or 1 oz. juice
4 T. worcestershire sauce
¼ t. red or black pepper
2 T. sugar
Deviled Chicken
2½ c. vegetable oil
1 t. black pepper
¾ c. prepared mustard
1 t. red pepper
4 t. dry mustard
½ t. onion or garlic powder
Fruit Barbecue Sauce
1½ c. frozen pineapple juice concentrate
¼ c. water
1 c. vegetable oil
1 T. sugar
½ c. lemon juice
½ t. ginger
Spicy Chick-N-Que Sauce
1 c. water
2 T. chili or curry powder
1 c. vegetable oil
3 T. sugar
1 c. vinegar
2 t. red or black pepper
½ t. garlic powder
1 t. dry mustard
½ t. onion powder
¼ t. cayenne pepper
2 T. worcestershire sauce
2 T. Tabasco sauce
2 T. paprika

Do-It-Yourself Sauce

Use 1½ to 2 cups vinegar and 1 to 1½ cups oil as a basic mixture. Add other ingredients, listed or not listed in the above recipes, to season to your taste.

Many of these were developed by Ed Garrison, retired Extension Poultry Specialist with the Mississippi Cooperative Extension Service.

ShareThis

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...