Tuesday, November 10, 2009

News from the Farm

Went to the henhouse this evening carrying a bucket off fresh water and hoping for some eggs as there was only one yesterday. I also hoped they were "up",as it was dusk and it would make my tasks a bit easier (especially with an adolescent rooster on the premises). Indeed, I was pleased to see they were all roosting up on the high perch, with the exception of Grizzabella who sat on the slanted roof of a laying box and Pudge, who was perched on a bag of shavings. The first thing I noticed was that the entire floor iof the henhouse appeared to be covered in scratch grain. On investigation, I found that the bag had been skillfully opened ( Indeed it looked like one of them actually pulled the string on the bag top. I could just imagine the feeding frenzy that must have ensued while they stuffed themselves silly with the tasty grain. it remains to be seen if any of them keels over tomorrow from acute gastointestinal distres.

Having said this, I have to say that I was happy to find 4 dark brown eggs, i lighter peachy brown egg, and our first green egg! We received this batch of chicks on May 19, so I am quite happy to be finally receiving some eggs. Now, I can start coking lots of "eggy" dishes like quiches, frittatas, breakfst casseroles, lemon bars and meringue cookies, lemon curd, pavlova, maybe even egg drop soup and fried rice. Perhaps I will even try a spinach souffle.

Soon it will be time to begin the adopt-a chicken program where, for a monthly fee, you receive a profile of one of our rare and endangered species hens and the eggs they produce.

Raspberry Bushes-

I added four new raspberry bushes this year and did actually manage to harvest a couple of handfuls of nice berries this year. I plan to plant more next year on the other side of the property where we are free of Black Walnut trees . I suspect that their presence may be responsible for die off of the plants and lack of fruit. I also learned that it is best to control sucker growth to 6 inches apart and a row no wider than 12-18 inches to ensure the best, most productive bushes. The bushes will be pruned this week, removing the canes that bore fruit this year, In the spring, other canes will be cut back. Wish me luck - there is nothing better than fresh raspberries in a peach melba, sauce or salad dressing. I lust for the day when I would have enought berries for an entire pie!

Really Good Chili Recipe

Here's a recipe I came up with last week. I was aiming for a vegetarian version, but I ended up with some meat anyway.

Really Good Chili.

1lb. ground beef

2 onions, diced

2 cloves garlic, finely minced

2 cans black beans, drained ( you could use kidney beans, but we like black better as they are not as mealy.)

2 cans canned tomatoes - diced, or whatever style you have handy

1 quart organic or natural beef broth

2 TBSP. chili powder

1/2 tsp. salt, more or less

Freshly ground pepper

Splash (i'm guessing about 1/4 cup) Red wine - whatever's open

About 4 shakes of Worcestershire sauce

Brown the ground beef and onions till bef is browned and onions soft and sl. brown. Toss in the garlic and heat for about 1 minute. If necessary, drain this to reduce fat. If not, deglaze the pan with some of the beef broth, scraping the browned bits off the bottom of the pan. Put everything a stew pot, or crock pot and simmer for about an hour.

If desired, top with a dollop of greek yogurt, sour cream, shredded cheddar, or crumbled Feta cheese. The yogurt is delicious and is the lowest fat, lowest calorie option.

Serve with - Crusty cornbread and a nice salad with a balsamic vinaegrette.

To drink, a nice red wine, or a juice like cranberry or pomegranate.

Thanksgiving Dinner Plans

For Thanksgiving dinner this year, I 'm thinking of focusing on the use of locally harvested ingredients and other ingredients acquired from family owned vendors. To this end, I have gathered and processed my own black walnuts from our yard full of black walnut trees. I plan to use these in homemade maple ice cream. I plan to flavor the ice cream using Maple Syrup from Bragg Farm in Vermont. The syrup was given to me by a friend, Bryan Pfeiffer, who is a friend of the Braggs, and helps them out with their syrup production every year.

I'll make an apple pie using the apples we picked from Stuckey Farm, a wonderful u-pick operation in Lebanon, Indiana. If we really get into the spirit, we'll make our own butter for the piecrust from cream I get from a local creamery.

The stuffing wil be seasoned with sage, parsley and other herbs from our garden. We'll have roasted yellow fleshed and sweet potatoes with garlic, olive oil , sea salt, freshly ground pepper, and rosemary, also from the garden.

The corn pudding will use corn purchased from Stuckey's farm - frozen fresh straight from the farm, and eggs from our own flock of pullets . They have recently started laying and it is wonderful to have fresh eggs available again.

That's about all the local ingredients I'll be able to rustle up this year, but I've put in 4 red currantbushes this year and I hope that next year, we'll have enough currents to add to our cranberry sauce. Hopefully next year, we'll also have enough red raspberries to make a nice raspberry shrub as our accompanying beverage.

As for the bird, if I can, I'll find a fresh one from a local farm that won't break the bank. If not, I'll have to resort to a supermarket bird. Happy eating all!