Monday, February 24, 2014

Baking day

Biggest day ever for baking.  I will be very thankful to get into my river house and have a stove with two ovens!  Here's what I did last week for Purple Porch.  Nineteen loaves, plus five bunny rolls!

Back to front: Honey Oatmeal Walnut braids, Einkorn baguettes, sourdough rye, bunny rolls, rising baguettes

Baguettes rising

Honey Oatmeal Walnut braid

These are from Einkorn, an ancient grain.

Baguettes ready for the oven

Sourdough Rye

Bunny rolls

Monday, February 10, 2014

Egg eating rooster

I had three young roosters that were hatched out here mid-summer.  I haven't had much luck with what hatches here, because they seem to be about seventy-five percent roosters, not good when you have chickens so that you can get eggs!

I have this problem with butchering my chickens, as in "I have never butchered one of them."  They get taken by the wild animals, a couple of them have gotten sick or died from old age, but that's it.  Kim has urged me to butcher the young roosters, although by now they are too old to use as fryers.  They have to be under three months to go in the frying pan, or so he said.

I let him take three young roosters.  One of them had been eating eggs, so he definitely had to go.  Kim was not allowed to touch Buster, Tiny or Ricky Ricardo.  They are all too, too old anyway.

Kim said the meat was very dark, and I should get chickens with white feathers, because the meat is lighter and more appealing to people.  Well, these are for me, so I didn't really care.  I put two of them in the freezer and took the other one to the house.

Contrary to what Kim said (I am pretty adventurous in the kitchen), I decided to give the whole breast a go in one of my favorite recipes.  It's based on a recipe from MOMMYTO2BOYS on with some slight modifications.  If you want to look it up, search on Chicken Breasts in Caper Cream Sauce.  Mine is adapted for one whole large bone-in breast, from an older bird.  The cooking method has to change a bit to keep the finished product tender.  So here goes.

Mix 1 tsp. each lemon pepper, salt, dried dill weed and garlic powder until well blended.  Dredge a large whole chicken breast, bone in, in the mixture and sauté in 2 tbsp. of butter.  Do not overcook.  Just cook until the last of the pink is gone.  In fact, if there is a tiny bit of pink left, that is all the better, as you are going to set the sautéed breast in a 200º oven while you finish the sauce.  It will continue to cook a bit.  In the same sauté pan, scrape up the browned bits and add a cup of heavy cream to the pan.  Over medium heat, reduce the cream by about half, stirring often.  I like to keep simmering until it forms a nice brown sauce.  Then add 2 tbsp. of capers, drained.  Remove the chicken breast from the oven and cut away from the bone.  You will have two nice pieces of breast meat.  Now slice each half across the grain into several thin slices and lay the slices back into the pan of sauce.  If you see any pink, make sure those get into the sauce first, and give them a minute or so to cook through completely.  The trick for getting juicy and tender meat, even from an older bird, is not to overcook.

Place the cooked breast slices on each of two plates and top with sauce.  I love cabbage sautéed in coconut oil for a side dish.  It is a great and tasty low carb meal.

So what did I do with the rest of the bird?  Well, those dark farm raised birds make a magnificent and tasty broth.  No need to add any canned stock.  I used the broth for vegetable soup, with a few pieces of drumstick meat floating in the broth.  Yum!  Then I took the remaining meat off the bone, chopped it fine, added finely chopped onion, dill pickle and yellow peppers, topped it all with a generous amount of real mayonnaise and served it on flax meal bread - also very low carb, and very tasty indeed!

I have enough of the chicken salad for at least two more meals.  That rooster served me well!  Let me know if you try the recipe, and how it turns out for you.  Bon appétit.

Sunday, February 9, 2014

I am really sick of winter!

January blizzard - you can see some wisps of grass, but not any more!

The lane to the river - January blizzard
View to the greenhouse & dairy barn, January blizzard

Sleeping garden

February 9, 5" of new snow followed by the sun

February 9, new snow on garden and lane to river

What a year!  It is beautiful out, I will say that.  Every time the snow gets a little gray, Mother Nature dumps another few inches on us.  That is about its only redeeming quality.

It isn't so much that it is cold - it has actually been colder here one winter, with my trusty little weather station's screen going blank.  When I went to the manual to do some troubleshooting, I found that it quits at -22º.  Oh, my!  My neighbor claimed that our low was -26º on his old-fashioned nailed-to-the-barn-wall thermometer.  Now that's cold!  But we suffered for two days and then it was gone.  What is so bad is that there doesn't seem to be any end to it this winter.

On a Monday a few weeks ago, my low was -18.3º F.  And the high that day was -11.1º.  Yup, that was the HIGH!  And this time, while we did have one day in the following week that hit around 40º, it dived again, and two weeks later I had -18.8º F. on my weather station.  However, we did reach the balmy temperature of 2º that day.

Has that been the end of it?  No, indeed!  I had -7.7º the other day, and I am starting to look at a day when we don't dip below zero as tolerably pleasant.

The Farmers Market just seems to get colder and colder, as if the cold weather has soaked into its very bones, and there is no heating it up to a decent temperature no matter how hard the overhead heaters are churning.  No insulation in the walls, and people going in and out the doors continually.  My fingers and toes are numb by the time I leave each day.

But let's get back to the snow.  I have lived on this farm for nearly 12 years now.  In that period of time, I have been snowed in exactly twice and had to hire a snow plow to get down my half mile lane.  Being east of Lake Michigan, most of our snow here is lake effect snow.  I can plow through that stuff even when it is pretty deep with my little Prius.  (Gotta love my Prius -- it's a truck in greenhouse season and a snow plow in winter!)  So snow for the most part has not been an issue.  Then there is THIS winter, with its wet heavy snow measured in feet, not inches.  I have had to have the snow plow here four times in as many weeks!  Thank goodness the new 5" of snow I got last night is light and fluffy, or I would have to be calling for help again!

We haven't even played cards for three weeks, because Richard's lane is still packed full of snow.  The best I can hope for right now is that I will get to see my card playing friends tonight, and that the Weather Underground  is correct.  It does not have even one minus sign in front of the predicted highs and lows for the 10-day forecast.  We can only hope.

Monday, February 3, 2014

Spring cleaning a little early . . .

It drives me nuts how I can put stuff off.  Yesterday I put together a list of rooms and closets, numbered them, and I am cleaning the junk out of them one at a time.  The deal is that I do it first thing, BEFORE I check email or do yoga or anything else at all.  Well, I do make a pot of coffee!  :0)

I started with my laundry room this morning, threw out dried out shoe polish, poured together two containers of the same cleaner that were both three-quarters gone, found bits of laundry detergent that I stacked by the washer so that I will use them up and can go back to using my homemade laundry soap, gloves and mittens that I only had one of.  (I may be short of cash, but I refuse to wear mismatched gloves!  There are plenty of pairs that I was able to mate when I looked in corners.)  Took me about an hour, and I filled a garbage bag about half full.  Oh, and I found a device I bought for the housekeeper, to clean the blades on my overhead fans.  Only he never uses it.  So I did that this morning.  I still need to get up on the dining room table and do some scrubbing on the tips of the blades, but the fluffy gray dirt is GONE. 

Tomorrow morning is cupboard tops in kitchen.  I will do inside the cupboards another day - they get their own day, small wonder that.

Last thing on the list is the garage.  Ugh.

UPDATE:  It was really kind of fun.  I've decided to do the counter tops  today, especially since I found two different kinds of granite cleaner in the laundry room - but that will not excuse me from moving on to the next thing on the list tomorrow morning!  I have a mission!!!

Now I get to put an "X" in the box behind #1.
Room by room cleanup – Laundry room X
And #2.
Room by room cleanup – Kitchen counters X

Then on to yoga, email and income tax.  I am in a good mood already.  

Laundry room after cleaning.

Only working shoe polish left on shelf

 Cleaning supplies organized

Oh, so pretty!  Granite polished and sparkling!

Sourdough bread in the works, on a sparkling counter!

A window seat you can sit down on.  :)