Sunday, April 15, 2012


Still have leftover Easter ham? Yeah, us too. Toss them in some eggs with goat cheese and greens and pop it in the oven for a memorable Sunday breakfast.

Here is what I use:
chopped ham, about a cup
chopped spinach, about a cup
chopped kale, about 1/2 cup
1 tomato, diced
6 eggs
1/2 cup goat milk
herbs (I used basil & chives)
goat cheese
10" cast iron skillet

Here is what I did:
Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees. I usually put my bacon in the oven at this time. 
Heat up your skillet over a medium heat and toss in ham. Add veggies and cook until tender.
Whisk together eggs and goat milk. Spread veggie mixture out evenly over the pan. Then pour egg mixture over the veggies. Let cook for about 5 minutes or until the eggs start to set up. Add herbs and goat cheese (however much you like). Transfer the skillet to the pre-heated oven and bake for about 25 minutes. Top with sriracha if you need some heat with your eggs.

If you are interested, here are some local resources that provided the ingredients for this meal.
Breakneck Acres - free range organic eggs
Ornery Goat - goat cheese & goat milk
Birdsong Farm - kale & spinach
Duma's Meat - ham

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Sour Cream

It tastes so good and it sounds so yuck. Strangely it is exactly what it sounds like. Soured cream.

I cannot tell you how many times I have thought 'I wish I had a little bit of sour cream to go with this dish'... Had I known the ingredients to make sour cream were sitting in my refrigerator, my wishing could have become a reality.

When we were out of ranch dressing or ketchup, bread, cereal, peanut butter, or yogurt I would add them to the grocery list.  All along the ingredients to make these things were already in my kitchen. I just had no idea I could make them myself.

Lesson learned.

Here is what I use:
1 Cup heavy cream
1/4 Cup buttermilk
Mason jar with lid

Here is what I do:
Mix together cream and buttermilk in a mason jar and sit it in the middle part of the stove as you make dinner. You can watch the temperature on it if you'd like (heat to about 80-85 degrees).... but a warmed cream works just fine for me.  Put a lid on the jar and set it on top of the refrigerator overnight, or about 12 hours. The next morning you should have a thickened cream. Put it in the refrigerator and use within a week or two.


Thursday, April 12, 2012

Ricotta Cheese

I'm a little slow on the cheesemaking. It's kind of ridiculous. I have everything I need to do most of the recipes in the book Home Dairy, but something keeps me from trying it. I think it's because this is a whole new realm for me. And well, to be perfectly honest, I thought only hippies made their own cheese. (Sorry) Whatever. Homemade dairy is good, and I hope I have a dairy cow of my own someday.

Tonight I made ricotta for the first time ever. I was doubtful. I was actually pretty sure it wasn't going to work because my attempts at mozzarella were just plain embarrassing. But my ricotta worked and it tasted so unbelievably amazing that I'm not sure if I will stomach commercial ricotta again.

I followed the exact recipe in Ashley English's book Home Dairy. I didn't get the yield of 1 pound that the book boasts, but we got a decent amount.

Here's what I used:
8 Cups Whole Milk
1 Cup Heavy Cream
1/2 Cup Lemon Juice
1/4 teaspoon of calcium chloride, mixed with 1/4 cup cold sterilized water. *
1/2 teaspoon of kosher salt
dairy thermometer
large saucepan
cheese cloth

*you can get calcium chloride online or at cheesemaking/wine & beer brewing shops. If you are local I recommend Grape & Granary.*

Here's what I did:
Mix milk, cream & lemon juice in a large saucepan with a metal spoon. Warm directly over medium-high heat until you reach 170 degrees. I only stirred the mixture once to keep it from sticking.
Then I added my calcium chloride/cold water mixture and gave it a little stir. I kept the pan over heat during this step and then just kept my eye on the thermometer until it reached 195 degrees. I had to adjust my heat a few times to keep it from boiling.

Once it hit 195 degrees I removed my pan from the heat and it continued to rise to 200 degrees. Then I just let the pan sit there and rest while I made dinner.

After about 20 minutes I spooned the curds into a colander that I lined with a double-layer of cheese cloth and I let the mixture sit for another 15 - 20 minutes or so.

That's it.

I used a dollop on dinner and it went from meh... to ohmygoodness!

Dinner was Fettucini with pan-fried Tilapia and some veggies (2 carrots, 6 mushrooms, 1 Cup Kale, 2 Cup Spinach, 2 Cloves Garlic sauteed).


Wednesday, April 11, 2012


We have a bit of a hangup when it comes to meat and well to be honest, the kind of meat we would like to eat seems to fall more into the luxury category rather than the grocery budget category. Free-range, organic, grass-fed, natural.... all those adjectives add dollars and cents to the animals we love to heat and eat.  We try to be practical and we try to save so hopefully one day we can buy enough land to raise our own meats. 
This is how we think about everything. How can our family sustain itself? How do we provide the protein we need on a daily basis for two hungry adults and a gaggle of growing children? Our family turns to the legume.

Beans are cheap and they are packed with important nutrients. They are an excellent source of iron, folate, calcium, magnesium, and fiber. They are heavy in protein and low in fat.  Some varieties contain more antioxidants than blueberries.  And we can grow them ourselves. We are trying our hand at growing a few varieties this year, so hopefully they are also easy to grow.

We rely heavily on fresh fruits and vegetables to appease the constant inquiries for something to snack on. Apples, oranges, bananas, strawberries, celery, carrots, and broccoli usually get picked off first. If the produce ever gets the chance to turn, it gets tossed into a yogurt/juice smoothie.  But, when the budget is tight there is less in the fruit basket and it's time to get creative with what we have stored in the pantry. This morning I found a big can of chickpeas staring right back at me.

Basic Hummus

Here is what I use:
1 lb chickpeas, drained
(sometimes I use dried - then soaked overnight - and cooked for about an hour)
3 Tablespoons Tahini
3 garlic cloves, big fat ones
1/4 Cup extra virgin olive oil
salt & pepper
ground red pepper (optional) *In summer I love a big handful of fresh cilantro tossed in.*

Here is what I do:
Put everything in the food processor and blend until you reach the consistency you like. Add flavors you like. We've tried cilantro, parsley, cayenne, and ground red pepper and they have all turned out pretty amazing. Place in a covered container and refrigerate.

Hummus is great as a dip, but also a great condiment, or a base for a pita pizza. Try it in place of mayo on your sandwich, or top it with olives, spinach, feta and tomato on a pita pizza. It's a great snack to always have around.


Sunday, April 1, 2012

The Garden in April

I think I have turned from the person who gardens for fun to the person who needs to garden in order to stay sane. I am antsy this time of year. There is little to do and I am ready to get things moving. The outdoor chores of the day are not as much as I need them to be and the indoors are starting to feel like a very small wooden (or brick, in our case) box.

We are trying to keep ourselves busy by hovering over our indoor seedlings and building raised beds and cultivating as much soil as we can to fill those beds. Kenny Rogers, our jersey-wooly/angora bunny has been producing an ample supply of fertilizer, and the coffee shop has been filling bucket after bucket with serious amounts of coffee grounds. We mulched up all of leaves from fall, tossed in our vegetable scrap compost, and added some red wrigglers in hopes that it will all break down into a decent amount of good soil. I think we are still going to have to pay for some dirt in the end.

Anyway, a few things are moving along. Our garden is a bit scattered about at our homestead. There is an herb garden on the backside of the porch, a two-tiered butterfly/strawberry garden on the sunny-side of the garage, another tiered bulb and perennial bed along the steps that beans and cabbage and corn starts or seeds get tossed in every now and then, and there are curved out spots here and there with various perennials and veggies... and then there are the rows of raised beds that we add to every year. It's chaos that we reign in with no grace whatsoever.

Nearly everything in our herb garden reseeded itself this year. I guess it never got cold enough long enough to truly kill off the plants. We already have fresh dill, parsley, thyme, mint, lavender, and lemon balm to use. Lucky us!

Until the weather becomes a bit more stable I will continue reading farming memoirs and doing the little things that can be done. This morning I laid out the potatoes on the back porch so the eyes can start sprouting. I am anxious to get them in the ground and then onto our plates.

While you are waiting for your soil to warm up here is a list of memoirs that we've read over the winter (or are currently reading) and would recommend if you are interested in some inspiring books about growing & gathering your own food:

The Dirty Life
The Quarter-Acre Farm
A Householders Guide to the Universe
Girl Hunter
The Rural Life
Fat of the Land
Growing a Farmer
The Feast Nearby