The Joy of Eating Grubs and Other Stories of Sunday Morning

I woke this Sunday morning with a few projects in mind.  First of which was to create a smaller pen inside the main chicken run for the chickiechicks and mama.  I had tried a few times letting them out in the main run, however those little chicks would always find some small hole under the fence( missed during my multiple patch jobs) and escape. Plus they managed to annoy all of the other chickens except their mother.   I decided the best plan would be to make a smaller pen just for mama and chicks for their safety and my headache-free Sunday.

They are getting quite big now and love digging for grubs.  Here they are taking a dust bath with Mama.

Here is a picture of Boof our rooster and father of the chicks.

Here is a picture of Rozilla/Rosanne/formally know as Rosie on the left a Boof on the right.  He is really tiny and she is quite large, hence her nickname of Rozilla( pronounced Row-Zirrah).

And a picture of the last of my original flock Betty the Barred Rock and Rosie the Rhode Island Red aka the Cranky Old Ladies/ Oh No You Don’t, Boof!

That is the whole flock.  Although we are still in need of names for the four chicks.  I also have a feeling more chickens are on the way.  I dreamt last night that I got a mating pair of very fancy looking chickens, a single hen who also looked quite fancy/odd, and an ostrich- speaking of odd.  In the dream, I had to call Lel and ask her permission to get the Ostrich because I wasn’t sure if we had enough space. She is laughing now ” As if I get to tell you no about anything with those chickens”.

On to the next project.  Harvest the garden, dig potatoes and prep the beds for winter.  This was the first year that I have had these garden beds.  So I was unsure exactly what to expect for our overall harvest.  I think I did pretty well considering a few set backs in the way of squash. Curse those vine boring grubs!  This was also the first year that I have attempted sweet potatoes.  I figured if nothing else they would make a great screen from the neighbors and the driveway.  I planted them along the bamboo fence I made at the edge of the garden.

And wow did they work well as a cover!  It was really wonderfully beautiful!  Especially when the vines flowered.  I highly recommend growing them even just for foliage.  Easy to maintain, fast growing, and beautiful.  The one thing that made me skeptical about getting any kind of crop was the fact that this was the first year that these beds had been tilled.  In Georgia, this means that the bed was mostly clay and despite all my amendments and tilling( blood, sweat, and, tears), it was still very hard packed.  I really thought it would just be too compact for the sweet potatoes, but I was very, very happily surprised when I started digging this morning.

Not only did they grow, but they were HUGE!

That is the largest mixing bowl I own.  It is an industrial size metal bowl and it is currently full of sweet potatoes!  What a harvest!  I am so impressed by those sweet potato plants!

I also picked the rest of the peppers and tomatoes.  Which in turn led to Breakfast/Brunch!

  • Fried Green Tomatoes, Poached Eggs, and Bacon:

  • Green Tomato
  • Flour or Corn Meal
  • Salt
  • Pepper
  • Garlic Powder
  • Cayenne
  • 3 Eggs
  • 4-6 Pieces of Bacon

This is breakfast for two so if you are making it for one or more than two just adjust.  Okay now the first thing that you want to do is to take the eggs out of the fridge.  This is one of the secrets to poaching eggs, you need them to be room temperaturish.  Next step, pre-heat your oven to 425.  I bake bacon.  I find that it is the easiest and least messy ways to cook it.  If you are a stove top kind of bacon person feel free to do it your way.  On a baking sheet lay the bacon strips out one by one.  When the oven is heated stick the sheet pan with the bacon in the oven.  It doesn’t take that long for the bacon to cook.  Maybe 10 min.  Check it often to make sure you get it to the crispiness that you desire.  While the bacon is cooking slice your green tomato.  Try and get the pieces as thin as possible.

Next you want to take one of the eggs and whisk it with roughly 1 TBLS of milk in a small bowl.

Next in a separate small bowl mix roughly 1 Cup of flour or cornmeal with 1 tsp Salt, 1/4 tsp ground pepper, 1 tsp garlic powder, and 1/4 tsp cayenne.


In a large skillet preferably cast iron melt 1 TBLS of butter on medium high heat.

Once the pan is hot, start by dipping the tomato slices one by one into the flour mixture first, Coat both sides, then dip into the egg mixture.  Next drop them into the skillet.  add only about four at a time or as many as your pan will hold comfortably.

Flip them over and brown them on both sides.

When you remove them from the pan lay them out on a couple paper towels.

While you are cooking the tomatoes you can put on the stove a small skillet with about an inch of water in the bottom.  Add 1 tsp salt and 1 TBLS of white vinegar.  This is the all time secret to poaching eggs. Don’t tell anyone, make them read my blog 🙂  Room temp eggs and a little bit of vinegar in the water.  You want the water in the pan to be at at a slow  boil, but not a  rolling boil.

Add the eggs one at a time.

Use a spoon to spoon some of the hot water over the tops of the eggs while they cook.  When the white around the yolk is solid remove the eggs and plate them.


YuMMMM!

Friday Night Dinner: Turkey Meatballs, Homemade Sauce, and Fresh Baked Bread!

Friday Night Dinner 9/7/12 : Turkey Meatballs, Homemade Sauce, and Fresh Baked Bread!

We held this weeks Friday night dinner at our house, so I got to spend the day in my kitchen working on dinner and wrapping up a few other projects.  Despite the 90 degree plus temp and the %100 humidity of the kitchen I did actually have a great and very productive day.  I harvested enough tomatoes from the garden to fill a large mixing bowl, prepped them for canning/saucing, baked a loaf of bread, made sauce, canned the extra tomatoes, made meatballs, herb butter, and fig preserves (which I will tell you about in another blog post).  So where to start…

I suppose we should start with the bread.  This my quick and dirty recipe for fresh homemade bread.  It is not a gluten free bread, but I do use Organic King Aurthur flour.  King Aurthur Flour’s  “ Non-GMO Statement follows: “Because of the many uncertainties surrounding genetically modified wheat, and based on input from our customers and employee-owners, King Arthur Flour does not support the introduction of genetically modified wheat, nor its use in King Arthur flours. For more than 200 years, King Arthur Flour has provided customers with flour products that are pure and naturally wholesome. Using genetically modified wheat as the basis for King Arthur flours would run counter to our centuries-old commitment to natural quality, so we don’t do it, plain and simple.” Irene @ KAF. Lel has found that despite a gluten allergy she has had no reaction to the bread and baked goods I make at home.  We believe that this might have something to do with the fact that I use only Organic Non-GMO Flour.  I am not recommending that anyone believe me and my theories, but it seems to be true for Lel and a couple other friends of ours with Gluten allergies.

  • Bread Recipe:

  • 2- 4 Cups Organic King Aurthur Bread Flour
  • 1/4 Cup Organic King Aurthur Whole Wheat Flour
  • 1 Packet or 2 Tsps Yeast
  • 1 TBLS Kosher Salt
  • Three Count  Olive Oil
  • Water

If you are lucky enough to have a stand mixer, this is a really easy bread recipe.  If you don’t have a mixer it is still easy, but obviously more labor intensive.  The first thing I do is put about a 1/4 cup of warm water in the bowl for my stand mixer.  Sprinkle the yeast on the water and then cover the top of the bowl with a kitchen towel.  Wait about 5 or 10 minutes for the yeast to start bubbling.  Once the yeast is bubbling add another 2 cups of water to the mixing bowl.  Attach the whisk attachment to your mixer or if you are doing this by hand get a whisk out.  If you are doing this in a mixer turn the mixer on 1 and start adding flour slowly.  When you get to batter texture add the salt and olive oil.  I just pour from the olive oil bottle and count to 3.  Also add the 1/4 cup of whole wheat flour now.

At this point switch the whisk out for the dough hook on your machine (or a wooden spoon if you are doing this by hand).  Turn the mixer back on to 2 and slowly add more flour.  When the dough comes together in one mass on the dough hook only add enough to keep it from sticking to the sides.  Once it stops sticking to the sides, let it be kneaded by the machine for a few minutes- if it starts to stick again just sprinkle some more flour along the side of the bowl.  Knead the dough to the point when it is elastic and only slightly sticky.

If you are doing this by hand, use the wooden spoon to mix flour into the dough- only adding a little bit at a time.  When the dough has come together, take it out of the bowl and start kneading it on a floured surface.  Sprinkling flour as needed on the the dough and then the surface to keep the dough from sticking.  Kneading the dough to the point when it is elastic and only slightly sticky.

At this point transfer the dough into an oiled bowl.  Cover the top with a kitchen towel and place the bowl in a warm place.  I place the bowl somewhere near the oven and start preheating to 425 for baking.

When the dough has doubled in size.  Sprinkle some whole wheat flour on the top and punch the dough down.

At this point I have my baking sheet ready with a piece of parchment paper.  I sprinkle some whole wheat flour on the surface of the parchment paper and spread the dough out.

Now I do what is called a letter fold  by folding one side toward the middle then folding the opposite side toward the middle.  Make sure that you sprinkle each side with whole wheat flour.

You also want to turn it 180 degrees and do another letter fold.  I forgot to take pictures of this part or the next part:(  I then shape this into a loaf form by pinching the bottom together and sort of squeezing the whole thing into shape.      Cover the loaf with a kitchen towel and let it rise.  When the loaf looks about the right size (it doesn’t exactly double)  put it in the oven at 425 for 15 mins and then reduce the heat the heat to 350.  It usually  take another 30 mins, but I stay close to the kitchen in case it is finished sooner.  You can smell the bread when it is about done.

My Kitchen Help :  Miko

  • Herb Butter Recipe:

  • 1 Stick of Butter Softened
  • Mascarpone
  • Roasted Garlic or Boiled Garlic
  • Fresh Herbs of Your Choice
  • Basil
  • Chive
  • Oregano
  • Salt to taste
  • Pepper

I have made this spread a many different ways and with many different combinations of herbs.  Feel free to experiment with whatever you have in season.  In the winter, I use flat leaf parsley, garlic, salt and pepper.  If you make extra it is great to freeze in small balls and use on grilled meat.  For last nights dinner, I used fresh basil, chive, and oregano from the garden.  This was not originally on my menu plan, but Lel requested it a hour or so before everyone was going to arrive so I decided to whip some up 🙂 It is very easy to do in a short amount of time, the only problem being that there really wasn’t enough time for me to roast garlic (I was also trying to cool the house down before everyone arrived and turning on the oven again was not an option), there is an alternative to roasting garlic though.  My quick and easy method of boiling the garlic will soften it to the point that it can be smashed into a paste. Voila!  Or if you have garlic paste you can use that as an alternative quick fix.

Peel about 6 garlic cloves and place in a small pan of boiling water.  Boil the cloves for about 5 minutes or until they are soft. While they are cooking, I finely chop the herbs and place them in a small bowl.

Once the garlic is done add it to the bowl.

Now take the back of a spoon and smash the garlic and herbs together.  It will look a little something like this when you are done:

       Now that you have all the herbs and garlic all smashed up, add the softened stick of butter and the Marscapone.  Be sure to mix it up well so that it is all one consistency.  Now add a few turns of coarsely ground pepper and salt to taste.  Mmmmm. Put the spread in a small serving dish.  If you are ready to serve or close to serving let this sit out at room temp since it is easier to spread if it is soft.  If not, just stick it in the fridge until about a half hour before serving and then take it out to warm up.

  • Fresh From the Garden Tomato Basil Sauce:

  • Fresh Roma Tomatoes
  • Fresh Basil
  • Garlic
  • Salt to taste

My garden is at it’s peak right now.  I have more ripe tomatoes every day.  Yesterday I collected a large mixing bowl full of ripe Roma tomatoes.  If you are canning right now, this is a great easy sauce to make because you are already blanching the tomatoes and removing the skins for the canning process.  I suppose you could also just can the sauce, but we didn’t have any leftovers so I haven’t tried this yet.

To start the process yesterday I first blanched and peeled the tomatoes (if you would like direction on this step see my post on canning tomatoes).  Once I had a bowl full of peeled tomatoes I was ready to start the sauce.  Peel almost a whole head of garlic. Mmmm, garlic…

In a large pot, add enough oil to cover the bottom and the peeled garlic cloves.  Turn the burner onto medium low heat.  You want the garlic to cook slowly and not brown.  When the garlic is soft, it is time to add the tomatoes.

  I added enough to fill to about the half way mark on the pot.  I was saving some for canning, but I could have easily added all the tomatoes.  This sauce cooks down over a few hours.  If I had added more tomatoes, we may have had left overs so I would recommend adding enough to fill about 3/4 of the pot if you have them-next time I make this sauce I plan on doing it that way.  There is so much flavor in these fresh tomatoes that you really can’t go wrong on how many you add.  At this point I put the pot on the back burner and let it simmer on a very low flame for roughly 2 hours.

After a few hours of simmering I add some coarsely chopped fresh basil to the sauce.

Put the lid back on and start working on the meatballs!

  • Turkey or Chicken Meatballs:

  • 2 Pound of Ground Turkey or Ground Chicken
  • 1/2 Cup Grated Parmesan
  • 6 TBLS Masa (for gluten free) or Organic All Purpose Flour
  • 2 egg
  • Finely Chopped Oregano and Basil
  • Finely Chopped Garlic
  • 1 Tsp Salt
  • few grinds of pepper from mill

I have made this recipe with both ground turkey or ground chicken.  Some people don’t like turkey so I make these meatballs with chicken for them.  If you like turkey I recommend the turkey.  In my opinion, it has more flavor and  is great for all that mood-enhancing brain chemistry.

Ok so once you have the parmesan grated, your garlic chopped, and your herbs diced.  Stick them all in a large bowl.  Add the masa (if you are doing gluten free and flour if you are not) to the bowl.  Also add the 2 eggs.

Now add the 2 LBS of ground turkey.  Using your hands knead all the ingredients together.  When they are well mixed, roll them into balls with your hands.  I have found that after kneading the meat all together if I wash my hands and have them slightly wet before making the balls, the meat will stick less to my hands making it easier to work with.

In a large skillet add enough olive oil to coat the bottom.  Put the burner on medium high.  When the oil is hot, place the meat balls in the skillet.  Be sure to add only as many as will easily fit-  leaving a little room between each ball.  I have to cook these in two batches.  Brown them on all sides and leave them covered in between turning.

When the meatballs have browned on all sides add them to the sauce.  Let them simmer in the sauce for as long as you want.  Last night I left them simmering in the sauce for roughly an hour before serving.

We are just about done with this meal.  Except I am going to let you in on one of my Biggest Secrets- I am going to publish one of my dressing recipes!  It is simple and yet people love it and are always requesting/demanding/begging me to make it for them.  Soooo, here are the basics:

  • Balsamic Vinaigrette Recipe:

  • Balsamic vinegar
  • 1 Garlic Clove
  • Kosher Salt
  • Fresh Herbs
  • Fresh Cracked Pepper
  • Extra Virgin Olive Oil

First step in the dressing is to peel and smash 1 clove of garlic with the back of your knife.

I am making this dressing in a 1/2 pint jar.  Put the smashed garlic in the 1/2 pint jar.  Put about 1 Tbls of Kosher Salt in the jar.  I measure by hand, but I would say it is about 1 Tbls of salt.  For this dressing I used Basil and Oregano.  I might have added a little chive, but I can’t remember.  I usually just add what I have on hand as far as fresh herbs go.  However, my basic herbs of choice are always Basil and Oregano.  Add a few grinds from a pepper mill.  Okay now here is where I think the secret is (unless you believe that I can imbue love into my food) put the lid on and shake the dressing up.  Now let it sit and marinate without the oil for at least an hour.

The picture above is to give you an idea of the balsamic vinegar measurement.  The picture was taken when the only thing in the jar was the garlic and the salt.

       The picture above is the finished product (prior to the last shake) to show the measurement of the Extra Virgin Olive oil.  It will be roughly about equal to the amount of vinegar you add to the jar.  Now give the whole thing a good shake and you are ready to dress your salad.  You can also let this sit indefinitely.  We usually use it so quickly it isn’t sitting too long, but you can keep it in the fridge or at room temp and it will last for at least a month if not longer.  If you keep it in the fridge, remember to bring it to room temp and shake it before dressing.

       For last nights dinner I just made a very simple salad with red leaf lettuce, grated Parmesan, and a drizzle of this dressing.  Really excellent accompaniment to the pasta, meatballs, and bread.

       Oh, I forgot to mention the pasta.  For last night’s dinner we just used a store bought fresh pasta.  I recommend using what ever kind you like.  Whether it is gluten free, fresh, or dried. Or homemade….but that is another blog post 🙂