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!

Advertisements

Fuzzy to Feathered

The other day I was on my way to leave the house when I noticed one of our cats sitting in the garden.  This struck me as odd so I got out of the car to investigate.  To my surprise and shock I found Mama hen and (luckily) all four babies waddling along in the garden.  Pookha our hunter was nonchalantly sitting on the other side of the tomatoes “helpfully observing”.

When I say hunter, I mean it was only a couple of days earlier that he woke us up at three in the morning by dropping a live baby bunny on the bed.  Which led to Pookha’s idea of the funniest thing ever, a scrambling, jumping, half naked, half asleep lel and I trying to 1) not scream like 12 yr-old girls and 2) figure out exactly what kind of animal was now running around the bed in the dark. I swear I heard him snickering.  I was actually relieved when the lights were finally on and we realized it was a baby bunny- he’d brought us a snake a week or so before this incident. HaHa. Pookha funny.

So after chasing Pookha out of the garden and getting over my initial shock. I took a few pictures of Mama and the chickiechicks  hanging out and foraging.   Some time during the night an animal of some kind opened the shed doors and tore through the chicken wire of the hen house.    Thank god Mama hen was smart enough (and tough enough) to lead her chicks to the relative safety of the garden.

The chicks are getting big now.  A couple of them have most of their feathers and they are as curious as ever!

I will get some closer pictures soon so that you can see how much they have grown.

Oh, and I thought this was a funny picture of Ballou sitting in a chair.  It strikes me often how many characters I live with!

Canning

I have heard the stories for years about my great grandmother, grandmother, and mother’s great canning days.  Bushels of produce simmered, steamed, and sauced into clean glass jars. I have done hundreds of thought experiments based on theoretical amounts of produce from my garden.  I have read my peers blogs on fanciful concoctions packed in cans and artfully arranged in beautifully colorful photos.  I’ve even ventured as far as refrigerator pickled cucumbers, okra, green beans, and radishes.  However this was officially the first time I had ventured into “true” canning.

I feel as though I have just stepped over a threshold of some kind.  A mile mark on my exploratory journey and fumbling attempts toward urban homesteading.  An accomplishment!  I now stand proudly next to my foremothers wooden spoon in hand!

When I heard for the first time this year that the metal cans used to can tomatoes contain a layer of plastic on the interior that contains BPA.  The BPA enters the food when it is stripped away by the highly acidic tomatoes.  The list of health issues linked to BPA is a mile long.  Just do a google search if you ever want some motivation to can your own produce.

Canned tomatoes are a staple in my kitchen.  Especially during the winter months when I get inspired to cook elaborate old world pasta sauces.  So I was finally motivated to take the plunge into “true” canning.

Okay enough dramatic build up…

Down to brass tacks…

Image

My set up :

Compost Bowl

Paring Knife

Freshly Washed Roma Tomatoes From my Garden

Image\Image

I like pictures!

Image

Now take the tomato and cut an X on the bottom.  This makes for easy peeling after we blanch the tomatoes!

Image

My Setup:

Tomatoes easy to reach

Slotted spoon for removal

Bowl to place blanched tomatoes in (you can fill this with cold water or not)

Pan with water at a rolling boil

Blanching: Place a few tomatoes in the water at a time.  If you put to many the temperature of the water will drop.  Try to keep it at a rolling boil or just under a boil.  Leave the tomatoes in for 30-60 seconds.  Then remove with slotted spoon and place in bowl.  After blanching let the tomatoes cool down enough to hold.

Image

Image

Now that you can handle the tomatoes.  Use your fingers or the edge of a knife to peel away the skin.   It should be fairly easy.  Place skinned tomatoes in a bowl.

Image

Image

Squeeze some lemons.  You will need 2TBLS of lemon juice per pint.

So now you are almost ready to start packing the jars, but first you must sterilize both the glass jars and the lids.  I don’t have any pictures of this part.  The easiest way to do this is to use your canning pot.  Place the jars on the rack submerged in boiling water for ten minutes.  In a smaller pot boil some water sterilize the lids and rings of the jars.  Remove the jars one at a time from the boiling water and fill with tomatoes, lemon juice, and top off with boiling water.

Image

Image

After you have filled the jars with the tomatoes, 2TBLS lemon juice. Pour boiling water from a kettle to cover the tomatoes leaving a 1/2 inch head room.  Now place the lids on the jars.  Do not tighten them to much.  Just tighten the lid to the point where you feel resistance.

Image

Place all the jars in the canning pot on the rack.  Submerge the jars making sure that they are covered by an inch or two of water.  Bring to a boil and start counting.  40 minutes for pints.

Image

After forty minutes has passed remove the jars and place them on a kitchen towel to cool.  You will need to let them sit for 12 to 24 hours.  At that time you want to check all the lids to make sure that they are sucked down and sealed properly.  You can do this by pressing on the lid.  If the center of the lid has any movement in it.  The jar is not sealed properly.

That’s it!  Canned!