July, August, September Local Food Challenge

I haven’t posted about the local food challenge since June. So for September, we will allow you to have up to 3 comments/entries. They can be about your choice of locally grown chicken or vegetables. The food can be from my farm, from a farmers market, from your garden or from your neighbor’s garden. It just needs to be locally grown (to you). What have you made this summer? Any salads, grilled veggies, chicken soup? Comment below OR  email and let me know.

17-Year Cicadas

Cicada on Wild Parsnip

On and around our property this year was the eruption of the 17-year cicada. We moved here 18 years ago, so we would have been here the last time they erupted.  But it was our first year here and the time of their eruption was also the time of the birth of my twins.  I don’t have any recollection of the cicadas.

This June we knew the cicadas were here by seeing the hard locusts shells on trees and clothes lines and items sitting near trees. About a week later we started hearing a background hum or buzz.  The Farmer described it as an other-worldly noise. (Think outer space other-worldly.) If we were in the city and coming home, there was no buzz up on LaFayette Rd.  But as we came to Graham Road, the buzz started and continued until we got to our home (and probably beyond).

I think the noise was temperature dependent and perhaps daylight dependent as well.  It would start around 9-10 a.m and stop around 4-5 p.m.  This continued for about 2 weeks.  We were able to record the noise of the cicadas.  At first you will hear the hum of the cicadas.  Then at about 10 sec. you hear the hum of 1 cicada.  From our internet  and book research, we found that only the males make the noise.

One day during this time as I took a walk on Kennedy Rd., I saw that the cicadas were covering everything – trees and weeds – everything.  Of course we had seen them flying around.  But I didn’t realize they were hanging off everything.  Here are some pics of them:

Continue reading “17-Year Cicadas”

June Challenge – Your Choice

Our monthly local food challenge is a freebie month.  Find a local food and enjoy it.  Maybe you like local fish, or perhaps you have spinach or lettuce in your garden.  Maybe you grill local chicken or steaks, or you collect wild edibles and use that for food or as herbal remedies.  Or you like local honey!  (See this story on how we collected a bee swarm.) June is the month of comment on that.  Any comments enter you in our January gift certificate drawing!

Pork Dishes – Flavor is in the Fat

This is what pork is all about.  The flavor!  Whether it is smoked or spiced or roasted, the flavor is what you remember from a good piece of pork.  And what makes the flavor?  The fat.  As Julia Child has been attributed to say, “Fat gives things flavor.”

The fat is what is left in the pan after you cook your bacon and what gets drained into a container to be later used to flavor veggies or rice or potatoes.  It is what mixes with the barbecue sauce of Sloppy Joes made with sausage or with the sauce of the pulled pork and what you sop up with the bread or boiled potatoes at the end of the meal.  The fat of a smoked ham slice or pork chops melts and flavors the potatoes or rice it is cooked on top of.

Pigs resting in their hut

We cook pork either by itself or on top of something: such as,  bacon cooked first and then eggs cooked in the grease; smoked ham slices, pork steaks or chops cooked over rice or potatoes; pork roast, first pan seared and then roasted in the oven.  In the last scenario, the fat is saved for a later use OR the bones and fat are boiled to make a broth for rice or for soup.  (This makes an excellent bean soup broth!)

Sausage is used to flavor things.  It is added to soups; it is the spice of sloppy joes – 1 part sausage, 3 parts hamburger, spaghetti or barbecue sauce for the sauce; it can be added to a stir fry or to an egg dish.

How have you used pork recently?  Let me know by email or in the comments of this post.

May Local Food Challenge – Pork

The local food challenge* for May is pork.  Pork comes from pigs.  It includes steaks, chops, roasts, spare ribs, sausage, bacon, smoked hams or smoked chops, and feet and lard.

Pigs can be raised a variety of ways.  Just as cows can be raised in feed lots, pigs can be raised indoors on grain.  OR just as cows can be raised on pasture, pigs can be raised in a grazing setting.  Walter Jeffries of Sugar Mountain Farm has set a defining standard for how to do this well.  His website has a wealth of information about the whole process of raising, slaughtering, and processing pork.

2017 pigs on pasture

We raise our pigs in a manner closer to Jeffries than to the feed lot.  Currently, we purchase our piglets from a farmer who raises them in a manner similar to us, using non-GMO grains and letting them root and be outdoors.  Once they get to us, they are raised outdoors, getting fresh air and sunshine, being allowed to root, eating grass and vegetation.  They regularly get non-GMO grain, day-old produce from the local food co-op, kitchen scraps, and weed and grass clippings from the garden.  We keep their hut in an area for several weeks, expanding their grass areas before moving their hut to a new area.  During the time that they are with us, we may move them to an area that we want to garden on eventually, letting them do the initial work of tilling and setting down their manure as compost.  6 months to a year later we would then plant in this area.

During May our pork is on sale – $5.75 / lb for non-smoked items and $6.75 / lb for smoked items and sausage. If you would like some, email us, and we will let you know the cost and will set it aside for you.

Find and enjoy some pork this month! Then email me about how you liked it OR comment in the comments below.

*Each month we have been having a challenge for different local foods to find and eat.  Any comments about what you ate and how it tasted can be posted at  that month’s blog post.  Each comment entitles you to 1 entry in a drawing for a $50 Treasures of Joy Gift Certificate.  Limit 1 comment each month. Comments for that month close at the end of each month.  Drawing on January 1, 2019.

Egg Dishes

Eggs are a staple in our home, and probably in many homes in America.  Eggs are a quick and excellent source of protein. We have several couples that buy 2-3 dozen eggs a week, and that is their main source of protein throughout their week.

 

In our home we use eggs by themselves as fried eggs, or hard-boiled or steam-boiled eggs; as the main dish in fried rice or magic quiche; as a part of a macaroni or potato salad; and as part of baked goods, like coffee cake, blueberry muffins, or cookies.  Since we like to have an egg meal at least once a week year round, we also freeze lightly blended eggs during the spring abundance, so that we have them in the less abundant wintertime.

Chickens that are raised outdoors in fresh air and sunshine produce good meat and excellent eggs. The eggs are sturdier, the yolks are brighter, and the cooked product is tastier than its barn-raised counterpart. Both are eggs, and both are good for you. But the ones from the chickens raised outdoors are better, and our customers regularly confirm this.

In this last week of the April Egg challenge, use some local eggs, mine or someone else’s. Let me know what you made and how it tasted.  And check out the recipes that others have shared  in the comments of this post.

Steam boiled eggs

We have recently begun steam boiling eggs, rather than hard boiling them.  We googled it, looked at several recipes, and came up with this one.

Bring eggs to room temperature.  Bring about 1/2 inch of water in pan to a boil.  Put the steamer pan in the top.  Fill with eggs – our pan holds about 20.  Put lid on pan and reduce heat to low.  Steam for 20 minutes.  (If you are steaming only 1 layer of eggs, then 12-15 minutes should be enough.) Remove eggs from heat and put in cold water.  Sometimes we put ice in the water, but not always.  Let sit for 15 minutes.

Use any eggs you want.  Use a pencil to mark the rest HB (hard boiled).  Put in refrigerator until you want to use them.

We use ours within 5 days, so they haven’t gone bad.  Eggs are sturdy by themselves.  So I would only hard boil enough eggs that would get used in 5 days.

Fried Rice

 

Fried Rice

Ingredients

Vegetables - 3 cups that could include these:

  • 1 cup diced carrots
  • 1 cup fresh or frozen corn kernels, defrosted
  • 1/2 cup fresh or frozen peas. defrosted,
  • 1 1/2 cup frozen mixed vegetables, substitute for corn and peas above
  • 1/2 cup chopped scallions

Rest of the ingredients

  • 2 tbsp grapeseed, canola, peanut, or vegetable oil
  • 4 cups cold cooked rice
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp ground white pepper
  • 2 tbsp soy sauce
  • 1 large egg, beaten
  • 1/4 cup toasted pine nuts, almonds, peanuts, or cashews
  • 2 tbsp minced cilantro, opt.

Instructions

  1. Optional Step - Egg Pancake: There are several ways of adding egg to your finished fried rice. You can simply cook in the beaten egg at the end of cooking, or you can make an egg pancake. To do this, heat the pan and add 1 teaspoon of oil. Swirl in the oil to coat the bottom of the pan. Add a beaten egg and tilt the wok so that the egg covers the surface like a crepe. Cook the pancake about 30 seconds to a minute until it's just set. Use a metal spatula and flip the pancake and cook for 5 seconds or until set. Cut into small strips and add to fried rice near the end of cooking.

  2. Heat the pan.  Cook egg if making egg pancake. SEE ABOVE.  Otherwise,

  3. Add the Carrots and Stir-Fry: Add the carrots and stir fry for 30 seconds, or until the carrots are bright orange.
  4. Add the Corn and Peas and Stir-Fry: Add the corn and peas and stir fry for 1 minute.
  5. Add 1 More Tablespoon Oil: Swirl the remaining tablespoon of oil into the pan.

  6. Add the Rice and Scallions and Stir-Fry for 2 Minutes: Add the rice and scallions stir-fry for 2 minutes, breaking up the rice with the spatula until it is heated through.
  7. Season the Rice: Season the rice with the salt and white pepper.
  8. Add the Sauce: Pour the soy sauce around the edges of the wok and stir-fry.
  9. Finish the Rice: Add the chopped egg pancake and pine nuts. Toss to combine. OR you can stir in 1 beaten egg. Stir-fry until the egg is no longer wet.

  10. Stir in the cilantro.

Recipe Notes

Stir-Fried Rice in a 12-inch Skillet: If you are cooking in a 12-inch stainless steel skillet, halve the recipe to prevent rice from falling out of the pan.

Substituting Other Vegetables: Substitute up to 2 1/2 cups of vegetables in place of the carrots, frozen corn, and frozen peas. Leftover meat (shredded or diced small) can also be added.

Original recipe here

Magic Quiche

 

Magic Quiche

Flour is mixed with eggs and milk.  This cooks to form a crust as it bakes. This is based on the Magic Quiche recipe found in the Le Leche League cookbook, Whole Foods for the Whole Family.

Ingredients

Items in the quiche - up to 2 cups combined

  • Veggies, like onions, mushrooms, broccoli, tomatoes, scapes, potatoes
  • Meat, like cooked bacon, ground beef, or sausage; leftover chicken, pork or beef;

Cheese

  • 1 cup grated cheese

Egg mixture

  • 6 eggs
  • 1/2 cup flour
  • Salt or pepper or other herbs to taste, opt.
  • 1 1/2 cups milk or cream

Instructions

  1. Grease pie pan.  Prepare veggies and meat.  Place in bottom of the pan.

  2. Put grated cheese on top of veggies and meat.

  3. Blend eggs, flour, herbs, and milk.  Pour over other ingredients. 

  4. Bake at 350F for 50 minutes or until golden brown and knife inserted in center comes out clean.

April Challenge – Eggs

Have you been looking for locally grown food this year?  This month’s challenge is to find and use locally grown eggs.  It shouldn’t be hard this time of year. Any hen that is going to lay eggs will lay in the spring.  We have a full refrigerator to support that claim!

We have recently moved our chickens from the barn area to the grassy areas.  We usually do this around March 15, but with the snow and muck this spring we didn’t get to do it until the 30th.  So now our hens and roosters can have true free range and fresh air and sunshine. Here is a hen walking down the run to the ground.And here are some of the chickens eating their feed for the day.

Fresh air and sunshine are an excellent combination for the production of most food.  And raising layers outdoors leads to an excellent egg!

We sell eggs by the dozen – $4.00 / dozen.  Email us if you would like us to set some aside for you.

Later this month I will give you some suggestions about how to cook with eggs.  In the meantime, what do you make with eggs?  Do you use locally grown eggs or free range eggs?  How do eggs fit into your diet?