Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Turkey Anyone?

So turkey day has come and gone. I wanted to mention that the turkeys we raised were delicious! We ate the hen for our meal on Thursday and she was great! Weighing in somewhere in the low-mid 20lb. range she was the perfect size for our small group to enjoy and then take home plenty of leftovers (which are completely gone now!).

The young Narragansett Tom we did was closer to 15lbs. He was a beautiful bird and we look forward to honoring him at a great meal! The other 3 Toms we did were all the commercial white turkeys. They were quite large, ranging from low 30 to low 40 lbs. each. We opted to cut them in half and freeze them in halves - not so certain our oven could handle a 40+lb. bird!!

We'll raise them again next year to sell for certain but we will definitely order our turkey poults a little later so that they are not quite so large come time for the big day. Not many people want to buy a 40+lb. turkey!!

Now our freezer is full of enough of our own duck, chicken, and turkey to see us through the winter and then some! Time to focus on the pig, although I think we will need another freezer! Sausage anyone?

Tairish Kellee Belle

Thanksgiving brought sadness to our household with the sudden loss of our beloved sheltie, "Kellee". We lost her quickly, seemingly fine Tuesday, under the weather Wednesday morning and after a steady decline, she died in our arms Thursday night. The first diagnosis was pneumonia which turned out to be incorrect (although we now understand that it was an easy enough mistake). She was suffering from metastic lung disease and we think a heart attack took her quickly. We are heartbroken at her loss but also very thankful. Thankful for the wonderful gift she was. She didn't back down from any fight, whether it was a squirrel, a raccoon, a woodchuck, or even a skunk (unfortunately!). And especially thankful that she was only apparently ill for hours compared to days or weeks. As these pictures show, one of her favorite spots to sun herself was in our oak barrel planters on the deck - winter or summer, flowers or not, you often found her there - they were a perfect fit!

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Turkey Day Cometh

While I love the concept of raising my own meat I admit I do have some difficulty with the act of bringing it from pen to freezer. So through a complicated set of misfortunes, although I guess misfortune depends upon whether you are the turkey or me at this point, our turkeys are still not ready for Thanksgiving and continue to walk around and consume grain with only 2 days left before the big event. Fortunately for us their day is fast approaching and soon the turkey count will be down 5 in the pen and up 4 in the freezer (one will go straight to the table).

This is the first time we've ever raised our own turkeys. They are quite large and while catching the chickens we raised for meat this summer was pretty easy, I can't imagine how we're going to pull off picking these big boys up. I practically got a black eye from one of them about a month ago when he hit me in the face with one of his wings. The adventure continues...

You say 'Pozole', I say 'Posole'...

I love to cook. I cook for my family. I cook for my self. I cook for my dogs. I'll cook for anyone. I also love to bake. I like making people happy with what I cook. But most of all, I love to eat food that excites me.

Recently I started getting into posole (or pozole if you prefer). My favorite is a green posole that I made all summer with the lovely tomatillos I received from a friend's garden throughout the summer. An odd little fruit, actually also referred to as a Mexican ground cherry - they made incredible posole. I also used freshly toasted pepitos and fresh squeezed lime juice and cilantro from our own garden, and our very own farm raised chicken. One of the most enjoyable things about posole is the array of flavors it shares with you. My favorite garnish was a fresh salsa of chopped cilantro and avocado with a generous splash of lime.

Here's the recipe I used. I don't remember where I found it and I've made my own modifications along the way...

Before I start I should say that the first step is all about cooking the chicken and creating a good simple chicken broth. We raise our own chickens and I usually finish off a roasted chicken by boiling the leftover frame and freezing or canning the broth if not immediately using it for soup, an easy and inexpensive way to always have fresh broth on hand. For this recipe I prefer to start by roasting a chicken (with onion & garlic in the cavity and herbs rubbed on the outside), picking off the meat, and making the broth from the leftover frame, instead of poaching chicken thighs or breasts and reserving the liquid.

Good hearty meal on a cold winter day!

Green Posole

Prepare Chicken:

* 1 Turkish bay leaf (can also use California)
* 1/2 cup thinly sliced white onion
* 4 chopped garlic cloves
* 1 1/2 tsps salt
* 3 lb skinless boneless chicken thighs

Start by combining bay leaf, onion, garlic, and salt in a large pot and adding about 2 quarts of water in a large soup pot. Cover pot and bring to a simmer. After about 12 minutes add the chicken and lower heat to poach the chicken until just cooked, 20-25 minutes. When chicken is done remove it from the pot and set aside to cool. Okay so here's another hi-tech cooking technique. I keep some nylon (clean) sleeves on hand just for this - leg segments from pantyhose! Anyway, I stretch the nylon over a colander and pour the broth through the colander into a large bowl or other suitably sized pot. The nylon keeps all but the liquid from passing through the colander and I just throw the solids right into the compost bucket and wash the hose section to be reused later. When the chicken is cool enough, separate the meat from the bone and fat and add the meat back to about 4 cups of the broth and set aside. Reserve any additional broth in case you like a brothier posole or just put it in the freezer until you need broth again. Shred the chicken it to whatever size you want it to be in your posole.

Prepare Posole

* 2/3 cup green pumpkin seeds/pepitos (not roasted)
* 1-1/2 lb tomatillos (peel away husks and wash)
* 1/2 cup thinly sliced white onion
* 4 chopped garlic cloves
* 1 1/2 tsps salt
* 1-2 fresh jalapeño chile, quartered (use 2 the seeds if you like a spicier posole)
* 1 cup chopped cilantro (fresh, not dried)
* 1-1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
* 2 tablespoons olive oil (you could substituted a healthy oil like EVO)
* 3 cups white hominy (1-2 cans rinsed and drained)

Roast the pumpkin seeds in a dry frying pan over very low heat, stirring constantly. Seeds will puff up as they pop and crackle - the goal is not to brown them and it should only take a few minutes. Set the seeds aside to cool. When they are cool you can come back to them and finely grind them. I have a mini blender/chopper that works great for this but you could also use a clean coffee bean grinder.

Put tomatillos into a medium sauce pan along with 1/2 cup onion in about 1-1/2 cups of water and simmer until the tomatillos are tender. Remove from heat and drain excess water. Purée cooked tomatillos and onions in a food processor (or blender), adding jalapeños, 1/2 cup cilantro, oregano, garlic, and remaining 1 teaspoon salt as you process.

Now back to your large soup pot. You'll need all the remaining ingredients ready to go at this point (finely ground pepitos, and shredded chicken in broth, rinsed & drained hominy). Heat oil until hot and add puréed tomatillo mixture (careful when adding watery mixture to hot oil!). Continue to cook tomatillo mixture uncovered and stirring constantly until it thickens a bit, 10-12 minutes. Stir in the pepitos and 1 cup of the broth and continue to simmer for another 5 minutes or so. Stir in the shredded chicken/broth mixture and the drained/rinsed hominy and simmer for another 20 minutes. Add in the remaining freshly chopped cilantro and you're ready to eat!

Posole Toppings:

* 1 avocado cubed & 1/4 c. chopped fresh cilantro tossed with lime juice
* wedges of a fresh lime
* chopped fresh cilantro
* sliced radishes (I've never tried this but I hear it is a great topping)

Monday, August 4, 2008


I always wanted to blog. So I figured what the hell, a blogging I shall go.

Where to begin is the real question though. Do I wow you with tales of my ever so uneventful life, share recipes, charm you with my wit? I think this will require some deep thought.