Thursday, September 29, 2011

For the Love of Meat

For the love of all things bovine...



...and country fried...

Be very careful what kind of attire you give a meat-eating farmgirl.

She may just turn them into chicken processing outerwear...

...because she can.

*This post does not reflect my opinion of any company who chooses to refrain from consuming or using animal products. Personally, I'd like to thank this particular company for the very nice t-shirt. No tags...gotta love that!☺

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Roasted Potato Clam Chowder

One of my all-time favorite soups is clam chowder. While talking to a friend the other day, I realized that there are still some people who think that great chowder is defined by the size of the can it comes from, the rolls that are served with it, and the attire that must be worn in order to be served.

Some people just don't get it.
Clearly, clam chowder is best when it's made from scratch. Even better when fresh clams are used.

And downright superb when it can be eaten while barefoot.


One of the highlights of spring and fall around here is clam-digging season. Thousands of people flock to the ocean in hip waders and rain gear (it's the Pacific Northwest people!), clam guns in hand, ready to hunt down the ever elusive mollusks. If you've never been clam digging, let me just tell you, it's a hoot. People aimlessly stomping around, sometimes carrying lanterns (depending on the time of low tide), staring at the ground, only to stop suddenly and start their frantic digging. Before you can dig however, you must first locate that tell-tale indentation in the wet sand that gives away the clams presence; up to a foot below you. It's a true testament of a great clam digger if they can retrieve the clam from the hole before the next wave rolls in and delivers them a salty sea bath!

Personally, I can't wait!

This recipe requires the use of leftover mashed potatoes. They thicken the soup nicely without the need for flour or cornstarch. (I mash my potatoes with cream cheese.) One of the tricks I use is to put leftover mashed potatoes in 1-cup freezer bags and freeze until ready to use. If there's any left over!

~Roasted Potato Chowder~
A Jabez Farm Original

~The Players~

8-9 cups unpeeled red potatoes, diced into 1-inch pieces
olive oil for the roasting pan
4 cups chicken broth
1 lb. really good bacon
1 large onion, diced or chopped (personal preference)
8 oz. jar clam juice
3-6.5 oz cans of minced or chopped clams, undrained
1-1/2 cups fresh clams, chopped or minced, PLUS another jar of clam juice
1 cube (8 Tb.) salted butter
2/3 cup heavy cream
1/2 cup half & half
1-1/2 t. dried parsley
1/2 t. dried tarragon
1 cup leftover mashed potatoes

Preheat the oven to 375F.

Cover the bottom of a roasting pan with olive oil. Place half of the potatoes on pan and bake in the oven for about 30 minutes, stirring occasionally. You want them to have browned some.

In a large soup pot, place the remaining potatoes; add chicken broth to cover. If more is needed, just add enough water to finish covering. Bring to a boil; reduce heat and cover. Cook until very soft; 20-25 minutes.

While the potatoes are cooking, cut bacon (I use kitchen shears) and cook until done. The bacon doesn't need to be crispy, just cooked.

Bacon waiting to be cooked.
When the bacon is done, remove from pan and allow to drain on paper towels. Using the bacon grease in the pan, cook onion until translucent; 5-7 minutes.

When the stovetop potatoes are soft, remove from heat. Use a hand masher to carefully mash the potatoes while still in the pot.

Mash lightly to keep from getting burned.

To the mashed potatoes, add clam juice, bacon, and onions. Add parsley and tarragon and stir well. Return to low heat. Mix the heavy cream and half-and-half together. Temper the cream by adding a couple of tablespoons of soup; pour cream into pot, stirring well. Add the mashed potatoes and use a whisk to break apart and mix in with the soup.

Cut the butter into 4 or 5 pieces and add those to the soup. Just leave them alone to melt on their own.

Once the butter is melted, add the roasted potatoes. The soup should be hot enough to eat at this point, if not, continue to heat but do NOT allow to boil.

Season with fresh ground pepper.

Shoes are optional.☺


*I didn't add any extra salt, but if using unsalted chicken broth and unsalted butter, you'll probably need to add it.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Double Chocolatey Chocolate Peanut Butter Cookies

I was going to call these little creations, "Sin on a Platter", but I didn't want to deter you from them with a less-than-flattering label.

Here's what I've learned about Double Chocolatey Chocolate Peanut Butter Cookies.

1. In a family that eats whole food healthy 80% of the time, it's important to make the other 20% count.

2. Life is too short to not have that 20%.

3. There are no calories in anything with chocolate and peanut butter. They cancel each other out. Trust me.

4. Denial is a side effect of not enough cookies. Don't give yourself time to think.

5. World peace begins at home. Specifically, the kitchen. In the cookie jar.

6. Since chocolate comes from the cocoa bean, and beans are vegetables and peanuts are a protein, these cookies are practically Paleo...

Too much of a stretch? I didn't think so.

Thanks to my daughter Kelsie, who came up with these delicious little life-sustaining peace makers! 

That explains why she's always smiling!☺

~The Players~

1-1/4 cup unsalted butter, softened
1 cup chunky, natural peanut butter
1-3/4 cup organic sugar
2 eggs
2 t. vanilla
2 cups unsifted organic flour
3/4 cup organic cocoa powder (unsweetened)
1/2 t. sea salt
1 t. baking soda
2 cups dark chocolate chips
1/2-1 cup chopped peanuts, optional

Cream butter and sugar in a large mixing bowl. Add eggs and vanilla; blend well.

In a separate bowl, combine flour, cocoa powder, salt, and baking soda. While mixer is running, gradually add flour to the creamed mixture.

Stir in chocolate chips and peanuts, if using.

Drop by tablespoon onto parchment lined cookie sheet. Do not grease the pans. Bake for 10-12 minutes in a 350F. preheated oven. 

Makes 4-1/2 dozen.

If a cute, little grand-punkin is "helping" in the kitchen, only plan for 4.


Sunday, September 25, 2011

Meal Plan for 9/26

I feel that I owe you an apology.

Because of the weatherman and Mother Nature's inability to work together, my entire meal plan last week became a lie.

I planned for soup. What I got was another sunburn.

So, in honor of the rain that arrived today, we'll put soup back on the menu. But this time, I'll have a back-up plan.

I'm pulling the barbecue back out of the garage.

And making ice cream.

Because that's how I roll.☺

Here's what's cookin' this week...

Curried Butternut Squash Soup (still new!), green salad w/ Green Goddess Dressing (new)

Scrambled eggs & elk sausage
Beef & Bean Enchiladas, Salmon dip w/ tortillas

Glazed Orange Cranberry Oatmeal Muffins (new)
Roasted Potato Clam Chowder (new), Sourdough bread

Simple Soaked Oatmeal w/ blueberries

Eggs in a Hole
Chili Baked Potatoes, applesauce, raw veggies w/ Ranch


Simple Sunday (decide on the way home from church!)


This post is linked to Menu Mondays.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

I Write the Songs that Make the Whole World Sing?

I have a talent that no one knows of.

But because I love ya, I'm going to share it with you.

I write bathroom jingles. In the bathroom.

Especially when the paint fumes get to be too thick.

Don't judge.

♫Deck the walls with lay'rs of sheetrock,
Fa la la la la, la la la la.
Don't forget to grab a paint smock,
Fa la la la la, la la la la.

Don we now our grungy apparel,
Fa la la, la la la, la la la.
Kill the mold and make it sterile,
Fa la la la la, la la la la.

Paint the Kiltz on the wall before us,
Fa la la la la, la la la la.
Attack the rot because we must.
Fa la la la la, la la la la.

Follow me in broad brush strokes,
Fa la la la la, la la la la.
Now you know this is no hoax,
Fa la la la la, la la la la.

Have a timeline, git 'er done,
Fa la la la la, la la la la.
If only this were halfway fun,
Fa la la la la, la la la la.

Off to Lowe's to buy a new toilet,
Fa la la la la, la la la la.
Then we'll sit and be able to enjoy it,
Fa la la la la, lala la la. ♫
Hey, I didn't say I was a good jingle writer!

You know, that's 2 minutes of your time that you're never getting back.☺

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Letting Nature Take Its Course...

Spring 2010~After finishing the book by Barbara Kingsolver, "Animal, Vegetable, Miracle", my Mister and I determined to start our own free-range heritage breed turkey business. Our customers would come from miles around to pick up their pre-ordered Thanksgiving centerpieces, and would rave about how delicate the meat was to their friends, who in turn would rave about it to their friends, who....well, you get the idea.

Turkey farming was in our blood; it was our destiny.

We brought home our first turkey poults and named them Ricky, Lucy, Fred, Ethel, and Thomasina (formerly known as Tom...she was a late-bloomer). Fast forward through some rather nasty run-in's with a rabid raccoon, a cunning coyote (who my son insists opened the turkey yard door!), and a certain November holiday, and we were left with 2.

Our dreams started to fade like a bad hair-coloring job on an August afternoon.

We assumed that our first turkeys were just stupider than most and decided to try a different approach. Especially since each poult at the farm store was about $10/poult!

This spring, we had the brilliant idea to incubate our own (free!) turkey eggs. Since turkeys are notoriously clumsy, we figured our intervention was needed in order to secure future generations of Bourbon Reds on the farm. (Ethel attempted to hatch her own, but ended up squishing the newly-hatched birds.) We ended up hatching 7 poults. Through a series of unfortunate events, only 4 made it to adulthood.

A couple of months later, in a moment of weakness, I brought home 2 chocolate turkeys, which turned into 3 as one life was cut short (and needed to be replaced) from a "swimming accident" in the water dish.

Then the unthinkable happened. Lucy, our last remaining adult female disappeared. For days we searched for signs of her; a nest hidden under a fallen log, a trail through the blackberries, a pile of feathers...

We came to the conclusion that dreams and destiny are two very different things. Our dreams came from reading too late into the night; our destiny, a small flock of backyard pets. So we locked the remaining 7 turkeys in the yard and just hoped to keep them from becoming another wildlife snack at the all-you-can-eat-buffet.

And we decided that we didn't really like turkey on Thanksgiving anyway.

Until today.

It's Lucy!

Lucy hatched 12 perfect little poults.

And they were practically under our noses the whole time.
~*~"One meets his destiny often in the road he takes to avoid it."~*~
~French Proverb~

Now they tell me.

At 20 turkeys, does this mean we're officially turkey farmers now?☺

This post is linked to Homestead Barn Hop!

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Hazelnut Pear Muffins

Note to self...

When returning from vacation, visit the garden BEFORE deciding to visit "the island" for something to can.

My last visit to Sauvie Island yielded 40 lbs. of apples, 40 lbs. of pears, 20 lbs. of tomatoes, and enough corn on the cob to nibble on for several days. I was excited to have something domestic to do after my 4 days of lounging in a boat.

While I was busy doing a happy dance in the kitchen, my children did what I should have done upon returning home. They checked the garden.

Lesson learned. (And lest I forget, my children, who never forget anything, are here to remind me...about every 15 minutes.)

Thankfully, I didn't have to can ALL of the beans.

I guess this makes us an 81% whole foods kind of family.

Back to the pears. After canning about 30 quarts of beans, 40 lbs. of pears seemed more like 400 lbs. of pears. Because I hadn't thought to check the garden beforehand, I made sure the pears were ripe and ready to go into the jars.

You know, for something immediate to do.


So what does one do with so many pears, and not so many hours of daylight left? She makes muffins.

Lots and lots of Hazelnut Pear Muffins.

For the record, I ♥ Hazelnut Pear Muffins.

~The Players~

1-7/8 C. soft white pastry flour
1/2 C. sucanat, Rapadura, or organic sugar
1 T. baking powder
1/3 C. toasted, chopped hazelnuts
1/2 t. ground cinnamon
2 eggs
1 C. buttermilk
1-1/2 C. peeled & chopped pear

Preheat oven to 400F.

Sift flour, sucanat, baking powder, and cinnamon. Stir in hazelnuts.

Combine eggs with buttermilk and beat slightly. Make a well in the center of the dry ingredients and pour egg/buttermilk mixture in well. Stir until just enough to moisten.

Fold in pears. Batter will be slightly lumpy. Fill greased muffin cups 2/3 full. Bake for 20 minutes or until toothpick inserted in the middle of one comes out clean.

Makes approximately 16 muffins.


Sunday, September 18, 2011

Rendering Lard

A few months ago, we purchased half of a rather large hog from a relative. Since then, we've been enjoying chops, sausage, bacon, and ham, but have noticed that the freezer space hasn't increased with our pork consumption.

It seems the large bag of pig fat the butcher packaged for us has been hogging the extra space.

Oink. Oink.

Yes, I went there. I couldn't help myself.

The plan has always been to render the lard, but somehow the act of chopping up fleshy-looking fat reminds me of some cheap horror flick with mediocre actors trying not to look at the teleprompters....

My issues run deep.

Hunting season begins in a couple of weeks, and with 3 new safety-certified hunters in the family, this means we need some space in the meat freezer. So the fat had to go.

Right into the pot.

And since I lived to tell about it, I thought I'd share how I rendered the lard. Just in case you have some fat hanging around your freezer.

Because I can't be the only one, right?

Step 1: Cut the partially frozen fat into 1-inch pieces.

Step 2: Put the fat into a large stainless steel stock pot.

Step 3: Set pot on stove and turn burner on to simmer. Let fat simmer until the bits and pieces of fat are translucent; about 1 hour.

Step 4: Line a fine mesh sieve with a single layer of cheesecloth. Set over a glass measuring bowl. Carefully pour the hot fat/pieces into the cheesecloth to drain.

Let sit for a couple of minutes to completely drain.

Step 5: Pour hot liquid into mason jars and leave on counter to solidify.

Step 6: Bake a pie using your new lard for the most amazing crust....just like Grandma used to make.

**I put the fat pieces back in the pot for another hour to crisp up. These are called cracklings and I hear they are quite the farm house delicacy. People use these in place of french fried onions, in salads, on casseroles, and as a snack. I'll have to get back to you on that one.

I've got a pie to make!☺

This is linked to Homestead Barn Hop

A "Fall-ish" Meal Plan 9/18-9/24

(Photo credit)

Two years ago, after spending hours stalking, I mean, visiting other blogs, I decided to make the jump and start my own. That was on September 17th, 2009. Over the last couple of years, a lot has changed, both in my kitchen (literally) and on our farm. Our family size has increased with sons-in-laws and grandchildren, and our animal repertoire has grown from 1 cow and a few chickens, to something Old MacDonald could be proud of.

Okay, maybe not MacDonald himself, but his neighbors maybe.

One of the things that has remained the same is Menu Mondays. Because of my computer impediment, I didn't actually learn how to "follow"other blogs until several months after I began my Sunday stalking, I mean, perusing of the web. But I did know how to bookmark places that I liked and would spend a couple of hours each week learning the fine art of meal planning.

And let me tell you, as an 80% whole food enthusiast (have to always leave room for improvement and a sweet tooth!), it is definitely an art. Trying to come up with new, well-rounded, hit-all-the-food-groups kind of menus ain't easy. But it is less messy than just tossing everything into a trough and yelling, "Come and get it!"

Summer always throws me into a tailspin in the planning department as all of our meals revolve around the high temperature of the day. Any temp above 83 degrees is considered a heat wave and the ovens are abandoned in favor of salads and Cheerios. 

Even if my meal plan says differently.

I'm not a fan of "too hot". I'm already hormonal and adding sweat to an already stoked, aging furnace is just too much. Our idea of air conditioning is to open the windows and...well, that's all. Just open the windows. Period.

 I guess you might call me a summer wuss.

Thankfully, the weather has started to cool and the kitchen is about to be back in business. And after 2 years of meal planning and all the other stuff that manages to makes its way onto this blog, I just want to say a big thank you to all of my stalkers...I mean, followers. You guys rock!!

Here's what's cookin' this week...(besides me!☺)


Pear Hazelnut Muffins (new)
Chili Nachos, grapes
Curried Butternut Squash Soup (new), green salad

English Muffins w/ peanut butter, pears
Toasted cheese sandwiches, raw carrots w/ Ranch
Spaghetti & Meatballs, Caesar Salad

BLT's, grapes
Crockpot roasted chicken, mashed potatoes & gravy, garlicky green beans

Simple Soaked Oatmeal w/ blueberries
Popovers w/ turkey breast & cheese

Egg in a Hole
Leftover Chicken Tortilla Soup
Pumpkin Waffles, elk sausage

Roasted Potato & Bacon Soup (new)

For more meal planning ideas, visit Menu Mondays at Organizing Junkie.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Mountain Love

Vacation. Four days of mountain bliss. While I play catch-up with the mountain of laundry that seemed to follow us home, here's a little mountain eye candy for those who don't have a mountain of their very own.

Because this one is all mine.

Even if Mr. Gifford Pinchot National Forest doesn't agree with me. 





And finally...a very rare creature of the lake sighting~

Until we meet again...