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The Perfect Home Gym

Optional workout equipment for rent as needed.

It works the whole body while adding a boost of Vita D.

The pond will be 40×60 and 5′ in the middle. Renting a tiller was the perfect (cheapest) solution for us.

It’s great for the entire family.

Hauling good pond dirt to the new garden on the other side of the shed in the middle. Ten loads between us 3 girls yesterday.

It’s stocked with fresh flowers all summer long.

Has some really cool mascots.

Shennen will help with the work I’m going slow with her training

And after your workout cooling off is the best part.

5 minutes from home our favorite place to cool off

Oh and dinner is always on the house.

Smoked pig leg. Low and slow for 6hrs.

Courtesy of Frank.

Guaranteed to burn enough calories to enjoy a couple of beers and dessert. Whichever suits your fancy.

My day’s workout in a nutshell.

We’re refurbishing the pond to make it year-round and deep enough to add some trout. The dirt is being hauled to a washed out pasture that’s being built up for better use. This year we’ll garden it after the pond dirt and barn compost is added.

Our growing year tends to last until November so we have plenty of time to get starts in the ground for a hefty fall harvest.

Luckily for us this summer has been cooler and wetter than usual making garden season easy even now in July. Most years we’d be watering the pastures but mother nature appears to be on our side.

Maybe I did something right because Karma has been my best friend lately.

We had to say goodbye to our helper for another week but it’s been a fun mid-week weekend working on the farm.

Today the girls and I are sitting out the heat of the day. This evening we’ll get back to it.

I hope you’re enjoying your summer and whatever happenings you’ve got going on.

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Good Monday

I’m intently watching my oven again from the floor watching a new concoction to perfection. Perfection = Cooked I’ve been debating on switching breakfast vehicles as I’ve been using a mini muffin pan a lot lately. It’s been fun though and I had at least one more idea to try before changing creative channels.

This morning I rolled bacon into each cup, filled each with tiny diced and seasoned potatoes and topped it off with whisked eggs.

I’ve been rolling it over in my head for the last three days to make sure all of the components would cook accurately together without diminishing any. Which is also why I’m sitting down here on the floor with the oven light on watching them cook.

Turned out ok. 20 minutes at 400°.

I use a convection oven which really is nice for crisping food. I think what would’ve made it better would be a cast iron muffin pan. Cast iron is great for adding crisp where the convection heat doesn’t reach.

The girls loved them though so I suppose that’s what matters.

Enjoy your breakfast and your day!

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50°, Charcoal & Repeats

My tween and I are sitting in front of the oven watching Dutch Baby Bites grow. 5 minutes to go.

It was 50° this morning at 5:45. Yeah I’m going to start going out earlier. I’ve neglected to push my alarm back. It’s at 5:09 now but I’m pretty sure the sun rises before 5:45 nowadays. Or pretty close. This morning I didn’t even worry about a shirt. Tank top season is here!

Besides I had to haul a bag of grain to the garage/upper barn and a bale of hay down to the ewe and her lambs. Who needs clothes to stay warm when you have work?

No I’m not working in shorts yet. I have a couple of roosters I need to put in the freezer first. They’re mean to bare legs.

This is me making charcoal because buying it is just silly. lol I’m kidding. Kinda. When you’re short every month buying something like charcoal feels luxurious.

My solution free wood, make sure it’s green wood. Not treated. Start a roaring fire with big chunks in a pit, barrel or whatever has a lid you can close. The close the lid and weight. The fire slowly dies as it consumes the oxygen and the leftover is awesome charcoal that burns slowly.

Why charcoal? Because the majority of my summer cooking is done outside. And today I have to make some more bacon. Yep.

For breakfast I made Dutch Baby Bites again. I said that already. But this time look! They’re extra fluffy.

Note to self and whoever’s reading. Let the oven get to temp before putting pan in. The way something bakes has a lot of influence on how it comes out.

This is actually the second time I’ve had this conversation.

Ok time for breakfast!

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Dutch Baby Bites

I posted a Dutch Baby recipe awhile back. Because it’s one of our favorite breakfast I decided I needed to try it in the mini muffin pan.

I don’t know what it is but bite size food is kinda fun.

This is one of the easiest recipes you can find. It’s just eggs, flour and milk at a ratio of 4:1:1 – 4 eggs, 1 cup of flour, 1 cup of milk.

Bake at 400° about 10 minutes for the minis.

If you’re using a non-stick you don’t need to butter the pan. I haven’t buttered this pan once. It’s great.

Tradition says the best way to eat Dutch baby is with a little powederd sugar, splash of lemon juice and a little syrup.

48 bites called for a double batch; 8 eggs, 2 cups of flour and 2 cups of milk.

At 36 calories a bite and almost 2g of protein each. I think these qualify as healthy food. I had 8 for breakfast. 🙂

7:30am I better get back to it.

Enjoy your breakfast and your day!

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Bringing Home the Bacon

Frank & Squeak

One of my biggest evolutionary steps of cooking on this farm was in the form of Frank and Squeak. I’d never owned or even spent much time with pigs before these two but as many of us are I was/am a believer that bacon goes with EVERYTHING.

A conversation this week has had me thinking about the journey of growing bacon from the ground up. All pork for that matter and the health benefits of growing your own food. Mainly speaking it’s a whole lot of exercise to get the bacon from the piglet to the table.

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Homegrown ingredients from the hoof up.

I quickly learned the fastest way to a pigs heart is a good beer. Squeak like myself loved a good porter and made it clear whenever I got out of the car with a six pack. Frank on the other hand didn’t care for the dark beer and preferred a lager (particularly Hamm’s – no pun intended).

The couple of times they got out of their pen or needed some hands on attention all I needed was a bottle of their favorite beer and they would heel like well trained retrievers. It was quite fun.

FrankGrown

Squeak was meant to be kept for breeding more pork each year but after a year of watching her grow I decided she wasn’t the best suited for the job so my search for a new pig for compounding chops and bacon continues.

Homegrown cured and smoked bacon
The true love of cooking is growing the food from the ground up and being part of every step of it’s creation.

I don’t think I’ve ever met so many disagreements as when it comes to talking about homegrown bacon being healthier than the highly processed counterpart you get at the store.

Bacon in general gets a bad rap for being unhealthy, no matter where you get it from. I always sat in content with the knowledge of how much work and time spent outside no matter the weather when it came to measuring the health benefits of growing food, even bacon.

Low and behold though bacon really doesn’t deserve such a bad rep. I borrowed a couple of screenshots to emphasize my point. I’ll provide a link below also so you can check the references like I did to make sure the article was a creditable source. You can’t just believe everything you read online. Right?

What’s even better about bacon is the quality of the fat. Yeah, who’d think it?!

Check out the entire article.

I think the hams were my favorite part of the whole experience of raising pork from the ground up.

Thanks to a couple of University websites and a couple of YouTube videos I learned the art of curing hams “country style”. This is done by rubbing the hams with salts until they can’t absorb anymore, leaving a thick layer on by wrapping the ham in brown paper and hanging them in a cool shed/spot for a couple of months. I converted what used to be my garden shed into a larder because it’s location keeps it extra cool and even temperature without much help. I used the same bags that I cover deer with it’s much like a cheese cloth to hang the hams.

After a couple of months the brown paper is taken off a new bag is used to hang it from the rafters for what’s called a “summer sweat”. The hams are very dry at this point which helps with mold and the salt keeps the pests away. It’s pretty fascinating to learn how people used to do things before refrigeration.

When it’s time for smoking, the ham is soaked for 12-36hrs to get the extra saltiness out. The below picture is a ham ready for smoking. It’s not the most beautiful thing.

After about 48hrs of low smoking the ham looks delicious!

I use a charcoal smoker which means checking on it regularly. After smoking two hams some bacon and summer sausage for Christmas I think I lost all the weight that I ended up putting back on from eating over the holidays! Nice trade off if you ask me.

A true summer sausage is left to hang for a few days to ferment before it’s smoked to perfection. I could post a chapter on pork alone so I’ll leave you here with some mouth watering pictures of bacon and summer sausage until I get another chance to sit down and share some more.

It’s 8:30am on a Saturday and after some awesome homegrown bacon and eggs it’s time to go play!

What do you think, is homegrown healthier or is it just the health benefits of exercise and being outdoors raising food which evens up the score?

Either way I can’t wait to bring home the bacon (and all the other porky parts) and start the journey again.

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Omelette Bites!

Last night while concocting this mornings mini muffin experiment idea I decided I needed to get back to using more eggs as they’re starting to pile up.

I scramble a couple every day to supplement the quails protein as they’re not free-range like the chickens and buying high protein feed is expensive and just silly when I get free protein from the hens everyday.

I still have a lot of homegrown ham from Christmas in the freezer which I like to get into occasionally. It was a 36lb ham that I raised for about 18 months and then cured country style for 12 months before smoking it for 48hrs. I’m very proud of my ham, his name was Frank.

Ok back to breakfast.

This recipe is just enough to fill my 48 mini muffin tin.

  • 12 eggs
  • 2 cups flour
  • 1 cup whole milk
  • 1 cup diced ham
  • 1 cup diced pepper jack cheese
  • 10-12 spinach leaves chopped

Mix the egg, flour and milk and pour into tins. Add spinach, a couple cubes of ham and cheese to each tin.

400° oven for 10 minutes

When they are done they almost pop out of their tins. I’ve never seen such a thing.

The flour makes these a muffin-ish quality which the girls and I loved. No need to add salt as the ham and cheese take care of the saltiness and flavor.


On another note the horses are starting to show resentment about me rushing back inside to make breakfast after chores instead of playing with them. I’ll get back to it on the weekend.

Enjoy your day!

Below is an affiliated link to quality non-stick mini muffin tins.

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Leftovers refurbished

Although the girls and I are not real big on leftovers I’ve gotten pretty good at refurbishing them to make it appetizing the second time around.

Last night we had baked chicken thighs and a Southwest style side of black beans, corn, red Bell pepper, purple onion, tomato and jalapeno.

I had 4 thighs which I diced up (skin also) and added to the 3-4 cups of leftover side.

Tonight I wrapped up the leftovers with a little pepper jack cheese and some fun flavored tortillas and baked em until crispy on the outside and hot in the middle. 400° convection for 20 minutes. A little sour cream to cool the heat and it’s a perfect dinner or stick em in the freezer for another day.

The nutrition label is only an approx because I’m not in the habit of using measuring cups. I also didn’t include the tortillas because while I used some fun spinach and tomato flavored tortillas (210 calories a wrap) you might use a different variety.

Ingredients:

  • 4 baked chicken thighs and skin
  • 1 cup black beans
  • 1 cup of corn
  • 1 large red bell pepper
  • 1 large purple onion
  • 1 large tomato
  • 1 jalapeno
  • 1 garlic cloves
  • ~2tbsp butter
  • Salt n pepper
  • 6-7 slices pepper jack cheese

Everything but the chicken was diced and sauteed in a pan with a little butter.

The flavors really improve after sitting in the fridge overnight.

Wrap and bake 400° ~20 minutes.

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Picture not-so-perfect food

As a wannabe food growing/creating blogger I realize that I fall short in one big area. My food isn’t beautiful. I rarely cook with a recipe so it’s hard to translate also. I guess that’s two areas. This is one reason for the lack of blog posts. I cook 2-3 meals a day from scratch and sometimes dessert if my teen doesn’t beat me to it. Each meal is a little bit of a work of art inspired by ingredients available, cravings and a lot of love. 9 times out of 10 we have six thumbs up in our family of three. I’m not afraid of failure and certainly create a few dishes we all vote out or vow to try differently. Brussel sprouts was one of those dishes that I tried 5-million different ways before I found a method that everyone loved. And that’s who I am as a lover of almost all things food is a desire to master each major component so we’re never bored with our food and I can toss together a good meal with few options.

This mornings breakfast was a fantastic example of yummy food that was less than picture perfect. I’m pretty sure there is no proper name for it either.

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Last night for dinner I made pork meatballs (homegrown pork) with what I’d like to call a “sweet n sour” inspired sauce/salsa of purple onions, bell peppers, pineapple, diced tomatoes, fennel and some ginger beer. I served it up on rice, also made with ginger beer.

What does that have to do with breakfast? I chopped up the left over meatballs in a pan, put the rest of the chunky sauce/salsa in the pan with it, got it bubbly and hot then poured dutch baby batter on top and stuck it in the oven to bake.

The above is what came out. It was definitely worthy of seconds. But like I said, it’s not beautiful. Over the years I gave up on taking pictures of the food that I made except for the rare dish that I thought was pretty enough to lock the memory away in my shoebox.

Here’s some of my other not so fabulous dishes that look like they could earn me a place in America’s Worst Homecooks. I promise they all tasted amazing though.

On the other hand the main stars of my dishes I love taking pictures of! Here’s a few.

I suppose my goal should be to cook prettier food and build recipes that I can share with you all.

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Got eggs?!

We do! Out of 13 hens we average a dozen eggs a day. Egg dishes are an easy, cheap and delicious way to go when eggs are showing up in abundance.

One of our favorite breakfasts is a Dutch baby.

Ingredients:

2 eggs

1/2 cup flour

1/2 cup milk

1tbsp butter

Oven 400°

Prep 5 minutes

Bake 30 minutes

Devour ???

My favorite method is to use a cast iron pan but I’ve made this dish in a square glass baking pan as well as put it in a muffin tin.

Preheat the oven to 400° with the pan and butter.

When the butter is melted pour in the batter and set the timer for 30 minutes.

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March n to the garden!

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Vegetables, herbs and flower seeds, oh my!

 

The business of gardening and kitchen yumminess (is that a word?!) has begun. Admittedly I like to start tomatoes, peppers and other summer/fall deliciousness at the beginning of the year, however this year I had to think on a larger scale. With the birth of Garden N Kitchen monthly club, the online store and future blog give a ways I’ve had a lot more planning to do which meant patiently (or not so much patience) for my extra large order of gardening products to arrive.

Yay! So excited!

Follow me into the garden and kitchen through mudroom diaries and see what’s to come!