Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Soup for a Cold Day

This soup is a version of the Italian Wedding Soup. I guess we would call it Irish Farm Soup!

Irish Farm Soup
In a large soup pot melt butter (about 3 Tablespoons)
1 large chopped onion
1 chopped apple
4 large cloves of garlic
Saute until onions are soft.
Add 4 chicken thighs with the skin on that have been salted and peppered.
Brown the chicken on all sides.
Add 1 quart jar of tomatoes with liquid.
Then add four quarts of water and bring soup to a simmer.
Let cook for an hour.

1 pound of farm sausage
1 egg
1/2 cup seasoned bread crumbs

Remove chicken thighs from the pot.
Add 4 chopped carrots.

Wet your hands with cold water and form small meatballs (about the size of a quarter)
Drop meatball directly into soup.
The one pound mixture made about 61 meatballs!

Remove skin and bones from chicken and shred into soup pot.
Add 1 cup of favorite pasta noodles or use up the left over macaroni in the cupboard!
Cook for 10 minutes, making sure there is plenty of liquid.
Add 2 cups fresh spinach.
2 Tablespoons of Italian seasoning
Stir into soup. Turn off heat.
Let sit for 10-15 minutes while you set the table, make some cheese toast, light a candle, then serve!

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Foggy and Cold

January mornings are now foggy and cold in the Rogue Valley. Lately the fog burns off by noon unless there is an inversion layer. Then the fog can last for days or even weeks. Yesterday it warmed up to 45 degrees. Each day brings newness. Find it!

Friday, January 27, 2012

Market Research

Here we are nearing the end of January and the most important events happening right now are stall cleaning, egg hunting, and market research! Current research is taking place in the kitchen with a variety of popcorn samplers Tim ordered from Indiana!

The particular batch we popped was the "Blue' which is noted for its sweeter taste. Well, it was pretty sweet just to have the freshly popped popcorn! Our Amish friends in Indiana painstakingly pack all of the popcorn by variety, color, and size. We will be saving the 'Rainbow' variety after sampling all of the flavors individually.

Popping the corn on the stovetop is so quick and easy. We add a little melted butter, a shake or two of salt, and a scant sprinkling of sugar and there is a fresh pot of kettle corn, ready to warm the January evenings!

Friday, January 20, 2012

Slow Cooked Eggs

This is a family favorite recipe that was found originally in a cookbook put together by the folks that actually work for Lodge Cast Iron Cookware. There are a few modifications, but the spirit of the eggs are from the great folks who make Lodge Cookware! If you like onions or leeks or mushrooms or potatoes or left over bacon (is that possible?) or sausage, cook them in a cast iron skillet (I use a 10" skillet inside), then let the skillet cool a bit.

Crack 8-10 eggs or more depending on the crowd, directly into the skillet, add 5-7 hefty shakes of worcestershire sauce, one cup of grated cheddar cheese and let it stand on medium low heat. You can add pepper, Italian seasoning blend, etc, but simple is good too.
Now the tricky part, don't stir. Move it around a bit. Walk away. Make toast or biscuits. Set the table. Move the eggs around a bit more...the eggs cook almost like a poached/fried egg in a scramble, so there are pieces of cooked yolk in the gently moved mix of eggs and cheese.

The original recipe calls for 45 minutes, but it usually takes about 20 minutes even for the large crowd! Another important reminder is to not overcook the eggs. As soon as the pieces of yolk are set and the scrambled part is softly cooked, remove from the heat. Serve right away and enjoy around the table or campfire with good cheer!

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Sing For Your Supper

Henry and Tessa came to dinner tonight. Henry has a great talent with his singing and guitar and Tessa is equally talented as is Lisa, who we missed on this night. The songs are usually folk songs and some are verses written by Henry. Tonight one of them was called, When I First Came to this Land. The lyrics are a kick. Henry has such a good time singing and so do we. The link is not to Henry, but we will have to work on that!

We had pasture raised pork chops that were cooked in the smoker, garlic mashed potatoes with a yam cooked in for the orange party color, cole slaw and raisins, applesauce, bread and butter pickles, pickled beets, and chocolate cake. We first met Tessa at 6 days old and now she is nearly 11. What a joy to watch her grow up and what a treat to share some songs and a meal with dear friends.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012


The chicken coop was cleaned out over the weekend and all of the carbon rich manure was put into the garden. There were thirteen piles, but the little two-footed feathered friends made a quick job out of distributing the compost.

The hens don't like a dirty coop and they won't lay eggs if they think there is a bad odor in the nest boxes. It is a slow time for egg layers anyway, but the hens that are producing deserve a clean spot to lay.

Hard at work in her own pile, this golden sex link hen will make easy work of moving and sanitizing the straw and manure. This will add great nutrition to the garden soil. Isn't it amazing how warm it looks? There are frozen bits of snow in the shadows! Night time temperatures are dipping to the low 20's. Nothing like a hen party to warm up the January days!

Monday, January 16, 2012

Great Eggs and Happy Hens

As we are collecting just a few eggs a day from our flock of 19 hens, we are grateful for the golden goodness and for the opportunity the hens have to rest. Their favorite spot to hang out is on the south facing side of the house on the sun bench!

This poor little hen happens to be molting now, in the cold days of winter. We make sure she is getting extra rations of walnuts, pork fat, and sunshine! She systematically turns herself in the sun to expose all sides of her body. Our hens are laying about 260 days out of the year and need a rejuvenating season. For some, it is now.

This is a great book! We got to go and listen to Joel Salatin speak in Jackson County a few years ago thanks to Annie. She mentioned on her blog that he was coming to visit British Columbia and we got to wondering if he would be visiting Southern Oregon. He was and he did! Joel Salatin is a great speaker, writer, and farmer. His common sense practice of farming is stretching across the country. One of his many great practices is raising chickens for meat and for eggs. Folks, This Ain't Normal, goes beyond farming practices and looks at food, food production, and the future of food. It is also written with great humor and a very enjoyable and informative book to read. Here's to happy hens~

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Button Blankets

These are a grade school version of a Northwest Coast Button Blanket. The blankets are made out of paper bags that have been worked and worked and worked by little hands. Just when students thought they were finished they had more working to do! Then the totems, which were salmon, raven, thunderbird, otter, orca, and bear were colored onto the softened 'hides'. Finally, holes were punched and yarn was tied in patterns of black and red. These blankets take over a week of very focused attention to detail to complete and the children take such pride in their work. Annie from Country Living in a Cariboo Valley, took photos of authentic blankets, robes, headdress and masks from a recent trip while she was in Prince Rupert. Thank you Annie, for the pictures and descriptions! I will enjoy sharing them with my students.

Smoked Pork Chops

We used the wonderful smoker last night to make some hickory smoked pork chops. It helps to raise the pork yourself, then this clever little stove top smoker did its magic! If only you could smell the delicious hickory smoke.

There was some apple rosemary stuffing to go with the pork, fresh apples, peas and that was just right for a midweek meal. There were plenty of leftovers from this dinner to enjoy for a second meal. The chops cooked on top of the stove in about 25 minutes.

Here is the happy farmer man who found the perfect stove top smoker!

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Prayer Birds

The Great Egrets continue to spend time in the front pasture and they looked like prayer birds today. There are about 20 of them in this particular group. The is one off to the side in solitude. The colors of this January day are transformed by the low level light and the sun close to setting.

They were all basking in the sun as the fog lifted today. It was brilliant as you can see and the birds were graciously poised in prayer ~

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Great White

Egrets are filling the front pasture grazing and eating the perfect meal for a foggy, white day in January!

They eat fish, frogs, small reptiles, grasshoppers and other insects. At this time of year they are probably munching on the frogs and insects. Whatever their dining pleasure, we certainly are enjoying the view.

Monday, January 9, 2012

Happy Birthday!

The day began with the making of cinnamon rolls! Mmmm, they are never made often enough and today was a perfectly quiet day spent mostly by the woodstove to wander into the kitchen to check on the rising, rolling out, rising again, baking, and then icing. In between we drank plenty of coffee and enjoyed the 27 degree, foggy day!

Finally, the call of 250 little Chinook Salmon who were ready to be released drew us out of the coziness of our home and we scooped these little beauties up. It is not so easy to catch a fish in a confined tank, so just imagine how challenging it is to catch a fish in the wild! These were raised from hatchery eggs through a program with ODFW. The third graders in my class loved watching them mature from the egg to the fry!

Here is my dear sister Trina and two of our childhood friends. Lois is on the left and she and Trina were inseparable as kids, and Jackie is on the right and she and I were inseparable as kids! Lois now lives in New Hampshire and Jackie moved back to the Rogue Valley a year ago from Florida. What an amazing evening. Trina is holding a bowl full of Yorkshire pudding cups.

My niece, Margaret, who is holding a very well dressed cat name Kenai, and my oldest grandson, Ryan who wishes he too had a bowtie like the cat!!

Part of the group gathered around the table included Jolene, our oldest daughter, Marge, Lois's mother, Lois, Jackie, Trina, Tim, and yours truly. My brother in law, Rob was the tallest to get the group in the picture. The giggling you hear in the background are the five children at their own table!

The the lighting of the birthday pie! It took three people to set the most amazing pie aglow! The official birthday pies were a three layer delight that we renamed Banana Split Pie. It has a bottom layer of chocolate cream, a middle layer of coconut cream, and a top layer of banana cream and it is unbelievably delicious. My sister created and perfected this masterpiece. She also made the unbelievably and mouthwatering scrumptious lemon meringue pie.

It was indeed a happy birthday spent with dear family and friends ~

Sunday, January 1, 2012

Happy 2012!

~ Make 2012 fresh, local, yummy, and full of good cheer! Happy New Year! ~