Sunday, January 27, 2013

Winter Glow

We get a lot of low lying fog in the winter in Southern Oregon. We just finished a stint of two weeks of heavy fog and freezing fog. On those days, there is no blue sky or stars at night. When the fog breaks and lifts, the colors of the winter sky are so striking and beautiful, and the mountains seem to rise taller and closer. The sun is setting at about 5:00 PM at this time of year. The sun is low in the sky all day long and the light blue and peach colored glow looks like candle light at the end of the day. On winter evenings, a little Irish Jam Cakes hits the spot! Here's to warm and cozy evenings and remembering the stars are always there, even when we can't see them!~

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Beef or Bison Pot Pie

Warm and hearty meals begin with whole foods from the farm and from local farms. Friends of ours raise pastured beef and fellow farmers in the Rogue Valley raise pastured bison...either meat is delicious when it is raised out in the pastures in the farm fresh air and grazing to their heart's content! The London Broil cut of meat is quite tasty and best when slow cooked. We had a 5 pound bison roast that had been slow cooked for about 4 hours in the oven. The shredded meat was super tasty after roasting with garlic, onions, apples, and a few spices.
The meat was shredded and set aside. Next, the homemade version of cream of mushroom soup was made: 1 small onion, chopped fine 1 clove of garlic, minced 2 cups of sliced mushrooms 3 Tablespoons of butter. Saute together first onions and garlic until onions are soften. Add sliced mushrooms and saute just until softened lightly, which is about 2 minutes on medium low heat. Add 3 Tablespoons of flour to vegetables in pan and stir to cover. Add all at once: 2 cups chicken stock and stir Mixture will thicken, Then add 2 cups milk or milk sustitute Stir until desired consistency. Add salt and pepper to taste. This smooth and tasty sauce will cover the meat and vegies for the pie. Leave on warming heat until ready to use.
2 carrots, chopped, use 2-3 leftover baked potatoes, chop into small bite sized chunks, 1 left over sweet potato works well too. 1 cup frozen peas Add all to shredded bison. Use a 9" x 13" pan, line with parchment paper. Place meat and vegetable mix into prepared pan and evenly distribute. Pour warm, creamy mushroom soup sauce over meat and vegetables. Place in preheated 375' oven. While the base of the pot pie is getting warm and bubbling, make the herbed cheese biscuit topping: 2 cups flour 1 T. sugar (scant) 4 teaspoons baking powder 1 teaspoon salt 1/4 cup vegetable shortening 1/2 cup shredded Parmesan Cheese 1 teaspoon Italian seasoning 1 cup milk Combine flour, sugar, salt, baking powder and stir. Add shortening and with hands mix until flour mixture resembles coarse corn meal. Stir in cheese and seasoning. Add milk and stir. Remove pan from oven and drop biscuit mixture on top of bubbling goodness in spoonsized pieces. There should be enough biscuit dough to cover the top of the meat mixture. Return to oven and bake another 25 minutes.
Be sure the biscuit tops are cooked all of the way through. Check by gently moving the top of biscuit to one side or the other. If it is still gooey underneath, return to oven for a few more minutes. Serve with coleslaw and fruit salad, and family gathered around the table.

Friday, January 4, 2013

Fine Dining on the Farm

We currently have 15 hens on the farm. Yesterday, we very nearly had 14! While feeding the goats some leftover goods from the garden, the hens and I were watching them gobble up some leftover cabbage. Suddenly and out of nowhere, the hens were in complete and utter chaos. Our two farm dogs were there, watching. The goats ran from their cabbage patch. The hens continued in their hysterics and frenzy like never before. I stood right there. Watching and not seeing what swept in so fast. Standing among the hens, on the ground to the surprise of the dogs, goats, chickens and myself was a beautifully marked, Chicken Hawk. Actually, I think the hawk was astonished also! The hens all ran for cover. The dogs inched forward. I watched the hawk from only 15 feet away. Then it flew off to a low branch on one of the walnut trees. The hens were frozen statues of themselves under trailers, in the barn, under the truck, anywhere they could find cover and safety.
The hens were immediately invited back in to the security of the coop for a few days recovery. Normally, they roost in the coop and venture out of the coop and barn for most of the day as they have a full two acres to roam and forage.
Once the coop was made ready for full time occupancy, they were all called in for dinner. Slowly they came. First from the barn. Then from under vehicles and trailers. Finally, the last of the girls made it into the coop with a heavy limp. She was the one that took the full flying force of the hawk in the leg. There was no blood and no broken bone, but the fluff of her feathers told the story of fear. With the young juvenile hawk finally leaving the farm, but hovering close by, the hens will be dining in for a few days.
Today they dined on organic grain, cabbage leaves, kitchen scraps, and seeds served in very nicely scooped out spaghetti squash dishes! The girls really like to know they are given the best dishes around!
We will continue the regimen of grains and fresh vegetation for the next few days. Once the hens have settled into their coop and built their nesting holes in the fresh straw, they are ready to roam again.
In the meantime, fine dining from squash skins, cool fresh water, safety in the coop, and sides of grass hay will help their recovery.
Here is is the oldest hen in the bunch. She is a Buff Orpington, called Beauty.
Here is the one that got away! The Black Beauty with blue green legs, which are the same color of the shell of the eggs that she lays. Lucky, as we will now call her, is an Americana. Life on the farm...