The Kitchen Brings Such Comfort

We had some fun family time this past weekend, which included a wonderful meal out, which was a gift from my daughter and her husband. It was a delicious meal in a very beautiful, location, out of the way of most everything, apart from some kayakers and canoeists, that we saw. It was a special evening!

The next day while the guys worked on hay, we did some baking. It resulted in amazing goodies. These Challah loaves came from a recipe from my west coast daughter, and it’s the perfect recipe! They turned out quite pretty!

These little squares of cheesy goodness are completely addictive and really very easy, especially after hubs said, “wouldn’t those roll out easier with the pasta maker”? Sometimes I forget to put two and two together! It was a great idea, it helped make them thinner which also, made them crunchier. The ones that didn’t come out of the pasta maker, that I rolled out, taste just as good but I would call them cheesy biscuits, rather than crackers. Absolutely delicious.

I haven’t been on top of my sourdough starter as I should have been. I am feeding it but not as often as I should, it therefore is not active enough yet for making full on sourdough bread. It’s fine though because I have been making English muffins and waffles with the discard from my sourdough feedings.

I have written about these before, but now I have perfected the breakfast sandwich! It took some tweaking to get them right. The scrambled egg kept falling out, and so now I use the muffin cutter to cut the eggs, as well, so the eggs are a circle that just fit and no more egg fall out! Oh and no that isn’t mustard in the sandwich, it is just our bright, beautifully colored yolks that do that! A sign of a well pastured chicken. These are made of our breakfast sausage and eggs, and some amazing local cheddar from a small cheese factory near by us. These are mostly his breakfasts, and occasionally mine if I plan on working outside much of the day.

The beginning of tomato season! Tomatoes can make the meal, this time of year!

This was absolutely delicious recipe. Minnesota wild rice, our dried currants, leeks, celery and lots of homemade chicken bone broth. Healthy, in so many ways, and definitely the best rice dish I have ever eaten. It makes a large recipe, so I froze a few quarts of it for later. I have enough of my dried currants to make one more batch to divide into quarts to freeze for an easy dish on Winter nights.

Gazpacho, a wonderful cold Summer soup. Well in reality it is a wonderful fresh Pico De Gallo that I thought would be great frozen salsa, but since it was not cooked salsa, and because vegetables have so much water in them, when thawed it was too full of liquid and the vegetables were of course not crunchy. Lesson learned. Fresh salsa is way different after the freezer. It did, however, still taste amazing. I had many 2 cup portions frozen, and I was expecting company. I decided to serve Gazpacho, by thawing the 2 cup portions and pureeing them. Everyone loved the Gazpacho. This year I will freeze fresh Pico De Gallo again, but I will know I am going to serve it as Gazpacho.

Pickle season has definitely begun. Lots of cucumbers, and it hasn’t nearly peaked! Looks like there will be loads of them. Cucumbers, beyond what you can eat fresh, either have to be canned or fermented as pickles, chow chows, or relishes. Surely you can’t freeze them. The good thing is that we have hungry pigs and chickens so they get what we can’t eat or process. In exchange they give us pork, eggs and chicken meat. It works.

First kraut of the year, from the garden. It’s been a while since I got my ferment on, and made kraut! I’ve been doing a lot of vinegar pickles, but I think I will start making some Kimchi and  fermented pickles, the kraut inspired me!

I still had frozen strawberries, from a local farm, from last year. Since things last so long in a deep freezer, they are still perfectly fine. This is Sherbet, made from last year’s strawberries, and this year’s wild blackcap berries from the farm. I doubled the amount of fruit the recipe called for and this helped to reduce the sugar per serving, it also has milk in it and I added about 1/4 cup of cream to the about 6 cups of Sherbet that it made, so that it would be a bit richer. It is so good and so refreshing! The great thing is that no ice cream maker is needed. Just frozen fruit, lemon juice, sugar, and milk and it’s all made in the food processor. Takes 5 minutes. Since we always have fruit in the freezer, we will be able to make this all year. I am very happy to have stumbled upon this very easy recipe.

Now just a little bit of farm, since this has been all kitchen, kitchen, kitchen!

There is nothing hubs loves more than a beautiful day to make hay! It just makes him very happy. Yes, he was having a hay day!

Wednesday we will have the mobile slaughter unit out to process our steer. He’s over two years old, which is about time for a Highland. We usually process between 26-30 months. We have had mobile slaughter come out for the pigs for a couple of years now. There is a state inspector here for every bit of it, and s/he never takes their eyes off the animal from start to finish. The people are great to work with, and it goes very smoothly. They use an electrical stunner, which takes the pig down in a literal second. Then they bleed them out. This is the most humane way we have seen. We’ve tried loading and transporting and off loading at the locker, but after a life on green pasture and no stress it is very tough on them with the gates, and the cement floors and the clanking of equipment. We never wanted to do that again, it was hard on them and hard for us to see them stressed. Many people don’t have an option, but we are fortunate to have this mobile slaughter unit. We sell our meat so it must be done with inspectors on board at all times. The pigs though, are with us only 6-7 months, since they are feeder pigs. This steer has been with us, over 2 years, and this makes on farm slaughter harder for us. We really know this guy. We aren’t just dropping him off somewhere this time, we will be here for the whole process. The most important part though is the steer. If he is eating hay one minute, in his normal surroundings, and is out the next second, we know at least that his end is extraordinarily quick, and that is much more important than how hard it feels to us. I have said this in other entries. It should feel hard. Raising animals and getting to know them, makes it harder, come slaughter day, but it should be hard. I never want taking a life for food, to be easy, for me I always want it to be felt.

John Boy and Kleitos have really grown. They will be with us on the farm till their date comes in December. John Boy is the littler one, and he also seems to be the more clever one. Kleitos gets so excited, when I come with food, that he can’t think straight, and can’t even remember that the food is out, at the end of the pasture.  John Boy knows right where it is, and while Kleitos is running in circles excitedly, John Boy runs right for it, and shows him the way. They really are fun to watch!

Fermentation Fun

I recently said I was learning a bit of Fermenting but wasn’t quite ready to jump on the Kombucha train. Well, never say never because I can see I am working my way down that path. Let me say first, that I am not the only one who tried one Ferment and then turned their kitchen into a secret lab of bubbling bottles. It starts with Sauerkraut. The mushy Sauerkraut that comes out of a bag is all I’d really known till now. Yes, technically Sauerkraut from a bag or homemade are the same thing but only in the same way that a Lion and a barn Kitten are both cats. They are that different. I also love the process. No more frustrating appliances to slice it in mere minutes. A knife and a cutting board is all I use, I am not looking to be efficient with time here, I enjoy the process. It then goes into a large stainless bowl where it gets salted and sits, waiting for it’s massage;) Once the salt starts drawing liquid out of the Cabbage it gets a good massage, and it softens a little. It is then packed by heaping handfuls into wide mouth jars. It gets packed in with a wooden tool and then the waiting  begins. It’s very pretty to watch it change over time.

kraut done

Here is a beautiful bowl of Sauerkraut, that is amazingly crunchy and so delicious. I had to wait 3 weeks for this pretty bowl. It is said that for the best probiotic effect to wait 4-6 weeks or even more, but I couldn’t it just looked too good!

This is the thing about making Sauerkraut, once you start you have can’t stop. Sauerkraut is the gateway vegetable to full blown Fermentation Frenzy! I keep trying new things. I did discover that Brussels Sprouts pickled, are a bit intense when you smell the jar after opening it. I have gotten a bit of complaint from Hubby on that one. I learned that the brussels sprouts jar I did with radishes was more smelly, but still tasted very good, and the one I did with just carrots and dill and Brussels Sprouts was much less so, but also very good. I think of it in the way great cheeses are smelly! My Great Grandmother used to make pickled Brussels Sprouts and so I like them because they taste good, and because they make me think of her.

What else am I fermenting?

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These jars were newly set up in this photo. The left one is mixed veggies with Beauty Heart Radishes, Green Peppers, Red Peppers, Cauliflower, a few Thai Chili Peppers, Garlic and Dill. The one on the right is Sauerkraut, or will be in a few weeks.

veggie ferm done

This jar is the veggie jar on the left side of the above photo, but it was 3 weeks later. The veggies are crunchy as can be, a little salty, a little sour, and a lot delicious, similar to a Kosher Dill Pickle. The Brine is also delicious, but, not surprising, because I am that girl who sneaking hits of green olive brine while pregnant!

veggie ferm served

Here is what the veggies look like served up, I had to take the picture fast because they lasted only a couple of minutes!

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The secret lab is growing. The Raspberry Honey Wine continues to bubble, the Kimchi was doing it’s thing (my version of Kimchee that is), and the middle jar is filled with a variety of hot Peppers, garlic, onions, and dehydrated tomatoes. This jar after about 3 weeks got strained, and the veggies got pureed, and it made…

hot sauce

THIS HOT SAUCE! I personally am scared of it, but will use it as a base to make several types of sauces. I will be cooking all my tomatoes down after Thanksgiving and will be using this in combination with the tomato sauce.

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This is a variety of goodies. 2 kinds of Kraut juice, vinegar pickled green tomatoes and cukes, and fermented sauerkraut, pickled beets and mixed veggies. I love them all.