Wednesday, June 29, 2011


We finished last weekend with a flan, and I also made one for a Father's Day dessert. If I were a good little blogger I would look up and share the origins and influences of flan, but instead I will simply tell you what very little I know about making flans. The most important thing about flans is that my husband really likes them. Flans are quite tasty and not really that difficult to make, though there are a few tricks: It's essential to use a water bath while baking one to insure a smooth texture, and it's done baking when it no longer jiggles; they need to chill so must be baked well ahead of when you want to serve them; I've always used this ring mold (I think I bought it years ago at a yard sale) so I have absolutely no idea if you can make one using anything else; the caramelized sugar may look scrumptious after you've coated the ring mold, but if you take the tiniest little taste from the pot (you know, that indulgent finger-taste you just can't help yourself from taking whenever you're bake something) YOU WILL BE SORRY as it is REALLY hot; a flan uses 8 eggs, which can be great if your chickens are producing almost a dozen a day (like ours are), or a complication if the are not yet producing (like the little chickens of Lucy 'In the sky' (click here). This is my recipe for making flan.

Basic Flan
Preheat oven to 325 degrees. In a small heavy-bottomed saucepan, heat 1/2 c. sugar + 3 T. water WITHOUT STIRRING. Swirl once in awhile until the sugar turns honey-colored. Wearing an oven mitt (trust me, you should wear an oven mitt), pour into a 2-quart ovenproof mold and swirl the caramel around to coat the bottom and some of the sides, taking care not to burn yourself. Set aside.

1 egg
7 egg yolks
2/3 c. sugar
1 1/2 t. vanilla
1/2 t. nutmeg or almond extract -NOT both
pinch salt

Add: 2 1/2 c. milk or almond milk
Pour over caramel in mold. Place in a larger pan and pour warm water for water bath to reach 2/3 height of mold. Bake 1 hour, or until no longer jiggles. Cool, then refrigerate for several hours or overnight. To serve: run a knife around edges to loosen custard. Set mold in hot water (in sink or water bath pan again) to reach 1/2 height of mold for 1 minute or so to melt caramel to unmold flan. Give a quick spin-wiggle to make sure the custard is loosened. Cover with a plate and quickly invert -it should plop right out.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011


I make TO-DO lists all the time. I diligently apply myself to accomplishing what's on these lists, and I do accomplish quite a bit really, but the truth is that I add tasks at a much more rapid pace than I accomplish tasks. Writing everything down on paper helps to control the feeling of being overwhelmed by it all and to organize and prioritize tasks, but it does not guarantee anything getting actually DONE. It is disheartening to find lists from a year ago, and see that some of the tasks on it are still not yet DONE. This can be quite depressing and discouraging and I try and not beat myself up to badly about this. Instead, I'm trying to focus on giving myself credit for what actually IS accomplished. Our weekends are usually a whirlwind of activities and working on PROJECTS, and though we usually don't accomplish all that we hope to, we do quite a bit. Instead of a TO-DO list of 300 tasks with only 10 crossed off, this is my DONE list for last weekend.

-daily chores of feeding and watering: 20 some layer hens + rooster, 9 chicks, 4 sheep + 6 lambs + 1 non-productive dairy goat, 1 weaner pig, 4 breeding ducks + 10 young ducks, 11 rabbits +2 baby bunnies, 2 quail, 3 barn cats and 1 geriatric farm dog
-washed many loads of laundry and dishes, swept and vacuumed, and cleaned bathroom
-finally decided where, and husband planted Mothers Day honeysuckle and put up trellis
-weeded garden and hilled potatoes
-weeded strawberry bed
-weeded and net blueberries (I forgot last year and we had no blueberries to freeze)
-husband weed wacked and fixed electric fence; we rotated sheep into new pasture
-slept on freshly laundered line-dried sheets (one of the small joys in life)
-made several trips to transit center -last one Sunday at midnight
-finished reading Old School by Tobias Wolff; husband went to watch Aquasox baseball game
-spent an entire evening simply talking with my family
-knit and spun a bit
-made waffles for Sunday morning breakfast
-pulled first turnips from the garden and cooked them in browned butter
-made a menu and shopped for groceries; we filled three cars with gas
-removed dead newborn bunny from next box; two healthy bunnies left
-cleaned rabbit trays
-cleaned duck houses
-planted tomatillo plants in garden
-made Dinners: Duck and Green Bean Curry with quail eggs (click here); Basque-style Shepherdess Lamb, macaroni salad with green relish, green garden salad and turnips in browned butter; fire-grilled pork chops with leftover salads and Greek Dressing and Yogurt Curry Dressing
-had fire in fire pit for relaxed outdoor dinner for just my husband and me (both exhausted after a day of gardening)
-made new cocktail: Strawberry Moon Mojito (click here)
-thought about this post of Jewel's at Applegarth Farm (click here). for several days. 'Home Cook' would be my best answer, followed by 'Farmer's Daughter' as my next best. And after reading this post (click here) I'm reminded of what a good story it is and am searching for our copy of Watership Down to reread.
-finished the weekend with an 8 egg flan!

If I have to choose a favorite...

To answer my own question: If I have to choose, I think these Baja-style Shrimp Meatball Tacos (click here) may just be my favorite of all the meatballs I've made so far. I made these meatballs and froze them, and then put the tacos together for weekend guests (click here) a few days later. They were so incredibly easy to make and were devoured in minutes. It is no big surprise that shrimp, or shrimp and pork mixed together, like I used in making Meatballs for Banh Mi Sandwiches (click here) and Vietnamese-style Spring Rolls (click here), make incredibly delicious meatballs. Choosing a favorite meatball recipe though is like choosing a favorite book; it depends on my mood as to which I will choose on any given day. On another day, the Beef Cocktail Meatballs with Grape Jelly and Chili Sauce (click here) that I didn't think we would like but were such a big hit, could just as easily be picked as my all-time favorite. And then there were those lamb meatballs...

Monday, June 27, 2011

Meatball Mosaic

My project for the past six months was to make a new meatball recipe every week. I had planned to do it all year -meatballs are so incredibly versatile and always welcome at our table - but the unforeseen result of making all these meatballs is that we are all out of ground meat. For now, I am putting the project on hold, but when we again have ground meat in the freezer -I will continue to explore the world of meatballs. Any favorites so far?

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Strawberry Moon Mojito

I have been thinking about this celebratory combination since writing my Strawberry Moon post (click here). I pulled two wheelbarrows full of weeds from the strawberry bed today and discovered that the berries are finally ripe -it's time to celebrate STRAWBERRY SEASON!!!!

Strawberry Moon Mojito
In a wide mouth half-pint jar (or something a bit more refined if you prefer) muddle, or crush with the back of a spoon:
6 (chocolate) mint leaves
3 dead ripe organic strawberries
1 t. to 1 T. powdered sugar
juice from 1/2 lime
Stir to dissolve sugar. Add:
1 c. ice cubes
1 oz. triple sec
2 oz. rum
3 dead ripe organic strawberries
4-5 oz. club soda
Drink while admiring your freshly weeded strawberry bed.

Friday, June 24, 2011

When Spinach Bolts

Spinach is always included on lists of the top 5/10/100 healthiest foods and we always grow it in our garden. My computer tells me that it is 54 degrees in Snohomish, Washington -at midday mind you- only a few days past the summer equinox, and a week before the Fourth of July. Both of my daughters (loudly) wish they lived some place else, and are working towards achieving that goal, but my son absolutely loves the climate and weather of the Puget Sound area. On days like today, he declares it to be the PERFECT weather. Spinach loves it here, too, and June is peak spinach season in our garden. We have been eating LOTS of spinach in our salads, and I made Spinach with Thai Peanut Sauce (click here) the other night (which I LOVE!!). Sooner or later, even with cool temperatures, the spinach will bolt, signalling the end of its season, and that it's time for me to make creamed spinach and crepes. I made Spinach Crepes (click here) a few days ago and served them with chicken-fried cubed beef steaks and gravy made from the pan drippings. It was great. Spinach Crepes may not sound that inviting, but they really are fantastic. And if I freeze quantities of spinach now, we can also have them this winter. They make a great vegetarian meal when served with rice pilaf and a vegetable such as roasted beets or baked butternut squash, they can be made lactose-free by using soy or almond milk and omitting the cheese, and/or omnivorous when serving steak alongside. Making the crepe batter in the morning or the night before, allows me to walk in the door in the evening and rather effortlessly have dinner on the table within the hour. And I can't help but feel quite smug knowing I cooked a 32 cup bowl full of torn spinach, one of the healthiest foods, and my family ate it all by noon the next day. Sure, gravy made with steak pan drippings is on a completely different list of foods than spinach, but never mind that part -this is just the thing to do when spinach bolts.

Thursday, June 23, 2011


The new boys in town -we haven't named them yet. The Soup Queen brought them last time she visited. They are to replace Fat Charlie (click here) and (click here) as breeding sires for our rabbit meat production. Though he can't ever really be replaced -he's one of those special one-of-a-kind animals that steals your heart and keeps it- he no longer produces offspring and is retired from breeding, but not from being petted.

A new little female that my son named Hester. He says she is just how he imagines Hazel, the main character (a male rabbit) in Watership Down to look.

I keep thinking that if I was this small and tasty, I would look scared all the time too. These four rabbits are all cross breeds, which is fine for our meat production purposes. They are New Zealand and Palomino breed crosses and I'm hoping they will be great producers.

It is important to pay attention when caring for animals, but life sometimes overwhelms me and I don't always do a good job of it. I forgot to put in our Pea Patch rescued rabbit, Elle's nest box when I was suppose to (day BEFORE yesterday). I realized this at 5 AM this morning and have severely chastised myself all morning. Luckily, there were no dead newborn rabbits lying on the wire as I had imagined finding. She immediately set to work nesting and rearranging the bedding when I put her box in. I'm hoping to find newborn bunnies tomorrow morning, which I will sell in a couple months on Craigslist for pet bunnies when they look like these adorable black and white ones (click here).

Tuesday, June 21, 2011


My weeding tools.

And the garden -over a week ago. Since then, a whole new crop of weeds has grown up.

I will not give up. Instead, I will weed in the garden every morning, then eat a salad every day for my lunch. And repeat as necessary for the rest of the summer. That's my battle plan at least.

Monday, June 20, 2011

Simply Raw

Simply Raw. That's how these are best served. We drove into Seattle Friday to pick up these farmed Kusshi (center) and Kumamoto oysters directly from the seafood distributor (click here) in Seattle. They were fresher than fresh, and so worth the trip. These exquisite oysters, and the salad of perfect lettuces from our garden that we ate with them, both exemplify the reality that when food is REALLY, REALLY good, it is best to NOT do too much with it. Eat it, simply raw with a minimum of flavor distractions: the most simple of salad dressings for the lettuces, and maybe a squeeze of lemon or dash of Tabasco for the oysters, though I like perfect oysters on the half-shell the way I like whiskey -ice cold and straight. Words can't convey how amazing the buttery, clean briny flavor of these was, but the taste of them will stand out in my flavor memory for a long time.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Happy Strawberry Moon!

There will be a full moon tonight -we won't necessarily see it, but it will be full. Each month's full moon actually has a name (if there happens to be two, the second one is called a 'blue moon'). June's full moon is The Strawberry Moon -AND today marks a full year for Sheep, Spinach and Strawberries! Wow, I think we should celebrate! A homemade strawberry shortcake like my grandma always made (click here) would be a great way -IF we had strawberries, which we don't, which is annoying. Anyway, I'm looking forward to another year here of food, farm and fiber -and sharing it with you!

Food -reading, writing and thinking about food, raising, sharing, cooking, and of course eating food. I can't help it, I think about food almost all the time: farm-raised, store-bought, home-cooked, potluck, take-out, the occasional fine dining restaurant experience, or the equally indulgent 'standing over the kitchen sink' experience; whatever the occasion (or non-occasion) might be -celebrations (click here) both big and small, the everyday family (or solitary) meals, new recipes from somewhere else in the world, old childhood favorite made by our mothers and grandmothers- I'm all about the food.

Farm -I refer to this outfit as my 'sexy green rubber rain suit' because it is SO NOT sexy. It is though, incredibly useful when doing daily farm chores in the pouring or drizzling rain, walking through waist high wet grass, weeding in the mud, wrestling with wet animals, and being nuzzled (affectionately or otherwise) by muddy little pig snouts. I would be rather cranky, and almost daily soaked, if I didn't have my sexy green suit to wear this time of year. Mid-June and it is raining (again) with the temperatures (mostly) hovering around 60 degrees. The season for daily salads from the garden is full on (hurray!), but the reality of us actually having our own strawberries at our table is still a few weeks off yet (sigh). The lambs, ducklings and chicks are all growing, the hens are laying (well, some of them are laying), the new little rabbits for breeding look promising, and the garden is (mostly) in and coming up. On the other hand, the weeds (I am seriously losing my battle with them), my TO-DO list, and my long list of 'works in progress' all keep growing at an alarming rate. I try and not let the fact that I will NEVER actually get caught up depress me too much.

Fiber -World Wide Knit in Public Day is next Saturday. I don't know if I will knit in public at The Seattle Center with the skg (click here), at a friend's house with a group of knitting friends, in the car driving along I-5 with my husband, or here at home with the farm animals -but I will knit! My niece Sherece took this photo of me back in November during our Crafts and Cocktails weekend (click here). She is one of those dedicated knitters who knits whenever she is not at work or sleeping -and this is no exaggeration! She was knitting during her younger brother's high school graduation ceremony last week. She also told me that when she went to the casinos in Las Vegas with her husband, she sat in the corner and knit while everyone else gambled (I laugh every time I think about it)! Though I have knit while attending meetings, the Farmer's Market, riding the ferry, waiting for and/or watching my kids at various activities -and last winter while everyone else went to the top of the space needle in Seattle- I am in an entirely different class of knitters than Sherece, the four 'knitwits' at Girls in Sheep Clothing (click here), and all the other REALLY AMAZING knitters that I know, and I'm OK with that!

Happy Strawberry Moon to everyone -and a big 'THANKS' to everyone who's stopped by here at Sheep, Spinach and Strawberries this past year!

Sunday, June 12, 2011


"Food, or the lack of it, breeds stories, sparks memories. It's our common ground, the universal language." -Davia Nelson and Nikki Silva, The Kitchen Sisters

During my most recent visit to our local library, I checked out Hidden Kitchens -Stories, Recipes, and More from NPR's The Kitchen Sisters, Davia Nelson and Nikki Silva (click here). The book is from their ongoing radio series they started airing fourth of July weekend, 2004. The series is stories of hidden kitchens -street corner cooking, food traditions and communities coming together through food and the people who make it happen. WHY HAVE I NOT HEARD OF THIS UNTIL NOW??? DO I LIVE UNDER A ROCK OR SOMETHING? Well, no. I just don't always pay attention. My husband swears he mentioned it to me awhile ago after listening to a program and recognizing it would be just the sort of thing to get me REALLY excited -but I must not have been paying attention. Anyway, I really recommend, for those of you have also not been paying attention or indeed DO live under a rock or something, that you immediately find this book and read it. Or let me know that you have been listening to this series all along, and then ask me how I could possibly have NOT heard about this program until now. From Lou the Glue, an Old Stove from San Francisco, to The Chili Queens of San Antonio; from NASCAR kitchens feeding the speed, to mopping the mutton and making burgoo in Kentucky; this is some fascinating stories of hidden kitchens from all over America today.

One of the chapters/stories in the books is about how the homeless and others living without kitchens use Crock-pots and The George Foreman Grill for cooking.

"I think if you ever go to school hungry, it puts a chip on your shoulder. To go to school without breakfast, then without a lunch, it makes for a bad boy. I think hunger makes you angry."
-George Foreman

Another chapter in the book is about the cooks who feed the crews and families of NASCAR racing and includes these two meatball recipes.

Ham Balls
This recipe was contributed by Ken Enck who was cooking for twenty-four teams at the Bristols racetrack in Virginia when he gave the recipe to The Kitchen Sisters. I've halved it to make 24 meatballs.

Mix together:
1 1/2 lbs. ground smoked ham
1/2 lb. ground pork
2 eggs
3/4 c. milk
1 c. bread crumbs
Form into golf ball (or lug nut) sized balls and place on baking sheet. Bake 350 degrees for 55 minutes.

Meanwhile in a small saucepan, combine:
1/4 c. vinegar
1/3 c. brown sugar
1 T. mustard
Cook over medium heat (6-8 minutes) until reduced to a thick syrup. Brush or drizzle over ham meatballs, return to oven and cook another 15 minutes or until done. Serve with remaining sauce.

Clam Balls
From one of the Grand National Racing Wives' Auxiliary cookbooks, which are sold to raise money for families of drivers who are injured or killed. From Mrs. Juda Rainer (Harry), Lexington, Kentucky

6 hard-cooked eggs, chopped
1 T. minced chives
1-8 oz. can minced clams, drained
1/2 t. salt
Dash black pepper
1/4 c. mayonnaise
Shape into balls. Roll them in 2/3 c. finely chopped peanuts. Chill.

Friday, June 10, 2011

Currently Currant Wine

After taking my daily walk (click here) yesterday after dinner, I sat down with my current knitting project, these short Socks with Lacepattern (click here), and a glass of homemade currant wine I made in February following Terry Garey's recipe for Currently Currant Wine in The Joy of Home Winemaking. I've been less dedicated to my daily walking lately and this is a nice incentive (no wine until you've walked!), and a nice ending to my day.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Hershey's Best Brownies

One bowl. Simple. There are lots of brownie recipes claiming to be the best, the ultimate, and so on, but sometimes I don't want over the top and complicated, I just want straightforward and simple. And I want chocolate. This is a recipe everyone should have -maybe you already do. It is just the thing to make when you want to stir up something chocolatey with a minimum of fuss, to bake and eat warm from the oven within an hour, or maybe to carefully wrap and share later with someone -or both!

Never underestimate the power of a brownie. Brownies given to someone who's a bit down can sometimes work magic, but beware. I know of one young woman who rather carelessly handled homemade brownies. A food gift of a couple of homemade brownies given to a guy she knew, intended only as a friendly gesture, was misinterpreted as a declaration of love and romantic encouragement, and led to all sorts of embarrassment and hurt feelings on both sides. All you young bakers, be mindful of who you share brownies with!

Hershey's Best Brownies
Adapted from: Hershey's Homemade

Melt in microwavable bowl: 1 c. butter

Add: 2 c. sugar and 1 T. vanilla

Stir in one at a time: 4 eggs

Stir in until well blended : 1 c. Hershey's Special Dark Cocoa

1 c. flour
1/2 t. baking powder
1/4 t. salt
Stir in well.

12 oz. milk chocolate chips
Pour into buttered 9 x 13 Pyrex dish and bake 350 degrees for 30 minutes. Cool on wire rack and cut. Share responsibly.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Sesame-Hoisin Wraps

These wraps are good -really, really good. And incredibly flexible, AND super easy to make. There are five components to them, but each is an absolute snap. Really.

First is the wrap itself, which you buy. Any type of flour tortilla works here. I used Guerrero brand Gorditas last night and I really liked the slightly thicker tortilla, but use whatever -regular, whole wheat or those green ones.

Second is the meat, which is sliced thin and marinated. A quick 30 minutes will do or it can easily be left all day or overnight in the fridge. It then requires only a quick toss in a hot pan just before serving, or cook ahead and reheat it, or even serve it cold. I have made this with many different kinds of meat, pork tenderloin, chicken, lamb, and duck breast (what we had last night), and all were really excellent. I'm sure that firm tofu (broiled with a Hoisin sauce glaze perhaps?) or even a firm-fleshed fish would also be really great.

Third is the salad. I like to make the salad with half a head of finely shredded cabbage with a few things added (cilantro and bean sprouts are favorites, if I remember to buy them), but sometimes we just have cabbage (like last night, because I didn't remember) and it's easy enough to simply buy a bag of already shredded cabbage, or use whatever is at hand or preferred.

Fourth is some cooked plain white rice, optional for making the wraps I suppose, but I like warm rice with the salad and dressings, and some prefer the sesame strips over rice rather than in the tortilla. I try to make everyone eating at my table happy.

And last, but certainly not least, is the condiments: toasted sesame seeds, soy sauce and/or Hoisin sauce to drizzle on the meat strips, and one of two dressings for the salad. I can never decide which of the two salad dressing options I like best, and it's easy enough to simply make both.

I usually serve this as a wrap for dinner (with all above components wrapped in the tortilla, OR just meat and salad in the tortilla with no rice added, OR some, especially young children, prefer to have just meat wrapped in the tortilla with salad and rice served on the side), OR as a simple meat stir-fry served over rice with salad alongside, OR as a supper or composed salad -warm rice with cold cabbage salad and dressing on top, with or without the meat topping it all off (like I said, this is incredibly flexible). I usually make the composed salad with leftovers for lunch the next day.

I absolutely adore the contrast of the warm rice and cold crisp cabbage salad and dressing, both with and without meat. Depending on how many were at dinner and how ravenous they all were, often the meat is gone the next day. So, if the night before one makes the dressing(s) and salad, leaves the meat to marinate, and has all the rest at hand (don't forget the Hoisin Sauce), it is possible to walk in the door at the end of a long day and have this on the table in the time it takes for a pot of rice to cook while warming the tortillas and stir frying the sesame strips. And leftovers make a great lunch -however you put them together.

Oriental Sesame Salad Dressing
Mix together:
1/4 c. each canola oil and seasoned rice vinegar
1 T. each soy sauce and sugar
1/2 - 1 t. sesame oil and/or chili-sesame oil
juice of one lime
1 t. - 1 T. sesame seeds

Asian-style Apricot Salad Dressing
Blend in mini-food processor:
1/4 c. each apricot-pineapple jam and canola oil
2 T. seasoned rice vinegar
1 T. each soy sauce and honey
1 minced garlic clove
2 t. toasted sesame seeds
1 t. sesame oil

Cabbage Salad
Toss together any or all of the following:
1/2 head green cabbage, finely shredded
1/2 red pepper, finely minced
3-4 green onions, finely sliced
1 carrot, peeled and grated
1-2 c. fresh bean sprouts
1/2 c. cilantro leaves

Sesame Duck (or whatever) Strips
Cut into strips and place in a gallon Ziploc bag: 4-6 duck breasts, 1-2 pork tenderloin, 1-2 lbs chicken breast or boneless thighs, or lamb
1-2 T. grated fresh gingerroot and grated or pressed garlic cloves
2 t. sesame oil
1/4 t. salt
Leave to marinate 1/2 hour or longer. To cook, heat a large skillet over high heat, add a tablespoon of canola oil, and stir-fry just until barely pink. Remove from heat. Serve with a drizzle of soy sauce and/or Hoisin sauce and a sprinkle of toasted sesame seeds -and with whatever else you choose! Enjoy.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Meatball Gyros

This morning I did a few of the little things I've been wanting to do, but have been too hurried lately to actually take time for. Besides the usual feeding and watering of all the animals, I took time for holding the newly hatched chicks and growing rabbits, and doling out treats of leftover pancakes for the little piggy, comfrey for the rabbits, and kitchen scraps for the chickens. I also rotated the flock into a fresh pasture, then watered the blueberry bushes, and cleaned all the rabbit trays.

It's been awhile since I baked bread, but after coming back inside, I pulled out my big green bowl I use for making bread. I added Bob's Red Mill 5-grain rolled cereal to the basic ingredients of yeast, water, buttermilk, honey, egg, and flour, mixed and kneaded it all into a soft bread dough, and then left it to rise. We have a small radiant heat panel mounted on the wall in a closet where a small bed barely fits. It is a funky little extra sleeping space with a tiny window that some visitors find absolutely charming -and others find claustrophobic. It is the perfect spot for raising bread dough...

...and keeping newly hatched chicks like these (click here) for their first few days (we have nine so far this morning!). Of course, I don't brood chicks, proof bread, AND sleep guests all at the same time in it -it's a VERY small space- but I did put my bread dough in the warm closet with the wee little peeping chicks this morning.

I cut up a chicken and put the pieces and marinade ingredients for Chicken Marbella (click here) into a gallon Ziploc bag to marinate in the fridge for a few days. I also cut duck breast into strips and put them into a (different) Ziploc bag to marinate for Sesame-Hoisin Wraps tonight, and I made and froze some beef meatballs for making these gyros for tomorrow night (or possibly this weekend in which case they will go into yet another Ziploc bag). If I ignore my to-do list that gets longer with each passing day, and all the weeding and housecleaning left undone, I ALMOST feel as if I'm on top of things here! ALMOST.

Meatball Gyros
1 to 1 1/4 lbs ground beef or lamb
1/2 finely minced onion'
4 pressed garlic cloves
1 egg
2 T. yogurt and whey
2-3 T. olive oil
1 T. each lemon juice, dried oregano, mint and parsley
1/2 c. Italian-seasoned bread crumbs
1/2 t. salt
1/8 t. ground black pepper
Combine, form meatballs, and freeze overnight. Put into a gallon Ziploc bag if not using right away.

To cook, line a baking sheet with foil, spray or oil and arrange meatballs on pan and bake 425 degrees for 15-25 minutes or until done, OR pan fry in a caste iron skillet.
To serve, tuck a few meatballs into a pita bread along with a few tomato and cucumber slices, a bit of diced onion, and some shredded lettuce. Drizzle with Greek Yogurt Sauce (Tzatsiki) and top with crumbled feta.

Greek Yogurt Sauce
1 1/2 c. plain yogurt
1 cucumber, peeled, seeded and grated
1 pressed garlic clove
1-2 T. minced fresh dill weed
1-2 T. red wine vinegar or lemon juice
1-2 T. olive oil
1/2 - 1 t. salt

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Radishes and Roosters

"Farming is the worst way to make a living, and the best way to raise a family." -Farmer

The sheep are content with the abundance of grass available for grazing. The new ducklings were moved yesterday from a brooder (where they were making an impressive mess) to outside where they are pretty much terrified -though I expect they'll be more enthusiastic about their new home once they discover SWIMMING. Sadly, one of the little pigs died (she had been sick) and we are nervously keeping an eye on the remaining healthy one. The seven new little rabbits are growing and I have selected the four to keep for breeding, and hopefully our pea patch bunnies bred successfully and we will have more babies like this (click here). The hens are laying well and our rooster, Taj Mahal takes his job of guarding and bossing them all around very seriously. Yesterday, I heard a pip from the incubator (like I said, he's been doing his job well) and the chicks are due to hatch out in the next few days. Farm life is always filled with ups and downs, endings and beginnings -and lots of hard work.

I spent a delightful hour or two yesterday, spinning under the lilac after several hours spent in combat with weeds that appear these days to be on some sort of plant steroid. My spinning project is progressing very slowly, so I was pleased to make some progress with it. I have been knitting a bit but my fiber activites have taken a back seat these days to other activites (like weeding and working). The past five summers I was at the Farmers Market once a week selling yarn and bags (click here) -and spinning. This is the first year I'm not there and I miss my weekly spinning time and all the wonderful people.

There are less than a half dozen things on the list of foods I don't really like. Radishes, pretzels -and arugula is at the top of the list. I think it tastes like a cross between skunk and old tires. "Wow," said a friend of mine when I described my perception of it to her. "You really don't like arugula!" I can live without ever eating any arugula but it's really a shame to not like radishes since they are the first thing to come out of our garden every spring. I grudgingly tolerate a few token slices in a salad, but I don't happily bite into a whole radish fresh from the garden like my husband does. I hate the idea of growing produce I don't like to eat, so I have been looking for radishes prepared in a way I'll enjoy. Though I liked the radish salad from the Victory Garden Cookbook I made over the weekend by tossing sliced radishes with a simple vinaigrette, no one was really terribly keen on it (and its aroma by the next day was declared downright offensive by everyone).

But a couple night ago I prepared a bunch of radishes another way I saw suggested in The Victory Garden Cookbook. I tasted them -and immediately went and pulled and prepared a second batch so the rest of the family could have some too. Seriously, THIS is what to do with radishes: Pull a sizable bunch fresh from the garden, wash, tail and top and then chop them (quartered or eighths), and saute them in a bit of slightly browned butter (this part was really by accident but I think it was a rather happy coincidence and I will continue to allow the butter to brown a bit before adding the radishes) until they are browned a bit. They shrink down in size quite a lot, and cooking them takes the sharp bite out their flavor and the result reminds me of sauteed turnips. Tonight, along with preparing a huge bowl of spinach salad for dinner, I am going to roast a rooster a la Julia Child, and saute lots of radishes in a bit of browned butter -an early summer celebration.

Saturday, June 4, 2011

Eggs and Chickens

"Put all your eggs in one basket -and watch that basket." -Mark Twain

"Parenthood is like being pecked to death by small chickens." -Bly on CryingWhileEating

Friday, June 3, 2011

Mango Chutney

Several times a year, usually completely out of sync with the typical seasons for growing and preserving things here in the Pacific Northwest, mangoes are in season somewhere else in the world and the price for them at the grocery stores here drops. Many years ago, I discovered this recipe for making mango chutney and it has been a staple condiment of ours ever since. It's always in our fridge and often on our table, and the making of it is now as much a kitchen ritual for me as making the zucchini relish from my childhood. Awhile back, I was a bit too enthusiastic in making and canning mango chutney. Unlike our once-a-year season for zucchini, mangoes go on sale several times a year, which prompted me, each and every time I saw them on sale, to buy large quantities, turn them into this chutney and 'stock up'. As a result, we became a bit overstocked -so much so that it was necessary to put myself on restriction from making it for a few years. Finally, we are down to a half dozen pints of stored mango chutney, mangoes were on sale last week when I was at the grocery store, and last night I filled our house with the exotic aroma of chutney cooking. My oldest daughter, not a big fan of chutney but a huge fan of mangoes (I also bought some for eating fresh) said, "That's a terrible thing to do to such lovely mangoes, but hey, if it makes you happy...." Oh, it did!

Mango Chutney
Adapted from: Preserving the Taste by Edon Waycott

Combine in a large bowl, cover and leave overnight (or a night and a day) in the fridge:
8 large mangoes, peeled and chopped
2 c. cider vinegar
2 c. sugar
1 c. brown sugar
2 large onions, finely chopped
2 large Granny Smith apples, (peeled), cored, and finely chopped
6-8 garlic cloves, minced
1/4 - 1/3 c. grated peeled fresh gingerroot
1 c. raisins
1 T. each coarsely ground black pepper (1 t. regular), crushed red peppers, ground cinnamon and yellow mustard seeds
1 t. ground allspice
1/2 t. each ground cloves and salt

The next day (or evening) pour all into a 7-8 quart preserving pot and bring to a boil, uncovered over medium-high heat, and stirring frequently to avoid scorching. Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer for about 30 minutes until syrupy. Ladle into 9 hot, sterile pint jars to 1/2 inch of top and seal. Water bath process 10 minutes. Season 3 weeks before using.

What to do with all this preserved Mango Chutney? My husband puts it on baked potatoes instead of sour cream, and it elevates plain white rice beyond plain. It's good with any curry dish like my mother-in-law Lolita's Turkey (or chicken) Curry (click here), and Anjum's Goan Meatball Green Curry (click here), and dishes like Tandoori rabbit or chicken (click here). Also, a few tablespoons mixed into ground turkey makes for an extraordinary turkey burger (or meatballs). These are just a few of the ways we enjoy this incredible condiment, and the possibilities are endless. It also makes a great gift for those who like this sort of thing -and most do.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Talking About Food

"When I'm talking about food I am talking about life." -Nigella Lawson

We had a fabulous long weekend over the Memorial Day holiday with family and lots of good food...four went to the Mariners vs. Yankees game Friday night, five played a rousing round of the boardgame LIFE on Saturday night, and nine were here for a cookout on Sunday...grilled pork chops in an Italian marinade, goat ribs and a salmon fillet cooked over the fire-pit...a rustic cherry jam tart, gelato in coffee mugs with an assortment of tasty embellishments, and a ridiculously easy and incredibly yummy Apricot-Pineapple Icebox Pie...Nutella cupcakes (click here) from The Quince Tree blog...My Baja-style Shrimp Meatball Tacos (click here)...Eggs Benedict for breakfast one morning, and 15-Grain pancakes the next...a huge Caesar Salad, my Grandma Leona's Baked Beans (click here), an amazing potato salad with lots of diced celery and Zucchini Relish made by The Soup Queen, and a radish salad I made out of The Victory Garden Cookbook...our first spinach from the garden this season...ten Pekin ducklings and seven little rabbits to raise...several bottles of good wine, mojitos in wide-mouth Mason pint jars and orange Fanta for the teens...mangos to make Mango Chutney with...and since Monday was National Cheeseburger Day, we had (Duh!) Cheeseburgers! I hope you also had a relaxed and enjoyable food-filled weekend.