How 25 fuzzy butts turned into 35…

photo

Just a few short weeks ago, we got our 25 new chickies in the mail….well it was supposed to be 25, but 27 fuzzy butts showed up. ūüôā ¬†Yay for extras!

Man, did we have issues getting chicks this year. ¬†First off, we’ve never ordered¬†this early. ¬†We started looking in February, after the Valentines day massacre (that’s what we’re calling it anyway) when we went to close the girls up for the night and found one of them pecked to death. ūüė¶ ¬†So sad, we had no idea what happened at first. ¬†We thought something had gotten into the coop, but there is just no way for that to happen so we deduced that it must have been one of the other hens that did it. ¬†That and she had blood all over her beak…that was the obvious clue. ūüėČ

So we decided that rather than chance another going rogue, we made an appointment to send them away to freezer camp. ¬†That left us chicken less…for the first time in 5 years!! ¬†It was odd not tending to them daily. ¬†Then the littles arrived and I was back on chicken mamma duty. ¬†I figured that we’d get them free ranging by 8 weeks or so, but I neglected to do the math. ¬†You see, the chickens as yummy, friendly and egg filled as they are here for tick control. ¬†They love to eat ticks! ¬†That is the whole reason that we have them. ¬†I am deathly afraid of ticks. ¬†They are creepy and carry disease. ¬†YUCK! ¬†We don’t want to use¬†chemicals on the lawn so that the kids don’t get Lyme disease, only to end up poisoning them, that seems like a bad plan. ¬†So enter the chickens. ¬†Although they free range year round, I like to get them out as soon as the snow starts receding so they can get a jump on the bugs. ¬†But, as I said earlier…my calendar and my math skills did not sync up this year so we had not birds to eat the bugs early on.

photo 1

photo 2

photo 5

About 3 weeks old

Anywho…Our first day outside this year and I see a tick crawling on the tiny blonde hairs leading to my baby’s angelic face. ¬†Cue the freak out!! ¬†AGGHHHHH!!!!

There is no way that I could wait the 4 weeks until the little ones could get out to eat the bugs so the search was on.  Within 2 days we had found 8 organic laying hens and within a week they were re-homed to our little farm and eating all of the bugs that their little hearts desired, as well as tearing up my flower beds.  A small price to pay for peace of mind.

photo 3

The “older”gals

photo 1

Meeting each other for the first time.

photo 2

First day in the sun!

photo 3

photo 4

Escape¬†artists…they popped right¬†through the fence!

I love these birds.  They are funny little creatures to watch and interact with and just having them roaming around feels like home.

So…Welcome all 35 fuzzy gals! ¬†We’re glad to have you!

Organic Salted Caramel Popcorn!

 

 

 

 

Organic and Homemade Salted Caramel Popcorn!

IMG_5329

Seriously…It’s too easy not to make this for any occasion! ¬†Movie night! ¬†Teacher appreciation! ¬†Road Trip! ¬†Sneak it into the movies!!

IMG_5308

IMG_5299

 

Wanna Know how??

Pop some organic popcorn, PLEASE make it organic. ¬†It doesn’t cost much more for organic popcorn and corn is most definitely one of those nasty GMO crops.

Ok…so off the soap box and onto caramel corn…

1) Pop some organic popcorn

2) Heat up your homemade salted caramel

3) Pour warm caramel over popcorn, mix to coat all of the popcorn

4) Add anything you’d like…nuts, shredded coconut…whatever!

5) Spread flat onto a parchment lined sheet pan

6) Bake in a 250 degree oven for about 45 minutes, stirring occasionally.

 

IMG_5321

There…you are now a magician! After all, who makes their own salted caramel popcorn! Oh wait, you do!!

Wanna be super bad??? Drizzle some melted organic chocolate chips onto the finished caramel corn once it has cooled.


IMG_5326
If you bring this to any party, rest assured that you will ALWAYS be invited back, it’s that good!

Enjoy!

Salted Caramel….

So seriously…

IMG_3438

YOU.MUST.MAKE.THIS.NOW

I have made this salted caramel over and over again and it is amazing! ¬†I have tried others and compared to this recipe…they taste blah.

Be warned though….

*You will NOT¬†wait until it has cooled down¬†to taste it. ¬† The smell will be so captivating that you will eat it right out of the pot and burn your tongue so, if you must taste anything of the remainder of the day…do so before you make this caramel

*Even though your tongue will feel like you’ve directly licked the sun at high noon, you will continue to sneak bites. ¬†It won’t matter, you can’t feel anything on your tongue anyway.

*You will not be satisfied with the little bites here and there as it cools from molten lava, so just grab a shot glass…you will and up drinking some caramel. ¬†I did. ūüėČ

What to do with it now??

IMG_3885

If there is any left once it cools down you can drizzle it on anything! ¬†Ice cream, baked goods, jar it and give it away…you are sure to make new BFF’s this way.

One of my newest ways to use salted caramel is to make caramel popcorn with it. ¬†I said it….HOMEMADE salted caramel popcorn!

Want more yum??  Take your favorite kettle potato chips and drizzle this amazing caramel and then some homemade hot fudge on them.  Let them set up and turn on Netflix.  Plop yourself  on the couch and munch the evening away!

Put some in your coffee…OMG!

Before I get ahead of myself….let’s get the recipe for the caramel going.

Ingredients that you will need:

* Willpower to not eat it all in one setting

2 cups organic sugar

1.5 sticks of room temp organic butter cubed

1 cup organic heavy cream

1.5 Tbl seat salt, pink Himalayan salt or the like.

Digital thermometer…very important!

Method of Prep:

Have all of your ingredients ready and next to the stove…once the sugar melts, it goes fast, so be ready

In a large sauce pan (the caramel will bubble in a few reps so make sure your pot is big…3 qts or so) put the sugar in over med-high heat.

Whisk the sugar as it melts.  It will clump and begin to brown.  Keep on a whisking until all of the sugar melts, then stop.

Place your thermometer into the sugar. ¬†It will continue to darken as it bubbles away. ¬†It will look a dark amber color. BE CAREFUL…it can go from perfect to burnt in no time…so watch carefully. ¬†It will be worth the fuss…trust me!

Once your thermometer reaches 350 degrees, put all of the butter in and whisk quickly. ¬†This is the first time it will bubble up angrily…so be careful. ¬†Whisk until the butter is melted. ¬†Turn off the heat.

Take the pan off the stove and add the cream….this is the second bubbling, so be careful. ¬†Whisk until incorporated then add the salt.

IMG_5301

Deny the feeling to dive into the pot…you will want to, but let it cool. ¬†Meh….who am I kidding…you will get a spoon, everyone does. ¬†I’ve made this recipe probably 15 times and I dip into the lava every time. ¬†It’s a ritual now. ūüėČ

Let it cool for a while and if there is any left, place it into a jar and store in the fridge. ¬†Please reheat in a pan on low heat. ¬†Don’t let the microwave destroy this nectar.

That’s it!

Let me know how you’ve used this recipe! ¬†I’d love to know!

¬†Oh..I’d also like to know that I am not the only one to dive in and scald my tongue…let me know when you’ve joined the scalded tongue¬†club. ūüėČ

What to do with that fresh ham steak??

Last year when we butchered our first batch of pigs, we kept the ham fresh because the butcher used nitrates in curing and that is something that we don’t want in our food so we decided that we’d cure it ourselves.

It was a BIG ham and we’d never done anything like that before. ¬†Long story short, because it was so big, the cure didn’t penetrate through the whole thing and only the outer 3 inches tasted like ham, the rest like a delicious pork roast. ¬†No harm, no foul…it was still delicious. ¬†Just not “ham” as we know it.

Fast forward to this year with a new butcher (still nitrate curing) and fresh ham steaks vs. a whole ham. ¬†2 of the ham steaks I threw in the crock pot with apples and onions and they were good, but drier then I’d like. ¬†This week I pulled out the last 2 steaks and decided to try curing them, again.

photo 3

Cured ham steak

For 2 steaks about 3/4 inch thick

In a large shallow baking dish for the brine:

1.5 qt of water

1/3 cup organic brown sugar

1/3 cup organic maple syrup

1/2 cup sea salt

1/2 teaspoon organic vanilla

Mix it all up until the sugar and salt are dissolved.  Put in the ham steaks in and made sure that they stayed submerged (you can weight it down with a plate if you need to).

Place it in the fridge for about 24 hours.

Pre-heat the oven to 350 degrees

After 24 hours, rinse the brine of well.  Dry off the ham steaks very well.  Pan sear the steaks in a frying pan with some butter or even better bacon fat!!! Mmmmm..

When they are browned on both sides, place the pan (make sure it is oven safe) in the oven for about 20 minutes.  Depending on the thickness of the steaks, it may take longer or less time to cook.  Make sure your pork is 145 degrees in the thickest part.

Pull out of the oven and let rest for a few minutes…then eat!! Yummy!!

I served this with sliced potatoes roasted in bacon fat and sea salt and steamed cauliflower finished in the oven.

It felt like a frontier meal to me (minus the cauliflower of course). ūüėČ

The kids gobbled it up and the hubs was in awe of the impromptu ham experiment.

All in all a great meal and the leftovers of ham and potatoes made an excellent breakfast skillet the next morning. ūüôā

photo 2

Cured Ham Steak

‚̧

The Dinner Party….

Our son hosted his first dinner party this past week!

He’s 7. ūüôā

This child has been groomed to be a foodie. ¬†He was never given the option to eat or not eat. ¬†His only option was try it once, if you really don’t like it, then you don’t have to eat it. ¬†To this very day he eats everything, except mushrooms

Lately his favorite show to watch is the Pioneer Woman! ¬†He loves to watch her cook and his favorite episode is “Ranching in the mist”. ¬†He has watched this particular episode so many times that he knows the recipes and the wording by heart. ¬†The last time he watched this episode, he asked again if I could make the pop pulled pork. ¬†Well, we don’t really drink soda , so cooking with it is out of the question for me, so I’ve said ¬†no in the past to that recipe.

That same week we were all struck with the flu…boooo! ¬†The hubs came back from the store with a natural soda called Dr. Better, because sometimes you just need something carbonated and it tasted just like Dr. Pepper!! ¬†Light bulb!! ¬†When everyone was feeling better and Ree Drummond was again on the screen, he asked again and this time I said sure!

He did the entire meal by himself!  I put everything in the oven and made the dough (which was Gluten free) but he did the rest from chopping onions to peeling and slicing the apples for the pie.

The hubs took the little one away for a few hours so we could have some space alone to work, and work he did!  He started at 11:30 am and finished when dinner was served.

IMG_5488

Cutting Onions

IMG_5489

Seasoning the pork shoulder

IMG_5498

Adding a little Dr. Better

IMG_5505

Slicing apples for the flat apple pie

IMG_5510

Cutting the cabbage for slaw

IMG_5512

Mixing up the slaw

IMG_5515

Making the potato au gratin (yes, he diced all of the potatoes) ūüôā

IMG_5524

The finished pop pulled pork!

IMG_5529

Dinner is served!!

IMG_5532

Making caramel for the pie

IMG_5520

Pie is done!

IMG_5535

My guy! Sorry for the bad picture. 

IMG_5537

The whole meal was delicious! ¬†The gluten free dough was so good! ¬†You could never tell that there was no wheat in it at all. ¬†The caramel was not my favorite recipe…it was a quick caramel and it lacked the depth that I love in caramel, but I wanted to stay true to the Pioneer woman evening, so we made all of her recipes. ¬†I would certainly make them all again, with the addition of¬†this salted caramel. ūüėČ

I loved the feeling of pride that I saw on my little guys face when everyone was eating HIS dinner! ¬†He was exhausted when bedtime rolled around and I think a little bit more appreciative of the meals that we eat…knowing a little bit better what actually goes into them.

He is already planning his next party with meatballs, pasta and cake.  I love that he loves being in the kitchen and I love even more the time that we get to spend together cooking.

‚̧

Gluten Free Sunday Morning Potato Pancakes…

IMG_5100

Sunday Mornings around here are usually a slower pace, or we try to make them that way after the CRAZY busy year that we’ve had.

We always sit down to breakfast together and one of our favorite additions to breakfast is the potato pancake.

Easy, buttery goodness!  Not from a box or a mix it takes minutes to make and is a great sunday morning comfort food.

Ingredients:

(Organic if possible)

Medium Peeled Russet Potatoes ( you can use what you have, but russets work best and don’t brown as fast)

Butter

Salt and Pepper

Onion powder

IMG_5103

Put a large skillet on medium and add a tablespoon of butter.   Shred the potatoes 2 at a time into a bowl.

IMG_5104

Once the skillet is warm and the butter melted, grab about 1/3 cup of potato shreds and put it into the skillet.  Flatten with your hand.  Repeat until the skillet is full or until you need to shred more.   Sprinkle with salt, pepper and onion powder.  Cook until nicely browned, flip and cook until browned again.  You can hold these in a 200 degree oven until you are ready to serve them.

IMG_5105

Voila! Easy-peasy potato pancakes!  No fillers, no crap… Just delish!

Make extra and freeze ’em! ¬†The freeze great and reheat in an oven or in a skillet super quick!!

These would be a great side to any meal as well, not just breakfast! ¬†You can add rosemary and roasted garlic or jalape√Īo and cheese‚Ķthe combinations are endless!

Give ’em a try and let me know what you think! ūüôā

Gluten Free Eating and Apple and Onion Roasted Pork…

IMG_5022

So‚Ķ.I’ve embarked on this gluten-free journey and so far so good!

 I have been so tired with a general feeling of crapiness for such a long time now, that I figured it was time to try something different.  Years ago, when the low carb craze hit, I did it and felt great (of course, I was a lot less fluffy then *wink, wink*)…but I remember feeling great.

¬†We eat great quality foods. ¬†We eat organic foods with no preservatives or GMO. ¬†We eat lots of fresh produce and meats that we raise ourselves (organically) or that we buy from friends who also grown organically. ¬†We cook almost all of our meals at home, so we know what goes into them. ¬†We don’t use chemicals in our home and use homeopathy as a means of getting ourselves well and ¬†food based remedies as well. ¬† ¬†We eat raw garlic and I make a bone broth (stock) at least once a week. ¬†Why in the world am I so tired and icky?? ¬†I’ve been feeling that wheat/gluten is the culprit for a while but haven’t made the jump until now. ¬†You see‚Ķ.I LOVE bread! ¬†It is what I eat when I don’t feel good, it is what I eat when I do feel good, some form of flour is always being eaten here at home as a meal or with a meal.

I thought that the transition would be harder, but honestly, it hasn’t been!! ¬†I feel better, have more energy (I’m not ready to run a marathon yet‚Ķ) and am not craving the bread like I thought I would. Yay!

Sooo…as I embark on this journey I will create new recipes, I will try new recipes and let you know how they turn out!

My first official GF recipe is a Roasted Apple and Onion Pork Shoulder.  You could easily use a pork roast or tenderloin too!

IMG_5017 IMG_5020 IMG_5021 IMG_5025 IMG_5022 IMG_5026

Ingredients:

4-6 lb Pork Shoulder (Pasture or organically raised if possible)

Bacon Fat saved from breakfast (you can use olive oil and butter or coconut oil)

5 Cloves of sliced Organic garlic

2-3 Medium Organic Onions, sliced

2-3  Organic Apples, sliced (skin on)

16 oz (or so) of organic chicken stock (homemade would be best)

1.5 Tbl Organic Balsamic Vinegar

3 Tbl Organic Maple Syrup

3 Tsp Organic Cinnamon

Salt and Pepper

Preheat oven to 325 degrees.

Put about a TBL of bacon fat into the Dutch oven on the stove on a med-high heat and sauté the onions  and garlic.  Once they are beginning to brown, add the apples, cinnamon and the balsamic vinegar.  Cook for a few more minutes then  remove from the pan.  Add about a TBL of bacon fat to the pan.  Generously salt and pepper all sides of the pork shoulder.  Sear all sides of the pork to create a beautiful brown crust.  Once all sides are browned, add the chicken stock (should come  about 1/2 way up the pork) and scrape the sides of the pan with a wooden spoon to get all of the yummy splatters into the sauce.  Add the onions, garlic, apples and maple syrup to the pot.   Cover and place in the oven for 2.5- 3 hours or until the roast is easily pulled apart with a fork.

Remove the roast (or roast pieces as it will probably fall apart) from the pan and set aside. ¬†With an immersion blender directly in the pot, buzz the juices, apples and onions together to create an amazing gravy. ¬†I may have splashed a bit of maple syrup into the gravy before buzzing‚Ķ ūüėČ

Crock pot Option:  I would assume that you could throw all of this into a crock pot, put it on low, go to work and return to an amazing dinner too!!

Although I did not get any pictures of it, I served this with organic carrot sticks roasted in olive oil, salt and pepper and with roasted organic acorn squash.

Roasted Acorn Squash:

Halve the squash carefully as they have a tough skin

Scoop out the seeds

Add a small pat of butter to each half of the squash

I added a teaspoon of brown sugar, salt and pepper to the squash

Roast for at least an hour at 350 degrees or until very tender.  Spoon the juices from the middle of the squash over the squash and scoop out onto the plates.

The kids LOVED this entire meal‚ĶI thought the Hubs was going to dive into the pan, he was nuts over it. ¬†I’m glad that I wrote it down!

A litte bit of Mexico…

IMG_2885

Perhaps the hubs was longing for our honeymoon to Mexico…Perhaps he looked around and saw nothing in the house to eat??

Anyway…

When the man is home on a weekend that we aren’t running around…then he is cooking Which is fine by me!!. ¬†¬†Enter the homemade corn tortillas.

IMG_2887

As I finished my own work, he was busy mixing and resting dough. ¬†He had his Sous Chefs by his side and together they were rolling while the littlest Sous was pressing. ¬†My little guy was so incredibly proud of himself that he showed me each and every tortilla before they were cooked. ¬†Which left me getting very little work done, but hey…them be some yummy tortillas made by a super kid! ¬†I am very lucky. ūüôā

IMG_2888

While Mj pressed, Mark cooked.

IMG_2891

This went on for a good while until we had a giant stack of warm, salty, corny (he, he) tortillas.

IMG_2894

IMG_2899

 

We ended up with tostada like yumminess topped with grass-fed beef, our own canned beans, organic corn, organic salsa and the BEST sour cream out there…Wallaby!

 Seriously, this stuff is almost drinkable!

Anywho…Here is the link to the recipe that was used. ¬†We were able to find organic masa harina too! ¬†NO GMO corn here…ever! ūüėČ

Give it a try…It is super fun for the kids too!

Piadina…My new love!

Welcome to the yummy world of Piadina!

Piadina is where I want to live, well actually it isn’t a place (not that I know of anyway),¬†but to me it is a fluffy little island that I forever want to live on or at very least eat everything off of!

Piadina is a soft, fluffy little Italian flatbread made with lard, I said it LARD! Mmmm.

I first tasted a yummy morsel like this many, many moons ago. ¬†It was light and fluffy and it was filled with a caesar salad. ¬†Ever since then I have been searching for that flavor I had no idea what it was, I figured it was an Indian style flatbread. ¬†The hubs was bored and since no plain old chicken salad sandwich will do at our house, he whipped out “I’m going to make Piadina!” five minutes before the lunchtime hunger melt down. ¬†I had no idea what ¬†he was talking about so I rolled my eyes knowing that the wrath of hungry littles was about to pound on him like a sledge hammer carnival game. ¬†Good luck, I thought. ¬†But alas, Dad is way more fun than Mom, so he was able to keep the natives at bay.

I let him do his thing and stayed out of the way until I smelled the fluffy goodness in the pan!

OH MY WORD! ¬†It was heavenly! ¬†Not in a brownie out of the oven heavenly way, but in a salty, bacon-ish angels calling sort of way. ¬†I know, you are thinking “it’s just bread lady!” but it is ohhhh, so much more.

I ran over to the stove, I may have “accidentally” pushed one of the kids out of the way, tore a piece off the bread, shoved it into my mouth and I was taken back to that silly¬†salad-wich that I had tasted years ago int he midwest!

 It was AH-MA-ZING.

Since I wasn’t really interested in the process, honestly I thought “you’re making flatbread, not interested” so I didn’t take any pictures until I tasted it, and then all I could do was snap one picture before I devoured this sandwich. ūüôā

Piadina

¬†You must try this, it doesn’t take long to make and its flavor is amazing.

I am very much on a sprouted what kick lately, but I ran out of the sprouted wheat flour. Boo…So I vow to make this with sprouted wheat and see if there is a difference.

The recipe credit belongs here, to Food52 Blog and to her Nonna!  Thank you Nonna, no chicken salad sandwich will ever compare.

Here is the recipe:

Serves 6 (recipe can be multiplied)

  • 3cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 1/4 teaspoons baking powder
  • 3 heaping tablespoons shortening or leaf lard
  • 3/4 cups warm water
  • 1/4 cup warm milk
  • Fillings of your choice like Prosciutto, ham, mozzarella, fritatta, salad, Nutella, pretty much anything you want . ¬†***I vote Chicken Salad!!***
  1. Place flour in a mound on pastry board or counter. Sprinkle on salt and baking powder, and mix together with your fingers.
  2. Make a well in the center. Drop in the shortening and rub it together with the flour using your fingertips. Lumps are okay! And it will still be pretty floury.
  3. Make a well again and pour in water and milk. Mix with fingers until dough comes together. Add a little more warm water or flour, if needed. You want a soft dough ¬Ė not at all sticky. Knead for a couple minutes, and roll into a log shape.
  4. Alternatively, all the mixing can be done in a large bowl. I like to use a fork to mix everything together.
  5. Divide the dough into 6 equal pieces, using a scale if you have one. With one hand, gently roll each piece on the board/counter into a ball. Mom says to use your thumb and nudge the dough ball under with each turn. Set each ball to the side on a sprinkling of flour and let rest for 5 minutes.
  6. Heat griddle to medium. Slightly flatten a ball and roll out dough to about 9 inches in diameter. Gently lift and place on hot griddle, scoring the piadina all over with the tines of a fork. If bubbles appear, quickly pierce those suckers with the fork. Cook each side for a few minutes or until each side develops some lightly browned spots. Remove to a clean dish cloth. Repeat with each ball, and stack each cooked piadina over one another. Loosely cover with a dish towel. When done, cut piadine into quarters and enjoy with your favorite sandwich fixings.
  7. Piadina freezes well. Reheat on a griddle.

This Week…

This Week….

IMG_3439

~We are: learning about George Washington

IMG_3446

~We are: Drinking lots of coffee due to mid-night continuous wake-ups

~We are: Catching up on lots of work

IMG_3447

~We are: Falling way behind on laundry

IMG_3428

~We are: Wishing for spring but watching the snow fall

IMG_3448

~We are: Remembering where we were last year with piggie plans

pig pen winter

~We are: Planning for  this years piggies!!

~We are: Wanting a nap, very badly

~We are: Feeling pretty dingy for slipping on the ice while always preaching of “paying attention”

~We are: Wishing that the cleaning fairy would come over and do her magic

~We are: Thankful for the craziness of life and young, relentless spirit of these little ones