Preparing our bounty – in the kitchen, post freeze harvest

Well, after much research on each of the peppers and tomatoes we harvested early due to the freeze (see post here), we have decided what we are going to make with each.

Cayenne Peppers

The cayenne peppers were grown for medicinal uses and culinary. All the freeze harvest peppers are green and did not have the opportunity to vine ripen. We decided to use these peppers for culinary purposes only. Half of them we will pickle green and the other half we will attempt to ripen and dry for cooking spice.

These are the cayenne peppers we will allow to ripen then dry out for cooking spices!

I do have 3 red cayennes that I harvested last week, they are drying out nicely. I will save some of the seeds from each pepper to plant in the spring and save the rest for medicinal purposes.

Tip:when drying peppers, slice  the blade of a knife through to allow air circulation to the core. This will help prevent mold and  decrease dry time.

Jalapeño Peppers

The jalapeño peppers we are going to use fresh in the kitchen. Tonight we had delicious appetizers – nut thin crackers with goat cheese, local peach jam, and a slice of fresh jalapeño. Amazing!

Jalapenos for cooking!

Tonight we are also adding them pasta and in the morning I will add them to eggs!  They are hot hot hot! Yum yum yum!

Green Bell Peppers and Green Chile Peppers

The green bell peppers and green chilies are currently in the process of becoming mini goat cheese stuffed peppers. YUM!

Here are the peppers on the left (pasta sauce ingredients on left).

You can find therecipe here. I’ll post an update on the results!

update: DELICIOUS!

Here is a picture of the yum!!!

Green Tomatoes

The green tomatoes are going to be used in three ways. Some will be left to ripen, some will be pickled (I have not decided on a recipe, but I know at least one jar of spicy by adding cayenne), and the final use is green tomato pasta sauce, currently in progress.  The recipe for the sauce canbe found here. I’ll post an update with pics and reviews of each 🙂

 

Here are the tomatoes for canning (and the peppers).

Here is the sauce in progress.

Canning for Christmas

If you’re interested in learning to can your own veggies for the winter, here is a Canning CD you can look into.  I have not used this resource yet, but would LOVE to get a copy for myself for Christmas.  Check it out and let us know what you think!

Find the Survivalism and Homesteading Canning CD here: http://bit.ly/x3R5Jj 24 books with instructions, recipes and more!

 

 

Rooster Slaughter Day – In the Kitchen at the Blush Family Farm

Yesterday we slaughtered four roosters.  John is going to do a post about the experience of slaughtering, I’m going to post about what we made after!  I will add a link to this article once he has posted his!

Becoming self sufficient and raising your own food is a series of trials and errors.  This is true for gardening, cooking, canning, chickens, water collection, etc….  Rooster slaughters are particularly mixed for me because I am a vegetarian.  I feel full of gratitude every time one of our birds becomes food for our family and love sharing this experience with friends and family.  With that being said, its hard for me to actually consume the birds as I have been a vegetarian since 2003 and become physically ill when I eat the flesh.  I can, on the other hand, eat the broth from bone soup quite easily.

So every time we do a slaughter I enjoy the challenge of figuring out what to do with the meat.  Here is what we did this time, including any lessons learned.

Our first bird was barbequed on the grill.  I didn’t get any pics, but it was a hit!  After the slaughter was over we let the meat breathe for a few hours and seasoned with fresh garden herbs and some dried herbs.  John started the grill mid-day and we smoked the bird for 4 hours.  Of course, free range home grown chicken is more tough than factory farmed chicken, so some of our guests made comments about the tough texture.  Those who had consumed backyard chickens before LOVED the dish and ate most of the bird.

The second bird was used to make two things.  Our first attempt at chicken jerky and bone soup.

You can find the recipe we used for the chicken jerky here.

The bone soup didn’t go as well as planned 🙁

In the past we have cooked our chicken, bones, feet and all, in water for about 24 hours to make yummy broth.  This time we did the same, including lots of garden veggies and fresh herbs.  See the picture of all our garden selection added to the soup!

The first problem happened when I overflowed our Berky Water filter.  To not waste good filtered water I poured two pitchers full of water into the soup that had been cooking for about 3 hours.  This watered it down so much it tasted very very bland.

To overcome this, I upped the heat, removed the lid, added more spice and added flax seed mill to thicken it up.  Then, for the overnight cook, I put the stove on low and went to bed. Unfortunately I woke up today to a burnt taste in the soup.  I’m not sure what to do to over come the problem, but its still sitting on the stove with only one bowl consumed by me. I think it was turning up the heat to steam off the water.  I wish I hadn’t done this, but alas, I did.  Have you ever burnt soup?  How do you overcome this?

I’m bummed about the soup and feel obligated to eat it nonetheless, since one of our birds gave their life to make it!

To see more photos of the day, please visit our family blog www.blushfamilyfarm.com

 

Home grown chicken jerky recipe

This blog post is an addendum to this post about our recent rooster slaughter.

* please see the safety warnings at the bottom of this post*

The chicken jerky experiment was a huge hit.  I found a recipe on the Yankee Kitchen Ninja website for a an Asian inspired marinade. The marinade smelled delicious and John raved about the taste when the jerky was complete.

I will paste the recipe below (originally posted here), then make comments about changes I made.

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Chicken Jerky (adapted from Preserve It Naturally: The Complete Guide to Food Dehydration)

Ingredients:
1 1/2 pounds boneless skinless chicken breast tenders, sliced into strips about 1/4 to 1/8 of an inch thick
1/2 cup low-sodium soy sauce
1 teaspoon lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger

Directions:
Mix all the ingredients except the chicken in a gallon-sized ziplock bag. Add the chicken strips, seal the bag and ensure that all the meat gets coated with marinade. Place bag in the refrigerator for about 20 minutes.

Place the meat strips on dehydrator trays. Dry at 145 degrees for 5-7 hours or until completely dry (length of drying time depends on thickness of strips).

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We used much less meat since this was just a trial run.  I used organic soy sauce, lemon juice, crushed fresh garlic, black pepper and fresh ground ginger.  The fresh garlic and ginger being the only changes to the recipe.  I did make the full marinade and used the smaller amount of meat and left it in the fridge a bit longer, so our jerky had a stronger flavor than the recipe used above would.  I think I would triple the recipe above if we were to make it using the full amount of chicken!

*safety warnings*

My friend Mariana gave some warnings and advice about using this recipe when I posted it online – please read her comments below:

And by the way, it’s not exactly that chicken spoils easy (it doesn’t spoil any easier than any other meat), it’s that commercial poultry is subject to procedures during processing that just about assure that every commercial bird you get is tainted with Salmonella. Salmonella can reproduce rapidly if food is kept in the temperature “danger zone” but remember, “FATTOM” — in order to control for pathogens, temps are not the only thing we have control over. FATTOM stands for “Food” (i.e. bacteria need something to eat in order to proliferate), “Acid/alkaline” (salmonella likes a pH around 6.5 to 7.5 IIRC), “Time” (bacteria double and double again very quickly over time, salmonella is pretty rapid), “Oxygen” (whether or not the pathogen is aerobic, anaerobic or facultative — in this case, Salmonella is facultative, meaning it will grow under BOTH conditions, but better under lower O2 conditions), and LASTLY, M – for “Moisture”.

The only reason you can even MAKE jerky of any kind is because bacteria need moisture. Because Salmonella has a high moisture requirement (called “water activity”) it is easier to kill the salmonella by drying it out, HOWEVER, please be very aware of cross contamination (which can happen even with your own birds, non-commercial!), since you might have your chicken dried out, but if Salmonella gets on other foods, they may not be subject to the same controls (i.e., there’s no such thing as chocolate jerky, and salmonella loves things like chocolate, nut butters, etc.). Also, if you plan to rehydrate meats before using them, it’s probably a good idea to bring them to proper temp in order to kill bacteria.

I don’t mean to be a party pooper, but I learned all about this in school this year and it was a real eye opener. Unsurprisingly, factory farming practices are THE WORST public health hazards, promoting anti-biotic resistant strains of ALL bad bacteria. We’ve painted ourselves into a food corner……

Today’s food safety lecture is over…….. forewarned is forearmed, and we love love forearmed!!!

Organizing Our Lives

Since having Aliana just over a year ago our lives have become rather chaotic.  Our dishes are rarely done, our clean clothes lay piled on the couch in our room and our dirty clothes piled on the floor in front of the washer.  With cloth diapers I feel like I am drowning in laundry and I know we have to figure out a good routine before baby number two arrives, or we are doomed!

I’ve been spending some time reading up on the FlyLady.net method of home organization.  My only issue with *really* getting started has been a few months of morning sickness that really set me behind every morning.   I am getting sick fewer and fewer days each week and I am excited to get back into a morning routine!!!

Believe it or not, at one point I maintained a really fabulous morning routine that began around 7am and included time outside in the garden, breakfast, coffee, meditation, yoga, and feeding the chickens.  Then I had a baby and I lost track of anything but her.  I am craving routine again and craving time to be creative and productive, so I have decided I WILL change the way we live before the next baby arrives.

For me, this means several things.

1. Hiring Help.  We went ahead and hired a company to come detail our house every two weeks.  Trying to maintain a small chicken farm, a thriving garden, raising children and pursuing personal goals is just not possible if I’m also the sole person responsible for household chores.  What I LOVE about expecting them every other Wednesday is that every other Tuesday is my deadline for having all surfaces clutter-free (ie: laundry put away, dishes done, table cleared, all toys picked up, etc…).

I have also set the goal of having the house more organized every-time they show up, this means the Tuesdays I am not prepping for their impending arrival, I spend weeding out closets, sorting through piles, setting up new furniture and getting our house in order.  Trust me, its a huge task.  We have piles of boxes and bags to sort through in every room!  This leads to item number two.

2. De-Cluttering the house.  John had boxes and boxes of stuff that he moved from apartment to house to house and never unpacked before moving here.  Combing his massive amount of stuff with with I already had and what we’ve acquired since moving in together has resulted in a massive amount of stuff and no where to put it all. I realize, and FlyLady.net, affirms that this is the main source of our household chaos.

I have been tackling one room at a time and systematically weeding things out.  I’m keeping things that are high in quality, things we USE regularly, and getting rid of everything else.  It feels great to hand of no longer needed baby items to friends that are expecting and clothes to thrift stores and toys to children’s charities.  It also feels great to see a pile of trash bags waiting to be hauled away.  Yesterday and today I have been tackling the kitchen.  I am so excited bout my new cupboard organization that I just may post pictures when I’m done 😀

3. Developing routine.  This means daily, weekly and monthly routines that help ensure everyone in the household has the time and energy to do the things that make them feel fulfilled while also doing the things that have to be done to maintain a household. FlyLady.net discusses in detail her routine that works for her.  I’m taking her model and tweaking it for our family.

She suggests developing a morning and evening routine that you do every day.  The evening is for cleaning up the day and preparing for the next, the morning is for gearing up for the day and getting everything started on a good foot.  To do this I found a daily checklist that I printed out.  Tonight I’m going to hand write what I’d like to try as my routine and make copies to use the next week.  I’ll let you know how it goes!

Daily checklist morning/evening: http://organizedhome.com/printable/household-notebook/daily-do-it-checklist

Next I wanted a place to organize my long term tasks that I don’t want to slip between the cracks.  For this I printed out several copies of a “Master Checklist”.  I hope to spend one day every other week dedicated to knocking items off my Master To Do List 😀  (Some of this might become inspiration for an updated vision board!)

Master checklist: http://organizedhome.com/printable/household-notebook/master-do-list

So there is my strategy, I hope it helps you develop yours!