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Archive for July, 2013

I have a friend who works for a greenhouse in the province, growing peppers and cucumbers and such. He also mans a stand at the farmer’s market in his city. We dropped by on market day this spring, and not only was he kind enough to shut my shrieking kid up by handing him free mini cucumbers to munch on, but he also talked us into buying a small bag of his special all-natural chipotle spice.

 

Now, I am not normally a fan of chipotle. Most of the chipotle-flavored stuff from the store is marred by artificial flavors and liquid smoke. Of course, chipotle is one of Hubby’s favorite flavors. So when my friend went on about how he had ordered real mesquite wood from the southern States and properly smoked the adobo peppers with it, my ears perked up. Here was a chance to make stuff with one of Hubby’s favorite flavors that I might also enjoy.

 

measured spice

 

Of course, we’ve been trying to invent recipes to use it in ever since.

 

With the hot weather this summer, we don’t always want to cook, though. In fact, I rarely want to cook, but my motivation is sapped that much more when it’s thirty-five degrees (Celsius) in my kitchen before I even look at the stove. Luckily, we’ve been able to come up with a recipe that requires no stove-top cooking at all.

 

This is not the bean salad you remember from childhood potlucks, but it’s a crowd-pleaser around here. If we’re too lazy to barbeque something to go with it, we’ll even just eat this as our main dish…it’s that good!

 

Not Your Grandmother’s Bean Salad

 

2 cups sweet corn (I use home-frozen stuff)

2 – 19 oz cans red kidney beans

1 – 19 oz can black beans

1 red pepper, chopped fine

1 onion, chopped fine

1/2 cup lime juice

1/2 cup olive oil

2 tbsp honey

1 tsp mild chili powder

1/4 to 1/2 tsp ground chipotle peppers (to taste – 1/4 tsp of my friend’s chipotle spice makes a moderately spicy dish, comparable to medium mainstream brand salsa from the store; 1/2 tsp makes it more comparable to the hot salsa, but your chipotle spice may vary)

 

 

Warm the lime juice together with the honey in the microwave enough to dissolve the honey. Mix all of the other ingredients, and pour the lime juice / honey mix over top. Stir thoroughly, and eat immediately, or chill in the fridge. We find the flavors meld overnight, and peak flavor is on about day three…if it lasts that long!

 

 

chipotle - lime bean salad

chipotle – lime bean salad

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We picked two big mixing bowls of strawberries, today.   The berries were huge huge and sweet and still warm from the sun.

 

acreage strawberries

 

I chopped seven cups for the freezer.  Martha Stewart would freeze them nicely on cookie sheets, then package them up once they were frozen, so they didn’t stick together.  I am not Martha Stewart.  I pre-measure the packages to the sizes my recipes call for, throw them in vacuum-sealer baggies, and go to town.  We just break them up and throw them in the blender for smoothies, anyways, or thaw them for baking and such.

 

acreage strawberries

 

This is way beyond the hundred mile diet.  This is a zero mile diet.  Those berries came from literally just out my front door!

 

 

Standing on my front step; the little round strawberry patch is to the east of my door

Standing on my front step; the little round strawberry patch is to the east of my door

 

 

Standing on my front step; this little round strawberry patch is to the west of my door

Standing on my front step; this little round strawberry patch is to the west of my door

 

We planted about 100 plants in four little patches, in 2011.  We got fifty of an everbearing variety, and fifty of a June bearing variety.  For whatever reason, all of the plants are going nuts right now.  Last week, we put seven cups in the freezer, plus I took strawberries to work for lunches.  This week was much the same; seven cups for the freezer, plus plenty to eat!

 

eating strawberries

The taste is incomparable.

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Social Capital

Every so often, Hubby reminds me that the eggs are building up in the cold room. Especially now that I’m back to work, and we don’t have eggs for breakfast every day, we do sometimes end up with way more than we need. Last summer, we were selling our extras, and that worked out well, but after the fox got a bunch of our hens, we didn’t have enough to fulfill orders anymore, and we got too sporadic for most of our buyers.

 

Not long ago, I got ‘reminded’ that we had six dozen extra eggs downstairs. That’s seventy-two eggs, in case you were counting, which is actually quite a lot! It is not, however, enough to really sell to regular buyers, and not enough to be worth making a special trip into town to sell.

 

Now, we owe a bunch of thanks to a bunch of people around here. The folks up the road who plowed our garden for a cut rate, for instance, and the neighbors who gifted us a hundred and fifty bushels of bin sweepings (waste grain, which makes great chicken feed). People I don’t think we could really adequately thank, or repay.

 

So we took our six dozen eggs and shared the wealth around. Everybody was very happy with them, and wanted to pay us, but you know, I’d much rather have happy neighbors than the money anyhow. Twenty or thirty dollars worth of farm eggs go a long way to strong community relations, and you just can’t put a price tag on that!

 

farm eggs

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Mom was cleaning out cupboards some time ago, and asked me if I’d like her old Donvier crank ice cream maker.  It’s the kind that has a metal piece that goes in the freezer to pre-chill, and then you pour in the liquid mix and crank…and crank…and crank…

 

I know the technology is better now, and there’s even electric ice cream makers, but it wasn’t something that was even on my radar, until we had this Baby M’s dairy allergy to contend with.  I wasn’t even too concerned about it until the last couple of days, when the temperature finally went from ‘cold wet spring’ to ‘definitely summer’.  It was over thirty degrees today!  Suddenly, ice cream was in order.

 

Luckily, the goat kids are old enough that I can ‘steal’ some milk from the does without any issue.  Last night, we separated the kids from the does, and this morning, I milked.  Happily, Skye, who has never been milked before, was very good on the stand, at least until she ate all her grain.  Saffron, of course, was her usual bomb-proof self.  I got a decent-sized bucket of milk for my efforts…enough for a quart of ice cream, with some left over, even!

 

I didn’t realize ice cream called for eggs, as well.  Fortunately, we have plenty of those, too. I used the green-shelled eggs from Blue-Legs, our Americauna hen, since she ranges the most, and has the yellow-est yolks.

 

Blue Legs eggs

 

In fact, of the four ingredients on the list, the milk and eggs were produced completely on-farm, and the vanilla was something I also made, from beans I ordered from Uganda.  The sugar was the only thing I did not have a hand in in one way or another.  When you think about raising and milking the goat for your milk, raising the chicken that laid the eggs, and soaking the beans for six months to make the vanilla, this ice cream is really, really slow food!  It certainly makes me want to eat less and savor more, which, really, may be a solution to the wide-spread over-consumption we seem to have in North America.  When you make something from scratch-scratch, by producing even the ingredients, you suddenly realize how under-priced food is at the store…but that is a rant for another day.

 

Like so many good things, the recipe is very simple – only four ingredients!  You definitely want to use the freshest milk and nicest vanilla (no imitation extract!) for this, as the flavor is so dependent on the ingredients you use!

 

farm eggs and milk

 

French Vanilla Goat Milk Ice Cream

 

4 cups goat milk

3 eggs

1 cup sugar

1 to 2 tsp vanilla

 

Beat the eggs into half the milk, until everything is very well-mixed.  Add the sugar and the rest of the milk, and heat on low, stirring constantly, until the mixture thickens a bit and sheets off the back of the spoon – about 15-20 minutes.   Cool the mixture (I put the pot directly in the fridge for a few hours), then add the vanilla (I like strong flavors, and used 1 1/2 tsp, but my vanilla is at least double strength.  You can taste the mixture to see if you want more vanilla in it).  At that point, put the mixture in your ice-cream maker, and chill or crank according to your machine’s instructions.

 

ice cream maker

I would have included a picture of my ice cream with strawberries, but it was melting too fast in the heat, so I was forced to eat it quickly!

 

 

 

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