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Food

Bacon Dove Poppers and an Update

As you can tell, I’ve had a hard time keeping the blog updated lately.  I have really been enjoying Texas.  We’ve taken a few trips to the beach and we have a camping trip or two in our future as well.

Homesteading wise things have been going slow.  Very slow.  Thank goodness for the CSA shares.

The garlic I smuggled down here to S.A. with me from Denver did not make it.  I thought I would cry over it, but instead I just bitterly yanked out the plants from their pots.  Our compost bins (a tumbler set-up we bought when we got here) is awesome, though.  Full of black fly larva (!!) and cooks in just days.  It’s truly amazing.

We finally got a plot in the community garden in our neighborhood.  Its a 4’x8′ bed.  So far we have tomatoes, chard and kale planted.  It feels strange to be planting things now, but we are happy to have our hands in the dirt.

I began work on organizing a chicken coop tour here.  There was a lot of excitement generated at the beginning but it has fizzled out a bit.  The interest is really strong, but the city ordinances restrict the number of allowed chickens to three without a permit, and I had quite a few coop owners back out for fear of getting caught with too many birds.  Sound familiar Denver?  We’ll try again soon and hopefully the tour will actually happen.

Otherwise I’ve been busy with schooling the kiddos and trying to meet people, as well as checking in with friends and family to see that they are safe in all the flooding back home in Colorado (so far they all are).

Rick had a work sponsored dove hunt a couple of weeks ago.  He took H with him and they had a grand time.  H got to have is first (and second and third) soda pop.  He had two Sprites and a Coke, plus a Gatorade.  He filled up on chips and beef jerky, came home with a pocket knife (the prize for being the youngest “hunter”), a rubber copperhead snake which he found near a truck tire, a $20 bill for retrieving the birds, and a bag of spent shotgun shells, which Rick promised to pay him a nickel a shell.  He had over 200 shells.  He was the youngest of only a handful of kids there, was newly missing his front teeth, and Rick’s boss and co-workers completely spoiled him.

They brought home 8 doves and a pigeon.  Rick froze the pigeon whole and kept the wings to train our dog with later (I did tell you we got a dog, right?), and breasted out the doves.

We had a nice heap of jalapenos from the CSA, so of course we made poppers.  They are simple to make, and as with all things made with bacon, delicious.  We tried some with and some without cream cheese.  I preferred them with and Rick preferred them without.  But they were good both ways.  Also in our pictures you can see a couple of bell pepper pieces in there which we used to make a mild popper for the wee kids.

Grilled Bacon Dove Jalapeno Poppers

Breasts from 8 doves (16 pieces)
8 jalapeno peppers, halved lengthwise and seeds removed
Cream Cheese (optional)
8 slices of bacon, halved
16 toothpicks

After slicing and scraping out your jalapenos, schmear each pepper with some cream cheese.  Lay one dove breast half on each pepper.  Wrap each pepper half with a half-a-slice of bacon and skewer closed with a tooth pick.  Place poppers into a grill basket, and grill over a hot fire until the bacon is done, turning often.  Keep an eye on them as the bacon fat can easily light up the coals.  Remove toothpicks and enjoy.

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Categories: Hunting, Recipes | Tags: , , , , | 1 Comment

Squash Fritters with Parsley & Garlic Chives

Tuesday I tried a recipe for the first time that I just had to share.  Squash fritters.  I have never made squash fritters before this week, but they were surprisingly easy, and everyone loved them.  Even my anti-squash eaters.

This recipe is based on the zucchini fritter recipe from Smitten Kitchen.  I took her recipe and substituted what I had on hand from the CSA share this week.

Squash fritters

Squash Fritters with Parsley & Garlic Chives

1 pound summer squash (I used two small yellow squash and a white saucer squash)
1 teaspoon coarse or Kosher salt, plus extra to taste
1/3 cup +/- fresh parsley, chopped fine
1/4 – 1/3 cup garlic chives, minced
Freshly ground black pepper
1 large egg, lightly beaten
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
Olive oil for frying

Trim the ends off your squashes and then use a food processor or the large holes on a box grater to shred your squash.  Toss the squash with 1 tsp salt and place in a colander to drain for ten minutes.  Use your hands or a spoon to squeeze the liquid out of your squash.  Then place the squash in a clean kitchen towel or cheese cloth and really wring out the squash.  A lot of water will come out.  This extra step is worthwhile.

Place your squeezed and wrung out squash in a large bowl.  Add in the parsley, chives, and black pepper.  Taste for salt and add any if needed.  Mix in the egg.  In a separate bowl, mix together the flour and baking powder.  Add to your squash mixture and mix all thoroughly.

Heat oil in a cast iron pan over medium to medium-high.  Once hot, place the fritter batter, one spoonful at a time in the pan.  Flatten each fritter out into a little patty.  Work in batches, making sure not to crowd them.  Let fry 2-3 minutes per side.  Flip when they are golden brown.  If they are browning too quickly, adjust the heat on your pan.

Drain the fritters briefly on paper towels before transferring them to a baking sheet in a 200 degree oven for 10 minutes to finish setting and keep them crisp until serving.

Serve with a dollop of sour cream (or plain yogurt) and lemon juice if you like.

Lamb, fritters, okra

Categories: CSA, Recipes | 7 Comments

Rebuilding Our Food System

We spent HOW MUCH on groceries last month?!? 

Since our big move to Texas from Colorado, I have truly felt the pain of losing an established food system.  The pain of having food that doesn’t taste as fresh, the pain of less healthy food, and most of all, the financial pain.

In Colorado we had a large garden, a CSA farm share and a freezer full of meat and fruit that we harvested ourselves.  Oh yeah, and eggs and honey from the back yard.  We basically had the freshest, healthiest food possible, at a really low cost.

This is what our grocery budget looked like:

Meat (hunting licenses, fuel, ammo, misc. expenses for trip): $250/year average
Vegetables from CSA: $520/year average
Garden, bees and chickens: $400/year average
Fruit from Western Slope (including gas for trip):  $400/year average

Total yearly expenses: $1570/year or $131/month

Everything else from grocery store: $600/month average
This includes grains, dairy, beans, nuts, occasional imported fruits like oranges, limes, avocados, occasional meats like chicken, fish or bacon, canning ingredients like sugar and vinegar, misc. ingredients like soy sauce, salt, spices, etc., plus laundry detergent, shampoo, toilet paper, etc. because I’m too lazy to separate those things out.

Total average grocery spending: $731/per month for a family of five eating mainly organic, local and sustainable food.

*These averages were calculated from our actual spending totals in 2010, 2011 and 2012.  I rounded up to the nearest ten dollars.  In 2010 we only had two kids, so that year’s grocery totals were lower by about $50-100 per month than 2011 and 2012 bring the average down a bit. 

When we found out we were moving, we had 8 weeks to empty that freezer full of meat and western slope peaches, eat through all our canned goods, and generally try to get through our pantry of stocked up food.  Luckily it was January when we got the news and not September.  Whatever we couldn’t eat, we gave away.

After the move, our grocery budget literally doubled…  without the quality or quantity.

No more eggs that were just laid that morning.  No more freezer stocked with meat.  Telling the kids that no, they couldn’t have a peach smoothie because we don’t have frozen peaches.

We expected the jump in price the first month or two, but we really started to feel the pinch as time went on.  The loss of the CSA and the garden hurt the most.  I feel starved for a real tomato.  I missed the asparagus harvest.  And the pale grocery store eggs…  sigh.

Plus we just didn’t have enough… I realized my menu planning revolved around my CSA share and that I was struggling with what veggies to even buy at the store.  I’d get there and see the choices: conventionally grown with pesticides or organic but from across the globe.  All of it over-priced and lacking flavor.  I felt paralyzed, and often left the store with a big bill and too little veggies for my family who was used to a seemingly unending supply during the summer.

It wasn’t just the veggies.  All the stores here carry different brands of food than I usually bought in Denver.  I found myself reading labels again where I had been used to being able to just pick up what I knew.  This made grocery trips much longer (with three kiddos in tow) and often discouraging.

Dinner time came around and I had no plan for what to make.  We had chicken and frozen broccoli so many times the kids and Rick protested.  We went out to eat way too many times.  I gained almost fifteen pounds from the eating out, and sitting around not gardening.

Finally, I got my wits about me.

I made a giant run to Costco and bought the pantry items we needed to start rebuilding.  Lots of canned tomatoes, pasta, chicken stock, brown rice, nuts, flour and sugar, frozen berries.  I made a big trip to the bulk section of the grocery store and restocked on beans, rice, oats, quinoa and lentils.

I looked up the CSA’s I had researched before we moved.  I called them and I signed up, even though we were halfway through their seasons.  That’s right, them, their seasonsI signed us up for shares from TWO different CSA farms.  One is an all vegetable share from a farm northeast of us, and the other is a mixed share of vegetables and grass-fed meat from a ranch to the southwest of us.

I picked-up up our first ranch share from the the farmers market Sunday.  Wednesday I will get our first share from the farm.

Kids with Koch Week 1

It feels good.  Good to have fresh, organic, locally grown veggies in the house.  To know what to make for dinner.  To have in-season food with actual flavor.

So starting with an empty pantry, no freezer (it sits unplugged in the garage), and no garden, building our food system here will take time.  Restocking will take time.  But it is time well spent, so here’s to a fresh start.

Categories: CSA, Food | 5 Comments

Orange-Rosemary Cranberry Sauce and Peach-Cranberry Pie

I hope you aren’t tired of all the recipes I’ve been posting lately.  These next two are actually reprints of recipes I posted back in 2009.  They are so good, however, that they’ve become Thanksgiving favorites.  Both recipes serve about 8 people.

I really love this cranberry sauce.  I have a couple of family members who still prefer the can shaped stuff, but this has been a hit with the rest.  It makes a large batch, which means leftovers and that makes me happy.

Orange-Rosemary Cranberry Sauce
Makes 3½ cups sauce

2 packages fresh cranberries (24oz each)
1.5 cups sugar
4 large strips of orange peel
1/2 cup water
1 cup freshly squeezed orange juice
2 sprigs fresh rosemary, plus more for garnish

Rinse and drain cranberries.  In a large sauce pan, add cranberries, sugar, orange peel and water.  Over medium-high heat, bring to a boil.  Reduce heat and let simmer 15 minutes.  Add rosemary sprigs and simmer 5-10 minutes more.  Remove from heat, and stir in orange juice.  Reserve 1 cup of sauce for the pie.  Let cool, cover and refrigerate for up to a week.  To serve, bring to room temperature and remove rosemary and orange peel, garnish with a fresh rosemary sprig.

The next recipe is a pie that went from a way to use up that leftover cranberry sauce (a great way), to a planned Thanksgiving day dessert.  Rick looks forward to this pie all year long now.

I typically use frozen peaches that we harvested from the Western slope in the summer time.  Fresh peaches would certainly work as well, but they are not really at their peak around Thanksgiving.  Sometimes the frozen peaches release A LOT of juice.  If they are super juicy, I throw a handful or so of rolled oats into the pie filling to soak it up.  This is totally optional, of course.  If you don’t like oats in your pie, just pour off some of the excess juice before adding the peaches into the filling mixture.

Peach-Cranberry Pie

1 home-made pie crust for a double crust pie
6 cups frozen, sliced, unsweetened peaches, defrosted and undrained
1 cup left-over orange-rosemary cranberry sauce
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 cup flour
1/2 – 3/4 cup rolled oats (optional)
2 Tbs butter

Preheat oven to 375°.  Put bottom pie crust in a deep-dish pie plate.  Stir together peaches, cranberry sauce, sugar, flour and, if needed, oats.  Pour into prepared crust.  Dot with butter and top with second crust.  Bake for 40-45 minutes.  Cover edges of pie crust with foil if the top is browning too quickly.  Let cool for about 15 minutes before serving.

This pie is pretty topped with a lattice crust, like I did last year, but I’ve also just thrown chunks of extra rolled out dough on top, or even used a cast iron skillet and only a top crust with simple slits cut into it.  This year I plan to cut slits into my top crust to look like a rosemary sprig.  Wish me luck with that fanciness.  😉

Next week I’ll announce the winner of the DVD giveaway.  In the meantime, I hope you enjoy a wonderful Thanksgiving with your loved ones.

Categories: Food, Recipes | Tags: , | 4 Comments

Colorado Blue Grouse Potpie

Here is another recipe from this year’s hunting trip.  It’s a potpie that I made ahead and froze so that up at the cabin, all we had to do was pop it in the oven.

This recipe was originally inspired by a chicken potpie recipe I found in my Everyday Food magazine. I use dusky (blue) grouse in this recipe, but pheasant or other upland birds would be just as tasty. You can certainly also substitute chicken or some leftover Thanksgiving turkey.

Before making this recipe, I clean and cook the grouse to make a stock. In a large pot, add the grouse, an onion (chopped), celery, garlic, parsley and salt. If you skinned your grouse, add a tablespoon or so of olive oil. Cover everything with water and simmer for an hour or more until the meat is fall-off-the-bone tender and the broth is flavorful. Remove the grouse from the pot, shred the meat, and strain the broth. I usually end up with more broth than I need for this recipe. I freeze any extra for later use.

When we make the potpie, we try to use all locally grown ingredients (with the exception of the chili powder). We use green chiles and corn frozen from our summer CSA, onions and garlic from the garden, and tomatoes we canned ourselves. I like to use hot Chimayo chili powder from New Mexico.

Colorado Blue Grouse Potpie

Ingredients:
1 homemade pie crust
1 medium yellow onion, diced
5 TBS butter
3-4 cloves of garlic minced
1 TBS chili powder
½ cup flour
28oz can of diced tomatoes (or a pint-and-a-half of home-canned tomatoes), juice reserved
4 cups grouse broth
2 cups corn kernels
5 ounces roasted, peeled green chiles, diced
Meat from a whole grouse or two, cooked and shredded
Coarse salt

For the filling:
Melt butter in a large pot or deep-sided skillet over med-high heat. Add onion and cook, stirring frequently, until soft and translucent, about 10 minutes. Add garlic and chili powder, and cook about 30 seconds until fragrant. Stir in flour and cook until all the onion is well coated. Pour in the broth and tomato juice, whisking to make sure there are no lumps of flour. Add tomatoes. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer until thickened, about 10 minutes. Season with salt. Stir in corn, chiles and grouse.

Assemble the pie:
Preheat oven to 375°. On a floured work surface, roll out the pie crust to ⅛-inch thickness. Transfer filling to a 9×13 pan (or other two-quart baking dish). Top the pan with the crust, folding over the edges. With a sharp knife, cut slits in the crust.

Place the pan on a baking sheet (to catch any spills), and bake for 40-50 minutes until the crust is golden and the filling is bubbling. Remove pot pie from the oven and let cool for 15 minutes before serving.

The potpie can be assembled and frozen ahead of time. To bake from frozen, bake for 1-¼ hours at 425°.

Serves 6-8 hungry hunters.

 
Make sure to enter the Old Fed Co. “Ax Skills for the Homestead and Wilderness Survival” DVD giveaway before November 21, 2012!
Categories: Hunting, Recipes | Tags: , , , | 5 Comments

Maple-Bourbon Sweet Potatoes

We just got home from our annual week-long hunting trip.  While hunting is a big deal in our family, the trip itself is a lot of fun for other reasons.  One of them is that my sister-in-law an I love to cook.  Here is one of the recipes we had last week up at the cabin.  It’s one of Rick’s favorites, that I’m happy to share.

This recipe serves about 4 people, but is easily doubled or tripled. I usually cook by feel so don’t be afraid to taste as you go and adjust the ingredients to suit your own tastes.  Depending on the size of your sweet potatoes, and the strength of your bourbon, the potatoes can be a little strong.  It’s best to start with a 2-3 tablespoons of bourbon and add more until you like the flavor.  We like the potatoes bourbon-y but not boozy, if you know what I mean.  😉

Maple-Bourbon Sweet Potatoes

2 large sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into 1-inch pieces
½ cup cream or half-and-half
¼ cup good bourbon +/-
¼ cup pure maple syrup
pinch of salt

Place sweet potatoes in a medium pot and add water just to cover. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and cook for 15-20 minutes until the potatoes are tender. Drain the potatoes and return them to the pot. Use a potato masher to mash the potatoes. Add the cream, syrup and bourbon with a pinch of salt to the potatoes and mix well. Serve hot with a seared back strap and a simple green salad.

 
Make sure to enter the Old Fed Co. “Ax Skills for the Homestead and Wilderness Survival” DVD giveaway before November 21, 2012!
Categories: Food, Recipes | Tags: , | 8 Comments

Giveaway: Ax Skills for the Homestead & Wilderness Survival DVD

A few weeks ago, I was contacted by Alex Leavens, a survival instructor in the Portland, Oregon area, asking if I would review his DVD, “Ax Skills for the Homestead & Wilderness Survival.”  He thought that my readers here might be interested in his DVD.  After checking out his website, OldFedCo.com, I agreed.

The Review:

I’ve never seen such a detailed “how-to” DVD.  Alex meticulously covers everything from safely handing an ax, chopping wood and making kindling, to sharpening your ax and replacing an ax handle.

I really loved how clear he was about safety.  The graduated 4-Her in me also couldn’t help but think that the instruction on the DVD would really help in the making of a blue ribbon, Grand Champion 4-H project.  I would be totally comfortable having Henry watch this DVD  because it is so thorough and emphasizes safety so well.  This is actually not that surprising though, since in his bio, Alex states he was an Eagle Scout.

I was totally impressed with Alex’s accuracy in splitting and reading wood.  Since it’s easy to impress a beginner, I brought Rick in to watch the DVD with me.  Rick has chopped a fair share of firewood.  He’s not an expert on axes, but he  knows a bit about sharpening tools and safety.  I wanted his point of view on the accuracy of the information presented in the DVD.

It was cool watching the chapters on sharpening and safety and hearing Rick pipe up with plenty of “Yep! That’s the way,” as well as having him tell me what he was learning as we watched.  I liked the chapters on hanging an ax (replacing the handle) because my grandpa gave Rick all of his old tools and this DVD will be a great reference tool on caring for and maintaining them.

It is obvious while watching the DVD that Alex really knows his stuff and is also passionate about teaching.  The DVD is extremely thorough.  There are great close-ups of what he’s doing to sharpen his ax, as well as shots from many different angles showing exactly what is happening and how to do it yourself.   It made me feel like I could choose and buy an ax, use it with confidence and maintain it myself.  Check out some of the clips of the DVD on Alex’s site for some examples to see what I mean.

The section on using an ax in the back country was really cool.  I liked seeing how he set himself up using what was in the woods to split wood, make kindling and make stakes.  He even shows you how to make an in-field sharpening station.  Plus, I loved that even in the woods, he was very consistent and followed all his own safety rules.

Alex makes sure to cover every aspect of one topic before moving to the next.  There is no rushing through anything, and the pace is good for a newbie.  The chapters on the DVD are organized in a logical way, and once you grasp a skill, it’s easy to skip forward on the DVD to the next skill if you are ready to do so.

In the end, while pressing the eject button on the DVD player, Rick commented that he was pretty happy to have a good reference tool on the shelf next time he needed it.  I’m excited to use some of the skills I learned about sharpening and maintaining hand tools on Vera, my grub hoe.

The Summary:

This DVD would be great for:

  • Beginners, new to homesteading and/or hand tools.
  • Those who want to add to their skill set, especially sharpening and maintaining their own tools.
  • People with a wood-burning stove or fireplace.
  • People with a giant wood pile.
  • Youth clubs like 4-H or scouts.
  • Homeschoolers interested in teaching traditional skills.
  • Survivalists, backpackers, hikers, hunters or others that spend time in the woods.
  • People interested in hand tools, restoring old tools, reusing instead of buying new, and/or geeking out with their grandpa’s hand-me-down tools.
  • People who are intimidated by using and maintaining an ax.

This DVD would not be good for:

  • Our great-grandparents who grew up learning these skills.
  • People who are into “more power” or using a chainsaw for everything.
  • People who want to do things quickly instead of correctly.

Disclosure: I received a free DVD from Alex to write this review.  The thoughts and opinions expressed here are honest and my own.

The Giveaway:

In addition to being an authority on axes, Alex is a wilderness and survival expert.  He is a former backcountry ranger, firefighter, and survival guide.  He teaches classes in the Portland area, as well as offering ax sharpening services for locals.

Did I mention generous?  Alex promised to give away a copy of the DVD to one lucky reader!   

To be entered into the contest, please post a wilderness or survival question in the comments here before midnight, MST on November 21, 2012If you are new reader here at The Lazy Homesteader, or have been lurking for a while, this is your chance to come out of the woodwork.

I’ll double your chances if you ‘Like’ Old Federal Ax Co. on Facebook and share this post with your friends (tag @The Lazy Homesteader or use one of the buttons at the bottom of this post).  Come back here to leave a second comment telling me that you did so. 

I’ll announce the winner in a separate post, so make sure to subscribe to the LazyHomesteader.com/feed or follow me by email or on Facebook/Twitter by using one of the buttons on the sidebar (above, right).

You have two weeks to enter and spread the word.  Ready, GO!

The giveaway is now closed.  Thanks to Alex and Old Federal Ax Co., and congrats to the winner!

Categories: DIY, Giveaways, Hunting, Recommended Reading, Simple Living, Urban Homesteading | Tags: , , , , , | 22 Comments

2012 DBG Urban Homestead Tour – Part III

I’m excited to show off the last three stops we were able to get on during last month’s Denver Botanic Garden’s Urban Homestead Tour.  These three homesteads were in the heart of the city.

Toni and Dennis Kuper shared their wonderful coop with visitors.  Two years ago, Toni asked for chickens for Mother’s Day, and Dennis built the coop for her.   It is adorable and efficient.

I love how they designed it to store their chicken care supplies right inside.  It is adjacent to their dog run under a stand of shady trees in their beautiful back yard.  They have an annual chicken party for friends and coworkers in their yard.

The Kuper’s yard is mostly shaded, but they have a lovely garden carved out in the only sunshine near the garage.  I especially love the four-bin compost operation.

Our next stop took us into the Park Hill area, where we got to check out Michael Murphy’s coop and gardens.  The first thing we saw was squash and cukes inter-planted with flowers in his front yard.

The side and back yard held lovely raised beds with some great whimsy.  I love the brightly painted stakes and bird houses.

Murph made his coop primarily of recycled/re-purposed materials, and I’ve never seen anything like it.

There are two dogloos inside the chicken run.  But I just can’t describe what I thought when Murph showed us how he set them up for the neighbor kids to gather eggs.  See for yourself…

The igloos are on giant lazy-susans, and inside each dogloo is two coolers/nest boxes.

The hens both lay and roost in the coolers.  The system is warm in the winter and easy to keep clean.

The coolers just slide out for egg collection or cleaning.

I love the engineering behind this coop and how much fun it is.

The last stop I wanted to share was literally packed full of growing things.  The Blackett’s were the only homesteaders on the tour with a yard smaller than ours.

Driving up, you can see they had food growing in the hell strip between the sidewalk and the street.  A lot of people refuse to plant here, but I love that they have turned it into a garden.

We walked down the side yard where the Blackett’s keep their chickens and compost bin.

The little red coop is built from scrap wood, left over from a previous project.

The side yard gives way to an entire back yard garden.  I mean, the entire yard.  There was no grass anywhere – just a path between all the food growing.

Diane was on the back porch, generously giving out samples of honey from her top bar beehive.  The hive was at the very back of their lot, next to the garage, under the grape-vine.

I was very inspired by Diane’s garden.  Rick and I had been feeling a little jealous about all the space that many of the homesteaders had.  But Diane was growing more food than we were, in less space.  It was very encouraging.

Diane blogs about her garden, bees, chickens and homesteading at City Garden Bliss.  She has many more beautiful photos of her garden and covers topics like spinning, knitting, gleaning, and sewing as well as gardening, bee, and chicken keeping.

Thank you for letting me share the stops we went to at this year’s urban homestead tour.  I hope you enjoyed it.  I can’t wait until next year!  This was so fun for our whole family.

Make sure to check out the photos of the other stops in Part I and Part II.

Categories: Beekeeping, Chickens, Community, Garden, Urban Homesteading | Tags: , , , , , , | 5 Comments

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