Happy Chickens Lay the Best Eggs

LOOK what we got this week!

Plant something – not yet… this weekend if it doesn’t snow though!

Harvest something – eggs! Even old Mayzie girl laid eggs and she’s four this year!  We’re so happy to be back in eggs from out own girls.

Preserve something – two quiches and a bag of soup went into the freezer – I’m trying to get some meals frozen for when the baby comes.

Waste Not – compost and recycling, scraps to chickens, etc.  And I’m seven weeks straight on planning meals!

Want Not – We scored some twin beds for the boys from craigslist.  They are a really nice set that can be bunked or not.  We’ve already set up H’s and he LOVES it.  We’ll be saving his other bed for the new baby when they are older.

Build Community Food Systems – shared some frozen green chiles and grape jam with my sis & bro-in-law.

Eat the Food – Duck was on the menu this week.  I usually have a harder time using our game birds than the elk or venison, but I am making a point to do it.  And I LOVE duck!  Served up two zucchini-green chile quiches using veggies from the freezer at brunch.

This is my favorite duck recipe: Doug’s Grilled Duck Breasts from Field and Stream Magazine.  So yum!

Categories: Chickens, Garden, Independence Days, Recipes | Tags: , | 1 Comment

Independence Days: Week 31

Plant something – nothing

Harvest something – eggs, tomatoes, kohlrabi, zucchini, eggplant (!), pumpkins.  The chickens are really slowing down with their eggs.  In fact we had to buy some this past week.  😦  I harvested three of our eggplants.  They were a bit on the small side, but I didn’t want to take the chance of them getting a frost without us even getting one.  They were delicious.  There are a few more still out there.  We’re going to let them grow as long as the weather holds out.

Preserve something – dried more tomatoes on the dehydrator, froze some winter squash puree.

Waste Not – compost and recycling, scraps to chickens, etc.

Want Not – nothing.

Build Community Food Systems – started working up a plan for my neighbor’s garden.  After six years of watching us, he’s announced that he’d like a space in his yard (next to our garden) where he’d like to grow corn and potatoes.  He asked for help and we are HAPPY to give it!  Yay!

Eat the Food – made a couple yummy things this week.

Orecchiette with Butternut Squash Cream Sauce

Cook 2 cups orecchiette pasta in salted water until al dente.  In the mean time, saute 1/2 a diced onion in olive oil until soft.  Add 1 tsp dried sage and saute until fragrant.  Drain pasta reserving 2 TBS of the cooking water.  Return the pasta to pot.  Add the onions and 1/2 a butternut squash that has been roasted until tender and smashed slightly to the pot.  Stir in reserved pasta water and about 1/4 cup half and half.  When all is well combined stir in 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese.  Serves 2.

Double Chocolate Jalapeno Muffins (pictured above)

So I took the original recipe found here, and substituted three fresh jalapenos that had turned red (therefore a bit sweeter than the green ones).  So delicious!

Categories: Food, Garden, Independence Days, Recipes | Tags: | 3 Comments

Independence Days: Week 28?

Wow – I think it’s twenty-eight.  I have sort of lost count.  So we’ll go with it.

This week I’ve been playing catch up with the house and laundry and trying not to let any of the food go bad.  I don’t yet have all the green chiles peeled and in the freezer yet.  I’m hoping they will make it a couple more days, but I’m afraid they might not.

I’ve also been trying to get a lot done around the yard.  This weekend is Denver’s chicken coop tour, which we’re participating in.  So of course, I want our yard in an unnaturally clean and perfect manner.  😉  Ha!

Back when we picked peaches, we got a few apples as well.  they’ve been yummy and lasting quite a while on the counter, but our time is about to run out with them, so I decided this morning to dry them.  I’ve never dehydrated apples before, so wish me luck!

Here’s the update this week.

Plant something – some more flowers and bulbs.  No food, but I am hoping to get a few seeds in the ground to over winter (garlic if it’s not too late).

Harvest something – eggs, tomatoes, kohlrabi.

Preserve something – tomatoes frozen, French onion soup made and frozen, some chiles in the freezer.  Put apples on the dehydrator this morning.

Waste Not – compost and recycling, scraps to chickens, etc.

Want Not – nothing.

Build Community Food Systems – I just realized that I never told you that H, E and I helped with a film that Denver Urban Homesteading is making to get the city of Denver to lift the law preventing chickens inside city limits without a permit.  I am excited to see the video (I think it will be on youtube), and I will certainly share when it’s finished!

Eat the Food – made a big pot of veggie soup just to use some things up!  I also made this eggplant lasagna that was a bit of an experiment – the original recipe was a bit different, and I didn’t have what was called for so I made some substitutions.  It turned out really yummy.  Here’s the recipe – it sounds so weird, but it tasted great!

1 ½ pounds eggplant sliced ¼” thick
3 Tbs olive oil
coarse salt and ground pepper
4-6 slices bacon cooked until crisp and crumbled
¼ tsp ground all spice
1/3 cup chopped fresh mint
1½ tsp dried oregano
5 cups Bechamel Sauce (I would increase the milk in the recipe to 5 cups, the flour to 1/3 cup, and add 2-3 cloves of garlic)
8-12 no-boil lasagna noodles
1 cup shredded swiss cheese
¼ cup grated Parmesan cheese

Toss eggplant with 2 Tbs olive oil, salt and pepper and put on a baking sheet.  Roast eggplant in 400 degree oven for about twenty minutes.  Meanwhile, make your Bachamel sauce and cook your bacon.

When the bacon is crisp, remove from pan and drain off most to all of the drippings.  Add 1 Tbs olive oil to bacon pan and all of the herbs and spices.  Saute about three minutes, and add crumbled bacon back to pan.

Spread 1 cup sauce in the bottom of an 8×8 pan (I use a pan that is about 8×10).  Place two or three noodles over sauce.  Layer with half of the eggplant.  Then 1 cup more of sauce and ¼ cup of Swiss cheese.  Layer two or three more noodles.  Layer on all of the bacon-herb mixture.  Top with another cup of sauce and another ¼ cup of Swiss cheese.  Top with two or three more noodles and repeat eggplant layer with remaining ingredients, reserving the Parmesan.

Cover with foil and bake for 35 minutes.  Remove foil, top with reserved cheese and continue to bake 5 -10 minutes more until the cheese is bubbly.  Remove from oven, let cool 15-20 minutes and serve.

Categories: Canning and Food Preservation, Food, Independence Days, Recipes | Tags: | 1 Comment

Independence Days: Week 19

The update:

Plant something – nothing planted

Harvest something – eggs, turnips, onions, cucumbers, sour cherries (destined for the dehydrator – and maybe a pie), zucchini.

Preserve something – Finally!  Made 10 quarts and 8 pints of dill pickles, and 7 half-pints of pickled garlic!

Waste Not – compost and recycling, of course, scraps to chickens, etc.  We usually have about half of a bag of trash per week – how’s that for not wasting??

Want Not – I feel like I’m really getting better at this food storage bit – what with the elk and getting things in bulk.  Looking for someone to split a bag of quinoa with…

Build Community Food Systems – my friend took me to pick the cherries this week – a tree at her church was just FULL of them – big and plump.  Can’t believe the birds had not eaten them.

Eat the Food – my favorite thing this week:

Chili-Basil Elk and Broccoli over Coconut Rice

1.25 cups jasmine rice
1 can (13.5 oz) coconut milk plus 3/4 cup water
pinch of salt to taste
1-2 TBS olive oil
1 small onion, diced
3-4 green chiles, chopped
1 head of broccoli, chopped
1 big handful of green beans, trimmed (and cut if you like)
1-1.5 lbs thinly sliced elk (can subsitute beef)
2 tsp dried or 3 TBS fresh basil
1 TBS fish sauce
2 TBS plus 2 tsp low sodium soy sauce
1-2 tsp sesame oil
2-3 cloves of garlic, crushed or minced

In a medium sauce pan, combine the rice, coconut milk, water and salt.  Cover, bring to a boil, reduce to simmer for 25 minutes.  Combine the fish sauce, soy sauce, sesame oil and garlic in a small dish and set aside.  Meanwhile, in a wok or large skillet heat oil over high and add onions and green chiles.  Saute for 3-4 minutes, and then add broccoli and green beans.  As soon as the veggies start to brighten in color, add the meat and the basil.  Stir often.  Just before the meat is browned completely and not quite cooked through, add the sauce mixture.  Keep stirring for 30 seconds to a minute, until it is fragrant, the meat is done to your liking and the veggies are bright green, but not over cooked.  Serve in a bowl over the coconut rice.

Categories: Canning and Food Preservation, Food, Garden, Independence Days, Recipes, Sustainability | 4 Comments

Independence Days – Week 18

Somehow time is passing me by in weird spurts and gusts.  I’m not sure where my weeks are going, and I keep thinking that I’m off on my week count for Independence Days.  We’re going with the week of July 11th as week 18.  If I’m wrong – then let me know.

The update:

Plant something – nothing planted

Harvest something – eggs, turnips, raspberries and, at the farm, garlic.  Also, Henry picked one orange cherry tomato.  Our onions are about ready too, but we’ve been getting a lot from the farm, so I’ve been dragging my feet on pulling them.

Preserve something – Continued to re-stain the fence.  Also moved everything into one freezer, and unplugged and defrosted the other freezer.

Waste Not – compost and recycling, of course, scraps to chickens, etc.  Also feeding Josie the elk scraps instead of buying more dog food.  She loves it and we are saving some money too.

Want Not – nothing??

Build Community Food Systems – the new neighbors that just moved in by us saw us cutting up the elk last week.  They brought over some salmon they caught in Alaska to share – in return we gave them eggs!

Eat the Food – we ate lots this week, but I had a zucchini recipe that I tossed together to share this week:

Zucchini Mushroom Frittata

6 large eggs                                                                     2 small or one medium zucchini cut into rounds
1/2 cup ricotta cheese                                                      6-8 ounces mushrooms sliced
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese                                      1/2 onion, diced
salt and pepper to taste                                                    4 slices bacon, cut into half-inch pieces
1-2 tsp each dried basil and thyme (or 1 T each fresh)

Combine eggs, cheeses, herbs, salt and pepper in a bowl and set aside.  In a 12″ non-stick skillet, cook bacon and onions over medium-high heat until onions begin to soften and the bacon renders most of it’s fat, about 5 minutes.  Add mushrooms and continue to cook about 5 minutes more until the liquid is evaporated.  Add the zucchini slices and saute until the begin to soften and brown, about 3 more minutes.  Pour egg-cheese mixture over the zucchini mixture.  Stir gently, once to combine.  Reduce heat to medium and let stand.  Cook until the eggs begin to set on top, about 5 minutes.  Run a rubber spatula around the edge of the pan to keep the frittata from sticking to the sides.  If desired, place the pan under the broiler for 2-3 minutes to brown the top.  Transfer the frittata to a plate and serve.

Categories: Food, Independence Days, Recipes | Leave a comment

2010 Independence Days – Week 1

So – the first week has passed and I am excited that we have a few things accomplished, though not many. 

Plant something – nothing yet, but we are getting a plan together.

Harvest something – eggs – we’ve been lucky that our hens have laid through most of the winter with no heat lamp or anything. 

Preserve something – nothing – would have done the tamales, but they were too good and had to be eaten straight away!

Waste Not – compost and recycling.  We had to find a new place to take the recycling, since the local place moved away. 

Want Not – Rick started cleaning up in the yard a bit this weekend.  A bit more of this to do until the garden is ready to plant. 

Build Community Food Systems – Made a big batch of tamales with my friend Jen last Sunday.  I brought home about 25.  We were going to freeze them, but they were SOOOOOO tasty.  So we kept them in the fridge for quick lunches.  That’s good too though, since I often skip lunch if there’s nothing easy to eat. 

Also, joined the Advisory Group for the CSA.  I’ll be working on the web communications with a few other members. 

Eat the Food – We’ve enjoyed the pickled beets, canned and frozen peaches, elk sausage, bacon, basil pesto, and pablanos from the freezer this week.  Here’s the recipe for the delish tamales (from Grilled Tamales with Pablanos and Fresh Corn – Yum Yum!  Oh – and Jen rendered the lard for us!  She went to buy lard, and the butcher at the store did not have enough, so he gave her some pork fat and we rendered it ourselves.  Easy and interesting.  No – we did not eat the chicharróns however.  😉

Categories: Chickens, Food, Independence Days, Recipes | 2 Comments

The Left-over Cranberry Sauce of your Dreams

Must share this yummy recipe – I made it up myself last night!

Peach-Cranberry Pie

1 home made pie crust (made with butter is the best!)
8 cups sliced fresh peaches (or frozen, 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 (I used a big handful)
2 Tbs butter

Preheat oven to 375.  Put pie crust in a deep dish pie plate (or, if you’re like me, your cast iron skillet).  Stir together peaches, cranberry sauce, sugar, flour and oats.  Put in pie plate.  Dot with butter.  Bake for 40-45 minutes.  Cover edges of pie crust with foil if they are browning too quickly.  Let cool for about 15 minutes before serving with a scoop of vanilla ice cream.

If you wanted to, you can just put the filling in the pan and cover with the crust (like in my picture) and serve it in a bowl, or this would be very good with a lattice pie crust on top.  But I am in way too much of a hurry for my desserts to go to all that work unless I’m making it for a party or something.

Categories: Food, Recipes | 1 Comment

Where I’ve Been and Independence Update!

Wowza!  I’ve been off the blog for over a week – it’s been a mad house around here!  What with the teething and growing and friends over for dinner and getting all set for the holidays, plus prepping to do my student teaching!  Yikes!

So a quick update…. I think I owe a few weeks of Independence days.  We’d be on week 28, but I really don’t feel like I have all that much to report for the last three weeks or so (see the mad house comment, above).  The chickens are just hanging out (or hanging in) in the snow, and we are still getting two or three eggs a day from them.  The two older hens are not laying, and I’m guessing they won’t lay through the winter.  The three little girls are busy, but they can’t keep up with Henry, the egg eating machine, so we did buy a couple dozen this week.  Yes, they are both local and humane.  😉

So there’s nothing in the Plant Something, and only eggs in the Harvest Something category.  Does any one know if it is too late to put garlic in the ground?  We’ve wanted to do this, but have kept putting it off and now it might be too late??

We did pick up our hog (well, only half a hog this fall) last week.  We split it with Dave the Dentist, and so maybe that counts as Want Not/Prep & Storage or Build Community Food Systems??  Since we didn’t harvest anything new, there was nothing to Preserve.  Wait, no, I take that back.  We did boil a turkey carcass to death, so we preserved some turkey stock (which is delicious!).

Waste Not – well, compost and recycling, of course, and we are still mucking about with the pallets Rick brought  home for the new bins we want to make.  Rick brought home a piece of drywall that was to be cast off at work (they’re remodeling his office), to replace a damaged piece in our basement junk room.  Also, found a couple of cute uses for scrap fabric that have been transformed into Christmas gifts.

Eat the Food – ah, food.  The one category that never fails me.  I always eat!  So this week, we are making green bean casserole from beans we froze, and chardonnay glazed carrots from the sweet carrots of the late summer/early fall.  And mashed potatoes from the spuds stored down in the basement.  Yum.  Yes, we are hosting Thanksgiving dinner.  I plan to break out the home-made dill pickles and watermelon rind pickles for snacks while the turkey roasts.

And I made my cranberry sauce ahead of time.  I adapted an Everyday Food recipe.  I was standing there cooking it, when suddenly the urge to add rosemary overcame me.  I put it in and I think it turned out pretty tasty.  So here’s that one for you:

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.  Let cool, cover and refrigerate for up to a week.  To serve, bring to room temperature and remove rosemary, garnish with a fresh rosemary sprig.

So that catches up the Independence Days.  Happy Thanksgiving Day to you!

Categories: Chickens, Food, Independence Days, Recipes | 1 Comment

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