Independence Days: Spring Fever

So this week, I’ve been bustin’ out projects left and right.  We built the chickens the new nest box on Saturday.  Rick cut another big limb off the tree Sunday morning, but the weather quickly turned too cold and snowy to do anything else outdoors.  Instead we did some decluttering in the former office, and started some major basement reorganization.

Rick picked up more stone for our future patio, and I’ve sort of been on a baking kick too.  Not to mention the serious, and much needed hose-down Rick gave the high chair (I don’t remember H getting it so dirty?), the copious amounts of laundry he got off my plate this weekend, and the serious scrub down in the kitchen.  What would I do without him??

Rick says I’m nesting, but I think it’s a bit of spring fever.  I am just so happy that warmer weather is here, to get a little vitamin D, to get some dirt under my fingernails again.  It was a long winter for me.

This week’s report…

Plant something – more spinach, more leeks

Harvest something –  24 eggs, spinach enough for a couple omelets.

Preserve something – some pork gravy Rick couldn’t bear to throw out.  😉

Waste Not – compost, scraps to chickens, etc.  Lots of recycling this week.  😉  Listed three chairs on craigslist to make more room in the little house.  We sold one on Monday.  I hope the others sell, we could use the money and the room!  Also still haven’t missed a week of meal planning (yay me!).  That’s 12 weeks straight now.

Want Not – Built the chickens a new nest box, got more stone, been scouring craigslist for everything lately, including a new camera and a picnic basket.  Haha.

Build Community Food Systems – nothing major or even interesting here this week.  Do you hear the crickets chirping yet?

Eat the Food – The usual – stuff from the freezer, another jar of jam, elk, etc.  Made some really yummy potato soup-turned corn chowder from frozen corn this week.  Recipe from my head:

3 slices of bacon
1/2 onion, diced
1/4 cup flour
4 cups milk
4 large potatoes, peeled and chopped (I cut mine into various sizes so some break-down and some don’t)
corn from 4-5 ears
salt and pepper
shredded cheddar and/or pepper jack cheese

In a large pot, cook the bacon until crispy over med-high heat.  Remove the bacon to drain, and reserve 3ish tablespoons of the grease in the pot.  Add the onion and saute for a few minutes until the onion begins to soften.  Add the flour and whisk until there are no lumps and the flour is cooked but not browning.  Add the milk, whisking, a cup at a time until all the milk is added and there are no lumps of flour.  Add the potatoes and corn.  Salt and pepper to taste.  Bring to a boil, stirring constantly so the milk doesn’t scorch, the reduce heat to a simmer.  Continue cooking about 20-25 minutes until the potatoes are soft and the smaller pieces begin to break down.  Meanwhile, crumble the bacon and shred the cheese.  When the small potatoes are broken down, serve with cheese and bacon pieces on top.  Serves 6 (ish).

Categories: Food, Independence Days, Recipes | 4 Comments

Three Cheers for Volunteers!

Last week we went out to the garden and found THIS!  Volunteer spinach!  Hooray!

We decided to take advantage of the nice weather by getting a bit of garden prep done and putting a few seeds into the ground.  Rick also helped the neighbor get more ready on his garden by digging out three tree stumps and getting some major tilling and composting into the beds.

Our neighbor is cracking me up.  When he first wanted to do the garden he gave me free license for garden design as long as it included corn and potatoes.  Now he’s got definite ideas about what he wants and doesn’t want, so we are modifying the plans I made all winter a bit.  I’m actually really glad, since it tells me he’s a lot more excited about his space than he is letting on.  We’re adding carrots and onions.  He’s from Indiana and missed the corn fields, so we are planting four long rows for him to walk through.  I talked him into beans with the corn, though he thinks he “won’t like how it looks,” he’s willing to let me try it since I keep telling him the beans will help feed the corn.  But corn and beans are still a few month off.  This is what we actually planted this weekend:

Plant something – spinach, lettuce (four kinds), radishes, and peas.

Harvest something – eggs, compost and a leaf or two of that volunteer spinach.

Preserve something – Ah – TAMALES!  My friend, Jen, came over on Saturday and while Rick and the boys kept busy digging out tree stumps, we made a triple batch of corn and poblano tamales.  We ended up with 90!  Jen took about 30 of them home and let me keep the rest.  She was super generous and I’m very grateful!  We put away enough for five meals in the freezer, and kept out enough for Saturday’s dinner and lunch on Sunday.  And – OH were they delicious.

We also learned about making lard – we rendered pork fat both last year and this year.  But we learned a bit more this time around.  We ended up coming up short, so we added bacon grease.  I knew I was keeping that around for something!

Waste Not – compost and recycling

Want Not – Sunday we bought a few new baby chicks.  I really want a hen that will go broody so we can have her raise future chicken generations, so we’re hoping the Buff Orpington will provide on that front.  We added another Araucana, because I really love getting colored eggs,  and I’ve been thinking of actually, finally, selling some eggs, just to recover the cost of the feed, so we added a third – a Black Star.  Wouldn’t it be great if one of them liked to lay double-yolked eggs?  We had one pullet in the last batch that laid them nearly every day like a champ, but she was killed by a fox attack.

Build Community Food Systems – Well – already mentioned the tamales and the neighbor’s garden.  That’s it for this week.

Eat the Food – lots of items from the pantry.  Nothing special.

Categories: Chickens, Food, Garden, Independence Days, Recipes, Urban Homesteading | Tags: , , , , , | 2 Comments

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

Blog at

%d bloggers like this: