Cost: $100 (mostly recycled materials).Value? priceless. After a hard day of trampling paths up & down the hill or shoveling the 22″ of snow that have graced us since Friday (or plowing snow for Keith, including the road and the driveway of several neighbors), we […]
They love insects, worms, caterpillars, maggots, larvae, meat if they can get it. They do need animal protein for a balanced and healthy diet – which means also chicken and eggs healthy to eat – and delicious. If anybody ever doubted that chickens are not […]
The chicken have moved to their winter quarters.
We’ve taken the wire fence from the summer garden down; moved the electric net fence to enclose the new chicken area; relocated the coop inside the old summer garden, and built a little dome shelter – complete with perches – so the chicken can be outside the coop and dry on wet days – like today.
The idea is to harness “chicken power” in helping to prepare next year summer garden. We’ll give them the run of the area through late April, with the hope that they will eat the bugs, control weeds, aerate the soil and incorporate organic matter – including their droppings – in the top soil (since I am also piling leaves, old straw, and other organic debris in there). Besides providing us with tasty eggs, those girls (and one boy) are playing a big role in the cycle of the garden.
Come April, they’ll be moved to another area that I want them to help clear. We hope to rotate them every 6 months, with the idea that, at all time, one area will be under chicken patrol, one area will be fallow (with cover crop) and one area cultivated.
Meanwhile, this winter, we have work to do moving the stones around to change the perimeter of the summer garden. One can see on the picture low stone “walls” outlining the perimeter of the initial summer garden – about 28 feet square. We saw way too small when we first did it two years ago. Of course, at the time, it looked big, and picking and moving the stones from the to-be-planted area to the perimeter was no small task. Fields grow stones, around here! Prospectives have changed. Funny how that happen. I now have grand plans for extensive plantings of beans, corn & squash for next year, so the summer garden is likely to be 3 to 4 times bigger by the time we are done.
A girl can dream.
The stones will have to be moved.
Something softly went through the hollow last night, dropping huge handfuls of wet snow all over. The snow on the ground was gone by mid-morning, but wads of sticky whiteness remained in shrubs and dry grasses – looking like cotton candy. Meanwhile, inside under the […]
It’s been really cold here. We have seen the minuses (Fahrenheit, that is!). Oh, I know, there are areas of the country where winter is routinely at -20 F… but not here in the Northern Piedmont… and without snow cover at that! I don’t dare checking my poor greens in the gardens, huddled under layers of agricultural fabrics and straw…
And an easy one too please. Using staples. And one that’s fast. And tasty! And not boring.
OK! Here is a recipe that fits all the requirements. And if you protest that ginger, fish sauce and chilies are not part of your pantry, you protest too much. They should. Ginger keeps for weeks when stored at room temperature; do not put this tropical root in the fridge: it will get chilly, sulk and start growing mold. Alternatively, if you insist on chilling ginger, then go ahead, and chill it all the way: peel, chop and process the roots in your food processor (or grate) until you have a rough puree, and then freeze it in small quantities (that’s what ice-cube trays are for!); when you need some, just take a cube out. If you really left ginger out so long that it sprouts new shoots, eat them, they are a delicacy. As far as fish sauce, it will often save the day, transforming a boring dish: a tablespoon or two will bring that elusive definition-escaping yet recognizable taste present in so many of the South-East Asia cuisines. Finally, fresh chilies can be frozen or turned very easily into fiery sauces ready to enliven a soup and warm you up from the inside on a frigid day. Got it? There, three more things for your pantry. And do yourself a favor: buy the fish sauce by the quart. It’ll cost just as much as those fancy little bottles in gourmet markets and it’ll keep forever.
The rest of the ingredients are quite plebeians, wouldn’t you say? Rice, chicken, carrots, celery… So here is one of the numerous versions of my Vietnamese-Inspired Rice & Chicken Soup. We made a version at the Simply Soups! cookery workshop this past week-end, and this is yet another. As with many soup recipes, exact ingredients and quantities vary based on what is actually in the pantry, the garden and your mood. (more…)
Continuing our series of Roast Chicken on Sunday means easy tasty meals for the week… This is day 4 and we are using the remaining Day 2’s Chicken Tomatillo Soup of which we made a big batch. With the help of onions, potatoes and corn, […]
Continuing our series of Roast Chicken on Sunday means easy tasty meals for the week… This is day 3 and we are using one cooked breast from our Roast Chicken. You can still make this stir-fry using an an uncooked chicken breast. You just need to stir fry it longer to ensure it’s cooked through, before adding back the vegetable.
The idea behind stir-fry is to use what you have. Pick 3 or 4 vegetable with contrasting colors, that remain firm when cooked (not tomatoes), that cook quickly (not potatoes) and that do not “bleed” (not beetroot). I picked yellow beans, broccoli florets and red Italian peppers (in addition to onion), because they made a pretty colorful plate, and I had all of them on hand. Other choice at this time of the year might be: corn, green beans and orange bell peppers. Or green bell pepper, shredded cabbage and julienned carrots… you get the idea.
When making stir-fry, it’s important to have all the ingredients trimmed and cut to size, i.e. ready to go into the pot – that, by the way is called “Mise en place” in restaurant lingo – because each ingredients cooks fast. It’s also important to cut/slice/dice each ingredient into the same size to ensure even cooking. Finally, while a wok is nice, it’s not necessary: a cast iron skillet (which is what I use) works just as well. However, do not overcrowd the pan, or the result will be steamed ingredients, not stir-fried. Much better to cook in small batches! Each ingredient is first cooked separately, and set aside. Finally everything is added back to the pan with the seasoning liquid and cooked for a couple of minutes.
Fall Rainbow Stir Fry (more…)
I love visiting other people’s gardens and tasting food they cook from their garden. So when I went to visit Pat D.’s garden in Castleton, VA, I was in for a treat. She asked me to stay for lunch, and served a most intriguing Tomatillo […]