Category Archives: Cooking

Scrap stock

This GIANT pot of stock is simmering away on our stove. Yes, that is our (guesstimate: 3 gallon) water-bath canning pot – it was the only one large enough to hold all of the bones and veggie scraps I had accumulated.

In this pot are: chicken carcasses (our own chickens), chicken feet (our own chickens), random chicken bones from random dinners (not our own chickens), beef bones, pork bones, scraps/skins/ends from all the veggies we’ve eaten over the past month or so (onion trimmings, onion skins, garlic trimmings and skins, leek greens, carrot ends, kale stems, basil stems, onion greens from the onions in the garden that the chickens tried to kill, and whatever other veggie scraps I deemed it necessary to save at the time – all saved in a ziploc bag in the freezer, until such time – like now! –  as I was ready to make use of it), and saved (frozen) cooking water from previous steamed veggies (kale, onions, etc).

Oh yeah… it’s gonna be good!

And on the other burner, for tonight’s dinner: quinoa simmering in previously-preserved chicken stock (from our own chickens), to be served on a bed of fresh salad greens from the farmer’s market and topped with the leftover pesto from yesterday’s dinner (basil from the farmer’s market, onion greens from the garden, garlic from winter storage, local hazelnuts from winter storage, homemade goat milk feta, and olive oil.)

Sigh… life is good…

ETA: I forgot – the stock also contains several eggshells (from our chickens), a good dose of apple cider vinegar (it helps draw the minerals out of the bones and eggshells), and a couple of corn cobs for added flavor. It’s still simmering away, after about 20 hours! Soon I’ll strain it out into jars to cool. As it cools, the fat will rise to the top – if there’s a good amount of fat, I’ll scoop it off into another container to use as a cooking fat (otherwise I’ll just leave it as is). Then into the freezer the jars will go, just waiting to be pulled back out for some future meal!

Lamb stew

…it’s what’s (was) for dinner!

Deck Family Farm grass-fed lamb, Horton Road Organics carrots (from winter storage), frozen sweet corn from last summer’s garden, garlic from a local farmer (also from winter storage), store-bought onion, fresh rosemary, oregano, spearmint, yarrow and bay leaf (all from our garden and/or yard), water, red wine, lamb fat (saved from a previous cooking of lamb), olive oil, dash of shoyu (soy sauce), kelp, salt and pepper… cooked in our cast iron dutch oven, and simmered on our woodstove for several hours… yum! We both had seconds…

Cooking on the wood stove

It’s finally getting warm enough that we’re only using the wood stove for a quick fire in the mornings now, just to take the chill off. But during the winter, with the fire always going, we were able to cook the majority of our meals on our wood stove.

Sigh. I’ll miss it.

Oh, I’m not complaining about the warmer weather – I’m ready for it – but cooking on the electric stove just isn’t the same…

Goulash, made with Deck Family Farm ground beef and our own canned tomatoes from last summer’s garden (the eggshells on the top level are drying for future use as chicken supplements and garden nutrients).

Corn chowder, made with our own fresh goat milk and goat cheese, and our own frozen corn from last summer’s garden. The carrots are from Horton Road Organics, a local farm.

And breakfast, fresh from our own hens!

Snapshots from a typical Fall day on the farm

Cheesemaking is kicking into high gear?we’re freezing a lot of chevre to enjoy later when the milking slows down, and here’s the beginning of a farmhouse cheddar:

I screwed up the last batch of beer and foolishly didn’t brew for a while.  Our homemade beer (when it works, which it usually does) is much tastier than what we buy at the store, and ends up costing about half as much. 

Here’s five gallons of soon-to-be-porter bubbling away:

Last year, we got a freeze in early September that took out all the tomato plants, and Teri made a lot of green tomato ketchup.  This year, none of the main (Brandywine) tomato crop had turned red by that point, and my dreams of pasta sauce seemed to by dying?but the past month has been mostly sunny and warm, and we’re bringing in five-gallon buckets every few days. 

Though we aren’t entirely dependent on our homegrown food, it’s probably saving us a couple of thousand dollars a year now, so I have a little more appreciation for how much people doing this in the past were subject to the whims of the weather?and for what a joy it is when one’s hard work is rewarded with abundance:

In a break from my usual “functionality IS the aesthetic” carpentry ethic, I’ve made a tea table to go alongside my desk (I hate having beverages and food on the same surface as my computer).  The top was from a rough-cut slab of some unknown hardwood that I got a bunch of for free because of “imperfections”, and the base is something that was left behind when the electric co-op trimmed around the power lines. 

It’s beautiful wood?but I didn’t know that when I got it, so most of it is incorporated into the chicken coop.  Now that I’ve seen it sanded and sealed, I think I’ll be pulling the rest of it off the coop to make things from (don’t worry chickens, I have plain old fir boards to replace it).  Anyway, here’s the table, which I’m quite pleased with:

Closeup of the wood:

Worky work work!  In addition to all this, there are of course the daily chores such as caring for livestock, cooking, keeping the fire going, earning a living, etc?but some other farm residents have more sensible priorities; I leave you with “Snail Love”:


Pretty food and CUTE GOATS!

You just can’t beat eating truly fresh food. Two recent meals:

IMG 3699deckburger
Naturally raised, grass-fed free-range beef from Deck Family Farm, on a bed of our own kale, topped with homegrown tomato, homegrown onion, ketchup Teri made from last year’s tomatoes, and a slice of our own goat cheese.


Breakfast today: fairy tale eggplant, kale, onion, bell pepper, yellow & red cherry tomatoes, squash flower, and sweet corn omelet (all veggies picked minutes before cooking, and of course using eggs and milk from our critters)

Did you make it this far? Good reader! You get CUTE GOATS!

Drama Queen is looking like a football ? she’s due to kid this next week!


Extremely low-res goat cuteness from my old point-n-shoot camera


Cheese, Gromit! And something stanky…

As is usual this time of year, posts have been sparse right when there’s the most cool stuff to blog about – 36 hour days would be just about right for August and September.

We do have one milestone to report – with a borrowed cheese press and a copy of the excellent Home Cheese Making by Ricki Carroll, we have created our first hard cheese, a farmhouse cheddar that should be edible in just a month or two.

But who can wait a month or two? The cheese has been sitting out for a week to form a rind (really should have been a few days), and today we waxed it for storage, but one end was uneven enough that we worried about the wax being able to form a good seal…so we cut it off and ate it, and after only a week it’s already….CHEESE!

Here’s the cheese before waxing:

Here’s beeswax in a can, on top of some canning lids in a small cooking pot to make a double boiler. The brush is a “chip” brush – they cost almost nothing at a hardware store, and their natural hair bristles won’t melt in the wax.

…and here’s the finished product, an inexpertly made and waxed yet already tasty cheese from our good little mini-Oberhasli goats:

What? The cheese wasn’t the stinky part? No, it smelled quite nice. My tobacco, on the other hand…it’s coming out barely tolerable when dried over the course of a few weeks…probably intolerable to any non-smokers in the area. To make it really smooth requires a year or more of careful aging, actually a fermentation process.

Here it is in various stages of the first slow drying (greenish ones are just picked, some in the upper left have been drying for 2-3 weeks already)

Mostly Local Protein Overdose Brunch

Sausage/Kale/Goat Feta Scrambled eggs

Click image to enlarge
  • 1 big handful of kale from our cold frame
  • 4 big eggs from a neighbor’s chickens (ours have better things to do than give us eggs these days)
  • 1/2 lb ground Italian sausage from Deck Family Farm
  • 1/4 cup goat milk from our morning milking (thanks Drama Queen!)
  • 1 tbsp butter
  • A few slices of goat milk feta from yet another wonderful neighbor
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Thoroughly mix eggs and milk (plus salt and pepper if you like) in a jar. Extra points for using a Kerr/Ball jar.

Wash and chop the kale while the butter warms up in a hot frying pan over medium heat. I guess medium heat; this was made on a woodstove. Once butter is bubbling a bit, quickly saute the kale, keeping it moving, just until it becomes a darker green and wilts. Remove kale to another dish, leaving pan on medium-high heat (or rather, adding wood and opening the air inlet a bit).

Break the ground sausage up into small bits in the pan and keep it moving till well browned. Reduce heat to medium and (after a final stir) pour in the egg/milk mixture. Let this cook until it’s solid about halfway through, then mix in the kale and scramble it up.

When it’s close to done, drop the cheese slices onto the top.


In the middle of our waiting-for-goat-babies night, I realized I was absolutely famished and needed animal fat NOW! The following took about 10 minutes of hands-on time to prepare (including running out to pick kale) and will definitely be repeated.

Kale-wrapped mint lamb burgers – 4 servings


  • 1 lb grass-fed free-range natural ground lamb*
  • 1 tbsp crushed fresh mint leaves (from our garden last year)
  • 8 big leaves kale (from our cold frame)
  • 1 small egg (from our chickens)
  • 4 tbsp rolled oats
  • 3 tbsp shelled sunflower seeds
  • pinch or two of sea salt
  • several apple wood twigs, soaked in water if dry
  • olive oil


  1. Start the BBQ on high (keep at about 400°-500°)
  2. in a large mixing bowl, combine ground lamb, nearly-powdered mint leaves, sunflower seeds, salt, rolled oats, and egg. Make sure the egg gets thoroughly mixed in, it helps bind the burger together and keep it fluffy & moist.
  3. coat a dinner plate with olive oil
  4. shape mixture into 4 patties, putting each one on the olive oiled plate when it’s done. Not too thick; we want to cook these at high heat, actually flame-broil them a bit, and the inside should be cooked before the outside is charcoal!
  5. get a little more olive oil and make sure the patties are completely coated
  6. put dry applewood twigs into the grill…I drop them on the lava rocks, on the OPPOSITE side from where I’ll put the food (there will be enough flame from the olive oil dripping!)
  7. plop the patties on the grill. the dripping oil will probably burst into flame; that’s ok. close the lid to keep the applewood smoke in.
  8. cook until done – the outside should be a bit seared, even slightly charred. USDA blah blah blah standards blah blah blah specify 160° internal temperature. That recommendation is geared toward the filthy, diseased CAFO stuff at the supermarket; I cook ground meat to about 145° for myself but am not advising you to do that because you will surely poop yourself to death or something. The gov’t says so! I guess I died years ago.
  9. Take patties off the grill and let them drain a bit on newspaper. Wrap in fresh-picked kale leaves and enjoy!

To make a portable, one-hand meal, I wrapped some sheets of newspaper around the finished product. The oily newspaper is wonderful stuff for starting the woodstove later.

Sorry no photos; these got scarfed right up!

*“Lamb” refers to meat from a sheep under 1 year of age, not little tiny babies. Generally, the older it is, the “sheepier” it tastes, and the more salt and mint you will want to use.