Friday, August 1, 2014

Life on The Farm 08/01/14: Skunked!

My husband Dan came into the house at 6 a.m. this morning – he usually works until 7:00 or 8:00 - then has his bowl of Chex, fresh fruit, and a wee nap.

“Mmmm, we have a problem” he says.

All sorts of things crossed my mind – Spontaneous combustion? Collapse? Busted? Burning? Dying? Bleeding?

“Is that blood on your shirt?” I asked (and not for the first time).

“There’s something killing the chickens!”

He immediately set up two catch ‘em alive cage traps.

It’s a shame we can’t put them out beforehand as a precaution. All we snag are the fun and furry farm cats– and once they learn that’s where the sardines and herring are at, the traps are useless.  

Night One:  Giant marshmallows as bait (cat-proofing). 
The Chicken Who Lives Under The Porch
One raccoon was in the cage that morning.  And just so you know, we are not releasing any alleged livestock-killers– they will be going away to “live on a farm”.

Night Two: The enticement is now chicken/lobster canned cat food because that’s the vilest smell I can think of. My cats won’t touch I, so the farmcats may leave it alone, too.

Dan stayed up all night in his comfy chair waiting for the perpetrators to reveal themselves. He had the TV tuned to the weather channel with the sound turned off.

I got up around 1 a.m. 

He said, “Do you hear that?”

I answered, “That’s my stomach”. It really was. I was hungry.

A faint “Wooo, wooo, bark-bark, wooo!” sounded in the dark. He ran out with a pistol, and came back right away.

“Did you trap a beagle?” I said.

“No, that’s just the neighbors dog having issues.”  

Two skanky teenage raccoons were in the traps.

Day 3:  Nothing.  No deadstock, but the bait was missing.

Two very large raccoons were spotted on the feed storage bunker in broad daylight. (How many are there?  Are they diseased?)

Day 4: Dan came in at 6:30 a.m. with no clothes on!

“What happened?” I said.

“I got sprayed by a trapped skunk and I’m burning my clothes. I can’t smell anything! My nose hairs hurt.”

He used a propane torch to flame his favorite hoodie– the one he bought in New Orleans. I doubt he’ll ever get over it.

At this point, there are only six eggs to gather – the two of us, and the chickens are traumatized. 

Only sixteen remain from the original forty layers, and one is living in exile under the porch, nesting under the hostas.

Day 6: Skunk #4 was caught this morning.  Good riddance!

Monday, July 28, 2014


Chicken Hiding
We've had a problem of late with skunks and raccoons killing our laying hens.   One of the survivors is living in the flower berm, but I think those eggs are giving her away!

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Buttermilk-brined Chicken, Pan-Fried

Buttermilk Fried Chicken

It was a stormy day.

High winds wooft out the gas grill while it was preheating.

Not a great start.

Put the chicken thighs on the grill, and just my luck  - I set the cover down on an old, well-seasoned potholder – you may know the like – the one that was in your Christmas stocking year ago, and you kept out of emotional attachment though it’s threadbare.

It lit up like a match.

I snagged it with the tongs and shook it  – which made the flames worse.

Panicked, I dropped it and stomped it.

The fire kept re-igniting.

I looked left and right, saw a bucket of rain-covered ashes from the charcoal grill, and sank it in to snuff it out.

I took a moment there to make sure it was dead.

“Oh, damn, the chicken!”

And there may have been some “girly” screaming the whole time, but I won’t admit to it.

Thank goodness, thighs are forgiving.

In spite of momentary neglect, they came out buttermilk tangy, moist and juicy, with an upfront toasty, roasted flavor and cracker-crisp skin.  Enjoy!

Bone-side of Chicken Thighs, not As Pretty
 Buttermilk-brined Chicken

Serves 6-8


2 TB Kosher Salt
2 TB Honey
1 tsp. Black Pepper
2 TB Garlic Powder
1 TB Onion Powder
(I used ½ Cup Ramp Pesto for the garlic and onion)

Stir together with a whisk until smooth, and add:

5 lbs. of Chicken Thighs (bone-in, skin-on)
2 Cups Buttermilk

Turn to coat the chicken and cover.

Refrigerate 48 hours, turning every 12 hours.

Dry Mix:

1 cup Flour (I used Cup4Cup Gluten-Free)
1 cup Instant “Potato Buds”
2 TB Black Flake Pepper

Roll each piece of chicken in dry mix to coat.
Prior to Grilling
Place on a plate, covered, for 1 hour at room temperature.

Preheat one side of a gas grill on low setting with a skillet or griddle inside.

Add enough peanut oil to coat the surface and place chicken on, skin side up.

Bake with the cover down for 10-12 minutes, until the underside of the thigh is crispy.

Use a spatula and tongs to rotate pieces from hot spots to avoid burning.

Flip chicken over- bake another 10-12 minutes - until skin side browns.

Move pan to the “off” side of the grill.

Continue to cook (cover down) until juices run clear (170f internal). About 20 -30 more minutes.

Always use a meat thermometer!
Cover with foil and rest for 15 minutes on the counter before serving.

Tip: I used a grill, but chicken can be browned on the stove, and baked in a 300f oven for 20-40 minutes (depending on how cold and how large the pieces are to start with).


Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Wood-Fired Pizza Oven: So far...

Wood-fired Oven
 Almost finished, just one more application of tile to the base.

Right Side
The original artwork is by local artist Matt Gang of Grey Owl Design.  What I really like is that it is made of things that remind me of growing up around Lake Champlain: seashells and lake glass (recycled and up-cycled).
Left Side
Matt's busy right now, so Dan and I will be working together to finish the base with iridescent blue recycled glass tiles.

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Sunrise this morning!

Boucher Farm
Made cheese today, and starting to cut hay again.  May see Dan later...or not.

It's buttermilk-brined chicken tonight, regardless.

Thursday, June 19, 2014

One Sweet Hot Sauce - and Beef Kabobs!

Beef Kabobs with Buttermilk Sauce
This is the sweetest little hot sauce that can be used as a grilling marinade– and/or be transformed into a baste. 

Its main component is buttermilk. 

I bet you didn’t see that one coming!  

Buttermilk and chicken are the more familiar culinary combination– but any meat can benefit from an overnight soak in the refrigerator.

The marinade is “raw”, so the onions and garlic are very aromatic as they caramelize on the grill.
Marinated Kabobs Ready To Go
During this cook, the beef kabobs became imbued with the flavor and sweetness of battered, deep-fried onion rings – with a pop of heat and honey at the finish.

The vegetables picked up more sweet, and less overall heat.

Buttermilk-basted Vegetable Kabobs
Some tips:

Grill kabobs over medium heat – honey burns easily.

If you find the level of heat a bit much, simply add a dollop of sour cream along with the honey and butter to the baste.
Buttermilk Hot Sauce for Basting

 One Sweet Hot Sauce
Makes about 1 ½ cups

1 Cup Buttermilk
1 Medium Onion, quartered
8 Cloves Garlic
4 TB Honey
3 TB Sunflower Oil
1-2 TB Union Brand Chili Paste (or a de-seeded jalapeno)
2 TBS Vinegar
1 tsp. Kosher Salt

Place all ingredients in a blender and pulse until smooth. Let mellow for a few hours on the counter.  Refrigerate overnight.
Buttermilk Marinade
(At this point, half the recipe is used as a marinade and the remainder reserved for the basting sauce.)

To finish:

Gently heat ¾ cup to a simmer.  Turn off the heat.

Stir in:

1 1/2 TBS Honey
3 TB Butter
1 tsp. Vinegar

Taste, and adjust for salt.

Paint kabobs as they cook.

Buttermilk Hot Sauce Beef Kabobs