Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Gnocchi!

Gnocchi with smoked tomatoes, cheese and onions
First of all: Wow!

Pillowy gnocchi, Doe's Leap pancetta, Half Pint tomatoes, onions, Willow Hill Farm Butternut cheese - all local.  And all gone.

I realized after eating this that the dumplings didn't show up in the photos, but whatever.  I ate it.  Yumm!

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Navajo Fry Bread, Gluten-free!

Fry Bread, Gluten-Free
During these blissfully cooler days, I make time to listen to the breezes sifting through the trees and rifle the cookbooks I received at Christmastime, which are still stacked under a plastic LED tree that I turn on now and then, because the twinkle lights make me happy.

I’ll read them all eventually, marking pages of interest, and file them in my office by subject – from left to right:

Cooking Techniques, Vermont, Grilling, Cheese, International - and nearest the window bathed in the light dancing through the trees, everything Julia Child.

It was on one of these indulgences that I discovered a simple recipe for Navajo “tacos”– which only required a pantry raid, resting period, and five minutes of frying.

I converted it to gluten-free using King Arthur multi-purpose blend.

Surprise!  

It worked.  (Swapping out with GF can sometimes be a coin-toss.)
 
Look at how light and airy they are!
I used a tortilla press to make the flatbreads, but a heavy pan on the countertop will smush out a thin round just as easily.

How about the flavor?  This particular flour mix is made from rice and potato flours, which (in this recipe) tasted like a cross between potato chips and a fried-rice take-away.

The tacos were crisp right out of the oil but with fillings became pliable and did not break.

I used them to scoop up a hearty stew. Much better than anything else I can think of from a store.


Oh, and they can be reheated in the microwave, but will become very chewy.

Navajo Tacos
Navajo Fry Bread
Adapted from a recipe by Emeril Lagasse
Makes 6 breads

1 cup Flour (I used King Arthur Multi-purpose Gluten-free)
½ TB Baking Powder
¼ tsp. Salt
½ TB Peanut Oil, plus more for frying
½ cup Warm Water


Whisk dry ingredients together

Stir in ½ TB oil and enough water to create workable dough. 

Shape into a ball, wrap well in plastic and refrigerate for at least an hour.

Divide into 6 smaller balls. 

Cover a 7-inch area on the counter with plastic wrap or waxed paper.  Cover each ball with additional wrap. and press thin using a flat-bottomed pan.

Repeat, and set the stack of layered disks aside.

Heat enough oil over medium heat to come up at least ¼ inch in your pan.  Heat to 360f (about medium). 

Test a small piece of dough. If it immediately puffs and browns you are ready to go.

Carefully peel the plastic from the top of one flatbread, and turn into your other hand.  Peel the remaining plastic away.
Puffy Taco Underway
Slip the disk under the oil.  It should and brown and bubble right away.  Fry for about a minute each side.

Drain on paper towels.

Repeat until all are cooked.

These may be served immediately or refrigerated once cooled.

Thursday, August 7, 2014

Game Camera: BUCKS!

In The Ferns
 Finally!  After weeks of does and fawns.

Not a Trophy Buck
 I'm always impressed with private lot hunting shows - they'll look at a mature buck and go "No, his rack isn't big enough to be a trophy".   And, they will wait for years to let him make lots of babies and keep the bloodline going.

Venison Dinner?
This photo is 20 days after the first two.  I think it is the same big buck, but it means that this isn't a spot they visit every week.  May have to move the camera again.

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

Yardbird

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

Brine:

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).