Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Chicken goals

Lately I've been looking for a nice large breed of chicken to mix with some of my bigger rooster to have a self-sustaining flock. Where the girls will lay eggs and the boys will grow out on rich food and end up in the freezer.

I haven't had very much luck finding the hens that I want. I found one last week but sadly this morning I went to feed and she was dead. :( I'm not sure what happened and there is nothing wrong with any of my other chickens. I have a feeling she was just too big.

On a lighter note I was at the auction Sunday and found a STUNNING pair of Splash Orpingtons. I lucked out and they sold within my price range. He will be great over any hens that I find. Right now he is with my Delawares.

Here are a few more pictures of the 2 new ones:

Monday, January 23, 2012

Pot Roast - No Knife Needed

I have finally mastered to make a Pot Roast recipe that doesn't end up dry, tough, or flavorless. Btw, Food Lion has chuck roast on sale this week! This isn't a recipe you can make in 30 minutes. Time is what makes this Pot Roast wonderful. It isn't labor intensive though so you can get it started then do other things while it cooks!

Step 1: Pick out a nice 2.5-3.5lb chuck roast. You will want one with a decent amount of fat. Fat = Flavor. The one I made today was 2.81lbs. I used my medium dutch oven. Pour about 2 Tblsp of Olive Oil in the bottom of the pan and turn the burner on medium.(you don't want to ever go over medium with cast iron). Preheat oven to 325.

Step 2: Liberally season your roast with salt and pepper on both sides. Once the olive oil starts to smoke put the roast in the pot and let it sear for 4-5 minutes. Flip and sear the other side for 4-5 minutes. This really gives you a lot of flavor.

Step 3: While it is searing cut up your veggies. 2 onions quartered, 4-5 carrots cut into bite size pieces, 3-4 stalks of celery cut into bit size pieces. Go ahead and put these in the pot around your roast.

Step 4: Once both sides are seared and your veggies are in pour in 1.5C of beef broth and 1.5C of red wine. (I get the $3.50 wine) Toss in 2 sprigs of rosemary, 2 springs of thyme(or 1 tsp), and 3 bay leaves. You can tie these, put them in cheesecloth, or just look out for them later. Bring to a boil. Cover and put in the oven.

Step 5: Find something else to do for a while. I've found it turns out best if you let it cook for at LEAST 1 hr per lb.

Step 6: Once enough time has passed you can check to see if the roast is ready by trying to lift it out of the pot. If it falls apart. Its READY!

(Btw, I LOVE the bamboo utensils Mom got me for Christmas)

Step7: Take roast out of the pot and put on cutting board or plate then tent loosely with aluminum foil while you finish.

Step 8: As soon as the pot roast was out I put the pot back on the burner and turned the heat to medium. I wanted to reduce the sauce so there was more flavor. It cooked for the 20 minutes it took me to make Brown Rice.

Step 9: Brown Rice is wonderful. Since you will have left over beef broth lets use it! For 1C of rice pour 1.5C of beef broth, 1/2 C water, and 2TBS of butter into a sauce pot. Bring to a boil. Pour in 1C of rice, reduce to Med/Low and cover. Do not touch it for 20 minutes. Fork the rice when done and serve. 

Step 10: Plate all the food. Use some of the juice around the veggies as dressing for the roast....or just pile it all together like I did. Don't forget to take your catalog/recipe book picture!

Chicken Updates!

My young girls are finally starting to lay. That egg on the left isn't that color...stupid cell phone quality picture messed it up. Its actually very light brown.

This morning I was gifted with an egg from one of my very young Delaware pullets.(young girl chicken) She laid a very small evenly brown egg. Hopefully she will keep this up!

This past weekend I went to the farmer's market in Raleigh to get some veggies and pecans. I mentioned to the lady with all the pumpkins/squash that I had chickens and would be happy to take any bruised/unsellable produce from her. I didn't expect anything but was VERY thrilled when I left with over 40 lbs of greens, squash, and pumpkins!! My girls have a lot of good eating to do.

Looks like homemade chicken soup will be next on the blog recipes. I have a racist rooster (he attacks all the white chickens) and another rooster will be heading to the stock pot this week. Hopefully it gets a little nicer outside so I can do it today...if not it will be Friday.

I got an AWARD!!!

I have just been informed that I have won a blog award....its my first! Thank you Rlilbitofcash for picking me!

The rules of the award are as follows:
1. Copy and paste the award on your blog.
2. Link back to the blogger who gave you the award
3. Pick your five favorite blogs with less than 200 followers, and leave a comment on their blog to let them know they have received the award.
4. Hope that the five blogs chosen will keep spreading the love and pass it on to five more blogs!

Some of my favorite blogs:
1.Range to Range - I love reading about the adventures you have out in the middle of nowhere!
2. From Seed - Fellow chicken lover and superb kitchen skills!!!
3. Vets Behaving Badly - Fairly new blog but I think its going to take off like wildfire!
4. Adventures in Colt/Filly Starting - I love reading about Rose!
5. The Perfect Horse - I like the thought process here!

Friday, January 20, 2012

Don't Judge a Recipe by its' Name....

(Look I took a catalog picture! LOL)

A slight spin-off from the more popular known "Don't judge a book by it's cover" is starting to apply to my cooking.

I don't know many people who actually LIKE to drink buttermilk. Its sour, gross, it doesn't even SMELL good...however how many things do you like with buttermilk cooked in them? Buttermilk pancakes, buttermilk biscuits, buttermilk is commonly used in fried chicken, etc. Knowing all this you would be surprised at the faces I get when I tell people that I make buttermilk pie. I've decided to change the name to Butter Pie. Results: Less gag-faces.

Since I have learned this lesson I need to make sure I don't judge whether to try new recipes by the name. I got my new Cooks Country magazine the other day and saw a recipe for Sour Cream Biscuits. Now I will tell you...I HATE sour cream. Its disgusting! However...buttermilk is vile too....so off to the kitchen I go.

This recipe is EXTREMELY easy to make! You can make homemade biscuits in 30 minutes...no excuse not to ever again!

What you need:
-2C all purpose flour
-1TBS baking powder
-1tsp salt
-7tsp UN-salted melted butter(divided)
-16oz container sour cream

Go ahead and melt 5tsp of butter and let it cook while you get everything else out. Preheat the oven to 425 and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

Mix the flour, baking powder, and salt then slowly add the sour cream and melted butter mixing well.

I took a 1/4C measuring cup and sprayed it with some Pam then used that to scoop out 12 biscuits onto a pan.

Brush the last 2tsp of melted butter on top of them before popping them in the oven.

Cook for 10-11 minutes then turn the pan around and bake for another 10-12 minutes. Cool for 10 minutes on wire rack and serve warm.

I made my first batch last night and took some to a friend's house for breakfast. We ate them with Strawberry preserves and peach jam.

Then tonight I made another batch and ended up making Chipped Beef on Homemade Biscuits. It was delish!

Monday, January 16, 2012

Fried Squash for Becca

Ever since I started planning my vegetable garden I have been craving fried yellow squash. Pointless because its best in the summer. However, today I was lucky enough to find it at a produce stand. It was grown in a greenhouse....not ideal but better than shipped in from Mexico. LOL

I mentioned this to my friend Becca and she claimed she didn't like squash. She has tried to cook it in ways I have never heard of mashed/steamed.

I promised to teach her the SOUTHERN way of cooking squash. ;)

Fried Squash:

-The first thing I do is get the oil hot. I usually use a frying pan but couldn't resist the urge to use my le creuset dutch oven. I love cast iron, it heats much more evenly. I pour about 1/2" of Canola oil in the bottom and put on Med heat. It will take about 10 minutes to warm up.
- While the oil is heating get your dipping together and slice your squash.

-Dipping: 1 container of milk or half and half. I don't normally have a lot of milk in the house but I keep half and half because it keeps a lot longer and can be used in soups, gravy, roux, etc. I also think the heaviness of it helps the batter stick.
     1 container of self-rising corn meal. I can't remember where I bought this bag...probably the farmer's market but it is milled up the road from me in Kittrell, NC.

I knew those pampered chef things would come in handy one day!

-Next you want to slice the squash. Make sure you share the ends with the cat, dog, and chickens. lol My mom really likes them paper thin...they get crispy and resemble potato chips. I like both thick and thin. I like the crisp of the thin but I really like the flavor of the squash when you get a thick one. Try both to decide what you like. 

-Go ahead and drop 5-6 pieces of squash in the HH.

-Now get a plate and line it with 4-5 paper towels. This is where you will put the squash as you bring it out of the oil.

-Check the oil. You don't want an explosion of sizzle when you test a drop of HH.

- One piece at a time take the squash out of the HH and coat thoroughly with the corn meal. Once coated shake off any excess and gently place in oil. (once this batch is in start soaking the next batch in the HH)

- Cook the squash 4-5 min on each side. You will want to leave it on the first side until you see the edges starting to turn brown. When using cast iron remember to use only wooden/plastic utensils.

-Once the squash is a nice golden brown all over place it on the paper towels and salt to taste. You will need SOME salt. I use fine sea salt. Enjoy when they have cooled some.

- Double what you are going to need...they are addictive and I end up eating them as soon as they cool.
In fact, growing up, I don't think mom EVER got fried squash or okra to the table....we were VERY good at teaming up. One would distract the other 2 would grab and dash and then we would share. She couldn't yell at us too bad...she would snack on them too!
-If you aren't sure you will like squash you should try to cook it now when the squash doesn't have such a strong flavor. I liked the ones tonight but they are nothing like the ones out of  my garden. I end up cutting this winter squash thinner because the flavor was so bland. In the summer I like thicker slices so I can taste the squash flavor.

Broiled Squash:
Another great way to add a veggie to the meal is with broiled squash. You'll need squash, zucchini, and onions.

-Cut/cube veggies into bite sized pieces.
-Put in oven safe pan. I normally line my small roasting pan with aluminum foil. Pour enough Olive Oil on to coat all the veggies.
-Sprinkle about 1/2 palm of coarse sea salt over all of them.
-Put under broiler for 10-12 minutes or until brown.

Leftover that don't suck! Chicken Nachos

Being single means getting over the cooking for 1 AND not getting sick of leftovers hurdle. I'm getting closer.....

Last week I made dinner for my Mom and her husband Larry. I baked 6 chicken breasts, green beans, rice, and homemade bbq sauce. I would have normally put the bbq sauce on the chicken in the oven but knew I didn't want to eat that meal for a week no matter how good it was. I left 1 breast in the frig for bbq the next day and put the rest in the freezer.

Last night I decided to pull them out to thaw. I didn't feel like cooking last night(rare but it does happen) so I made sure to use them today.

First I grabbed my large frying pan and added some peppers and onions. I like using the red/yellow peppers for color but the are so expensive I use green ones. I grow the colorful ones in the summer!

When they cook down I took 3 chicken breasts and shredded them into the frying pan. I then added 3/4 C water and a packed of taco seasoning. I plan on figuring out my own taco seasoning mix though. I boil this for 5 min or until the water has reduced and is now more of a sauce.

While its boiling I grabbed my PC stonewear and put a plate on it. I put tortilla chips on the plate. I make sure to spread them out. When the taco mix was done I put it over the chips enough to have chicken on each chip. Then I liberally topped with cheese. I get the taco-mix cheeses. (Tip: put some cheese on the edges so that your chips don't go sliding off.)

I slip this into the oven at about 400 for 6-7 min or until the cheese is good and melted.

When you pull it out of the oven slide another plate underneath it so you don't burn yourself. Eat with salsa, sour cream, guacamole, or any variation you prefer.

Yard Work

I know it has finally started getting cold around here but I got my Burpee seed catalog last week and now all I can think about is spring and planting a garden. I finally have all the plans for the vegetable garden.

I'm planting:
-Tomatoes(slicing and grape)
-Yellow Squash
-Snap beans (pole and bush)
-Leaf Lettuce
-Strawberrys(ground cover in the flower beds up front around the Gardenia bushes)

When I moved to this house I hated the outside.There were no plants, flowers, anything that made it look lived in. I worked really hard last year to turn the front into something pretty and I think I've accomplished that. Now I need to work on the area under all my bird feeders. Its partial shade, well drained acidic soil. I've been doing a lot of research and have decided on azaleas, rhodies, and blueberry bushes. I can't wait to get them in the ground in the next few weeks!!

This is the area that is getting the major renovation:

The coolest thing I get to do this year by far is keep bees. My sister's neighbor has many many hives and sells her honey. We are pretty good friends with her and when I asked her about how to get my own hive, bees, equipment, etc she kindly offered to just bring one of her hives over and let her bees live at my house. I'll get my garden pollinated and I'll get paid in honey for the space being used. I will have to feed them sometimes and she is going to bring extra equipment and start showing me how to keep them so I can decide if I want to start my own hives. I can't wait!!!

Monday, January 9, 2012


I have been trying to find a good way to add healthy foods to my diet while being convenient. When I work its so easy to grab some fast food because we are out on the road, tired, and who knows when we will get a break again.

My GOAL is to add smoothies to my diet to replace breakfast and part of lunch/snack. The challenge is to make them tasty without having more calories than what I would have been eating anyway.

The first one I made today included:
-Frozen Strawberries
-Frozen Blueberries
-2 Kiwi
-2 heaping TBsp on nonfat greek yogurt
-Splash of milk
-Handful of Spinach
-1 tsp of honey

Its a lot better than I expected it to be. The spinach gets hidden very well...I kinda feel like I'm hiding them in a kid's food but it works. I don't have to add ice because the berries are frozen and there are no artificial sugar/flavors. The honey smooths out the sharp yogurt taste.

Its kinda pretty too!

I bought lots of fruit and plan on playing with combinations to figure out what works!

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Welcome to the "New Blog"

I'm not sold on the name yet but this is my attempt at writing/cataloging more than I have been. I realize I'm way too ADD and have so many irons in the fire its difficult to write about one subject alone.

Horse Life: I own 2 horses right now. Apple, my heart and soul, is a 13yr old retired fat pasture puff and Emmett is a 4yr old TB prospect.

I currently work a FT job with EMS and have a PT EMS job. I just started school again and try to cook at home as much as possible trying new recipes as often as possible.

I raise chickens for meat/eggs and love this project!

My GOAL for this blog is at least 2 posts a week. Cross your fingers I can keep up with it.