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Sunday, January 30, 2011

Very Late Christmas Additions: Chutney and Coleslaw

Even though I'm a bit late (like a month!), I still want to share our Christmas menu. We experimented with two traditional sides, and the results were delicious. I have to record the recipes so that I remember to make them again!

The first: Fruity Coleslaw 

6 cups green or savoy cabbage, thinly sliced
2 cups red cabbage, thinly sliced
1/4 red onion, thinly sliced
1/4 cup sugar
3/4 cup buttermilk
1/2 cup mayonnaise
1/4 cup lemon juice
1/2 cup dried cranberries
1/2 cup pistachio nuts, chopped
2 clementines or tangerines, peeled, divided into segments and chopped
Salt and freshly ground black pepper

Combine the cabbage and onion in a large bowl.
Mix the sugar, buttermilk, mayonnaise and lemon juice in a small bowl until smooth. Pour the buttermilk mixture over the vegetable mixture and toss to coat thoroughly.
Fold in the cranberries, pistachios and clementines. Season with salt and pepper.
Let stand for at least 1 hour or refrigerate for up to 8 hours before serving. Taste and adjust the salt and pepper before serving. Serves 6.
— From Recipes from the Root Cellar by Andrea Chesman 
The Second: Cranberry Pear Hazelnut Chutney
2 cups fresh or frozen cranberries, picked over, and stemmed
1¼ cups sugar
3 whole cloves
1 cinnamon sticks about 3 inches long
½ teaspoon salt
2 firm Bosc or Anjou pears, peeled, halved lengthwise, cored, and cut into ½ inch dice
1 small yellow onion, diced
½ cup golden raisins
⅔ cup diced crystallized ginger
¼ cup whole hazelnuts, roasted, skins removed, and halved (see Cook’s Notes)
In a deep 6-quart saucepan, combine the cranberries, sugar, ½ cup water, cloves, cinnamon, and salt.

Bring to a boil over medium heat, stirring frequently to dissolve the sugar. Cook until the cranberries begin
to open, about 10 to 12 minutes. Adjust the heat so the mixture simmers.
Stir in the pears, onion, raisins, and ginger. Continue to cook, stirring frequently, until thick, 10 to 15 minutes
Remove from the heat, stir in the hazelnuts, and allow the mixture to cook to room temperature.
Discard the cinnamon sticks and cloves if you can find them.
Refrigerate in tightly sealed jars for up to 3 months.

Makes about 1 quart

Cook’s Note: Try to buy shelled hazelnuts (also known as “fi lberts”) with the skins removed. To roast,
place the nuts on a rimmed baking sheet in a preheated 375 degree F oven. Roast for about 15 minutes,
until lightly browned. If they have skins, when they cool enough to handle, lay them on a clean
kitchen towel, or between several sheets of paper towels. Rub the nuts to remove most of the skins
(they never completely come off). You can substitute unsalted cashews, if necessary. Roast like hazelnuts,
until lightly browned, about 12 to 15 minutes.

--recipe from Harmony Valley Farm

The rest of our menu consisted of what we could dig out of the fridge and a turkey.
Crackers and cheese, pickled beets, dip and veggies, pickled beans
Dill dip with carrots, winter radishes, and sunchokes
Sliced Daikon radishes with herbed cream cheese

Main Course
rutabaga-potato mash 
mushroom gravy
fruity coleslaw
cranberry pear hazelnut chutney
leftover Christmas cookies
Irish Cream

Merry Belated Christmas!

Monday, January 24, 2011

New Chicks to Arrive on March 21st!

Andy is excited for his spring break! On March 21st, he'll get to go pick up our newest chicks from the post office. We've ordered 3 more Easter Eggers and 1 Barred Plymouth Rock.  Chicks are so cute. When I look at them, I instantly feel so giddy that I have to contain my squeals. It will be hard for me to stay at work all day knowing there are new little peepers at home.
Easter Egger chicks
Adult Easter Egger (Spinderella is an Easter Egger)
Barred Plymouth Rock Chickies
Barred Plymouth Rock Adult

All of them will be getting vaccinated for Marek's as we don't know if we still have the disease on our property. We're crossing our fingers, knocking on wood, and praying to all entities that all chickens will remain healthy.

A "Small" Seed Purchase

"This year, we're just going to use our seeds from last year. No new seeds. We have enough."
"This year, let's be more realistic about what we actually can plant."
"This year, really, let's just order a few packs to supplement what we have saved up in the closet."

A-hem...well, those conversations were had BEFORE the Seed Savers catalog arrived in January. Simplicity went out the window as visions of juicy orange melons and sun-kissed tomatoes appeared in both of our brains. A hefty order later...and viola! Here are the packages of seeds (and the reasons why we HAD to purchase each) that are now sitting in a manila envelope on our kitchen table:

  • Christmas Lima Beans (going to be so pretty!)
  • Opalka Tomatoes (justifiable BECAUSE they are romas without a ton of seeds)
  • Bloody Butcher Corn (How could we resist with a name like that?)
  • Lovage (all of Deborah Madison's soups call for lovage...)
  • Green husk tomatillos (Salsa Verde...hello!?!?)
  • Blue Solaise Leeks (We never have enough leeks...)
  • Mongolian Giant Sunflowers (Our chickens NEED these.)
  • Orangeglo Watermelons (melons, melons, melons!)
  • Cherokee Trail of Tears Beans (black beans for the pantry)
  • Grandma Einck's Dill (pickles!)
  • Copenhagen Market Cabbage (helps fight off cancer)
  • Danvers Carrots (Last year's breed was so small...our garden requires new ones!)
  • Cilantro (again, salsa verde!)
  • Traveler Strain Jalapeno Pepper (First year Seed Savers has sold actual jalapenos!)
  • Good Mother Stallard Beans (We actually needed to order more of this one. We were out.)
  • Oaxacan Green Dent Corn (We want to try our hand at green corn flour.)
  • Brandywine Tomato (out of this garden staple)
  • Detroit Dark Red Beets (out of these too)
  • Long Island Improved Brussel Sprouts (looking for a new gardening challenge)
  • Martino's Roma Tomatoes (a staple of which we ran out)
  • Joe's Round Peppers (pickled peppers! hot sauce!)
  • Lemon Drop Tomatoes (We  HAD to order these. They won the taste award last year.)
We also  have a pack of Amish Pie Squash on the way. These produce big, beautiful orange pumpkin-like squash. I'm excited to see them decorating our lawn.

And potatoes, of course. They'll be shipped in April. This year's choices include Blue Potatoes and German Butterball Potatoes.

Once again, I'm  most excited for melons. This year's are going to be ORANGE!

Seed-ordering day produces so much excitement in our little house - it's a bit silly! I bet it's almost possible to see little dream clouds floating above both our heads as we idealize and romanticize each year's garden. I'm sure this happens to all avid gardeners; it's part of the process and part of the fun. Of course, this year, I'm counting on our dreams matching our reality (wink, wink!).

If all above + all of last year's seeds weren't enough, Andy is hellbent on ordering a packet of ghost pepper seeds. He fell in love with a Ghost Pepper Hot Sauce that we bought in Austin. I've located a place or two from which I could buy a packet, but for the outrageous price of $7.00 or so for around a dozen seeds. Any advice?

And...I want to plant sunchokes this year. I have a little baggie of them saved. I'm still researching exactly how to plant them, so if you have grown them before, please comment! I'm excited for the tall, yellow flowers they produce; in fact, I've heard chickens love sunchoke plots. Plus, you can't beat the nutritional value of the sunchoke (even if they do create the occasional rumbling of the tummy!).

Happy Gardening .... someday soon!

Monday, January 17, 2011

The Stylish Blogger Award

First, I'd like to thank Heather at  (G)O'Donnell for awarding me the Stylish Blogger Award! It is always such a pleasure to be acknowledged and to know that at least one person reads these blog entries.

Here is how the Award works:
  • Make a post + Link back to the person who awarded you this award 
  • Share 7 things about yourself
  • Award 15 recently discovered great bloggers so we can share the love (I'm going to stick with what those before me have done though and award fewer than that)
  • Contact these bloggers and tell them they’ve won
Here is goes! This is a joint effort between both writers at The Backyard Market (Andy and Darcy):

1. We met at a Burger King on our way to a Dave Matthews Band concert. We had mutual friends who were meeting up, and we both were along for the ride. Now, from time to time, we pass that special Burger King, where both of us experienced love at first sight, and are tempted to stop...but then we come to our moral senses and keep driving.

2. In Las Terrenas in the Dominican Republic, we met two sweet, friendly children. We spoke Spanish with them, and they graciously helped us with new words and forming sentences. I mentioned that I liked chickens. They arranged to bring me one to take back to the United States the next morning. Their innocent and charming personalities made it hard to decline the offer.

3. Whenever we travel, we (months ahead of time) research all the local food co-ops in the area where we are going. We get more than excited to search them out once our plane lands or our car crosses the city lines.

4. We can't decide whether to live in the city or the country. We love it in the country, but adore the city. We're here in the country now. Who knows for how long? Andy thinks we should just buy some land in Central Park. Hehe.

5. On our first date, I mentioned that I was an ENFP according to the Meyers-Briggs personality test and that I was obsessed with the test's types. In fact, I felt I could figure out someone's personality code upon meeting them. I mentioned this at the Hilltop (where we were dining), and Andy spit out his code (INFP) like nobody's business. I was instantly in love.

6. I became a vegetarian a few months before we began dating. Andy had just developed what he thinks is his best dish: steak with mushrooms and blue cheese. Bad timing.

7. For some reason, we both have an adoration for songs that use the f-word with passion, in lines where cursing would seem unexpected, and from voices that seem innocent and sweet. Example: Rilo Kiley's "Better Son/Daughter."

There you go! Those may or may not have been interesting, but they're us.

And now...for my awards. Here are a few of my favorite bloggers:

1. Megan at Our Crowded Mantel
2. Ian at Moan Laur B & B
3. Happy Chickens
4. Hitchhiking to Heaven

    Ani, our feather-footed friend

    Way back in October of 2010, Ani, our feather-footed Bantam, passed away.This post should have been written months ago, but I think we were subconsciously avoiding  it. At the time of her death, we were going through our own human health issues, and the sadness in seeing her pass was overwhelming on top of our looming feelings of mortality and all of that. Of course, as always, our sentimental feelings about our chickens are our own, and we realize they might sound quirky...or some of our readers. Sorry about that! We've grown surprisingly attached to our birds.

    If you've followed the chicken posts of our blog, you know that our chickens were hit with Marek's disease, which is seemingly rare in small operations such as our own. Ani began acting lethargic, and she had a slight limp. These signs were unlike what our other chickens had exhibited, so we remained hopeful that she was just coming down with something else. We took her to the vet, who felt unsure if she was dying from Marek's or just sick. We kept her inside in a pet carrier and administered some meds, but she died (peacefully?) on a Sunday afternoon. She's buried in our backyard, far from where our other chickens visit.

    A side note (for all of you new chicken-keepers) is that through research, I've learned that if a hen is to get Marek's, a very vulnerable time is when she is about to lay her first egg. I believe Ani was egg-ready. 

    Ani stole my heart as my favorite chicken. She had such a bouncy gait, and when I picture her, it's usually images of her running and flying to keep up with me or Andy, venturing around our yard. She was crazily affectionate. The second one of us entered her run, she'd desperately try to seek out one of our limbs or shoulders onto which she could  land. When our run with Marek's began, I silently hoped and prayed that Ani and Zappa would be spared above all others. I think that because we got those two first, we spent the most time bonding with them, and so, they became more affectionate than the others, and hence, we saw them more as pets than our other chickens.

    Here are my favorite images from her very short little life.

    Wednesday, January 5, 2011

    Spinderella Laid an Egg!

    When we pulled into the driveway tonight, we knew something was up in the chicken house. Zappa and Janis, our two Bantams, were outside playing in the snow. Our hardier Easter Egger, Spinderella, was no where to be seen, even after several human calls, to which she'd normally fly out and greet. 

    Andy peeked inside the coop and found a nice greenish-blue egg along with Spindy. That's right! Spinderella, our little baby chick, is now an egg-laying, grown-up hen.

    Here's that egg: