Tag Archive for food

Fiddlehead Ravioli

Fiddlehead season in Maine has come, and pretty much gone. With our first collection this year we decided to try something different. With some home made pasta, ricotta cheese from Crooked Face Creamery, and fresh fiddleheads, we spent an afternoon making homemade fiddlehead ravioli.

For the pasta we used a really basic recipe found in one of our many cookbooks that we have tucked away. When I say basic, I mean four ingredients:

  • 2 1/3 cups flour
  • 2 beaten eggs
  • 1/3 cup water
  • 1 tsp. olive oil

This is a great started base that you can add any type of seasoning too, along with making it out of any flour. We used wheat flour and an Italian seasoning mix that I keep made up in the cabinet – it’s a lot quicker than pulling out all the individual spices. The longest part of it all was rolling out the pasta to cut up for the ravioli. We’ve definitely decided that we’re going to keep our eyes out for a cheap, used pasta machine. As great as homemade pasta is, we don’t really have the time (and I don’t have the upper body strength) to do all that rolling in one afternoon!

The grand thing about homemade pasta is that it only takes a few minutes to cook. After two hours of manual labor it was great to see the pot brimming with a good deal of pasta.

Unfortunately last year’s tomato harvest was a bust due to hornworms and blight. Instead of homemade sauce we’ve been making due with Newman’s Own, a great sauce selection from a wonderful company. With left over filling and sauce to top off the pasta, it looked like a culinary master piece.

It was delicious! Everything came out wonderful…but with one draw back. Apparently some people have issues dealing with digesting raw and undercooked fiddleheads. The patriarch of this household seems to be one of those. Given how horrible Joe felt after eating the ravioli with the uncooked fiddleheads in the filling, we decided the next night to chop it all up, mix it with the sauce, and cook it off as a pasta bake. The result? No illness and a delicious pasta bake that we would never had been able to afford in a restaurant. All in all, everything worked out great and we ended up with a total of six meals out of one afternoon of work.

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(Originally published: May 9, 2012.)

Tough Days Make Us Tough Birds

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It’s difficult to live on a homestead. While we don’t slaughter out own birds – yet – the emotions that you go through packing them into the kennels and loading them into the car, driving to the butcher’s and handing them over, picking them up an hour later, and bringing them home to the freezer, it’s a roller coaster ride.

You’ve held these birds in your hands since they were a day old. You fed them, cuddled them, loved them.  You give them your attention, your time, and your devotion. In return they give you education, experience, and sustenance. It’s never easy to see anything come to an end, much less the life of an animal, even one that has been born and raised with the sole purpose of giving your family food.

We’re asked often why we raise our own birds if it is so hard to see them go off to “freezer camp.” There are so many ways to answer this, but it all boils down to the fact that it is by far healthier for us and for them. They have room to grow, are not debeaked, and are not kept in an area the size of an iPad. These birds have been tended to for every wound and illness, from pasty butt to bumble foot, to torn combs. Each rooster has been held, named, and identified as a living being, not a “production unit.”

We eat meat because we are carnivores. But that does not mean we need to become heartless about it. Our current industrialization of animal husbandy that has formed concentrated animal feedlot operations (CAFOs) have let the US become such a heartless, unaware society as to where our meat comes from that many no longer realize their food as once having been a living animals. We, like all homesteaders, fight to close this gap. We long to be connected back into our food chain, giving each animal we consume the best life possible until it’s time for their ultimate destiny as one of our “farm hands.” As a family we’ve decided to raise our own meat birds, buy local beef, and purchase additional meat from the local farmers’ market. Is there more that we could do to strengthen our connection? Yes, but raising our own chickens for slaughter is the first step.

I could wax political and spiritual for hours on this topic. It’s a job we don’t take lightly, raising our own food, but it’s one that we readily take upon ourselves instead of taking it for granted. It is rough. It leads to tears, sleepless nights, early mornings, and deep meditation, but Gods above is it worth it. We know where our food comes from. We know each bird was happy and healthy. We know we are making a difference and raising our children to know where their food – their life source – comes from. I will never give up that opportunity.

 

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Hoping to have this post featured on a blog hop! Check out other great blogs at The Easy Homestead’s Blog Hop on every Wednesday!
Rooster sitting in a barn on a rural farm

Asparagus Has Been Planted

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Asparagus 2014_1We had to swing into the local hardware store today to pick up more screening and staples to chicken/groundhog proof the gardens. While I there I decided to buy myself a Mother’s Day gift: asparagus roots. Last year we planted a crown from my FIL’s old asparagus bed, but I know better than to think one crown could ever produce enough for us. When I saw the bin marked ASP – JERSEY SUPREME 25/$12.99, I couldn’t resist. In the top photo here you can see the asparagus bed is, marked out by the bright orange posts, and the five brambles that we transplanted last year (2 wild and 3 bought). This is down on the peninsular that our stream floods over every year. It’s the only area that has enough sun and drainage for both the brambles and the asparagus, so we’re hoping all will do well.

Asparagus 2014_2Here’s a picture of the bed itself. It’s about 6′ long and 2′ wide. After cutting the top soil with a spade, I flipped the chunks of sod over to help kill off the grass. I then added a wheelbarrow full of mulch that we had kicking around from another project. I placed the small root bundles in groups of two (and one of three) rows and placed a wheelbarrow full of compost on top of that. Hubster helped me cut a strip of chicken wire and peg down on top to help deter the chickens and groundhogs from investigating. On top of the wire we placed some grass that had been scalped from where the new garden bed will be.

All in all, I feel pretty confident in it. We’ll see if anything comes up this year, and more importantly, what comes up next year .

Early Fiddleheads

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IMG_2362Fiddlehead season normally doesn’t hit until around Mother’s Day. That’s when the rush starts to get to the woods and pick what you can before there delicious little ostrich ferns are grown. It’s also the rush to beat people that foolishly pick and sell them instead of stocking their own larder with these delicacies.

Last week my friend in Vermont posted that she snagged five pounds on her hunting trip. It was the only game to be had that day, but five pounds of fiddleheads is nothing to balk at. I started getting itchy. If they were up in Vermont they were certainly up here in Maine.

Sure enough, when Hubster and I got out into the woods this past Saturday, the fiddleheads were up and mostly gone by. Come this Wednesday they will all be 1 to 3 foot tall ferns looking beautiful and nothing like the 9 meals worth of small, rolled up bites of heaven in my freezer. (That doesn’t include the two meals worth we cooked up last night.)

Seeds and Tubers On the Way!

Here are the seeds that we’ve ordered from FedCo for this year:

  • Ireland Creek Annie Bean OG
  • Patriot Shell Pea OG
  • Green Arrow Shell Pea OG
  • Little Leaf H-19 Pickling Cucumber OG
  • Tonda di Parigi Carrot
  • Atomic Red Carrot OG
  • Danvers Carrot OG
  • Antares Lettuce OG
  • Lollo di Vino Lettuce OG
  • Summer Lettuce Mix
  • Winter Lettuce Mix
  • Czech Black Hot Pepper OG
  • Thai Hot Pepper OG
  • Oregon Spring Tomato OG
  • Principe Borghese Cherry Tomato OG
  • Wild Bergamot
  • Catnip
  • Bodegold Chamomile
  • Caribe Cilantro OG
  • Bouquet Dill OG
  • Greek Oregano
  • Mammoth Grey Stripe Sunflower
  • Plum Purple Radish

We still have pole beans, bush beans, Ireland Creek Annies, radish, spinach, pie pumpkin, cucumber, carrot, Coral shell peas, tomato, and bell pepper seeds as well. We’re picking up a couple different tomatoes this year – Oregon Spring and Principe Borghese Cherry – as the Glaciers and San Diegos didn’t seem to do too well. I’m really excited about growing bergamot, catnip, and chamomile, as it will lower our necessity to buy tea a ton, especially when you consider that we already have a surplus of mint in one herb bed.

For potatoes we decided to be a little more selective this year. Last year we bought the “classic keepers” variety pack which really helped us to take note of what does and doesn’t grow really well for us. Out of the five types we got to try, we’re ordering Kennebecs and German Butter Balls, both late varieties. We’re also going to take a stab at Rose Finn Apple, which is an early fingerling, and Red Golds, which are about a mid season potato.

I’ll update more on what the gardens will look like and such later.