Tag Archive for frugal

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.)

The first harvest!

We’ve officially had our first harvest here at the Raymond Homestead. I was able to pull out about 80% of my radish patch two days ago. The haul was great and tasty! The down side? I’m the only one that likes radishes. Oh, well. More for me!

In other gardening news, all the beds are doing well. We’re having a bit of an issues with the cucumbers this year as we tried a new location for them. Given that they’re not taking too well to it, I think we’ll be adding yet another garden on the south side of the house. The lettuce seed and beets seem to have all washed out early on, so I’ll be replanting those soon as well. (Most likely tonight or tomorrow.)

The most ironic part: the second bean and potato bed that we planted is doing well. When we moved our shed to a more stable and less floodable location we decided to throw in left over seed potatoes from this season and bush been seeds from two years ago into the dead area from the previous shed location. The only prepping we did was to till up enough of a workable hill to get the potatoes into the soil. The soil, by the way, is about 90% clay. It’s the type of Maine clay that you could sculpt out of, leave it in the sun, and then never break it. It will be really interesting to see what we get for a yield from it.

backyardjune2014

We’ve also come to the point where the chicks needed more room and have been separated into the two tractors. Five of them were a bit beaten up from the three bullies, so we put the bullies by themselves. Before long we’ll need to have a run between the two tractors…or figure something else out for space.

On an interesting note, the past two days we’ve been awoken to crowing by one of them. We think we have it narrowed down the most beaten of the five in the larger tractor. The comb on that one is much larger and redder than the others, not to mention the feathers have a bit of a luminosity to them that the other birds lack.

 

We’re Expecting

Chicks_1_2013

That’s right. Tonight we’ll be bringing home octoplets, if all goes smoothly. We decided that a good starter meat/layer combo for us would be speckled sussexes. They’re known to be very docile, which is great since this will be our first time raising them from chickhood. The game plan is to keep one, possibly two, for layers and have the rest butchered this fall. Here’s hoping my emotions don’t get too tangled up in these birds. It’s easy for others to say “don’t get attached” where they’re not the ones raising them.

Freezing and Food Safety

I am a very excited girl! Last year, when our hens were producing like mad, I had the forethought to freeze some eggs. They continued to produce over the winter, so we never used them. This winter, however, not only did I not freeze any in advance, but NONE of the three ladies are laying. I was thinking this morning that I should probably throw out the frozen eggs that were never used. But, I came across this piece of information from the USDA:

Freezer Storage Time Because freezing keeps food safe almost indefinitely, recommended storage times are for quality only. Refer to the freezer storage chart at the end of this document, which lists optimum freezing times for best quality.

If a food is not listed on the chart, you may determine its quality after thawing. First check the odor. Some foods will develop a rancid or off odor when frozen too long and should be discarded. Some may not look picture perfect or be of high enough quality to serve alone but may be edible; use them to make soups or stews.

While I’m not a huge USDA fan, they are a great source for information like this and have just made this girl’s day! It looks like we might actually get to have eggs with our turkey sausage patties tonight.

Garden Planning: So it begins…

The Christmas and Yule decorations are put away and another festive season has ended just in time for the round robins of nor’easters to start. Today’s storm is slated to drop 10″ – 18″ on us. Who knows what next week’s storm will grace us with. In the meanwhile, we stoke up the fire, throw on an extra layer, and huddle like chickens in our coop, keeping warm and fed.

The past couple years, as I’m putting away the Christmas decorations, I begin planning for the spring. However, until now, it’s all been pipe-dreams until it comes crunch time. This year the Raymond Homestead is right on the ball. So far we have all of our seeding selected and the order form ready to fill in. It’s just a matter of sending it. This season’s selection will consist of:

  • Tomatoes: San Diegos and Glacier Organics
  • Bell Peppers: King of the North Organics
  • Carrots: Over the Rainbow Mix
  • Sting Beans: Kentucky Wonders (This is the third second year growing strong beans from our own saved seeds.)
  • Broccoli: Will be purchased as seedlings from Hoof’n’Paw
  • Pumpkins: Long Pie Organics
  • Lettuce: Organic Lettuce Mix
  • Shell Peas: Coral
  • Hot Peppers: Long Red Cayennes (We’re hoping to use seeds that I saved from last year to start these, but we do have the back-up option of buying seedlings from Hoof’n’Paw.)
  • Cucumbers: Ministro
  • Drying Beans: Ireland Creek Annie
  • Basil: Sweet Organic
  • Dill: Fernleaf
  • Spinach: Donkey
  • Thyme: German Thyme
  • Beets: Early Wonder Tall Top Organic
  • Radishes: Easter Egg
  • Celery: Ventura
  • Potatoes: Classic Keepers 12 1/2 pound mix

While this seems like a long list, I’m hoping to add more variety in the follow years as well, but this was a good start that the hubby and I agreed upon. Given that the entire north garden will be converted to raised beds, we definitely have our work cut out for us. On the plus side, all the gardens are fenced in now, so that’s one less thing on the list.

As far as where we’re going to get our seeds, the answer to that is easy: FedCo Seeds. After having very submarginal luck from store-bought seeds, we decided that this year we’re going to go with a company known for their quality – both in seeds and service. More importantly, this ensures that we’re buying from lines that are able to survive in the north east regions and we’re helping to keep other farmers going. Please, even if you’re only doing containers, buy from FedCo, not Agway, Walmart, or any place else that sells seeds!

Now that I’m done my public service announcement, what do you lovely folks plan on planting in the spring?