My boyfriend and I recently got a farm. I have wanted a farm since I was a little girl. My grandmother and mother both grew up on farms. My grandmother grew up in Kansas during the end of the Great Depression and then the family moved out to California and my great grandfather bought a piece of land and raised an apple orchard. My mom grew up running through that orchard and used to take us on trips to drive by it.
I was filled with stories of them canning and making apple pies. My grandmother raised a huge garden in her backyard most of my life. For the years I lived with her for some reason the garden never got planted. A few years ago I got the gardening bug and I started my own garden. Then alas I ran out of space to put in plants in my little suburban backyard and I drooled over open space and full-sun.
Fast forward a year and now I sit inside my house on 5.39 acres with a beautiful view of a canyon and all the full-sun I can handle. My farm is growing. I have berry vines and the veggie patch and fruit trees are coming along. I am working to get back all the traditions that somehow were never taught to me. I am teaching myself to can, using my dehydrator and flash freezing produce to preserve it for the year. Each time I touch my dehydrator or the canning supplies I see my grandmother’s face and I miss her terribly. I wish she could be right next to me in the kitchen showing me how to do things instead of me learning it from a book with awkward hands.
Today I decided to infuse some olive oil. Here is the recipe:
- 1 empty jar with a lid
- 2 sprigs of rosemary with the leaves pulled off
- 10 garlic cloves – lightly crushed
- As many “dehydrated” sun-dried tomatoes as you can fit in the jar you have
- Olive oil to cover everything
Layer the rosemary then garlic then sun-dried tomatoes until reach within an inch of the top of the jar. End the layers with tomatoes. Pour in olive oil until everything is covered. Secure the lid and place the jar in the sun all day. The oil will heat up and cause the ingredients in the jar to release flavor. You can keep refilling the jar with oil as you use it.
Eventually I would fish out the garlic and eat it.
This is one of the staple salads in my house. I can make a HUGE bowl of it and it keeps for three days [if we do not eat it all first]. Its a twist on a Romanian salad made by my BF’s mom and aunt.
- One head green or red cabbage
- 3-4 cups of hand chopped dill [pull it into pieces with your hands – ta-da!]
- a medium red onion
- olive oil
- a HIGH QUALITY balsamic vinegar
- 1 cup nuts [almonds or walnuts are best]
- sea salt
- If you are PRIMAL finely grate some ricotta salata cheese on top at the very end
Cut the cabbage into coleslaw slices and thickness. Cut the entire head of cabbage even if it looks like a lot of food. Trust me you will eat it all. Finely slice the red onion. The onion slices should be an inch long and paper thin. Then pull the leaves off the dill and break them apart into the salad bowl. I like the dill the size of a nickel.
Then just pour olive oil and vinegar in even amounts over the salad. Salt to taste mix VERY well. Do not over salt the salad. Put a little on and let the salt melt. Mix again and taste. A little goes a long way. Then chop the nuts and mix well into the salad. [If there is any left the next day you can put a little more olive oil and vinegar on to refresh the taste.]
This salad tastes awesome with chicken or prawns thrown on top. My boyfriend and I both had two bowls tonight and there is only one portion left for tomorrow…. someone is going to lose an eye.
Today’s post is really simple but utterly delicious. Take a Hannah sweet potato and cook it in the microwave until soft. It should take about six minutes for a medium sweet potato. Then put a few spoonfuls of coconut oil into a pan and melt it on high.
Once the sweet potato is thoroughly cooked in the microwave, slice it into 1 centimeter thick slices. Place the slices into the hot oil which should just lightly hit the bottom of the potato [you are not frying them, you are getting enough oil in the pan so they get a bit of oil on each side when you cook them]. Cook until golden brown on each side and then place on your serving plate. Sprinkle with a nice sea salt and enjoy.
This will work for regular sweet potatoes but you should cook them on medium. They burn very quickly.
You know that time you thought up something amazing and it turned out even better than you thought it would? Yup this dish is like that.
What you will need:
- 2 delicata squash [should that be squashes? Hummm grammar police needed]
- 1 medium red onion
- 3 stalks green onion
- 1 pound loose breakfast sausage
- 1 egg
- 1 pound crab meat
- Parmesan cheese to garnish
First cut the delicata squash lengthwise and scoop out the seeds. Bake face down in a glass container at 450 degrees for about 35-45 minutes until soft. Be sure to keep water in the dish halfway up the side of the squash. You will have to continue to add more during the process depending on your oven. DO NOT add cold water. Add warm water or your dish will break.
While the squash is cooking cook your sausage in a pan and chop into crumbles [kind like taco filling with a few larger hunks]. Mix that in a bowl with the egg, and the crab. Mince the red onion and throw in the bowl and mix it up. Season with some garlic powder or a minced clove of garlic if you like.
When the squash is done baking pull them out of the oven and stuff them with the mixture. Be sure to evenly spread it into the squash. Carefully sprinkle some of the parmesan cheese over the top of the squash boats and then place back in the oven until the cheese browns: about 12 minutes max.
When they are done sprinkle minced green onions over top with a little more cheese.
I personally do not add any salt to the sausage and crab mixture because both already have salt in them. If you want more salt I would use a little sea salt and sprinkle it on top after everything is cooked.
My Dad can BBQ. I hate ribs. I think they are fatty and gross and well… I’d rather have a hamburger. But that all changed a few months ago when my Dad slow cooked some pork ribs at the house. I bought him a rack when he came to visit and I hesitantly tried one.
It looked good, no fat hanging off. He had dry-rubbed them the day before and then let them cook for several hours.
My life was forever changed. What was his rack of ribs, was quickly hijacked and I had to restrain myself from eating more than half his dinner. I apologized but continued to reach in the bowl until I was stuffed. The meat fell off the bone. It was perfect. The fat from the pork cooked right into the meat and there were no icky chunks of fat on them. Just perfection. I knew this is why people like ribs. I was hooked.
I quickly plotted how long it would be before I could have them again. Worked out to be his birthday / Father’s Day weekend. SCORE! I bought a huge rack from my farmer and also some baby backs just in case.
Now… the secret to good BBQ is patience. Lot’s and Lot’s of patience. You need to freakin wait until its done and cook it slow. Do not throw it on the BBQ and burn it and think it will taste good. It will not. It will taste like crap. Got it? Good.
Dad took the ribs out and laid them in a large pan. He carefully sprinkled rub all over them until both sides were coated evenly with seasoning. He then put some plastic wrap over the ribs and stuck them in the fridge until the next day. We used Seven Seasons All Purpose Seasoning for the rub.
Take the ribs out of the fridge and let them get to room temperature while you start the grill. We have a gas grill with three burners. Dad turned on the burner in the front on medium which got the grill up to 250 to 275 degrees.
Put the ribs on the grill for at least an hour and a half and then flip them. They should be all the way to the back of the grill where the fire is not on. They are done in about 3 to 3.5 hours depending on how you like them. For baby backs they are done in 2.5 to 3 hours.
Its pretty simple. A good rub and then patience. And don’t forget to get pastured meat.
Fresh Grape Leaves with Lamb and Sundried Tomato
- One pound ground lamb
- 5 sundried tomatoes minced [no oil or salt, if you have to use ones with oil or salt just adjust seasoning]
- 2 cloves garlic pressed through a garlic press
- 2 cups chopped fresh mint
- 1/2 cup fresh chopped dill
- Leaves from 3 stalks of fresh rosemary
- one medium red onion chopped
- 5 green olives minced
- Himalayan sea salt to taste
- A pile of fresh grape leaves fresh picked from my garden [smile :-)]
Caramelize the onions in a little cooking fat [you choose, I used leftover bacon drippings]. Add the ground lamb and cook until brown. Chop up big pieces of lamb as you cook. When the lamb is almost done add in the minced sundried tomatoes and finish cooking the lamb. When the lamb is fully cooked and you have gotten it to small taco-like consistency add in all the fresh herbs, pressed garlic and olives and mix well. Add salt to taste.
Spoon the mixture into your mouth… I mean onto the grape leaves. Only put enough so that you can fold up the leaves like a taco. Serve with a nice salad. If you are Primal add a little Mizithra cheese.
WHERE DO I GET FRESH GRAPE LEAVES???? Depending on where you live this can be hard. Look for Persian or middle eastern markets. If you have too, you can get grape leaves in a jar. But rinse them really well in water and then soak overnight in fresh water so that you can get off the salt. Taste a leaf after the soaking and adjust your salt on the dolma mix to account for the saltiness of the jarred grape leaves.
Or… steal some from your neighbor’s grape vine. But not mine cause I will hunt you down.
I pulled all the plants out of the grow wheel this Memorial Day weekend. It was unexpected since I wanted to leave them in until I got a ripe tomato or lipstick pepper but I realized it just had to be done. In all I have put 10-12 cherry tomatoes, 9 lipstick peppers, 10 kale and about 10 basil plants into pots. I also gave a bunch of cherry tomatoes to Auntie Rene to love. There reaches a certain point where you have too many tomatoes… I am close [anyone who sees the garden in person thinks I was close 20 plants ago, but I digress].
After just ten weeks I have almost fully developed lipstick peppers with tons of flowers on them. They are thick stemmed, nice and green and look healthier than the ones I grew normally in soil. In terms of tomatoes… I probably have reached the stage in my garden where I will propagate from cuttings each year. I get an almost mature plant that will be ready to flower much faster than one from seed. I also get to pick the best plants and most productive ones to take cuttings from. I have nicknamed one tomato plant “Big Momma” because its almost taller than me and has hundreds of flowers on it. I bought a child’s hula hoop to circle the vine around because its getting crazy.
So NOW the wheel gets to be used for its intended purpose… to grow massive quantities of herbs like basil, purple basil, oregano, expensive fruits like various types of strawberries, gooseberries and to start and speed up seedlings for ultra fast seed to production plants. Tonight I planted 3 black beauty eggplants, 3 long purple stem eggplants, 3 pepinos, 5 ground cherries, 5 litchi tomatoes, 5 gooseberries, 7 yellow wonder strawberries, 7 red wonder strawberries and 8 alpine mignonette strawberries. This is 45 plants. Since a few of the tomato seedlings from the first run in the grow wheel just plain died, I have decided to put spacers in between seedlings to give them more air, light and space to grow. This should also make it easier to remove the plants once the time comes to plant them in the ground. Once I can get a few more cubes [see above] I am going to add some more basil plants to the mix. I anticipate that these seedlings will take two weeks to get tall enough to go into the wheel and will probably be in the wheel for about 3 months. That should put me into the end of August.
I already miss going outside to look at the wheel. I thought I wanted a break from the work from it but I wish it was full and that I had started the new seedlings a couple weeks ago. It was very calming to watch it move and look at the plants. Even my boyfriend commented today that he missed it.I loved seeing the rapid growth and being constantly surprised at what would pop up. I am excited for the new batch of seedlings. I am so annoyed with the gooseberries I planted in regular dirt. I think I will be 40 before they are ready to give me fruit. They are soooo small now. I know they are hundreds of times larger than the little seed they grew from but still… I WANT A GOOSEBERRY! The wheel is going to help me speed those little monsters up.
In other news my African horned melon or Jelly melon seeds have sprouted after just a couple days. They are those funky orange and yellow fruits with spikes all over them. They will be a fun plant to have in the garden.
Awww gardening… its crack.
I have not done a recipe in awhile and this is a standard staple for me in the morning. Basically I combine some type of breakfast meat with sweet potato, eggs, grilled onions and pastured eggs. I only eat sweet potato on the mornings I do CrossFit. I also throw in chopped kale on occasion. There are no real measurements for this breakfast. Just approximately how hungry you are and what type of mix of ingredients you want. If you happen to make extra mix save it for tomorrow / hide it from your spouse. Or share if you are nice unlike me.
Here is my “Southern Scramble.”
First take a medium red onion and caramelize it in a frying pan with a little fat. Either coconut oil or bacon grease. When the edges of the onions turn light brown throw in 1 to 2 handfuls of cubed pastured ham and a small cubed Hannah sweet potato [these are a lighter sweet potato and not quite as sweet. Ask your produce manager for them if your store doesn’t carry them].
The key to making this dish yummy is to cut your cubed items the small size. Then nothing over powers the dish.
Brown the edges of the ham and potato and pour mixture into a bowl. Cook a couple eggs however you like them. I prefer over easy so the yolk runs all over the mix later.
Put some of the ham mix into a bowl, top with an egg and mash the egg into the mixture. If you are Primal you can top with a good grassfed cheese from say Kerry Gold.
I also love putting hot sauce all over this too.
So to recap here are your ingredients:
Medium red onion
1-2 handfuls of cubed ham
small Hannah sweet potato
a couple eggs
cheese if you can tolerate it.
[Half a bottle of hot sauce is desired… Just kidding… not really]
I’ve reached the critical stage in the grow wheel process where now it is time to move and shift around plants. The problem is that I really wanted to wait until I had ripe peppers or tomatoes to pull from the wheel. I have decided to take out all the kale, swiss chard and some of the pepper plants for now and replant them in the ground.I am leaving my star pepper in the wheel until the 1.5 inch pepper ripens to complete my experiment.
The swiss chard and kale are going to be intercropped with other vegetables to help shade the ground [read containers] and to save space. I have some more Garden Patch grow boxes on their way that are going to receive most of the lipstick peppers. They are just plain getting too big and later when they are saddled with fruit I do not want to risk losing the yummy baby peppers.
The tomatoes….. are a tangled, twisted mess. I have no idea how I would even start to get them out without damaging them. I think that I will need to completely stop the wheel and slowly untangle one plant at a time.Then I have to figure out where to plant them. LOL!
The basil is small because I have regularly harvested it and those plants can stay right where they are and continue to produce. This also means that I get to shift into a fun mode with the grow wheel. I can now start new seeds and use it for my intended purpose of speeding up plants and shortening the season from seed to fruit.
I am going to go crazy with ground cherries, gooseberries and litchi tomatoes. Those little suckers I planted in soil and they are still the tiniest plants you have ever seen. I would like to eat some of this fruit sometime this year so I am going to start a new set in the grow wheel and see what happens. I will probably leave it on the growth cycle along with basil and strawberries to get them really large. I am also going to increase my herbs in the grow wheel and do more basil, purple basil and some dill.
My focus will be on the costlier produce in the store to make this worth the expense of the wheel and hydroponic solutions. Now I get to start another 60 plants and play with a fresh canvas. The rest of the garden is doing well. I have many plants flowering and growing their little butts off. It is not going to be long now until I do not have to buy any store produce except maybe carrots or something special that has not ripened yet in the backyard.
I’ve learned so much during this start up process from December until now. The biggest thing I have learned is to plant WAY more than you think you could want, eat or use. At the worst you have extra for family and friends. Things grow at their own pace and its not something you can control.
I am now turning my attention into planning the garden around providing a variety of produce every single week of the year. For example… if I want a head of cauliflower every week that means I need 52 heads of cauliflower over the course of a year. But all of those heads cannot be ready at the same time. I need to space out their planting. Essentially I will have a month by month and week by week schedule of what and when to plant various vegetables and fruit so that my little homestead and family has everything it needs.
The nice thing is that plants like strawberries, kale and gooseberries do not need to be started from seed again each year. I get to have more fruit from the year before because the plants are perennial and they get larger each year. They also multiply and I can divide them and double my yield. Also with the grow wheel I will not have a stop to my strawberry season. I get to harvest ripe yummy strawberries year round.
I am sitting at week 8 1/2 with my plants in the grow wheel and I have a bunch of cherry tomatoes all over the wheel and a few lipstick peppers fast growing. The biggest pepper is 1.5 inches long and will soon be full size. I can’t wait to see it start to turn red. I have been patiently waiting for the tomatoes to start to turn color too [that is a total lie, there is nothing patient about my intense need to pull a ripe tomato out of that wheel] and I will just let nature take its course [hurry up!].
I am also able to harvest a huge handful of kale every couple days. Usually it finds its way into my omelets. I now eat more kale than I ever have in my entire life and I am getting more vitamins than you can get in a store. Just picked produce is incredible. Once I upload the video this weekend you will get to see the growth. I think I will do a week one to week eight comparison.
Okay…. go plant something!