Good Food

Good Food = Local Food
All local,:beans & pork from the freezer and sweet potatoes stored in the cellar

(This is an introduction to an extended series.)

Good food has become a cliché – talked about as entertainment but not part of our day-to-day lives. Cooking on TV has gone nuts. Even I have gotten roped in by those 5 way pastry competitions. I am here to tell you that eating is not competition. Cooking shouldn’t be either. Continue reading Good Food

Good Food II

Since we do so much eating, we might as well get it right.  Though neither of us has much in the way of formal training, we think we know what we are doing in the residential/semi-pro kitchen.  We are not interested in production line cooking, though efficiency and effectiveness are always appropriate.  A strong sense of mise-en-place works even for boiling water!

Continue reading Good Food II

Contoocook Holiday Market This Sunday!

We’ll see you at the Train Station in the center of Contoocook at the Holiday Farmers Market.

We will have:

Preserves (Sweet Tomato Jam for Breakfast, various Pear Relishes, plus, plus, plus) – Mary promises – nothing normal!

Meat – Roasts, bacon, chickens, steaks and more.

Coffee – Sean’s best ( UNTA! )

There will be lots of other things as well.  Many of your favorite summer vendors will be there!

Soup’s On

Well we cooked soup in Warner last night.

Thanks to the brave souls who came out to play on a dark and stormy night.

I brought some of Mary’s famous Tomato Preserves for a beginning snack.

We talked about braising and soup making and secret beef cuts and lots of other things.  We didn’t get out until 21:00 (which is at least 9 pm in my book).

Soup, Up Close and Personal

I just interrupted the prep for Braised Oxtail to post this note!

As part of Warner’s Local Food, I am cooking Beef and Barley Soup from 19:00-20:00 (7 PM to 8 PM ).  We will be in the kitchen at Town Hall and a good time will be had by all.

Come see how the great tasting cuts get prepared.  Then you can leave all those expensive cuts like Tenderloin and Porterhouse to my other customers!

Blue Plate Special

Asparagus SpearsSo I didn’t obliterate the old asparagus plant that came with the property.  There they were 2 days ago – 5 proud stalks, waiting to be turned into a meal.  By the time I cut them this morning, they were a little long in the tooth, so to speak but still quite edible.

Since the hens have been very obliging, I knew there was an omelette in my future as I hilled up the new asparagus bed.

This is very simple:

  1. Chop asparagus spears into 1-2″ pieces, making about 1/2 cup.  Sautee in a little olive oil or butter, splash a couple of Tb of water on them to aid in cooking, put aside. Dice or make sticks of about 1x1x3″ of Jarlsberg, Gruyère or Cheddar.
  2. Gently whisk together 3 eggs, 1/2 tsp paprika, a dash of cayenne and a little salt.  Mix.  Do not whip.  I am serious about this.  Omelettes are not supposed to be that fluffy.Omelette Cooking
  3. Get pan medium hot (you should hear the eggs when you pour in).  Pour in eggs.
  4. Immediately put cheese and asparagus in center of  egg mixture.  Lower heat.
  5. Watch, until the edge starts to dry out and the surface looks like it might solidify.  Unless you have training, in which case you do not need my tutelage, use a spatula to fold one third of the edge over the middle.  Wait a little and fold over the other edge.
  6. Cook on low heat until the eggs are set.  If you don’t have eggs from a chicken you interviewed, set them harder and promise me you are going to go find good eggs.  The hens appreciate the attention and you will appreciate eating real food.

Localness Evaluation(how far did it travel to the kitchen):

  • Eggs – about 300 feet
  • Asparagus – about 200 feet
  • Butter – New England but not local local
  • Jarlsberg – Norway
  • Paprika – I know Penzey’s buys around the world
  • Cayenne – Ditto Penzey’s
  • Salt – I need to ask the coop where the salt comes from.

Clearly the volume bulk passes muster but we could do better on all the addings.  All it takes is money for higher quality (and higher priced) local food.

We could have replaced the spices with our own diced peppers.

What is Pastured Poultry?

I finally got my first batch of broilers on the field.  They’ve been in the hen-house, protected from the cold spring and the wind and rain.  But it was time for them to get some space.Red Feathered Broiler

The hangup was getting the new hi-tec shelter done.  Well, I am here to say that  $16 worth of electrical conduit,  2 10′ 1×6 hemlock boards and a 10×12 tarp later is all it took.  It weighs about 30 pounds and is better than any chicken tractor I ever used.

Chicken Hoop House

Chicken tractors are the best way to raise small numbers of chickens.

They are safe, secure and durable.  Great as long as your field is level and you don’t have more than like 2 of them to haul around.  Also – you cannot make a free-range claim.  They’re technically not free-range.

I fence mine in with poultry-net, shelter them in this new shelter I made with the above materials and a tubing bender from Johnny’s and there you go!

So, what is Pastured Poultry?  For me it is free-range, eating the grass and bugs and good drug and hormone-free food and running around plating “I’m bigger than you are!” all day long.

We use this particular breed because they are more humanly bred – no leg problems, good strong hearts and generally great health.   And they really taste better than Great White Lumps

Thistles

Rhymes with ‘pistols’.Horse Thistle Plant

Unless you are a donkey, in which case it rhymes with ‘breakfast’.

Some folks think they are a nuisance.  The goats and donkey eat them up.  The sheep not so much.

Some of them get really big, especially when they are outside the fence-line (there loose lips cannot reach).

In springtime all the interesting plants come out to play.  Tender and tasty.  The Poison Ivy is gone from our fields – all eaten by the goats.  Wild Brambles?  Gone too.   And a strong fence around the cultivated ones.

If you have scrub to clear, there is nothing than goats, donkeys and some time.

Gotta go move the fence out…