Saturday, October 5, 2013

Eggplant Cake Recipe & Baked Shrimp with Purple Tomatillos


Recipe influence from the Baker's Creek Seed Catalog 2013

Eggplant Cake:
2 cups eggplant (Ping Tung but traditional eggplant works as well)
1 cup apple sauce (mine is unsweetened, homemade)
2 tsp. vanilla (optional - I like less vanilla)
1 1/2 cups of sugar
2 Tbsp molasses
1 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. salt
2 eggs
3 cups flour

Instructions:
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Wash, peel, cut the eggplant into cubes and cook in boiling water. Puree eggplant (I used an immersion blender). The cake above used four average sized Applegreen Eggplants. Pour puree in colander and press out excess liquid. Mix dry ingredients together in one bowl and mix wet ingredients together in another bowl. Add wet to dry. Pour into a well greased 9 x 5" bread loaf pan and bake in a preheated oven until knife comes out without batter. 1 hour - 1 1/2 hours.  




Baked Shrimp with Purple Tomatillos:
2 Tbsp Coconut oil
1/2 organic onion
1 pinch of red pepper flakes
3 cloves of garlic (or more)
4 oz. clam juice (other options water, broth, tequila)
6-8 Large shrimp (cooked)
1/8 cup shredded "farmers" cheese (salty cheeses are a good option)
1 pint of tomatillos (quartered)
 Salt, cilantro, black pepper, lime juice - To taste

Instructions:
Preheat oven to 425. Heat oil in oven safe pan (I used a cast iron skillet). Saute onions, garlic, and red pepper flakes until golden. Add quartered tomatillos until cooked through sprinkling with well with salt. About 10 minutes. Add shrimp to skillet and saute (I like my frozen shrimp to firm up a little bit). Add clam juice and shred cheese on top. Cook in preheated oven for 10 minutes. Add fresh or dried cilantro to taste, along with black pepper and lime juice. Serve immediately. 

Hope to see you at the market today for your heirloom eggplants and purple tomatillos. Thanks for your support! 


Friday, September 20, 2013

Brain & Belly: Fermentation Demonstration & Market


Fermentation Demo!

Have an abundance of produce but don’t know what to do with it? Of course you can freeze, dry, and can, but have you heard of the traditional method of preservation called lacto-fermentation, otherwise known as fermenting? You are probably most familiar with the fermenting of grapes to wine and grains to beer, but you can easily and quickly ferment your produce from your garden or the farmers market (hint, hint) in your own kitchen without fancy tools! 



Lauren of Honest Desires Farm will give you a basic introduction of what lacto-fermenting is, what tools you will need, some additional resources, and some simple recipes ideas to get you started, along with showing you how to make your own sauerkraut. Yum!



The demo starts at noon. 



There will also be a movie and free books from Half Priced Books. Don't miss it. 






Demo Resources
What is it?  - People in history developed techniques out of necessity to preserve their foods for long periods of time without the use of refrigeration or canning methods.  This process is actually called ‘lacto-fermentation’.  The Nourishing Traditions cookbook describes the process by saying “lactic acid is a natural preservative that inhibits putrefying bacteria.  Starches and sugars in vegetables and fruits are converted to lactic acid by the many species of lactic-acid-producing bacteria or lactobacilli.

Friday, August 23, 2013

Recipes: Eggplant, Red Romaine Lettuce, Kale, Heirloom Tomatoes, & Stuffed Mini-Peppers

Source

You have been to the farmers market and have come home with a bag of amazing, fresh, local produce and you are wondering just what to do with it. Here are some of my favorite go to recipes or you can invent your own!

Romaine Lettuce:
Roasted Romaine Lettuce - Two Blue Houses
Lettuce, Garlic Hummus, Current Tomatoes Bites - Pictures on fb
Romaine Lettuce the World's Healthiest Foods

Dinosaur Kale Chips:

Tomato & Kale:
Kale with Tomato, Garlic, and Thyme
Mini-Peppers:

Eggplant:
How to Roast Eggplant Cubes - for eating or adding to recipes

Tomatoes:

For more recipes you can visit my All Things Food board on Pinterest with over 500 pins and counting you are sure to find something to cook up for dinner. 


Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Dumping Chickens at Shelters?!?

Oy! Seriously? Why on earth would you take a chicken to a shelter? Now we are adopting out chickens to "forever" homes because people didn't understand what they were getting into? This seems a silly waste of time and money to me...


First, no one is debating that chickens can be wonderful animals and have fun personalities. However, we keep chickens at Honest Desires Farm for a reason. Food. They are livestock. Not pets. I can easily see how people can get attached to their chickens and then struggle with the what-do-I-do-with-them-now after they stop laying everyday or every other day but I am going to gently remind you:

If you are getting chickens to have an urban farm, a homestead, or to be more "self-sufficient" they aren't pets. They are livestock.

Why am I even talking about this? Because of this inflammatory article  from NBC News about "hipsters" in the "locavore" movement who are dropping chickens off in the hundreds at shelters across the nation.

To quote the article:

“It’s the stupid foodies,” said Britton Clouse, 60, who admits she speaks frankly. “We’re just sick to death of it.

People entranced by a “misplaced rural nostalgia” are buying chickens from the same hatcheries that supply the nation's largest poultry producers and rearing them without proper space, food or veterinary care, she said."

“People don’t know what they’re doing,” Britton Clouse said. “And you’ve got this whole culture of people who don’t know what the hell they’re doing teaching every other idiot out there.”

Apparently, we are "hipsters" but we wouldn't want to be the idiots spreading false information, so I am here to give you a clue. IF you are getting chickens to become more self-sufficient please know the following:

  1. Chickens can be noisy. - Um yes. Even the hens. VERY. Most hens aren't though. Be prepared if you get a noisy one. You will need to do something about it. Like eat that hen. 
  2. Chickens can be smelly. - Use a dirt floor coop and deep litter and you will will do wonders to save yourself time, trouble, and smell. 
  3. Chickens do stop laying well after two - three years. - Fact.
  4. Chickens are expensive. - Yes! Especially in your backyard. You have the coop, feed, bedding, and other chicken needs. This isn't a save you money kind of thing in comparison to store bought eggs. (Of course you can do it rather inexpensively but time is an issue here and time costs money as well). 
  5. Chickens (like all birds) are messy. - If you have ever lived with a parrot of any kind... never in my house again.
  6. Chickens can live a long time (DUH!). - Why would you not think about this before getting an animal?
  7. Chickens get sick. - We have had several in our last 5 years unexpectedly die or get ill in such away that they needed to be put out of their misery. Be prepared for this. It can happen. Mostly though they are very healthy animals. And a vet for a chicken... well. I think that is crazy talk but you decide your own money. There is a LOT you can do for the health of your chicken in your own backyard.
  8. Chickens need care everyday of the year. - Think about vacations, weekends away, etc. Even in winter. Even is storms. Even when you are sick or exhausted. 
  9. DON'T do something because it is "cool". - Hello this isn't high school. - Please don't just do it because it looks so neat and the "idea" of chickens is fun. 
  10. Chickens don't bring predators in the city. - Our neighbors garbage cans already do that. However, chickens are very easy targets for predators and your expensive investment in backyard hens can be gone in a flash. Take strides to protect your hens so that you can eat them and not your neighborhood coon. 

Remember why you are doing this:

  1. Feeding your family.
  2. Chickens can be educational. 
  3. To make sure the animals you eat live a good life. 
  4. To be a locavore!
  5. Whatever personal reason you put here.
Don't give keeping backyard chickens a bad name. Help your kids have a real understanding of the food they eat. Don't cloud the issue with keeping pet chicken "Sally" around forever all the while saying you are trying to be sustainable or a homesteader. Be honest. Say this is my pet chicken and I have her for 14 years. Eggs or no eggs. However, another option is to honor "Sally" for what she is. Livestock. With a noble purpose and good life, surrounded by people that appreciated her chicken-ness and then let her do the honor of feeding your family. That oddly can be a very beautiful thing. 

For another view point (and I am sure there will be many more over the next couple days and weeks) read:



Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Neighbors

Have I told you how amazing our neighbors are? They have lived here for 30 + years and have just been the best and most supportive people we could have imagined.

For example:

  1. They loan us ladders, tools, and the huge spot light we have been using to harvest at night.
  2. They invite us to family holiday gatherings.
  3. They put up with our crazy ideas and our chickens, beagles, and other nonsense. 
  4. They are artistic, handy, and love animals.
  5. This last Sunday the husband sharpened the mower blade of our trash picked self-propelled lawn mower. Then he fixed and tuned up our wood chipper.
  6. They would gladly help us with our animals & we help them with theirs.
  7. They cut down trees that over hang our yard so that we can get more sunlight. That is HUGE because they love trees (not that we hate them). 
  8. They think a community garden on the empty railroad lot next to ours is a good idea... maybe someday.
  9. They have an acre!? How cool is that.
How did we get so lucky? 

The neighbors on the other side... well. At least we got here first. Just kidding. I think they will warm up to us as well. They did notify me when the great chicken escape happened and helped me chase a chicken back into the yard. 


Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Out of the Nest: Baby Bunny Photo Shoot

It is really late and I spent the whole after dark evening getting our lovely, new social media icons to work! I have a lot more posts, updates, and improvements coming to the site soon. However, I just couldn't go to bed without sharing the baby bunnies.

I actually held myself back from sharing more...












We don't know if they are boys or girls yet. I am pretty good at sexing them by four - six weeks. Gary wants to keep the gray (we are calling "Mouse") and I love the large, fat, black/brown one. We will see which ones we keep. Hopefully they are all girls and we can keep them all. I have to say this is the sweetest and most laid back litter we have had so far.

One fun announcement. We will be driving on Sunday to Bainbridge, Ohio to pick up another Broken New Zealand doe and a Blue New Zealand buck. Both are proven breeders and we will breed them while in quarantine from our herd. We will re-breed Mama in another two-three weeks along with her daughter Baby Girl. Very excited that we will be over flowing with rabbits soon!


Monday, June 17, 2013

Rain Water Collection



We have several rain barrels hooked up to our house gutters and plan to add more to our greenhouse and chicken coop area. I feel comfortable watering the chickens & ducks from the rain water (especially from the coop and greenhouse roofs) because they so readily drink from puddles even when fresh city water is offered. I often wonder if it is the chlorine and fluoride they wish to avoid...

Anyway, we were given an awesome 300 gallon tank. It needed cleaning and Gary had to cut off a part of the top to clean and sanitize inside but it is totally clean now (dirty on the outside in the photo). We hooked it up just in time for the most recent storms and already have a quarter of a tank. Ideally, this tank will help water the raised bed areas.

This will definitely be a blessing even though this season is proving to have enough moisture so far. I have pinned some elaborate and simple irrigation systems involving rain barrels on my Pinterest boards. I am grateful that in Ohio it isn't a crime to collect rain water as in other states.


Saturday, June 15, 2013

Trying Something New: Transplanting Beets



Transplanted 50 beets into a recently emptied raised bed (well part of a raised bed) and plan on direct seeding the rest of the bed when the rain lets up. We will see how using soil blocks and transplanting beets turns out. I know other farms have used this technique with some good success. Germination rate with the soil blocks were better on the heirloom Golden Beets and showed no real difference in the various heirloom red beets (the red beets germinated well with direct sowing)

We have been disappointed with germination rates with some of our direct seeded beds of various crops so far this season. There are a number of factor such as depth of sowing, temperatures, and consistency of watering to factor in. We have also found that to better utilize our small space, in comparison with large farms, we need to sow multiple crops in one bed in a process known as intercropping. Where beets didn't germinate in one raised bed we sowed an heirloom romaine lettuce among those that did. 

Clearly our planning, planting, and timing of succession crops needs to improve. Learning as we go.


Saturday, June 8, 2013

Our Duck House: Using Pallets & Shadow Box Fence

Update: Our Duck House 101 was published on Homegrown.org. It details how we built this house and materials you could use. Honestly, this house is just using recycled, on hand materials, and doesn't require a lot of building experience. Thanks for visit. Please share what duck, goose, or chicken houses you have built. 

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Our lovely Cayuga ducklings are all grown up. How do you say "Cayuga"? Good question listen here.

It seem pretty certain that we have two drakes (left & right in picture) and one duck (middle). It is time for them to be in their grown up pen and out of our greenhouse. Putting them near the chickens and rabbits makes daily chores much, much easier.


Boon, Dock, and Pontoon. We are looking for a girlfriend for Pontoon. 


Fairly nice size area for the ducks and any future ducks. I am not a fan of their mess (or smell!) however so we will be routinely adding fresh wood chips to keep mud and water from becoming a stinking mess. Ducks are amazing at mess.

Devoid of green? No worries. They will be getting lots of green stuff supplemented to them and we are growing a pasture grass blend that I think they and the chickens will really enjoy. 


Ethan helping inspect our new duck house. It needs a few refinements but it was completely free. Old shadowbox fencing and wood pallets. Last year we went to a local fence company and made friends with the owner and picked up fencing that they would have to pay to have shredded and trashed. We even were able to get brand new fencing that was torn out and replaced because of contractor error. Major plus! But back to ducks...

A metal dog crate door seals them in at night and we are laying down vinyl tile for easy cleaning. Either the top or the backside will come off for access to wet or dirty straw/hay. 


Ethan showing how the ducks will go in and come out.


Ethan practicing hearing safety.


Our duck house. It needs a sign...


Duck "pond". We are trying out different options but I insist that it have a way to drain (bottom or side) and that I can brush clean (usually every other day). This is just temporary so expect to see changes and improvements. 


Installation of the dog door. Now we just have to get the ducks to put themselves away at night. 

Fun Fact:
Did you know that Cayuga ducks often lay "black" eggs? They get lighter as the laying season goes on. The black egg below is from a Cayuga duck. 

Source

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Change of Plans: Fast Deer Fence

Sunday we work our tails off and were able to planted 160 heirloom pepper transplants and 100 tomato transplants. In the last four years the only time we lost tomatoes was when we had an un-fence yard and garden. We went to bed Sunday night tired, sore, and happy at our accomplishment. Not a care in the world....




Did you see it? The top of the tomato chewed off? It could have been worse. The plant should recover but it could have been so much worse. Thankfully is was only ONE plant. I credit our beagles that are penned 20 feet away from this plant, but whatever convinced them to leave. We thank God!


Do you see the deer track? We had a lot of these prints all over the yard. Probably an older doe and a few younger ones. Nothing else was damaged. Now we have had deer IN the yard since fencing it all in but the garden always had a separate fence because of the dogs, chickens, and kids. Much harder to fence in the garden when it is the whole yard. No double deterrent. 


Do you see it? The deer hair on the top of the fence in the middle. The fence was bent and covered in hair as the deer made a hasty retreat. Love those beagles. I have never been happier to have dogs living outside (with proper accommodations of course!) than I was at this moment looking at the fence. 


If you were following on facebook then you know that we decided to put up a quick deer deterrent fence. One that hopefully wouldn't hurt them. We don't want to come out to a crazed,  hurt animal. At a late afternoon hour we used what we had and made a hillbilly deer fence. Rope we use to pull down trees, zip ties, plastic garden fence that various people have given us rather than throwing it out, and kitchen molding from Kraft maid that was given to us for basically free. 


Extending our fence posts with molding.


Another view.


Getting dark. First section done. It took until midnight to get the whole side of the yard that was at risk deer "proofed". 


Daylight view. It doesn't look horrible. It is a good thing we did it last night. Gary heard the deer start behind our back fence and walk along the rail road tracks as he was finishing up. I was in the house sleeping at that point with the kids. 


A few adjustments and this is staying until we have time to put up more wooden fence. Which won't be for another month or so. Nothing like using what you have and keeping other people's trash. Hoping the grass on our side of the fence will all be beds of lettuce in another month. 

Now we are thinking about the other side of the yard. One place is an option for deer to get in and we are thinking of stringing cans and CDs to discourage them. 

Do you have deer problems? How do you keep them from eating your food?

Monday, June 3, 2013

Important Announcement

We have some bad news. Don't worry. It isn't horrible but it is disappointing. We decided because of our part time farm status and first year that we won't be doing two farmers markets.

We will not be vending at Kamm's Corners this season. We will still be vending at Gordon Square Farmers Market.

Please be sure to support your local farmers and shop at a farmers markets this summer. Any market is good but of course any market we are at is best! Hopefully we will see you at Gordon Square on Saturdays starting June 15th!

Thank you for your support.


Sunday, May 26, 2013

Tomatoes

If I could just grow one plant year after year I would have to choose tomatoes. I simply love baby tomato seedlings. Here are some seedlings that are full of promise.






We "potted" up via dollar store cups. Some we have used for several seasons but they do become brittle. These lovely tomatoes are much larger with in days. They liked the extra room. It is a good thing I didn't just transfer them to their outdoor bed because of the late spring frost we just got. 

I have a post coming comparing peat cups and soil blocks. What do you use to start your seedlings? 


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