If you’re anything like us, you may have over-planted summer squash. And that means that, also like us, you have summer squash coming out the yang right now. It’s the summer squash-pocolypse. We may be sick of it now but come winter, we’ll be begging for a taste of summer. Squash and zucchini can be so easily preserved in a number of ways besides just zucchini bread. I mean, zucchini bread is delicious but c’mon… who needs 20 loaves of that in their freezer? Maybe your grandma. Like, if she was storing up for the winter church bazaar or something. Variety is the spice of life, grandma! Here’s three ways to preserve your summer squash and at the same time give you lots of different meal options throughout the rest of the year.
Goat’s milk. It’s what dreams are made of. It’s everything I dreamed of when we started raising goats almost two years ago. Well, that and lots and lots of cuddles. And goat kids. Really, goats are just the best. But the reason why we started raising goats is for goat milk and goat’s milk products. About a month ago we finished drinking our last gallon of store bought milk and started milking our first freshener does, Judy Garland and Liza Minnelli. More on the joys of milking goats later. But ever since then, our fridge has been full of delicious goat’s milk. Once we started getting milk in larger quantities, our eyes widened with all the possibilities of what we can do with goat’s milk. Homemade greek yogurt, homemade ice cream, soap, butter, and cheese! In fact, I started a pinterest board dedicated to goat’s milk products and recipes. Honestly, I’ve been practically standing on my milk stand, preaching the benefits of goat’s milk to anyone who will listen. But let’s get right down to it. Today we’re talking about reason #459 why farming is awesome. And that’s cheese. Delicious, creamy, farmmade raw goat cheese (also known as chevre).
It’s that time of year again! The time of year where we schlep through the woods to tap maple trees, collect sap and spend hours upon hours of boiling it down in order to make sweet, sweet maple syrup. This year we’re stepping up our game by increasing our taps from 100 to over 200. We’ll also be doing something very special with our finished syrup but you’ll have to wait a little bit longer to see what that is! We’ve been storing last year’s syrup away like squirrels and we’re almost to the very end of our stash! So I thought that this week would be a great time to make something special with our homemade maple syrup. With lots of syrup, fresh duck eggs on hand and a sudden “heat wave” (50 degrees!) that meant one thing and one thing only…. dessert. Sweet, creamy, most excellent dessert. In my belly. Now.
This weekend our metal shop was buzzing with activity, testosterone and beer. Dave and our buddy John were replacing the motor in a bobcat and getting that thing up and running. Our other buddy Bob was here working on setting up some new electrical lines in the shop so that they can all do more manly stuff in the future. Dudes are genetically designed to survive off of beef jerky, canned ravioli and tuna salad. They can do this for days, weeks, even 31 years. But this weekend I wanted them to eat some real food. Gasp! They had been working so hard this whole weekend. But the problem is that we haven’t gone grocery shopping in three weeks. I didn’t have much in the fridge or pantry but I did have some fresh farm raised rabbit! How that is possible, I do not know. I used what I had in the pantry to make a sweet honey and curry oven roasted rabbit. Not all guys like sweet with their meat but I figured since they can ravenously eat this with their hands, they wouldn’t mind.
A few weeks ago I professed my love of persimmons and made homemade persimmon vinegar and vodka infusions. Well, since then I’ve been saving up all the persimmons that I’ve harvested and put them in the freezer. This past weekend, I defrosted them to find a gooey, sticky glob of persimmon mess. But that’s not a bad thing, in fact it’s perfect for making persimmon purÃ©e, the basis of basically all persimmon based recipes. Muffins, cupcakes, jam, butter and homemade persimmon ice cream!
It’s that time of year again where we’re up to our eyeballs in produce. So much… so, so much… So at the end of each week I’ll spend a day or so canning. But after three weeks of canning dill pickles, bread and butter pickles, Such and Such pickles, pickle this, pickle that, it gets old. And I don’t want to be eating the same flavored pickled cucumbers all winter long. That would be a long, boring winter. It’s time to shake things up a bit. We have stacks on stacks on stacks of zucchini and green beans this year so it’s their time to shine! Instead of going to regular dilly bean, spicy beans or whatever route, I decided to spice it up and make curry zucchini pickles and curry bush bean pickles. Curry, apple cider vinegar and turmeric make for a zesty Eastern flair pickle that would be perfect on a winter’s terrine or charcuterie board.
Canning season is among us! Every time I go out to the garden I’m greeted with rows and rows of bush beans, cucumbers, tomatoes, fresh herbs, okra, I could go on and on… For a second I stop to think, “Man, this is really beautiful! And amazing that we’re growing so much food!” But then I’m like, “Holy expletative! This is a lot of food! I need to can this ish.” So now after I spend my day in the gardens, my nights are filled with wedding planning and canning/preserving recipes. After taking a quick straw poll of everyone who is a frequent visitor and therefore will be eating pickles whether they like it or not in the winter months, I found that there was no general consensus as to whether I should make kosher, spicy, garlic or ‘whatever’ kind of pickle. So I took matter into my own hands and came up with our own blend of kosher, garlic dill and spicy pickles. And so was born the Such and Such pickle.
The wonderful month of May means many, many things. It means endless stressful days of planting in the garden, the first sunburns of the year, a pile of empty beer cans in the trash (and sink. Because for whatever reason grown ass boys will put the cans in the sink but can’t seem to go over 1.5 ft to put them in the trash can. It’s must be some debilitating disease that boys have called “laziness.”). May is also the beginning of grilling season! This is when our meal rotation for the week goes like this: brats, burgers, pork steaks (for fancy guests), leftovers and repeat. I was tired of making the same ol’ burger so I thought I would take the standard burger to the next level. THEN take it to the next level after that! Yes, my friends, it’s the Next-Next Level Burger. A bacon juicy lucy topped with homemade tomato jam, a bacon-onion-balsamic jam and homemade pickled peppers to top it off with. Commence the drooling.
During the summer I really love to can and preserve all that I can from our harvests. I want to can gallons and gallons and gallons of things however I’m always stingy to use it and I try to ration it out so we have enough to get us through until next season. Anytime Dave reaches for a can of pasta sauce I’m always quick to say “No!! I’m saving that! Let’s make something else tonight!” He replies, “What are you saving it for?” “I don’t know.. I just am!” However, when company comes over I’m popping pickled peppers and dilly beans like it’s Cristal or something. I know, I don’t get it either. But there’s a big pile of snow outside and no sight of above freezing temperatures for a while. So that means I want some warm, hearty homemade soup. And I figured that this would be the perfect time to pop open some of the cans I put up to treat myself to a taste of summer in this hearty Tomato Pepper Chicken Stew.
It’s the beginning of January but the middle of cold and flu season. And there’s a crap ton of snow heading our way. We have a lot of friends that are sick, so we didn’t want to risk one of us getting sick then being snowed in together. Passing the nasty flu virus back and forth between the two of us. Forever. To prevent such catastrophe, I decided to whip up some super homemade chicken noodle soup. With our own pasture-raised, free range chicken, homemade broth and homemade egg noodles. I’m pretty sure this recipe has some sort of curative gypsy curse voodoo powers. And even if it doesn’t, and we still end up with bodily fluids flying out of every orifice of our bodies and 12″ of snow outside; at least we have this soup. With one pot, you can make your own homemade chicken noodle soup, homemade chicken broth or homemade chicken stock. It’s magic.