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I thought I had posted these before, but can’t find them, so here is a post with my favorite things to do with Autumn Olives:

Autumn Olive Fruit Leather:
4 cups of Autumn Olive pulp
1 Tbsp Lemon juice (optional)
2 Tablespoons local honey, or to taste.  It helps make the leather more pliable, as well as adding sweetener.

Combine one half cup of water to every 4 cups of berries and boil on the stove until the seeds have separated from the berry. You can add fresh mint if you want.  Run through a food mill or a sieve and return pulp to a saucepan on the stove. Add the honey.  Pour onto mad for your Dehydrator, or parchment paper, will work fine too.  You want it to be about 1/4″ thick, and even as possible.  Place in Dehydrator on 140 degrees for 10-12 hours. Or you can use your oven on the lowest setting, checking for doneness. You can tell if it is ready by peeling it from the parchment and by touching it in the center of the tray. When it is done it will be tacky but not sticky. Also when it has cooled it is more likely to be less sticky than when you test it when it is warm.

To store, I cut mine into strips and roll in parchment paper.  I’ve been successful storing it in the cupboard just wrapped in the paper, in the fridge, and in the cold room.  We love to eat the leather as is, or cut with a pizza cutter, into little squares and add to cookies, or muffins.  I love Autumn Olive Oatmeal cookies!
Autumn Olive Shrub

Makes on very generous quart

Ingredients:

  • 4 cups fresh autumn olives
  • 3/4 cup honey
  • 1 cup apple cider vinegar (I prefer Braggs, or another brand with the mother, that has not been pasteurized.  You can use anything but the health benefits are greater when you use raw ACV.
  • 3 cups water

Instructions:

  1. In a large non-reactive pan (stainless steel, or enamel coated), combine all ingredients, except ACV.  Bring to boil, reduce heat to simmer and cook until autumn olives are soft, about 20 minutes.
  2. Strain mixture through a food mill over a large bowl.  Allow to cool.
  3. Add ACV.
  4. Transfer to clean glass bottles.  Keeps for one month in the fridge.  Shake before using.

Autumn Olive Sauce

Add 10 cups of autumn olives to 1 cup of water.  Bring to a boil on medium heat.  Once the berries open, all the juice comes out.  Lower heat.  Simmer 15-20 mins.  Run the juice through a food mill to remove pits.  You can add this to apple sauce, or leave as is.  I like to combine in recipes.  You could use it in a muffin recipe, too!

Autumn Olive Wine Jelly

This uses Pomona’s Pectin so you can avoid sugar, and use the honey instead.  You will need 1 box of the pectin for this recipe and it’s prepped as outlined.

Predissolve Pectin:

Bring 1/2C autumn olive pulp to a boil and put in blender/food processor.   Add 1t Pectin and process on high for 1 min. until Pectin is totally dissolved.

Make Calcium Water:

Mix ½ t calcium powder to ½ cup water.

 Make jelly with:

  • 1 1/2C chardonnay or white zinfandel
  • (or any blush or white wine)
  • 2 T lemon juice
  • 1 t calcium water
  • 1/2C Pectin-autumn olive
  • 1/4C honey (or to taste)

Combine wine, lemon juice, calcium water and honey to the pan, dissolve honey and bring to a boil.  Add Autumn Olive/Pectin to the pan.  Stir 1 minute, return to boil and remove from heat.  Fill ½ pint jars leaving ¼” headroom.  Water bath 10 minutes.

 

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This summer we will be offering chicken processed in an old fashioned way.  We are dedicated to breeding and raising the Rose Comb Ancona Chicken.  It is an endangered breed, and one that has so much history and potential, it would be a shame to lose it.  We procured our original stock from Yellow House Farm, and have bred them for a couple years.  This year we will be hatching a large number, in the hopes we will be able to select a top notch flock of egg girls for the coming year.

In breeding, at least with poultry there is a rule of 10.  For every 10 birds hatched 1 will be great. The other 9 will be okay to good, but for the most part 1 in 10 will be great.  If you want a flock of 12 great hens, you need to hatch at least 120 birds, and maybe more because you are hatching males, too.  But you get the idea.  To improve the flock you need to hatch a lot more birds than you need.

On a homestead or small farm, trying to house 100-150 birds for 6 months could be challenging, in regards to space.  This is where spatchcocking comes in.  To spatchcock is to butterfly a chicken.  When you butcher, you remove the back bone of the bird, which give you easier access to the offal on a small size bird.

The benefit to the homestead or small farm, is that this can be done when a heritage bird is about 13 weeks old.  So just as it’s starting to need more space and the testosterone would be kicking in creating a chorus of crowing prepubescent roosters in your yard, you are harvesting.  The Ancona is especially well developed for this style of butchery because of it’s early maturity, so the meat has started to form well at the age of 13 weeks.  A bird at that age weighs about 2.5 pounds, dressed.  We find one bird to be just about perfect for our family of 4, and you could probably feed 5, if  you were creative.

The benefit to spatchcocking from a kitchen perspective, is the fact you can grill or cook at high temps a heritage chicken!  Many people sacrifice the faster cooking techniques in favor of using a “proper chicken”.  When a bird is 6 months old the muscles are well developed and they need to be allowed to cook slowly, and depending on the age, with enough moisture, so the muscles do not constrict and become tough.  Because the spatchcock bird is so young, it’s muscles are still very flexible.  This means you can cook them hot and fast!  Grilling, broiling, frying, are all great techniques for the spatchocked chicken.  The fact it doesn’t have a backbone allows it lay flat, making the breast and legs about the same thickness for consistent cooking.  It is layed flat with a leg and a wing/breast on each side, looking something like a butterfly.

We will be offering Spatchcock Ancona Cockerels this summer.  I cooked one, from last summer, tonight, and I can’t wait for a freezer full of them!  So tender, ready in 45 minutes and so delicious!

On to the recipe:

Spatchcock Ancona Chicken with Bacon, on a bed of thinly sliced onions and minced garlic.

  • 1 Spatchcock Ancona 2.5lb
  • 4 Slices of bacon
  •  1 medium onion thinly sliced
  • 2 cloves of minced garlic
  • Salt and Pepper to taste

Place garlic and onions in the pan, lay chicken (skin side up) over the onions and garlic,  top with 4 slices of bacon. I put a little lard in the pan with the onions.

Place in a 400 degree oven for 45 minutes or until the bacon and chicken skin are crisp, and the meat is to temp (165-170 degrees).

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Plating the Spatchock Ancona with Bacon on a bed of onions and garlic:

I cut the chicken into 4 pieces, 2 thighs and 2 breast/wings. Side dish: Thinly sliced potatoes roasted in a pan with salt/pepper and lard/butter/duckfat, or other traditional fat. Roast for about 35 minutes until cooked and slightly crispy. Place chicken on plate, spoon potatoes, followed by onions and garlic from the chicken pan. Dice bacon, and sprinkle on top. Garnish with fresh, local greens or micro greens.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sources for this delicious dinner:

  • Iva Swaine Homestead – Microgreens, Spatchcock Ancona
  • New Roots Farm – Bacon
  • Nippo Brook Farm – Onions, Lard
  • Root Cellar – Potatoes

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I found out about another great book!  Charcuterie: The Craft of Salting, Smoking, and Curing.  I’m so excited to work on some of these recipes!  Duck sausage and duck prosciutto…Oh, my!  I have big plans for the last 6 ducks that need to be butchered!  While leafing through the recipes I found one for steam roasting garlic.  Perfect!  I have a fair amount of garlic that was holding well, but time is ticking, so I took several heads and gave it a try.  Placed then in an oven safe dish, and added 1/4″ of water. Covered.

After 1 hour in the oven at 350 degrees.

A beautiful Pint of Roasted Garlic all ready to go!

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I’ve been growing microgreens, and I’m loving it!  I harvested the last batch last Thursday, and started a new batch Saturday, January 21.  I didn’t take pics each day, as I had already done that for the first batch, but I now wish I had.  I planted a lot more seeds in each tray, so they are much fuller and look so pretty.  I planted radish, arugula, broccoli and tat soi this time.  I’m ordering some more seeds, because this is working out so well.  The kids love eating them, raw on the side of whatever we are having for dinner.  I’ve had lots of fun with them at lunch time.  Today they were sprinkled on my fried eggs.  Yum.

My favorite use, so far… I hung a quart of yogurt to remove the whey, creating a yogurt with the consistency of cream cheese.  It’s really that easy, pour yogurt  into a fine cheese cloth, hang until the whey stops dripping, roll cheese off the  cloth into your container.  It’s delicious, and makes a great spread…especially served with chutney… But this time I took the “cream cheese” spread it on a piece of toast, then topped with some microgreens.  Good stuff!  The next batch is doing very nicely!

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I have now finished canning 250 pounds of tomatoes.  Over 80 quarts!  I don’t do anything fancy.  I just canned them diced.  I find this to be the most versatile way, and while some have pointed out that canning them into sauce saves jars, I don’t mind walls of beautiful red jars glowing from their shelves.  I also like how fast they can when done this way.  Instead of simmering and blending and all the other stuff that can go along with canning sauce.  I also prefer a chunky pasta sauce, over the smooth version.  So for various reasons I do it my way, and that is the number one reason to can food. You get it how you want it.

In canning diced tomatoes, I remove all the skins. I just don’t like the little curled up blobs that are created by hot skins in sauce, and other cooked dished.  Well, since I have no intention of wasting the skins, I had to figure out a good use.  I don’t remember if it was myself or my mother who had the idea originally, but one said it and now we both do it.  We like to throw those skins into the vitamix and blend them smooth.  What you get is a very thick paste type result.  Perfect!  With a little time in the crockpot to let some salt and lemon juice permeate and the last of the liquid dissipate, it’s the perfect tomato paste.  I can it in 1/2 pints as recommended.

This year, however, I learned of another use.  It combines two of my favorite kitchen tools, the vitamix and the excalibur dehydrator.  Take the skin, dry them until crips, then blend until powder.  So easy, for the last of the skins on that day you don’t want to deal with blending and simmering.  I am going to try using this in homemade pasta this winter…maybe topped with some pesto…mmm.

I still have some tomatoes from my own crop, hanging on out in the yard.  Possible uses:

  • Thrown into the Vitamix whole, and turned into sauce.
  • The small plum type might be quartered and dried.
  • The Larger heirlooms might become tomato butter.

I really love tomatoes!

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Hey there, ole’ friend.  It’s been a while since I posted.  I’ve been busy inside and out.   The garden is almost planted, I’ve been harvesting peas, 1.5 pounds so far, as well as the greens and garlic scapes!  There are 102 tomato plants in my front yard, and I think all the essentials are in the ground.  I still want to plant mangle beets for the animals, quinoa, and sunflowers…if I’m not too late for them to do what they need to before the end of the summer.  I’m going to be checking time frames and whatever will still work will go in the ground this week, hot or not.

Inside I’ve been whittling away at some of the cleaning projects I’ve been meaning to do all winter…Spring Cleaning?  Summer, will have to do.  They are the extra things, not the day to day living area.  That’s clean enough, in a lived in sort of way.  I’m trying to clean out the closets, remove unneeded kitchen gadgets, declutter from what is left in the mudroom from seed starting.  That sort of stuff.

The kitchen has been taking a lot of my time lately.  In addition to my locavore adventures, I am dabbling in WAPF/Weston A Price Foundation/Nourishing Traditions style foods.  This week I made:

  • Beef Jerky using ground beef. (2 batches)
  • Yogurt cheese (place 1 quart yogurt in a cheese cloth, hand to drip overnight, cheese will remain in the cloth, whey in the bowl underneath.  Easy.)
  • 5 quarts of yogurt
  • Chocolate Frozen Yogurt
  • Crispy nuts: Hazelnuts, Almonds, Sunflower Seeds
  • Granola
  • Fruit bars, similar to Lara Bars. This batch contains Apricots, Figs, Coconut, Dates, Raisins, Almonds, Orange Peel Powder, Cinnamon, Cloves, Cardamon, Ginger.
  • Sourdough Cheese and Herb Crackers (2 batches)

Most of those items were made in an attempt to create easy to grab lunch items for summer fun, busy garden days and to increase the pro-biotic foods in our diets.  A couple nights ago the girls wanted to make tents in the living room.  This was around dinner time, so I gave them Sourdough Crackers, Nuts and Beef Jerky for their camp.  They were thrilled.

Today I went to a class on drip irrigation and rain water harvesting.  I’m excited to get set up here.  I’m going to start with the irrigation, which will be run from my hose for now.  I still need gutters, to make good use of the rain barrels, but I’m working towards that.  After the class I was chatting with some folks and kombucha came up.  I’ve been interested in the drink for a while and I’ve watched videos on how to start one, but at the time it seemed so complicated.  After talking with everyone today, it seems much less mysterious.  I received the gift of a scoby (starter culture of sorts) from someone who actually has some of my sourdough Starter, Irma.  I came home and made the tea, added the scoby and it’s sitting in my cabinet doing it’s thing.  In 5 days I get to taste it to see how it’s progressing and, when it’s to my liking, I can remove the liquid and start a new batch.  I’ll keep you posted on how it goes.

 

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I made finished off the syrup today.  I strained the flowers, added 2 cups of SugarMomma’s Light amber syrup, and then simmered them together, with a tablespoon of lemon juice.  The flavor is just what I hoped for, maple with floral notes dancing in the background, and using the light amber maintained the violet color, that would have been lost if I used my usual grade B Syrup.

In conclusion, I filled a 1/2 gallon jar with violets, poured 2 1/2 cups of boiling water over them, and covered.  Left overnight to steep.  In the morning, I strained, combined with 2 cups of syrup and a Tablespoon of lemon juice, and simmered until the liquid was about 3 cups.

Another local blogger, got other pictures from the heifer parade, if you are interested.

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