There are days that challenge my commitment to
farming. Like today. Cold, wet, slushy, rainy,
soggy…sick cows, muddy pastures, backed up storm drains in the
milking area, I am tired and feel sick….it goes on and on.
So, as an antidote to all the woes of the world I made soup.
We had a hog butchered at Home Meats in Shelton. They do
an old-fashioned slow cure on their hams and bacon. Very
tasty indeed. We had the ham for dinner earlier in the week
and all that was left was a meaty bone. I tossed it in the
crock pot this morning with a pound of white beans, a chopped
onion, a couple bay leaves, 3 quarts of water and about 1/2 cup of
pan drippings from roasting the ham. Pan drippings are my
secret ingredient any time I need to give a soup or gravy a boost.
Intense, smoky and salty, the pan drippings are
strained and defatted and stored in a ziplock bag in the freezer.
It is so salty that it doesn’t really freeze properly, just
getting firm but not solid. A couple tablespoons adds life to
potato-corn chowder, or gives an added layer of flavor to sausage
gravy. #2 son is always saying, “Everything is a little
better with some pig on it!” and I think he might be right.
This afternoon when the beans were cooked I tossed in a couple
potatoes, peeled and diced and half-a-dozen carrots, sliced up.
I stripped the remaining meat from the bone, chopped it up,
tossed it in the pot and gave it a couple turns of the
When we got in from doing chores this afternoon, chilled and
soaked to the bone, it really hit the spot. It will be even
better tomorrow but for tonight it was good enough!
Chris Henry posted my recipe for Chicken Cacciatore over on
Peninsular Thinking as a follow up to her story
on our Chickens 101 class. That is my favorite
recipe for stewing hens, but Harley suggested his favorite was this
chicken stew and dumpling recipe. It is pretty good too.
It is from Chefs on the Farm featuring the Quillisascut Farm
School with photographs by Harley. Check out the review
here. This is a “spring” stew because it
features chives. Winter variations can feature dried herbs or
sage or rosemary as well.
Place a large (or two small) stewing hen in a pot with 1 onion,
3 stalks celery, 3 large carrots, two bay leaves, sage, thyme,
parsley and 1 Tbsp pepper corns. Simmer 2-3 hours on low.
Strain stock, discard vegetables, shred chick off the bones
and reserve. This can also be done in a crock pot on high for
4-5 hours or 8-10 hours on low.
For the Stew:
- 2 Tbsp chicken fat or olive oil
- 2 small onions, diced
- 1 pound carrots, diced
- 1 stalk green garlic or 3-4 cloves thinly sliced
- 4 c stock
- 4 c shredded chicken
- 2 Tbsp fresh thyme (1 Tbsp dry)
- Freshly ground black pepper
Saute veggies in oil or fat until onions are tender, add stock,
bring to simmer and cook until vegetables are tender. Add
shredded chicken and time. Season with salt and pepper to
- 2 cups ricotta cheese (make your own)
- 1/2 c fresh chived, chopped
- 1 egg
- 1 c corn meal
- 1/2 c flour
- 3 tsp salt
Mix all ingredients together, do not over mix. Drop by
spoonfuls into the simmering stew. (Tip: use an ice cream
scoop for nice round dumplings. Cookie-sized for small ones,
regular-sized for big ones). Simmer small dumplings 4 minutes
or until tender, larger dumplings will take 7-9 minutes. Turn
them over and simmer for 2-3 minutes longer. Serve hot.
You will be tempted to lick the bowl. Winter Variation:
Potatoes, with sage in the dumplings instead of chives is
Today I spent time chasing around hoses and laying out the
watering system in anticipation of a hot weekend. After
cursing the bunch of biting ants that spent the winter in one
soaker hose (they were MOST offended at being disturbed this
morning!) and getting everything set up I turned on the water and
found all of the leakers and squirters that annoyed me last
year. Memo to Self: Get rid of the bad hoses in the
fall rather than dealing with them in the spring!
The weather was so nice tonight that we had dinner out on the
deck. I started dinner last night, planning on a chick
cacciatore-ish casserole, but the crew decided to go and do a hay
delivery instead, my daughter went swimming and I had to
work. Since no one was going to be home to eat I put
everything in the ‘fridge and attempted again tonight.
Tonight I took the chicken out of the tomato sauce, tossed it
on the grill, cooked some pasta, steamed some asparagus and
finished the sauce with some sauted green garlic, sundried tomatoes
and a splash of cream. Very seat of the pants but it was
delicious. It was so quick and handy I might do a couple
chickens this way in my spare time and put them in the freezer for
2-Day Grilled Italian
1 cut up fryer
1 quart tomato sauce
3-4 cloves garlic – crushed and
1 medium onion
1-2 cloves green garlic – chopped
(check out your local Farmer’s Market!)
1/4 c chopped sun-dried
1 cup cream
2 # rotini or similar screwy-noodle
Place chicken, tomato sauce, garlic
and onion in crock pot and cook on high 2-3 hours or until chicken
is done (but not falling apart). Refridgerate overnight.
Put pasta on to cook. Put
asparagus on to steam. Fish chicken out of sauce, wiping off
excess, send hubby out to the deck to grill until hot.
Saute the green garlic until tender, add sundried tomatoes, add
sauce into skillet and heat to boiling. Reduce slightly, add
cream, salt and pepper to taste, and toss with cooked
noodles. Serve on a big platter, top with grilled chicken and
a sprinkle of grated romano.
Some crunchy french bread would be
great for sopping up the left-over sauce but sadly, we are no
longer able to stop at Luigi’s Baking in Bremerton for a loaf
of his wonderful Pugliese. Luigi died on Friday, May
22nd http://www.kitsapsun.com/news/2009/may/29/luigi-ferrari-43/ and
will be mourned by many in this community.