Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Make your own seasoning

Though the color did not come through in the photo, believe me that the product is a lovely shade of green.

What we have here is veggie and herb foliage from this summer's solar drying campaign. When we don't have tomatoes and apples in the dryers, we cut leaves from whatever and dry those. This year's mix is mostly collard greens with kale, red cabbage, green cabbage, chard, broccoli leaves, cauliflower leaves, beet greens, spinach, bok choi, nasturtiums, mint, garlic and onion leaves, basil, lettuce, dandelions, chickweed, lambs-quarters, marjoram, rosemary, sage, thyme, cilantro, celery, parsley (not necessarily in descending order). 2009 featured most of the above, except turnip greens in the place of collards.

The leaves, when onion-skin dry, are then manually crumbled with the veins and midribs picked out, then stored in airtight jars. They can be used in breads, soups, and such as is, and any excess can be mixed with the poultry's winter feed as a supplement.

To make the seasoning, simply run it all through the grinder as shown. If the moisture content is higher than you thought, this is when you will notice, as the grinder will clog. But otherwise it is easy. The result tastes great, and a pinch of it sprinkled over your breakfast eggs, or added to mashed or baked potatoes and so on, gives meals a certain sophistication -- or anyway Risa thinks so ...

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

A light dusting

 A light dusting of the white stuff. Chickens, geese and Khaki Campbells are not fazed, but the Ancona ducks are sulking in their shed.
 It will go to 16F tonight, they're now saying. Risa will try to cover a few things and reset the mudroom door, which is leaking too much heat.

For once, we're not the only house in the neighborhood with a white roof!

Update: It only went down to 29. That's a long way from 16. Predicting weather seems to be getting more difficult as time goes by. Are you noticing this too?

Monday, November 22, 2010

Hang onto the bucket

It's about to be serious cooking time here at Stony Run, with fifteen invited guests. Heck, if you're nearby, come on over! But please watch the road reports. Many people we know will have snow tonight, maybe even us, and tomorrow night is predicted for a low of 18F.

We have never owned a dishwasher, and our kitchen sink currently does not have a drain connection. So, you may well wonder how we function for an occasion such as this.

In warmer weather, I like to go into the washer room, where there is a spigot over the laundry sink, right by the hot water heater, that dispenses very hot water. I carry a big pitcher out to that spigot for my dish water, because the pipes, though they are insulated, seem to take a long, long time getting hot enough water to the kitchen for actual use.

In wood-burning weather, our dishwater heats up on the wood heat stove in the dining room.

We use a biodegradable garden-safe dish soap.

Two dishpans, a wash and a rinse. When the water needs changing we pour it into a white bucket. This is also the compost bucket. Between us, the chickens, and the ducks, very little kitchen waste actually makes it to the bucket.

After its contents have cooled (capture all heat in the house) the bucket goes out to the mudroom and an empty one is brought in.

When opportunity arises, kitchen buckets go to fruit trees. A little straw now and then does the cosmetic number on any crushed eggshells that might otherwise be regarded as unsightly.

As these bucketfuls tend to be slightly alkaline, they are not offered to blueberries, rhodies and the like.

We clean the sink from time to time, perhaps with some Dr. Bronners or with homemade vinegar, and let it drain into a bucket under the sink. This water goes on the small lawn (about 1/8 the size of the lawn that was here when we got here).

It's very hard to fix pipes in our crawl space. Even though we expect to climb under there and do the work sometime, we might still hang onto the bucket system as it saves on irrigation.

Monday, November 08, 2010

Slugs into eggs

The ducks, unlike the chickens, don't nuke the garden when allowed into it; so we keep the chickens in the chicken moat, which here is hidden behind the forest of sunchokes behind the collards. There are ducks that live in the moat as well -- Khaki Campbells. They would do just as well in the garden, but separating them out would be more work than we're really up for. These are Anconas.

Still no frost, so there is lots going on in those beds to interest the ducks. They chow down whenever they're not napping -- mostly slugs, pill bugs, earwigs, and various kinds of bug eggs. All this gets converted into duck eggs for quiche and such. They would eat kale eventually if they ran out of bugs, but so far, so good. They need the bucket of water while visiting as it's a ways to their pools from here, and their beaks cake up with mud. They have to run to the bucket whenever the mud covers their nostrils. So the bucket's pretty important to them.

Saturday, November 06, 2010

Double duty

In the crock pot is chicken and rice with chopped celery and onions, and spices. Risa has removed the lid, inserted a bowl of collard, chard, kale, and beet greens, and popped the pot lid over the greens. The one will steam while the other cooks. No other dinner prep needed today -- or tomorrow, she thinks.