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I cannot believe Spring has nearly come and gone!  I miss the mosquito free 75 degree days and the bevy of flowering trees all around…Don’t get me wrong, I enjoy summer too, I just can’t be outside in the garden for more than two minutes without acquiring an itchy collection of mosquito bites. With that said, my first-week-of-summer meal plan is not nearly as grill heavy as I’d like it to be, because Adam has had to work closing shifts quite regularly (keeping him locked up at Lowe’s until 11pm) and I’m just not the grill maven I ought to be. Add the mosquitos to the fact that I tend to take everything off the grill 5 minutes too early (Medium-rare chicken anyone? What, no takers??) and I’m better off just staying in the kitchen!

If anyone else is grill-impared like I am, or if you don’t have a grill, then boy have I got a delicious week planned:

Pulled Pork Salad
Meatballs with Marinara Sauce over Spaghetti Squash
Pulled Pork Frittata with bell peppers/onion/garlic/mushrooms/jalapeno/salt/pepper…mmm
Dijon Crusted Salmon with Asparagus
Cornish hens with roasted broccoli (I know, I keep doing roasted chicken with roasted broccoli, but it’s so dang good I can’t help it!)

I’ve been on a salmon kick lately with my salmon chowder (an adaptation of this recipe), and nothing sounds quite as good as a big piece of fish with tangy dijon mustard and fresh asparagus right now. I can still get good local asparagus at the farmer’s market, but this may be the last week for it (it is a spring vegetable afterall) so I’d better take advantage! Lastly, this picture has nothing to do with anything, but it’s seriously the cutest puppy picture ever taken. Wes used to be so precious:

Happy Summer everyone!

Apparently, chickens are a gateway drug to more hard-core microfarming adventures. Can you guess what these little puff balls are?

They’re turkeys! They hatched just 8 hours ago, and are still stumbling around in their box. One little guy (or gal, I don’t know how to tell yet) even flipped over onto his back and started peeping up a storm, and needed a gentle hand to tip him back over. I guess this means we’ll be having to check on them every hour or so to make sure they don’t flip over and dehydrate themselves.

There are six turkey poults, all Mamouth Bronze Turkeys. Think of the turkeys you see portrayed at the Pilgrim’s and Indian’s first Thanksgiving…they will look something like that. They will not be pets, although I’ve read that they enjoy human company a great deal. I’m sure that we will enjoy their company too…until Thanksgiving, when we will enjoy their drumsticks.

In addition to the turkey poults, Adam threw in four Araucana chickens as well! They seem to be fiesty little creatures, already running and jumping just 8 hours after hatching. The little chick on the right of the picture is the Araucana, the turkey is on the left. The reason I wanted these little gems so badly is because they lay green/blue eggs! We’ll have the prettiest egg boxes on the block once those little ladies start laying.

To sum up my microfarming adventure tour, I also had one of the first strawberries of the season, and the first salad from our lettuces this past weekend. Both were wonderful, especially since they grew right in our backyard!

I will enjoy dragging you along our turkey adventure, from farm to table as they say!

Well, the year is officially flying by, and I can hardly believe that this meal plan will take us through the first week of June!  The weather is consistently up in the 80’s, the garden is starting to take off with all the sunshine (our very first strawberry is almost ready to be picked!), and I am starting to get very unsightly tan lines from my daily walks at work.  With all the changes in the weather recently, I have been wanting to change up my cooking too, craving a wider variety of meals.  I don’t generally make multiple new meals in a week, but this meal plan includes four new meals!  Wish me luck that I won’t be stuck eating mediocre leftovers all week!

Meal Plan for May 30th to June 4th:

1. Taco Salad – Green salad (from our garden!) topped with seasoned ground beef, bell pepper, tomato, red onions, avocado, sour cream, and a spicy “ranch” dressing (which will be homemade starting with a greek yogurt base).
2. Artic Char Chowder – A recommendation from my brother
3. Parmesan Pork Tenderloin with Roasted Broccoli – Pork tenderloin cut into medallions, then pounded flat and crusted with parmesan cheese, then pan fried. We’ll see how that one turns out…
4. Piperade – No relation to Powerade…this is from my French cookbook “Je Sais Cuisiner” (I Know How to Cook) by Ginette Mathiot, which I absolutely love! Piperade is an egg dish, with bell pepper, tomato, ham, and spices. I just like the funny name.
5. Steak with Grilled Mushrooms and Asparagus – The last of our grass-finished steaks *sigh*.

The last day of the week, Saturday June 5th, is our 4th wedding anniversary! That day, instead of cooking, we’ll be going to a restaurant downtown called Local 127 that serves only seasonal and locally sourced foods. I couldn’t be more excited!

Since last week’s meal plan was such a hit, I thought people might appreciate some dinner ideas again this week! One thing I’ll be doing next week is using cooked meat on multiple days, in different meals. More batch cooking, since it’s my favorite way to plan meals that can be made quickly on weekdays. So without further ado, here are my picks:

Chicken Lettuce Wraps, made with leftover whole roast chicken (the recipe for which I will most definitely share)
Pulled Pork Salad
Stuffed Eggplant
Frittata with the already made Pulled Pork (with bell peppers/jalapenos/onion/garlic/mushrooms)
Cornish Hens with Roasted Broccoli
Cobb Salad with the leftover chicken from the Cornish Hens (always a hit!)

The cornish hens I buy from Findlay Market are no measley cornish hens, they weigh in at about a pound and a half each, which is considerably bigger than the ones I see at the grocery store. Consequently, I am generally full after eating only the leg/thigh half of my hen, and am able to save the entire breast for salad meat. If you have a bigger family, roasting a full size chicken will probably give you the amount of meat you will need to have roast chicken for dinner and cobb salad (or lettuce wraps) later in the week. Part of the fun of cornish hens is that everyone gets their own little chicken though, and who doesn’t like miniature food anyway?

I hope seeing my meal list is helpful to someone out there, I know I need some fresh ideas from time to time myself!

As I mentioned in my previous chicken post, we get seven eggs per day. Every day. If we don’t eat eggs every day (which we don’t always, just a lot of days) they build up!

I like to save about two dozen to let them age a few weeks, that way they can be hard boiled and will be easier to peel (extremely fresh eggs are very difficult to peel, see edinformatics.com to find out why). If we still have more eggs than we can eat, I sell a few dozen and earn enough money to buy more chicken food!

Besides all that, one great way to use a dozen eggs for breakfast or dinner is to make a frittata. Frittatas also reheat really well, making them a great choice for batch cooking (there I go again!).

My basic recipe, which can be modified in more ways than I can even imagine, starts out as such:

12 fresh eggs (get them from the best source you can find, it’s worth it!)
6 cloves garlic, chopped or pressed
1/2 cup diced vidalia onion
approximately 10oz mushrooms, coarsly chopped
1 jalapeno pepper (seeds and ribs removed if you want it milder, left in if you want it spicy)
1 large bell pepper (your favorite color)
1 pound pork sausage
1 tablespoon bacon grease
Salt & Pepper to taste

1. Preheat your oven to 375 degrees.
2. Heat the bacon grease (or whatever fat you’d like to use, just make sure it’s not margarine or canola oil) in a large skillet, then add the mushrooms, garlic, onion, jalapeno, and bell pepper and sautee for about 5 minutes.
3. Add in the pork sausage, and cook through.
4. While the pork is cooking, break your eggs into a 9×13 glass baking dish, grind salt & pepper over the eggs to your liking, then whisk the eggs with a fork.
5. Pour your pork/vegetable mixture into the eggs, distribute the mixture evenly, and bake at 375 degrees for 25 minutes or until the eggs are set.

*Your favorite salsa would make an awesome topping with this frittata.
**Oh, and if you consume dairy, some good raw milk cheddar tops this dish off perfectly.
***Also, try adding your favorite spices, or other seasonal vegetables. I have really enjoyed adding eggplant, smokey paprika, and thyme (my favorite spice) on different occassions.

Again, this makes a great breakfast to reheat quickly when you don’t have time for much else. What would you rather have anyway, a “cereal” bar, or eggs with sausage and mushrooms and deliciousness baked right in? I hope you like it as much as I do!

We have chickens. Seven of them in fact, all hens, all Golden Comets.

Chickens in their coop

We got them at one day old. Adam brought them home in a cardboard box, where they lived under a heat lamp for the next 14 weeks (they lived in a large dog kennel when they outgrew their box). Now, they live in the backyard in their fantastically appointed, husband made chicken coop!

Inside the coop

They do get regular “chicken feed” for now, but as the spring turns into summer, they will be out in the yard much more often, hopefully getting more of their food eating grass and bugs (and the occasional garter snake I suppose). They love being out in the yard, though the dogs aren’t crazy about being stuck inside while the chickens wander around finding worms. The light in the picture above is gone now as well, since it’s no longer 10-15 degrees a night.

Free ranging chicken

In these pictures they are nearly eight months old, and are laying every day. One hen, who lays very light brown eggs (the lightest of the bunch), sometimes skips a day here and there, but for the most part we have seven eggs per day. The eggs are very similar to what we were paying $4 per carton for previously, nice dark orange yolks with tons of flavor, and whites that whip up to beautiful peaks!

We have a good-sized backyard which makes it easy enough to keep chickens, and from everything we could read/find/talk to other people about there are no ordinances against having chickens (or goats or sheep or geese…) within city limits here. As long as your animals are not a nuisance to your neighbors, you’re fine. And if they don’t like it at first, just buy them off by giving them a dozen delicious eggs every so often…

Obviously it’s not that way everywhere, but you’ll never know if you can keep chickens until you research it! They are low maintenance animals that provide a complete food with egg-celent nutritional value (so sorry, I couldn’t help it), for very little cost once you’ve got your coop built. That, and it’s pretty funny to watch them chase each other around the yard fighting over worms.