Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Cushaw 5th and final meal!

Well! Better late than never! I meant to post the final cushaw meal last Saturday! 
But weather, power outage and poultry management in the cold weather kinda got in the way... such is farm life.

For my 5th and final meal of the week, made using that one huge cushaw squash I made a recipe I've actually made before... winter squash and caramelized onion pizza.
not and traditional pizza by any means! But delicious and very healthy by all means.
I made a simple sour dough rosemary crust... Caramelized the onions , added a pound of squash,, spread over the crust, topped with red wine braised goat tenders (my favorite pizza topping ever!)
goat cheese and goat havarti. .. fresh garlic chives!

another great savory cushaw based meal!
5 wildly different meals and a dessert from one squash ! And honestly I could have halfed the amount I used on the pizza and made my awesome winter squash brownies (note taken for next time)

this was such a fun challenge for me! I developed even more great recipes using this wonderful vegetable !
really added a fun factor to my week of being snowed in!

In other farm life... despite freezing temperatures and record lows , my low tunnels are still producing beautiful fresh greens!

And though we and most of our poultry do not care for the snow... the pigs are not phased and our poultry guardians are acting like it's a trip to an amusement park! 
I've never seen this girl behave like a puppy! 
Lol! Annabelle is our lead lgd,,, a very serious territorial guard! So funny to see her so playful!

I'm glad someone enjoys this!

More soon...Til next time... I'm praying for spring and pouring over garden, fruit and herb planting catalogs...

Friday, February 20, 2015

Cushaw Heirloom Squash , 4 of 5!!

The winter weather we've been hit with is really wearing me out!

Thank goodness for more comfort foods ... 
this may possibly be the best winter squash soup I've ever made! For the most part I find winter squash soups suitable as a side dish or a appetizer , and sometimes kinda boring,,,,certainly not as a main dish.. so when I decided to make a cushaw soup I really wanted it to be that smooth texture everyone loves with a winter squash soup but with a richer flavor and more filling!

Yeah,,, I've made many winter squash soups... with many different components. ..but
Herbed Cushaw Soap! this soup, made with homemade duck broth... the savory cushaw, home canned tomatoes and some flavorful herbs really takes the winner spot!
topped with a little blue cheese and fresh chives... warming, hearty  & perfect for and cold day...

Well, I'm keeping this short and sweet! Last cushaw meal posted soon!

Keep warm out there!

Thursday, February 19, 2015

Cushaw , 3 of 5, plus a dessert!

Another wow meal from a healthy cushaw centered recipe!

these really really won my husband over! I mean he liked the last two alot!... but he took a lot bite of this and said , home run, baby! Lol!

So my Cushaw Tacos... winner , winner! 

I made a herbed and spiced filling of the cushaw squash and caramelized onions...
and a spicy bean topping ...toasted some corn tortillas on a cast iron skillet .. throw on a little goat cheese... and then a couple spoons full of my mother's home canned corn relish,,, wow,wow,wow!
Once again, the non sweet, but great texture and savory flavor was the perfect base for the tacos,, 

Another thing, my husband typically does not rave about dinners without meat... that also tells me how much he liked it!

And a dessert! Despite making 3 big meals featuring this squash I still have a lot of that huge 10 pounder!
so I'm feeling pretty confident I'll have enough to make the next 2

Cushaw & peaches with a sweet cornbread topping!

I'm a huge fan of cobblers , but I try to limit my use of grains. Using cornmeal as a part of the topping cuts back on the grain i have to use, its delicious, adds a nice texture and I think my home grown dent corn is way healthy .
 Cobblers make great use of my canned fruits! Using a cushaw as part of the fruit adds lots of extra vitamins to a dessert,, now a sweet squash could be used for this recipe,, but a small sweet squash couldn't have been a part of all these meals AND a dessert! A small amount of honey or sorghum can make this as sweet as you want.... as I've said before... in cooking, it's easier to add , than to take away!
this was a perfect comfort food dessert!
With the peaches I canned in their juice being so sweet very little additional sweetener was needed.

Well,,, I'm over half way there! 3 meals featuring the huge and awesome heirloom cushaw, plus a dessert and I have 2 meals to go!

This has really been fun for me! I love cooking and finding new ways to use vegetables I love! And are easy to grow here !

Looking forward to the next 2 meals!

But, As much as I love cooking .... when this is over it needs to be my husband's turn in the kitchen a few days ...well , he does cook breakfast every morning! 

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Cushaw 2 out of 5

Cushaw meal number two! A winner!

now I'm sure you've seen noodle less lasagne and thought ..yuk! This is not yuk! The thin sliced , non sweet cushaw is a perfect in place of noodles,, which would make this meal sort of paleo,  I think, definitely a gluten free dish here!  
All I know is this Cushaw & Guinea Hog Pork Lasagne i come up with is awesome!

I used ground guinea hog pork, seasoned up with my favorite sausage spices and herbs,,, home canned tomatoes,,,
as you can see in the pic I've made long slices of about 1/4 of an inch thick and started layering it with the meat mixture ,,, it took just over 2 lbs of squash for this recipe (yesterday's recipe took 2 cups)

For the rest of the filling I layered sautéed mustard greens and mushrooms,, with 1 kind of goat cheese,,,
then topped with another kind of goat cheese... bake...

Perfection.. oh my goodness! I did not even miss the noodles at all and I think this is my new favorite lasagne recipe!
You can see all the yummy layers here,,, what a healthy homemade lasagne !

This squash is so big! I think I can squeeze a dessert out if it too!
the other wonderful thing about cushaw..if your not growing them. Many times after Halloween you can buy real big ones for 4 dollars...
that's about the same price as a little 3 lb acorn or butternut squash,,, talk about economical ! 
I sure can't get 2 huge meals out of one if those little things... let alone 5 ,, and a dessert!

I also have to say, that while the cushaw makes the perfect healthy noodle substitute and I used more of it here that the other ingredients , the guinea hog pork impacted the flavor and put this dish over the top,,, I'm not sure pork that didn't come from a heritage lard hog would make as good of a dish... but guinea hog and other true lard hogs do have that effect! It would still be good... just not as good! Be good to yourself,, find some true lard hog pork! Life changing!! 

Its still horribly wintery here! Ice and snow... he's a pic of our guinea hog sows,,, not happy about it either!

But we are warm and blessed with an abundance of homegrown foods to eat!
So for all my whining about the cold... it's not that bad.
God is very good!

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Cushaw Squash , 1 of 5

Well, I have to say ,, the first of five meals using the cushaw,,, huge success! 

I made a recipe I'm going to call...
Cushaw Squash and Roasted winter vegetables with creamy goat cheese grits

oh yeah!

earlier in the day I roasted and peeled the giant squash so it would be all ready,,,shelled my corn for grinding to make the grits,,,

Onions, Brussel sprouts, lots of cubed cushaw and a few complementary herbs all roasted up in a cast iron skillet...
The hand ground grits were simmered slowly and a creamy havarti goat cheese was mixed in...

Pure wonderful! Cushaw was perfect for this ,,, a typical sweeter squash may not have tasted quite right in this was very savory and definitely a great winter comfort food!

Recipe all wrote down... to be made a few more times before I add it to my recipe book...eating this again sure won't be a problem! 
Its a keeper !

Monday, February 16, 2015

Cushaw Squash... Not just a Halloween decoration but a valuable food!

Yummy heirloom giant winter squash from last summers garden! What could be better for this cold week ahead of us here.
many people see these squash out around Halloween for decorations ,, I've actually had people question if they were edible ,,, they are and they are wonderful! 
If you know what to do with them. 
Unlike acorn or butternut the cushaw is huge...this one here weighs over 10 pounds! 
That's a lot of squash,, alot of food! If your used to those tiny things in the grocery store you cut in half ,roast a little while and serve as a side for one meal this squash may be a bit overwhelming  to you .

Also the flavor difference needs to be taken into consideration. Not at all like the sweet flavor of delica,  acorn and butternut most people are so used too , the cushaw is more of a blank pallet .. that does not stand well alone as a simple roast side dish. 
If your a creative cook , this is not a problem but a wonderful thing because it can be used as a base for a sweet dish or more suited to a savory dish where sweetness may not be a welcome taste.
it's easier to add flavor than to take away, which for me, makes this squash a most versatile vegetable to use in the kitchen! Not to mention it's a power house of vitamins!

This week's cold weather is going to keep me in so I thought why not have a fun challenge for myself! 
I've been cooking with these squash for years now! And have come up with many ways to use them in many different recipes,,, sweet and savory! 
I've always been able to get 3 to 4 different recipes out of one large squash,,,,, for this week I'm challenging myself to try and get 5 meals out of this one 10 pounder!
The fun starts tonight!
Btw,, no part of this squash is wasted,, the skin and the seed guts are all relished by our pigs or poultry! Never a bit left !

I can't wait to eat dinner tonight! 

Friday, February 13, 2015

Blessings , blessings and seed catalogs!

So many blessings! My husband had a birthday this week on the 10th and on his birthday my beautiful grandson Jackson Rhea was born!
just look at that previous face!

I'll be planting more gardens to make sure he learns what good food is as he grows! A big 8 ponds 13 oz.
He's gonna grow fast! So thankful for this healthy little man and that his mother is doing well and healthy after having him. He's a perfect little valentine right here at the holiday!

Speaking of gardens,,, this lady has put together a list of garden & poultry catalogs you can get for free! 
I love garden and poultry catalogs,,, yes I know you can see what they have online but it's just not the same!

That's all for now,, we are getting ready for some extra cold weather here for the next few days and I need to get the poultry ready for it.

God bless and have a fabulous valentine's weekend.

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Farm feast challenge 3 and the veggies keep rolling in!

Well, this will be short and sweet because right now my grandson is getting ready to be born and I'm so nervous!

farm feast day was great as usual,,, no real challenges this week though, I kept it super simple because things are picking up here! We are building more raised beds and garden areas... seeds are being sprouting for early planting in the low and high tunnels...

Breakfast!  Simple half slice of guinea hog ham with fresh mustard greens sautéed in the fat.. nicely salted.

Lunch! Something fast because it's pretty enough to work outside and I gotta get to it! So  I had the other half of my morning slice of ham with some fresh ground grits from our hickory king corn cooked with a bit of bacon grease for amazing flavor!
A hearty fast lamb and veggie soup! This is my favorite home grown quick meal to make... a jar of home canned green beans, tomatoes, pound of ground lamb, fresh onions and garlic from the garden and some dehydrated green peppers....yum! I had extra ground cornmeal left over so I whipped up a cake of cornbread to go with it... using a duck egg, lard, salt and little baking powder ,,,perfect quick filling! 
Great way to end a long day!

Few pics of my harvest today... spinach!
Carrots! Some huge, some tiny! I think I need new seeds or to spread my compost more evenly!
I love low tunnels!

Oh,,, now to go back to being nervous about the close arrival of that grand baby!

 I am so blessed ! I get to be a grand mother!

Sunday, February 8, 2015

Herb Gardening

I've got to step up our herb production here on the farm!

I have a fairly large herb garden already..,but one can never have enough gardens!
And to keep things interesting I decided to make 2 new raised beds.. One permaculture design , raved about by many as being a more productive way to grow... And the other a typical raised square bed... Which I know is productive...Each has the same mix of compost and dirt... They are the same size ... And will be planted with the same plants.
Which will be most productive and easier to maintain is the question!
They are both placed on a layer of newspapers and thick mulch to help keep weeds from growing around them... If not for that I can tell you the spiral bed would be harder to weed around the edges! I'm speaking from previous experience dealing with the stones in landscaping.

The spiral bed cost me nothing but was harder to build. The square bed is made with cull block so it was inexpensive but did cost some money. It was easier to build though.
More about this as we get into growing!!!!!

Thursday, February 5, 2015

Muscovy Duck... The rest of the story..

In the last post I mentioned we usually get 3 or 4 meals from 1 Muscovy drake.. This time is no exception ...
We had some left over Muscovy meat with our lunch .. Then I boiled the carcass for that awesome duck broth !!! Picked  the rest of the meat.. There was still alot left on that big boy!
After that, I brought the broth and meat back up to a boil added dehydrated carrots, peppers, onions and a jar of home canned green beans... Added a cup and half of wild rice ... Salt to perfection .. We have yet another healthy home cooked meal! We will eat this tonight and have plenty for lunch the next day ... I love stretching out of farm foods !
Word about wild rice... I love it! But .. Can not grow it here ,, it's super expensive in the grocery store so I order it in bulk from azure standard .. Much cheaper and it last in storage so I have some on hand when ever I want. 

What to do when we want something sweet on the farm...
I try to avoid using flours alot. Corn as our main grain is kinder to my body! So i spend alot of time trying to come up with desserts made with cornmeal... also convenient since we grow dent corn on our farm...This is fresh ground blue corn meal mini cake with a spoon full of my wild blackberry and red wine jam,,, the sweetener I used in the cake was some pear sauce I had canned from foraged pears one year.. Sweet, but not to sweet! Most desserts are way to sweet for me,, I like to taste flavor! Not just sugar...
These cakes were baked in iron cookware giving them an extra nice crispy crust like texture!

Looks like it's past time to take out some of my extra Pekin drakes...I moved them up from the pond to the main area to try and separate them! 
 I hate it but they are starting to fight and harass the girls ,,which will stress them out and they will get hurt. Its cruel to keep to many drakes with the girls,,,
Though I hate it,, they will be put to good use as a healthy food and fat source for us. Unlike lean muscovy , most know , Peking have excellent golden fat for cooking! And since it's kinda our thing to use as much of the animal as possible you can bet I will be rendering and saving this liquid gold! 

Hope everyone has an excellent evening! Till next time!

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

Farm Fresh Muscovy and Pak Choi Winter Salad

Oh my goodness this was good !
So good I had to share ... Muscovy duck has got to be one of my favorite things to eat... I'm not afraid of fat meats (I love them too! ) but sometimes I love the taste of a lean meat .. If it's a dark rich lean meat.. All the better! 
The other wonderful thing about Muscovy is how versitale it is.. Curry, thyme , BBQ .. Whatever you want to flavor it with , it can take it! 
I have been craving chicken salad.. with duck ... But I refuse to buy commercial mayo... I don't buy olive oil because it's just to expensive for the real stuff and I feel gulilty buying any oils when I have such wonderful homegrown oils that I can use  ...
I'm constantly looking for ways to make my favorite foods but use more of what I grow . So... How to make a chicken like salad... That can standup to muscovies rich flavor and Use what I have on hand and in the garden... Right now that would be baby pak choi or mustard greens.
This was even better than I thought it would be... I mean if it had been 'just ok' you wouldn't be reading this post ;-) 

Ingredients :
9 oz of Muscovy cooked and cubed meat
5 oz of baby pak choi or another mild green. Chopped
1/4 cup fresh parsley chopped
1/2 cup onion greens chopped 
1/4 cup black walnuts chopped
Toss all together 

2 TBSP lard
2 tbsp brown or spicy mustard
1 tbsp local honey
4 tbsp apple cider vinegar
1 tbsp zucchini or some other relish 
Salt and red pepper flakes to taste
Whisk/ whip all together and pour over salad.. Mix well


Growing our own food is very challenging .. Figuring out how to eat seasonally with the garden is equally as challenging sometimes...
But what rewards are reaped when we figure it out!

To be able to grow food and eat like this is truly a blessing...
So thankful everyday I sit down to one this type of healthy food .

Now Muscovy drakes are huge birds ... And I still have legs and thigh meat left over.... And the big carcass to boil for the best broth! Duck broth rocks.. I always mean to can it .. But usually eat it up!
Thinking tonight we will have a wild rice and duck soup with fresh carrots and sweet potatoes from the root cellar  !!
That sounds good and easy !
We usually get 3 to 4 meals from just 1 of these birds!!
Fantastic homestead meat and egg source from the Muscovy duck!
The eggs from a Muscovy... Best eggs I've ever ate!!  I'm anxiously waiting for the girls to begin laying again... 

Sunday, February 1, 2015

Farm Feast Day Challenge week 2

Week 2 of our Farm Feast Challenge!
Last week the challenge did exactly what we wanted... proved all the hard work was paying off and motivated us to do more!
it also did something I didn't expect,,, showed us where our weaknesses are...we already know we need a sweetener produced on our farm....and we have beehives that were started last spring... but last week also reveiled our lack of homegrown culinary herbs.
I grew more herbs successfully in the city that I have here on our farm... totally my fault,, I have been concentrating on getting vegetables and fruits right,, as well as trying out a lot of different livestock breeds , searching for the perfect low input livestock , I have totally neglected herbs!
That has to change this year.....but for now....

Breakfast! Duck eggs from my 3 early laying duckies, fresh mustard greens from the low tunnel and a slice of guinea hog bacon and slice of smoke cured guinea fat back.... double yum!
having the fat back cured out is a wonderful thing ,,, it's extra rich, you only need a little piece!
we also do not cure our own meat yet,,, we are thankful to be close to the famous Bentons in Madisonville that does all our bacon and Hams. 
We have plans on the to do list for building all smoke house hopefully in the not to distant future . That's definitely a skill we want to have here.

Next,, mid morning snack.... dried hickory king dent corn, shelled,,,,,,

Iron skillet with a little lard,,, roast those Kerns until they pop and get toasty brown... little salt,,, yummy snack! They should really be soaked over night before they are roasted ,,, but I don't mind extra crunchy 

For lunch I took the broth I made from last week's muscovy duck carcass ,,, heated it up and added dehydrated onions, tomatoes, green peppers, okra , zucchini ,, all preserved from my garden
3 crushed hot peppers from the garden and salt to flavor the already delicious broth,,,

and made a beautiful soup,,,, topped with a few crunchy roasted corn kernels saved from my earlier snack.

this was a great part of the challenge also,,, I often dehydrate veggies , vacuum bag them and they sit in our root cellar for a year or two,, then I feed them to an animal!
This challenge forces me to utilize foods I have preserved I normally over look or just reach for something familiar to use.
this was an awesome flavorful soup.

Mid afternoon snack... rendered out crispy cracklings from the lard I rendered the week before,,, little salt,, perfect!

another wonderful discovery we might not have made if we hadn't challenged ourselves like this ....
my pepper relish,,, heaven with a pork chop!
Another thing I like making with extra garden produce,,, relishes! But then we only eat them on lamb burgers... so a bunch just sit in the celler,,, 
we like to eat fancy mustards with our guinea hog pork chops,, the vinegar tang of them really complements the sweet fat in the meat,,, but it's farm feast day,,, I can't reach for that bottle of grey poupon! 
So looking over my home canned goods I see my honey pepper relish,,, it's made with alittle honey (which was bought but hopefully won't be buying it much longer) my green and banana peppers and apple cider vinger( which was also a purchase for the recipe)
it was better than any mustard could have been!!
It was an awesome discovery!
And also revealed another product I need to be producing here ,,, vinegars.
With the pork chop we also had lard sautéed greens beans that were frozen from last season.
a little salt,,, perfect end to our second farm feast challenge!

As always,,, so thankful to the Lord for making it all possible. 

Til next time!