Someone Else's Farm

October 03, 2010

How We Used Our Chickens

Filed under: what we did — Tags: , , — M @ 15:45 PM

As I posted earlier, we got two chickens. We picked them up last Saturday, 25 September. That night, we roasted one, naked except for a lemon and an onion tucked inside and some salt and pepper and a smear of butter outside. I couldn’t take any pictures before, because my hands were a mess, but here’s what it looked like when it came out of the oven:

Whole Roasted Chicken

I don’t usually truss birds, but this one was a little differently shaped than a supermarket bird. It insisted on lying on its back with its legs pointing straight up at the ceiling. So I tied the legs together, to help bring them down a smidge and make the bird fit into the oven better. I followed Tony Bourdain’s roasting temperature guidelines: white wine to cover the bottom of the roasting pan, about half an hour at 375 degrees F, and then another half hour at 425 or until done. I didn’t baste. But alongside the bird, I did cook one of the winter squashes, which I halved, scooped out the seeds from, and put cut-side down in a glass baking dish with a little water in the bottom. And when I turned the temperature up, I slid in a tray of the little red potatoes, which I’d cut into wedges and tossed with a bit of olive oil and seasoned salt.

Casey carved the chicken, because he usually does a better job than I do:

Cut up chicken

We decided that the flavor was terrific, but we weren’t so sure about the texture, particularly in the leg and thigh meat, which were tougher than we were expecting.

Of course, we saved the carcass!

Chicken carcass

The next day was Casey’s turn to do something with a chicken. He cut it into pieces, again saved carcass and wings, and put the breasts and leg quarters into the Dutch oven to brown.

Chicken parts browning in the dutch oven

And then he flipped them over to brown the other side.

Fully browned chicken parts in dutch oven

And from there, he went on to follow Julia Child’s recipe and turn out a fabulous coq au vin. The vin in question was actually more properly a viño, specifically a Spanish Jumilla. It might not have been classic Julia wine, but it worked nicely in this dish.

bowl of coq au vin. yum.

We decided that braising was a more appropriate use of these chickens, as the texture of the meat was easier to appreciate than it was in the roasted bird. About the only thing we’d do differently next time is remove the skin from the chicken before serving, as neither of us is a fan of flabby wet-cooked chicken skin. (We both think it needs to stay on the bird during the braising, as the browning adds too much flavor to lose from the pot that early.) We had leftovers, which we stripped the skin from before storing. We ate the leftovers the next day over cooked egg noodles, and they were just as good on the first day.

And then, Chicken, Act III:

The night we ate the original coq au vin, we cooked up both carcasses and all the wings into stock. Two nights later (the night after the coq leftovers), we had chicken soup for dinner. I browned some carrots, celery, and onions in a soup pot. I then added the carcass stock, the leftover roast chicken meat (cut into bite-size pieces), and the very few leftover roast potato pieces (also cut down smaller). It came up to a boil, and was ready to eat. I had just enough left over for the next day’s lunch. And that was the end of our two birds.

But wait, there’s more!

When I found out that whole birds, with feet that they walked around on, would be processed, I put in a request for chicken feet. I’ve enjoyed them braised in Chinese restaurants, but Casey’s not as fond of them as I am. Nonetheless, I like to include a couple of feet when I make stock, especially from a roasted chicken carcass. (Roasted chicken carcass stock always seems a little thin in body to me, probably because there’s no gelatin left in the bones.) And I came home with five pounds of chicken feet. I rinsed them in cold water, and packed them in baggies in pairs, and put them in the freezer. I wound up with 25 baggies of chicken feet. I thought about blanching them all, and trimming the center and chopping off the claws, but decided to wait and do that when I use each pair. That all happened the same night we roasted the first chicken, and I wanted to get the feet out of the way before starting to deal with roasting prep. I think when I use them, I’ll do so without telling Casey. Don’t tell him, please.

Catching Up

In other words: Week 13, Week 14, and Week 15 List, Suggestions, Haul, and What We Did With Some Of Our Good Stuff.

You’ve already seen the list and suggestions for Week 13. Here’s what we got, in the rain:

Broccoli, carrots, tomatillos, apples, tomatoes

Lemon basil, tomatoes, grape tomatoes

  • Macintosh Apples: half a dozen.
  • Lemon Basil: a big bunch.
  • Italian Flat Leaf Parsley: a bunch.
  • Baby Carrots: a baggie, the real thing, little tiny carrots that are that size and not cut down from big ones!
  • Cherry Belle and Easter Egg Radish: nope, although we weren’t sure at first.
  • Early Hakurei Turnips: a bunch. They look like little white radishes, which is why we were so confused.
  • Patty Pan, Zucchini, or Yellow Crook Neck Squash: two zucchini.
  • Tomatillos: a bagful.
  • Heirloom Tomatoes: four biggish ones.
  • Sungold Cherry Tomatoes: Not sungolds, but a pint of red grape tomatoes.

This came just as work started to get crazy for me. Probably the most notable thing we did with the produce from this week was a pasta dish that Casey concocted, with a sauce of tomatoes, zucchini, and parsley and lemon basil.

Week 14’s list, and what I picked up on 23 September:

Peppers, turnips, tomatoes, apples, greens, squash

apples, turnips, greens

  • Macintosh Apples: four apples.
  • Green Italian Basil: I wish, but no.
  • Green Kale: a big bunch. Of course.
  • Red Potatoes: a net bag full of spuds a little larger than salt-size.
  • Acorn Squash: three of the tiniest I’ve ever seen.
  • Patty Pan Summer Squash: no.
  • Heirloom Tomatoes: a bunch of smallish plum-shaped tomatoes, two large red bashed-up tomatoes that were unsalvageable, and a green zebra or something similar.

And also a bunch of peppers, some jalapenos and some sweet orange and pale yellow varieties. And for good measure, two batches of leeks from another farmer’s market vendor. Leeks grow in dirt, in case you wondered.

The newsletter suggested this week that we make kale with apples and mustard, sauteed baby patty pan squash with basil and feta, and linguini with basil, kale, and tomatoes. We did none of these. Casey concocted another fresh tomato sauce for pasta, which did not have kale in it but did contain peppers and (shhh!) an anchovy, which worked very well.

The Macs from these last two weeks, I made into apple butter. I’m not a fan of mushy apples, and I couldn’t think of anything else to do with these but they were taking up more fridge space than I could afford to give them. So I rinsed and stemmed them all, cut them into quarters, tossed them into a pot with a splash of water and the juice from a leftover lemon half, and let them cook until they were mush. (It didn’t take long.) I then ran the cooked apples through the food mill to get rid of the skins and seeds. If I’d wanted applesauce, I would have stopped here, but then I would have had to put it into jars and process them right then and there, and I probably wouldn’t have finished that until way too late at night. So instead, I put the applesauce in the slow cooker (there was about 3 quarts, based on the markings of the bowl I ran the food mil into), added sugar (both brown and white), cinnamon, nutmeg, and a couple of whole cloves until it tasted defiantly sweet and spicy, cocked the lid of the slow cooker just slightly ajar, and let it cook on low overnight, stirring whenever I thought of it. By morning, the applesauce had cooked down quite a bit and turned brown, and there was a rather thick skin on top. I stirred the skin back in, and let it cook another couple of hours. (The skin broke down and cooked in until I couldn’t detect any pieces of it. The cloves must’ve broken down, because I couldn’t find them.) During the last bit of cooking time, I sterilized four half-pint jars and simmered the lids to match. I had enough apple butter to fill the four jars plus a little more to eat on waffles right then and there. I processed the apple butter-filled jars in boiling water for 10 minutes. All four jars sealed, so we’ll have apple butter for the winter.

And finally, Week 15, the most recent pickup, again in a drenching rain:

garlic, greens, squashes galore, apples, peppers, turnips, radishes

greens, greens, garlic, peppers, squashes, apples

  • Cortland Apples: four.
  • Arugula: a bunch.
  • Collard Greens or Brussel Sprout Greens: a bunch of collards, I think.
  • Garlic: four heads.
  • Green Peppers: three.
  • Hot Hungarian Wax Peppers: three, that didn’t taste very hot.
  • Jalapeno Peppers: a handful of tiny ones. I hope that means they have some heat in them.
  • Cherry Belle Radish: a bunch.
  • Hakurei Turnips: a bunch.
  • Delicata Squash or Spaghetti Squash: we got three pale green pattypan squashes and another of what looks like the carnival squash from Week 12. Nothing looked like either delicata or spaghetti squash.

The newsletter noted that they grow lots of greens because “we need them and most folks love them.” As I’ve said before, we enjoy greens, but not in the quantities we’ve been getting them. Maybe it would be better if we had a bigger household. But they did give us a suggestion for traditional southern-style collard greens with a ham hock or smoked turkey leg, or cooked in soup, and an idea for using collards (and sweet peppers and cabbage and a few other things) raw as a wrapper with julienne-cut vegetables and a nut pesto inside. And the turnips can go into miso soup. I could go for that, and it’s definitely turning into soup season.

We have a baguette and both Brie and Vermont Butter & Cheese Company Cultured Butter, to go with the radishes. For the turnips, I’m thinking a Korean-style pickle, to eat with dol sot bi bim bop this winter. All the tomatillos and many of the jalapenos will probably become mole verde, which will go in the freezer for later.

September 08, 2010

Tomatoes and Potatoes, Oh My!

Filed under: Uncategorized, what we did — Tags: , , , , — M @ 16:17 PM

We haven’t used much of what we got this week. But we have pitched several of the tomatoes and potatoes, as they went bad before we could use them.

Casey made some potatoes for breakfast over the weekend. He discovered that probably half a dozen of the little ones we’d gotten were mushy, and dumped them so we don’t get fruit flies. As far as the tomatoes, one of the slicing tomatoes was beaten up when we got it home, and had started to ooze by Friday morning, when I tossed it. Another looks about at that stage now. And three or four of the plum tomatoes went straight from green to black on the shoulders, without passing through any intermediate red stage.

The remaining tomatoes and all the tomatillos will each get made into a salsa, which will get shared with my bandmates tomorrow night.

The squash, we believe, is either a carnival squash or a sweet dumpling squash. We haven’t used it yet, but may bake it tonight since it’s quite cool and windy.

September 03, 2010

Week 11 Haul

Filed under: pickup — Tags: , , , , , , — M @ 16:17 PM

Here’s what we got this week, compared to the list:

Our haul

  • 1 bunch dinosaur kale: I think what we got looks more like ordinary green kale.
  • 1 bunch mizuna: This is the spiky-leafed green at the back, I think.
  • 1 bunch mustard greens: Rounding out the green selection….
  • 3 lb gold potato: Nice little ones, although three of them had gigantic bad spots and needed to be tossed as soon as we got them home.
  • 1 lb spaghetti squash: It’s not a spaghetti squash, but we did get another winter squash of some kind.
  • 0.5 lb tomatillo: In one of the bags. Hope these are as good as last week’s.
  • 2 lb heirloom tomato: Lots and lots of tomatoes. Some are slicing varieties, and one of those feels very much like a water balloon, it’s so ripe. But we also got a boatload of plum tomatoes, many of which are rock-hard and have pale or green shoulders.
  • 1 pint sungold cherry tomato: Nope. But we did get two zucchini that are not baseball bats.

In addition, at the market, we picked up some peaches (a mixture of white and gold varieties), which are ripening in a brown lunchbag on the counter. The farmer who grew them said that all his fruit trees are ahead of their normal schedule. We also got some poblano peppers, which are easily our favorite fresh green chile. (We also like them very much when they dry into anchos.) We also got a bunch of carrots, since we don’t have many carrots left in the house and I enjoy snacking on carrot sticks. And a big red onion, to go along with all the cute little bunching onions from the last few weeks’ hauls.

The squash, I’m guessing, we’ll probably roast later this weekend when it cools down, and scoop out of the shell and eat as a side vegetable. The potatoes, well, who knows? If they’re like most gold varieties, they’re good for just about anything, and we could parboil them and grill them or smash and oven-crisp them, make them as salt potatoes, turn them into a potato salad of some kind, eat hash browns for breakfast…the possibilities are endless. The zucchini could get julienned into “noodles” and eaten as such (spaghetti squash, anyone? ;-)), or baked into yet another batch of cake (without the glaze, so it’ll freeze well). As far as the greens, I’m thinking of taking at least some of them Asian, thanks to recipes from my friend Sharon. (Or maybe it’ll be soup weather this weekend?) The tomatillos are likely to become some sort of salsa verde, especially since we got both poblanos and red onion. Maybe we’ll keep this salsa raw, or maybe we’ll break out the pumpkin seeds from the freezer again for another batch of pipián, or maybe even a mole verde.

Which brings us to those tomatoes. I have no problem using fresh ripe slicing tomatoes. I love them for lunch, sliced, with some kind of cheese and a sprinkle of fresh herbs if I have any on hand, and topped with a sprinkle of balsamic vinegar that’s been reduced to a syrup and maybe a bit of extra-virgin olive oil if I’m in an extravagant mood. But that treatment doesn’t work on tomatoes that are not perfectly ripe, such as the 2.5+ pounds of plum tomatoes. They’re getting a couple of days out on the counter, to see if that improves their condition at all. But I’m also leaning towards embracing their firmness and finding something to do that takes advantage of it. One possibility is a tomato gratin, with cheese and breadcrumbs and seasoning. These tomatoes may also work well for stuffing and baking, if there’s enough of a cavity inside to make it worth the bother. In any case, I’ll be keeping a sharp eye on all the tomatoes, and hoping I don’t start to see fruit flies invading the kitchen.

July 15, 2010

Mexican Party!

Filed under: what we did — Tags: , , , , , — M @ 10:44 AM

Casey has four students (R., K., K., and K.) and a high school teacher (E.) doing research with him this summer. We wanted to host all of them for dinner, and Tuesday night was the day that worked for everyone except R. We wanted to plan the menu to use some of our CSA produce, as well as work within everyone’s dietary guidelines (shellfish allergy; no meat or fowl). So we opted to do a bunch of things that would fit into a roughly Mexican meal, and everyone could pick and choose to make a meal suitable to their own taste. Casey checked ahead of time, and everyone was OK with spicy food.

Table with food

More food on the table

I started by turning 8 poblanos into rajas my favorite way: using the blowtorch to remove the skins, putting the seared chiles into a sealed bowl to steam, scraping the skins off with a grapefruit spoon, cutting the chiles open to remove the seeds and stems, and finally cutting the chiles into strips. The rajas went into the two vegetarian taco fillings, and were also on the table as an addition for anything else someone wanted to use them for.

We made another batch of Rick Bayless’s potato and chard taco filling. I used water rather than chicken broth, to keep this filling vegetarian, and this time I put some feta crumbles on the side rather than sprinkling them on top of the whole bowl. We also used up our yellow squash and zucchini by making the Santa Fe-style calabacitas from Mark Miller’s Tacos (recipe available from Google Books), another vegetarian filling. We ran the rice cooker, and reheated a can of vegetarian refried beans. I shredded a brick of sharp cheddar and chiffonaded some of our CSA lettuce, and we had  guacamole, sour cream, our special chipotle crema (in the squeeze bottle), two different jars of salsa, and three hot sauces. We had flour tortillas on hand, since that’s what is generally available and what’s generally served as soft taco shells in this neck of the woods.

For those who wanted to eat fowl or meat, Casey concocted a marinade for chicken breasts out of dried chiles that were soaked and pureed, vinegar, Mexican oregano, and some other spices that I didn’t catch; the chicken breasts were grilled outdoors and then cut into strips. And we made some plain old ground beef taco-seasoning standard filling, just in case anyone was freaked out by the thought of something different.

The hit beverage of the day was a sort of limonada: half a squeezed-out lime half, an ounce of fresh lime juice, two ounces of purchased limeade (Newman’s Own brand uses sugar rather than HFCS), and the rest of the glass filled with sparkling water. Dessert was also a hit: ice cream (vanilla, cookies and cream, or Southern Lemon Pie frozen yogurt), with dulce de leche for those who wanted to gild the lily.

I’d forgotten how much boys eat. We didn’t have as much left over as I thought we might, but there’s enough that we won’t need to cook for the rest of this week, which is good because it’s going to stay hot. It was a great evening, and a delicious dinner. Afterwards, we cleaned up the kitchen, watched the coverage of the Tour de France we’d recorded live that morning, and then pretty much fell into bed.

June 17, 2010

Week 01

Filed under: pickup — Tags: , , , , , , , , — M @ 18:28 PM

Here’s our haul. It wouldn’t fit into one photo!


We got everything on the list, except for the strawberries. Guess they didn’t have enough of those, or something. I may ask the farm about that tomorrow, if I get a chance. The “salad lettuce” was one head of what I think is just plain old green leaf lettuce, and the broccoli is two rather tiny-looking stalks worth. But at least some of the lettuce will go into radish sandwiches with Saint-Andre (or butter!) and sea salt (either Maldon or fleur de sel; I have both on hand) and the broccoli should combine nicely with the garlic scapes in a stir-fry.

We’ve already put things away. Casey washed all the greens before putting them away. We looked up radish greens and discovered that they are in fact edible, but elected to toss them as we’ve got plenty of other greens to eat this week. (Correction from the one who washed them: I cut the greens off the radishes, washed both of them and stored the separately. I figured they might add a nice complexity to the other greens.) I’ve been reading up on things to do with greens, and have come up with a couple of ideas that look promising: folding the cooked greens into corn tortillas to make tacos, and the fairly standard greens-beans combination in a few different iterations. I’m sure I’ll find more things to do when I’m not in a rush.

We have a lot of radishes. (Ah, spring!) I’m still trying to come up with things to do with them, other than make sandwiches. I’m contemplating a sort of pickle, in rice vinegar with a little salt.

At the farmers market, we added to the haul with some more peas and some new potatoes. We got the potatoes from the vendor we used last time, and they were terrific. The peas, of course, we’ll eat from the pod. The potatoes are as of yet undetermined.

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