Rooster Corfu

Rooster Corfu, homesteading, recipe, cinnamon, low and slow, onion

Rooster Corfu, ready to decant from the pot.

As some of you may remember, I raised some chickens for meat this summer.  They arrived May 3rd, and went outdoors sometime in June, and were harvested for meat September 30th.  After a short adjustment period in their chicken tractor, I allowed them to free range during the day when I was home.  Six roosters and 1 hen (a second hen was way too friendly and now lives with the laying birds, and is truly still the most friendly).

Five of us had gotten together, and we harvested one person’s drakes (male ducks) before we came over and harvested my small flock.  Teamwork makes any task go easier!!

Anyhow, with two of the birds, I’d taken the carcasses and bagged them as parts of each whole bird (minus wings and guts* — wings of which I wanted to save for buffalo, or other style, of wing appetizers, and it made more sense to put together two bags of all of those for such purposes).   I did include the backs, however.

After harvesting and cleaning, keep birds chill (ie in the fridge) for a day or two before freezing.  I did this and set up the new vacuum sealer, a cheap model, but so far on the small amount of use it has had, it appears to be working well.

The goal was to make Coq au Vin (Rooster in Wine) for one bird, and Rooster Corfu (for the other bird).  Both these dishes are/were intended to be shared with guests.  It’s a lot of meat per roo!

Rooster Corfu, homesteading, recipe, cinnamon, low and slow, onion

In the interest of expediting matters, I started adding in some onion to the skillet while the last of the rooster was being browned…

Rooster Corfu is simpler to make than Coq au Vin, and after having tasted the former, and looking at the ingredients for the latter… I think I am going to make the Corfu variant again for the next guests willing to try home grown rooster.  (Don’t raise your eyebrows… I have two nearby omnivore friends to date who told me they won’t ever eat a bird I  raised here – only one of whom who has actually briefly MET said birds — because even that sounds too personal — but they’ll chow down Tyson’s factory-raised poultry without a second thought.  No.  I seriously don’t get it.)

Corfu is a large island that’s currently part of the nation of Greece, and is located to its west.  Its main and municipal city is also named Corfu.  Corfu has a rich history stretching back into antiquity; unfortunately a lot of its architecture was bombed during WWII.  Cuisine has a decided Venetian influence.

Rooster Corfu, homesteading, recipe, cinnamon, low and slow, onion

Portions of chicken, browned.

Surfing around looking for rooster recipes, I found this: Corflu rooster: – from Sunstone Farm.  What interested me about their recipes is that they used rooster that was slaughtered after the prime tender time of harvest, but not ancient and aged rooster.  This fit what I had to hand.  And, the recipe sounded great.  

Rooster Corfu, homesteading, recipe, cinnamon, low and slow, onion

Still simmering…

Changes I made:  the use of healthy avocado oil, using sparkling cider instead of an alcoholic beverage, forgetting to reduce the final volume of fluid.

Prep Time:  15 minutes
Cook Time:  10-12 minutes of searing chicken, 15 minutes of other cook-prep work,
1 – 3 hours of simmering depending on age of rooster.  

Rest Time:  Five minutes.  
Serves:  5-6 servings as a main.
Cuisine:  Corfu-ian? (No:  Corfiot)
Leftovers:  Certainly.  Either reheat on the cook top, or in a microwave. I added some to a breakfast omelet, too.
Served with:  Scalloped Potatoes Au Gratin, and a tossed salad.

Corfu Rooster

  • 1 rooster, cut into pieces
  • 6 garlic cloves, chopped
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 3 tablespoon avocado or other high temp cooking oil
  • 1 tablespoon tomato paste
  • 2 tablespoons cider vinegar, or use red wine vinegar
  • 2 medium onions, peeled, sliced, and coarsely chopped
  • 3 ½ cups / 830 mL water
  • ½ cup / 120 mL sparkling cider (or feel free to use a dry white wine or vermouth)
  • 1 teaspoon sugar

Pat chicken pieces dry.

In a small container, mix together the cinnamon, salt, and pepper.

Sprinkle over the chicken, rubbing into it on both sides.

Heat to medium high your oil in a skillet.  Brown the chicken on all sides (two batches), and then put in a large cooking pot.

While the chicken is browning, mix tomato paste and vinegar together in another small bowl.

Sauté those onions for about six minutes (using more oil in the skillet as needed), until some browning.  Add the garlic, sautéing a minute or two longer.  Reduce heat slightly.

Now, add the tomato/vinegar mixture, and allow to simmer for a minute.  Move the onion plus the current skillet ingredients to the chicken cook pot.

Deglaze with half a cup (120 mL) of the water, and move that over to the chicken cook pot.

Again to the skillet, to bring over all remaining flavors, add the rest of the water, the cider or wine, and the sugar.  Simmer for a couple minutes, then bring all those to that chicken pot.

Put the chicken pot on a heating element, bring to a boil, reduce to a simmer (covered).  Simmer this for 1 – 3 hours, depending on your rooster toughness/age.

I simmered this for 2 hours; this rooster would have been fine simmered for 1.5 hours.

What I forgot to do… in other preparations for my guests… was to transfer all the chicken out after cooking, and reducing the remaining sauce uncovered to approximately 2.5 cups of liquid (and onion), then replacing the chicken.  This would likely take about 10 minutes.  But, as I said, I forgot, and this dish turned out wonderfully anyway!  My guests informed me that this was better than some coq au vin they’d been served in a restaurant somewhere.  (Looking at the coq au vin recipe… I think I’ll stick with Corfu…)

Since this is an older bird, I notice two things:  1) While it may work best with a low and slow approach for most purposes, it has intensely better flavor than supermarket or even local quickly-raised free range Cornish Cross chickens.  2) It takes a lot less bird to reach a satiety point when you are eating them.  So, while having poultry on your hands for several more weeks may mean you are paying more for feed , the meat itself goes further.  For me, this is worth it (although I do plan to harvest most of my meat birds two or three or four weeks earlier in the future).  Yes, free-range birds generally get some commercial feed, too — in my case, I get them back in the tractor in the evening with bribery…  

NOTE:  You CAN make this with regular supermarket chicken.  Just cook it a lot less.  When it starts to detach from the bone, you’re done.  

pricechopper dessert

Despite leftover chicken, we were too full to eat these lovely little desserts I picked up at PriceChopper in Pittsfield. I gave my guests theirs to take home, and ate mine LATER. Chocolate over cheesecake.


( * The guts and other odd bits:  I combined hearts and gizzards, and made a slow braised dish for them, not recorded – for which some of you may be grateful…  The feet would normally become stock but a friend wanted them to try her hand at Chinese dim sum, so she has them in her freezer.  Livers are frozen and awaiting being turned into pate, but I want more chicken liver to make the time involved worth the effort.  I didn’t save the heads, but an inadvertent Internet surf turned up ways to cook rooster combs and wattles.  I have to admit it just seemed to “personal” to use those!  I’ve already posted a chicken unborn egg soup recipe from the one hen in the batch.  Since I don’t have the feet, necks have been reserved for stock.)   

You’ll find this recipe partying over at Fiesta Friday, with your wonderful co-hosts this week:  Antonia @ and Kat @ Kat’s 9 Lives.



Posted in Commentary, Cooking, Poultry, Soups & Stews | Tagged , , , , , | 4 Comments

Raising Chickens, Part I (Intro & Overview)

This won’t be a totally organized guide to raising chickens, but I hope to provide some insight as a first-year chicken grower in New England, over a few posts that I plan to put up approximately once a month.  I won’t remotely call myself an expert, but I think first-year insights do have value.  If you’ve been doing this for five or ten years (as I’ve discovered in other fields of endeavor) you tend to forget what you learned to tell others in your beginner steps and mis-steps.)

Homesteading, poultry, hen house, chicken coop

All homes need décor. Even the chickens get some in their enclosed chicken run.  Yep, even to a feathered dino. 

I knew I’d like raising chickens, but did not realize I’d come to LOVE it.  This despite the fact that my egg layers are just beginning to step to the breakfast plate.  As it were. (Oh, note, I found my first eggs on November 20th!  Matter of time before everyone kicks in…  EDIT, I was writing this up earlier; to date as posting in the morning, I have 28 eggs, and it seems to be 2-3 eggs a day now.)

First off, though, before you even get your birds,  be sure your zoning allows you to HAVE chickens.  How many?  What size coops?

Here, I can have a bundle o’ chickens, even roosters, but I am decidedly rural.  I am allowed to build a structure on this property 10 x 20 feet without having to go through permitting.   Your milage may well, and probably WILL, differ.  Check your town ordinances, and note that some areas of your town may have more leeway than other areas.  So if your friend on one side of town tells you how she’s raising up 20 hens, don’t assume that applies to your zone, too.  The acreage you have will also determine how much you will be allowed.

Decide on your short AND your likely long term goals.  Short term should pretty much to be try things out, but note that it is cheaper to overbuild (if you CAN) and grow into it, than just build to your short term goals and add on later.  All this will depend on personal economics.

What do you want to do with chickens?

In my case, I wanted to try both meat birds (hybrids to get a feel for it) and laying hens (heritage in this case since that tends to be the best way to go for layers).  Long term:  heritage dual purpose birds that will lay, sometimes go broody, and hopefully make future generations of heritage birds that I’ll learn to breed up myself.  In this first year, my goal was 1) to discover what the process is for rearing meat birds (and the necessary unpleasant realities their last day entails), and 2) which heritage breeds may be most satisfactory on several levels for birds that are good laying hens in my region of this planet.  Long term:  I want to raise chickens here.  I mean, from parents to offspring, and then again, so a good dual purpose bird will be appropriate.

MEAT BIRDS:  For hybrid birds specifically bred for meat, there are a few choices.  Cornish Cross – I wanted to get away from the overabundance of the less-tasty white meat, I wanted more leeway for butchering time, and I wanted them to have a good and healthy life without bone fractures and heart problems.

I KNOW that many homesteaders raise Cornish Cross with no problems, but when I was talking to one person (who was to show me how he did it, but had to beg out because he had to process them a week early due to intensive heat — he mentioned that even a week early, his birds were showing signs of blood clotting around their hearts).  Many of his would not likely have survived  a heat wave.

There are red rangers/freedom rangers, who get an extra month of leeway in life, generally speaking.  I didn’t happen into them, but into red broilers/black broilers which I found through my local mom and pop farm store (sort of an independent Tractor Supply/Agway).  They can live out longer even, say to 16 weeks or so, optimally.  (They will LIVE and thrive past that, but they won’t be so tender, if you want them for meat.)  They do mature faster than dual purpose heritage birds.

roosters, black broilers, red broilers, meat, chicken, poultry

Red broiler, two black broilers. The depicted are roosters. The black matured more quickly, but I don’t know if that’s true across the board for these types of broilers.  Only three roosters of each, not enough to make a statement over.

As for dual purpose heritage meat birds… I didn’t add those to the menu this year (this was my trial year) but I have two breeds in mind for next year.  Those intended for meat will probably be harvested at 20 weeks or so, since they mature more slowly.  Hybrid birds discussed in the paragraphs above will not breed true if you want to raise chicken self-sufficiently on your plot of land (in my case, my eventual goal).

How many to raise?  Eventually, you want to figure out how much chicken you eat in a year (and any town restrictions on flock size), but seriously folks, the first year you want to see how doing this works out.  For YOU.  I ordered 9 birds from the local mom & pop farm store, one died in transit, and of the eight another was totally too sweet a bird to send on to the mealworm bin in the sky.   Note that often for these birds you might not be able to specify gender.  That’s called “straight run”… you’ll have cockerels (male) and pullets (female) in your mixed bag.  I ended up with 6 cockerels and 2 pullets, and it was one of the latter that won my heart.  TBH, Celeste is my sweetest bird to date!  (In a future post, I’ll indicate why I think this happened.)

Many of my readers who are indeed interested in raising chickens will find it impossible after they’ve raised these birds up, to butcher them.  There’s no shame in hiring out that task, AND / OR  there’s no shame in deciding to give those birds away (often mostly roosters, which can be hard to re-home…) and not doing meat birds again in your future.   Simply… don’t overestimate your desires before you are faced with knowing what you really ultimately wish to do.  (I was able to do it, aiming to provide the last moments as peaceful as possible.  And indeed I can be a softy, as I put that friendly hen in with my laying birds.)


Celeste. She’s a hybrid black broiler, born May 2nd. She’s as sweet as, and sometimes sweeter, than any of the laying heritage birds. So… she’s saved from the freezer. Right now in this pic she’s learning how to adjust to her new flock.  (It took 4 days.)

I’ll note that most chickens intended for meat are harvested before cockerels become true crowing neighbor-annoying roosters.  So you could have them where roosters are prohibited.  Mine lived longer due to harvesting logistics, but my neighbors (here where I can have roosters anyway) loved hearing them, and were saddened when the crowing… essentially vanished.  Yes, there’s one remaining rooster, read below!

PS, don’t name your chickens intended for the dinner table.  Celeste only got named after she got put in the laying coop.

LAYING BIRDS:  For these, I wanted heritage birds, and since I live in New England (Zone 5B), and this would be a year round commitment, I had several requirements:

  1. Winter hardy.  Even if the coop is heated, they need to be able to get out of the coop, even if only into the run.  If their combs and wattles freeze off, they’re neither happy nor healthy.  Chickens originally bred in northern climates are best for northerners.  Winter hardy chickens tend not to be bantams, and tend to have smaller wattles and combs.  Historically, they’ll come from colder regions of the planet.  If you live in a locale where it is seldom or never going to snow, you may want to concern yourself with heat-hardy chickens.
  2. Good eggers.  I wanted prolific to reasonably prolific.
  3. Docile AND friendly.  I learned that docile means good with each other, and friendly means they’ll probably be friendly to you, too.  More on this in a future post.
  4. A variety.  I wanted to have two or three of a few varieties that are suitable here in New England, just to see which ones I really appreciate.  I have not (yet) tried all varieties I’d like to try.
  5. No feathered legs.  They’re beautiful, but not all that practical for first-timers.  Stuff gets caught in those feathers.  Maybe down the road.  (Most, with an exception or three, aren’t winter-hardy, either.)
  6. The day old chicks should be reasonably priced.  $2-3 dollars or such apiece.  You can get some fancy colorations dropping $20, $35 or more for a day old chick.  That’s fine down the road when you are getting into breeding, showing, or trying to preserve a “new” coloration of an “old” heritage, but in your first year or so… that’s not a concern… or IMHO should not be!

I ordered 10 future laying birds from 4 different heritage varieties (day old chicks), and one unexpected plus is that is easier to count them if you don’t have to count 10 birds of the same color pattern, but two or three of each chosen pattern…  More about ordering day old chicks in the next post.

homesteading, poultry, hens, layers, eggs

A Family Photo, All Twelve Birds

(And yes, you do want to count them early and often, if you ever let them free range, electric fencing or not!)

In addition, since I don’t have restrictions on this, I ordered them a future rooster.  My feller doesn’t care much for me, but he’s very generous to his ladies.  No, you do not need a rooster to have your hens lay eggs!  Turns out Wyandottes, though beautiful birds, aren’t very friendly to humans, at least in my current level of experience.  But he’s my Fabio eye candy.  Roosters are able to protect and keep their flock together, but you don’t want to have more than one rooster per, say, 8 hens.  And you need more space if you have more than one roo.  They tend to be territorial.  You’ll notice in the above photo he’s the one closest to me.  Protective instinct, not the being-friendly instinct.  That’s how he rolls.

bird feed, chicken treats, pork fat, pumpkin seeds, mealworms

Tiny Dancer, the Silver Wyandotte rooster.

Once these birds start really laying… I will be selling off the excess eggs.  I’ve identified one market, and right now, that’s all I need.  No, I don’t begin to presume that my egg laying hens will make my homestead self-supporting!  If you luck into a homestead with an old fashioned hen house already there, you might have a chance.  Maybe.  But at any rate, this ultimately wasn’t the case in my circumstance.

Best resource for heritage breed decision-making:  The Livestock Conservancy.  Resource, bar none!!!

SHOW BIRDS:  While I have no intent in doing show birds, this is a good way for preservation of various heritage breeds.  Note that when you bring your poultry to show, you do stand the risk of disease from other birds, although there are measures at place at country fairs and other breed showing facilities to minimize this risk.   You’ll be wanting to set up space for breeding birds, and incubating eggs especially if you don’t want to rely on your hens going broody to raise new generations.  (Certainly, you can breed chickens for meat and/or egg laying and/or heritage preservation purposes, too, without showing — something seriously to consider even if you are “just” going the homesteading route.

I love going to country fairs, and certainly if you see chickens on display, talk to the exhibitors.  You may get leads on breeds, or just general chicken-y information, even if you have no intention of ever showing birds yourself.

PETS:  Any of the above (except planned meat chicken, if you want to keep that plan going forward) can become pets.  There are farms out there that rescue chickens that have effectively finished laying, and would otherwise be destined for the stew pot.  They live out their lives until, as with a cat or a dog, they come to a natural end, sometimes assisted along if in pain or in an end-of-life lack of quality of life.  I did rescue Celeste from the freezer, but it is likely she will lay at least some eggs, anyways.  And if she lags a lot behind… she’s still the sweetest of the entire lot, so she’s a pet…

My own long term goal is to raise up two or three most desired (in this locale, and for my needs) breeds of heritage birds, hatch them on site (hopefully a hen or two will step up to the brooding plate, but investing in an incubator is wise anyway), where most of the cockerels (immature males) will find their way to the freezer and most of the pullets (immature females) will find the will to become layers.  It may take a year or two for me to decide which breeds I want to, ahem, breed.

Next Up:  Planning for your new chicks!!!  (By mid-January.  Which is a good time to do some serious planning, at least here in the Northern hemisphere!)   

Happily hopping over to the Homestead Blog Hop, please drop in!

And fiesta-ing at  Fiesta Friday, with Antonia @ and Kat @ Kat’s 9 Lives.






Posted in Cooking | Tagged , , , , , , , | 5 Comments

Lamb Shoulder Chop with Cabbage, Apple, and Onion

‘Tis the season for all sorts of holidays, and right now if you are Jewish it is Hanukkah.  So, I decided to post something that would be Hanukkah friendly (ie, it would be kosher).  It also sounds a bit Irish, or Eastern European, or…

Actually, it just sounds very good!

recipe, lamb chop, cabbage, apple, onion, kosher, gluten-free

Lamb, Cabbage, Apple, Onion

You can use shoulder chops or sirloin chops from the lamb, but it really won’t lend itself to those highly-priced loin chops (you know, those bits of rib with about 2 bites of meat on each one).  This is more rustic fare.

lamb cabbage

Sliver up that cabbage! You can use green (white) cabbage if you prefer.

One good thing about lamb… it is reasonably forgiving of time and temperature variabilities when being cooked.

recipe,, lamb chop, cabbage, apple, onion, skillet, gluten-free

Red cabbage, onion, apple, waiting for their moment in the sun… er, heat of the skillet…

I only made one chop (for me)!  Multiply as needed.  (Back in the day before I was retired, lamb chops made a great lunch to bring to work and nuke accordingly.)

recipe,, lamb chop, cabbage, apple, onion, skillet, gluten-free


I used my own rosemary that I’d dried from my herb garden.

Prep Time: 10-15 minutes
Cook Time: 20 minutes
Rest Time: 5 minutes
Serves: 1
Leftovers: Refrigerate and nuke, or return to the skillet as desired.

Lamb Shoulder Chop with Cabbage, Apple, and Onion

  • 1/2 small to medium onion, diced.  (About 80 grams)
  • 1 tablespoon high temperature avocado oil (or other cooking oil)
  • 1 lamb shoulder chop (or sirloin chop).  Mine was 0.88 ounces (and bone is in).
  • red cabbage, slivered, then chopped… about 150 grams.  (White/green cabbage would work as well.)
  • 1 apple, cored and chunked.  Skin removal is optional.
  • 4 teaspoons blood orange balsamic vinegar (or another fruit flavor, or a concentrated unflavored balsamic)
  • 1.5 tablespoons low sodium gluten-free tamari/soy sauce (or coconut aminos)
  • 1 – 1.5 teaspoons dried crumbled rosemary.
  • 2 teaspoons smoked paprika
  • Juice of 1/2 lemon (or one lime)
  • 1/4 teaspoon white pepper (or regular ground black pepper)
  • Salt if needed.

To be honest, this ended up being more than I (one person) could eat, but would not be enough for a second person.  Or maybe two if not so hungry?

At any rate, leftovers DO work!

Precise measurements not needed and at the end you taste and adjust for seasonings.

Saute the onion in oil in a large skillet until just translucent.

Turn the heat under the skillet to medium high, add the lamb and sear for 1-2 minutes on each side, moving the onions to the far side of the skillet.  Then reduce heat to medium and cook the lamb on one side.  Add the rest of the veggies in, now, and all the seasonings/spices except the lemon/lime juice.  Keep the veggies to the side of the lamb, but let the seasonings go where they will (okay, I did focus on putting rosemary primarily on the lamb!  I also did not add any salt at this stage, preferring to adjust for that at the end of cooking, as even low sodium tamari might possibly have enough salt.)

Cover and cook for about 8 minutes, reaching in to move veggies around ever so often.  Cooking time will vary depending on 1) thickness of the chop, 2) your cook top heat, and 3) your preferred level of done-ness.  Mine was somewhere between 1/2 and 3/4 inches, and I like medium-rare to medium with regards to lamb chops.

Flip, moving the veggies around some more, and add the lemon (or lime) juice to all elements of the dish.  Cook another 5 minutes (approximately).  Feel free to use a meat thermometer, inserting the tip somewhere not near a bone.

Taste, adjust, plate and serve.  I put the veggies to one side for the sake of the photo, but serving the veggies atop or under is just as tasty.

recipe,, lamb chop, cabbage, apple, onion, skillet

Let’s hear it for Angie and the great folk at Fiesta Friday, where this recipe has happily gone to party.  With this week’s co-hosts: Liz @ Spades, Spatulas, and Spoons and Mila @ Milkandbun.

And, we continue to party at What’s for Dinner? Sunday Link-Up, since we love to party!





Posted in Cooking, Meats | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 8 Comments

Mushroom and Brie Soup

It’s winter and I think this season I’m going to do a lot of soups and stews.  Gardening Zone 5B, after all!  And already we’ve had too much snow.   (Two towns east… no snow except leftover shoveling piles from the nor’easter over a week ago.)

mushroom, brie, soup, recipe, cream, allium

Serve and enjoy…

I adapted this recipe from The View from Great Island.

Essentially, I reduced the size of the recipe, since I wasn’t going to be sharing this time around.

mushroom, brie, soup, recipe, cream, allium

Onions and garlic sautéing in no-salt butter.

I’d bought shallots, but they ended up being used in the pumpkin soup from last week.  So, mostly onion plus a little leek – I saw baby leeks of scallion size in the supermarket last week, and nabbed them.  Never saw them before, so what I recommend for leeks below is for the adult, more common, variant.  Fresh thyme would likely be best, but the supermarket fresh thyme was in pathetic shape.  Punt.

mushroom, brie, soup, recipe, cream, allium

Soup before any of the dairy. Or, the pureeing.

Seeing Brie with mushrooms included in the cheese had me reach for that rather than the plain French Brie (of the same price).

mushroom, brie, soup, recipe, cream, allium

Prep Time:  15 minutes (the rest can occur while other parts cook).
Cook Time:  25 + 15 + 15 + 10 = 1 hour.
Rest Time:  not required.
Serves:  2-3.
Cuisine:  European
Leftovers:  Yes.  Nuke or use stove top.


Mushroom and Brie Soup

  •    15 ounces / 425 grams mushrooms, I chose cremini/baby Bella.  Remove dirt by wiping, if any, and quarter them.  If you use shiitake, remove the stems.  
  •    1.5 tablespoons unsalted butter or ghee. 
  •   2 large shallots or 1 medium onion or 1-2 leeks (whites).  Diced. 
  •   1-2 cloves of chopped garlic.  
  •   3/4 tablespoon flour.  (There’s so little I think it is fine to omit if you wish!)
  •   1.25 cups / 300 mL chicken or vegetable low sodium broth.  (You are welcome to knotch it up a bit with home-made!)
  •   1/4 cup / 60 mL Marsala wine. 
  •   Pepper and salt to taste.  It’s not much!
  •   1 tablespoon thyme.  Fresh is perhaps best, but I used dried.  
  •   1.5 teaspoons dried tarragon. 
  •   4 ounces Brie cheese, ideally with mushroom inclusions, peeled and chunked.
  •    1/4 cup / 60 mL heavy cream.    

Preheat your oven to 400 F / 205 C.

Toss your DRY mushroom pieces onto an oven-ready pan, and add nothing else.  Place in aforementioned oven for 20-25 minutes, periodically pulling them out to toss, to keep from burning.

While this is happening, melt your butter or ghee in a large deep skillet at medium heat, and when melted, sauté your onion/shallot/leeks, for 5 – 10 minutes, or until beginning to get translucent.  Then, add the minced garlic.

Let this sauté for another five minutes, or until everything is surely soft.

Add the flour, and mix in; the butter will prevent lumping.

Now it’s time for fun with vino… pour in the Marsala and deglaze the skillet.

Yes, there’s a reason you are using a large skillet…. next add in the mushrooms, and the chicken/veggie broth, the thyme and tarragon.   Allow to simmer lightly, not boil…, for around 15 minutes.   Cover during this process.  Taste, add a little salt and freshly ground pepper.  Oh, yes, turn the oven off!  😉

Using an immersion blender (and a deeper container!!!!) blend this to your preferred level of chunkiness.  I like a little chunk to remain in most of my soups.   You may have to do this in divided batches, depending on your container and/or how much soup you are making.

Add the dairy items…. the cream and the Brie… and mix occasionally, until everything melts.

If you judge it thicker than you’d like, add more broth.

Return to heat, briefly, and taste.  Adjust seasonings as desired.

Serve, with garnishes of your choice:  fresh mushroom?  Fresh thyme or tarragon?  Scallion shreds?  In my case, I went with thinly sliced slivers of that baby leek mentioned above.  And a little dried tarragon.
soup3 logo

This delicious recipe is being shared at:   Fiesta Friday, where this week’s co-hosts are:   Alex @ Turks Who Eat and Zeba @ Food For The Soul.   As usual, it promises to be a good party.
Also being shared at What’s for Dinner, Sunday Link-Up, for next Sunday’s food ideas.




Posted in Cooking, Mushrooms, Soups & Stews | Tagged , , , , | 7 Comments

Chicken and Bird Feeder Pork Lard and Sheep Fat Cakes – for Your Flock

This recipe doesn’t contain chicken.

chicken, poultry, wild bird, treats, lard, mealworms, millet, pumpkin seeds, homesteading, recipe

Chicken treats,  freshly hung and awaiting birds.  And, note the seasonal tarp in the back to help reduce winter wind and incoming snow.

This isn’t for you to eat, gentle reader.  This is for the poultry under your care, but of course you can adapt this for wild backyard birds, too.  (Or, front yard, if that’s where you enjoy watching them…)  This is part of the homesteading track of this blog.  My inspiration link is below, but I modified.

The idea is to provide them with tasty treats, and perhaps to use up excess pork fat (or other fats) you may have laying around in your freezer or fridge.  And, in the winter especially, they can stand some more fat in their diet.

You are not restricted to these ingredients; they are simply what I had to hand.  You can certainly add more of these ingredients to make the cake more intensely seeded or treated.  You can sub in dried cricket treats for the mealworms (I think they stench in such a way I don’t want them in the kitchen, but the chickens love ’em) or you can skip insects all together.

The oregano?  So many resources recommend oregano for poultry for its healthy, antibiotic-like effects.

bird feed, chicken treats, pork fat, pumpkin seeds, mealworms

Tiny Dancer, the Silver Wyandotte rooster.
Behind him is the feeder for oyster shell (calcium) that his harem self-feed from. Since he doesn’t make eggs, I assume he’s not interested so much!  (Chickens will self-dose if allowed.  They’re smart.)

Note, this is for adult (or nearly adult) chickens, not baby chicks.  Baby chicks can’t handle the size of the pumpkin seeds or the mealworms easily.  They should just get their crumble for now.  (Although you could pulse the dry goods in a food processor to small crumble size, and just serve it that way, without the fat.)

Prep time:  However long it takes to render the fat + about 30 minutes for the fat to solidify.
Cook Time:  See rendering of fat.
Rest Time:  Cool on countertop, then in fridge for at least a further hour.  
Serves:  A LOT of bird meals.   
Cuisine:  Poultry & Wild Bird Treats.
Leftovers:  Yeppers, store in fridge. Or, freezer.

Chicken and Bird Feeder Lard Cakes

  • 1 – 1.5 lb pork fat.  (You can use tallow, suet, lamb fat, or coconut oil, too.  Anything that hardens up at room temperature once rendered.)  All of the rest of the measurements are approximations.
  • 3/4 cup/160 mL unsalted pumpkin seeds.  You can used roasted or not, just NO SALT! 
  • 1/2 cup millet seed.  I obtained this as wild bird feed at my Mom and Pop farm store.
  • About 1/4 cup/60 mL dried mealworms (obtainable at any farm supply store. Or on Amazon).  
  • About 1/4 cup/60 mL Hentastic Chicken Treats or other supplemental chicken treats.  This particular one was pellets of fat, mealworm, and oregano.
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano.  

Render your fat the way I discussed regarding leaf lard in an earlier recipe.  (I reserved a very small amount for other purposes, ie as a respondent in the leaf lard recipe suggested:  to drizzle over mashed potatoes.)

Pour about a cup (240 mL) of the rendered pork fat in a suitable bowl, allow to cool a little, then add the rest of the ingredients.  You don’t need to “cook” those ingredients but a bit warm is fine.  You can see the liquid becoming more white (less liquid) at this point.

Alternatively, if you plan to hang your eventually-solidified feed so that your poultry (or wild birds) can eat it, in one of those cages… buy ONE pre-made suet feed block, and buy one or two of those “cages” that will hold the feed blocks.  Hang one up for your wild birds, and use the commercial block — I hung mine outside my dining window, for what ended up being squirrels… well, it was supposed to be the wild birds… to feast upon, and for me to view as they enjoyed.  (Discouraging squirrels will be a separate topic down the road, but at least the red squirrels are less common and thus more welcome…)

Okay, the point of this exercise is to obtain the plastic “mold” that once held the commercial suet food, in order to fit your poultry snack into the wire hanging cage.  In such a case, you’ll want to be sure that the fat you are transferring to it is even more cool, as I doubt they make these things bisphenol A-free.  Very white but still mush-able.

As the fat solidifies, gently mix the ingredients (the might mealworms float, the pumpkin seeds tend to sink).  The fat will gradually become opaque, and your mixing will be more effective.  Again, you can use just about any dry ingredient to hand that’s suitable to feed chickens.

When reasonably mixed, place in the fridge for ten minutes…

Remove from the fridge, and optionally gently pat down more seeds of whatever nature into the top of the cake – I simply felt like my birds needed more protein than the cake already had.  Return to fridge until needed.  Otherwise, just leave it in the fridge if everything seems appropriately mixed.

When feeding, assume approximately a teaspoon per bird.  If you have just a few chickens, one small bowl will do, but if you have more (I have 12), plan on 3 or four feeding stations so they don’t have the Hog Chicken take it all.  Or hang that thing as described the making of, a few paragraphs up.

(10 chickens:  10 teaspoons, 50 mL, or 0.2 cups.)

Do NOT feed this daily!  These are nutritious treats but a little will go a long way.  Once a week is fine.  Store in fridge; this will last a month or two.

For wild birds, you could set out bird feeders, they’ll self-indulge and move from yard to yard.  Don’t set up feeders until after the bears hibernate (if you live in bear country, as I do).  The chicken set up I have placed in their enclosed run, although the back fat I am using will be a bit too liquid-ish or soft for hanging up in the heat of summer.  (In such a case, in warmer weather, I plan to set out small bowls for them to eat from.)

In order to use the commercial form:  I remove a bowl where the lard and all has set up, then lightly warmed the bowl (heat up a pan of water to a low simmer, making sure that the water doesn’t flood the contents of the bowl when you set the bowl IN that water.  Remove from cooktop, and wait until everything barely mushes up, then re-form in the plastic that the commercial food came from.  

Freeze.  Once frozen, the treat should come out of the plastic form easily, using a table knife, and you can re-use the form for the net round of treats.

chicken, poultry, wild bird, treats, lard, mealworms, millet, pumpkin seeds, homesteading, recipe

Treats with goodies!

I did some research, lamb fat will melt at a higher temperature than pork lard.  I’ve just rendered lamb fat from a local farm, and since winter is nearly here, I am going to freeze and reserve most of this for early spring when (presumably) temperatures will be warmer outdoors in the chicken run.  While future feedings of my wild birds (ahem, squirrels) will be using my homemade material), most will be reserved for my poultry.

Hope this helps!

And meanwhile, take a gander (ahem) over to Fiesta Friday, where this week’s co-hosts are:   Alex @ Turks Who Eat and Zeba @ Food For The Soul.   Loads of fun and all, but alas probably most with food for the humans in your life.

Or, explore a variety of homesteading ideas over at the Homestead Blog Hop.



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Pumpkin/Butternut Squash Soup, Thai Variant

Stop PRESS!  My laying hens finally delivered two gorgeous brown eggs this past Tuesday!  And, later that day, a third one!  I don’t know who laid what, but hey… laid.  Do follow up on my homesteading journal at Homestead Journal 2018.  It’s on the tab above somewhere, too.   

pumpkin, butternut squash, soup, coconut milk, pot luck, recipe, Thai

Pumpkin Butternut Squash Soup

The neighbor across the street (Ray) gifted me with a pumpkin he’d grown in his yard.  I decided I wanted to cook with it, and I recalled a good friend of mine (Scott) had made a savory pumpkin soup from what was probably mostly butternut squash.  So… let’s mix it up!  I pried the recipe from his hands (not all that hard, actually), and had at it!  It would be a great dish to bring as a side to a local pot luck, especially since the majority of other sides seemed to be starch/sugar/starch/starch…  Yes, squash has starch, but it’s healthy lovely starch!

pumpkin, butternut squash, soup, coconut milk, pot luck, recipe, Thai

Love a Pumpkin!

Woke up this morning at 6:30 AM to the outdoor thermometer reading 2 degrees Fahrenheit.  Yep, brutally cold, and it remained at that temperature (along with some wind) until close to 9 AM, when the temps tried to rise.  They struggled mightily,  and with much complaint.  I think they got to about 13 F early afternoon today when they gave up the ghost and went downwards.

I brought my poor chickens warm water on and off, since they really don’t like drinking solid phase H2O.  Conserving all their body heat… they didn’t provide any eggs today.  I don’t blame them.

Happy Thanksgiving!  Yes, I am posting this the day after US Thanksgiving, but in time for those who do additional celebrating on Saturday… or, hey… save for 2019!  Or, it’s a hot soup… anytime you have winter squash or pumpkins to hand to break the chill!

pumpkin, butternut squash, soup, coconut milk, pot luck, recipe, Thai

Yep, it’s a monotone photo. This happens with purees!

For the below, you can buy pre-pureed pumpkin and/or squash, but I didn’t.  Yes, it took longer.  But my kitchen still smells wonderful…?

Prep Time: 20 minutes to simmer raw squash/pumpkin + another 10 to strain + another 10 to pulverize with immersion blender or any gadget you use to pulse and shred. Oh, if you have to chop up and peel the squashes, add that time in, too.
Cook Time: 30 minutes or so. You can add in onion sauteeing with the squash simmering time.  
Rest Time: None necessary.
Serves:  Potluck.  A fair number, figure 12-20.
Cuisine: American/Thai.
Leftovers: Sure.  Refrigerate and re-heat. 

Pumpkin/Butternut Squash Soup, Thai Variant

  • 2 teaspoon cooking oil – I used high temp avocado oil.  (Chosen is the best brand.)
  • 4 large shallots (12.5 ounces / 350 grams), peeled and diced.  (Onion in a pinch.)
  • 3.5 teaspoon mild curry
  • 1 teaspoon cumin powder
  • ¼ teaspoon red pepper – optionally more, depending on taste.  
  • 3 garlic cloves, chopped
  • 2 tablespoons chopped lemon grass, or 2 tablespoons lemon grass paste.  Go with the former, if you can.
  • 8 cups / 1.89 liters cooked pumpkin or butternut squash  (I used about half each)
  • 4 cups / 0.95 liter boxed low sodium chicken broth (or homemade) 
  • 1 can unsweetened coconut milk (13.5 ounces/400 mL).  You can add in half of a second can; I forgot I only had one!  
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • Optional:  Chopped cilantro for garnish
  • Optional:  A teaspoon or two of plain yogurt or sour cream, per bowl, for garnish.

Cook the pumpkin and/or squash.  Basically, if you don’t use puree, chop up your squashes (pumpkin IS a squash) to about 1 inch squares more or less,  and remove the peel.  Don’t use the fibrous and seed-filled innards of your squash, either — Save seeds and some of the fibrous parts for other purposes.

But back to our recipe…

Put the squash into a large pot (or two) and cover with water.

Bring to a boil, and then reduce to a heavy simmer/bare boil, and cook this way for 15-20 minutes, or until the squash mushes when you press a utensil against it.

Squish the pulp through a draining sieve, keeping the mashed pulp, discarding liquid.

Measure how much pulp you have and drop it into a large cooking pot.  You’ll want to use half the volume of this in broth.

Okay, back when the squash is getting squishy… ahem, as it were, you can sautee the shallots in the oil in a skillet, until translucent and beginning to brown slightly around the edges.  Toss in the garlic at this point.

Remove to that cooking pot.

Add the spices and seasonings to the cooking pot, along with one cup of the broth.

Using your immersion blender, puree all of the above.

Add everything else (except the optional garnishes), bring to a low boil, reduce and cover.  You will need to stir frequently.    Cook for about half an hour. Drop down to a simmer if you need to keep it hot longer.  Taste and adjust seasonings as desired.  

I ended up transferring this all to a crock pot to bring to the Thanksgiving pot luck celebration, as I wanted to keep the soup warm during the course of the event.   And believe me, it was bitter cold outdoors on the way over!!!

Set it up so those who are lactose intolerant or Paleo can opt out of the yogurt/sour cream!  (Letting individuals add, or not, the garnishes as they will is a good idea.)

pumpkin, butternut squash, soup, coconut milk, pot luck, recipe, Thai

Stay Warm!

Here’s hoping that everyone had a happy and wonderful Thanksgiving (if you are in the US), remembering all the things we may have that we should be thankful for.  Health, good family, great friends.  It’s a time to focus on the positives that have happened, even though as we all know, in life negatives will always fall.  May your harvests be abundant!

Oh, and yes:  I’m continuing Thanksgiving  this weekend, and feasting over at Fiesta Friday.  The co-hosts this week are: Mollie @ Frugal Hausfrau and Monika @ Everyday Healthy Recipes.   And I’m adventuring around at the Homestead Blog Hop, gaining all manners of nifty food and non-food ideas.  And of course, What’s For Dinner, Sunday Link-Up.






Posted in Asian & Asian Influenced, Cooking, Soups & Stews | Tagged , , , , , , , | 7 Comments

Veggie Breakfast or Brunch Scramble

My goal is to have veggies at every meal; I’m not quite there yet, and I’m not counting the high glycemic index ones such as white potatoes (PS, keeping the skin on does NOT make them healthier, especially with Russets)  in this endeavor…  Breakfasts can be the hardest to follow through on this.

But, before we begin:  I’ve redone the homesteading tab, and there is now a Homestead Journal 2018 tab which is as it indicates, journaling events here on this homestead.  Do take a gander through!  

recipe, breakfast, brunch, eggs, bok choy, mushroom

The completed breakfast/brunch.

So, today it’s a veggie breakfast scramble.  It’s very simple, not time consuming, and adaptable to what you like or may have in the kitchen.

You can use any set of veggies you like to cook with, and that you think would go well with eggs.  I used baby bok choy, Chinese broccoli, and onion.  Oh, and mushrooms…

recipe, breakfast, brunch, bok choy, mushroom, egg, veggies, vegetable

Yes, get going!

This is a good solid breakfast for one if you don’t plan to have lunch for many hours in the future.  Or, serve for two, and have something along side.  It may be most appropriate to make it a brunch!

recipe, breakfast, brunch, bok choy, mushroom, egg, veggies, vegetable

Toss in the beaten egg, let it set briefly, then fold into the veggies.

recipe, breakfast, brunch, bok choy, mushroom, egg, veggies, vegetable

Mix with spatula until just about done (before adding any optional cheese).

Prep Time: 10 minutes to slice and dice.
Cook Time: Depends on the veggies, but aim for 15 min. 
Rest Time: None
Serves:  1 or 2, depending on sides or not.
Cuisine:  Western Breakfast
Leftovers:  Not really; I find leftover scrambled eggs to develop a poor texture.

Veggie Breakfast or Brunch Scramble

  • 3/4 – 1 cup of veggies, make it a mix.  Focus on leafy greens – Swiss chard, bok choy, kale, Chinese broccoli, broccoli rabe, beet greens, spinach, cabbage… Slice into bite sized pieces, and any thick stems, slice into 1/8 inch rounds.
  • 1-2 ounces of yellow or white onion, sliced and chunked.
  • 1-2 ounces of mushroom, any variety.  Mine was oyster.  Slice.
  • 2 teaspoons cooking oil (I used the high heat variant of avocado oil).
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground pepper.
  • 1/2 teaspoon Italian seasonings.
  • Salt to taste.
  • 2 whole eggs.
  • OPTIONAL:  1 ounce good melting cheese (I used Havarti).  Sliced.

Prep everything, and in a good skillet heat the oil until a drop of water sizzles.

Add the mushrooms, saute until they soften.  Add the other vegetables and onions — depending on the veggies you add, you may have to stagger their entry into the skillet, so they retain optimal crispness.  There’s also the option of taking more time and sauteeing the onions before adding anything else, but for this morning, I had a lot of other things planned.  Play it by ear!  (Or taste!)

Add the seasonings, mix around until the veggies get just about to where you want them.

Meanwhile, scramble the eggs.  When the veggies are ready for them, pour the eggs in , allow to sit for a minute or two.  Then, slowly meld them into the veggies, stirring until you get them to your preferred layer of done-ness (I like mine cooked through but still moist, not dry).  Then add the cheese, folding the veggie/egg scramble over, until the cheese just melts, but isn’t melded into the rest of the food — this is so you’ll get a couple or so blasts of melty cheese taste as you dine.

Serve.  Enjoy.  For more folks, of course, double (or adjust) everything and use a larger skillet if needed.

I had this by itself (no food sides).  But of course, a good mug of coffee or cup of tea would not be amiss!

Addendum… especially today!  We are expecting 4 more hours of white fluffy stuff!!!:

nov 16 snowstorm

November 16th, I’m not planning on enjoying the deck today.

recipe, breakfast, brunch, bok choy, mushroom, egg, veggies, vegetable

This recipe is warming up over at Fiesta Friday, with a whole bundle of Fiesta partiers hosting it: Jenny @ Apply To Face Blog., Jess @ Cooking Is My Sport, Jhuls @ The Not So Creative Cook and Judi @  SO, go over and shake off the snow, and get warm and toasty!!!

Another place to warm up at is What’s For Dinner, Sunday Link Up.  Go sample some eats there as well!

And, there’s Homestead Blog Hop, which although these weren’t my  own home grown eggs (the dish was made last week), yesterday I obtained THREE for the first time from my laying hens!






Posted in Breakfast, Cooking, Vegetarian | Tagged , , , , , , | 7 Comments