Lamb Tongues with Turnip Greens

Contains:  Offal.  Is:  Paleo, Whole30, potentially nightshade-free.  

Feel free to skip over my Offal Discussion.  I’ve sometimes repeated parts of it, frankly.  Honest, the recipe is down there!  If you are not interested in lamb tongue, it is unlikely you’d be reading today’s post anyways…  Seriously, it may not look like it, but this does taste wonderful!

recipe, paleo, whole30, lamb, tongue, offal, turnip greens

A serving of three lamb tongues above a bed of steamed turnip greens.

Sometimes one can luck into good bits of farm-raised offal (no, it is not at all “awful”!) and I thank both my parents for instilling the sense of trying everything at least once (if not twice) when I was a kid.  Seriously, I was not adventurous from about the age of two to five, but after that – which coincided with my landing my first hand-caught lake perch – I wanted to try just about everything.  Didn’t mean I ended up liking everything (hello, cottage cheese salads, dates, and hazelnuts…  goodbye!) but I did and do give everything the good ole “college try”.  I even find that well-cooked carrots can be at least acceptable…  especially where they belong, as in a good mirepoix.  (Okay, there are some faux-foods I have no desire ever to try, but that’s a different tale.)  At any rate, at age 11 or 12, very willingly I even tried rattlesnake.  I don’t recall the taste, other than that we all agreed it tasted kinda like chicken, but not really like chicken.  (I’d eat it again.)

I’ve discussed offal before.  A lot of our food prejudices develop from what we’ve been exposed to.  A frequent staple at the dinner table was beef tongue.  (Which doesn’t explain my dislike of cold cottage cheese in salads, I know.  Mother loved that!)  I acknowledge I have some of my own quibbles on certain food types, but I’m happy that offal isn’t one of them.  For one, there’s a lot of nutritional value in many items deemed offal, and for another, a lot of it really does taste good.

recipe, paleo, whole30, lamb, tongue, offal, turnip greens

Cooked and peeled tongue with horseradish, still-life.

Mom used to save up old dill pickle jars after we ate the pickles, with all the juices still in the jars.  My parents (both of them were cooks) would find smoked or un-smoked beef tongue, and simmer the tongue for hours in the pickle juice along with pickling spices, and any supplemental water as needed.  They’d peel off the tongue skin when the tongue was ready, then slice and serve along with whatever veggies (potatoes, spinach, cabbage, whatever???) was handy as an aside. We’d eat, with mustard or horseradish.  Leftovers would transform into sandwiches.  Always seemed totally normal to me!

They never got hold of lambs’ tongues, but I’m sure the process would have been similar –  no need to cook the lambs’ tongues as long, however.  Being smaller, they are much more tender.

recipe, paleo, whole30, lamb, tongue, offal, turnip greens

Either horseradish or a good Dijon mustard works great with this dish. You can also find horseradish/mustard mixtures, which will work just as fine.

So.  I decided to adapt that idea to these lambs’ tongues, sourced from  free-range sheep.  I had turnip greens… and an idea was hatched.  Or born.  Or, whatever.

(Yes, it is sometimes hard to source turnip greens, although if you have a farmers’ market or a food source that provides locally raised veggies, you may have this happen more easily.  If not… so many of those other and various cooking greens can be substituted in the place of turnip greens!)

Prep Time:  10 minutes.
Cook Time:  2 hours + maybe 10 minutes more.
Rest Time:  Enough to remove the skin, maybe 5 minutes.
Serves:  2.
Cuisine:  Nose to tail.
Leftovers:  Yes.  Refrig, re-heat.

Lamb Tongues with Turnip Greens

  • Around 1 pound  / 450 grams to  1.25 pounds 570 grams of lamb tongues.  (My package contained 6 tongues, but the number will vary depending on the size of the lambs involved.  The weight of mine was somewhere between the two numbers.)
  • 1 cup dill pickle juice (save from any dill pickles you eat along the way).
  • 2 tablespoons “corned beef spices”.  (See note below to punt if you don’t have such a mix.)
  • 1 bunch of turnip greens.  (Alternatively,  beet greens, Swiss chard or kale – pick a variety of the latter that isn’t bitter, as some kale can be.   Fresh spinach can be used in a pinch.)
  • Ghee (or butter).
  • Prepared horseradish, or a good Dijon or brown mustard, to taste.

Place the thawed lambs’ tongues in a sauce pot to which you will also add the dill pickle juice, and around two cups of water – more if the tongues aren’t covered.  Add  the corned beef spices.  Bring to a boil, cover, reduce to a simmer, and allow to simmer for 2 hours (check to see if you need to add more water).

Turn the saucepan off.  Remove the tongues from the broth, and gently peel off the tongue skin with your fingers, once the tongues are cool enough to handle.   Discard the skins.  Return the tongues to the broth, to keep them warm, and set aside.

Steam your (turnip or other) greens.  I find that setting up the steamer to get to steaming temperature (with that water below), and then adding the greens, to steam for about 5 minutes, will usually yield the best results.  If you are indeed using spinach, 3 minutes appears to be a good maximum.

Remove your steamed greens to a serving bowl (or divvy this into halves and put in the bowls you’ll be eating from).  Spritz with a tablespoon of the vinegar, and add the ghee or butter, and mix so that the leaves incorporate this.  Adding a twist of fresh-ground pepper is not amiss here.

Pull the tongues out of the broth, and add them either to the serving dish, or add half of them to each individual bowl atop the greens.

Provide prepared horseradish and/or the mustard for diners to use as they see fit.

NOTE:  Making a “corned beef spice” seasoning recipe:
While I have yet to make my own from scratch at home, this recipe seems to cover all the bases:
If you have a nightshade sensitivity, leave out the red pepper flakes.

recipe, paleo, whole30, lamb, tongue, offal, turnip greens

This recipe is posted at Fiesta Friday, co-hosted this week with Liz @ Spades, Spatulas & Spoons.

This recipe also talks its way into the Full Plate Thursday link-up.  (See what I did there?)




Posted in Cooking, Meats, Offal | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

The 500th Post: Looking Back at Many Favorite Recipes

I’ve made 500 posts here (counting this one), through thick and through thin.  My diet went from general (but mostly whole foods), through mostly Paleo / Weston-Price, through needing MORE fiber in my life (more legumes and grains/pseudograins), to retirement and moving north, adding in homesteading posts, to what I’ll call a Paleo-Influenced food plan.  And suddenly less healthy, higher glycemic carbs, which are influencing my bathroom scale, often due to racing back and forth to the old home to get it sold.  Even so, along the way, I’ve happily avoided margarine, TVP, “vegetable” oil. and standard deli meats  (okay, pepperoni ends up on pizza occasionally…).  And I do have to admit there isn’t a single faux sweetener out there that remotely tastes interesting enough (and usually without an accompanying annoyingly lingering aftertaste) that I will ever consider cooking with it.  I ditched that particular type of stuff long before I learned to care about what was in my food.

Hopping around my recipes reminds me there are a few gems in there I haven’t made for awhile – and need to make again, soon.

PS, today is also my birthday – 66 years orbiting around our good ole Sun.


Uttapam Pancakes

Other than the specific tree-nut sensitivity that cropped up along these years, I haven’t entirely eliminated ANY food group.  (It turns out I can do coconut and almond.)  The best idea is to MODERATE some food groups, mostly the more detrimental ones.  Although I’ve yet to see a good point for me to choose to cook with margarine, TVP, “vegetable” oil or standard deli meats – they’re all modern inventions and none of them actually comprise a true “food group” anyway.  I’ve seen no reason to add them into my ongoing meals.)

Looking back over all 500 recipes (oh, which include a few homesteading things), I’m going to link here back to my favorites in several categories.  I’ll put anywhere from one to three recipes in each category.  These recipes are NOT in order – it’s mood-dependent!  Some might overlap.  (Categories, are, however, alphabetized.)

recipe, arrachera, tex-mex


Breakfast or Brunch:  Despite my standbys being omelets, over-easy, and simpler recipes, here are some more involved ones.

  • South Indian Uttapam Pancakes.  I cannot eat this vegetarian dish often enough.  Time constraints do end up limiting it, as this is NOT a quick dish.  Features broken rice, urad dal, and seasonings such as fenugreek and curry leaf.  Additions include tomato and onion, and I do dot it with ghee or butter, but if you omit that, it’s vegan friendly.  Everyone I have served it to, loved it.  Wanted seconds, if available.
  • The Shad Roe Breakfast.  I do something similar once most every year.  Missed it this one.  Apparently it is easier to come across shad roe in Connecticut than up here.
  • Full Sized Crustless Quiche.  Two varieties, one vegetarian and one not.  I also have a recipe post for about three different small mini-crustless quiches – turns out you need a different ratio of the main components.  Seriously, I prefer quiche without the crust.  It’s not only about lessening the amount of carbs here.  It’s TASTE.  I have found quiches really don’t need crustiness.
recipe, pear, cake

Assembling the pear up-side-down cake.

Desserts, Sweets, or Baked Goods:

  • Pear Upside Down Cake with Buttermilk.  Turned out surprisingly well, for me not being a sweet tooth and all.  Vegetarian.  Not gluten-free.
  • Gluten-Free Flourless Chocolate Cake.  I do admit a liking for chocolate.  So.  Here we are.  Made it a couple times when company was impending; and not too sweet, but not so non-sweet as to turn guests off on it.  It is very rich, a little does go a long way.  It’s been a success, and the gluten-free attendees have been happy.
  • Gluten-Free Muffins with Almond Meal, Squash and Blueberries..  They also contain pine nuts which I can no longer eat.  I made them for a bake sale at work a bundle of years ago.  They did move off the table.  Not too sweet, but they apparently hit the spot.


  • Moroccan Boneless Goat Leg Roast.  A lovely meal with something I’d forgotten was in the freezer!
  • Ground Goat Patties, and Stuffed Peppers.  Stuffing bell peppers with ground goat and various veggies was great enough I did it several times.  Right now I’m looking for goat meat to continue on this path.  (I skip rice entirely whenever I stuff things.)
  • Khatta Meat.  This is a Northern Indian curry which uses either goat meat, or mutton (older sheep).  I did find goat meat to use in this.  The goat supplier no longer exists.

Grain-Based:  NOT, of course, entirely made such and such just a grain-inclusive, but where the grain seriously carries the dish.  Certainly not Whole30 or Paleo, but I do these under consideration.  My personal body does require some grains…  Again I’m with not cutting out entire real-food groups – other than allergies/sensitivities!  (Balance them…)

Greek:  A new for me cuisine I’m hoping to expand on in my own kitchen, ASAP!


recipe, onigirazu, japanese, rice

Japanese Onigirazu, three styles



  • Japchae.  I’m having a hard time in this category; I love just about everything Korean that I’ve made.  But we will persevere and limit ourselves to three.  No particular order – that would be a call beyond duty!  This one I use yam noodles for the starch.
  • Kimbap/Gimbap.  Korean seafood (or pork, or veggie) rolls.  Similar to sushi rolls, but they’re their own thing.
  • Pyogo Jeon – Korean Stuffed Mushrooms.  I might have put Bulgogi here, or BBQ Korean beef, but since I’m limiting myself to three choices, I went a bit off the beaten path.  Those mushrooms are unique and tastefully awesome. Do try.  Omnivore or vegetarian or vegan options are possible with this dish.


Philly, Philadelphia, cheesesteak, lettuce, provolone, onion

The Un-Philly! Strip steak, provolone, onion, Romaine.

Make-Overs:  The first two definitely reflect that I do NOT like buns or thick bready things to wrap up and minimize what I consider to be tasty food.  That they are also gluten-free is a positive to some of my readership (AND friends).

  • The “Un-Philly” Sandwich.  Yep, no bun, but a lettuce wrap.
  • The “Un-Popeye” Chicken Sandwich.  Also a lettuce wrap, and boneless-skinless chicken THIGH.
  • Make-Over Catalina Salad Dressing.  They changed the recipe back in the 80’s to add in more sweetness, mostly in the form of high fructose corn syrup.  Our family could not tolerate the taste change, and this really did affect our use of this condiment.  So I was glad to come up an adaptation. This recipe has been used as an artichoke leaf dipping sauce. It also goes well on some salads, especially a nice avocado grapefruit salad.

Mains with Gluten:  For a long while, just about everything I posted here was Paleo (gluten-free, legume-free, and added sugar-free).   Below are some that actually do work best with wheat.  I still make most of my meals at home Paleo.  Seriously, I feel better that way.  I do wonder for some of us who are NOT celiac – if there are other ingredients in supermarket breads that a good bakery won’t use.  Which is why I respond health-wise to a GOOD bakery food, in a way I can’t with a general supermarket bread-based product.

  • Beef Kidney Recipes (aka Got Kidneys?).  This links to several recipes, but I’m ONLY pointing to the English Beef and Kidney Pie in this collection.  Puff pastry!
  • Skillet Mac and Cheese with Veggies.  I’m not a fan of regular mac and cheese.  I like this because adding some veggies is integral to this (it’s not just wallpaper paste), and there’s no heavy crusty stuff on top. Ups the tasty sort of cheese factor, too.  I think the skillet cooking method helps as well.

Offal:  (I’m picking one from different organs)


500-pork meatloaf

Whole30, gluten-free, pork based meatloaf.

Paleo/Whole30 (NO Gluten, NO Grains, NO Legumes):  For this, I picked things typically made with grains.  And made them better, without.

  • Spinach, Turnip Greens, and Ground Meat Mini-Muffins.  I make these before road trips and eat them cold.  The full sized muffins:  I found 1 of them to be too few but 2 to be too many.  The mini size helps one adjust eating amounts to optimal on these road trips!  An adaptation from Melissa Joulwan’s full-size recipe.  Freaking awesome.  PS, the turnip greens are optional, just add in a full bolus of spinach instead.  You can even drop the meat altogether, replacing it with more spinach, for a great vegetarian Whole30 muffin.
  • Grain-Free Pork Meatloaf: Cauliflower, Apple, Fennel.  One day I figured out that the reason I didn’t like meatloaf was due to the breading tossed in there.  The Paleo movement encouraged me to create meatloaves that I LIKE!  Since you (or at least I) don’t want the loaf to be ALL meat, I started to learn creative substitutions for the silly breadcrumbs.  Healthier, IMHO, too.
  • Grain-Free Ground Beef Meatloaf:  Sweet Potato.  My first go-round with meatloaf, necessitated by getting tired of the patties and sauces made from my ground beef meat share, and wanting to stretch my wings.  See above.


Poultry: (I’m picking one from each species currently at hand)



recipe, black eyed peas, collards

Soup & Stews:

Sous Vide:

Spice Mix:


recipe, veggie burger

Vegetarian burgers on lettuce. Black beans, lettuce

Vegetarian (but non-vegan, as with either dairy or egg):


Fave Cookbooks:  This is hard to decide.  For this reason, I am listing FIVE.  And, in no particular order.

  • Madhur Jaffrey’s World Vegetarian.  If one wants to cook and eat vegetarian or vegan (full-time or part-time), this is a great book to have on your shelf. Seriously, the best vegetarian foods are from cultures with a long-standing history of eating this way.  That’s indeed what Jaffrey focuses on.  Downsides:  Don’t expect a lot of photos, and it is a hard book to poise open on the counter while you are cooking (it is LONG)!  BUT, don’t let that deter you!
  • Deborah Abraham-Klein.  Silk Road Vegetarian.  I like this book even better than Jaffrey’s, but my eyes are getting old which means the text appears to be shrinking… Less recipes, but all seem very well thought out.
  • Cook’s Illustrated: The Science of Good Cooking.  Here you get some tried and truly tested cooking techniques, along with recipes to, ahem, illustrate the principles.  Yes, I know, they don’t really have expertise in foreign cuisine, and when they go “health” they prefer low fat to low carb – but when they study techniques, they study techniques.  Do get this book.  Downside:  Not a lot of photos, but hey, we’re here to cook, right?
  • Russ Crandall.   Paleo Takeout:  Restaurant Favorites Without All the Junk Again we happily skip around the world, in this case pursuing the upgrade of food to a Paleo style of eating, subbing in healthy alternatives to some of the less-nutritious items out there.
  • Karen Page and Andrew Dornenburg.   The Flavor Bible:  The Essential Guide to Culinary Creativity, Based on the Wisdom of America’s Most Imaginative Chefs.  The subtitle does indicate that this is NOT a true cookbook, but a guide for your own kitchen creations.  Basically, what flavors and ingredients go with which other flavors and ingredients, with reference to cultural food norms.

Fave YouTube Cooking Channels:  Again, this will be five.  Alphabetical order.  I am picking ones that seem individual-oriented, rather than promoted from a large “company” per se, although I don’t know if this applies to the last on this list.  I have ignored a couple of quality ones where the narrator is (to me) annoying.  Sorry, Chef John – you didn’t start out with that horrible vocal inflection problem, so I consider it a terrible affectation that prevents me from watching your videos.  Learning from videos should not be painful!

  • Binging with Babish.  I’m not really interested in his TV/movie/cartoon food recreations (in part because those can be over the top in a bad way, and also because I really am highly TV/movie/cartoon illiterate!) but to give him credit, if he does a re-creation, he at least in recent videos makes an effort at following up with a tasty and edible substitution.  Plus, his voiceover tone is mesmerizing, he has a sense of dry humor, and he doesn’t cover up mistakes.  And he’s a decent dude, working to give back to people less fortunate along the way.  He has a sub-topic on his channel called “Basics with Babish” which I especially enjoy, since he’s not bothering with those re-creations in those videos.  “Babish” (Andrew Rea) has two cookbooks out, but since they focus on the TV/movie recreations, I am not bothering to purchase.
  • Chinese Cooking Demystified.  Off somewhere in the hinterlands? of China, are a couple who are uploading awesome cooking recipes, probably through some arcane VPN, to us in the western world.  Authentic, with ideas to adapt to those of us in the West. The couple will talk about the derivations of their recipes, which I fully appreciate.
  • Maangchi.  I’m simply mystified that there are so MANY Korean recipes out there!  Oh, a couple do feel like thrown in to fill the bill, but most don’t fall into that category.  She likes her food hotter than my gut can currently stand, but that’s easily adaptable, and she’s engaging and specific in presenting her myriad of Korean recipes.  I am now the proud owner of her two cookbooks.  I’ve cooked from the former, but the second has simply just arrived about a month ago, and there’s been too much going on here to follow up… yet.
  •  Townsends.  Living the colonial experience, most of the content is cooking colonially (with some German and English recipes included) from the 18th century.   They’ve recently branched from food.
  • The Victorian Way This is actually a subcategory of the English Heritage channel, but The Victorian Way search name will get you more recipes and information about TRULY retro foods… Gets me into my student of history mode.

Homesteading, patio furniture,lawn furniture, wrought iron, refinishing, refurbishing

Armrest of a refurbished wrought iron chair, detail.

Homesteading-Specific:  (Five)

Remarkable Dining Out Experiences (that I’ve written up):

  • Dead Eye Dick’s, Block Island, Rhode Island.  I did post several eateries under the same blog header, but this one was an outstanding place on various levels of dining.  Scroll about half way down, or so.  It is also far enough from the harbor where the ferries arrive, that at least when I was there, the prices were quite reasonable.  Focus is New England seafood. They had an awesome Rhode Island clam chowder, as well as other seafood specialties.
  •  Kung Fu Xiao Long Bao, Flushing, Queens, NYC, New York.  It’s the soup dumplings, and it’s the mapu tofu.  I could lie down and die there, as long as their food keeps coming!  So far out of my current driving distance, but I WANNA GO BACK!
  • Alo Saigon, Westfield, MA.  A nearby Vietnamese eatery that is both inexpensive and wonderful.  Crepe, pho, and several other dishes…  Has expanded my horizons greatly!

Mission Statement:  To create whole and real food that is also tasty, from a variety of cultural and personal inspirations – and share, everywhere.  To encourage myself to do more DIY projects, homesteading activities, and fun stuff such as that.

Goals for Immediate Future (blog-wise):  January will be Whole30 recipes.  February will be Greek recipes (although I may toss in a Cajun one for Mardi Gras if it works to my satisfaction).  There won’t be a month-specific thing going on for awhile after those.  Themes can be fun, but they can also get in the way.

At any rate, I have a pre-set recipe for lamb tongue coming next Friday, and I am hoping for a dessert or sweet the Friday after that, and with luck, two seafood entries for the following Friday upon that.  I’m hoping the New Years posts can reflect Hogmanay, the Scottish welcoming-in-of the New, this year.   We shall see.

Homesteading/Farming:  Making maple syrup in February (more likely March).  Planting herbs, potatoes, tomatoes, cukes, winter squash, Asian and other greens, kale, collards, chard.   Getting the fruit tree orchards underway far more than they are now.  Starting quail.  Getting the solar activated.  Getting a fishing licence and going fishing.   Continuing chicken work.  Putting in the wood stove in the living room.  Getting the rest of the deck stained and preserved.  Motivating the chestnuts.  Working on developing a like-minded community of mutually-supportive people around here. I also need to MOVE, er, exercise more, and focus on overall health.

Creativity:  Pursue the arts, and pursue writing.  Learn woodworking.  Return to stained glass endeavors.  Learn to water color and/or do acrylics.  Maybe oils, if I keep watching Bob Ross on YouTube.  Get OUT more, see friends, museums, wilderness.  Hug chickens.  Hug cats.

This post is being shared with Fiesta Friday (Co-host this week is Liz @ Spades, Spatulas & Spoons.)  It’s also shared with Full Plate Thursday.


Posted in Commentary, Cooking | Tagged , | 6 Comments

Cock-a-Leekie Soup

Contains:   Gluten, grains.  Is:  In this case, a soup with home-grown poultry.

cock-a-leekie, soup, stew, chicken, cockerel, leeks, barley, Scotland

Cock-a-leekie soup, a warming Scottish meal.  Yes, I still prefer to eat all soups with Chinese spoons!  Very efficient.

This one is for the Scottish feast of St. Andrew, which occurs November 30th, a Saturday this year.  It’s Scotland’s national holiday, according to Wikipedia, which provides the Scots (language) name:  Saunt Andra’s Day , and the Scottish Gaelic name:  Là Naomh Anndrais.  Consider it akin to St. Patrick’s Day being for Ireland, although celebrating this one is much more of a recent thing.  (Burns Day gets more press and celebratory moments – but I didn’t want to wait until then to make something Scottish…)  This is also a suitable dish for the Scottish New Year – Hogmanay.  And yes, for Robert Burns Day, when that comes back around next year.

Scotland, hogmanay, St Andrews, St Giles, Edinburgh

The stained glass at St. Giles Cathedral, Edinburgh, Scotland. Photo mine 1995.

Scotland was my favorite foreign country to visit – not that I’ve visited enough of them to be this definitive!  I love Scotland.  Been there four times.  As far as I know, I don’t have Scottish heritage (DNA analysis shows I do have some Celtic, but from where I don’t know).  And we really don’t know that much about the Pictish DNA background, anyway (yet).  I’m fascinated by the Picts, and seriously resonated with Pictish artifacts when I last visited Scotland.  I want to return!

I’ll post more about my affinity to Scotland at the end of the recipe. Makes it easier to skip should you lack interest in that aspect of this post!  I will note that right now I don’t have direct access to my 1995 photos, so the ones I’ll show here will be small (as befitted computer monitors as of 1995…)

Scotland, Eilean Donan

Scotland: Eilean Donan. Photo mine, 1995.

.:My recipe is an amalgamate of the following ideas:.


I’m figuring the original soup was based on cocks/cockerels like this one (from the name of the soup if nothing else), so he became a good surrogate for the soup.  If you don’t have a cockerel or rooster that HAS to go, try to find a free-ranged chicken somewhere – use either the whole bird or the thighs/legs.  Cooking will take less time than needed for a true cock of the age this one is.  (A full-fledged rooster is sometimes defined as a male chicken that is over a year in age – but  I think the distinctions can be hazy.  No, he did not have fully-developed spurs yet – simply nubs, or a crow… – which may also be a consideration in definitions.)

cock-a-leekie, soup, stew, chicken, cockerel, leeks, barley, Scotland

Cockerel carcass sitting in veggie broth and water. Note a few pin feathers. They’re fine.

Barley is traditional – rice didn’t really grow in Scotland.   At least, not well.  I went with barley, for that reason, as well as the fact that I don’t care for soggy or mushy rice.  You will notice that the leftover barley will expand overnight, turning this soup into more of a stew.  (Add more broth into your leftovers, or do as I did – eat it as a stew…)

Traditionally, the dish also has prunes.  I noticed prunes sitting in a jar at a local market, but refrained – simply because I had no clue what I’d ever do with the rest of them!  (I absolutely love plums, but the prune phase?  I hadn’t enjoyed them in days gone by, but I do think for a dish like this, they’d actually work.)

cock-a-leekie, soup, stew, chicken, cockerel, leeks, barley, Scotland

Celery and leeks added to the pot.

  1. Okay, I used a real farm-fresh cockerel (as noted, most likely you will have to adapt in terms of braising and temperatures.   I will leave such notes with the recipe.
  2. Many contemporary recipes use rice.  I went with barley, which the earlier Scots certainly grew.  They definitely didn’t know rice!
  3. The traditional recipes usually included prunes.  Ahem.  Not sure how fond of them I am – not with their connotations of being the best cure for constipation around – but, I certainly didn’t have to overload the dish with them.  Apparently, there’s not one “set in stone” recipe for cock-a-leekie – you need the cock/fowl, you need the leeks — but beyond that (although keeping a grain in there that would have been available in Scotland in history) it’s up to the cook.  So.  Okay.  A few prunes.  I ended up not using them since the only jar I could find of them in my local shop was going to provide me with a lifetime of the things… but I wish I could have!)
cock-a-leekie, soup, stew, chicken, cockerel, leeks, barley, Scotland

Barley is added. A little salt and pepper will be added now, too. Ready to cook!

Of course, yes, I am doing modern things.  My kitchen, for one, is modern, and I can adjust temperatures appropriately.  But I’m trying to go back to original ingredients for this one, as much as can rationally be possible.  (Some day I want to make authentic haggis, which I’ve enjoyed in Scotland at several locations under several preparations – but it’s illegal to sell lamb/sheep lung in the US.  I have to wait until I raise my own.  Then, I can do what I want.)

cock-a-leekie, soup, stew, chicken, cockerel, leeks, barley, Scotland

The dish has finished simmering, it is now up to me to remove the meat from the bones, return the meat to the pot long enough to make sure everything is hot, and taste for salt and pepper.

Prep Time: 15 minutes.
Cook Time: Around 2 hours (but look here).
Rest Time:  Not necessary.
Serves:  4.
Cuisine:  Scottish.
Leftovers:  YES.  May go from “soup” to “stew” overnight.

Cock-a-Leekie Soup

  • 1 cup low sodium veggie broth.  (Home made chicken broth is a great alternative.)
  • 2 cups water. 
  • 1 torso cockerel.  (Breast, back, drumsticks, thighs).  If you use supermarket chicken, broken up, simply cook less as indicated below.  Optionally, remove skin.  I did not.
  • 1 LARGE leek, roots and the dry top removed.  Slice horizontally, making sure to cleanse out any dirt that usually appears in these.  Or use two smaller leeks.
  • 2 ribs celery – slice once along the length, then chop into smaller portions.  
  • 1/3 cup barley.  
  • OPTIONAL:  about two-three chopped prunes.  Traditional!  
  • OPTIONAL:  1 chopped carrot.  Mainly for color.  Didn’t have (so I didn’t use.)  
  • Salt and ground pepper to taste.  Start with a little at first, add more if needed when finished.  

Put all of the above into a good cooking pot, bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer and cover.  Simmer for two hours (checking liquid).

If you are using a supermarket chicken, 1.5 hours will suffice.  If you are using a year old or so rooster or hen, you may want to go three hours.  This cockerel (about 4-5 months old) was good at 2 hours.

When cooked, you can cut the meat off the bones, returning the meat to the broth and serve as a true soup, or you can serve this as-is, depending on your whims.  I decided for the sake of the blog, to debone and return this.

Add pepper and salt, to taste, preferably at the end (as you don’t know how much liquid will evaporate off in advance).  Serve.

cock-a-leekie, soup, stew, chicken, cockerel, leeks, barley, Scotland

This soup is shared at:

Scotland was an awesome country.  I’d go back in a heartbeat.  I especially love the highlands and the islands – although I took a trip to the lowlands south of Glasgow, that was of lesser interest to me.  (But still a beautiful countryside.)  I do regret not getting to the Orkney Islands – they had day trips to the islands, via plane out of Glasgow, and you could even reserve a spot more or less on the moment.  Unfortunately, my “free” day was the day before I was to leave Scotland for Connecticut, and they said weather was iffy enough they could not guarantee me a flight back in time for me to go home the next morning.

I want to visit the Orkneys (Skara Brae, a early pre-historic site), and I want to see the Callendish Stones of the Isle of Lewis.  As noted, I discovered an affinity for the Picts while I was there – an early culture in Scotland that left behind some enigmatic carved stones.

My favorite stop was also on a “free” day, my only other free day – just a lark, actually.  Researching places to go was a bit more difficult back in the mid-90s than it is today.  I took a morning train up the lower coastline of Scotland from Glasgow to (what would have been an ultimate destination of) Aberdeen.  I realized that if I went all the way to Aberdeen, I wouldn’t have enough time there that day, so I picked two other towns to try – Dundee, and Arbroath.  I’d pick one or the other, both apparently have cultural things of interest.

The train stopped at Dundee.  I looked out the window, and cringed.  Too built-up for me.  There was likely great stuff to visit somewhere in there, but I shook my head.

Arbroath was next.  I got off at Arbroath, with a list of a few things to see.  (Mind you, first and foremost, this town’s name is NOT remotely pronounced (to American ears) as it is spelt.)

This was a magical day, despite the skies being overcast for the entire visit.  I visited the lighthouse, which was set up as a museum.  Did you know that back in an earlier day, the womenfolk carried their men out to their fishing boats on their backs, so that the men wouldn’t get their feet dangerously wet and chilled during their long days of fishing?

I had an early lunch of smokies, which is smoked haddock, a traditional dish of this town and region.  I went to the tourist information kiosk near the harbor, and asked where I could find a couple items of interest in town.

“Oh, there’s going to be a parade in an hour – right past the ruins of Arbroath Cathedral.  A parade celebrating the end of the War here, 50 years ago to this day.  You can’t miss this.”  (Or words to this effect.)

“Oh, you want to see St. Vigeans.  It’s just down this road, and turns onto that road, not far at all.”  (Or words to this effect.)

I went to the Cathedral first.  Normally I dislike parades, but how often do you see one celebrating 50 years after the end of the worst war of the 20th century?  The parade was moving.  The Cathedral ruins were also moving, and fascinating.  During the Reformation of King Henry VIII, a lot of Catholic properties and churches were razed and dismantled.  Over the centuries, stone has also been removed for other building projects.

Scotland, Arbroath, parade

Parade, 50 year celebration of the end of the European Front portion of WWII.  Arbroath, Scotland. Taken  from the grounds of the Cathedral.  Photo Mine, 1995.

Well, afterwards I went to take my short walk to St. Vigeans.  This is a small church located on the outskirts of Arbroath.

Short walk?  Riiiiightt!  Not really.  (I had told the woman at the kiosk I was on foot…)  At this point I already knew that I’d gotten fascinated by Picts, so I just kept walking.  And walking.  And walking.  Her directions were fine, just nothing was accurate about distance.  Finally I found the place.  The church itself is old, but is still totally functional – indeed there’d just been a wedding there, and a lone piper was piping the people out to wherever they were going to have a reception.

Scotland, Arbroath, St. Vigean's, Picts

St. Vigean’s, Arbroath, Scotland. There was some note saying they requested visitors NOT take photos in the small Pictish museum room in the outbuildings. Unfortunately?, I obeyed the request.  Photo:  Mine, 1995.

There are a series of outbuildings there, and I’d been told (or read) that this was where the Pictish stones recovered from some refurbishing of this church had ended up.  A note on the door to one of the outbuildings told me I could go request the key from the pastor / caretaker (can’t remember which it was, or if the same person did indeed keep the same function.)

I got the key, and went into the room alone, and obeyed the injunctions NOT to touch any artifacts, or to take any photos.  I did get a small brochure about the place (which had black and white photos).  I was in there totally alone, and while I was in total appreciation of the requirement not to touch anything – finger oils do eventually degrade things – I really wish I’d been allowed to use my camera.  I respected their wishes, however.

Scotland, Aberlemno Stone, Picts

Aberlemno Stone, in Aberdeen. Also called the Serpent Stone. Photo by D Lloyd, and taken from Wikipedia. I didn’t get to Aberdeen this trip. Pictish engravings.  Placed here because I couldn’t take my own Pictish photos.

As noted, most of the stones had been found during a renovation / refurbishing.  Apparently early on Picts had used this particular hill mound for their own possibly-spiritual purposes, and when the area was taken over from the Picts, churches were often (all over the Celtic world) also built on the tops of hills.  And they incorporated whatever rock they could find into what they were building – hey, it’s here, let’s use it!  In more recent years, an appreciation of archaeology means that when such artifacts are found, they may end up in a museum of sorts.  We only have a vague idea today of what the symbols they carved into stone is supposed to me.  Often, one side will be truly Pictish, and another side will incorporate new (to them) Christian influences.

I stayed here as late as I could, returned that key, and hiked back into town, where I found an Indian eatery.  Enjoyed dinner, and took the train back home.

Oh, fascinating about that train… I’d left as early in the morning as I could, for my venture.  They send a trolley down the aisle, just like on an airplane.  And even at 8:30 in the morning, that trolley contains… Scots whisky.  For those who need the hair of the dog??


Trip to Scotland 1995: also included a World Science Fiction convention in Glasgow (yeah, I’m a geek).  Edinburgh Fringe Festival – I met up with other friends doing a bicycle tour for that.  Edinburgh marching bagpipers.  A pre-set Island and Highlands 3-day tour – LOVED IT.  A pre-set day trip down to some estate in the lowlands – Meh.  The day I couldn’t get to the Orkneys I ended up going through museums in Glasgow, then admiring some serious architecture, not watching where I was walking while looking up, tripping on a curb, and discovering British healthcare even covers foreign folk who fall prey to stupid accidents involving the right/dominant hand that will have to help manhandle suitcases home the next day.  Okay, I certainly was NOT cured by the next day, but I’m glad someone professional looked at it!  (I had two suitcases, one of which had gotten loaded down with Scottish wool sweaters and whatever the limit for genuine whisky was at that time…  And my carry-on pouch, mostly for passport, camera, and stuff like that.)

Scotland… I wanna come BACK!

Homestead Blog Hop.















Posted in Cooking | 6 Comments

Cranberry Liqueur

Contains:  Alcohol, added sugar.  Is:  Vegetarian, vegan.  

cranberry, cranberries, liqueur, vodka, beverage, recipe, clove, zest

For after dinner, share a sip or two

I made this one up without reference to any other adult beverages out there.  Just seemed right to me.

This would be suitable for the adults at Thanksgiving, while recovering from all the turkey and sides.   You won’t have enough time to make it for Thursday 2019, but if you celebrate a second Thanksgiving on Saturday (what some people call “Friendsgiving”, you’re good to go.  Since it’s all friends here, I just call them both Thanksgiving.  The holiday is after all about being thankful.  The beverage is also appropriate for the various holidays and get-togethers through December – it won’t go bad.

cranberry, cranberries, liqueur, vodka, beverage, recipe, clove, zest

Cranberries have been lightly simmered, then cooled, and they along with other ingredients are now in the jar.

I use organic coconut/palm sugar (fair trade) – this stuff doesn’t interfere with orangutan habitats, as a lot of the palm sugars and other palm resources might do.  Also, I find that this sugar doesn’t clump into a rock as quickly as even generic white sugar can do (at least in my mostly-sugar seldom-using home).  You can indeed use plain white, but note this is not as finely granulated as regular sugar, which may play with volumes.  Hence, my second batch (for bringing to my second Thanksgiving feast) – the sugar was weighed.    This will help you adjust your sugar content accordingly.

cranberry, cranberries, liqueur, vodka, beverage, recipe, clove, zest

After about five days, the beverage is ready to be poured off, and saved. Note that some one needs to find her large mouth canning lids…

I do ask you use a decent brand of vodka – this doesn’t need (and probably shouldn’t be) top shelf, but I remember the brand, “Our House” which tasted like fingernail polish remover to me.  Vodka should seriously not taste like acetone smells!

Created for the Cranberry Challenge over at CookingBites forum.  I believe this is the first alcoholic beverage I ever created for this blog.

cranberry, cranberries, liqueur, vodka, beverage, recipe, clove, zest

Ready to enjoy.

Prep Time:  10 minutes.
Cook Time:  5 minutes.
Rest Time:  5 days!!!
Serves: ??
Cuisine:  American, since cranberries are native here.
Leftovers:  Yes.

Cranberry Liqueur

  • 6 ounces / 170 grams fresh cranberries
  • 1/2 cup 120 mL water
  • 1.75 ounces / 50 grams OR 0.375 cups / 90 mL organic coconut/palm sugar.   (If you use regular white sugar, go by the weight.)
  • Zest from one lemon
  • 5 whole cloves.
  • 2 cups 475 mL vodka of at least a decent type

Add the sugar to a large Mason or Ball canning jar.

Place the cranberries in water into a small cooktop pot.  Turn heat to medium, or a little above.  Let cranberries come to a simmer, stirring occasionally.  When most of them have split their skins (they make a nice, satisfying little “pop”, turn off the heat and remove from burner.  This should take 3-5 minutes.

If you overcook this, most of the cranberry flavor will be left behind in the water.

Using a slotted spoon, remove the berries to the above jar.

Allow to cool to room temperature.

Add the lemon zest and cloves, and follow up with the vodka.  Cap and set aside (room temperature) for 5- 10 days.  Shake once or twice a day.

Decant through a sieve to serve, smashing the berries against the sieve with the bottom side of a spoon.   Save this in a capped bottle until use.  Should keep indefinitely.

Unfortunately, the berries themselves by this point will be devoid of flavor, and are thus now best composted.


  1.  In a tiny liqueur glass, pour in a small amount of this liqueur as an after-dinner treat (much like you might do an after dinner tasting of Drambuie or some such).

cranberry, cranberries, liqueur, vodka, beverage, recipe, clove, zest

There will be some leftover cranberry-flavored water from the simmering – I’d really like cooking and mixing this in with mashed potatoes or sweet potatoes, if you in the mood to do so.

This potent liqueur is shared at:


Posted in Cooking, Vegan, Vegetarian | Tagged , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Potato, Mushroom & Onion Casserole (with Cream and Parmesan Cheese)

Contains:  Dairy, nightshades.  Is:  Vegetarian, gluten-free.  

casserole, potato, onion, mushroom, recipe, vegetarian, cream

A serving of this casserole dish. Very filling.  (That’s not a tiny plate.)

A recipe from The City Tavern Cookbook:  Recipes from the Birthplace of American Cuisine, by Walter Staib.   This one is on page 218.  Part of the CookingBites Cookbook Game, #6.  Which is where we make a recipe exactly as written from a print cookbook that sits in our home.  (Yes, you can dial down the size if you are cooking for one!  Or for a few other, explained, reasons.  I made a variant for four, while the original recipe served 8.)

Consider this a potential for your Thanksgiving feast.  Yes, multiply as needed.

recipe, casserole, potato, onion, mushroom, vegetarian

Potatoes are chopped up, as thin as possible. One could also use a mandoline.

For instance, I never ever buy “vegetable oil”.  I use avocado oil, or in a pinch, grapeseed oil for high temp cooking needs where I want the oil to bring no extra flavors to the pot.  Frankly, I haven’t bought “vegetable oil” for thirty years.  I did go through the canola stage, but that’s done, too.

recipe, casserole, potato, onion, mushroom, vegetarian

Sliced up whole onion.

I figure this semi-heritage recipe might go well with a Thanksgiving turkey.  Or not.  As always, it is up to you, but this is why I posted it now.  It would work in any part of the planet, most times of the year, depending on your tastes and ingredient availability.

recipe, casserole, potato, onion, mushroom, vegetarian

Combined cooked mushrooms and onions/garlic. DO mix these together before adding to the potato casserole. So that onions and mushrooms divvy up appropriately

Most of the recipes in this cookbook are geared towards 8 people.  I don’t mind making extra, but not eight-fold extra!  I mean, maybe I won’t like it?  I don’t see any reason why I would dislike this one, but I think by the time I got to serving number 5 or 6, I might be a tad tired of it… And my freezers are a tad full right now.  I did simply halve this recipe because looking at the logistics for a quarter of a recipe, I worried about it cooking properly.

recipe, casserole, potato, onion, mushroom, vegetarian

My garden parsley, pre-chopping. Hardy, this is a great herb to grow at least here in Zone 5. It is good in other zones, too.

The recipe, plus notes:  

Herein, the recipe’s author combines cookery ideas from both Mary Randolph (The Virginia Housewife, ) and Martha Washington’s related recipe  (“To Dress a Dish of Mushrumps”).  Yes, that Washington.  She likely didn’t invent the recipe (OR cook it), but it would be served in her household.

recipe, potato, mushroom, onion, casserole, gluten-free

Yes, the casserole straight from the oven. I’d actually recommend broiling 2 minutes at this point to crisp up the top. But that may not be necessary – up to you!

Prep Time: 35-40 minutes.
Cook Time:  Up to 40 minutes.
Rest Time: Scant.
Serves: 4.
Cuisine: Early American/Colonial concepts.
Leftovers:  Yes.  Fridge and re-heat (microwave or oven).

Potato, Mushroom & Onion Casserole

  • 3.5 tablespoons unsalted butter, divided.  (2 tablespoons + 1.5 tablespoons)
  • 1 tablespoon avocado (or grapeseed) oil.
  • 3 cups sliced button mushrooms (about 0.75 pounds)
  • 1 large onion, sliced
  • 1 garlic clove, chopped
  • 4 medium red-skinned potatoes (about 0.75 pounds), peeled and very thinly sliced.
  • Salt and freshly ground white pepper (I had to use pre-ground, it is what I had.)
  • 1.5 bunches fresh parsley finely chopped (about 1/2 cup) (I used home-grown, harvested that moment…)
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • 1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese. (I am sure that back in the day, they grated their own.  And it was likely the real stuff… Make your own choice.)

(ED NOTE:   The above recipe is designed to serve 8.  I cut my own doings by half.  The recipe has been re-written to reflect that!)  

Preheat oven to 375 F.

Add 2 tablespoons of butter and all the above oil to a large skilled already heated up t high heat.  When melted, add the mushrooms, sautéing for about five minutes, or until the mushrooms go tender and just soft.  Remove them from the skillet.  Reserve.

Then, add the onions and garlic to the same skillet, and saute until the onions get lightly browned, using your spatula to flip and turn as needed.  This took about 8 minutes.  Add them to the mushroom reserves.  (You can gently mix them, then.)

As you sliced those potatoes, layer them between paper towels on a separate plate.  Pat dry.

Put half of these on the bottom of a baking dish (I used a 12×12 inch pan for this quantity).  Sprinkle some salt and pepper around.  Add parsley, then the mixed onion and mushroom mixture – and follow with the rest of the potato, layered nicely for cooking.  Add more salt and pepper as desired.

Dot the top with bits of the rest of the  1.5 tablespoons butter.

Bake 15 minutes.

Take that cream, and try to pour as evenly as possible over the casserole.  Top this with Parmesan cheese.

Return to oven.  Check after 10 minutes to see if the potatoes are fork-tender.  Return to oven, if not.  Mine needed to go to about 15-17 minutes, but oven temps vary, and also how you slice your potatoes may certainly have an effect.  But do serve hot!

An option:  Broil the casserole for 2 minutes post cooking, to brown the surface.  This isn’t necessary, and isn’t part of the original recipe, but it is something to consider.  Watch to maintain a browning, not a burning.

city tavern cookbook, casserole, recipe, potato, mushroom, onion, parsley

I’m never sure how one measures a “bunch” of anything.  I used my own home-grown parsley, and simply went by “feel” on it.  Which I think is entirely appropriate.  

While I think this was a good recipe, it does tend to confirm my Yukon gold bias.  I think I’d love this recipe just a bit more were I to use just about any “gold” potato, although I’ll admit the red was fine.  I would also not skin my potatoes, although I know there was a period in time where everyone apparently skinned any potato they cooked.  Most of the nutrients are in the skin — and frankly, they really don’t taste bad, and they add texture.  (Yes, I did use the red-skinned potatoes with skins removed.  The chickens got a treat!)  

I would also like to brown the top of the casserole, by putting my oven on “broil” for a couple of minutes at the end.  Back in the day, this was likely not a real option.  

Overall, I do appreciate this cookbook, and will cook more things from it in the future.  I may even (hopefully) get to Philadelphia to try this recipe in person at the City Tavern, someday on a near date.  Seriously — much more enticing than most bread-laden Philly cheesesteak notion!

This recipe has been shared with:  Fiesta Friday, with co-hosts Mollie @ Frugal Hausfrau and Antonia @
And with Homestead Blog Hop.
And, with Full Plate Thursday.








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

Greek Lamb Kofta, Grilled

Contains: Potentially, dairy as a topping.  Is:  Paleo, Whole30 (if you leave off the yogurt, or use coconut yogurt), quick and easy.  

Greek, lamb kofta, yogurt, kebab, recipe

Greek Lamb Kofta

I have some ground lamb left from a half-lamb I purchased some months back.  While I had some ideas for it, lamb kofta turned up as a great Greek idea, to carry on the Greek theme of a recent Friday.  And this is simple, unlike, say, a lamb moussaka.  (Which is something I want to try when I defrost the next pound of ground lamb…)

recipe, kofta, lamb, Greek

Ready for cooking. The lamb should hold onto skewers, whether metal or wood. Don’t over-manipulate.

If you are doing a Whole30, or need to avoid lactose, you can omit the yogurt topping, or switch to coconut yogurt.  I used the leftover Greek yogurt from a recent recipe.  (I like yogurt, but.  I prefer Stonyfield regular, or goat yogurt, for regular consumption, over the Greek variety – although that is far preferable to the Dannonite types of extruded semi-solid plastic.  I’ve also decided Phage is a better brand for my taste buds than Chobani – so… just maybe after today, I WILL start buying their Greek yogurt for regular consumption!)

recipe, lamb, kofta, skewers, Greek

Grilling on the George Foreman. (I had to run the fourth one afterwards.) It’s quick!

Here’s a list of my Greek dishes (that I’ve blogged about) to date:

I definitely see there are a few more recipes I want to add to my repetoire.  For the dinner party I made the lamb dolmas for, the adjacent vegetarian dolmas didn’t make the cut.  They were okay, but not great.  Need to re-visit!   Also want to try my favorite Greek dish of all time, a good spanakopita!  And I must not forget the awesome avgolemono soup.  AND a true Greek salad

If I ever had to lock myself into just ONE European cuisine… yep, it would be Greek.

Greek, lamb, kofta, recipe, yogurt

Off the skewers

Anyhow, this dish here is simple.  Ground lamb (goat, if you can find it) and an array of Greek seasonings, a grill of whatever sort, and some skewers.  Yogurt with lemon juice if desired!  Or, get a true tzakziki sauce going!

Let’s get started!

Prep Time:10-15 minutes.
Setting Time: 1-2 hours.
Cook Time: 6-7 minutes.
Rest Time: 2 minutes.
Serves: 2-4.  One or two skewers per person.
Cuisine: Greek.
Leftovers?: Yes.  And you can also freeze leftover skewers prior to cooking, with a tight plastic wrap.

The Kebabs: 

  • 1 pound ground (minced) lamb
  • 2 large shallots, minced.
  • 2 garlic cloves, crushed / minced.
  • 2 teaspoons lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon dried mint
  • 3/4 teaspoon coarse sea or Himalayan salt
  • 1/2 heaping teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon cumin
  • 1/4 teaspoon lemon zest

The Topping:

  •  plain Greek yogurt, full-fat.
  • 1/4 of a lemon, as lemon juice
  • 2-3 teaspoons chopped dill leaf
  • 1/4 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1 teaspoon chopped parsley (optional)

Alternatively, you can use a full-out Tzatziki for the topping!  (I simply didn’t have any cuke to hand, and as noted elsewhere, I can no longer Shop at Whim…)

Mix all the seasonings for the kebabs together in a bowl, minus the lamb.  Add the lamb and gently combine – hands will be the best.  Do not overmix.

Put this in the fridge for an hour or two.

Make the topping, whether the simple yogurt one here, or the Tzatziki I (or others) have provided recipes for.

Put that in the fridge, too.


If using wooden skewers, soak them about 30 minutes prior to use in a tub of water, to prevent burning and the like.

Take four skewers, and put about 1/4 pound of the lamb mixture gently around each skewer.  Spread the mixture up and down the skewer as you desire.  You can make one, two, or three lumps of meat on each skewer – your discretion.  Don’t make them too thick, you want to keep them thin enough that they will cook through, but thick enough they will remain adhered to the skewers.  I found no thicker than an inch around.

Use a pre-heated charcoal or propane grill, or as I did, a George Forman electric grill.  Place the skewers over the hot section of the grill, close the grill, and cook.  (Lid down.)  The outdoor grills will cook for about 3-4 minutes each side, and the George Forman will be about 2-3 minutes each side.

Remove, serve.  Provide the yogurt / tzatziki for people to help themselves.  A great serving side is a good Greek salad.  Or perhaps that Spanakorizo mentioned above.

lamb, kofta, recipe, yogurt

Appearing at Fiesta Friday, co-hosted by Liz @ spades, spatulas & spoons.  And at Full Plate Thursday.  Also at What’s for Dinner (Sunday Link-Up).








Posted in Cooking, Meats | Tagged , , , , , , | 6 Comments

Raising Chickens, Part VIII: Is Organic the Way to Go?


I’d hoped to run this essay past Kat Hosinski before posting it.  Most of this was written near the end of October.  Unfortunately my Compatriot in  live homesteading discussions passed away November 1st.  I’d seriously like to hear from homesteaders or those hoping to go on a homesteading path – about what you think on these thoughts here.  Thank you.


Buff Orpington – Fimbrethil (a very good broody hen).

Well…. it depends…  AND I am not going to provide a definitive answer in a one-size-fits-all sort of thing,  My goal is to discuss what I did, and what YOU may wish to do – which may well likely not be the same.

Actually, I’m going to start out this discussion by noting that there’s a matter of terminology here.   “Organic” in the US (and in many countries) has a legal definition when it comes to raising and selling crops or livestock.  And sometimes that definition will change, depending on advances in the scientific study of crops and livestock; and alas, way too often due to prevailing politics at any given time, once the sluggish regulatory wheels start churning.  (This is not ever a political site, but this brief mention must be made since we are discussing “organic” as a legal aspect of agriculture/livestock management).  I refer you to Joel Salatin if you want one very valid and reasoned-out set of thoughts on the topic.

Back in the 70’s when I was in college, I took a course titled “Organic Chemistry”, in my pursuit of a biological major.  A lot of that stuff was NASTY! Organic:  In chemistry, a term used to describe any molecule held together by a chain of carbon atoms.   So, chemically-speaking, the petrol or gas you pump into your automobile is organic or close enough… But for some reason or another, the word “organic” took off and for the layperson, indicated healthy eating.  After all, all living matter does contain organic constituents that fit the scientific definition.   And of course, it’s now pretty much accepted that one should find organic (food) alternatives for the “Dirty Dozen” in the world of pesticide-laden veggies when possible.  AND, it’s one reason I want to grow most of my own food down the road.  The upshot is that “organic” is now a word with multiple definitions, and I have to draw a close on that Organic Chemistry class unless I’m specifically discussing chemical properties…. but to be honest, I haven’t yet gotten around to worrying about chemicals in my food unless we are discussing SPECIFIC chemicals.  It’s turtles chemicals all the way down, folks.  H20, after all… keeps me wet, washed and clean (most days).  

So, anyhow, while I intend to use organic practices for my fruits and vegetables (without going for legal certification) – and some of my practices may well be part of the “Beyond Organic” movement – the chickens here at my homestead are not even technically raised organic.

homesteading, raising chickens, delicata, squash, organics

For soil health, and by extension, plant and my own health, my veggies will follow best organic growing practices. Even if I can’t call them Organic, as I plan to be paperwork-minimal.

As of now, none of mine have ever needed antibiotics, and I don’t plan to give them any.  Note that in the supermarket, NONE of the chickens sold as meat, and NONE of their eggs supposedly have ever had antibiotics, organic or not.   Yes, you see big notices on all the packages declaring them to be antibiotic-free – but at least in the US, they legally HAVE to be.  (The label is intended to sucker-punch you to be drawn in to purchase.)

However, the land that mine are raised on has not had non-organic amendments any time since I’ve owned it – well, the house proper and immediately-neighboring soil I can’t speak for, since the builder here had to do his own thing – but the chickens don’t come that near to the house proper.  (Although they did start off life as day old chicks in my basement…)  So, technically the land they’re on itself fits the organic definition (minus the paperwork), and I’m happy about that.  I have owned this property for 20 years. I have seen what happens here.

homesteading, organic chicken feed, poultry

An organic soy-free feed recommended for my layers. The slogan does seem appropriate to me. I have to order it online, so sometimes they may get something else while I await delivery.

These birds mostly eat organically-sourced feed – I think it is worth my while to give them the best foods available.  Should you do this?  As much as possible/practical, I think.

My chickens get to free range when I am home out on open pasture – although not so much in winter.  And at night they get closed in their coop.  When it rains, they don’t want to go out.  Also, should you do and raise your poultry like this?

I give my chickens kitchen scraps, and I buy them crickets and mealworms.  Some of my kitchen scraps are organic, others are not.  I’ve only recently discovered a source of organically-raised mealworms.  Eventually, I may raise my own, but right now…. no.  (Too much else on my plate.)  Should you supplement your chickens with only-organics from your kitchen?

homesteading, farming, rooster, poultry, free-range

Young Welsummer rooster

Well, if you plan on certification, the answer is YES.  You basically HAVE TO, and you have to keep tons of documentation.  For me – I am not going to command a higher price for my eggs if I go truly organic or not – NOT in this region I live.   (Yeah, I could truck them into Boston or something – but 1) I don’t have the volume to make that financially viable, 2) I loathe driving in Boston or anywhere around that traffic-congealing horror of a metropolis without severe cause, 3) Time is more valuable to me than the pittance of money I’d potentially make assuming I’d up my scale to attempt to do that.)  YOUR OWN logistics for where you live may vary.

So:  why should I bother with organics at all?


I think it is better quality feed for my chickens.  I’m not so much worried about GMO as a technique as about the pesticides that are in today’s GMO feed.   The actual principle behind making things GMO – and it does differ in procedure from the way we humans have modified our food over the millennium – does not disturb me.  The concept of “golden rice” containing beta carotene is awesome, and I hope someday they can make this viable enough to provide sources of this nutrient in regions of the world that are deficient in this.  It’s the pesticides the researchers have incorporated into so many foods, such as in most of our corn and soy.  Or the resistance to those pesticides / herbicides that is also often incorporated.  (This is already coming back to bite farmers, as resistance in unwanted insects and weeds becomes more prevalent.)

I’m currently not selling meat.  1) My volume of chicken meat only works for my personal consumption (and the occasional guests over for dinner or so).  Were I to gear up my operation for the selling of meat, I’d need to go through USDA slaughterhouses – an extra fee I’d have to add to the cost of each bird – this would be fine should I ever decide to expand like that, but that certainly is not now.  2) If I would do that, yes, I’d have to determine whether it would be cost effective in my region to make them legally organic through and through (could charge extra?) or whether to simply bow to fate and sell pastured chicken that got conventional feed along with whatever they obtain from the pasture.  Volume counts when it comes to feed.  If I were to do this, yeah, I could see moving to conventional feed for a large number of chicken – and getting the value back because they’d be pastured as often as possible.   Many of us may well be more impressed by pastured chicken over battery-raised chickens, with less concern about what they’ve been fed, anyway (within reason).

I’d also have to consider doing Cornish Cross (8 weeks grow out time), broilers (12-15 weeks grow out time) or heritage birds as I have this year (20 weeks grow out time) were I to switch to raising meat for sale.    Personally, I’d stick with broilers / red rangers / Freedom Rangers anyway… well at least for MY consumption.  (I’ve done my own personal taste comparison between Cornish Cross and red rangers grown on the same farm back in Connecticut with similar conditions run in moveable chicken tractors… the latter gave me better taste value.  Your taste buds might differ.  Oh, you do have to cook both slightly differently, which many of the online taste-comparisons I have stumbled across have failed to do.)

Having done hybrid broilers last year, and heritage cockerels this year, my plan for the future years is to raise a limited number of broilers for myself.  The turnaround is faster than the heritage; they are more flavorful and overall more healthy than the Cornish Cross (whom are subject to heart issues and leg issues if allowed to over-grow).  I will let the heritage hens and their heritage rooster foster up baby chicks, and I may even try raising some eggs indoors in an incubator.  The lasses will become future layers and the lads… well, mostly future inhabitants of my freezer camp.  (Unfortunately none of those I hatch here in 2020 will end up being heritage, because the heritage rooster I will have will apparently not match any of the hens’ specific breeds…  Um, but maybe I’ll develop something new??)

homesteading, pullet, hybrid, chicken, poultry, free-range

Chickpea. A pullet born here last summer.

And they’ll all continue to eat as I’ve been feeding them.  Organic feed (95%), kitchen scraps (organic or conventional), pastured greens and ticks (YES PLEASE, CHICKS, EAT THEM TICKS!), mealworms, crickets, home made suet/lard cakes, which  I make from pork or lamb fat…  Your needs and purposes and locale may well vary!  I think the main thing is to let the chickens outdoors in daylight hours, often!  Don’t over-crowd, and give them quality feed, kitchen scraps, calcium sources, and extra protein.


Past Posts in this Series:

  1. Raising Chickens Part I: Intro & Overview
  2. Raising Chickens Part II: Welcoming Baby Chicks
  3. Raising Chickens Part III: Trekking to My Chickens in Zone 5 Winter
  4. Raising Chickens Part IV: My Chicken Run and Coop
  5. Raising Chickens Part V: The Bin, or Storage at Your Coop
  6. Raising Chickens Part VI: Feeding Those Layers
  7. Raising Chickens Part VII: Predation!
  8. Raising Chickens Part VIII: Is Organic the Way to Go?

Future Posts:

  • Medical supplies and treatments for your chickens.
  • Broody or Not?
  • Recommended book, magazine and online sources for chicken learning!

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