Father’s Day: Stuffed Lamb Heart, Featuring Apple & Onion (Omnivorian)

Contains: Offal.  Some nightshade in the ras al hanout.  Is: Whole30, Paleo, gluten-free, dairy-free.

For a vegetarian or vegan rendition using the same stuffing, but adding the stuffing into bell peppers, see this recipe…

recipe, stuffed lamb haert, stuffed goat heart, apple, onion, ras al hanout, Whole30, Paleo, gluten-free

This was a relatively-small lamb’s heart – will depend on the age of the lamb. Stuffed and served…

Apparently I really like stuffing food that is stuff-able with various stuffings.  What can I say?  We have TWO stuffed recipes today, one vegetarian and this one.  You can sub goat heart for the lamb heart, as they are around the same in range of size.  And if you want a vegetarian recipe, or simply a non-offal recipe, please look at the bell pepper one, which has the exact same stuffing mix (I made both recipes on the same day).  The ras al hanout will taste stronger in the vegan recipe, so I’ve modified that to reflect a milder choice there – I was fine with the strength, but some folk may not be.

Dad was the one who got me experimental in foodways (although Mom played a role here as well, just not as fervently).  Even as a kid, I never knew I was supposed to cringe at offal.  He really DID try just about everything at least once.  We moved to New York City when I was two years old, and Dad set about exploring just about any cuisine or body parts he could find.  Okay, when I was two I was finicky, but that soon ended… So, if he were still on this plane of existence, he’d be eager to taste this creation.  Or the other one posted today!

So, these two stuffed recipes today, they’re posted in honor of Dad.

recipe, Paleo, Whole30, offal, lamb heart, goat heart, stuffed, apple, onion, gluten-free,

Onions, apples, seasonings, and greens. Just about ready for stuffing!

The spinach is only in this because I was heading out of town and didn’t want to feed the entire bag to the chickens.  It won’t add much in the way of flavor (but there should be some nutritional benefit).  Ditto with the parsley.

Stuffed lamb heart, stuffed goat heart, recipe, Paleo, Whole30, gluten-free, apple, onion, ras al hanout

Stuffed heart, ready to cook.

The apple cider doesn’t have to sparkle – but it’s the only way I can find it “dry”.  I add the liquid and cover to keep the exterior of the heart from drying out.  Regards the apple:  find ones that are more tart, if possible, but especially avoid ones that are reputed to  turn into mush.  (You should check what’s available in your area.)

Oh, by the way, hearts are rich in the amino acid taurine, as well as being a good source of the heart-(ahem)-healthy Coenzyme Q10.  

Recipe, stuffed lamb heart, stuffed goat heart, onion, apple, gluten free, Whole30, Paleo

Slice about 1/4 inch / 1.25 cm thick to serve. Well, more or less.

Prep Time:  15 minutes.
Cook Time:  15 minutes + 75 minutes.
Rest Time:  Just cool enough to eat.
Cuisine:  Moroccan-influenced.
Serves:  1 heart per person – up to 3-4 people.
Leftovers?:  Yes.  Reheat in oven or microwave.

Stuffed Lamb Heart, Featuring Apple & Onion (Omnivorian)

  • 3-4 lamb or goat hearts.  
  • 75 grams of peeled, chopped onion.
  • 150 grams of cored, chopped apple (I leave skin on)
  • 1 teaspoon Ras al Hanout (click for the recipe)
  • salt and pepper to taste (I add no extra salt, there’s some in the Ras al Hanout)
  • Optional:  1 or two handfuls of fresh spinach
  • Optional:  a few sprigs of parsley, remove stems, lightly chop.
  • Healthy cooking oil:  my go-to is as usual, avocado oil (high heat version).
  • Half a cup of non-alcoholic dry sparkling cider (or dry white wine or alcoholic cider – the alcohol will cook off, but for those who wish to cook without, the main suggestion is appropriate).

Pre-heat oven to 350 F.

Chop up everything that needs chopping.

Sauté the onions in the oil, over medium / medium-low heat, until translucent, about 8 minutes.

Add the apple and spices, sauté  another 5 minutes or until the apple softens.

Add any spinach and/or parsley, saute another 2 or 3 minutes, or until the spinach just loses its water and shrivels down.

Prep the hearts by removing the upper exterior fat, and cutting loose any vessels.  Using your fingers stuff the heart by poking the stuffing down into the various chambers of the heart, until compacted.

Bake in the oven for 30 minutes, uncovered.

Remove from oven, add sparkling cider (or white wine).  Loosely cover and return to oven for another 45 minutes.

Remove from oven, let rest, and serve.

stuffed lamb heart, stuffed goat heart, apple, onion, recipe, Whole30, Paleo, Gluten-free, ras al hanout


We’re heartily sharing this recipe at:

Fiesta Friday (co-hosts are Ai @ Ai Made It For You and Angie of Fiesta Friday).


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Father’s Day: Stuffed Pepper, Featuring Apple & Onion (Vegan)

Contains: Nightshades.  Is: Whole30, Paleo, gluten-free, dairy-free, vegetarian, vegan.

recipe, vegetarian, vegan, stuffed pepper, apple, onion, ras al hanout, Paleo, Whole30

Vegetarian/vegan stuffed pepper. Along with the onion and apple is ras al hanout, and optional spinach and parsley.

While I got most of my loving for those “odd bits” from Dad, he never shied away from his vegetables.  I think he’d enjoy the spirit behind this recipe, as well – and I’m sharing it for all the fathers out there who’d love to try something a bit different on their day coming up Sunday.  Hey, a lot of fathers are vegetarian or vegan anyways…

recipe, vegetarian, vegan, Paleo, Whole30, gluten-free, stuffed pepper, apple, onion, ras al hanout

I loved the colors on these peppers. They’re actually fairly small in the scheme of stuffing things.

Both of these stuffed recipes (the second will follow shortly) share the same stuffing.  I’m separating them, because I’m sure my vegan and vegetarian audience won’t want to wade through the offal, and they can just keep the recipe they want.

recipe, vegetarian, vegan, ras al hanout, apple, onion, stuffed pepper, gluten-free, Paleo, Whole30

Making the stuffing – onion, apple, ras al hanout.

When I choose apples, I prefer to go for the tart ones.  There wasn’t a lot of choice at my supermarket unless I wanted whole bags of apples (nope).  I forget the types, but these were tart enough for my predilections.

recipe, stuffed pepper, vegan, vegetarian, Whole30, Paleo, apple, onion, ras al hanout

Even though the greens didn’t add much in the way of flavor, the color made the stuffing fun. I’m sure some more vitamins and such came along for the ride.

The spinach is only in this because I was heading out of town and didn’t want to feed the entire bag to the chickens.  It won’t add much in the way of flavor (but there should be some nutritional benefit).  Ditto with the parsley.  And the color with non-green bell peppers was great.

Prep Time:  15 minutes.
Cook Time:  15 minutes + 25 to 30 minutes.
Rest Time:  Just cool enough to eat.
Cuisine:  Moroccan-influenced.
Serves:  1 bell pepper per person – up to 3-5 people, depending on pepper size.
Leftovers?:  Yes.  Reheat in oven or microwave.

Stuffed Pepper, Featuring Apple & Onion (Vegan)

  • 3 – 5 whole bell peppers.  Pick your color(s).  
  • 150 grams of peeled, chopped onion.
  • 300 grams of cored, chopped apple (I leave skin on – this was actually 1.5 apples.)
  • 2 teaspoons Ras al Hanout (click for the recipe – for milder, start with 1 teaspoon, and taste.)
  • salt and pepper to taste (I add no extra salt, there’s some in the Ras al Hanout)
  • Optional:  2 or three handfuls of fresh spinach
  • Optional:  a few sprigs of parsley, remove stems, lightly chop.
  • Healthy cooking oil:  my go-to is as usual, avocado oil (high heat version).

Pre-heat oven to 350 F.

Chop up everything that needs chopping, then heat up your skillet with oil to medium or medium-low.

Add the onion, sautee until translucent, about 8 minutes.

Add the apple and spices, sautee until apple is softened, about five minutes.

Add any optional greens such as that spinach and/or parsley, cook another three, or until the spinach releases its water.

Turn off cooktop heat.

To stuff the peppers:  You have two options – go in from the top,  pull out the core with the stem, wash to remove any remaining seeds.  Then, stuff using a teaspoon, compress stuffing down with your fingers.

Or, slice in half longitudinally, forming two boats, remove stem and seeds, and stuff each half.  I usually do this.  With the boats, you can certainly overload them!

Place in pre-heated oven for 25-30 minutes.  Remove, and serve.

A fine side, if you aren’t following Paleo, would be quinoa or basmatic rice.

Note – I like my bell pepper crunchy.  There are a lot of folk who don’t like that texture at all.  Lightly steam your bell peppers about 4-5 minutes if you are one of the latter, prior to stuffing.

vegetarian, vegan, ras al hanout, stuffed pepper, apple, onion, recipe, whole30, gluten-free

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Of Chickens and Chickpeas

Contains:  Legumes.  Is: Gluten-free, grain-free.

Well, perhaps this should be my new blog name, as I don’t yet have those goats I want to raise here.  I’d named this blog after what turned out to be just about my favorite meat source, along with an alliterative, but still sought after from my end, type of veggie source. I tend savory, and am happy with that.  At any rate, the 10th of June is my 9-year anniversary of starting this blog – which apparently started in fits and giggles and not much effort at SEO, as my main focus then was my pre-retirement career.  Oh well, it (the blog) is indeed 9 years old, and here we are.

chicken, chickpea, parsley, artichoke heart, cauliflower rice, guaram masala

Okay, not so fast; I’m keeping the Goats and Greens name going.  But at any rate, as a personal food challenge, I’m bringing you Chickens and Chickpeas.  I am raising chickens, and it has been over a year doing it.  No chickpeas (yet) but that’s okay.  AND, as noted, it’s been 9 years since I limped into the WordPress world with this blog.

Thoughts:  Chicken, chickpeas, cauliflower, artichoke hearts, onion, parsley.  And other seasonings to go an Indian sorta fusion-ish route…

Oh:  the Parsley.  It’s the ingredient over at the forum I recently joined, CookingBites, for the current Food Challenge – to participate, I had to make a dish that incorporates parsley in a noticeable way.  (That contest ended in May, but this recipe wants (yes, the recipe told me so) to be posted for that 9th year blogging anniversary.)  At any rate, I really like this cooking forum, a lot of fresh ideas and good conversations.  (I post there as Mountain Cat.)

recipe, gluten free, chicken, onion, cauliflower, chickpea, parsley, artichoke heart

To the translucent onions, add the chicken slivers and bits.

SO:  Let’s COOK!

Prep Time:  About 15 minutes.
Cook Time:  About 25 minutes.
Rest Time:  Probably not.
Serves: 2 or 3.
Cuisine: Random fusion.
Leftovers:  Yeppers.  Refrigerate up to three or four days.

Of Chickens and Chickpeas:  Featuring Cauliflower, Onion, Artichoke Heart – and Parsley

  • 2 boneless, skinless chicken thighs. (about 6 ounces / 170 grams)
  • 1 medium onion, coarsely chopped.
  • 8 ounces / 230 grams riced cauliflower.
  • 1 can chickpeas, drained, 15.5 oz / 440 grams.
  • 1/2 can artichoke hearts, drained,  about 7 oz / 195 grams.
  • 1 teaspoon guaram masala
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1/4 teaspoon turmeric
  • Salt and pepper to taste.
  • 1 hefty ounce curly parsley – chopped, de-stemmed.  The stuff weighs a lot less than you might think…
  • 2 teaspoons healthy cooking oil, I prefer avocado.

Slice the chicken thighs into thin sections, removing any fat as you do so, and get the rest of your prep into place.

In a skillet, heat the oil to medium on your cook top.  Add the onions, cook until translucent, 5-7 minutes.  Add the chicken meat, stir another 5. Add in everything else except the parsley, stir fry another 15 minutes.  Taste and adjust seasonings.

Add the parsley, stir fry another minute, then serve.

You can always use white meat instead of the more flavorful dark, but that’s on you.  Instead, I’d actually like to try this vegetarian style with marinated tofu or marinated thin sliced tempeh, and I’d certainly do that down the road sooner than calling up chicken breast.  Alternatively – if there are not already enough alternatives – you can forego the chicken or soy  entirely – this should instead still be great (add a little more chickpea or cauliflower in… Or, hey, MUSHROOMS!). 

chicken, chickpea, parsley, onion, artichoke heart, cauliflower, gluten-free, guaram masala, recipe


This Of Chickens and Chickpeas blog post is happy roaming over to visit Full Plate Thursday, where it will enjoy the sights and aromas.  And popping over to Fiesta Friday (co-hosted by Liz @ Spades, Spatulas & Spoons and Jenny @ Apply To Face Blog ), where it is also enjoying the tastes and savorings.  And bellying up to the table at What’s For Dinner? Sunday Link-Up.








Posted in Cooking, Poultry | Tagged , , , , , , , | 18 Comments

Raising Chickens Part VI: Feeding Those Layers

Here, we are only dealing with feed for adult laying chickens.  (If you have an associated rooster, who is obviously NOT going to be laying a thing, he’s fine eating his harem’s food.)

homesteading, foraging, hens, chickens, poultry, feed

The flock coming up to greet the hands that feed them.

It is possible during the non winter months to feed your chickens primarily on what they forage, with supplemental grains.  Some breeds forage better than others, but you can be pretty much assured that any heritage breed was developed whilst on forage.

My chickens don’t free-range during the snow season.  Nothing for them to find and eat!  They’re also not particularly endeared with the notion of snow or ice.   So, during that time, their egg yolks are pretty much generic yellow, but you can do things to help them.  The notes below are for mature laying hens (and of course their lone rooster eats what they eat, and is fine with it. In fact, he (at least here) often lets them eat first).

homesteading, chicken feed, poultry

The feed I buy for my layers.  Things that seem like “wahhhh?” are essential vitamins and minerals  or yeast extracts.  They also add in calcium, but always wise to supply your hens more – they’ll self-medicate.

  • Do pick a good brand of chicken feed.  I use Scratch and Peck organic layer feed, which is an organic brand of layer feed without soy.  Of course, the number of hens you have and how much you are willing to spend may mean you will decide to use a brand that isn’t organic and/or which contains soy.   BUT stay with “Layer Feed” – which provides the proper amount of protein and other nutrients (especially calcium) to encourage the production of healthy eggs in adult hens. Stay with feed intended for chickens, not necessarily duck or game birds, although some feeds are formulated to work for several.  Look at packaging.  Their requirements may differ.  PS:  I started my layers on layer food about week 16-18.  Eggs generally will start appearing week 20 or so.
  • How much to feed.  About a third cup per bird per day, when not out on pasture.  Or if you don’t have a significant amount of some of the food supplements listed below.  Adjust otherwise.
    homesteading, farming, poultry, chicken feed, organic
    This was recommended to me by a good online resource site. I buy this through Amazon, two 25 lb bags at a time. I will admit that if I were doing quantity chickens for egg sales, I might not go the organic, no soy route, due to price. But then again… depends on your area market.  (I sell eggs at $3.50 a dozen, which is the market price in my area for home-farmed eggs.)
  • Kitchen trimmings.  Your hens can eat most any type of kitchen vegetable or fruit trimmings (exceptions below) as long as they aren’t moldy or rotten.  Even though my hens get an organic poultry layer feed, I don’t necessarily have organic produce in my kitchen.  I am not trying for organic certification for one.  I also try not to buy the “Dirty Dozen” of the veggie world for any of us living here.  But if the healthiest things they (or I) eat are organic, so it goes and so we do.  They do seem to like the things I give them, by and large.  Mine don’t seem fond of sweet potato peels.  But they’ll eat them.  Last. 

    homesteading, feed, chicken, hens, poultry

    They like carrots more than I do.

  • Kitchen scrap exceptions.  Don’t feed them:  Citrus peels, avocado peel, avocado stone, apple or other stone fruit cores/seeds (cyanide), green or budding potato parts, or chocolate.  I’m not sure about this but just in case, I don’t feed them any part of the nightshade plants we humans aren’t supposed to eat.
  • Kitchen scrap limitations.  A minor amount of material from the allium family can be fed to them.  But severely limit these, although some garlic has good antibacterial properties.  A little goes a LONG way.  Allium family members include  garlic, onions, scallions/green onions, ramps, shallots and leeks.

    homesteading, poultry, hens, buff Orpington, feed

    Idril, out foraging.

  • Meats.  Yes, chickens are omnivores.  Out on the range they’ll eat grubs, ticks (YAY!!!), worms, and various other bugs that don’t get out of their way on wings.  Some will even eat field mice that might visit their runs trying to nab some of that grain.  Some breeds are more interested in being mousers than others.  I’m told Buckeyes are very much mousers, but I don’t yet have personal evidence!  (If either of my two Buckeyes have killed and eaten a mouse, they’ve effectively hidden the evidence….  I have seen the very occasional mouse track when snow blows into the run in winter, but I suspect the mice come at night, when the poultry is roosting/sleeping.) I supplement my ladies with mealworms and crickets (which you can purchase at a farm supply store – or you can be ambitious enough to grow your own for them); they seem to love mealworms and crickets even more so than they love grains, so I have to assume any tasty morsels of grubs and ticks they find out on pasture are snagged as soon as possible.  I’ve made pork lard and lamb tallow cakes similar in shape and design to those wild bird cakes one finds in shops – one can embed them with roasted or raw pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds, millet, mealworms, crickets, and other avian delicacies.  Providing these in winter on an occasional basis (especially when the thermometer really dips) is really good to help them thermoregulate.  This is also a great treat to amuse my hens when they can’t go outside.  Check this recipe here, and feel free to adapt to materials at hand! I’ve also given mine some raw ground beef and ground lamb, which they’ve appreciated, but I don’t do this frequently.  (Both of those ground meats came from local farmers; I’m not certain I’d give raw ground meat from a a supermarket sourced farm to anything…) And yes, you can feed your chickens… chicken.  Though personally I’d cook this, no matter the source.  I just haven’t done this yet.  Feels just a bit cannibalistic to me… Whatever you do, do not salt food you provide to your chickens.  Okay, a little ends up there, no big deal.   However, they get enough from any foraging or feed they eat.
  • Egg shells.  Yes, if you use them, CRUSH THEM so they are unrecognizable as food.  Actually, you should cook, boil or bake them to boiling temps (212 F / 100 C)  for at least 5-10 minutes to sterilize them, too.  I’ve been putting my egg shells into the compost bin with the other things I don’t feed my chickens, but your mileage might differ.  (I buy them an oyster shell product, as mentioned elsewhere in the post.)  Oh, I have given them cooked scrambled eggs when I’ve had some severely dirty eggs that I won’t feed to humans.  (But never cracked dirty eggs – those I compost!) homesteading, chicken feed, scrambled eggs
  • Great chicken treats.   In the heat of summer, I bought my chickens their own watermelon.  I chilled it, chopped it up, and brought it out to them.  At first, they just looked at it, and back at me… “WHA???”  Then, one adventurous soul pecked at it, and when his compatriots saw he was overjoyed, they all dived in.  They devoured everything but the very outer peel.  I also hear they love grapes; next grocery run, I’m picking some up.
  • To keep your chickens from being bored when you can’t let them range, hang things in those wild bird feeder cages – I use their lard/tallow treats in there, or sometimes I throw iceberg lettuce or red or green cabbage in them (sliced to fit).  You can also pierce those cabbages with wire, thread some of that wire through there, and hang the cabbage up so they can peck at it that way.
  • Grit/Gravel.  Up here in New England, and probably most of the rest of the northern part of America and all of Canada, free ranging chickens will find a lot of grit or gravel on their own.  Even so, I give them a supplemental choice, apart from their food per se.  They eat as they choose (ad libitum) and pass the grit to their gizzards.  The gizzards help digestion by grinding up their food, and those rocks in there do the majority of the work.
  • Calcium.  Yes, you can give them those aforementioned mashed up egg shells, but I also have a separate area where I can feed them pre-packaged and prepped oyster shell.  I will say that my eggs are a LOT more solid than the generic supermarket egg I used to buy back in the day – cracking here happened in winter when the temperatures plummeted to 20 F and below (when eggs actually froze).  The layer feed (most layer feeds, actually) do supply calcium as a matter of course, but having a separate feeding station for calcium allows the birds to monitor their own intake, and they are smart enough to do that, from everything I’ve observed. homesteading, minerals, poultry, hens, calcium supplement
  • Don’t spray your field with pesticides or herbicides if you let your hens forage.  Okay, I spritz down my lower legs AT MY BACK DOOR with stuff to discourage ticks climbing up and around me, before going down to visit.  While the hens do eat and depopulate ticks, they’re (alas) not coming up all the way to my house to feast.   I am working on transitioning to a more healthy/natural method of tick-off-my-body control, but considering that deer ticks hereabouts can carry up to four really NASTY diseases, none of which I am enamored with experiencing, yep, I take precautions.  (Found one of the little buggers climbing up my neck two nights ago… Not Remotely Happy…)

Since hens appear to lay eggs in the morning or the very early hours of afternoon, once I get the meat / broiler cockerels outdoors, I’ll be letting the cockerels out in the morning, and the layers out in the afternoon.  Actually, since I’m not fond of impromptu Easter Egg Hunts, I’m doing that for the layers any how.  The majority of the eggs will be laid in the coop earlier, and if I miss one or two afternoon surprises, so be it.

Stuff I hadn’t planned to talk about, but since it happened… 

The other thing… I allowed a couple of my hens to go broody and nurse up eggs to hatching.  While the first one to hatch had to be brought indoors for rearing (a couple reasons beyond the scope of this post), the second one is with her foster mama out in the coop and run.  (Sad thing to note is that each broody hen had only one viable/surviving chick apiece.  Three weeks apart, so the chicks aren’t going to run together, even if the second one had healthy feet.)  

homesteading, feed, poultry, chickens, chick

The little one seems to be named “Chickpea”. The chick is seen here with the foster mama – Yin. Less than a week old. Coloration – light with a black patch on the head, and darkness on the wings.  Father:  Silver laced Wyandotte.  Genetic mother:  one of the buff Orpingtons, but not Idril.

I’m not yet letting Mama out of the coop and run with her chick.  Chick at this point is only a week old.  But chick needs food!  And the high protein of the starter chick food is important for its development.  I distract the other adult hens (and the roo) by feeding the regular layer feed, then in a corner where Mama and Chick Child tend to hang out, I scatter some chick starter food.  Oh, I discovered if I put a watering source UNDER the main watering source for the hens, those hens can’t get to it and drain it dry, but the baby can access it.   Yay, team!  Mama is really good at keeping the other adults at bay, as long as the other adults have food prior to me feeding the baby.  Easy enough to arrange.

homesteading, poultry, chicken waterer, hens

The baby chick’s water is beneath that for the hens. They preferentially don’t want to delve under, but the baby can access. (I’m not totally enamored of the larger system – it doesn’t always feed the water down as it should.)

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

Future Posts:

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

Follow my Homesteading Page for 2019 updates as things happen here!  Unfortunately, you won’t get notifications whenever I add a new date/addendum to that, so if you get a notification from the blog itself, do drop in to see.  (PS I’d love conversation there, too.)  

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Arctic Char with Sesame Wafu Dressing, Lime, and Cream Cheese

Contains:  Seafood, dairy, potentially soy.  Is:  Gluten-free, nightshade-free, simple and easy.  

Arctic char, recipe, seafood, fish, wafu, lime, sesame dressing, cream cheese, dill

An enjoyable lunch. A leafy green salad would be an awesome side.

This recipe uses leftover Japanese wafu dressing from the earlier Japanese salad and dressings blog post.  As noted there, if you switch out the soy sauce/tamari for coconut aminos, you can be soy and legume free.  (In order to get seasonal posts in, I don’t always post recipes these days immediately after making them.)

If you don’t have Arctic char, you could use one of various types of salmon, trout, or steelhead trout – well, just about any type of vertebrate/finned fish you like.  Depending on type and filet thickness, you may have to adjust cooking times accordingly.

I remove skin if my fish is from an uncertain source (or is scale-y).  Other than Arctic char (which is sustainably farmed in lakes – typically in Canada or Iceland) I do remove skin from farmed sources if I end up eating those.   Otherwise, up to your preferences.  You could also cook this with the skin on, and just not eat it at the table.  It removes very easily upon being cooked, and if you do cook it with the skin on, this helps with removal from the pan without having the fish fall apart (depending on how long it’s been cooked).

Prep Time:  5 minutes.
Cook Time:  generally, 12-15 minutes.
Rest Time: 2 or 3 minutes.
Serves:  2.
Cuisine:  Seafood of random cuisine.
Leftovers:  Up to about 3 days, you can re-heat or better yet add the fish to a salad.

Arctic Char with Sesame Wafu Dressing, Lime, and Cream Cheese

  •  Arctic char fillet, about 15 ounces (400 grams plus or minus).
  • 2 ounces / 55 grams cream cheese, preferably full fat.
  • Juice of 1/2 – 1 lime.  Depends on your preference and on the juiciness of your lime.
  • 1/2 teaspoon dill, either fresh or home frozen is best.
  • Freshly ground pepper to taste.
  • 1.5 – 2  ounces sesame wafu dressing (See my earlier recipe).

Pre-heat oven to 350 F / 177 C.

Cut the fillet in half, and if you desire, remove the skin.

Place on a lightly oiled baking pan, and season with the cream cheese, lime, dill and ground pepper, half on each fillet.  Bake for 12-15 minutes, depending on thickness and preferred done-ness.  I do like mine medium rare – the interior flakes nicely and is still somewhat soft.

In a microwave, nuke the sesame wafu dressing for 30 seconds.  Plate the filets, then pour half of the liquid over a fillet, the other half over the second.  Serve.

Alternatively, if you prefer not to use  a microwave, before the fish finishes cooking, heat the dressing in a very small pot, just to a simmer, and use accordingly.

For a backup note, here is the Wafu Sesame Dressing I use:

For the Wafu Sesame Salad Dressing:   Wafu Salad Dressing  (with slight adaptations).

  •  9 tablespoons avocado (or other neutral) oil
  • 3 tablespoon finely grated onion, along with any juices generated.
  • 9 tablespoons low sodium, gluten-free soy sauce/tamari/coconut aminos
  • 9 tablespoons rice vinegar (the plain stuff, not containing sugar or salt)
  • 8 tablespoons sugar
  • 1.5 tablespoons toasted white sesame seeds.

Mix together.  It will separate out rapidly so shake before dispensing.

seafood, fish, recipe, arctic char, cream cheese, lime, dill, wafu, sesame dressing

Oh, just a note for those of my audience who follows homesteading notes:  Yin, an Australorpe, helped hatch out a cross between a silver-laced Wyandotte and a buff Orpington, on Tuesday.  Yin is definitely the foster mother, and takes good care of this young-un, despite some issues with her other new born foster or otherwise a couple chick deaths just prior to this. 

As of right now, mother and child are doing fine.  Second grand-chick to be “born” on this homestead!   Hoping this one is able to carry on his/her (possibly diverse) lineage!  Dad is definitely Tiny Dancer, silver-laced Wyandotte.

Genetic mama: Either Eowyn or Fimbrethil, buff Orpingtons.
Yeah, I am a Tolkien fan. 

This party-happy fish dish is reveling in, and partaking of various Link-Ups.  Go drop over to:







Posted in Cooking, Seafood | Tagged , , , , , | 3 Comments

Grilling Season: Vegetarian Burgers

Contains:  Legumes, egg, nightshades.  Is:  Vegetarian, gluten-free, grain-free, nut-free.  

Vegetarian, burgers, meat-free, black bean, spinach, egg, recipe

Vegetarian patties made from black beans, spinach, seasonings, and egg. Topped with mustard, and ready for lettuce wrapping.

And yes, you can optionally top this with cheese if you wish.  Or faux cheese, if you don’t do dairy.   And/or onion and tomato.  I’m simply going to use Dijon mustard (since we are no where near tomato season here – and I forgot about the onion slivers…).  Since I raise my own chicken eggs, I’m not going vegan in this recipe.  (There’s a surplus of those things here!!!)

Shortly after the Jack in the Box hit on ground meat back in the 90s, I went to vegetarian/vegan ground beef patties.  While they claimed to taste like meat, this seriously would be stretching a point.  I did like the black bean burgers (a bit) and the mushroom burgers (a bit), but I was not fond of them pretending to taste like ground beef.  Neither did, for one.  TBH, I don’t need veggie burgers to try to taste like “meat”… they simply need to taste GOOD.  So many veggies taste great to begin with, right?   Nor, eventually when I got around to reading the package list (which is why I gave them up), the extensive list of ingredients on the packaging that said Fake Food loud and clear.

vegetarian, recipe, meat-free, burger, black bean, egg, spinach

Mix it!

Today I understand there are some meat substitute burgers that taste like beef – haven’t run into them yet, but they seem to get good reviews.  And they have less ingredients than those old Gardenburgers have, only one real questionable one, actually.

Okay, so it (the Impossible Burger) presumably tastes like real meat… but it still has TVP in it.  “Textured” vegetable protein.  Hmmm…?  We surely could do better than this!

The thing is, as noted, I don’t really need meat substitute products to taste LIKE beef or the animal du jour.  I just want them to taste GOOD, so I can serve them happily to my vegetarian friends, and enjoy them myself as well.  Tasting just like a beef burger is of little interest to me.  There are so many great taste sensations out in the world, so go for the gusto!

recipe, burger, vegetarian, black bean, egg, meat-free, spinach

Cook It!

I am leaving egg as a binder in this – I’m raising up hens and their eggs here, after all.  So, this isn’t vegan.  While I do have vegan friends, they all live far enough distantly, that I am not likely to be entertaining them here – and if I do, I’ll find a great Indian subcontinent recipe or three and make a great non-egg, non-burger recipe or more,  instead.

SO – my challenge:

  1. Vegetarian, no dairy but egg is acceptable. (Whatever one tops the burger with is on anyone.)
  2. Gluten-free, preferably grain-free as well.
  3. Tasty but no obligation to taste like meat.  In fact, that would be a defect.
  4. Moist, not dry.  And not that rubbery “gardenburger” texture.
  5. Won’t collapse and break apart either through the grill grates or on the way to the table.
  6. No faux food such as TVP or worse.

I’ll state right now that I will be using lettuce wraps (even without being semi-Paleo, I really and simply don’t like those heavy buns to begin with, and if nothing else, I’m glad Paleo came along to give me an excuse to decline them), and that I don’t own a bottle of ketchup, and have no plans in the immediate future to change that.  (If I get a bunch of folk over for burgers, yes, I’ll supply those folks that condiment as well as buns – but that’s not what’s arriving up right now.)

vegetarian, black bean, spinach, egg, recipe, meat-free, burger, veggie

The one without the mustard was a little too flat, and a little too wide. This one crumbled, the other two held together much better.

Yes, veggie burgers will take longer to prep up than the beef ones… but it is worth it to do them right.

Essentially, the spinach and the black beans weigh the same, but that’s the size packages of these two items come in, hereabouts.  So, effectively – 1:1 the spinach and the black beans!!!

Prep Time: 20 minutes.
Cook Time: About 10 minutes.
Rest Time: No.
Serves: 4-6.
Cuisine: American / Tex-Mex.
Leftovers:  Best to save patties prior to cooking – seal well and refrigerate, up to 3 days.


Vegetarian Burgers: Black Beans and Spinach

  • 1 bag of frozen chopped spinach (16 oz / 1 lb / 455 grams).  Thaw, and thoroughly squeeze out all the water using a fine sieve / cheese cloth over sieve / by the handful.
  • 1 can of black beans (15.5 oz / 140 grams), drained. (Reserve drainage)
  • 1 teaspoon ancho chili powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon chipotle chili powder
  • OPTIONAL:  1/4 teaspoon cayenne powder (taste first)
  • Salt and pepper to taste.
  • 2 tablespoons reserved black bean drainage
  • 1 egg

Mash the black beans coarsely using a masher, or pulse a few times in your food processor.

Add spinach and beans together, along with the seasonings, and taste.  Adjust as necessary.  Add back the two tablespoons of the black bean drainage (discard the rest).

Mix, taste again.

Beat in the egg and mix well.

Form patties, making sure they hold together well.  These may still not hold together as well as beef patties, but they should work.  Do not make over-large, or too flat – definitely a bit thicker than your standard store bought burger patty, but not out to an inch (2.5 cm) either.

Either in a skillet or on a prepped grill – use a healthy vegetable oil for the skillet – add each patty.

You won’t be able to use tongs to flip them, use a spatula.  In the skillet, cook about 5 minutes per side, medium high.  On the grill, on the hotter side, flip them at about 4 minutes.  Gently!  If you don’t think the texture of yours will hold up, I won’t tell if you use a sheet of foil under them.  Anyhow, let them get a little brown on both sides.

Serve hot on a bun, in or on a lettuce wrap – or by themselves.  Top with mustard or whatever thing you like to top your burgers with.

They don’t taste a thing like meat, but they’ve got a great Tex Mex flavor!  I’d eat these over most people’s beef burgers.  And they’re satiating.

Verdict:  They hit 5 out of 6 of my above-listed requirements, and if one is careful, #5 can be handled.

veggie burger, egg, spinach, black bean, meat-free, recipe, vegetarian

Happily linking to:  Full Plate Thursday, Fiesta Friday, What’s for Dinner – Sunday Link Up, Homestead Blog Hop,





Posted in Cooking, South of the Border, Vegetarian | Tagged , , , , , , | 12 Comments

Beef Burger Salting Decisions

Is:  Paleo, Whole30, a tasting experiment.  Note:  I use lettuce wraps cuz I love ’em.  Your mileage may vary.  

The received wisdom is that seasonings should be added atop the burgers, not mixed in.  At least that’s the current word from on high, or whatever direction such decisions come from.

recipe, ground beef, hamberger, salt, pepper

Two patties, ready for one skillet. Left patty, salt and pepper mixed in. Right patty – applied on top (and bottom)

My parents made their burgers mixing in whatever seasonings INTO the burgers.  I grew up loving them that way, and this is what I continue to do.  They’d buy ground meat, add in whatever (including that salt so allegedly detrimental within the burger innards) and go on from there.  Typically, Mom would add salt, pepper, finely chopped onion, Worcestershire or A-1 sauce, and maybe a few flicks of various other spice rack seasonings.  Occasionally, she’d add finely chopped bits of cheddar in there too.  Those burgers would be a good half inch thick.  And they were GOOD… okay, I wasn’t enamored of the A-1 sauce but it wasn’t always in there.

In fact, when I discovered McDonalds and Burger King, I called their burgers “hockey pucks you can slide under doors”.  (Still don’t like ’em.)

So, I’m experimenting.  And yes, it’s not a valid scientific experiment, as today the test subject is simply myself (sample sizes of ONE are not research….), and since I’m prepping the burgers, I know which one is which.  Experimenter bias, for sure.  But at least – I will know what works for me.


  • 1/4 lb ground beef
  • Coarse sea salt.  (If you use finely ground salt, do not REMOTELY start with 1/4 teaspoon.  Start with 1/8th teaspoon, see below.  It was even too much with coarsely ground salt.)
  • Ground pepper, either white or black.  My black pepper from TJ’s grinds out unevenly so I went with the finely ground white pepper from Badia.

I thawed out a pound of grass-fed, grass-finished ground beef — yes, my parents NEVER bought those pre-formed patties.  (I never do, either.)  I cut off 1/4 pound for each patty, and will be seasoning each with 1/4 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon ground white pepper.  The first:  mixed in.  The second:  atop.  Or, actually, roughly divided between top and bottom of the burger.

I hand-mixed both patties the same amount of time – judging on the former by how long it took to get the seasonings thoroughly mixed in and the patty shaped – as to to the second patty.  Don’t over do it.  Shape to the thickness you prefer (I actually make them a little flatter than Mom or Dad did).

Note – my parents (and I) always made the burgers and they were cooked near immediately after formation.  Even a final batch never sat around for more than 30 minutes before being tossed on the grill or in a skillet.

Test cook on your cook-top, not your grill.  At the very least, you want these patties to experience the same temperatures as each other, which is not as guaranteed on a grill.  (Plus, it was SNOWING out there when I ran the first test, Mother’s Day…)

Cook to your own personal fave level of done-ness, adding them at the same time, flipping them at the same time, and removing them from the skillet at the same time.  There may well be differences in how salt behaves with burgers cooked to varying done-ness, but as I’m only ever apt to make beef burgers at home using well-vetted local meat, I cooked mine to medium-rare.  (Supermarket ground beef should have no pink remaining at all.  And of course, I cook to guests’ preferences when they’re over…)

First few bites for each will be as-is.  I’ll get some lettuce wrap and mustard going for the rest of dinner!


  1. That 1/4 teaspoon of salt is way more than any human needs in a burger. Even using chunky sea salt.  (Fortunately, I like drinking water…)
  2. Might even be a tad too much of a good thing with the pepper – although personally I can tolerate this level more than I can that of the salt.
  3. The tastes were the same for each burger.  (Both salt or pepper.)
  4. The salt-on-exterior burger was marginally more tender inside than the salt-mixed-in one.
Recipe, ground beef, hamberger, salt, pepper

Photo from the 1/2 teaspoon experiment.

So, yes.  Repeat the test with a more sane amount of salt!  (Normally when making burgers I don’t measure seasonings – obviously I typically use way less!)  I created the burgers the same way as mentioned above, but only with 1/8 teaspoon of each seasoning per quarter pound of meat.  Oh, obviously (I hope it’s obvious) I didn’t run the two tests on the same day!!!   A pound of meat???


  1. This is still more salty than I’d prefer but this is at least enjoyable.
  2. Both patties tasted equally salty (and peppery).  I’m down with the amount of pepper here.
  3. I could detect no difference in tenderness between the two burgers.
  4. At least if you cook your patties fairly soon after seasoning, salt mixed in or just applied to the exterior (if done with a rational amount of this stuff) will really make no difference in the taste or moisture of your beef patty.

Oh, I have tried doing burgers without any salt at all in the past.  No… that doesn’t work either.  Let’s say 1/16th a teaspoon per quarter pound???

recipe, ground beef, hamberger, salt, pepper

One quarter teaspoon salt and pepper apiece.  The seasonings mixed in, to the left. Seasonings atop, to the right. Yes, I would cook longer for supermarket beef, and I actually prefer the done-ness as seen in the 1/2 teaspoon photo.

Conclusions I reached:

  • I believe I passed the Experimenter Bias portion of the test to state that, surprisingly, the salt outside the patty rather than inside the patty actually did result in a tender-er, more moist interior, at least at my preferred level of medium-rare burger done-ness.  IN the experiment done with the 1/4 teaspoon of salt…
  • However, the difference seemed marginal to me, though it does exist.  I wouldn’t notice it if I’d eaten the beef burgers 15 minutes apart.
  • Mind you that the difference may well grow more pronounced if you prepare the burger patties a significant time prior to the cooking of them (if you study this, store in fridge!)  Salt does draw water out of foods, this is an established thing.  I prep and eat (as did my parents, even if we had company), so I didn’t study this effect.  I may do so in the future – when I feel like eating another large bolus of beef.
  • I was also surprised to note that the same salt (and pepper) tastes came across in both patty prep methods.  I would have thought the taste to be “uneven” or “lost” if simply sprinkled atop, but it isn’t.
  • Sprinkle on top/bottom – or mix in… as long as you aren’t holding the ground beef for any type of time — you should be fine.
  • A good burger is still a good burger even if you don’t get to melt cheese across it while cooking… (since it would interfere with this experiment to hand.)

As an addendum, over my years of hamburger making (beef or lamb), things I personally like to add in:  (Not necessarily all in the same burger)

  • Salt and pepper – typically either ground black pepper or TJ’s Rainbow Peppercorn. 
  • Onions (unlike my parents, I sautee the finely chopped onion until translucent). 
  • Ground mustard powder.  
  • Occasionally, a mild chili powder, ie, Ancho.  
  • Garlic powder, sometimes.
  • Occasionally, Italian herbs, or fresh parsley.  Rosemary if lamb.
  • I don’t add liquids. While I might add an egg, maybe, regular liquids make the burgers harder to hold together.

PS:  Now that I have my own meat grinder, I am looking forward to grinding my own burgers, whether beef, lamb, pork or chicken.  The beef portion won’t happen until I eat down the freezer from my quarter cow farmshare – about half of which was provided as ground beef.  (Alas… if I’d been able to do a HALF cattle, I would have been able to select my own cuts.  I will not be participating in beef shares in the future since there’s no way I want half a cow frozen here, and no way I want not to be able to select my own cuts – there was no need to have half of it already ground!)

This post is linked to:

Fiesta Friday, co-hosted this week by Jhuls @ The Not So Creative Cook  and myself.  Drop on over and check out the menu!

Full Plate Thursday, with Miz Helen.

What’s for Dinner? Sunday Link-Up, over at the Lazy Gastronome.











Posted in Cooking, Meats | Tagged , , , , , | 9 Comments