İşkembe Çorbası: A Turkish Tripe Soup

Contains:  Offal.  Is:  Gluten-free, Paleo, Whole 30.  

I purchased two pounds of honeycomb tripe on February 6th; it was one of those lark things I discovered in the Price Chopper supermarket in Pittsfield, MA – that I will probably never stumble over again.   So, I bought it.  I’m my father’s daughter, who was nose to tail before that ever became a “thing”, or even an expression. Of course, this meant I grew up in a household where certain things were never broadcasted to me as being “unusual” or “weird”.   

recipe, tripe, Turkish, soup, Paleo, Whole 30, gluten-free, offal

Honeycomb tripe is the tripe or stomach lining from the first of the four stomachs of ungulate mammals such as cattle, sheep or goats.  Dad would prepare it Italian style, with a marinara sauce.  I even ate it once at a restaurant on Arthur Avenue. that bastion of traditional old-country Italian fare and culture in New York City.  I’ve always found it tender and able to take on the taste of the sauces it is prepared in.

Sort of, if you think about it, just like pasta.

recipe, tripe, Turkish, soup, Paleo, Whole 30, gluten-free, offal

A pound of beef tripe, after simmering 4 hours, but prior to slicing.

recipe, tripe, Turkish, soup, Paleo, Whole 30, gluten-free, offal

And, sliced up for the soup.

Divided it into half, and decided to delve into two different cuisines for the cooking thereof.  (I froze the other pound for later.  You may well see that someday…  Ahem, yes you will… planned for July or August…)

At any rate, there are a lot of cultures where tripe is cooked as part of their cuisines.  For this first recipe, I decided to make something where I effectively already had all the ingredients to hand, which left me with İşkembe çorbası, a soup hailing from Turkey.  If you want to know more about other cuisines that use tripe, check out this link:  From the Post-Gazette.

I made the recipe nearly exactly, except that to thicken the soup, I used arrowroot instead of wheat flour, in order to make it gluten-free, Whole 30, and Paleo.  Since that’s the demographic I prefer to write for as often as possible.  I also don’t ever have bouillon cubes in the house, preferring to use home made broth, or to use boxed low sodium substitutes.  We adapt for many thought-out reasons!

recipe, tripe, Turkish, soup, Paleo, Whole 30, gluten-free, offal

Preparing to serve. The minced garlic and the apple cider vinegar side bowls are to enhance at will this soup.  They do it well, too.  Great blend!  NOTE:  I like Chinese soup spoons to the exclusion of any other type, and will always use them for any soups I make.  No matter the soup’s ethnic origin.

Besides, The Spruce Eats has this to say about arrowroot starch used as a thickener:

“Arrowroot powder has twice the thickening power of wheat flour and because it contains no protein, arrowroot is gluten-free. Unlike cornstarch, arrowroot powder creates a perfectly clear gel and does not break down when combined with acidic ingredients like fruit juice. Arrowroot also stands up to freezing whereas mixtures thickened with cornstarch tend to break down after freezing and thawing.”


“Arrowroot powder can be substituted for flour thickeners at a ratio of one teaspoon of arrowroot powder for every one tablespoon of flour.”

I’ve never noticed a taste difference between it and flour as a thickener.

One thing I read once, is that tripe stinks when it is cooking/boiling.  I never remembered that from my childhood when my parents would cook it, nor did I notice anything “off” about the aroma here in my house for this recipe.  And I’d gone outside during part of the process to take care of the chickens.  I usually notice aromas upon return!  (Maybe their tripe hadn’t been properly cleaned before that was acquired!)

PS:  I am pretty sure lamb tripe won’t need 4 hours of boiling.  Indeed, I think my beef tripe would have been fine after three, but for certain things such as timings, I’m following the recipe.

Prep Time:  About 30 minutes, mostly while the tripe is cooking.
Cook Time:  About 4.5 hours.  Not for a workday night!
Rest Time:  None.
Serves: 4 adventurous souls.
Cuisine:  Turkish.
Leftovers:  Yes. Because of the egg, re-heat gently.

İşkembe Çorbası: A Turkish Tripe Soup

  • 1 pound/ 600 grams veal or beef tripe, cleaned.  Lamb tripe may also be used.
  • Water.  Recipe said 12 cups, but I think that’s a typo.  I didn’t measure but made sure there was always enough to cover the tripe, and added in another cup at the end.  And used my spoon to taste.
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 2 tbsp. butter
  • 1 tbsp. arrowroot flour
  • 2 cups chicken broth, low sodium.  Beef should work fine, too.  
  • 2 egg yolks
  • Juice of 1 lemon
  • 1 cup vinegar
  • 4 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 3 tbsp. butter
  • 1 tbsp. hot red pepper flakes


Take your cleaned tripe (it should be white, scraped of fat and so forth.  If you find it in a supermarket, it will most likely have been “bleached” white in a baking soda solution.  Anyhow, rinse and wash it further under cold water.

Boil the water and salt in a pot that will contain them.  Once boiling, add the tripe and cover.  Simmer gently for four hours.  If scum appears atop the water, remove with a spoon.

Tripe will take a while to tenderize.  At about four hours, beef tripe should be ready to remove from the liquid.  Remove any extra fat, this will appear as soft blobs on the smooth side of the tripe.  Slice into thin segments, which should be about bite-sized.  I use kitchen sheers for speed.  Return this to the soup, and add the low sodium beef or chicken broth.  Simmer further, about 10 minutes.

In a small skillet, melt the 2 tablespoons of butter, and add 1 teaspoon of arrowroot powder.  Stir gently until combined.  Whisk as you add a couple ladles of the broth.  Let the mixture thicken, then add to the soup, letting the soup simmer another 15 minutes.

Add salt to taste.  (I didn’t need any more.)

Meanwhile, beat the egg yolks with the lemon juice.  Then, beat it into the soup, slowly, with continual stirring.  Return heat to a high temperature, but don’t let this boil.


In a small skillet, melt the 3 tablespoons of butter or margarine and stir in hot pepper flakes.

Add the soup to each serving bowl, and then drizzle a taste of the butter/pepper flake mixture over each bowl, and serve.

Provide the minced or crushed garlic and the vinegar in separate bowls. Diners should spoon vinegar and/or garlic into their own bowls according to taste.

My source for the above Turkish tripe recipe:  https://www.thespruceeats.com/turkish-tripe-soup-hangover-cure-3274350. 

Keep in mind I DID adapt.

Turkish tripe soup, İşkembe Çorbası, recipe, soup, beef, tripe


Verdict:  I like this a LOT, especially when adding the garlic and vinegar, and yes, a pinch more hot pepper, but I am also looking forward to making an Italian marinara version of tripe later this summer, since that’s what I grew up with.   Or maybe I’ll do menudo (Mexican tripe soup), since I’ve never sampled that.  As noted, that other half of my tripe is in the freezer… run and hide!  At least, nothing is wasted…

This soup is supposed to be a hangover cure.  I didn’t test that function.  Any of my readers inclined to experiment, please do get back to me!!

Was in a rush to get on the road yesterday, so forgot to link to Fiesta Friday’s link party. before heading out.  Here we go!   Fiesta Friday Co-hosted with Fiesta Friday’s wonderful Angie, along with: Ai @ Ai Made It For You

And, since we are about not wasting the odd bits (or hiding them in hot dogs, yes, these things are there…) here we go, bringing this recipe to The Homestead Blog Hop.  



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

Be Fruit-Full: Maintaining Blueberry Grove

A Note

You can follow moments of my homesteading “journey” if you click the “Journal 2019” tab at the top of this page.  Even if you’ve subscribed here, my updating that page isn’t going to send you automatic e-mail updates.  So… if you get the chance, just look over there now and then!

Blueberry Grove

The field my house is situated on has a gentle slope down to the south, which rolls a bit deeper in two locations.  I put my house on the first one, so I could enjoy the benefits of a walk-out basement.  The second one leads on down to another spot, which friends and I have named Blueberry Grove.  Here there are something like seven or eight highbush blueberry trees or shrubs — I definitely think of the tallest one (which I’ve named Grandfather Blueberry), as a tree, as it stands well over 11 feet and could well be taller than that.  (When DOES a shrub become a tree, after all???)

homesteading, blueberries, highbush blueberry, pruning

Photo shows snow cover as of April 3rd. This is a grouping of three smaller highbush blueberries.

The ground back here is the last to lose snow in spring, and the ground during wet seasons is on the mushier side.  As I set up to type this, a rather large deer was strolling around back there (and I do see frequent deer scat in the location).

Homesteading, blueberry, high bush blueberry, pruning

Looking up into the hands and fingers of Grandfather Blueberry. A lot of new growth on this tree. The pine stands to its right.

Grandfather Blueberry stands next to a very nice bushy pine, which reminds me I really should pull out one of the nature books to determine what type that pine is.  When I first bought this property, there were several spectacular specimens of paper birch surrounding the field, of which (after a severe ice storm followed by wind) few remain – but those that did are in the relative protection of the edges of Blueberry Grove.  Behind the grove is the tree line, followed quickly by one of those old New England stone walls, e demarks my property line.

The blueberries clearly predate my tenure here.  This was farmland once, and the field has intermittent ancient apples at the peripheries, clearly once planted.  The old farmer may well have planted these, or they may have cropped up, wild.  Blueberries are after all a native species.

The Northern Highbush Blueberry

The highbush blueberry (Vaccinium corymbosum), is native to east Canada, the eastern US as far south as upper Florida and eastern Texas – which surprises me.  It’s considered a shrub but can grow (they say) as tall as 12 feet.  It is pretty certain that Native Americans cultivated them.  It does not self pollinate, so I am indeed glad I have more than one.  It loves moist and acidic soils.  (Some of the info in this paragraph came from Wikipedia; some I already knew.)

homesteading, blueberries, highbush blueberry, pruning

The second blueberry that I’m on my way to prune. This one is about 7 feet tall.

Pruning the Blueberries

I decided to prune two of the highbush blueberries not at the moment surrounded by snow.  One would be Grandfather Blueberry.  Obviously, I’m not reaching up 11 feet for the job, but the upper reaches looked pretty vibrant.  (The rest are still surrounded by snow and I didn’t want to put tools or camera down in that; plus the day was fading towards dusk.)

homesteading, blueberries, highbush blueberry, pruning

Cyndi Lopper and her sidekick, Prunella.

I’d pruned them once in the past, several years prior to building the home.  Before that — they’d probably not been pruned in ages.  Every year they still bear fruit, but they could do a better job if pruned on a regular basis.   (Although I was living here last year, my knee was still unsteady enough, and the snow lasted even longer, that I decided not to do it.)

Prune in spring – if you live further south, you certainly should do this in March.  Being officially in Zone 5B – although I think my microclime is a shade colder than that – early April works.  You want to prune before things leaf out.  For one thing, visibility as to what you want to cut away will be a lot better!

Homesteading, blueberries, highbush blueberry, pruning

Hoping the details of new growth show up here — especially 12 o’clock to 3 o’clock positions. You’ll see the reddish bark, and those little buds!

First, get an overview of what the general health of the bush is.  New twigs will be a reddish hue, old dead twigs will be gray.  Old canes/thick branches will also be gray but follow them out to their ends and see how they branch into new life.  Or if not.

For thin twigs, use a sharp pruner.  Cut either at the base of the branching, as close as possible, or if you aren’t removing the whole twig, just after a new leaf bud.

Homesteading, blueberries, highbush blueberry, pruning

A post-lopping

For thick branches, evaluate.  Sometimes central ones will be smothered out by side branches, so you may want to make an effort to remove those, even if there appears to be good new growth above on them.  It will in part depend on what those other branches are doing.  You do want to promote air circulation in your blueberries.   Also, something running away from the base of the tree, with suckers growing up… decided that had to go, too.

homesteading, blueberries, highbush blueberry, pruning.

A lower branch that just didn’t seem to fit in. Note the suckers (which are alive). Off screen to the right there are some good twigs, but for the sake of the whole, this limb had to go.

Oh, and yes… since I had the camera out with me, I really had to shoot the chickens.  They free-ranged while I pruned, but then on my way back to the house, I put them to bed, and…

Homesteading, chickens

I’m in the coop, having just changed out their water, and taking a photo from the coop door out into the chicken run. That’s Goldilocks, my one and only golden-laced Wyandotte hen. Beautiful bird!

By the way, I’m not pruning as extensively as one can prune them.  Generally, they can take quite a hit.  Also, I’m saving most of the cuttings to see how they behave in a grill smoker later this summer.

PS, the other Be Fruit-Full post, about citrus, stone fruit (currently apples and plums on the horizon), figs, elderberries and persimmon) has also just been posted.  That one deals more with what I am working on and have made plans to cultivate, rather than a strict “How To”.  That should come once I’m further established!

Cyndi Lopper and Prunella invite you to check out the link parties at:



Posted in Foraging, Vegetarian | Tagged , , , , | 4 Comments

Be Fruit-Full: The Citrus, Stonefruits, and Others Here

Fruit trees I Have, Current Status, and Incoming


Homesteading, citrus, lime, overwinter

Until I get my greenhouse up and running, the citrus trees have to come indoors for winter, as this is Zone 5 B, and they aren’t winter hardy.  Once the main greenhouse is established, they’ll overwinter in it.  Alas, I lost my Thai/kefir lime over the winter, as someone forgot to water it often enough, but it was a fruitful bearing tree.  (No, I have no idea who that could be…)  Another is on order, and will arrive the last week of April.  Note to self – when tucking trees indoors for the winter, place them where one will stumble over them!

homesteading, homestead, citrus, lime, growing

Bearss lime buds, after flower petals have fallen away.

Bearss  Lime (Citrus x latifolia):  Purchased 2017.  I got one good lime last fall from it.  Right now it has just provided a bumper crop of flowers, and some baby lime buds are forming.  I’m pruning off anything dead, and will wait until the lime buds hit about an inch to decide what to prune from what it is potentially bearing.  No way this 3 foot tree could support the body of potential fruit, so I will let the tree do some self-selecting, and continue the job for it at that point as needed.  (PS, this is your regular supermarket lime.)

citrus, grapefuit, growing, homesteading, homestead

Grapefruit, flowering.  The flowers are larger than the bearss lime flowers.

Pink/Red Grapefruit (Citrus x paradisi):  Purchased 2018.  This four foot tree is scraggly, and is now pruned of dead areas.  What remains however has just gone into prolific flower.  I will treat it as per the Bearss Lime, although since grapefruits grow bigger than limes when ripe, I’m only planning on allowing two fruits to come to, ahem, fruition this year.

Blood Orange (Citrus x sinensis):  Purchased 2017.  I’ve yet to see a flower on this thing since the day I got it.  However, there’s a proliferation of shiny fresh green leaves on it.  It stands about two feet tall, and fills out nicely.  I’ll baby it along, since maybe it really wants to put in the green before considering flowering or fruiting.

Australian Finger Lime (Citrus australasica):  Purchased 2017.  I got a couple finger limes its first year here.  It is getting a good pruning since parts of it seem hardy and other parts seem, well, dried out in not so good a way.  I am DETERMINED to get some good finger limes this year!

Citrus, lime, homesteading, overwinter

Flower petals will drop off. So will some of the incipient baby fruit, all on their lonesome. The thing knows it can’t set ALL the fruit. This is from the bearss lime.

Some day I hope to be raising up regular and Meyer lemons, and clementines.  But let’s get these under the belt, first!


Apples (Malus pumila): 

There are several ancient gnarly apple trees that bear sour yellow/green apples around the perimeter of this property.  Before I built here, bears were spotted climbing them for the fruit.  I’m not really up for personally pruning them back to health – it sounds rather thankless, expensive, and a cause for landscapers to push pesticides I’d prefer not to use or breathe in.  Maybe later I’ll pinpoint a tree or two I can salvage for fruit.  (I’m certainly not adverse to sour.)

My first apple mini-orchard was planted in 2017.  Four trees, only one of which survived.  My goal with the apples is to plant easily-picked mini-dwarfs.  Most apples need neighboring apples of different varieties that bloom at the same time, in order to fruit.  So although my survivor flowered in 2018, his/her efforts at fruiting were in vain.

A new mini orchard (this time five trees) arrives at the end of this month.

Trees scheduled to arrive for the mini-dwarf apple orchard of 2019:

  • Red Belle de Boskoop
  • Chehalis
  • Honeycrisp
  • Pristine
  • William’s Pride

Just to note, my surviving apple sapling is also a William’s Pride.   I do really like the flavor of the Honeycrisp, but am less familiar with the other varieties.  (When you save money by getting several trees at once, as a mini-orchard, you don’t get to pick varieties.  I’ll love them.)

yard cement cat

Yard Cat

Plums (Prunus sp.):

I absolutely LOVE plums.  So, a plum mini-orchard of four trees also is due to arrive month’s end.

  • Jam’s Session E Plum / Mariana
  • Coe’s Golden Drop E Plum/ Mariana
  • Imperial Epineuse E Plum / Juliana
  • Early Laxon E Plum / Mariana

NO idea what these above will really be like!

Other Fruit Trees

The Fig (Ficus carica):

My original Chicago Hardy fig (2017) is spindly, but is starting to leaf out – one leaf right now.  I had received three teensy sprigs of fig last year, but they failed to survive even before summer was over.  Again, this is a plant I overwinter inside.

The Elderberry (Sambucus sp.):

I couldn’t plant it last year – it is doing well and leafing inside my house.  It goes outside for good this spring.  Part of the problem was location – until the raised beds are blocked in, deciding where to plant it would be complicated by the fact I want it near but not atop the bed area.  Those purple berries, while nutritious, can be a pita if they fall, splat, and stain things you don’t want them staining.

The Persimmon (Diospyros sp.): 

This weeping variety is in the front yard, and seems to be putting out leaf buds.  I can’t wait!  I can’t get a great photo alas.  This variety doesn’t need another to fruit, and is supposedly winter-hardy.

plant-ladys mantle

A young perennial Lady’s Mantle (Alchemilla vulgaris), beginning to emerge from the garden. (Transplanted from my old home last year.)   Not a fruit, but photographed “just because”

The highbush blueberries are in the next post today – this particular post is getting long in the tooth.

citrus, grapefruit, flowering, homestead, homesteading, growing

Citrus again. Flower buds  to the right.  (Grapefruit)


This post is shared at the Homestead Blog Hop, as someday I really hope to be raising up a good portion of home grown fruit.  Slow going, however!  

Also shared with:   Fiesta Friday Co-hosted with Fiesta Friday’s wonderful Angie, by: Ai @ Ai Made It For You







Posted in Cooking, Gardening | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Baked Ham with Mustard, Balsamic Reduction, Maple Syrup, Clove

Contains:  Added sugars in the ham, and via the maple syrup.  Is:  Gluten-free, night-shade free, handy for Easter.

(AND you get some ideas for sides at the bottom!)

baked ham, Easter, recipe, maple syrup, peach cider, mustard, cloves

Baked ham, glazed with a mustard, balsamic reduction, and maple syrup.

This past summer I bought a pasture-raised half a pig from a local (as in back in Connecticut) farmer.  I had the ham and the hocks smoked (as well as some of the bacon — aka belly meat).  In the past, I’ve tried some ham meat not-smoked and cut into steaks, but wasn’t really impressed.  Smoking and curing does bring this cut – the hind leg to the shank – out.

ham, recipe, Easter, maple syrup, balsamic reduction, clove, peach cider

Waiting for the oven!

So, I decided it was a perfect item to serve at a dinner party – the ham, that is.  I decided to glaze it, but to minimize any added sugars I might bring to my table.  The smoking / curing process (not done by me) added salt and probably sugar to the ham proper.  So when cooking I added no extra salt, and only a minimal amount of sugar, for a layer of glaze, via maple syrup, another product of my geographic region.  A balsamic reduction  would provide a bit of tartness, cloves naturally go with ham, and a layer of Georgia peach cider (obtained on a road trip down to see family in Florida) would keep the beast moist while cooking.

recipe, peach cider, ham

The cider! Georgia Peach World is located off of I-95 with plenty of signage in the lower part of this state. I loved two of their salsas, too. (Third one I tried was too sweet.) When I drive back to family, I’ll stop again.

So… dinner party for five!  This would have served eight people happily, too.  You could consider this for Easter Dinner, if you so celebrate, as well.  It’s that season!

recipe, ham, easter, mustard, balsamic reduction, maple syrup, clove

Yes, we ate without me taking photos of the finished dish, and I sliced a few pieces this next morning for my breakfast. Lovely repast(s). A lot of what remains will be bone, but plenty of food for eight!

Prep Time:  Allow 45-60 minutes for the ham to come to room temp; actual prep about 10 min.
Cook Time:  2.5 hours (20 min / pound).
Rest Time:  15 minutes.
Serves: 8, maybe 10.
Cuisine:  American.
Leftovers:  Yes.  Add to omelets, salads, sandwiches, etc.

Baked Ham with Mustard, Balsamic Reduction, Maple Syrup, Clove

  • Around 10 lb / 4.5 kg ham, shank end, bone-in.  
  • 1/4 cup / 60 mL of a quality Dijon mustard
  • 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar reduction
  • 2 tablespoons real maple syrup
  • Ground pepper to taste – I used about 1/3 teaspoon.
  • About 25 whole cloves (or a teaspoon of ground clove)
  • 1 cup / 240 mL sparkling peach cider, or apple cider.

Preheat oven to 325 F / 165 C.

Thaw ham in fridge starting a couple days prior to cooking.  Pull from fridge about 45 – 60 minutes prior to cooking.

Score the ham with a sharp knife, especially through the fat pad.

In a suitable baking pan deep enough to contain juices without sloshing, place the ham.  (For stability, and for any sloshing I might do when basting, I also had a full size cookie sheet underneath.  I sloshed.  Do it.)

In a separate small bowl, mix the mustard, balsamic reduction, maple syrup, and ground pepper, adding the ground clove if you are using that.  Mix together, and slather over your ham, all exposed surfaces, and rub into the scorings.

Add the whole cloves (if you didn’t use the ground clove), poking into crevices of the ham, laying a few on top as well.

Pour the cider around the ham.

Bake ham 20 minutes per pound at 325 F / 165 C.  Baste with juices about every 30-40 minutes.  If your ham gets too brown, and is in danger of charring, you can cover with foil, but mine was fine.

Remove, let rest for 15 minutes prior to slicing and serving.

Serve with a variety of mustards and horseradish sauce.  I really like the Boar’s Head horseradish sauce!!

ham, easter, recipe mustard, maple syrup, clove, balsamic reduction, peach cider

For this dinner party, I served the above with: (merely suggestions, of course)  

  • Coarsely mashed Yukon gold potatoes / onion, seasoned with salt, pepper, nutmeg, with added butter.  Spread out on baking pan, topped with Fontina and re-heated in the oven while the ham rested.  Chopped jalapeños on the side for those who wanted extra “kick” – as I knew at least one guest would appreciate.  And one who would most definitely not!
  • Veggie stir fry with snow peas, broccoli, baby yellow carrots (yes, real babies, not those silly tough cored things), red bell pepper, green onion.  Seasoned with Chinese 5 Spice, ground pepper, teriyaki, garlic, cooked in high temp Chosen brand avocado oil.  With a splash of sesame to finish.
  •  Salad, with red leaf lettuce, cuke, red onion, capers, Gala apple, and oh — I forgot to add the watercress!   (At least it wasn’t something critical like forgetting to turn on the oven…)  Dressing choices:  Annie’s Balsamic or Annie’s Shiitake Sesame.  (Normally I would also have made my own vinaigrette, but dinner got moved up an hour.)
  • And a guest brought the wine:  Sea Pearl, a 2018 Sauvignon Blanc / Marlborough. (She also supplied a red, but the vote was for the white.)  A very good, and now-recommended wine!

Oh, and next morning’s breakfast:  (dive into leftovers!)

Home-grown egg omelet with ham, snow peas, slivers of baby carrot, a touch of bell pepper, Gala apple, a hint of jalapeño, and Fontina cheese.  With a little bit of that horseradish sauce.


ham omelet, Fontina, snow peasham omelet, Fontina, snow peas

Let’s hear it for:





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

Braised Rooster Legs with Wine and Sage

Contains:  Alcohol (cooked off).  Is:  Gluten-free, grain-free, dairy-free, nightshade-free (the bell pepper is not part of the recipe, and is present to add color to the photography.  Any salad or other side would work), Paleo.


Well, I pulled out a couple home grown legs from the freezer (thigh and drumsticks together), and decided to surf around for further rooster-y ideas.  These legs are from male broiler chickens about 21 weeks old, a bit more tough than supermarket ones, but not really old birds, either.

rooster, chicken, braised, sage, peppercorns, wine, gluten-free, recipe, simple and easy

A serving of braised rooster leg, cooked in sage wine sauce, which is also drizzled over the serving.

I let them thaw for a couple days, this extra time will help tenderize them.  You can also let them “age” for a couple days immediately after harvesting in your fridge before depositing them in the freezer.  This gets the poultry past the stage of rigor mortis.  Also, there’s the whole “low and slow” aspect of cooking older birds – ideally, these roosters of mine should have been harvested around twelve – fourteen weeks.  But it is also good to have a few low and slow rooster recipes to hand in case you ever have to cull a mean rooster that you’d intended to have watch your laying flock of hens.  Or if you decide that your hens are too old to lay and you don’t have the room to maintain them.  (That, though, may well be chicken and dumplings, a dish my mother made with tougher stewing grocery birds that were available in my childhood.)

rooster, chicken, braised, sage, peppercorns, wine, gluten-free, recipe, simple and easy

Actively foraging chickens will have very little fat. The fat that does exist was markedly more golden than the colors this photo shows.

I used dried ground sage since I had already begun thawing the chicken, and I didn’t see any other reason to go to the “nearby” supermarket 35 minutes away just on the rather off chance that they had fresh sage available, for the next several days.  (In the summer, I’ll be able to access my own.)  When you live rural, you improvise.  Yes, I plan to have an indoor herb garden for the most-used herbs (which probably doesn’t include sage), and in 2020 I should have an actual greenhouse, which may well include sage.

These legs are from another bag where I saved up one from each broiler type I was tasting, the black and the red broilers.  To see if there is any difference between them in the gustatory department.  (The black broilers did tend to get larger.)

rooster, chicken, braised, sage, peppercorns, wine, gluten-free, recipe, simple and easy

The larger (thicker) leg belonged to the black broiler, the other was from a red broiler. Both legs were about the same length.  Both tasted the same, although the black broiler leg was more tender. They are more filling than legs one gets from the supermarket.

Anyhow, here is the recipe.

Prep Time:   5 minutes.
Cook Time:  70 minutes, including the browning.
Rest Time:  15 minutes.
Serves:  2.
Cuisine:  Homesteading with Roosters.
Leftovers:  Yes.  Refrigerate with sauce and re-heat.

Braised Rooster Legs with Wine and Sage

  • 2 legs (both drumstick and thigh) – mildly aged is best, if possible.
  • 2 tablespoons / 30 mL oil
  • ¼ cup / 60 mL dry white wine (Use a dry apple cider if preferred)
  • 1 cup / 240 mL low sodium chicken broth
  • 3/4 teaspoon ground dried sage, or if you have them, 6-8 fresh sage leaves
  • Around 10 peppercorns

Heat the oil in a medium or large skillet on medium over the range.

Add the rooster legs, drying them with a paper towel first.  Sear them until brown, 3-4 minutes skin side down, flip over and do the other side for the same amount of time.

Remove briefly from skillet.  Add the sage in, stirring lightly for 30 seconds.  Deglaze with the wine, scraping up that fond.

Return chicken to skillet, add the peppercorns and broth, and cover, reducing the temperature to low, but allow the liquid to lightly simmer.  Occasionally drizzle the liquid over the legs.   Braise for an hour.

The legs should be tender when pierced, and the sauce should have thickened to some degree.  You can reduce the liquid further by boiling around five minutes, uncovered.  If too thick for your tastes, add a couple tablespoons more of broth.

Rest the chicken, covered, about 15 minutes.  Discard peppercorns.

Plate the chicken legs, adding the sage and wine sauce over them.  Serve and enjoy.

This is a dish that could also be made with supermarket chicken legs, you may wish to cook them a shorter period of time.  Test them with the tines of a fork; if you can easily pierce them, they are done.  You would not need to “age” supermarket chicken, nor should you be likely to need to “age” broiler roosters that had been harvested into the freezer at the appropriate week, at least not for two days.  (I’ll let you know with the next batch!)

They are filling… I ate the one (and the bell pepper slices), and only because I wanted to check any difference between the two broiler types, I took one bite of the thigh of the red broiler at that time, saving the rest for later.  There was a mild but noticeable toughness to the red broiler not present in the black.  Overall flavor was the same and delightful.

rooster, chicken, braised, sage, peppercorns, wine, gluten-free, recipe, simple and easy

Linkie doohickies this time around:






Posted in Cooking, Poultry | Tagged , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Raising Chickens, Part V: The Bin, or Storage at Your Coop

Like me, you may well have a bin for chicken supplies.  Or, you may be keeping your chickens in a more barn-style coop, where you can have a dedicated storage room or at the least, a high storage shelf or three.

If you only have three hens, and they live next to your house, you may feel perfectly justified in keeping supplies in the garage or near a walk-out basement door.  Cool beans, as a friend likes to say.  Whatever your storage facility, the below are things that could be handy to store near your flock.   Do let me know if you think I’m missing something!!!

Homesteading, chickens, coop, storage

Finally 49 degrees F this afternoon! By the end of the week I’m hoping there will be enough snow gone they can forage properly. At any rate: The Bin!

What I Don’t Store in an Outdoor Bin

What you don’t want to store outdoors in a non-temperature controlled environment (or in your unheated garage) are any chicken medications.   They generally don’t respond well to storage in extremes or major fluctuations of temperature, even if they aren’t going to freeze on you.  (Mine are by the back door of my walk out basement.)  Obviously, I also don’t keep lard or tallow cakes out there (fridge or freezer works fine, freezer being optimal for ease of removal from the molds you form cakes in).  

General Notes about This Bin

My bin has worked out for me very well.  It has a heavy lid, that will keep any critter out (bears could lift the lid, but they’re really not that much interested in doing so).  This lid comes with a hydraulic lift, which means as long as I don’t have any noticeable snow atop it, I can open the bin and the lid will remain open for me.  You could supply your lid with a padlock if you choose.   I do get an influx of crickets late summer, but I just scooped them up into the feed and gave them to the chickens… no complaints!  However, no signs of mice have been detected.  (This would be harder to prevent in a dedicated storage rom or on a high storage shelf.)

My bin’s dimensions are approximately 6 feet by 2 feet.  The standard ones offered via the Mennonite source are 4 feet by 2 feet – I added on the two extra feet of length for the sake of having pine shavings there without needing to trundle too much more down in the winter.  Plus, 4 didn’t seem enough anyway.  Yes, I did have to make a winter run, but I didn’t have to do many of those.  As for the height, I have an effective height at the front of the bin of 21 inches, and at the back, of 32 inches.  The slope of the lid supposedly helps snow slide off, but that’s what the shovel or broom mentioned below are for.  (Or a good swipe with my gloved hands!)

What’s in My Bin Outside

homesteading, chicken, coop, storage

Far upper left: bedding that’s more sawdust than shavings, topped by the “pooper scooper” Next to it, TSC pine shavings, room for another bundle in front of it. Lying atop is my handy dandy broom.

Pine Shavings.  There’s also a bundle of pine sawdust – I’d bought these by mistake; the smaller pine bits are really too fine to toss on the floor where chickens will stir them up and inhale the lighter-than-air residues.  Not lung-healthy!  I find they are fine for me to add to the clean out pan (that poop tray) under the roosts, since the birds are unable to get down into them to scratch.  I have enough space to save up to 3 bundles of pine for bedding here, with plenty of space for everything else.

Pooper Scooper.   Unlike the ones for cat boxes, this has no holes at the bottom for bedding to drop through.  You want it flat on the bottom, too.  This is dedicated for Poop Tray cleaning.  Nice flat surface scoops the bedding up, along with the droppings nicely nestled atop, plop the stuff in a suitable receptacle, trundle it away to your compost locale, dump, come back, rinse, repeat… (No need to rinse until you are done, actually.  And in the winter, I don’t rinse.  Not until I can drag a hose out here for the season.)  I keep it on the bedding side of the bin.

Trash Bags.  I use this to port the used back end of the chicken raising process towards something I can recycle into compost.  I may decide when spring arrives and it is easier to carry a large pail or bucket off to the side, to make one of the pails discussed below, dedicated for this purpose instead.  While winter reigns, pails are not yet a good idea for someone with seriously bad knees.  I like the heavy duty Contractor Style Trash Bags.  You may even find other uses for them.  Oh, I also save a leftover feed bag or two (they’re hardy) for disposing of random trash generated down at the coop.

Chicken Feed.  To keep the feed fresh with temperature variations, I bring it out in no more than about 25 pound increments.  Most important in the heat of the summer, if your spot is rodent-safe, you can store more in winter.  I dump it into a large pail that was originally meant to be turned into a cheapo-quicko outdoor garden pot.  Since I never got around to putting the drainage holes in these pails, they’ve become feed and tool receptacles.  It is easier (read, quicker) to pull feed out of a pail on a daily basis than out of a bag.  Some people, bin size depending, will use those metal trash cans.


homesteading, chickens, coop, storage

Bucket for feed, and the feed scooper. Behind is an empty bag of feed, for tossing in stuff to dispose of. Second bucket for all sorts of useful odds and ends. You can glimpse a bit of extra chain at the bottom of the photo, not in a bucket.

Those Pails.  One for feed, one for porting fresh bedding around.  Makes life easier.  I have room for the third pail, but it is not essential.  I keep other things in it, but they could just as easily hang around on the feed side of the bin without being im-pailed… (sorry, I’m in a bad pun mood today… Dad jokes, and I’m not even a Dad.)

Food Scooper.  It looks just like the Chicken Pooper Scooper.  To save on confusion, I got one for each function, two different colors.  Green is for Go!  Any other color is for… Gone.   What’s good is you can measure out approximate amounts of feed, depending on the number of chickens who are dependent on you.

The Broom.  Yes, for my situation, I went with a 12-inch wide broom.  Reaches into the crevices of the coop floor for easiest clean up.  A wide broom would be more awkward to use in my coop.  A few more strokes (maybe), but I am very happy using it here. In a more barn-like setup, a wider broom would be more efficient.  This broom is also super handy for sweeping snow off the top of the bin, and for the roof area over the doorway.  Seriously, you don’t want snow dropping off the roof over the run entryway on a warm day, freezing up, and impeding entry the next morning.  No, clean it off, shovel the excess away, and you are good. (I do not keep the snow shovel in the bin… but it is nearby.  Handle up and out and waiting.)

homesteading, chickens, coop, storage

Here we see a third bucket/pail, which I use to cart shavings over to where the chickens most need them. Or for anything else that might come up. There’s also the crickets and mealworm bags. The trash bags are back and behind here. You may also note a mat behind the broom handle – that’s for stepping onto the epoxy flooring of the coop proper when I’m wearing those spiky crampons.

Snacks.  I don’t feed my chickens the Fritos of the poultry world, so no corn scratch.  They do have small bags for dried mealworms and crickets out there.

Grit and Oyster Shell packages.  I replenish their in-run supply when they run out, for each of these things.  Grit, of course, should not be mistaken for grits, which is a dish made for humans from corn… Chicken grit are small pebbles that help the crop of the chicken to digest, not the Southern grits my Kentucky grandmother made a wonderful casserole out of (and that I’ve been seriously disappointed with every other place I’ve tried them the rest of my life to date).  Their grit supply is seriously shelf-stable for a lifetime.  Several of our lifetimes.

Scissors.  Useful for opening up anything that claims to be readily-opened… but ain’t.  Keeping a pair down at the bin is useful.  Also, with the properly sharp set, you can clip wing feathers if you should ever need to do so.

Extra Links of Chain, plus Screws, and Such.  While I keep the screw/drill gun indoors (where it can charge up on its electrified lithium battery diet), keeping some of such supplies out in the bin lets me know it’s all there in one spot.  Always thinking of better ways to hang things… this spring, I’m putting in an outdoor roost inside their run.

An old large-sized cloth bath towel.  Could be ripped up, damaged from its past, something you’d toss out if you weren’t homesteading.  If you need to remove a chicken for some health reason, you can wrap this around her and will be able to carry her more easily, without freaking her out.  Yes, there are carriers, and I’ll discuss somewhere in the future, but… sometimes when it is slippery out there, a good solid old LARGE bath towel is a wonderful thing.  It may also be useful if you need to restrain a chicken for in-coop medication.   (So far, I’ve been able to handle the hens without the towel, but I’m not so certain about the rooster…)

A  Roll of Paper Towels.  You never know what you might need some for!

Those Yellow Kitchen Gloves.  Again, why not?  They will age and leak after extremes of temperature, but are easily replaced.  Alternatively, you can use those single-use food service gloves, but I’d prefer to re-use (rather than single-use) plastics as often as possible.  Depends on what you need to do.

There’s also a door mat in there, in case in winter (hello, winter, go away?) I need to step on the epoxy floor in sharp crampons.  Certainly not good for that sort of surface!

One thing I plan to do come true spring is line the bottom of the bin with good shelving material.  While I haven’t gotten anything wet down their to date that will eat at the untreated internal wood, I really want to have a quick and easy way to get most of the bits of dropped bedding and feed up and out of there during cleanup times.   Right now my plan is to scrape that stuff all to one side and use the feed scooper to pull the stuff up.

Things That I Might Add in the Future

homesteading, chickens

This will go up on either the coop, or on the tractor for the meat birds in a couple weeks.

When I upgrade my watering systems to nipple feeds, extra watering nipples.

When True Spring arrives and I can run a hose down to the coop, extra of those rubber nozzle hose inserts that keep water from spraying ever which way.

When the electric is set up, extra light bulbs, preferably LED.

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

Future Posts:

  • Feeding My Laying Hens
  • Predation!
  • Medical supplies and treatments for your chickens.
  • Recommended book, magazine and online sources for chicken learning!

In a mood of more quiet contemplation this week (many of my posts are pre-written by a week or so), I’m still linking to the following link gatherings:

The Homestead Blog Hop.

Fiesta Friday (co-hosts are: Mollie @ Frugal Hausfrau and Ai @ Ai Made It For You.)

Homestead Blog Hop










Posted in Commentary, Poultry | Tagged , , , , | 6 Comments

“Grilled” Brie, Jam, Bacon, Jalapeño on Sourdough Toast

Contains:  Gluten, grains, dairy, nightshades, added sugars.  Is:  An admitted splurge. 

grilled-portrait 1 logo

There’s a restaurant in Bernardston, Massachusetts, The Farm Table.  Everything (that possibly can be) is sourced locally, from individual farms, all credited on the menu.  We went here back on February 25th, during the Wind Storm of The Winter of 2019.  (At least, I hope it the last and only one so intensive!)

Although I’m not writing up a true review of the place (in part because the menu will change often according to availability), I’d consider this a 4.25 star establishment.  We visited at lunch.  My friend and I shared a salad with various lettuces, arugula, fennel, onion, carrot — and a to-die-for smoky maple salad dressing.  There was just enough maple in it for the dish not to be too sweet even for me, but to capture the essence of good Massachusetts-reared local maple.  NO tomatoes… not in season!  Although we shared ONE salad, our individual halves were larger than most full salads at most establishments.

Butterflies, Magic Wings, Deerfield

Our day out also included a morning at Magic Wings, a butterfly conservancy in Deerfield, MA. More photos after the recipe. Photos from my Android turned out quite well! (But only when the flutterbyes cooperated).

We were in the mood for cheese, there were a variety of other dishes available for lunch, most of which also sounded great.

We shared two entrées.  The second was okay (a little too starchy for either of us, but otherwise flavorful), but the first was stupendous.  I’m sorry, you do NOT need to add flour to make a cheese roux for mac ‘n’ cheese, no matter HOW much you use several good quality cheeses and good home grown bacon or avocado to the dish.  (Since I doubt it is ever possible to grow avocado in Massachusetts any time of the year, I can see them making an exception for this ingredient.)  And this was even before you crusted up the top with more flour or flour-product-related, however lightly.  The dish already has PASTA.  It does not remotely need more of the same.  But, okay, it was a far more decent mac ‘n’ cheese compared to most you might get out anywhere else.  The right combination of cheeses…  Just won’t order that again.

The first though:  We shared open face grilled cheese sandwiches.  Awesome!

grilled cheese, brie, bacon, jalapeno, recipe, sourdough

Set up everything to get ready, but decided that since I was going to have bacon fat, just return that stick of butter to the fridge. Wasn’t needed. I also didn’t have enough bacon for the toast, so the small slice of sourdough was likewise eliminated. But… hey! Work in process!

Local made bread slices, toasted, with a layer of a locally produced jam atop, followed by locally-produced Brie, topped with thick slices of local bacon, and speckled with thin slivers of jalapeño pepper.  Served open-faced.  There was a great balance between salty, sweet, fat, and a speck of heat.  All the ingredients succeeded in mellowing out the excesses of the other ingredients.  YUMMM.  Five stars!

So, I decided to re-create this dish to some degree.  I didn’t remember the type of jam they used (and I had a couple potential jams here, and since I don’t eat much jam, I wasn’t willing to go buy something else…).  Nor the type of bread.  But… hey… I can have fun doing my own personal riff on this.  Maybe it will work out enough that I can post it on my blog???  Ahem, here it is!

Here goes…   the health value on this dish is on the low side (but hey, the jalapeños are healthy!)

(Note:  Dish created February 28th.)

Ingredient notes (adapt to what you find around you):

Toast:  I bought sourdough bread from Berkshire Bakery, Pittsfield.  They will pre-slice it for you if you so with.  Everything is baked on site.  I wanted to select something without much in the way of added ingredients (olives, nuts, rosemary, etc.), that might conflict with the gestalt of the finished sandwich.  But I figured the sourdough flavor would go along.  (PS, this place called this item their San Francisco loaf.)  Genuine bakery loafs will yield a wide range of bread slices sizes.  If you have no other choices, a good supermarket loaf could work, just don’t get wild with the ingredients.

grilled cheese, brie, bacon, jalapeno, recipe, sourdough

All ready to go into the oven, in my case a toaster oven. Rather too small a dish to run the extra electric here. If you cook this for multiple people, I have the recipe adapted accordingly below.

Jam:  I don’t eat jam much, so I figured I’d select from the gifted ones in my cabinet.  ATM I needed to choose between Farm to Jar’s Strawberry Rhubarb Jam or Stonewall Kitchen’s Boysenberry Jam.  Both sounded great, but I went with Strawberry Rhubarb solely on the basis that this one was in the house longer, thus should be used sooner.  Use what you have/like, preferably with a degree of tartness, and preferably without that commercial emphasis on excess sugar.

Brie:  The supermarket won.  I went with St. Andre’s brie, because it could provide wide slices, and it was also a bit more price-savvy than some of the other brands.  After making this, however, I think a slightly more tart brand (probably more expensive) would likely work even better.  It needed a bit more bite.

grilled cheese, brie, bacon, jalapeno, recipe, sourdough

Pulled from the oven, still in the transparent glass pan… Smells great!

Bacon:  From a Connecticut pasture-raised hog farm.  I prefer to use the skillet (with a splatter guard) to cook these, but oven-baked is okay, too.  I find that microwaved bacon is hit or miss – I like mine crispy but not blackened, and since bacon varies wildly in size and thickness (especially if you get yours direct from the farm), microwaved bacon passes from flabby to burnt in mere microseconds.  So, I recommend never microwave it.

grilled cheese, brie, bacon, jalapeno, recipe, sourdough

Jalapeño:  Supermarket again, but from the organic section.  Taste yours prior to use, as I’ve discovered that not all jalapeño are created to the same level of heat.  And individual preferences obviously vary.

grilled cheese, brie, bacon, jalapeno, recipe, sourdough

I ate this for breakfast, but it would work well for a lunch, too. Optional but tasty watercress plate garnish.

I’m not really going to give precise measurements here, because everything I’m using can come in different sizes if we go by the slice or something.  And this dish doesn’t really lend itself to weighing.

Oh, one more thing.  I know this isn’t “grilled” – I simply grew up with parents that called any melted cheese sandwich a “grilled cheese”, even though they were usually open-faced and cooked in the oven.   Just like they also called fried chicken (always baked in the oven) just that, simply because it was battered as if it were “fried” chicken… Old habits die hard!  

Prep Time:  About 15 minutes.
Cook Time:  About 10 minutes, both the skillet and the toaster oven or oven.
Rest Time:  Eat immediately.
Serves:  Below recipe given for per person.
Cuisine:  Brunch or lunch with French overtones.
Leftovers:  Not optimal.

Grilled Brie, Jam, Bacon, Jalapeño on Sourdough Toast

  •  Bacon, 2-3 slices.  
  • Bread slices,  1-3 slices, size depending.  
  •  Jam, around 2 tablespoons or so, whatever will cover your toast.  
  • Slices of Brie.  You can and should include bits of rim.   Enough to cover your toast.  
  • Thin slices of jalapeño, de-seeded.

Get everything lined up and ready.

Cook your bacon as you usually do, but I recommend the skillet (if only because you will briefly grill your slices of bread here).  But use your favorite timings and settings, based on slice thickness, flipping accordingly.

Remove the bacon to a paper towel to absorb the grease.

Remove all but about a tablespoon of bacon fat from the skillet.

Grill one side only of the slices of bread in the skillet, about a minute on the same heat that you used to make the bacon.

Remove the bread from the skillet, place briefly on an absorbent paper towel.

Place these slices, grilled side down, in an appropriate pan, then smear on some jam on the un-grilled side, to the edges.

Arrange the Brie slices so they don’t overlap, on top of the jam.

Add the bacon, covering much of the cheese.

Dot on the jalapeño as desired.

Bake in a toaster oven (370 F) for 2 – 3 minutes (check it at two minutes).  This is handy if you are just making this for yourself.

~~ OR ~~

Pre-heat your regular oven to 370 F, place the pan in the oven, bake for 2-3 minutes (check at the 2 minute mark).

You want the cheese soft but not oozing out and all over.  Well, Brie is soft, but you want it noticeably  softer.

Verdict:  Very good, and will be made on an occasional, more celebratory basis, although I will use a higher grade Brie next time, and just a little less of this particular jam, as it was slightly sweeter than I personally would prefer – which means it would be perfect for most people!  (Jams, of course, will vary.)

I’d rate this quick and easy, except for the fact that quantities of ingredients cannot be spelt out for the user of this recipe with precision.

I’ll note that my friend ordered a dessert at The Farm Table for her birthday, and I took a taste or two.  Also awesome, and it didn’t even need to have chocolate, raspberry or coffee to be awesome.  (WHAT?)  I learned about something called “olive ice cream”, and there were various other good flavors in it, mostly not overly sweet.

As for the first part of our day out:  We ventured to Magic Wings, in Deerfield, MA, a butterfly conservancy.  I’m closing out with a few photos from there to whet your visual appetite… :

Butterflies, Magic Winds, Deerfield

I found this transparent butterfly to be one of the most intriguing types in the conservancy. No, don’t be asking me for names!


butterflies, Magic Wings, Deerfield

She’s resting after having been courted, see below.


butterflies, Magic WIngs, Deerfield

Colorful, and the vines behind are interesting as well.


butterflies, Magic Wings, Deerfield

Flutterbyes in courtship mode, out on a walkway. Yep, no sense of shame!


butterflies, Magic Wings, Deerfield

This one was more yellow than it wanted to be captured as.


butterflies, Magic Wings, Deerfield



butterflies, Magic Wings, Deerfield

I love this conservancy! It wasn’t too crowded to step back and see what you wanted to see.


This flighty post is winging around at Fiesta Friday!  This week your co-host is: Julianna @ Foodie on Board.

Also at the Homestead Blog Hop.



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