Restaurant Review: Mick’s Crab House, Elkton, MD

On the way down to Rockville, MD, for my uncle’s 90th birthday party, I spent the night at a Motel 6 in Elkton, a town I picked as there were several inexpensive motels, the town wasn’t huge or hard to navigate, it was before hitting slowways highways in/around Baltimore on a Friday night (ACK!), and there were several intriguing restaurants.  As it was, it took me 7 hours to get there (Google Maps had predicted five and a half), so I was so happy finally to arrive in Elkton!

I almost went Korean, but I’m in MARYLAND.  What’s Maryland famous for?  Maryland crab.  What can’t I find enough of up here in western Massachusetts?  Decent seafood.  So I picked the crab house restaurant.

Mick's Crab House, Elkton MD, restaurant, seafood, Maryland crab

Maryland crab, with drawn garlic butter and the mallet, prior to my cracking open the crab (and spilling butter)! Nice rub on it.

It’s definitely set up for crab gnoshing – you get that thick disposable paper instead of tablecloths, and if you are willing you can order crabs by “all you can eat”, or by the dozen.  Or individually, as I chose to do.  They supply you with a mallet, and whatever dipping sauces (a bit extra) that you want.  (Or you save aside the extra lemon and/or bistro dipping sauce from other items….)

restaurant, Maryland crab, crab cake, Mick's Crab House, Elkton MD, seafood

Maryland crab, two formats: the crabs whole, and as starter crab balls with a yummy dipping sauce.

I only ordered two whole crabs, medium sized.  (The All You Can Eat only come small, 5 inch carapaces.)  Simply because I wanted to try other things on the menu.  For one, I wanted Maryland crab cakes too – I ended up instead with the 5 crab ball starter – smaller individual pieces than the crab cake itself, but 5 balls were cheaper than a crab cake main dish, and I was interested in tasting rather than gorging.

I did get four raw oysters – a better deal if I’d gotten a dozen, but to be frank, this was the only part of the meal that disappointed.  The oysters were fresh, but gritty, and Rhode Island has tastier ones.

I also ordered a PEI mussel appetizer – they come as a dozen or as 3 dozen.  Since I wasn’t sharing with a table (travelling down alone, as I’m the only New England relation), I simply ordered a dozen.  They came in a garlic butter sauce, with the edges of the bowl dusted with crab boil powder (very much Old Bay).

seafood, restaurant, Mick's Crab House, Elkton MD, oysters, mussels, Maryland crab

Oysters, mussels, broccoli. And peering in from the left, strawberry daiquiri. (And from the right, Maryland crab of course…)

Being as I missed something green, I also ordered a broccoli side – this came steamed with ground pepper.  And because the drive down had been super aggrevating (an extra hour and half of driving due to jams starting prior to hitting the Tappenzee Bridge through much of Northern Jersey), a strawberry daquiri.

All the food arrives at once – so many choices for first bites!

The crabs were awesome, cooked in crab boil which was crusted on the upper surface of each crab.  They take a while to eat – I like to get every morsel.  I dipped them in garlic butter, or (when that started to congeal) in the leftover bistro sauce meant for the crab balls, or spritzed them with lemon.  They’re messy, but that’s to be expected.

I loved the crab balls — the breading wasn’t overpowering, and the chunks of crab were of a decent size.  And that dipping sauce!  Spicy and a mayo base without taking over the experience.

Seafood, restaurant, crab cakes, Maryland crab, Mick's Crab House, Elkton MD

Dissecting those crab balls. Yum.

The oysters, as mentioned – meh.

The mussels were good – but probably (although without the boil powder) similar to things I get back home.  Still, I was glad to have had them, and if you are coming in from a part of the country where mussels are not common, by all means get them.  They’ve been cooked right.

The broccoli was broccoli – cooked well – probably a little longer than I prefer, but certainly not mushy.  (I realize most people cook this veggie slightly longer than I do.  Knowing this, the broccoli was definitely fine by me.)

Other things on the menu, not sampled:  Snow crab legs, Dungeness crab legs, and some apparently-recommended baby back ribs.  (Maybe not everyone in your party does seafood.  Or maybe you just want to mix things up a bit.)  Various salads with seafood or chicken.  Batter fried seafoods.  Corn on the cob.

The daquiri was okay, not outstanding, but it was better than the chlorinated ice water, and I was happy to have earned that bit of rum.  (I don’t review on the basis of drinkies as I’m usually simply ordering water, tea or coffee when I’m out.  Well, occasionally a glass of wine.)

Service was great and attentive.  I was at first mildly unhappy that all the food showed up at once, but y’know, this actually worked out for the best.  I could try a little of everything then focus in on the items as I chose.

I’d recommend this place.  A solid 4.25 points out of 5.  If you are simply passing through Maryland, stoking up on the Maryland crab in whatever format or amount is highly desirable.  They certainly do that well!

PS, apparently Motel 6 no longer supplies shampoo in the bathrooms.  You have to hope there’s some left in their vending machine (there wasn’t).

The party for my Uncle was well-attended.  All four of their children and spouses were in attendance, plus most of their grandchildren.  I and my brother, his wife, my brother’s two daughters, and my little nearly-4 year old great nephew (and he is GREAT) were also in attendance.  My uncle looks barely 80 years old, and is in excellent mental health.  He and his wife still live in the home they raised their children in.  Our dinner was catered, and excellent – but they’re going to be living off the ample leftovers for a few weeks!

Thank you to Noreen, for taking care of my Chicklets and the adult Layers while I was out of town.  (Oh, and the Cats, but they’d have managed without help.)  

Mick’s Crab House
902 East Pulaski Skyway (not that far off of I-95, but not an immediate off, either).  
Elkton, MD, 21921


Posted in Cooking, Dining Out, Seafood | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

Lamb Shank with Balsamic Vinaigrette, Garlic, Rosemary

Contains:  The dressing has honey in the vinaigrette (added sugar).  Is:  Gluten-free, nightshade-free, Paleo.  

One of my favorite parts of the lamb is the shank.  And just as a note, today would have been my parents’ 68th marriage anniversary date, were they still on this plane of life.  Which is relevant as they loved making and eating lamb.

Back in the day I tried cooking it like parents cooked the actual leg of lamb – to a nice pink medium rare.  We’d never eaten the shank back when I was growing up with them – basically, not enough meat on one to serve the four of us!  The shank was decent that way, but this cut really comes into its own if done with a longer braising.  There’s more cartilage and connective tissue here, and the shank sees more “action” on the animal than the actual leg does.

lamb shank, balsamic, recipe, garlic, rosemary

Lamb shank, alongside some leftover roasted onion/golden beet.

Be sure and save the bone and cartilage for stock!  I will be combining lamb bones with beef bones for a planned stock in in the very near future.  I get most of my lamb, grass fed and finished, from Sepe’s Farm, Newtown, Connecticut.  Lovely meat!  (Beef bones that I also use for stock likewise comes to me from a (different) local farmer.)

I used Annie’s Balsamic Vinaigrette as my base for the marinate. I love Annie’s (dressings), at least the few that have sounded intriguing enough to try.  There’s never a whole mishmash laundry list of questionable ingredients, and the dressings don’t try to cop out by tossing in that plethora of sugars so many others do.

I supplemented with garlic and rosemary, both well-known flavorings for lamb.  It’s a really simple recipe, though it will marinate for a few hours, then braise for two more hours.

lamb shank, balsamic, recipe, garlic, rosemary

Ready for the oven!

So, let’s have at it!  (Unfortunately, photography was sort of an afterthought – too hungry to work on presentation.)  I served this with some leftover roasted onion and yellow beet that had been part of a recipe I’d hoped to post, but with which I’m not yet satisfied enough to do so.

Prep Time:  15 minutes.
Marinate Time:  3-5 hours.
Cook Time:  2 hours.
Rest Time:  10 minutes.
Serves:  1 – 2.
Cuisine:  Pseudo-French influences.
Leftovers:  Sure.  And save the bone for stock/bone broth!

Lamb Shank with Balsamic Vinaigrette, Garlic, Rosemary

  • 1 lamb shank,  about 1.3 pounds / 600 grams, thawed.
  • 1/4 – 1/3rd cup / 60-80 mL balsamic vinaigrette (Annie’s is creamy, and a good choice).
  • 1 tablespoon minced garlic
  • 1 tablespoon dried rosemary (if yours is tightly crumbled, use somewhat less.  Mine was whole leaf from my own garden).
  • Salt and ground pepper to taste.  (I used very little of either).

Remove silverskin from the shank, as possible.  Poke holes with a paring knife into the meat and even a little into the fat pad.

Mix the marinate ingredients together (everything else on that list).

To save on a plastic bag, I simply added the marinate into the freezer bag the shank came in, put the shank in there, and rubbed the marinate around without allowing it to come out of the top of the bag.  Use your own best method of marinating!

Place in fridge for 3 – 5 hours.  Longer is fine, too.

Preheat oven to 325 F / 160 C.

Place in pre-heated oven, set timer for two hours, and walk away.  (Well, you can add any veggies you want to roast this with, or add them in anywhere during the process that works for your said veggies.)

Remove from oven, allow to rest 10-15 minutes, and serve.  It’s good for one or two people, depending on desire and what sides you may have.

VERY yummy!

lamb shank, balsamic, recipe, garlic, rosemary

Nicely braised, and nestled next to roasted onions and a bit of beet.

Dew Drop Inn to the following Link Parties!

Fiesta Friday

Full Plate Thursday

What’s for Dinner? Sunday Link-Up




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

A Weekend at the Homestead

Chick, poultry, homesteading, silver laced wyandotte, buff orpington cross

About two weeks old, Tiny Dancer and Idril’s baby. You can see some darkening on the wing tips. The top of this chick’s head also has a patch of dark grey, not visible from this angle.

Pulled myself out of bed at 6:30 this morning, and nuked a leftover cup of joe (which I now take black if it’s any good, and at home it usually is).

I’d originally planned to go to Connecticut today as a day trip (Saturday, May 11), but decided an overnight from Monday afternoon to Tuesday would work more efficiently for me.  For one, there were chicken-y and yard-y things I wanted to accomplish first.  Plus, ahem, the weather up here was way way too good to pass up without enjoying it here!

poultry, homesteading, chick, heritage

Cuckoo Marans chick – less than a week old.

The most recent baby chicks (6 heritage males) arrived last Wednesday morning to a local (not MY local) post office, and are currently sitting by the back door, with their Premier 1 heat lamp hanging down over their box.  They got fresh water along with a half scoop of Vital Pack vitamins/electrolytes intended for baby chicks.  Right now they’re on paper towels instead of pine shavings – this is actually nice for now as they’re not kicking pine shavings into the water.

Poultry, chick, heritage, Delaware, homesteading

Delaware chick, less than a week old.

Those chicks are replacements for those who’d died off from the first batch of baby chicks, that had arrived the week earlier.   The weather had been unseasonably chill during shipping, and the “hen brooder” things I’d ordered were not warm enough even set to hover right over the birds.  There was a sickly one to begin with, as well.  On a more positive note, the little chick that was hatched in my very own coop, was and is a survivor.  Albeit a survivor with a splayed leg, which I am working on attempting to fix.  I certainly hope it’s a girl – because I’m not ready to have TWO roosters overwintering here, and I’ve grown attached to that chick! (Un-named, however.)

I went and fed both batches of chicks… in ten days or so I’ll mainstream them all together, before they start any true territoriality.  Size difference should then no longer be a difference.  Checked the chicks for “plug butt” which is exactly what it sounds like – a couple last year had that.  All clear!

poultry, heritage, chick, homesteading

Speckled Sussex (I think) chick – less than a week old.

The adults:  Went down to release from the coop and run, bringing kitchen leftovers – cuke, apple (no seeds), and so forth.  They’ll free range for a few hours before I go out.

Cats:  the two felines got fed and watered.  (After, they promptly went off to nap!  But okay, they’re aged 17 and 12 years old respectively.)

Laundry that I’d started yesterday evening got moved to the dryer, and I’ve been guilty of Laundering Money again.  32 cents.

Watered the various citrus, and the fig, as well as the elderberry.  They’re all in pots, indoors – hopefully they all go out on the deck in ten days, except the elderberry, which needs actual planting as soon as the raised beds go in.

Me:  Okay, time now for breakfast.  Simple today, two soft boiled eggs.  A slice of bakery-baked sourdough topped with some of yesterday’s cucumber/cream cheese/dill mixture.  Served open-face.  And more coffee.  It’s now 7:50, and I’m watching back yard chicken antics as the eggs boil!

homesteading, outdoors, May

Wind chimes outside the pantry window. Closer in towards me, would be the kitchen.

Checked the internet for a few things, and also looked at the upcoming weather this next week (and began writing this).

8:30 and back to work.  Laundry gets hung or folded – er, it’s still damp, so I remove the jeans to hang dry, and get the rest of it cycling again.  24 cents.

Time for some chick photography, as you will see within this post.  And all is quiet in the back yard.  I see most of them (hopefully Yin is on her eggs in the coop).  I do some work with the little splay-footed one – she gets physical therapy (of sorts) and likes it about as much as I did with mine.  I’m temporarily re-splinting to see if this helps.

Back to that now-dry laundry, and to return the outdoor chickens back to their coop and run.  Hopefully they feasted on ticks.  Yin had left her clutch, but her eggs were still warm.  I gave them feed and shut them in at least for awhile.  There were two new eggs awaiting transport back to my kitchen.

chickens, poultry, free range, homesteading, heritage

The batch of chickens is coming up to greet me as I go down to feed and put them (at least temporarily) in their run and coop. Tiny Dancer, the roo, is to the left. I see everyone there.

10:30, I hit the local community center – nice to interact with folk.  I forgot some were going to be prepping up the bacon for Sunday’s (Mother’s Day) pancake breakfast.  So I joined three others in laying strips of bacon down on pans so they could be baked in the industrial oven.  Good convo, good people.  Oh, I brought a dozen eggs to sell, too.  I ask $3.50 / dozen, which is what everyone else around here has on their roadside offerings.

11:30, headed to a few Mom and Pop shops on one side of town.  A small grocery (picked up chicken legs, asparagus, yellow onions, nasturtium and cucumber seeds).  The small scale Tractor Supply-like store (small chick feeder (I had a couple but the long strip one was dysfunctional – they poop so easily into it), an intriguing large scale water container for mature chickens – I already have enough of these, but this one can be set on the ground and won’t slosh the water out when they hit the thing.  Less filling, the better!)  Another 5 gallon pail for rainwater catchment.  Or anything else that is needed around here.  The liquor store (time to Whine a bit…).  The owners are very interesting people to chat with, and I met the first golden retriever I actually like.  (I like dogs… but as with people, not ALL dogs.  Most goldens do a lot of  gimme-attention “fawning”, which as a cat person, isn’t my thing.  I do still want a Corgi or an Aussie.  Herders.  Bernese and Keeshonds are pretty cool, too, but just for themselves as they aren’t truly “working dogs”.  I adored my brother and sister-in-law’s pit bull/boxer mix (Wilbur), who met an untimely death.  Considering an Akbash as a guardian dog when I get four-legged livestock.)

Wilbur, pit bull, boxer

This was Wilbur. An awesome dog, and I don’t say that lightly.

Temps in town:  63 F.

Got home, dealt with a couple incoming phone calls, checked the herb garden progress, prepped lunch (chicken legs with Japanese Yakiniku sauce, and ground pepper, plus baked asparagus with parmesan, and ground pepper – nothing to write up for the blog).  Temps here:  55 F.  Nice, sunny and lightly breezy.  Edited this post a bit to include a lot of the above.  Ate lunch at 2:15 pm, and it is my first outdoor lunch for the year – yes, I wore a sweater.   60 F would have been much more ideal as a temperature, frankly.  Just grateful this isn’t Florida!

asparagus, chicken leg and thigh, baked

Lunch on Saturday: chicken leg/thigh combo, and asparagus. Was surprised to see asparagus at the Mom and Pop, but very glad, as well. Oh, tis the season?

Everything out there is greening up nicely.


My view from where I ate lunch.

Emptied out a future chick transfer box (so I can clean the original brooder box for the first bolus of chicks that arrived nearly two weeks ago.  Stuff in that box I’d bought up awhile ago, including some lovely book ends that will indeed find a place inside here.  Somewhere soon-ish.  Yes, I remember them, just not where I’d stashed them for this move!  Used to belong to my parents and I have no idea where they sourced them or acquired them.


Anyhow, the first brooder box has had a full up clean out.  New water, and more food, too.

I took a photo of each bird’s wingspan as I removed him from that first brooder box (nearly two-week old chicks).  Some appear below. Not always sure which is whom (for the replacement birds I sent them photos of the deceased ones so they could help me with ID and send me proper replacements.  No intention of posting those here ever.)  There are nine happily chirping chicks in that box (including the one hatched here on site whom I seriously hope is a girl, photo at top.  She’s gone through so much, I really want to keep her.  Logistically, a lot easier if she turns out to grow into being a hen.)

Homesteading, native trees

“Island” to the south west of my home. Two or three trees, some juniper not yet ready to be viewed this spring,  – and alas some juniper got crushed by the general contractor (GC) dropping those rocks right there, though I’d asked him to spare those.  “They’ll be fine” he said.  Not.

Homesteading, lady's mantle

Lady’s Mantle. An herbaceous plant I transplanted from my old Connecticut home. One fascinating feature – water beads up on the leaves of this plant.

homesteading, grape hyacinth

Grape hyacinth. I’d transplanted both these and the white variants up here last year. The white ones appear not to have taken.


homesteading, poultry, heritage, chick

Need to look up this breed, but he has some interesting wing feathering. Two weeks old.  (New Hampshire Red).

I let the hens and roo out for another hour or so this afternoon.  It is simply beautiful outdoors, but keeping my eye out for hawks who have a similar viewpoint on poultry appreciation….  No new eggs yet.

homesteading, poultry, chick, heritage

Another great wingspan ready for viewing. From the first batch of this year’s ordered chicks, so still about 2 weeks old.

Got some weeding done, planted saffron bulbs, and stepped for the first time into the woods to have a look-see.  Could not find the chestnut saplings, but I’ll have another look this week.  They don’t seem to leaf out as early as some other trees do, and many of those aren’t leafing yet.

Melted some Fontina cheese in the toaster oven on a one of those skinny slices of sourdough, and called it dinner, curled into bed at about 7:30.  A beautiful day, sunny and productive and happy.

Sunday, May 12, Mother’s Day.  (Happy belated Mother’s Day to all of you who fall in this category!  I just don’t post until I get the photos up and all…  And I want to wait for Tuesday.)

homesteading, poultry, wyandotte, silver laced, rooster

Tiny Dancer perches on the feed bin, Saturday.

I woke early, spent some time reading a useless but rather short book on the Kindle, getting up at about 7 am.  Temperature 43 F.

Took care of the chickens, adults and babies alike.  No eggs yet, and it is starting to drizzle.  Tried to figure out where they’d laid them outdoors – I’ve found them laid near the run when they go out, but they’ were obviously a bit more secretive yesterday.  Fed the felines, and decided to feed myself with the leftover mix of cucumber and cream cheese, plus a touch of watercress (about three bites).  No bread.  Yes Java.

I am glad I had that, as Second Breakfast (that community pancake meal) was slightly delayed – big backup on the pancakes and they ended up serving my order to someone else by accident, so waited longer (understandable considering how many people showed up at once…)  I ate at 10 am, interesting conversations and I met another couple who’ve lived in town since forever.  Good folk.  Also got to talk very briefly with one of the folk raising sheep and alpaca in town… grounds are still too mushy for her to move her livestock to their non-winter landscape.  (Earlier this week we discussed my getting together with her in a few weeks to discuss my planned livestock barn setup needs/design.  I want local experts! And she’s done this for years.)  Yes, I like this town.

Prior to that, I got more laundry loaded, checked and responded to recent comments on this blog, went for more chick photos as I try to ID them.

Anyhow, back now, approximately 11 am…. It’s snaining or rnowing… a mix of snow and rain combined. 36 degrees F.    Brought in the newly acquired replacement keffir lime.  Laundry into the dryer – didn’t commit the crime of money laundering today.

homesteading, may 12th, snow

At 2 pm this comes down as All Snow as per here. And was sticking.

Ultimately, I recovered 10 eggs by the end of the day, and yes, we had actual snow that ended up looking like something out of one of those “snow” containers you’d shake as a child.  About an inch and a half (of snow) of fluffy slightly slippery stuff that wouldn’t melt for awhile, despite changing to rain much later on.  Partially freezing rain – luckily after my last chicken coop run for the day.

snow, homesteading, May 12th

At about the height of this fluffy stuff heading down. 2:30 pm.  Pretty amazing.  Considering how awesome Saturday’s weather was.

Cleaned out the workshop (which serves as the chicken nursery more or less right now).  The six chicks upstairs will move downstairs Monday.  Monday I need to do some work modifying the heat lamp situation, before they go down.

Ran a hamburger salting experiment (which turns out to be just a first-half), which will post on May 24th.  (Between now and then I also hope to develop a tasty vegetarian TVP-free burger alternative, that should also be posted on the same date).  Yes, I do try to find a rationale on when I post certain recipes… the burger ones will hopefully be relevant to the US Memorial weekend holiday.  Which is “traditional” start of grilling season around here, although many folk start sooner (or never stopped).

And yes, got some reading in.  I finished that other book (gave it TWO STARS on Goodreads without explanation because I can’t be bothered – I did finish it, hence that second star in this case), and am back into the wonderful Ivan Doig’s This House of Sky – a memoir of growing up half a century or so ago in Montana, and a tribute to his father and others in his life.

Didn’t get half as much done as I’d planned to, today (refer to reading activities in the paragraph above…) – as opposed to Saturday.  But a day still worth the living!

Homesteading, hen, poultry

My pet hen, Celeste. Photo taken 5/11, she’s a couple weeks over a year old. Still my friendliest hen. No idea if she lays, as she was intended as a broiler chicken, but y’know, with this one, the Force is Strong in her. (She doesn’t have to do anything she doesn’t want to do.  Like, say, end up in the freezer.)


Probably won’t do something like the above for awhile again.  BUT if you want to keep track on things more or less somewhat like this (but much more concise…) Look at Journal 2019 (on the tab) for current “events” here.  

At any rate, sharing this with:































Posted in Cooking | 6 Comments

Mother’s Day: English Cucumber Tea Sandwiches

Mother's Day, English, tea sandwich, cucumber, cream cheese, recipe

Foreground: English tea sandwiches. Background – much less formal general sandwich, considering the bread I was working with.

Contains:  Dairy, gluten.  Is:  Vegetarian, quick and easy.  

Mother had several specialties when we were growing up, but one of the most simple (and yet still quite a hit) was her English tea sandwiches.  I loved this one, as well as the smoked salmon, cream cheese and caper one.

recipe, mother's day, cucumber, cream cheese, english tea sandwich

Ingredients, except for the dill. I used the larger holes on the grater for what I used of this cucumber.

I really did like these, she served them when late afternoon appetizers were to be made, or if she had a bridge party (along with other tea sandwiches) but I always had a hankering for these ones, if there were any left over.

So, for today, I’m re-creating the cucumber tea sandwich.

Mother's Day, english, tea sandwich, cucumber, sour cream

I’ve made a couple of changes:  1)  I’m using a bakery bread which is not squared off around the edges unlike the British tea sandies – back in the day, supermarkets carried better quality bread that made for accurately-shaped tea sandwiches than one can find in supermarkets today.  (No, one of the few things Mom did not make herself was bread.)  Personally, I’m not interested in purchasing bread with a huge rap list of ingredients longer than my arm.  2) I don’t use the green food coloring!  In fact, when I moved out to my first home away from home, Mom gave me a pack of Durkees food colorings, red, green, blue, yellow.   I’ve never used them in food.  In fact I still have that same set – I’ve used them for photography projects, and for coloring test tube water when hitting Halloween parties as a mad scientist or the like.  Useful.  Just not as food, and now that they’re well over 30 years old, I wouldn’t dream of consuming them anyway!

Mother's day, recipe, cucumber, cream cheese, English, tea sandwich

Grated, ready to mix

Note:  Cuke peels and bread crusts went to chickens.  I drank the cucumber juice.

recipe, English, tea sandwich, cucumber, cream cheese

Do as I say, not as I did. Remove crusts before spreading, for the actual tea sandwich version.  I didn’t spread this one to the full ends, since I was going to turn this into the English tea sandwich version – two squared small sandwiches with no crusts.  Not seen: topped this with watercress.

Prep Time:  15 minutes.
Cook Time:  Nope.
Rest Time:  Nope.
Serves: Double the recipe and you’ll have enough for a good tea party. 
Cuisine:  British.
Leftovers:  Wrap well, refrigerate, eat in a day or two.

English Cucumber Tea Sandwiches

  • 4 ounces / 113 grams English cucumber:  You don’t have to de-seed the English cukes, but do de-seed the other types if using.  Weigh the cuke after de-seeding, if you to this. In either case, peel your cukes!
  • 4 ounces / 113 grams cream cheese (half a package).  Use the regular type.  I recommend Philadelphia brand but have also discovered that Organic Valley is good.
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried dill, or 2 sprigs chopped fresh (or frozen but thawed) dill.
  • Thin sliced bread, several slices (depends on size).  Sourdough, pumpernickel, rye, or a country-style white.  Home made is a great type, should you have the inclination.
  • Garnish.  Watercress makes a great one, but is optional


Grate the cucumber, discarding much of the seeds if it is a regular and not an English one.   (I like the seeds; I reserve for a salad….)  Squeeze out excess water through a fine mesh sieve or cheesecloth.  Or use your hands.

Add the cream cheese and dill, mix with a spoon.

Take the bread, cut off the crust like they do in Britain.

On half the pieces, spread out the cucumber mixture, about a quarter inch (6 or so mm) thick.

Top with sprigs of watercress, optional

Top each with an empty slice of bread.  Cut into squares or whatever shape(s) that the loaf lends itself to, 1 to  2 inches (2.5 to 5 cm) long.

Serve!!!  (Note, I did have about half my cucumber/cream cheese mixture left over… something for later in the day!   This was just made for myself aka for the blog – normally I’d want to serve this to others.)

recipe, Mother's Day, sandwich, cucumber, cream cheese, watercress

Then, after the tea sandwiches, I decided to make a regular style sandwich using the same ingredients – If you are not having a proper tea party, this is just simply a fine way to deal with irregularly-shaped bread!

I’d store any leftover spread separate from the bread, to make the bread last longer.  Save for up to two days.

recipe, mother's day, English, tea sandwich, cucumber, cream cheese









Posted in Cooking, Vegetarian | Tagged , , , , , , , | 14 Comments

Dark Chocolate Covered Blueberry Clusters

Contains:  Added sugar, potentially dairy (depends on your chocolate).  Is: Vegetarian, gluten-free, a dessert, quick and easy.

I remembered a friend telling me about melting chocolate over frozen blueberries and making a dessert.   So, briefly I surfed hither and yon, seeing lots of recipes using fresh blueberries and chocolate.  Nothing for making something like this with frozen berries.

But… I had frozen blueberries.  Several small bags of them, aliquoted out from a local blueberry farm.  All those recipes seemed to say always use FRESH ones.  There’s a reason for that as we shall see.   But…

chocolate, blueberry, dessert, recipe, frozen

There’s a way around that.  My friend stated she did her recipe using the berries while STILL frozen.  Don’t let them thaw.  DON’T use blueberries previously frozen in syrup, which alas includes a lot of the supermarket offerings.

So, anyhow, this is what I came up with, and yes, there’s potentially some waste-age at the end.  (But you the cook can nibble on that, it still tastes good even if it doesn’t cluster or present as well…)

Prep Time:  20 minutes
Cook Time:  3-5 minutes
Rest Time:  at least 20 minutes to set up in the fridge
Serves: About 12-20
Cuisine: Dessert
Leftovers:  Best by the second or third day

Dark Chocolate Covered Blueberry Clusters

  • 1 bag of 12 ounce / 340 grams chocolate chips, as dark (cacao amount) as possible, or as your guests will appreciate.  (Note potential dairy constituents if needed.)
  • 2 tablespoons butter (or coconut oil or ghee).
  • 10-11 ounces / 300 grams frozen blueberries, no sugar or syrup added to that package.  (Indeed these were self-frozen from fresh about six months ago.)

DO NOT pre-thaw the blueberries.  Or, you will have… mush.

Melt the chocolate and fat source together in either 1) a microwave in a microwave safe glass or ceramic container, or 2) over the cooktop using a pan or pot of simmering water into which you put a suitable container containing the chips and butter/coconut oil/ghee.

Dump the berries into a bowl.

Mix the chocolate with the butter or etc.

Pour/ladle the chocolate mixture over the berries, and mix immediately but gently.  The effectiveness of this will likely increase with repetition.   Before all the chocolate solidifies and all the blueberries melt, make tablespoonful sized clusters of berry/chocolate, and place on a pan (parchment paper lining may help).  You may need to use your fingers to break up clusters to more manageable portions.  You do need to work fast.

Place in fridge for at least 20 minutes, or overnight.  Serve chilled.

chocolate, blueberry, clusters, recipe, gluten-free, dessert

Yummers… and, a success at last week’s dinner.

In the above recipe, I’ve changed the ratio of blueberry to chocolate from that which I actually used – in order to be more realistic about cluster-making.  Re-heating any extra chocolate is only marginally efficient and I discovered that pouring this extra over leftover blueberries did not exactly work.  Any remaining frozen berries had thawed, or more visually, had “melted”, making cluster formation problematic.  The process of freezing and thawing of blueberries makes their skins break down – so you do really have to “catch” blueberries to make these clusters while they are still frozen.

But if what you have are frozen ones, without “syrup”, give this a try!  (Sorry I keep reiterating that, but I mean it…)  Thank you, Katie!

This recipe appears at:

Posted in Cooking, Vegetarian | Tagged , , , , | 11 Comments

I’m a Chicken Grandma!

No, no.  I’m not chicken to BECOME a grandmother, I’ve simply seen that one of my hens has hatched her first egg into a live chick format!
Homesteading, baby chick, on site hatching, poultry

Idril’s first hatch. A Silver-Laced Wyandotte x Buff Orpington F1 about 4 hour old chick. Bits of black around the eyes, top of head, and a little on the right (unseen) wing. Otherwise, a pale buff coloration, with a whitish belly.  Will be interesting to see how the inheritance plays out.  


Yes,  Idril’s first chick has hatched!   Now, Idril had gone broody about the 5th of April, but I didn’t let her keep the first eggs in her clutch, as she wasn’t staying on them.  But by the 7th, well… why not?  After all, there’s a rooster in there.

I went down around 3:30ish on April 29th to give my hens and their rooster kitchen scraps, and as I went down to the coop, a bunch of chickens were acting up and weird, making a ruckus.  Very strange.  I go around and I hear… chirping.  Baby chick chirping, which sounds like just about any small bird’s chirps.  Something hatched!

Well, the baby was somehow in the run proper, and Mama was hovering over it.  No idea how it got there – I think it was only an hour or so old – I’d heard ruckus about that time before in the afternoon and thought it was wild turkeys outside.

So anyhow Mama was only paying attention to the hatched one, far from her nesting area, and I had no clue if the chick would stay there if I put her (or him) back.  So, the Long Arm of Poultry CPS stepped in.  Mama Idril tried to peck me, but I know she only meant to care for this little one.  I do want her to care for some of her “litter”, er, clutch upon hatching, but it will drop back down to about 35 F tonight.  (Overnight being last night.)  I may consider re-introducing any chicks I need to bring indoors, but this will depend on several factors.

homesteading, broody hens, poultry, raising chicks

Idril being broody early on. I believe she was the first of my hens to lay. So far, the only to go broody. As I have a rooster, I decided to let her raise some eggs into chicks. She is a buff Orpington.

I do have separate outdoor housing I can move them to (a couple possibilities, actually), assuming weather warms a bit.  I could even put her in my basement workshop, but I think that would stress Mama Idril a lot.

homesteading, poultry, chicken, broody chicken, hatching

Isn’t there a saying about the “bird in hand”?

Idril’s first born is now ensconced in a temporary box in the house, with a heating unit.  So I can watch the little one, it’s upstairs with me.  It’s definitely her child, lay date marked on the egg shell of April 7.  Hopefully she’s gone back to the unhatched ones.  I discarded the broken egg shell.

She’s purdy.  (For some reason I am assuming the chick is female.  Who knows???)  Idril is a buff Orpington, and the dad is Tiny Dancer, a silver Wyandotte.  You can certainly see the buff heritage in this chick.

Earlier this year, I ordered baby cockerels from Meyer Hatchery, as dual purpose meat birds.  They are supposed to come in this week.  I may run this chick with them.  Or I may keep her separate, but give her a clutch mate or two for warmth and socialization.  My options are open, due to the timing of the Meyer chicks.   At any rate, she (?) should not be kept in solitary any longer than I have to do it.

I’m actually thinking of ways to improve the coop.  There’s an inch or so barrier between the laying boxes and the coop floor proper; I’m thinking that hammering a 1 x 3 or 1 x 4 against the separation between the laying boxes and the coop proper floor would keep newborns in.  Yet still not discourage laying hens from laying properly.

homesteading, poultry, baby chicks, broody hens

The chick appears lighter in coloration in this photo than she/he really is. This chick is very vibrant.

However, I’m wondering how the newborn got out and down to the run to begin with.  About five days ago my Fake Egg ended up down in the run as well, which it certainly didn’t do on its own.  (The Fake Egg was one of a pair of ceramic eggs I bought in the early days to encourage the hens to lay in the nesting boxes.  Those never moved from the nesting boxes I’d put them in… until the day I discovered the one down in the run.  It didn’t get there by itself…)

Next Morning (today, April 30th):  It’s nearly 7 am.  The little one seems to have trouble with one leg.  Doesn’t want to stand.  She didn’t stand yesterday but I was considering that her newly hatched status.  Well, time and attention will tell.

She’ll get her first food and water today.

Presumably more chicks will hatch today, and she’ll have company.  (Besides that, the shipment from Meyer’s is due one of these three days.

Posted in Cooking | Tagged , , , , | 14 Comments

Sous Vide Beef Chuck Shoulder Steak

Contains: No known allergens of common nature.  Is:  Paleo, Whole 30, nightshade-free.  
sous vide, beef, beef shoulder, beef chuck, recipe

My cut from the local farm-share was labeled “Beef chuck shoulder steak for London Broil“.  I decided I needed to know what the deuce that meant, and learned that there are several of the somewhat tougher steaks that are called “London Broil” – and that London Broil is not exactly a cut but a method of preparation.  Well, I’d already decided I wanted to test my sous vide equipment out on a tougher, relatively thick cut of steak, so we’re dropping the package-suggested method of preparation.  I am GLAD I did!

recipe, beef, chuck steak, shoulder steak, beef, sous vide

A dab of oil, plus salt and pepper on each side of each shoulder steak. Waiting until the sous vide water comes to temp before inserting in the two silicon containers, one of which is depicted above.

I’ve played a little with the sous vide using cuts of beef.  I think for many, the traditional methods of either getting out and grilling, or using a good skillet on the cook top, is preferable to the sous vide.  I’d much rather do ribeye, flank, flat iron, and other steaks without any sous vide implement in sight.

Basically, if your steak is thin, it is going to cook up just fine and without worries without the sous vide – when one goes to sear the steak, the searing will overcook the inside, well, unless you like medium-well or drier, which for something I want to serve as a steak… I don’t.  And for a tender steak like ribeye – just, no.  Again, it’s not going to provide this household any bennies.  (I did try it once – you won’t ever see THAT write-up!  Didn’t hate it, just wasn’t something deserving any love.)

Note:  this is grass raised and finished beef, which tends to have less of a fat content than those steers who spent their final weeks on junk food corn.  Inherently, this will typically have less fat than your supermarket slabs.

I had planned on adding the garlic powder to the steaks prior to sous vide, but even though it was sitting out on the counter by me, I forgot.  I thought about adding it prior to searing, but decided that for the purposes of the blog I wanted all my seasonings to occur prior to the sous vide process.  You can certainly add some after sous vide but prior to searing.  As for the fresh thyme… it’s not in my garden quite yet!!!  Winter!  (Next year I will have an indoor kitchen herb garden with my most-used small-footprint herbs.)

recipe, beef, sous vide, chuck steak, shoulder steak, Paleo, Whole 30, gluten-free, nightshade-free

This is one of the steaks ready to be reverse-seared. It doesn’t look that good right now… (but…)

Reverse searing:  The concept here is that one sears the meat after cooking, and from various things I’ve seen on line, this is usually the best way to go for beef, lamb, goat, pork.   Chicken – it depends.  Reverse searing can be accomplished on the cook top, on the grill, or on broil in the oven.  In a skillet on the cook top, or on a grill are probably the top methods.  Oh, there are folk with blow torches and searzalls, but while I like watching them on YouTube, I’m happy with the cook top skillet or the charcoal grill.   This recipe uses the skillet on the cook top.  However, today, I’m not firing up my grill for just searing, a waste of heat.  And, baby, it’s cold outside.

Beef, sous vide, shoulder steak, chuck steak, recipe, reverse sear, Paleo, Whole 30, nightshade-free, gluten-free

The second (leftover) steak, served this time with sautéed mushrooms and savoy cabbage. Seared just prior to eating.

New bags for sous vide:  I’ve not used this sous vide equipment a whole lot yet, partially out of a concern for plastics off-gassing.   The Ziploc bags I’ve been using have been rated as bisphenol A-free, but I’m given to understand that’s not the only issue.  So, I bought a couple silicon-based plastic-free bags, and are giving them a go this time around.

Sous vide, silicon, plastic-free

This works nicely. I do need to find the best way to clean these out, and to find larger ones.

silicon, sous vide, plastic-free

Sous vide in action. I was worried that the silicon bag  tops would not seal completely (visually hard to tell) ,so I put a mason jar and a couple of glasses in there (filled with water) to keep the seal part upright. I probably did not need to worry, but better safe than sorry…  Push out any extra air as far as possible, the bottom is indeed air-free.  They did sink nicely.

Prep Time:  about 20 minutes, including time to get the sous vide water up to temp.
Sous Vide Time:  Tested at 8.5 hours, worked perfectly.  I’d say, 7-12 hours.
Cook Time (searing): 1-2 minutes per side,  hit the long edges for a minute each.  (5-6 minutes).
Rest Time:  Resting is less critical than with conventional methods of cooking steak, but with photography and all, this rested about 5-6 minutes.
Serves:  2-4, sides depending.  
Cuisine/Style:  Sous vide (French?)  
Leftovers:  Prior to searing, keep the extra steak with juices in its bag, store in fridge.  Sear upon use, removing juices but adding them back to the seared meat in the pan.  Alternatively, prior to storage, sear and store with its juices, and slice into future salads.

Sous Vide Beef Chuck Shoulder Steak

  • 1.5 pounds of beef chuck shoulder steak, about an inch thick.  (This came as two steaks here).
  • 1 teaspoon olive or avocado oil.
  • Salt and pepper to preference.  I used pink Himalayan salt, and I use a LOT less than those TV chefs use.  Figuring I’ve added enough in that the salt will do its thing, but not so much to over-salt the taste buds while one is eating.  I fear Gordon Ramsay has lost his taste buds when it comes to salting foods.  I easily use at least half as much as he does… and I can always add more at the dinner table if I erred on the lower side!  But you do need to cook with some, helps balance moisture and draw out flavor.  Other salts are fine, just keep amounts sane!
  • OPTIONAL:  Garlic powder, a sprig or two of fresh thyme per steak.
  • A couple teaspoons of ghee, avocado oil, coconut oil, or grapeseed oil.  (High cooking oils for searing.)

Set the sous vide at 131 F / 55 C for a nice medium rare.  For long cooking, you don’t want to set this lower than 130 F. (130 F will give you a little leeway should your device have any thermometer inaccuracies.)   If you are doing a tender steak short-term cooking steak (which this one is NOT) for short term (say around 2 or max 3ish hours) you can certainly cook it rare at around 121 – 125 F / 50 – 52 C.

For medium:  Set the sous vide at 135 – 140 F / 57 – 60 C.

For medium well:  (not recommended, but the sous vide method does keep the juices in the bag so this sort of prep will keep the steak moister than most others – and can be tasty with fattier cuts).  Set the sous vide at 145 – 150 F /  63 – 66 C.

For well done/shoe leather:  I’m so not going to provide this information.

Rub 1/4 teaspoon of oil on each of the four sides (two steaks, four sides), using all 1 teaspoon when done.

Sprinkle salt and pepper on each side, don’t overdo it.  I don’t CARE how much Gordon Ramsey has burnt out his salt tasting taste buds.  Add garlic powder and/or fresh thyme sprigs if so inclined.

Place in your sous vide containers – you can use the silicon bag method as described above, pressing out as much air as possible.  You won’t get every last bit out, so having the bags stand upright in the water bath WILL keep any lighter air up to the top where it won’t interfere with sous vide work.  You can use the Ziploc water displacement method if you use a Ziploc-style bag.  Or you can vacuum seal using the proper equipment and following the instructions on your unit.

Sous vide at chosen temperature for 7-12 hours.  I pulled mine out at 8.5 hours.

Remove, reserve juices, pat dry, and sear in a hot skillet with the ghee or cooking oil, (or on a grill) for 1-2 minutes per side.  Hit the two long edges for a minute each.

Serve, with whatever sides work for you, topping with the still-warm juices.

I ate the second steak on a later date (hence you’ll be seeing two somewhat different sets of sides on the plates I show).  Basically, save the steak in its juices in the fridge until use – when ready allow to warm to room temp, about 40 minutes, then sear as above.

sous vide, recipe, chuck, shoulder steak, beef, Paleo, Whole 30

Bubble, bubble, toil and trouble.

sous vide, recipe, shoulder steak, chuck steak, Paleo

Sous Vide Cooking Times by Thickness – Beef Pasteurization

How to Sous Vide Shoulder Steak

Sous Vide 7-Hour London Broil

Food Lab’s Complete Guide to Sous Vide Steak

Verdict on the silicon bags:  They work quite well.  I need to find some larger ones for larger cuts.  I do wish they cleaned out a bit easier, but soap and a brush to reach in helps.

Drop on by the Link Parties as they appear.  Loads of good ideas in them!

For instance, try Fiesta Friday, co hosts are Mollie @ The Frugal Hausfrau and Fiesta Friday’s very own Angie.

And Full Plate Thursday, run by Miz Helen in her country cottage.




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