Arrival of the Chicken Tractor & Coop!

This post is for the birds!

Homesteading, poultry, coop

Pulling up my driveway with the coop, the feed bin, and the tractor.

Seriously!   The chicken coop is here!   I’ve put the birds (the broilers) in, but have to do more work before we’re totally copasetic. They HAD to go out, whereas the laying hens can wait a few days – up to a week if they have to.   They’re younger, and smaller anyway.  And so…


Homesteading, chickens, poultry, chicken coop

Temporary home for eight broilers until I can move them to the tractor. (Which absolutely needs the solar-powered electro-net.) This is actually the future home for the laying chickens, which remain right now a LOT smaller in size!  PS, that dark brown block to the right is the door to the run for the coop.  Closed off as evening is approaching… and these birds need to get used to being here.  

Thursday or Friday, I will get assistance and know-how setting up the electronet fencing for the chicken tractor, which will have its own solar source.  This assistance will come from one of the people who sold me their equipment (both individuals plan to move from the area, and won’t be doing chickens in their future locales), so she knows her way around the equipment.  At that point, I can move the broilers from the coop to the tractor, clean out the coop  to start afresh and make things ready for the layers who will be needing the coop as a year-round homestead.

Homesteading, Poultry, chicken tractor

Chicken tractor. This does need the electro-net fired up around it. It will move periodically. The door so I can enter is on the far side. It has a roof to cover, to protect from rain and excessive sun. Until I get the electro-net charged up and running, I don’t consider this safe enough for my birds as it stands. We’s got predators here…

The coop will have electronet around it, too, but it is less immediately critical to do so.  Instead it is indeed critical to get the broilers OUT of my basement!   (These units were supposed to have been delivered the week of May 26th, which would have given me much better leeway.)

On the other paw, they’re well-built.  Very well built.  Hometown Structures is a small Mennonite-owned business located a few towns over.  Their work doesn’t come cheap, but their work isn’t cheaply done.  (Cheep, cheep???)

homesteading, poultry, chicken coop, chicken run

The coop and run. There’s a feed bin in front, left side. Awesome! Yes, I will let the (laying) chickens out of the coop and the run, once we get going with electro-net. I’m not going to be totally free-range, because I really don’t want to feed the neighborhood hawks, owls, and foxes… But these birds will be omnivores, which is as they should be.

Bedding in the coop:  Either straw or pine/wood chips/shavings are recommended.  NEVER use cedar… the aromatics in cedar are wonderful to human noses but contain substances you don’t want poultry to ingest.  You want to make sure your chips or shavings, if you go that route, have low or no sawdust, which adversely affects delicate poultry respiratory systems.  I’ve seen recommendations for straw, and I’ve seen recommendations for the shavings.  I’m doing the shavings for now, but I suspect straw may be cheeper.  (oops, sorry.)

Meanwhile, the broilers have been housed in large cardboard boxes in my workshop basement room — four currently in the box for a toilet (appropriate?), and two apiece in other boxes I “borrowed” from local friends (they won’t want ’em back)!  I rotate them around when I do box cleanout changes, so they get to know their compatriots.  They are social animals; you don’t want to house them one per box, ever (well, if one is sick, this may be your best option).

homesteading, poultry, chicken coop

Nice epoxy floors for easy clean out. Windows that open, with grates in front, to keep in, in, and out, out.   Below, laying box areas.  Yes, hens will try to use only one or two of these, but… hey… options. 

The main thing I have to deal with is that the entry for humans into the coop is 18 inches off the ground.  With my bad knees and a bad ankle, I will have to build steps as soon as possible (I was able to get in there today before I put the birds in, in order to set up the feeders… but such activity right now requires me to sit on the flooring and then hoist myself up.  Now that there are birds in there who are leaving droppings, I want to have steps!  This will happen shortly.   I will also install a pull bar so I can get in with even less effort.)

homesteading, poultry, chicken coop

Chicken roosting area, with ventilation you can open or close to the right. Underneath is a tray you can pull out when needed to clean this stuff out.

The coop has a pull out tray there, so you can clean outside, without worrying about roosting birds.

Homesteading, poultry, chicken coop

Chicken roosting area is wired for sound. Well, not sound, but for heated roosting perches, two of them. This is also wired for a light overhead. Not essential right now, but certainly since my laying birds will live here for a few years if all goes according to plan. Having a light on in the late autumn months will keep the layers laying longer into that season.

We’re wired here, even if we are not totally wired yet.  Temps were in the very high 80’s today, so heating the roosts would be.. counterproductive, eh?

Tasks:  I put in nails and one chain (so far) for holding up food off the ground in the coop proper.  I do have a large 15 gallon waterer which will end up in the chicken tractor.  I will be setting up watering systems both inside and outside the coop (but within their built-in run), right now they can deal with water in a nesting box.  I am running a hose from the house to the coop so I am not lugging water around – I’m using hose material that is rated for human drinking water (most are not; most contain lead).

We are linking to:

Fiesta Friday, co-hosted this week by Liz @ Spades, Spatulas & Spoons.





Posted in Commentary, Poultry | Tagged , , | 10 Comments

Slow Cooker Pork, Rhubarb, Apple/Asian Pear Stew

There are other vegetables and things in this stew as well, I just list the less usual in the title.

It’s… Rhubarb Season!  (We may be passing the peak, but rhubarb is still out there…)

recipe, paleo, Whole 30, stew, pork, rhubarb, savory, slow cooker

This savory pork and rhubarb stew also involves Yukon golds, celery, onion, apple, Asian pear, and seasonings.

Rhubarb (Rheum rhabarbarum) is a northern North American thing, one is hard pressed to find rhubarb in anything in the South.  (You can hardly ever find grits in the North, so perhaps this balances out??)  I bought a pound, and used one half of that on a dessert that sounded very intriguing…  a Rhubarb Oat Crumble… I love oats!  But it turned out way too sweet for me (otherwise great), so I dropped it off at the local community center to share with people who DO like things sweet!


Chunking up the rhubarb

Rhubarb is indeed a very tart perennial vegetable, and most uses involve adding sugar to fight the tart.  I can’t blame the concept; it was just a little too too much in the recipe I used.  Rhubarb is also often combined with strawberry in dessert endeavors, for instance, the almost-cliched Strawberry Rhubarb Pie.

However, now, with the other half of my rhubarb, I’m going after a savory stew.  There’s some pork neck bones and meat in my freezer… (From a local farmer…)  

Several years ago, I found a recipe for stew made with rhubarb, and decided to make that — I enjoyed it, but didn’t keep the recipe.  No idea what I did then (I think it was with  beef), so I am flying by the seat of my pants this time!  And, yes, it worked.

recipe, savory, rhubarb, pork, paleo, whole 30, stew

After browning the pork, and with celery, waiting for liquids and such to be added to the slow cooker.

To balance out the tartness of the rhubarb, I’m adding some stone fruit.  I love what the juicy Asian pear does to Korean food, so one of those.  And a regular organic apple that happened to be sitting around my kitchen, wanting to be included.  If you can’t find Asian pears, use TWO apples.  They won’t complain!  I’m working with these fruits and seasonings that complement pork, so that’s part of this picture, too.

paleo, whole 30, apple, Asian pear, recipe, savory, rhubarb, stew, pork

An apple, and an Asian pear. I already had the apple to hand, so I didn’t mind the mix and match. Do two of one, or one of each…

PS:  The leaves and flowers of the rhubarb plant are toxic.  The stalks are fine.

Prep Time:  15 minutes prior to slow cooking, about 15 more during cooking.
Cook Time:  4 hours
Rest Time:  Not essential.
Serves: I got about 4 meals out of this.  
Leftovers:  Yep.  Nuke ’em, most efficient.  

Slow Cooker Pork, Rhubarb, Apple/Asian Pear Stew

  • 1.5 – 2 pounds bone-in pork neck, in chunks.  (Mine were large chunks.)  The only thing I would do different is use 1.5 pounds bone-in pork neck chunks PLUS 0.5 pounds boneless pork stewing/braising meat, cubed.  A better meat ratio.)
  • 0.5 pounds rhubarb stalks, about 5 stalks, cleaned and sliced in 1.5-2 inch lengths.
  • 3 celery stalks, cleaned and sliced in 1.5-2 inch lengths.  
  • 1 large onion, chunked
  • 2 cups low sodium veggie broth, divided (meat-based broth okay)
  • 1 cup white wine (use water with a splash of apple cider vinegar if you don’t use wine). Dry vermouth would also be nice.  I suspect this might be the best choice, if you have it to hand…
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1/2 teaspoon mild smoked paprika
  • 1 teaspoon dried sage
  • 2 lightly minced large cloves of garlic
  • 2 apples, or 2 Asian pears, or one of each:  cored and diced.  Peeling is optional.
  • 2 or 3 medium sized Yukon gold potatoes, cleaned and chunked.  You can keep or remove the peel, but remove any eyes or green bits.

Add the celery and onion to a slow cooker.

Lightly salt and pepper the pork.  Brown the meat in a skillet, using ghee, butter or cooking oil, medium heat, about 3 minutes a side.

Add the pork to the slow cooker.

Deglaze the skillet with about 1/4-1/3 cup of the broth, and add that to the slow cooker.

Add the rest of the broth, and the wine to the slow cooker, followed by the thyme, paprika, and sage.  (If you think you need more liquid in your cooker, add a little more broth, I did not.)  Turn the ingredients so that the seasonings disperse in the liquid.

Set the slow cooker on low, for 4 hours.

After 1.5 hours, (2.5 hours left), add the rhubarb and potatoes, and continue to let it cook.

After 3 hours (1 hour left) add the apple/Asian pear, turn ingredients so they disperse.

After four hours, taste seasonings in the broth, and adjust.  (I added more ground pepper at this point.)

The pork should be easy to pull from the bones.  Serve, and enjoy, garnishing with parsley if you happen to have.  (I didn’t… supermarkets are now too far for me to go visit at whim…)

recipe, pork, rhubarb, savory, stew, paleo, whole 30

Pork and Rhubarb Stew

Check out the link parties:

Fiesta Friday

 What’s for Dinner? Sunday Link-Up! 


Posted in Cooking, Meats, Soups & Stews | Tagged , , , , , | 4 Comments

Laying Chicken Homestead News Update

The 8 broilers are waiting to go out in the yard (and will do so this week), but the layers are still too small to do so.  BUT.. the broilers are chomping at their bits!!  The yard will be tractor mowed, and I’ll get their happy homes outside, as predator proof as possible, this week.

I want to talk about egg layers today…  I think the laying birds will be ready to be outdoors in about 7-10 days, but I’ll evaluate as they grow further.   PS, they arrived here May 8th.

I am eager to name these laying birds.  So far, only two (probably three) have names.  Goldilocks, Tiny Dancer, and (when I figure out which is the rooster) Sultan.  Ideas for the others are appreciated.  Please post below!!

poultry, chickens, layers, hens, homesteading

A Buckeye pullet. These birds were developed in Ohio by a woman who was interested in both meat and eggs. This breed is not as prolific as the other egg-layer breeds I brought in, but I was intrigued. I have two of these. Original coat before feathering was golden. Photo 6/11/18

The laying birds consist of:

  • 3 buff Orpingtons
  • 2 black Australorpes
  • 2 buckeyes
  • 1 golden laced Wyandotte
  • 3 silver laced Wyandottes, one of whom is a male and will be a rooster.  I don’t know which one, although I begin to suspect.

The Orpingtons and the Australorpes are extremely mellow.  These two breeds are genetically very similar to each other, and so personalities will overlap.

raising poultry, chickens, homesteading

A buff Orpington. This seems to be the most common color pattern today, but a dark variety was ready and waiting in the past. They are good egg layers. And very mellow and not at all perturbed about being in my hand.  I have three.  Photo 6/11


Australorpes are most common in black. They are related to Orpingtons. I have two of these. Both my Orpingtons and Australorpes are very mellow and enjoy being held. All to the good!  Photo, 6/11


The Buckeyes, a little less so, but still docile as was recommended.

The Wyandottes are a bit more adventurous and less willing to be your best friend, but they are docile.  The runt of the “litter” as it were, was a Wyandotte, and she? is more friendly than her putative siblings.  She also has the most interesting markings of her fellow silver-laced Wyandottes.


This is the “runt” of the litter, as it were. A silver-laced Wyandotte, whom I am naming Tiny Dancer.  She seems eager to thrive.  Photo 6/11.

I only ordered one golden-laced Wyandotte, so she’s been named Goldilocks.  She has her own mind, but that is fine.

poultry, homesteading, chickens

My lone Golden-Laced Wyandotte… her name is Goldilocks.  Photo 6/11.

Of the three silver-laced Wyandottes, one came in as a runt, so I have named her “Tiny”, whom you see above, although she’s growing out nicely.   One of these is a future rooster (to be named “Sultan”) but I am assuming for now that it’s not the runt.






Posted in Cooking | 3 Comments

Breakfast: Pork Sausage Patties: Apple, Fennel Seed, Smoked Paprika, Sage

I’ve been wanting to make my breakfast pork sausage patties for the blog for a while.  Hey, I’ve been wanting to make them for me again!

recipe, pork sausage, breakfast, apple, sage, fennel

Breakfast pork sausage, with apple. Seasoned with fennel, sage, and a mild smoked paprika. A little nutmeg.

Lo and behold, in random surfing, I came upon this recipe:  Apple, Sage & Fennel Breakfast Sausage.   While I am already quite happy with my own recipe, adding in actual apple sounded intriguing.  I already use lots of fennel and sage… this could only up the ante some!  Apples definitely marry well with pork.

recipe, breakfast sausage, apple

Dicing apples.  Some caffeine in the background.

I’m using the above linked recipe as inspiration for the apple parts.

For the ground pork, I am using pork obtained from a meat share.  I am looking forward to buying a meat grinder now that I have a kitchen with storage room in it, so I can grind my own cuts of meat.  Such a grinder will also have a link-stuffing function, if you do have one, I’m sure this sausage would be also good made into links (just cut the apple even finer).

recipe, pork sausage, fennel, apple, sage, smoked paprika, Paleo

A pile of spices and seasonings on top of the future pork sausage…

Prep Time:  Say, 15 minutes.
Cook Time:  About 6 minutes for the apple, 10 minutes for the patties themselves.
(Times will take longer the first time around if you have to adjust seasonings)

Rest Time:  5 minutes
Serves:  4 to  6 
Leftovers?:  Discussed below.

Pork Sausage Patties: Apple, Fennel Seed, Smoked Paprika, Sage

  • 1 pound ground pork
  • 1 tart apple, skin on or peeled.  Cored and diced small.
  • 1 tablespoon fennel seeds, toasted as below.  
  • 2 teaspoons sage
  • 2 teaspoons smoked paprika (I used mild, you can use hot, or mix it up)
  • 1 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1/2 teaspoon tarragon
  • 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon sea salt 
  • Cooking oil, avocado oil is recommended

Toast the fennel seeds in about half a teaspoon of oil for 2-3 minutes on a medium heat.

In a bowl, place the meat, and add all the seasonings on top.

In the same skillet you used for the fennel seeds, cook the diced apple for about 6-8 minutes until soft, stirring occasionally.  (If you need more oil, add a little, possibly a couple teaspoons…)

Remove from heat, and let stand for about 5 minutes until cool enough to work with.  Add to the bowl with the meat and spices.

Using your hands, mix the entire thing together.

Drop about a teaspoonful of your mixture onto your hot skillet and cook that for a few minutes… taste.  Adjust spices as needed.  (The above list is what I ended up with after adjusting.)

Shape into patties of your preferred size, and cook on the skillet – these were about 1/2 inch or so in thickness and about 3 inches  in diameter.  At medium heat, I cooked them about 6 minutes on one side, 5 on the other, with about 30 seconds back on the original side.  You want them well done – it’s pork.  And ground pork will remain moist.  But judge by your own range.

Garnish with whatever you wish (I had watercress to hand), and let rest for 5 minutes.

Meanwhile, I took their photos, and fried an egg to join them…

Eat, and enjoy!

I reserved the leftover meat in the fridge.  If your pork didn’t come frozen as mine did, you can shape up the patties, tightly wrap with plastic cling wrap, and freeze raw and ready for a future date.  Or, you can cook them all and freeze.  If you store the meat in the fridge, I’d cook them within a couple of days.

recipe, pork sausage, apple, fennel, sage

Your cohosts this week are Lizet @ Chipa by the dozen and Jhuls @ The Not So Creative Cook., at Fiesta Friday‘s weekly Link Party.  Drop on by!  Add your own recipe!  Visit others!

And, likewise shared with What’s for Dinner? Sunday Link-Up!
Visit, have fun, eat and eat!









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

Salmon Sous Vide with Asparagus & Mushrooms

I’ve been wanting to do a seafood recipe with the sous vide for awhile.  This is actually pretty simple, and I enjoyed the results.  But then again… I’m of the opinion that asparagus goes with near everything…)

recipe, sous vide, salmon, asparagus, mushrooms

Salmon, asparagus, cremini mushrooms… and a dash of lime.

The Salmon:  I’ve been waiting a while to find good quality salmon… it’s more difficult here on the western end of Massachusetts, so I imagine those far more inland are also prone to difficulties.   I did find “sustainably-raised on the Faroe Islands” Atlantic salmon, and went with that for this meal.

The Asparagus:  I won’t have a goodly crop of my own immediately, but this is indeed asparagus season.  Asparagus is one of my favorite vegetables, though I don’t seem to write it up much.   You can steam, pan fry, sauté, nuke, bake or boil it.  You can add it into other things.  Thin stalk tips are even great raw in salads.

I chose pencil-thin asparagus — I like them both, but since for ages I’ve mostly seen the pencil-thin in my supermarkets,  I’ve done best by them in the kitchen.  (If you have the thick stalks, just cook a little longer.  Although I’m not sure how they’d hold up in the pan sautéed situation I used in this recipe.)

The Mushrooms:  They were here.  Why not?  Everything’s better with mushrooms… Maybe not ice cream or chocolate…

In the interests of re-using pans, I opted to pan fry my veggies, to be followed by the searing of the salmon post-sous vide in the same pan.

The Sous Vide:  One good thing about sous vide is that one can be a bit more flexible on the timing of how the elements of your meal come together.  Once you figure out your personal best temperature for your salmon (or your meat or otherwise of choice), you don’t have to be worried about that sudden phone call, or the cats getting into mischief, throwing your schedule off.  There’s a narrow zone between IT’S RAAAAAW and dry and overdone when it comes to fish.  Although with fish you don’t want to wait TOO long to retrieve your supper – there’s a point where it will turn into mush, and I’m not interested in sous viding my cats’ food!

That being said, it’s not going to be worth your while to sous vide thin fillets of fish, especially if you want them browned or seared.  Might as well just do that to begin with!

The recommended water bath temperature for doing salmon is between 105 F/41 C and 130 F/ 54 C, according to Serious Eats.  The lowest of these gives you something like warm sushi…. while I love sushi, I’m not preparing it today, and besides, warm sushi?  No.  It’s supposed to taste chill.   The highest looks the driest, and for me I’m not so interested in that, either.  But this may well work well for you.  I chose something in the middle, and based my choice on Internet photos and discussions, and personal predilections.  I don’t like my salmon all whitish inside quite so much (it’s drier, for one, but a good sauce can go a long way…)  My choice for this meal, and it worked out excellently for me, was 120 F/49 C.  Your mileage may vary.

One could actually sous vide the asparagus, too.  However, all recommended temperatures for most vegetables are at a high enough point that I’m not comfortable setting food in plastic bags, even BPA-free plastic bags, at those temperatures.  Not happening at the Goats and Greens household.

Prep Time: 10 minutes.
(Getting your
sous vide bath to temp will depend on your unit and the volume of water to be heated…)
Cook Time: 35-75 minutes plus 3 minutes searing max.
Rest Time:  Not really needed, but give it a couple minutes.
Serves:  1 happy soul!  (Scale up for family/friends!)
Leftovers:  Fine.  I’d put any leftover salmon (WHAT?) in a salad.

Salmon Sous Vide with Asparagus & Mushroom

  • 1 reasonably thick piece of salmon fillet (say, 3/4 inch or 2 centimeters more or less), skin on.  Slice or buy 0.65  pounds / 295 grams or thereabouts per person. 
  • 2 teaspoons olive oil
  • 1 sprig fresh thyme
  • 4-5 ounces / 115-140 grams of asparagus (hey, how much do you think, by eyeballing it, you want?  Use that!)
  • 4-5 ounces / 115-140 grams of sliced Crimini (or other) mushrooms (ditto)
  • 1 tablespoon salted butter 
  • 3 tablespoons cooking oil (divided)
  • 1/2 teaspoon tarragon
  • The juice of one lime (or 1/2 lemon, I simply have a surfeit of limes here after Cinco de Mayo…)
  • Salt and pepper to taste 

Note:  feel free to make a special sauce for the above.  This time, the recipe about the sous vide and incorporating it into a full (yet Paleo – no grains tonight) meal.  I do feel salmon can certainly stand on its own without a sauce if one so desires.

Get the sous vide water bath up to temperature, I chose 120 F / 49 C.

Follow the instructions for cooking sous vide on your machine.  Seal up to two of the above sized fillets into each plastic bag, along with the olive oil and the thyme sprig.  Move the oil around so it coats the fish – or, easier, vice versa.  You can do this through the bag, using your fingers on the outside to manipulate.  This supposedly keeps the fish from sticking to the plastic, but I haven’t verified what the lack of oil might do…  At any rate, either vacuum seal or water-immersion seal your bag.  I describe this latter technique back at my chicken breast sous vide post.

Dunk your bag (or bags!) into the water bath, making sure the fish is submerged, not taking on water like a sad ship, — and relax a bit before prepping the veggies.

While the fish is cooking, do any veggie preps you need:  slice mushrooms, snap off the tough asparagus bottoms and either: discard or save for a future veggie stock in your freezer.

For the veggies, I used the butter and two tablespoons of cooking oil in a skillet, tossed them in with the tarragon, salt and pepper, and let them cook until the mushrooms were soft and the asparagus was au dente but not soggy, nor still crispy.  I’d say test at five minutes, and let them go further if needed.  Stir regularly.

You have leeway on the salmon.  You can let fish sit in the sous vide bath for up to 1.5 – 2 hours, depending on the source you read (and the fish).  I brought mine out at about 45 minutes, and I wouldn’t go sooner than 35, unless you have a really THIN fillet.

Set the veggies aside, but keep the burner for the skillet on and add the final teaspoon of oil to the skillet, chill down the still-bagged salmon in ice water (I used really cold tap water).  UP the temperature on the skillet to medium high.

GENTLY pull the salmon fillet(s) out of the bag.   Pat dry with a paper towel, both sides.  Depending on the temperature you used, your fillet might have a tendency to flake (fall apart) which is both why we left the skin ON, and why we continue to handle it gently.   You want to chill this down a bit, since we will be searing, and we don’t want to overcook the fillet inside, after all this preparation to get the salmon to the consistency we may want…  (I discarded the thyme sprig.)

You may want to open windows and turn on fans and the hood vent — although you may not set off your smoke detectors on fish, just depends on sensitivity of your home smoke detectors!!  Searing fish is less of a nuisance than searing beef, pork or lamb in the house.  You can do it much quicker with fish.

Make sure your skillet is hot, hotter than you’d normally pan-fry anything… place the fish on the newly oiled surface, skin down, for 60-90 seconds.

Flip, for 30 seconds.  Gently.  At the temperature I chose, there was some desire from edges of the fish to flake off, so being gentle is critical.

Plate the veggies and the salmon, and use the lime juice liberally over the salmon.. and into the veggies.  Add more ground pepper as desired.

Serve.  Grab fork, knife, and enjoy.

This was great, and with following my precautions, my smoke detectors (which in this new home are pretty state of the art it seems) let out nary a peep! Which is more than I can say for my ventures with sous vide lamb… (Which you won’t see until I can sear it on the grill…)  It was a perfect meal, as I don’t eat grains all that often, but adapt as you please.  I apologize that I forgot to photograph a cross section of the salmon when it was served.  The skin side was properly crispy and enjoyable.

This recipe is being shared over at Fiesta Friday,  where your awesome co-host this week is  Jhuls @ The Not So Creative Cook.








Posted in Cooking | 5 Comments

Squid Stuffed with Farro and Zucchini(contains gluten)

(I do provide gluten-free alternatives below.)  PS, I inadvertently posted something not yet ready for prime time…. So this is today’s post, instead.  Apologies!  

Squid, stuffed squid, farro, emmer wheat, zucchini, recipe

A serving of squid stuffed with farro, zucchini, using the ink sac. The ink adds a little subtle extra squid flavor.

Farro is a type of wheat derived from Emmer wheat, an ancient type of wheat that is naturally low in gluten, and contains a level of healthy proteins our standard wheat we raise in the Western hemisphere does not begin to match.  Farro has a “nutty” flavor, since it isn’t milled down.

I have a few thoughts and theories about gluten – obviously, if you have Celiacs, avoid it completely.  For those who are not, there are differing levels of gluten sensitivity, and there appear to be other triggers in standard wheat besides or in addition to gluten.  Plus, a lot of the wheat eaten is in the form of supermarket loaves or buns — just check the ingredient list on the package the next time you buy!!  And indeed, what passes as healthier “whole wheat” often isn’t… just being brown doesn’t make your grains healthy.  Or better on the glycemic scale.  I’m rather thinking that a lot (not all) of the bad reaction to wheats can be laid to the feet of some of these other ingredients.

If you eat bread, you are best off making your own or going to a dedicated reputable bakery.

In any case, farro is pretty good, even Davies, the author of Wheat Belly, who gets a little crazy on the topic, indicates he won’t dismiss Emmer wheat.

By the way, to clear something up, there is no such thing as GMO wheat.  There’s a company whose name I won’t mention, who when they proposed it, the idea was shot down by the larger grain farmers – so much of our wheat in the US is exported to countries who won’t buy GMO, that it just wasn’t going to fly economically.  No, wheat has been modified by the longer, more standard and traditional methods – going for yield per acre without much thought on nutrition per serving.

recipe, squid, stuffed squid, zucchini, courgette

Some people will peel the squid so it has a pure white hue, but I like the purple just as much . There’s no taste or textural difference, just a matter of aesthetic preference.

The squid:  When I came upon this squid, which still has its ink, I just had to plot out another stuffed squid recipe.  I figured the ink would be best absorbed into a grain, and I’m not particularly fond of stuffing rice into things (other than sushi rolls).  If you can’t find farro (try health food stores or Whole Wallet), or you can’t/don’t eat gluten, then go with the rice.  Or… quinoa!

recipe, squid, stuffed squid, zucchini, courgette

The extra stuffing happily surrounds the squid. It is now ready to be cooked.

The zucchini, or as they say in many parts of the world, the courgette:  I used this because it was in my fridge.  If you prefer a different, somewhat moist veggie, go for it.

Prep Time: 55 minutes.
Cook Time: 40 minutes,
Rest Time:  Not necessary.
Serves: 2 people – 1 stuffed squid per person.

Squid Stuffed with Farro and Zucchini

  • 2 large intact squid.  Reserve the ink if available.  
  • 1/2 cup (120 mL) farro.  (Sub in Calrose rice, or quinoa, if preferred)
  • 1 zucchini, diced
  • 2 scallions/green onions, de-rooted and diced.
  • Juice of one lemon (divided)
  • 1/2 teaspoon hot sauce (I am partial to Chohula).  You can use less, or more.  The 1/2 teaspoon provides a definite “tang”.
  • salt and pepper to taste (1/2 teaspoon ground pepper, here, no salt)
  • 1/3 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 tablespoon low sodium tamari (or, coconut aminos).  
  • About 1-2 tablespoons butter, sliced into pats.
  • Optional cilantro (coriander leaf) garnish. Or, parsley if you prefer.

Soak the farro for half an hour in hot water to cover, stir once or twice.  Hot tap water is fine.

Meanwhile, clean your squid… reserve as much of the ink as you can.  (My bag leaked, I lost some, but!)  Basically, follow the instructions on one of my earlier posts, set the tentacles aside (they can remain inky) then wash the big tubes.  Cut off the fins, and put them with the tentacles.  Dice up the veggies, the tentacles and fins, place in a bowl.  Get that squid ink in there, if you can.

Pre-heat oven to 375 F / 190 C.

Add the juice of half that lemon, the Chohula, the salt and pepper.

Drain the farro, add in and mix, I found using my hands most effective.

Stuff the squid bodies / tubes.  I discovered that there seems to be a block before the stuffing reaches the bottom of the tubes… using my non-dominant hand, I’d squeeze the stuffing down the tube until it reached the bottom, and with the other hand, continued stuffing.

There will be a surplus of stuffing.  But hey, fun eating!

Arrange the stuffed squid in your baking pan – yeah, I cheated and went with disposable, this was an unexpectedly hectic day…

Drop the remaining stuffing around the squid.

Squeeze the rest of the lemon juice over the pan’s contents.

Top with a sprinkling of garlic powder  – if desired, add more.

Scatter a tablespoon or so of tamari/coconut aminos over the excess stuffing.

Add the butter over the stuffing, to help keep the farro from drying out.

Bake for 40 minutes.

Garnish, serve and enjoy!.

recipe, squid, stuffed squid, zucchini, courgette

This post is now linked at Fiesta Friday, with this week’s co-host, Antonia @  

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

Breakfast: Refried Beans and First-Fried Egg

I held a Cinco de Mayo dinner back on May 5th, and we had a great time, and all together too much food.  The vegetarian chili was a big hit, and some of it went home with omnivores.  I plan to re-create it for the blog, as I didn’t have time to make measurements of the seasonings, but instead went by taste and aroma.  (It was slow cooked, involved three different beans, canned diced tomato, fresh onion and acorn squash, as well as the usual suspects for chili seasonings and that awesome chili taste.)

Anyhow, I’d opened up 3 cans of vegetarian refried beans, and had heated this up for a serve-yourself-taco bar catering to both omnivores and vegetarians.  With a little over a cup remaining of this, later that week (which was last week) I decided to have it for breakfast.

recipe, breakfast, egg, refried beans, cheese, ancho chili

A hearty refried bean breakfast, topped with fried egg and cheese.

So… this recipe was born for that Wednesday morning.  Oh, for an extra bit of zip, sub the regular refried beans with those black bean refried beans.

Prep Time: 5 – 10 minutes
Cook Time: Egg maybe 5 minutes, refried beans & cheese, 2.5 – 3 minutes if nuked – microwave while the egg cooks.
Rest Time:  You may want it to cool a bit before a bite
Serves:  One, you may want a late lunch…

Egg, Cheese, Refried Beans

  • About 1 cup ( about 240 mL) of refried beans (if vegetarian, check the label on your can as some canned refried beans are made with pork lard)
  • 1 egg
  • A splash of cooking oil (I prefer avocado)
  • An ounce (28-30 grams) or so of Monterey Jack, sliced thin (Cheddar or Pepper Jack would be great, too).
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground Ancho chili pepper.  (You can punch this up with a hotter chili — but this is breakfast!)
  • A wedge’s worth of lime juice. 
  • Ground pepper to taste (I used Trader Joe’s Rainbow Peppercorns)
  • Cilantro (fresh coriander leaf) for garnish

Lay out the refried beans in a microwaveable dish.  (Or you can do this in an oven-safe dish and do the same procedure in the oven, it will just take longer to cook through.)

Mix in some ancho chili powder.

Lay some thin sliced cheese in a circle on top, making an indentation in the center where the egg will go.

Squeeze on some lime, mainly on the beans.

Fry up an egg in a medium-low heat skillet.  Cook to your preferred style and level of done-ness, but about two minutes before ready, put the beans in the microwave and cook there for 2.5 minutes, on the high setting.

When the egg is done to your liking, remove skillet from heat.

Remove beans from microwave, and gently drape your fried egg in the center of the bowl.  Add ground pepper and cilantro.  Serve and enjoy!

Yeah, I forgot to add the cilantro until I’d started gnoshing… it was sitting out and waiting for me, but I forgot it anyway!  So, it’s not in the photo, but I did use it.  Pays to do the coffee before prepping breakfast!!

NOTE:  to make this for more people, use a casserole dish.  You will probably want to make this an oven dish in that case, so prepare to bake this at 350 F for 20-25 minutes.  You can also cook the egg(s) IN the casserole dish in this case — but for my purposes, the egg comes out overdone on top (I’ve done this in the past).  YMMV.

At any rate, this recipe has been posted at the Fiesta Friday link party, where I’m hosting /helping out this week.  Do drop on by!!  Read, enjoy, share your own recipes should you choose!



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