Archive for the ‘Recipes’ Category

Wonton Soup

Thursday, December 29th, 2016


Wonton soup is one of my favorite comfort foods.  I think of it as Asian chicken noodle soup, and it’s what I want on those rare occasions when I’m sick. However, I eat it a lot, sick or not. Because I feel like crap on toast when I’m sick, I freeze trays of wontons, as well as containers of broth made from my old stewing hens, so soup can happen with minimal effort.  Everyone knows good old chicken soup is just what’s needed for a cold, but how much better, when you throw in garlic and ginger?

The recipe I give will make approximately 40-50 wontons. This is more than you will need to make a batch of soup. Freeze what you don’t use for later. The wontons can be added to the cooking broth fresh or frozen.



1 pound ground pork
1 tablespoon grated ginger
2 or 3 cloves finely minced garlic
1 tablespoon sesame seed oil
1 package wonton wrappers

Combine ground pork, ginger, garlic, and sesame oil, and mix well.  Fold using any number of different folds. I use a tortellini fold, because it’s an easy fold that allows me to crank out a batch of 100 quickly. Place a small amount of pork mixture in the center of a wonton wrapper. Moisten outside edges of the wrapper with a finger dipped in water. Fold in half to form a triangle, and press the moistened edges together to seal. Pull the outside corners of the triangle towards the middle. Moisten one of the corners with a little water, and press the corners together, and then flip the main part of the wonton over the top of your thumb while pinching the corners together, as pictured.



Wonton Soup
1 quart (32 ounces) chicken broth
1 tablespoon grated ginger
2 or 3 garlic cloves
1 tablespoon fish sauce
1 to 2 cups chopped bok choy greens and stems
Salt to taste

To make the soup, place the broth, ginger, garlic, and fish sauce in your soup pot, and bring up to a gentle boil.  Add your wontons to the broth (fresh or frozen), and simmer for about 10 minutes. Add chopped bok choy to the soup, and take it off the heat. The heat of the soup will wilt the greens, but they will still maintain a satisfying crunch.

This is a versatile recipe. You can use more or less broth and greens as you like.  I prefer more greens and load it up with wontons.


Ancho Chili Powder – Seed to Jar

Tuesday, September 27th, 2016



Technically, this is easy peasy. Throw dried ancho in a grinder and pulverize. Viola! Chili powder! I hope I never have to resort to store-bought powder again.  I wish you could smell it! It has a wonderfully fruity pepper aroma, like nothing I’ve ever found in a store.  I opened the grinder, took a big sniff, and immediately did this weird sneezy cough thing.  There is so much more going on in this simple powder than I could have imagined.

As far as easy peasy goes, I’ve decided to give myself a little more credit. This was a project that took some time, patience, and a little elbow grease.  I chose an heirloom poblano seed last winter, and planted the seeds back in early March.






At the end of April, I turned over a cover crop of rye and vetch in my raised beds.  I hand dig all 4 of my raised beds, and by the time the cover crop had decomposed into the soil enough that I could plant, I had dug each bed a total of 3 times.  It’s a great way to start getting back into shape in the spring, and I’m usually a little sore at first. By mid May, I had transplanted the poblano pepper seedlings in the ground.




By the beginning of August, I was picking and roasting green chilis for the freezer




Here I am in September, and the peppers have finally ripened to a beautiful chocolate.




This past weekend, I halved and seeded them, and put them in my dehydrator. After a couple of days, they were shriveled, semi-crisp, and almost black.




I’ll admit, I had my doubts when I put them in the grinder.  Who would have believed the powder would come out looking like this? One smell. One taste.  THIS is why I bother to do so much of what I do. This is what knowing where my food comes from is all about.  Now, whenever I cook something using this powder, I’ll be reminded of 7 months, from seed to jar, of what’s involved in producing a simple staple spice I keep in my cupboard.




Now that I’ve finished this post, I’m off to use my spectacular ancho powder to make up a batch of my Tex-Mex blend.



Dutch Baby

Sunday, February 1st, 2015

Dutch Baby

Yeah, I know, the internet doesn’t need another Dutch Baby recipe, but I’m doing it anyway.  I like to make a Dutch Baby for Sunday brunch, usually paired with some sort of quiche.  On this particular Sunday, it was served with fried apples and a bacon and leek quiche. As usual in the winter time, the chickens have slowed down on egg production.  However, thanks to a goose who decided to lay eggs all winter long (this is not the norm), I’ve had no shortage of eggs, and a Dutch Baby is a good way to use up some of the glut.  I’ve scaled back my recipe to serve 2-4 people, from the original recipe which was baked in my huge 12″ cast iron skillet.

Dutch Baby
3 eggs (or 1 goose egg)
1/2 cup flour
scant 1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon (optional)
1/2 cup milk
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
2 tablespoons butter

Pre-heat oven to 375°F.  Whisk eggs, flour, salt, cinnamon, milk and vanilla together. Melt butter in preheated oven in an 8-9 inch cast iron skillet, taking care not to burn the butter.  I’ve been told that it can also be baked in a baking dish, but I’ve never done it, so can’t vouch for results.  Pour batter into the pan with the butter and return to the oven.  Bake 20-25 minutes, or until it has climbed the sides of the pan and the edges are browned and crisped, and the center is no longer moist.

Fill the Dutch Baby with your filling of choice.   My fried apple filling is simply sliced apples fried/softened in butter, and finished off with a couple of squeezes of fresh lemon juice, and brown sugar or maple syrup to taste.

Fillings can be sweet or savory.  I’ve been thinking about trying a cream cheese filling, and I’d also like to try some sort of herbed mushroom-green onion filling. The possibilities are limitless: caramelized onions and Swiss cheese, wilted arugula and goat cheese, avocado-tomato-cilantro. I could even see going into something a little heftier and filling it with one of my favorite meat salads (think thinly sliced lamb and greens with a cumin vinaigrette), or something chili relleno or chicken enchillada-ish. Ooo-ooo!! I just thought of something else … in the spring when I go foraging …… ramps and morels!

Baked Custard

Saturday, December 6th, 2014



Thanks to a goose who decided to lay eggs out of season, custard has become a household staple this fall. I’ve been told it’s not unheard of for a goose to lay in the fall, but this girl is being ridiculous, and has been giving me two or three eggs a week since the beginning of October. So, I’ve got goose eggs, chicken eggs, and plenty of milk from my herd share.


sitting goose


Custard is one of my husband’s comfort foods, and he claims mine is the best he’s had — even better than his mom’s!  It’s pretty simple, but there are a couple of tricks.  It’s important that you know your exact oven temp (most people don’t realize their oven isn’t properly calibrated).  I use an inexpensive little oven thermometer I picked up at a hardware store.  My oven has to be set to 395 to actually reach 350.  Another trick is interpreting the “jiggle” when the custard is done.

Baked Custard
1 goose egg (or 3 chicken eggs)
3/4 cup sugar
2-3 teaspoons vanilla
3 cups whole milk

Preheat oven to 350F.  Thoroughly combine all ingredients, making sure sugar is completely dissolved.  Pour custard mixture through a fine mesh sieve into custard cups (this ensures that you won’t have any weird unincorporated eggy spots, and guarantees a smooth, silky texture).  Place custard cups in a shallow baking pan, and pour hot water into the pan to at least 3/4 the way up the sides of the custard cups.  Bake for 28 minutes. Yup, 28 minutes in my particular oven. If I go 29 minutes, it’s overcooked.


custard steps


You may need to adjust your baking time based on your individual oven, so it really helps to learn to interpret the jiggle.

It’s very easy to over-bake custard. If it’s over-baked, instead of being silky and creamy, it will have light rubbery/eggy texture.  Also, some of the liquid will separate from the mixture, contributing a watery texture.

When you take it out, it should jiggle like loose jello, and you will swear it’s not done. Also, if you insert a knife and it comes out clean … it’s over done.  However, if you chill it in the fridge overnight, it will set up to a nice creamy consistency. Personally, I like to let it chill a good 24 hours for the best texture.  It’s amazing how many recipes on the interwebs call for baking for almost an hour, or until a knife comes out clean.  With the amount of misinformation out there, it’s no wonder so many cooks are intimidated by custard.

Sprinkle with a light grating of fresh nutmeg right before serving. And….. the custard was gone before I finished putting away my camera.


custard bite

Roasted Poblano & Queso Fresco Tacos

Friday, June 6th, 2014



This was one of those lunchtime accidents. It’s going to happen again, but the next time it won’t be an accident. I was scrounging through the fridge for something for lunch, and I’m a little shy on leftovers right now.  There were some corn tortillas I made the other day, and some leftover roasted Poblano peppers.  I made a batch of queso fresco this morning, but it was still sitting in the mold under a weight.  I got into it anyway, and it crumbled, which was perfect for these impromptu tacos.  A generous bunch of cilantro, and a squeeze of fresh lime, and I had lunch!

It’s amazing what you can do with leftovers!  I just had to share, and now I’ve got to go back to work.



Mexican Style Pork Roast for Carnitas or Posole

Wednesday, June 4th, 2014

Mexican pork roast


Today is a cool, rainy day, AND my day off, which means I’m off the hook for any outdoors work.  It’s a perfect day for cooking and puttering around the house.  By lunch time, I had already put a pork roast in the slow cooker for tonight’s dinner (which will also provide another meal for the weekend), restarted some kombucha which had gone too long and become vinegar (now I have more than half a gallon of very useful raw kombucha vinegar – I’m thinking it’s time to make more fire cider), caught up laundry, did a few website updates for the business, and started a new batch of buttermilk from a gallon of raw milk that was just beginning to sour.

Which reminds me …. I’d like to plug the co-op of which I’m a member, Fry Farms Co-Op.  If you happen to be a reader in the Ft. Wayne/Columbia City/South Whitley area, this co-op is a great source of organic pastured chicken and pork, grass-fed beef, eggs, produce, and a raw organic milk/products herdshare program. An added bonus is the prices are some of the best to be found in the area for food of this type and quality.  I’ve been very pleased with my membership.  I place my orders on their website, and pick up my orders every other Wednesday evening at their Columbia City, Raber Road drop point. They also have a couple of pickup locations in Ft. Wayne.

Getting back to the purpose of this post … my pork roast.  This is on the menu because the girls at my local Mexican grocery keep telling me how much they love a traditional Mexican soup called Posole.  They made it sound so good that I’ve decided I really must try it. I’ve done a bunch of research online, and gotten a few tips from the Mexican girls (who tell me things like, “Well, my grandmother always throws a couple of chicken feet in with the broth). I think  the soup will probably fit very well with the way I cook one meal leading to another. Tonight I’m going to use some of the shredded roast pork along with homemade tortillas for tacos, which will be dressed up with cilantro, avocado, lime, and whatever else strikes my fancy.

Traditionally, recipes like this use some sort of shoulder cut roast (picnic, boston butt, pork shoulder), but I had a 3.5 pound fresh, uncured bone-in ham roast, so that’s what I used.


Mexican style pork


Mexican Style Pork Roast
Pork Roast
Large Onion, roughly chopped
Head of Garlic, peeled and roughly chopped
1 Tablespoon ground cumin (freshly toasted and ground is best)
2 Teaspoons Mexican Oregano
2 Teaspoons Salt

Sear roast on medium high heat (I know, this doesn’t seal in moisture, I do it because it helps contribute to a rich broth, thanks to the Maillard reaction), and I’m going to need a nice both for the Posole I make later.

Place roast in a slow cooker, de-glaze searing pan with water, and add water to the slow cooker.  Add chopped onion, garlic, cumin, oregano, and salt.  Add hot water to cover roast (the picture above shows how much water I added).  Slow cook roast for several hours until the pork is tender and falls apart easily.  Cooking time is going to depend on your slow cooker.

For the tacos, I’ll shred some of the meat, and maybe even fry it so it’s officially carnitas –  maybe not – depends on how I’m feeling by the time I’m done making the tortillas.  The rest of the meat and broth will be saved for making the Posole this weekend.  If all goes well, I’ll post the results later.

Completely unrelated – here’s a bonus update on the goslings.  We were doing selfies in the pasture yesterday evening.  Yes, I know, I’m a goof.


goose selfies



Winter Italian Sausage Soup

Saturday, January 18th, 2014

sausage soup

This is one of those recipes that was born standing in front of my open freezer on a Saturday morning, clueless as to what we were going to have for dinner. My eyes landed on the Italian sausage that I get through a co-op of which I’m a member. On the shelf above were containers of frozen broth made from leftover roast chicken bones.  OK, soup – Italian … tomatoes … garlic … you see how my mind works?  So, I started grabbing staples from my stores, and ended up with the picture below.  Remember, I do everything the long hard way, so I’ve included suggestions for the sake of time and simplicity.  I dry tomatoes in my dehydrator in the summer, so I’ve always got them on hand.  I usually have kale in the winter garden, but thanks to a run-in with the geese, my kale is no more. This was some organic red kale I’d grabbed at a local store. Will someone  tell my why the geese turned up their bills at kale when I offered it to them out in their pen, but when they took a wander around the property they suddenly decided they couldn’t get enough of it?

soup staples

Winter Italian Sausage Soup
1 pound Sweet Italian Sausage
1 cup dry beans, soaked (or 1-2 cans of some sort of white bean)
6 cups chicken broth
1-2 cloves garlic, crushed and diced (or half the head like I did)
1 cup dried tomatoes (or you can use canned tomatoes)
Small bunch of kale, stems removed and roughly chopped
Red pepper flakes (optional)

Brown sausage in soup pot.  Add garlic and cook for a minutes.  Add chicken broth and beans, simmer for about an hour until beans are tender (you can skip this cooking time if you use canned  beans). Add dried tomatoes and simmer for another 15 or 20 minutes (skip the cooking time if you use canned tomatoes).  Add kale and simmer for another few minutes.  I like to be able to chew my kale a little bit, so I don’t cook it much longer than 5 minutes. Season to taste with salt and red pepper flakes.

OK, I feel better now. I recently noticed I hadn’t blogged a recipe in a very long time, and had been boring the heck out of people with the geese and chickens.


Outdoor Canning Kitchen & Sweet Corn

Sunday, August 25th, 2013

canning kitchen

This weekend I dragged out all my paraphernalia to set up my outdoor canning kitchen. I set it up on the sidewalk just outside my kitchen door, and it will be getting quite a bit of use over the next few weeks. It’s a very simple setup, and keeps my house from becoming hot and steamy during the dog days of August.  The burner/stand is from an old turkey fryer.  I use one big pot to boil water for scalding tomatoes, peaches, corn, etc.  The other big pot is filled with cold water, which I use to quickly cool said scalded tomatoes, peaches, corn, etc.  From my staging area outdoors, I move my scalded/blanched produce into the house to finish processing.

This weekend I’ve been working on a wheelbarrow full of organic sweet corn that was GIVEN to me.  Yep, that’s right, it was free!


I also got some help this time around.  Since we moved our youngest son to college last weekend, my husband has been especially attentive to me, as we’ve been adjusting to our empty nest.

bart shucking

I also got a little bit of help from the family cat. He’s always got to be in the center of whatever is going on around here. I finally had to give him a small ear of corn to get him out of my hair. He’s a raw fed kitty, so who would have figured he was a sucker for sweet corn?

feisty helper

My setup for cutting corn is very basic.

corn setup

I use a bowl turned upside down in a shallow pan and a very sharp, comfortable knife.  I keep a knife sharpener handy, and run the knife over it every dozen or so ears of corn.  I use a regular sharp edged teaspoon to scrape the cobs after I’ve cut the kernels off.  Once I have all the corn off the ears, I package it up in freezer bags, lay the bags flat on cookie sheets, and then stack the cookie sheets in my big deep freeze until the corn is frozen.

Now, I need to go finish the corn.  I’ll let you know how much I end up “putting by” later in the week when I share some more of my canning adventures.  I’m going to have close to 50 pounds of tomatoes to deal with on Tuesday.

Teenaged Chickens & Pickled Radishes

Tuesday, June 11th, 2013


chicken butts 2

The chicks aren’t chicks anymore.  They’re teenagers now. This morning when I let them out of the coop into the pasture, I noticed their chirpy little voices were interspersed with awkward, croaking clucks. Also, a few of the roosters have been attempting to crow, which is hilarious. I’m reminded of  the catching and cracking of the voice of a teenaged boy, as it transitions to a deeper, more manly sounding thing.

As you can see in the shot above, feeding time is very serious business. Whenever I make a trip out to the pasture, I’m practically mobbed, as they all come running up to see if I’m bringing more food.

chickens grazing

The roosters have begun to develop their tail feathers, and combs and wattles are coming along nicely. I ended up with 12 hens and 13 roosters.  When butchering time comes around, the largest guy with the most spectacular plumage, comb, and wattle (aka superior genetics) will get to stay on as the patriarch of my little flock.


On to the subject of radishes.  This past weekend I brought in my first major haul of the gardening season, and spent time in the kitchen putting some of it away for winter use.

strawberry rhubarb

I made 3 small batches of strawberry vanilla jam, a batch of my Gingered Rhubarb Conserve, an arugula feta quiche for lunch, a pan of strawberry rhubarb crisp (my youngest son’s special request), and a big jar of pickled radishes.

jar of radishes

These are quick and easy refrigerator pickles, and my solution to a bunch of radishes that need to be pulled all at the same time.  I just can’t eat them all at once, and they don’t hold all that long.  I go with the more French garlic and tarragon flavor, but you could go with dill instead, or any other favorite herb for that matter.

Pickled Radishes
Tarragon Sprigs

Stuff a jar with cleaned and trimmed radishes, several whole garlic cloves, sprigs of tarragon, and a teaspoon or so of peppercorns.  I like my radishes whole, but they can be sliced.  Fill the jar to cover all of the radishes with a solution of half vinegar, half water, and salt.  I use about 1 tablespoon of salt per 2 cups of solution, but it’s a good idea to adjust to your personal taste.  Let the jar sit in the refrigerator for a few days before eating.  The pickling solution will pull all of the red out of the radishes.  This is what mine looked like in less than an hour.

pickled radishes

Pea Shoot Salad

Wednesday, April 24th, 2013

pea shoot salad

I wanted to keep my first experience with pea shoots simple, and went with a recipe that comes from the book, Grow Cook Eat: A Food Lover’s Guide to Vegetable Gardening.  As usual, I didn’t follow the recipe exactly, and left out the vinegar.  The recipe given serves 4.  I just threw a bunch of pea shoots on a plate, drizzled them with a little of the dressing, and shaved the parmesan with a veggie peeler right on top of the whole thing.  One word of caution — use the dressing very sparingly.  The flavor of the pea shoots is delicate, and easily overpowered by the lemon and garlic.  I found as little as 1/2 teaspoon to be plenty.  Any more than that, and you won’t be able to taste the greens.  I also found myself shaving additional parmesan into the salad, but I’m a pig when it comes to any kind of cheese.

1/2 teaspoon lemon zest
2 teaspoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 small clove garlic, minced
1/2 teaspoon white balsamic or white wine vinegar
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
sea salt
4 to 6 cups lightly packed pea shoots
2-ounce piece parmesan
Freshly ground pepper

It’s official, I like pea shoots.  Because they are so simple to grow, and don’t take up a lot of space, I plan to make them a winter mainstay on my grow light setup.  I think I’m going to try this gorgeous Tofu Soup with Pea Shoots and Radishes next.