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Archive for the ‘family’ Category

Me and Ewe, Ewe and Me

My grandmother is holding her own and I’m back home. Thank you again for all of your well wishes, kind thoughts and prayers. I’ll let you know when anything changes.

And a round of applause for Anita for her recap post yesterday. She and Kim have both been a great help on keeping this going when I can’t post.

Today in Seattle was the second rainiest day since 1950. It was the kind of rainy day that people imagine when you tell them that it rains all winter here. But it was one of the most un-Seattle rainy days I’ve seen in a long time. It was just strange.

In the spirit of the name of this post, any one need a ewe? Or know anyone that does?

Sheep-12012007

Photo is from March when the lambs were little…

My grandmother has 22 head of almost Merino sheep running on her farm right now. She was planning to thin her flock but hadn’t found a taker yet, so now we’re in the position of needing to do it for her.

There are 13 one to two year old ewes and 1 young buck looking for new homes. The ewes were all bred this fall, but we’re not guaranteeing that they’re pregnant. Those that are should lamb in February and March. They are almost pure Merino, with a little bit of something else mixed in.

We’re asking $100 each for them, but of course if someone takes more than one there’s room for negotiation. The farm is located about 15 miles west of Minneapolis and it’s easiest if they go to a farm within Minnesota. Of course if someone from out of state wants a large portion of the flock the appropriate vet certifications can be secured.

If you’re interested, or someone you know is, or you have a suggestion for how else we can rehome these ewes, drop me a note through the contact page, or leave a comment here.

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I won’t bore you with a long list of where our ingredients came from or how far they traveled. But suffice it to say that we had a mostly local, very delicious Thanksgiving dinner. Things that weren’t local that made it to the table? Black olives, organic chicken broth, dried sour cherries, sugar, salt, pepper, Montana flour, Oregon wine, an extra California turkey and some other odds and ends. Everything else came from within 100 miles and it was all fabulously in season.

Our menu?

– cheese, salami and crackers
– dill pickles (homemade) & black olives
– 11 lb. free range organic Heritage turkey  (local)
– 13 lb. free range organic broad breasted white turkey (California)
– traditional bread stuffing
– sausage, apple, sage and caramelized onion stuffing
– mashed yukon gold potatoes
– cheese broccoli souffle
– arugula / spinach salad with hazelnuts
– cranberry / sour cherry chutney
– wheat “no knead bread” (1/2 local, 1/2 Montana)
– the best homemade gravy I’ve ever had
– cherry pie
– apple pie
– homemade vanilla ice cream

The most interesting parts of the menu were the turkeys, the cranberries and the no knead bread, so those are the only parts that I’ll expound on.

*****

Turkey | Leggy vs. The Traveler:

Nov07-041

For reasons that we don’t really need to go into, and that I’m tired of explaining, we ended up with two fresh turkeys and decided to cook them both. “Leggy”, shown on the right above, came from Stokesberry Sustainable Farm and was local, organic, free-range and a heritage breed. “The Traveler”, shown on the left, was an organic, free-range broad breasted white from Diestel Farms in California. I didn’t think to ask whether they were toms or hens.

Since we cooked them both, we prepared them slightly differently, so the side by side taste test wasn’t exact. We rubbed Leggy with salt, pepper and olive oil and let him rest for 4 hours before roasting. The Traveler was brined for 4 hours the night before. The two were roasted side by side in the oven until done – about 5 hours – basted with butter at regular intervals.

And wow, they were both good! Mike and I both preferred Leggy, my sister in law (hi Kris!) preferred The Traveler, and everyone else was undecided. Things that were obviously different? Leggy has a more prominent breast bone and less breast meat. He also was less compact even though they both weighed about the same amount. Finally, the muscle fibers in Leggy’s breast meat were longer, more tender, and tasted more like “Turkey” to me.

In the interest of full disclosure, Leggy cost me $5 per lb. and The Traveler was $3 per lb. To me the extra money was worth it to help preserve heritage turkeys and to support a local farmer that believes in sustainably raising poultry. But if you can’t get your hands on one I’d say that the Diestel was almost as good.

*****

Cranberries
Not a lot to say here, except that I used a new recipe for these that combined dried sour cherries with the cranberries. The recipe also added a hint of rosemary and substituted brown sugar for the traditional white.

Recipe at Roux Seattle

*****

No Knead Bread

Nov07-067 

This was the first time that I’d tried this. But I have to say that it really is as easy as it sounds. I made my loaves with 1/2 whole wheat pastry flour and 1/2 unbleached all purpose white flour. The bread turned out light and airy with a crispy crust. Definitely worth the minimal effort. I plan to keep practicing my bread and make this again soon!

Recipe at The Steamy Kitchen

*****

A parting photo from the day – the hens enjoying the scraps from my prep work. Once nice thing about all the rain we’ve been having? The grass is finally green again. Note the missing feathers on Lucy (black) and Agnes (white) – they, plus Pru, are all wishing the weather would warm back up or their feathers grow faster!

Nov07-060

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Thankful

Last night and today have seen a lot of activity in our small kitchen. As bread dough has gone from sloppy to slowly rising. Cherries and apples have become divine smelling pies. Cranberries and dried sour cherries became delicious condiment. And local arugula and spinach are becoming a succulent salad.

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As I’ve spent my evening and day prepping and baking I’ve been thinking of the things for which I am thankful.

– For my family. We may not always agree or even always like each other, but we’re always there for each other.

– For Mike, who supports me in everything I do and everything I dream.

– For the family with whom we will share today’s bounty of fresh food.

– For my pets. The hens that give us eggs and entertainment. Sterling, the cat, whose been with me 10 years and still likes to curl up for a cuddle in the mornings. For Sam the dog, whose good heart shows through even as his body ages. For Jake puppy who makes us laugh and entertains us with his Marmaduke tendencies.

– For the new connections I’ve made to my community, my neighbors and the foods that nourish me this year.

– For the cold weather that is making it feel like the holidays.

– For the smell of fresh baked bread and steaming pies.

– For everyone that has touched my life and left me a better person for it.

I hope that you and yours are enjoying a wonderful day of good food, meaningful conversations and fun.

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until we have turkey, two of them actually. Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday, and has been since I was a little kid. I’ve been in charge of the pies for my family since I finished my first home-ec class in 7th grade. And I’ve been told that I make really good pies. The irony of course being that I don’t like pie. Ha!

So, after work I came home and picked up the produce from the Saturday market. Then I drove down to Lake City to pick up the heritage turkey that we got through Stokesberry Sustainable Farm. It weighed in at only 10.5 lbs but it sure is pretty. Then I stopped at Central Market for the rest of the supplies that we needed: butter, frozen pie cherries, eggs, sausage, bread crumbs, etc. These were all local. Our exceptions so far are chicken stock (organic), dried pie cherries (bulk organic), celery (in MIL’s fridge), salt/pepper, olive oil, and a few other spices. Oh, and that 11 lb. organic free range turkey I picked up.

Turns out that we’re going to cook two birds for various reasons, mainly having to do with the fact that we all like turkey. Plus this way we can do a side-by-side taste test of organic free range birds, one heritage and one broad breasted white. We’re also doing two different types of stuffing just for fun. Now the challenge is figuring out how to get them in the oven at the same time. Oh well, luckily that’s Sharon’s, Mike’s mom, problem not mine. ;-)

Sharon is roasting the birds and making the stuffing, potatoes, gravy and brocoli souffle. I’m spending my morning tomorrow and Thursday making no-knead bread, apple & cherry pies, cranberries and salad. Plus I’m making my mom’s famous Danish pastry recipe so that we can indulge on Thursday and Saturday morning. Sooo one of my favorite parts of any holiday.

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Oktober Fest 2007

Last night was the 7th annual Oktober Fest at our house and we had 20 people for it. Not the smallest we’ve ever had, but definitely not the biggest either – a few years ago we had more than 40 people join us.

No matter. Every year we provide a keg of local beer, German brats with fixings, and some food. And then we ask everyone to bring something to share. This year, as part of the Dark Days Challenge, I decided to go as close to 100% local as I could on the things that we served. And I came pretty close! I didn’t ask guests to bring local only as that seemed a bit out of character for a house party.

I spent the morning visiting the Marshland Produce Market and Central Market to gather my local ingredients including brats, buns, apples, veggies, potatoes, wine, cheese, crackers and more. Then I came home to turn my bounty into food for 25 people…

Oct07-015

We boiled the brats in a 1/2 beer, 1/2 water mix to precook them and give them flavor. Then I made the best potato salad I’ve ever made – recipe when I’ve got time. I made a huge veggie tray with homemade blue cheese dressing for dipping. Apples with warm caramel sauce. And cheese and crackers. We drank Washington wines and had a 1/4 barrel of Austrian Ale from the Diamond Knot.

The food was great, the company was excellent. We lucked out on the weather and had a crisp clear fall evening to enjoy the patio and a fire outside, and the warmth of candles inside.

Oct07-023

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Today was the first real day of summer here in Seattle. It was in the 70s, sunny and warm. Of course, it’s only fleeting as summer never really starts until July, but it was wonderful nonetheless.

Mike and I went to a friend’s cabin on Whidbey Island for the long weekend. We took both dogs, our mountain bikes and our new sea kayaks (thanks Mom!). The weather was typical for a long weekend here – Sat and Sun both chilly, cloudy and windy. The sun and warmer temps finally made an appearance Monday afternoon, but by then I’d forgotten about the sunscreen and got myself a nice little sun burn as a reminder not to do that!

There was a whole group of us up there for the weekend – it was nice to have everyone together for the first weekend of summer. We made cioppino northwest style on Saturday night with Dungeness crab, clams, Penn Cove mussels picked fresh, halibut and salmon. We had enough for a small army, and it was wonderful! The husband half of the couple that owns the cabin made slow smoked pork ribs on the grill Sunday – really the best he’s ever made!

 The kayaks were new and we took a short paddle all three days – it was every bit as relaxing and peaceful as I hoped. We really should have bought ourselves a couple years ago. We’ll take them with us on vacation to Eastern WA next week as well – going camping and fishing with the dogs.

In coop news, we’re still getting a steady supply of eggs. Agnes is laying, but also trying to go broody on me. Not another broody hen! I’m trying to convince her otherwise, but these little banty hens seem to be pretty determined once they make up their minds to sit. We’ll see what happens. If she’s still broody when we get back from vacation I may get a chick for her from the feedstore if I can find one. It seems that Phyllis is going to stay at Denise’s, so we can legally have one more hen. Might be nice to get an Ameracauna if I can find one…

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First off, it’s my birthday! Yay me. This is my last birthday before I turn 30. I remember as a kid thinking wow – when I turn 30 it will be 2008! Not that I would be old, but more I can’t believe it’s that far away… but yet, there it is, 12 short months away. I told Mike that I want a big deal next year. Feels like something worth celebrating.

This year we played it low key. We went for dinner and then ice cream. Mike got me a new pink riding coat to wear for commuting and for my training to ride the STP this year. And a blinky red light to go on my bike rack. Also for biking, I finally took my dad up on his offer to get me an iPod and got a sweet little green nano last week. I’ve got it loaded up with 350 songs so far and am loving it for not only my bike but also tuning out the world at work.

But perhaps the best gift of all is that Phyll’s last two remaining eggs started peeping today!!!! So cool. We should have chicks tomorrow. Just in time as I think she’s way too skinny and hasn’t been eating enough the last week or so. Now we can fatten her back up along with the chicks. I can’t wait to come home tomorrow and peek in on them!

In other news, we had a snow day last week. No pictures, but let’s just say that you know it’s bad in Seattle when it takes me 2 hours to get home and I only work 5.5 miles away. It has since warmed back up and all the trees are budding out, the plants making their appearances and the hellebore (sp?) blooming.

My folks, in Minnesota got hit with snow last week too. Pretty close to a couple of feet. The snow did not make the early lambing any easier (last one born today) – but gosh are they cute in the snow!

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