Tea with Dragonflies

When we first moved out here three years ago, the land was completely overrun with trees and weeds whose heights could easily lead one to believe they too were trees. An unkempt pond in the front created a small swampy environment. Amphiumas inhabited the land where it was most moist. Three years of vacancy did not help the land flourish. It was very easy to just want to tear everything out. And, in some sad ways, that’s mostly what was done. Although most involved with the task were very excited about the end result, I had a very heavy heart whenever I witnessed a fleeing snake or a random fish pop up in the yard, trapped, as we destroyed its watery home. In the process of destruction to build new, I had personally rescued three fish and two Jerky McJerkface Creepy Snake Fish amphiumas. My husband and I worked together to move a huge softshell turtle. Later that year, we Taz–our Weimaraner–brought us a baby softshell turtle. He did not harm the baby, but probably rescued it from the huskies. That warmed all of our hearts.

As we cleared practically everything we clearly got a good look at two trees. One right out front of the house and the other near the front of our property. I had fallen in love with the tree by the house, and my husband was fond of the one near the front of the property. We’re unsure of what the trees actually are, but they were too gorgeous to get rid of.

The tree right outside the house provides plenty of shade. In seeking a moment to myself one afternoon, I decided to finish off a cup of hot tea I had steeped. I know it’s summer, but I do love my hot drinks. I held my knees to my chest as I leaned against the tree. A dragonfly landed on my bare foot. I continued my tea.

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Photographed by Amanda Harman

Another one, green, landed to my left. Then another to my right. One bumped into my right ear. Another landed on a twig above me to enjoy a snack. I closed my eyes and listened to them. They don’t buzz like bees, though there were a few working in the shade as well. They didn’t mind my presence so I continued to share their space. Listening to them fly and land nearby was tranquil.

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Photographed by Amanda Harman

I allowed myself a moment to feel young again; a little girl with butterfly wings, pretending these gentle beasts came to visit me from a faery realm. Smiling at them as they ate in close proximity of me. Blue, green, and yellow.

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Photographed by Amanda Harman

I finished off my tea and returned to work. Later in the evening I visited my friends again with the camera. I couldn’t resist documenting–to an extent–our interaction. I took advantage of how undisturbed they were by my presence and thoroughly enjoyed our little photo shoot. At the end of the day, with the amount of work I got done, I was most proud of enjoying tea and socializing with the local neighbors in our tree.

Take time for yourself; even if it’s not everyday.

Take time to acknowledge and enjoy the peace around you presently; even if you had to cause destruction to get there.

And despite past destructions and chaos, never stop growing and helping the growth around you.

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Photographed by Amanda Harman
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Happy Father’s Day!

Hello, everyone!

We just wanted to take a moment to wish all of the dads and daddy figures out there a happy Father’s Day! Your role in raising children into contributing, happy, and healthy members of society is paramount and your children love you!

We celebrated by taking my father and husband to Disney.

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We went to Animal Kingdom to enjoy rides, dinner at Tiffin’s, and meet Scrooge McDuck! Scrooge is a new permanent addition to the park and one of my dad’s favorite Disney characters, being that we are from heavy Scottish ancestry (my red hair is not natural though). We were very fortunate to be there early enough to avoid any unbearably long lines to meet Scrooge.

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We also got to meet Daisy.

We were unable to acquire FastPasses for any of the new Pandora rides, but we have ridden them before so it was not so much of a loss. Out of all the rides, the Safari was probably the best. We got to see a lot of animals up close and personal. The zebras actually followed us for a bit, probably thinking we had hay.

We went to Tiffin’s for dinner. The food and service at this place is normally pretty fantastic. This particular time, the food was just wrong. The service from management was ridiculously great though in the event and one bad visit isn’t enough for me not to recommend this place. We still had a great time there so the visit wasn’t entirely bad. The kids especially enjoyed getting to go to one of their favorite parks with their grandparents as well.

Happy Father’s Day! We love and are grateful for all that you do.

Lemon Sherry Chicken and Potatoes

Hi, everyone!

So, we processed some chickens on our farm recently and I kept some from market for our family. As always, we used whatever we already had on the farm. Anything else was purchased from local markets.

The first step many people skip is the brining. We always brine the chickens we sell at market. The chicken is juicier and tastes amazing. When we keep some for the house I actually request mine not to be brined because I like to use different brines for different recipes. Brining on top of an already brined bird isn’t going to hurt it. We just have the option of just pulling what we want from the rest of the processing.

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Photographed by Amanda Harman

The brine I like to use for this chicken is simple. I mix enough water to cover two inches above the bird with 1/2 cup of salt and garlic powder in a large pot. I cover the pot and put it in the fridge the night before cooking (I did add more water in my above photograph).

The next day, when I’m ready to start cooking I preheat the oven to 425F. I put the chicken in my deep casserole/roasting stoneware. I cut a lemon in half and prick it and add it to the chicken’s cavity. I also add 8 garlic cloves (some always fall out).

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Photographed by Amanda Harman

Next, I mix homemade butter we purchase locally from another farm (raw Jersey cow milk with a small amount of raw, local honey) with salt and pepper to taste, 1/2 teaspoon of paprika, and 1 tablespoon of garlic powder.

Then I slather the chicken with this butter. After slathering, I add 2 cups of chicken broth to the dish and put in the oven covered for 45 minutes.

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Photographed by Amanda Harman

While the chicken is roasting, I harvest fresh cuban oregano and tarragon. I harvest a good handful of the oregano and about ten tarragon leaves. I chop the fresh herbs.

 

The next ingredient is a bit trickier to obtain. I use two cups of cream. I’ll be honest. I didn’t have two cups this time around. I had about a cup. I made it work because I didn’t want to go to the store.  See the picture of the mason jar above? The cream has separated from the raw goat milk. I just scoop this off a few jars and I have cream for the meal.

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Photographed by Amanda Harman

I mix the cream with the herbs, five quartered red potatoes, and 1/2 cup of sherry.

When the 45 minutes are up, I remove the chicken from the oven and add the potatoes and cream mixture. I then roast for another 45 minutes uncovered.

 

This is the result. This chicken was almost 5 pounds. No matter what, check the temperature of your chicken. You want it to be 165F.

What are some of your favorite chicken recipes?

Ingredients

  • 1 chicken
  • 1 lemon
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1/2 cup salt
  • 1/2 cup and 1 tablespoon garlic powder
  • butter
  • 1/2 teaspoon paprika
  • oregano
  • tarragon
  • 8 cloves of garlic
  • 2 cups chicken broth
  • 5 red potatoes, quartered
  • 1/2 cup sherry

Instructions

  1. Brine the night before (1/2 cup salt and garlic powder).
  2. When ready to cook, preheat oven to 425F.
  3. Add the chicken to a baking dish. Cut the lemon in half and prick it. Put the lemon and garlic cloves in the cavity.
  4. Mix butter, salt, pepper, paprika, and garlic powder. Cover the chicken in buttered mixture.
  5. Pour chicken broth in dish with chicken.
  6. Roast covered for 45 minutes.
  7. Chop fresh oregano and tarragon to add to cream, sherry, and potatoes.
  8. When 45 minutes are up, take chicken out and add potato and cream mixture to the dish.
  9. Roast for an additional 45 minutes uncovered.
  10. Monitor chicken temperature. Must read 165F for safe consumption.

 

 

Fiona Turns Six!

Hi, everyone!

So June 6 was my husband’s birthday and June 7 was my daughter’s birthday. We celebrated their birthdays on June 10 on the farm.

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My mother baked a cheesecake for my husband.

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My mother made my daughter a chocolate cake. Fi insisted on having strawberry flowers and my mother delivered some pretty delicious and awesome looking cakes. Fi is excited about being six because that means she doesn’t need a booster seat in the car anymore.

All the two birthday people really wanted was to eat food and have people over. So we invited a bunch of family and friends over and made food! We tried to be as farm to table as possible.

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We smoked chicken that came straight from the farm.

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We also smoked some chicken sausage that we processed on site. We had Polish, Italian, and spicy sausages.

We had a lot of people visit who have not been exposed to farm animals before. Guests enjoyed getting to meet some of our goats and other animals. All of the kids played on the play set. Nonstop. I don’t understand how they pushed for as long as they did.

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After playing, we did cake and presents. And after that, they played some more, much to my surprise; it was a hot day.

When my daughter was asked what she enjoyed the most she replied that seeing all of her friends was the most fun.

Everyone got along and everyone enjoyed themselves. That was the most important.

I know it’s a short post, but I’m going to end it with wishing both my husband and my daughter a very happy birthday.

Fish Dip

We recently made some smoked fish. Over 30 pounds of it. What do you do with 30 pounds of smoked fish? You make approximately one crap load of various fish dips/spreads.

We ended up freezing a lot of it and sharing with family. It’s summertime. Fresh fish is important during this time of year. Because summertime.

I am going to give the recipe for 3 pounds of fish meat for the sake of simplicity. Most of us are not working with 30 pounds of fish and each batch we worked with was in three-pound increments (we did make multiple batches of our favorites though). We have a processing room in our barn. It is complete with air conditioning, sinks, and I even have a gas stove out there. This is much easier for us to work with bulk in a roomy and clean environment. Cleanup is also much easier than my kitchen at the house.

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Photographed by Amanda Harman

First, you take three pounds of shredded smoked fish. You can use store-bought. I have used salmon before when we lived in a development, before having the homesteading luxuries of trade. You can also make your own (here’s how we make our smoked fish).

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Photographed by Amanda Harman

Shredding is probably the hardest part. After shredding, add two tablespoons of lemon juice, twenty-four ounces of cream cheese, 3/4 cup of sour cream, two tablespoons of horseradish, and 1 1/2 teaspoon of hoisin sauce.

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Photographed by Amanda Harman

After adding all the ingredients, mix with a hand mixer. We used hooked attachments, but it is very doable with regular attachments.

This is our base recipe. This is the recipe I take out when we have guests and potential picky eaters. Our family likes flavor, and I personally appreciate anything a little spicy. I don’t dislike the base and I do use it, but I like to try different flavors to spice things up a bit sometimes.

When making different flavors and blends, we add half an ounce of seasoning in the whole three-pound batch and increase from there to taste. Not every seasoning combination needs the same amount because some are more potent than others. Here are some variations to the recipe we tried:

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Photographed by Amanda Harman

Jerk. We sadly only made one batch of this. We ran out of seasoning. I personally, would have loved to have added a bit more seasoning to this one, but again, we ran out. This one is awesome and one of my favorites.

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Photographed by Amanda Harman

Hot. We made a lot of this one. And We definitely added more than that half ounce because I’m crazy obsessed I like spicy flavors. We used cayenne pepper powder, smoked paprika, and garlic powder. Go with these seasonings to your personal taste as both are potent.

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Photographed by Amanda Harman

Frank’s Red Hot. Which actually turned out about medium. This was neat to try, but not my personal favorite. This is for the people who say they like spicy foods, but don’t actually mean it. Or people who are like my daughter. Who is five and also appreciates spicy food, but she’s five and cannot compete with mommy yet.

I teach and I’m off for the summer. I like this for sandwiches and cakes (crab cake like consistency). Once it’s made, especially in bulk, it’s easy to freeze this stuff and take it out as I need it. You can obviously use other fish. Salmon is pretty popular. If you try this, let us know what you think. If you have other ideas for seasoning, please share. I love cooking and trying new things.

Smoked Fish Dip

Ingredients

  • 3 lbs. shredded smoked fish
  • 2 TBS lemon juice
  • 24 oz cream cheese
  • 3/4 cup sour cream
  • 2 TBS horseradish
  • 1 1/2 tsp hoisin sauce
  • Additional seasoning
    • See entire blog post for measuring and suggestions

Instructions

  1. Shred smoked fish in a large bowl.
  2. Add all remaining ingredients.
  3. Mix with a hand mixer (hooked or regular attachments).
  4. Store in fridge.
  5. Serve next day.