October 11, 2016

What a day… After a few minor family crisis, the girls and I made it to dinner.  The littles got dropped off a little early so big sister and I could go practice before her big horse show this weekend.  Poor little miss toddler hasn’t been feeling good and fell asleep just before six and missed out on the food.

Dinner was one of my personal favorites.  Tarragon Chicken which I believe is adapted from an old New York Times cookbook, however when I searched the recipe I could not find a similar recipe.  It is braised chicken breasts smothered in a rich tarragon-wine-cream sauce and mushrooms. Tarragon pairs so well with both chicken and mushrooms that you feel like you are eating an extremely high-end and complicated dish.  To accompany this delectable main course simple white rice to soak up the sauce was served along with peas and pearl onions, buttermilk honey bread,  and applesauce.  Dessert was sour cream coffee cake, a dense pound cake like dessert filled with a cinnamon and pecan streusel and a light icing drizzled over top for a little added sweetness.

And our conversations went something along the lines of this:

I brought these Halloween cookie cutters, I figured if you didn’t want to make cookies the girls could use them for play dough.

Thanks, I am sure they will be busted out in no time.

What was the name of that book, the one with the poem about being sick until they found out it was Saturday?

“Where the Sidewalk Ends,” I have all three books here. (She bounds off to her room to get them)

What was the name of that author?

Shel Silverstein, I always thought that name was hard to say.

What were the names of the other books (multiple suggestions follow)

I am sure she will have all three dug out in a matter of seconds (comes bounding back out of her room)

Discussion of the books and the reading of a couple of the poems.

Published in 1991…

Yep, I remember these books were all the rage when I was in first and second grade!

Dinner’s ready!

OOOH Amanda, that baby is getting rounder!

Go ahead and say prayers “Bless this house O Lord we pray, keep us safe by night and day. Amen.”

Amen

Now there is a small amount of homemade butter for everyone to try if you like

(General rumblings of who wouldn’t want to try it?)

I can’t believe the difference just in color from the store butter, the difference is just amazing.

This is so good!

So where’s the buttermilk?

In the bread

So can you drink it? Is it good?

Well, ask the girl that doesn’t really like milk.

It was very good.

So how much do you sell a gallon of milk for?

It is illegal to sell raw milk in the state of Michigan…

You know the organic farm I recently visited said there were CSA’s for things like that….

Right, you can buy a share of the cow, or you can buy a jar and fill it with whatever you like at the farm.

GAHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!!!!AHHHH!! MAAAAAAAMAAAAAAAAAA!!!!!!!

I’ve got her.  What wrong baby? Still not feeling good?

AHHHHHHHHH!!!!!!!!!!!!!WHAAAA!!!!!!!!!!!!!! (runs to Grandma)

Grandma proceeded to go rock the ill feeling toddler.  Meanwhile, the baby is happily munching on peas and chicken and only making  a peep when her plate runs empty.

On that farm I visited, the farmer was telling me about a time when his turkeys got out and were crossing the road, all 500 of them!

Oh wow!

They had to stop traffic and everything, but he said luckily they tend to be social birds and will follow you around.

I think that’s pretty true, our follow us around, but I think they are more food driven than looking to chat!

 

AHHHHHHHH!!!! MMAAAAMMMMMMAAAAAA!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Sorry, I thought maybe she would be ok to come out and sit with us now.

I’ll go rock her some more, finish your dinner

So Grandma, is this applesauce homemade?

Yes, from Moore’s Orchard, we went the other day so they are very fresh apples.

Definitely the place to get apples around here!

Do you want some butter for that bread?

No, I’m going to use it to soak up some of that gravy.

Good thing Van isn’t here, she would fight you for that gravy.

You haven’t met Van yet, she is one of our other “daughters”, We’ll get her back here one of these days.

She would eat gravy by the spoonful

Maybe a straw if you’d give her one!

Yeah, we miss them, time for them to come back.

I remember a TV show on a long time ago that had this old guy cooking.  We called him the cheap drunk chef.  He would be cooking as always say…”Ah it doesn’t matter what kind of wine you get.  Pour a little in the pot, a little more for the cook, just get the cheap stuff.”

What show was that!?! (general laughter)

I don’t remember.

AHHHHH!HHAHHAHGAHHHHH!!!!!!!!!!!!!

I think we are going to go home.. poor thing just is not feeling any better.

Do you want some coffee cake to go?  Yes, please and thank you.

Have a good night everyone, see you next week.

I’m going to get this poor girl home so you can all hear yourselves think again.

 

Bread and Butter

This morning came plenty early even with all of the anticipation of butter and cheese making filling my day.  Although I must confess, mornings are not as hard as have been in the past.  The guys had a day filled with tree chopping although they took a little time out to admire Merida.

butter-and-cheddar-017-copy My farmer is the one on the right by the fence.

My farmer is the one on the right by the fence.

The little girls and I spent the day processing dairy.

The butter was a phenomenal success.  It turned out creamy and rich and everything I hoped for and more.  My first time making butter I was a little nervous but I was so rewarded for my efforts.  Honestly,the most effort involved was separating the cream from the milk!

Here is what I did:

I poured about a quart and a cup of heavy cream into my stand mixer with the paddle attachment on.

Starting my mixer on a low speed I just let it do its thing until it started to get a little thicker.  Then I bumped up the speed as high as I could without the cream splashing out.  You will want to make sure you have plenty of space at the top of your mixing bowl so you don’t lose any of that goodness.

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Once the cream starts getting thick like whipping cream you have to watch it.  Making it get to this stage takes about 10 minutes.  The rest happens in about 2 minutes.  The butter starts to resemble cottage cheese or something along that texture line and you will see milk sloshing around between the globs of butter.  Stop  your mixer.

butter-and-cheddar-006-copy

I scraped all of that butter together and dumped it into a strainer over a bowl saving the buttermilk, it is yummy to drink (my Dad made a special trip over just to take the buttermilk, which was a favorite treat of his growing up) or to use for making bread, pancakes or anything else!  This buttermilk is not sour like the cultured stuff you buy in the store, it is sweet like milk and a little buttery.

butter-and-cheddar-007-copy

Once I had the butter strained it looked like this and it was time to rinse it.  The process of rinsing was very simple, I covered the butter with cold water and squished it with my spatula.  I then drained off the water and repeated with fresh cold water until it ran clear.

After the final rinsing, I added 1/2 a teaspoon of salt (hindsight I would have added just a teeny bit less).  At long last…. or 20 minutes my butter was ready!  The end product was about 12 ounces of rich creamy goodness, that may be the best dairy product I have eaten to date.

Should you make your own butter, which I highly recommend having done it myself, and promptly informed my husband we may need another cow, just to keep up with MY butter demands, you should make some homemade bread to put it on, put on your pajamas and call it a day.

Looking for a great recipe for dinner rolls?  Check out my Sixty Minute Rolls over in the recipe section!

I also started cheddar cheese today as well (not quick and easy).  That has to age for 3 months and is still in its “pressing” process.  We will all have to wait in suspense a little longer on that one.

A Cheesy Update

This morning brought me a beautiful shooting star as I made my way in from morning chores. This afternoon the mail brought me cheese making supplies!!  Coinciding with a large supply of milk given by the lovely Sugar Dot I will attempt to make cheese and butter tomorrow!!

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Be sure to check out my Facebook page for more fun farm snippets and recipe previews! https://m.facebook.com/thetuesdaytable

Cream Chicken and Spinach Hand Sandwiches

I used to make these all of the time when I was working nights.  They freeze and reheat in the microwave like a dream.  They also come together relatively quick for a yeast recipe.  In fact, the batch that you see before you was completed in about an hour and a half with a two-year-old underfoot and a seven-month-old in hand, who insisted she was starving to death after waking up from her nap.  Also, add in a little extra time for photography, once you get the knack you can make these in an hour.

Different fillings work well also, this one just happens to be my favorite.  The key is making sure whatever your “sauce” is, is not too thin or it will absorb into the crust.

The dough:

This is also my pizza dough recipe and can be made with only water.  The milk makes a more tender crust in this case.

2 teaspoons active dry yeast

1/2 teaspoon sugar

3/4 cup warm water (when I say warm, I mean like you would warm a baby bottle)

1/4 cup warm milk

2 tablespoons olive oil

1 teaspoon salt

3 cups all-purpose flour

Dissolve the yeast and sugar in the water and milk.  Let it proof for about 5-10 minutes.  The yeast should look a little foamy, and like there is more of it.

Add the olive oil, flour and salt.  Mix in your stand mixer on medium speed for 3-4 minutes or until the dough comes together.  If it seems very dry add 1 tablespoon of water at a time until it looks like a dough ball.  If the dough seems a little sticky knead it on a lightly floured surface until smooth.  Luck was on my side today and the dough was perfect in the mixer.

Cover (I use waxed paper since it doesn’t stick to the dough) and let rise for about 30 minutes, or until almost doubled in size.

While the yeast is working its magic, we now have time to create the filling.  This is perfect for leftover rotisserie chicken or that extra chicken breast that is floating around.

If you are using rotisserie chicken, skip the part about cooking the chicken breast, just make sure your chicken is chopped up fairly fine.

The filling:

2 small chicken breasts chopped fine (or 1 1/2 cups leftover chicken)

Salt, Pepper, Garlic Powder

1/2 small onion, chopped fine

3-4 cups fresh baby spinach (or 1 box thawed frozen spinach, well drained.)

Red pepper flakes

4 oz (half a block) cream cheese

1 1/2 cups mozzarella cheese, grated

In a large saute pan over medium heat, add a few tablespoons of olive oil.  Sprinkle the chicken with salt, pepper and garlic powder (1/8th teaspoon).  Cook the chicken just until it is no longer pink.  Do not over cook it, you are going to cook the chicken again later.  Remove the chicken from the pan.  I suggest putting it in a bowl much larger than you think you will need.  It will save you a dish and energy shortly.

Add a little butter to the pan and the onions.  Saute just until the onions start to soften and add a couple pinches of red pepper flakes.  You can add as much or as little as you like.  Hot sauce would also work here.  You will want a little kick of something or the filling may be too rich for you.

Add a little bit of water carefully to the onions, if you are using pre-cooked chicken use a little chicken stock for extra flavor if you have it.  Add the spinach right on top and sprinkle with a little more salt and pepper.

Spinach will give off a lot of water as it cooks and will reduce down to almost nothing, but it needs somewhere to get started, thus the extra water.  Plus the liquid will “deglaze” the pan, bringing up all those little bits of flavor.

Once your spinach is cooked down and no longer watery add the cream cheese. Stir until the cream cheese is melted and everything looks creamy.  Essentially at this point, you are making spinach dip.  I am in love with spinach dip, but that is another recipe.

Add the spinach to your chicken in the big bowl along with  your grated mozzarella.  Mix it all together.  Taste it to see if you need more salt or spice.  Set it aside to cool a little while we go back to our dough.

Divide the dough into six even(ish) pieces.

Lightly flour your rolling pin and working surface.  Roll your first piece of dough a little in your hands so it is about 4 inches long.  Use your rolling pin to make it into a rectangular shape.  Your rectangle should end up being about 9 inches long by 4 inches wide, but may vary.  The dough should also be about 1/8th of an inch thick.

Fill with about 1/4 cup (mine was a very full 1/4 cup, I measured just for you!).  Fold the short ends up so they are just over lapping the filling.  Then bring one long side over the filling and the second long side over the first.  Pinch to make a seal so all that cheesy goodness stays inside.  Place “seam-side” down on a non-stick or greased cookie sheet.  Repeat with the remaining five.  Should you have extra filling, it is excellent with tortilla chips while you wait for these to bake.

Pre-heat your oven to 400’F (use convection if you have it).  While the oven is pre-heating your dough will rise a little.  Brush with melted butter or if you want a nice dark shiny crust, a little egg wash.  Cut one or two small, shallow slits in the dough, just for a small amount of steam to escape.

Bake for about 12-16 minutes or until the dough is golden brown to your liking (remember your chicken is already cooked, this is just to cook the dough).

Brush again with a little butter if desired and enjoy!  If you plan to freeze these, allow them to cool completely and then put into a freezer bag.

 

Milking Day

Our new calf “Merida” has been with us for three days now. She is as adorable and enthusiastic about life as we could possibly hope for. Her mother Sugar Dot is also doing well and is starting to adjust to her new role as mother and homestead milk cow.

If I am being honest, yesterday I had a complete meltdown about my ability to care for this dairy cow. Having two very small children with me, who don’t necessarily want to accompany me out to the barn to do chores was weighing heavily on me. Sugar Dot likes to kick and it was taking me nearly an hour to get even a half gallon of milk. Googling “how long does it take to milk a cow” only increased my anxiety. Ready to call it quits by 1:00 PM, exhausted, stinky and bewildered, I came across an article on Theprairehomestead.com. It was just what I needed, a reminder that lactating, especially for the first time is tough on everyone.

Just like mothers who plan to breastfeed our new babies, we have visions of long gazes into each other’s eyes, making a deep emotional connection and enjoying a quiet blissful moment. The reality of the situation is, that for the first couple days you are both crying, hungry and covered with milk and feces. I have found this is exactly true for new mother cows and the crazy people who plan to milk them. Practice and patience are clearly required in order to survive the ordeal.

Today I am happy to report that our little milking session went much better. Instead of setting a quantity, I set a time. Low and behold in that shorter time frame I was able to convince that sweet girl to give me more milk than I had been struggling for all the previous day. We had the same success again this afternoon. Both of us are much more comfortable with this new arrangement. Make no mistake, she is totally in it for the grain and apples she gets as a bribe to stand still.

I am proud of my milking adventure today, and in an odd sense, I was happy to be able to connect mom to mom with our Jersey girl. I get it, becoming a mother is awkward enough without other people poking and prodding. But in the end, everyone adjusts and finds happiness in the new way of life.first-milk-005

For those wondering, yes I did gently pasturize this milk. It is delicious!  Also be sure to take a look at this evenings happenings in the Tuesday Dinners section!

New Arrival

image3:45 (ish) this morning I heard the donkey’s braying out in the barn yard. I can recall thinking that was odd, just prior to the smallest baby wailing in her crib, realizing it had been a whole two hours since someone was there to fuss over her. After comforting the little one, I listened as I always do for any unusual activity in the barn yard. Everyone seemed to be quiet and I collapsed back into bed. 5:50(ish) A.M. Both little ones are awake and rearing to go. Why can’t they sleep-in on the weekends when I struggle with them to wake up during the week? Their big sister was less than pleased with the early morning squeals. 7:30 A.M. I made pancakes (which I have the recipe to share with you soon!). Soothed by pancakes and sausages the savage beasts retired to watch Disney movies. Meanwhile, since my husband goes to a men’s breakfast early Saturday mornings, I decided to go out and do the morning chores. 8:00 A.M. Made it outside to do chores after just one more snack and cup of juice and dirty diaper and….. The first stop is the steers and lambs, all was well with them. The turkeys and geese were all fluffed up from the rain, but nothing to report. 8:15 A.M. As I walk past the pond to the big barn I notice Sugar Dot (the dairy cow in question) was not outside in her pasture. Grey and misting outside and after all the rain yesterday I did not think much of it. Then, I walked into the barn and saw this tiny red spot of cuteness all curled up on a little bit of hay. I am pretty sure I squealed in adoration of this perfectly tiny little calf. Now this little bundle of joy, was about two weeks early  from the count I had. Which then prompts the apprehension that something might be wrong, so I walk over and check for warmth, nice and warm. Can it walk? Yes! Walking quite well! Sucking reflex? Yes! It has that too! All the basics for survival seem to be in place for this little one! Now at this point the donkeys, horse and Sugar Dot are irritated that breakfast has not been served, and are making quite the racket. I remedied this and went on to check the little one, who was now attempting to nurse (awesome) and it pooped, even better! Only after all this did I think to check, was it a boy or girl? As I went to check, she peed on me. We have a heifer! I hustled up to the house to tell the proud owner that her cow had given birth, and she immediately called Grandma to share the happy news. Just as I was getting ready to go back out and give some vitamins to the baby (Michigan is deficient in several nutrients that are important for muscle control in newborn animals, so giving a supplement is a highly advised treatment) my husband walked into the garage and I looked right at him and beamed “We have a girl!” 8:45 A.M. We go back out to check on and give the supplement to our new little addition. She is still doing great, but Sugar is not quite sure what to do with her and is pushing her all over the place. So to prevent the little one from getting crushed we tied the new mama up, with food and water easily reachable so she wouldn’t push the baby out into the cold. Noon: Back out to check on the baby…. We have decided she is going to be a permanent resident of the farm, but she needs a name! Still doing well, and Sugar Dot allowed us to milk her a little bit. We have some of the colostrum saved in the freezer just in case we need it in the next couple days if baby starts to fail at all. 7:00 P.M. Time for a big milking for Sugar Dot. It is certainly a learning experience for both of us. Any of you ladies out there that have lactated knows what its like when your milk comes in. For the rest of you that haven’t had the experience, the closest I can give you is imagine not being able to urinate for six hours after drinking a gallon of water and then someone wants to push on your bladder. It is pressure and it is painful. After being able to relieve some of her pressure through milking, she began to relax and so did I and we actually were able to accomplish getting her some comfort. About this time baby decided to wake up and see what I was doing and poked her nose into my bucket and even hopped around a little bit. The she decided it was her turn at the udder. I let her take my place and gave some fresh food to Sugar Dot, untied her and, turned out the light and let the rest for the night.

10/3/2016 Update *** We have given this girl a name!  Her name is Merida! And she is healthy and spirited!***