Saskatoon Season

poplar canola

Our canola fields in full bloom through some poplar trees

Almost one month since my last post and it feels like it’s been roughly 3 days. The garden is growing, the weeds are growing faster and the sunlight is lessening each day. It’s been a busy month at the farm, full of adventure, weeding, chicken drama and fun. Lately though, we’ve been focused on one thing. Harvesting.

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I leave the zucchini alone for ONE minute…

Yes, it has begun. The garden is producing WAY too many zucchini and not enough peas, and the land has started our favorite time of year – saskatoon season. For those of you who may not be familiar to saskatoons, they are a delicious berry that taste somewhat like a cross between a blueberry and a plum. We have tons and tons of bushes on the farm and this year we’re in the middle of a bumper crop. Our hands (and faces) have been stained purple for weeks and Maynard has been leaving presents on the lawn that scarily resemble bear scat. Boy oh boy, he sure does love his saskatoons!

saskatoons

Beautiful saskatoons

clay and maynard

Clay and Maynard, my saskatoon monsters

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Maynard will just swim around the bushes like a little shark and eat and eat and eat saskatoons

Wyatt saskatoon

Wyatt is not as agile eating directly from the bush, he prefers to poach the bucket that is on the ground because, well, it’s just so much easier

So far, I’ve put away 20 lbs in the freezer, given away 5 pounds to a friend and used fresh saskatoons on a baked brie that is to die for. Yesterday, three of us picked for 2 hours and walked away with I would say 60-80 lbs. No accurate count as of yet because they are still awaiting me to process them. Nothing like working an 8 hour day just to get home and process endless amounts of saskatoons! I wouldn’t have it any other way.

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Not too shabby for 2 hours of work

I’ve really enjoyed learning all of the ways to eat and preserve saskatoons, my favorites being a wine I made last year (yum) and this recipe for Saskatoon Crumble. I actually don’t remember where this came from, but it’s delicious and works like a charm:

Saskatoon Berry Crisp:

*1 cup flour

*3/4 cup rolled oats

*1 cup brown sugar

*1/2 cup butter

*1 tsp cinnamon

– Combine to make crumbs. Press half into a greased 8 x 8 pan.

*1 cup sugar

*1 cup water

*2 tbsp cornstartch

*1 tsp vanilla

*4 cups Saskatoons

– Spread the saskatoons onto pressed crumbs mixture. Boil remaining ingredients and pour hot over berries. Cover with remaining crumb mixture and bake at 350 degrees for 1 hour or until golden brown.

Enjoy! And don’t give any to Maynard, he’s already had enough to last him through next year.

Next on the list to make is jam, syrup, more wine, some liqueur, muffins and more. How blessed are we to live on land that gives so much.

What’s your favorite berry to forage?

~Katy

 

 

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Why I will never boil another egg

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Our lovely assortment of eggs

As light begins to come back to us through longer days, our gorgeous hens have upped their production of eggs. As of now, we have 8 full time laying hens: 4 olive eggers (green eggs), 1 mixed breed (tan egg), 2 blue orpingtons (light brown and pink eggs) and 1 black orpington (light brown eggs). We have yet to find 8 eggs in one day, but they are starting to consistently lay 6-7 per day which adds up very quickly. So I find myself with an over abundance of eggs and there have never been more frittatas made.

Since my husband loves hard boiled eggs I attempted to keep at least a half a dozen in the fridge at all times. Though, our eggs are so fresh, they didn’t peel very easily. In fact, not easily at all. By the time you got the shell off, you’d have half an egg left. After researching (google) I found out that this is common among farm fresh eggs, which is concerning since I never seemed to have the problem with store bought eggs… Makes you wonder how “fresh” they really are. Someone suggested adding baking soda to the cooking water. Okay, let’s do that. Once again, a peeling mess and now the eggs tasted a bit like sulphur. Gross.

What to do. What to do.

One night on instagram, a fellow chicken lover posted a method that involved steaming the eggs instead of boiling them. She claimed it worked like a charm on her fresh eggs, so I knew I’d have to give it a try.

And folks, I will never boil another egg again.

Not only did they peel like a dream, they were beautiful and tasted amazing. I had to give the girls a high five for their hard work and this new discovery… although they were confused by the gesture. Thus is life on the farm.

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High five anyone… anyone…

Perfect Steamed Eggs:

  • 1 dozen eggs (or however many you have. We just have a lot. Like, a lot.)
  • Large pot with steamer insert, filled with about 1 inch of water
  • Bowl of ice water

Bring the pot up to a boil and carefully add eggs. Cover and let steam – 6 minutes for soft boiled and 12 minutes for hard boiled. Remove and add to ice water for 15 minutes. Store in refrigerator for up to 5 days or eat immediately. Easiest to peel under cold running water.

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The magic of a steamer basket

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Our gorgeous shells destined for the compost bin

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The prettiest peeled eggs I ever did see

Eggs for days people. Eggs for days.

~Katy

 

Venison Bacon BBQ Pizza

I am always looking for new ways to use wild meat since we have a freezer full of it. I don’t buy red meat at the store anymore, but most anyone who has tried wild meat knows, it can be difficult to find the right recipes. I usually just substitute wild game for beef in a recipe, but sometimes it just doesn’t work out… like burgers for instance. But sometimes, it works like magic and our taste buds are delighted at the very thought of tasty, wonderful wild game meat.

This is one of those recipes.

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We received a pizza stone for a wedding present a few years back and have been celebrating “Pizza Fridays” at the farm since the move. In an attempt to recreate some of the delicious pizza creations known to Anchorage, I’ve found myself on a Pizza-delic journey. Many things can make or break a good pizza and believe me, our town lacks in the good pie take out category. Same sh*t, different day. Where’s the creativity, the love, the basic Italian formula? Thus, more of a reason for “Pizza Fridays” at our house. The one thing I’ve learned, I truly enjoy making pizza.

Thursday rolls around and I realize at 4:00 pm I don’t have anything planned or thawed for dinner. Crap. Goes to show me that I can’t just start volunteer coaching a girls basketball team without consequence. But… I did have mozzarella, flour, yeast and bbq sauce… Ah ha! “Pizza…ah… Thursday”! (What can I say, I’m a rebel).

The meat component is always a factor as my husband is not one to go vegetarian anytime soon. Well, I did have pepperoni, but wanted to kick it up a notch, so leftover venison from our fall Mule Deer came to the rescue… at least I hoped so. I decided to do a version of my favorite Moose’s Tooth pizza (an Anchorage pizzeria and brew pub), the Avalanche, complete with BBQ sauce, bacon and red onion, but make it a little more Canadian Acres.

This recipe may look a little daunting, but it took me less than 45 minute to put together and bake so all in all, not a bad way to do dinner. I hope you enjoy it as much as we did!

Venison Bacon BBQ Pizza

For the Crust:

I use a bread machine to make my pizza crusts. Nothing like throwing some stuff in a box and heading out to do chores only to find beautiful dough 1:20 minutes later. My kind of kitchen appliance.

  • 1 cup warm water
  • 2 TBL sunflower oil (I’m sure any type of vegetable oil will work, but EVOO is too heavy)
  • 1 TBL sugar
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 cup whole wheat flour
  • 1 1/2 cups bread flour
  • 2 1/4 tsp active dry yeast
  • 1 tsp granulated garlic
  • 1 tsp Italian seasoning

Put everything in the bread machine following the order, turn it on to your “dough” setting and leave it until it’s ready. Yes.

Whilst the dough was being mixed, I made some roasted garlic.

Roasted Garlic:

  • 1 head of garlic, pointed end cut off, about 1-2 inches from top
  • Extra virgin olive oil
  • Salt (Pink Himalayan is my fav)
  • Pepper
  • 1 piece of Aluminum foil

Place the cut garlic on the aluminum foil, cut side up, and drizzle with EVOO. Salt and pepper generously. Wrap foil around garlic and place in 400 degree F oven for 40 minutes. When finished and cooled, remove garlic cloves from paper skin. Yum.

The Pizza Part:

  • 1/2 cup sliced cooked venison tenderloin – I sliced the chunks of meat thinly to lay flat on the pizza top
    • Venison tenderloin tips made the night before: Take thawed chunks of venison tenderloin and generously season with salt, pepper, granulated garlic, a little bit of crushed red pepper and flour. Toss and let sit for a few minutes. Fry in EVOO until medium rare, about 5 minutes. Do in batches so the meat has room to brown.
  • 4 slices of bacon, crisped and crumbled
  • 1/4 – 1/2 of red onion thinly sliced
  • Pepperoni slices, enough to go around the pizza top 2-4 times
  • 1 head roasted garlic, chopped
  • 1/2 cup BBQ sauce (I used Sweet Baby Ray’s original)
  • 2-3 cups mozzarella cheese (don’t skimp… cheese rules)
  • 1/2 cup cheddar cheese
  • Salt & pepper

Place pizza stone onto a cookie sheet and place into oven. Preheat oven (with stone) to 400 degrees F. Spread about 1 TBL of corn meal onto a large cutting board. Shape crust on top of cornmeal (it helps it glide) into a large circle that will fit onto your pizza stone. Prick crust with fork in multiple places to ensure the crust doesn’t bubble during cooking time. Slide crust off of cutting board onto the pizza stone (carefully… vewy carefully) and cook for 10 minutes.

Remove cookie sheet (with stone, crust and all) and place on top of a burn proof surface. I used the cutting board I shaped my dough on for this. Slather that BBQ sauce on like you’re from Texas or some other BBQ lovin’ state and season with salt and pepper. Sprinkle half of your mozzarella cheese on top follow with the chopped roasted garlic. Put the remaining mozzarella and cheddar cheeses on. Place your pepperoni in a circle, starting from the outside and working your way in… make it look like a real pizza. Legit. Add your venison, bacon and red onion. Pop the pizza back in the oven and cook for an additional 15 minutes. Start to drool in anticipation. Clean up drool. And Wyatt’s drool too while you’re at it, thanks.

Then it’s done! And freaking delicious. Not gamey, just lovely, just the way we like it.

Now eat people, eat! I’ve got plenty of chickens who would love your crusts.

~Katy

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Stuffed Baked Pumpkins

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As I sit down to write this post, I realize that it’s been almost a month (A MONTH!) since my last update. How is it that as we get older, time seems to speed up? Because when I was 7 and had little to do with my day, I seemed to have more time than I could imagine…

This past month has brought full force winter to the farm. It began with a warm spell of muck and slush that basically demolished our road into the property. Yay! This meant that we had to either quad or take the side-by-side (thank you Timber!) to and from our vehicles which were parked anywhere from 1/2 mile to 2 miles up the road. hoo.ray. So everything  we owned was muddy, icy, dirty and cold by the time we either got home or got to our vehicles to go into town. Just imagine what it did for my social life. I loved being the girl with mud on her yoga pants. Every. Single.Day. Anyway, we persevered for 3 weeks and I can finally celebrate the fact that it is -2 degrees Fahrenheit (I have to decipher now as I think sometimes my Canadian friends think I’m slow) and the road is frozen and travel-able once again. What has my life come to that I celebrate -2 degrees. Ugh.

During this time I decided it would be a good idea to not only sign up for an art class 1-2 nights a week, but also sign up for a 30 day yoga challenge at a local yoga studio. I am always up for a good challenge. I guess I’m starting to see where my blogging time went. We also hurriedly finished some chores around the farm before the ground froze and had many fires burning at the same time (pun intended).

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Burning the wood from our cleared horse pasture

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Cleared wood from the cabin area

In my attempt to keep my sanity, I have been relying on prepping dinners early in the day and letting them cook or bake for long periods of time so I can attempt to get my sh*t together.

After being inspired by a few recipes that revolved around stuffing goodies into a sugar pie pumpkin, I decided to try my hand with ingredients I had in my possession – because at the time, this is what transporting my groceries looked like…

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This is my life now…

A lovely blogger by the name of Georgia Pellegrini posted this amazing looking recipe that has fancier ingredients, but the basics allowed me to go rogue. And I was in luck because the night I threw these babies into the oven for 90 minutes 2 hours before I had to go to yoga, Clay shot a deer… I can attest that they are just as delicious cold as I’m sure they are hot from the oven.

Stuffed Baked Pumpkins

  • 2 small or 1 medium sugar pie pumpkins
  • 3 pieces of bacon, chopped
  • 4 sweet Italian sausage links, casings removed
  • 2 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1 small onion, minced
  • 1/4 – 1/2 cup chopped walnuts
  • 1 cup kale, shredded or finely chopped
  • 2 cups stale whole wheat bread chunks, 1/4 – 1/2 inch pieces
  • 1/2 cup of cheese ( I used cheddar & mozzarella), cubed in similar sized pieces as bread
  • 1 cup of cream with a pinch of nutmeg
  • Salt & pepper

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Place parchment paper on top of a cookie sheet. Cut a circle into top of pumpkin around stem (like a jack-o-lantern) and clean seeds and innards from inside as well as from top. Save seeds for roasting or feed to chickens – the love ’em. Generously salt and pepper the inside of the pumpkins and place on parchment paper. Saute bacon until crisp and add sausage. Cook for about 3 minutes and add in garlic and onion. Cook for an additional 5 minutes and add walnuts and kale, stirring to wilt the kale and cooking until everything is hot and smells delightful. Season to taste. Add mixture to bread chunks and cheese and mix thoroughly. Stuff into pumpkins. Add salt and pepper to the cream/nutmeg mixture and pour over stuffing into each pumpkin, making sure that the mixture becomes moist. I did this in steps to ensure the bread absorbed some of the liquid. Place lid on each pumpkin and cook in oven for 90 minutes – 2 hours. It’s done when pumpkin is easily pierced with a knife.

Voila! These look beautiful to serve individually and we ended up cutting them in half to eat. Rave reviews from the deer hunter and the leftovers were magnificent… plus gave me some freed up time to get to yoga without mud on my pants.

Farewell for now… time to butcher that deer – there truly is a first time for everything.

~Katy

 

Sundays at the Farm: Brown Butter Banana Bread

Sundays have always been one of my favorite days of the week. It’s the wind down before the busy week ahead and I love to take the day to get organized, cook a big meal and bake if I get the chance. It’s also a day for a long walk, hike, ski, or snowshoe with the dogs to explore our new surroundings. This week I did my baking early so all I had to do this Sunday was take a hike around the property with the dogs, enjoy the sunshine, relax, have a cup of tea and enjoy my book while devouring my newest baked good love, brown butter banana bread from the blog Joy the Baker. I mean, brown butter… you had me at butter.

The recipe is fairly straight forward, and the smells are divine. I didn’t have any buttermilk, but used the old trick of stirring some fresh lemon juice into the milk I did have, and voila’! I love substitutions like that… I never seem to have buttermilk when I need it. I also used brown sugar as I prefer it over white sugar in baking these types of breads. And I threw in some walnuts for good luck. This is definitely not as healthy as my whole wheat and honey recipe, but my oh my, I don’t think any one cares. Serve it up with a nice cup of rooibos chai tea and a chunk of manchego cheese and I’ll be yours forever. Aren’t Sundays grand?

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Brown Butter Banana Bread (adapted from Joy the Baker)

makes 1 9×5-inch loaf

6 ounces unsalted butter (3/4 cup), melted and browned to just over 1/2 cup of butter

2 cups all-purpose flour

3/4 cup brown sugar

1 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon salt

3/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg

1/4 teaspoon ground cloves

2 large eggs

1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

1/4 cup buttermilk

1 1/4 cup mashed banana (from about 3 medium bananas)

2 teaspoons molasses

1/2 cup chopped walnuts

Place a rack in the center of the oven and preheat to 350 degrees F.  Grease and flour a 9×5-inch loaf pan and set aside.

Place butter in a saucepan and melt over low to medium heat. Butter will foam and crackle as it melts. When it no longer crackles, the butter will begin to brown. This is a delicate moment as you don’t want to burn the butter and that can happen quickly. Swirl the pan around as it browns, and as soon as it smells nutty, transfer to a heatproof bowl and place in freezer or fridge to cool.

In a large bowl, whisk together flour, brown sugar, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, cloves and nutmeg.

In a medium bowl, whisk together eggs, vanilla extract, and buttermilk.  Whisk in the mashed bananas and molasses.  When butter has cooled, whisk in the browned butter.

Fold the wet ingredients, all at once to the dry ingredients and add the walnuts. Do not over work the batter.

Pour batter into prepared pan. Bake for 50 minutes to 1 hour, or until a toothpick or a skewer  inserted into the center of the loaf comes out clean. Remove from the oven and allow to rest in the pan for 15 minutes, before removing bread from pan and cooling it completely on a wire rack.

Enjoy!

~Katy