One cabbage’s journey

8 11 2012

Sometimes it is amazing how food and family memories intertwine. When I was growing up, sauerkraut was often served with homemade sausages or a smoked pork chop.

My local grocery store had a fantastic display of locally grown, giant white cabbage last weekend. These cabbages were anywhere from 10 lbs. to 25 lbs. They were all clean, with tightly wrapped leaves and a beautiful light green color.

I brought home a 12 lbs. cabbage, initially planning to make sauerkraut in a gallon glass jar.

The next day, my mom suprised me with another 17 lbs. head of cabbage and the 5 gallon crock that used to be my Granny Emma Lou’s. (Sadly, the crock is only on loan, not permanently taking up residence in my pantry.) It is fitting that I make sauerkraut this week. If my Granny were alive, we would be celebrating her 94th birthday this week.

The recipe I used is a basic one, from the book The Joy of Pickling by Linda Ziedrich. Only two ingredients, cabbage and salt. It is currently bubbling away in the crock. In a couple of weeks it will be ready to put into jars and water bath can.




31 10 2012

I have been sifting through my cupboard full of cookbooks and found this gem. Can’t wait to use some of that zucchini that has been hanging out on the counter the past few weeks.

We picked this booklet up at a yard sale late last summer for 50¢. It is worth every penny. It is a third printing from December 1974. I couldn’t even read when this book was published. Oh, the power of the printed word to hang around for future generations to consume. The book has gone through several revisions and editions. You can find copies for sale if you search the internet enough.

Dorothy, the previous owner, left copious notes and recipe revisions, along with her husband’s preferences on a few of the recipes and how to double the recipe, freeze portions, reduce the sugar and add more flavor. It is a hoot to thumb through. The booklet also contained a letter from the previous owner’s daughter and a photo of her husband. Those have been removed as (maybe this doesn’t happen in your kitchen) when I’m cooking sometimes my cookbook doesn’t stay clean and pretty.

I plan to cook my way through this book over the next couple of months. Not making every recipe, but making the ones that sound delicious to me and the ones that the Dorothy enjoyed.


End of tomato season

26 09 2012

This is the last vine of cherry tomatoes – and any tomatoes – to come out of my garden this year. We’ve had a few one morning of heavy frost and a few where we were near freezing. That was enough for the plants, the leaves are dry and crunchy.  We’ve had a bumper crop of romas, early girls and cherry tomatoes. We just don’t have the best growing season for the larger varieties.

This vine was near the bottom, almost laying on the ground. This is a great rainbow of colors, almost like a guide to ripening.

These tomatoes joined the others in a bucket. Tonight after work they will get roasted in the oven with carrots, onions, garlic and peppers (and a few spices). Then it will all go through the food mill and made into delicious sauce.

My family isn’t a big fan of spaghetti, but they do like to dip things in marinara sauce, eat pizza and sometimes I even use it as a soup base.

Dryland Farming

26 08 2012

Today we took a little break from goat farming here at 3 Billy Goats Bluff. We took a quick road trip to the rolling hills of the Palouse between Lewiston and Moscow, Idaho to visit a friend’s farm and let the kids learn about dryland farming. The farm, Eric, is a fourth-generation farmer who aims for sustainability, environmental responsibility and providing high-quality food products.

Uncle Mark had contacted us a couple weeks ago with the offer of a combine ride for the kids. Who could pass on that offer?

So, off we went! First we had a few items to fix at Nana and Papa’s house. Even though they are young at heart, we don’t let them climb ladders anymore. But, when we arrived all the doors were locked and they were already in Oregon. Shhhh. We broke into the house and got our list of chores done and picked up all the important items the kids left behind on the last visit.

Mark let the girls up in the air conditioned cab and they both converted to farm girls in an instant. He even let Tatum take the wheel and guide the combine for a few passes.

Barley, as many of us know is wonderful when added to soups. Once when touring near Santiago, Chile, I had it prepared with spiced peaches for a dessert. And, we all know it makes wonderfully flavored beer.

We interupt this farming field trip: we were just notified that a nanny goat we were boarding recently gave birth to healthy twin kids. These will be full-blood nubians. Our buck is black with brown and white markings. The nanny is brown with white flecked ears and a dark stripe down her back. Can’t wait to see what the babies look like.

Hidden Treasures

22 08 2012

 A couple of the chickens escaped while I was painting the coop last weekend and the nesting boxes were empty. It was time to send out the search and rescue party. These eggs were inside the juniper tree in the backyard. More were safely tucked into the hay inside the goat feeders and a few more were under the brooder box.


Chocolate Zucchini Cake

4 08 2012

There are a million and one uses for the versatile and prolific zucchini. Thankfully my Granny Johann armed me with nearly a million and one uses for those fantastic little squash. This is – by far – everyone’s favorite way to enjoy zucchini.

Granny Johann's chocolate zucchini cakeI remember walking into my Granny’s kitchen in the early evening hours on hot summer days, only to find it hotter inside. The counters and breakfast table would be lined with cooling tins of zucchini bread. The last thing she would bake on these days would be a chocolate zucchini cake. We would enjoy a piece of the cake warm, with a tiny bit of powdered sugar on top and a cup of tea alongside, before ending the day. Well, it was the end of my day. Granny would stay up until the loaves of bread cooled, wrap them in plastic, then foil and store them in the freezer for us to enjoy year round.

So, if you have too many zucchini, or want to build some wonderful zucchini memories for your loved ones, shred one up and dive into this recipe.

1/2 cup butter
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1-3/4 cups sugar
2 eggs
1 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. ground cloves
1 tsp. vanilla
1/2 cup sour milk
2-1/2 cups flour
4 Tbsp. cocoa
1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
2 cups grated zucchini
1/2 cup chocolate (or other) chips

Combine butter, oil and sugar. Add eggs, vanilla and milk. Beat mixture well. Combine all dry ingredients well and add slowly to first mixture. Combine. Stir in grated zucchini. Spoon into 9×13 inch baking pan. Sprinkle top with chocolate chips. Bake at 325 for 40-45 minutes.

NOTES: Spread the batter into two smaller pans and spread the zucchini love! My kids enjoy this topped with cinnamon whipped cream.

Triple the fun

23 07 2012

This little piggy went to Craigslist…
These 3 little piggies came home.

They are so little and cute right now it was difficult not to spend the afternoon and evening with them.

We checked on them a time or two during the night as they were borrowing the dog’s kennel for the night. Our dog was displaced and very interested in the new residents and wanted to “get acquainted” better. The piglets were having none of it! Between the dog barking and talking to the piglets and the piglets snorting, rooting in the dirt and squealing at the dog, it was a noisy evening.

In the morning, they were laying against the kennel gate, against one another like three little fat sausages. They were so asleep that we could pick them up without much of a fuss. They moved directly back into a portable kennel and are off to another little farm to be raised until butcher time.

They are mish-mash breed, Duroc, Poland China and Hampshire.

I raised a few market hogs in my day, mostly Duroc/Hampshires. These guys are good looking, long and heavily muscled.

They obviously don’t have the standard red coloring of a Duroc, and the heaviness and width of their shoulders will have to wait to be seen. As for the Poland China traits, the long bodies and big square hams are already apparent. As for the Hampshire, none of them have the white band around their front legs and shoulders. However, they are all black and one has a white front leg with the stripe extending up above its shoulder.

Can’t wait for butcher time and restocking the bacon shelves in the freezer.