One day it was 70 degrees and the tips of green ramps were poking through the thatch of dead brown leaves by the stream . The following day the daytime temperature was 40 degrees accompanied by snow showers and I have to dig through the hat and glove basket to find a right-handed glove. With spring comes eggs – lots of eggs – hen eggs, duck eggs and goose eggs. And frog eggs. Can you guess which is which?
Where the Goat Goes, the Turkey Goes
During the November turkey slaughter, one of the turkeys escaped. As a nod to her capricious nature, we welcomed her as a barnyard member. She likes to be petted. She makes a tut tutting noise when she is stroked, so she was named Tut. I think it is a her (I have no idea how to sex a turkey) because there is a clutch of eggs that are too big for chicken hens and too small for geese. Tut sleeps with the goats; she is particularly fond of one goat. I know this because most mornings the goat is festooned with turkey shit.
|Tut in hot pursuit of goat #176|
Ducks Know How to Have Fun
Ducks rarely swim upstream when the stream is running hard but when a human with a camera and a border collie are pursuing them, the safest place is the middle of the stream. When the stream is running strong, the ducks use it as an amusement park flume. They paddle and float downstream about a half a mile and then waddle upstream along the banks and do it all over again. A farmer friend gave us a disabled duck. Dab Dab (bet you can tell we read Dr. Doolittle) thinks it is a chicken and the rooster routinely mates with it. No chance for little chucks but I am glad Dab Dab is female and does not try to mate with the hens as the hen would look like road kill after a few matings.
Lambs, Kids and Bunnies
|Miss Long Ears |
The lambs are due to freshen on pasture any day now and the dairy does starting freshening a couple of weeks ago. The rabbit does are busting with babies. Miss Long Ears had a litter of 10. We prefer smaller litters as they grow faster. MLE consistently does a great job with large litters although most does are stressed by large litters. We are still feeding hay to the rabbits. Burdock is beginning to grow near the cages so I pinched a few leaves to feed to the nursing does. The first green nibble of the season gave them an extra bound in the bounce.
Overrun with Roosters
Rudy is one of the eight roosters on campus. They behave like gentlemen and get along well with each other and us. Usually our roosters try to lacerate us with their spurs or fight each other to the death. I found a recipe for candied cockscombs and vanilla ice cream so if we have to have rooster roundup – the recipe will be put to good use.
Farmers’ Market Customers' Questions of the Month
1. What is the difference between pâté, terrine and rillette? We sell pâté de campagne, pork terrine and pork rillette at the farmers markets. Pâté is more like a loaf made with pork liver and ground pork and diced pork. It is sliced thinly and served on toast or crusty bread with a good chutney or mustard. Terrine is chunks of pork with lots of pork fat. I call my terrine drunken pork because the pork is soaked in port, red wine and Armagnac. Terrine is chunky and is spread on crusty bread. Rillette is chunks of pork and pork fat and white wine that is slow cooked for hours until the pork pulls apart or looks shredded. Like terrine, rillette is served as a spread on dark toast, a slice of apple or crusty bread.
2. What is the difference between marmalade, chutney, conserve, jam, preserves and jelly? Marmalade is not necessarily citrus based. Citrus marmalade is made with chunks of peel and fruit. I make a sweet and smoky bacon marmalade with chunks of onions and bacon that spreads on toast or served with apples and cheese. Chutney is usually a savory condiment like a relish that is made with pieces of fruit or vegetables and spices. Conserves are a lot like jam but are made from combining fruit and sometimes raisins, nuts, and coconut. Jams are made by crushing fruit with sugar. Jams are usually thick and sweet but not as firm as jelly. Jams should be spreadable. Preserves, on the other hand, use whole small fruits or pieces of fruit in a gelled syrup. The pieces of fruit should be transparent to clear and the color should be characteristic of the fruit from which it is made. Jelly is made from fruit juice and sugar, most are cooked but there are some recipes for jellies that are refrigerated without cooking. Jellies are clear and should hold their shape yet be tender. The flavor should be a good fruit flavor with the right amount of sweetness.
Fat is not all the Same
Since I gained 10 pounds (o.k. I lied - 20 lbs) this winter, I thought it was appropriate to blog about fat. Not my fat or what makes us fat, but pig fat and why lard is a wonderful substitute and/or addition to olive oil and butter in cooking and baking. We've been rendering lard and selling it at the farmers markets. Lard from Pastured Pigs has become a staple in the home kitchens of pastry chefs and many of our foodie customers. When I started working with pig fat I learned that there are three types of fat on a pig and the fat renders differently. For the kitchen purists, leaf lard is coveted for pastry.
Types of Fat From A Hog:
Back Fat or Fatback – This is the fat that comes from the back of the animal along with its shoulder and rump. It’s literally the layer of fat directly below the skin. It’s usually sold in pieces and often with the skin still attached. Rendered back fat is great for sauteing and frying.
Belly – The pork belly. Rich soft and firm fat layered with meat. In the United States we use it mostly to cure bacon. That’s right, bacon is cured pork belly! Because of the meat intertwined with the fat it also makes a great roast.
Leaf Lard – Leaf lard is the fat from around the pig’s kidneys. This is the cleanest fat on the animal and is therefore the crème de la crème of pork fat. This is the fat that you want to make sure to render appropriately in order to have a pure white, odorless lard to use for your pastries. Leaf lard is used to make perfectly flaky pie crusts.
Warm Salad of Duck Egg, Bacon and Nuts
Recipe by Orlando Murrin
- 6 strips smoked bacon
- 3 duck eggs (or 5 large hen's eggs)
- 30 medium spears of asparagus
- 3 tablespoons hazelnuts or walnuts, toasted and crushed
FOR THE DRESSING
- 3 tbsp hazelnut oil
- 2 tbs grapeseed oil or olive oil
- 1 tbsp cider vinegar
- 2 tsp smooth French mustard
- Cook bacon on high for 5 mins until crisp, then snip with scissors into pieces. Set aside. Cook the eggs in boiling water for 8 mins (5 mins for hen's eggs), drain and plunge into ice water, to cool as quickly as possible.
- Make the dressing: whisk all ingredients together with seasoning. Prepare the asparagus by snapping off the base of each spear - it'll break at the tender point.
- Just before serving, put the nuts and bacon into a warm oven. Halve the eggs and season (keep the eggs warm) Bring a pan of salted water to the boil; cook the asparagus for about 5 mins, until just tender. Drain, then divide between plates. Add egg halves, sprinkle with nuts and bacon, then drizzle with dressing in a zigzag pattern.