This Week’s Meal Plan

Well it is Sunday night again, I am writing my meal plan for the week.  I would love to say that I will blog every Sunday night, but I know myself better than that.  It is a good dream though!  The nice thing about blogging the menus is that I can look it up when I forget what I am suppose to be making or if the cat ate my menu.  It also helps because when people find out we raise our own food, they always ask me what we eat, well read on my friends.

It is winter and what is fresh is limited.  In the garden we are still harvesting fabulous sweet carrots.  They are simply covered with a single piece of plastic and they have survived all the unusual weather so far. We will continue to harvest them as long as we can.  I prefer fresh carrots to frozen or canned.

In the high tunnel, believe it or not, we still have lettuce, chard, kale, radishes and some spinach.  I will be using these throughout the week.

Our freezers are massive, which is a blessing.  However, to be able to get anything out of them I feel like I need a safely line so I don’t fall in.  That being said, my husband does the “shopping” from the freezers each week.  The only requirement is that he picks the oldest meat first and chooses a variety.  This week he choose; Round steak, 2 half chickens, pork butt, frozen peppers, corn and green beans.

We do go grocery shopping at the store, but we try to only buy things we can not produce on our own.  Our family has a horrible addiction to chips and gluten free pretzels, so we buy massive amounts of those.  We also purchase condiments, rice, gluten free bread, some dairy products like cheese, butter and sour cream.

OK back to why I am here, this weeks menu!

Monday: Creamy Tuscan Chicken with Mashed Potatoes, and Broccoli.

First, because we raise all of our own chicken, I never use boneless, skinless anything.  We do not have any sun dried tomatoes, so first thing is I am going to turn the oven up to 400 and pop some frozen tomatoes on a cookie sheet and have them roasting.  Season the chicken with pepper and throw in a cast iron skillet with a little olive oil cover with foil and throw in the oven. Mince 4 gloves of garlic, gather, butter, a pint of stock, 2 cups milk (ours is goats), 1 1/2 cup parm, 1 1/2 cups spinach (rough chopped), Italian herbs, tbsp of flour or cornstarch, your potatoes and the broccoli.  Peel and wash your potatoes, make mashed potatoes how you like.  Steam broccoli.  Pull your chicken out of oven and remove it from pan.  Put pan on stove top, on med heat. De-glaze pan with butter and garlic, cook down spinach. Slowly add in your stock and bring to a boil.  Add flour or corn starch to milk pour in pan. Heat milk till small bubbles appear, add parm and herbs.  When everything starts to thicken, add back chicken and the roasted tomatoes.  Plate up and serve.

Tuesday: Taco Tuesday, with Taco Soup!

We had roast beef on Sunday night, I will cut up the leftovers and make a taco soup in the crock pot.  I will add a quart of stock, some frozen tomatoes, frozen green peppers, corn, green beans, onions, cooked beans, and taco seasoning. Serve with chips, cheese and sour cream.

Wednesday: Swiss Chard and Sausage Quiche, Hash Browns, and Frozen Fruit.

So I brown the sausage and use it for breakfast for the week. I pull some of the browned sausage out of the fridge.  If I had ground beef or bacon I would use that too. I also use whatever cheese I have on hand.  I have parm and cheddar this week, but I have used goat cheese, Italian cheese, and even Swiss cheese.  It is basically eggs, cheese, milk, meat, chard and onions.  It is the ratio that matters.  Sometimes it is crust less, sometimes I use grated potatoes for crust, this week I have left over pie crust frozen from Thanksgiving so I will use that. Heat oven to 375.  Roll out pie crust. In another pan, cook onions, garlic and chard in butter.  Cook till onions are clear and chard is cooked down.  In a bowl mix 4 eggs, 1 cup milk, 2 cups cheese and pepper to taste.  Pour egg mixture in crust, add sausage, chard and onions.  Top with a little more cheese and pepper.  Bake till firm.  Normally about 35-45 mins. While it is cooking my husband will make his hash browns and I will make a fruit salad out of the frozen fruit from the summer.   It is a cool and refreshing treat. Might even throw it in the mixer and make a sherbet type thing.

Thursday: BBQ Pork Butt Steak with French Fries and Pan Seared Radishes.

I am going to cheat this night and cover the pork with a jar of BBQ and hand it to my husband to cook on the grill.  We have a fryer, so I will chop up some potatoes for french fries and pan sear some chopped radishes in butter and garlic powder.

Friday: Cheese Steak Subs, and Salad.

Take the round steak, sear in cast iron skillet.  Throw in crock pot on medium with 2 chopped onions, minced garlic, pepper and a little water.  Cook till done, for me that will be till my husband gets home from work.  He will add sliced frozen peppers and he will slice the beef, then put it back in the crock pot on low till I get home.  We will serve on gluten free bread with provolone cheese and a garden salad.

Saturday: Honey Mustard Chicken with Potatoes and Green Beans.

Preheat oven to 375. To bowl add 1/3 cup course mustard, 1/3 cup honey, tsp garlic powder, tsp onion powder, add chicken.  Pour all of it into a cast iron skillet, add rosemary if you like it and bake till done.  Put some nice size baking potatoes in oven on rack and cook green beans on stove top.  I might throw this in the crock pot if it looks like it is going to be a long day. Wrap the potatoes in foil and put them on top of the chicken. I would quickly cook the green beans when we got home.

Sunday: T-Bone steaks, corn and kale.

I will be handing the steaks to my husband.  I will cook the corn and kale on the stove top. The kale is just butter and diced garlic in a pan cooked till wilted. Love easy dinners.

I hope you all have a great week.  Please let me know below what you have for dinner that is in season, or let me know if you like the recipes.  I received some good feedback from last week, let me know what you think. Enjoy your week and I hope to post soon to bring you up to date on the rest of the farm.

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Weekly Meal Plan

This evening I wrote out our meal plan for the week.  Something I do often.  I would love to say weekly, but there are weeks I just don’t have it all together.  My husband suggested I post our weekly meal plan, so here I am.

The method to my  madness is this; my husband chooses 6 different cuts of meat from the freezer.  I have a list of what is growing in the garden or what is in the fridge or freezer that has to be used.  I take the meat and the veggies with the help of http://www.pintest.com, I come up with recipes for the week.  You might not have a garden to do this, but you can do this with a sale flyer from your favorite grocery story  or what is available at the local farmers market.

This Weeks Menu

Monday

Pan-Seared Pork Chops with Brussels Sprouts with Balsamic-Maple Glaze, Apple Sauce and Baked Potatoes.

So take out your potatoes, wash the skins, poke holes in the skin with a fork, place in a 400 degree oven.   Slice brussels sprouts in half and place on a cookie sheet, drizzle with oil, salt and pepper to taste. Place in the oven with the potatoes.  On the stove top reduce 4 tbsp of balsamic vinegar, 3 tbsp of maple syrup till you have a glaze then remove from heat. Pan-Seared Pork Chops:  With a little corn oil heat in an oven safe pan to a medium heat.  Brown the pork chops on both sides in a pan then transfer to the oven to finish cooking, goal is 145 degrees. When you put in the chops, turn the brussels sprouts so they can roast on both sides.   Chop up two gloves of garlic and three sprigs of thyme.  Remove the chops from oven, remove chops from pan and set aside, add two pats of butter to the pan, scraping the lovely bits off the bottom, once butter is melted add  garlic and thyme.  When garlic is soft, add back the chops.  Cover with foil and set aside.  Remove sprouts, top with glaze.  Remove potatoes, serve with a side of apple sauce and eat

Tuesday

Taco Night, Beef Taco Meat with Rice, Beans, Homemade Corn Chips, Lettuce, Salsa, Peppers and Onions.

This one is easy,  brown ground beef, (sometimes we use cube steak), drain and add Taco seasoning.  I cut up peppers and onions and saute in a very little oil, cook beans in the pressure cooker, chop up lettuce and fry corn shells.  This is a quick meal for us, the kids help cook and we all look forward to Tuesday!

Wednesday

Crock-pot Rotisserie Chicken, Pan Cooked Potatoes and Chard Au Gratin.

I cheat with this one too. I take a frozen chicken from the freezer and put it in the crock-pot, top with garlic powder, onion powder, paprika and pepper.  To the crock pot I add a very small amount of water to the bottom, careful to not wash off my seasonings.  The potatoes are washed and peeled.  I pan fry them in butter and oil, not the healthiest but it is worth it for every once and a while.  I cook them till they turn golden brown. The secret is not to turn them too much.  The recipe for Chard Au Gratin is on my site already.

Thursday

Asia Garlic Sirloin, Noodles, Snowpeas, Carrots, and Peppers.

The sirloin has to come out of the freezer the day before.  Chop it into 1 inch cubes when it is thawed then marinade it in 6 garlic cloves, crushed, 1 tbsp fresh grated ginger, 2/3 cup low sodium soy sauce, 1/2 cup brown sugar, 1/4 cup oil and ground pepper.  Put on skews or pan cook it depending on weather.  Once cooked top with sesame seeds and serve over cooked noodles.  I will cook extra marinade for dipping sauce.  Stir fry the veggies and serve.
Love quick Chinese nights.

Friday

Crock-pot Brown Sugar Pork Roast, Rice, Corn, Salad and Roasted Radishes.

Also you have to take out the roast the night before. In the morning sear the roast on high heat on the stove.  Mix together crushed garlic, chopped sage, 1/4 cup balsamic vinegar, 2 tbsp soy sauce, 1/2 cup brown sugar, 1 tbsp corn starch, and salt and pepper to taste.  Place roast in crock pot and pour sauce over top.  Cook for 4-6 hours depending on your crock pot. We cook rice in the rice cooker, pan sear some radishes in butter, garlic and pepper. Lastly heat up some corn.  The salad the kids pick and build from the garden.  Love fresh veggies.  This is a veggie heavy meal because not all of us eat all the veggies, and I want to make sure everyone has at least one veggie. Some of us eat them all!

Saturday

A special reward meal for a kid, so Tacos again!

Sunday

Crock-pot Beef Roast, potatoes, Carrots, and Celery with Gravy.

I take this roast out the night before too, sear it in the pan the next morning.  After searing the beef, clean veggies and rough chop.  Leaving them in large chunks.  I add onions and a little bit of Worcestershire sauce to the meat.  Again put 1/2 cup of water on the bottom, not washing away the sauce.  Cook for 4-6 hours depending on your crock pot.  I will sometimes add potatoes wrapped in foil for those kids that don’t want things to touch.  This is a great Sunday meal, left overs for lunches and my husband can pick at it through out the evening.  If I play my cards right it is done about 2 and I do not have to cook lunch or dinner, score!

This is a picture of our week. I am sorry my recipes are not great, but this was a quick post.  I will work on how to write better recipes.  The problem is I do not really follow recipes and I get ideas for meals from the titles and pictures on pintest.  My husband laughs at me because most of the time if I do read a recipe it is a guideline and I do not follow it anyway.  I made sure I copied the names the way the ideas were posted on pintest if you need to search for the exact recipe.   Meal planning reduces stress for me and helps me mid-week when I have lost brain function.  I hope that this helps you too.

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Turkey Bone Leftovers

It is the day after Thanksgiving and you have finally picked all the meat off those turkey bones.  Now what?  Put them in the trash and hope the raccoons don’t get them?  NO!!! Those bones are packed full of vitamins and they still have a use.  Bone Broth!  Take all the bones, skin, turkey neck, whatever you have left over from that bird after you pick the meat off and put it in the crock pot. To the bones add a couple washed carrots, an onion, some celery, and maybe a glove of garlic or two.  Cover the whole thing with water and turn it on high.  Let it cook for at least 24 hours.  Normally, I will let my broth cook for 36 hours.  Then I run the broth through a gravy separator to filter out all the bones, left over veggies and to separate off the fat.  Lastly, I freeze the stock or pressure can it in canning jars.  Preserving the goodness of Thanksgiving to use throughout the year.

This turkey stock or bone broth is an amazing nectar.  When someone in our family is not feeling well, I will make their favorite soup with this broth. It is the base of my potato soup, taco soup, chicken/turkey pot pie, turkey and rice soup, even sausage and kale soup.  My husband and I will drink it plain like tea when we do not feel well.  You can feel the nutrition being absorbed when you drink it.

Our turkeys have spent 6 months eating grass, bugs, and soaking in sunshine.  Below is one of our turkeys helping me harvest tomatoes in the garden.  They are packed with vitamins and I want to respect their life by not letting any of those vitamins go to waste.

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“Cage-Free Pigs”

It is the difficult time of year when we take our pigs to butcher. Part of this emotional process is loading them into the trailer we transport them in.  The pigs get loaded the day before, so that we don’t have wrestle them into the trailer at the last minute.   Yesterday, I was upset because I did not like that my pigs were cramped in the trailer for 24 hours.  My husband offered me a word of, or I guess an article of comfort, that sent me through the roof.

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New law has just been passed that by the year 2020 California has to make all their animal enclosures “cage-free”.  On the surface that sounds wonderful, but lets dig a little deeper.  Below is the regulation quoted in The News Tribune,

“It requires that, starting in 2020, calves confined for production have at least 43 square feet (4 square meters) of usable floor space, while breeding pigs be given at least 24 square feet (2.2 square meters) of floor space in their pens starting in 2022.

Starting in 2020, egg-laying hens must be been given 1 square foot (144 square inches) of floor space each on the way to being cage-free by 2022.”

According to the new “cage free” regulations, the 14 x 7 trailer that I have the pigs in for less than 24 hours would be enough space to raise 4 pigs in, for their whole life.   FOUR pigs.  A single sheet of plywood is 32 square feet, imagine that in your head.  Go to the hardware store and get a piece of plywood. Put it on the ground and stand in the middle of it.  That single sheet of plywood, would be too big to raise a pig.  As you stand in the middle of that plywood, think about that being all the space you have for your whole short life. After living in a space, less than that sheet of plywood, when that meat goes to market it is labeled cage-free.   CAGE-FREE!  Do you feel CAGE-FREE standing in the middle of that piece of plywood.  Remember, that is  8 square feet more space than the new ” cage-free” standard.

My heart aches.  Our pork is raised slightly different and I am happy to say we do not sport the label of Organic, Free-range, Cage-free, or Humanly Raised.  Our pigs are offered an average of 10,000 square feet of pasture per pig.  Yet when I am asked about my product, the first question is, “is it organic?”  No it is not organic, and it never will be.  There is not a food industry standard high enough to label our products.

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My rant will end with this, please educate yourself.  If you are paying for cage-free or free-range or organic, take the time to know what that means.  Support your local farmers, regardless of the label.  Visit the farm, see how their food is raised. Purchase your food based on that, not on a label.  The label does not mean what you think it means.

 

The Article:

https://www.thenewstribune.com/news/business/article221193020.html

Our Current Season

We are learning that our plans are not always God’s plans.  This year has been very difficult with my health as well as with the weather.  Mud is a very difficult thing to farm in.   The animals have struggled with the mud, the crops have struggled and honestly I have struggled.  Our CSA season was very short.  The garden did not do well at all, you know it is going to be a rough season when you are harvesting pumpkins in July.  I believe God used these struggles to show us that maybe we need to take a step back from trying to make the farm a business.  We love our farm and that is not going to change.  We are going to continue to do almost all of what we are doing, we are just going to cut back to a Homestead Scale instead of a Farm Income scale.

For the next several years we will not be offering a CSA.  We may or may not offer pigs and we are going to be cutting back on our eggs and chickens.  Our focus is going to be raising the food for our family and enjoying our children while they are still here at home with us.

One day, way too soon, my children will be grown and I will get back into making the farm a business.  For now, I am going to focus on growing relationships not vegetables.  We are blessed with amazing children and a wonderful community.  That is our focus.  We will nurture and tend to those relationships, while working the farm for just our family’s food.

Thank you to our many wonderful customers, mentors and friends for your support.

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Ratatouille

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Anyone who has a backyard garden or who is a member of a CSA gets to the point in the summer where they do not want to see another summer squash!  We have roasted it, grilled it, stir fried it, baked it in bread, froze it, and are dreaming about it!  Ratatouille is yet another way to use the abundance of summer veggies. Put the Ratatouille movie in for the kids, pour yourself a glass of wine or ice tea and have a good time.  Lets get cooking.

From the garden you will need:

One yellow squash, one green zucchini, 2 egg plants depending on size, 3 potatoes, an onion,  4 gloves of garlic, thyme, about 1 1/2 cup sliced peppers and 3 tomatoes. Wash all your produce.

Preheat oven to 375. Start by boiling some water to blanch your potatoes, the potatoes just need a cooking head start so they are not too crunchy.

While the water is boiling you can slice the rest of your veggies.  I recommend a mandolin for this, but a knife and a board would work find. You will slice the potatoes, peppers, eggplant, squash, and tomatoes.  I found that the knife worked better for the tomatoes.  You want thin slices maybe a 1/4 cm thick, start with your potatoes, because you will need them first.

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Once the water comes to a boil, blanch your potatoes for 3-4 minutes, then pull them out of the water and set them aside to cool while you finish slicing your veggies.

Put all your veggies neatly on a tray to make the arranging easier in the future.   Next dice your onions and your garlic.  Now lets start cooking. The sauce at the bottom of your pan is what gives your veggies all their flavor, so don’t be overwhelmed by the flavor you put in here.

I highly recommend cast iron pans in all my recipes, but if you do not have cast iron, you will need to cook this in a pan that is pretty deep and can transfer from the stove top to the oven.  Saute your onions and garlic in a table spoon of butter until they are clear.

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To this we are going to add salt and pepper to taste, a pinch of red pepper flakes, pinch of paprika and 1/2 tsp of thyme.  Once the onions are done, add 1 cup of tomato sauce, we used sauce we had canned, but any store sauce will do. Let simmer why you start the bechamel sauce.

Bechamel is a fancy word for cream sauce, don’t let it scare you, it is very easy to make. In a med sauce pan melt 1 tbsp of butter.  Once butter is melted add 2 tbsp of flour.  This will quickly turn to a paste. Slowly add 1 cups of milk.  I use goats milk, but you can use 1/2 and 1/2, whole milk, skim or a stock. I recommend a fatty milk for more flavor.  Once the milk just starts to warm and you see bubbles in the milk on the side of the pot, add 1/2 cup Parmesan cheese. Wisk until smooth.  Pour 1/2 of the mixture over the tomato sauce mixture in your skillet.  Turn off the burners.
Now we start layering.  Take one slice of each type of veggie.  Potato, eggplant, zucchini, squash, tomatoes and pepper.  Starting around the outside of the pan layer them in a circle.  It will look like this. Keep going till you used up all your veggies or you have crammed everything you can into the pan.  I always seem to have extra veggies.

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Sprinkle with salt, pepper and Parmesan. Cover with parchment paper and put in the oven to back for 50 minutes or until the veggies are tender.  I have to put a cookie sheet under because it bubbles over.  Once veggie are tender turn off oven, remove and let stand for 5 minutes. The remaining cream sauce will go on the top when you plate! Enjoy!

Ratatouille

By  Shades of  Lavender

Produce from the garden:

  • 1 med eggplant
  • 1 zucchini
  • 1 yellow squash
  • 3 med. Tomatoes
  • 1 onion
  • 4 gloves garlic
  • 2 green peppers
  • 2 potatoes
  • Tsp thyme

Refrigerated Foods:

  • 2 tbsp Butter
  • 1 cup Milk
  • ½ cup Parmesan cheese

Pantry Foods:

  • 1 cup tomato sauce
  • 1 tbsp flour
  • Pinch salt
  • Pinch pepper
  • Pinch paprika
  • Pinch red pepper flakes

Instructions:

Preheat stove to 375o. Bring a med. Size pot of water to boil. Dice onions and garlic. Use mandolin to slice rest of veggies to 1/4 cm thick. Boil sliced potatoes for 3 mins, remove from water.  In skillet, sauté onions and garlic once clear add tomato sauce, thyme and paprika to skillet and let simmer.  In a separate small sauce pan melt butter, add flour and milk, whisk until thickens and add parmesan cheese.  Drizzle 1/2 of cream sauce on top of tomato sauce. Start layering the sliced veggies one of each kind, standing up around the skillet, till the skillet is full. Sprinkle with salt and pepper.  Cover with parchment paper.  Bake for 50 mins.  Let stand for 5 minutes. When you serve drizzle the rest of the cream sauce to the top.

 

A day in the Life

Yesterday was Wednesday, not that it matters the farm does not care what day of the week it is.  I wake up at 4:45, have coffee and do my sit down computer work while I wait for the coffee to hit me. I have a very strict office manager that keeps me on task.

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At 6:30 I start pasteurizing the day before’s milk and warming milk for the baby goats.  When the milk is done, I put the pasteurized milk in a container with ice to cool and I make the 5 bottles for the babies.  I gather my milking supplies for the morning, my small radio and my bottle of water.  It was suppose to be 93 degrees and I wanted to stay hydrated.  Morning chores consist of making sure all the animals have food and water and letting them out of their safe overnight pen so roam the yard or their field.  Next is to bottle feed the babies.  I only have two hands and there are five babies, so it is a juggling act.

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One baby had a small wound that needed to be cleaned and then it was time to go milk the mommas.  I milk the goats by hand and it takes about 20 minutes to do two of them.  It depends on how fast they eat.  After milking it is time to move them to the pasture.  With the help of my son we move 5 goats and a pot belly pig to the pasture.

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It is similar to herding cats.  They all want to go their own way.  We get them to the back field and my son finds a puddle full of frog eggs.  We have to stop everything we are doing to save the eggs before the pig crushes them when he wallows in the puddle.  My job was to get the bucket and then distract the pig.  Once the eggs are safe we can return to our duties.  Now we have to move 5 baby goats to their field.  This is like trying to herd kittens.  They just want to run and jump and spin… they really could care less what we want them to do.  In the end, we pick up and carry most of them across the field.

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With animal chores done it is on to the garden. Every morning I harvest the things that need to be harvested, I start the sprinklers and I pick the tomato plants for horned worms.  See picture below.  Then it is on to weeding and trellising tomato plants.  At this point the tomato plants are 5 feet tall and have grown bushy enough to cover most of the walk ways between the rows.  I trim suckers, cut off dead leaves and harvest tomatoes.

The pole peas are starting to grow so I provide them with bamboo to grow up, as well as, weed that bed.  We have not had the best luck with the beans this year because of the wild rabbits.  I am hoping that this next planting does better.

Once I came in from the garden I cured bacon from last years pig.  I had harvested several nice size tomatoes and nothing is better than I BLT.

Yesterday it was really sticky outside so I decided to sew and mend some clothes instead of go back out to work.  I mending several pairs of pants saving us hundreds of dollars.  Learning to sew was a valuable skill, I am very glad my mother forced me to learn, and I will make sure my children learn to sew as well.

After sewing, it was time for lunch and dinner prep.  We would be driving several hours to go pick up the piggies and I need to make sure we all had a good dinner.

Right before we got in the truck to go get the pigs we checked on all the animals and turned on the sprinklers again.  It was a really warm day and we did not want anyone to run out of water. The baby pigs did great in the truck and it looks like they are enjoying their new pen.

Came back home at about 7 after picking up the pigs and feed and started evening chores.  It was time for bottles, milking, watering and moving animals again.  One thing that we have to do in the evening is bath the pot belly pig.  He rolls in mud all day and it can dry out his skin, so we make sure he gets clean before bed. He is suppose to be black not brown! We collect eggs, walk through the garden and harvest any monster zucchinis that grew during the day, and head into bed just as it is getting too dark to see.

I start a load of laundry, wash dishes, wash children, fold clothes, shower and collapse into bed about 1030, just to wake up and do it all the next day.