Friday, July 23, 2010

Lean Ground Lamb


For the next few weeks: We will have lean grass-finished ground lamb at the Moganton and Conover Farmer's Markets on Saturday from 8-12 for the next few weeks. Don't miss it! We have it at these markets (and maybe Wednesdays at Hickory) until supplies last. Try a lamb burgers- mix lamb 50%/50% with ground beef or pork! Remember, this lamb is very lean, please don't overcook it!

Try these Turkish lamb kabobs! William and I spent a wonderful time together in Turkey several years ago. I fell in love with Turkish cooking and Turkish architecture during our travels and the successive weeks I spent traveling solo. Turkish spices blend so well with lamb, tomatoes, and cucumbers.

Turkish lamb kabobs (or koftas)

2 tblsp. water
3 tblsp. butter, softened or melted
3 cloves garlic
2 tblsp cilantro, finely chopped
2 tblsp parsley, finely chopped
2 tblsp paprika
1 1/2 tsp. ground cumin
1 1/2 tsp. ground coriander
1 1/4 tsp. ground cinnamon
3/4 tsp. cayenne pepper
1 1/4 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. ground black pepper

2 lbs. ground lamb

Combine all ingredients in a large bowl, and mix well. Shape into approx. 16 oblong "sausages" 1 1/2 inch by 3 1/2 inches and press around metal skewers. Grill or broil, 3 to4 minutes on each side, until just cooked through. Remove from heat.

Sometimes, instead of using skewers I use a small slotted grill rack from a Dutch oven and place this on the grill so the kabobs don't fall through. If using your broiler, remember to place a catch pan under the rack to catch drippings.

Serve each portion on the skewer with grilled pita bread, cacik (Turkish version of Tzatziki yoghurt sauce), salted tomatoes wedges. Cacik recipe

Oh how wonderful! Petunia runs with joy!

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

A summer day on the farm

I thought that this morning I would bring you out to Bluebird farm. Don’t worry, you can leave before the hot, hot afternoon!

6 am

Out the door. I’m still loosening up my shoulders, neck, and fingers. Every morning those three places are the sorest. Walking to feed the cats and up the hill to the chickens is usually enough to warm up my legs.


Cats are fed. Now comes the hardest part of the morning. I haven’t developed a system of writing down the things I noticed I needed for the next morning’s chores. So I am left to scratch my sleepy head for a moment remembering who needs food and water. I love it when I remember that we are fully stocked.


This is the part of the walk I usually remember that I forgot something. Today, nothing! I hate turning around.


Open, move, feed, and water meat birds and layer hens. Stroll past the pigs on my way back down for breakfast. Marie has taken care of the baby chickens and started the eggs. Mmmm, by this time I am hungry and sweaty already.

Our hard working truck, loaded and ready for action!

8 am

On the road to Silver Creek Farm

Now is when the day really starts. We head over to Silver Creek farm to work in the vegetable garden before it is unbearable hot. These days there is usually something to harvest every day. Most of the greens we harvest in the spring can hold in the field until we need to pick them for market or CSA. The summer crops on the other hand just keep ripening. Squash, beans, peppers, cucumbers, and tomatoes all need to be picked every other day or we will find baseball bat squashes, tough beans, and rotten peppers and tomatoes.

Our day often begins by starting the irrigation pump

After the vegetables are in the shade we move on, usually to weeding. While we weed we are constantly scouting for potential problems so that we can address them as soon as possible. These days we are on the lookout for a wide variety of insect “friends.” While the spring rampage of Colorado Potato Beetles has dissipated summer pests are out in force. Cucumber beetles, squash bugs, squash vine borer beetles, stink bugs, bean beetles, tomato horn worms, and a variety of unknown worms are all causing us difficulties. Our primary line of defense against insects is old fashioned hand picking. When we fall behind neem oil and Bassilus Thuringiensus (Bt) help keep the insects at bay.

I hate weeds!

The neem oil, essential oil from the Indian neem tree, also acts as a fungicide. Hot, humid weather provides ideal conditions for many funguses including blossom end rot on tomatoes and a black fuzzy mold on our squashes. To apply oil, Bt and anything else we may need to spray on plant foliage we put on our “ghost buster” backpacks. They hold 4 gallons of liquid and use a hand pump and spray nozzle to pressurize and apply liquids to plant. They are a great tool for precession application of fertilizers, insecticides, and fungicides (all organic of course).

The dreaded bean beetle larva (the yellow fuzzy thing)


Time for lunch yet!?

By now it is almost too hot to function in the field. We are hungry, hot, tired, and usually a little grumpy. This is not a good time to come visit. Homeward bound to lunch and a nap. Rejuvenated we will catch up on inside work during the heat of the day before heading back out to move sheep, seed, more weeding, put up crow

A garden visitor

Some summer recipes


Leeks are a non-bulbing onion with a mild flavor. The white part of the leek is the sweetest. The greens are perfectly edible. The higher up you use the stronger the onion flavor. How much green to use is a matter of personal preference.

To prepare leeks Remove roots. Then slice half way through the leek along the length. Hold the leek upside down and rinse well. The growth habit of leeks means they tend to fill up with dirt as they grow so they need a good wash.

To cook either

Dice and sauté in butter to serve with just about anything.

Or try

Cutting the leeks into three inch lengths and sauté in butter. Then place the leeks on a piece of good bread, cover with a tomato slice, then top with gruyere or mozzarella cheese. Broil just long enough to melt the cheese.

Pesto version 1

1 big cup of basil leaves
4 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil
Salt and pepper to taste
1 ½ tablespoons of pine nuts
3 tablespoons of original parmesan cheese
1 ½ medium sized garlic cloves


Crush the basil leaves using a mortar and pestle after washing the leaves carefully (they should not break before you start crushing them. Otherwise they might lose flavor).

Add the olive oil and mix it very well. When it starts to look like a paste add the garlic and the pine nuts and continue mixing all the ingredients.
After you obtain a nice puree season with salt and pepper and continue mixing for another 2-3 minutes. Now, add the parmesan cheese and again: mix it well.
Let the pesto rest before you use it, so the flavor will unfold. 10 minutes should be enough. Use it with your favorite pasta dish or try another dish, such as pesto chicken.

Pesto version 2


½ cup fresh basil
2 cloves garlic
¼ cup walnuts or pine nuts
½ cup olive oil, approx.
Salt to taste

Directions same as version 1

Pesto Tips

Pesto can be made with almost any nut. I have had excellent pistachio pestos as well as roasted almond pesto.

A homemade pesto sauce should be kept in the fridge if you don’t use everything in the same day. You can store homemade pesto for about 1 week, if you cover it with olive oil.

To freeze pesto leave out the parmesan cheese. You can add the cheese after thawing. Divide pesto into meal size portions. Freeze in freezer bags.

Don't forget to stop and smell the basil!