Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Kale chips! Crunchy and crisp! I'll bet you can eat an entire bunch of kale this way- all by yourself!

Kids love it!

Kale chips
1 bunch kale
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 teaspoon sea salt
A drizzle of balsamic vinegar (about ½ tablespoon)
Preheat an oven to 400 degrees F (175 degrees C)
With a knife or kitchen shears carefully remove the leaves from the thick stems and tear into bite size pieces. (I like to use my hands to strip the leaves from the stem.)Wash and thoroughly dry kale with a salad spinner. Place kale in a plastic bag. Drizzle kale with olive oil, balsamic vinegar, and sprinkle with sea salt. Thoroughly massage the bag to mix the oil and vinegar into the leaves.
 Using several baking sheets spread the kale pieces out so that they are not touching; I use 3 or 4 sheets.  Bake until the edges brown but are not burnt, about 7 to 12 minutes. Make sure to check the chips almost every minute after 7 minutes have passed.  Every oven is a little different…Adjust this recipe’s time to your oven!

Serve immediately!  Does not keep well, usually won't stay crisp.

Thursday, May 9, 2013

Kale and Italian Sausage Soup

Kale is in season now until early June in our area.  Try this popular farmstead soup featuring our kale and Italian sausage!
Ingredients·         1 tablespoon olive oil
·         1 onion, diced
·         2 garlic cloves, minced
·         1/4 teaspoon crushed red-pepper flakes
·         5 waxy potatoes (1 1/2 pounds), peeled and cut into 1/2-inch chunks
·         Approx 6 cups chicken broth
·         1 bunch kale (12 ounces), stemmed and shredded
·         1 lb ground Italian Sausage
1.     In a large pot (6 to 8 quarts), heat oil over medium. Add onion and sausage- cook sausage halfway through, about 8 minutes (sausage will still be pink). Add garlic and red-pepper flakes; cook until fragrant, 1 minute.  Remove sausage and onion mixture and set aside on plate.
2.     Add potatoes and broth to pot; bring to a boil. Reduce heat; gently boil until potatoes are tender, 10 to 15 minutes.
3.     In a blender, puree half the broth and potatoes. Return to all ingredients to pot; add kale and sausage. Simmer until kale is wilted and sausage is cooked through, 10 to 15 minutes.

Honey Cilantro Vinaigrette       
Adapted From Passionate Vegetarian
Makes about 1 ¾ cup

The fresh smell of cilantro brings a great spring taste to this tasty vinaigrette. Try over  any salad greens.

4 cloves garlic, minced
1 bunch cilantro
½ cup apple cider vinegar
1/3 cup honey
1 jalapeno pepper or 1 pinch cayenne pepper or Tabasco sauce (optional)
1 ½ teaspoon salt
Black pepper to taste, freshly ground
1 cup olive oil

Combine all of the ingredients except the olive oil in a food processor.  Process until smooth, scraping the sides when needed.  With the machine running, slowly pour olive oil into dressing.  Taste for salt and pepper.  Best if aged for at least one hour or overnight.

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Freedom Ranger Meat Chickens on Spring Pasture at Bluebird Farm

Check out our meat chickens!

Meat chickens on spring pasture at Bluebird Farm. Fed certified organic grains from Reedy Fork Organic Farm.

What's in season from the farm?

At the Market

Find us at these local Farmers' Markets
·        Wednesday, Hickory Farmers’ Market,  10 am- 3pm, Union Square
 ·       Saturday, Morganton Farmers’ Market, 8 am- noon, 300 Beach St- behind Geppetos and More Lace
 ·       Saturday, Hickory Farmers’ Market, 8 am- 1pm, Union Square

  • Kale-  The spring plants are producing very juicy leaves now. So juicy and tender. Great raw if you are a kale lover.  Try rubbing with olive oil and balsamic vinegar for raw salads. Or kale soup! Varieties: "Red Russian, Laccinato, Curly"
  • Swiss Chard- "Rainbow"
  • Dill- Fresh dill is the best chopped and sprinkled over salads.  Or try this tip from Rob and Whitney Walker...sprinkle fresh dill and garlic over our thick pork chops and grill to perfection.
  • Cilantro- Did you know that cilantro is excellant in beans, and quesedillas?Try this special garden tip...Freshen up canned salsas with chopped fresh cilantro and minced onion.  Yep! Cilantro is in season right now.  This herb prefers cool weather and actually doesn't really like to grow during the traditional "salsa" season." 
  • Radishes- "French Breakfast" variety
  • Baby lettuce mix-  leaves of baby lettuce make up the lettuce mix this week.
 Pastured Pork- We have a full selection of our delicious pastured porkOur hogs are fed GMO-free certified organic grains and raised outdoors on pasture.·        Thick bone-in chops, country sausage, whole tenderloin, boneless ham roasts, bone-in shoulder roasts, spare ribs country backbones, spicy chorizo sausage, bratwurst, Sweet Italian sausage, thick sliced side meat and ground pork. Free Range, Pastured Eggs- Our hens are raised outdoors in the sunshine! The pastures are finally greening up and drying out, so the hens are out and about on the pasture with the sheep. Our laying hens are fed non-medicated conventional grains and rotated through pastures with their portable hen wagon coop. (We are not using organic grains this year, ask us at market about the switch back to conventional grains for just the layer hens) Pastured ChickenChicken available starting May 18th! The meat chickens are out running and flapping through the new lush grass, but we won’t have any chicken at market until the middle of May.  We raise the Freedom Ranger meat chicken breed on grass pastures, and we feed 100% certified organic grains, GMO-free.

12 inches of rain in 24 hours.

Silver Creek left it's banks very early Monday morning and snaked around the bottomland and back into the creek. Low spots flooded, but our vegetables are up in raised beds and didn't get too inundated with water.  If the water had been much higher, we would have needed to move the animals to higher ground.  The worse damage was that some of our chicks caught colds and died from the overly wet weather. Very close call!   At our home farm, water flowing across every piece of the property...little creeks popped up every where! 

Silver Creek left its banks in a few spots and crosses the bottomland.
 If it had rained much more, we would have moved the animals to higher ground!

 The water was a bit higher than this earlier in the day.

 Raised beds drain quickly- the veggies won't have wet feet for very long.

 Hey, this little creek is usually a 4 inch deep ditch filled with grass!
 This is the bottom of our veggie field.

Friday, May 3, 2013

At the farm

Pacific Northwest rainy weather! We've got some beautiful shades of green out there!
Our surroundings are verdant and lush right now.  Spring is still here, with no crazy bursts of 87 degree earth baking summer like days.  Probably will slow down our tomatoes, cukes and squash a bit, but I think this lush spring weather is worth it!

   What! No Pictures? The trusty farm camera was not with us for the sheep move or hen move from one farm to the other, so no pictures were taken.  It seems like we have been moving so quickly lately that the camera is left behind every day!  The hen wagon with the layer hens and the flock of sheep have been moved to the summer grazing pastures, where they are doing a great job of chomping through grass!  

   Why do we do all of this "extra" work to take care of the animals on pastures?  We could tend to animals in a confinement barn.  No way!  Outdoors, our animals have fresh air, fresh pasture, and freedom of movement.  And the entire time we're taking care of sturdy, content, healthy animals who are enriching the soil, not depleting their surroundings.  Healthy animals are easy to take care of!  We let the animals be animals outdoors without much human intervention and just check on them everyday, add some water and food, offer new pasture..."How ya doin' animals?"  

Amber Waves of Grain 
Remember, we feed the pastured meat chickens and pastured pigs certified organic grains.  85% of the feed that we bring to the farm is for pigs and meat chickens and all of that feed is certified organic.   The pastured sheep eat a lot of grass and no-spray hay (winter food) with brewers grains and some certified organic grain treats in the winter.  The pastured layer hens are fed a non-medicated conventional grain feed and range all about from April-December. (read more about grain prices and switch back to conventional grain for layer hens at the blog.)  We also have a great source of local brewers grains from the brewery down the road...non-GMO, cooked barley- it's like a oatmeal treat for the animals.