Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Eggs, Eggs, and More Eggs

I looked in the fridge tonight and saw 34 eggs staring back at me.  Thirty-four.  And four more will come tomorrow.  I panicked.  What does one do with an overabundance of eggs?  The same thing I would do with overwhelming garden bounty - freeze them. 

A couple of friends and lots of blogs swear by freezing eggs.  I spent half an hour cracking, stirring, and labeling.  I grouped them in common numbers of eggs we would need - 10 for a casserole, 6-8 for frittatas, and 2-4 for baking and scrambled eggs.  I did not add any salt, honey, or sugar to mine, but some people prefer to.  (If you do add, be sure to label!)  Next time you see a great deal on eggs, stock up and freeze.

P.S. - I'm all about giving some of these guys away.  No egg stinginess here.  But, I've done a terrible job at keeping up with which day which egg was laid.  For our purposes, I know they're fine, but I wouldn't want to give them away without knowing they are as fresh as can be.  However, I've got a new system and have ordered some disposable cartons to keep on hand for giving away, so neighbors - come on over starting next week.  I'll be happy to send you on your way with some fresh eggs.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Roasted Okra

Most Southerners I know have had plenty of okra over the course of their lives - they may not like it, but they've seen lots of it served. (As with grits.)  Most commonly, I encounter fried okra.  Sometimes it's a full batter coating, sometimes just a dusting of cornmeal, but usually fried.  If you've never had fried okra, you're missing out on a delicious slice of summer. Okra is also commonly found in gumbo, vegetable soup, and various stewed tomato plus onion and okra dishes.  All delicious as well.

While I do love me some fried okra, it's not healthy and it stinks up the house.  In searching for oven fried okra recipes, I stumbled across a handful of roasted okra recipes.  The reviews were fantastic, and I was sold.  We were not disappointed - the roasting brings out a lot of the okra-y flavor (I cannot think of another way to describe it).  It might be my new favorite preparation of this fabulous Southern veggie.  Another plus - it's easy and quick.  I didn't have to chop a thing and it took me all of 2 minutes to get it ready to put in the oven.

Roasted Okra
adapted from various sources

1 lb okra (you can either leave the pods whole or slice it into pieces)
2 - 3 Tbsp olive oil
salt and pepper, to taste
other spices/herbs, to taste (I used garlic and onion powders)
juice of one lemon

Preheat oven to 450 degrees.  Toss all ingredients together until okra is evenly coated with olive oil, salt, pepper, lemon juice, and any other herbs/spices.  Spread on a cookie sheet and bake for 10-15 minutes. 

(Note: I had some of mine too close together and I could tell that some of it steamed more than it roasted.  Make sure to leave space between pieces.)

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Our Favorite Basil

We are big fans of basil at this house - we'll eat it fresh, in sauces, as pesto, on salads - you name it, we're game.  In past years, I've always grown the typical Genovese basil with its large leaves.  It's an easy grower and we always have more than we know what to do with by the end of the summer.

I had to do a second round of plantings this summer (thanks to the hens eating all of the first seeds/seedlings I planted in the garden) and started most of what I have from plants.  I stumbled upon boxwood basil this year, and we are loving it.  It's very fragrant and full of flavor, but best of all - it's easy.  It's like rosemary in the easy department - all I have to do is strip the leaves off of the stems and you're ready to go.  No chopping.  No chiffonading.  Just wash and it's ready.  It would also work well as a border plant.  I see lots more boxwood basil in our future.

In other news, we're now getting 3-4 eggs/day.  When we started this whole chicken experiment, 3-4 eggs/day didn't really seem like all that much.  I'm now staring at a dozen eggs, and we've eaten eggs every day for the last few days.  I foresee lots of freezing, making egg muffins, and giving away eggs in the future.  But we love it - it's so nice to walk out to the coop around lunchtime every day to find fresh eggs.



Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Latest Projects

About 3 months ago, I left a great job working with fabulous folks to focus on home a little more.  Aside from getting to spend a lot more (much needed) quality time with my favorite little dude, I've gotten to take care of some nagging projects around the house.  Several rooms have been painted, I finished my first cross stitch pattern in about 10 years, and finally got around to building a craft/sewing table.  Now I just need to learn to use my sewing machine.

The inspiration for the craft table came from For Me, For You.  I ordered the legs on Ebay and purchased the large block of wood from a local home improvement store - they cut it to 5' x 3' for me.  I just had to stain it and attach the legs.  Because I'm on the shorter side and I like to sit up high to my table, this table is actually pretty low.   This allows me to sit up high without having to move my chair up so high that my feet don't touch the ground.

Loving this new table.  Very easy project, and I love that it is imperfect.  Will be great for sewing, wrapping, and other crafts.
I don't really like elephants.  But I thought this guy was too cute.

Super Fresh


Sunday was the day!  The day that we got our first egg.  We weren't really expecting anything for another month or so, but when I went to close up the hens for the night, there it was!  Since we weren't sure how long that one had been out there, we did not eat it.  The next morning, though, I went out to the coop and found another that had just been laid.  It made a very tasty breakfast.

I'm not sure who exactly is laying the eggs at this point, but I do know it's either Mary Jo or Julia. After waiting all of these months for the girls to grow up and start producing eggs, it's lots of fun to finally be getting some.  If you ever need a good object lesson in patience, get some baby chicks.


Monday, May 21, 2012

Chicken with Spinach, Mushrooms, and Tomatoes


Tonight I needed a meal that would work for both our family and another family.  I wanted one pan and something that would transport easily.  Both families were also looking for something relatively healthy.   Chicken with Spinach, Mushrooms, and Tomatoes hit the spot!





Chicken with Spinach, Mushrooms, and Tomatoes
Adapted from Real Simple

Ingredients:

3 Tbsp olive oil
5 large boneless, skinless chicken breasts
salt and pepper
1 pound button mushrooms
1 red bell pepper, cut into 1/2 inch pieces
1 box grape tomatoes
3 cloves garlic, chopped
1 cup vegetable stock, chicken stock, or dry white wine
2 bunches spinach, thick stems removed (about 8 cups)

Directions:

Heat 2 Tbsp oil in a large skillet (I used 14-inch) over medium-high heat.  Season the chicken with salt and pepper.  Cook the chicken in the skillet until browned on both sides and cooked through, approximately 10 - 13 minutes per side (I had large pieces).  Transfer the chicken to a plate and cover loosely with foil.

Continuing on medium-high heat, add the remaining Tbsp of olive oil.  When heated, add the mushrooms, tomatoes, and red pepper, and cook for approximately 3-5 minutes.  Add the liquid (stock or wine) and garlic and cook until mushrooms are tender, about 5 minutes.

Add the spinach, as well as more salt and pepper to taste, and cook until the spinach is wilted.  Return chicken to pan to ensure heated through.  Serve with rice or potatoes.

Friday, May 18, 2012

Mushroom Wine Sauce - Rotisserie Chicken

For tonight's dinner, I had half of a rotisserie chicken leftover from yesterday.  I had honestly planned to just slice it up and serve it with some veggies.  At the last minute, I decided I wanted something a little tastier and also realized I had a box of mushrooms that needed to be used up.  A simple, easy mushroom wine sauce seemed like a great idea (and someone has to drink the rest of the wine, right?).

I used what I had on hand, but there are endless possibilities with this sauce - many other herbs and spices could be added to change up the flavor.  Also, we really like mushrooms, so we went heavy on that - if you'd rather have a hint of mushrooms, you could use this sauce for a whole chicken.

Mushroom Wine Sauce

1 tbsp butter
1 tbsp olive oil
2 cloves garlic, minced
8 oz mushrooms, sliced
1 cup white wine
zest of one lemon
salt and pepper, to taste (I used shallot salt)
rotisserie chicken (1/2 to whole), sliced thinly

Add the butter and olive oil to a medium-sized pan on medium-low heat.  Once the butter is melted, add the garlic and sautee for 2-3 minutes (do not burn the garlic).  Add the mushrooms to the pan and sautee for another 3 minutes.  Add the white wine, lemon zest, and salt/pepper, and let the mixture cook until the sauce reaches the desired consistency (10-20 minutes).  Add the sliced chicken to the mixture just to heat through.  Serve immediately.

*If you want to speed up the sauce thickening, start with a roux of flour and butter - add olive oil and garlic to this.