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Frugal Friday – Spice it Up

Friday, August 14, 2015
posted by jenn

Image result for homemade spice rubs

Spice mixes like grill seasonings and rib rubs might seem like a good buy because they contain a lot of spices you would have to buy individually, but check the label first before you buy. Predictably the first ingredient you will see is salt followed by a few vague ‘herbs and spices’, then a raft of preservatives and artificial stuff. You’ll probably be surprised to discover how many herbs you already have in your pantry. Many cookbooks include recipes for mixes, and of course there is always the internet. The best thing about making your own, aside from saving a fortune, is that you can customize each mix to fit your own tastes.

To get you started, check out our Mix It Up post for a short collection of make-your-own-mixes.

 

 

 

Predator Protection on a Suburban Homestead

Friday, May 15, 2015
posted by Jenn


When you think of a suburban homestead you do not immediately think of predators killing your livestock. But you should, because your perimeter fencing, whether it be chain link, block wall or wood fencing, may not be sufficient to ward off animal attacks. Suburban homesteads are just as vulnerable as any other homestead or farm, maybe even more so because of the proximity of domestic dogs and feral cats.

Ninety-nine percent of the time, predator losses can be prevented. But, it’s the homesteaders’ responsibility, obligation even to be cognizant of the area in which you live and what critters live around you. Do not mistake the cute cartoon characterizations of raccoons, skunks, weasels or foxes as harmless. They all have the potential to wreck havoc on your small livestock. A raccoon can literally pull a chicken right through a wire fence and weasels can kill a nest full of chicks or kits (baby rabbits) in just a few minutes. Even foxes will kill, given the chance. Then there are the airborne predators – like eagles, hawks, falcons, and owls that can swoop down and pick off rabbits and chickens.

Free-ranging chickens will look good to stray cats, while the smell and noise of your livestock can be an attractant to wandering dogs. (Personally, I think domestic dogs are the worst most indiscriminant predators. A wild animal killing for food is heartbreaking, but somewhat understandable. But, a domestic dog that runs an animal to death or grabs at legs and flesh just for play, with no intention of consuming it is intolerable.)

With information about local wildlife and domestic animals in hand, you can plan and build structures and pens that will keep out what you don’t want in.

Barns, Sheds and Outdoor Pens

Structures and fencing do not have to be extravagant or expensive to provide proper protection, but they should be solid and secure if they are going to be successful in protecting your animals.

Kitchen Fixes for Garden Problems

Wednesday, March 18, 2015
posted by jenn

GardenSolutions

Solving garden woes is as close as your kitchen pantry—and free!

As an organic gardener the last thing I want around my veggies, fruits, flowers or free ranging chickens is a bunch of toxic chemicals. But, I still want to deal with the garden pests and problems that arise during the growing season. So, when I spy the creepy, crawlies, invaders, marauders or garden challenges I head to my pantry for the solution.

Getting rid of weeds — Plain white vinegar will kill weeds outright. But, be careful. It’s not selective and will also burn any plant it comes into contact with. For best results, spray on a sunny, warm day-75 degrees or more-and stick to non-planted surfaces like walkways, gravel or brick pathways, or in between cracks in cement. It won’t get down to the root, so a few applications may be needed. It’s a cheap way to forego Round-Up so keep plenty around.

Banish aphids and mites — These tiny pests can suck the life’s blood right out of vegetables, fruits, flowers and shrubs. If a plant has liquid in its leaves these guys will find it. To drive them out mix a few drops of liquid dish soap with water in a spray bottle and spray each affected plant generously. For larger areas mix 2-tbsps of soap with a gallon of water and pour into a pump sprayer.

Enriching sandy soil — Used coffee grounds, from your morning fix, can also fix sandy soil and increase water capacity by adding organic matter. The grounds can also improve the friability of clay soils. Simply dig them into problem areas. If your garden needs more than your morning brew can provide check out your local coffee house. Most Starbucks, Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf, and Peet’s Coffee locations offer used grounds for free, just ask.

Slaughter slugs — Slugs are attracted by the fermenting yeast in beer. Pour beer into a shallow pan like a pie tin and sink it into the soil. The smell will have slugs stampeding and maybe even dying happy.

Seasonal powdery mildew — Warm days and cool nights creates the perfect breeding ground for the mildew spores. And, the wind helps spread it from plant to plant. Mix a tbsp. of baking soda and 1 to 3 drops of horticultural oil in a gallon sprayer of water to help prevent the unsightly fungus. Spray both sides of affected leaves weekly for best results.

Eliminating earwigs — Earwigs are omnivores (plant eaters) and never live in the human ear as some old wives tales tell. To trap them, lay paper towel tubes, wrapping paper tubes or any type of cardboard tube filed with large diameter straws and place under plants where you see earwigs or earwig damage. Earwigs are active at night, so in the daylight they hide…in the tubes. Now you can grab the tubes, cover the ends with your hand and dispose of the earwigs. Some people even shake them into a bucket of soapy water.

Repelling wildlife — Ground squirrels, moles, gophers and even deer can wreak havoc on a garden. To ward them off sprinkle a generous handful of cayenne pepper on and around plants you don’t want them munching on.

Garden solutions are as close as your kitchen pantry and cost just pennies on the dollar.

 

Winter Preps Complete!

Thursday, November 14, 2013
posted by jenn

It’s been a wild few weeks between work speeding up and trying to get my winter preps done before the real craziness begins. But, this past weekend marked the completion of all the big winter prep projects and a few not-so-important ones.

I have 2 cords of seasoned and split firewood stacked outside the farmhouse door, with 2 more waiting in the wings. I just have to pick them up.

The summer garden and pumpkin patch has been pulled up and composted. All the fences and trellises for vining crops have been stored. The hoop house frame has been re-installed. Nights are not cold enough and days are too warm to put the bed cover on, but at least having the frame up will make adding the cover easier and faster. The patio garden, planted with kale, chard, radishes and broccoli raab is already3-inched tall. Cool weather crops will be planted in the small raised bed near the barn. I’ll have to wait for the first rains to amend the fruit trees and berry patch. The grapes have been pruned and the fruit trees lightly trimmed. They’ll get a better pruning in February.

The chicken coop and nesting boxes have been cleaned out and re-bedded. The litter was spread on the old pumpkin/squash patch and will be turned in as soon as my loving family brings my tiller back. 200 pounds of chicken feed should get us through the next several months and the coop wire was checked for needed repairs. I pulled out the heat lamp from its storage box and installed it in the coop, partly for extra light to encourage egg laying and partly for colder weather.

The area outside the barn was raked, buckets and troughs stored, sprinklers were put away and hoses coiled up. We don’t get many freezing nights so there is no need to put hoses away.

The truck has new wiper blades, oil changed, smog check done, and anti-freeze added in preparation for our trip to the mountains over Thanksgiving.

There’s been a lot of shopping also. Furnace filters were replaced. Stocks of rice, beans, grains and a few other staples were added to the pantry just to round out what I already had. We also have a whole lamb, 15 chickens cut in halves, quarters or whole, a few pork loin roasts, 6 ducks and quarts and quarts of various soup bases in the big freezer.

I made a batch of apple butter with the heirloom varieties we bought up north and it turned out great. I’m saving the pumpkin for later.

Summer sheets have been replaced with flannel and quilts and down comforters have been added to each bed.

I keep an arrangement of candles in my fireplace during the warmer months, but it has made way for the firewood grate and fireplace screen. Our late, late nights are dipping into the high 40’s, but not early enough in the evening to warrant a fire.

I even managed to paint my potting bench turned beverage bar and the new barn door I built last month. Hopefully I’ll get it hung this weekend.

All-in-all I think we’re in good shape going into the colder months. It certainly is a lot different than prepping 50 sheep, 30 head of cattle, dozens of chickens and hundreds of acres for winter. I’m not quite sure which I prefer.

A farm at rest is an eerily beautiful thing.

All Day Apple Butter

Friday, March 29, 2013
posted by jenn

Apple Butter March is the month that begins the transition between a cold blustery winter and the warm sparkle of spring. It’s a time when I clean the fridge and freezers, taking stock of the kitchen pantry and preparing for an end of winter stocking up trip. Bins full of chicken and duck and lamb are removed and counted, assessing our livestock needs for the coming spring and summer. Beef and pork are traded for or purchased from local growers when needed.

It’s a time when the wood pile dwindles, frost protection comes off delicate plants, down blankets are removed from the beds and replaced with lighter weight cotton covers.

It’s a time for moving patio furniture out into the garden, adorning it with plush cushions, waiting for an afternoon of lingering and laziness.

And, it was during this clean out and changing of seasons that I discovered a lone brown bag tucked way in the back of the fridge. With my new job and hours spent on work and farm projects sometimes things go astray and are forgotten about in the rush of the schedule. But, never fear, not much goes to waste on our homestead. That’s just the way we are…frugal to a fault—sometimes.

In this case I wasn’t resurrecting some decimated old piece of produce. Rather, slightly aged heirloom apples too ripe for fresh eating, but nonetheless good enough for cooking. There weren’t many, maybe half a dozen or so left over from an apple farm tour and tasting back when the warmth of summer was fading into the shadows and color of fall.

There were Heaven Scent, a small, dense, eating apple and a few Splendors, another larger, crisp eating apple, and a mystery apple, with dark skin and a slightly pinkish flesh. None were the best for pies or cobbler, but they were flavorful enough to make apple butter.

Fruit butters are kind of a misnomer because there isn’t any butter in them at all. They are highly cooked down spiced fruit that thickens as the moisture is evaporated away. The end result is smooth, spreadable, like room-temperature butter.

Almost any fruit can be made into a butter, but apple is the most common and popular followed by plum, pear and peach. A fall favorite is pumpkin butter that can be spread on bread or used in a variety of baked goods.

The advantage of fruit butters, especially for a small farm like mine, is that they can be made in small batches, using a small amount of fruit. They are also easy to make, use no pectin and use just half the sugar of regular jams or fruit preserves.

Conventional fruit butters tie you to a stove, stirring a bubbling pot for hours. Who has time for that! But, other methods, like the slow cooker, is more “fire and forget”, at least for most of the cooking process. This is the method I used.

Because I wasn’t using the amount of apples called for in the recipe I had to wing it on the spices. But, basically I…

  • Peeled, cored and chopped the apples, and added
  • Sugar
  • Ground anise
  • Ground cinnamon
  • Salt
  • Ground nutmeg
  • Ground ginger
  • Apple cider ( also left over from our tour)
  • Lemon juice

I placed all ingredients in the slow cooker, turned it on low and went about my farm work. By nightfall, I stirred everything well, hit it with my emersion blender, cracked the lid a bit and let it cook down more of the juices. The color was deep mahogany and the smell was nothing short of amazing.

After a few more hours of cooking, my butter was ready to can. Fruit butters are canned the same way you can jam, with a 10-minute water bath to seal the deal. Any butter that won’t fit in the jars can be stored in the fridge and used in the coming week.

When all was finished we ended up with 3 full jars of canned butter and small container for immediate eating. Now we can enjoy the flavors of fall on toast, English muffins, pancakes, waffles and even in quick breads and cakes.

It’s the perfect reminder of a season gone by. But, it’s also a reminder that that season will come again. All you have to do is wait for it.

 

The Slow Cooker Season

Wednesday, September 26, 2012
posted by jenn

The seasons are a changing, folks. I can feel it — in the morning air, crisp and cool; in the way the sun throws a golden cast over the farm when it sets in a sherbet colored southern sky, but mostly in the way I just want to hunker down and get ready for a long winter.

A few years ago our days were full of a day job, school, sports, sheep and other farm chores. It was a busy time for us but I still wanted to put a heart-warming home-cooked meal on the table when we got home. It was the time of year when I’d reach for my slow cooker. A time when time itself was scarce, but a good meal wasn’t. All I needed was a stocked pantry, a little imagination and a plan. As we went about our busy day a batch of chili, stew, tagine or soup was simmering away, and when we walked through the door the whole house smelled of warm seasonings and fresh food.

To bring slow cooker success into your busy life try these simple tips and in no time you’ll be setting a hearty meal on your table without standing in front of the stove for hours on end.

1.      Be budget-friendlyInexpensive cuts of meat, beans and grains bought in bulk let you use what you need or experiment with a variety of ingredients to find new favorites.

2.      Layer:  Foods at the bottom of the slow cooker cook faster. Place thicker, denser vegetables and large pieces of meat or those with bones on the bottom.

3.      Fill level:  A slow cooker should not be filled more than 2/3’s full to ensure food cooks evenly and the liquid doesn’t overflow (remember liquid doesn’t evaporate).

4.      Go fat free:  Trimming the fat will produce a more flavorful texture and reduce the amount of skimming after cooking.

5.      Plan ahead:  Keeping portioned containers of chopped vegetables and meats in the freeze are ready to toss in the slow cooker in the morning speeding up the preparation process. When you come home dinner is done!

Slow Cooker Sunday’s

Around our homestead Sunday is the day that takes us outside the kitchen or off the farm, but we still want to end our day with a flavorful meal. The long, slow, hands-off cooking means we can turn cuts of meat like brisket, chuck roast or pork shoulder into a feast. Check out some of our favorites:

  • Pulled Pork. Low and slow is the name of the game, and the trick to cooking a pork shoulder into a flavorful sandwich topped with barbecue sauce and served with slaw.
  • Beef Stew with Greens. Cook chunks of beef and root vegetables in the slow cooker, then stir in chopped kale or collard greens minutes before it’s ready to serve.
  • Pot Roast. Trim chuck roast before slow cooking with parsnips, butternut squash, or potatoes and plenty of onions, carrots and garlic plus tomato paste for rich flavor sauce.

Add these comforting, fuss-free meals to your collection of slow-cooker favorites:

 

Slow Cooker Pork and Cider Stew

Ingredients: 

4 onions, thinly sliced

2 pounds pork loin, trimmed of fat and cut into 1-inch cubes

3 apples, peeled and sliced

6 cloves garlic, finely chopped

3/4 teaspoon fine sea salt

3/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

3/4 cup hard cider or non-alcoholic apple cider

2 teaspoons apple cider vinegar

1 can (15 ounces) white beans, rinsed and drained

Directions:

Layer leeks, pork, apples and garlic in the bottom of a 5- to 6-quart slow cooker and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Pour in cider and vinegar. Cover and cook on low until pork is very tender, about 8 hours. Uncover cooker, stir in beans, and cook on high until heated through, about 30 minutes.

 

Slow Cooker Asian Short Ribs

Ingredients: 

4 pounds short ribs

1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt

1 teaspoon canola oil

3 tablespoons reduced-sodium soy sauce

3 tablespoons apricot fruit spread

2 tablespoons tomato paste

1 tablespoon rice wine vinegar

1 tablespoon finely diced peeled fresh ginger

4 cloves garlic, minced

1/4 teaspoon five-spice powder

4 green onions, thinly sliced

1 tablespoon toasted sesame seeds

Method: 

Trim off and discard any large bits of fat from ribs. Sprinkle ribs with salt. Place in slow-cooker. In a small bowl, whisk together soy sauce, fruit spread, tomato paste, vinegar, ginger, garlic, five-spice powder and 2 tablespoons water. Pour mixture over ribs. Cover and cook on low until ribs are very tender, about 8 hours.

Transfer ribs to a platter. Pour liquid in bottom of slow cooker into a glass measuring cup and let stand until fat rises to the top, about 2 to 3 minutes. Spoon off fat and pour liquid over ribs or use as a dipping sauce. Sprinkle with green onions and sesame seeds and serve.

 

NOW – Ring the Dinner Bell and Come And Get It!!

Simple Wealth and Winter Preps

Sunday, September 2, 2012
posted by jenn

September is here, folks! I can hardly believe it is just one month until my beloved October. The thought of it makes my heart swell.

This long Labor Day weekend started early with a steel gray glimmer of morning and a breeze that glided over me, soft and cool; the first gentle kiss of autumn. It was still in the 50’s when I ventured outside in my sweatshirt and muck boots, watering and feeding chickens and rabbits. There are no leaves falling yet, but the world is changing, moving ever so slightly from one season to another. You can feel it in the sunrise. You can feel it in the change from our blistering August heat wave. You see it in the evening as the sun sets farther to the south and the rising moon throws a golden cast over the farm.

We are picking tomatoes and zucchini almost daily, little shards of insurance for a small family. A pint-sized mason jar filled with fresh herbs sits on the windowsill sending a wave of fragrance through the house. My lone sunflower is beginning to bloom, tall and big and yellow; the last survivor from marauding birds and scavenging chickens, and a few apples hang on the tree growing fat and juice, until they are plucked off and put into a pie or cobbler or spice bread. Some of the older hens that were beyond being good layers and a rooster were taken to the feed store to be given away.  I’ll hold on to the few good layers I have until spring then think about increasing the flock. Production is a big deal on our little farm and those who can’t pull their weight in stocking the kitchen don’t stay around to waste precious feed. Sounds harsh I know, but that’s the reality of farm life.

Winter preps are still at the forefront of my mind. I feel an urgency about getting this farm settled for a long winter, maybe even more so than in past years. The agricultural meteorologist, the one all the farmers listen to for weather forecasts, is calling for an El Nino winter; and that can mean only one thing — RAIN — and lots of it. Making sure the farm is set to handle such storms drives my actions.

The new batch of meat birds is slatted to arrive next week and now that the opossum family has been caught and relocated I am more excited than ever to get some meat in the freezer. I still have a few half chickens left. There are also packages of lamb, the ducks we raised in spring and containers of soup base and cooked down chicken carcasses that can be made into casseroles and potpies. The pantry is pretty well stocked with dry goods like beans, lentil, rice, barley and pasta; all the makings for a hearty and warm winter meal; and with Brianne off to college even the smallest amount of meat and veggies seem to go farther. Even with all this, I’ll make a stock up trip to fill in and take advantage of prices before we see increases caused by this summers’ drought.

The greenhouse now has a roof, a barrier from the wind and rain. The plan is to finish the walls this weekend. With any luck the whole thing will be done in a week or so and I can begin planting root veggies and salad greens in the fall garden. Maybe I’ll even try a few potted veggies that can stay in the greenhouse over winter. One of the nice things about living in an area where you can garden 365-days is that we do not have the pressure to “get seeds in the ground” like other areas of the country.

I still have firewood to bring in and the house to switch over from summer to winter. My list is made and it’s thrilling to cross things off. By the time wood smoke circles the farm we’ll be ready, mark my words. This will be a warm and comfy farm house, glowing and smelling of winter.

I am smiling, folks, for these are all small banks of insurance. Money may be nice, but it can’t beat a warm stew fresh from the farm. Now that’s simple wealth!

Figuring Out Fall

Saturday, August 18, 2012
posted by jenn

Daylight peers over the horizon on a breeze of hot August air as I lay in bed contemplating the coming fall. The plans I had for getting ready for fall have been put on hold, at least while the temps push towards triple digits. With Brianne moving to college and the loss of an extra pair of hands I’m nervous that all I need to accomplish won’t get done in time. Even though we often have Indian Summers that last into October I’m still scared. But, if I know one thing it is that you reap what you sow. If I concentrate on the negative instead of the positive only negativity will enter my world, so I stay upbeat about what I have done and what I can do to get ready for winter.

So, here’s where we are. The greenhouse has a floor and windows; a door and framed sides, but no roof, at least not yet. Every day, from the break of dawn until the temperature drives me inside I work on enclosing the greenhouse using clap board I found on Craigslist. Once finished I will have all my gardening supplies in one place and will start seeds for a fall garden.

A new batch of meat birds are scheduled for early September. A replacement for the ill fated early summer batch that went to the opossums or were put down for safety’s sake.

And, if all goes well this time I’ll have a freezer full of chicken before we celebrate Halloween and eating homemade pot pies when the weather changes.

On the firewood front—I have about ½ cord laid in, but need 3 more to keep my house warm and homey during the winter months. With Brianne taking her truck with her to school the process of getting firewood and transporting it will be slow, but like the tortoise, it will get done, eventually. Labor for heat, not a bad trade-off.

I am taking stock of my pantry and supplies laid by and plan to bring in more staples before prices increase. Staples are at the top of my list and I’m hoping to trade avocados and lemons for some pork raised by a friend.

Good news! looks like my hard fought for refi will go through, finally, decreasing my mortgage by several hundred dollars. I’m also reevaluating other expenses and crunching down where I can. We’re not hard up, never really have been, but I have future plans to move to a less populated place in the country (more on that as it unfolds). Anything I can save is money that stays in the bank, to pay off my house and work towards my own freedom. It may seem like dog paddling, but my head is above water and that’s success in its own right.

All these projects are slow to progress, but they do progress. It’s all figured out in my logical head in the bright light of day, but come the darkness of night emotions and uncertainty seep in, shaking my confidence. I try not to go there. As long as I put one foot in front of the other I feel in control. Everything will be done. I know it. I have family and friends to help with the big stuff and gladly they are willing to do so. I was feeling unsure last night, but I’m not going there tonight. I have me list, my plan and a nice cup of chamomile tea to carry me through.

I’m staying the course, folks. Nothing will slow me down.

Mid-West Drought to Cause Food Price Increases

Wednesday, July 25, 2012
posted by jenn


As crops shrivel and die from lack of rainfall across the country food prices will undoubtedly go up in the months to come. First will be prices on short cycle commodities like eggs, poultry and milk; followed by spikes in meat and other products that utilize corn or corn by-products in their processing.

Now is the time to stock up on items that could be out of your reach in the future. It is also the time to get serious about growing your own food. In many parts of the country there is still time to plant short term crops like root veggies and salad greens. It is also a good time to plan your fall and winter garden, taking advantage of seeds that may be on sale now.

Take advantage of summer sales on meat and lay aside items that you don’t or can’t raise yourself. I’m keeping an eye on beef and pork sales, both commodities that will be hit hard by the current crop disasters. Even if I do decide to raise a pig this fall it will be months before I can enjoy the fruits of that labor. Filling in gaps now will keep me eating well until my own pig is in the freezer.

If possible, stock up on livestock feed you can use in the next few months, pushing out the sticker shock that’s bound to come. Non-molasses based feeds like lay mash, lay pellets, pig chow and the like will take a big jump in price as the corn and other grain crops wither in the fields. Be cautious with molasses feeds though as they can go rancid if not used in a timely manner.

Speaking of other grains, they too will likely follow suit, or food distributors will take full advantage of increasing prices on corn and jump on the price-hike bandwagon, pushing prices higher to make a bigger profit. Stocking up on wheat, flour, corn meal, rice, barley, millet, etc. could help keep your family eating well over the winter months.

Remember too, grains are long term crops, meaning they take months to go from just planted seeds to a harvestable crop. A decrease in price is not likely to be seen until mid- to late- 2013, if at all. I can still remember the huge jump local fruit prices took during a grocery store strike in the early 2000’s. Prices went from under a dollar a pound for most fruits to almost $2.00 a pound and prices have never come back down. Disaster situations, like the current drought, seem to be a way for food manufacturers to increase prices whether or not the products are directly affected by market conditions. What goes up does not always come down.

This is also a great time to reevaluate how you use the food you grow or buy.  Americans throw away millions of dollars worth of food because they buy more than they can use, don’t store it properly or just don’t plan to use it before it goes bad. Buying less per trip could be a solution in managing your grocery budget. Getting creative about using up everything you buy is also another tactic to keep your food budget under control.

At our homestead we try to plan meals that use up bits of leftovers to serve filling and satisfying dishes. It’s amazing how small amounts of leftovers or fresh items can be transformed into an entire meal. Case in point…tonight we will be enjoying a skillet full of beef stroganoff made from a few mushrooms, half an onion, a small amount of chuck I bought in the clearance meat section, beef broth made and frozen last winter and a dab of sour cream. I always have noodles in the pantry and a small piece of French bread and a small salad of fresh greens will round out a perfect budget meal.

Stay tuned, folks. As times get tougher you’ll see a lot more tips on how we stretch our food dollars and make the most of what we buy.

27-Days of Change

Monday, April 30, 2012
posted by jenn

WEEK 1:

So far the first week of our 27-day challenge has been an easy one thanks to a well stocked pantry and freezer. The trick has been to use what we already have in new and interesting ways. New marinades, different seasoning combinations or interesting cooking methods can bring new life to routine meals.

For breakfast Brianne and I have poached eggs on toast. The eggs are collected daily from our own hens and the bread is baked from ingredients I have on hand. Brianne eats an extra piece of toast with blueberry jam, canned last summer from berries picked a few miles up the road. It is the perfect start to our morning (and our challenge).

I contacted my friend Angela who buys raw milk from a private dairy. It’s not in the county, but I think it will be within a hundred miles; still waiting on a response.

Lunch has been egg salad sandwiches on baked bread with sliced peaches canned this past fall from our own peach tree or chicken salad made from broilers we raised by hand, processed ourselves and frozen to sustain us throughout the year. While running errands to the feed store we snacked on Grandpa’s homemade venison jerky, made last fall from his wild harvest, and lemonade made from my neighbors lemon tree.

One of our dinners this past week was grilled lamb chops with an Asian marinade, sticky rice and cucumber salad drizzled with rice vinegar. The cucumbers were hydroponically grown and came from the farm market. The lamb was home raised and harvested last fall, and the rice and other marinade ingredients came from the pantry. We washed it all down with a refreshing glass of mint tea, fresh picked from the garden right before brewing.

All-in-all this week has been a great start to our 27-day challenge.

Asian Marinated Lamb Chops

1 pound shoulder chops (any chop will work)

1 cup soy sauce

1 Tablespoon fresh minced garlic

¼ cup brown sugar

1 Tablespoon fresh ginger, minced

½ Teaspoon red pepper flakes

1 Scallion, sliced thin

½ Can crushed pineapple

  • Combine all ingredients except lamb chops to make marinade.
  • Place chops in baking dish and cover with marinade. Cover and let sit for 3 or more hours.
  • Grill until about medium doneness, but still pink in the middle.
  • On stove, cook down marinade for topping on rice.