Archive for June, 2012

The Perry Portable Poultry System

Posted on June 30th, 2012 by Tonia 3 Comments

Michael Perry is a local celebrity. He’s an author and farmer and he can sometimes be found hanging out at the same bar that we hang out at, which we think is awesome because he’s famous and so normal at the same time.

But, like most celebrities, he has the highest quality things in life. Even when it comes to his chickens. Check out this short video about his sexy chicken rig and be very, very jealous:

Watch Michael Perry: Chicken Shack on PBS. See more from In Wisconsin.

It’s Saturday and the sun is shining and the birds are singing. Mike and I just finished feeding and watering all our animals and are headed into town for the farmer’s market, hoping to catch a delicious breakfast burrito at Sean and Britton’s stand {they make the best homemade tortillas!} before they run out {they’re very popular, obvs.}

Happy weekend!

How to Freeze All Those Damn Strawberries

Posted on June 29th, 2012 by Tonia 15 Comments

So. You picked like 400 lbs of strawberries and thought it’d be somanyfuns to wash them all, hull them all, dry them all, pre-freeze them all and then bag and freeze them all, right? ME TOO! We’re like twins! Ridiculously good-looking twins. Ridiculously good-looking twins who harbor tragically romantic ideas of what “preserving {like} 400 lbs of fruit” means in real life.

And now here we are, elbow-deep in red juice and running out of freezer bags and freezer space and seriously considering stabbing this paring knife into our eyeballs.

But at least we’re in this together! By the way, feel free to copy my perfect process, conveniently detailed below, but when all your friends ask you why you’re so awesome at freezing strawberries, make sure to credit me. A lot of sweat and tears went into perfecting it, so I want credit!

What you’ll need:

Not pictured: Freezer bags

1. Soak the strawberries in your sink {or, if you don’t trust the cleanliness of your sink, a large bowl} filled with lukewarm water and a splash of white vinegar for a few minutes, agitating occasionally to ensure that dirt and bacteria get washed off the berries.

2. Download and start an audiobook {or rather, your online streaming episode of The Bachelorette because whaaaaat is that Jef guy doing on that show he is way too cool for that kind of thing even though Emily is really pretty but I think she’ll probably pick Sean because he seems like her type, ya know?}

3. Transfer the soaking strawberries to a colander and rinse thoroughly under running water to remove the vinegar taste/smell.

3. Dry the berries off on a clean kitchen towel.

4. Spread the clean, dry berries on a cookie sheet and place in freezer for about 10 minutes or until berries are firm. Use this glorious 10 minutes of leisure to:

a) Make a milkshake from some of the berries plus vanilla ice cream

b) Yell at your laptop, “OMG Emily why can’t you see that guy is a total la-hoooo-za-eerrr! Why would you give him a rose gaaaaahhhh!”

c) Snuggle with the dog for a little bit

d) All of the above, clearly.

5. Put the firm/half-frozen berries into freezer bags and squish the air out of the bags as much as possible while sealing. Store the full, sealed bags in freezer until another craving for strawberry milkshakes strikes. Repeat until ALL THE THOUSANDS OF EFFING BERRIES are in bags.

6. Lose your mind, and blog about it.

Seriously though, a juicy audiobook aids in postponing the dissolve into strawberry-induced insanity. Get on that, for your own good {allow me to suggest Swamplandia! or Wild.}

Enter: Berry Season

Posted on June 25th, 2012 by Tonia No Comments

Strawberries are in season here on the peninsula! Today we went with our good friends Ellie and Alex to the nearest organic pick-your-own orchard and filled a couple flats up. The sun felt so good on our backs and the berries burst with warm juice.

I loooove fresh berries and fruit- it’s one of my most favorite things about summer. And I can’t believe this was almost a whole year ago already!

We made an arugula, strawberry, walnut and feta salad tonight for dinner and it was so good; nutty, peppery, sweet and tangy. I see several strawberry milkshakes in our near future as well.

Sunday Dinner

Posted on June 24th, 2012 by Tonia 14 Comments

{Alternate Title: One Chicken Down}

Dear Vegetarian and vegan readers, please proceed with caution…

The meat chickens are big enough to eat, and Sunday seemed like as good a time as any. We invited Jen and Trevor over to taste our first home-raised bird.

Mike did the honors.

He strung the bird up by the feet and waited for it to relax {the blood rushing to its head causes it to stop flapping around}, and cut its head off with one clean stroke. The heart pumped the blood out of the body through the neck, leaving a clean carcass. He then dipped the bird in a pot of boiling water and rinsed it in cold, to loosen the feathers before plucking. Once plucked, the bird looks just like a store-bought chicken. Except, this one had been walking around ten mins prior…

Mike gutted the bird and cut the feet off, and threw the discards to Jack. He had a smile on his face for days {chicken feet are a delicacy for dogs.}

Ready for cookin’! We brought it inside, rinsed and dried it off and seasoned it with salt and pepper. We don’t have a scale, but we estimated it was 6 lbs.

This chicken made three meals, plus three mason jars of chicken stock! We made French Potted Chicken {Cook’s Illustrated} the first night, BBQ pulled chicken sandwiches the second night, and chicken chili the third night. I used the bones and leftover scraps to make the stock.

It’s very simple: You place the chicken bones in a crock pot and add enough water to cover the bones. Cook on “low” overnight or for at least 6 hours. Skim any fat that rises to the surface if you wish. The next morning, add any chopped vegetables that you want {I had carrots, celery and onion in the house so that’s what I used} and salt/pepper to taste {I kept mine fairly bland, because I prefer to be able to season whatever it is I am cooking with the stock rather than have the stock already seasoned.} Cook for another few hours to infuse the flavors of the vegetables and then strain out the chunks and pour the liquid into jars. Freeze or can with a pressure canner {I froze these}.

Here’s the thing….it wasn’t easy for me to watch Mike kill the chicken. And it wasn’t easy for Mike to do it. But after I saw how every part of that animal went to use {nothing was wasted…unless you consider feeding your dog the intestines and feet a waste}, I felt better. That animal’s energy became our energy, and we’re using that energy to contribute to the world. We fed our friends and ourselves three meals. And- what makes me feel good about the whole thing above all else- that chicken had a very nice life right up until the moment she was hung upside down.

I forced myself to watch the whole thing because I wanted to feel and internalize what it really means to be a meat-eater. It’s so easy to just buy a frozen piece of meat at the grocery store and never have to think about what that animal’s life was like, or what is really involved from when that animal was born to when it sits on our table at dinner. And then it’s so easy to push our plates away and say “I’m full” and scrape our leftovers into the garbage without a second thought to the animal that gave up its life in order to provide us with the energy that we’re so frivolously throwing away.

There was no way I was going to let any part of that chicken be wasted because I had fed, watered and cleaned its home every day since it was two days old, and I had watched it die so that I could eat.

Phew. What an experience! I’m so grateful that we can go through this and try living this way. It feels right.  It feels like the way things should be. But I can’t even begin to think about killing my sweet turkeys. :(