Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Cranberry Sauce Vinaigrette

I love fresh cranberry sauce. It's fun to cook because the berries pop like popcorn, and the color is beautiful. I like to make a large batch and preserve it in canning jars so it's handy to add to recipes all through the winter. I was making a really nice salad dressing with my blackberry jelly this summer, and found that cranberry sauce tastes great in the recipe too. It is sweet, smokey, with just a small vinaigrette bite.

I've been making a crisp fall salad with apple, crumbled cooked bacon, and spinach. Turkey and pecans are good in there too. If you have trouble convincing kids to eat salad, this vinaigrette with either cranberry sauce or blackberry jelly will sneak up on them, especially if there are loads of apple pieces! It was the deal-maker for me!

1/2 cup jellied cranberry sauce
1/2 tsp liquid smoke flavoring
1 tsp onion salt
1/2 cup olive oil
1 cup apple cider vinegar
1 1/2 cups sugar
1 tsp xanthan gum

Place sugar and vinegar in a small pot. Heat to a low boil, stirring until the sugar is dissolved. Remove from heat and set aside to cool slightly. Place vinegar mixture and remaining ingredients except xanthan gum in a blender. Blend to mix, then add xanthan gum and continue to mix until dressing has thickened, about 1 minute. Makes approximately 2 cups of salad dressing. Store in the fridge for up to 2 weeks.

Note:  I use xanthan gum for gluten-free baking, and find it also thickens and holds oil and vinegar together. If you want to leave it out, the dressing will taste the same, just shake before use.

Friday, October 19, 2012

Pumpkin Custard

It's definitely Fall when the pumpkins begin arriving at the grocery store. I love to get a big pumpkin and wedge it in the branches of the huckleberry bush for my goats to pick at and carve. They will nibble holes in the shell and reach in for the seeds. In past years, they would pick at the pumpkin until it fell out of the branches, and that would be the end, as goats don't usually eat things on the ground. Now that the ducks are sharing their pasture, once the pumpkins fall, the ducks are all over it. The ducks love it more, because once they're done with the pumpkin and the bugs come along, they come back for the second course of bugs.

Fall is also when the goats give the richest milk and we have the most butter and cream. The younger ducks that hatched in March are now producing eggs, and they are up to 10 per day. That's more than we can use, so I donate some to the food bank now the farmers market has closed for the year.
I've been making lots of this quick pumpkin custard with pecans to enjoy the eggs and cream.

For The Custard:
2 fresh duck eggs
1 cup goat's milk cream
1 15oz can pumpkin
2/3 cup brown sugar
1/2 tsp cinnamon

For The Topping:
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 cup finely chopped pecans
1/4 cup melted goat's milk butter

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. In a large bowl mix together all the custard ingredients until smooth. Pour into a 2-quart baking dish and bake for 30 minutes. Meanwhile, mix together the topping ingredients. After the custard has baked for the 30 minutes carefully place the topping on top of the custard, dropping it by little bits as the surface of the custard will still be runny. Let the custard bake for another 30 minutes or until a knife inserted comes out clean. Let cool for 30 minutes before serving. Make 8 to 10 servings.

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Duck Egg Mayonnaise

Duck eggs are not chicken eggs! Well, yeah. I had been substituting duck eggs for chicken eggs in recipes, which worked out great except for mayonnaise. It always seamed to break before I was done adding all the oil. Of course you know this means research!
I found a chart that compares lots of bird eggs. I found that duck eggs have more protein but also more fat that chicken eggs, because ducks are all about oil for life in water. Mayonnaise is the egg protein holding the added oil in what is called an emulsion. The duck eggs have more fat to start, so they can take in less oil. Mystery solved! 
So here is my recipe of mayonnaise adjusted for duck eggs. Mayonnaise usually calls for mustard, but since I am allergic to mustard and duck eggs are so flavorful, I left it out.

Duck Egg Mayonnaise

4 duck egg yolks
2 tablespoons lemon juice or about the juice of half a lemon
2 teaspoons onion salt
3/4 cup light olive oil

Place egg yolks in a blender cup with lemon juice and onion salt. Begin blending on medium speed for one minute to break up proteins. Remove the center of the blender cap if possible and dribble the olive oil drip by tiny drip until the mixture lightens and thickens. Increase adding olive oil to a very thin stream until it is completely added. The mixture will be thick and smooth. Adding more oil to thin or mayonnaise may cause the emulsion to break, becoming runny.
This mayonnaise is really great with sweet pickled peppers in duck egg salad!

Monday, August 27, 2012

Goats Milk Corn Chowder with Chevre

This week there was a bit of a chill in the air, so that got me started thinking of all the wonderful foods I like in the Fall. One favorite lunch is to start with my favorite chowder recipe and add new ingredients. This time I added corn and some of my chevre goat cheese, then used corn chips as a spoon. This recipe can be made with all fresh ingredients, but it's great to have all the ingredients prepared and tucked in the freezer, and just add fresh milk and chevre.

Corn Chowder
2 quarts fresh goats milk
4 tablespoons cornstarch
2 teaspoons onion salt, or to taste
1/2 cup fresh chevre
1 package frozen O'brien Potatoes
1 pound package frozen cut corn,
or several ears fresh corn, cooked and cut from the cob
1 tablespoon dried parsley
In a 5 quart stockpot, bring goats milk and cornstarch to a low boil so the mixture thickens, then reduce heat to medium. Add chevre and stir until it melts in. Add all other ingredients and heat, stirring occasionally, until potatoes and corn are thawed and tender. Makes 8 yummy servings.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Pound Cake with Goat Butter and Duck Eggs

Now that the baby ducks I got back in March have begun producing eggs, there are finally enough to sell at market, have for breakfast, and try out recipes that need lots of eggs. The lady who sold me the adult layer ducks said that when she had too many eggs she made pound cake.  The other major ingredient for pound cake is of course the pound of butter. Luckily last winter when the goats were producing milk with lots of butterfat, we made lots of butter and stacked it away a pound at a time in the freezer. Now as Fall approaches and their butterfat levels rise again, it's good to find a recipe that will make good use of the last of my winter butter stockpile, so there is room for new. This recipe makes quite a few mini pound cakes. I guess I could freeze them - ha ha ha!

1 pound fresh goat butter, softened, but not melted
3 1/3 cups sugar
10 fresh duck eggs
4 cups brown rice flour
2 tsp xanthan gum
1 1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp vanilla
1/2 tsp nutmeg

Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Prepare two 9x5 inch loaf pans, or three 9-well mini-loaf pans with cooking spray and a good dusting of rice flour. Cream the butter and sugar and set aside. In a separate bowl, beat the duck eggs for four minutes until light in color. Add the beaten eggs to the butter and sugar and continue beating until smooth.  Add flour one cup at a time, xanthan gum, salt, vanilla and nutmeg, also beating until smooth. Spoon into the pans and bake for 30 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean. Let it cool in the pans for 5 minutes before turning out on to a rack. Makes 24-27 mini-loaves.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Picking Blackberries For Jelly

The blackberries this year held out turning ripe until the last bit of summer. Then it's a race to pick them and preserve them. I'm on the second round of picking blackberries, and I may get one more round in before the misty mornings make them moldy.  Each time, my mom and I pick about 8 quarts of blackberries, which makes 7 cups of juice. I smash those in a wire strainer to take out the seeds. It seems like there is a lot of seed and pulp left over, but it doesn't go to waste. The goats fall over themselves to clean out the bowl. They look like zombies when they are done.

To make the jelly, I start by heating the water in the canner, so it will be ready when the jelly jars are. I put the juice in a medium stockpot, add the juice of two lemons, which is about a half cup of lemon juice, and two boxes of pectin. Once this comes to a boil and the pectin is all dissolved, I add 9 cups of sugar. That sounds like a lot of sugar, but it helps create an acid environment to preserve the fruit.

Once all the sugar dissolves and the jelly returns to a boil, I turn off the heat for a few minutes for the foam to come to the top. I skim off the foam and put the hot jelly into hot clean canning jars with a small ladle. I wipe off the top of each jar to clean of  any drips, otherwise the lid won't completely seal. I dip each metal lid in the boiling hot water in the canner for a few seconds and place on top of the jars, followed by the bands. I put each jar on the rack in the canner which is 2/3 full of boiling hot water. I let the jars boil for 15 minutes, and then lift them out with special tongs made for canning jars.

This recipe makes 6 pint jars of jelly, so after three rounds of picking blackberries, I'll have 18 pint jars of jelly to either sell at the farmers market, or give as gifts. I think this is a pretty good yield starting from six canes this year.

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Gluten Free Buttermilk Biscuits

I dropped my smartphone in the duckies' pond and so it's been a little harder to sit and write posts at the computer, instead of writing them on my phone. I will be trying to write updates on the projects I started earlier in the year.

The little ducks I got way back in March have finally started laying eggs! The eggs are smaller, chicken-sized eggs than the mature layers I got in January, but they still taste pretty yummy. I've been calling them mini-monster eggs, instead of the monster eggs I sell at the farmers market.

Since we have extra eggs for breakfast now, I can make fried eggs from the smaller eggs and have been putting eggs on top of things like tortillas, fry bread, and these biscuits. I added a country gravy style white sauce made from olive oil, rice flour, and goatie milk, then added bacon bits and fresh spinach.

Gluten Free Buttermilk Biscuits
Since this recipe uses butter and buttermilk, we've been joking we should just use cream and save a step!  The key to light biscuits is cool butter and working the dough as little as possible.

2 cups brown rice flour
1 teaspoon xanthan gum
4 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
4 tablespoons goats butter, barely softened
1 cup goats buttermilk, chilled

Preheat oven to 450 degrees.
In a large mixing bowl, combine flour, xanthan gum, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Add butter and buttermilk, and stir until mixture just forms a sticky dough. Working quickly, turn the dough onto floured surface, and dust top with flour. Gently press into a 1-inch thick round and cut out biscuits with a 2-inch cutter. Place biscuits on baking sheet. Use as little extra flour as possible to reform scrap dough, working it as little as possible so the biscuits from the second pass will be as possible.

Bake until biscuits are light gold on top, 10 to 15 minutes.

Thursday, May 10, 2012

If you can't lick it, eat it! I have a lot of Japanese knotweed growing in my yard. It grows in the wetter areas and kind of looks like bamboo with big heart-shaped leaves and lacy white flowers. It grows to be 7 feet tall, towering way over me.

Oregon has knotweed listed as an invasive plant species, and it really takes over in the yard. At first we tried to cut it all down, but that's really messy as the stalks have lots of juice and kind of explode when the weed whacker hits them! Then I found an article that said the knotweed was nutritious, and though I didn't think it tasted all that great, I feed it to my goats and they love it.

I saw recipes for soups and salads for knotweed, but since I learned how to make jelly in 4H, I thought I would give it a try. It made a very pretty peach color and has citrus kind of flavor.

The knotweed is said to have lots of vitamins A and C. It's grown in Japan for something called resveratrol which is supposed to have anti-aging properties. My goats have no wrinkles, so maybe that's true!

Sunday, April 8, 2012

Jezebel's Surprise

Baby goats for this year will be few and far between. Since my usual crew of five dairy goats is getting a bit into the middle-age of four, they are less interested in having more babies. They've given us some pretty awesome kids, and if we just keep milking regularly, they can go several years without having to be bred.

This year it was all about our Toggenburg, Jezebel. In past years she had a little trouble having her babies, which would end up with a visit from the vet. This year she surprised everyone, though, not only by having three babies, but by having them all with very little assistance. What a good goatie!

Jezebel gave us two boys and a girl. I named them Arthur, Merlin, and Tinkerbel. Jezebel usually give a lot of milk, so she'll have no problem feeding all these babies. The only trouble is goats usually have only two babies, and have two teats on their udders. Two seats at the table for three customers means I have to milk Jezebel, then pour her milk into three bottles so there isn't a scuffle.

Sunday, March 25, 2012

The New Monsters

Everyone in my family is allergic to chicken eggs, but we found we can eat duck eggs. They taste just the same, maybe a bit richer in flavor, and are larger in size. A three egg omlette made with duck eggs feeds all three of us for breakfast!

Since we can't buy duck eggs in the grocery store, and we have some room on our property, we ordered some baby ducks from a hatchery. They pushed our order back several times and we worried that they would never arrive. Luckily, the lady who sold us duck eggs, agreed to sell us some of her layer ducks. The good part is they were already laying eggs!

Several weeks later the babies arrived. they are so cute and fuzzy! They are growing very fast and should begin laying eggs at about 6 months of age. The breeds I got were large white Pekin ducks, and a special Hybrid Golden 300, which is supposed to lay up to 300 eggs per year.

Friday, February 17, 2012

Gluten-Free Fry Bread

I was watching a TV show about Native American cooking and it reminded me of visiting the hot springs at Kah-Ne-Tah and friends nearby from the Chinook Nation who make fry bread at Sunday Market. I've been trying to cook with brown rice flour instead of wheat, so I thought I would try it in the fry bread recipe, since it was simple. It comes out crispy and golden on the outside, and soft in the middle. When topped with blackberry jelly, it tastes pretty awesome!

Gluten-Free Fry Bread

3 cups brown rice flour
½ cup sugar
1 tbsp baking powder
½ tsp salt
1 tsp xanthan gum
1 ¼ cup fresh goat milk
¼ cup warm water
olive oil for frying

Mix the dry ingredients together in a large bowl. Add milk and water, then mix first with a spoon, and then with hands until reaching a soft dough consistency.
Separate the dough into 1/4 cup sized pieces. Roll each into a ball, and then flatten to a half inch thick circle, like a thicker tortilla. Fry each round in olive oil over medium high temperature, turning after 1-2 minutes so that the outside is golden and crispy, and the inside is soft, yet cooked through. Makes about 10 of the 4 inch diameter breads.

These are great served warm topped with blackberry jelly, and are even ok the next day topped with tomato sauce and goats milk mozzarella.

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Cheese Season and Butter Season

My dairy goats have just changed from butter season to cheese season!

The butterfat in their milk changes seasonally. In the Spring, there is lots of milk to feed hungry baby goats, but the butterfat is low. In the Fall, the amount of milk they give is less, but the butterfat content is higher. This changes what we can do with their milk during the year.

In the Spring and Summer, we make lots of fresh chevre cheese, but once the milk becomes very rich in the Fall, the cheese won't set. This is our signal to make as much goat butter as we can and freeze it for later. Once the goats have babies, we start back in with cheese.

Some of our goats are not pregnant this year. If we continue to milk them regularly, they continue to produce milk. In January or so, they suddenly begin to produce lots more milk and their butterfat content drops, as if they had babies. It's always a bit of a surprise.

While butter cookies and buttercream frosting are awesome, I've really been missing my homemade mac and cheese!

Monday, January 2, 2012

An Upcycled Cold Frame For An Early Start

The weather has been pretty mild so far this winter, but I am thinking a cold frame will help plant seedlings get an early start.

There are lots and lots of plans for cold frames on the internet. They are pretty much a sloped box with a glass or plastic lid. The walls of the box keep out icy winds, and the glass top works like a greenhouse to keep the tender plant starts warm.

I found a free sliding glass door at a window company that was pretty worn out as a sliding door. It is really heavy so my mom helped to move it. The frame is from two 2x12x8 foot pieces and a 2x6x8 foot piece, cut to fit the size of the door. The slope is just the difference between the back 2x12 and the front 2x6. I left the bottom open for drainage.

I'll try some early salad greens, peas, and some nasturtiums. If I replace the glass door with a screen door later, I might just be able to sneak some basil past the wild bunnies!