Pigs 2016| their first few days at home…

  
They’re here!!!

It’s funny how things just seem to work out sometimes. Just as I was telling my friends and family that I’m hoarding my last 2lbs of bacon from this past fall (we started with 17lbs), I got the call over the weekend that our piggies were weaned and ready to come home with us! 

Not only was I feeling stingy with the bacon and ham, my husband, James had just reminded me that he was hoping to get the pigs earlier in the season as they will yield a larger pig come November. 

We got last years batch mid to late April.

The stars must have been aligned because we got our pigs exactly when we had hoped we would! 

It’s been a busy month on the homestead. The ground is thawing, the snow is gone. Chores that had been put to a winters rest are awake and smelly and need tending to. 

That might have sounded weird, but I’m not kidding. Have you ever had the task of cleaning the chicken coop after a long winter? 

Chicken poop becomes almost, cement like over time. When it all starts to thaw, it is one smelly, heavy, awful job!! Make sure you wear a mask! Not only because of the stench! That stuff is toxic! 

    
 
We’ve also been hard at work maple sugaring! We are so fortunate on our small three acre homestead to have several mature maple trees! We don’t run a huge operation but we have consistently been blessed with about 40 gallons of sap each year! 

After all is said and done, we have a gallon of dark, rich, New Hampshire maple syrup! 

Plenty to keep for our family and give to our friends and family that help us on boil day! 

    
 
Back to my pigs! This weekend was truly lovely outside. Warm for March in New Hampshire, sunny and beautiful. I got the message that our first 6 piglets were ready mid morning. With Easter being the next day and house full coming for Sunday dinner I wasn’t sure we could take them right away. 

James and I discussed and agreed that housework and cooking could wait. You never want to get last pick when choosing your pigs or any animal. You run the chance of buying runts. That might sound bad, but you need to try and get what you pay for. Especially when people are paying you in the long run. We want the best possible product for our buyers and our family. Livestock can be so unpredictable. With that in mind try and control the things you can. Pick sturdy, healthy looking animals. After that, it’s in fates hands.

Even if you feed them the best grains or produce out there, you never know what could happen when it comes to livestock. We try the best we can… In reality things happen and sometimes you need thick skin on a farm or homestead. 

So game time decision–James and I were off! We cleaned the extra large dog crate and filled it with hay for transport.  

 I went to our local grain store and picked up more hay for bedding, pig and sow grain and checked on our chicken order! 30 more babies coming in two weeks!!

James worked diligently to repair and rerun parts of the electric fence. We opt to keep the piglets in the pen with a wooden barrier and a well marked electric line, labeled with orange tape to hold the pigs in the pen till they learn the electric fence is their true boundary.  

 
When they’re older, we remove those “learner lines” and they are free to roam!

These guys are a bit younger than the pigs we got last April. 7 weeks to be exact. Their mother is an older sow and gave everything she’s got to her babies. It was more healthy for the sow to wean the piglets early and let her regain the weight and nutrients she’s lost in the nursing process.

   

These guys and girl (yup only one girl for now) are seriously so cute!!

So, being the pig mommy that I am, I have to admit I’m a little worried about our falling temperatures outdoors…we may have had a nice weekend but man!!! It is cold and rainy today. 

In general, I know that they have a good sturdy roof over their heads… 3 walls and I covered the main opening with burlap to shield them from rain and wind… 

 
They just lay there all cuddled tight and nesteled in the hay… They’re fine. This is what they do. 

Yet I’m still in the kitchen standing in my raincoat cooking them brown rice for a meal to keep them warm. 

 This post is to reassure any of you out there with livestock to trust your instincts. 

Raising pigs or chickens is not hard. But it will challenge you to trust yourself and trust that nature is simply nature. 

What a rewarding experience this will be! I’m so excited for our round two piggies!!! 

Hopefully they learn that I’m a nice human soon!  

 
Although the piggy conga line is pretty darn cute!

Comforting Homemade Miso Soup

  
So this is a rather unconventional post for St. Patrick’s Day, huh?

Fret not… My corned beef and cabbage are in the slow cooker and my deviled green eggs are chillin in the fridge.  

   So Happy Saint Patrick’s Day to you! Have a beer or 5!! 
Back to the miso.

It’s taken me years to get this soup close to tasting like the real deal. 

There’s just nothing more comforting than the miso soup servered at a Japanese restaurant! It’s seriously one of my most favorite flavors in the whole world.

Here on the stead we usually eat meals made from what we grow, but it’s such a treat every once and a while to splurge, and treat ourselves to a meal off the beaten path.

Shiro Miso (white) comes from soybean paste. You can find it in the paste form along with sweeter versions that incorporate extract from the sweet potato along with the soybean paste.

Most grocery stores and co-op markets these days do sell “instant soybean miso”

They come in 1.05 oz packets and in addition to the miso, contain mackerel flakes and anchovy. If you decide to use the paste instead of the instant miso remember to buy fish oil as well or the soup will taste like its missing something. 

I highly reccomend buying the instant shiro miso. 

Miso is considered a probiotic food and will help to aid in digestive disorders with its many benificial bacterias that grow during the fermentation process. These are good bacterias. Don’t let that word scare you. 

Tofu, another great aid in digestion, is another common ingredient in Miso Soup. Tofu is not only glueten free but so so good for you as well.

Basically what I’m saying is. Take the time to look for new ingredients in your market. Not only is this soup amazingly comforting and delicious, it’s also good for you!

No brainer!

  Miso Soup|
10 minutes, serves 6

  • 6 packets (60 grams) instant Shio Miso
  • 6 cups of water
  • 2 tbsp butter
  • 1 cup shiitake mushrooms
  • 1/4 c extra firm tofu, cut into tiny pieces
  • 1 scallion green onion, sliced thin
  • 1 sheet of nori, cut into 1/2″ pieces (optional)
  • 1/2 salt (optional) 

Heat a soup pot over medium high heat. Melt the butter and add the mushrooms and a pinch of salt.

Cook the mushrooms for about 3 minutes. Add the water and bring to a boil. 

When the water has come to a boil add your miso. Whisk until dissolved. Add in the tofu, scallion and nori. 

Simmer together for another 3-4 minutes. Taste for salt and enjoy!!

Just like being at your favorite Japanese steakhouse!  

   

Buffalo Chicken Meatloaf with Mozzerella, Ranch Dipping Sauce

  
Well! my girls are back to laying in full force! 

This photo is just this weeks supply so far!!! 

I get so excited when winter slows down and I notice an egg or two pop up (or should I say, out) each morning. The lull always seems to take too long. 

Hens–especially fully matured hens don’t like to lay eggs during the cold winter months!

It was 72 and sunny yesterday! Crazy warm for a March afternoon in New Hampshire. 

My chickens were so happy about the temps and sang the day away. I like to call it the “the egg making song”.  

 Low and behold, I awoke this morning to a whole coop full of fresh eggs!

I was grateful and of course spoiled them with a delightful lunch of blueberries, lettuce and sweet potato.  

 Being a chicken mother is very important work you know? (I’m such a dork)

Anyway… With all the eggs in our basket, I’ve been trying to incorporate them in as many dishes and treats as I can. 

As much as I like breakfast for dinner, breads and cookies… I got a little sick of the same ol’ routine this week. 

I saw a recipe for meatloaf a few days prior and thought… Meatloaf!! That needs eggs! I’ll make meatloaf. 

Then I thought….more ketchup? Ugh!

More beef and bread? Ugh!

And so I went with something that applies to my fussy palette… Buffalo Chicken!!! 

Mmm one of my favorites!

This meatloaf absolutely has that yummy buffalo sauce flavor but isn’t too spicy. My kids will eat it and love it! I’m sure yours will too. That is… If you have kids?

Anyway! Here we go:

Buffalo Chicken Meatloaf with Mozzerella, Ranch Dipping Sauce|

1 hour + 30 minutes, serves 4-6

  • 1-1.5 lbs of ground chicken
  • 2 eggs
  • 3/4 c Panko bread crumbs 
  • 3/4 c herbed stuffing mix (I use PF)
  • 3/4 c white cheddar cheese
  • 1 packet of ranch dressing mix, divided–3tbsp and 1tbsp
  • 2tsp Olive oil
  • 2 celery stalks, chopped fine
  • 1/2 a sweet onion, chopped fine
  • 1 large clove of garlic, minced or grated
  • 4 tbsp buffalo hot sauce, divided–3tbsp and 1tbsp
  • 3 tbsp ketchup 
  • 2/3 c sour cream
  • 2 tbsp freshly grated mozzerella (or bagged if that’s what you have)
  • Salt and pepper

First, let me say that my kids don’t love the idea of blue cheese. The traditional buffalo dipping sauce doesn’t always bode well here.

Hence, the mozzerella ranch. I only add the cheese for texture similar to a blue cheese dressing, however it really just tastes like ranch with an extra kick! 

Mix 3tbsp of the ranch seasoning, with the sour cream and mozzerella. Chill and use when ready.  

 Next- cook your celery and onions over medium heat, in a good glug of olive oil. 

Season with salt and pepper.

Grate in your garlic once the onions are starting to become translucent.  

 Once the garlic is in, only cook for about 30 more seconds. 

In a large bowl… Add your ground chicken, bread crumbs and stuffing, 1tbsp of ranch seasoning, 2 eggs, the cooked veggies, 3tbsp of hot sauce, cheese, salt and pepper. 

 Mix completely and shape into a free form loaf. 

Turn the loaf onto a sheet tray lined with parchment paper and sprayed with non stick cooking spray.  

 
Next, mix your ketchup and the 1 remaining tbsp of hot sauce.

Spread it all over the top of your meatloaf.

Bake in a 350 degree oven for 50 minutes and allow to cool for 5 more minutes when done, before cutting. 

  This meatloaf is so flavorful and has a kick that will satisfy grown up tastebuds and kids alike! 
Here on the homestead, we raise broiler chickens and laying hens. We grow our veggies and bake breads…. This is a perfect example of the many many yard to table meals I prepare for my family! 

Minus the hot sauce!! (I don’t know Franks secret)

Please give this a try! I just know your family will love it!! 

    
 

Farmhouse Coq Au Vin

  Coq Au Vin.

The sound of this dish used to intimidate me. Classic French cooking was something I never dared to try. I assumed I would fail and never wanted waste such beautiful and fresh ingredients. 
Well. I’m here to tell you. This dish is not difficult to make. 

How could it be bad?! In translation Coq au vin means, rooster in wine.

Chicken. Wine. Winning already!

Not to mention all the delicious, farm fresh carrots, sweet potatoes and herbs. You really can’t go wrong with this one! 

The sauce is rich and aromatic. It provides a luscious, broth like consistency that keeps the chicken moist and full of flavor. 

Lots of people serve Coq Au vin with mashed potatoes but I really don’t think it needs it! The red wine broth is the perfect pairing for the hearty sweet potatoes. 

My 8 and 9 year old girls loved it too! It certainly sounds like a grown ups only meal, but I promise, the alcohol burns off during the cooking process and leaves everything tasting heavenly–perfect for everyone’s taste buds. Even the littles.

Farmhouse Coq Au Vin|

1 hour, serves 4

  • 1.5 lbs chicken breast, or thighs if you prefer. 
  • 2 medium sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into 1/2″ pieces
  • 1 c sweet onion, chopped
  • 1 c carrots, chopped
  • 1 cup button mushrooms, sliced 
  • 3 cloves of garlic, sliced
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 5 sprigs of thyme
  • 1 tbsp of bacon grease (if you don’t keep this on hand fry up a few slices, reserving the grease and enjoying a little bacon snack!)
  • 2 tbsp tomato paste
  • Olive oil
  • Salt and pepper
  • 1.5 c vegetable broth
  • 1.5 c red wine (I used a Cabernet) 

Start by chopping all your veggies. 

In a large dutch oven or enameled cast iron pot, heat your bacon grease and a drizzle of olive oil over medium high. 

Add your onions, potatoes and carrots and cook for 5 minutes. 

 Next add in the mushrooms and cook for another 2-3 minutes. Season with salt and pepper. 

Add in a 1/4 cup of the vegetable stock, cover and reduce the heat to low. Let this simmer for 5 minutes to steam the veggies.

Remove the vegetables into a separate bowl. Add a bit more oil to the pot and place your chicken in. Season and cook for 5-8 minutes per side or until the chicken is cooked throughout.  

 Meanwhile, stir the tomato paste in with your vegetable mixture.

Add them back in with the chicken, and slowly add the wine, the rest of the vegetable stock and the garlic. Place your bay leaves and thyme on top. Season with a bit more salt and stir everything together before bringing the dish to a boil. 

 After it has come to a boil, reduce the heat and simmer for 10 minutes, the sauce should reduce by 1/4. 

Your Coq Au Vin is now ready to serve!! 

It truly is a classic tasting meal, full of hearty flavors. Enjoy!! 

   

Decadent Lobster Mac and Cheese with Truffle Oil Panko Breading

  
Every once and while you just need to treat yourself to something so comforting and so decadent that you feel as though you just won the food lottery. 

My family absolutely couldn’t get over how delicious this was! It is a bit time consuming only because my recipe calls for 5 different cheeses… That’s right, 5 cheese lobster mac and cheese! 

It’s so rich and creamy and soooooo worth the effort! 

The best part– this is a one pot dish!!! Well, two, but I consider boiling store bought pasta to be a freebie! 

It might not be our typical meal here on the homestead but it’s nice to spoil yourself every so often with a dinner like this one!

Here’s how I make it:

Lobster Mac and Cheese with Truffle Oil Panko Breading|

1 hour, serves 6-8

  • 1-1.5 lbs of lobster meat, cooked and separated into bite size pieces
  • 2 cloves of garlic, minced 
  • 3/4 c fresh grated mozzarella 
  • 3/4 c fresh grated Gruyere 
  • 3/4 c fresh grated white cheddar
  • 1/2 c fresh grated parmesan 
  • 4 oz Brie, rind removed and chopped into small pieces
  • 9 tbsp butter
  • 1/2 – 3/4 c all purpose flour
  • 3 c milk
  • Salt and pepper
  • A pinch of ground nutmeg 
  • 3/4 c Panko bread crumbs 
  • 1 tsbp truffle oil
  • 10 oz. cavatappi pasta 

Bring a stock pot of salted water to a rolling boil.

Work to grate your cheeses, mince the garlic and chop the lobster meat. 

Add your cavatappi pasta to the boiling water and cook according to the package directions. Drain when cooked to your liking and set aside.  

 

In a separate heavy bottom, 3 quart Dutch oven… I like to use my enameled cast iron. (Just choose a dish that can go from stove top to oven.) Melt three tbsp of butter over medium heat. 

Add in your cooked lobster meat and garlic. Season with a pinch of salt and pepper and cook for 1-2 minutes.

Then remove the lobster and garlic from the pan and set aside. 

In the same dish, melt 2 more tbsp of butter. Add in your truffle oil and give it a quick toss. 

 
Add your breadcrumbs and toss to coat before scrapping them up and setting aside. 

 
Next, add 4 more tbsp of butter. Melt completely and whisk in your flour. Whisk continually for a minute or two until the flour is cooked and a thick paste forms.

Add your milk, one cup at a time, and continue to whisk to make a bechamel sauce. Add salt, pepper and nutmeg to flavor the sauce. 

Once the sauce thickens, it’s time to add your cheeses! 

  
The sauce will be oooeey, gooey and amazing!

Stir in your cooked pasta and lobster mixture… 

 
Top with an even layer of your truffle oil bread topping and voila!! 

   
Cover, and keep warm in a 200 degree oven until ready to serve or, serve immediately. 

It is sinfully delicious!!!  

 

Kale Pesto Garlic Knots with Hymilayan Mineral Salt

  
Well… My kitchen smells incredible!

There’s nothing better than homemade dough baking in the oven with cheese and garlic. The smell–something straight from heaven. 

This past summer I decided to grow an abundance of kale. Our daughters were really digging the kale chip craze and I love to wilt it down in a Marsala mushroom sauce or add it to a simple salad. 

It’s funny, my first job at 16, was working at a seafood restaurant. It was my job to set up the market every morning- lay out the salmon and cod filets, shuck the oysters, check the mussels to be sure they weren’t open and well…dead. 

I’d slice the lemons and position everything in the large glass display case, with care. Kale was always the last thing to display… that last pop of color against the bed of ice and less than stellar smelling fish.

As I got older and realized kale was a thing…. Boom! Mind blown. It’s not just for show in smelly fish counters?!?

Nope! Kale is so fantastic and I feel fortunate that our 8 and 9 year olds absolutely love it! It is packed with nutrition! 

I digress.

Anyway… I grew a ton of kale! The great thing about kale is that it freezes well. 

With that in mind I made kale pesto this past August, vacuum sealed small portions and what do you know?!! It’s February and I’m still enjoying my harvest via kale pesto! 

 To thaw, I just set it in a pan of warm water for 10 minutes or so. 

It’s really easy to make too! This is one of those bogo posts. A twofer, if you will…

Kale Pesto|

In a food processor combine:

  • 3-4 c fresh kale
  • 3 cloves of garlic
  • 1/2 c toasted walnuts
  • 1 c parmesan cheese
  • 3/4 c good extra virgin olive oil, plus more to reach desired consistency 
  • 1 tsp of salt, plus more to taste
  • 1 pinch of black pepper 
  • a squeeze of fresh lemon juice 

  

 

Mix it all up!   Freeze or use within the first few days.

Kale pesto has such an earthy, robust flavor! You’re going to love it!!

Twofer time!!!!

Kale Pesto Garlic Knots with Hymilayan Mineral Salt|

1 hour, makes about 8-10 knots 

  • 1 pizza dough, homemade  or store bought. Cut into 1″ to 2″ strips
  • 1/2 c kale pesto
  • 3 tbsp butter, melted 
  • 2 clove of garlic, minced
  • 1/2 cup Parmesan, divided 
  • 1/2 tsp Hymilayan Pink Mineral Salt 

Preheat your oven to 350 and cut your dough into strips. 

 Spread a tsp or two of pesto on each strip.  

 Tie them into simple knots. Almost like a pretzel. Then place them in a well greased pie dish or cast iron skillet. 

 Stir your minced garlic with the melted butter. Brush evenly over the top of your garlic knots. 

Sprinkle with half of your parmesan cheese and bake for 30 minutes.

When they’re done,  sprinkle with the remaining parmesan and your fabulously nutricious Hymilayan sea salt. The salt adds such a special kick ontop of the warm bread.

Cool slightly before serving and enjoy! 

   

Homestead Blog Hop #13

Blog Hoppin!

Recreational Gardener

Welcome! The Homestead Blog Hop will take place every Tuesday and is for all things homesteading: real food recipes, live stock, crafts, DIY, how-to’s, gardening, homeschooling, natural home/health, self-sufficiency, self-reliance, natural remedies, essential oils, & more!

chicken eggs in pan on rustic wooden background with strawMEET YOUR HOSTS:

Featured post from the last Homestead Blog Hop:

Every week the co-hosts will choose a post to feature and share on our social media platforms. This week’s featured post from the last blog hop is:

Different Types of Wood and Their Uses by Hillsborough Homesteading

thmb56cc708f65006Link-up-long-rectangle-blog-hopOur Guidelines:

  • Family friendly posts only!
  • Please visit at least 2 blogger links from this post and leave a comment.
  • Please link back to the Homestead Blog Hop in the post you share. Feel free to grab the banner at the top of this post to link back to…

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The Homestead Root Cellar

I absolutely love this post from Farmer Hick! What a beautiful job they’ve done with their root cellar!
#homesteadgoals

Farmer Hick's Homestead

What would a homestead be without a root cellar?

A lot of vegetables that are grown right here on the homestead end up being stored in the root cellar for winter eating. Let me show you how it can be done.

Situated right next to our house is another underground building. Farmer Hick did not connect this directly to our house, one of the things he’d do differently now. There’s a 3-4 foot wall of dirt between the house and the cellar, retained by railroad ties (you can’t see this because the whole wall is covered in board and batten). Three sides of the cellar are hidden in the ground, the Southern side contains the door.

005 cellar entrance

The cellar measures 10 x 10 feet, opposite the door are the shelves that hold our dairy, eggs and fresh food in winter, the squash and pumpkins from the garden, our basket…

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Steakhouse Potato Salad| Spring Fever Summer Food

  
I can’t get enough of this easy and flavorful potato salad! I’ve been making this one for years but it’s even better these days with the addition of our farm fresh, thick cut bacon!!

I’m over winter. I can’t stop thinking about warmer days, new livestock, new gardens… New life. 

After a few days of balmy temps…you’d consider 52 balmy, right? I was determined to whip up a lighter faire, and be done with the hot soups and winter casseroles… Something that says spring is here!

Is there anything better than burgers, dogs and potato salad!!? Mmm mmm Summer livin! 

This salad is so easy to make and packed with steakhouse flavor! 

It’s like a cool refreshing version of a baked potato bar all mixed up and delicious!

Here’s what you’ll need…

Steakhouse Potato Salad|

3 hours, serves 4

  • 4 c red potatoes, washed and cubed
  • 1/2 c mayonnaise 
  • 1/2 c good ranch dressing 
  • 4 slices of bacon cooked and crumbled 
  • 3/4 c shredded cheddar cheese
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 2 tbsp green onion, thinly sliced

Cook the potatoes in salted boiling water until fork tender.

Drain and rinse the potatoes under cold water and transfer to a mixing bowl.

Reserving half of the cheese and green onion for garnish, mix together all ingredients.

Garnish, cover and chill for at least two hours before serving. 

Potato salad always gets better with time. You want the potatoes to soak up all that extra flavor!

This is the perfect side dish for any  BBQ or if you just need a little taste of summer!