Thursday, September 18, 2008

Chard Pie

We are always looking for new and interesting lunch fare. Here is the latest and greatest creation...

Ellen's Chard Pie

2 cups flour, 1/2 cup butter (cold and cut into pieces). Use the fingers to combine the butter into the flour. Add water to make a dough. Refrigerate for a while (an hour or so).

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.

(I actually didn't measure, but this is my best guess. You want to fill the crust with about 3/4 inches of filling.)
Chard (most of the stem removed), steamed lightly, chopped, and squeezed (about 1 1/2 to 2 cups squeezed)
Beets, roasted and peeled and cubed very small (about 1/4" cubes) (about 1/2 to 3/4 of a cup)
Saute these in some butter to absorb the flavor. Turn off the heat and add:
Romano cheese, about 2 oz., cut into matchstick sized pieces
Fresh mozarella, about 2 oz., cubed into 3/8" cubes
Kalamata olives, about a dozen, pitted and chopped
2 eggs, slightly beaten
Salt, pepper, and nutmeg to taste

Roll the crust and place it in a buttered tart pan. Trim the crust to fit the pan. Add the filling and spread it out. Bake for about half and hour or until the filling is done (no longer wet and the cheese is slightly browned) and the crust is golden.

Cool slightly and remove from pan.

We ate it cold in our lunch and then had leftovers for dinner that night, cold. Samara ate it up for lunch with no hesitation. Thomas had to be encouraged to try it, but then enjoyed it. Reed ate nearly half of the pie by himself.  I had to restrain myself - it was very yummy!

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Little pig, little pig...

Well, they are not so little any more!

They've gone from this (at about 20 pounds)...

to this (around 150 to 175 pounds)...

We are also trying to purchase a ewe from a meat breed (our Shetlands are really a wool breed). We are considering a St. Croix and will possibly get one soon. We will then breed her with our ram Pete so that the lambs will have a more meaty carcass than Shetlands have.

Like squirrels, we are stocking up for the winter and will pick up a half of a beef in about two weeks. That should fill the freezer!

Monday, September 8, 2008

The work of late summer

As September begins we face the fact that summer is near its close. We've been working at our late summer tasks - doing those things that need to be done in the dry season. Reed re-stained the south sides of the house and the shed (the southern sides take the brunt of our winter storms) and put a coat of log-stain on the new wood-shed and the balcony. He also swept the chimney (and now that he's safely off of the roof I appreciate the savings of $140 - the cost of hiring someone to do the 15 minute task).

We are awash in apples, with more varieties ripening every day. Tonight I made apple turnovers - yum! We've already canned 15 quarts of apple sauce. We'll do more soon (we give a lot away). Reed froze about eight pies worth of peeled and sliced apples this weekend. We still have many buckets of apples hanging around. We are also drying batch after batch of them. Everyone in our family enjoys dried apple rings in their lunch and they also make good gifts.

Saturday we picked more strawberries from our ever-bearing strawberry plants. I've never seen such plants - they produce the most beautiful and delicious strawberries and have been producing all summer long! We picked enough to make a strawberry shortcake. Samara helped me make the cake and Thomas enjoyed licking the whisk from the whipped cream.

The hazelnuts should be dropping soon. Despite the fact that our trees are suffering terribly from eastern hazelnut blight, based on what we can see on the tree, we anticipate having a surprisingly copious crop of nuts this year. Our walnuts aren't producing much this year, but they tend to be on a two year cycle. We can hope for a better crop next year.

We are also eagerly awaiting our fall crop of chard and broccoli. This is our "freezing" crop - the crop with which we will fill our freezer and so, hopefully, not have to purchase broccoli or frozen spinach (we substitute chard for spinach in many dishes) all winter long.

I, personally, can hardly wait for our "Cinderella"-type pumpkins to ripen. I read a wonderful (it sound wonderful, at least) recipe for pumpkin "soup" that goes something like this...

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees
Take off the "cap" of the pumpkin (as if you were making a jack-o-lantern) and scrape out the pulp and seeds, leaving the flesh
Fill about 2/3 with gruyere cheese, shredded
Add several cups of heavy cream
Add salt and pepper to taste
Replace the cap and bake until the flesh is tender, but before the pumpkin collapses
Serve scoops of the flesh, the cream, and the stringy cheese in bowls

I can hardly wait!

Thursday, September 4, 2008

How the garden grows...

Despite a shortage of warm sunny weather this "summer," the garden is growing remarkable well. We have been slowly working towards loading up the chest freezer and feel a bit like squirrels - hoarding away for the long winter. The new woodshed is done and it is a beauty! Our friend owns a timber frame business and has some scrap wood for us to burn this winter - we'll stop by tomorrow and get the first load to put into the shed. We already have a lot of wood put up and neatly piled, but it was ready before the shed was and won't make it in there.

The food we've been able to grow this year has just been beautiful and big and delicious! We pulled this beet and then joked that it was almost as big as Thomas' head!

We also joked that this carrot (before Samara chomped it) and its greens were so big that the carrot-and-greens together were almost as long as Samara was tall!

We are now working on our fall crop of broccoli and chard - hopefully enough to freeze to last until late spring!

Monday, September 1, 2008

Summer bounty!

In mid-August we celebrated Samara's upcoming 3rd birthday with an outdoor luncheon with the various grandparents, great-grandparents, and great-great aunts. The menu included at least one item from our garden in every dish that we served. On the menu was:

Stuffed zucchini with mint (zucchini and mint from our garden and an egg from our hens)

Swiss chard pasta (Swiss chard from our garden)

Applesauce cake with whipped cream and fresh berries (apples and fresh berries from our garden and an egg from our hens)

The stuffed zucchini was a big hit. I'll include a recipe here because I know that many people need zucchini ideas when zucchini season hits.

Stuffed zucchini with mint:

2 lbs. Smallish zucchini (about six)
1 cup grated parmesan cheese
1 egg
2 T. chopped fresh mint
Butter for baking sheet
Olive oil for drizzling on sheet
Salt and pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
Boil the zucchini whole in salted water for about 3 or 4 minutes (depending on the size of the zucchini). Remove from the water and let drain and cool. Cut each lengthwise in half. Scoop out the insides leaving enough to make a shell (a little less than 1/4 inch think).

Put zucchini insides in a small bowl. Add the other ingredients and mix well. If the zucchini is too lumpy, then pulse in a food processor briefly. It shouldn't be too smooth, but there should not be large chunks, either.

Put the zucchini shells with the cavity facing up on a buttered cooking sheet which has been drizzled with olive oil. Fill each cavity with the zucchini/egg/mint/cheese mixture. Put in the preheated oven for about 30 minutes or until the filling is just turning brown and bubbly. Serve hot or room temperature.

This was so delicious and was gobbled up very quickly! Yum!