Wild Things Farm

  (Crab Orchard, Tennessee)
Farm life adventures of the Happy Hoer
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How to successfully boil and peel a farm fresh egg

I'd say everyone that has ever tried to make deviled eggs from farm fresh eggs has experienced the frustration of peeling a fresh egg.  The shell just doesn't come off the egg in a clean manner.

This morning I wanted to make a batch of deviled eggs for snacking,   The last time I boiled eggs I had used the eggs that were cracked during the laying process--(hens are really rough on eggs)--or cracked during handling for whatever reason.  ANYWAY, I boiled the cracked eggs and they actually peeled very easily, so I told myself that the next time I needed to boil eggs I would purposely crack the shells before cooking.

I used a dozen eggs that were gathered yesterday evening.  Each egg was gently cracked against the side of the pot before placing all the eggs in cold water.  Don't rupture the membrane, just crack the shell.  The stove eye was turned on medium high until the water began to boil, then turned down a little so the water would gently boil for 10 minutes.  After 10 minutes the hot water was drained off and cold tap water immediately filled the pot to cool the eggs down a bit.

I was simply amazed at how easy the shells came off--not one single egg was mangled during the peeling process.



Delicious Quiche Recipe

The Happy Hens are really laying a lot of eggs now so I thought it was a great time to try a new quiche recipe.  The spinach hadn't recovered from the last harvest sufficiently to include in the recipe, so I went to my favorite recipe site, Allrecipes.com and found this yummy recipe that will be made again.  I took it to my parents' house and my Dad ate it for two meals and Mom wanted the recipe--it's a keeper.

8 oz bacon, fried crisp and crumbled
9" pie crust (popped out of the foil pan and into a glass pie plate)
2 cup sharp cheddar cheese, shredded
1 cup Monterey Jack (I used pepper jack) shredded
3 T all purpose flour
5 eggs, lightly beaten
1-1/2 cups half and half
1/2 cup diced onion
1-4 oz can diced green chiles

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Crumble the bacon bits onto the bottom of the pie crust.  Combine cheese and flour and stir to coat cheese with flour.  In a separate bowl mix eggs, half and half, onion, and chiles.  Add the cheese and stir well.  Pour into crust--it will be full--full-full.  I put the pie plate on a cookie sheet and a little ran over but not much.  Bake 60-70 minutes or until firm.  Mine was done in 45 minutes but my oven runs hot.

Let it stand for 10 minutes.  A slice of this and a salad is quite filling--it's good for breakfast too!

Note:  If your husband/boyfriend/significant other won't eat things they can't pronounce, the other name for this recipe is "Bacon, Egg, and Cheese Pie".


Washing Fresh Greens

The high tunnel has been productive this winter season--well, as productive as it can be.  Plants just don't grow nearly as fast in the winter as they do in the summer.  A wonderful mix of greens just passed through the kitchen sink into the fridge for part of the evening meal.  I get lots of questions about the best way to wash fresh greens.

First off, this is only the way I do it--not a scientific approach at all.  The greens grown on the farm are all organical so the only things that need to be washed off are debris and the occasional snail.  I can deal with things I can see, it's the things I can't see that I don't want to deal with :-)

Place the greens in a big bowl of cold water:


Then swish the leaves  around with your hand to knock the debris loose.


  I pick it up a few leaves at a time and place in the salad spinner, checking them really well for cleanliness.



Once the salad spinner is about 3/4 full, put the lid on and give it a few spins to dry the leaves.   The salad is then ready to mix with whatever other items you want.  This particular mix I call the "Kitchen Sink" salad mix because it contains arugula, lettuce, broccoli raab, spinach, and baby Swiss chard leaves.  A lot of people have never tried baby Swiss Chard leaves in a salad, but they are delicious, and more nutritious when raw.

If you're not going to eat greens right away, don't wash them until you're getting ready to eat or cook them, and keep them in the fridge.

Now, for supper.........



An Adventure with Spring Roll Wrappers

Yesterday morning I laid out some frozen chicken to prepare for supper.  I didn't know what to fix yet, but there it  was, at 7:00 pm, thawed, on the counter.  This wasn't ordinary grocery-store chicken, but one of the unlucky roosters that were a product of my "I-want-to-incubate-eggs" experiment.  That experiment yielded more roosters than laying hens, so from now on I'll leave the incubating to the professionals and just purchase newly hatched girls.

So far my experience with these roosters is that they are TOUGH and the last couple of times I cooked one it was an all day thing in the crock pot and they turned out to be chicken and dumplings.  Even after cooking it all day long the breast meat just got bigger and bigger the more it was chewed!  So, my mind got out of the chicken-and-dumpling pot and spied the handy-dandy grinder attachment for my Kitchen Aid stand mixer.  There was some Chinese cabbage from the garden in the crisper, along with carrots harvested several weeks ago.  I'll share the recipe(s) I prepared, but the story is more about the wrappers themselves.

I don't eat out often, but when I do I like to eat things that I don't normally prepare at home.  Vietnamese food isn't something I make very often, but I had a dish once with the rice noodles and spring rolls that was delicious, so that's my inspiration for supper.  I bought a package of spring roll wrappers a while back and have been wanting to use them--here's my chance!

At 7:00 pm I ground the chicken and put it in a skillet with diced onion and some minced garlic (yes, I use the stuff in the jar), soy sauce and pepper.  I cut shreds of the cabbage and put it in the pan long enough to wilt,  then I took out enough of this mixture to make a few spring rolls.  I added chunks of onion, celery, carrot sticks and bigger slices of the Chinese cabbage to the pan of chicken.

I started a pot of water boiling to cook the rice noodles and pulled the spring roll wrappers out of the pantry.  Nice package.....


Once I got it open I couldn't decide what was packaging and what was the actual wrapper.  They were stiff and had embossed marks on them like an inner cover in a can or something.  See what I mean?


Okay, no instructions on the package so I go to the computer.  "Immerse in warm water for up to 30 seconds to soften" and then wrap your ingredients.  I've got the pot of hot water ready for rice noodles, so that seems easy enough.  I carefully dip the stiff wrapper into hot water so I don't burn myself and Voila!  It turns into something similar to wet plastic wrap and is folded up into a wad.  Okay, maybe the water is too hot.  I took a dinner plate and ran warm water from the faucet into a thin layer and laid a wrapper in the water for about 30 seconds and it softened up miraculously so I could roll up the ground chicken mixture and make a spring roll.  I fried them in a little oil and ate the rice noodles with the chunky mixture left in the pan.    At 8:15 I was cleaning up the dishes--see, it doesn't take that long to prepare fresh food INCLUDING grinding your own meat!

Of course this wasn't quite as tasty as the Vietnamese dish I had in a restaurant with my best friend, but I was in my jammies in my house ......that means a lot on a cold wintry night!



Swiss Chard and Sweet Potato Fritters

We've spent most of our lives being told to "eat your vegetables" and now that we are, we're being told to "eat your green vegetables".  For years and years I tried to act as though I liked greens (spinach, turnip, chard, kale, mustard) in the cooked stage, but it was all an act.  Having been raised on canned food both at school and at home, greens were just a slimy mass that required vinegar poured on them to make them palatable enough (huh?) to go down.

In my opinion, anything that requires vinegar in order to make it palatable shouldn't be eaten anyway.  Enter fresh greens.......

Although I'm still struggling with the texture of a bowl of cooked, steamed sauteed or otherwise heated up greens, it is definitely getting better.  I actually lightly steamed/cooked some fresh kale in beef broth a couple of months ago and it was DELICIOUS!  I since haven't been able to duplicate the event.

The menu for supper was all lined out the other night, but something green was absent from the list, so I ventured into the garden, picked a small bunch of Swiss Chard, medium sized leaves, and headed back to the kitchen.

Here's the recipe:

9-10 leaves of Swiss Chard, medium size (about 2 cups cut into thin shreds)

2 small sweet potatoes (about 1-1/2 cups grated)

1 egg

1 Tablespoon oil

1 Tablespoon or so of flour 

a couple of teaspoons of honey

salt and pepper to taste

Put the oil in a large nonstick skillet and turn on medium heat.  Mix the grated sweet potato and shredded chard in a bowl and add the egg and flour, honey and salt and pepper.  Mix thoroughly.  Drop by big spoonfuls onto the pan (oil should sizzle when mixture is added) and mash out into fritters about 4" in diameter.  Let them cook on one side until browning and crispy then flip over and finish cooking on the other side.  Drain on paper towels and enjoy hot!  Actually, when I cleaned up the pan most of the oil was still in there.

Yet another yummy way to enjoy those all nutritious green veggies!



"New Way" with Swiss Chard

I say "new way", but someone had to dream it up--I love Allrecipes.com and when I'm trying to find a different way to prepare a veggie that's the first place I look.  This recipe is Baked Swiss Chard with Feta Cheese and actually I bought some feta cheese last trip to the grocery store.  So, here goes:

1 bunch of Swiss Chard, stems and leaves separated

1 onion, chopped

4 large garlic cloves (I added this part and left them whole)

1 TBS olive oil

salt and pepper

2 TBS olive oil

4 oz crumbled feta cheese

Wash the swiss chard and tear the stems out of the leaves; put these in a bowl with chopped onion, peeled garlic cloves, and toss with 1 TBS olive oil.  Place on an oiled baking sheet in a 350 degree oven for about 15 minutes or until onion is starting to brown.

Toss the leaves in the 2 TBS olive oil (I only used 1 TBS here) and salt and pepper to taste.   Careful with the salt; the cheese is pretty salty in itself......Place the leaves on top of the stems and sprinkle with crumbled feta cheese (I only used 2 ounces instead of 4) and put the pan back in the oven for 15-20 minutes longer,


or until some of the leaves are starting to get crispy on the edges.



More Yummy Sweet Potatoes

The farm CSA members received sweet potatoes in their shares for several weeks and several of them returned a few really good recipes for different ways to cook them.  I tried this one the other night and ooh, baby!  It's a culinary delight :)

Yummy Glazed Sweet Potatoes

Preheat oven to 350

2 lbs. sweet potatoes - peeled, cubed

throw in a baking dish

Whisk together:

2T evoo

2T honey

1 t. lemon juice

1/2 t. salt

pour over and mix with sweet potatoes

Cook approx. 1 hr. stir several times

The potatoes get sticky and gooey and the lemon juice perks right out of the sweetness and says "here I am". 


Get to know your veggies--Rutabaga

There are a few words in the English language that are, well, fun to say.  Repeat after me....rutabaga, rutabaga, rutabaga.  I think that's a cool word for a very cool veggie.  Combine a white potato, a sweet potato, and put a smidgen of turnip in there and you've got rutabaga. 

Being a root veggie, rutabagas store through the fall and winter right alongside potatoes, sweet potatoes, carrots, parsnips, and onions.  The nutritional claim to fame of this veggie is the amount of vitamin c that it packs in one cup cubed---that would be 32 mg or 53% of the recommended daily allowance.  WOW!  That's impressive.  Along with the punch of vitamin c, 1 cup of rutabaga has 3% of the MDR of Vitamin E, 1% Vitamin K, 9% Thiamin, 4% Riboflavin, 6% Niacin, 9% Vitamin B6, and 6% Folate.  Gee, we need to be eating more rutabaga.

A wonderfully simple and tasty way to prepare rutabaga is to wash and peel (if necessary) carrots, potatoes, rutabaga, sweet potato, onion, and garlic, then cube into 1 to 1-1/2 inch cubes and place on a baking sheet.  Drizzle with olive oil, salt and pepper to taste, then roast at 350 for about 45 minutes or so.  Stir them around about half way through and stick a fork in them occasionally to test for doneness.  It's good to make extra because they are wonderful as leftovers.

Let's hear it for rutabaga, another veggie winner!

The nutrition data was obtained from Nutritiondata.self.com; a wonderful resource for nutritional data for the veggies we eat.


Butternut Squash Soup

Part of eating in season includes coming up with new ways to prepare the bounty of the season.  There were several small squashes in the harvest this year that were kept for myself.  Yesterday I made butternut squash soup and this particular blend of ingredients was quite tasty.  I used sour cream because I didn't have any regular cream or half and half; it worked great.  A great way to keep chipotle peppers around is to buy them in the can, transfer them to a glass jar, and they'll keep in the fridge for a really long time.  Just take one out when you need it and put the rest back in the fridge.  If you're not into spicy, then just forget the pepper.

2 tablespoons butter

1/2 onion, chopped

1 small carrot, chopped into 1/2" pieces

2 cloves minced garlic

2 small butternut squash peeled, seeded and chopped  (about 2-3 cups chopped)

1 can chicken stock

1/2 tsp sage

pinch of pumpkin pie seasoning

salt and pepper

about 1/2 cup sour cream (or regular cream or half and half)

1 chipotle pepper, chopped

Put squash in a pot with the chicken stock and start simmering.  Melt butter in a frying pan and saute' onion and carrots till tender then add garlic.

Pour onion and carrots into the squash and continue cooking until all veggies are soft.  Add chipotle pepper, sage, and salt and pepper.  Set pot off the heat and use an immersion blender to puree all the ingredients.  When the veggies are all creamed, add the cream and finish blending.   If you don't have an immersion blender you can put the soup in small batches into a blender or food processor to puree. 

I made some garlic cheese biscuits to go with the soup.  Yum!


Sweet Summer Kraut Salad

I'm not sure of the "proper" name of this salad, but it is delicious!  One of the farm members gave me the recipe and even brought a sample of it the next week, and oh my, it's worth sharing.  It would be great with beans and cornbread or on a polish sausage on a bun, or just as a side dish.  It's sweet and I think would be great with some hot peppers in it too.  Here's the recipe:

1 can sauerkraut, drained

1/2 c chopped green pepper

1/2 c chopped onion

1/8 tsp curry

1/3 c sugar

1/8 t cumin

1/8 t paprika

3/8 t dill weed

Mix all the ingredients together and let it marinade in the fridge overnight. 

Thanks, Dale!


Time for Gazpacho!

Even though it's been sweltering here for the last several weeks, it just doesn't seem like summer until the first big batch of gazpacho is chilling in the fridge.

Gazpacho, or cold soup, is a very loose recipe; you can add to or alter the ingredients pretty much as you like.  I wouldn't advise adding okra to it though.  Don't get me wrong, I LOVE okra, but it does not work in gazpacho.   It turns the otherwise yummy tomato soupey base into a tomato slimey base. 

Here's my recipe for a manageable size batch:


2 cups tomato or v-8 type juice

1 beef boullion cube dissolved in 1/2 cup water or 1/2 c beef broth

4 cups chopped tomatoes

1/2 cup chopped onion

1/2 to 1 cup chopped and seeded cucumber (this is a good recipe to use some of those kind of big ones that hid from the last picking

1/2 to 1 cup chopped green and or red bell peppers, banana peppers, jalapeno, it doesn't matter what kind as long as you don't make it too hot to eat

1-2 TBS fresh basil, chopped

2 or 7 cloves of garlic :)

generous dash of worcestershire sauce

salt and pepper to taste

Add the boullion cube to the water and tomato juice (I use a big tupperware bowl that has a lid) and set aside.  Chop all your vegetables and add those and everything else to the tomato juice.  Stir well and let it set in the fridge for at least 2-3 hours so the flavors will blend.  It will keep in the fridge for several days but it won't last that long!


Another good Summer Squash recipe

This time of year squash is really "doin' its thang", so another yummy squash recipe should be welcome.  The original recipe calls for zucchini, but I can't tell much difference in the summer squashes, so I call it "Squash Fritters".  This is also a good recipe to use up some of those squash that were hiding the day before and got kind of big to greet you the next picking day!  I still haven't perfected the art of picking every single squash or cucumber--has anyone? :)


Squash Fritters

2 small summer squash (yellow, pattypan, zucchini) OR 1 larger one, with most of the seeds removed

4 minced scallions (or green onions, or onions)

¼ cup parsley

¼ cup dill (can use dried dill, sparingly)

1 beaten egg

¾ cup parmesan cheese

¼ cup flour (I used panko)

 Grate squash into a colander and toss w/ 2 tsp salt, let sit 10 minutes.  Squeeze out liquid.

Then mix squash with other ingredients and pan-fry spoonfuls of the mixture in olive oil, flattening with a spatula, 3-4 minutes per side, until golden.  Drain on paper towels & season with salt.




More places to get recipes for the summer's bounty

Okay, so I'm a magazine junkie.  My mom, two of my sisters, and one of my best friends share the same addiction.  While perusing the March 2009 issue of Southern Living (courtesy of Mom), I ran across an article for great recipes that had tasty Gulf Shrimp in them.  That statement, sadly, doesn't mean the same thing today. 

I did make an awesome find in the magazine though.  Southern Living is famous for their amazing recipes, and their recipe website is http://www.myrecipes.com/.  It looks very easy to use,and  has over 46,000 recipes and everyone knows you can't have too many recipes!

Just yesterday one of the "on-farm pickups" came to pick up her box and she told me about a great blogsite called A Veggie Venture and that address is:  http://kitchen-parade-veggieventure.blogspot.com/.  It's an upbeat site with yummy-sounding different vegetable recipes.  Today the author posted a recipe for "Toad in the Pattypan Hole" for breakfast.  After looking at more pattypan squash recipes, I'm going to try the stuffed pattypan squash tonight.  The squash are doing great in spite of the drought we're deep into around here.


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