the farm…chickens again….turkeys and pheasants too

Over Memorial Weekend my favorite boyfriend and I went up North to visit the family and our new pig Pancetta (Pancetta will have her own blog day soon). My bro has recently moved back to the farm and begun adding on to the farm business with his own enterprise Leelanau Farm and Game (I think that is the name). He is raising pheasants, heritage chickens, quail and heritage turkeys. Last year was the experimental year. We got to taste test several of his chickens and pheasants. Yum. He is now raising his own grain and they are organic, free range birds.

My dad has a cherry and apple farm and also grows several other fruits and potatoes for the farmers markets in Leelanau County and Traverse City. He was instrumental in getting farmers markets started in Leelanau several years ago and now gets to rake in the fruit from the harvest, so to speak.

When we arrived my brother and dad were grinding grain in this old fashioned grinder run with a belt on an ancient tractor. Of course neither was wearing a mask and dust from the grain was everywhere. When you don’t have a lot of $$ you bargain search for old farm equipment and when you are a registered mechanic, it is just a task of fixing the machinery up and you are up and running. My brother is the philosopher mechanic fowl farmer.

Growing up we never raised animals, just fruit and potatoes, so there is a learning curve for us all with birds.

Here are some pictures from the weekend.

I should probably explain the metro. It is this old delivery van that my brother bought for I think $100. He then cut everything but the frame off and rebuilt the frame with wooden fence walls that can be taken off. My sis in law painted the front of the vehicle. The seat has a handy collapsible feature in case it is raining. The metro really only drives around the farm and to and from my cousin’s strawberry farm. Here it is pictured with a load of cedar posts the my brother and dad harvested from the woods. They will be used for more chicken fencing. I think they should use the metro in the 4th of July parade for the Farm Market float. Leland’s infamous parade is next week.

It is all about sustainability…….

i’m out

creamed spinach gooey goodness

I love spinach, almost every way you can make it. The one exception is the icky way they made it when I was in grade school in West Virginia. I think they opened cans of spinach, heated it up and added vinegar. Strangely enough, I liked it ok then, but now, the thought is horrible. I am sure that can be improved on. Adding vinegar to greens in the South is the thing to do.

Yesterday I tried my hand at creamed spinach. It was so good, that I proclaimed we must make it at least once a month (too rich to eat weekly – although I would), that and the chicken piccada (lemon, capers, white wine and garlic sauce) I made to go with it.

So here is the rough recipe. It was so good, I completely didn’t think to photograph it until I was eating the leftovers for lunch.

Start by browning some bread crumbs (or crackers, what ever you have on hand) (1/2 cup or so) in 1 tbs olive oil and 1 tbs butter. Add some pepper and salt. Set aside.

Thaw one 10 oz box chopped frozen spinach and squeeze it pretty dry.

chop one med/small onion

mince 2 cloves of garlic

Saute onion and garlic in olive oil.

In a bowl, add to the squeezed spinach,

3/4 cup of heavy cream (it must be so, half and half will not do)

2-3 large spoonfuls of sourcream (soup spoon size) (this was probably 1/4 cup or so)

1/2 cup or more of ground Parmesan (or finely grated) I didn’t really measure this, just kept adding it until it has a fairly thick consistency.

sauteed onions and garlic

salt (not too much since you have parm in there)

freshly ground pepper

and the item that makes it so delicious – freshed grated nutmeg, lots of it, at least probably a teaspoon. If you don’t have fresh, use the ground stuff, but likely more of it.

Put in an 9×9 pan sprinkle with the bread crumbs. Place in 350 F oven for 20 – 25 minutes – until the edges look just a bit browned.

Then, attempt not to eat the whole pan in one setting, as I am sure that that much spinach may have adverse effects – even with the cheese in there. Essentially I made a spinach alfredo casserole.

I will post that leftover photo when I return on Sunday night or Monday. Off to the great wilderness of Northern Michigan.

By the way, still no problem with spelt – so I made a batch of no knead bread with it and let it rise and ferment for 48 hours to get really tangy. Will be eating it this weekend with some fresh chopped tomatoes with salt, basil and a hint of fresh garlic and olive oil – my recipe for bruscetta! Oh and some Fromage de Am’bert from France – a creamy blue (GF of course). For those of you wondering – I am a confirmed, biopsied celiac for over a year. And just to be on the safe side, I have a doc appt next week and plan to get the antibody test done again, to make sure the spelt isn’t really reacting and I am not having any symptoms.

i’m out

Spelty moments this week

Ok, I tried the pretzels, no reaction. I had some of the spaghetti noodles for lunch and no reaction (they were nice and light). Before trying something else from the box of goodies sent to me, I decided that if I was going to react, I want it to be over a nice crusty loaf of bread. So I went and bought some Vita-Spelt flour (because i figured there would be less cross contamination issues as they mostly do spelt processing) and searched the “internets” (my fav Pres Bush quote) for a Spelty French Bread recipe. The search did not happen as quickly as I thought it might, but I did find one.

I loaded up the Kitchenaid and used my kneading attachment for the first time (glutenless breads don’t use this). I added fresh rosemary, cracked pepper and garlic – I wanted bread with flavor! I put it on parchment paper and baking sheets and let it rise. Cut some slits in it and sprinkled Fleur de sal on it and baked it. It was a really hot day – so putting my oven to 400 degrees for about 50 min (btwn warming up and baking) was a huge commitment to Spelt tasting.

I made up some tasty herby olive oil dipping sauce and waited for my partner in eating (ok, my cohabitating domestic partner boyfriend). I sliced it up and low and behold – there were lofty air bubbles in there. Each slice was light and not dense. Could this be bread heaven? Perhaps, or the opposite, depending on the friendliness of the bread to my innards.

I took a slice and dunked. I took a bit and swallowed. It has been more than a year since I had what I would call “normal” bread. It was a nice visit. I had a couple more slices (they were baguette size) and then had a slice with a little butter on it – just for memory’s sake. Delish. Then…..I waited. I waited and waited in fear of gluten retribution. I waited and then went to bed. I woke up in the night and waited. This morning, I waited.

NOTHING happened. No, whoops, excuse me, see you in a few minutes, I need to spend some private time with my square toilet (yes, I have a square green toilet seat). Nothing. So I ate another slice this midmorn.

So, while I was prepared to sacrifice my body to try something new that is actually really old, I didn’t need to. I suppose there is a chance that I will still react – it hasn’t been 24 hours. However for me, whenever I have reacted to gluten or cross contamination, I feel it very quickly, within an hour and within 4 or so, my body has said by to said gluten.

So, we are at 20 hours now. I will post some picks of the bread when the camera comes home.

Anyone have any spelt bread recipes? Feeling fairly confident, I just made a sourdough starter and it is sitting on the counter right now.

Tomorrow is Bratfest – our beer club’s annual brat gathering. I am making some sushi with GF crab and smoked salmon (with avocado). What about brat’s doesn’t sound better with some sushi? I suppose I could make a German style potato salad, but that is not what I am in the mood for.

coming soon….chickens from the farm or gluten free brewing plus plenty of garden updates – it was a busy work week….

i’m out

SPELT…..can you? do you? should you?

I was recently sent a large box of spelt products from someone at Vita-Spelt who knows my dad. He claims that spelt is ok for Celiacs to consume. I have read that it is an ancient grain and that the wheat that is currently eaten was genetically altered in the mid 50’s and since then, well, the levels of gluten intolerance have grown immensely. My box came with no literature to convince me, just the word of a guy who wants to create a locally made product that gluten intolerant and wheat allergic people can eat. Here is what they say about spelt and celiac.

I was sent spelt sourdough organic pretzels, two bags of non sourdough pretzels, 2 bags of penne noodles, some elbow macroni, 2 boxes of spaghetti noodles, 2 boxes of whole grain spelt spag noodles and a bag of sesame spelt snacks.

I have been staring at this box for 3 weeks. It keeps staring back. My dad called and asked if I had tried any of the products yet. I said “no, but I plan to, probably tonight”. That was yesterday morn.

When this guy approached my dad, I sent my dad a flurry of cut and pasted websites that said Spelt is a no-no and told my dad to forward them to the guy. The box of spelt still appeared. Then yesterday I read a post on Eat Wheat Free… site where she mentioned eating spelt. I asked if she was gluten intolerant and she said yes and that she has no problems with spelt. It was a timely post as I probably would have waited at least another week to make a new excuse to give to my dad. Truth be known, I am scared to try it.

Two reasons.

One, the reaction that I may have. I have had some cross contamination issues – every 3 weeks or so and it is not so bad (I am on the road for work a lot), just pretty uncomfortable. So to eat something that is by law, required to label it (wheat) after spelt, is a bit intimidating, as I assume that if I react, I will react badly.

Two, if I react, I will be tempted to go for the gusto and after a year of not any gluten, start shoving delish crusty breads down my repaired esophagus (thanks to Nexium). This in part because, while I was eating gluten, the last year and a half, I lost weight (as most do), but I was already overweight to begin with – so I thought it was great. Yes, I had my share of digestive issues, but I could deal with them. I stopped eating gluten and the weight came back….plus an extra 15 pounds. Not fair! All I did was take gluten out and feel like I am being punished. For 7 years I ate what ever I wanted and didn’t gain weight. So now I need to be gluten free and diet? Well, you can already guess how I feel about that. Now comes the really bad part, the part that is no different than anorexia really. If I eat gluten, it makes what ever I eat that day essentially calorie free. Everything is expedited out of my system before it has a chance to digest, and does damage in the process. So I am afraid that if I react to the spelt, that it will send me on a gluten bender so to speak and I will just be purging my body in a different way. Yes, this is sick, but I think about it.

So, let’s hope I don’t react. Let’s really, really hope cause I might just be strong enough not to purposefully damage my intestinal tract – probably – but it is in my head. Let’s really hope because if we could eat spelt – we can make bread the old fashioned way again in our kitchens. When traveling I might buy a spelt loaf to take with me to make sandwiches. It won’t change the dining out process, but the home life would be tastier.


I could make normal beer again and we could all gather in my backyard and drink a keg of it while eating spelt bruscetta with tomatoes and basil from my garden.

Here’s to hope, experimentation and strength to do the right thing! I now have eaten three of the sourdough spelt pretzels to test it out. Stay tuned for the results.

i’m out

mando mando and the yarn that hates me

Just a short little post to show you my newest addition!

My new mandolin!

My brand new mandolin! I should be practicing right now, but feel more guilty about not blogging for so long, that I must blog, then practice. I am a beginner player. I know a few chords and now am working on learning the notes so that I can play the melody when I remember how to read music! I was lucky enough to have a loner mando for about a year from a friend who was too busy with her Ph.D and the bagpipes to play her mandolin. Very gracious of her. It was harder to bond with that mandolin since I knew it would have to be returned. My new one has already bonded with me! It was love at first click on Ebay.

I hate this yarn!

I am so happy my mandolin is here so that I can ignore my knitting project. I hate this sticky mohair that I bought! If I hadn’t spent an obnoxious amount of $$ on it, I would just throw it out. It is now in it’s fifth form of a scarf for a friend’s birthday (that was last Jan – see how I hate this yarn?) Most mohair doesn’t give me this problem. But most mohair still does not knit fast for me, add that to the stickiness of this stuff and …..oh, the mando is calling my name…….what knitting project?

(If you are reading this post from Google reader, the prior post about wild mushrooms and ramps won’t show up properly – click to the website to see the post and great photos.)

i’m out