"Gypsy gold does not chink and glitter. It gleams in the sun and neighs in the dark."

~ Saying of the Gladdagh Gypsies of Galway

Thursday, May 31, 2012

The Coop Addition

We have a new addition to the Chicken Coop Palace.
I didn't want it - I didn't think I would like it.
To be blunt, chain link anything screams hillbilly to me.

But... hubby scored this chain link dog kennel type structure from a friend for FREE. Usually these things can be quite pricey. So FREE is good :) Being FREE made me give it a chance.

The back of the chicken coop, if you recall, had an old wooden enclosed-with-chicken-wire type structure for chickens to hang out in if they wanted to be outside the coop and still out of harms way.

Back of the chicken coop - pretty unshightly...especially in late winter/early spring when this photo was taken :)
Even though this couldn't look any more 'hillbilly' itself, if I had decided, I would have voted for hubby to buy some new wood and spruce it up. It would have looked good as new. But new wood and chicken wire isn't FREE!

So I gave the chain link dog kennel contraption a chance. I told hubby for sure though, the brown weaving would have to be removed. I thought it was hideous and made grand plans to plant something like Morning Glories around it so they could grow and climb fast up the fence to hide it!

But now, when I look at it, I am thinking, I guess it isn't so bad.
It kinda blends in, right?

Hubby fashinoned it up all nice with pieces of sheet metal to attach it to the actual coop so it doesn't blow away. He tidy up any parts that would allow predators - aka, Savannah - to get in.

He cut a hole in the chain link and fashioned more sheet metal to fit it around the doorway for the hens to go in and out as they please.

We left that small tree in there because the ladies like to stand on it!
This definitely gives them much more room than the wooden structure did too.

View from opposite side - and yes, that is the former structure laying in a heap on the side destined to be bonfire

So, I guess it isn't so bad. It faces the back of the property, looking into the orchard. So when I am looking out the kitchen window, it isn't like I see this huge dog kennel type thing sitting in the yard.

We do let them free range as much as possible, but when they can't, having this outdoor enclosure for them is the next best thing.

But, I am still planting something around it that will climb up it and make it look like a huge bush ;)

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Recipe: The Fishmarket Salad

Throughout high school and most of college, I worked at a restaurant that served a salad hubby & I both loved. It's been some time since we've had it and since we have an abundance of lettuce in the garden right now, I decided to recreate it.

The salad was called 'The Fishmarket' and it had a Champagne Vinaigrette dressing. Obviously, the dressing is the hardest part to recreate, but we both agreed I came pretty darn close!  

The Fishmarket Salad
Lettuce (We had Crisp Mint Romaine growing in the garden)
4 hard boiled eggs
1.5 cups cooked mini shrimp, chilled
1/2 cup crumbled blue cheese
Divide ingredients into 2 serving bowls. I couldn't tell you how much lettuce we had - use what you know you will eat :)

Champagne Vinaigrette
1/4 cup White Wine Vinegar (Champagne vinegar would have been better, I am sure, but I didn't have any!)
1 clove garlic
Small quarter of an onion
4 tbsp honey
1 tbsp Dijon mustard
1.5 tsp yellow mustard
2 tbsp lemon juice
2-3 dashes Tabasco
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp black pepper
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
Combine all ingredients, except oil, in your food processor and whiz it up until it is all combined and garlic and onion are finely minced. Then slowly stream in your oil whizzing it as you go until all is combined. Chill until you are ready to use.

This recipe was linked up over at Freaky Friday with Real Food Freaks and  Summer Salad Sundays

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Strawberry Season & A [Canner's] Giveaway

Alas, Strawberry season is my area has arrived - early none the less - which is fine by me!
I have a hard time buying produce out of season [at the grocery stores] because you know, it never tastes like fresh, in season fruit. And then I am just disappointed.

I purchased 13 qts over the weekend for $2 a quart - total steal if you ask me!!
I bought them from a couple Amish families a few roads down from me.

I do still use white sugar in canning recipes. I would like to eventually convert that over to honey, but since we are talking alchemy here, a science, involving food preservation, I won't do it until I have a recipe for it :)

I like the preserving book Tart and Sweet. A lot of the recipes in there are simple enough and they don't call for gobs and gobs of sugar.

I canned up 12 half pints of Strawberry Rhubarb Jam Monday morning. And I have 4 quarts of Strawberries still macerating in the fridge for a simple strawberry jam. Oh yes, and I whipped up some Strawberries & Cream Popsicles too - perfect timing since the weather has been in the 90's!
I scored 4# of Rhubarb for $1/pound from my Amish neighbor down the road.

I fully intended to pick up lots more quarts this coming week to do more preserving with.
I plan to make more Strawberry Jam, Strawberry Balsamic Black Pepper Jam and I also want to try my hand at homemade fruit roll-ups!

One thing different with my canning as I start the season out is my use of the Tattler Reusable Canning Lids.
Tattler sent me some to try out and I was more than excited too. These lids are BPA Free, Reusable, Dishwasher Safe and made in the USA. 

These lids were easy to use and I 'prepared' them the same way I'd prepare the metal lids.
They all sealed nicely too. I have yet to wash and reuse them, but I suspect they'll do just as they are supposed to!

Tattler sent me a set of regular, and a set of wide mouth, lids and rings to try out.

And for one other lucky canner, they are going to send you a set of both too!!
All you have to do to be entered for a chance to win is leave a comment telling me if you can and if so, what is your favorite recipe or food to preserve?

Earn an extra entry for liking The Life of a Novice on FaceBook too! 
(Let me know in you comment that you liked the FB page, please!)
Contest end Midnight on Friday - Winner announced Saturday!
Good Luck!

Monday, May 28, 2012

Weekly Meal Plan, Memorial Day Week

Thank you to all who have served our country!
Happy Memorial Day.

Sunday: Grilled Quesadilla's
This was the first time we made Quesadilla's on the grill - they were awesome! And we had some fresh Cilantro in the herb garden to add! Topped with sour cream and lettuce from the garden.

Monday: Hamburgers on the grill, Sweet potato fries, salad with lettuce from the garden
I made a homemade 'Caper Dressing', for which I found the recipe in a old McCall's Cookbook that was a wedding present to my grandma :) Hubby & I love capers and this dressing doesn't disappoint! I will share the recipe soon.

Tuesday: Homemade Fettuccine Alfredo with broccoli and carrots

Wednesday: Scrambled Egg Burritos with Chard & Spinach from the garden and Breakfast Sausage
Yes, we have breakfast for dinner at least once a week...usually Monday's! It is too easy which is great!

Thursday: Bone-in Chicken Breast on the grill, Roasted Cauliflower, Salad with lettuce from the garden

Friday: Homemade Pizza on the grill :-)

Saturday: London Broil on the grill with baked potato's and salad with lettuce from the garden

The weather here is crazy hot and our AC is broke! Yes, I live with an HVAC man -- which also means if I want him to fix it for pennies on the dollar, I have to wait until the holiday weekend is over and he has access to the parts he needs from the supplier. *sigh* And then, it is supposed to go down to the 60's mid-week this week...what?! I hope my tomato and pepper plants can hang!

Saturday, May 26, 2012

The Greenhouse, Year 2

Last year was the Babe's first trip to a greenhouse for some plants for the garden.

This year was his second time, and my, how things change!!

I hope everyone is enjoying their holiday weekend!

Friday, May 25, 2012

Link Loitering, May 25

Ever wonder what happened to Carole Morison, the Perdue Farmer, on Food Inc? Wonder no more - go Carole!!

And that's all I got today! Have a wonderful holiday weekend!

Thursday, May 24, 2012


Do you ever wish for Calgon to just take you away? Ok, cheesy I know. But - seriously.

Today starts my nice long weekend. I have the day off to take my son in for his doctor appointment and tomorrow, my sitter is off, so I decided to just take another vacation day and make it an extra long holiday weekend.

I NEED the break. Mentally. I did the math and I haven't take a true vacation day since 2010. Last year, all my vacation days were used up on maternity leave at the beginning of the year. And sorry, but maternity leave is NOT a vacation. And thus far in 2012, any vacation time took was while the babe was sick a month or two back. Not a vacation!

My brain feels like scrambled eggs. My house is a mess [what's new!]. My horses need groomed [like they care!]. My motivation is lacking - yep, it's time for a mental check-in.

So while I do everything under the sun today beside what I should be doing - sitting down with a glass of wine and doing nothing - check out my new guest blog post over at Bamboo Magazine ... the irony of it? I am talking about all the gardens we have planted this season :) Glutton for punishment much?

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

It's that time of year...

Grass introductions!

Apollo finds his crack...a clover patch!

My favorite old gal!

Typical Pony - grass is always greener on the other side...

Spring pastures are lush and welcoming in my neck of the woods this time of year so I figured now might be a nice time to refer back to my post on Pasture Maintenance and Spring Grass for your horses.

We don't want any horse bellyaches out there so read up if you aren't sure how long to have your horses out on the spring grass! This will be the 4th spring/summer here on the farm for the big horses and the 3rd for the pony and mini donkey! I'd say, at this point, I tend to be a tad - as in 10-ish more minutes each time - more lenient in their grazing introductions just because they have been around the grass long enough now, throughout the seasons, that their bodies have had time to acclimate. But, none the less, they don't go out on it like gang busters! It is still a process!

Any questions about turning your horses/donkeys/mules/ponies/drafts out on pasture? Feel free to ask!

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Recipe: Pork & Vegetable Lasagna

I stumbled across this recipe about a year ago - though I couldn't specifically tell you where! And I have made many adjustments to the original since then. The best thing about this recipe is that it is very versatile. Change it up to whatever suits your family's taste. 

Pork & Vegetable Lasgana

9 lasagna noodles
1# ground Pork
2 carrots, shredded (I just peel them into strips with the veg. peeler)
1 leek or onion, diced
8 oz mushrooms, sliced
1 garlic clove, diced
3 cups Chicken Broth
1/4 cup flour
S&P to taste
Thyme, few pinches
2 cups cheese, Parmesan and Mozzarella cheese work well 

Place your noodles in a 9x13 baking dish and cover with warm water and some olive oil. Set aside.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Bring your chicken broth and flour to a slow boil, then keep at a simmer while you prepare the veggies.

Sautee your vegetables in some olive oil and butter until soft - 10-15 minutes - over a med/low heat. Add in your ground pork and cook over med heat until Pork is cooked. Remove from heat.

Remove the noodles and water from you baking dish. Pour a scant amount of your chicken broth mixture onto the bottom of the dish - lay down 3 noodles, top with your pork/veg mixture and some cheese, pour more chicken brother over it, lay on another 3 noodles and repeat with the rest of your filling. Spare some cheese to be laid over your last/top set of noodles.

Place in the oven and bake for about 45 minutes.

Note - this is excellent as a leftover the next day reheated :)

Monday, May 21, 2012

Hidden MSG

As I become more conscious about what I eat and what I feed my family, it is just amazing the things you learn. I thought it would be interesting to share with you some MSG Shockers; things MSG is in that you might not have even guessed! Truly, it is everywhere.

Now let me preface by addressing a comment I get a lot - 'well I have been eating/using that forever and it hasn't killed me yet'. Well, to that I say 'good for you - so far' and I also ask, 'if you know it is ultimately bad for you/your family, and you can avoid it, then why not'?

So, did you know there is MSG in:

Flintstones Children Vitamins!

There is so much wrong with this product, I don't even know where to begin. And to think Dr.'s recommend that pregnant ladies take 2 of these if they can't tolerate a pre-natal vitamin. Thank GOD I only took two or three of these total during my pregnancy before I decided I didn't think they were necessary! 

So, the hidden MSG in Flintstones Vitamins goes under the name of Aspartame. Since this post is about hidden MSG, I won't get on too much of a soap box, but check out the ingredient label and notice all the food dyes, including Red #40 used in these vitamins, among all the other nasty ingredients. And innocent people who know no better feed these to their kids thinking they are a good thing!! Aye-caramba!!!

Aspartame also goes by the name AminoSweet.

One A Day Women's Prenatal Vitamins!!

Yes, your eyes are correct - that is a prenatal vitamin. Prenatal. As in, a woman takes these while prego to help the health of herself and her developing baby, all the while, she is dosing herself with MSG, listed on the ingredient list as Gelatin, not to mention all the other nasties listed, like a healthy does of Red #40! Because I definitely want my unborn child to be fed MSG and food coloring, red dye none the less. UGH

Seriously Ladies, if you are worried about consuming healthy Omega 3's and DHA while you are pregnant, to help your unborn child's developing brain and eyes, try munching on natural, nourishing foods like wild caught salmon, pastured eggs or some spinach! NOT vitamins loaded with MSG and artificial food dyes.

Also, a general rule of thumb is that most of your over-the-counter medicines that come in the form of a gel capsules will contain MSG.

Butterball Lunch meat - Smoked Turkey Breast

Honestly, lunch meat of almost any kind should come as no surprise to be on a list like this! This specific type & brand contains Modified Food Starch, which contains or produces MSG. And of course, it had other nasty stuff like High Fructose Corn Syrup. If you want a healthy alternative for lunch meat, try Applegate Farms. And no - the deli meats you get from behind that counter from the deli lady are not any more healthy. Sorry, folks!

Breakstone's Cottage Cheese

Breakstone's Cottage Cheese contains Modified Food Starch and Guar Gum. I was able to scan many of their cottage cheese products - low fat, 2% milk fat etc etc - I was seeing these ingredients in all of the offerings. Oddly enough, I had to go to Walmart's (ugh) website for the ingredient list as Breakstone's own website didn't offer the list!! (And the more research I did on products, the more common this theme was) Another ingredient I have commonly seen in other cottage cheese brands that you want to keep an eye out for is Carrageenan.

Wishbone Robusto Italian Dressing

This one is a doozy with autolyzed yeast extract, 'natural flavor' and maltodextrin. Not to mention all the other nasty oils, coloring etc. But, hopefully this wasn't too much of a surprise to you. Most all bottled salad dressings you purchase from the shelf aren't good for you - sorry ranch flavored fans - that one is a real doozy too! Try your hand at making your own dressing. It takes 1 minute or two and the possibilities are endless, not to mention, healthy!

Crest Pro-Health Toothpaste

The offenders in this item are Carrageenan and Xanthan Gum. Toothpaste, believe it or not, has MSG in it. And all kinds of other nasties including food dyes - this one in particular has Red dye #40 - which I find hilarious since the product has the words 'Pro-Health' in it's name, yet it's packed with nothing really of any health benefit for you. Have you ever read the warning label on the toothpaste tube? Yeah, me either...until I started doing more research. Most people don't take those seriously - but they should. Not too many people have plans to chow down on a tube of toothpaste, but for those of you with toddlers, you never know what you might find them doing, right?

It is much harder to identify MSG in non-food products as they aren't regulated the same way consumable items are. Sometimes it will take some digging to find out the ingredients. For example, bug sprays and sun blocks are common items to carry MSG. I could not find ingredient lists for those I searched online, so I actually called on one insect spray. Surprising, the company called me back, but when I asked to identify any MSG ingredients, she said she'd need to call me back! I am still waiting for the return call.

Many times, non-consumables will list the 'active ingredient(s)' - and since the MSG ingredient isn't the 'active' ingredient, you may not see it listed. Check your over-the-counter medicines too, lots of them include MSG! I researched Tylenol and it seems, aside from the food coloring, they may have wised-up to replacing the MSG in their products. I did find it in Delsym.

It can be very tricky, confusing and just plain overwhelming trying to remember all the code name ingredients that are or equate to being MSG. Here are a few things I tend to keep in mind as guidelines that help. Avoid it if:
  • 'Natural Flavorings' are listed
  • 'Seasonings' are listed
  • Anything Ultra-pasteurized
  • Anything label 'Low-fat' or 'Non-fat'
  • And as I have listed above already, anything listing 'Aspartame', 'AminoSweet' or 'Carrageenan'
This is the source I use for identifying MSG.

Once you start reading labels, you will be surprised, shocked and disappointed at all the places you will find these 'ingredients' listed. Trust Me!

This post is linked up at Monday Mania and Freaky Friday

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Weekly Meal Plan; May 20

Sunday: Leftover Ham Sandwiches

Monday: Ham & Rice Casserole
(You know we are using every last piece of that delicious ham!)

Tuesday: Ground Pork & Veggie Lasagna
I guess we are on a pork kick this week?! Find the recipe here; It is a must try!

Wednesday: Ribeyes and baked homemade fries

Thursday: Homemade Pizza

Friday: Scrambled egg, spinach & chorizo burrito

Saturday: Burgers on the grill and baked cauliflower

Pork & Veggie Lasagna

Friday, May 18, 2012

The Chicken Whisperer & A Giveaway!

I may have mentioned before that my husband is somewhat of an animal whisperer! 
He has never met an animal, that I am aware of, that hasn't liked loved him.

So why would I think the chickens would prove any differently?

Have I mentioned when it is time for them to get back into the coop at night, all he does is say 'C'mon Girls' and the follow him. Single file like a good little flock, they follow him like devout worshippers.

It kinda makes me roll my eyes....

This is 'Roo', as I have been referring to her. Allen thinks am absurd - he said she isn't a rooster. 

And here we have little Chicken Whisperer Junior in the making....

And now, for the giveaway! 

One lucky reader is going to win a One Year Complimentary Subscription to Backyard Poultry Magazine, courtesy of Backyard Poultry Magazine!

If you are new to keeping Chickens, BYP has a nice feature you can sign up for, for free. The healthy chickens bulletins; quick reads with priceless info!

All you have to do is leave a comment below telling me if you have/plan to have/or wish you could have backyard chickens! And if you do have them, what is your favorite thing about them? 

The drawing closes Sunday night at Midnight. I will post the winner Monday - Good Luck!


The contest has closed. The winner of the year subscription to BYP Magazine is Tiny Gardener!

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Recipe: Portabella Feta Wraps

I made these for lunch over the weekend - they were fabulous - yes, fabulous! Even my husband, who rarely considers anything a meal if meat of some kind is not included, gave a 2 thumbs up! It's my own take on a 1 similar recipes I found in a BHG Cookbook I have.

Clearly I can't take photos of food and make it look like something you'd want to eat!

Feta Portabella Wraps

4 - 6 flour tortillas (depending on the size of your tortillas, you may need 4, possibly 6)
1 package slice Portabella's (or probably 3 large Portabella heads, sliced)
2 cloves garlic
1 1/4 cup white beans - navy or cannellini work well
1/4-1/2 cup olive oil
Squeeze of lemon juice
Salt & Pepper
Feta Cheese
Italian Dressing
Greens - I used Romain Lettuce and Chard I had out in the garden


Place your Portabella slices on a broiler pan, brush them with Italian dressing and let them sit while you prepare the spread.

Put your beans and garlic cloves into a food processor and blend it together. Slowly add the oil as you do this. Add enough to reach your desired consistency. Splash with lemon juice, s&p to taste and give another blend.

Broil your Portabella slices 6-8 minutes, turning about half way through the cooking time. I had my broiler set to high.

Lay out your tortillas, spread your bean mixture on each, lay greens on top of the bean spread, take your finished Portabella slices and lay them over the greens, sprinkle with feta cheese, drizzle some more Italian dressing over them and roll your tortillas.

That's it! So simple - so good! We had one half a tortilla left over; I wrapped it in wax paper and ate it the next day, cold, and it was still delicious!

Don't get stuck in a boring PB&J lunch rut! Try these soon!

This post is linked up at Freaky Friday

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Chive Blossom Vinegar

I originally learned about Chive Blossom Vinegar from Marisa at Food in Jars! And this season, I finally remembered to make some. It is bittersweet because I think the blossoms look so pretty on the chive plant and they only last so long.

To make Chive Blossom Vinegar, you just cut the blossoms of the chive and stuff them in a Mason jar!

These grubby little chunky hands just couldn't keep away from my chive blossoms! 

Quality Control - right?

Once you stuff your jar full of blossoms, cover them with vinegar, cap the jar and let them sit in a dark spot for a week or two. As I seem to understand, any vinegar works, but I just used white vinegar.  It turns a pretty purple. I bet a champagne or white wine vinegar would work well too. I will let you know the verdict on taste in a few weeks. I plan to use it for salad dressings , marinades and in Asian dishes that call for a splash of vinegar!

Have you  made Chive Vinegar before? What have you used it for?

This post is linked up at Freaky Friday

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

The Chicken Palace

Hubby added new roosts to our Chicken Coop Palace this past weekend.
There was one in there from this coop's previous life, but it was old and decrepit!

We have some nut trees that need a good pruning, so hubby went to work pruning - for the roosts!

And you know, his girls don't just get a stick.
The get two nice, large roosts.

And a third stick acting a a ladder from the ground up to the other two roosts.

The gals aren't quite old enough to fly themselves up on the roosts yet, but they can walk up to them. And they do seem to enjoy them!

I must say, I never thought watching chickens would be, well, so interesting!

My help transforming the coop to palace that day was pampering the nesting boxes - which won't even be utilized for 10-15ish more weeks! - with some nice, fresh straw.

Next on the palace to-do list -- a ladder to the nesting boxes. 
And don't you think hubby won't go all gang busters building that for them too!

Monday, May 14, 2012

Harvest Monday, May 14

The harvest's this past week were small but sweet!
I continue to pick herbs from the herb garden as needed; Sage, Thyme, Oregano, Dill and Lovage for the time being.

Our 'Crisp Mint' Lettuce is finally coming in nicely as is our Chard. We enjoyed some of this in Portabella Wraps! (Recipe coming later this week)

And I finally remembered this year to pick my chive blossoms for Chive Blossom Vinegar. Of course, someone's grubby little chunky hands helped!

I can't wait to try the vinegar out in a few weeks.

In other garden news, Garden's #1 & #2 are tilled and ready to be planted this week. Hubby also tilled up a potato patch and put in two more 10x30 gardens which he planted with corn, pumpkins, squash and some gourds!


This post is linked up at Harvest Monday, hosted by Daphne's Dandelions. Check out the site to see what other gardener's are up too!

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Mother's Day 2012

Mother's Day is pretty low-key around here - if you call tilling up 3 new gardens to add to our 2 established ones, 2 of which are about 10x30 for pumpkins and watermelon and squash, low key!

Ok, okay. So that is actually what hubby did today :)

Here is me and my little man today, for Mother's day. The photo below is it Mother's Day last year, 2011. My how is has grown! And thank goodness I look a little less pasty this time around

Mother's Day 2012

Mother's Day 2012

There are so many things no one can prepare you for once you have a child. And it is funny - now I find myself doing things - little, subtle things that I noticed my mom would do. And now I get it. 

So, cheers to my Mom and to all the other Mom's out there! 
Every day should be 'Mother's Day'!

Saturday, May 12, 2012

Weekly Meal Plan

Sunday: Spaghetti

Monday: Homemade Egg McMuffins

Tuesday: Homemade Pizza Bread

Wednesday: Ground Beef Stroganoff

Thursday: Pot Roast and Rice

Friday: Pork Chops & Pasta Salad

Saturday: Ham, Scalloped Potato's and Asparagus
We have yet to eat this, as it is dinner tonight, but I am so excited to try this ham I purchased from our local Buying Club Farmer. Smoked without Nitrates and the pork is antibiotic/hormone free! The asparagus is also fresh from our Buying Club farmer.

And how about Rhubarb! I have some Rhubarb and I am going to pick up some more today from our Amish neighbors! Any Rhubarb recipe suggestions?

Friday, May 11, 2012

Link Loitering, May 4

Okay, okay, I can't resist. I am sure you have seen this. I am interested in your thoughts.

Have some glue with your meat? Gross!

Check out this Chicken Coop! I like some of their ideas!!

Even More Gorgeous :)

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Joining a Buying Club

Back in March, I wrote about Joining a CSA. In addition to Community Supported Agriculture programs [CSA's], there are also Buying Clubs [BC's].

A Buying Club is essentially a group of people committed to placing an order than meets a minimum dollar amount every so many weeks. The goods ordered by the group are delivered to them on a set day & time by the supplier. Usually, a Buying Club is set up to receive items that you don't readily go into your local chain grocery store to purchase, but not always. There is a common thread in your Buying Club that brings the people together, and it also saves members money as most of the time, the products purchased are offered at wholesale prices. Sometimes a Buying Club can also be referred to as a co-op.

I recently started a local Buying Club in my area through a local farm. This farm raises beef, chicken, pork and lamb - humanely and without the use of antibiotics or hormones. Their animals are all grassfed and/or pastured.

Our Buying Club with this farm brings together people who want to
  1. Support Local Farms
  2. Purchase Local Food
  3. Consume grassfed meats raised humanely and without antibiotics or hormones
A reason for choosing this Buying Club versus just purchasing a quarter or half a cow (or hog or lamb for that matter), is because we can place an order every 4-6 weeks rather than make one large purchase all at once, up front. When we place our order, we also are choosing the specific cuts we would like. To an extent, you can still do this when you purchase a quarter or half of an animal, however, you are still getting X number of pounds regardless, all up front at once. So, especially for those without excess freezer space, the Buying Club can be the better option - you choose how much of which cuts you want for that order.

This Buying Club also offers raw honey, raw milk cheeses, maple syrup, eggs and occasionally produce as well. Some Buying Clubs are produce-based, versus meats. You have to search out a Buying Club in your area that offers what you are looking for. Just the same as you would do for a CSA. 

Which brings me to my next point in how a Buying Club is different from a CSA. When you sign up for a CSA, you know up front what you are paying for, for the term of the CSA season. For example, in my Pork/Poultry CSA that I signed up for, there was a $ amount due and in exchange for that cost, I know that I will receive 12 chickens, 1 turkey and a 1/4 a of hog between the months of June and November. Once that kicks in, I will not place orders through the buying club for pork or chicken, obviously.

If you join a produce CSA, you receive your orders in whichever fashion they are scheduled (usually weekly or bi-weekly) and your 'basket' for that pick-up is whatever is in season. Some allow you to pick and choose items for your basket, but a lot of produce CSA's I am familiar with give you whatever is in season that week. For those who are a tad more picky about what they eat, or aren't interested in trying out new things, this option isn't always the best choice. What if you get Kohlrabi in your basket one week and have no clue how to cook or eat it? If you don't enjoy cooking or trying new things, you probably aren't going to have much use for that Kohlrabi you paid for!

Buying Clubs can have openings for a new club to be formed (which is what we did), or they may have established clubs that accept new members. 

Last night was our first delivery for the Buying Club. I placed an order for a various array of items! I was able to purchase various cuts of lamb, beef and pork. I also purchased some Rhubarb & Asparagus as well as some soup bones. I can't wait to try everything out. A beef roast I received came bone-in -- I love that! I am sure it will give the roast much more flavor and I know I can't recall the last time I spied a roast at the grocery store that still had the bone in!

To help search out a buying club in your area, try the following resources.

Eat Wild

Local Harvest

Organic Consumers Association

Sustainable Table


Wednesday, May 9, 2012

The Berry

If you give a kid a [Straw]berry

He thinks he's won a prize.

He gently bites into it...

Oh forget it. I can't make any more rhymes!
Look at that dang cute face!!

And those ears....poor kid. He got Daddy's ears! ;)

This is why I told Daddy we don't buy Strawberries out of season -- they just aren't as sweet!