Don’t worry about this heart of mine

;) –  Don’t turn around

For those of you with weak stomachs, those of you who are not comfortable with the process of putting meat on your table, those of you who don’t want to see the original “shape” of your food, this post is not for you.

Walk away.

Don’t look, you’ll be totally grossed out! Srsly.

If you don’t mind knowing that your food was once an actual animal, then please continue because I did the most amazing thing yesterday, and again this morning. I dispatched my roosters. No, they are not Taxi drivers, they are now dead.

Roosters are good for 3 things:

1- making noise

2- making more chickens

3- eating

Since we didn’t want the boys to be doing either of the first two things, the next step was obvious.

My friend Melissa came down to help me out and I couldn’t have asked for a better friend or teacher. She walked me through the whole process from live bird to ready to cook. She showed me everything,  let me help a bit and then guided as I tried it on my own. We made it through 8 birds yesterday morning and this morning, with my husband’s help, I took care of the last 4 birds on my own.

I can’t tell you how empowering it is to know that I can feed my family. That I know everything there is to know about the food they are putting in their bodies. I did that, and I am amazed by it. Absolutely gobsmacked.

Melissa’s daughter, who helps with the chicken dispatching on their farm, told me that if I did it just right, I could disembowel a chicken in one fell swoop – everything, including both lungs, which isn’t the easiest thing in the world to do.  Somehow, on the last bird yesterday, I did it.

I pulled off a “Double Lunger”!

- this is the part where you should really look away of you don’t want to see the proof.

Yes, those are 2 chicken lungs in my hand.

I now have 12 birds in the freezer along with various and sundry bits for stocks and soups. This farming thing just got way more real and kinda, grossly, cool.

Now we sit back and wait for the 7 lady birds to start laying.

Toots

Double rainbow all the way across the sky!

;) – OMG! OMG! OMG!

It started here.

Then the kids heard this.

Saebra decided she wanted a Double Rainbow Birthday. So, she got one.

We spent a week making a batch of ice cream each night, coloring it in sequence, and freezing it a spring-form pan. The whole thing was set on a crushed Oreo base.

Then we made rainbow cupcakes. A double cake recipe split into 6 portions, each colored and then spooned into cupcake papers in sequence.

The kids had a basket full of rainbow balloons to play with, faux tie-dying with markers and balsa wood gliders to toss into the sky.

She got lots of great gifts but my favorite is the dress that my sister made. She used a simple tank top and added a skirt, but what a skirt! Its made from this awesome rainbow fabric that she’s had in her stash for 15 years – I’ll try and get a pic of the girl wearing it :)

What did we get? One Happy Kid!

Happy 8th birthday baby-girl :)

Toots

Beneath the sheltering sky

;) – With their cups still full of sand

This is the first year we’ve really had a rockin garden. We had high hopes for our tomatoes-only approach last year and then late blight set in and we lost everything pretty quick.

This year we tried raised beds and a decent variety of plants and we’ve been happily surprised at the bounty of our 16, 36x18inch beds. The snap peas were a little late and thin but but delicious, the radishes were amazing, the beans were picked clean and have just decided to flower again so we’ll have a second, and completely unexpected, harvest.

(garden picks from the morning of 8/14/10)

The first bed of tomatoes started to ripen last week and we planted in 3 groups so we should have fresh tomatoes through to the first frosts. Carrots and beets are all just about ready to be pulled – some already have been and were declared super yummy. We’ve had lettuces, swiss chard, small onions and japanese eggplants for a couple months along with the summer squash that have just expired. Our potato plants look like they’re waning and the butternuts are slowly turning peachy. Also, there are cucumbers.

(photo from June 2010 – taken by our friend,Kimberly Fletcher Gendreau)

All of this has made me amazingly happy and completely frustrated. I have two daughters and while they are pretty good about eating whatever I set on the table for dinner they are less than enthusiastic about a whole meal of just vegetables. Then there is the husband.  The joke in the family is that,  “If its green, he won’t eat it, unless its Jell-O!” Although he is just as excited by the yield of our plantings I sometimes have to be creative and conservative with the amount of veg in the meal.

So what is a girl to do with all this produce? Pickles and Preserves!

I have a garage full of canning jars and it was time to put them to use. This past weekend I put up 36 jars of pickles and 2 jars of tomato sauce.

I finally picked up my copy of Put ‘Em Up by Sherri Brooks Vinton and what a fantastic copy it is! Pickles, preserves, freezing and drying all kinds of fresh from the garden and wild find foods. Apple butter, pickled asparagus, lemon curd, leather britches, fruit leathers and so much more. She has put together a book that is not only full of great recipes and adaptable at that!,  but gives you what other books usually lack, the “Why”. Not only why you need to follow the rules but why you should preserve you own food.

I’ve also been following a few foodies this summer, most notably Eating From the Ground Up and Local Kitchen. I love reading posts from creative woman who not only care about feeding their families but that the process should be enjoyable, adventurous and in the end, delicious. Also, it doesn’t hurt that they both take great photographs :) This post about pickles is what really got me going and I can’t seem to stop. What do I have that I can pickle?

Cucumbers? obviously. Summer squash? Why not, I watched my sister do it a few weeks ago and tasted the amazing results hours later. Beet Stems? whacka-whacka-what?! You heard me, beet stems. Dude, you can pickle anything.

Dilly sandwich slices, Saffron Summer squash and Sweet Fennel beet stems.

So, go forth! Raid your garden, the farmer’s market, and your CSA share. Get you some vinegar, some spices, some basic canning supplies (or fancy ones), a good recipe and method book(hint* – see above) and try your hand. I think you’ll be surprised and your taste buds will be happy.

I’m planning some Dilly Beans from that impending second bean crop, maybe some more watermelon rind pickles and lots more cans of tomatoes for the depths of winter.

Toots