Bayless-inspired Mexican cooking using our farm ingredients

This time of year, traditional Mexican cooking works well with our stocks of dried peppers, canned tomatoes, fresh & frozen meats, dried corn, dried beans, and more. Our diet is largely dependent on what we grow & preserve rather than what little we buy, so we tend to heavily adapt recipes or just make things from scratch using what we have on hand, fresh and/or preserved. It’s rare for us to cook straight from recipes, but we’ve found that certain cuisines fit our unusual approach to sourcing & preparing food especially well.

For Joanna’s recent birthday dinner, I prepared several interesting recipes from Fiesta at Rick’s, a cookbook which was her birthday present to me. Several Rick Bayless cookbooks like Mexican Kitchen have been instrumental in teaching us many new and worthwhile ways to use the meso-American ingredients we already produce; a library copy of Fiesta inspired us to try the whole-goat pit roast we did a few years ago. In this case I tackled several recipes I hadn’t made before, pleasantly surprised that despite the diverse ingredient list, from pig’s feet to peas, we had virtually every ingredient on-hand and sourced from our own farm. This made the cooking a breeze, and it took only a few hours’ work to prepare a multi-course meal with several days of leftovers, manageable for anyone with part of a weekend afternoon to spare. Joanna contributed to several components to the meal that are her normal specialty anyway. Continue reading

Using share #6 (in an hour!)

This weekend we hosted a fun event, inspired by this earlier post, to demonstrate easy & tasty ways of preparing an early-summer full share. With our two attending households, we walked the fields on a beautiful afternoon and harvested the share’s contents together, a great chance for kids to get their hands on the source of their food. Then we laid the contents out on a table, took a photo, and after a brief discussion, dove into the cooking. The time stamps on the photos show that exactly 63 minutes after arranging the fresh share on the table, with an attentive audience, we’d prepared everything in the share into a diverse and tasty set of dishes that we enjoyed together. If the two of us can prepare a whole share in an hour, so can you! using_share6_2Harvesting the share on a glorious June afternoon. Continue reading

Using share #2’s spring vegetables

We ended up packing a surplus full share on Monday, realizing after packing but before delivery that we had forgotten a household’s honeymoon absence. So we decided to have fun pretending to be CSA members and making a point of cooking with the share contents for a couple days, instead of using the seconds, extras, and preserves we normally eat this time of year. Here’s a detailed look at how we used our share, hopefully providing some insight and inspiration for members on using similar spring produce for the next few weeks. We tried to focus on vegetarian recipes that are quick/easy to make. We ate through the entire share in less than 2 days; bigger shares will be coming soon enough!  (Note this was a standard share without extras; those who asked this week got extra green onions, saute mix, and kale.) Continue reading

Eggplant: Call for recipes

We’re finally growing eggplant! To be honest, it is one of those veggies that we’ve never loved. However, a number of members have expressed considerable fondness for eggplant, and Joanna can’t resist trying new crops, so we’ve finally decided to give this one a try. The plants have set their first fruits, so now we just have to figure out when to pick them and how to prepare them. The best way to ensure a future of eggplant on this farm is to convince us of some ways to use it that we can’t live without. Please use the comment thread to share your favorite preparation tips, techniques, & recipes. Continue reading

Turtle soup

Recently a friend gave us some fresh turtle meat he’d caught, knowing we’d be interested in trying it. Snapping turtle is a legal game species in Missouri, though one we’ve never experimented with before. The meat itself is delicious, and I used it to make some Creole-style spicy stew, adapting an online recipe to use farm-sourced ingredients we had on hand. It came out so well I decided to share my approach, as it’s a great example of adapting recipes to use in-season CSA produce and a soup that could easily be made vegetarian or with other more typical meats. Continue reading

Life without milk: a year-long experiment

In the immediate aftermath of this spring’s goat troubles, we were disturbed and disappointed to face a year without abundant fresh milk. We’ve come to rely on this for so many aspects of our diet, using 2-4 gallons a week in season for cheese, yogurt, custards, cream sauces and more, while preserving it for off-season use through freezing it whole, and freezing or aging cheeses. Yet replacing this amount of milk & dairy products from off-farm sources doesn’t fit our budget or lifestyle. Discussing this, we also began to realize that an enforced change in diet could be a really interesting opportunity to broaden our cooking horizons, in a way we’d never choose on our own. Continue reading

Home maple production

In a rare moment of insanity this winter, we decided we weren’t doing as many different things as we could, so invested in some maple syruping equipment. For the past month or so, we’ve been learning maple management on the fly and generating multiple useful products that improve our on-farm food diversity. Here’s a quick look at how this useful homestead project went. Continue reading

Using pig organs & other unusual bits

This is the third year we’ve raised and butchered our own pork, and each year we try a few more ways to use every bit of the animal. This year, especially, we were able to experiment with some really interesting dishes using fresh blood, organ meats, and more, which we’ll describe here for others intrigued by traditional and interesting uses of pig parts. Many of these we prepared and served in one night’s meal shortly after butchering (in December), joined by an adventurous friend we were sure would want to explore some of these dishes. Thanks for helping out, Nick! Continue reading

Pumpkin bread recipe

This is the winter squash equivalent of zucchini bread: easy and delicious. The year we were married was a great year for winter squash. They served as decorations and we served them in wedding cake, baked according to this recipe and dressed up with cream cheese frosting. This recipe is kind of heavy on white flour and sugar and somewhat sparse on farm ingredients (only eggs & squash, and occasionally yogurt if I substitute it for a part of the oil). However, it is yummy, so we’re going to provide the recipe as baked for that special day.

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Pit-roasting a goat: Our elaboration on the Rick Bayless method

Rick Bayless describes pit-roasting a lamb in authentic Mexican style in his cookbook, “Fiesta at Rick’s” (an online variant of the recipe for a pig is here). He laments that few people will ever try it, but that was just a challenge for our food-obsessed small farm that raises both goats and vegetables. We decided to adapt his method, using one of our goat kids (even more authentic), as the menu centerpiece of an end-of-season party (full menu here) for our farm’s 2012 CSA members. We’ve done a spit-roasted goat before, but the whole pit-roasting method seemed even more interesting. We followed his directions fairly closely, but found that some parts could use more clarification or elaboration. Here are our notes on what we did, what we will do differently next time, and what we wish we had had more information about before starting out.

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