Monthly Archives: August 2014

Plantain Fries

If you don’t eat plantains at least once a week, I don’t know what you’re doing with your life. Especially if you complain that ‘paleo has no carbs’ or whatever…which is completely untrue. I’m pretty sure I’m a carbo-holic. That’s why I love plantains so much. Did you know a bowl of plain, no sugar or toppings added, ONE serving size of oatmeal has more carbs than a plantain? And when I used to eat oatmeal there was not one time I ever ate it plain. So eating a plantain for breakfast still has less carbs (if you care about that anyway) than oatmeal. It’s a great way to refuel after a hard workout, or fuel yourself for the day.

Usually I’ll gobble up the carby good-ness in the form of plantain chips, which are equally as delicious. But there’s something naughty about eating them in fry form. For breakfast. Dipped in runny egg yolk. It’s what I wake up for, most days.

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Plantain Fries

Serves: 1 Prep time: 2 minutes Cook time: 20-25 minutes

1 large plantain (in the middle of green and yellow works best).

1 tbsp coconut oil

1 tsp cinnamon

salt and pepper to taste

1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

2. Peel your plantain. That sounded entirely too simple. I peel plantains by first cutting off the ends. Then I run my knife down the front of the entire plantain. Then I wedge my fingers underneath the skin of the cut and pry the peel off.

3. Cut the peeled plantain in half, then into 1” fry shapes. Place on large baking sheet. Make sure they don’t overlap.

4. Sprinkle with cinnamon, salt and pepper.

5. Pour melted coconut oil over them and mix up so they are all coated. Make sure the plantains lay flat and do not overlap.

6. Cook for roughly 15 minutes, then take them out and flip/mix around. Cook for 10 more minutes, or until they appear crispy and golden brown.

7. Let them cool and enjoy!!

plantain fries

If you have super human self control, or are cooking for more people, you could double or triple the recipe and increase the cooking time on both sides. However whenever I end up making more to “save for later” I find myself going to the fridge to inhale them all in one day. So now I just make one serving at a time.

Here’s a great video about peeling plantains from The Paleo Mom. However, I don’t like to use totally green plantains for this recipe. I like it when they are in the middle of green and yellow. Too green and they come out like rocks. Too yellow and they are all mushy (which is fine, but I like a sturdier fry). Once you start buying plantains  you’ll understand the difference. And sometimes when I go to the store all they have is green or yellow so beggars can’t be choosers. Plantains are easily my favorite food! Hope you enjoy!!

What are your favorite Paleo carbs?

Have you ever tried plantains?

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“Chicken Parm” Stuffed Summer Squash

Yup, you guessed it that most of my recipes for the time being will include:

1) Squash    and

2) Chicken

I have to think of some way to utilize the fresh food I am growing and raising!

Next year I have to better plan my garden. I think this year my thoughts about it were “grow ALL THE THINGS!!” and I basically planted as much as I thought I wanted of everything.

This leads to an overwhelming surplus of one type of food at one time. I hate wasting food I feel infinitely guilty throwing extra squash to the pigs. I know it’s better then throwing it away but I can do way better next year on the planning front.

Recently I have come into boundless amounts of squash and cucumbers, which I have been preserving and pickling. I have even been pickling some of the extra zucchini to make relish. This is my first year doing this so hopefully I’m doing it right and we don’t die of botulism when we eat all this stuff later in the year.

cuckes

pickles

pickles 2

It’s hard to believe this is how people used to eat…growing everything in the summer and preserving it for the winter. Totally something we don’t take into account today. We can get any fruit or vegetable any time of the year and quite frankly it’s unnatural. We are spoiled with being able to make strawberry pie in the winter never stopping to think if that’s normal. We would get sick of eating potatoes, winter squash and carrots all winter like people used to do.

Anyways, since locally sourcing my meat we rarely get chicken anymore, except for in the summer (since it’s a SUMMER meat…who would have thought…). Now that I have 33 fresh ones in the freezer I finally get to get creative with chicken recipes…..first up: stuffed squash! Killing two birds (ha, pun totally intended) with one stone…using up the squash and chicken. This was super tasty with or without cheese!

Chicken parm Stuffed summer squash

Prep time: 15 mins / Cook time: 10 mins/ Serves: 2

 

stuffed summer squash

1 large summer squash (zucchini will work too)

1 large, cooked chicken breast (approx 4-6 oz), diced

1 cup tomato sauce (mine was homemade!)

1 small onion

2 cloves garlic

handful of fresh basil, chopped

1 tbsp coconut oil

1/2 tbsp Italian seasoning

salt and pepper to taste

handful of mozzarella and parmesan cheese (optional)

1. Pre-heat oven to 375. Carefully cut your summer squash in half lengthwise. Scoop out the insides gently so you are left with a hollow shell.

2. Rub with coconut oil, season with salt and pepper. Place in a baking dish in the oven while you prep the rest of the meal.

3. Heat up some coconut oil in a large skillet on medium. Throw in the garlic and onion and let soften. After about 3-4 minutes, throw in your diced, cooked chicken breast.** Season with the Italian seasoning, salt and pepper.

4. Pour in the tomato sauce. Simmer on low for 5 minutes until everything is incorporated. Then, throw in the basil.

5. Take the summer squash out of the oven (hopefully at this point it was in there for roughly 15 minutes). Carefully (it will be hot!) spoon the chicken mixture into the squash shells. Sprinkle with cheese if using.

6. Turn off the oven then turn your broiler on high. Place the squash under the broiler for another 5-8 minutes until the cheese has browned.

chicken parm stuffed summer squash

summer squash with cheese

** Alternatively, you could start with raw, diced chicken breast, add the chicken to coconut oil in the pan, let cook then add your garlic and onions. This will add about 5 minutes on to the prep time.

What gardening lessons have you learned?

What are your favorite ways to use squash?

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Broiler Chickens: Start to Finish

If you’re thinking about raising broiler chickens for meat to start your homesteading journey…..I have some tips as a first time novice. First off, you have to get the book Pastured Poultry Profits by Joel Salatin. This was the model we followed. If you Google this method you will find lots of information. Doing this for the first time, there are many ways I think we can do it better next year…so if you get the book and still want to jump in, here’s some tips from a beginner!

{I am really unhappy because I typed up this ENTIRE post yesterday, and last night the power went out and I must have lost it all! But right now I am procrastinating going to the dump…and it’s pouring out…so I guess I will type it up again!}

We ordered the chicks from Cackle hatchery. They came exactly when they said they would come. One was dead on arrival. The first mistake we made was that the brooder was not big enough. It was probably sufficient for about a week and a half then it became apparent the chicks needed more room. It was at 14 days (the soonest the book says to do it was 12) that we put them outside on the grass.

brooder

The chicken pen was a Salatin style, floorless frame surrounded by chicken wire with aluminum on top. The book says you can put 70 chickens in a 10X12 pen, and we had 33 in a 5X5 pen. I’m not gonna lie it got pretty cramped in there the last week or so…so a bigger pen might be needed.

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We (my husband) constructed the pen out of materials we already had; old pallets and chicken wire laying around the farm. The idea is that you move the pen every day so the chickens have a fresh patch of grass. The next mistake was just putting the pen in our backyard that had already mowed grass. One reason was because it smelled AWFUL while laying by the pool and another reason was that the grass wasn’t long enough to support the chickens in becoming efficient foragers. This lead us to have to supplement with more grain than I would have liked.

feeding chickens

me feeding chickens…snap chat edition lol

We used Agway’s Meat Bird Feed, which wasn’t organic, but we just tried to do what we could starting out. The organic kind was twice as much and we weren’t trying to sell them as organic or anything so it didn’t really matter. The feed was not medicated. The issue was that we did not build the automatic waterer that he outlines in the book, and our feed trough was not nearly big enough towards the end. So we ended up having to go refill the feed and water 3-5 times a day! That’s a of time…especially since the book boasts you will only have to spend 1 min per pen each day. So next year we have to figure something out for the food and water. It made it really difficult if I was going away for the day because my husband works long hours and the chickens are supposed to be on feed all day long.

And…..then came the hard part. In just 6-7 short weeks the birds were ready! It’s hard to believe that they grow so fast. This Jumbo Cornish Cross breed is specially designed to grow fast for commercial meat production. This is another great thing about meat chickens if you’re thinking about doing it. They really don’t monopolize a large length of time (like pigs or cows).

broilers

So when it came to the processing I really tried to “chicken” out (HA PUNS). I called around to places seeing how much it would be…but in the end it wasn’t worth it to take the birds somewhere for the amount we had. So together my husband and I processed all 33 birds. I never thought I could do it! It was probably the most physically, mentally and emotionally draining thing I have ever done in my life. I didn’t actually do any of the killing, but I cleaned and gutted all of the birds. We thought everything was going to go nice and smooth since we had borrowed an automatic chicken plucker from a friend….until it died on the second bird!! Things were looking bleak at this point…..I had no idea how we were going to hand pluck 30 more birds. But we just pushed through and got it done.

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I can’t explain the feeling of accomplishment I experience looking in the freezer at the end of the day. Knowing that I fed, raised and processed all of this food and I won’t have to buy chicken from the grocery store. People (including me, before this experience) have absolutely NO idea what goes into obtaining their food and it constantly baffles me that we are always trying to save money on food and get the cheapest deal. Like I said with gardening, knowing all the work that goes into providing food for myself would lead me to believe $10 for a tomato is a great deal…… $50 for that chicken would be money well spent! I honestly do not want to know what goes on in conventional slaughter houses that would allow me to purchase chicken at 1.99 a pound; and I can take solace in knowing even though I had to do the dirty work my chickens had a better life than a chicken that sells for that much.

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And it tastes good!!!

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