Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Hot Weather Cucumber Salad

We have been having the most DREADFULLY hot weather -- and I know that the Willamette Valley, if nowhere else, has been having the same thing. Following is the most refreshing summer recipe. I got it from (gasp) Mom; she's been making it for as long as I can remember, and I'm sure long before that. It's so cool, easy, and light. In fact, a really scrumptious hot-weather supper is this salad, a potato salad, and a Greek green salad (or a fruit salad)-- everything cold and lovely! Enjoy ...

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* Evelyn's Cucumber Sour Cream Salad

2 medium, fresh cucumbers, peeled and sliced thin (a mandolin slicer works great for this)

Mix thoroughly and marinate for at least two hours in the refrigerator in the following mixture:

1 c sour cream
2 T cider vinegar
1 scant T sugar (I use a little less)
1/2 t salt
2 T chopped chives (I usually omit these, but they are tasty)
2 T chopped fresh dill weed (1/2 t if using dried, which works just fine)

love, kristin

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Chicken Dinner

Hilary (and other committed vegetarians who read this blog), you may wish to plug your ears! (I guess that would be "shut your eyes.")

We took our meat birds (Cornish Crosses, if you wish to know) to be slaughtered this last week. The dual-purpose birds (i.e., good for both meat & egg-laying) won't go for another few weeks or so. And of course we'll be saving about a dozen birds for eggs only -- our hen house is really not large enough for any more adult birds to room together comfortably.

We had planned to do all the slaughtering ourselves, but experienced bird-dispatchers kept hearing the numbers involved (in the Cornish case, only 7) and saying, "Oh, you do NOT want to do all the set-up for a slaughter operation for that few birds! Don't do less than 50 at a time."

Furthermore, I found that Phinney Hatchery, the local place through whom we got our chicks, will do the slaughtering for you -- for a princely (get ready) $1.95 per bird! Wow, am I more than ready to let them do it for THAT price! So Monday night, Scott kindly caught all the meat birds for me, parceled them out in our two large dog kennels for the night (they aren't supposed to eat the night before their big ... um ... event), and the next morning I drove them into town. The workers at the Hatchery picked them up out of the kennels as smoothly and casually as anything -- no clumsiness like when I try to catch one! Two hours later I came back to a lovely box of plucked, dressed birds.

I thought I might be a little squeamish about eating birds we had raised -- that I might find it difficult, or like I was eating a "pet." But I found this not to be so. I had known from the beginning that this was the end plan for these birds--they never were my pets, always something I treated as livestock. I also felt that, as someone who does occasionally eat chicken, it's much more honest of me to be willing to see the process (well, ALMOST all the process) that to just pretend like they someone how raised from birth as tiny chicken tenders in cling-wrap. It also satsified me to know that their life (although, ahem, short) was full of good food, clean water, plenty of room to run, scraps from the garden and kitchen, sunlight, etc.

The children were remarkably unscathed by the process. Emily was enthusiastic about it from the time they were chicks. Mara has no idea what's going on here. Steven was briefly bothered, and wanted to know if they "ran around and squealed" when they were killed. I explained about the slaughter process, and the fact that the hatchery goes to pains to make it as quick as possible. I also reminded him that chicken McNuggets (which he thinks quite the luxury) were made of ... chicken. Just like the ones we raised. And I assured him that he certainly did not need to eat any of the chicken if he did not wish to. He fell too quite happily.

We roasted one chicken that evening. I have to admit it was the juciest thing (even minus all the injected saline) I've ever cooked. Not to mention tender and flavorful. I think it's worth it.

love, kristin

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Reports of My Death Much Exaggerated (Oh, and Do You Like Peach Pie?)

Wow. What a hiatus THAT was! I knew I'd not be blogging while on our mid-June family camping trip to Idaho, but I didn't really expect to be gone for a MONTH. Just before we left for camping, our friendly local floor guy, Devin, and his crew started work on a major floor replacement for the entire ground level of our house. This necessitated moving out of the ground level entirely -- down to the pictures on the walls (I guess we COULD have left them, but I LIKE them ...). The computer was relegated, with everything else, to the garage.

Now I'm back in business, I have reconnected to the cyberworld (I've missed it!), and maybe I'll be more in gear. Our floors are nearly done -- enough so that we are sort of half-moved in, and half still camped out (our stuff, I mean) in the garage. Currently, the connection cable for my camera is AWOL somewhere out there, so I cannot put up pictures of our camping trip -- they're coming! I'll also post pictures of the result of the remodel. For those of you who have been in my home in your live bodies, imagine hardwood in the living/dining/kitchen area and tile in the mudroom. I'm very happy with how things have gone. Devin is a perfectionist and a craftsman. His business is called Advanced Tile (although he does any sort of floor covering), and I am unabashedly advertising him right here. He does a very high-quality job.

I've also discovered the joys of remodeling in an older house. Ours is a 1913, and we had (drumroll, please) FOUR layers of subfloor and two actual floors below our carpet and linoleum in the living room, dining room, and kitchen. We also had a creative assortment of floor levels, flooring substance, and a rat (thankfully, he's actually confined to UNDER the house, but I really didn't want to know he was there). Devin nobly refrained from swearing all along, but I was beginning to despair.

And since we're talking about despair, how about dessert?? We have some early RedHaven peaches on in our area ("we" meaning someone down the road), and I want to share a really great and unusual peach recipe with you. It's from Mom, of course. All my really good recipes are (well, almost!). The hugely important thing to remember in this is to use a 8 x 8 inch METAL square baking pan. Did I mention to use metal? If you use glass, one of the steps involved will cause your pan to break, and egg and cream custard to spill all over your oven. Ask Mom how she knows this. Otherwise it's easy-peasy-lemon-squeezy.

** Homestyle Peach Cream Pie **

2 c all-purp. flour
1/4 t. baking pwd.
1/2 t. salt
2 T sugar
1/2 c butter or cube margarine

Fruit filling:
6 medium peaches (you may end up using fewer if they are large)
3/4 c sugar
3/4 t cinnamon
3 egg yolks (or 1 whole egg and 1 egg white)
2/3 c heavy cream/half and half (you can even use Mocha Mix coffee creamer in a pinch)

Preheat oven to 400.

Mix flour, baking powder, salt, sugar together; cut in butter with a pastry blender until it's the size of small peas. Press the crust into the 8 x 8 METAL baking pan (it will be crumbly). Pat it down well into the bottom, and up the sides of the pan as best you can.

Peel, halve, and pit peaches. Arrange them CUT SIDE DOWN (i.e., rounded sides facing up) on crust. Mix sugar and cinnamon and sprinkle over fruit (it will seem like a lot, but just trust me). Put in oven and bake for 15 minutes.

Meanwhile, blend egg yolks with cream well. Do not knock it onto the floor. But if you do, bring the labrador inside and have him lick it up for you. Slide the oven rack out with your pie on it, and carefully pour the cream/egg mixture into it. It will mostly cover the peaches. Carefully slide the rack and pan back into the oven so you won't slosh the cream everywhere.

Continue baking for 30 mins. or until set on top when you gently jiggle the pan (it will still move some -- you just don't want raw egg in the middle!). Cool for at least one hour before eating.

Hoo, mama, it's good!

love, kristin