Late Summer Garden and Projects

The garden is gearing up for an epic harvest. I have a sneaking feeling that most everything will become ready all at the same time.  Maybe we’ll get a flush of tomatoes on Fayvor’s birthday in two weeks?  Garden care for this past month has been a lot easier than last month since the plots are pretty much now established–it’s now mainly just maintenance.  We harvest lettuce, cabbage and mizuna greens pretty regularly.  The carrots and onions are starting to take hold and are filling out by the millimeter.  It’s painfully slow watching the carrots especially.

The chickens love weeds!  Fayvor is motivated to weed in the morning just to get something green to them.  Which makes me happy because it means I get free  help with the chickens and the garden.  Plenty of daily squash, cucumbers, greens and eggs to eat daily.  I’m pretty content that we’re now able to sustain ourselves a wee bit.  It’s still is a lot of work for just me but well worth it.

On a totally different note — I’m going to try to start an egg CSA.  Looking at how much Whole Foods is charging for rainbow pasture raised eggs and then looking over a month’s worth of cost for bird-care, it seems clear already that we could charge much less than the $8.99 that they were for our own pasture raised eggs.  *Seems is the operative word here since data is still being gathered to see what makes the most sense.  A smaller flock to start of maybe 30 hens and 2 roosters.  A bit more manageable (?) since we’re learning about chickens at the same time.

Rainbow eggs are exciting to me; we’ll also have mainly rare heritage breeds: Marans (dark dark brown eggs), Silver Dorking (white eggs), Americauna (blue), & Swedish Flower Hen (light tan).  I’m also dreaming about Basque Hens and Bresse Meat Birds… but I think that’ll be much further in the future.

Those Marans eggs we purchased at the fair hatched this past weekend.  The chicks are incredibly cute–miniature clumsy penguins! The first couple days they just slept and slept but they are now running a mock like the older chicks. My favorite thing about them now is how they fall asleep in the oddest most adorable positions: standing up, one leg out, on an older chick’s butt, etc.  These Marans chicks will be the beginnings of our  pasture flock.  I aim to keep five girls and one boy; though, at this point I’m not sure how many we have of each sex.  Separately, our Swedish Hen Rooster, Hans, has figured out how to have sex; so, we’ve been collecting Greta’s (Swedish Hen) eggs to hatch next.

For now, two big separate garden enclosures are set up with older hens.  Most of these hens will be phased out as the chicks become older.  They were purchased to get us in eggs sooner.  Our current enclosures will serve as a temporary holding area for our birds until Fayvor makes the pasture structure and sets up the fencing.

Cooking and Knitting hasn’t been sidelined.  It keeps my sanity because the familiarity of knitting and cooking keeps my head straight and relaxed while delving into the unknowns of farming and chicken raising.

Current Knitting: Cold Morning Mitts & Houzuki Hat

My absolute favorite chocolate cake now is one that was posted by Alicia Paulson.  It is her sister’s recipe.  It beats *ALL the chocolate cake recipes I’ve gathered from working in kitchens professionally.  But please for heaven’s sake be sure to use this safer method for pulling the cake together.  I cringe at how easy it’d be to mess this cake up pulling it together the way it’s written.

It’s the Cocoa Berry Brute that makes the cake.  I keep this stuff on hand for brownies.   It was fun to finally start using it in cake.  My preferred frosting with this cake is a decadent one that was originally published in Cook’s Illustrated. (I think?) I can’t find a link to it online so I’m just going to post it here.  A very little slice of this cake will go a loong way as it is the most decadent, most chocolatey-ist a cake can possibly be without being flourless.

Frosting (originally from Cook’s Illustrated? Not sure)

  • 1 1/2 c. heavy cream
  • 16 oz. bitter or semi sweet choc, chopped into pieces
  • 1/3 c. corn syrup (you can use Lyle’s cane syrup instead)
  • 1 tsp. vanilla
  1. Heat cream to boil, pour over chocolate pieces.
  2. Add corn syrup, let rest 3 minutes.
  3. Whisk until smooth. Stir in vanilla.
  4. Refrigerate, stirring every 15 minutes, until spreadable.

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