Robin & Steve Follette homestead in the woods of Maine. They hunt, fish, garden, heat with firewood, and spend their free time paddling lakes, ponds and streams. They share information about all their activities on their blog.
Dandelion pesto is one of my favorite ways to use dandelion greens. I get a head start on wild harvesting dandelions thanks to the high tunnel. While the dandelions outside are still dormant under the snow the “weed” dandelions that managed to grow in the tunnel are weeks ahead.
Thanks to Eaters Collective on Unsplash for the pasta salad photo. I’m still learning how to use all of the settings on my new camera. Hideous doesn’t describe the photos I took of my pasta salad. I’m not a food photographer by any means. It’s an art, and that’s not an art I have gotten good at yet.
Imagine pasta salad with Dandelion Pesto. mmmm!
Wild Harvesting Dandelion Greens
Dandelion pesto should be made with greens that are harvested before the flowers open. I prefer mine before the flower even forms. The earlier the better. If you wait until the flowers are open the greens are likely to be too bitter to use. In that case, pick the flowers and make Dandelion Flower Fritters. There’s a lot you can do with dandelions!
Always wild harvest in safe areas. If you have pets be sure they aren’t using the area as a bathroom. Avoid yards that are sprayed with pesticides. Stay a safe distance off the road to avoid accidents and pollution. Ask for permission before cutting dandelion greens from someone else’s property. It’s nice to share some of your dandelion pesto with the people who let you harvest from their yard.
Health Benefits of Dandelions
Dandelions are a health food. Did you know this? The greens provide iron, calcium, magnesium and potassium. They have vitamins A, B, C, E and K. They’re full of fiber, might lower cholesterol and blood pressure, and lots more.
Place the dandelion greens and garlic in a food processor. Blend on pulse until 50% processed, scraping the sides as needed.
When the greens and garlic are 50% done, continue to process and pour in the olive oil, lemon juice, salt, walnuts and Parmesan cheese.
Dandelion pesto can be served on Crostini, crackers, pasta, or baked potatoes. It’s a great way to change up pizza sauce. Add a spoonful to pasta and potato salads to spice them up. I love eggs over easy on toast with a dollop of dandelion pesto on top.
Sprinter arrived. It’s the end of March, our typically snowiest month of the year, but not in 2019. It was an odd winter with more than average rain that kept the snow pack down. We haven’t had more than two feet of snow on the ground for more than a few days at a time. Imagine that. Our last day of snowshoeing was March 23.
Sun and Snow
Female Purple Finch
Purple finches returned two weeks ago. A red-winged blackbird, grackles, a merlin, and grackles are back. Tom turkey comes around every few days. He gobbled in the driveway yesterday. Gobble, look around, listen. Look around, gobble, start to fan out but stop. Gobble. Repeat. I don’t think he got any replies. I’m waiting impatiently for robins. There isn’t enough bare ground yet but it won’t be long.
Today, March 30, there’s a little bit of bare ground that’s bare on its own, not from plowing. I can see Creeping Charlie <insert swearing here>, lemon thyme, and two poppies. It really won’t be long before I can start digging up plants, planting seeds, transplanting, and hopefully getting ahead of that Creeping Charlie. There are two columbine in the high tunnel that are ready to be transplanted to the perennial garden. I’m ready to start taking you along with me through these garden and business changes…as soon as they start.
Loose for the first time this Sprinter
Khaki Campbell hen on a bare patch of ground.
I think it’s a Khaki Campbell’s feather, down by the pond
Birch Bark. I brought this in to use in crafts.
I have a crazy week coming. My birthday is Monday. I’ll be 55! Fifty-five. How cool is that. I have a fly tying, a workshop on healing gardens, a meeting I’m very excited about, and baking. I need to plan for On The Fire earlier in the week than usual, and then record Friday morning. For an introverted homebody, I’m on the road a lot.
You’re going to need your imagination for this project. It’s March 4. We’ll have eight inches of fresh snow by night fall. Spring is a month or more away. Imagine a 60 foot long high tunnel that’s somewhere around seven feet tall. This is what we have to work with. For placement perspective, the food plot is to the left and the tall tunnel to the right. Imagine vines on a high tunnel. Can you see it? Maybe if you squint and lean in closer? See it?
Food plot to the left
Tall tunnel to the right
Hip and baseboard will be repaired, and then channels can be replaced. The channel screws to the hip boards. Poly is secured to the tunnel with wiggle wire inside the channels. The north side will roll up. The south side is permanently closed because it cuts down on rain blowing in. A wide door makes bringing the extra large wheelbarrow in and out easy.
Picture firewood stacked in 25% of the long tunnel to cure. I’ll plant pumpkin, squash and gourd seeds at the base of the ribs. I’ll attach twine to the ribs and train them to grow up. Use your imagination. It’s unattractive today but six months from now pumpkins, gourds, squash and their green vines on the high tunnel will be beautiful.
This is the first of what should be a lot of gardening entries this year. I have big plans. I’ve held back on sharing my plans because I’m afraid of embarrassing myself by failing. So be it. I’ll share the failures as well as the successes so you can learn along with me. I’m starting a large perennial garden that will eventually spread out to the orchard (right of tall tunnel), over to the pond, into the back yard, and to the bakery.
Plans for Tressa & Trudy (bakery) are evolving into a small store of homestead-grown and made foods and crafts. It will open in the spring after work on the building is done.
Dreaming big. It will take time but it will come together. I’m sure of it. Or I’m not sure of it but I’m going to do my best!
You can make your own Beef Stew Seasoning instead of buying it in the store. It’s flour, salt and seasonings. That’s all. You can make a full cup of seasoning with the flour you’ll dredge the meat in for about .25 cents. You can’t go wrong! And as always, start here and then adjust it to suit your personal tastes if you’d like!
This week’s episode of On The Fire where I give this recipe for Beef Stew Seasoning and chat with Gundy.
This beef stew seasoning is also excellent with deer, moose, bear, elk and other wild game. Trim fat from the meat. Rinse and dab away excess water but don’t pat it dry. Mix the meat and seasoning together in a bowl. I use butter to brown the meat. Follow a stew recipe from there, or if you cook like I do, wing it from here on out.
The bakery is behind schedule. It’s honestly been a disaster. I’m still baking in the house but I really wanted to be in the new building in December.
There have been a lot of tears shed over this building. The craftsmanship in what I got doesn’t match the display buildings. We spent a lot of time fixing a big mess. Work I’ve had to hire out hasn’t been finished. Time spent waiting gave my mind time to wander. It wandered right out into the perennial garden, the one that doesn’t yet exist. From there it took a turn to a table and chairs under a canopy and sat down for a lesson, one that hasn’t been written yet. After that it got crafty and added new products to the bakery. Then the bakery became a store with seedlings for sale in the spring… I’m building a place for community.
Tressa & Trudy is evolving. I don’t expect to open in the new building until April. When it does, I’ll make it a big deal with samples and sales.
It’s coming but it’s a work in progress for a while yet.
At the end of a busy week – pizza night. It’s not a planned night. Every Friday night isn’t pizza night. It’s a wind down with pizza and beer night. It’s been a busy week. Why would I want to take the time to make pizza dough after a busy week? First, nobody delivers pizza, or anything else, out here. Second, that feeling of my butt sinking into the chair and the exhale, the ahhhhhhh I made it feeling that comes with that slice of homemade pizza, is worth it.
It’s been a busy week, like I said. I had a colonoscopy on Tuesday so Monday and Tuesday were crossed out on the calendar. Monday for prep, Tuesday for totally milking the “I had anesthesia and can’t drive or make decisions today” opportunity. I’m telling you this because colon cancer killed my Mum. The 20th anniversary of her death is next month. If it’s time for you to have one – go do it. You’ve already spent more time running to the bathroom for a stomach bug than you will for the prep. You get a nap and naps are one of life’s little luxuries. Then you get the rest of the day off. Ask for the first appointment of the day, by the way. I don’t have to go back for five years. Chances are you’re good for ten.
That left Wednesday through Friday to get the week’s worth of work done. Exhale. ahhhhhhh. Pizza and the end of a busy week. You know what I mean.
Homemade pizza crust is easy to make. Keep kneading.
3 1/2 to 4 cups bread flour Not all-purpose
2 1/4 teaspoons yeast
2 teaspoons salt
1 1/2 cups warm water 105° to 110°
3 tablespoons olive oil
Mix the water and yeast together in a bowl. Add the olive oil. Add the flour and salt. Mix.
If the mix is very dry you can add water, one tablespoon at a time.
Lightly flour the countertop. Put the dough on the counter and knead vigorously for about ten minutes. Feel the changes in texture as you go. When you can pull a spot in the dough into a paper thin window without it breaking, it’s done.
Put the dough back in the bowl, cover it, and let proof (first rise) until it doubles in size. It could take as much as an hour. Don’t rush it.
When the dough has doubled, spread it out on the pizza pan/stone.
This recipe makes two large thin crust pizzas – approximately. Thicker crust, smaller pizza.
Top the pizza the way you like it. Bake at 400°F for 10 minutes. The amount of time needed will depend on how thick or thin the crust is. Add more time as needed.
Chocolate Applesauce Cake is a favorite recipe from my childhood. Mum would have a piece with a cup of coffee in the afternoon and if we were home, we got a treat, too. You can leave the cocoa out if you want plain Apple Sauce Cake. I remember Mum sometimes sprinkling a bit of sugar on the top before baking.
Some of the bloggers from our Self Reliance Challenge have contributed to a mega giveaway for our readers. If you haven’t taken a look at the challenge you can do so by following the link above. The information and photos shared in these blogs is incredible.
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Self Reliance Giveaway 2019
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Visit Just Another Day on the Farm and Farm Gal for the Canadian giveaway for our Canadian readers!
Roasted Poblano peppers add a little heat and a lot of flavor to chicken chowder. Poblanos, chicken, potatoes, corn and beans make this a hearty chowder. This is great for a cold day spent ice fishing, skiing or snowmobiling.
Keyword chicken, chowder, On The Fire
Prep Time 45 minutes
Cook Time 15 minutes
Total Time 1 hour
2 to 4 Poblano Peppers Choose size and amount depending on how much heat you like
4 cups potatoes bite sized pieces
4 cups chicken stock
8 slices bacon topping
2 cups chicken shredded
1 medium red onion chopped
1 large red Bell pepper Orange or yellow works too; you’re after color
2 large garlic cloves
1/4 cup flour
1 cup Cheddar cheese
2 cups light cream
1 tablespoon chili powder
2 teaspoons cumin
1/2 cup sour cream
1 15 oz can black beans
1 15 oz can corn or 2 cups frozen
2 limes 1 quartered, one halved. You’ll use the juice from the halved lemon.
Queso Fresco topping
salt and pepper to taste
Roast the Poblanos. You can do this under the broiler or if you have propane or natural gas, over the flame. Roast until half or three-quarters of the skin is black. Move the roasted peppers to a container and cover. They will continue to cook briefly.
Cook the bite-sized potatoes in the chicken stock until fork tender. Drain but KEEP THE STOCK. Don’t drain it down the sink like I once did.
Cook the bacon until crispy. Set aside to cool and then chop the bacon. Keep the bacon fat.
Cook the chicken. You can roast or pan fry.
In the bacon pan, saute the onion, pepper and garlic until the onion is translucent.
Add the flour to the bacon fat, onion, pepper and garlic and stir to make a paste. Adjust the flour as necessary.
Mix in the chicken stock and stir until the flour mixture has dissolved.
Add the chili powder, cumin, Poblanos, chicken, potatoes, corn and beans. Stir well. Does it need salt and pepper? Probably at least pepper. If the chicken stock was salty, probably no salt needed.
Add 3/4 cup cheddar, the cream and the sour cream and stir.
Add the juice of 1 lime. This little bit of juice makes a big difference in flavor!
Top each bowl with a little Queso Fresco, bacon crumbles, cilantro and a lime wedge.