Venison Chili

We are blessed with great neighbors. They are generous, kind, and most importantly – they value privacy as much as we do.

neighbor

Earlier this winter we spoke with our neighbors for a couple of hours regarding general wood stove installation and heat saving usage tips. They are new to wood heating and eagerly sought any and all advice. They paid us back for the money and time saved with a portion of venison. It has been sitting in the freezer, waiting until I devised the right recipe.The other day chili seemed an appropriate choice.

My husband and I often cook together so I asked if he wanted to help. He obliged, thrilled to put his new tool to the test. Last fall, we bought a well crafted, antique meat grinder at an estate stale for $10, but had yet to use it.

chili

 

We ground the meat and made the most mouth-watering, and easiest batch of Venison chili to date. You can find the recipe with our collection of favorites in our online recipe box.

We served the chili with shredded cheese and thick sliced, whole-wheat, homemade bread from cultivated wild yeast. I’m gluten sensitive and therefore abstain, but everyone who ate it said it was a perfect complement. Our yeast cultivation is a work in progress. This bread was from our second batch. So far so good. We’re not sure how the third batch is going to go. We thought we might have smelled a whiff of fermentation last time we fed the starter. Either way, we’ll keep you posted.

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Garden Prep 2016

The weather here is not predictable. In recent years, even less so. Yet the spring awakening, whether celebrated as Groundhog’s Day, Imbolc, Saint Brigid Day, or as The Feast of Presentation – is unchanging.

spring

Once spring has awakened, seed catalogs sprout like weeds in the mailbox and this year is no exception. Baker Creek Heirloom has the most beautiful catalog. The full color glossy spreads are porn for the avid gardener, and the website is only slightly less satisfying. Drooling over the stories of seeds and photos of produce I yearn for an unlimited seed budget.  This year, however, we are trying a new approach.

The dirty dozen (most chemically saturated) fruits and vegetables include some of our favorites.  We love strawberries, celery, cherry tomatoes and spinach. In the past we have tried to grow a diverse garden of all kinds of exciting and unique produce but this year we are plotting these four favorites and nothing else.

garden

We’ve ordered the plants by most sandy to least sandy soil needs. We have a 16ft x 4ft raised bed with southern exposure. After adding sand and manure to the plot, we mix well, then plant four, 4×4 plots using the intensive, square foot gardening method.

I’m not sure how this year’s Gardening Adventure is going to go, but we’ll keep you posted.

Contemplating Chickens… Again

We had chickens for a couple of years before the tornado took the flock for a spin.  Life without chickens has been easy. Organic free range chicken feed, and organic free range chicken eggs cost about the same, but we have a chicken shaped hole in our hearts. Odd as it sounds, the hole is growing.

ckn

With Spring fast approaching we contemplate the purchase of a few, no more than six, hens. Our past adventure taught us a few things:

  • Sexed chicks are worth the extra few dollars.
  • Roosters are 99% useless.
  • Breed matters.
  • Snakes love chicks and broody hens.
  • All Hens are contributing members of the family (friends not food).

The first order of business is housing the birds. The weather transported the last coop to Oz, so we must build from scratch. The ladies need nighttime accommodations and daytime protection from our three practically useless but entertaining dogs. An elevated night coop will keep the girls safer from snakes than a bottomless building. A rolling chicken tractor is ideal for spreading the wealth of chicken poop (excellent and instant fertilizer) around while keeping dog teeth safely out of reach. When one section of yard is properly aerated and fertilized we move the tractor to another section of yard. We have two simple schematics.

plans

I’m not sure how this Chicken Adventure (take 2) is going to go, but we’ll keep you posted.