Monday, March 24, 2014

How to hard boil a fresh egg...without making a complete and utter mess of it

Fresh eggs don't like to peel.  It's a known, hard-boiled fact.  We are told each year around Easter, when everybody wants to make deviled eggs and potato salad with their colored eggs to use older eggs or BEWARE THE PEELING!

As a chicken owner, I am fully aware of this as I only have fresh eggs.  So, here's the trick you can use for all eggs for easy and awesome peeling.

You need to punch a hole in the larger end of the egg.  Now, there's a trick to the trick.  There's a membrane in the egg, just under the shell that protects the yolk and white. You don't want to pierce this membrane.  So, insert your push pin just far enough that it goes through the shell, but not so far that it pierces the membrane.  It's easy, just be careful.

Bring a pot of water to boil.  Normally you put your eggs in cold water, not in this case.  So, after the water has boiled, gently lower your eggs in and let simmer for about 14 to 15 minutes.  You want to make sure there's enough boiling water to cover the eggs completely.  When time is up, set pot under running cold water and cool those eggs down so they don't continue to cook.  Prepare hard-boiled eggs to your liking and enjoy!

I have a push pin that is my designated shell piercing push pin.  I wash it after each use and keep it in my spice cabinet.

 See how easily the peel is coming off?  This is what I like to see!

If My Oldest was around, these would be gone in half a second.  That girl loves her some hard-boiled eggs.  She's a carnivore.  Doesn't like frosting on cake.  Would eat a steak over a cookie any day of the week.

Happy hard-boiling!


Friday, March 21, 2014

Scrambled Eggs with Roasted Asparagus

You know I mean spring when this is on the menu at my house.

Scrambled Eggs with Roasted Asparagus.

This is a very simple recipe but don't let that fool you as to its tastiness.  The simple recipes are the best.  Sometimes.  Okay, it's me we're talking about.  I love nothing more than fancy.  But, I do love simple too.

Preheat oven to 400 F
Wash a bunch of asparagus and cut into 2 inch pieces.
Place on cookie sheet and sprinkle with olive oil and salt and pepper to taste.
Roast for about 13 minutes. You don't want it mushy, but not exactly toothsome, either.

Grab some eggs, however many you need to feed your family.  Whip them up nicely.  Put a Tbl. or so of cold buttery cut into itty bitty pieces in the eggs. Stir.  Pour this into a COLD, non stick frying pan.  Turn heat on to medium and using a rubber scraper, cook your eggs until ALMOST done.  Add your asparagus.  Continue to fold eggs and asparagus together.


These are the yolks from my farm fresh eggs  See how orange they are?.  I love to see this because I know it means my chickens are running around eating all the weeds and grasses and tender baby gooseberries leaves that have just emerged after a winter when I was sure my gooseberry plant was not going to make it thanks to excessive chicken pecking the fall before,  and bugs and digging up my plants and trees until their roots are exposed and I am sure they are going to meet an untimely demise just like the gooseberries, and...well, I am happy that my chickens are nice and healthy and free ranging it.  Means my eggs are that much healthier for us.

The reason they are so orange, so I've heard, is because of the chlorophyll in plants.

Thanks for reading!


Thursday, March 20, 2014

Spring Equinox means eggs!

Remember these pretty ladies from about a year ago?

Well, now they look like this...

And do this to me EVERY SINGLE DAY!  Like, four to five a day.  My kids thought they could complain about the number of egg suppers we have in a week.  I reminded them,

We have chickens!  It means we're going to eat eggs...A LOT!

They got over it pretty darn quick and I haven't heard a complaint since.

So, in honor of the Spring Equinox, I'm going to devote my  next several posts to eggs.  Oh, and since today actually is the Spring Equinox, I'm going to blow your mind with some interesting facts.  Who doesn't love a good fact?

~The word equinox is Latin and means equal night.  So, twice a year the sun crosses directly over the equator and we have the same amount of day as night.  That's today.

~Spring equinox is all about fertility.  Makes sense right, what with everything starting to grow and make babies?  Well in Germany they celebrate a spring holiday all about fertility and the Saxon fertility Goddess Eostre, who has a couple things named after her: estrogen and Easter.

~And finally, there are a couple of almost universal symbols of spring and fertility, the rabbit and the egg.  They are both used to symbolize the season in many cultures. 

So, yay spring.


Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Fish Tacos. Just try it, you'll like it!

You either like fish tacos, or you don't.  Or so they say.  I have a theory that many people have just never tried a fish taco.  Like The Mister, for example.  I think he tried one for the first time last year and it pretty much blew his mind.  So when I mentioned that was what I was thinking about cooking this weekend, he was very excited.  I was nervous, because I'd never made them before.  They're easy.

And so tasty!  Seriously, make these

Fish Tacos
servings: approximately 8 smallish tacos
1.5 lb white fish, use what's fresh.  You could also use salmon and it would be amazing.
Taco Seasoning
Vegetable Oil
Corn Tortillas

Granishes (which make the taco)
Sour Cream
Pickled Red Onions (just thinly slice a red onion, cover with red wine vinegar and let sit at least 30 minutes)
Salsa, if you like.  I didn't use it, but I did garnish with copious amounts of everything else.
Shredded cabbage (I used a bag of coleslaw)

First thing, while your skillet is heating up make your pickled red onions.  Just slice your onion thinly, cover with red wine vinegar and set aside until ready to eat.  These pickled onions were amazing.

Preheat skillet over medium heat with a couple Tbl of oil.  Lightly salt your fish and dust them with Taco Seasoning...the cheater's way to season.  Cook your fish on both sides until done.  Mine stuck horribly to the pan so try to not have yours stick and make a mess of your fish.  You could bake or grill your fish as well. Crumble into large pieces.

Make guacamole.  I make cheater guacamole.  Dice up a couple of avocados, toss in a couple spoonfuls of store-bought pico de gallo, squeeze in the juice of a lime and add a sprinkle of salt to taste.

Warm up your corn tortillas.  You can lightly fry them or microwave them, whatever works for you.

Place the fish in tortilla.  Add a dollop of sour cream, a nice amount of guac, a couple cilantro leaves, several pickled onion slices, a smattering of cabbage for crunch and over all this, squeeze a touch more lime.

Yum!  Yum!  Yum!

Thanks for reading!


Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Colcannon....What I eat INSTEAD of corned beef

Not many people have eaten or even heard of colcannon.  I saw it in the newspaper many years ago and it has become a part of my yearly St. Patrick's feast tradition.  Mostly because it substitutes as my main course as I turn my nose up at corned beef.  Plus it's equal parts good and equal parts evil.  Cabbage and potatoes=good.  Butter and more butter=bad. throw in some ham and green onions to finish it off.

I decided after the first time I made this, that I had to throw the recipe I had away.  I am pretty sure it called for AT LEAST 2 sticks of butter.  I cannot justify that.  And I can't remember the meat, but it was a strange Irish delicacy like...boiled bacon or something.  So, I am going to give you my colcannon recipe.  I don't have exact amounts for gotta go with instincts on this one a bit.

Colcannon the Hearth way
Potatoes....a big pot of them, cut into smaller pieces
1/2 head of cabbage, chopped
4 Tbl butter.  2 Tbl. Butter, or whatever you feel is a good amount when adding it to mashed potatoes and 2 Tbl for your cabbage
Slosh or two of milk
Ham Steak
3 Green Onions, chopped
Salt and Pepper

Boil your potatoes until they are tender. about 20 to 25 minutes.  A fork should easily slide into them.  Drain. Meanwhile as you are boiling potatoes....

Saute your cabbage.  In a heavy skillet, melt the butter.  Toss the cabbage in, salt and pepper to taste.  Stir occasionally. Top with foil.  Cook for about 10 to 15 minutes until the cabbage is tender and beginning to brown.

While your cabbage is sauteing begin on your ham steak.  This is my favorite way to cook ham steak.  In a large skillet, over medium-high heat, either melt a Tbl. of shortening or veg oil.  Make sure it's good and hot.  Throw in ham steak.  Let cook until it's dark brown and caramelized and so, so yummy.  Turn over and cook other side.  Cool a bit.  Chop into small pieces. 

Chop up your green onions while everything is finishing up.

Time to assemble.

Mash the potatoes.  Add a bit of butter and a touch of milk until they are nice and creamy.  Salt and pepper to taste. If they're my potatoes they'll have a lump or two.  I am never patient enough to completely de-lump my mashed potatoes.

Fold in the cabbage and ham.  Taste as you go.  You will probably need to adjust the seasoning as potatoes are notoriously bland without salt.  You will also need to use your muscles to get everything mixed.

Top with green onions and enjoy a tasty Irish delight.

Thanks for reading!


Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Time to Think About Getting your Irish on. Irish Soda Bread!

I will never be the one telling you to make Corned Beef for St. Patrick's Day.  I am not a fan.  But if you celebrate on March 17th, there are other tasty Irish delights that you can make.  My sister is in charge of the corned beef.  I politely ignore it.  I am in charge of...everything else!  This week will be dedicated to the other items I make for our St. Patrick's Day feast.

Perhaps the most important thing I make on this day is the Irish Soda Bread.  To die for.  Imagine a giant biscuit studded with currents and infused with orange zest that you split amongst your entire family.  It serves my family of 4, my sister's family of 5 and my parents.  11 people.  It's a big biscuit!

Irish Soda Bread
4 cups flour, plus a Tbl to dust the currents with, plus some for dusting your work surface
1.5 tsp Baking Soda
4 Tbl. Sugar
1 tsp Salt
4 Tbl. COLD butter, diced
1 3/4 C. Buttermilk
1 egg, beaten
Zest of 1 small orange
1 C. dried currants (they're kind of like raisins)

Preheat oven to 375 F.

In a small bowl, combine the 1 Tbl of flour with the currants.  Toss until the currants are well coated with flour.  Set aside.  The reason you do this is to keep the currants from sinking to the bottom as it bakes!!

In mixer, combine the dry ingredients: flour, soda, sugar and salt.  Using the paddle attachment, combine everything well.  Add the butter a bit at a time with the mixer on medium-low until everything is nicely incorporated.

In a bowl combine the buttermilk, egg and the orange zest.  Lightly beat everything together.  Slowly add to dry ingredients with the mixer on low.  Once the wet and dry ingredients are combined, add the currants.  The dough will be very sticky.

Flour your clean counter top generously and place the dough on top.  Begin kneading the flour into the dough and shaping it into a round loaf.  If the dough is sticking terribly to your counter, add a bit more flour.  You don't want the dough to be dry, but it also shouldn't stick too much.

Place on a cookie sheet lined with parchment.

Using a serrated knife, cut an X into the dough.  This should be about 1" deep.

Bake for 50 minutes to an hour.  Test with a toothpick to make sure it's fully cooked, and if you tap the bottom of the loaf and it sounds hollow, it's done.

Let cool for a bit.  It's nice to serve this bread a bit warm.

When it's cool enough...or when I can't stand the heavenly scent anymore, I cut along the cut lines and then into smaller slices.  Sneak a bite before everyone's at the table.  Shhhhh.

Serve with plenty of butter and your favorite jam.  I use strawberry or raspberry freezer jam from the previous summer.

Only eat this.  Shun the corned beef.

Erin go Bragh !

p.s. that means Ireland Forever


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