Monday, December 21, 2009

Just a Menu

Today's Menu:

Breakfast: Bacon, Over-Easy Eggs with Cheddar, Gogurt with Blueberries
Lunch: Mache Salad with Green Onions, Pecans, Grated Ricotta Salata, and Sweet Oil and Vinegar Dressing; Cod in Cream Sauce
Evening Snack: Leftovers - "Fried" Chicken Breasts, Cole Slaw, Green Beans, Dark Chocolate, and Wine

Ingredients in Today's Menu from Sweet Garden Farm: Eggs, Gogurt, Mache, Green Onions, Ricotta Salata, Cabbage, and Carrots

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Goats in the Snow

Here are Tigger and Una during the height of the big snowstorm yesterday afternoon. When bad weather comes I close the roof on the little porch and one of the doors to the barn so the snow/rain doesn't get in. They do like to stand at the door and look out.

They are nice and cozy inside with their own water bucket, hay feeder, bench and lots of fresh straw. They also have their mineral feeder inside with them with free choice kelp and baking soda. They stayed in the barn all day yesterday, but finally came out today when Cousin Carrie dug paths for them to walk to the gate and to their cable spools. They're all set now, but they do seem a little unsure of all of this white stuff...

Fresh Cheese

I made three little fresh cheeses for our church's women's Christmas Party as shown in the picture. They did turn out especially nice. The one on the left is flavored with smoked paprika, the middle one is garlic and chives, and the one on the right is cracked pepper.

These were done with a basic soft cheese recipe: starter culture, rennet, setting overnight, draining for two days in molds, salted and aged for one day, then served. The smoked paprika and the garlic and chive cheeses both had the flavorings layered within the cheese, but the cracked pepper was just on the outside. They looked so pretty on the plate. It was fun!

Sunday, December 13, 2009

And Then There Were Two - Good Bye PJ!

As I posted here back in July, PJ was loaned to me by a friend because I needed more milk. It was a perfect arrangement for both of us. However, my friend decided to sell PJ, and, although I think she is a great goat and I'm very fond of her, I did not want to buy her. She really didn't fit into my long term plans. So, I have returned PJ to my friend as PJ has been sold. I am back down to just Tigger and Una.

It seems so quiet in the barnyard. Most of the head butting was between Tigger and PJ. There's not much action between Tigger and Una as Una pretty much lets Tigger be Herd Queen without argument. Three goats just seemed much more like a herd.

My friend says she will loan me another goat next year after kidding, so that should work just fine. And, of course, I plan to keep two doelings from next year's kiddings (if I get two), but they won't give any milk until Spring of 2011.

I switched to 1x a day milking this past Wednesday, and totally stopped as of today, so no more milk until the end of March. I'll miss the milk and I'll miss milking the girls. I really do enjoy it, but I guess we all need the break.

Bye PJ, we all miss you! I sure hope your new owner is good to you!

Monday, November 16, 2009

Chili Cook Off Champion!

My church had a fall themed gathering last night. It included a chili cookoff and dessert contests. I won first place in the chili cookoff, so I thought I should share my prize winning recipe. I started with a chili recipe that I found somewhere years ago, but I've altered it so much over time that I think I can safely call it mine:

Prize-Winning Chili

3 pounds ground beef (I used organic grass fed)
1 large organic onion, chopped
2 cloves organic garlic, crushed
2 pounds fresh or frozen organic tomatoes, peeled and chopped
a little olive oil
6-8 teaspoons "Better Than Boullion" Beef Base - (secret ingredient, shhhh!)
1 tablespoon raw organic turbinado sugar (second secret ingredient...)
2 teaspoons chili powder
2 teaspoons cumin
2 teaspoons black pepper
about 1 cup water
sea salt to taste

Brown ground beef, garlic, and onions in large skillet, drain grease and dump into slow cooker (I do this in two batches). Into same skillet place all other ingredients and bring to a simmer. Cook until tomatoes are tender and have fallen apart. Pour this combination over the ground beef in the crockpot. Stir. Cook on low for 8-10 hours. This makes a mild chili, which is what I like. Add more chili powder and cumin if you want it hotter. Enjoy!

Saturday, November 14, 2009

New Clothes!

The girls have new collars. I've had them for a few weeks, but wanted to wait until Sam was gone before I "dressed" them. They'll get dirty enough soon enough without his help. Didn't the girls pose nicely for their picture!
Here's a closeup of Una showing the embroidery. It says "Sweet Garden" which is my herd name. I ordered them from It's ok to spoil them a little bit...

Today's Menu:
Breakfast: Sausage Links, Cheese Omelet, and Gogurt with Blueberries
Main Meal: Chicken Breast, Peppers, Onions, and Carrots sauteed in Mojo Sauce, Swiss Chard Bake
Evening Snack: Church Function Tonight - typical snack foods.

Ingredients in today's menu from Sweet Garden Farm: Eggs, Gogurt, Peppers, Carrots, Swiss Chard, and Cheese in Swiss Chard.

Monday, November 9, 2009

Samurai Comes to Visit

It's breeding time at Sweet Garden Farm so the girls have a suitor, NC Promiseland SAI Samurai. Sam arrived on October 20. As of this past Wednesday, November 4, he had bred all three does. I was actually ready to return him to his home this morning and saw him mounting Tigger! So, he'll be staying a few more days to make sure that Tigger doesn't come back into heat. I do want to be sure of this pairing for Tigger as I plan to keep two of her doelings if she has two. Sam is related to several national champion milkers, and Tigger is my best milker, so I'm hoping the combination will be good. Tigger has the capacity, but not the form. Sam should bring capacity and form. Click on his picture in the sidebar to go to the website for his herd, Tiny Town Goats.

For those of you who are new to goats and their ways, Sam is actually completely white. During rut the bucks pee on themselves, especially their front legs and faces. This scent is supposedly very attractive to the does. Really! He does smell though, so I'll be happy to get rid of him, although he is an extremely well behaved boy, and no problem at all other than the odor. :) He was a bottle-fed baby, just like my three girls.

I hope to have kids the last of March and first of April. I will certainly have some available for sale, as I plan to keep only two doelings, but should have a total of five to seven kids.

Today's Menu:

Breakfast: Bacon, Simple Fried Eggs, Gogurt with Blackberries
Main Meal: Grilled Chicken Thighs with Homemade Seasoned Salt, Cheesy Kohlrabi, and Cole Slaw
Evening Snack: Cheeses and Salami, Grapes, Wine, and Dark Chocolate

Ingredients in today's menu from Sweet Garden Farm: Eggs, Gogurt, Kohlrabi, and Cabbage

Seasoned Salt
3 T Coarse Sea Salt
1 T Paprika
1 T Celery Salt
2 t Garlic Powder
1 t Raw Sugar
1 t Onion Powder
1/2 t Cayenne
1/2 t Tumeric

Mix all ingredients and then pour into small shaker bottle. Shake on pork chops or chicken thighs before baking or grilling. YUM!

Link to Kohlrabi Recipe:
I added about 1.5 cups of shredded cheddar cheese to make it "Cheesy Kohlrabi."

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Kid Update

Here are WillYum and Woobie (Tigger's two sons) at home. Looks like they have lots of forage to choose from and lots of room to run. Also looks like they are totally spoiled; goats do hate rain...

BlueBell (Tigger's daughter) and her bunk mate Moon Lily are shown on the right. BlueBell is to be bred this Fall for a Spring delivery. Yes, that's standard to breed a young doe to kid for her first time when she is one year old.

Breeding season has begun for me. Yesterday my chosen Buck arrived and is now in the yard with Tigger, Una, and PJ. So far he's shown considerable interest in PJ, but none for the other two. He'll be here until he's bred all three which might only take a couple of days, or might take a couple of weeks.

Today's Menu:
Breakfast: Goat Cheese Quiche, Uncured Kielbasa, Gogurt with Blueberries
Main Meal: Grilled Chicken with Homemade Seasoned Salt, Creamed Swiss Chard, and Pickled Beets
Evening Snack: Salami, Cheese, Grapes, Wine and Dark Chocolate

Saturday, October 10, 2009

A Tale of Mice

I have officially killed thirty-six mice in the barn since it was built. I've been keeping track by putting marks on the wall.

When I realized that I was going to have mice out there, and that I really couldn't ask my husband to bait the traps and dispose of them for me, I decided that I better learn to do it myself. So, I bait the traps, and when I catch one, I dump the body in the field (outside of the barnyard) and reset the trap. I do wear gloves!

There's really no way to keep them out of the barn, there are so very many ways they can get in. But, I sure don't want them setting up house in there.

I've devised a strategy that seems to work pretty well. I use to put traps all around the milk room, but the mice would steal the bait and not get caught. So now I set up kind of an ambush. I put five to six traps in a circle. In order to eat the bait off of one trap, they have to stand on another. Sometimes one mouse will get caught by several traps. That's fine. I do want to be sure that they are dead. And they are, thirty-six so far...

Today's Menu
Breakfast: Uncured Bacon, Scrambled Farm Eggs, Gogurt with Blueberries
Main Meal: Large Salad with Garden Lettuce, Garden Tomatoes, Garden Green Peppers, Onions, and Shredded Ricotta Salata Cheese, dressed with Sweet Oil and Vinegar Dressing; Grilled Chicken Thighs with Homemade Seasoned Salt; and Pickled Garden Beets
Evening Snack: Grapes, Assorted Cheeses and Salami, Wine, Dark Chocolate

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

First Fall Cabbage

I made cole slaw today from our first head of fall cabbage. It's a small savoy cabbage called "Minuet." It's very tender and delicious. The fall garden is coming along nicely

I made soft goat cheese yesterday afternoon which has to sit at room temperature overnight. Then during the day today I drained it. From one gallon I got two pounds of soft goat cheese. It's in the refrigerator now. I'll move it to the freezer in the morning.

I picked several dozen tomatoes; I'll freezer those in a couple of days.

I cooked up 6 packages of zucchini and onions that went in the freezer, and cleaned and froze about two dozen sweet peppers.

A good day's work.

Today's Menu

Breakfast: Pork Link Sausage, Over-easy eggs, Gogurt with Blueberries
Main Meal: Sliced Tomatoes with Olive Oil, Red Wine Vinegar, and Ricotta Salata, Cole Slaw, and Grilled Pork Chops sprinkled with Homemade Seasoned Salt
Evening Snack: Salami with Soft Goat Cheese and Hot Pepper Jelly, Crustless French Silk Pie with Real Whipped Cream

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Fall and Winter Gardening

Most of my fall garden has been planted. For the root cellar I've planted red beets, golden beets, carrots, kohlrabi, cabbage, and celeriac. In the unheated greenhouse area (it's open now but will be covered up after we start getting frosts) we have six squares. I've planted one square of swiss chard, one square of fall lettuce, and one square with some scallions and spinach. I plan on another square of spinach, and two squares of winter lettuces. Lettuce and spinach grows very, very slowly in the winter so I'll need a lot planted. I learned this last year. I've also planted a few brussels sprout plants. They are out in the open and will be fine until January or so.

The book I'm using as a guide for winter planting is called Four Season Harvest and is written by Eliot Coleman. It's been invaluable in learning about winter gardening.

Last year Eddie built a portable greenhouse that covers six of our raised beds. We put it up in November and took it down in March. We ate spinach and lettuce all winter long from the greenhouse. I'm hoping it will do even better this year. The soil is in better shape from all the great compost we've been making, and I have a little better idea of what I'm doing.

Right now we're still enjoying lots of tomatoes, some cucumbers, melons, incredibly delicious zucchini, peppers, eggplant, and carrots. We had our first fall lettuce yesterday. It was tender and delicious!

Today's Menu:

Breakfast: Uncured Pork Bacon, Over-easy Fried Farm Eggs, Gogurt with Blueberries
Main Meal: No-Noodle Lasagna, Cucumber and Tomato Salad, Fresh Melon
Evening Snack: Shrimp Cocktails, Wine, Ice Cream with Chocolate Sauce

No-Noodle Lasagna

1 lb. grassfed ground beef
1/2 onion, chopped
1 green pepper, chopped
1 eggplant, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
olive oil

Step One: Put a little olive oil in a large skillet and heat to medium. Add crumbled ground beef and all of the above ingredients. Cook and stir until beef is no longer pink and vegetables are tender. Drain if necessary.

1 28 oz. jar spaghetti sauce
Italian seasoning
salt and pepper

Step Two: Add the above ingredients to the meat and vegetable mixture in the pan. Bring to a gentle simmer and let cook until the other components of the dish are ready.

1 lb. of ricotta
2 eggs
salt and pepper
Italian seasoning

Step Three: Combine the above ingredients in a medium sized bowl.

8-12 oz. shredded mozzarella

Step Four: Assemble - Put half of the meat mixture in the bottom of a 9 x 13 pan, cover with all of the ricotta mixture and about 1/3 of the mozzarella. Then cover that with the rest of the meat mixture and all of the rest of the mozzarella.

Step Five: Bake at 350 degrees for about 45 minutes or until bubbly and a little brown on top.

Variation: You can leave out the green pepper and eggplant. If you do, cut the spaghetti sauce down to half a jar and assemble in a 8 x 8 or 9 x 9 pan.


Wednesday, August 19, 2009


I tried a new cheese called "Chenna" a couple of days ago. It turned out really good. Here's what you do:

First you make "Panir" (also called "Paneer"):
1 gallon whole milk
8 T lemon juice or 2 t. citric acid dissolved in 3/4 c. hot water

In a large pot directly heat the milk to a gentle boil, stirring often to prevent scorching. Reduce the heat to low and drizzle in the lemon juice (or citric acid in water). Cook for 10-15 seconds. Remove from heat and stir gently until large curds form. Let set for 10 minutes. Ladle curds into a colander lined with butter muslin (I use old sheeting). Tie the corners of the fabric into a knot and hold the bag under a gentle stream of lukewarm water for 5-10 seconds. Twist the top of the muslin to squeeze out extra whey. Hang the bag to drain for 2-3 hours or place fabric covered curds in the colander and place a heavy object on top and press for 2 hours at room temperature. Eat right away or store in fridge for up to 2 weeks.

1 recipe Paneer
Noniodized salt to taste
herbs, pepper, garlic to taste
Olive oil, for shallow frying

Follow directions for Paneer up to rinsing under lukewarm water and squeezing out excess whey. Put wrapped cheese in colander, place a 5-pound weight on top and press for 45 minutes. Unwrap the cheese, break apart and press with a clean cloth to remove any remaining whey. Knead the cheese like bread on your counter or cutting board for about 10 minutes until it is light and smooth, without any grainy texture. Add salt, herbs, garlic, etc. in any combination desired. Shape cheese into flat patties and shallow fry them in olive oil. Store in refrigerator 1 to 2 weeks, fry just before serving.

I added salt to the whole recipe, then divided the "dough" into 4 balls. I put different seasonings in each one: one I left plain, just with salt added, one I sprinkled with a mixed Italian seasoning blend and pepper, one I mixed with herbs de provence, and one I mixed with fresh garlic and dried chives. We've eaten all but the herbs de provence patty. They all turned out delicious!

Today's Menu:

Breakfast: Homemade Country Sage Pork Sausage, Pumpkin Breakfast Bake, Gogurt with Raspberries
Main Meal: Grilled Pork Tenderloin marinated in garlic, dijon mustard, and honey; Tromboncino Zucchini and onions sauteed in olive oil and butter with crumbled Ricotta Salata; Fresh Garden Honeydew Melon
Evening Snack: Leftover grilled chicken, Chenna cheese with herbs de provence seasoning, grapes, wine, dark chocolate

We've been thrilled with the Tromboncino Zucchini. See a picture here: I've given some to my parents and to my friend Carolyn and they are also very impressed. The seeds are only in the bulb end, but they don't get big. The squash sautes beautifully and doesn't get mushy. Today we had it just with onions, but I've also included it in mixed stir-fries with eggplant, carrots, etc. and it's just delicious. This is one plant that I will definitely be planting again. The vines grow very long though. I have one that must be twenty feet long. I've got it tied to my fence.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Milk Production

I tried to get a picture of all three goats on the spools, but when I come near the fence they usually stand up and run towards me. They are so cute each laying down on a spool. It took PJ a week or ten days to figure out that one could be hers, but she's up there just as much as Tigger and Una now.

Earlier this year (when I just had Tigger and Una) my milk production seemed to really be plummeting. I posed my question on a Nigerian Dwarf yahoo group I belong to and the consensus was either a copper deficiency or subclinical mastitis. I thought the copper deficiency, or perhaps just a general mineral deficiency made sense, but decided to pursue both a copper deficiency and subclinical mastitis as possibilities. Several people on the group recommended that I contact Kat at Fir Meadows ( to get some recommendations.

She recommended that I start with a liver cleanse, and then for the copper use kelp with an herbal blend high in copper and selenium. She recommended a salve for the possible subclinical mastitis. I purchased all of these items and began using them around July 20. Within about two weeks there was a marked improvement in my milk production. Tigger, my best milker, is up about 30% and holding nicely at that new level. Una is up just a slight bit. I haven't noticed any change in PJ. PJ is not receiving the salve or the liver cleanse. She does get the free choice kelp with herbal blend. I decided to kind of use PJ as my control goat. I don't want to experiment with her anyway, since she belongs to someone else, so that works out nicely.

I know that Tigger and Una have not been eating the minerals I have had out all Spring and Summer. I've replaced them several times, but they just aren't eating them. I think the whole bag is stale. All three goats have been gobbling up the kelp like they are starving for it, but especially Tigger and Una. I've gone through five pounds of kelp since July 20 with just these three little goats. I think Tigger and Una especially were mineral depleted and that may have been what caused the drop in milk. Una never really got up to where I would have expected her to be, she's still at her maximum production. Tigger is now, according to the charts I've seen, about where she should be when starting her sixth month of lactation.

So, I'm thrilled with these results. I'll continue the liver cleanse through the Fall, as Kat has instructed. I've used up all of the mastitis salve. I'll continue with the kelp with copper and selenium herbs. Kat has also made some other suggestions about feed in answer to my questions. When I get rolling on that I'll post that too, but enough for today.

Today's Menu:

Breakfast: Uncured Bacon, Eggs Scrambled in Butter with crumbled Ricotta Salata, Gogurt with Blueberries
Main Meal: Fresh Garden Tomatoes drizzled with olive oil, red wine vinegar, salt, pepper, italian seasoning and crumbled Ricotta Salata; grilled Red Peppers, Carrots, Onions, and Eggplant; Marinated and Grilled Sirloin Steak
Evening Snack: Fresh Garden Melon, Manchego Cheese dipped in Tapenade, Wine, Dark Chocolate

Thursday, July 23, 2009

PJ Comes to Visit

Miss Broody Update: Finally I put Miss Broody in her own cage in the barn. She had to stay there all day long. I did give her food and water, and after three days I set her free. She's cured! So, all ten hens are back in business.

Other news: I have a new goat. Well, she's not really mine, she's a loaner goat from my friend and goat mentor. I haven't had as much milk as I wanted, so my friend is loaning me a doe. I'll return her in the fall. (See PJ's picture in the sidebar area.)

I picked her up yesterday. There's been a lot of head butting between Tigger and PJ. (See picture above.) They are trying to establish a herd queen. So far Tigger is definitely on top, but it remains to be seen what will happen once PJ settles in. She's found the food, water, and minerals, and she was very well behaved on the milkstand this morning and last night, so, so far, so good.

I need more milk so I can make gogurt, mozzarella, ricotta, and soft cheese enough to last me through the winter when the does are dry, i.e. when I have no milk. Right now I have very little in the freezer. I just can't imagine going back to store bought after having these delicious goat milk products, made right here. Yes, I'm spoiled.

Today's Menu

Breakfast: Pork Sausage, Egg, Onion, and Cheese Scramble; Gogurt with Raspberries
Main Meal: Mixed Green Salad with Garden Lettuce, Cucumbers, Tomatoes, Chopped Walnuts, Shredded Colby Cheese and Sweet Oil and Vinegar Dressing (salad dressing recipe in the June 8, 2009 post); Cheesy Kohlbari and Smoked Ham Casserole
Evening Snack: Cheeses, grapes, salami, dark chocolate and wine

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Miss Broody

Well, we have a broody hen. This means that the hen has decided it's time to hatch some eggs. So, she keeps trying to sit on the eggs that the other hens have laid each day. There are a couple of problems with this. First, the eggs are not fertile (since we have no rooster) so they will never hatch. Second, because she sits more than she roams, eats, and drinks, she probably isn't laying very many eggs herself. Third, she's taking up one of the next boxes, and the other hens get annoyed because they can't get in to lay their eggs.

I looked on line for some remedies. I've tried most of them. First, keep taking her off of the nest. Then, put ice cubes under her. Put her in a separate cage so she can't get on the nest. With this one you are suppose to put the cage up in the air so that the wind blows under her. The last one I saw was dunk her bottom in ice water. I've tried all of these except for the separate cage, because that makes more work for me, providing separate food and water for her. Yes, I even dunked her bottom in ice water, twice. She did not like it at all, but shortly thereafter she was back on the nest.

I'm ready to have her for dinner. I'm open to suggestions, though.

Today's Menu:

Breakfast: Eggs Scrambled with Spring Onions and Grated Cheese, Uncured Bacon, Gogurt with Blueberries
Main Meal: "Spinach" Salad with Onions, Carrots, Chopped Pecans, and Homemade Honey Mustard Dressing; Grilled Pork Chops seasoned with Homemade Seasoned Salt; Peas and Minced Garlic Sauteed in Butter and Olive Oil; Apple with Peanut Butter
Evening Snack: Salami, Cheeses, Grapes, Wine, and Dark Chocolate

It's "Spinach" Salad because it's made with a spinach imposter. Spinach does not grow well in the Summer, in fact, all of mine has bolted. But this year I tried something new, called New Zealand Spinach. It's suppose to grow all Summer without bolting, and taste like Spinach. So far we like it. It has a little greener taste than Spinach, but the plants are growing well, and it's tender and nice. I like it very much with this Honey Mustard Dressing.

Honey Mustard Salad Dressing
1 1/2 cups Mayonnaise
1/2 cup Honey
1/4 cup Dijon Mustard

Mix all ingredients together. Chill.

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Why Raw Goat Milk?

One of the things that I have become convinced of over the last several years is the over processing of our food. Virtually everything Americans eat comes from a box, can, or package. I believe that the additives and preservatives added to the food, genetically modified ingredients, pesticide and herbicide residues, among a host of other things, take most of the goodness out of our foods. This applies to milk as well. Milk that you purchase at the store has been heated quickly (pasteurization) and pushed by strong force through a tiny screen (homogenization). This creates a liquid that is dead, and that needs to have vitamins added back because they are destroyed by the processing. Many experts believe that the pasteurization and homogenization of our milk is contributing to the high rates of heart disease, cancer, allergies and other illnesses. I'm sure no expert, but I've researched this and am convinced. Here's more:

The problem with all of this is that raw milk is illegal to buy or sell in Maryland. So, I bought my own goats. I can have raw milk, raw milk yogurt, raw milk ice cream and raw milk cheeses, both fresh cheeses and aged. Also, because I control how the goats are fed and handled, I know the milk is as good as it can be. And it is. It tastes like melted ice cream, especially early in the girls' lactation, when the fat is extra high. Nigerian Dwarf goats are prized for their especially sweet milk with high butterfat. My girls sure live up to their reputation.

I chose goats over a cow because I would have needed a lot more pasture for a cow, and I would have had way too much milk. Also, I didn't like the idea of having to handle a large animal. I chose miniature dairy goats because I have a very small pasture for them (only 1/5 of an acre) and I wanted them to have plenty of room. They do. I really love my little goats that only come up to my knee and weigh about 60-70 pounds. When one of them accidentally steps on my toe, it's no big deal. And that does happen. It would be a very big deal if a full grown cow stepped on my toe!!

The next event on our goat calendar is rebreeding in late October for Spring kids. Every year the does have to be bred in order to "freshen" the milk for another year. I'll give them two months off when they are "dry" (no milk), the last two months of their pregnancy. Then they'll give birth in the Spring, and I'll be off again for another year of delicious milk!

Today's Menu:

Breakfast: Uncured Bacon, Over-easy Eggs fried in butter, Gogurt with Fresh Blueberries
Main Meal: Green and Red Leaf Lettuce Salad with Crumbled Pecans, Sliced Spring Onions, and Sweet Oil and Vinegar Dressing (see June 8, 2009 post for recipe); Grilled Chicken Thighs with Homemade Seasoned Salt; Swiss Chard Bake
Evening Snack: Leftover Grass-fed Pot Roast (see June 9, 2009 post for recipe), Fresh Garden Carrots and Celery dipped in Sour Cream Ranch Dip, Wine, Goat Ice Milk with Chocolate Syrup

Swiss Chard Bake

1 1/2 lbs. Swiss Chard - cleaned, ribs removed, cut into small pieces
1/2 onion, minced
2 T butter
1 cup eggs, well beaten
1 cup whole milk
1/2 t. salt
few drops of pepper sauce
2 cups (4 oz) shredded cheese, or 8 oz. soft goat cheese

Melt butter in large skillet, add Swiss Chard slowly until all is in the pan and it has wilted. Cook for a few minutes until just tender. Butter a 2 quart casserole dish. Place the cooked Swiss Chard in the dish, sprinkle the onion over, and cover with the cheese.

Mix together the beaten egg, milk, salt, and pepper sauce and pour on top of the Swiss Chard, onions and cheese. Bake about an hour or so at 350 degrees until lightly browned and set.

Note: I like this recipe because I can use the abundant Swiss Chard from my garden along with my own onions, eggs, milk, and cheese!

Monday, June 22, 2009

Barnyard View

Tigger and Una spend most of their time on their spools. They love being up in the air. Eddie collected these spools for me from different construction sites he has visited. I actually have one more, but we're keeping that one in reserve for when these rot. They aren't made of pressure treated wood, so they won't last long.

My dad built the ladder last year when I first got the goats, and that worked fine for awhile. But when they each got a few months pregnant in the winter they had a hard time getting up on the spools, so I asked him to build the steps. They learned very quickly that even with their very big tummies they could get up on the spools easily with the steps.

The girls are extremely friendly. They usually run to the gate to greet me when I go out to check on them. When visitors stop by they are always amazed at how tame my goats are.

I milk twice a day. This time of year it's usually around 6:15am and 6:15pm each day. I don't like milking in the dark, so when the days get shorter I'll milk later in the morning and earlier in the evening.

The goats get all the hay they can eat, loose vitamins and minerals, baking soda, and water. They get a measured portion of grain when they are milked.

They are happy, playful, and affectionate animals who give the most delicious milk I've ever tasted.

Friday, June 12, 2009


The brown chicken is a Partridge Plymouth Rock, the white chicken is a Delaware, the light brown and white is called Salmon Favorelle, and the black is an Australorp.

We have two of each except for the Salmon Favorelles. We have four of those.

Here are our ten chickens. They are "multi-purpose breeds" meaning that they are suppose to be good layers and good to eat too. We have found, at least so far, that they are fine layers, but that they aren't very good to eat unless you cook them exactly right.

We originally purchased sixteen chickens; we've eaten six of them, ranging from pretty tough to yummy. The last two were yummy after my eighty-nine year old mom told me how her mom use to cook the live chickens they use to get. She said to boil them first until tender, let them drain, then roll in flour, salt, and pepper, and brown in oil. That worked nicely.

And the eggs are great!

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Menu and a Recipe

Today's Menu:

Breakfast: Goat Cheese Quiche, Uncured Pork Kielbasa, Gogurt with Raspberries
Main Meal: Caesar Salad with Shredded Ricotta Salata, Grass Fed Crock Pot Roast with Carrots and Leeks, Apple with Peanut Butter
Evening Snack: Salami and Assorted Cheeses, Grapes, Wine, Soft Goat Cheese with Strawberries

Grass Fed Crock Pot Roast with Carrots and Leeks
Bacon drippings
1 1/2 to 2 lb. Grass Fed Chuck Roast, sliced into two steaks
3-4 carrots, cut into chunks
1 large or 2 small leeks, trimmed and sliced
1/2 medium onion, chopped or sliced
2 T white flour
1 t. Herbs de Provence
1 c. beef broth (I use "Better than Boullion") - hot
Salt and Pepper to taste (be sure and taste first, as the bacon is salty so you might not need any salt)

Melt about 2 T of the bacon drippings in a large stainless steel skillet until hot. Brown the chuck steaks on each side and then put in a 3 or 3 1/2 quart crockpot. Put more bacon fat in the pan and brown the onions, leeks, and carrots, and then put in crockpot with chuck steaks. Melt another 2 T of bacon fat in skillet until hot and slowly stir in the 2 T flour until bubbly and smooth. Very slowly stir in the 1 c. of hot beef broth. You should have a nice thick gravy. Add about a teaspoon of Herbs de Provence and pour the gravy over the meat and vegetables in the crockpot. Using a spatula, pull the two steaks up so that the vegetables are at the bottom of the crockpot with the steaks on top. Cook on "high" for about three hours or until a fork goes easily into the meat. If you are using a chuck roast that is not grass fed it will probably take a little longer. Check your seasonings. Serve the steaks with the vegetables on the side. One or two small potatoes, peeled and cut into quarters could be added with the vegetables. Enjoy! Makes 2-4 servings, depending on your appetite!

Monday, June 8, 2009

Summer Hairdo's

Tigger and Una got their summer haircuts yesterday. They were shaved down to 1/16th inch most everywhere, a little shorter on their feet and udder.

(That black thing above Tigger's back is part of a chicken.) We brought the milkstand out of the barn and set it up in the garage. Tigger was an angel, standing most all the time patiently while Eddie and I both worked on her. Una was a bit more of a challenge. She really does not like having her back legs or her udder shaved!

The goats are shaved so they can be cooler in the summer and so that we can check their skin for any problems. With their hair nice and short the sun can get to it and dry up any sores they might have. It also helps if they have acquired any lice over the winter, but we didn't see any evidence of any bugs.

We had planned to give them baths also, but decided it just wasn't necessary. They don't smell at all, and aren't dirty. Funny, we have to give our dogs baths every several weeks during the Summer or they really stink, but the goats just don't... I guess that's a good thing. Regardless, here they are with their new hairdo's.

Today's Menu:
Breakfast: Uncured Thick Slice Bacon, Over-Easy Fried Eggs, Gogurt with Blueberries
Main Meal: Spinach Salad with shredded Ricotta Salata and Sweet Oil and Vinegar Dressing, Grilled Chicken Thighs with Homemade Season Salt, Sliced Apple and Peanut Butter
Evening Snack: Blackberry Wine Coolers, Shrimp Cocktail, Goat Milk Ice Cream with Chocolate Syrup

Sweet Oil and Vinegar Dressing
1 T raw sugar
1 T red wine vinegar
3 T extra virgin olive oil
1 T water
salt and pepper to taste
Measure all ingredients in the bottom of a large salad bowl. Wisk thoroughly with a fork. Add salad greens on top and toss. Will dress two large plate size salads. Enjoy!

Saturday, June 6, 2009

Sights Around the Farm

Finally the rain has stopped and I can enjoy some of the sights around Sweet Garden Farm: the freshly harvested garlic, drying by the rear of the house, the Vegetable Garden Gate with the view of the neighbor's barns and fields beyond, and the Portulaca I have growing in a pot on the picnic table on the back patio. In the distance behind the Portulaca you can see Eddie's sister's house.

The Stella d'Oro Daylilies are doing well this year.

The Hosta Garden, above, turned out really pretty. It's a shady area we could never seem to decide how to plant. And at left my garden angel sign, welcoming one and all to the vegetable garden.
Right now I'm harvesting Leaf Lettuce, Romaine, Spinach (although that is about done), Sugar Snap Peas, Swiss Chard, Kohlrabi, Cabbage, Spring Onions, and Carrots. The beets are almost ready. There will be a time delay before the regular Summer crops start producing.

Today's Menu:
Breakfast: Homemade Sage Sausage, Pumpkin Breakfast Bake, Gogurt with Cherries
Main Meal: Caesar Salad with Shredded Ricotta Salata, Chili and Sugar Crusted Salmon, Snap Peas and Carrots sauteed with Garlic and Spring Onions
Evening Snack: Blackberry Wine Coolers, Assorted Cheeses and Salami, Dark Chocolate

Chili and Sugar Crusted Salmon
2 6oz portions of skinless wild caught Salmon Fillets
2 T butter
2 T olive oil
Salt to taste
2 T chili powder
2 T raw sugar
Mix together the 2 T chili powder and 2 T raw sugar. Set aside. Melt the butter and olive oil in a small stainless steel saute pan until hot over medium heat. Add the salted salmon, smooth side down. Cook for three minutes. Turn Salmon over. Sprinkle Chili and Sugar mixture over top of Salmon to form a 1/4 inch thick crust. Cook for three minutes. While cooking, spoon some of the melted butter and olive oil in the pan over the top of the salmon. Pour any remaining butter and olive oil over the salmon in the serving dish. Makes 2 servings.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

This and That

My dad was over this morning, working to finish the small hayrack he built in the barn for when it rains. Usually the goats go to the large free-standing hayrack he built which is out in the barnyard, but when it rains or snows they've been stuck in the barn with no food. So, I asked my dad to build a small hay rack under cover. It's working out great.

I picked more peas, some leeks that overwintered, leaf lettuce, and spring onions today. The garden is looking really nice, just a few bugs on the pole beans and cabbage; quite a few bugs on the eggplants.

I sent my dad home with a head of cabbage, a couple of salads worth of Romaine, some spring onions, and a dozen eggs.

Today's Menu:
Breakfast: Homemade Pork Sage Sausage, Pumpkin Breakfast Bake, Gogurt with Cherries
Lunch: Leaf lettuce salad with spring onions, strawberries, crumbled goat cheese and oil and vinegar dressing; Cod sauteed in butter with leeks and garlic and finished with a simple white sauce; Peas and Leeks sauteed in olive oil and butter
Evening Snack: Crudites with a ranch goat cheese dip, General Tso's Chicken (from Whole Foods), Wine, Dark Chocolate

This afternoon I trimmed the goat's hooves. They DO NOT LIKE TO HAVE THIS DONE! They try to pull their hooves away, but I hold on until they stop. (I can't let them think they are in control.) I trim their hooves every 4-6 weeks. They get up on the milkstand and I feed them, but it's just not enough to keep them happy. It's a real workout for me, holding on!

I collected eight eggs today, so far. Sometimes I'll get one late in the day, but most of the eggs are usually laid by early afternoon. I have ten chickens, but only two nest boxes. They usually all try to get in the same one. Sometimes there are three chickens in the one box at the same time. It's really comical.

Pumpkin Breakfast Bake:
1 regular size can pumpkin (not pumpkin pie mix)
8 oz. soft goat cheese (or cream cheese)
1 cup of eggs
1 t. liquid Stevia (or 2/3 c. Splenda Measure)
1/4 c. raw sugar (if using the Stevia)
1/4 t. nutmeg
1 t. cinnamon
1/2 t. salt

Combine all ingredients using a mixer. Pour batter into a buttered glass pie pan. Bake at 350 degrees for about 40 minutes or until center is done.

I cut this into eight servings, then freeze meal-size packages. I take it out the evening before I need it and then microwave it in the morning so that it's warm. YUM.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

The Way We Eat

Eddie and I eat, as much as is reasonable a whole foods diet of no grain or starches, limited sugar, organic, free range, and grassfed. Most people would say it's too expensive to eat this way, we contend that it is too expensive not to eat this way. Both of us are much, much, healthier now since we changed our diet. Both of us have eliminated long term prescription drug use, neither of us has had a cold or the flu in years, and we both feel great. We eat lots of eggs, full fat dairy, meats, vegetables, some fruit (especially berries, apples, and melons in season), dark chocolate and wine. Eddie drinks coffee and water, I drink hot and iced teas, no sodas for either of us.

For the summer, while Eddie is working on the house remodeling, we've been having our main meal in the early afternoon, with just snacks and wine in the evening. Here's today's menu, a pretty typical day:

Breakfast: Thick sliced uncured bacon, Goat Cheese Quiche, Gogurt with Blueberries
Main Meal: Caesar Salad, No Noodle Lasagna, Sauteed Swiss Chard
Evening Snack: Assorted Cheeses and Salami, Grapes, Wine, Strawberries with Goat Milk Ice Cream

We usually share an apple at the main meal too, dipped in peanut butter, but were too full today to have that.

Many of the things we eat were produced/grown right here: the eggs, cheese, and milk in the quiche; the yogurt; the Romaine and the Ricotta Salata cheese in the Caesar Salad; the Ricotta and Mozzarella in the Lasagna; the Swiss Chard; some of the cheeses in the evening snack; the strawberries; and most of the ingredients for the Goat Milk Ice Cream.

Needless to say, I spend an absolutely enormous amount of time in the kitchen. That's OK, because I really enjoy it. I spent several hours this morning picking and preparing produce for today's menus and making the lasagna. This afternoon I made a one gallon batch of Ricotta Cheese which I will press overnight to turn into Ricotta Salata, a hard cheese which can be sliced or grated like Parmesan, but takes way, way, less time.

We're trying to reach the place where virtually everything (within reason) that we eat is produced or grown right here. Obviously we'll always need to purchase some spices, oils, salt and pepper, etc. We have a long way to go, but half the fun is the journey!

Monday, June 1, 2009

First Post

I decided to start a blog to document the comings and goings here at Sweet Garden Farm. We just decided on the name a few weeks ago. Right now we have a large vegetable garden, two Nigerian Dwarf milking does and ten chickens. I gather between six and ten eggs each day, usually seven or eight. We eat a lot of eggs! And right now my two goats are providing about a half a gallon of milk each day. That is low, actually. I'm working with their feed trying to figure out how to increase production. I purchased the goats and chickens last fall, so I'm new to this. So far it's going pretty well...

We have a rabbit trying to set up house in the vegetable garden. She's dug three holes so far, in the leaf lettuce, under the beets, and under the Romaine. We put some fencing over the gate so that she can't get in. Hopefully this will discourage her from nesting in the produce...

This morning I made Crustless Goat Cheese Quiche. Turned out great. It's made with my farm fresh eggs, homemade soft goat cheese, goat milk, minced garlic, chives, salt, pepper, and butter for the pan.

I was pleased today at lunch. We had a delicious salad made with lettuce, spring onions, and strawberries, all from the garden, with crumbled goat cheese on top. We also had the first snap peas of the year, sauteed in butter, olive oil, and garlic. Yum.

I spent some time today cleaning up the yard, weeding and trimming trees. I also tied up the peas again, they are about five feet tall so far.

I plan to chronicle what I'm planting, cooking, etc. Hopefully someone will find my musings interesting!