Chunky Chicken and mushroom soup

Chunky chicken and mushroom soup…

chicken soupWe are working, I hope, through the last of the days on end rain storms where even the worms drown in unforgiving driveway puddles…

IMG_7389 and unplanned driveway streams…

IMG_7390Goats are hanging near the doorway..

IMG_7398As well as the dynamic duo…

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We tried basic ditching to get a little immediate relief. They have a little bridge to cross.

IMG_7396So for days like this, chicken soup is still in order. But I wanted a soup with big chunky vegetables, mushrooms and meat. I started by cooking the chicken whole (and frozen) on a low simmer for about an hour. Next I pulled out the crock pot. I pulled the cooked chicken and strain the bits. Once cooled, I  pulled the meat off and put it in the fridge till day 2. Here comes the crock pot.

Chunky chicken and mushroom soup@ wendyellenthomas.comBones go in along with a couple carrots, celery tops, onion (or scallions if like me that’s all you have in the fridge), @ 4 bay leaves,  a wedge of lemon, peppercorns, and a couple cloves of garlic. Potato bits and mushroom stems are also a nice addition. I use all the liquid from cooking chicken and top off to about 10-12 cups liquid. It will sit on low for about 24 hours and fill your house with a savory, homey scent. It’s gold baby.

Chunky chicken and mushroom soup@ wendyellenthomas.com-2No dicing or cubing here. I want to know if it is a slice of carrot or piece of celery in my mouth. 1 large onion, 4-5 carrots, 4 stalks of celery.

Chunky chicken and mushroom soup@ wendyellenthomas.com-3Same goes for the mushrooms- 6-8 larger brown caps (small portobellos) and 8-10 larger shiitakes. Don’t forget how much they shrink.

Chunky chicken and mushroom soup@ wendyellenthomas.com-5And if you want to give your soup a little more flavor, I strongly encourage sautéing your veggies in olive oil first and seasoning them on their own.

Chunky chicken and mushroom soup@ wendyellenthomas.com-6And then add the liquid gold to the big pot of veggies and lift up the “suc”- the yummy brown bits on the bottom  (that you hopefully didn’t burn black:) with a spatula or spoon.

I have to admit after nibbling on the chicken for a day, I bought another split breast that I gently simmered in the 24 hour stock for only 30 minutes. So I essentially had 3 big breasts… keep it down folks.

Chunky chicken and mushroom soup@ wendyellenthomas.com-7About 4 cups largely shredded chicken in the end- mostly white meat. And of course these pieces still fit in your mouth. I don’t want to have to cut my soup into smaller pieces for god’s sake. Not that big!… Throw the meat in the pot.

And lastly, I added about ½ cup chopped parsley and seasoned the soup with salt, pepper and lemon. I wanted a simple, clean flavor and skipped any other herbs (rosemary, marjoram and thyme would be on another batch)

Chunky chicken and mushroom soup@ wendyellenthomas.com-4

We are all ready for a break of sunshine.

IMG_7392And dry soils…

IMG_7393But until then how about another bowl of chunky chicken and mushroom soup!

RECAP: Portions – About 8-10. One dinner and lunch for 2. Then dinner for 4 at the neighbors…. and still a little left for the freezer.

  • Simmer one  3-4# chicken (skin on for me) in water till cooked- about 1 hour. Fill water to about ½  up way around chicken.
  • Pull chicken and let cool. Strain liquid and place in crockpot. Add enough water to make approx 10-12 cups liquid.
  • Remove meat from the bones and place all bones in the crockpot.  Put meat in the fridge till day 2.
  • Add to crockpot- 2 medium carrots, 2 celery middle stalks w/ leaves, ½ onion, peppercorns (8-12 if you must count), 4 bay leaves (less if you want-  won’t make or break your stock), couple cloves of garlic. Anything else you feel moved to add to create flavor- mushroom and potato bits, parsley stems.
  • Cook on low for up to 24 hours for a dark, rich, healthy chicken stock. Pull a little cup out and add a pinch of salt to just enjoy on its own. Strain liquid. (Cook up another breast for more meat if you ate a bunch waiting for your stock! and for a heartier soup)
  • Cut up 3-4 carrots, 4 stalks of celery, 1 onion
  • Slice 6-8 large cap mushrooms, 8-10 large shiitake mushrooms
  • Sauté veggies in your big soup pot with a little olive oil and season to taste. Add 24 hour stock. 
  • Take your chicken meat and pull apart/shred into larger but mouth fitting pieces. Add to soup pot.
  • Chop ½ cup parsley and add to soup pot.
  • Season to taste with salt, white pepper and lemon 

Chunky chicken and mushroom soup@ wendyellenthomas.com-8Cheers,

WT

 

 

got GOATS!

Hi campers! How was your spring? We are busy little monkeys around here. I took an unspoken blogging “break”… lots of real time action for us has meant putting my photos and writing on the back burner.

We had a couple of kids last month! Basically from November 20th when our Nubian doe, Shirley had her “encounter” with Jimmy Mac until about 2 weeks before Shirley gave birth- I wasn’t 100% sure the deed was done. After all, the moment consisted of little foreplay and lasted about as long as the time it took Ollie to unscrew his coffee cup to check how hot it was. We had anticipated a little kickback time and literally it was done as he screwed the cap back on. But then Rocky and Jane happened April 22nd…

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goats 5-15-4Earth Day presents and Ollie’s birthday… so birthday lunch was postponed and we pretty much stayed close to home all day.

goatsI of course have spent loads of time reading and watching videos on goat births. We even spent a couple days with our friends at Mountain Lodge Farm near Tacoma. They birthed about 200 kids this year. We witnessed 5:)

goats 5-15-5I had the birthing kit ready. Only thing I didn’t get was the rubber gloves and K-Y Jelly. And in our little town I missed hearing the nervous chuckle that would have likely ensued at the checkout of our one and only pharmacy.

goats 5-15-12I looked out that morning from our porch like always and saw everyone but Shirley hanging out like they  do… waiting for the gate to open and us to appear. The difference was, I swear, they were all staring into the shed.. The sheep, Helen and Irene, and the other goats, Dinah and Nena looked in there like some kind of cruel and unusual punishment had just happened. I threw on some boots and yelled out to Ollie- IT HAPPENED!

goats 5-15-3And sure enough after 5 months and looking like this at the end-

shirley April 17

There were 2 little goat babies in the shed surrounded by a lot of goo…. Not in the nice, sanitary, freshly hayed “birthing suite” I had prepared in our barn that is really more of a shop- so I had moved work benches around to to create. With the buckling almost dry and the doeling still damp, we did get them into the barn and I started reading my printed materials on newborn kids.

wendyellenthomas.com

They were slow to walk- was this normal? Now I think I could say yes. Jane seemed to be born second and was a little weaker. We actually milked a little colostrum, the liquid gold, and pumped it in her mouth to get her going. Then I held them up to her to start. After just a few days of me not interfering, or of wondering if they were getting enough milk, or if they were nursing out of both sides… once I let nature actually do its thing… there was a lot of this going on-

We decided to have these kids be “dam raised” meaning they will stick with their mom to nurse and learn the way of the goat. We spend a lot of time handling them and playing and they are not shy to come to us- especially for morning and evening snuggles. Yes- I know what you are thinking but you would so do the same. And trust me- if you had one in your arms you would be swaying it like a baby stomach down… You don’ t even realize it.

goats 5-15-11Janegoats 5-15-7Rocky

goats 5-15-6They have already learned the joys of rough cut siding.

goats 5-15-9And who has been the most patient with these little creatures? Dinah. She’s getting her rub on too- It’s a thing with goats. Well hell- we all like it. Right?

goats 5-15-10Ollie did get his annual ultimate strawberry shortcake  birthday cake that night.

wendyellenthomas.comBut it had a little less fussing around than this one- This pic has been like a blog hit royalty check on Pinterest!

Strawberry cake-12So we’ll say good bye now and try to check in at least a few times this summer! Enjoy:)

wendyellenthomas.com

 

Shakshuka- baked eggs, tomato and goodness

This dish has been floating in my thoughts since Feb 2014 when Chloe and I visited Irving Street Kitchen in Portland and I ate their, quote “Moroccan Slow Poached Eggs and Grilled Garlic Rubbed Toast”.It was spicy, simple yet had depth and very good.

Shakshuka @wendyellenthomas.com-8

The house smoked Tasso side of bacon also rang my bell. I basically searched online tomatoes and baked eggs and Shakshuka popped up. But really it’s not a name that’s going to stick in my overcrowded mind. I also reached for the wonderful Jerusalem Cookbook by Yotam Ottolenghi and Sami Tamimi. They have a fantastic website as well.

I drew, as always, from a combination of recipes- Jerusalem, David Liebowitz’s Shakshuka and a simple version in the NYTimes.

Here’s my version – Print Recipe {shakshuka recipe}

Shakshuka @wendyellenthomas.com-10

I liked using a couple whole spices along with the powdered- here were the fun ones. Note how similar the seeds are with the caraway being just a tad darker than the cumin.

Shakshuka spices @wendyellenthomas.com-12

You could substitute ground spice for either of these but using the seeds gave me a chance to use this- after a good dusting off.

Shakshuka @wendyellenthomas.com-2

My version used 2 red peppers, 1 green pepper, 1 onion and 3 cloves of garlic sauteed in about 3T olive oil (see blurry photo) then I added spices and cooked another few minutes to release their fragrances. Then where I strayed from the majority is I added 3 cans of diced tomatoes vs 2. I personally wanted it a little juicier and to be totally honest that stemmed from overdoing the cayenne.

Shakshuka @wendyellenthomas.com

Fast forward: added spices, 3 cans of tomatoes, cider vinegar and honey… then you can add about 4oz of feta here before topping with eggs OR throw it on after the eggs.

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I’ve been making a cheese with no name- I call it a farmstead cheese and I can grate it. It’s very feta like in taste. 100% raw Jersey cow milk with a mesophilic culture (but we’ll save that for another time)

Shakshuka @wendyellenthomas.com-4This was a delicious brunch and with virtually making it the night before it was a cinch to pull together. I added sides of Hempler’s applewood smoked bacon and breakfast potatoes. And crusty sourdough of course.

Shakshuka @wendyellenthomas.com-5My eggs cooked about 90 seconds longer than needed here I think. But I made another round the following day as well adding raw chopped spinach to the bowl and topping with the tomato and eggs

Shakshuka @wendyellenthomas.com-7And I watched these eggs like a hawk… and didn’t have any sides to distract me! Shakshuka @wendyellenthomas.com-9I was very pleased with this dish and it will stay in the forefront for summer when peppers aren’t so expensive! You can tell me I should have posted in summer but well I couldn’t wait any longer.

And don’t forget your crunchy bread. Here’s my rustic sourdough.

Shakshuka @wendyellenthomas.com-11

And some life photos…Here’s a killer rainbow that graced us last week

rainbow @wendyellenthomas.com rainbow 2

Grain free “Greens” pie and transitions

Quotations hug the word greens- just so you know it is not a green pie with an accidental s. It’s a nut crust stuffed with beet greens, green curly kale, lacinato kale, red russian kale, a fair amount of garlic, a little egg and a sprinkle of peppery goat cheese. Yes we do have a lot of kale in the garden.

greens pie @wendyellenthomas.com 2014-6

A recent three day mini yoga workshop left me high on breath and thoughts. Trying to be present while practicing produces quite a large container full of ideas to be processed either drifting off to sleep at night or on an early waking morning with time to contemplate.Which means don’t reach for your phone. Let the mind percolate.

Taught by Christine at our local studio, Orcas Mandala, we had a two hour session each morning for three days. A morning of breaking down sun salutations and solar poses, followed by a morning of moon salutation and lunar poses, ending on the third day with yin and restorative poses (almost equal in yumminess to a morning of scones and tea in bed -really-). The point of it all, was understanding the little transitions say, within the sun salutation. And the transition say, of summer to fall. How to find balance between poses and to find balance on these windy days that pull the leaves right off their limbs. It’s a time of being a little unsettled and redirecting routines. Even this post is a little scattered – but I’m going to be ok with that:)

The farm reveals blocks of time that pass. With the garden, I think in terms of cycles. Here we were in May…

early spring garden-13

The new kids in the pasture…

early spring garden-2

And now inching towards late Sept we are days short of pulling up the jungle of summer veggies and covering beds.

Sept garden-3 Sept garden-5

This is a very busy time with harvest, processing and putting things to rest for some down time (like the holidays- HA). But at least the garden gets a rest. And it’s the back to school routine. I myself have to work on staying grounded. Weekend days my kitchen looks like this.

greens pie @wendyellenthomas.com 2014-2

And this is not very grounding.

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I’m canning, drying, making kraut and kombucha; juicing, smoothies, coffee or tea for the morning- a dish to take to the neighbor’s potluck, and what shall I do with the beets? More pickled? Do I have enough spices? Should I try to harvest the cherry tomatoes this afternoon? The partying fruit flies in the pear basket shout priority. How about let’s tack on making 100 mini cookies for a friend (smiles) on and on…

greens pie @wendyellenthomas.com 2014-4

I must pat myself on the back for what I accomplish in the day vs what remains on the list. Last night after canning and drying pears and making this greens pie for the neighbor’s potluck and feeling a bit overwhelmed by the mess, I had to march myself upstairs and lie on the mat. A little back and forth over the foam roller, up and down my spine,  a couple of stretches and a few deep breaths. My mind settled in a matter of ten minutes. Remember, this advice comes from someone (me) who is no yogi guru but will attest to the benefits of my rekindled relationship with yoga. Go get em grasshopper. And then back down to the kitchen, minus the tension, to clean up before dinner. On to the pie…

This nut crust consisted of 2 cups of ground nut meal- which came from making almond milk. I finally tired of tossing organic nut meal to the chickens. The last few batches I dried in the dehydrator at about 125° for a couple hours, then whizzed it in the vitamix. And no, that pear has nothing to do with the pie.

greens pie @wendyellenthomas.com 2014-5

So 2 cups almond meal, 1/2 cup of fresh ground walnuts, 1/3 cup coconut oil, a pinch of salt, 1 egg and about 1/4 cup of water. I mixed it by hand and pressed it into the pie dish. And don’t go expecting some light, flaky quiche crust because you will be sorely disappointed. This is a healthy, nutty and for sure tasty bottom to your greens.

greens pie @wendyellenthomas.com 2014

The wads of greens came from the garden. Beet greens and chopped stems, 3 varieties of kale, 4 cloves of garlic, an overgrown green onion and a little salt. I’d call it a very big bowl full. These guys really cook down. I tossed in 4 eggs to help bind it a little. And I topped the pie with a little fresh goat cheese.

There’s no proper recipe here- that would probably delay this post another couple weeks. It’s here to perk your interest and give you something to work from.

greens pie @wendyellenthomas.com 2014-7

Here’s to feet on the ground and peaceful moments in the mind as the wind blows.

Happy Fall.

And now for your four legged smile moment. Otis taking on cardboard…

Otis takes on cardboard-3Otis takes on cardboard-2Otis takes on cardboardOtis takes on cardboard-4Otis takes on cardboard-5

And I can’t resist adding this on- the goats new play thing. Building them solid blocks this fall is also on the list instead of makeshift furniture with no purpose.

Sept garden Sept garden-2

Officially the end.

new faces on the farm

We’ve been so enjoying the summer. I’m especially loving the feeling of warmth into evening. That’s maybe the only thing I miss about my home state of Florida, the sleeveless shirts worn into the evening. Although, rare is the day I wear a sleeveless shirt and I can definitely live without the sweltering heat of a day in central Florida. We did have a fantastic visit last month to my sister’s in South Florida- nice family and beach time. I also tripped down memory lane and toured Chloe around my high school. The instant we discovered my graduation stone, we looked at it, then at each other and tears welled up. A sort of cosmic connection that ventured outside of real time. She felt, for that moment, standing in front of my high school, connected to who I was at 18. A glimpse of recognition that I too have been there. It was bittersweet. My best friends Melissa and Kelly- and who we liked/”loved” at that time. Little did I know at the time that my good fortune would bring me an amazing son only a couple years later. Thanks “J”.

WPHS stoneAnd now our new farm friends:)

We have real live livestock. We put up a big fence. Built a goat shed and got ourselves three goats and two sheep. We love them! They are so sweet, funny and curious. We are all getting into a new routine and getting to know each other. The plan is to breed both goats and sheep in the fall and start milking in the spring. And here they are…

Meet blue eyed Dinah. She is a cross of La Mancha and Nigerian Dwarf. A total sweetie who craves attention. April 8th of this year, my birthday, I happened to be in the store filling in for someone. My mood lifted when I met Sherwin from Mountain Lodge Farm. Within minutes I learned she was a goat lady. I quickly stalked her farm and found there was an upcoming open house in May. Ollie was happy to go. I left out the part of the story of her four starter goats turning into over a hundred, supplying the milk for a full on dairy operation.  Point here is, Dinah is one of her babies. It was fate.

wendyellenthomas.comfarm faces farm faces-10 farm faces-9And Shirley. She is a yearling and full Nubian. She came to us as Bon Bon and we named her Etta (as in James) then changed it to shrieking Shirley cause she was so chatty and loud. Now she’s calmed down immensely and goes only by Shirley.

farm faces-12

farm faces-7 farm faces-6Then we have Nina, also a full Nubian from Myers Creamery here on the island. They make wonderful cheese. Nina feels a little intimidated by Shirley who’s a bit of a bossy cow but hopefully as Nina gets bigger she’ll be able to hold her own. Look at those ears! She’s channeling Sally Fields.

farm faces-8

farm faces-15 farm faces-11The dairy sheep, from Glendale Shepherd on Whidbey Island, are an East Friesian Lacaune cross. Having been bottle fed they are rather tame, are gaining more and more trust and are quite endearing. They are letting us rub their chins. Meet Helen and Irene named for a couple of my aunties. Better pics to come of those two.

farm faces-3photo

Time for a little walk and brush clearingfarm faces-13

 

Otis is SO EXCITED. We are hoping he’ll settle off a little more with time- He just wants to dart around and play.

goat shedBut sometimes he can contain himself. Here they all are in one shot-

farm faces-4He does love to kiss Irene through the fence.

farm faces-16And after a long day in the garden, Otis likes to kick back in bed the following morning

farm faces-2

Hope your summer brings laughter, joy, gardens and farmer’s markets!

Coming soon… nut and seed bars

nut and seed bars

 

spiced applesauce cake

applesauce cakeSo you might be thinking this is a little more fall like and it is similar to the apple quince crumb cake but to me it’s more of a grab and go slice. I’d eat this after a workout.  And it is a great little cake for January when you want to feel like you are eating on the lighter side. When you still want something sweet but not like cranberry cheesecake or chocolate mousse sweet. This easy to make and easy to eat cake can double as a breakfast cake or afternoon tea cake. OR if you want, slap a little cinnamon cream cheese or buttercream frosting on it, or spiced caramel sauce or how about Fat Toad’s cinnamon caramel sauce… and call it dessert. You can find this amazing goat caramel sauce at Chez Chloe but to buy now visit Fat Toad🙂

Fat Toad cinnamon caramel sauce

This works:

Applesauce cake-19

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Cider pressing 2013

We had the most lovely fall apple pressing last weekend. Although the big parties can be fun, we also enjoy keeping it small some years with just a few neighbors and the awesome press we’ve had forever. It’s one of my favorite fall activities.

applecrumbcake and pressing 2013-12

It has a motor that grinds the apples so our almost five year old helper can jump right in.

applecrumbcake and pressing 2013-6

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Summer harvest begins!

Here we are already ending the first week of July. The garden is going gangbusters and we’re loving every minute and every morsel. We’ve been enjoying greens since March, peas over the last month and the broccoli has actually gone to seed now. But for me when the root veggies start showing their true selves, I feel summer harvest knocking at the door. These baby carrots and beets are only moments shy of fully maturing. We are devouring the first zucchinis, blissfully ignorant to the idea of the late August green giant overload. We have Green zucchini, Costata Romanescos with the racing stripes, and Scalloped green/yellow pattypans soon to arrive. Unfortunately, I mismarked the yellow crookneck and they seemed to have gotten lost in the shuffle.

Harvest dinner 7-7-2013-2

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Chicks 2013…warning: a lot of pictures!

As much as I love to eat chicken and believe in the values of farm life and homesteading, I could not eat these little guys we picked up May 11th from our one boothed post office in Olga. With only the loss of two, we have a brood of fourteen. Of course, I told O it would only be about eight but it was barely economical to buy  the small amount of fifteen (plus my our free exotic… who kicked it within 16 hours). And now I think I have found a new home for 4-6 of the girls, but how on earth could I choose? The first year we moved to Orcas, in 1993, I bought fifty with not a clue of how to raise poultry.
chickens May 2013For those of you who have had chicks and love them, you’ll probably enjoy the next thirty or so photos. And those who don’t, well I’ve got an excellent roast chicken with Sumac to share on FB- but I couldn’t bare to put it here.

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