Old Bones

img_20161018_155654

Its well into October now. Celtic Colours is in full swing here in Cape Breton. People visit from all over to drive the Cabot Trail and take pictures of the landscape bursting in flaming reds, oranges and yellows. The air is sweet with the mulchy scent of dying plants & acrid with woodsmoke. The weather is cool but sunny. Its the best month of the year.

Im sitting here eating bone marrow spread thin on cream crackers and having a glass of nice German wine from the Mosel valley. Am I not the fanciest motherfucker who ever did live? For lunch I had apple juice and a kitkat bar so I guess it evens out….

Yesterday I made some bone broth, because I have been craving onion soup. But for real onion soup, with good dark broth, sweet onions, lots of red wine and gooey cheese. So I roasted some beef bones, making sure to collect the marrow that had melted into the pan below. Liquid gold.

I was going to include a recipe for bone broth here but its pretty straight forward so I wont bother. But you should give it a go, its cheap and makes your house smell so, so, so so , so so , sosososososo.. so good.

We have been binging episodes of Hannibal lately and I think maybe he has inspired something in me. I’ve been craving nice wine and the sweet soft butter that lives inside bones. Hopefully this is as far as his influence goes, being a serial killer seems like a lot of effort.

 

Hurricane Matthew went through here last week, causing massive flooding and pulling down enormous trees all over Cape Breton. We made out just fine though, thankfully! We lost power & water but we had fun in the morning cooking up sausages and pancakes on the new woodstove. Then checking social media we felt immediately guilty for having fun, because a lot of other people had horrible flooding in their houses.

img_20161011_092449img_20161011_092432

Apple pancakes! While CB was cooking I wandered around the immediate neighborhood assessing the damage, picking up debris, and collecting all the apples that had blown off the tops of the apple trees. Im going to make HURRICANE JELLY! Yeaaah! We then made apple pancakes, my favourite.

img_20161012_160904

In order to flush the toilet we collected water from the old well beside Joans house. This is a picture I took while thinking about all the ghosts of dead settler children must be haunting this creepy fucking well 1 minute before I fell into it. The plywood beneath me was rotten and gave out under me. Luckily my butt stopped my fall. Its so handy. That would have really ruined my day. Sweetpea would NOT have Lassie’d me out of that situation for sure.

img_20160927_144821

A few days before the hurricane blew all our shit all over the backyard and made everything in our fridge rot, we had BEAUTIFUL weather! CB & I did a hike on gull cove road to take pictures of mushrooms and to tire out Sweetpea. She is such a bog dog. She is happiest when either sleeping in bed between us or racing around like a psychopath covered in muddy bog water. Here she is majestically leading the way into the forest.

I stopped approximately every 1.47 minutes to take a picture of a “cool” mushroom. By the end of the walk I had a sore neck and 300 pictures of mushrooms. Here is 1% of the mushroom pictures I took. Those golden yellow beauties are chanterelles. They are the only mushroom I am confident in recognizing, so I put them in my wool kitten ear hat to carry them home. I forgot them until 4 days later when I put my hat on my head and wondered what all the hard lumps were. Oops.

img_20160925_184036

Well.. I think thats the end of this blog. Bye!

 

Advertisements

Soup & Cellars

bloobyYou can feel the winter creeping in, now. Mid October. That came so fast! The winds are picking up and carry with them an icy feeling. Its been so dang blustery I havent been able to light my jack-o-lantern. Very disappointing. CB and I were up in the wee hours of the morning, into work. The place was dead so he made every soul he saw a big breakfast. I baked, and cleaned. It was nice. We came home and chilled. I cooked some things.

Cooking away the afternoon.. steaming up the windows with the cold rain pattering against the window panes and the wind howling away. An older action movie on tv, barely holding our attention.. The smell of dinner and the sound of Tommy Lee Jones makes me think of home. Feels more like a sunday, for sure. Definitely a jogging pants kind of day.

I have been on a binge of cabbage soup lately. We buy 2 chickens, roast, pick the flesh from the bones and eat them with greedy greasy fingers. Then throw their bones in a big pot for stock, let it bubble overnight until its got all the goodness out. The next day I cook some garlic and onion in the schmaltz I saved from the roasting pan. I add the stock, and cubes of turnip, potato, some rubbery old carrots, chopped cabbage and a couple of bay leaves. Lots of black pepper. Probably too much salt.

Then it’s meatball time! Squishing the pink ground meat between my fingers I massage it into many little balls. Carefully I fry them off in batches, saving the pan fond. Deglaze the cast iron pan with half of my beer.. sip the other half. Nice beer. Then with that I make a gravy, with a little flour, and milk. This gives us meatballs & gravy for dinner.. half of the meatballs go into my soup. Too much cabbage! So chop the leaves fine, rub salt into them and it will soon become a jar of sauerkraut for the cupboard. Lunch and dinner done for a few days. Dishes everywhere. Oops.

 

IMG_8956

View out of the buick window, on our way to the post office. NO MAIL! Bahhhh…

 

IMG_8975

Later in the evening we went out for ice cream. I have been off sugar for .. I’ve lost count.. 20 days I think now. But today, I will have ice cream. It was delicious, and worth it. We listened to a radio show about Beethoven, and how we might be playing his symphonies too slowly. They sound AMAZING when sped up. When we got back home it’s not raining so I went for a walk up the hill.

IMG_8958

Dead raspberries and the fluffy ghosts of dandelions.

IMG_8960

I dont know what these are, but they are crunchy now. They taste like paper! Loving the fire truck red of the blueberry bushes at this time of year.

 

IMG_8969

A look out from the hill.

IMG_8968

Red, blue and yellow.

IMG_8980

I like this lichen. It looks like someone painted on this rock.

IMG_8983

Pink, green, blue and black.

IMG_8984

I found a cool thing! An abandoned root cellar! With its TOP OFF! Eeee!

IMG_8985_2

OooO what’s in there…

IMG_8986_2

Hmm too dark..

IMG_8987_2

FLASH! Oh it’s just some garbage. Time to go home.

IMG_8990

Having a berry snack on my way back down the hill. These are probably the last blueberries of the season. Like ice wine, the cold weather has made them so, so sweet.

IMG_8988

Time for meatballs!

Chowda Head

The other night, CB and I found an awesome seafood shop. We came home with 2kg of mussels for about six bucks and made the nicest dinner. CB steamed them in a pot over a sliced onion, and boiled up some corn and cooked up some shrimp in garlic butter while I made us some very strong rye & cokes and whisked up some garlic aoli. 15 minutes later we were out on the deck with John enjoying the summer and gorging ourselves on tasty bivalves! I saved the yummy mussel juice from the pot they were steamed in and tonight we made some CHOWDAAAAAA!

Mussel Chowder

1 kg mussels
4 filets fresh fish
2 cups leftover mussel potlicker, or chicken stock
1 onion, small dice
1 carrot, small dice
1 red pepper, small dice
1 clove garlic, finely chopped
4 medium potatoes
2 bay leaves
Thyme
1 tsp smoked paprika
2 pieces of bacon, chopped
1/2 cup butter
2 cups milk

Boil up yer taters. Wash with cool water, until they stop being so damn hot!

Then, in another pot, or the same one sans potatoes, whatever, brown your bacon bits up. Add in your onion, garlic, carrots, red pepper, bay leaves and thyme. Cook until soft and tender.

Add in your fish bits, mussels, and potlicker/stock, and simmer for 10 minutes. Get your butter in there. Pour in milk, add potatoes. Eat it UP!

VERGERTERBLUHSSSS

Bacon and poh-tay-tohzz

Some nice fush.

Mussels.. not looking very sexy, but tasting so nice!

Don’t even think about it, catface

Look at those steamy bacony veggies

Fish chunks

Oh soupy

Blue Brie Broccoli Soup

This is a funky ass soup. It’s creamy, and full of sexy flavours. I’m always circling the cheese sections of supermarkets like a hawk, and grabbing up any cheese that have a reduced to clear sticker on it. Its less than half the regular price, and old cheese is even better! So I picked up this blue brie, and it was really ripe. Gooey and soft, I couldnt even cut it, it just squished all over. Amazing. It had a real blue cheese foot smell to it that was pretty wonderful. I also got 2 massive heads of broccoli yesterday on the cheap, so decided to make a pretty serious soup.

Chop ya Broc’

Gently ladle off the sexy layer of schmultz from the chicken stock.

Unless you’re using it from a can, in which case, no schmaltz for you!

Sweat your onions and sprinkle on the flour.

Simmering the broccoli. Don’t for heavens sake, do what I did, and put the cream in before the broccoli is done. I was experimenting to see if it made a difference if boiling the cream and curdling it would effect the quality of a soup that youre just going to puree the crap out of anyway. It does.. its a bit grainy and not smooth.

Blue Brie Broccoli Soup

Yield: 10 cups
Time: 25 minutes
Price: $7.50, or $1.50 per serving

2 heads broccoli
1 200g Waimato Blue Brie, or Blue Cheese
2 onions
2 tbsp butter
2 tbsp olive oil
2 tbsp flour
2 cups full fat milk, or combo milk & cream
4 cups chicken stock
2 tsp balsamic vinegar
1 tsp paprika
1 tbsp honey
Salt & Pepper

In a large, heavy bottomed pot or dutch oven, heat your oil and butter. When sizzling and brown, add in rough chopped onions. Cook down 10 minutes, adding a little stock if need be. Sprinkle flour over onions and stir. Pour in your chicken stock and bring up to a boil.

Chop your broccoli into 1/2 inch pieces, and add them to the soup stock. Add vinegar, paprika, honey. Cook until broccoli is soft. When the broccoli is soft enough to puree in a blender or with an immersion blender, slowly add in your milk & cream, while stirring. Add in the brie, chopped into pieces. Puree until smooth and creamy. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Sheep & Old Ladies

It’s nice to just be sitting here, singing little love songs to the poodles about killing them in the face with a knife while they jump all around like spastic black toupees. Relaxing. I had a big day out today.. I accidentally thought going to the Mall would be a good idea. All I wanted to do was grab a notebook for my Cheese Diary (Ill explain this, later) and a lunch bag for CB to carry his lovingly prepared meals to work. It was SUCH A FAIL! For the first time K-Mart, you really let the.. ball.. drop.. what is that phrase??  Anyway. I did buy a mystery man Lego bag for CB, which I am addicted to. Its just a foil bag and inside is a completely random lego man. Its awesome! He got a little Lego Anesthesiologist holding a little needle & x-ray. Jealous?

But, I went to six stores, and none of them had a lunch bag that didnt have the Lady Car from that Disney car movie on it. I was so angry for some reason, and made even more angry when I got to the van and the two people on other side of me, had parked about 8 inches away on either side. I had to get in the van from THE BACK DOOR, and crawl all over the mountain of camping supplies and old lunch containers. GRAHH. So then I get into the drivers seat, and start to pull out, when I realize there’s not enough room for me to actually back straight out. So, while Im thinking about this, the people who belong to the car in front of me take the opportunity of me leaving them a bit of space to start loading up their trunk! Awesome! So Im stuck, but if I wait a minute the people in front of me will move and I can get out, it’s cool. And then I notice the 150 year old woman who was shopping with me in Kmart, is now in her car, and backing slowly into me. Very, very slowly. I tried honking the horn, but it’s only for “Sometimes Honks”, and doesn’t always work. She was backing up so slowly into the side of my GIANT BILLBOARD SIZED RED VAN that I had time to roll down my window and shout at her. She hit me. And without even looking in the rear view mirror, she drove away. Off, into the sunset, to mow down some pedestrians, probably children, with speech impediments and chubby knees..without ever even knowing. Anyway, she didnt do any damage to our beautiful van, with her shiny gold BMW.

And then I get home, and the bloody ducks are down on the neighbors lawn again. So I go marching off to call them back in, through the sheep paddock. Usually, Rolly and I are cool. We’re buds. We have a thing. I feed him clovers and the odd orange, and he leaves me alone. But today he decided we would play this new game with me called “Angrily Headbutt Kara Into The Electric Fence Over and Over Again”. Pardonez-moi mon FRANCAIS, but that electric fence is even more of a fucking cunt bastard than Rolly! Jesus! I thought I was going to black out! Goddamn it hurts. It really stops your heart. So I do a bloody ninja jump over Rolly and slam the gate for some protection. Shit man. That did not go so well.  Then I take 3 steps, slip in the muddy grassy, and go sliding about 8 feet down the muddy, sheep-shit covered hill. Yayyyy Farmmmm!

So here I am, in nice, dry, shitless track pants, writing a blog. Yesterday I had a very romantic day on the farm taking these pictures, and today its sheep shit, giant spiders in the sink, and chasing the poodles around trying to get a dead mouse of of their mouths. The mall was a mistake, but I got to bring CB lunch at work today, which meant 30 minutes of giggling on the doorstep eating chicken together and playing with Lego. So.. Im sure there’s a lesson in there about taking the good with the bad, and life is crazy, and stuff like that. But my lesson is, Watch Out For Sheep and Old Bitches, They Be Crazy.

Here’s some pictures that sum up a day in the life on the farm pretty well.

I spent most of the afternoon wandering around the yard with Shalimar as my shadow. Consequently, I have a lot of pictures of her. She’s a good model, and she knows it. She is fierce.

Giant prehistoric looking Magnolia blooms. They are going to be the size of dinner plates!

These are the ducks! They look cute, and super dumb, but don’t let that fool you. On Wednesday I forgot to give them their night time snack. Thursday morning, they had sent a party of 4 duck representatives to quack at the front door demanding breakfast.

This is just some junk in the yard, but I thought it looked nice.

Shalimar striking a pose. I like this picture cause she looks kind of chubby, and it makes me want to pick her up and carry her around by her middle everywhere.

Cows. Moo..

Sunset, with a light rain. I was trying to capture how shiney it made everything, but I dont really know what Im doing with the camera yet.

Fried Chicken for dinner! It came out so crispy, and so juicy inside. Soaked the chicken pieces in the whey that was leftover from my cream cheese making. Dredged it through some flour with some cumin, paprika, salt, and pinch of baking powder. Fried it in a mix of canola and pork fat!

Stock steaming away. I chucked the chicken bones from the fried chicken into the slow cooker with some veggie scraps and let it go over night. It woke me up around 4am, this amazing smell, and in my half-asleep state I bolted out of bed thinking someone was cooking in the kitchen. A cooking bugular! Who steals your stuff and then makes you a nice breakfast before he sneaks out.

Smothered Chicken

Southern Goodness

This is a hearty southern recipe that is good eating on a cold rainy day like this one. This is basically fried chicken covered in gravy.. basically. Traditionally it would be ladled onto rice and buttery home made biscuits. BUT, we’re trying to be healthier so Im replacing that with pumpkin and turnip. So sad…

This takes a little bit of prep work but is actually pretty easy, and easy to multitask. Also if throw the unused chicken bits into a pot or slow cooker with the veggie scraps you’ll get the extra added bonus of awesome chicken stock too!

Being a recovering vegetarian I’d never taken a whole chicken apart before, but after watching some demos on youtube I did them both very cleanly in about 5 minutes. Make sure to sharpen your knife before hand! This meal felt really nice to make, good quality ingredients being taken care of by fire and cast iron.. what more could I want, really. Its also, damn tasty. I feel like it would probably be killer with the addition of some mushrooms, but I think they are horrible little funguses so I don’t know for sure! Just a hunch.

Smothered Chicken

Time: 1 1/2 hours

Yield: Dinner for 6, plus 2L of chicken stock.. and maybe some leftovers..

Cost: $20.75 or $3.50 per person

  • 2 whole chickens
  • 1 cup flour 2 tbsp salt
  • 2 yellow onions
  • 2 medium sized leeks
  • 4 cloves garlic
  • 4 cups really good stock
  • 3 tbsp flour
  • balsamic vinegar
  • salt + pepper

Slice leeks, onions and garlic and throw them into a hot pan with a little oil or butter and let them sautee.

Cut each chicken into 8 parts: thighs, legs, breasts and wings, making sure to trim off the tips of each wing. There are some great little videos on youtube, like this one.

** If you’d like, throw the leftover bones into a stock pot, along with the leftovers of the onions, tops of the leeks and garlic skins. Add in a rough chopped carrot and a quartered onion, fill with just enough water to cover and let simmer for 3-4 hours and you’ll have an awesome chicken stock for later **

Heat up a second, thick bottomed pan, with a little oil.

Mix 1 cup flour with 2 tbsp salt and dredge chicken pieces. Shake off well and place skin side down into the hot pan. Let each piece brown on each side, 2-3 minutes a side, and place them in a casserole dish. Repeat for all pieces.

Chicken Frying and Onions Browning
Chicken Frying and Onions Browning

When your onion & leek mixture is looking softened and beginning to brown, add a good couple of splashes of balsamic vinegar and salt to taste. Add in your stock, sprinkle the 4tbsp reserved flour over top, stir and let it simmer.

When all your chicken is finished and in the casserole dish, pour onion stock mixture over the chicken. Place a lid on it and put it in the oven at 150C OR 300F. Leave it in for about an hour, chicken should be fall off the bone tender and read atleast 160F at the thickest part on a thermometer.

Crispy Chicken

I rough chopped some Turnip and Pumpkin, tossed them in a little olive oil, vinegar and a “cajun style” spice mix I found in the cupboard and chucked them in with the chicken. They should be done around the same time.

Smothered Chicken & Slow Roasted Vegetables

The World Smells Good

I was a bit sad yesterday when I got emails full of pictures from my mom. Its full blown summer in Canada and I’m missing camping outside on the beach with my cousins and eating hotdogs and going for drives with my mom and dad and boat rides with my gram. It made me feel a lot better when the weather cleared up today and it was sunny and gorgeous. I took a walk around the garden and took some pictures. This is winter!! Look, I picked those today! Off of a TREE! Oranges, grapefruit, bumpy lemons, mandarins and tamarillos. My hands smelled like lanolin from petting the sheep and orange blossoms and lemon skin. Mmm so nice.

 

 

The ledge above the sink has these dried flowers from the garden and they are so pretty.

 

There’s lemon, orange and lime trees out back behind where the ducks lived. They are just about ready to be picked too! The smell in the air around them was amazing.

One of the poodle girls, Sophie and the Cat, Shalimar, having a nap in a spot of sun.

Giant, fluorescent orange tropical flowers.

Some intriguing kind of plant…

Primroses on the hill in front of the house.

A work bench full of pots of plants and containers that catch the rainwater.

Bumpy lemons!

This is the house we’ll be living in until late September. I’m pretty happy here. Especially in the garden on a sunny day.

CB made us an ass kicking roast chicken dinner last night and just roasted up the carcasses with some onions and carrots for me to make a soup stock from. It smells so incredible and is making me hungry for EVERYTHING! Taking pictures of flowers and making soup stock are two of the nicest most relaxing things to do in an afternoon. I’m quite content.