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Buffalo Chicken Dip

This is an awesome dip.  Thanks Ann!

2 – 10oz cans chunk white chicken – drained
2 – 8oz pkgs cream cheese – softened
3/4 cup Franks Red Hot Sauce
1 cup ranch dressing
1 3/4 cup shredded cheddar

In a skillet heat chicken and red hot sauce until heated through. Add dressing and cream cheese and heat until completely combined. Add half the cheese and transfer to slow cooker. Top with remaining cheese and heat on low until hot and bubbly.

 

Posted by on February 25, 2011 in How To, Recipes

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Update Reducing Chicken Smells

Well, it has been almost a week since we put the sand in the chicken run to reduce the smell of the chickens.  The chickens are no longer in mud.  The eggs are cleaner (which is a big plus!!!)  I think the smell is not as bad.  But we are having rain right now so…..we will see if the drainage is better.  We will keep you posted.

 

Posted by on February 25, 2011 in Chickens, How To

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Reducing The Smell from the Chickens

With all the rain we’ve had, our chickens have been claw deep in mud lately….with the mud comes the stink!!!  The placement of our chicken coop was not necessarily the best.  It is one of the lowest areas in our yard.  The chicken run has became very muddy.  The chickens don’t seem to mind but the eggs are muddy and need to be washed.  Even though the rain has tapered off, the run is not drying out enough.  We are having some issues with smell from the chickens as well.  Wet chicken poop smells more than dry poop…who knew.  What are our options???  We considered moving the coop and the run to higher ground but how?  That seemed like a huge undertaking….so off to the internet for help.  After cruising the chicken chat rooms,  we decided on a load of sand. The sand should raise the level of the ground.  The drainage should be improved.  The chicken poop should dry quicker which leads to less smell.  Also we are hoping to have cleaner eggs.  We will let you know if this works next time the rains come; or if we need to move the chicken coop.

 

Posted by on February 19, 2011 in Chickens, How To

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Cooking Turkey on the Weber Grill

We’ve been cooking whole turkey on the grill for years. In fact, I learned how from my Dad, Larry Adams back in the 70’s. Since he didn’t have a blog, I guess it’s up to me to post this for the world to see.

Go to the store and buy the turkey a few days in advance (or better yet, raise your own!). Make sure it’s thawed well before putting it on the grill. The one pictured below is about 20 pounds. Try to get one that is broad-chested, but not too “tall”. That way the grill cover will definitely close without touching the turkey.

Young Turkey

Store bought turkey – about 20 pounds

Take everything out of the cavity.

Empty the cavity

Next, pour some oil right on the turkey.

Pour oil

We use Extra Virgin Olive Oil

Now, rub the oil all over the bird. Add more oil if necessary. Keep rubbing until you start getting excited. Then rub some more! Just remember to stop when it’s thoroughly covered.

Rub the oil in

Add the seasoning of your choice. No need for very much seasoning – this cooking method brings out the awesome flavor of the turkey. A little Sea Salt and maybe Garlic Salt and some Pepper should be sufficient.

Seasoning

I prefer the Weber One-Touch charcoal grill.

Weber Grill

The Weber Grill allows you to close the vents and choke the coals out when you’re finished cooking. That allows you to recycle charcoal. Leftover charcoal stays dry even in the worst weather with the lid on and vents closed.

Recycle charcoal

Add the “used” charcoal to the bottom of the chimney. Then fill it up with new charcoal.

Crumple up a couple full newspaper pieces and put them in the bottom of the chimney.

Light the newspaper!

Light the newspaper

Now go pour the beverage of your choice and relax. The coals should be ready in about 25 to 30 minutes depending on wind and humidity. You know the coals are ready when the top pieces get a little gray on them. I think I let this one go a little too long (it was a good beverage!), so I had to add a few fresh charcoal briquettes to the top to compensate.

Now set the chimney aside for a minute and prepare the grill. Make sure any ashes from previous cooking are cleaned out and that the bottom vents are open for good air flow. Put in the side rails to hold the charcoal to either side.

Carefully pour the charcoal from the chimney on both sides of the rails. This is for cooking indirectly.

Put an aluminum pan in the middle. This will catch the drippings so you can make gravy. It also keeps the bottom of your grill clean!

Now put the cooking grate on. Make sure the handles are over the coals so you can add charcoal later.

Place the turkey directly on the cooking grate, right over the aluminum pan.

Put the cover on the grill. Make sure the vents are wide open for proper air flow.

Now it’s time to pour another beverage of your choice. Total cooking time is about 12 minutes per pound. No peeking except when you add charcoal every hour. Here’s what it looked like after one hour (and it smelled soooo good!). I added 8 pieces of charcoal on each side at the end of each hour cooking.

After One Hour Cooking!

Add 8 pieces of charcoal to each side every hour.

Lookin’ good after 2 hours!

This turkey is done! Notice the red pop-up on the left side. That means the meat has reached about 185 degrees. If your turkey doesn’t come with a pop-up, just use a meat thermometer. Time to take it off and let it sit for about 10 minutes before slicing. Make sure you rescue the aluminum pan with the drippings so you can make some delicious gravy.

This turkey is DONE!

Drippings for gravy!

After letting the turkey cool for at least 10 minutes, go ahead and slice it up. This turkey cooked faster than anticipated, so we let it sit covered for nearly 45 minutes while finishing up all the fixins (and for all the guests to arrive!). It was still nice and moist when we ate it.

Reference: Here’s a link to the Charcoal Grill Owners Guide that comes with the Weber Grills.

http://c929377.r77.cf2.rackcdn.com/UniversalCharcoal_OwnersGuideWrecipes_62620_012811.pdf

Page 11 has instructions for cooking with the indirect method. Page 14 has the turkey recipe.

In my humble opinion, the turkey prepared this way is outstanding. It’s always moist with an almost unnoticeable smoky flavor. It also requires very little work while it’s cooking – just add a few pieces of charcoal once an hour. No basting or anything like that. Oh, and the gravy is out of this world (at least the way Carol makes it!)

Enjoy! As always, your comments are welcome.

 

Posted by on January 11, 2011 in How To, Recipes

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Freezer Camp: Chicken Harvest 2010

I’ve been putting off this post for a long time. Here’s the short version of why: “Harvesting those chickens was NOT fun”. It was important. It was educational. It will provide us some awesome meals over the next few months. I’m really glad we did it. But it was NOT fun.

Having grown up in suburbia and never really being exposed to farming of any sort (until recently), this experience was a wake-up call. Stepping on ants or killing spiders in the house is relatively painless for me. But the whole process of catching a live chicken, hanging it upside down, slitting it’s throat, watching it bleed to death, cutting it’s head and feet off, plucking it, cutting it open, pulling it’s guts out, cleaning it and stuffing it in a bag, then repeating the process 15 times, took it’s toll on me. I am really grateful to be living in a time of history when grocery stores and restaurants are everywhere and everything is packaged and sanitized for me. I just wish I had more confidence in the food industry in general.

As of right now, we don’t have plans to go through this process again any time soon (except occasional culling of a single bird from the laying flock if necessary). I’m glad we did it and I’m proud to say that we know HOW to do it first-hand now, just in case of a disaster of some sort.

So, let’s get down to the process we went through. If we ever do it again (buying a bunch of meat chickens and harvesting them all at once), I’ll definitely invest in (or build) a plucker – pulling the feathers out is very labor intensive. We had to kill all of the chickens at once, because based on what I’ve read, they will start dying of heart attacks (one did a week earlier) and/or breaking their legs if we let them live much longer. It’s the way they’re bred (they are Cornish X Rocks).

Here’s the video introduction:

I don’t have video of actually catching the chickens. The first few were easy. The last few literally tried to run for their lives. In fact I had to use a net to catch the last 3.

This is the killing video. It’s disgusting and if you have a weak stomach or some psycho problem about animals being part of the food chain, don’t watch it, or better yet, click off this page and browse elsewhere. This is the first chicken I killed that day. We could have used a “killing cone” instead of hanging it by a rope, but the cones I bought were not big enough for these huge chickens. This video actually makes me a bit nauseous and I’m not real proud of it. But this is the reality of what we were doing.

These chickens spent their entire life (about 8 or 9 weeks) eating, sleeping, defecating and laying around – often in their own feces. So their big fat bellies were caked with excrement and food scraps. We decided to do a quick pre-cleaning of their bellies before starting the scalding/plucking steps. The chicken is already dead in this video in case you need to know that.

Next we scalded the chicken in 150 degree water for 30 to 45 seconds – actually 5 or 6 cycles of 5 seconds in the water and 3 seconds out. That makes the feathers easier to pull out.

The previous video shows me dunking the chicken in a second container of cooler water before starting the plucking. We ended up skipping that step for most of the rest of them. I think keeping it warm made plucking easier.

Next I cut off the feet.

Then I cut off the head (probably way too carefully!) while talking to Kevin about some baby turkeys for sale at the local Tractor Supply store (maybe some other time!).

Carol took over at this point and did the evisceration. She had this down to a science after the first few.

At this point, she rinsed it real well and then put it in a tub of water with some apple cider vinegar in it. She left it there until she was finished with the next bird. Then she put it in a freezer bag and stored it in a cooler. Some of these chickens were so big, they wouldn’t fit in a one gallon freezer bag. So we had to cut off the thigh/leg portions and store them separately. We kept the chickens refrigerated for a couple days and then moved them to the freezer. That’s why we called it Freezer Camp.

It’s been a couple months since we actually did this. We’ve had the opportunity to eat some of these chickens. They are VERY GOOD in my humble opinion. It’s also nice knowing that they had a decent life compared to what it could have been on a factory farm. They were given NO medication or hormones or any other crap during their short life. They were treated well and fed well and had a decent amount of space to move around in. And we’re thankful to have been rewarded for our efforts raising them with the nutrition and wonderful taste they provide, along with everything else that goes with a high quality, healthy meal. Your comments are welcome.

We used a lot of sources to gain an education about the entire process, including Backyard Poultry Magazine and this blog post from The Deliberate Agrarian. A YouTube search for “Chicken Harvest” also turned up countless videos.

 

Posted by on December 28, 2010 in Chickens, How To

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Freezing Peaches

Peaches are in at the Farmers Market and your local fruit stands!

Why not freeze some so that you can enjoy them during the winter?  I chose “cling free” or “freestone”  peaches. I try to buy locally grown if I can.  I chose this variety because the fruit releases from their pit much easier…I learned this the hard way!  Freezing peaches is easy to do and are great when you just want a taste of summer during a cold winter.

Good Luck and Enjoy!

Select fresh freestone peaches that are starting to feel soft but are still firm

Wash the peaches. Set on towel to dry.

You can put them in boiling water for 30 seconds. Remove and place them in ice water.  Then remove the skins.  (I don’t mind the skin so I did not do this step.)

Cut the Peaches in half

Then cut into quarters. Remove from pit.

As you are cutting the peaches, remove any blemishes, bruises or overripe parts of the peach.

Place on trays to freeze

Place in freezer until frozen

Label your bags. Place peaches in bags. Return to freezer.

When you are ready to use.  Remove from freezer; place in bowl to thaw in refrigerator.  Use in peach cobbler, smoothies or over ice cream!   The nice thing about freezing this way is that you can use the whole bag or only what you need. They do not freeze into one glob!!! YUM…Enjoy!

 

Posted by on August 28, 2010 in How To, Recipes

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Building the Square Foot Gardens

Everything we do with the square foot gardens comes right out of the book Square Foot Gardening by Mel Bartholomew. Just go ahead and buy it – you will use it for reference for many years to come.

A standard size for square foot gardens is 4 feet by 4 feet. We chose to use untreated 4 x 6 lumber for this project. We just purchased 2 8-foot sections for each garden, cut them in half and used deck screws to hold them together.

You don’t have to clear the ground beneath it – you can just cut the grass real short – but we did anyway because it needed some leveling. First lay down some ground cloth (keeps the weeds and grass out, but lets the water drain), and then set the square garden box on top.

Putting the gardens in place

Put down ground cloth before putting the garden box in place

Garden boxes in place - ready for soil

Next step is to mix the soil. It’s called “Mel’s Mix”. It’s 1/3 course vermiculite (we got it from Logan Trading in Raleigh http://www.logantrd.com/), 1/3 Peat Moss (also from Logan Trading) and 1/3 mixed compost. Compost can be bought from Lowes or Home Depot in bags, but you should really have a good variety. We bought ours from Olde Country Produce & Mulch on Poole Rd. in Knightdale – just got a scoop of it dropped in the back of the truck. Lots of leftover, but found various places around the yard to use it. In the future, we will use our own backyard compost, but that’s another post for the future.

The ingredients

Ready to mix

Mix the soil by putting the ingredients on a tarp, then keep folding the tarp back and forth until it’s mixed. Then pull it over next to the garden box and shovel it in.

Fill the box with Mel's Mix

Spray a little water while filling to keep the dust down and help it settle

Fill the box all the way to the top and level it

We highly recommend slats of some sort every 12 inches. That way you can easily see that there are actually 16 distinct squares within the garden, and it’s much easier to keep up with it. You can also plant completely different, unrelated plants in each square.

We used a table saw to rip 2x4 untreated lumber in to ~1/4" thick slats

We used short nuts and bolts to hold the slats together

We used 4 short deck screws to attach the center slats at each end

First year - 4 gardens with a 2 foot path between each

Now they’re ready to plant. You can either use seeds or pick up flats of your favorite plants from your local garden store. We did a combination of both. We will do a separate post for planting.

 

Posted by on August 24, 2010 in How To, Square Foot Gardens

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First Chicken Coop Project

Portable Chicken Coop

We decided to build a chicken coop and get some backyard chickens in the spring of 2009. We purchased the plans and got some great advice from Dave at Catawba ConvertiCoops.

All the Materials

Just getting started

Mike measuring for the deck

Deck and chicken wire installed

Handles installed. Beginning of the roof

Brent putting the sides together

Finished side (it slides both directions or can be lifted up and removed)

Ends installed (Square Foot Garden in background!)

Finished product. Two people can easily lift it up and move it around the yard.

First chickens – One Jersey Giant and one Black Star

Got the chickens on a Saturday and the next day (Easter Sunday!), we got our first eggs.

We used cedar chips for the nests at first, but have learned that’s not the best choice. We’ve also tried Pine Shavings, but Straw seems to work best for us.

 

Posted by on August 23, 2010 in Chickens, How To

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Freezing Fuster Cluck Pears

About a week and a half ago, Daddy & I picked pears from our backyard pear tree. We had read that it is best to pick pears before they are completely ripe because they ripen better off the tree. We let them sit in a bag for awhile on the dining room floor, and every day I would touch them to see if they were getting any softer. On Thursday night, I noticed that a few of them were starting to get soft, so on Friday morning, I woke up with a mission. Luckily, I had a great website to help me with my first true pear experience: www.pickyourown.org .


I washed all of the pears in cold water, then started on the adventure of peeling and coring them.

After that, I sliced them using an apple corer/slicer. I put them directly into a FruitFresh and Water Mixture. For those of you who aren’t familiar with FruitFresh, it is an Ascorbic Acid powder that prevents fruits and veggies from browning. (Check it out! http://thekitchenstore.com/bafrprpr.html … it’s also available at most grocery stores)

I kept slicing and peeling for what seemed like forever, and finally I had enough to fill up a cookie sheet. I lifted the pears out of the bowl, making sure to shake away any excess liquid, and spread them out in a single layer.The next step is to put the pears in the freezer. I ended up making three trays. The next day (you really only have to wait a few hours), I took the pears off the cookie sheet and put them into a labeled Ziplock bag. Easy, Right? Well, now we have a bag and a half of pears, and we still have more pears. Sounds like a good project for later this week! Here’s a pic of the finished product: Frozen Pears

Thanks for reading!

 

Posted by on August 22, 2010 in How To

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Corn Dip

Corn Dip Recipe

2  cans of white corn drained

1  eight ounce block of cream cheese

1 stick of butter

1  can of chopped chili peppers undrained

½   teaspoon of garlic salt

In a medium sauce pan melt butter and cream cheese.  Stir while melting.  Stir until creamy.  If you are have trouble getting this to blend together, try whisking  it.  Transfer into a bowl.  Add drained cans of corn, chilis and garlic salt.  Mix well and serve with Fritos Scoops.

Step by Step Corn Dip

Butter and Cream Cheese in Sauce Pan

In a medium sauce pan melt butter and cream cheese.  Stir while melting.  Stir until creamy.

Cream Cheese and Butter starting to melt

If you are have trouble getting this to blend together,

try whisking  it.

Whisking until creamy

Transfer into a bowl.  Add drained cans of corn, chilis and garlic salt.

Adding Corn and Chilis

Mix well and serve with Fritos Scoops.

Yum!

You can even serve this as a side dish!

 

Posted by on August 22, 2010 in How To, Recipes

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