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Step one- wash those mushrooms! Seriously, they are grown in manure. Wash them a lot before you proceed.

Sunday Dinner, No Big Deal

Such a great Sunday we had in the Food It Yourself house today! There were no animal related emergencies; Agnes Featherduster is back in the chicken coop where she belongs. Neither Mr. Food It Yourself nor I had any pressing errands to run. Nothing broke. Nobody was sick. It was an easy, relaxing, rainy day. We spent a few hours in the early afternoon with my parents during which my mom and I selected our garden seeds for the year. I’ll give you the details on that another day.

Tonight, I made a scrumptious Sunday dinner with some of my favorite foods: broiled pork chops with mushroom gravy, sautéed Brussels sprouts, and muffins. Gravy is not my strongest cooking subject, but I made it because I had a 12 ounce pack of mushrooms that was going to go bad if I did not use it soon. Food waste is bad. I try to avoid it at all costs.

Here’s how it all went down:

 

Melt a little butter in a sauce pan. Easy, right?

 

Finely chop the mushrooms, add a pinch of salt, and let them sweat it all over medium heat.

 

After about 15 minutes the volume of mushrooms will decrease and all the mushroomy essence will puddle in the bottom of the pan.

 

Don’t waste that 15 minutes. Finely chop half an onion and five cloves of garlic. Add the garlic and onion to the pan.

 

Time to up the liquid portion of this gravy. I used two cups of broth and half a cup of red wine. The wine is optional, but never cook with a wine you would not drink. We had a bottle of wine Mr. Food It Yourself got for Christmas from a co-worker. I did not want to waste it, so I drank a little to make sure it was good, then added half a cup to the gravy.

 

Don’t get the wrong idea- the wine that did not make it into the gravy or into my glass was made into ice cubes, which will be used for future cooking adventures!

 

Cook off the alcohol in the wine by simmering the gravy for 10-15 minutes. Hit that with a blender, finish with a little pepper. There you go- gravy.

I love to cook, obviously. How else could I keep my DIYet? The last few weekends have been pretty draining, th0ugh. Tonight, I had fun making a super tasty DIY dinner for Mr. Food It Yourself and I.

 

Yes, it was a little work. However, I used up some food that might have otherwise gone to waste, and made a delicious, nutritionally balanced meal. I even practiced my less-than-perfect gravy skills and it worked out okay. It was totally worth it! What is your favorite “worth the work” dish? Share in the comments!

BONUS: Here is my tip for amazing Brussels sprouts. When you sauté Brussels sprouts place them into the pan with the cut side down for 15-ish minutes over medium heat. Look how pretty!

BONUS BONUS: Here is my muffin recipe. I adapted it from about half a dozen or so that I liked. Muffins are really easy. I like making them a lot.

Whatcha Got Muffins (Makes 12)

Dry ingredients:

  • 1 ¼ cup quick oats
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • ½ tsp salt

Wet ingredients:

  • ¼ cup sugar
  • 1 cup milk (cow, goat, camel, soy, almond, whatever)
  • 1 egg
  • ¼ oil
  • 1 cup whatever you got- berries (fresh or frozen), shredded apple, shredded carrot, drained crushed pineapple…

 

  1. Preheat the oven to 425˚F
  2. Combine the dry ingredients in one bowl and the wet ingredients in a different bowl.
  3. Grease the cups of a muffin tin- I use cooking spray for this.
  4. When the oven has preheated, combine the wet and dry bowls until the dry ingredients are just moistened.
  5. Fill the muffin tin cups 2/3 full, bake for 20-25 minutes.

Let’s Get Rotten

We are on back half of winter here in New England, at least as far as the calendar shows. I have received about half a dozen seed catalogs, not counting the ones Mr. Food It Yourself disposed of before I could get to them. We had a very welcome thaw after weeks of record-breaking cold. The sun is peeping over the horizon when I am driving to work.  Every day feels a little less gray and a little more green. And that is a very good thing, because I have a compost problem.

Yup-getting close to the top of the box.

Let me back up a step. For those of you who are unfamiliar with the concept compost is simply decomposed stuff that makes really good, inexpensive fertilizer. A compost heap is a gardener’s best friend. Go ahead and do a quick internet search and you will find all kinds of structures to help contain your compost while it rots. You can make a quick three-sided box of shipping pallets or invest in a gear-driven tumbler- it is you call- but I highly recommend you start a compost pile if you have a garden.

So, my problem?  We have stopped dumping egg shells and kitchen craps on our heap, but the chickens are still producing used coop litter.

Not much more we can fit in the 2017-2018 fallow garden box. Next time I muck out the coop I’ll have to start the 2018-2019 fallow box.

Chicken manure is an excellent addition to compost- once it has thoroughly decayed.  Things do not really decompose during New England winters, though, and I am running out of places to put the litter!

What is to be done? Not much, unfortunately.  The internet is full of products that claim to jump-start the composting action. They are usually made of enzymes, microbes, nitrogen, or some combination of these. However, most of the information I found from sites that were not selling something is that compost starters/activators are not worth the money. After all, most compostables are full of microbes, and chicken poop is high in nitrogen.

For now, the plan is to start turning my heap(s)frequently as the warm weather hits, and in the meantime-starting a new heap. I might sneak a few worms into the piles, too.  Many sources recommend adding worms. The fact is, like all good things, compost takes time. I guess I just need to stop being so impatient.

What are you impatient about during the off-season? Share in the comments section!

Here they go- making more litter. The good thing about chickens is that even their poop is useful.

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