Wednesday, June 26, 2013

What's going on at Pinch Manor? And Quick, quirky quibs about quality quinoa.


This. This is what's been going on at Pinch Manor. Planting and weeding and harvesting and coddling and fighting the mini invaders, and more planting and more weeding and andandand...on to other things:

This is what quinoa looks like before it winds up at your local grocery store :D. Purdy, ain't it?

I've been trying to grow this stuff for the last 3 years, and this is the first time it's not simply laughing at me right before falling over and dying in infancy. It's actually blooming. I'm gonna have quinoa from my own garden.
In a few years. This year I'll get just enough to save seed, but that's OK, I finally figured out how to treat these recalcitrant little buggers.

First off, seed them out RIGHT after the chance for your last frost has passed, and make sure that you have your weeds under control, they do NOT like to be smothered. And then keep them weeded. Then weed some more. They seem to do fine in the location I put them this year, a fairly even mix of clay and sand, with plenty of compost, future years will tell if they have a preference.

Once they are actually established and going, they can handle quite a bit of abuse (like absolutely no weeding for a solid 2 weeks), but don't let your S.O. rip them out, thinking that they are fat hens (a common weed that they are actually very closely related to and look a lot like and WILL cross pollinate with, at least according to every source I have been able to find).

So far I have not had to support these guys, and they are now about 5 and a half feet tall. As the seed heads mature this may change, so we'll see.

As far as harvesting goes:

So far we've brought in some garlic, a few quarts of raspberries, a small handful of blueberries (they hate their location and will be moved once they go dormant in the fall), three honeyberries (yeah, 3, you have something to say?), quite a bit of mint and chives, more loose leaf lettuce than we could eat, radishes (they have now all gone to seed, which I am not at all upset about), several meals worth of asparagus, one paltry carrot (I will not be defeated by a root vegetable), about a quart of peas that are going right back in the ground this summer for a fall harvest we can actually eat and a few handfuls of buckwheat, again enough to go right back in the ground so we can hopefully have a harvest worth making pancakes with.

I'm forgetting things, and that's OK.

Oh, yeah, some of our corn has tassels (YEAH!) and the peppers that went in the ground about a month late are setting flowers (YEAH! again).

That's all I have for now,
Happy Pinching :D

Sunday, June 16, 2013

Turkey squeezings!

Well., not really Turkey squeezings, but definitely squeezing that last little penny out of that Turkey; and on that note: thank you, wonderful neighbours who let me have their turkey carcass after feeding us dinner. Turns out I have no shame and will ask for other peoples proto-refuse (This bird was cooked in a green egg and I am green with envy and BBQ lust, it was YUM-MY)
Turkey carcass with ginger bug in upper left corner and steam juicer inset on the right, I are multitasker
Doesn't that just look delicious? And there was sooooo much meat left on that bird I almost made enchiladas. If you haven't figured it out, I'm doing a step by step on how to make turkey broth powder :)

Step one: Obtain Turkey carcass. Skin, bones, meat scrapings, basically what is left after the meal. This is the same process as one would use to make any other poultry broth, btw, so don't think you need to limit yourself to turkeys. Beef is a bit different, next time I do beef I'll do a post about it :D

 Step two: Put the carcass into a large enough slow cooker to cover it all with water. If there is grain based stuffing, you want to remove that, but veggies, fruit and herbs are perfectly fine to leave in there. This is when you add any seasonings you want in there. I used garlic powder, mixed herbs and salt and pepper.

Step three: Add any vegetable left overs you have laying around/ in the freezer (you DO keep your vegetable leavings in a bag in the freezer, right? Everyone has that bag, right? I'm NOT weird, stop saying that).

Step 4: Add enough water to cover the whole shebang and set that baby on high, go off to do other things for about 16 hours, just stir every now and then and at some point taste it. The bird was cooked before taking this bath, so you are safe, but I do like to let it go for a bit so the flavours can mingle and get to know each other. This is what your re-constituted broth will taste like, so make it work for you. Here's what you are looking to get:

I wish I could take a picture of the smell, it's simply divine.

Step 5: Using a pot large enough to accommodate all of this, or several pots until you have reduced the volume enough, strain the bones and vegetable matter out. If you are canning this you will want to strain it much, much better than what I am doing here, which leaves some bits in, just get the majority out.

Step 6: Boil it all. Then boil it some more. If you cannot do this outside, your kitchen will become a steam room/sauna, so make sure to wrap yourself in a towel and enjoy the experience. Here's what you are looking to achieve:

Notice the lack of about 8 and a half quarts of liquid? Yes, my skin is baby soft and my entire house smells like Turkey, thanks for asking :D That's about a cup of liquid, it's noticeably thicker than water.

Step 7: After that has cooled a bit, load the liquid on fruit roll up trays for your dehydrator

Set to 160 degrees F and let her go

until you have this:

Takes about a day and a half.

Step 8: you know your broth is completely dehydrated when you can do this:

What I'm doing here is simply pressing on the back of the roll up sheet and the dehydrated broth comes right off. If it sticks it's not done. Unload all of your trays (the thinner the layer, the quicker it dries) and crunch them up

Then crunch them some more and if you feel so inclined, run them through a food processor or use a mortar and pestle to create powder, just be quick about it, this stuff WANTS water. As in, if you just LOOKED at the faucet it will stick to your fingers. You can just break it up small enough to fit your jar, consistency does not affect the taste, it does however re-constitute faster if powdered. And it's easier to measure.


Homemade, dried and powdered turkey stock. All ingredients that I know and can pronounce (but then, I speak German, so that's probably a weird litmus) and lovely stuff I can use in my dried soup pre-mixes without worrying about what might be in it.

I keep it in the fridge or freezer, but it's perfectly fine in the pantry for at least three months. It does have trace fat in it and it's a meat product, so some caution is advised, but it's also pretty salty in this state, so if it smells good (and boy howdy, does it ever), it's fine.

I also make a second brewing of the turkey carcass, with more vegetables and seasonings added, that's the broth I freeze or can.

Aside from taking about 3 days to make, this broth is easy to make, actually pretty low effort and cost me next to nothing. The carcass was free, and even if not, it's using something that is a by-product of eating poultry, the vegetables are also by-products of something we already ate, the seasonings are pennies at best and the fuel is probably around $1. So for a very generous estimate of $2 (no, I'm not going to figure out what the cost of the bones was by weight, because 1. I don't know what the turkey cost, 2. I didn't weigh the carcass and 3. Even if I had bought the bird, I would have considered the entire weight as part of the meat and accounted for it that way, so in MY house bones are free, YMMV) I have the equivalent of 2 jars of organic/preservative free (OK, salt, stickler, you) broth base. I'll take it.

That's all I got for now,
Happy Pinching :D

Thursday, June 6, 2013

Gratuitous chicken boy pictures

Micro Roo

His Grayness

These two are going to survive the great culling of the flock. Micro Roo because he's just the most adorable, tiny little thing I've ever seen, he's about the size of a blackbird. No idea what kind of chicken he is, though. And then there's His Grayness, he's just adorable, when he struts around and then crows, or more accurately squeaks his roosterness :). He's about half the size of a normal sized chicken, with his little beard and earmuffs :D

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Quickie :D

I am a complete wimp when it comes to cutting onions.



I cry just thinking about it.

A lot.

We're talking snot running, eyes streaming, can't see, can barely breathe, just all around bad picture.

Yet I grow onions in just about every nook I can find in my back yard and I still buy them in 50lb bags because I basically don't cook without them.

OK, maybe chocolate pudding. And Ice cream, but that's it.

So what's a girl to do?

Observe my onion cutting goggles. Don't cut onions without them.

They are just your run of the middle swim goggles. You can get them just about anywhere. Here, there, everywhere.

That little trick right there completely eliminates any and all onion cutting related crying at Pinch Manor.

They also make me look slightly psychotic, but hey, can't have it all...

Saturday, June 1, 2013


Guess what kind of post I am working on :)
And no, it's not all about how filthy my cabinets are :/