Breakfast cannot be more enjoyable than with fresh home grown free range eggs and organic spinach out of the garden. I am lucky enough to have a combination of quail and chicken eggs for breakfast.
Wash two large bunches of spinach (beetroot or radish tops work equally well). Do not add water, the water clinging to the leaves from the washing will be enough. After a while press as much water out of the spinach as you can and put aside. Add one tablespoon of extra virgin olive oil and one tablespoon of butter to a pan. Also add three large cloves of garlic and one small chili finely chopped, simmer for about two minutes on low heat. Add the spinach to the pan and season with salt and pepper to taste. Now break in as many eggs as required and cook until eggs are done to your liking. You can cover the pan for a while when cooking if you want the eggs hard. Sprinkle with grated parmigiano, black pepper, add a dash of olive oil and serve with home made bread.
Coratella is the Italian name for all the organs in the thoracic (chest cavity) and the dish includes the heart, lungs, liver, spleen and kidneys of either a young lamb, chicken or rabbit. We were fortunate to obtain a suckling Boerbok lamb from a farmer close to Dunedin and I went to the farm and slaughtered it myself, hence had access to all the organs normally discarded and seldom eaten in New Zealand. Coratella is also the name of the resulting dish.
Clean the organs making sure that all the blood is washed off, then cut it into cubes about 2 cm square. Dice two onions and two cloves of garlic and fry in some butter and olive oil until well soft. Ad all the organs, except the liver, and fry well over medium to high heat. While frying, ad a chopped red chili, two bay leaves, salt and pepper. When the meat is almost done ad the liver and turn the heat to high. Ad a handful of chopped parsley and fry for three to four minutes until livers are done, but still pink on the inside. Ad one glass of dry white wine and let it evaporate. Serve immediately with polenta.
Do not forget the good home made dry red wine!
Today’s all home produced lunch was beautiful!. Firstly the Ancona cockerel that did not make the breeding pens was slaughtered at 12 weeks of age. At this young age the meat is soft and tender, but not as tasty as an old hen, which I prefer for slow cooked poultry dishes such as “Pollo alla cacciatora in bianco”. Nevertheless, it was very good. I vacuum seal the chickens (and all other animals) when slaughtered and keep them in the fridge for some three to four weeks to age – never frozen. The organic carrots were from a friends garden and I wish that I could have claimed origin as they were so tasty. The cardoons were from my garden and they grow so well in Dunedin that the rabbits have a serving every day. Whatever is left over, we eat.
Cardi alla parmigiana went well with the chicken and carrots and of course some home brewed wine. I am drinking from a damigiana of cherry wine which is dry and fruity and a good compliment to any meal. The only criticism may be that it lacks some body, but all the other wonderful attributes overrides any shortcomings. The wine of the house is not always perfect!
Select the biggest outside leaves of the cardoon and strip the leaves of the stem and use a potato peeler to peel the strings from the outside, (almost like preparing celery) of the stem. Cook in salt water and the juice of one lemon until tender. Drain and set aside. Dip the dried cardoon in flour and egg and fry until golden in a bit of olive oil. Prepare bechamel sauce and arrange the cardoon pieces in a baking dish, ( I use individual serve cast iron pots) cover with bechamel, parmigiano and cracked black pepper and repeat the layers until the dish is full. Place some butter pieces on top and bake in the oven at 180 C for 20 minutes.
Do not forget the wine.
Today was compost aerate day at Back Yard Farmer, but it was not such a huge effort as I fortunately had a lot of help, as can be seen.
Organisms such as those we want to propagate in our compost heaps require oxygen to survive (Aerobic), therefor all high temperature aerobic composting needs to be aerated frequently for rapid odor free decomposition. The process of turning over and aerate the compost heap also helps to reduce the initial high moisture contents, but also turn those materials that were on the outsides to the center and expose these to higher temperatures as well. It is also an opportunity, if turned by hand as most small gardeners would do, to sort larger pieces which are slower to decompose as well as any foreign materials such as rocks, etc from your compost. A good healthy compost heap would smell like good fresh soil with a loose consistency with no compaction and slimy wet parts and contain a ton of worms, which more than often is a good yardstick of the general well being of the compost.
At Back Yard Farmer we keep a number of bins under the sink in the kitchen and sort our waste immediately when generated. We have bins for Compost, Worm Farm, Rabbits, Chickens and Quails as well as waste for disposal. Then all of our garden greens, poultry and rabbit used bedding and manure also goes into compost.
Today Mrs BYF and I took the two grandsons and their mother to the National Poultry Show in Oamaru, The poultry show was great and we admired all the not so functional efficient poultry breeds, as well as those that have a purpose of existence. The grandsons were very intrigued by the pigeons that swallowed balloons and those who forgot to tame their punk hairstyles. One of them wanted a balloon pigeon to take home, the other opted for a goose.
The other reason for attending the show was to see if their were any Anconas worth adding to my flock. I found the organisation a bit haphazard. Following my inquiries days before the show about birds for sale, I was informed that there would be “silent” bidding for animals on sale but nobody seemed to know anything about this “sale”. Also trying to find which animals, if any, were for sale delivered little results. Needless to say, I came home without any Anconas – to the delight of Mrs BYF.
The best of the trip was experiencing the Victorian part of the city – very impressive. The picnic on a stone table with the harbor on the one side and the playground on the other, was a great success attracting lots of comments from passers by, as we were the only picnickers. I forgot the home made wine as well as the tablecloth at home, but a bottle of local plonk went down well with the home grown salads, quail eggs, home cured salmon, focaccia, lamb and cucumber sandwiches and bread. By the end of the picnic the kid’s sandwiches lived up to their name – containing real sand from the playground. After the lunch the trip back seemed much longer than the trip going.