Friday, May 31, 2013

Chick Feed

I have done the unthinkable. I have allowed my daughter to be gifted baby chicks, and now I have four busy, fluffy chicks scampering around the homestead. They are adorable, at least they are now that they are no longer living in our house, as they temporarily were due to the wet and cold weather that has lingered just a bit too long this spring. They peck, scamper, and follow my daughter Addie around like, well, baby chicks. Above doing the unthinkable, I have done the craziest thing also.  From the kitchen window, watching Addie and the chicks busy themselves outside, I made chick feed. I didn't intend to pamper these young hens as such, but it has become a necessity. There is no young chick feed to purchase in Grand Marais, and after glancing over the ingredient list of the last bag we purchased, I decided that we could do better, and for less. I browsed the internet for any crucial info regarding a young chicken's diet, and found that a trip through the bulk section at the Co-op would provide me with all of the ingredients those babies need. I'll admit that our chicks are eating high on the hog now, and if I had a bigger flock, I don't know that I would go to these lengths. I have now been dubbed an over achiever, and I'm okay with that. Happy hens lay good eggs!

It turns out that there are dozens of homemade chick feed recipes online, so that means other people are making their own chick feed, right? This is what I put together, and it's so far so good, as far as those chicks chowing down their new food goes. I should mention that we let them out in the evenings and on the weekends when we are home to keep a watchful eye on them. They get plenty of foraging time to eat grasses, peck dirt, and do what chickens do. We've also been feeding them bits of veggies and fruit that would otherwise be compost. Yes, my brothers are most likely laughing at me right now, but I swear our chicks are doing well with their new hippy diet!

Chick Feed

3 cups cracked corn
4 cups wheat berries
1 cup barley
1 cup buckwheat groats
1 cup millet
1 cup quinoa
1 cup split peas
1 cup lentils
1 cup sunflower seeds
1 cup peanuts
1/2 cup wheat bran
1/2 cup flax seeds
1/4 cup kelp granules

I processed this mix up a bit as those chicks can't handle big whole grains yet. It  helped break everything up into a coarse mix, which the chicks can easily chow down. I never envisioned my culinary background put to use for chickens, but that is just one of the many new paths I get the opportunity to travel down and explore! Belly up!!

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

cockles and mussels alive, alive-o!

I am in love with a book I picked up at the library. It's called ' In the Kitchen with the Pike Place Fish Guys'. As I flipped through the pages, I knew I was going to be making seafood for dinner in my future. The book features recipes and tips from the crew of the Pike Place Fish Place. I should mention that I lived in Seattle for a bit. I spent most days going for long walks down to the Pike Place Market. I would buy produce at the many produce stands, listen to street musicians, buy seafood and wander back home, picking blackberries along the way. I spent a lot of time cooking really awesome food that was pretty much all harvested locally. I consumed a record amount of blackberries, halibut, and chowder and I have no regrets.

Living in Grand Marais is similar to living in Seattle. Swap our snow for rain, and it's pretty close. Living on Lake Superior gives us that damp atmosphere Seattle is famous for, and you can enjoy hot bowls of fresh chowder year round here as there. Plus there is a local fish monger who brings us a fresh catch everyday. I went to the Fish Market this past weekend because like I said, I was going to be making seafood for dinner in my future (and Dockside Fish Market has really awesome smoked salmon dip and I was getting hungry). The air in Grand Marais was a little heavy and thick, and had begun to smell of the sweet, sweet smells of Lake Superior. A little on the fishy side that morning, but it was wonderful to get a good waft of lake water air in my lungs. It further sealed that connection that I am having right now with Seattle, and further influenced my decision to buy more fish. My timing is impeccable, as the Fish Market has just opened up, and inside laid the bounty of my feast!

I settled on Mussels and fresh caught Lake Trout . I know, I know, what am I doing buying mussels when there's fresh caught fish from Lake Superior to be had? I have a thing for mussels. They are delicious, hard to come by in our secluded little harbor town, and my daughter has been singing the chorus to the Irish ballad of Molly Malone for weeks, so I need some cockles and mussels- alive, alive-o.  I am sure that I will become a fish monger in my next life. I am perfectly content with the uniform, very truly love being out on the water, and I don't mind at all smelling of herring. So with my future in fish mongering mapped out, I set out to make mussels. The Lake Trout became Lake Trout BLT's, but that's another story.

Mussels are sweet and rich and they require very little to be delicious. I was thinking wine, leeks, garlic, parsley, and lemon. Pretty standard stuff. Keep it simple, and keep it fresh. My mussels were cleaned and came without beards. If your mussels have beards, grab the threads hanging out and pull toward the hinge of the mussel. With a sharp tug, the beard should come right off. Now get your game face on and make mussels!

Spring Mussels

1 1/2 pounds fresh, live mussels
1 small leek, cleaned and sliced
3 cloves garlic, minced or garlic scapes, sliced
1 1/2 cups white wine
2-4 Tbls butter (more or less to your desire)
1/4 cup fresh parsley, minced
1 lemon, zest and juice
sea salt, pinch
chili flakes, pinch

Place a saute pan large enough to to host 1 1/2 pounds of mussels, over high heat. Add about 2 Tbl olive oil.
When the pan is pre-heated, add the leeks and saute about 1 minute.

Add the garlic and the mussels to the pan and give it a few shakes. Add the wine and cover the pan, leaving it on high heat all the while.

After about 1 minute, lift the lid and take a peak at those mussels. They should have started to open. Place the lid back on the pan and saute another minute. Take another peak. If the mussels have all opened up, you are ready to add the remaining ingredients. If only a few mussels have opened, then you just need another minute or so of cooking time with the lid back on the pan.

When all of the mussels have opened, add the butter, parsley, lemon juice and lemon zest, sea salt and chili flakes. Give the mussels a stir, shake the pan, flip your ingredients into the air- back into the pan, and you are finished. Discard any mussels that did not open.

Place the mussels and the cooking liquid in a large serving bowl with a side of fresh crusty bread and the rest of that bottle of wine. Enjoy while the mussels are piping hot. Fantasize about the west coast. Belly up!!