Wednesday, May 22, 2013

In Which We Milk a Goat and Make Dessert...

Well, I've managed to drag the goat posts out for another week...  They came back last Friday for a final (for now) visit and left Sunday morning.  While they were here, Mr. Farmer taught my eldest how to milk a goat.  He was so excited.  And I was too excited to run back into the house for the camera, so no pictures.  But I do have some lovely pictures of what I did with the milk!

goat rentals, seattle area goat rentals
 But first, a few more before and afters...

The black thing there is my compost bin.  Behind it is a pile of flower pots the previous owners of our house left us.  I knew they were there, but had no idea how many there were!

 We let the goats graze our property line this time.  This is my neighbor's house.  You can see what a good job they did mowing the grass!  (And even though it looks like it in this picture, they did not eat all the branches out of that tree in front of the house.  It's just a different perspective! lol!)

A tunnel of clean.

I didn't have a "before" of this area, but I think it shows a good portion of what they did.  I'm not afraid to go back there anymore!  Well, except now I'm afraid of stepping in the yellow jacket nest we found.  Nature has sharp pointy bits.

I'm amazed by the amount of garbage we found back here.  All kinds of soda and energy drink cans, a rubbermaid container full of what I can only guess is something from the dark and smelly pits of deepest Hell, cinder blocks, part of a car window, an old basketball, and an entire tree that had been sectioned up and left to degrade under the ivy that we had no idea was even there!  We have a lot of clean-up ahead of us now.  Besides all the garbage, it will be up to us to pull the old ivy roots out and keep an eye on any returning stragglers.  I'm going to replant as much of it as I can with native plants that will serve to hold the bank in place better than the ivy did.  Hopefully some that grow food!

 And speaking of food...  One of my favorite plants this time of year is rhubarb.  I have tried repeatedly to grow it with no success, but nevertheless I make my yearly valiant effort. And when it fails, I go to the grocery and buy it.

Kumquats are in season this time of year, too and I've never really had much inclination to buy them before.  But I hit upon the idea of adding them to a dessert with rhubarb and I bought a few to give it a try.

kumquats, kumquat
I should have sliced them a little thinner than this.

Having fallen in love with herbs in savory applications, adding them to desserts always seems like a cheeky little twist. I'm sure I'm not nearly as clever as I imagine myself, but adding herbs to unexpected dishes makes me feel like the sharpest knife in the drawer.

And finally to that wonderful goat milk the sweet little doe gave us...  We tried to drink it.  I must say, it's wasn't nearly as "goaty" as other goat milk I've had but my son wouldn't have it and my husband wouldn't even try it, which is pretty rare for him.  I was struck by how salty it was so I decided to make a simple ricotta/farmer's type cheese.

goat milk, lemon juice, goat cheese

Fresh Goat Cheese
2 C goat milk
3 Tbs freshly squeezed lemon juice

Non-reactive pot (stainless steel)
Wooden Spoon

Heat the milk on the stove in a non-reactive pot for a few minutes until it reaches 180-185°.  Remove from heat, add the lemon juice and let sit for 10 minutes to let the curds form.  Line colander with cheese cloth and place over bowl.  Pour milk curds through the cheesecloth, catching all the milk in the bowl.  Tie opposite corners together, then use a wooden spoon to suspend the cheese over the bowl to catch the rest of the draining whey.  Let sit overnight to drain.  In the morning, open it up and sample your delicious, creamy cheese!  You can keep the whey for use in baking.
So then I had sliced rhubarb and sliced kumquat and creamy cheese and what did I do with all these delicious ingredients?  I made Herbed Rhubarb Kumquat Crisp, of course!

rhubarb, kumquat, sage, rosemary, thyme, goat cheese

Herbed Rhubarb Kumquat Crisp
2 lbs rhubarb, sliced into 1/4 inch pieces
1/2 C thinly sliced kumquats
1 C Sucanat
1 tsp finely chopped rosemary
1 tsp finely chopped sage
2 tsp finely chopped thyme, flowers included 

1 C oatmeal
1/2 C whole wheat flour
1/4 C Sucanat
1/2 tsp cinnamon
7 tsp softened, salted butter
1/4 C chopped pecans

Preheat oven to 350°.  In a large bowl, combine rhubarb, kumquats, Sucanat, and herbs.  Let sit while you assemble the topping ingredients.  In a medium bowl, combine oatmeal, flour, Sucanat, and cinnamon.  With your fingers, massage in the butter until well incorporated and clumps form.  Stir in the pecans.  Place filling in a casserole dish or deep dish pie pan and top with oatmeal mixture.  Bake for 30-45 minutes until the rhubarb is soft when pierced with a knife.  Serve warm or chilled with a dollop of goat cheese.

If this is a little too sour for your taste, sweetened whipped cream or vanilla ice cream will do the trick.

This is a nice little dessert, even if the boys weren't convinced, my husband and I loved it!

Friday, May 17, 2013

A Kid'll Eat Ivy, Too!

By way of update, from my earlier post, here's the latest in the goat mower saga!

This little dear is working his way, chest deep, to the choicest leaves.  He is a special type of goat that has very small ears.

He is the first goat my eldest son got to hold.  He said, "He feels like a cloud!" So we named him Cloud.

These pictures are from the day we moved the goats to the second area.  They moved in and started eating like they hadn't eaten in a week.

Pulling her weight.

Our ewe was still sagging with pregnancy when she left.  Poor darling!

It's not cold.  I don't know why they decided to wear winter gloves.  I think they just wanted to look cool.

This little brown one is named K2 (the only one we actually knew the real name of) and was my eldest's favorite.  My youngest loved the little black one here most and named her Little.

 This is the part of the first section easily seen from the driveway before and after.

Further up the bank.

All the brown here used to be green.  Including the fence.

On the other side of the fence, was our second area for clearing.  Believe it or not, these pictures are exactly the same area!

Mario on the right, easily walks through an area he'd have been wading through before.

This poor tree has been killed by ivy and will have to come out.

 Part of the dead tree that has already fallen.  Wouldn't believe it was even in that first picture, would you?

I had no idea how wonderful goats were.  Such gentle and sweet little things with so much personality.  My husband and boys all had their favorites.  My favorite was any goat that happened to have a mouthful of green stuff when I looked at her.

 After four days, the sad time finally came to say goodbye.
Cade carried K2 down to the truck.  But we will have another quick visit next week for one last section.  (For now.)

To prepare for our goaty guests, I decided to move a couple of plants.
I had a small group of trilliums blooming that I just love and a few ramps I transplanted from my grocery store last year.  Ramps are a wild leek that grows natively in the Eastern part of the US.  I love them and they are catching on in popularity in this area.  I found out that they like to live near trilliums so I stuck some in the ground near my trillium patch.  I was delighted to see these sprigs appear this Spring.  Now that I've moved them, I hope they come back next year!

Here are some harvested ramps.  They have a strong garlicy/onion flavor.

I paired them with eggs to make this lovely breakfast.

Egg with Asparagus and Ramps

1 egg
2 thin stalks of asparagus, sliced in 1/4 inch pieces
1 ramp, chopped small, leaves included
1 oz feta cheese, crumbled
salt and pepper

Sauté the asparagus in a small amount of butter until it is warmed and starting to soften.  Remove from heat, fry an egg in the same pan a few minutes until it looks the way you like.  Remove from the pan, and heat the ramps for a few seconds to warm them up.  Sprinkle the asparagus, ramps, and feta over the egg and salt and pepper to taste.

This egg is terribly quick and delicious.  The feta I found had a mild "goaty" flavor that reminded me of my girls.  I can't wait to see them again next week!

The goat man is coming back today!  Eeeeeee!  =)

Friday, May 10, 2013

Mares Eat Oats...

     Today is an exciting day at our house.  In a few hours, I'm going to have 40 goats in my yard!  A local company called the Goat Lady rents herds of goats by the day to eat... well... everything.  Many people around here use them for blackberries, but we don't have much of a problem and I like the ones I have.  But the other big problem in the Pacific Northwest is English ivy.  It's like kudzu in the South.  It doesn't grow quite as fast, but it does smother everything in its path.  In the four years we've lived here, we've lost three large maple trees to ivy.  Ivy is also terrible for combating soil erosion and can even make it worse.  Considering we live on the side of a hill, erosion is a big concern of mine.

 It looks like a beautiful woodland setting.  And it is.  But most of the green on the floor here is ivy.  All it wants to do is crawl up trees and smother them to death.  

Again, mostly ivy.  You can see the ivy advancing up the trees in the background.  It's insanely beautiful, but so, so, deadly! 

Goodbye, ivy.  I look forward to replacing you with non-invasive natives.  Preferably ones that make food...

I'm going to try to post pictures throughout the day so stay tuned!


 First came the truck...

Then Mr. Farmer let the boys help him install the fence.

And then it was time to release the goats!!

 A couple of the babies.  Mr. Farmer says that babies that are raised nursing from browsing mothers gain much more weight and are healthier than kids raised on the bottle.  Who knew, right?

And here they are!  They have attacked the ivy with such vigor, I'm afraid they may run out of food by the time the afternoon is over!  One of the does is pregnant and may kid any time!  I'll try to get a picture of her when she comes near the fence again.

Such an exciting day!

More pics soon!


I'm pretty sure this is the doe that's due any minute. She hasn't done much traveling up and down the bank. (Update: This is actually a sheep.  I thought it looked pretty sheepish, but didn't know for sure.  I asked Mr. Farmer today [5/12] and she is, indeed a ewe and still full of lambs!  Still no babies yet, but we have actually retained their services for two more days because we were so happy with the job they did!  Still time!)

This is toward the end of the day.  You can see how far up the trees they've eaten and there is a noticeable difference on the bank.

 We have been telling the kids all day not to touch the fence as it is electrified.  It pulses so you can touch it 20 times and not get zapped, but that next time, boy you wish you hadn't done that.  Guess who is the only one who got shocked today.  ME!  I had my hand through a hole.  I wasn't touching anything at all, but I still got zapped.  It was like a strong jolt of static electricity.  The goat I was petting felt it, too.  She forgave me though, when I offered her a few tasty weeds.  Sorry goatie!

We will have these beauties until Sunday morning.  I will post a few after shots then!!

Check out my next post for before and after pics!

Friday, May 3, 2013

A Quick Tropical Brunch...

     Just like last year, I came home from Hawai'i all inspired to make some of the same foods I tried at our hotel.  We had brunch daily and it was obvious to all that this is the height of papaya season.  They were so sweet and soft they almost tasted like honeysuckle.  So fragrant!  Last year, I devoted myself to enjoying them with a twist of lime, but this year we were provided with mint.  I'm not sure if two things could possibly be more perfect for each other.  Such a beautiful marriage!  

     Twice, the hotel provided a bagel bar with lox, cream cheese, hard boiled egg, tomatoes, and capers.  Being vegetarian and all, I tried one with everything except the salmon.  Friends, that is some serious yumminess.  

     And finally, we rounded up more than a few brunches with a fruit smoothie.  My favorite was the mango, though I had a pineapple mint one that made me weak in the knees one sultry morning.

     And so I came home determined to replicate this deliciousness in my own kitchen.  I love how quick this is to throw together since when I usually make brunch, it's served at 11 because I've been cooking it since 8.  I tend to be rather elaborate is what I'm sayin'.

Quick Brunch Menu

Vegetarian Super Bagel
2 bagels
1 hard boiled egg, peeled and sliced
2 Tbs no chemical cream cheese (some lovely goat cheese would be a great substitute)
1 heirloom tomato, sliced
 2 tsp capers, drained

Slice the bagels and spread 1 Tbs of cream cheese on each.  Divide the hard boiled egg between the two, add tomato, and sprinkle with capers.

Mango Smoothie
1 mango, peeled and sliced
1 C plain yogurt
2 C crushed ice

Add ingredients to a blender and blend at high speed until smooth.

My boys liked strawberry and banana in theirs as well.

Papaya with Mint
1 ripe papaya
2 sprigs, mint, washed (use a mild mint variety such as peppermint)

Slice the papaya in half and scoop out the seeds with a spoon.  Slice each half into four.  Serve slices with mint leaves.

Because papaya is a rather tropical fruit that many "mainlanders" have never tried, some may not know how to pick a good one.  Check that your papaya doesn't have any large bruises, wrinkled skin, or signs of mold.  A good papaya will yield slightly to pressure and you should be able to slide your fingernail through the skin without much force.  (I wouldn't suggest the fingernail test until you actually own the fruit...)  One of our friends once asked me if you eat the skin.  You can, though I don't find it particularly appetizing.  Mostly, I use the skin to hold it and eat it like watermelon, but of course you can peel it off if you like.  You can eat the seeds, too.  They're kind of peppery with a final taste similar to horseradish.  Might even be good on a bagel... Hmmm...


My boys didn't go for the "green balls" but they loved everything else!  It's a nice little treat to break it up a bit during the week.
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...