Too Many Eggs? Make Homestead Deviled Eggs

At our peak, we had 34 chickens here at our Idaho homestead — Cuckoo Marans, Rhode Island Reds, Black Sex Links, Red Sex Links, Easter Eggers, bantams of all sorts, a big awesome rooster named Alice, and one super cute silver spangled Hamburg hen. Needless to say, it meant we often ended up with extra eggs since it’s just the two of us here.

Most frequently, I use the extra eggs to make “egg thing” — I guess it’s a crustless quiche? Frittata? Egg casserole? So, yeah, this is why we just call it “egg thing” and throw in whatever veggies we have in the house. We also frequently make hard-boiled eggs for snacks.

Hardboiled eggs

But our favorite thing to do with all those eggs? Deviled eggs. They are one of Winslow’s favorite foods ever and they’re not very hard to make (as long as you don’t want to get fancy and use a pastry piper, which as people with busy lives and lots of chores, we don’t — we just make little hatch marks with the fork).

Deviled eggs are also easy to change up and personalize to your tastes or just to have a different taste from batch to batch. So if you find you’ve got too many eggs floating around, give deviled eggs a try.

Easy Homestead Deviled Eggs

Ingredients:

  • 12 eggs
  • 1/4 cup mayonnaise
  • 1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon yellow or Dijon mustard
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • Ground black pepper
  • Paprika, for garnish

Note: For the mayonnaise you can use store-bought mayonnaise or make your own paleo mayonnaise. When I buy mayo, I buy the Just Mayo brand. While it does contain canola, it does not contain soy, which we personally find more offensive.

Deviled Egg IngredientsDirections:

  1. Place eggs in a single layer in a saucepan and add enough water so the water is an inch or so above the eggs.
  2. Heat on high until water begins to boil.
  3. Cover and turn heat to low. Cook for 1 minute.
  4. Remove from heat and leave covered for 15-20 minutes, then rinse under cold water.
  5. Let cool completely.
  6. Crack shells and peel.
  7. Gently dry the eggs.
  8. Slice eggs in half lengthwise.
  9. Remove yolks and place in bowl. Set whites on a plate or in a serving dish.
  10. Mash yolks with fork.
  11. Add mayo, vinegar, mustard, salt, and pepper. Mix well.
  12. Spoon the yolk mixture back into the egg whites. If you want to get fancy, you can use a piping tool or poke cool fork patterns into the yolks once you’ve spooned in the filling. Our homestead is not that fancy. We’re hungry.
  13. Sprinkle with paprika and serve.

Hardboiled eggsIdeas for spicing it up:

  • Use chipotle or sriracha mayo instead of regular mayo. Just use more mayo and no mustard, if you try this.
  • Use horseradish instead of mustard.
  • Swap out half the mayo for some super ripe avocado.
  • Mince 1 stalk of celery and add it to the filling for some texture.

And no, Pixel, you cannot have any of the deviled eggs…

Hangry Pixel

Our Frugal Garden Plan, as Well as Our Anti-Vampire Strategy

Our Frugal Garden Plan, as Well as Our Anti-Vampire Strategy

Since we’re heading into winter soon, it’s of course time to think about gardening. If you’ve gardened, you know what I’m talking about — the joy of sitting in front of the fire and sipping a cup of hot cocoa while you peruse the seed catalog.

Please tell me I’m not alone. You’ve done this, right?

We don’t have a fireplace, really. But I am already drinking hot cocoa and have been cruising around online trying to plot out our garden for the spring. It will be a straw bale garden, this much we know for sure — and that’s about it.

But while in the past we’ve fantasized about generating all our vegetables from our garden. This time we plan to be pickier and garden with frugality as our rule.

Our Frugal Garden Plan, as Well as Our Anti-Vampire Strategy

Why We’re Planting a Frugal Garden

Yes, it’s nice to think things like, “The green beans from my garden just somehow taste better than the ones from the store!” But is it really true? And how much more are you willing to pay for that taste? Don’t forget, you’re not just paying with money — you’re paying with the time it takes to plant, water, fertilize, weed, harvest, and process those beans, too.

Meanwhile, a can of organic green beans at the grocery store will run you just a couple bucks and take almost zero time commitment — and recently we purchased regular canned green beans for 59 cents per can.

Can your homegrown beans really compete with that? (Don’t forget, growing them in your yard doesn’t automatically make them “organic,” and there are time and money expenses to committing to an organic garden different than those of a “regular” garden. Not to mention, there’s no guarantee your garden will thrive or that the deer and wildlife won’t feast on it before you do. Oh yeah, and those mason jars, lids, and canning equipment cost money, too.)

For some people, the answer to the question — “Can your homegrown beans compete with store-bought beans?” — is yes. For us, the answer is no. Here’s why.

Our homestead and the HPMDU are our retirement plan. In order for our retirement plan to work, frugality is key. (We do not see frugality as a bad word or a limiting lifestyle in any way — if you do, you might want to follow J.D. Roth’s blog for a perspective shift on that.) That means when it comes to deciding which vegetables make it into our garden, they must be vegetables that are cheaper to grow than they are to buy.

Note for the prepper- and survivalist-minded people out there: Being able to garden some basic vegetables will help you acquire and practice the skills for gardening on a larger scale. So if your idea is to survive off your garden…but the world hasn’t actually ended yet…you might try planting a frugal garden as as simple and cost-effective entry point.

At present I am thinking we’ll grow the following:

  • Bell Peppers — I love having them on hand and they are stupid expensive to buy
  • Tomatoes — Easy to grow, prolific, the base for so many things
  • Lettuce — We’ll plant leaf lettuce, not head lettuce, so we can pinch off food as needed, way cheaper to grow than buy
  • Garlic — Can be grown in summer and winter, easy to grow, prolific, long storage
  • Melons — We love melons and rarely eat them due to the expense, but they’re easy to grow
  • Winter Squash — Easy to grow, prolific, can store for a long time

What do you think? If you were planting a frugal garden, what would make the most sense for you? Which foods do you eat most often, pay too much for, or find to be a no-brainer when it comes to producing? I really want to know!

We’ve got some time left before we order our seeds and map out our straw bales. So with your input, we’ll keep pondering what the best vegetables are — and we’re also drawing up plans for our greenhouse so we can get our starts…started. More on our final veggie decisions and the construction of the greenhouse later this winter.

Our Anti-Vampire Strategy

In the meantime, I’m stocking us up for the coming vampire apocalypse. (That’s a joke for all of you who’ve ever mocked me by accusing me of preparing for the “zombie apocalypse.” I know trying to be respectful of the planet and make your energy footprint smaller is kooky. It’s easier to joke about zombies.)

By that I mean, I’ve started our garden by planting garlic! We picked out two varieties in part because they are both cold-hardy, long-storing, tasty hardneck types — and in part because we’ve been so busy that by the time I ordered these there weren’t many options still available! But we’re excited about what we’ve planted: Music and Chesnok Red.

I got a pound of each, which when you break up the bulbs into individual cloves comes out to approximately one million Music cloves and a half million Chesnok cloves. The Chesnok cloves are HUGE. (I ordered through Urban Farmer, by the way, and the service was great.)

Our Frugal Garden Plan, as Well as Our Anti-Vampire Strategy

I, of course, did a bunch of reading online before planting the garlic. There was some discrepancy on when you should break apart the garlic bulbs, as well as how close and how deep to plant the cloves. Farmer’s Almanac said one thing and Mother Earth News another. I read a bunch more articles and ended up aiming for somewhere in between their recommendations — breaking the bulbs apart shortly before planting, putting them three inches deep, and spacing them six inches apart.

I dug little trenches, and I added peat moss and straw to the dirt. Our soil is very dense and has a lot of clay in it. It holds water, which garlic doesn’t like so much.

Planting garlic in frugal gardenPlanting garlic in frugal garden

Once the dirt was broken up and the cloves were planted, I added a layer of magic pellets! Oh yes, magic pellets. Also known as rabbit poop.

Rabbit Pellets

Our rabbits poop magic.

Yep, rabbit poop. It’s the favorite fertilizer of gardeners everywhere and, wouldn’t you know, we raise rabbits. You can learn more than you ever wanted to about animal poop at this link, but the short story is rabbit poop is considered “cold” and that means the chemical make-up of it doesn’t “burn” things you toss it on. This makes it safe to directly apply to plants and gardens, unlike a lot of other manures that need to be aged. It’s rich in nitrogen, which is great for getting new plants going.

Our rabbit magic is also mixed with alfalfa bits since it falls through the rabbit cages when they eat. Alfalfa has a lot of wonderful qualities when it comes to its mineral make-up and its ability to stimulate compost.

Our rabbits poop magic.

A layer of rabbit magic and alfalfa slobber.

Then I added a nice layer of straw to put the garlic to bed for the winter and keep it nice and warm.

Our Frugal Garden Plan, as Well as Our Anti-Vampire Strategy

A fluffy blanket of straw.

Hopefully this works. We’ll see. This is my first attempt to grow anything in our soil, so wish me luck!

Fallsview Canyon Trail

Hiking and Foraging, Waterfalls and Fruit

Two of the abundant benefits of living on the Olympic Peninsula are the scenery and the berries. All summer long we have endless amounts of fruit, and we are never very far from mountains, beaches, and wildlife. This week we decided to target some waterfalls as the overcast weather made summiting any of the local peaks unlikely to payoff.

Fallsview Canyon Trail and the Fallsview Falls

First up was the aptly named Fallsview Canyon Trail near Quilcene, Washington. The associated campground is closed to anything but day hiking due to prolific root rot issues in the trees there. Meaning, you can’t camp because a giant tree will fall on your camp site and kill you. We saw so many downed trees throughout the couple hours we spent in this area. Very sad. The upside to this is that you can park outside the campground gates easily and for free.

There is a big set of falls that is very easy to see on a tiny loop (0.1 miles) and then a 1.5 mile loop that takes you past many rapids in the Big Quilcene River and through the Quilcene Canyon. The small loop is #848 best seen in the white inset below, while the trail across the rest of the map is the #868.

Fallsview Canyon Trail

The Fallsview Falls are around 200 feet in height, but you can’t get very close to them. Apparently in the summer this area dries up quite a bit, as well, so if you are aiming to see these falls, then spring is a good time. We just had some heavy rains, so the waterfall and the river were definitely flowing!

The Fallsview Falls

The Fallsview Falls

Big Quilcene River

Clear pools of water in the Big Quilcene River.

The feeling of being in the forest and walking alongside the rapids and pools of the Big Quilcene were great, but for us the best part was the plant life—so many delicious berries! First, we came across the delicious red huckleberry, or Vaccinium parvifolium. I seriously could eat these all day. They’re like natural fruity SweeTARTS. I’m a little bit in denial that they’re related to blueberries because I hate blueberries.

The red huckleberry, or Vaccinium parvifolium

The red huckleberry, or Vaccinium parvifolium

Next, we came upon a bumper crop of salmonberries, which are Winslow’s favorite. The salmonberry, or Rubus spectabilis, are mainly orange in color in this area, though apparently they are redder in some other places. Winslow says they taste like “giant yellow raspberries.” I have to agree that they are pretty amazing—truly refreshing when you are mid-hike.

The salmonberry, or Rubus spectabilis

The salmonberry, or Rubus spectabilis

The salmonberry, or Rubus spectabilis

Elderberries were also everywhere to be found and attracting a large number of birds throughout our hike. Raw red elderberries, or Sambucus racemosa, are flavorful, though not everyone will like them. They have a bit of a juniper-cedar taste to me, and can be bitter when they are not ripe. Also, there’s the whole cyanogenic glycosides thing, so you probably shouldn’t eat too many raw ones even if you do like them. We really want to collect enough to make mead or wine out of them one of these days.

red elderberries, or Sambucus racemosa

Red elderberries, or Sambucus racemosa

No, we didn't eat this little millipede, but isn't he cute?

No, we didn’t eat this little millipede, but isn’t he cute?

We also saw a large number of ghost pipes, which are not edible, but are completely fascinating. The ghost pipe, or Monotropa uniflora, is a herbaceous plant, but it does not have chlorophyll. As Wikipedia explains:

Unlike most plants, it is white and does not contain chlorophyll. Instead of generating energy from sunlight, it is parasitic, more specifically a myco-heterotroph. Its hosts are certain fungi that are mycorrhizal with trees, meaning it ultimately gets its energy from photosynthetic trees. Since it is not dependent on sunlight to grow, it can grow in very dark environments as in the understory of dense forest.

Also, they look ultra-cool.

Ghost PipesGhost PipesRocky Brook Falls

Our second stop of the day was Rocky Brook Falls. I thought it would be a cool stop, but not a big deal since the associated hike was short. Boy, was I wrong—the falls are spectacular! These falls are not on federal land, so there’s no fee to park and there’s a small parking area across the street from the falls. Expect there to be other people since these falls are so easy to walk right up to, and also try to be respectful (as you hopefully always are in nature), as the falls are surrounded by private residences.

At the beginning of the walk (it’s really not worthy of being called a hike) features a hydroelectric building and a lot of warning signs about sudden water flow and not climbing on the rocks, but don’t be deterred. For a while you will think this is all going to be no big deal, but the water bubbling over the rocks is nice.

Rocky Brook FallsAnd then you come upon this…

Rocky Brook Falls

Rocky Brook Falls

The falls are about 229 feet tall, incredibly loud, and quite windy. The warning signs about climbing on the rocks cease a bit before you get to the falls, so we climbed right out into the center of the water and stood right at the base of the falls.

base-rocky-brook-fallsHere’s a video so you get a sense of what it was like to be there…

Next outing, we plan to investigate Murhut Falls down in the Hoodsport area and also drive to the top of Mt. Walker (it was too overcast to make that worthwhile today). In the meantime, our bellies are full of berries, our brains are full of new knowledge about the place we live, and our hearts are full of love for nature and all her wonders.

The Easy Way to Cure a Broody Hen

There’s nothing quite like having your own crew of chicken-mothers in your backyard. Whether you’re a backyard farmer or a full-on farmer, chickens are downright entertaining and productive. Our flock of eight pumped out roughly 4.5 eggs per hen per week…until spring hit, the weather warmed up, and they started taking turns going broody.

Note: “Going broody” means your hen decides it’s time to stop laying eggs and time to start sitting on them. This not only means you garner fewer eggs from your flock, but it also means your hen can be at risk of not feeding and caring for herself properly. Unless you have fertilized eggs or a rooster and plan to raise chicks, a girl gone broody is not a great situation.

backyard chickens

Suspicious chickens are suspicious.

What Doesn’t Work With a Broody Hen

I had heard that certain breeds were more likely to go broody. And I had heard that Orpingtons were among those. So it was no surprise that the first two of my girls to go were my two Buff Orps. Then, lo and behold, my Australorp went broody, too. Thankfully I never had more than one stop laying at a time. They were kind enough to take turns!

When I first realized what was happening, I did a lot of Internet reading to find the best and easiest way to return my girls to normal. I tried a lot of things – much to the chagrin of my hens. They did not appreciate getting poked and prodded out of the hen house every hour. And they definitely did not appreciate the cold dunk tank tactic or the cold hosing, and none of those approaches had any impact anyway. In fact, nothing except what I’m about to explain did any good at all – and it was the easiest strategy to implement.

If you’ve got a broody hen, save yourself and your girls the trauma of methods that don’t work, and give this a shot.

broody hen chicken

Crow the Australorp in “solitary” confinement.

The Easy Way to Cure a Broody Hen

Equipment needed:

  1. Small cage (a dog crate or rabbit cage works well)
  2. Bin to set the cage on top of
  3. A small dowel, stick, or piece of wood
  4. Water dispenser
  5. Food dispenser
  6. Towel and/or wood planks

The thing to remember when curing your hen is that you need to change her body temperature. When the weather heats up, your hens heat up, and they think it’s time for spring chicks (you know that awesome time of year when all the farm stores fill up with those ridiculous fluff balls – your hens love that time of year (and the time leading up to it) even more than you).

Note: If you put a heat-lamp in your hen house for the winter, you may want to swap it out for a regular bulb come spring. You don’t need the timed lights by that point and the extra heat will only thwart your egg-laying by getting your girls all hot and bothered.

While some websites suggest varying types of hourly poking and cold-water torture to cool down a hen, the best and simplest way is a cool breeze. This means you need to get your hen up off the ground and get a good draft flowing around her. Thankfully, from our rabbit raising days, we still have some cages leftover that are perfect for a solitary chicken. In fact, that’s what we call it – putting one of the girls in “solitary.” (And they’re about as pleased about this as a convict would be, as well.)

I put the cage over a rubber bin to make clean-up easy and to make it safe for the hen to be up off the ground. You can try things like wooden horses and what-not, but a rubber bin is super stable and catches any…uh…chicken byproducts.

I found my girls to be less fussy when I also provided them with a little roost. This had the added benefit of not allowing the hen to fluff herself out and try to remain broody despite the breeze and elevation (my Australorp was seriously determined to stay hot and would squat and fluff no matter what surface I put her on).

You also want to have food and water on hand for your lady, though don’t put too much out at a time, as broody hens are also generally cranky hens who like to knock over their feeders and display rude manners. So give her a little food and water at a time, but make sure she has something available regularly. I try to give my broody hens special treats to encourage them to eat, as they are not good at feeding themselves when they’re all wound up.

broody chicken

Abby the Buff Orp in her cage.

Other Tips for Dealing With Ms. Broody Hen

Whether to keep my broody hen near the other hens was a bit of a trial and error. I didn’t want her to feel left out or lonely, as chickens are not generally happy as solitary birds, but I also didn’t want her to stress out about not being with the rest of the flock and having their free-wheeling ways flaunted in front fo her. Some people recommend you put the solitary cage in the regular chicken run, but I kept it outside but within view.

What I learned was that no matter what order you feed them in and what you feed them, the hen in solitary will always freak out that the other girls are getting better food. You may want to block her view of the general population during feeding times for your own sanity.

Similarly, if Ms. Broody Hen is being consistently dramatic for no apparent reason (at least to humans), having a blanket you can cover the cage with will work wonders at calming her down. It will not only help your nerves, but be healthier and less stressful for her, as well.

How Long in Solitary?

Some site recommend that the time in solitary needs to equal the time the hen has been broody. Personally, I can’t make sense of that. By the time I realize a hen is broody, she’s been that way for a bit, so there’s no actual way to determine how long she’s been in her funk. I put my girls in solitary for three days – a solid 72 hours – and it has worked every single time. So that’s what I suggest. No sooner, but later won’t do any harm.

So that’s it – have the right equipment, give her 72 hours, keep her fed and watered, and she’ll be back laying within a few days of rejoining the general population. It’s that’s easy! And, as a bonus, a broody hen is the easiest hen to catch and cage, as all you have to do is grab her out of the hen house!

Whether you have backyard chickens, an urban homestead, or a full-on farm, I suggest you give this cure for the broody hen a shot. You, and Ms. Broody will be happier for it! Give it a shot and let me know how it goes!

BBQ Rabbit Recipe

Easy & Subtle BBQ Rabbit Recipe

The joke about rabbits is no joke. If you have a couple rabbits, you have a lot of rabbits. And when you raise rabbits for meat, you start getting really creative about how to prepare it.

One of my favorite ways to prepare rabbit is a simple smoking method. You do have to pay attention and do some work. It’s not as easy as a slow cooker or a quick as a pressure cooker, but the results are well worth it.

BBQ Rabbit Recipe

Tips on Smoking Rabbit

This recipe is different from many that you will find on the Internet for BBQ rabbit in that it was designed for domesticated meat rabbits, not cottontails or hares. That is why there is no brining step in this recipe. A good homegrown meat rabbit is like the best white meat off a chicken that you’ve ever had and it doesn’t require brining. You can brine if you want, but you definitely don’t have to.

Preheat your smoker to 250 degrees. You will drop this to 200 when you put the rabbit in, but I like to get a good smoke going and really heat things up first. I recommend using either hickory or applewood, but you can experiment with different woods.

We have a combo roaster-smoker from Oster that I love. It’s simple, easy to clean, and does double-duty in our household. This is something I demand from pretty much all our appliances. I’ve even baked bread quite successfully in this thing! That said, even though it’s a “countertop” device, you absolutely do not want to smoke anything in your house.

oster smoker roaster

Subtle BBQ Rabbit Recipe

  • Preparation time: 5 minutes
  • Cooking time: 2 hours
  • Servings: ~20 4-ounce servings

Ingredients:

  • 2 rabbits (~5 pounds total)
  • 1 Tbsp chipotle pepper
  • 1.5 teaspoons salt
  • 1 Tbsp black pepper
  • BBQ sauce of your choice

Directions:

  1. Preheat smoker to 250 degrees
  2. Mix all spices together
  3. Pat rabbit dry and coat evenly with spice mix
  4. Drop smoker temperature to 200 degrees
  5. Place rabbit in the smoker
  6. After 15 minutes, paint the rabbit with BBQ sauce
  7. Repeat every 15 minutes until meat hits 160 degrees

This will take approximately 2 hours depending on the size of your rabbit and the ambient temperatures affecting your smoker and its ability to maintain 200 degrees. I learned the hard way that a windy day can make a mess of your intentions when it comes to smoking meat. So be alert to the weather and adjust your smoker temperature accordingly.

At the half-way point, flip the rabbit over in the smoker so you’re not just slathering the BBQ sauce on one side.

I personally hate when recipes say things like “serves eight” when there’s only one pound of meat involved. So, I always calculate “servings” based off four ounces of meat. So if you start with five pounds of rabbit, you’ll get twenty servings of meat. If you’re hungry or just love the taste, you’ll have fewer than that.

rabbitcollage1

Keep It Simple to Keep It Versatile

We are a low-salt household and typically make our recipes with half of what any recipe recommends. So if you are a salt lover, you’re going to want to double what I recommended.

If you like your BBQ flavor more intense than just use one rabbit or double the spices. For me, I like to reuse the meat in a variety of ways over the subsequent days. This is why I do multiple rabbits and keep the flavors subtle. Also, smoking multiples seems more energy-conscious than running the smoker for hours for a singular rabbit.

This recipe could also be used for chicken, since good domesticated meat rabbit and chicken are pretty interchangeable, and, honestly, quite indistinguishable. You could feed this recipe to just about anybody and they’d swear it was chicken.

IMG_0069

Special Note: If you’re like me, you will never ever remember to not have your face an inch from the smoker when you open the lid. For your own sake, do your best to stand back and not be downwind. Unless you want to go blind and burn your lungs, which is pretty much what I do. Every. Single. Time.

Simple Smoked Trout Recipe

When I was a little girl, I used to go fishing with my dad on a regular basis. Mostly, I remember him waking me up at 4am so we could go sit in a tiny boat, in the cold, in the dark, just off the shores of Lake Michigan. While my dad caught many fish, I don’t remember catching a single one.

Recently, Winslow and I acquired a tiny little boat of our own, and the other day we ventured out onto a local lake with it. We’ve fished this lake before – Lake Leland – but only from the dock. But I did catch a lovely giant brown trout on one of those outings, and for a while Winslow was limiting out on a daily basis, bringing home five rainbow trout each time he went to the lake.

But, without a boat, there are things you have to deal with. The dock is only so big and at certain times of the day becomes very crowded and noisy. And overrun with children. And as glad as I am that they are all learning to fish as I did, it doesn’t mean I want to be next to them when they ask their own dads every five minutes if they can reel their line in.

So our little boat adventure was both a mental reprieve and an investigation of what might happen if we could fish anywhere in the lake that we desired. And it turned out to be a rewarding investigation. We came home with five trout – three rainbow and two cutthroat – and were free of noise and distraction from nature the entire time. (Although at one point we were being stalked by two osprey, and that was a little anxiety inducing.)

Lake Leland is stocked by the state of Washington and they recently put a few thousand trout in there. They are not big, but they are plentiful and the combo of where our new boat could take us and the bait/lure combo we used worked beautifully. We plan to get out there again as soon as we can. We can limit out at five fish a piece, so next time we plan to come home with ten.

Since the fish were small, we decided to smoke them whole. Typically Winslow handles the butchery and I handle the cooking, so that’s how the fish were handled this time, as well. But it was much easier on both of us than in the past when we’ve tried to filet the fish. Winslow gutted them and cleaned them, I marinaded and smoked them. Once they came out of the smoker, I flaked all the meat off the bone in just a short time, and we wound up with a pile of lovely looking and fabulous tasting trout meat. We ate some as is for dinner and will likely use the rest up in our breakfast scrambles throughout the coming week.

troutcollage1

Fresh-caught trout, marinade, and fish in the marinade.

Here’s the recipe I used, adapted from various things I found on the web and adjusted to our personal taste. It’s ridiculously easy and allows you to get every bit of meat off each fish. It’s simpler than filleting or even steaking out a fish, too. And the process of smoking them whole is easier than smoking filets since the skin acts as a “foil wrap” to hold all the moisture in. I was impressed at how easy this was to do, and how much meat we were able to glean compared to other methods I’ve tried in the past. And oh yeah, it tasted great!

Ingredients:

  • 5 whole trout, skin on, head on, tail on, etc.
  • 1/2 cup lemon juice
  • 1/2 cut tamari
  • 2 tablespoons garlic powder
  • 1/2 tablespoon cayenne
  • 1 tablespoon black pepper

We tend to keep our salt intake pretty low, so I let the tamari do the salt work in this recipe. If you prefer to TASTE your salt more, then either use garlic salt in the place of garlic powder (and increase the amount) or add some salt.

troutcollage2

In the smoker, out of the smoker, and as a pile of lovely meat.

Instructions:

  1. Mix all the ingredients (except the trout) together and whisk.
  2. Cut slits in the sides of your trout if you can so the marinade soaks. This is easier said than done depending on the type of trout you have (the cutthroat we had defied slitting) and you will need a sharp knife.
  3. Place the the fish and the marinade in a sealed container and marinate for 2-4 hours. The longer you marinate the more flavor you get. I also make a habit of flipping the container over every hour to make sure everything gets exposed to the fish. I set a timer to remind me to do this.
  4. Heat up your smoker or BBQ. I use a standalone smoker/roaster so it’s super simple. I used apple wood for this recipe and heated it up at about 200 degrees to get the smoke going.
  5. Once the smoker is hot, turn it down to about 190 and place the fish inside the smoker. Don’t crowd the fish and use multiple racks if necessary.
  6. It will take 2-3 hours for the fish to be done. Since you are smoking the whole fish, you will have a lot of leeway when it comes to “doneness.” Strictly speaking you’ll probably want a thermometer to read about 145 degrees, but if the fish is starting to fall apart and look flaky, it’s probably plenty done.
  7. Once the fish is done, remove it from the smoker and set it on a cooling rack. Don’t set it in a dish or it will be harder to peel the skin off.
  8. Once the fish cools a bit, you should be able to peel the skin of pretty easily and flake the meat off the bones. If you’re careful, you’ll wind up with no bones at all in the meat.
Does farming make sense?

Farming: A Questionable Use of Resources?

When Becca and I moved from Oregon to Washington late in 2014, we had no idea what other changes were in store for us. We both missed our rural roots and knew that Portland and the lifestyle there was not cutting it.

Growing up, I was outside more than inside and I felt happy and alive. That changed when I became a worthless waste of space and resources from 16 to 24 years old. I spent much of my time indoors and angry or depressed. After that, I was focused on building a business and taking care of myself and my family, but remained miserable. It took me several more years before I got “back to the land” in any significant way.

Living in Bobcaygeon, Ontario, Canada, in a shed, for most of two and a half years felt pretty good except for the brutal insects and frigid winter temps. A solar electric and hot water system I built made it rather luxurious otherwise.

Gun laws in Canada made owning a real weapon out of the question. The law said you had to register the rifle (just forget about pistols) and sign off on allowing a government agent into your home at any time without notice to view and inspect the weapon. FUCK THAT.

That Was Then, Here Is Now

Fast forward: I am living in Portland, and a fortunate series of events connect me with the illustrious Becca, who is done with LA-style (non)living. As the two of us are apt to do, we keep expanding our horizons and over the next three years decide Portland is too much city for us now. The wine (in the Willamette valley) may have had something to do with that decision. McMinnville sucks, though. Too much meth and fakeness going on there.

We visit and sign up for life in Port Townsend after checking out basically everywhere west of the Cascades up and down the Oregon and Washington coast. Of course, we aren’t residents of the state, neither of us has had a fishing or hunting license for years (or ever), and we have no idea what the lay of the land is in our new home base.

Within a few months, I am fishing, hunting, and trapping as a resident. It’s a good thing, too, because the first fishing license I bought as a non-resident cost over $150! Becca also has her fishing license and has completed trapper education and hunter education so she can get those licenses now, too. Things are moving along.

What the Hell Does This Have to Do With Farming?

Well, we wanted to be more self-sufficient, but there was a gap of several months before we could do so effectively. Winter was coming quickly, so very little was available from plants. Hunting was out of the question (non-resident license cost is over $800). Fishing is good, but with only one of us able to go out and no boat we couldn’t bring in enough calories to meet our needs.

We decided that a farming experiment might help fill the gap.

The idea was to raise meat until we were fully prepared to gather, fish, hunt, and trap our calories as much as possible. So that’s what we did. We refused to let a roadblock stop us by taking an alternate route. But now that hunting is an option again, it’s time to devote our resources to harvesting what nature provides rather than battling with nature.

We will keep our laying hens because the calories are a great bargain. One established, they require little care and a surprisingly small amount of food. We are divesting ourselves of other animals on our tiny piece of land (I think we have about 800 square feet of yard) by either selling or processing and eating/preserving them.

So, the question is: does farming make sense? It puts a society in handcuffs. Once you create a surplus, you will live in a manner that consumes that surplus and you can never go back.

The definition of a city might be “any area where the carrying capacity of the land has been exceeded, requiring life-sustaining resources to be produced elsewhere and transported in.” When you think about it like that, the whole enterprise seems pretty damned shaky.