Sunday, July 23, 2017

Gwyneth Paltrow is my new best friend, and a recipe for the best herbed grilled chicken ever, plus a killer salad dressing

The other day, I borrowed a book from the Burlington library, called "It's all good" by Gwyneth Paltrow, the famous actress.  It's a cook book with the subtitle "Delicious, easy recipes that will make you look good and feel great."

I stumbled upon in on my new quest for paleo, gluten free, healthy cooking.

Oh my god.

That woman is my new best friend, and I bet if she took some time out of her busy, dazzling schedule and hung out with me, she would think we are soul sisters.

I'm just saying.

Because she writes about her health journey and her own struggle to heal herself with food, and because judging from the gorgeous pictures in her cookbook, all these meals could have been produced on our homestead, she would probably think we Sahlin's are THE REAL DEAL.  Which we are, but nobody is knocking on our door offering us book deals.


I love her cookbook.  I. Read. Every. Single. Page. Of. Her. Book.  Almost 300 pages, in one sitting, drooling over the recipes, and astonished how aligned I am with her food philosophy.  Soul sisters, I'm telling you.

I promptly tried one of her grilled chicken recipes and one of her salad dressings, and I am even more sold than just looking at the pictures: it is the best chicken I ever had, and the salad dressing is to die for, too.

So let me tell you: Buy her book (it's cheap on Amazon), or get it from the library, and do make some recipes from it.  Or every single recipe, which I will do over the course of the next months.

Let me share with you the recipe I just made, because it's grilled, and it's summer and you probably have all the herbs growing in your garden now.  It's so worth it.

  • 1 teaspoon very finely chopped fresh sage
  • 1 teaspoon very finely chopped fresh thyme (I only had dried on hand, so I used that)
  • 1 teaspoon very finely chopped fresh rosemary
  • 1 Tablespoon very finely chopped fresh Italian parsley
  • 1 Tablespoon very finely chopped fresh basil
  • 1 garlic clove, finely minced

(Gwyneth writes "very, very finely chopped", but I think you shouldn't stress out about the chopping too much.  I chopped the herbs, but I got lazy and left some bigger chunks.  Big deal.  Let the herb-chopping police come to my house).

  • 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • zest of 1/2 lemon (I only had limes in the fridge, which worked marvelously)
  • 2 Tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice (see above - limes work fine)
  • 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
  • 4 boneless chicken breasts pounded to barely 1/4 inch thick

Did you get that?  You beat the poor chicken breasts with a mallet, which is weird, but kind of fun.  I didn't have a mallet in the kitchen, so I asked Steve if he had any tools lying around in his shop.  He did and procured a mallet, which he covered with plastic wrap, and I pounded away.  You want the meat thin so it will grill fast.

  1. Combine the herbs, garlic, olive oil, lemon zest, lemon juice and salt in a large bowl.
  2. Add the smooshed chicken breasts to the bowl and rub the herb stuff over each one, making sure you get both sides.  
  3. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and let the chicken pieces marinate for at least 1/2 hour, or possibly overnight.
  4. Heat a grill or grill pan over medium heat and grill the chicken until just cooked through, about 2 minutes on each side.

Now, I have to admit that I, the kitchen queen and hobby chef, don't own a grill.  The way we grill our meat and veggies is to do it over an open fire, so we did that, and the chicken turned out insanely awesome.  It took more than 2 minutes on each side, but who's counting?

Since I made six chicken breasts (we are a big family, after all), we had some leftovers, which we will take hiking with us tomorrow.  What better snack and protein-packed energy food than herbed chicken on the trail?

Now for the salad dressing.  

She calls her recipe "Mexican Green Goddess Dressing", and I modified it, because I'm a wimp when it comes to spicy food.  My digestion hates it, and my tastebuds do, too, so I left out the jalapeno.  

Also, I didn't have scallions, so I used a small chunk of onion from my garden.  Here goes:

  • 2/3 cup sheep's or goat's milk yogurt or Vegenaise (I used my very own home-made goat milk yogurt.  Now, do you think Gwyneth knows real people who milk real goats and make their own goat yogurt?  I think she should meet me, don't you?)
  • 1/4 cup cilantro
  • 2 scallions, white and light green parts only, roughly chopped (or a chunk of onion)
  • 1/4 cup freshly squeezed lime juice (Yeah for limes, since I never have lemons on hand!)
  • 1/2 green jalapeno, roughly chopped (No, thank you. Not for me)
  • 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1 Tablespoon raw honey
Combine all ingredients in a blender until smooth.
You can store this in a jar in the fridge for a week, but I used the whole thing on one salad.  Our salads are big.

Thursday, July 20, 2017

Mountain peaks, blueberries, goat cheese, and wild rivers

If I really were to document our summer, I would have to post a new blog every single day. So much is happening here on a daily basis, I can't keep up with the pictures. It's marvelous and magical!

The picture below sums it up well, since it contains so much of what's going on.  See my dirty feet?  That's because I weeded the garden barefoot, since I don't mind stepping on slugs.  Except we don't have any slugs right now because it hasn't rained in many weeks.

You see the laundry hanging on the line in the background?  Yup, lots of that going on. I do a load every day, just about.

And the chicken poop on the patio?  Although we try to shoo them off, one chicken in particular thinks she is entitled to live on the patio, since yummy morsels of food get dropped on it regularly.

One day, I decided to tackle the weeding in the garden, which explodes with vegetation this time of year.  Most of the green explosion I encourage, because it's all about veggies, but lots of it consists of weeds (some edible, like purslane and chickweed).  The upper half of the picture below is "before", the lower half is "after".

Here's a before and after picture.  It literally took me two hours to free four of the paths and garden bed from weeds.

So much bounty is coming out of the garden!  It's a grocery store out there, and we gather meal ingredients outside every single day, often multiple times.

Blueberries are cranking, too, and the pesky chickens like to steal some from the low-hanging branches.

I am so happy about the large volume of food being produced on our homestead.  Much milk is flowing, too, and I make lots of chevre and yogurt at the moment.  

Since I'm only milking one doe, I haven't accumulated enough milk to make Gouda or Cheddar yet, but that's okay with me.  It's a nice break, not making ten pounds of cheese every single week like I used to.

We love cookouts by our fire pit in the back yard.  Honestly, almost all of the food comes from the homestead, including the sausages we make with our pork and goat meat.

Our lady duck is broody.  She hides in the Sweet Cicely and lies on her eggs all day, with short breaks to eat, drink and visit with the boy duck.

So far, there are four eggs in the little nest she made.  Our dog Raka has found some of them and eats them, which pisses me off more than I can say, but I don't know how to protect these eggs.

The chance of real baby ducklings might be slim, I'm sorry to say.  Between Raka and other predators, I just don't know if it can happen.

I wish I could wrap the mama duck in bubble wrap as she so patiently incubates her eggs.

Talking of eggs:  Look at the picture below.  Which egg do you think is store-bought?  Hint: Look at the color and texture, and you'll know.

We are finding time for hiking, hanging out by the river with friends, and sleeping out in the forest.  These things are so important to us...

Here is last night's scene, where Steve took all three kids to sleep in the woods without a tent.  I joined them for dinner but walked back home to sleep, because I like my soft bed where there are no mosquitoes...

I am blown away how lucky we are to live in a wild place, where we walk five minutes and get to the best huckleberry picking spot ever by the creek.

Also: weddings!  For July, we have three weddings on our calendar!  And at all of them my little singing group trio is singing for, which is so fun!  I'll put our singing in July's Homesteading in Paradise movie, so keep an eye out for it if you want to hear us sing.

That's us, and we call ourselves "Kitchen Sync", because we usually practice around the kitchen table.

Last but not least, last week's hike was mind blowing, full of granite slabs and high peaks, waterfalls, and awesome company.  Squire Peak (or eight mile creek) is sure worth the sweat to get up there.

Have you gone hiking lately?

Monday, July 10, 2017

The garden in July - and lots of amazing food!

Our July garden is phenomenal.  Despite the late start of the season, we are eating out of it every day.
There are lots of veggies and of course plenty of unruly flowers happily spreading themselves all over the place.

Let me show you.  Here's the entrance of the garden, protected by poultry netting, because the free-range chickens and ducks would destroy everything in it.  We don't have to electrify the fence, and it works great.

Here's a view of the mallow, borage and calendula flowers interspersed with all the veggies.  Plus the flowering cilantro, poppies and bellflowers.

Why do I interplant like this?

Because it's darn pretty, and because the bees loooooooove the flowers.

Now here's a tour of the veggies.  There were so many, I had to make a collage of some of them.  Below: zucchini, broccoli, kale and peas.

Next up: garlic, onions, and beets.

Furthermore, carrots, cabbage, pole beans.

Also: collards, cucumbers, and of course, tomatoes.  And tucked in the corner of the garden: sunchokes.

It's all about food around here, as usual.

The kids are contributing to the food scene.  Kai's speciality is breadsticks, with lots of butter and garlic powder.  Look at that huge pile in the picture.  How long do you think did it take the five of us to eat them?  Ahem.

I'm just now cutting into some killer Tomme cheese I made last year.  Killer not because we'll die when we eat it (I hope), but because it's just so good.  Creamy, nutty, great texture. 

Wait, am I boasting?  Sure I am.

And look at this cake! Yes, it's cake, albeit decorated with flowers, and I made it for our friend's wedding last week.  It's my gluten free, no-refined sugar sweet potato almond cake, which sounds weird and boring, but is anything but.

Cherries have been coming on strong in our orchard, and we scramble to pick them before the birds do.  

Also, the chickens have been laying eggs like crazy.  I noticed today that my duck is sitting on her eggs, so maybe we'll have baby ducks in a month.  That, or the broody duck will be eaten by raccoons.  I sure as hell hope not.

What can I show you next?  

Ahhh, I got it: home made pasta, since we have so many eggs.  These noodles are always a hit, although you might not believe this according to Eva's grave face.  She was grumpy because it was such a hot day, and I made her help me with the pasta.

You wanna eat?  Then you help.

Also, here she is helping me harvest calendula flowers for making calendula infused oil for my goat milk soaps.

I will leave you with a photo of the moon over the ridge.  Have I told you that I love July?

How about you?

Wednesday, July 5, 2017

Glorious, glorious June! Homesteading in Paradise!

Ohhhhh, dear ones, June was sooooooo full and glorious and also hard.

Watch my little video I made for our "Homesteading in Paradise" series for June.  Honestly, it's worth it.  

If you usually don't click on my movies, this one is worth watching.

Have fun watching, and let me know what you think of our crazy life!

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