Saturday, March 29, 2014

French Honey Chicken on a Rainy Day

Is there a word for a complete, mayhem-at-breakneck, locomotive-speed, converging-into-one, climactic amalgam of condensed, mentally-incapacitated, nerve-splitting event?  If there is, we don't know it, so cannot use it.  But, suffice it to say, that life is crazy-busy, (but normal for us), and so we try to figure out what just happened after we lie back to assimilate stuff.  Make sense?  No?  Good!  You are just as clueless as we are :-)

It just seems that we have so much creative energy in our brains-great ideas, juices flowing for things we would like to do, meals we want to make for family and friends, projects that we know we could invent and create, added to all the things we NEED to do to survive, and also try to be a respectable part of living creatures...leaves so little time and usable capacity in said brains to hold it all...

The last couple of days were spent on work-related driving...mile upon mile of white stripes lining up one after the other, potty and gas breaks, spurts of manic conversation followed by stretches of mind-numbing silence.  We were so glad to make it home, and at one o'clock in the wee morning, we made plans for that evening for a quiet night at home making a delicious dinner.  So, here are the results of said plans...

Oh, but first of all, on the farm-front, the little lass with the head-peck injury is doing fine; all of the extra loving spewed out upon her has seemed to have made her feel an attachment to us old fogy humans.  When Poppy went out to check on the chicks, she ran up to say hi, and when Poppy crouched down, she hopped up on his leg for a scritch on her half-healed head. 

"Hey, you and me-we got something special"

We think she is going to be another lovey-hen for us in the future; awww! fuzzy-feelings here on the farm-front!

Today, spring arrived with a fury; it was a rain-soaked fury!  It poured today!  But everything is getting bright green with all the nitrogen from the thunder, and the moisture from the rain has made it feel like a secluded Eden truly is beautiful out here in the woods...

There are tiny green leaves emerging on the blueberries

Okay, we really did make a delicious dinner...a meal that is a favorite recipe of Mamie's.  It is a recipe that she got out of an older "Where Women Cook" magazine, that has become a dish that Mamie loves.  Of course, she had to put her own southern spin on it.  Most recipes taste a bit bland for us, since we live where spices are an inherent part of our food.  After making it for the first time, we added a bit of our own spice, and changed up the gravy-makin' part too, to avoid all 'dem lumps...

French Honey Chicken

1.   Preheat oven to 420 degrees.
2.   Rinse the chicken under cold running water. Pat dry. Then sprinkle with a bit of seasoning mix (in our case, Cajun seasoning).

3.   Whisk the melted butter, honey, sea salt, Herbs de Provence, and several grinds of pepper in a medium-sized mixing bowl. Coat the chicken with the sauce.


4.   Place chicken pieces skin side up in a large oiled cast-iron skillet. 

5.   Pour 1 cup  white wine into pan.

6.   Place skillet into oven for about 45 minutes.
      (Cover with foil last several minutes if browning too much)
7.   Remove from oven and remove chicken from the juices.
8.   Return skillet to stove-top. Cook over medium-high for 3 minutes until some of the liquid is cooked off.
9.   Add the flour to the cold chicken stock and blend so as to have no lumps.
10. Pour the flour mixture into the skillet and stir for a few minutes. Cook until it reaches a thickened gravy.
11. Drizzle gravy over the chicken.

2   whole chicken Leg quarters
2   bone-in-split chicken breasts
Tony's Cajun Seasoning (or your preference, or none)
4   TB. butter, melted
3   TB. honey
2   tsp. sea salt
2   tsp. Herbs de Provence
1   cup white wine
2   TB. all-purpose flour
1/2 cup chicken stock

    We have also used just legs and thighs, same cooking time...
We usually serve ours with some rustic mashed potatoes and some roasted vegetables.

And of course we end it with some Apple Pie topped with whipped cream and caramel sauce.

Hope you enjoyed dinner! We did, and we are going to make this for Mamie's parents. Hope they like it as much as we do!

©Sweet Pickles Farm

Sunday, March 23, 2014

Come and Stay, Spring!

There are actually tiny green leaves next to the swelling, pink buds that suddenly have appeared from the dried-looking stems on the trees in the yard.  Dare we believe that spring is truly here?  It seems like winter has dawdled and dwindled. Perhaps winter is feeling that being in the limelight should be savored and coddled, no matter the effect on the shivering masses, waiting for a warm tap on their bony, winter-weary shoulders from a benevolent, old friend, Spring.  But, the calendar says that spring truly is here-Yes! we see it parked in our driveway-we are just waiting for it to get out of the vehicle and make itself a guest in our home.

 Last year at this time, we were in ecstasy (and in another state) over the birth of our new grandson...and while we were gone, grumpy old winter got back at us for leaving the farm with a freezing gust that took half of our blueberries.  Once a blueberry bush has blossomed, if there is a freeze, you will lose whichever blossoms succumb to the cold.  
Just enlarge this picture to see the blueberries to come!

This year, we are being on watch, like a once-plundered old man sitting at his window, rifle in hand, waiting for that no-good blueberry thief to show himself again.  Well, not really, but it does help to convey the feeling of not wanting to see our beloved berries stolen away again if it can be helped.  There is, after all, still a chilly wind in the air...

The bees are happily pollinating the blossoms; you can hear a low buzzing when you approach the cannot but help to imagine smoothies, blueberry pie, blueberry topped cheesecake, muffins, pancakes...OH MY!
In other news...
 The new chicks are growing up really quickly.  Poppy put up a barrier in the coop so that the old girls could still come in and privately sit in the nesting boxes without tripping over the silly young whippersnappers.

  But Poppy did not fully understand the need for the genteel, older women to have their total privacy and dignity.  He thought that if he left a space for the little ones to run under when the big girls were around, they would  respectfully take their leave when they got the stink eye from the matriarchs.  Hmmm, you would think, would you not?  However, Poppy did not listen to Mamie (again) this time, and felt he had come up with an ingenious plan to just let the old and young intermingle and get to know each other's inherent qualities. Please note the results below....

 You probably can guess: the little gawky nerds went way beyond their boundaries, and one poor girl got her head knocked silly; she was put into her place by an older woman that knows how things are done around here.  So, Poppy really  made extra work for himself-not only having to put up another board on the bottom of the partition, but also putting the little teenaged patient in isolation with a greasy head full of triple antibiotic. around the farm....never a dull moment.
Nurses Pickles and Stella insisted that they have a look at the bandaged patient...

Said patient was embarrassed that she was in this predicament....

Nurse Pickles, gifted animal whisperer that she is, knew to check the distressed chickie's temperature...

"She will live!" nurse Pickles proclaimed.  So Mamie and Poppy can rest tonight, knowing that the little mischievous chick will grow up with her siblings.  Thank you, Pickles, for your gift of foresight.

In other farm news, Mamie had a craving for something sweet and delicious, but she did not want to lift a pinkie to make a delectable dessert.  So she asked Poppy to take a turn and make a special dish they could enjoy together.  Here is what he presented her with...

Mamie is still mad that Poppy stole the baby leaves off of her hydrangeas....but at least her sweet-tooth was calmed for the night.

Good thing Mamie didn't chew those leaves!  POISONOUS!!!
This post is copyrighted by

Thursday, March 13, 2014

A Sad Chicken Tale

They say that sometimes when you have something taken away, that is when you realize what you had.  Well, Sweet Pickles Farm was not taken away, but we have literally been away for quite awhile-two months!  And while we were involved in something that means a lot to us, volunteering our time for  a good cause, we never realized how much we would miss home...our own bed, our beloved pups, and even our climate!  It was really great to see some snow, but after the novelty wears off, winter can last a long time after your appreciation for those cute white flakes and that nip on your nose begins to wear away, and you begin to long for the warmth of home.  They say too that the grass is greener on the other side of the fence, and it certainly can feel that way when you are feeling a bit weary of the day-to-day grind; the familiarity of life can make you wonder if a change is on the horizon...perhaps there is something to a 'lil vacation to make you appreciate the comforts of home?

Well, the farm sure seems to have missed us and our everyday attention to it.  It  was an unusually cold winter here, and we had left the temperature low to conserve energy.  When we finally trudged in during the wee hours of morning, the house did not smell like home as it usually does upon our return.  Mamie said it smelled like a doctor's office.  We realized that a new rug that we had purchased before we left had left a particular odor in the closed up house that we were not familiar with.  So, the windows were opened wide, and soon it was not near as noticeable.

Unfortunately, when you live in the middle of the woods, and you decide to leave during the dead of a cold winter, you never know what happens while you are away....apparently, some field mice thought that our house looked deliciously warm and welcoming, and they came in for a look-see.  We never saw them when we came home, but they left some tell-tale calling cards for us.  Yuck!  Mamie scrubbed out the kitchen cabinets and Poppy left some traps, but they never did show that they had taken up permanent residence...guess we came home just in time!

One of the sad things that happened before we left the farm, was that all but three (and amazingly, the oldest girls of our original flock, apparently the wisest) of our chickens were dinner for a bobcat. 

 We were away for a weekend, and Poppy had left one of the wire tunnels that connected the run to the garden, intact.  The old bobcat that we have seen, and also noted his tracks, came a-calling, and decimated the flock, along with our sweet rooster, Pudge.  

We were so sad, coming home to see feathers everywhere, trying not to think too much about what it must have been like- (terror and mahem).  But, things in life happen, and as soon as Mamie and Poppy came home from our distant travels , we went to the feed store and picked up ten more chicks. 

 We surely will miss old Pudge and his gentle ways, but we are looking forward to getting to know these new girls.  This time, we tried a couple of new-to-us breeds; we got two buff orpingtons.

We are so ready for spring!

©Sweet Pickles Farm