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Recipes: Organizing for productivity

    Recipes

     As someone who loves cooking and looks up a lot of recipes I find it hard to keep them all organized. I have many cookbooks with recipes I love but remembering which one is in which book can be nearly impossible. I love the internet because I can view a lot of recipes quickly, but getting them off my computer on to something like paper is hard with no printer. So where does that leave me? Paper.

       Here I have taken a picture of the few ways I store recipes. I have placed numbers next to each of them so I can name the pros and cons of each of them.

1) Index CardsThey can be color coded which I prefer but you can also use dividers and place them on a key ring.

Pros: You can easily remove or place things on the key ring. It is easy to reorganize                      them and place new recipes in at anytime.

Cons: If you work in a kitchen a use it a lot the cards with fall off the key ring from                       wear.

2) Recipe Box All cards are individually placed in a box that preferably has dividers.

Pros: Like index cards you can remove and place recipes in very easily.

Cons: You can’t see everything at once and have to go through every card to get to                          recipe you want.

3) Notebook/Journal- You write in recipe you like in order or divide up book by pages with post its. These are best for writing things down quickly not for organizing purposes.

Pros: You can write things in as you are doing them without worrying about the handwriting being good or changing measurements later. You can always adapt the recipe to a card or another method later.

Cons: The recipes will be in random order or if you pick random spots to make chapters you might need more room in one than the other.

4) Binder- I use sheet protectors for regular printer paper and write out recipes on 3×5” cards and glue stick them to the paper, place them in sheet protector and place them in the binder.

Pros: Easy to reorganize, add and remove recipes.

Cons: Requires time and organization. Method is better for finalizing recipes for family cookbook or something with things you want to always make.

In the end I personally use inexpensive notebooks to jot things down and recipes I’m experimenting with. I will write down things I make frequently and are favorites in a nicer notebook. Then for long term storage of all my favorites I use a recipe box and binder.

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Chicken Coop: Where to start?

     As someone who has never made a chicken coop, to plan out building one is quite an overwhelming task. After doing a lot of research I’ve decided to start as basic as possible to simplify the process. I am going to walk you through what I went through when I decided I wanted a chicken coop in my backyard.

     I started by looking up all sorts of designs online and took note of features and designs that caught my eye. After much time staring at pictures of chicken coops I was ready to put this into action. I grabbed some paper to start a rough sketch the dimensions and materials can come later. I am very detail oriented so I kept getting caught up in details and worried about making a mistake before I even started. So I am just strictly focusing on the design and minor features. The logistics can come after.

     I created this sketch based off where I live which is the Oregon coast. I wanted something that would be small but with plenty of room for two or three laying hens in a residential area. They will be able to roam outside in the backyard during the day and help rid my garden of pests, eat the dandelion greens, etc. I also wanted it to be sustainable and plant chicken friendly treats and herbs around it and experiment with making the roof of the chicken coop a planter. My garden is important to me and I have a decent amount of space, but I want to make every square foot count.

     I also want to incorporate a door into the chicken coop for two reason. 1) So I can easily get in and access the chickens for cleaning their coop and placing fresh bedding down. 2) I plan on letting the chickens roam my yard during the day so having a nice big door to let them get in and out of would be great. I am also making my coop two stories so they can have more walking room and sleep up on the second floor.

     I hope this can help you get started on your path to having your own chickens it can be quite rewarding.

Chicken Coop

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Traditional Irish Soda Bread

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Irish Soda Bread came about in the 19th century when bicarbonate of soda became accessible. There are thousands of recipes with many variations on ingredients but there are some things that are always the same.

  1. The recipe will always have flour, salt, buttermilk and baking soda. Some people use half white flour and half wheat or even add oatmeal.
  2. The way the recipe is prepared is always the same. Ingredients in a bowl or on counter. It is never kneaded and barely touched to ensure good texture.
  3. You always without fail cut a cross into the top of the loaf. The reason this is done is to let the fairies out before you cook the bread. I wish I could tell you more about the fairies but I all know is every recipe I’ve seen says that. I assume they are invisible to humans.
  4. Before the bread is removed from the oven you must turn it upside down to finish cooking until it makes a hollow thump when you knock on it.

I will share with you the recipe I used to make Irish soda bread. I used both white and wheat flour and oats. I overworked the batter and my buttermilk was not as thick as I would have liked. This will show you how easy it is even if things go wrong.

  • 300 grams white flour
  • 200 grams wheat flour
  • 75 grams oats
  • 1 tsp. Baking soda
  • 1 tsp. Salt
  • 30 grams butter (cut into pieces)
  • 510 ml buttermilk
  1. Preheat the oven to 395 F and dust a baking sheet with flour. Mix the dry ingredients in a large bowl, then rub in the butter but not so much that it is fully incorporated. Pour in the buttermilk all at once and mix it in quickly with a butter knife, then shape into a ball(handle as little as possible). Shape the bread into a round loaf.
  2. Put the loaf on the baking sheet and score a X in the top. (This is a critical step as it let’s the fairies escape) Bake for 30-35 minutes, around ten minutes before the bread is done. Flip it upside down so it cooks evenly. (I waited too long and the bottom of my bread became over cooked)
  3. Transfer to a wire rack, cover with a clean dish towel (this keeps the crust soft) and leave to cool. To eat simply break apart or slice and eat with butter. Like most breads it is best warm but I ate it for breakfast the next day and it was great.

In the end I was happy with my bread and enjoyed it the next day for breakfast. I liked how quickly it came together without much of a mess(compared to yeast breads). I will definitely make this bread again.
Sources:
http://www.foodtimeline.org/foodbreads.html#irishsodabread

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Dandelions: More than a weed

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When we think of dandelions we are normally thinking of ways to rid them from our lawns and pathways but they are much more than just an invasive plant. Dandelions are a very widespread herb and can be found in lawns, pastures, gardens and vacant lots. They can be found from sea level to high in the mountains.

Leaves(fresh):

Young leaves are best when harvested in the spring or early summer. They can be served raw or cooked. Some people find the taste bitter and choose to blanch the plants first. By blanch I don’t mean the cooking method of briefly scalding a food item in boiling water and then shocking it in cold water. To blanch dandelions you cover them with a board or something of that nature to deprive the plants from sunlight. They will turn pale and light green in a couple of weeks. The leaves are high in vitamins A and C, potassium, iron and phosphorus.

I tried some raw young leaves from dandelions in my garden and thought they tasted similar to spinach at first then it got a bit bitter similar to kale. I think it would be great sautéed.

Leaves(dry):

Regardless of the season you can harvest you or old leaves to dry and store to make tea. You could also take the dried leaves and roast then dry them to create a coffee substitute. This can be achieved by steeping 2 Tablespoons of ground roots in a quart of boiled water or pace the grounds in a percolator like coffee.

Roots:

You can use the slice clean raw roots into a salad or add them to some vegetables for dinner.

I harvested a dandelion that took over my Poblano Pepper plant from last year to try what the root tasted lick. I washed it and found it looked very similar to a pale carrot or young parsnip. However, the taste was extremely bitter and overwhelming. I don’t know if I could eat it raw. I would like to try pickling some dandelion root in the near future because I have a feeling they would taste great in that form.

Flowers:

The flowers can be used as a decorative edible flower. They look beautiful in a pancake or fried up in fritters. If you gather enough flowers you can make a dandelion wine.

Interesting Facts:

  • The dandelion seed balls can be used as a barometer to predict whether it will rain or not. If the down flies with no wind it will rain.
  • The dandelion was previously called the “shepherds’ clock” because it opens at five in the morning and closes at eight in the evening.
  • Dreaming of dandelions was thought to mean bad luck.
  • Dandelion or Taraxacum officinale literally translated means “the official remedy for disorders.”
  • Dandelion tea has been used in the past as a tonic, mild laxative and diuretic.

 

Sources: Profiles of Northwest Plants by Peggy Robinson(book), Northwest Foraging by Doug Benoliel(book)