Tuesday, March 13, 2012

"Drowning in Eggs"

That quote came in an email from my friend and fellow farmer, Emma Lincoln. She and her husband have a farm north of us called Lucky Duck Farm (www.kiyoshimino.com).

Emma brought us some delicious hard boiled eggs a few weeks back. They were all cracked looking and tea stained. They tasted spiced and were beautiful. She said it is a Japanese recipe.
So when I also was “drowning in eggs” I asked her for the recipe. Here it is…

For 6 eggs
Put the eggs in a saucepan and cover with cold water.
Bring the water to a boil, turn of the heat, cover with a lid, and let sit for ten minutes.
Run the eggs under cold water, then tap all over with the back of a spoon to crackle the shell.
Rinse out the saucepan, put the eggs back in, and add:
- 2 tea bags (I used Oolong)
- 1/2 cup soy sauce
- 2 tsp salt
- 3-4 pieces of star anise
- 1 cinnamon stick
- 1 tsp whole peppercorns
- a little bit of dried orange peel or lemon peel
- water to cover the eggs

Then heat on low for 1-3 hours, turning the eggs periodically and adding water if the liquid gets too low.  The longer they cook, the more the flavor penetrates.

I tried it out, left them on low for four hours. I read my book “Future of Ice” by Miyazawa Kenji (1896-1933) while my eggs steeped.
What a beautiful book! I love his poetry as he talks so much about nature, using words that make me think. I like this simple one…

“A snatch of cloud
reflected on the wings
of a beetle nibbling parsley flowers
flies in the valley sky.”

Some are much deeper and you have to read each line slowly, savor each word, let them deepen in your head, then let them drift back up into consciousness, before you go on.

There is another longer poem I like about a cypress and how it changes from day to day. And an even longer one about a farm that he went to work on called “Koiwai Farm”. Apparently he worked on some farms when he was a young man.

So I checked my eggs and here’s how mine turned out.

Hm. Not much for pretty cracks showing, no decoration. Hm.

Ah ha! My eggs are brown to start with. Duh. So the tea dyed cracks didn’t show up on the outside like I wanted. I decided to steep them longer the next day...close to 8 hours total.
They turned out better, and on the inside they look like this…

Pretty cool looking!
And they taste pretty good. Not as good as Emma’s but I think that is because I had to substitute the oolong tea for all I had, which was china black. I’ll have to get some oolong and try it again. Yum!
I wonder about trying it with different recipes and colors. Maybe using beet juice to get pink lines. If you try it, let me know how they turn out!

Friday, March 9, 2012

Franken Hoops

Spring in Central Illinois, in my experience, always has seemed windy. This year is no exception. A couple of days ago we experienced severe winds...like REALLY severe! One building was rocking so bad I thought it would go over at any second. Glad it didn't! The cow hut was flipped over so we moved them to the pasture where the pigs are...not to the delight of the pigs.

Then there is the problem with plastic over the hoophouses. Our plantings in our hoops are doing pretty good right now. We harvested red mustard, arugula, cress, and some lettuce in them this week. Radishes and cilantro are springing up, as well as the fennel and some spinach. In another two weeks we expect to have some green garlic ready. We certainly don't want to lose it all due to the plastic giving way.

But, Thursday morning we went out and saw huge rips on the roofs of the hoops. The rips went up the plastic at each metal rib and the east hoop's east side was a disaster. (Thankfully the west hoop only had two rips.) We scoured the buildings and came up with some spare plastic and started to do some quick repairs while we wait for a call back from the plastic company.

Here you can see one section kind of flapping around and the metal ribs sticking thru the other sections.

Here's two of the three (I'm the third) of the repair crew. Can you tell they are patiently waiting me to stop with the photos already? We used a piece of plastic and fit it between the ribs and the original plastic piece. Then we stapled and taped on the inside to hold it in place. The guys (while I weeded cilantro) put Gorilla tape on the outside at each rib also to hold the ripped pieces to the new plastic (I was too short to help so I just stayed close to the ground inside where it was 70 degrees).

That is how we ended up with this Frankenstein looking hoophouse. Looks like it has sutures or something. Weird, but works for now. Hope we don't get anymore wind!

Monday, March 5, 2012

Augh! Computers!

   This is obviously NOT a good computer day here at the farm! I've had to restart mine three times, been kicked off, restart again, it stole my homepage and I had to reset that, and it won't let me go where I need to!! So...if all of a sudden I disappear - you know why!
   I'll try to keep it short and sweet...or salty...depending on the pics.

Here's the smoke house that we smoked the hams in...

They turned out a little salty - okay the bacon is WAY salty for me. But, Marty assured me he can fix that. I haven't had any strips of bacon with my eggs yet tho. Not sure about the ham yet. The smoking went really well tho. The guys smoked them for two days and the smell and flavor of it is great.

Ducks are loving the spring weather...

Chickens are roaming far and wide into the fields to get the worms. Suzy the Sussex and Della the Delaware are really out there far. Then, of course, they convince Top Top to go out too. She is the goofy looking one with the white top hat hair do that can't see anything. I worry about her getting scarfed up by the hawks. So far she's still with us.

Syrup season is closing down. We boiled all the sap we had left yesterday. Today, since it is warmer again, we'll check the buckets one last time and try to get another two gallons before shutting down completely. Our year was really patchy - cold, hot, cold, hot - so we got less syrup this year. We are at 30 gallons right now on the chart. Last year we had 53. Each year is different and we never know what to expect. But, that is farming!

After we boil the rest down we will go thru the clean up process, washing buckets and lids and taps, cleaning up the evaporator (no small feat), washing the floors, and putting everything away for the next season so the mice don't get into it.

In the growing room in the basement - wow! Stuff is really tall and gangly this year. We are trying to figure out why. The peppers are looking good. We will start seedlings of tomatoes, eggplant, and other fruiting plants next week (14th) which is an ideal day on the calendar for it.

This next couple of warm days I'll be cleaning out the "south greenhouse" and repairing the plastic...

then I will move the colder loving plants from the basement into it on the shelves across the back wall. These will include the kale, brussel sprouts, and bok choi. When the bok choi are big enough I'll plant them in the ground in that same greenhouse (actually it's a hoophouse as it has no heat added to it). We lost our bok choi that were planted into the big hoophouses, not sure what happened but might've been that cold snap last week.

Spring work is also starting. We planted onions last Wednesday in the field - 500 feet. Will has been checking the wheat field, waiting for a dry stretch so he can till. We are fixing tractors in anticipation of using them soon. And, building work is beginning now that the weather is getting warmer (I love that job!).

We have heard the news about bad tornadoes in southern IL, IN, KY, TN, AL. Wow. Our hearts go out to all of those who have lost so much.

Oh well for short and sweet...