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Baked Chicken and Magical Mashed Potatoes

Food is not just fuel. Food is about family, food is about community, food is about identity. And we nourish all those things when we eat well. Michael Pollan

Magical Mashed Potatoes

5 lbs of potatoes  4 ounces of butter, 2 cups of milk, teaspoon of salt

Potato ricer, and a mixer

Peel the potatoes, and cut them into small pieces, cover them with water, and start to boil. Add a teaspoon of salt to your water. Once the potatoes are boiling, check them with a fork to see how if they are soft. Drain the water off the potatoes, and in the mixing bowl add the 4 ounces of butter.

Spoon out the potatoes to the ricer, and push the potatoes through the ricer into the mixing bowl. Continue until you are finished. Add about 2 cups of milk, you may need a little more or a little less, it depends on how fluffy or pureed you prefer your potatoes.

Baked Chicken

Stop buying your bread crumbs! When your bread is starting to lose it’s freshness, leave it out so it can become dry. If you have a food processor, put the pieces of bread in there, and store your bread crumbs in a container or plastic bag. What are you going to need?

Chicken,  3 cups of bread crumbs, 1 cup olive oil, spices and herbs you like, use at least a teaspoon of each, Italian Parsley, Oregano, Basil, Cumin, Salt, Pepper, Garlic, Tarragon, Sage and Rosemary are our favorites, but you can add what you like. Three bowls are needed, and a cookie sheet.

Preheat your oven to 450, wash your chicken and put it in a big bowl, Your going to need three bowls. One bowl for your chicken, one bowl for olive oil, and one bowl is going to have the fine breadcrumbs and all your herbs and spiced mixed together.

Give your chicken a bath in the olive oil, and then your going to roll the piece of chicken in the bread crumbs. Add each piece to the cookie sheet.

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It takes about 30 minutes to bake your chicken. Make sure they are crispy and brown before you take them out of the oven. The naked ones I have in the oven are ones I save for lunches. They are just given a olive oil bath, and herbs and spices.

Enjoy!

 

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Come and Go

“Every oak started out as a couple of nuts who stood their ground” Henry David Thoreau

It’s always sad for us when we loose a tree. One of our oak trees that stood beside the house had to be cut down, and sawed to pieces. The ground squirrels made too many homes under the tree, and she became weak. She became so weak that one of her limbs just came crashing down on the sidewalk. Thank God, no one was around the house at the time. I came home to find the limb was just dead inside. We had someone come out to take a look at her, and tell us if she had a chance of survival.

The damage had already been done the tree was dead all the way though to the trunk. The best thing we could do is cut her down, and saw her to pieces. We did just that, and now the logs are still sitting on the farm.

I want to rent a chipper, put everything we can in there, and utilize the chips in the chicken houses. The chickens can use it as fluff material, then our old tree will become compost, eventually ending up fertilizing something on the farm…making her life come full circle, giving life to others organisms on the farm. IMG_9625

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Hidden Hills

When we were in our “dream building” phase, one of the things we wanted was an olive grove, and we finally found it. Hidden Hills gave us everything we wanted in an olive grove, we have olives, and a vacation rental. The olive trees are now being taken care of, and lovingly be watched, pruned, watered, and then in November…they will be harvested.

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The property has a wonderful history too. The place was built as a bed and breakfast. There was a keeper of the house that grew a garden, and the beds are still on the property. There is a gentleman’s orchard with apple, pear, plum, and nectarine trees. There is a green house, and it was once was filled with the fragrance of basil, vanilla, and flowers. The attendant of the house used to put fresh flowers in each of the rooms, and the cottage. There is a chicken run with hen houses. The attendant would gather eggs from the hens each day.  He made fresh dishes that were made from the food that was gathered from “Hidden Hills“. These are all aspects I love.

The goals for the place…get the olives in great shape for the fall so we can go back to having “Hidden Hills” as a label. We will then be able to sell the olive oil in the tasting room. Fix the barn, and have an intern trade housing for maintaining the gardens, greenhouse, and chickens. Gathering the fresh items to give to each of the vacation rentals. Each of the baskets would include olive oil, wine, fresh herbs, chamomile, lavender, homemade soap, homemade lotion, honey, eggs, and bouquet of flowers. Maybe even a postcard of the property.

There is also a pool, spa, and outdoor kitchen at the property. If you would like to stay at the property, make sure you go to Paso Robles Vacation Rental.

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Nun Playing A Violin

Although this is a print, it is an antique print. The original was a painting from the Italian Renaissance. The painter and subject are unknown. The face of the nun appears very young. Which is not a surprise, since families often sent a daughter to the convent. Often, the families just couldn’t afford a dowery for more than one girl, and sometimes they couldn’t afford one. A young woman would go to the convent ready to serve the church. Gardening, cleaning, praying, helping the poor. Mother Superior was in charge of the fate of the young lady.

This print reminds me of an educated lady, grieving for her family. Maybe it is an evening of a full moon where the light hits the courtyard just right, and the echo of her violin playing brings tears to the eyes of the other young ladies that have come to the convent. Young ladies that miss their families, and their old way of life.

Of course, there were young ladies that came to the convent and had a better life after they were surrounded by other young ladies. There would have been young ladies that would be able to eat good food once they were in the convent. I was once told that city poor was much different than country poor. If you were poor and lived in the city it was a little tougher to obtain fresh food. If you were poor in the country one could glean from neighboring farmers, there were eggs from chickens, and one could grow some of their own food.

Looking at old images really makes me grateful to live here and now. I am so thankful, and appreciate our ancestors, each and everyone of them. The lives they had were not easy! The choices they had to make were so different, and so far removed from the world we live in today.

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Only The Strong Survive

We started off with more than 100 chickens, and we are down to two. Dovie and her daughter are our two remaining chickens. Dovie, named because she kinda reminded us of a dove. The daughter of Dovie is only only surviving chicken that was born here on the farm.

What happened to our chickens? Well, going to football games, parties, winery events has had it’s toll on the chickens. We would come home, and 30 chickens would be gone. We wanted our chickens to be “Free Range”, well, they were free range, but so are coyotes and foxes. The foxes are so beautiful, I sometimes just want to give them a chicken, especially a rooster. LOL!

 

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Dovie, and her daughter like to hang out with the cow (Luna), and the goats. They come around in the morning for their scratch food, and then wander around the farm. So, we will not get any new chickens, until we have put up fences to keep the chickens in one location, and keep the coyotes and foxes out of the chicken coop area. Another lesson learned from the farm. Fences are a good thing.

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Murderer

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Well, ok, this one is not a murderer that I know of, but this is the face of what took our flock of chickens. I know it’s so darn cute, but 100 chickens over two years? C’mon! It’s pretty cute…I might give it a chicken…nah! I only have one left. YIKES!