I can’t believe it’s been two years. A lot has happened in the two-year break from blogging, but hopefully this is my return to writing, sharing my personal recipes, and sharing what I’ve learned in my – ah-hem – nearly 50 years (I turn 50 this July).
My interests have evolved so the blog may have more gardening and decorating posts, but who knows? I’ll try to write more often and hopefully you’ll find it entertaining and useful! I’m still making herbal remedies, but the business name has changed to reflect more of ‘place’. The new name is Farm44Herbals and you can find my single remedy tinctures on Etsy. I’m still involved with Montessori, Stott Pilates, cooking, and being a Mum to two adult daughters, seven chickens, and one Labrador retriever. Life is good.
But, back to the immediate reality. I’m hoping the weather turns for the better. I have 10 yards of loam to mix with peat moss and and then put into three new garden beds. Those plants aren’t going to plant themselves.
Below is a snippet of what’s going on around the farm.
Thanks for sticking around,
I didn’t set out to create my own cassoulet recipe, but when I started to prep for the recipe I pulled off the internet I soon realized how off the recipe was. I knew it wouldn’t turn out right – the recipe quantities just didn’t add up. It was then that I decided that I would make my own cassoulet. I chucked the internet recipe in the trash, got out my notepad, and started working my recipe.
The star of a cassoulet is the duck leg confit. I couldn’t find fresh, local duck legs to make my own duck confit. D’Artagnan sells their packaged duck breasts at small markets and at Whole Foods, but not fresh duck legs. Fresh are nearly impossible to find. And so, after some frustrated sighs, I decided that I would put my duck leg search on hold and start searching for an online source. I quickly found THE duck website: D’Artagnan. They sell hard-to-find game meats, source organic and natural, and they deliver quickly and inexpensively. Perfect. I ordered their duck confit, garlic pork sausage, duck sausage, and duck fat. Shipping only cost $8.95 for my entire order and it arrived packed on ice in only two days.
My family loved this dish and I think you will too. I served it with a side of braised kale with garlic.
- 4 duck legs confit
- 1# Great Northern white beans
- ½# duck sausage, sliced into 1” pieces
- ½# pork garlic sausage, sliced into 1” pieces
- 1 yellow onion, diced
- 4 garlic cloves, minced
- 3 carrots, peeled and sliced into 3/4” pieces
- 2 tomatoes, diced
- 3C chicken stock
- ¼C duck fat
- 1t dried thyme
- sea salt to taste
- fresh parsley to garnish
Crumb crust: 1C fresh breadcrumbs (I made mine with crackers) + 1T melted duck fat. Do NOT use store-bought breadcrumbs here.
Directions: Soak the Great Northern beans overnight. After 24 hours put the beans in a large stockpot and cover with water at least 3” above the beans. Add 1 tablespoon of salt to the water. Bring to a boil and then lower the heat to medium-high to keep them on a low boil for about 45 minutes. The beans should be tender, but still a bit firm; they will continue to cook in the cassoulet and you don’t want them to fall apart because they were overcooked. Drain the beans, and pour into your cassoulet pan or large Dutch oven.
In a large, cast iron skillet, brown the duck and pork sausages in half of the duck fat. Remove the sausage from the pan and add it to the beans. Make sure you scrape off all the burnt sausage bits from the bottom of your skillet – that’s where all the flavor is. Add the grease drippings, too. It will keep your cassoulet moist. Add the diced onion, minced garlic, chopped carrots, diced tomatoes, thyme, chicken stock, and all but 1T of duck fat to the beans and sausage. Place the 4 duck confit legs into the mixture. If the mixture isn’t covered by the chicken stock, add just enough to cover.
Bring the mixture to a boil and then lower the heat to simmer. Cover, and let simmer for 30 minutes. After 30 minutes, remove the duck legs and place them on a cutting board to cool down. Keep the cassoulet on simmer while you pick the duck meat off the bone. Return the duck meat to the cassoulet, discard the bones, and continue simmering on low heat, covered, for another 1.5 hours. If the cassoulet looks too soupy, take the cover off while it simmers. The stock will cook down and the flavors will become more concentrated, but be watchful so you don’t let it get dry.
Preheat oven to 375°.
After simmering on low heat for two hours on the stovetop, place the cassoulet into the oven with the cover off. Check periodically to see if the cassoulet is getting too dry. If it is too dry, add a bit more chicken stock.
Bake the cassoulet for an hour at 375 degrees. While the cassoulet is baking, prepare the crust, and have a well-deserved glass of wine.
To make the crumbs, place 2 cups of saltines or chowder crackers in a baggie. Roll over the baggie with a rolling pin until the crumbs are coarse. Pour the crumbs into a small bowl and stir in the leftover tablespoon of melted duck fat. After the cassoulet has baked for an hour, remove it from the oven and top with the crumbs.
Bake for another 30-45 minutes or until the crust is a nice, golden brown.
Cooking breakfast is my least favorite meal to prepare. I love going out for breakfast. There’s something just so perfect about waking up and having someone else make the first meal of the day for you. We all know breakfast is the most important meal of the day, so why not make it special and start your day off great? A sit-down-at-the-table breakfast is the best way to start the day. Weekends are when I really look forward to a nice breakfast. Here is my recipe for crêpes filled with honey-walnut cream cheese. They are light, loaded with flavor and a bit of crunch, then finished with a sweet drizzle of raw honey. Serve with sliced fresh fruit. Add some jazz music, a pot of French press coffee, a newspaper, and your weekend has begun.
Makes about 16 medium or 8 large crêpes
- ⅔C unbleached pastry flour or Cup4Cup gluten-free flour
- ½C whole milk
- 2 farm fresh eggs, room temperature
- 2T liquid raw honey
- 8oz. cream cheese (one brick), room temperature
- ½C chopped walnuts or pecans
- 3T liquid raw honey
In a small bowl, using a fork, mash together the cream cheese, honey, and walnuts. Keep stirring until all ingredients are combined. Set aside. In a larger bowl, whisk the flour, milk, eggs, and honey until you have a smooth batter.
Heat a non-stick skillet on medium-high heat, then dot with butter. Drop a dollop of batter onto the pan, rotating it to slide the batter around the pan. You will have to decide how large you want your crêpe and adjust the amount your pour into your pan accordingly. Cook on one side for about 1 minute, then carefully flip over and cook the other side an addition 30 seconds to 1 minute. Repeat until your batter is gone.
Fill the crepe with 1 large tablespoon of the cream cheese filling, spread it on the crêpe to even it out, then fold or roll your crêpe.
Drizzle with honey before serving.