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Pekin Ducks

So the ducks are getting ready for the freezer. My next blog entry will have video on the butchering, plucking and cleaning of these ducks so check back. If the weather is not too stormy or hot we are going to try for Sunday. Thank you in advance to my sister-in-law you will be recording this event.

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Food Freedom

If you don’t know already, I’m a bit of a food renegade. I want my food whole, un-processed, unpasteurized and well …. I want it real. I do my best to support farmers who share my belief. What is happening in California, Wisconsin and Maine is crazy. The FDA is raiding, arresting and shutting down operations where US citizens have formed co-ops for raw food. If you’re not following this issue and you want your food freedom please check out the following links and leave a comment and raise your voice against the FDA telling us what we can and cannot eat!

http://www.facebook.com/westonaprice

http://www.westonaprice.org

http://www.cheeseslave.com/

http://www.facebook.com/cheeseslave

Well it’s getting warmer in nordic land and I thought this might be a good time to update you on my chickens and ducks.

I have decided that ducks are dumber than chickens and that chickens are way more fun. It was a little damp out when I took the pictures and some of my hens are molting, so not as beautiful as usual. The ducks have lost all the yellow and are now pure white. Click on the link below the pictures to see the videos on youtube.com. The hen picture shows how they run to me when I whistle.  I think they’re hilarious when they run:)

Pekin ducks near pond

hens

Thatching the lawn

Nonna Rosa’s or La Cucina di Restorante Italiano is located in Robbindale at 4168 West Broadway and features southeastern Italian cuisine by Chef Francesco and Tina Suglia. Since my husband is first generation Italian I am pretty picky when it comes to Italian cuisine but I decided to give it a shot.

I took all the Mom’s, in my husband’s family, on Mother’s Day. Now I usually avoid all restaurants on holidays as this is often just a money-maker day with less attention paid to quality but I noticed that the ‘specials’ were really everyday menu items. The space is very warm and inviting with lots of murals and the standard Italian trinkets. Our server was efficient and friendly. They have an extensive wine list and we ordered a couple of bottles. The prices for dinner entrée’s ranged from $11.99 to $24.99 and market prices for several items. With dessert, dinner appetizers and drinks plan on spending about $42 per person.

We ordered all of the Mother’s Day special appetizers which were shrimp on a skewer, walleye cakes and melon wrapped in prosciutto. All were forgettable and bland. The walleye cakes should have been named Walleye Burgers! Thank goodness there were lemons to squeeze for flavor. I was getting worried because here I had all these Italian women who starved themselves for a day anticipating a veritable buffet of Italian food.

The Mother’s Day menu was not very creative and so we ordered from the regular menu hoping the food would get better than the appetizers. I sampled everything ordered as did everyone else.

Cioppino

Cioppino with mussels, calamari, shrimp, scallops and salmon steamed in a white wine tomato herb broth that can also be served spicy, had only one scallop. The mussels were cooked perfectly and the sauce was really good. I felt this was a small serving for $20 and we are accustomed to having noodles with this. We all had soup or salad as our starters, included.

Pollo O Maialno al GorgonzolaPollo O

Pollo o Maianlno al Gorgonzola, grilled chicken topped with caramelized onions, roasted garlic and Gorgonzola cheese crumbles in a white sauce. The overwhelming ingredient here is gorgonzola. I love gorgonzola but I really couldn’t taste anything else. Way too much topping as evidenced by…….. can you find the chicken or the sides?

Gamberi e Capesante Umbriache

Gamberi e Capesante Umbriache, jumbo shrimp and sea scallops broiled scampi style in a garlic and white wine broth. I found the dish was overcookedbut my mother in law said it was wonderful. This was the best priced dish at $17. The picture best demonstrates that all of our dishes were served with about 4 -1″ dices of potato and sticks of zucchini. Two of the dishes also had about 2 baby carrots. This dish had the most generous helping of sides.

Surf and Turf

 The Surf and Turf was the most expensive item we ordered on special, at $24.99 and I have to say the beef tenderloin was cooked perfectly. Really nice crust on the outside and perfect temperature on the inside. Melted in your mouth. The tenderloin tasted like it might have had some kind of herb marinade treatment but our server was not sure. We were all jealous. The shrimp was tasteless, again.

Vitello Piccata

Veal medallions sautéed with garlic, onions and capers in a lemon cream sauce. This is what I ordered because I love all things lemon. The sauce was very good but a little thin with an overdose of capers. The veal was pounded very thin but saved by the sauce. Again you can see the theme of the exact dressed side dishes. Really shows a lack of creativity on the chefs part.

Minnestrone Soup

The soup was very good with a rich broth. The salads were ordinary but dry, which I always appreciate. We ordered dessert because….. well it was Mother’s Day.

Cannoli

Cannoli’s were the traditional cannoli with the sweet cream cheese finished with nuts and chocolate on the outside.

Creme Brulee

As you can see my creme brulee was mostly burnt. It should not have been served. I pulled this off anticipating warm custard which was barely warm! Should have returned it and gave them another chance but who ever was working the pass should not have let that go out.

Lava Cake

Chocolate and more chocolate. What more is there to say? Introduced huge in the 1980’s and still hanging in there.

Tiramisu

You can’t go to an Italian Restaurant without eating Tiramisu. Well done and presented and a little drier than most restaurants get it so very good.
So what’s the final verdict? I think Nonna’s is a great place to drink some wine and conversate and a slightly better than mediocre place to eat Italian cuisine.

I’m really trying to eat more ground beef since I am now purchasing farm raised, grass-fed beef. I can only eat so many hamburgers and hotdish. I poked around some websites looking for ideas on sloppy joes and found most of them didn’t sound very healthy so this is my take on sloppy joes.

Sloppy Joes with VegetablesServes 6 adults.

Ingredients: I only used organic ingredients and I can’t eat soy or corn so no HFCS (high fructose corn syrup) etc. If you want to go sugarless, substitute pears or apples (1 whole, diced small) of pear or apple.

  • 3 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 medium onion diced
  • 1/2 C minced sweet bell pepper
  • 1/2 C minced celery
  • 2-3 table carrots, peeled and minced
  • 6 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1 14 ounce can of tomato sauce
  • 1/4 C ketchup
  • 2 Tbsp molasses
  • 1 Tbsp Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 tsp dried oregano
  • 1/2 tsp pepper
  • 1 lb ground beef
  • 1/4 C brown sugar or 1 whole pear or apple peeled and minced

Directions

  1. Starting with 2 Tbsp olive oil in a deep skillet saute your onions, celery, sweet bell pepper and carrots. Add the garlic last. Saute til onions are soft.
  2. Add ketchup, Worcestershire sauce, molasses, oregano, black pepper and can of tomato sauce. Cover skillet and put flame on low.
  3. In another pan with remaining olive oil cook your ground beef, stirring so the beef is very crumbled. Cook until done.
  4. Add cooked beef to the vegetables, combine well. Add sugar or fruit, stir and increase flame to medium or medium high with the lid off. The goal is to reduce the liquid until you get a very tight mixture.
  5. Once liquid has reduced, spoon mixture over rice or bread or buns.

    Healthy Sloppy Joes

Ducklings at 10 days

I really love to eat duck. It’s hard to buy where I live and requires a long trip and too much money, not to mention the investment in the trip! I decided that along with my chick order I would buy some ducklings, so a little over a month ago I invested in 17 Pekin ducklings. My plan was to have a dozen for food (a duck a month) and to hopefully receive a few females for eggs.

I have to admit that I was not counting on the cute factor being so … well ….. cute. The first day I had to put one down due to weakness and problems breathing and I didn’t want it to suffer. The next day I struggled with a duckling who had problems breathing. I called my farmer girlfriend to say I thought about taking it to the vet and she had to remind me that the duck was $4 … but still, I tried my best and had to put that one down too! As I was petting one of my chicks I felt like a duck loser.

I am now thinking that ducklings were way harder than chicks and was questioning my decision to raise my own ducks. I was not sleeping well, always getting up and checking on the darn things. The smell in my garage was getting very robust despite daily cleanings. My husband is wondering if my recent obsession with Farmville was carrying over into reality. Fear not, ducks are thriving and I’m on the look out for new duck recipes.

Anyone looking to raise their own ducks I have only a few words of advice after you’ve browsed the internet for 20 million other ‘expert’ reads, all of which agree on almost nothing!

1. They need a lot of room as they grow very fast.

2. They eat tons of DUCK food. At 4 weeks my 15 ducklings are eating 8 qrt measures of food in a 24 hour period and go through 15 gallons of water.

3. They stink – a lot!

4. They need water to play in.

5. Plan on doing something for them every 6 hours or so, except at night. I have a pretty good set up and I am still amazed at the space and clean-up required.

You can check out a video at youtube.

Some woman love to shop for shoes, whether they need them or not. When the box(es) come home they realize those hot pink pumps with the adorable lime green flower on the back of the heel goes with nothing in their closet. But you love the shoes so you go shopping for a new outfit to match the shoes.

That is how I shop for food…… sometimes.  I see a beautiful head of purple cabbage just misted with water or some freshly filleted tilapia by an adorably cute butcher and did you see the incredible fennel! All of those items end up in my cart and then I get home and think, ” These items really don’t all belong on the same plate”. Since I drive an hour to my store of choice going back the same day or the next day isn’t an option so this is the result of how I married them together.

I took the pictures with my camera phone so not the best quality.

Food like shoes

I discovered cabbage later in life. This recipe makes for a sweet/sour cabbage that is good hot, at room temperature and right out of the fridge. The fennel is roasted with salt and pepper and EVOO in the oven. The fish received an Italian seasoning mix that is normally used on the grill, baked in the oven at 400 degrees with some EVOO and butter and then finished under the broiler for the crisp factor. I topped with roasted grape tomatoes and GASP … feta cheese. Hey, no grief, Sicilians do it regularly.  I’m married to one.

 Sweet and Sour Cabbage

Ingredients

  • 1 head of purple cabbage sliced crosswise for long slivers with white core removed
  • 8 thick slices of really good bacon, diced in 2″ squares
  • 1 large yellow onion, diced medium 
  • 2 apples (whatever kind you have on hand), peel, cores removed, diced medium
  • 1/4 C good red wine vinegar
  • 1/2 C brown sugar
  • Salt and Pepper to taste

Directions

  1. Dice raw bacon and place in cold pan (use a dutch oven or 5 qt. pan) and then cook over medium to medium low flame. If bacon is too lean add some olive oil. Allow to cook about half way to crisp.

    bacon apple onion

  2. Add diced onion and cook until bacon is crisp.
  3. Add all of red wine vinegar and de-glaze pan
  4. Add diced apple . Stir and cover pan. Cook until apple is tender, about 5 min.Taste your mixture. Add Salt and Pepper to taste.
  5. Add cabbage, stirring to coat cabbage with mixture.
  6. Add brown sugar starting with 1/4C first. Combine and allow ingredients to meld for a couple of minutes, taste and then add more brown sugar if needed. Depending on the apples you use will really determine how much brown sugar you need.
  7. Cook for a minimum of 5 minutes allowing the sugars to dissolve. Do not over cook as the cabbage should still be crisp.

    mixture with cabbage