About this site

Welcome! I created this site to share what we've done, talk about what we plan to do, and exchange ideas with other folks who are on the same path as us. Join us in the fun of living at Chickaree Hill Farm!

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Got Water?

I grew up in suburban New Jersey so I had to get used to a few things in the rural area that I live in now. We have a well and electric stove - no electricity means no water or cooking! We are hoping to switch to a propane stove at some point, but we have solved our water issue.  We actually have two wells on our property, a deep well that services the whole house and a shallow well that we use for the outdoor spigots and sprinkler system. Tim installed a hand pump on this well, so now we are ready for a power outage!  This pump would work well for flushing toilets and cleaning, and if we put it through a purifier we could drink it too.  This water is also used for the chickens - we can't use the outside spigots in the wintertime, but we can still access this water using our new pump.

The brand of this pump is Oasis and we purchased it from Rintoul's Hand Pumps at www.handpumps.com.  It cost about $340.  We've only been using it for about 3 months at the time I am writing this but so far, we haven't had any problems with it.  It is a non-freezing design which we need here in the Northeast.  We have had freezing weather and the pump is doing just fine.  It is not made of metal - it is made of reinforced engineering thermoplastics so it is lightweight and won't rust or corrode.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Cranberry Baklava

This recipe is amazing!  I had never tried to use phyllo dough before, but when I saw this recipe I knew I had to try it.  It is very straightforward although it does take a little time ... but it is so worth it!  You will be so impressed with the result, as will everyone who tastes it!

I found the original recipe on allrecipes.com but with my modifications it is perfect!!!  It is a great recipe for the holidays ... the cranberries really make it festive and special.

Cranberry Baklava

1 16-oz. pkg phyllo dough
1 cup butter, melted
1 12-oz. pkg cranberries, finely chopped
2 6-oz. pkgs pecans, finely chopped
3/4 c. white sugar
1 t cinnamon
1/4 t allspice
1/8 t ground cloves
1/8 t nutmeg
1.5 c. honey


  1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees.  Grease a 13"x9" baking dish.  
  2. In a large bowl, mix together the cranberries, pecans, sugar, cinnamon, allspice, cloves, and nutmeg.
  3. Trim phyllo dough to fit pan.  Layer 5 sheets of phyllo dough in dish, brushing each with melted butter.    [I find that phyllo dough is pretty forgiving ... if you rip a piece, simply use the melted butter to "paste" it together.  Since it is layered, a tear won't make much difference.  If the tear is in the same place on multiple sheets, try to move the ripped place by rotating the sheet on each layer so that the ripped spot doesn't go all the way through the layer.]
  4. Spread 1.5 cups of cranberry mixture over the phyllo dough.  Repeat so that you have 4 layers of phyllo dough and 3 layers of cranberry mixture.
  5. Using a sharp knife, cut halfway through the layers to make 24 pieces (triangular shaped pieces are the traditional way to cut baklava).  
  6. Bake for 60-70 minutes or until golden brown.
  7. Heat honey until it is warm and thin.  Pour evenly over the warm baklava.  Cool on wire rack for one hour.  
Baklava after cutting but before baking.
It will turn golden brown in the oven.

Baklava tastes best when it has had time to really sit and absorb the honey, so it is a great candidate to make in advance of an event or holiday.

A note about the phyllo dough - the brand name that I buy is called Athens.  The original recipe called for 6 sheets per layer, but the Athens package did not come with enough sheets.  Rather than open another package, I have found that 5 sheets work fine.  However, if your brand has enough for 6 sheets per layer, then use that.


Saturday, November 26, 2011

Blue Cheese Cole Slaw

Got this recipe from my mother-in-law ... it is delicious!  A great variation on an old favorite.

For crisp slaw, first soak the shredded cabbage in ice water for an hour.  Then drain the cabbage, pat dry, and store in the refrigerator in a plastic bag until ready to use.

3T apple cider vinegar
2T finely chopped onion
1T sugar
¾ t celery seeds
¼ t salt
¼ t pepper
1/8 t dry mustard
1 clove garlic, minced
¼ cup vegetable oil
1 lb. cabbage, finely shredded
1 4-oz. pkg crumbled blue cheese

Combine first 8 ingredients in a small bowl add oil in a slow, steady stream, stirring constantly with a wire whisk until mixture is blended.  Cover and chill at least 1 hour.  Combine cabbage and blue cheese; cover and chill 1 hour.  Drizzle vinegar mixture over cabbage mixture; toss gently, and serve immediately. 

Yield:  6 servings.

Sunday, October 30, 2011

An Early Snow!

Our pumpkin got a little snow hat!
We were blessed to have dodged the first winter Nor'easter of the year! The forecast called for 3-7" but we only ended up with about 1 inch. Enough to make everything look beautiful but not cause any damage ... and it was almost all gone by noon!

Una, Eli, and Oliver pretending that it is
December, not October!
As an added bonus, I got our Christmas card picture done too! Usually we take it in front of our Christmas tree, but the early snow gave us a new opportunity.

I think they look beautiful - what a blessing!  

Monday, October 17, 2011

Our Little Boy is Growing Up

Stewie the Rooster
Our little rooster, that is!  Stewie is our first rooster and he is just over 4 months old.  I was wondering when he was going to start crowing, and then yesterday he did!  He crowed three times and I haven't heard anything since then.  Guess he was just trying it out!

I first wrote about Stewie in August when we first realized he was a "he."  At the time, he had nipped at me and I was hoping that he wasn't going to be nasty (as many roosters are).  As it turns out, he seems to be a sweetheart.  If anything he is very timid and skittish.  Some of the chickens are more comfortable around us than others, and he is definitely one of the timid ones - he is even jumpy around some of the hens!

He's a good little boy and I hope he stays that way.

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Who knew Swiss Chard tasted so good???

I kept reading about how healthy Swiss Chard was, but to be honest, chard is one of those vegetables that I walk past in the grocery store thinking "what do I do with THAT?" I bought seeds this year but didn't plant them until later in the season because of that same mentality. Finally, I planted them in some pots and they grew! Then every time I walked past the pots I would think, "guess I should do something with that ..." but never got around to it, until tonight.

I've already talked about this great book called The World's Healthiest Foods.  It is fantastic - for each food, the author discusses the healthiest way to prepare it. For Swiss Chard, 3 minutes of boiling is recommended to reduce the bitterness while preserving the vitamins. After boiling, combine with a simple Mediterranean dressing and it is really amazing! Tim loved it and even the kids ate every bite.

Three-Minute Mediterranean Swiss Chard

1 lb Swiss Chard
3 T extra virgin olive oil
1 t lemon juice
1 medium clove garlic, crushed
Sea salt and pepper to taste

  1. To prepare the Swiss Chard:  Stack the leaves on top of each other.  Slice leaves into 1-inch slices and slice white stems into 1/2-inch slices.  Yellow and red stems are tougher and should be discarded.  
  2. Prepare Mediterranean dressing:  combine olive oil, lemon juice, crushed garlic, salt, and pepper.  (The author notes that garlic should be crushed 5-10 minutes before using to get the most health benefits from the garlic.  Read the book to find out why!)
  3. Bring water to a rapid boil.  Boil the Swiss Chard for 3 minutes, then drain.
  4. Toss the dressing with the chard and serve hot.
We were pleasantly surprised by how great this simple yet healthy recipe is.  Can't wait to plant a lot more of it next year!

Friday, October 7, 2011

Eggplant Rolletini

One last eggplant recipe!  We love eggplant parmesan but rolletini is the favorite.  Not as healthy of course, but so, so good!

Post image for The Protected Cultivation of Eggplant1-2 medium eggplant
3 eggs (well beaten in large bowl)
2-3 cups of flour OR breadcrumbs
canola oil (for pan frying)
your favorite tomato sauce
2 cups mozzarella cheese, shredded

8 oz. ricotta cheese
1/4 cup chopped parsley, fresh or dried
black pepper to taste
1/2 cup parmesan or romano cheese, shredded or grated

  1. Peel the eggplant and slice very thin, lengthwise.  (the thinner the better!)
  2. Bread the eggplant slices.  If using flour: first coat in flour, then dip completely in egg, and then dredge again in flour.  If using breadcrumbs:  dip first in egg, then in breadcrumbs.  [I believe that flour is healthier because the breadcrumbs soak up a lot of oil while frying; both are delicious!]
  3. Heat the canola oil in large skillet on fairly high heat.  There should be enough oil to completely cover the skillet and it should be about 1/4" deep.
  4. Fry each eggplant slice in the oil until lightly browned.  As you take them out to put in the next batch, blot them on a paper towel to absorb the excess oil.
  5. Make the cheese filling by combining the ricotta cheese, parsley, black pepper, and 1/4 cup parmesan cheese.  This is a basic filling and you can vary the amounts to taste as you wish.
  6. In a 9"x11" baking dish, lightly coat the bottom with tomato sauce.  Take one slice of eggplant, add a spoonful of filling and fold the slice over.  Continue with the rest of the slices.  Once they are all filled, spoon tomato sauce on each one, then sprinkle with the mozzarella and remaining parmesan cheese. 
  7. Bake in an oven preheated to 350 degrees F until heated through and cheese is melted, about 30 minutes.  Bake for the first 20 minutes with aluminum foil to prevent the cheese from getting overdone.  If you are freezing for future use, you don't need to bake it now - just tightly cover and freeze.  You can bake it later thawed out or frozen (just allow longer baking time if frozen, of course).
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