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Every Thursday is Open Mic Night at Pucketts in historic Leipers Fork!

2 Feb

So you don’t live in Leipers Fork? Neither do I (though I wish I did for many reasons including some outlined in this article).

I do get to visit a lot though, since we live exactly 13 minutes away. A few months ago we started showing up on Thursday nights…just because we’d heard the buzz about the shrimp boil, the fun and the amazing music. Once we finally attended an Open Mic Night our only regret was that we’d missed so many!

Happy Thursday!

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Confitted Duck: Spring Rolls

15 Oct

I knew that at some point I would preserve duck breast (duck prosciutto) as a part of the Charcuterie Challenge. So to plan for the prosciutto, we purchased six ducklings last Spring, of whom we’ve become very fond. The kids picked them out at the farm supply store and since we read that the louder ones were female, the kids boxed up the most obnoxious quackers. This was challenging since the tornado siren was going off at the time in the area and locals were panicking (namely me). We have often wondered if this siren was a bad omen. Ducks are trouble, stinky and messy and better left to be raised by a mama duck than humans (in our humble opinion) problem is, we’re told Pekin ducks make terrible setters and not so great mothers.

After our experience acting in the role of a mama duck, we decided we would never do this again! MESSY! However, we ended up with five female ducks and one drake and in keeping with the Pekin breed, all five ducks are laying prolifically. Therefore, no ducks on our farm were processed for this challenge. But we have duck eggs!

For confitting, we sourced two whole locally raised ducks, already cleaned and plucked but with head and feet on. After cutting up the ducks for confit, we were left with parts for stock and breasts for something else (maybe prosciutto?).

To cure them, we used star anise, white pepper, black pepper, Celtic sea salt, dried orange peel, black Nigella seeds, oregano, thyme, lots of smashed garlic and a few red pepper flakes. For the fat, we added coconut oil to cover the meat anticipating Asian flavors and spices for our ultimate recipe.

What we found out about confit(ting) aka preserving was that it’s easy enough to do during a work week. We cured at night before bed, left the meat for 24 hours in the fridge and then cooked the duck in the oven over low heat that second night, overnight, while we slept. It cooled in the early morning and was set in the fridge again, already encased in fat by the time we left for work. Our understanding is that the longer our duck sits in the fridge, encased by said fat, the better it gets.

Today, we were ready to make something delicious with our duck. However first, we sought some inspiration at our favorite Vietnamese/Asian restaurant.

We ALL love Spring Rolls, who doesn’t? Wouldn’t they be even better with duck instead of shrimp and pork and how about some fresh farm greens?

After our extensive lunchtime “field research”, we still had a commitment. Mr. Pink Guitar was scheduled to lay down some drum tracks on an EP, a compilation of five songs that a friend was recording in Nashville, at Prime Cut Studio. We thought it would be fun to hang out for a behind the scenes look at how an “album” is recorded.

Then, it was home to the farm to feed animals and get dinner on the table. Dinner would be duck confit in spring rolls with a homemade peanut sauce.  We were planning on crispy “wontons” of duck skin, one version of cracklins, but ran out of time.

Most of the ingredients came from our Asian grocery store, we love our Asian grocery store. First of all, we can find all kinds of unusual things to cook with, and more importantly, the food is much more reasonably priced than our regular grocery store, a great way to cut down on the food bill.

Homemade peanut sauce: Adapted from this recipe:

1 Cup peanut butter (we used crunchy)
½ Cup coconut milk
3 Tbsp lime juice
3 Tbsp soy sauce
1 Tbsp fish sauce
1 tsp Sriracha
2-3 Tbsp sugar (to taste)
1 Tbsp fresh ginger root, minced or grated
5 large cloves garlic, minced
Tbsp fresh cilantro, minced

Mix all ingredients together except cilantro, add cilantro to the sauce right before serving.

Our spring rolls are a little different in Middle TN. Bear with us here…we’re using home-grown greens.

Filling:

4 Confitted duck legs, deboned, meat chopped
1 bunch arugula
1/2 head Napa cabbage, chopped
1 bunch cilantro, chopped
3 medium carrots, grated
1 package vermicelli noodles (cooked and cooled)
1/2 cup chopped peanuts (optional)
1 Tbsp grated or minced fresh ginger root
2 limes, juiced
2 Tbsp soy sauce
White pepper to taste

1 package spring roll rice wrappers softened in hot water for about 20 seconds just prior to wrapping the filling.

Mix all of the above ingredients together except the spring roll wrappers. Put about a 1/3 cup of the filling in the center of the wrapper and roll up burrito style.

Dip in the peanut sauce and enjoy.

Yes, we thought about doing the white beans and greens with the confit.  Actually the beans are already cooked for tomorrows dinner, but it makes sense to mix it up with some unexpected flavors every now and again…

Todd Bolton and the art of catfishing

5 Sep

Sunday afternoons at Layla’s Bluegrass Inn just won’t be the same for a while. Why? Because Todd Bolton doesn’t play his regular show downtown from noon to 4pm during football season (from now until mid-February), as he puts it “70,000 people are 3000 yards away, and in front of Layla’s…tumbleweeds roll down the street”.

Layla’s Bluegrass Inn is a place where we have spent quite a few Sunday afternoons recently. Mr. Pink Guitar supports the farming operation at home and we support Mr. Pink Guitar when he has a gig with Todd. Luckily Layla’s is a family friendly venue and kids are welcome to watch music during the daytime shows.

Layla’s is a special place to us, a reprieve from the country and the endless farming chores where ironically we sit and listen to songs about living in the country and doing endless farming chores.

The philosophy down at Layla’s goes like this:

BE NICE OR LEAVE

Just a gentle reminder to patrons… this picture was taken over the bar register at Layla’s. We happen to agree with this philosophy, it’s our farm philosophy too. It applies to dangerous momma pigs (sows) as well as extra-aggressive roosters, except the phrase might be better stated as “Be nice, or you will be eaten”. All of the breeding stock on the farm, especially the pigs need to be kind and gentle animals if not, they’ve gotta go. Since our kids hang around the farm and help with chores, this is imperative.

There are a few videos on this blog of Todd Bolton playing some of our favorite songs. Todd is a good friend who has spent time at Pinkguitarfarm. In fact, he was the first person to greet us when we rolled up to the house after our long exodus across the U.S. arriving finally to TN. It might be true that we chose to move to TN because of Todd. Todd and Mr. Pink Guitar knew each other in high school. They played some decent shows out in California together way back when, even opening up for the likes of Waylon Jennings and Merle Haggard. Mr. Pink Guitar will tell you that that was when they were young and good-lookin’.

Todd is a good person to know if you live in TN and are interested in going fishing. Jack has been asking about going fishing with Todd for a while and on Labor Day, Todd took everyone fishing for catfish to one of his secret fishing spots.

Everyone caught fish! All kinds of fish!

Todd brought one of his sons, Tucker fishing too. Tucker caught a turtle that was, according to Todd, “too small for kebobs”. Todd has a wonderful family, a very supportive and beautiful wife Jamie, and three amazing children.

Todd is an avid hunter and has shot and eaten just about everything. What we respect about Todd as a sportsman, is the fact that he only takes what he can eat, he always shoots to kill, (not wound) and he is as humane as possible about it. In the fall, Todd will likely be out again to the farm to help us process some hogs – also in the most humane way possible.

Catch, kiss and release.

A country song is in here somewhere with regard to all of these experiences…maybe I need to attempt song-writing (I’ve sure got material).

Come on out to see Todd’s show downtown in Nashville at Layla’s Bluegrass Inn on Sunday’s from noon to 4pm when it’s NOT football season. Frankly, Todd’s musical talents even exceed his wonderful fishing skills, you will LOVE his show!

On farm, all farm breakfast…

15 May

This morning we rushed to finish chores and make breakfast in order to get downtown for a Mr. Pink Guitar gig on Broadway with Todd Bolton. We’d originally planned an obligation free Sunday for our breakfast sausage-making for the Charcuterie Challenge/Charcutepalooza the apprentice challenge this month (due today – nothing like waiting until the last minute…). However, Mr. Pink Guitar got a call late last night to fill in for the Sunday show, as the other drummer had canceled. So suddenly our Sunday was wiped out. Ruh, roh.

Waking early, we opted to divide and conquer. Mr. Pink Guitar and Jack finished the morning feeding chores while Sophie and I harvested tatsoi and collected eggs.

Oh, and herbs,

Tatsoi on the right, Napa cabbage on the left, onion “companions” interspersed:

We’d hoped to harvest our February planted fingerling potatoes…but alas they were not ready. So, no starch today for breakfast. With feedings done, we cubed our pork, chopped herbs and sprinkled seasonings;

ground our sausage;

Cooked the patties; wilted the chopped greens in sausage drippings (yes, the tatsoi has a few bug nibbles, we don’t spray insecticides).

fried up some farm fresh eggs;

And ate the most delicious, satisfying and nourishing breakfast ever. No kidding.

All of the ingredients came from our farm except the balsamic vinegar, butter (local) salt and pepper. That, my friends , feels like quite the accomplishment. Mr. Pink Guitar wants me to do a post on how hard the work is on a farm, how it is every day work that is a labor of love and costs a fortune. He’s correct but that stuff is boring.

So as I sit downtown at Layla’s Bluegrass Inn on Broadway, writing this post, worlds away from the farm, my gratitude for the animals, vegetables, hard work and time it took to bring this incredible food to the table is a bit overwhelming. The brick walls of the venue, the worn plywood floors, the tiny front window stage and music reverberating around my head and through my core inspires me; but the farm food sustains me.

My friend Farmer Joe always shares words of wisdom whenever he delivers hay to the barn or when I see him at the elementary school where both our kids attend. He tells me stories about hog killin’, making lard, the design of their scalder (it was set in a hill) how it was an event for multiple families and brought the community together. He says… “we ate really good for being such poor people”. Joe is one of the smartest farmers around, we’re lucky he shares his stories, insight and wisdom with us.

And he’s right, the food is so undeniably delicious, it doesn’t seem fair. If you want access to the freshest ingredients, meet your farmer, lend a hand, help out, the rewards are immeasurable.

Sausage recipe: (Adapted from Mrs. Wheelbarrow’s breakfast sausage recipe)

1 Pound Chopped pork (we used what would be pork chops along the back bone from a primal cut) so there was already a lot of fat on the meat
1/4 Pound Pork fat (see primal cut reference)
1 small bunch sage
1 small bunch oregano
1 small bunch parsley
1 small bunch thyme (no stems)
2 Tablespoons balsamic vinegar
1 Generous shake of kosher salt (be liberal if you like salt)
Many grinds from the pepper grinder (you decide)

Mix all ingredients together and grind into sausage. We used a manual meat grinder.

Form patties and fry in lard until browned, flip and repeat. Wilt the greens in the sausage drippings, remove and then fry about 6-8 farm fresh eggs in a little butter.

Enjoy!

Jack’s version of “Mama Tried”

1 May

Farmer Jack kickin’ it old school with Todd Bolton and his band Sunday afternoon at Layla’s Bluegrass Inn, singing his version of Merle Haggard’s Mama Tried, downtown on Broadway, Nashville, TN.

Todd Bolton – Copperhead Road

10 Apr

It Feels Like Rain

13 Mar
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