Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Farm Meals and a Visitor

The last two nights have been graced with farm meals. Last night, we cooked our late rooster for some out-of-town friends that were staying with us. I was concerned that he would be too tough to eat because I had a lot of trouble processing him. He was a tough old bird.

However, the master chef in the house worked her magic and found a recipe for coq au vin online. With slight modifications, we were treated to our first "flavorful" chicken. And boy, I had no idea what I had been missing all this time.

As the rooster was quartered, prior to cooking in wine, I noticed that his "dark" meat was as full colored as goat or dark pork. I was told that as a chicken exercises, their meat turns darks. The young industrialized chickens at the grocery store with white meat legs have never seen an exercise yard. Our rooster, who had free-ranged his entire life, was dark. The finished product tasted a lot like well-cooked goat as well, in both consistency and flavor. Not tough, but textured. He was very, very tasty and I would have been surprised to learn that this was chicken, if I didn't know any better. There was so much FLAVOR.

My friends and I discussed that it was amazing how our mental image of chicken is completely dominated by caged, seven-week-old cornish crosses: mushy and bland.

After the meal, we cooked down the remaining chicken for stock. The wonderful smell of cooking filled the house for over a day.

Tonight, we had a vegetarian meal. I harvested more fingerling potatoes today. We also had peas, broccoli and three large turnips I had long given up on. The potatoes were out of this world, and I believe that this is the first time I have eaten potatoes straight out of the ground. Usually, they are hardened for storage.

As if eating an old rooster was not strange enough for this former-suburbanite...

Three nights ago, I went to do night check on the horses at 9 pm. As I walked in front of the garage, I noticed a little tan body scurrying against the closed garage door. We have mice in the barn, but this was larger and had a very tiny tail. It was a hamster!! I gave chase, calling out "A hamster! Someone's hamster! We have to save it!" There was no way a hamster would survive the night around here.

The little hamster ran under a parked car and after much scraping of knees and feats of agility I didn't know I could muster, it was safely in a pail. We brought it in and determined it was an older female and she was tame, although thin and hungry. We put her in a five gallon bucket with bedding for the night, complete with oats, barley, sunflower seeds, etc. She devoured everything.

The next day I bought her a proper hamster cage and introduced her to fresh produce from the garden. She loves peas and broccoli, carrots and salad greens. She also likes a bit of cheese and milk. Overall, she's slowly getting acclimated and more social, although she sleeps a lot. I did some research and hamsters can travel up to 3 km a night, so I have no idea where she could be from or how she ended up on my five acres, surrounded as it is by dense, predator-rich forest. Her journey is fairly miraculous.

I have named her Hobbit.


sylvia said...

Hobbit is so cute! I cant believe you found her. Lol! I had teddy bear hampsters as a kid. Loved them! Try out a ball with her. They're in the rodent section. Mine would tool around the house for an hour or so...and loved it. Lol!
Yay for delicious food and great people to share it with!

Dan said...

Are you sure that's not a chupacabra?

Andrea said...

Oh my god I hadn't seen these pictures before!! I almost hoped you would name her Driveway but I like Hobbit too, lol. I really half thought you were kidding when you said hamster!

Amy said...

you redeemed yourself. that is lovely that you helped the hampster. i was sad you ate the rooster