Checking things off the "to-do" list: bi-annual Avian Influenza flock test done - CHECK! Another layer of complexity that some local food only farms do not have to deal with!
Old Time Farm participates in the National Poultry Improvement Program or NPIP. Our rare Partridge Chantecler chicks and hatching eggs are shipped all over the country to homesteads, farmsteads and show homes - not just egg producers or meat birds for local markets. To ship chicks and hatching eggs across state lines legally, states require you to be a participant in this program which is one precautionary layer to the spread of transmissible poultry diseases.
The NPIP program is a state/federal partnership that is administered by the Department of Agriculture in our state. Our facility/hatchery is inspected annually by the PA Dept. of Ag for cleanliness and our entire flock is inspected for disease as well. Our birds are blood tested for Salmonella Pullorum annually and Avian Influenza twice a year. We are required to keep records of where birds are sold to, have plans for how to reduce our birds exposure to disease (biosecurity plan) and all birds coming onto our farm must first be blood tested or come from another NPIP participant flock.
Pennsylvania utilizes state trained and licensed Certified Poultry Technicians (CPT) to draw the blood for the tests. I obtained my CPT licensure so I could draw blood from our birds after they have roosted at night so there would be less stress on them (and me). I was trained on how to properly draw blood, secure & ship proper samples, biosecurity, identification of disease and more. The state monitors my procedures and processes to make sure I am using best practices.
I was told that it would be almost impossible for us to obtain the NPIP certification because our birds are on pasture or free range. The program is geared toward confined birds used for industrial agriculture so our pre-industrial methods created some challenges in understanding where we fit in. I am extremely thankful that our state has worked with me so I can meet the needs of our genetics customers as well as those at the farmers markets we attend as well as our own nutritional needs.
More coming on biosecurity soon - we need to protect the biomes of our local farms. Yes, farms have biomes too!
This is comfort food at its best! Cream of Chicken Soup made with our very own Old Time heritage Chantecler chicken and kniffles (German egg dumplings) made with our Old Time Chantecler eggs.
Recipe for Cream of Chicken Soup
Recipe for Kniffles (full disclosure: not the recipe I used - that one came from my Great Grandma and is done by texture and does not use water or milk. The water or milk will allow you to make the finer spaetzle. The recipe I use is more similar to the egg noodle recipe above but has more egg to make a softer, more gooey dough).
This is some YUMMY Broccoli Cheese Soup I made with broth from our very own Chantecler chicken along with onions, garlic & broccoli purchased from the local Farmer's Markets we attend and cream-line milk in a glass bottle from the Meadville Market House.
Here is the Recipe for the Cream of Broccoli Soup and the broth/stock instructions are here.
You are not limited to using chicken stock or broth. Make a stock from the leftover cut ends/trimmings of your veggies or even from a ham bone.
Here is my favorite Recipe for Chicken Noodle Soup from Southern Living Cookbook ! And here is a Recipe for Homemade Egg Noodles like my Great Grandma Ruth taught me to make!
Homemade noodles from our farm fresh eggs takes the recipe over the top but, in a pinch, I would suggest using a Kluski type noodle instead of the fine noodle in the Chicken Soup recipe!
Any cut of our Old Time Chicken or Turkey will work for this soup or start with Old Time Bone Broth and add the veggies and noodles.
Bone stock/broth is the base for many of the soup recipes I make. I am not faithful to one recipe or style to make the stock. Sometimes I used roasted bones, sometimes smoked bones and sometimes fresh bones, sometimes I use whole chickens as well. The main ingredients are heritage chicken (bones, carcass, skin and even feet of one chicken), water to cover bones and a little salt to taste (or not as you like). You can add herbs and/or vegetables as well. I like to use my crock pot and let it cook on low for a minimum of 12 hours and a maximum of 48 hours. Strain the bones from the stock when warm and refrigerate or freeze when cool.
Trivia tidbit ... "Bone Broth" should technically be called "Bone Stock". Broth = made from meat or meaty bones and "stock" = made from bones. You can find a good explanation here.
Delicious meals do not need elaborate prep or exotic ingredients. The K.I.S.S. (Keep it simple, stupid) principle applied to high quality, seasonal ingredients, like Old Time 100% Grass-fed beef, pasture-raised heritage chicken & turkey, yields simple, delicious, nutritious results. No fancy seasonings, no need to buy a special ingredient you are unlikely to use for anything else ... just simply KISS!
KISS meal ideas:
Sliced Sirloin with Mushrooms Steak Sandwiches
2 Tbsp Old Time beef tallow or butter
Sliced Mushrooms (I used 1/2 box Crawford County Fungi oyster mushrooms)
1 package Old Time sliced sirloin
Salt, pepper and garlic powder to taste (can use minced or sliced garlic as well)
Bread and condiments of choice.
Melt butter or tallow in skillet and sauté mushrooms until slightly browned. Remove mushrooms from skillet. Make sure skillet is really hot but not smoking (water sizzles when sprinkled on it) & add sirloin to skillet. Cook Sirloin until moisture starts to accumulate on the top then flip to finish cooking. If you want melted cheese on the top, place the mushrooms on the top of the sirloin right after flipping, add cheese turn off the heat & cover until cheese is melted.
I used swiss cheese, Mediterra bread & Harmony Grove Lollo lettuce.
Variations: Marinate the sirloin in Italian salad dressing vs using salt & pepper. Slice the sirloin in strips so it is easy to sauté and leftovers will be ready for salads, fried rice or other meals. Make a salad intend or the sandwich.
Spring equals eggs are "in season" from our old fashioned poultry. Our hens follow their instincts to reproduce in nature's rhythm! Old Time Farm does not use lights to force our hens to lay eggs out of their natural cycle, so, as the days become longer, the Chanty and Turkey Girlz kick into production without regard to market availability or that consumers are accustomed to 365 access to what was a seasonal "protein" in yesteryear. Add to that our Chantecler and Standard Bronze tendency to go "broody", or want to sit on eggs to hatch vs lay eggs when the weather warms, means even more seasonality to the production.
This seasonal aspect is one of the biggest challenges we face with bringing products from our heritage breeds to market. How do I explain to people that we will not have eggs 365 days a year like farms using chickens selected for maximum production in minimum time on minimum input, and what in the world do I do with all the eggs produced during the peak egg season (February through April) when the Farmers' Markets are not open? We hatch chicks for future generations and ship "hatching eggs" to farmers/homesteaders on certain days of the week and obtained licensure of our kitchen from the state so we can use the extra eggs from other days in finished product at our markets! Eggs can also be shelled, beaten and frozen for use out of season. Before refrigeration, there were many ways used to store eggs for off-season use from storing in sawdust or sand to coating with a fat and storing in a cool location. Thankfully, we have refrigeration today.
I digressed to "talking turkey" so back to Bread Pudding! This week, I brought one of our most beloved recipes to market and I promised to share the recipe and how to make it ... Bread pudding with Rhubarb. When the eggs are plentiful, we make many egg recipes including bread pudding (sweet) and strata (savory) as well as rice pudding. My Great Grandma made bread pudding to use up stale bread and it was always a treat! Adding the rhubarb was a twist I added while experimenting - the sweet and sour play perfectly off each other. I encourage you to look at this as a "base recipe" and experiment with the sweet and savory aspect, using different breads and a variety of fruits, nuts and seasonings.
Bread Pudding with Rhubarb
Preheat oven to 350 degrees and grease a 13x9" baking dish (if 13x9 is too much for you, cut the recipe in 1/2 and make a smaller amount or share with a friend or neighbor)
Cut the bread into cubes (no need to be precise) and spread out into baking dish.
Cut the rhubarb and sprinkle evenly in baking dish with bread.
Whisk the eggs, add the sugar, milk and vanilla & whisk some more to mix together.
Pour the egg, milk, sugar, vanilla mix over the bread/rhubarb mix and gently submerge any floating bread to make sure it is completely coated with the egg mixture.
Let stand for about 10 minutes so the bread can absorb the egg mixture then bake at 350 for about 40 minutes or until a knife or pick comes out "clean" when inserted into the center of the pan.
Eat warm with cream, whipped cream or ice cream or cold.
Do not be afraid to experiment with adding fruits like cranberries, blueberries, strawberries, raisins, craisins or changing the exact to almond, orange or anything else that suits your fancy. You can add nutmeg or cinnamon for a different flavor as well. Try making a baked French toast with whole slices of bread or removing the sugar and adding meat and a veggie for a savory option like our Nettle and Turkey Egg Strata.
Let me know what variations you come up with! Our ancestors had many variations of bread pudding and custards as all food in the house was precious and this was a wonderful way to use up the seasonal abundance of eggs and stale bread!
I will try to add a picture soon - I forgot to take a picture and we sold out of the bread pudding at market! Picture posted!!
Homemade taco seasoning is the perfect base for your Cinco de Mayo celebration! You know exactly what the ingredients are and no running to the store to buy a single use package of seasoning! Old Time ground beef or a chuck roast combined with the taco seasoning below - Qué Delicioso!
1 tablespoon chili powder (see below for recipes)
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
1/4 teaspoon onion powder
1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
1/4 teaspoon dried oregano
1/2 teaspoon paprika
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cumin
1 teaspoon sea salt (or kosher salt)
1 teaspoon black pepper (optional - adds heat)
Mix all ingredients and use with one pound of Old Time ground beef, chicken or turkey (or store in an airtight container for later use). I add to the ground beef when browning it or to the chicken & turkey when being sautéed or with shredded leftovers before reheating.
Learning your ingredients allows you to tweak the flavors for your taste as well as substituting ingredients in your pantry for those that you may not have on hand when you wish to make a dish. Often, you can replace the garlic and onion powders with fresh onion and garlic. Cumin applies a smokey, earthy flavor to many dishes and is a staple in my pantry,
Chili Powder (Joy of Cooking)
3 tablespoons paprika
1 tablespoon tumeric
1/2 teaspoon cayenne
Mix together and use lots of crushed garlic in recipe or add 2 tsp of garlic powder. Store in an airtight container.
If you like a more potent chili powder, try this one:
Potent Chili Powder
1 teaspoon paprika
2 teaspoons cumin
1 teaspoon cayenne
1 teaspoon oregano
2 teaspoons garlic powder
Do you have a recipe you use? Have a happy Cinco de Mayo!!
Old Time Heritage Chicken is very different than the chickens found in the grocery. You will be hard pressed to find a chicken that is harvested at an age older than 6 to 8 weeks in the grocery stores (or over 8 to 10 weeks on most local farms) while Old Time chickens are harvested at a minimum of 14 weeks of age (just like chicken used to be)! The flavor and texture of the meat changes with the maturity of the animal is harvested - with the most flavorful meats being found with those harvested at an older age. Old Time Chickens TASTE LIKE CHICKEN and do not need much seasoning to make them flavorful and delicious!
Julia Childs created a show on the "classic" definitions of culinary poultry and how harvesting age relates to cooking methods and culinary uses. The definitions have changed in recent years to accommodate the fast growing commercial chickens and can create problems when using commercial chicken in Grandma's recipe or using yesteryear's chicken in today's recipe - the flavor and texture are not the same at all! Today's federal poultry classifications are almost half the age of the bird when harvested vs standards from as recent as 2003. Julia's explanation of how the tip of the breastbone is more solid as the bird gets older is a sure way to determine if a chicken over a couple pounds is truly Heritage or not (sadly, some are misusing the term "Heritage" to market commercial type poultry without understanding the definition or culinary ramifications!). The cartilage on the tip of a Heritage roasting chicken breastbone should not be more than an inch long!
I generally just put a little sea salt on our Old Time chickens and may put some butter on the skin. Most of the time, I use a covered roaster (like Grandma used!) in a 325 degree oven for about 25-30 minutes per pound & use a remote digital thermometer in the thigh to let me know when it reaches 165 degrees. An easy alternative is to put the bird in a crockpot on low for 8-10 hours or so. I generally put a little water on the bottom of the roaster or crockpot and often use a bed of carrots, celery and/or onions to elevate the bird a little out of the water.
We use the roasted chicken as a meal for day one (reserving as many bones as we can for stock). We pick the meat off the carcass and use the leftover chicken for a second meal in a baked casserole, potpies, fried rice, chicken sandwiches, or other recipe using cooked chicken. Our third meal (or more) from the very same chicken is from the broth made with the bones. After the original meal with the roasted chicken and the meat is picked off the bones, the extra skin, bones, neck and fat all are all placed in a crock pot with water to cover and cooked on low for 24-48 hours to make bone broth or stock. You can use it in any recipe calling for broth/stock.
Julia Child’s Roasting Chicken video link: https://youtu.be/T7dLXEc9tZM
PS … We have "good" sanitation laws to protect consumers in our state today and Old Time Farm is careful to do our best to adhere to them! Our application to harvest our poultry on farm has been submitted to the state and we are waiting. In the mean time, we drive 2 1/2 hours to a USDA processor for frozen chicken or take pre-orders for live birds to be harvested for you at our local processor.
2 quarts (8 cups) of stock or broth made with Old Time Heritage Chicken. I made mine from the leftover bones of a whole chicken I cooked in the crockpot 6-8 hours for a meal the evening before. I put the bones back into the crock pot after dinner, added enough water to cover (approx 8-10 cups), cooked on low overnight and strained the bones out in the morning. You can cook the bones for 24-48 hours in the crockpot on low and add a little apple cider vinegar, if you want. This can also be simmered on the stove on low as well.
2 medium Zucchini cut up (I used yellow & green for color)
1 quart beans snapped in 1-2" pieces (green, yellow and purple)
5 leaves of Kale chopped coarsely (Lacinato Kale for color)
5 leaves of Swiss Chard chopped coarsely
1 onion chopped coarsely
4 medium carrots
4 ears of corn - (fresh or left over) kernels chopped off
1 good handful (1 cup) chopped parsley
1 pint of Okra roughly sliced
6 tomatoes coarsely chopped
1 small head of cabbage coarsely sliced
1 bay leaf (I added it to the bones while they cooked)
Salt to taste (a teaspoon or so would be by guess but I add it after the veggies cook into the soup and add their flavor!).
I cooked mine for 8 hours on low in the crock pot but you can bring to a boil and simmer on the stove until the veggies are tender.
Cooking Tips:Tip 1: My goal is to combine the various colors, textures & flavors so use what is available at your local farmer's market or your freezer.
Tip 2: Add veggies until the broth/stock is full of veggies - they will cook down. There is no hard and fast rule on how much to add. Be creative and enjoy cooking!
Tip 3: I did not add potatoes or noodles of any sort as I will freeze the leftovers for a quick meal at a later date! Potatoes and pasta do not freeze well for me in soup!
Tip 4: You can use Beef, Pork, Turkey or Chicken broth/stock for the base. You will find that the Old Fashioned Heritage Chicken from Old Time Farm has much more flavor that the commercial type store bought chicken!
Old Time Farm