Seasonal eating while cleaning the pantry at its best! Nutritious pasture-raised Old Time Farm heritage turkey eggs are in season now! Combine the eggs with foraged nettles, ham loaf mix from Blackberry Meadows Farm pastured pigs (to clean out the freezer) and some stale Mediterra slider buns (to clean out the fridge)! Sprinkle a little Real Salt with Garlic and parmesan cheese grated at County Market and bake at 375 degrees for 30 mins = delicious dinner is served!! I could have foraged for some garlic mustard and used that in place of the garlic salt or used scallion sprouts from Harmony Grove Farm. Fellow farmers I seek out for pasture-raised pork are Auburn Meadow Farm and Who Cooks for You Farm would be a source for the pasture-raised pork as well as greens.
Nettles are a foraged green (AKA "weed") that tastes like spinach but is MUCH more nutrient dense than spinach found in any store! I originally discovered nettles when searching for new calves hidden by their mamas. I found the calves hidden in these 5-6 foot high stands of "weeds" with prickers on them. After touching the plant it STUNG for a LONG TIME, became numb and left a welt! I generally do not get poison ivy so I HAD to find out what this dastardly plant was about! I learned it was "stinging nettle" or "Urtica dioica" and an excellent source of iron, magnesium, potassium, calcium, vitamin A, protein, and dietary fiber as well as having a long history of being used for food, fiber and medicine going back to neolithic times! This incredibly tasty nutrient dense food is growing naturally right on our farm without me even planting it, BONANZA! Then we ate it and it was YUMMY and a peculiar thing happened ... our stuffed noses from seasonal pollen allergies cleared right up! You can discover why nettles may be "the most nutritious plant on earth" as well as how to identify it, harvest it, medicinal properties, how the nettle stings, how to avoid or mitigate the sting and more in this video by my favorite local food foraging instructor, Adam Haritan from Learn Your Land.
Strata is fairly simple to make and, if you leave the bread out, it is a "frittata" and if you put that in a pie shell it is a "quiche", if you make it flat in a skillet, it is an omelet and if you scramble the omelet it is fancy scrambled eggs! The main ingredient is the eggs with a little milk and seasoning along whatever needs to "go" from the fridge and freezer and seems like it would go together well.
Back to the recipe/mix I made this time:
1 lb of sausage or ham loaf mix
5 turkey eggs
4 stale slider buns
1 gallon bag of nettle tips (can also use spinach, kale, broccoli or other green)
splash of milk
garlic salt (or salt along with garlic or garlic mustard greens)
parmesan or grated cheese of some sort (approx 1/2 cup)
large pie plate
Prepare nettles by washing and removing leaves and tips from stems (use gloves - another link I found says to let it wilt to remove stinging but I have not tried that yet!!)
Brown the sausage in a skillet and crumble. Remove sausage and set aside.
Add a little bacon grease, lard or butter if there is not enough fat in the skillet to sauté your nettles or greens. Sauté the greens until wilted - cover a steam a little if necessary to soften (more necessary when using kale)
Crumble the bread and sprinkle about 1/4 cup parmesan cheese on it in a large bowl. Whisk the eggs and a splash of milk along with a couple sprinkles of the garlic salt and pour over the bread (it should be gooey, not dry but not all eggs either). Add the sausage & greens, lightly toss and dump into the pie pan or baking dish. Sprinkle with more cheese and put in a 350 or 375 oven to bake until brown and the center is set (you can poke it with a knife in the center to make sure the center is done - if the knife comes out clean vs with soft egg on it, it is "done". I generally set the timer for about 20 minutes then watch it.
Another option for a "hand food" would be to bake the mix in muffin tins for breakfast or dinner "on the go"!! Just make sure you adjust the baking time accordingly!
Have fun turning seasonal farm foods and "weeds" into delicious, nutritious foods for your belly and soul!
Let me know if you have any questions or what you decided to add to your strata, frittata, omelet or scrambled eggs!
Old Time Farm reproduces all of our poultry and livestock on farm - just like an "Old Time Farm" used to do. We are a true Artisan venture, on a small scale, with attention to quality vs quantity and with an eye towards preserving biodiversity for future generations. Biodiversity in poultry is critical as the commercial genetics are in the hands of a few companies worldwide and are proprietary (cannot be reproduced on farm). Biodiversity allows for strong immune systems, regional adaptation, vigor and hardiness, aesthetic beauty, natural reproduction and regional sustainability.
Before A&P supermarket's 1948 "Chicken of Tomorrow" contest, most poultry was regionally reproduced, grown on small regional farms and people experienced the enhanced flavor, texture and nutrition that pasture raised, truly slow growing poultry offered. Biodiversity was maintained by regional pockets of small farms and homesteads and very seldom were chicks shipped in from commercial hatcheries. The Chicken of Tomorrow contest was the beginning of the commercial chicken of today. If you watch the historical archive video, you will see the more proportional table chicken of yesteryear and the wax model that looks like the commercial chicken you now see in the supermarkets.
The work of the Vantress brothers (mentioned toward the end of the Chicken of Tomorrow Video) is now a subsidiary of Tyson and the commercial poultry genetics are now consolidated into very few companies who keep the parent stock as a proprietary secret so they cannot be reproduced on farms (including the "Freedom Ranger" chicken some mistakenly claim to be a "heritage" chicken but is actually a fast growing commercial type from Hubbard genetics). People often ask if commercial chickens are bloated and abnormally proportioned because of steroids or hormones, but the reality is that we, as consumers, ASKED for that type of chicken and the commercial chicken breeders selected parent birds over time to give us what we asked for - we have the power to reverse this tide before it is too late and bring regionally sustainable poultry production back to our food shed!
Old Time Farm thanks P. Allen Smith for presenting this dilemma to a wider audience in his TED talk titled End of Choice: Diversity Matters if Food Choice is Important to You. It highlights the importance of biodiversity of poultry and livestock genetics and some of the economic benefits they offer the local food shed. I think the point where local people and the general public can become engaged is missed a little bit in the video but we do need to work on getting product to you while remaining financially viable and re-build our local infrastructure. You all buying our products is the key to keeping the highest quality individuals for future generations! We Thank You for your support! PS ... We purchased an American Milking Devon cow from the Swiss Village P. Allen mentions ... Pansy's genetics have been preserved for future generations!
Chicken of Tomorrow Archive video: https://archive.org/details/Chickeno1948
P Allen Smith TED talk: https://youtu.be/yCsGFNHHIQw
Changes In Chicken Weight For Age From Selective Breeding Over Time
A chicken at 56 days of age was less than 2 pounds live weight in 1957, almost 4 pounds in 1978 and over 9 pounds in 2005. Our Chantecler chicks are close to the 2 pound range at 56 days. (approximately 454 grams in a pound.)
Old Time Farm