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Last Sunday I took a whole broiler chicken, cut it up, and made this…… all by myself!

Manly Baked Dijon Mustard Chicken with Fried Potatoes and Onions

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And it was quite tasty!  Even the two-year-old devoured everything on his plate.  OK, not the salad.  He didn’t eat the salad.

I slightly altered what I did from a recipe straight out of Nourishing Traditions by Sally Fallon.

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I’m pretty sure this is the first cook book I ever bought for myself.  Hopefully soon I can do a full review to properly convey my man-crush on these bound pieces of paper… but for now I’ll just say that this is right up my alley and I truly enjoyed reading it – not just referencing it.  Never thought I’d say that about a cook book.  Nourishing Traditions is chock full of great historical, anthropological, and medicinal facts, anecdotes, and tips that explain why much of our modern food industry is so ass-backwards when compared to the whole food and healthy preparation techniques that most of our great-great-grandparents seemed to innately understand.  Probably because they didn’t have Round-Up glyphosphates and everything wasn’t grown in terribly unsanitary Concentrated Animal Feed Lots which requires heavy doses of antibiotics and hormones to be in every bite.

Anyway, the book’s tagline pretty much says it all:

“The Cookbook that Challenges Politically Correct Nutrition and the Diet Dictocrats.”

Plus, what is really helpful to a sucky fledgling chef like myself, each section (Beef, Poultry, Fish, Side Dishes, etc) has at least a few simple recipes that are not intimidating.  This is one such recipe.

Yes, color me smitten.

So let’s bake some chicken and fry up some fixin’s.

Stuff You’ll Need:

  • 1 Whole Chicken (we buy natural, pasture-raised broilers locally)
  • Double handful of Red Potatoes
  • 2 Onions
  • 1 tbsp of Mustard (I went way fancy with Dijon)
  • Butter
  • Spices (I grabbed a southern dry rub mixture for the chicken plus garlic powder, sea salt, and pepper for the potatoes.)

Stuff You’ll Do

  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees. (Yes ladies, we Husbands need a written step at the beginning to remember to do that while dealing with this other stuff so we’re not standing around for 15 minutes later twiddling our thumbs.)
  • Cut up the Chicken. Separate both legs and both wings from the carcass. Remove both breasts.  Set aside (but save!) carcass and any bones from this step.  You’ll see why at the end.
  • Melt your Butter and then stir in Mustard until it’s uniform.
  • Use a brush or something to liberally apply the Mustard baste (is that the right word?) to Chicken.
  • Sprinkle on your Spices.
  • Cook Chicken in oven for 2 hours at 350 degrees.
  • Slice Onions and get them sauteing (is that the right word?) with some butter.

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  • Quarter or cut Potatoes and boil them for ten minutes.

 

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  • After the 10 minute Potato boil, heat them in a skillet with some butter to brown.

 

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  •  When both the Potatoes and Onions have browned, only then combine them. (This is one of the tips in Nourishing Traditions that told me it improves the final flavor.  Who knew!?! They did.)
  • Add your Potato Spices.

 

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  • Let’s check on that Chicken.

 

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OK, so this is where I learned we apparently have a Convection Oven (as opposed to a Concave Oven?!? Just kidding…  Kinda.) and apparently things bake much faster in one of those.  Luckily I checked these twenty minutes early.  A little brown on top but not burned!  I’m thinking this would have been a very bad scene if I waited the full two hours as the recipe dictated.  Lesson learned.

  • Festively plate (?) and present to a hungry toddler and 8-month pregnant wife who was ecstatic she finally didn’t have to cook a meal.

 

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But wait.  There’s more!

Remember the chicken carcass you set aside?  Let’s put that to some use.

Make Your Own Chicken Stock

  • Cut off the neck and cut it into a few pieces.
  • Place the neck, carcass, and feet into a large stock pot.
  • Cover with 4 quarts of water.
  • Add in tons of leftover vegetables.  Especially veggie trimmings or anything that has gone slightly past its prime you’ve been saving all week for this very feat.
  • 2 Tbsp vinegar
  • Simmer somewhere between 4 and Infinity hours.  8-16 hours seems like a real happy middle man.

 

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  • Strain Stock
  • Can or freeze Stock and throw it in the pantry.

 

Verdict

This was a big hit and everyone enjoyed it.  I think next time I’ll add just a little more pizzazz in the way of Spices to the chicken, but the Mustard taste was surprisingly really good.  This was a fairly simple recipe for me to cut my teeth on.

Most importantly, my family lived through another Husband meal.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I have a cook book to go make out with.

–Mike

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See that beauty right up there?  Yep, I took thirty seconds to create a new and more fitting logo to announce my pinch hitting here on Midwestern Bite.  I know… I know… you’re impressed by my graphic design skills.  I amaze myself as well. Bye bye overplayed Man Cave logo!

I’m stepping in today to talk about chicken feed.  Specifically, we’re going to walk through growing your own supplemental backyard livestock food via a very simple Barley Fodder System.

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 Why go through the (extremely minimal) effort?

1. Fodder is nutritious and healthy.  Chickens are natural foragers.  As true omnivores, they evolved eating plenty of protein (bugs and such) in addition to green plants. Just like us humans, they’re not designed to thrive on a grain based diet.  So when weather and other conditions permit I let the ladies free range inside our 100’x50′ fenced grassy garden area, pecking around to their hearts’ content.  The barley fodder I grow for them gives them something fresh and green for the times they have to stay secured in the (freaking awesome) coop and run I built… or when their lawn is covered in six inches of snow.

2. Fodder is cheap.  Chicken feed is expensive.  Chickens eat a lot of it.  Providing something nutritious like barley fodder helps stretch their primary feed and keeps a few more pennies in this guy’s pocket.  I’ll do some math later that really drives this point home.

3. Fodder is freakin’ fun!  Yeah, maybe not in the traditional way.  But hear me out.  What kind of a Gentleman Farmer doesn’t grow a crop for his livestock? Pssshhh, not this kind. Once in the morning on my way to work, and once more before bed, I don my large (freaking awesome) Homestead hat and tell the wife I’m “Off to do the Farm Chores!” of watering my tiny tubs of barley.  Yes, I do that every time.  Yes, that little routine annoys her every time.  See… fun!

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How easy is it?  I say stupidly easy, but you be the judge.  The below steps might seem a tad complicated, but reading it is a lot more complicated than doing it.  Growing fodder is a two-minute-per-day job.  Sixty seconds sometime in the AM.  Then sixty seconds sometime in the PM.

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I’ve loved every second since we moved to “the country” last year.  Caring for our livestock (What? Chickens are livestock), starting the garden, walking our woods, harvesting apples, mowing with the boy, feeding hand-split wood into our stove on a snowy day… it’s all been grand.

Of course, that’s me talking.  If you ask the Wife, she’d likely point to a few gripes.  Today’s post highlights one of those, just so you don’t think everything is Norman frickin’ Rockwell all the time over here.

Sigh…

Mice.

We’ve had mice.  Not an enormous infestation by any stretch, but in the last year we’ve caught several and have “detected” a couple others that have obviously gone to that great big cheese wheel in the sky.

After asking the neighbors what’s up, they chuckle, shrug, and say it’s part of the life and we better get used to a little scratching in the walls each year when the temperature drops. Of course that doesn’t make Joanna feel any better.

So out of love for my woman, and no desire to co-exist with Minnie long term, I cashed out bookoo bucks for an exterminator service to take a walk around and put us on a pest control program.  I then fixed some small issues like door weather stripping and set out a few commercial traps.  For months we thought our furry little friends had moved on to greener pastures.

Then a few nights ago, we heard it again.

Scratching.

Jo was not pleased.  I was not pleased.

This. Meant. War. 

I decided $#!t needed to get real. Only the heaviest duty, homemade, redneck looking mouse trap would do.  (Yes, I admit it, with darkness falling at 4:30 PM and the ground covered with snow, I’m sometimes looking for projects.)  Take this, Mousey!

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Our primary problem area is an outside water closet that houses the furnace, water softener, hot water heater, etc.  I’m betting it’s too easy for them to come in where the well pipes enter from underground and I’m not sure how to seal it off, so I wanted something that could catch multiple critters at once if needed. The beauty of this setup is it can keep on keeping on without needing to be reset after one little guy loses his battle with Mr. Snappy while his buds scurry away.

Plus it was free since we had all the materials needed, thanks in part to a perma-stocked mini fridge. Want a Midwestern Mouse Terminator of your own?  Read on.

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Who wants to meet the girls?!?!

That’s right.  Girls.  Hens.  Five of them.  No roosters.  No dudes.  That makes me their dominant male influence.  Hence the totally appropriate – single entendre – title of this post.

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If you’ve been following along in our fledgling livestock adventure, this is the moment for which you’ve been waiting.  You’ve had a few days to settle down after the euphoric grand tour of the coop I built.

Time to introduce the ladies.

Please meet:

Curly

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Curly is a Blue Copper Maran and is about 18 weeks old.  She’s still a pullet (meaning a female less than one year old), but will hopefully start laying soon.  Pullets can begin dropping the good stuff generally anywhere from 18-26 weeks on average, so let’s hope she’s advanced for her age.

When Curly does start laying, her breed is supposed to lay very dark, almost chocolate colored eggs.

By the way, I’m sparing you a lot of history, breeding, genetic disposition, and other information I’ve devoured about various poultry breeds.  I do so because The Wife promptly gets that eye-glazed 1000 yard stare whenever I share it with her.  So I figure you also don’t care.

For instance, when I finished giving Joanna a twenty minute dissertation about this copper necked lovely, she shook the haze out of her head and said, “Wait, what is it called?  A Maran? I shall call him [sic] Curly.  Curly Moran [sic].  From Veronica Mars.”

So there you go.  Curly.

Next, meet Curly’s best friend:

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I know everyone has been waiting with bated breath to see chicken coop updates since you devoured my first Build report.  Well, prepare your gullets.  Here you go.

I like to spend as much non-office time wrestling with the world’s strongest Toddler… so this project has taken way too long since it was mostly relegated to snippets of nap-time-construction-time and after-night-night-total-darkness-build-hours.  However, I finally declare this beeyotch 99% done and ready for occupants!

Who wants the grand tour?  Just ignore the ugly tall unfinished fence post that’s part of my ugly tall garden deer fence.  I wanted the coop in here so they could free range every now and then helping to clear the garden of weeds and bad bugs, while being protected from our friendly free range canine neighbors.

Feast your eyes on the prettiest little coop Joanna has ever co-owned.  Such is the life of a lucky Gentleman Farmer’s wife.

 

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Ahhh… Booze.

Sweet, sweet wonderful Booze.

Homemade Booze to boot.

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My wife’s Twitter feed tells me ’tis the season for every single food blog in the ‘sphere to be pushing spiced pumpkin things down my throat.  Allow me to slightly buck that autumn trend and tell the tale how Garden Patrick and I recently turned a metric ton of these picked from my small apple orchard:

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into almost fifteen gallons of Homemade Hard Apple Cider.

 

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I’m building a chicken coop.

Granted, Joanna is less than thrilled with my latest project, but I have a feeling she’ll come around.  Her icy demeanor seems to be melting a little bit already, thanks to new neighbors that moved in down the lane.  You see, in a very short time, they’ve amassed a wonderful little mini farm complete with over a dozen chickens, several turkeys, and their very own miniature donkey named Ruth.

The boy loves to visit.  So do I.  So does Joanna.  How could she object to just a few of her own hens in comparison?

I’m sure we’ll have lots to share with you as we embark on our livestock adventure.  Especially since like most things we have no idea what we’re doing.  For now I thought I’d show you the coop build thus far.

Just don’t look too closely.  I know as much about carpentry as I do animal husbandry.  (read: zilch).

Here’s the result from one of our many lumber trips.  The foreman approves.

As you can see, that dude is a stickler for safety gear.

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The very first of many frame sections cut and ready to assemble.  All necessary tools and supplies accounted for.

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Fear my multitude of Evil Minions!

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If you’re one of the millions (And MILLIONS!) of loyal fans who can’t wait for me to take the reins… err keyboard… away from Joanna here at Midwestern Bite, you’ll recall a previous post where I admit I *might* be a Compost-aholic.

I’m saddened to say things have gotten worse and those large pallet bins were apparently just a gateway.  Unfortunately for my skeeved out wife, I’ve progressed.  That means working smarter, not harder.  You see, I’ve outsourced additional composting to a few thousand slimy, spineless garbage eaters.

Hi, my name is Mike and I’m a Vermicomposter.

Yep.  We’re the proud parents of composting worms.  Indoor composting worms.

Joanna was thrilled.

Before I show you their de-luxe rubbermaid apartment and how to best care for your subterranean underlings, here are a few fun facts I learned about worms along this journey.

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(This was originally published last year.  With all the news that has been reported, or under-reported, in the last 365 days… it might be even more important for every American to read our entire Declaration and ponder its associated list of Grievances against King George.)

Question of the Day: Do you think the brilliant and honorable men who approved the Declaration of Independence would be proud of their Republic today?  If not, who is at fault?  (Hint: It’s not a particular political party.)

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Today is Independence Day.  A national holiday.  A day of celebration.

More importantly, it is a day for reverence.  A day I spend extremely thankful for many reasons, one of which is a Tradition I hold dear.  A family Tradition you are now formally invited to join.

Before you and your loved ones dig in to your BBQ feast, beverages, and fireworks… after your prayer (if you’re so inclined)… I invite you to join us in reading the Declaration of Independence.  Yes, the whole thing.  If you’ll be blessed to be surrounded by friends and family, have everyone take a turn reading a small section aloud.  If you’ll be blessed to celebrate by yourself, I still recommend reading it out loud (I have!).

Read those words and give some thought to their meaning.  Don’t worry, I’ve included it below so it’s easy to print out.

It’s easy to forget their reasons and rationale for revolting against their own government and King.  Do any of today’s news articles relate to their list of grievances our Founders listed for us?

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I was going to go with a Milli Vanilli inspired title, but I guess the wife’s “Toddler Radio” Pandora station won out.  It’s been wearing me down… wearing me down in a glittery, high pitched, Sillies-Shaking-Out, psychological torture type of way.  Who knew psychological torture usually involved ukelele accompaniment?

But back on topic.  Yes, I’m here again to wow you with yet another of my Homestead Adventures.

I assembled a Rain Barrel.

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This project was completed start to finish during nap time, while the Wife was out shopping for yoga pants.  Not just any yoga pants.  A fancier type of yoga pants she wouldn’t feel weird wearing out of the house.  It is the official SAHM uniform and it’s time she dressed appropriately.  At least that’s how everything was explained to me.

Such is our exciting lives.

Wait… what was I talking about?  Oh yeah, back on topic…

I assembled a Rain Barrel.

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A buddy of mine had “a guy” that got him food grade 55-gallon drums dirt cheap last year.  I bought quite a few, moved them with us, and am finally getting around to installing them at the new house.

This particular barrel is assembled from a kit I received taking part in a workshop hosted by our local Parks Department.

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