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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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As promised, please enjoy a guest post by the Father-in-Law on Amish animal auctions.  It will either make you want to be a vegetarian or buy your very own cow.  Whichever.

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Which is it? Stay out or enter at your own risk??

As promised (threatened?) here’s part two of our Amish adventures. In my last post I gave you a look into the culture clash of living near or among the Amish.  This time I’ll give you an insider’s peek into one of the cornerstones of their business and social world, the animal auction.

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Here in Ohio’s Amish country there is a sale day Monday through Friday in little towns throughout the county.  It’s a chance to sell or buy some livestock, meet with seldom seen neighbors and relatives, and gives the wives and kids a chance to see some of a world larger than their farms.  Special animal wagons are used to transport the cattle, sheep, goats and hogs to and from the auction. Some sales have a smaller side auction that will sell anything you may want to bring in. Pies, kittens, rabbits, summer squash, roosters and laying hens, out of date canned goods or boxes of stale potato chips.  These smaller venues keep the womenfolk busy while the husband is tending to the more important livestock decisions.

Inside the animal auction barn you’re met with a cacophony of sounds and a wide range of odors.  It’s not for the faint of heart.

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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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 *Please enjoy another guest post by the Father-in-Law.

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By living near America’s largest Amish settlements, I’ve been able to act as tour guide to various visitors to our area of Ohio. (Contrary to popular belief, Ohio has more Amish than Pennsylvania, they just get more publicity.)  Joanna gets to see more and more of their lifestyle each time she visits us.  I may have overloaded her with a full two-day tour this past weekend.  I feel fairly competent to give these tours as I’ve associated with many of them through various jobs I’ve had during my younger days.  I delivered Nehi pop (not “soda” for you city slickers) for several years to blacksmith, harness, and buggy shops well off the beaten path of tourism.  I came to know their families and was welcomed into their midst.  Joanna made the mistake of mentioning to me that I should write a post about them for those of you who may not have had much contact with them.  Rather than go through a lengthy listing of their rules and beliefs (which you can easily find online), I thought I’d tell you a bit about culture clashes between them and their English (non-Amish) neighbors.

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Since I know for SURE that they won’t be using a computer to read this I’ll tell it like it is.

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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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