Our Mission

To live a self-sufficient and organic lifestyle for the next half century. With the Grace of God and the power of prayer, we will succeed. Nothing is impossible with His help. It wouldn't be us without laughter and joy at the Cockeyed Homestead.

Wednesday, June 12, 2019

Cooking with Chef Jo: Asparaguus

White asparagus has a secret
Dee (a YouTube and blog subscriber) and I were chatting via email about some asparagus she was gifted from a neighbor's garden. I should be so lucky. The most standard way is cooked or steamed with garlic. This was after sending our Newsy Weekly Email and mentioning that I was saving the asparagus patch this week. (last Sunday's blog post) If you haven't signed up for it yet, scroll down the right side of the page to do that.

Anyhow that got me thinking if I was gifted this wondrous vegetable how would I prepare it. I've already discussed Mel's and my differences  in how we like it prepare it...waterlogged or crispy. (I like medium to crisp.) For decades I thought I hated this vegetable because I'd only eaten the canned, waterlogged variation of this vegetable along with several others. The first time I had it properly steamed to perfection, I understood why this is a sought after vegetable. I've even planted a patch of it in our limited garden space. This vegetable takes years to grow before you can harvest a single stock. With that kind of investment of time and space, it would be an impossibly in most small gardeners, but we decided to give it a go last year in our efforts towards self sustainability.

While a harvest date is still a couple years away for our crop, I thought I'd give you a twofer today. One recipe for those, like me, that enjoy firmer textured asparagus, and one for those who like the softer version of this vegetable.

Jo's Roasted Asparagus with Bacon and Cheese
These are bundles. Calculate 1 bundle per serving

What you'll need
4-6 fresh asparagus spears, cleaned and prepared*
1-2 slice(s) of pork or turkey bacon, or other alternative
1 Tbs seasoned bread crumbs
2 tsp Parmesan cheese
 1 clove garlic, minced and split (Makes 2 bundles worth)
1 Tbs butter, heated until melted
Black Pepper, to taste
1 lemon, sliced into 6 to 8 pieces

To prepare asparagus, snap spear above the woody base. Let soak in salted water for 15 minutes. This in case any creepy crawlies have made a home in the tips or stem. Now, if you don't mind the extra protein, just rinse to remove any dirt. Place on several layers of toweling to dry.

Putting all Together
  • In melted butter, stir in garlic. Set aside.
  • Mix Parmesan cheese with bread crumbs. Set aside. If you are gluten-free or on some carb restricting diet, omit the bread crumbs.
  • Separate asparagus spears into bundles of 4 to 6 depending on the size (diameter) of your spears.
  • Wrap 1-2 strips of bacon or bacon alternative around each bundle as shown in the picture above. If you need to, insert a toothpick to secure. Just remember to remove them after baking.
  • Sprinkle with pepper.
  • Roll the bacon wrap in breadcrumb mix. Press the bread crumbs firmly into the fat of the bacon.
  • Drizzle about 1-1/2 tsp of garlic butter on top.
  • Place spears on a broiler pan.
  • Bake 400 degrees for 15 minutes, turning each bundle over about halfway through.
  • The bacon and bread crumbs will be crispy.
Serve warm with lemon wedge.

Serving Suggestions
This semi elegant presentation would be a fantastic side dish for a medium or rare grilled steak. But personally, I think this dish would suit any meal except a casserole or meatloaf. The effort would be wasted on dishes like that.

For a snack or appetizer, do single spears.

As part of my month long series of "It's Too Hot to Cook."

Asparagus Gazpacho
This is a cold soup. Perfect for summertime.
Serves 4

What you'll need

2 pints of canned asparagus, drained reserving liquid about 2 lbs worth
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 cup yellow onion, chopped
3 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 cup celery, sliced
2 habanero peppers, seeded and chopped
2 1/2 cups add low-sodium vegetable broth and reserved asparagus liquid to equal this amount.
1/2 cup half and half
Salt and pepper to taste

For the garnishes:
1 cup croutons
1 habanero pepper, seeded and chopped
Fresh mint, finely chopped. I love the fresh taste it bring to the dish.
Pine nuts
Olive oil

Putting it all together
  •  In a pan, melt butter. Add onion, garlic, 1/t tsp salt, and habanero pepper. Cook until tender
  •  Add asparagus, vegetable broth/asparagus liquid into the other vegetables.
  • Empty into a blender or use immersion blender. Blend until smooth.
  • Stir in half and half. You can either stir the entire amount into the soup, or divide the amount in half. Stir 1/4 cup into the soup, and then create a swirling design in the soup with the remaining 1/4 cup. (about a Tbs per serving) I've done both.
  • Chill soup for an hour.
  • Pour soup into serving bowls and garnish with some or all listed above.
Serving Suggestions

Serve alone, with some crusty bread, a quiche, or a salad.

Y'all have a blessed day!
Cockeyed Jo

Sunday, June 9, 2019

Saving the Asparagus Patch!

Bad gardener, bad! I left my asparagus 4x8 patch alone fall, winter and most of the spring. Now, it's overgrown. Other things on the homestead took precedence over a patch of vegetable that I won't be able to harvest sparingly for another year or two. I cite the spasticity and pain in my semi paralyzed arm as an excuse, but that's just an excuse. I just didn't bother with any putting the garden to bed for the winter except for pulling dead plants, sprinkled some compost, and spread a layer of straw.

I planted the bare root vegetable late last spring. Being a chemical free,"organic," self sustainable type, I planted green beans and parsley in that same 4x8 space. Parsley naturally deters asparagus beetles and green beans or any legumes fix nitrogen into the soil. Asparagus are heavy feeders. I basically planted the bed purposefully  to not have the do much to it and basically left alone while other parts of the garden drew my attention heavily. That's the way I like to garden with long-term growth perennials.

My time table is a week because I'm still a week away from the post surgical baclofen pump placement restrictions (No heavy lifting of over 10 lbs, no extensive bending or twisting). I've been a pretty good girl about following these restrictions. I mean, I take an hour and a half to pick the rabbits' breakfast salad each morning instead of the half an hour it usually takes by adding frequent breaks. As much as this irks me, there has been a couple of guarded lifts of 30 lbs, but not many. Like I said, I've been pretty good.

As you can see in the first picture, grasses, wild blue heliotrope, Virginia Creeper various other invasive weeds, and of course, the very present chicken transplanted strawberries all among the asparagus fronds. My mission this week is to clear it all out leaving only asparagus, whatever green beans and parsley that may have self sowed. I'll be sowing black eyed peas and more parsley among the fronds for the same reasons as last year. Ill again cover all seeds with well composted rabbit and chicken manure before putting mulch over the area. Summer is officially starting very soon.

To me, invasive weeds are plants that the rabbits or chickens won't eat like English ivy, blue heliotrope, Virginia Creeper and Morning Glory vines. I'm constantly digging them up, trying to get them gone before they reseed an area. My current wars is with spiny rushes. I'm starting really dislike this weed that has taken a foothold in bunny greens patches and others areas. What I may end up doing this fall is burning the whole area losing both the beneficial (rabbit loving) weeds as well as the unwanted weeds.

I noticed a couple of blooms on my fronds of asparagus, so this effort will not be wasted. The ground will be ripe for receiving these seeds when the time comes. I can see ten of of twenty-two fronds for the crowns I planted, but that doesn't mean there aren't more buried under a blanket of weeds. The fronds will be healthier for my efforts too. It is an asparagus patch after all.

Anyhow, that's my plan for the week. What's yours?

Y'all have a blessed day!
Cockeyed Jo

Wednesday, June 5, 2019

Cooking with Chef Jo: Tuna Macaroni Salad

Welcome to my second installment of "It's Too to Cook!"  On the menu today is  my mother's version of Tuna Macaroni Salad has been a staple during summer months for as long as I can remember and that's more than half a century. It's my favorite go-to menu item when it's too hot to be in the kitchen.

It can be a side dish with standard picnic fare, or add an extra can of tuna and eat it as a meal. I've tweaked the family recipe over the years and made it my own depending on what was growing in the garden. Her recipe called for drained can green peas. Y'all know how I feel about waterlogged vegetables. In a pinch, I'll rinse water over frozen, but otherwise, I use fresh.

At home I kept things simple and at the restaurant catered picnics I offered a deconstructed, high-end version of the same basic salad.

Tuna Macaroni Salad
 Serves 6 as a side dish and 4 as a meal
What you'll need
1 lb of macaroni or other formed pasta, cooked, drained and not rinsed*
6-7 oz tuna canned oil, drain and reserve the oil
1/2 cup carrots, scrubbed well and cut into match stick sized pieces
1/2 cup green peas*
1/2 cup red onion, 1/8" dice
2 stalks of celery, 1/8" dice
2 sweet or hot* banana peppers, seeded and sliced
1 cup cherry tomatoes, quartered if large
1/2 cup fresh herbs (parsley, oregano, basil, rosemary), chopped
1-1/2 cups mayonnaise
1 Tbs freshly squeezed lemon juice*
Salt and pepper to taste, or favorite seasoning salt
Paprika to decorate

  1. Do not rinse the pasta. Save your hot water.You want the starch on it to help the dressing to stick to the pasta. I cook my in the early morning or night before when it's cooler. Place in plastic bag and refrigerator until time to put it together.
  2. Green peas- I use fresh peas. I'll add them to the pasta water after I've strained the pasta. No sense in heating up the kitchen just blanch the peas. The peas will brighten and partial cook while the water cools to room temperature. Strain the peas and place in refrigerator.
  3. Sweet or hot banana peppers- the choice is yours.
  4. Lemon juice should always be freshly squeezed for optimum taste and in cutting the fat of mayonnaise.
 How to put together
  •  Whisk mayonnaise and lemon juice, add the herbs, salt, pepper, or seasoning salt. Set aside.
  • In a large bowl, place chilled pasta, tuna, vegetables, and mayonnaise mixture.
  • Toss well to coat all ingredients.
  • If the salad appears dry at this point it's going be seriously at service because the pasta will absorb it. Drizzle in the reserved oil from the tuna.
  • Cover and refrigerate for 1 to 8 hours before serving.
Serving Suggestions
As a meal, serve onto a bed of baby red and green lettuces. Take 1/4 of a 3.5 oz can of tuna in water and break it apart attractively on top of the pasta. Sprinkle with paprika. Decorate the plate with sliced heirloom tomato, hard boiled egg slices, and cucumber slices. Drizzle these with a  extra virgin olive oil and red wine vinegar.

Instead of canned tuna, add chunks of sashimi grade, seared tuna chunks. These will be rare for the ultimate buttery, sweet flavor without an overly fishy smell. Or, even substitute seared salmon replacing the tuna.

Y'all have a blessed day!
Cockeyed Jo

Sunday, June 2, 2019

Picking Fresh Greens for Rabbits

Every year around April or May, I transition my rabbits from a pellet diet to a regular green diet. I used to grow fodder for them, but I started looking at all the fat cotton tails running around the property and thought why am I bothering to grow this? We have a virtual smorgasbord for them to eat for free. It was a hand slap to the forehead moment.

Before moving up to the Cockeyed Homestead, I had a suburban homestead of an acre sized lot. Think of swimming pools and well manicured lots until I moved into it. I grew wild roses for rose hips. My front yard was typical suburbia unless you looked closer at my hedges and realized it was neatly trimmed rosemary. If you looked at my 3'x25' gorgeous flower bed and you breathed the scent of of herbs surrounded by insect deterrent/beneficial insect attractant flowers.

Behind the 8' wood privacy fence to the backyard was where suburbia stopped and where Murphey's Madness took over. Almost 1/4 acre was an organic garden or as organic as it could be, with pecan and fruit trees, a small chick chateau, rabbit cages, dogs and cats, composting bins, and a rain water catchment systems.
Jennifer, it's her 33rd birthday in a couple of days

My now pastry chef daughter and semi homesteader got her start at home. She work along side me in our galley style kitchen creating to die for pastries and chocolates. Even sugar-free versions her insulin dependent, old mother could eat. Competition pieces for various culinary contests and wedding cakes were made in that very kitchen.  She also learned useful skills like canning and preserving that she helped grow. So it wasn't that bad living with old Mom and Dad except when they turned up the stereo too loud and were dancing. "Some people have to wake up early in the morning! Ya know?" But I digress...

Even the game room (26'x16') was solar powered. It was our youngest daughter's teenage sanctuary. It had all the modern conveniences. She had a sitting area, telephone, a jukebox, a stereo, a television, a wet bar with running cold water (courtesy of rain harvesting), a mini fridge, microwave, composting toilet in a private closet space, air conditioner and/or ceiling fans, a small wood stove, electronic darts, and even a pool table. She could runaway from home and never leave home. Not that she ran all that at once. We were teaching her about amp hours on the batteries and survival. How to live off grid and she juggled it all in her decision making. Her other choice was to come inside where one or both of her parents were. Yuck! But I digress yet again, but the was building accurate...

But even before all of that, I was hunting. I'd follow rabbit tracks. I'd see what they nibbled on and what they devoured so I learned where to place my snares. Later, I used the same tactics for wild pigs and deer. I don't believe in catch and release. It was hunt and eat even though I had to money to purchase what I wanted. I was learning and refining skills I might need one day.

So when it came to finding fresh greens for rabbit food. I had a
poplar seedling
basic knowledge. I'm still learning. On this cockeyed property, what looks like a disaster of a yard is actually a gold mine in fresh eating for all. Variety of different grasses, plantain, wild violets, clover, wild strawberries, blackberry bushes galore, hibiscus, dandelions, and assorted other yummy things growing wild and only moderately under control. It's just there for the picking so I do. Along with those our property is loaded with tulip poplar, oak, other fruit trees and bushes we've planted, and sweet gum trees. Every year they shed a small ton of seeds. These sprout up every spring through summer. The rabbits love these. Not to mention what we grow in our garden for all of us to enjoy. Now we even grow 50% of their hay intake too in our orchard. Cha-Ching!

If your not sure whether it's healthy for a rabbit to eat, do your research. I'm still doing it. That's what books and the internet is for. Don't just take my word for it. Read various sites. While I'm at it, I'll add this caveat. Be careful. On our property, it grows the way nature intended (about 2/3 are still wild) within reason no chemicals, fertilizers (composted chicken waste and rabbit manure only), or pesticides with minor emissions from our lawn tractor or our vehicles (we may drive 25 miles a month baring doctor visits or trips). Our weed whacker, small chainsaw and cultivator are electric. Still I hand pull their greens daily and rinse them well before feeding them to our rabbits. Who knows what might have urinated on them during the night.

lemon balm
 I rotate what I pick to feed our rabbits each day. The constant is the broader leaf grass that they favor, violet leaves, and plantain. I'll throw in some dandelions. The rest alternates between a smattering of clover (it can be hard on their kidneys), chicken planted strawberries with strawberries (it's all over our yard now), blackberry leaves, poplar, sweet gum, and oak seedlings. Later, will be hibiscus and roses flowers and leaves. Then there's the herb gardens to add to their meals. In fact, as spring turns to summer, and then again to fall the smorgasbord changes. During winter, it's hay, and commercial pellets again.  With each feeding, their feces are checked for signs of digestive upset. For that there is lemon balm growing in my garden for that. It works for people too.

It's usually an early morning chore for me rain or shine. I love getting busy in the sunshine especially since my pain levels have dropped between 0-2. I have time to commune with nature and my Father. I don't mind tending to the critters unless there's snow or ice. During winter feeding the chickens and rabbits is Mel's job. Even though the job is easier with just hay and pellets. She gets out of her seasonal depression a bit and get some weakened sunshine.

My feeding ratio is 65% of the rabbit's body weight. Our smallest rabbit is, Ebony a lionhead/Jersey Woolie cross, is 1 3/4 lbs sheared weight so it's mostly bunny. Let's do some math, fun right? Convert the weight into decimals 1.75. Now, multiply that  by 0. 65. <Er, um, it's too early in  the morning for that! Grabbing my calculator!> 1.13 ozs of fresh green stuff per day for her. For our big girl, Cara a English/Satin cross, is 8 lbs sheared weight. She gets 5.2 ozs of green stuff each morning. A big difference. Yes, I weigh the greens too for each bunny. Yes it's mainly grass and weeds, but no sense in wasting what God provided us either. I'm also an equal opportunity chef when it comes to my rabbits. I'll make sure every rabbit get a proportional amount of alternating goodies bits in their breakfast.

Rabbits do not gorge themselves. They will move away or trample uneaten green stuff. Once they trample it, they won't eat it. I feed their greens to them in the same spot as their empty J feeders.  For us, we just brush the uneaten bits under the cages to compost, or our two disabled hens that live in the rabbitry will eat them.

In the mid afternoon, they'll be let out of their cages to bunny hop and binky to their hearts content. They may graze a bit on the grains that have sprouted from feeding the hens...all rabbit friendly too. Then, after an hour, they are put back in their cages ready for a nap.

So you could say my knowledge of feeding rabbits fresh greens has been decades in the making. Almost half a century worth since I first set my first rabbit snare at age 12. But there's hope for you to learn now. Look around your yard for some of the things I talked about here and check it out.

Trapped in an urban life style? Ever go hiking? How about parks with wooded areas? Away from chemically treated areas. Start foraging. Or, grab some seeds and flower pots. Grow them organically. Get your buns some fresh grown weeds. They'll do them and you some good. Just look at the "weeds" in my fresh salad post.

On a sad note. This morning when I went out to the rabbitry to feed our precious bundles their breakfast wild salad, I found Angus, one our English Angora bucks had died during the night. We named him Angus after a YouTube contest. With his heavy facial furnishings he reminded of the cartoon sheepdog on the Bugs Bunny. Oops! Just googled it and the sheep dog's name was Sam. Well, I named Angus. It fit.

We'd lift his fur  covering his eyes each morning to say good morning to him. "Are you in there?" He'd even gladly let us comb his hair away from his face. Having just sheared him at the end of March, his fur was already 3" long partially covering his eyes.

He'll be sorely missed.
Y'all have a blessed day!
Cockeyed Jo

Wednesday, May 29, 2019

Cooking with Chef Jo: My Infamous Chicken Salad Recipe

This begins a series of my recipes for, "It's Too Hot to Cook!" Summer friendly recipes. ' Cause here about, the daytime temperatures are in the 90s

When I was working as a cook at my local hospital, I gained the reputation of having the best chicken salad in town. Whether you liked your chicken salad smooth or chunky, they loved my recipe. I used to make 10 lbs of it twice a week.These same customers followed me to my own restaurant years later just to order my chicken salad! It was the ultimate compliment to me. They begged for decades for the recipe to no avail. I've pared the recipe down to 2 cups worth and offer store substitutions as usual.

Now I'm sharing it with you, but it is copyrighted.

Jo's Infamous Chicken Salad 
 1/2 pint charcoal cooked canned chicken*
1/2 pint chicken canned in own juice
Substitute 1 breast and 1 thigh of grilled and poached chicken (reserve liquid for each)
1 small onion, minced
3 ribs celery, minced
1/2 cup mayonnaise, I make my own but Kraft will do
1/4 cup pickle relish *
2 eggs, hard boiled and minced
2 tsp freshly squeezed lemon juice
1/2 tsp dill weed
1/2 tsp Jo's seasoning salt or Morton's Natural Seasoning Salt, to taste*

*I season my grilled chicken with salt, pepper and garlic powder before I grilled and canned it. It was grilled just enough to lightly color the outside before "raw" packing it into my jars and canning it.
*I use my zucchini bread and butter relish.
* Link to my seasoning salt recipe

Putting it all together
  • Cube grilled chicken into 1/4" to 1/2" cubes removing any fat you see. Set aside
  • Remove any fat you can see on the poached chicken, cut into chunks.
  • Combine mayonnaise, lemon juice, and dill weed in a small bowl. Whisk until blended. Set aside for 5 minutes to let the dill weed rehydrate.
  • In a food processor, add poached chicken, relish, celery, onion, and eggs, 
  • Add mayonnaise mixture.
  • Pulse until smooth and creamy. If mixture seems dry, add reserved liquid.
  • Stir in diced grilled chicken.
  • Refrigerator for an hour before service to allow flavors to meld and get happy.
Serving Suggestions
I'll scoop 4 ozs on top of a fresh green salad, serve it on large buttery

croissants, as part of a chicken salad melt, I've stirred it into pasta salads, or just plain bread. Choose your toppings lettuce, tomato slices, did someone say cheese? Oh yeah! Now, you are talking. Make mine Pepperjack, please.Or, your favorite dill pickles. Chips or crackers is optional.

Enjoy this yummy for your tummy.

Y'all have a blessed day!
Cockeyed Jo

Sunday, May 26, 2019

Progress Continues at the Cockeyed Homestead

As the days and nights continue their warming trends towards summer. I can already see the progress forward as we grow our homestead to how we want it to be every week. Considering we're two sexagenarians, disabled females, and on a tight shoe string budget, we're making it happen one baby step at a time.

The orchard is coming along slowly but surely. More raspberries, grapes, elderberries, and fruit trees will be bought, traded for, or given to us this year expanding production while they mature. The apple trees are blooming , the peach trees are setting fruit. We're hoping the old peach and apple trees, one each here when Mel got here almost 6 years ago, will bear fruit this year. Trimming branches off the existing apple and peach trees each year has given us ample chew sticks for our rabbit and the local colonies of cotton tails.
The existing trees, having been neglected for too many years, are out of control and are over 15 ft tall. My balance isn't the greatest, as you can imagine and Mel's grace, aka stumbling and falling while walking on solid ground, has me concerned when she climbs up on the roof. Let alone climbing trees anchored in sloping ground, with wayward branches with and using a chainsaw. Just the mental image alone gives me the willies.

That's what happens when you decide to pick up stakes and start your homestead near a small town. Who you gonna call? Nobody, because you don't know anyone and you can't afford to pay someone else to do it. You have to get creative and think outside the box to get the job done which both of us are terrific at.  But unfortunately in this case, it's failed us. So for now, we do what we can and take care of them the best we can.

The roof in the living room is still leaking. We thought the silicone had done the trick. In the coming weeks, we are trying a different tactic. We'll be ripping out the ceiling and insulation. Where we see daylight and mold has to be the problem, right? It's affecting both of our health now. I'm back on asthma medicine that I haven't had to use in 50 years other than a rescue inhaler. I might have used 1 inhaler a year. It's a daily thing now. The weather is warmer, we can tackle this job if we can get a week's worth of dry days and I can afford the repairs.

So now I'm budgeting for roof repairs. It's not only the roof, but the wood that needs to be replaced, new insulation and some sort of replacement ceiling covering. I'm thinking of thin plywood or paneling for that. but before any of that, there's the cost of the batteries ($100) for the tools to operate. ARGH! You see the see the source of my financial rants of late about our finances? I'm treading water here.

If I sound  depressed, I am in a way. I updated our Cockeyed Critter page and deleted Benjamin, our ermine English angora buck. He was one of Mel's favorites. He joined his son who died last week. I announced a few weeks ago that we were downsizing our rabbitry BUT not this way! Plus all the hens we lost...6 total over winter and early spring due to coyotes. It gets down right depressing at times. Yes, they are livestock and earn their keep, but they are like our pets.

What killed them. I dunno. It could have been fifty different things We'll be pulling down all the cages down early.and be giving them all a good scrubbing and bleaching. It's that time of year. We do it four times a year. Their barn was emptied of composted bedding, but these rabbits went down fast. Max 48 hours so I'm ruling out feed (they were eating the same as all the rest). I'm ruling out infection because it takes longer to manifest, but the two bucks were 8n side by side cages. I could play the twenty question game all day long and not have an answer.

It seems I'm always griping about finances lately, doesn't it? A few months ago, I went from a monthly $500  project budget down to a $50 dollar budget. It's harder to get things moving forward with that kind of budget crunch. It seems everybody that can help is $65 an hour or greater and nobody can fix something in an hour. The less cushion we have the more repairs or replacements we have to have. These are few, but we can't do without some basics.

Baby stepping with style
But, if we keep plugging forwards and keep our eyes on the goal, it'll get easier over time. Mel built a ram pump to bring water up from the creek and we've Gerry-rigged a sump pump for the hydroponic grow system that can later be expanded for the new greenhouses and irrigating the garden and orchard areas. Our toilets flush and animals are now watered using rain water catchment for their needs. This is major progress. They were done with what we had on hand. Some of these projects had items purchased years ago waiting for the opportunity to buy additional items, and some were just scrap found here and about or from other projects. We're baby stepping to our goal our way in style and laughter. We'll be thanking God for every step forward. With Him in the plans, how could we ultimately fail?

Y'all have a blessed day! I know we will.
Cockeyed Jo                                               

Wednesday, May 22, 2019

Cooking with Chef Jo: Lower Carb Quiche

Circa 1982 on Amazon
I know, I know. Real Men Don't Eat Quiche! If the book was before your time, it's a hilarious read. But I personally know many men that have ordered it and enjoyed. I guess they were in-the-closet quiche eater in a very public restaurant. 😆 They were those muscular type guys with facial hair. I guess they could have been women in disguise with their husband's names on their credit cards. But I dunno. Stranger things have happened.

But that's okay, here at the Cockeyed Homestead, we're just two older widows who love it! Besides, it's springtime and my hens are back in full production mode again. We had some losses over the winter...3 hens. But the remaining nine are busy at it. We lost a couple of customers who moved away in the last two seasons for their job and one got a few hens themselves. So it's just as well with the egg production lower, but I end up with 6-9 eggs a day now and have a stockpile building. Might as well make quiches with them.

I was taught by a well respected chef how to make mine (the basic technique). It's more a souffle like than just stuff in scrambled eggs like I see in so many cookbooks. It's light and and fluffy. When the low carb diet craze hit, I made it without the puff pastry crust. It also save me hours of laminating puff pastry dough. I found that I actually like it better without the crust.

Enough jabbering.  Onto my recipe especially since I'm making it for dinner tonight. Once again I'll add store bought ingredients for my home canned goodies.

Jo's BOSSES Quiche 
(Bacon, Onion, Swiss, Sausage, Egg, Spinach quiche)
Makes 2- 8x8 square pans or  1- 10" souffle deep dish
Serves 8 dinner sized portions depending on your appetite.
What  you'll need
1 dozen eggs, separated (room or chicken temperature)
1 lb Swiss cheese, cut 1/8th cube * I love the way it pulls out in long strand rather than grated, your choice.
2-1/2 pint jars of bacon, 16 slices (cooked, drained, and chopped into 1/2" pieces)
2 1/2 pint jars of sausage patties, 8 patties (cooked, drained, and chopped into 1/2" pieces)
1-1/2 cup half and half
1 onion, 1/8" dice* and cooked
1/2 lb spinach, fresh wilted in hot water and chopped, or a box of frozen, chopped spinach thawed and squeezed
About 1 Tablespoon butter
2 Tablespoon all purpose flour
1-1/2 teaspoon of Jo's Seasoning Salt*, adjust to taste and diet

 * Notes-
@ Amazon
  1.  I use my Vidalia, small grate, for the 1/8th inch dice. I slice my cheese partially frozen for easier slicing with my mandolin. What can I say, I'm a one handed chef that has to use gadgets now instead of just a knife.
  2. Using my Vidalia onion chopper* again. I love this slap chopper. Easy uniform cuts and fast. When I open my jars, there is always some fat left on the meat from the canning process. I place my meat on a broiling pan to get rid of the excess grease. To conserve energy, I'll spread my onions on the drip pan to cook my onions at the same time. Bake not broil since the meat is already cooked 15 minutes at at 300 degrees. Pat onions dry of the grease.
  3. Link to my seasoning salt blend recipe.
  4. A note within notes for full disclosure- this is not an affiliate link and we receive NO money if you use the link and buy one.
Putting it all together 
  • Beat eggs whites until stiff peaks form. Sprinkling is 2 Tbs of flour while beating to stabilize the loft of the meringue after adding yolk mixture.
  •  In another bowl, combine egg yolks, half and half, seasoning salt, meats and vegetables. Mix well.
  • Gently fold 1/4 of of yolk mixture into the beaten egg white meringue so not to deflate them totally. It okay to see small chunks of egg whites in the mixture.
  •  Pour remaining yolk mixture into the egg white meringue. Gently fold together.
  • Pour mixture into well buttered pans only filling the pans halfway full. it will rise 1-1/2 to 2 times in baking process.
  • Bake 400 degrees for 45-50 minutes until golden a just set. It will jiggle slightly but springy to the touch. Do not over bake it.
  • Slice into servings while hot
It's yummy for your tummy!  Some more notes It's not great on the fat calories with all that meats and cheese, but it is low carb without the puff pastry crust and cream. I haven't found a Swiss cheese that is low or no fat that I like so I use Alpine Swiss. There is 2 Tbs of flour in this recipe divided over 8 servings. If gluten free substitute tapioca or rice flour. Not good with nut based flour because the oils will split your egg whites. Leftovers freeze great for three months. So this is also one of those cook once and eat many times unless you are serving to your not real men bosses or have a large family.😉

Eat hot, at room temperature, or cold. Add what you like and make it your own. I also do a killer version of a Philly Cheese Steak version using leftover roast beef. I like to serve mine with a fresh salad. I love me some veggies.  Or. if not low carbing it, some garlic rubbed, toasted sour dough bread. Enjoy!

Y'all have a blessed day!
Cockeyed Jo

Sunday, May 19, 2019

Another Homestead Garden Update

With the daytime high temperatures reaching 80 degrees and above, it's time to plant heat loving plants like tomatoes, okra, squash, cucumbers, melons, and corn.

While others direct sow their seeds directly into the ground like Mel did, I find I get better results by soaking my seeds in a 10% hydrogen peroxide solution overnight, and then starting my seeds as transplants. I don't like the hit or miss of direct sowing. You end up with gaps in your planting area. This may not matter for those that have a large acreage to plant, but we have a little over 500 sq ft of gardening space to provide our needs. By using a combination of sq ft, back to Eden, and lasagna organic gardening techniques, I get the most bang for my efforts.

So while Mel does her direct sowing method, I'm going to eek out a small space to do my thing. I can't let her have  all the fun. While we actually have enough corn and pickles to last another year, I'm  going grow field corn to supplement our chicken's winter rations and popcorn. While Mel doesn't care for cucumbers or squash (didn't plant any), I love them so a few plants are in order. I'll start 6 and pick the best 4 plants. My gochugaru and bell peppers didn't get started so I'll start a half dozen of those too. They will keep the rats, and squirrels away.

I'll grow the field corn down in the orchard and the popcorn in a (3'x6') "raised" bed area. This way there is no cross pollination between the two types of corn with several hundred feet and the barn between them. It's a raised bed because I'm raising the soil about a foot to two feet from ground level with no containment boards.

On the short ends with popcorn, I'll use a variation of the three sisters method and sq ft gardening method. I'll plant my cucumber or luffa sponges at each of the corner with one corn plant in the center. I'll plant a squash (zucchini and yellow) plant in outer most edge of the corner and 4 garlic plants along the inner edge.  In between the corner squares I'll plant three corn shoots in the 1 open squares.

On the long sides for every other square, I'll plant one corn two peppers (1 gochugaru and 1 bell), and 4 scallions, or small onions with garlic planted along the the back edge. I'll have 2 squares on each side four a total of four of each type of peppers.For every missed sq ft, I'll plant three corn plants. I'll intersperse peppermint  or cosmos flowers along the the front of the rows. About five plants in each square.

In each interior square, I'll plant three corn plants. Again, I'll plant three cosmos flowers or dill with them in every other or there about. Sound nuts? Believe me, there's a method to my insanity of  planting like this.

As a small-time, organic gardener, I believe in companion planting and natural pest deterrents. My number one problem in growing corn is squirrels and rats. Onion, garlic, and hot peppers and peppermint. they even shy away other predatory animals and pests. Rabbits love mint, but not the others so the young shoots are protected.

My second problem is corn earwig worms by planting cosmos and dill around the corn shoots encourage green lace wings to come and stay. Green lace wings just love the corn earwigs and other pests that can destroy your garden. Besides, it looks pretty and you can eat them too. Be sure to plant the Cosmos Sulfureus type only if you want to eat them. The other varieties will poison you! I get my seeds from Baker Creek. They give my garden bright spots of color specially after the corn stocks dry and turn brown.

When you harvest your dried corn (popcorn and field) you can also harvest the seeds from the flowers for next year. I've done this for a couple of years now. Although they are an annual, they reseed themselves easily. this year I've got an abundance of seed of cosmos and dill so I mixed them into the orchard grass seed (I plant the corn with  it) this year. Rabbits and chickens love cosmos and dill! It's and extra treats in their hay.

See there was a method to my madness. Oh, after I transplant the shoots, I sprinkle rabbit poop over the whole area. I'll mulch it 3" deep around the plants in the raised bed and 6" deep with loosely scattered hay or straw in the orchard. I'll let Mother Nature do her thing. I don't have to do much except pull the occasional weed and water it if we have a dry spell over a week or two long. That's the beauty of raised bed gardening. It also meets my dual or three prong of use status in small area homesteading.

Y'all have a blessed day.
Cockeyed Jo

Wednesday, May 15, 2019

Cooking with Chef Jo: Fresh Salad!

I watched and waited for this for months! It's time for for fresh salads from our garden! I was out early this morning harvesting assorted leaves from our red sail, oak leaf, radish leaf, other assorted other lettuces and greens, herbs, and flowers. All our organically garden.

For tonight's salad, I picked the outer leaves of assorted lettuce leaves, strawberry leaves, dandelion leaves, some of the English pea leaves, and plantains. For good measure I pick some small strawberries too. There are still some chicken planted strawberries outside the garden fence line. The berries are pea size.

I then went for the flowers and herbs. I grabbed a few pea blossoms, dandelions, nasturtiums, pansies, impatiens, rosemary, oregano, thyme, and a couple of roses.I peeled the petals off the dandelions, nasturtiums, clovers, pansies, and roses (the centers and green bits can taste a bit off). I do a double rinse on my harvest. Followed by a good spin in my salad spinner and placed them all in the refrigerator until supper time.

I mixed up some lemon vinaigrette about thirty minutes before dinner and poured it into the salad bowl. I thinly sliced an onion and put that with some grated carrots to marinate. Just before serving I'll add my herbs, lettuces, leaves, and flowers. I'll toss it very gently to lightly coat the greens, flowers, and herbs. I can't wait to add our other homegrown veggies to this in the next month or so.

Hey Jo, where's the recipe? Don't worry. Here it is...

Jo's Lemon Vinaigrette 
Makes 5 servings or 1 large (family size) salad

1/2 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest (about 1/2 a lemon zested)
2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice (about 1 whole lemon)
1 teaspoon sugar
1/2 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1/2 teaspoon lemon thyme, minced
1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt, or to taste
4 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
Freshly ground black pepper to taste

  • In small bowl, add lemon zest, lemon juice, sugar, salt, and mustard. Whisk until sugar and salt are dissolved.
  • Add pepper and lemon thyme.
  • Drizzle in oil. Whisk until emulsified.
  • Pour into air tight container and refrigerate for up to 3 days for optimum taste.

Y'all have a blessed day!
Cockeyed Jo

Sunday, May 12, 2019

Tearing Down the Greenhouse

Like many new homesteaders Mel built a greenhouse out of pallets and cattle panels. Watch videos  here. It actually worked fairly well. But there were two major problems with it. It way too hot in our GA summers and the winds howling through our hollow destroyed the plastic covering so we had to replace it yearly.

As you can see, those nifty shelves filled up with assorted junk too. Nothing was protected from the elements for very long. It became a royal pain in the behind in upkeep to grow vegetables  and house rabbits in winter.

Kassity @ 5 months old
Stripping the shredded plastic covering off the outside and the floor was the easy part. It took two days with chasing down Kassity who insisted helping us by carrying off pieces to other parts of the property.

We got smarter after chasing her a couple times. We started stuffing the plastic into an outdoor trash can to prevent this. We'd take a break making sure to press the lid closed only  to find the trash can rolled down into the orchard and the plastic pulled out of the can. The trash can lids couldn't withstand rolling down the 25' incline littered with small blueberry bushes, fallen trees branches, and a 40 lb puppy jumping on it the whole way down. The lid didn't stand a chance with this puppy having fun. How could you stay mad at such a sweet, lovable face? We ended up hauling the trash can into the barn during breaks.

Finally, the plastic was off. Then the job of cleaning up the mess. Every few handfuls we'd traipse to the barn with it. Kassity, not to be left out, would grab something and follow us...most times. If the item was something fun to play with or had a good chewability factor, she'd try to run off with it. We'd stop her in her tracks by the only way we've found that works- a cutesy voice with that held  the promise of play or being loved on.

With Kassity's help, it took us a week to get it accomplished. I'm just glad the greenhouse is only 8'x8'. I shudder to think what the three proposed 8'x 24' greenhouses will be like. But we're thinking of old windows and doors or those clear tuftex panels for those. We've got some time to gather what we need for that project slated for 2020.

Now all that's left to do on the old greenhouse is to install the shade cloth over the wire structure. It should arrive next week.We've filled the new planting beds on both long sides of the greenhouse with the cleaning out of the rabbit barn on top of wood chips. Everything planted is growing well. Inside the "new" shaded greenhouse should allow us to continue to grow cooler weather crops and jump start our fall garden seeds.

That's it for this week.

Y'all have a blessed day!
Cockeyed Jo

Wednesday, May 8, 2019

Cooking with Chef Jo: It's A ll About Radish Greens

Oops, I fotgot to hit publish yesterday. My bad!

Radishes and lettuces are the first harvestable crops in your garden each spring. I have to really restrain myself from cutting all the greens for salads and tasty treats for the rabbits. The radishes roots themselves I don't particularly care for raw unless it's daikon radishes fermented. I find them too spicy and bitter for my palate. But even so, we plant 7 or 8 varieties each year.

But roasting or stir-frying them, radishes take on a totally different texture and flavor. I can't get enough of them. It works with any type of radish: red, white, and even daikon.

Spring Stir-Fry of Baby Japanese Radishes (radishes and greens) and Soba

Servings 2
  Kosher salt
2 ounces dried soba noodles
12 to 22 young radishes with greens
2 teaspoons vegetable oil
1/4 cup thinly sliced scallions plus 1 to 2 tablespoons for garnish
2 teaspoons chopped fresh ginger
 2 teaspoons chopped fresh garlic
1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes, or 1/2 small fresh serrano pepper, sliced
1 tablespoon white (shiro) miso plus more to taste
§  1/4 cup coarsely chopped fresh cilantro (leaves and tender stems), plus a few whole sprigs for garnish
§  Low-sodium tamari


  •  Bring a medium saucepan of lightly salted water to a boil. Add the soba noodles and cook until tender, about 3 minutes. (Beware of the package instructions, which will tell you to cook them for much longer.) Drain, rinse briefly with cold water, and allow to drain well.
  •  Separate the greens from the roots. You should have about 1 cup (a little more or less won’t matter). Separate the greens from the radish roots, then trim the radishes and cut into 1/2-inch slices. You should have about 1/2 cup. Roughly chop the  radish greens and measure out 2 cups loosely packed.
  •  In a small saucepan, heat 1 cup of water to a very gentle simmer.
  • Meanwhile, in a large (12-inch) nonstick stir-fry pan, heat the oil over medium heat. Add the diced radishes and 1/4 teaspoon of salt. Cook, stirring, until all the veggies are slightly browned, about 5 to 6 minutes. Add 1/4 cup of the scallions and the ginger, garlic, and red pepper flakes. Cook, stirring, until fragrant and softened, about 1 minute. Add the 2 cups of chopped greens and cook, stirring, until wilted, about 30 seconds. Remove the pan from the heat. 
  •  Whisk the miso into the hot water, then add the mixture to the stir-fry pan. Add the cooked soba noodles, the chopped cilantro, and a splash of tamari. (If necessary, return the pan to low heat for a minute or two to heat everything through.) Transfer to two bowls and garnish with the remaining 1 to 2 tablespoons of scallions and the cilantro sprigs.


Y'all Have a blessed day!
Cockeyed Jo