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Misty Schutt

Chicken Feet


When Susan Underwood of October Rose Farms gifted me a bag of chicken feet at the farmer’s market on Saturday I wondered what I could possibly have done to offend her. The feet of chickens?  Did she really dislike me so much?  “Trust me,” she said, “these make the most delicious broth. Google it if you don’t believe me.”
I took a deep breath. I accepted her gift. And I Googled the heck out of it.
Chicken feet, I’ve learned, have an ironic presence in our world: they are regarded as a delicacy in some parts, discarded offal in others, and serve as a standard, everyday ingredient in too many ethnic culinary circles to count. The American food culture, me included, seems to have forgotten our long-standing relationship with the lowly chicken foot. Pre-WWII Americans were probably unaware of the unique micronutrients found only in that part of the bird but clearly understood that the collagen, gelatin and high flavor profile made this an essential ingredient for every-day cooking.


In “the olden days” chicken feet were the standard thickener and flavor enhancer of American soups, stews, and gravies; just after the Second World War the food industry figured out how to hydrolyze proteins to a base containing free glutamic acids, and MSG was born. With the resulting explosion of the convenience-food industry along with the disappearance of back-yard chickens, chicken feet as a matter of daily life were forgotten. Americans began gorging on hotdogs and pre-packaged chicken patties made from chemical infused this-and-that pieces-parts and turned our noses up at the very idea of cooking with something so gruesome.


The stock we made from October Rose Farms’ chicken feet was rich in body and flavor, worlds better by far than any store-bought product, mercy yes, and superior even to our carcass and vegetable stock-making method which, until now, has been our gold standard.
This week we learned to connect with a culinary tradition that goes back hundreds of years: utilizing all the parts of the animal, evenespecially the highly nutritious and flavorful feet.


2 pounds of chicken feet
1 bay leaf
Vegetables: Tomatoes, carrots, onions, celery, garlic, etc: use the vegetables you have on hand, course chopped and thrown into a large stockpot.
Water (enough to cover all ingredients in the pot)
1) Rinse the chicken feet under running water to wash away any surface debris.
2) Scald the chicken feet for 15-20 seconds in a pot of salted boiling water, then immediately quench in a bowl of ice water to cool.
3) Peel the yellow membrane entirely from each foot.
4) Chop off the tops of the claws at the first knuckle using a sharp knife.
5) Place the feet in a large stockpot and add vegetables and herbs as desired. We used: tomatoes, onion, carrots, celery, garlic, bay leaf and thyme
6) Cover stockpot contents completely with water.
7) Bring to a boil, then reduce to a very low simmer.
8) Simmer for at least 4 hours.
9) Allow liquid to cool completely, then strain.
10) Freeze or can. Yield: approximately 1.5 gallons.

Wild Card Wednesdays

Truth in advertising: eating seasonally requires an attitude adjustment.

Truth in advertising: eating seasonally requires an attitude adjustment.

A lot of people think eating only local, seasonal food means sacrifice, but nothing could be farther from the truth. Oh heck, this isn’t Pinterest, this is reality, so I’ll come clean: the uneven spacing of our Thursday/ Saturday farmer’s market lends itself to rather dicey Wednesday meals. Let’s just say we aren’t very good a pacing ourselves. By mid-week we’ve concocted every recipe we can think of using the best of our weekend haul and the limp, left-over, non sequitur veg laying around can be difficult to assemble into something that meets the minimum standard of ‘a meal.’

This rather odd assembly would be spinach, scape pesto, & an over easy egg. You probably should avoid dinner at our house on Wednesdays.

This rather odd assembly would be spinach, scape pesto,
& an over easy egg. You probably should avoid dinner
at our house on Wednesdays.

We call our situation “Wild Card Wednesday.” We just never know what the heck we’re going to come up with.

Local Living Reality #1: Creativity, resourcefulness, and good humor are essential traits for local living.
Local Living Reality #2: Adventure is always on the menu.
Local Living Reality #3: Meat will not necessarily always be on the menu.
At the heart of our 10-mile challenge is the ambition to live deliciously and joyfully at the local level and share the experience with anyone curious enough to wonder. Even Especially on Wild Card Wednesdays. So instead of glossing over these seasonal and local living challenges, I’ve decided to spotlight them.

Helpful Tips To Keep In Mind: 1) Nearly anything wrapped in pastry crust becomes instantly delicious. 2) If all else fails, dice up whatever leftover veg you have and throw it together with an egg. Meal accomplished.

July 3rd Wild Card Wednesday Meal: Potato and Onion Tart with Roasted Veg (also with onion)
Wild Card Wednesday meals may include onions. With a side of onions.

Wild Card Wednesday meals may include onions. With a side of onions.

What we had on hand: four small (wrinkly) red potatoes, 1 small tomato, a handful of asparagus and snap peas, a small red onion, a small white onion, locally-made Wake Robin Farm Mona Lisa cheese, eggs, milk, our herb garden. On-hand, Non-local ingredients used: flower, sugar, butter, salt, olive oil

The Roasted Veg
Clean and chop whatever available veg you have, toss in olive oil, salt lightly, and broil about 10 minutes, turning frequently.

The Tart Dough
 1 ½ cup of flour
¼ cup of sugar
1 cup cold butter, cubed
1 egg yolk
2 tbsp cold water
pinch of salt
1.     Put flour and a pinch of salt in a mixer with a paddle attachment.
2.     Turn mixer on low and slowly add the butter cubes until thoroughly incorporated.
3.     Add one egg yolk.
4.     Slowly drip in cold water, just enough to form a dough.
5.     Wrap dough and refrigerate for 15 minutes
6.     Roll the dough out until it forms a large, thin circle. Place on a flat cookie sheet.

The Tart Filling
 4 potatoes
1 small onion
½ cup of cheese
1 egg yolk
splash of milk
stalk of rosemary
1.     Preheat oven to 360 degrees F
2.     Thin slice the potatoes, put in a pan, and add water until they are just covered. Boil until just soft.
3.     Slice the onion and chop the rosemary. Set aside.
4.     In a bowl, mix cheese, egg yolk, rosemary, and a splash of milk.
5.     Arrange potatoes on the rolled-out dough, leaving about an inch all the way around.
6.     Pinch the dough edges together all the way around to form a wide, shallow “bowl”.
7.     Gently pour the liquid mixture evenly over the potatoes.
8.     Arrange the onions on top.
–> Bake for 25 minutes or until golden brown.

Strawberries, 5 ways

Berry Harvest Farm Strawberries

Berry Harvest Farm Strawberries

I love this fleeting moment of summer when strawberries abound with the promise of deliciousness enough to make our bellies ache. I love strawberries with The Girl’s Perfect Whipped Cream. Or with

bucketRowice cream. Or yogurt. Or on a salad. Or as-is by the handful, good grief, it’s all good to me.

 Confession: I’ve never picked strawberries before. So when on Sunday I woke feeling antsy I trekked out for berry-patches unknown, determined to find a U-Pick establishment friendly towards newbies.  I found the perfect spot: Berry Harvest Farm in Cato, owned and operated by Alvin and MarySue Stever and son. MarySue herself manned the check-in/check-out tent and good-naturedly inaugurated me to U-pick customs. I took her bucket and followed the long row, realizing too late that it was flat-out goofy to have lugged my gigantic purse out into the middle of a strawberry field. Newbie.
Picking strawberries is a surprisingly illuminating activity. I learned a lot out there in the Berry Harvest Farm berry patch:
Strawberries with strong personalities.

Strawberries with strong personalities.

  •        It is hot as blazes in the middle of a strawberry patch.
  • The best strawberries are shy and try to hide.
  • The thrill of hunting the next “perfect” strawberry appeals strongly to my OCD tendencies and goes a long way in making me forget the puking-hot sun.
  • I have an affinity for strawberries with strong personalities.
  • Strawberries I’ve picked taste perfect.
Here are the results of my Berry Harvest Farm strawberry-picking excursion (recipes below):
Strawberry, banana, and white chocolate muffins.

Strawberry, banana, and white chocolate muffins.

Strawberry Feta salad

Strawberry Feta salad 

Peasant strawberry tart

Peasant strawberry tart

Strawberry smoothie

Strawberry smoothie

Strawberry lemonade

Strawberry lemonade


Strawberry Filling
2 cups of strawberries
after thinly sliced
3 tbsp sugar
3 tbsp flour
Directions: Put berries in a bowl and toss with the flour and sugar and set aside.

1 + 1/2 cups flour
1/4 cup sugar
1 cup cold butter, cubed
1 egg yolk
2 tbsp cold water
A pinch of salt
1.     Put the flour, sugar, butter and salt in a mixer with the paddle attachment and mix at low speed until thoroughly incorporated.
2.     Add the egg yolk and drip in cold tap water. Continue to mix on low until a dough forms.
3.     Gather the dough together and form into a disc. Wrap it in plastic wrap and refrigerate for 15 minutes.
4.     Preheat the oven to 360°F and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
5.     Take the dough out of the fridge and divide it into 4 – 6 portions depending on how big you want each tart.
6.     Roll out each portion of dough until thin. Pace the rounds of dough on the baking sheet.
7.     Put 3-4 large tablespoons of strawberry filling in the center of each round, leaving a half-inch border around the edges.
8.     Roughly pinch the edges of the dough together around the filling, leaving the center open.
9.     Bake for 30-35 minutes until golden.
1 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 tablespoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 large eggs
3/4 cup milk
1/4 cup sugar
1 very ripe banana
1/4 cup unsalted butter, melted
1 cup strawberries, diced small
1/2 cup white chocolate chips
1.     Preheat oven to 400°F. Line a mini muffin tin with mini muffin liners. Set aside.
2.     Combine flour, baking powder, and salt in a bowl.
3.     In a separate bowl, stir milk, sugar, butter, eggs, and banana.
4.     Add the dry ingredients to the wet and stir until just combined.
5.     Add strawberries and white chocolate chips and gently fold in.
6.     Fill the muffin liners 3/4 full with the batter.
7.     Place the muffin tin in the oven and bake for 15 to 18 minutes.
Garden Greens, crumbled feta, sliced strawberries, balsamic dressing
Strawberry smoothie: Combine Wake Robin Farm yogurt and fresh strawberries in food processer. Whisk Wake Robin vanilla yogurt in a bowl and pour into the bottom third of a glass; gently pour over strawberry smoothie, top with remaining vanilla yogurt.

Return of the Nerdy Locovors

Thursday trip to the market
We’re doing that thing again, the one where we spend the summer eating only fresh food produced within a 10-mile radius of our house and what we forage from our own garden [queue the laugh track for that last part, not even I can say it with a straight face].
I recently read an excellent piece of advice posted by my personal life coach Pinterestthat, aside from being a mash-up of stuff Michael Pollan has been saying for years, gets to the heart of it:
“Avoid eating anything with an advertising budget.” 
Yep, that.
Yesterday was the Skaneateles Farmer’s Market and here is the resulting simple meal:
Feta and Spinach Burgers

Feta & Spinach Burgers
           1 October Rose Farm egg (our girls have mysteriously suspended laying at the moment)
1 pound Byrne Black Angus beef
2 cups chopped Elderberry Pondspinach
2 cloves Good Karma Russian Red Garlic, diced (we’re down to our last bulb from the Fall harvest and eager for the new stuff to come in!)
                                                                                                       4 ounces crumbled feta (comment         below if you know a local source)
Buy these.
Directions: Mix ingredients; form into patties; throw on the grill. Top with slices of Horsford Farms onion and place on a SkaneatelesBakery roll; serve with a side of Navarino Orchard pickled tomatoes.
On the topic of Navarino Orchard Pickled Tomatoes which I impulse purchased and may or may not have subsequently eaten half the jar thereof using chopsticks: I am prepared to release a statement at this time informing the public that These. Are. Yum. That is all.
And, continuing in that spirit of preparedness, I rolled a few meatballs after dinner for today’s TGIF bento box:
Happy Friday!

Mint Tea

By nature I expect things to be complicated. When it turns out a thing is simple it feels like magic.


Do you know what I mean when I say tea possesses a de-frazzling effect? Besides the flavor and aroma, and the pleasing tink of china on china, tea requires us to suspend all other activity and focus on the ceremony of preparing a perfectly brewed pot.

Not long ago The Husband invited me to raid his mint patch for my evening tea regiment. Instant confusion. What was he talking about, using his garden mint for tea? Surely tea-making entailed many complex and expensive steps? Dehydrating leaves? Grinding stuff? I searched the web. The answer was so simple. You’re probably savvy and already know this but for a food-growing newbie like me it was a lovely discovery: brewing homemade tea is easy. The plant simply seeps in the pot. Or, to be more precise:

  1. Cut 3 stalks of mint low on the stem.
  2. Rinse under water; dry with a clean kitchen towel.
  3. Roll stalks firmly and briskly between the palms of your hands.
  4. Form a nest with the stalks in the bottom of your teapot.
  5. Pour boiling water into the pot.
  6. Steep 4 minutes before enjoying (leave the mint in for stronger tea).
The flavor of natural mint tea is light and sweet and equal to any of the commercially-produced teas on which I confess to spending a small fortune. As a bonus, rolling  stalks between your palms releases mint oil that aromatizes the air. Sorta like a soothing Glad air freshener, except it’s free and won’t poison your kids or pets if they eat it. Magic, indeed.


This weekend was all about homesteading rhythms and rotations.  We moved our third batch of chicks out of a heated corral and into an out door coop; we transferred Cornish Rocks into a new on-pasture paddock; we planted the garden; and after weeks of YouTube how-to videos we harvested our first meat birds. By “we” I mean The Husband and the Mother In Law (MIL); I operated the water nozzle, the most important task in chicken harvesting, ask anyone.
Best laid plans
After spending our winter planning the precise layout and content of our first ‘real’ garden we decided last second to plant elsewhere and give the larger space to our chickens. Call us nuts, but either the trees around the new garden grew exponentially over the winter or the Earth’s orbit around the sun is slightly askew this spring because we definitely remember there being more sunlight in that area. I admit it would have been handier had we made this shade-related observation prior to planting all the full-sun seeds. Eager to find a fix I scoured the web for vegetable varieties willing to thrive in not-exactly-tons-of-sun-like-we-remembered situations and it turns out turnips and beans would be well suited. Thank goodness for that on account of me hankering for a plate of those two things practically on a daily basis.

As for the poultry dispatchment and evisceration I will say I took considerable comfort in the predictability of anatomy. Everything was situated exactly where YouTube said they would be and nothing unexpected occurred during the course of harvesting. The tasks I worried most about were accomplished quickly and then the mechanics of the process kicked in. Plus the MIL has an uncanny knack for defusing tense, possibly gross moments with sly and unpredictable humor. 
Dressed, our birds weighed in at four and a half pounds apiece. The Husband stuffed one with boquet garni from his herb garden and slid it in the oven. Delicious. We’ve been customers of October Rose Farm long enough to know pastures and sunshine and fresh air make better baked chicken than antibiotics and growth hormones and steroids. Go figure. Unanticipated was our increased sense of independence, security and satisfaction. Home-grown is a powerful liberty. Even when you screw up the garden.
The new hen yard.

Little Seed

Imagine my joy when our seed orders arrived in this morning’s mail. To set the mood Mother Nature, coy thing, saw fit to rain. Ok fine: rain on the feather-edge, at times more ice than drops and frequently interspersed with fat snowflakes but rain nonetheless and by dinner the deck was completely bare and we seized a rare opportunity to grill, why not, and savor an unmistakable flavor of summer. Cheers to the last day of February.

Seeds. Is there any other thing more magic in all our world? Toss a bit of dirt over them and in a few turns of the sun they burst forth, able to feed our body and our soul. Is there satisfaction more sublime than food grown in one’s own garden, tended to day after day and ripened by the sun? As I spread the packets across the table I wondered how many canning jars, dinners, platefuls, mouthfuls these seeds represented. How much togetherness? How many kitchen hours spent chattering on and on about our day, laughing, chasing the dog out from underfoot, tossing her clandestine morsels, sampling our own concoctions, coming together tableside to savor our company and the meal we prepared together?

Such an astounding return on investment, seeds.