Herb Butter (or how I started to roast a turkey)

When we moved here to our little homestead, there was an under utilized deep freezer hanging out on the car port.  The previous owners claimed it didn’t work, but after a deep clean (that sadly did include bleach….) and the realization that one must plug it in to work, I was elated to have extra freezer storage.  And let me tell you, a well stocked freezer will get you through the best of times, and the worst of times.

About a year ago our local Kroger had an amazing sale on turkeys, and as Mom always says, for $5 it never hurts to have an extra turkey on hand.  And she’s right–at 39 cents a pound, that bird could have saved the day if I needed a big fancy meal or just needed to serve a crowd.  But a fancy crowd never came, and something had to be done about the bird.  This week seemed like the right time to tackle to project (and subsequent culinary projects) since I have a few more days off before I have to head back to work.

I like to start my turkey off by stuffing herb butter just under the skin on the breast.  It’s not glamorous work, but what it does is both season the meat and keep the bird from drying out.  I used a mixture of lemon zest, rosemary, thyme and local honey because I like those flavors with poultry, and I have a plethora of rosemary and thyme on my hands thanks to our little herb garden.  I finely chopped about 3-4 long stems worth of rosemary and thyme leaves, grated the zest of one lemon, and mashed them all together with a fork in with the softened butter.  After the initial mashing, I added about a tablespoon of honey to add a bit of sweetness and also give the turkey a little something more to caramelize while it was in the oven.  I saved the stems of the herbs to use with the zested lemon to stuff the bird (waste not want not!).

But herb butter isn’t just for moisturizing meats–I save about two tablespoons of it because it is a great way to jazz up a slice of bread, add flavor to a soup, or a fun way to add flavor to most anything that you would add butter to.  The flavor combinations are endless as well–sun-dried tomatoes and fresh basil would be outstanding, or anything that you have on hand that you like together.

Plus it’s just pretty.  Look at it, all festive and delicious–takes any old day and makes it a little fancy. And let’s be honest–with the inevitable post-Christmas slump and a New Year creeping up on us, putting a little fancy on your table never hurt anyone.

And stay tuned–the turkey has been picked clean, and we’ve got homemade stock and pot pies coming our way!


Stuffed Shells

Fall is slowly but surely staring to creep in–field hockey practices have started, football is on the TV, the mornings are gloriously cool, and the farmers market is  starting to be filled with apples and fall treats, like butternut squash.

For me, the start of fall is when I start craving some major comfort food–cheesy baked goodness, really.  Of late I’ve really wanted stuffed shells, but a certain dear husband of mine doesn’t like them.  Or butternut squash.  So tonight while I’m bach-ing it for the evening, I decided to combine the two, and man is it good!  I whipped up some homemade ricotta with skim milk (not quite as good/rich as the batch made with half and half–surprise, surprise, I know!), added some savory rosemary and thyme, stuffed the shells and laid them on top of a layer of petitie diced butternut squash.  The whole thing got a good dose of tomato sauce, and then some mozzarella cheese.   I didn’t have a recipe, but the method was simple enough, and let me tell you the house smelled absolutely DELICIOUS, and the shells 100% hit the spot!  Can anyone say lunch for the rest of the week?  😉

Kitchen Garden In Progress

Today was beautiful–sunshine, birds chirping, the whole bit.  I’ve been wanting to “break ground” on the side kitchen garden, and today seemed like the perfect afternoon to do it.

It doesn’t look like much, but I got the first raised bed in and filled it with strawberry plants.  It’s is two boxes deep (I failed to get a photo of the crater I created before we refilled it, but such is life), and looks a little bare…but I know the strawberries will spread.  This weekend I’m hoping JGL and I can get the rest of the garden dug up and boxes in so I can start filling it.  We also have a few clematis plants that finally came in that I’m going to train up the carport columns Grampa Farnsworth Style.

So happy St. Patrick’s Day from the L. Homestead–I hope yours was a sunny and beautiful as ours was!