Friday, September 7, 2012

Meat Birds

Today I, along with my fellow farm nerdess, Lisa, finally decided on a breed of meat chickens to order. We're going to go with the highly recommended Freedom Rangers.

According to what I've read and what we've heard from folks in the know, Freedom Rangers have many of the benefits of the Cornish cross (an F1 hybrid bird produced by breeding an Indian Game {also known as a "Cornish Game"} with a Plymouth Rock) - rapid growth, good feed/weight conversions - without many of the drawbacks associated with the ultra fast growing Cornish X's - leg deformity, organ failure, skin splitting and poor foraging/self preservation instincts.

We considered trying "slow birds" (more traditional meat varieties, such as Plymouth Rocks and Delawares) to avoid the pitfalls of the Cornish cross. But then, you end up with a smaller bird that takes at least a good month more to grow. That's money and time that could be saved!

And so, we kept coming back to the Freedom Rangers. They sound like the best of both worlds - quick turnaround and great flavor, minus the scary health issues. No franken-chickens for us, thanks.

I'll be interested to see if they really do live up to their glowing reputation. For better or worse, I should have an answer to share with you on the matter by the first week of December, at the latest.

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Giveaway: Grain Mains Cookbook Bundle

I was offered a copy of this book to review honestly, which is exactly what you'll get here, I hope that you can trust in that. The publisher was also kind enough to give me two extra copies to share with you, my readers and friends, hence, the giveaway!

Grain Mains is the latest offering from Bruce Weinstein and Mark Scarbrough, the same fellas who brought us Goat: Meat, Milk, Cheese, one of my favorite go-to guides for creative and delicious ways to use up our frequent surpluses of goat milk and meat.

Both Goat and Grain Mains go well beyond the standard cookbook, in terms of informative and, more importantly, pleasurable content and truly unique recipes. Weinstein & Scarbrough write with humor and wit, which makes reading this book cover to cover (when was the last time you felt inclined to do that with a cookbook?) both interesting and entertaining.

The recipes within feature many fairly uncommon grains in some familiar preparations, as well as some more creative, altogether exotic dishes, the majority of which can be prepared to accommodate a vegetarian or vegan lifestyle.

I am particularly intrigued by the Burgers recipes, as most commercially available veggie/non-meat burgers leave a great deal to be desired in terms of taste and texture. Now, if only I could find a good source of organic bulgur and millet!

Although the recipes sound fantastic, I've yet to attempt to prepare one for our family because a) Most of the exotic grains called for have been quite hard to come by, and b) Because my children are rather persnickity eaters. If I can locate a good, affordable source of organic whole grains, I will definitely be game to make a salad or main dish for my husband and myself, but scouring the earth for organic black quinoa is not high on my list of priorities at the moment. If you know where I can score some, let me know!

Overall, I'd recommend this book, especially for self-styled foodies, looking to explore new culinary horizons. The relatively new-to-American-palates grains featured in the majority of the recipes within Grain Mains have the allure of being rather exotic, as well as the benefit of being uniquely rich sources of fiber and other beneficial plant compounds that are key elements in a healthy, whole foods diet.

Different, delicious and good for you? Yes, please. :)


And now, on to the freebies!

One reader will receive a copy of Grain Mains - 101 Surprising and Satisfying Whole Grain Recipes for Every Meal of the Day by Bruce Weinstein and Mark Scarbrough.

While another reader will win the contents of the gift basket pictured below:

One copy of "Grain Mains" by Bruce Weinstein and Mark Scarbrough, one package of organic Mekong Flower rice, one package of organic Hard Red Wheat Berries, and two jars of my homemade jam.

To enter, leave a comment on this post. Please be sure and provide me with a link back to your blog through which you can be contacted, or an email address to reach you at if you win.

For additional entries:

-Like Girl Gone Granola on Facebook. Leave an additional comment letting me know that you liked it.

-Follow this blog (whether you're an existing follower or a new one, leave an additional comment letting me know!)

Entries will be accepted until 11:59pm, PDT on 9/14/12. A random winner will be selected with the help of, and the results posted here on 9/15/12.

Good luck! :)

Sunday, September 2, 2012

The 4th Annual Jam-o-Rama

Someday I'll work up the courage to try "real" canning. By which I mean, using a pressure canner, rather than just a hot water bath to safely heat and seal my jars. After all, water bath canning limits you to canning higher-acid foods, since it isn't able to reach the intense temperatures that a pressure canner can. I've pressure canned salsa and a few other odds and ends before, but only with my Mom present. She has a dandy old pressure canner, which I happen to be terrified to use alone.

Firstly, because there is a right way and a wrong way to use a pressure canner. I have an inordinate amount of fear that I will miss a step and somehow manage to blow up my kitchen. After footing the bill from my car accident, I'm not sure that my insurance agent would be super keen to learn of my dabbling with super heated liquids encased in immanently breakable glass jars either.

Secondly, I'm not a huge fan of mopping my ceiling. My husband's beer brewing mishaps have seen well to that.

So, I'm primarily a jam kinda gal. In fact, my very good friend Jen and I have a yearly summer canning fest that we've dubbed the Jam-o-Rama.

This year, Jen got a great deal on a case of beautiful, locally grown peaches, so we're making three kinds of peach jam/preserves - Spiced Peach, Raspberry Peach and Earl Grey infused Peach. This jam-o-rama is definitely an all day affair, but sooo worth the trouble.

Our jammin' lasted a full 10+ hours this year, and resulted in a total of 78 jars of gorgeous, delicious jam.

My share of the goods

Spiced Peach, Raspberry Peach and "The Earl"

After four years of hardcore jammin', we gals finally seem to know what we're about. I daresay that "The Earl" is our best effort yet. Alas, because this was our first time trying our heavily modified/improvised recipe, we only made a double batch (as opposed to our usual, quadruple), and therefore ended up with just 9 half pints each. We'll definitely make a bigger batch next year, but after peeling and chopping 30 pounds of fuzzy golden orbs, I think we're all peached out for now.

Still on my to-do list: Blueberry, Hawthorn and Apple and maybe blackberry. We'll see how long this wave of enthusiasm lasts. ;)