Lamb and Chard Casserole

This recipe comes from the book The Supper of the Lamb by Robert Farrar Capon, who spends the entire book explaining, in detail, how to cook and serve a single large leg of lamb.  You wouldn’t think that could be so interesting. His chapter on how to cut up an onion is truly inspirational.

This recipe uses the “deliberate leftovers” from the braised lamb he describes on the previous page.  I’ve successfully used the recipe with pork or beef.


  • 1 pound or so of cooked lamb, cut into bite-size slices
  • 2 pounds fresh spinach (or chard) or 3-4 packages frozen, cooked and chopped (don’t oversalt)
  • 1/4 cup butter
  • 4 Tbsp. mayonnaise
  • 4 Tbsp. grated parmesan or cheddar cheese
  • 1 few drops Sherry
  • salt and pepper to taste

Add all ingredients to the hot, drained spinach / chard, correct the seasoning, place in a casserole, cover, and heat thoroughly in a moderate oven.  Serve with plenty of bread and butter.  (from page 134).


Garlic Scape Hummus Recipe

Hardneck garlic is known for trying to set seed in late June, so it throws up a curly seedhead called a ‘scape.’ Farmers snap these off so that the energy goes into the bulb, but those scapes can be used in cooking for lightly garlic-ed dishes such as stirfry, butters, or pesto.

But my favourite is hummus, partly because it is so easy to make.  My neighbour has a wonderful recipe which doesn’t require measuring tahini, so the mess is minimized.  Just throw everything into the food processor and viola !


  • 1/2 cup garlic scapes (just eyeball it)
  • 1/4 cup sesame seeds (or tahini if you prefer)
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1 18-20 oz can of chickpeas, drained (otherwise known as garbanzo beans)
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • salt to taste

Throw scapes into food processor and chop.  Then dump in remaining ingredients and process until smooth.  If the hummus is a bit dry, add a tablespoon of water or add’l oil.

Enjoy with pita or crackers !


Kale Salad Recipe

Every time I take this salad to a cookout or a picnic, I get rave reviews.

Kale, apple and bacon salad recipe

Serves 4


  • 2 red apples, cut into long slices
  • 2 teaspoons lemon juice
  • 8 ounces kale, washed and torn into bite-sized pieces
  • 6 slices bacon, crumbled
  • 1/3 cup toasted walnuts
  • 1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
  • 3 tablespoons maple syrup
  • 2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
  • 2 teaspoon finely chopped shallots (I usually use onions)
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 2 teaspoons black pepper
  • 1 cup olive oil


  1. Add cut apples to a small bowl with lemon juice. Toss to coat apples in the juice. This will help keep them from turning brown.
  2. In a large salad bowl, add kale, apples, bacon and walnuts.
  3. In a small bowl, whisk together vinegar, maple syrup, mustard, shallots, salt and pepper. Slowly drizzle in olive oil while whisking to create a smooth and creamy dressing.
  4. Drizzle dressing over salad and toss to combine. Store any remaining dressing in the refrigerator.

Slaughter of the Innocents

Today was the first day on pasture for the first set of broiler chicks.  At four weeks old, these chicks now have enough feathers to keep themselves warm without a heat lamp.

I moved them into the chicken tractor last night, because darkness minimizes their fear. This morning, I let them out into the grass, showed them the waterers, introduced them to real dirt–it was all so idyllic.  I left to buy feed and was gone for about an hour.  As I drove up to the Shire, I saw a bald eagle being harried by two ravens, which is not unusual.

But when I scooted into the chicken tractor with the feeders, to my horror I was met with bloody carnage: two headless baby birds, and a whole group of traumatized chickens.

It’s the kind of situation that strikes a person into immobility.  WHAT am I seeing?  HOW can this be?  I was JUST HERE with them all, alive and well!  HOW can this happen so fast? Continue reading

Protection Racket

Bald EagleAs I was tilling soil in the West Point Forty, I happened to spy a raven winging toward the chicken coop. Suspicious behaviour indeed–I’ve observed those thieving birds flying overhead with large brown eggs locked in their beaks.  Who’d have thought they could do that?  I prepared to jump off the tractor and go defend my girls’ hard-laid efforts.

Then I noticed that the raven was flying in and out of a fir near the chicken run.  He never lighted on a branch, but just kept soaring in and out of the foliage, cawing the whole time.  Odd behaviour!   And then a bald eagle burst from inside the tree and flew off, harried for at least a kilometer by this intrepid raven.

My perspective on the ravens completely changed.  Continue reading


Free-ranging products  I’ve ordered some T-shirts to help advertise the farm. Because I really love my logo (designed by Son2) and am quite proud of it, I think it’s great to wear it whenever I go out in public as a farmer.

We’ll see what they look like in real life….


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Truly Local Food
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25¢ Discount for Pint Jars

No quarts or jelly jars!I’m always on the lookout for pint-sized canning jars.  My salsa recipe calls for this size exclusively, and I make a lot of salsa!

I love the idea of re-using jars.  It’s so much better than recycling.  Rather than throwing empty jars into the CVRD glass bins, re-use saves the energy needed to melt the glass and reshape it into new vessels.  As long as there are no chips in the edge, or cracks in the body of the jar, it’s good to go!

Quart jars are not useful for me, as most of the canning I do requires the small pint or half-liter.  So instead of pitching that canning jar into recycle, take it to my farmstand at Island Shire and exchange it for 25 cents off your next dozen eggs.  Just leave the jar near the coin box and I’ll find it.

pint jars various brandsWide-mouth or regular mouth PINT jars are fine. Continue reading

Soil Mix for Blocks

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThis year I’m determined not to run out of soil block mix, so I cooked up a big batch. Not a triple batch, or even a sextuple batch, but a quindecuple batch! (That’s times 15.)

As part of the Shire’s commitment to keep materials out of the waLime in soil mixste stream, I use soil blocks for my seedling starts instead of plastic seed starters.  Soil blocks are compressed cubes of a special mix of peat moss and other amendments.  Last year I used the loader bucket of the tractor to mix everything, but that was hard even though the bucket is pretty large.

Soil siftersThese sifters are wonderful tools.  Continue reading

Don’t Let Nettles Scare You

Nettle LasagneEat nettles?!? Are you kidding?

Low in calories, a blanched cup has 36% of Vitamin A and 43% of calcium daily requirements. And, cooked, they taste (and feel) great!  Wow!

But nettles are tricky.  You can’t touch them to wash or process them.  Nettle’s sting is designed to keep you away from their nutritious goodness. You must treat them as though they are boiling hot.  But the reward for your carefulness is most definitely worthwhile !

Wear gloves, then with scissors, cut the tenderest top leaves off–the very top, plus about 4 more leaves down the stem. I also include some of the stem, especially if I plan to chop the leaves up.  Continue reading


Shannon Headshot6I’ve written an article for the Cowichan Valley Voice, and am trying to decide which photo to use in the author byline.  It seems a bit silly, feckless and vain, but I spent two hours looking for a decent headshot.  Part of the problem was that it needs to be a high resolution, and I apparently overwrote some of my better photos with lower DPI.  Bummer.

So I had to sift through years of photographs to find something that might work.  Too light?  Too dark?  Not big enough?  It’s only going to be about an inch square.  And black and white.

See which one you might like: Continue reading