Happy Easter!

My daughter was sweet enough to take photos of Easter brunch from our basket for me to share.

She even used a couple of the Lavender Rose China we inherited from my late MIL as part of the display. She made it all look so pretty!

Unfortunately, my husband had an unusually bad pain day and was not able to join the girls. In fact, I don’t think he even ate at all until shortly before I got home. 😦

As for myself, I left early for my mom’s to make sure I had time to fill her gas tank first (gas prices have gone down a few pennies to 169.9 cents per litre). We had a short visit before walking across the street with her walker to her church. Having the church so close is one of the main reasons she chose to move to where she is! πŸ˜€ It was an excellent service, and I quite appreciated the homily. After church, we headed out to my brother’s place.

There are two routes that I’m familiar with to get to their place. Normally, I’d take a more straightforward route on the highways, bypassing the city, to get to the town my brother lives in. My mother, however, insists on a route that takes us through a smaller city, where we have to cross an insanely narrow bridge over a major river. Which isn’t too much of a problem in my mother’s little car, but every time I take that bridge with our van, I feel like I’m either going to hit oncoming traffic, or scrape the guardrails! My mother is so insistent on taking the “right” route (which she thinks is a short cut), that when I got distracted and turned towards the city (my usual route) instead of the other direction to take a cross road to another highway, she actually got furious and started shouting at me for going the wrong way.

It took half a minute to circle around, and I was able to calm her down, but even for her it was a bit much to get so angry, so fast.

There turned out to be an irony about this.

Things were more pleasant as the drive continued. We got to the smaller city and drove through it to the bridge and…

It was closed.

Which… of course it would be. With the snow we’ve recently had, and the bridge being so narrow, now that I think about it, yeah, it would be. In fact, I would not be surprised to learn it was closed through most of the winter.

So we bypassed the bridge and got onto another highway towards the bigger city. However, in taking this route, we were passing through a more populated area, so the speed limits were all much lower. Which means that we probably ended up taking at least half an hour longer to get there than if we’d gone the route I almost took out of habit that she yelled at me for!

The irony was not lost on her!

When we realized the bridge was closed, I pulled over long enough to message my brother to let him know about the bridge, and that we would be a bit longer. As I was getting back on the road, I noticed it was just starting to snow.

The weather forecast for today was for either isolated flurries, or up to 6cm/2in of snow, depending on which app I looked at. Until then, the day had been completely clear. Within minutes, we were driving into ever heavier snowfall. Thankfully, it was warm enough that it melted as soon as it hit pavement, but visibility got quite poor in places.

When we finally got to the last leg of the journey, approaching a road I could have taken for a shorter route to my brother’s, we kept on going because it was blocked by a train! It was quite a while before we finally passed the end of the train, and I was actually starting to wonder if it would be clear of our next possible turn off when we got there. Thankfully, it was, so there were no more delays in getting to my brother’s.

The visit was absolutely fantastic. We had a fantastic time seeing each other, a wonderful dinner and, best of all, I got lots of baby snuggles!

So many baby snuggles.

Unfortunately, the snow did not lessen any and we left far earlier than we wanted to. It’s a good thing we did. While the roads were still good, they were very wet, and would have soon started to freeze. As it was, the further north we got, the snow was less, but I could see it starting to freeze over in places.

After dropping my mother off and continuing home, the highway was actually much better and almost dry, until I got about 5 or 10 minutes from home, when I drove into snow again, but it was just snowy enough to impact visibility a bit, not road conditions.

One thing we did see a lot of was deer! Not often. Just lost of them. On our way out, we passed a field that had maybe 20 deer scattered around it. On my way back, just as I was slowing down to turn off the highway, I saw what had to be at least 30 deer in a field. A group of at least 10 were just lying in the snow! I’ve seen some fairly large herds of deer in the area over the years, but this group was easily the most I’ve ever seen of white tail deer, all at once.

The girls were sweet enough to set aside portions from our basket for me, which was much appreciated by the time I got home.

I did notice that, by the time I got home, the kibble was all gone, so I topped that up before going in.

I saw very few outside cats this morning. As I was leaving, I startled a skunk, and it ran under the cat’s house. As I walked by, I could see it’s adorable, pointy little nose poking out, as it watched me leave. When I got back, there was another skunk – or maybe the same one – poking around the kibble house trays, trying to find something to eat.

Potato Beetle, meanwhile, remains in the sun room, and has his very own bowl of food that he doesn’t have to share with any other cats. Or skunks… birds… deer… When I got home, he actually made a “dash” for the door to get outside. He can’t dash very quickly right now, with his injured leg, so that wasn’t much of a problem.

What is more of a problem is the fact that the litter box remains completely unused. Which means he’s found a corner in the sun room somewhere that he’s using, instead. *sigh* It’s a good thing the sun room has a concrete floor!

Rolando Moon was following me around while I was doing my morning rounds, and enjoys running ahead, then rolling on the ground. I couldn’t resist sharing this picture, when I realized her tongue is sticking out!

What a silly kitty!

As I write this, we’re now heading towards 10pm. It’s still snowing a bit, and gotten cold enough for it to finally start accumulating. It’s not the first time we’ve had snow for Easter, of course, but usually that’s been when Easter was earlier in the month! Last night, we hit lows of -17C/1F, that I know of, and the sun room thermometer actually dipped below 0C/32F. Potato Beetle made use of the warming lamp and was just fine. Tonight, the low is supposed to be only -7C/19F, though the wind chill is supposed to be -14C/7F. Starting tomorrow, however, we’re supposed to reach highs above freezing, and stay there from now on, with lows barely dipping below freezing over the next few days. In a couple of days, we’re supposed to get a mix of rain and snow, but today’s snow should be our last blast of winter.

But then, we thought we were getting the last blasts of winter a couple of times now, only to have the forecast change, quite a lot, over and over! However, looking at our 30 year average, and record, highs and lows, I think we’ll be leveling off and warming up from now on.

Even with the snow, however, today was a fantastic Easter!

I hope you and yours also had an excellent day, filled with food, family and fun!

The Re-Farmer

Our 2022 Easter basket

Today, we assembled our traditional Polish Easter basked and blessed it. If you wish to learn more about the symbolism of its contents, you may wish to visit this site. (link will open a new tab)

Over the years, we modified, dropped or added items with complementary symbolism. In the tiny jars, we have salt (traditional) red wine vinegar, mustard and olive oil (non-traditional). Normally, we’d have horseradish root, but ours is buried under snow, and we don’t use it enough to warrant a jar, however the mustard we chose this year has horseradish in it. The olives are non-traditional, and while eggs are traditional, this year we have pickled eggs, which is not. The bright yellow and white ones are the turmeric eggs we tried this year; the white spots are from being a tight fit in the jar! πŸ˜€ The cheese, ham, sausage and bread are all traditional, as is the butter in a small glass. Usually, I put that in a small bowl with a cross made of cloves pressed into it, but it gets hard to fit the containers, so I melted some butter and poured it into a glass, instead. The one concession to a typical North American basket are the little chocolate eggs. The whole thing gets covered with a pretty cloth. I’ve got several hand embroidered, some antique, clothes I like to use. The one chosen for this year is actually under the basket as I took the picture. We skipped the sprigs of greenery because we usually just don’t have any fresh greenery around Easter.

Over the years, we’ve included prosciutto roses (in place of the traditional bacon), marzipan shaped into a lamb and flowers, a bottle of wine, a white candle, and fruit. An apple, grapes or figs would all by symbolically appropriate.

Normally, after the basket has been blessed, we’d put things away in the fridge until tomorrow, when it will be the basis of our Easter brunch. This year, however, it’s cold enough that we can put it all into the old kitchen, which is easily as cold as a fridge!

As I will be out for much of the day, I don’t know when I will have a chance to write a post. So I will take this moment to wish you all a happy and blessed Easter, from the Re-Farmer family to yours!

Watching the radar

Things are still looking pretty good out there, though the daytime temperatures are definitely on the colder side. The storm alerts remain, with snow predicted to start in the wee hours, tonight. The local “looking ahead” notification on my phone’s app now reads, “A snowstorm from late tonight into Friday afternoon with blizzard conditions tomorrow and accumulations of 40-60 cm.”

That’s 16-24 inches. Yesterday, the high end of the local prediction was up to 45cm/18in.

The main alert has changed a bit. I no longer see the warning for up to 80cm/31in in some areas.


Winter Storm Warning

Issued at 04:27 Tuesday 12 April 2022

Hazardous winter conditions are expected.

Major spring storm poised to wallop southern Manitoba beginning overnight Tuesday into Wednesday morning and lasting until Friday morning. Widespread snowfall accumulations of 30-50 cm accompanied by northerly winds gusting 60-70 km/h giving zero visibility at times in snow and blowing snow.

A Colorado low will move towards Minnesota Tuesday night bringing a heavy swath of snow through most of southern Manitoba. The snow will start early Tuesday evening near the International border then push northward throughout the night. By Wednesday morning heavy snow will be falling in much of the area as the storm continues to push northward. Strong northerly winds will develop with this system and persist into Friday morning as the low slowly pivots through Minnesota on it’s way into northwestern Ontario.

For the City of Winnipeg and points southeastward, a break in the snow may occur on Wednesday afternoon or evening before snow re-intensifies overnight into Thursday. 15 to 20 cm is likely by Wednesday afternoon, with a further 15 to 20 cm likely with the second area of snow overnight Wednesday through Thursday and Thursday night.

By Friday morning, widespread snowfall accumulations of 30 to 40 cm are likely.

Travel will become increasingly difficult as the day progresses Wednesday, with widespread highway closures a near-certainty. By Wednesday evening even travel within communities may become impossible as the heavy snow and strong winds continue… and more of the same is expected on Thursday.

Do not plan to travel – this storm has the potential to be the worst blizzard in decades. Stock up on needed supplies and medications now. Power outages are likely, rural areas in particular should be prepared for extended outages.

Conditions should begin to improve on Friday as the winds taper off and the heaviest snow moves into northern Ontario…although the clean-up after this storm will likely last well into next week.

###

Rapidly accumulating snow will make travel difficult. There may be a significant impact on rush hour traffic in urban areas. Heavy snowfall accumulation combined with strong winds may cause damage to trees or other structures. Poor weather conditions may contribute to transportation delays.

Winter storm warnings are issued when multiple types of severe winter weather are expected to occur together.


As I write this, the main body of the system is over North Dakota as mostly snow, shifting to mostly rain across Minnesota. Though the system is being pushed almost straight North, it’s going East enough that it looks like the most severe weather will pass over the southern border where Manitoba and Ontario meet, with the rain in Minnesota turning to snow quickly, as it heads into Ontario. The system is very wide, from East to West, but it’s now looking like Saskatchewan is going to be spared the worst of it. My nephew and his family are still thinking of making the drive out, but a day later than originally planned.

We’ll see how things actually turn out.

Until then, things continue as usual.

Ghost Baby has been coming out every morning, of late, and not being a ghost at all. My guess is that it’s because she’s pregnant and very hungry.

Just look at those silly kitties, crowding around the one tray on the ground, when there are four other trays inside the kibble house! Altogether, I saw 14 kitties this morning.

While switching out the memory card on the sign cam, I was finally able to find something – it just had to wait for more snow to melt, and the leaf litter to dry before I could see it.

This is one of the closures from the trail cam. I’d been able to find the wire latch, but the black plastic leaver with the hinge were too dark to see on dark wet ground.

Of course, it’s the top latch that broke. The bottom latch is still intact and should be enough to keep the camera closed enough for the weather seal to keep working, but with this latch broken, there is more of a possibility that moisture will get in.

There are a lot of things I like about this camera, but it has one major failing. I cannot handle our cold. When the temperatures drop, the LED screen stops working, and I have to warm it up with my hands to be able to see the settings while changing the micro disc card. Any colder, and it simply stops recording and the batteries freeze. At least it does start working again on its own, when the batteries warm up again. And now I find the plastic becomes more brittle due to the cold, too. At least I hope it’s due to the cold. Otherwise, it’s just cheap plastic.

Ah, well. Live and learn.

I would still recommend this camera is you live somewhere with warmer winters than what we get. For most of Canada, however, I’d say don’t bother. There are other brands with the features this one has that I like. They cost a lot more, but you get what you pay for!

Meanwhile…

We are still working on our Easter preparations. I don’t know if I’ll be able to go to the blessing of the baskets on Saturday, but we’re still making it. This year, we’re doing the eggs differently. Instead of dying them in the shell, we’re doing different types and colours of pickled eggs. Right now, we’ve got pink pickled eggs in the fridge, using the brine from our out pickled beets. We’re also going to do a soy sauce brine for brown, and turmeric brine for yellow. I boiled up a whole bunch of eggs already, and finished peeling the last of them this morning. We have just enough mostly-undamaged eggs to do 6 of each type of pickle… and a bunch of ugly ones for egg salad. πŸ˜€ After that, the only thing we have left to do is bake our fancy Easter bread. πŸ™‚

Easter has always been my favourite Holy Day, and our basket tradition the one I’ve always looked forward to the most!

The Re-Farmer

Happy Easter!

I hope that your day was full of joy and blessings.

Our favourite tradition is our Easter basket.

The traditional items include bread (I made a challah this year), eggs (half were pickled, half were coloured with beet juice), ham, sausage, cheese (goat cheese with herbs this year), horseradish (we purchased a spread this year, as our ground it still too frozen to dig up fresh roots), butter and salt. In place of the traditional bacon, we twisted prosciutto rosettes. Among the non-traditional items, we have mustard, olive oil, wine vinegar and olives (almond stuffed, this year). Other items that some people like to include are wine, grapes or an apple, a bottle of wine, or a single white candle. Every item has symbolic meaning. It’s not in the photo, but the basket was covered with a hand embroidered linen cloth; a small table cloth, stitched and gifted to me by my godmother, many years ago. I have a small collection of hand embroidered linens that I like to use to cover our baskets. Lots of people cover their baskets with crocheted lace doilies.

Typically, the basket would be taken to church for blessing on Holy Saturday (as my mother was able to do), but we blessed it ourselves again, this year. I’ve seen people with very elaborate baskets, with added decorations on the basket itself, along with sprigs of flowers, greenery or pussy willow branches. I’ve also seen baskets as simple and elegant as a loaf of rye bread in a small basket covered with a cloth napkin.

The basket contents make up our Easter brunch.

It was wonderful.

Happy Easter!

The Re-Farmer

This year’s decorations start: dehydrated orange slices

For many years, I would craft new decorations for our Christmas tree. It was a good opportunity to use small projects to try out new techniques and ideas. Our tree is basically a mad chaos of different styles and materials, and I love it!

Life got in the way, and I stopped doing this for many years. I was able to do a few last year, and I’m hoping to be able to continue this yearly tradition.

With so many cats in the house, though, we’re going to have a much smaller tree, set high off the ground! We’re still trying to figure out how to manage that, but the cats have inspired ideas for this year’s decorations.

Cats are supposed to not like citrus, so I will be using dried orange slices as the foundation of the decorations.

Last night, I sliced two naval oranges and laid them out on a rack in a baking pan. I set our oven to “warm” (170F) and left them overnight. I did have the opportunity to turn them a couple of times, since I was up anyway, investigating the crashing and banging that woke me up (I found Layendecker on the fridge, and a decorative jar with seashells on it was on the floor in the dining room; I’ll have to figure out how to remove the broken seashells to replace them. 😦 ).

This morning, one of my daughters took a dried slice and showed it to some cats.

I don’t think they’re going to work as cat repellent! πŸ˜€

I plan to include cinnamon sticks in the decorations, too – something else that cats are supposed to not like. I don’t think it’ll help, since in the past, we’ve had cats try and steal our cinnamon apple dough decorations, right off the tree!

Well, even if it doesn’t work, we’ll have new decorations for the tree this year! πŸ˜€

The Re-Farmer

Easter preparations and successful finds

I’m happy to say that I was able to deliver a little care package to my mother for her Easter. I called right after dropping off my daughter to see if she needed anything at the grocery store, but she was able to order everything she needed from the grocery store and have it delivered. Which means they were able to accommodate her in regards to her not being able to pay over the phone. I thought that might be the case, as the grocery store near her caters to a lot of seniors in similar situations.

When I got there, she met me at the door, since her building is on lockdown. Technically, I could have visited her and it would have been okay, but the less people from outside come in, the better.

After the drop off, I went to the grocery store near her place and scored big time!

Not only did they have big bags of cat kibble, but they were well stocked in pretty much everything! They even had a big display of large pack toilet paper, though they were selling for over $30. We are fine for that, so I didn’t get any. Their yeast section was completely full, and I was able to get a nice big jar of the traditional (slower acting) yeast. Between this, what we’ve already got left at home (even after baking day, yesterday) and our sourdough starter, we’re set for a good long time. πŸ™‚

Finding a candy thermometer was just bonus! I won’t have to make to with a meat thermometer, when I try a new cheese recipe after Easter.

Once home, I got a couple of pots doing with more eggs; one with the tea dying mixture, and the other with onion skins. We’ve been collecting onion skins all year, and there was so much, I couldn’t even use it all. (click here for how we do our three different types of eggs)

Once the eggs were at the stage where they could be left unattended, I got the dining table all pretty.

Which has fascinated the cats.

Cheddar, at least, was polite about his curiosity. He just sat on a chair and rested his chin on the table cloth. I’ve already found Two Face, just sitting on the table, like a bread loaf.

Once the table was cleared of cats… again… I worked on preparing other basket ingredients.

Each of the items has symbolic significance, some of which are old traditions for our Polish family, while others are traditions we added ourselves. Along with the bread, which symbolizes Jesus (the “bread of life”), and the eggs, which symbolize the Resurrection and new life, we have:

  • ham; to represent joy and abundance, marked with a cross made of cloves
  • sausage; representing the favor and generosity of God
  • butter; to remind us of the goodwill we should have towards all things. We like to make different flavored butters. This year, I’ve added parsley, garlic granules and paprika. Like the ham, it’s marked with a cross of cloves, and the fish shaped bowl it’s in is a reminder for us to be “fishers of men”.
  • salt; in one of the tiny jars, it symbolizes prosperity and justice, and is a reminder to be the “salt of the earth”.
  • cheese; this year, marinated goat cheese, but we’ve used many different kinds of cheese over the years, as a symbol of moderation
  • vinegar; the other tiny jar has red wine vinegar, as a reminder of the wine vinegar mixed with hyssop that Jesus was given to drink, just before he spoke his last words. This is one of our own, added traditions.
  • olives and olive oil (in with the marinated goat cheese): this is another of our added traditions, symbolizing wisdom, peace, and hope.
  • Not pictured is the horseradish, which symbolizes the pain of crucifixion. Traditionally, it can be made into a paste with beet juice, with the sweet juice representing the joy of resurrection. We’ve included the beet juice with our pink pickled eggs.

Other items that would be appropriate to add are a candle, a bottle of wine, and sprigs of greenery.

By the time we’re done, there’s enough food in the basket to feed us for a couple of days! Typically, we eat the blessed food as a brunch on Easter morning.

Gosh, I love making these baskets so much!

Now it’s time to check on the eggs, and prep the horseradish! πŸ™‚

The Re-Farmer

Easter preparations: baking day and frozen ground

Today, while the girls continued to work on the basement (I have yet to go down to see their progress!), I worked on baking our Easter bread.

Then, since I was baking anyway, I made some sourdough soda bread, and another double batch of what has become my usual standby, a basic bread recipe modified by the addition of rolls oats and various seeds. This recipe, plus chia seeds and minus the rye flour. Lately, I’ve also included hemp hearts as well, which adds a really nice flavour and texture. Thanks to my dear friend, I even had yeast to use for the non-sourdough recipes. πŸ™‚

In this photo, the braided loaf is for our Easter basket, and I made 4 mini loaves with the other half of the recipe. In the back, left, are the loaves of sourdough soda bread. Which did NOT want to rise today. The house was a bit too chilly today, even though it has been warming up again, outside.

In between batches and rising times, I also made a soup using one of my meals in a jar mixes with sausage. The mix had brown lentils, red lentils, orzo pasta, turmeric cous cous, dehydrated vegetables, dehydrated onions, mushroom ketchup powder, 1 cube of vegetable bouillon and 1 cube of chicken bouillon.

The seedy bread was shaped into mini-loaves that made excellent bread bowls.

This was soooo good to break my Good Friday fast (for health reasons, I do not do a total fast).

While doing my rounds this morning, I checked the ground near the power pole in the old garden, where there is horseradish planted. It was rock hard, but I hoped that things would have warmed enough to dig some up by this evening.

After scraping aside last year’s leaves, I found the horseradish has already been trying to grow.

The ground was certainly starting to thaw out by this time, but the soil here is so full of rocks, it didn’t make that much of a difference. I can’t understand why my mother planted these here. For a plant that is grown for its roots, rocky ground would have been something to avoid. The area has always been much rockier than the rest of the garden; so much so, my parents eventually stopped using it completely. The base of the power pole, however, has rocks and gravel packed around it, so it’s even worse than anywhere else.

I did manage to break off a couple of pieces, then decided to see what I could find in the other spot my mother had planted horseradish; at the base of a spruce tree near our feeding station. I had hoped that, between the wood chip mulch and possibly a bit more sunlight, the ground would be thawed out more.

The horseradish here isn’t as big or prolific, but I could see where it was starting to grow.

I did scrape away the wood chips, but it’s still pretty hard to see.

There isn’t as much growing here, and they’re much smaller, but the ground was indeed a bit softer, so I got a couple of decent chunks out. The ground isn’t rocky here, but of course, there’s plenty of tree roots. Again, I don’t understand why my mother chose this location.

After much washing, then scrubbing with an old tooth brush to get into the crevices, I now have several chunks to use.

That big piece with three sprouts? I could potentially plant each of those, and have three fresh plants.

I think the two little ones will be enough for my mother. If all goes to plan, I hope to swing by her place tomorrow with a care package for her. I’ll leave these as is, so she can prepare them as she wishes – or plant them in her own little garden plot outside her window. πŸ™‚

We only need a bit for our own basket. I have been thinking of planting horseradish in softer ground; perhaps in a raised bed or planter. Something that will allow a straighter root to develop. If I can think of a good spot for that, I might do that with the big piece. My mother always kept a piece of horseradish, with the green parts still attached, in the basket to be blessed with the rest of the food, specifically to share with friends to transplant, or to transplant herself. I’ve tried it myself a few times, but the only one that succeeded (and didn’t get dug up by squirrels) was the one I’d included with our Easter basket the last time we were able to visit with my father, 5 years ago. I took it back with us to plant when we got home, and it actually survived. It got left behind when we moved, of course.

Normally, we would finished putting all our basket contents together tonight, in preparation for taking it to church for the blessing tomorrow morning, but since there is no church blessing, we’ll finish arranging the basket tomorrow and do our own blessing whenever we’re ready. I still want to do onion skin dyed and tea dyed eggs, which will be the last things that require any cooking.

For now, I think I’ll head down into the basement and see how things are looking after all my daughters’ hard work! πŸ™‚

The Re-Farmer

Preparing for Easter, and an easier way to peel eggs!

One of the bonuses of our move to the farm I grew up on is that we could take part in a childhood tradition; the blessing of our Easter baskets. It was many moves and many years before we were able to find a Polish church that did basket blessings, and be able to take ours in.

That didn’t stop us from doing our traditional baskets. It was one of my favorite traditions, growing up, and even when we stopped going to church for many years (for a variety of reasons), we still did our baskets and simply blessed them ourselves.

Which is what we’ll have to do this year, since none of the churches are holding any sort of services during the lockdown, other than online.

We did start some of our preparations already. For the cheese portion of our basket, we decided to do marinated goat cheese again. I made up two 250ml canning jars for our basket (I’m hoping to get one of them to my mother, along with some fresh horseradish), plus two 500ml ones, just for regular eating.

Tomorrow, I hope to make some fancy bread for the basket. Probably a Braided Egg Bread again, though I haven’t completely decided yet.

Today, I started pink pickled eggs; one of three ways we like to do eggs for our basket. The recipe for pink pickled eggs that I followed before is here. This year we, strangely, had a hard time finding anything other than shredded beets at the grocery store, so I modified the recipe a bit. I found 1 small jar of tiny pickled beets and used the juice from that to colour the liquid, plus sliced some of the beets and included them in with the eggs. With so little beet juice, I figured the addition of the beets themselves would help add colour. The other change I made was to include the fresh herbs I had left over from making the marinated goat cheese; thyme and rosemary.

When preparing eggs for the basket, we always cook way more than we need, so that we can use only the most perfect eggs for the basket.

Which is difficult, when the eggs need to be peeled first. There have been times when we’ve boiled a dozen eggs, and not a single one could be peeled without tearing apart!

So today, I tried a combination of “hacks” to get the job done.

The first is to add baking soda to the cooking water. Yes, it does make a difference.

The next is to cool the cooked eggs down as quickly as possible. Putting the eggs into an ice bath is one way to do it, but our well water gets so cold, we can get away with using tap water.

The final one is something I tried for the first time today, and it worked beautifully!

Shaking them in a jar.

Okay, so it wasn’t quite that simple. πŸ˜€

I grabbed a small canning jar, though any jar (with a lid) just a bit bigger than an egg would work. Theoretically, you can use a small glass and cover the top with your fingers, but that would get pretty messy. The first jar I tried was a 500ml (pint) size, and I found it a bit too big and ended up using a 250ml jar instead.

Leaving the eggs in their cold water soak, take one egg and put it in the jar, along with enough water to fill the jar about half full or a bit more. It can be helpful to crack the shell a bit before putting it in the jar.

Then, put on the lid and start shaking. Vigorously, but not too violently!

The shaking does a few things. The most obvious is, it cracks the shell quite thoroughly. This is where you have to find a balance on how much water is in the jar when you shake it. Too much, and the water protects the egg from cracking as much. Too little, and the egg can get bashed apart.

The shaking also separates the membrane from the white of the eggs – which would have already been spurred along by the addition of baking soda to the cooking water, and the quick cool down. And finally, it lets water work its way between the membrane and the egg white, making it much easier to remove the shell.

After a thorough shaking, dump the contents back into the water with the rest of the eggs. While holding the cracked egg under water, start peeling away the shell. If it still sticks, do the shake again. πŸ™‚

Out of the package of 18 eggs I cooked, I got 8 that were perfect enough for the basket; two for each of us.

This is what happens when an egg is shaken up too vigorously.

Here are the best eggs, ready for the fridge.

They should have at least 3 days to marinade in the pickling liquid, which is just in time for Easter.

Of the remaining eggs, there was one that broke during cooking, which left another 8 eggs suitable for pickling. I did up another container the same way, minus the beet juice. It still has beet slices with the eggs, so it will have just a hint of pink. That one will be for regular eating.

It is going to be a delicious Easter celebration this Sunday! πŸ™‚

The Re-Farmer

Marinated Goat Cheese

Though it is still weeks away, we are already planning our semi-traditional Polish Easter basket.

I say “semi” traditional, because we’ve modified some of the contents over the years.

If you’re unfamiliar with a Polish Easter basket, these are filled with symbolic foods to be blessed on Holy Saturday, and eaten on Easter Sunday. The foods include ham, sausage, bacon, bread, cheese, salt, butter, horseradish and eggs. We also include things like olives, vinegar, and olive oil. It may also contain a bottle of wine and a candle. Oh, and sometimes chocolate or candy. The baskets are decorated and covered with lace or embroidered clothes. As a child, Easter was my favourite holiday, and our traditional basket was a big reason for that!

Some of the contents require more advance preparation, and I was able to start on one of those, yesterday. This is a non-traditional way to include the traditional cheese in the basket.

This year, I found some absolutely delightful mini-jars, and decided to make several small jars of marinated goat cheese, but we’ve also done it by layering medallions of goat cheese in a larger jar. Both ways work fine.

It had been my intention to make two baskets this year, with a large family basket for ourselves, and a smaller one for my mother. She declined my offer, and will be making her own basket.

We’re going to have lots extra out of this batch!

To start with, I scalded the tiny jars I bought special for the basket, plus extra pint size jars. Then I prepared the ingredients. The mini-jars have smaller openings, though, so that changed things a bit.

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Here we have fresh rosemary leaves and fresh thyme leaves – they came in 28gram packages, and I stripped the leaves from the stems. There are peppercorns and about 8 cloves of garlic, sliced. Not pictured is Extra Virgin Olive Oil.

I completely forgot about the bay leaves. There should have been a bay leaf per jar.

As you can see, this is a forgiving recipe.

The goat cheese came in 300 gram logs; I had 2 of them and cut them each into 4 equal pieces. For the ones to go into the mini-jars, I cut pieces off to try and make them into smaller columns, then gently rolled them between my hands to make them smooth and round.

The first one I tried, promptly crumbed apart. Which is why I have rolled balls of cheese. I broke up each trimmed quarter piece into 4 and formed the smaller pieces into smooth balls.

For the pint sized jars, I didn’t have to be pretty, since they’re not intended for the basket

Each jar got some peppercorns, thyme leaves, garlic and rosemary leaves placed on the bottom. If I’d remembered the bay leaves, they would have gone into the bottom, too. Then the goat cheese gets put into the jars.

This is why I make extras…

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I didn’t make one of the small columns of cheese small enough. It got messy. πŸ˜€

No worries. It’ll still taste good!

Once the cheese is in, more peppercorns were added, as well as the rest of the thyme, rosemary and garlic slices. Then the olive oil was added.

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After the oil was added, the rims were cleaned, the jars sealed, and into the fridge they went.

Next is the hard part; waiting a week before using them!

From the looks of them, I think the balled cheese will be kept for the basket. I do have one non-messy mini-jar with a bigger piece, so I might use one of each. We shall see. The pint jars don’t have to wait for then, though, and I will post pictures, when they are ready. πŸ™‚

After marinating for a week, the oil can be drained through a sieve and reserved (the herbs are discarded). It makes for incredibly flavourful oil to use when cooking. The cheese can be served as a spread on bread or crackers, or used any other way you would use goat cheese.

Alternatively, little jars like this can be served as individual appetizers. The jars can be warmed by placing them in a flat bottomed pan with hot water, and placed in a hot oven until heated through. They can then be used as individual servings, eaten straight from the jar.

I intend to put these in our basket, just as they are, without straining them first since the jars are so small. When we made them before, with layers of cheese in a larger jar, we removed the cheese, then put a few pieces into a smaller container with a liquid tight seal. I then covered the cheese with strained oil and closed it up. It made for a nice presentation in the basket. πŸ™‚

The Re-Farmer