Category Archives: Recipes

Because I love to cook

Lamb St-oup

Lamb St-oup

Before I throw myself into this week’s post, I have to kvetch over the recent full moon. I know everyone was going on about it being this blue-blood-full-eclipse moon, but why didn’t someone warn me what that meant? Here I was, figuring this was a full moon like all the other full moons I suffer through, what with the coyotes showing up and Bear barking all night.

This was not that sort of moon. The insomnia started the night before the official full moon. That night I woke up about every hour to listen to Bear as he commented on everything. I figured that was no big deal. I’d be exhausted for the next night and sleep through.

Not. Somewhere around mid-afternoon, a switch flicked inside me and the electricity started to flow. I didn’t bother getting into bed until after 10:00 PM. Sleep wasn’t just elusive, it simply didn’t exist. I lay there, listening to Bear barking. Somewhere around 4 AM I started having weirdly funny psychedelic hallucinations. The amusement made up for the sleeplessness. Dawn came, I got up and did a full day’s work, still waiting for that switch to shift from “on” to “off,” which it finally did around 7 PM.

Whew. Thank heavens, I’ll be dead and buried before another of those moons shows up again.

Because I don’t have pigs these days, nothing funny happens around here unless Peanut falls off a bridge. Since he didn’t do that this week, I thought I’d share my newly-honed recipe for Lamb Soup/Stew. The difference between the two is if I want stew, I dredge the lamb chunks in flour and brown them before throwing them into the crock pot. Today I made soup because I was lazy.

I grew up in a family where our meals had little variation. Part of that was my father’s ulcer, which, it now turns out, had nothing to do with the food he was eating or the stress he was under. The rest of it is that my mother was an uninspired cook. Lamb never once appeared on our table, turkey showed up only for Thanksgiving, fish came in the guise of fish sticks, my mother’s sardine-and-peanut butter sandwiches, and my father’s pickled herring. We ate chicken (baked, never fried), ground beef as hamburgers or the dreaded hot dish–a dish that combines ground beef, tomatoes and a bag of frozen mixed vegetables. There was an occasional roast.

My first experience with lamb was at a restaurant, where I tried lamb chops with mint jelly. Tasty, but then I discovered Gyros and Shawarma, which I liked even better. Then, probably fifteen years ago, I bought a lamb from a local rancher who raised sheep and fell in love. How had I lived so long without eating leg of lamb, or lamb shoulder chops?

That’s what spurred me into raising sheep–I wanted my own lamb meat–and when I got it, the roof blew off my expectations of what lamb was supposed to taste like. I was about halfway through packaging that first carcass when I realized I’d forgotten to take something out for dinner. I grabbed a good-sized handful of meat scraps and threw them into my trusty crock pot with nothing but water and salt. I figured I’d finish up the soup on the stove after I was done.

By the time I was cleaning up the kitchen the amazing rich smell of grass-fed lamb had filled the whole house. I fished out a chunk of meat from the crock pot, stuck it in my mouth (and burned my tongue), and nearly collapsed, the taste was so amazing. That night, I ate lamb cooked in nothing but water directly from the crock pot and thought I was in heaven.

With each successive batch I’ve gotten a little more creative and the taste just gets better. I finally have a recipe worth sharing.

Lamp Stew/Soup

  • 1 pound lamb in chunks
  • 1 quart turkey or chicken bone broth
  • 3 quarts water
  • 1 small onion, cut in chunks
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1/2 tbsp coarse sea salt
  • 1 tea strainer filled with 12 peppercorns
  • 1 good-sized sprig of rosemary or 4 sprigs of thyme (depending on what you like)
  • 2 good-sized cloves garlic
  • 2 carrots, chopped
  • 2 celery stalks, chopped
  • 7 small turnips from the garden (or 1 fist-sized one from the grocery store), plus the greens
  • 1/2 cup uncooked barley

Just before bedtime, put the lamb in the crock pot. (If you want stew, dredge the lamb in a flour mix–flour, salt, pepper, powdered onion, powdered garlic–and saute in lamb fat or lard or olive oil before putting it in the crock pot.) Add broth, water, onion, bay leaf, sea salt, and peppercorns, set the pot on “low” and go to bed. Add more water in the morning if necessary, then add the remaining ingredients. Cook on low until it smells so good you can’t resist and have to have a bowl (usually around 4 hours.) Eat it all before anyone else has a chance at it.




Nothing really funny has happened on the farm since the pigs became pork.  This is very frustrating for me. I mean, the high point of my day has been walking out during my breaks and observing the hi-jinks that always seemed to occur while I’m outside. Sigh. Not that I have a lot of time… Continue Reading

November Tomatoes

November.  That is not a month most folks connect with tomatoes ripening on the vine.  I sure wouldn’t have, but there seems to be a lovely little miracle occurring in my new hugelkulture garden. If you recall, back in July I planted San Marzano tomatoes as a reward to myself.  All those months ago I… Continue Reading

Beef-and-Cheese Foldover

So before I throw myself into another recipe, I need to make a porcine update.  The day when I have one piggy instead of two is drawing rapidly closer, but I really thought I was going be short a pig two days ago. That morning I was drawn to the door by a strange squeaking… Continue Reading

Another Soup Day

Another Soup Day

I was hoping for snow last night, but that didn’t happen.  Probably just as well since the turkeys really dislike snow.  They walk through it like one of those fancy show horses, lifting one foot high, pausing then lowering the slightly warmer foot to raise the cold one.  A few years back we had that… Continue Reading

Sourdough Bread

Sourdough Bread

I fell in love with Sourdough bread on my first trip to San Francisco.  I was 18 and living on my own in Denver when my father was transferred to the Bay Area.  Sometime during that first year, I went to visit.  It was my first plane trip and my first trip to the San… Continue Reading

Yet more storms and catsup

Yet more storms and catsup

It rained all night last night, leaving Oak Creek once again Willy Wonka brown.  Plus, the water is very high, or at least higher than it’s been since the last flood, which was up to the back of my barn and rerouted the creek to the other side of the island.  That’s good, at least… Continue Reading



RHUBARB PIE! Okay, I admit to listening to Garrison Keillor and A Prairie Home Companion from time to time.  He first caught my attention was when I read an essay he’d written that included the statement that all Scandinavian food is “carrier” food.  It’s meant to carry butter, sugar or salt to the gullet. That… Continue Reading

Snow and Soup

When I started this post earlier today, I had just come back in after doing my morning chores in the rain.  That always makes the chores worse because, for no reason I know, I haven’t managed to buy myself proper rain gear.  No windbreaker, no Mackintosh coat, no real rubber boots.  My boots come from… Continue Reading

A Time to Wean, A Time to Make Cheese

A Time to Wean, A Time to Make Cheese

I’ve separated Hannah from her mother and I’m sure my neighbors are thrilled.  Not.  The bellowing is pretty much continuous.  Hannah is calling to Elsie, Elsie is calling back and Georgie is just joining into the chorus because he can. I’ve got Hannah locked into the orchard garden with Georgie to keep her company.  It’s… Continue Reading