Sunday, December 25, 2011

We wish you a Merry Christmas

What do you get when you mix a grumpy man in plaid with a ten-second self-timer, three homemade Santa hats, a year-old coon hound mix, a chicken, a woman precarious in heels and a cat?

Depends who you ask.
Man?-------------------------------One more shot...  [the liquor kind]
Chicken? ---------------------------Paranoid personality disorder
Dog or cat?  ------------------------CHICKEN FINGERS!  Please oh PLEASE!
Woman -----------------------------One more shot!  [the picture kind]  Let me try one more time.  Just one more?

Welcome to the annual Kovach family Christmas photo.

collage courtesy of Ben Depp
We'll give you another chance to take our Christmas photo next year.
Payment in shots.  You guess which kind.

 Have a happy, happy holiday!
Love, Carolina Backyard Farm

Saturday, December 24, 2011

"This is cute with baby goats"

That was the subject line of an email I got this week from my mom's cousin Brad.  First I was like, "what?"  Then I was like, "wow."

Jingle all the way, indeed.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

How to cook rabbit

As I think I've previously mentioned, rabbit is delicious.  The only trouble I've found with eating rabbit is the part that comes first - not the cooking, which I can teach you to do here.  It's the killing.  Evidently in NYC, there are seminars for people who want to learn, but NYC is an awfully long way to travel to do something for which I have no interest (or stomach). 

So if you're squeamish as I am, find yourself a hardy partner to do the butchering.  If that partner happens to be running late for work, maybe you can convince a family member to do a little extra rinsing - no one likes a hairy rabbit stew, I mean.  (No one warns you about hairy rabbit ribs when they tell you to raise your own. They don't tell you that your chickens will lay their eggs in poop, either.  Both of these occasions bring out the sissy in me.)

Your rabbit pieces will be delicious and tender if you kill the rabbit 24 hours ahead and let the meat rest in the fridge. (And by "you," I mean you.)  The day of your Fête du Lapin, marinate the meat in white wine, white balsamic vinegar, oil, herbes de provence, rosemary, onion and garlic.

Around dinner time, sear the pieces on all sides in a pan with olive oil.  (Our bunny was super-sized - we had ample supper for four and three big pieces we didn't even cook.)  When the meat is lightly browned, add garlic, onion, and a few big scoops of the marinade.  Sprinkle in more rosemary, and let it cook with a lid on.  Let the marinade almost cook off, and add more white wine and stir.  Near the end, add a cup of broth.  You can test the rabbit for done-ness by cutting open the larger pieces.  When it's cooked, remove the meat from the pan, but don't remove the pan from the stove.  Add about 1 tsp of flour at a time, whisking, until you have a beautiful sauce.  Serve with crusty bread and roasted asparagus.

Best enjoyed with quality wine and company.

Monday, December 19, 2011

All that local food isn't going to buy itself.

The Harvest Moon Grille is having a holiday market! If you live in Charlotte, you should check it out.  I think they'll be out M-F, 11-6ish.  They'll be selling bacon brittle, local soap, beautiful local produce and some of my crafts!  So if you happen to be uptown this week, stop by the HMG farm stand at 235 N. Tryon across from Discover Place.  Have a happy Harvest holiday!

- upcycled paper Christmas trees, handmade by these very blogging hands -
You know you want one.

Monday, December 12, 2011

The Plan: How To Get Health Insurance

Workaholism is a good place to start.  I clock about 36 hours a week as a credit and housing counselor for a local non-profit.  On Friday and Saturday I put in another 16 or so hours at the Harvest Moon Grille uptown.  My Sundays?  Wide open after church and catching up on laundry, grocery shopping, and housework.  Obviously I needed to take on a new project.  Introducing....
[this is a valid email address for all your custom craft needs]

I've always liked sewing and spray paint.  Now I'm hoping that people will pay me to do it.  I've put a few things up for sale at the Sleepy Poet where Abe works: Christmas ornaments made with feathers from our hens, paper trees made from old trashy novels, reusable chalkboard gift tags, etc.
I also put up Christmas lights.
[shout out to Lexi, who contributed tireless labor in painting and set-up. We paid her in home brews and rabbit dinner.] 

It's slow going, selling small craft items for a few dollars apiece.  I probably would have gotten bored and moved on to another project by now (rearranging the living room! remembering how to knit scarves! reconsidering grad school!  I've been a bit manic lately).  But the Harvest Moon Grille where I spend my weekends ordered 15 of those paper trees (shown left) to use as holiday decorations on the tables.  They turned out to be so stinking adorable that a week later, I've taken more than $350 in orders for my crafts. 

A girl could get health insurance for that kind of money.  So that is The Plan.  100% of the profits from my craft sales (I'm crossing my fingers that there are some) and Abe's antique sales at the Sleepy Poet  will directly support some corporate health insurance provider.  And, of course, our farm -- because without a healthy farmer, what we actually have is a fenced backyard with a poultry infestation. Much less charming.

A better planner would have come up with a name and a business plan for this venture, but do I look like I have time for that?  I have to make hundreds-of-dollars-worth of Christmas ornaments and a whole paper forest between my regular day job and my regular night job.  So I'll take your reasonable and witty suggestions, please, and I'll thank you with something hand-crafted if you come up with a winning name and supply a postal address.

Monday, December 5, 2011

Getting hammered

In my absence, a lot has happened.  It's winter on a tiny farm, so it's not that we're busy weeding or putting up any big harvests.  I've been gone because Abe got hammered, and not the kind where too many homebrews sneak up on you.

Last week we cut a giant hole in the back of our house (obviously by "we," I mean Abe and a couple of old construction buddies. I was supervising with the cat).  It's a cold time of year to install french doors, but we had a set that Abe salvaged from a construction site that we couldn't stand to waste.  The demolition of the wall and the installation went smoothly.  But the next morning, very early, Abe went out to work on sealing the doors to the brick.  He had left a hammer and chisel on top of our 12 foot ladder, and when he went to move the ladder, they fell.  His head intersected their path to the ground.

He came inside and called me, and when I finally struggled awake, I saw his head wound dripping blood on the floor.  He turned on the shower and knelt to wash his forehead while I calmly found first aid supplies totally panicked and ran around uselessly.  Then I checked every fifteen minutes for signs of a concussion by asking questions about his siblings and how many fingers I was waving in his face.  Then I think he wished he had a conc@#$ion so he could be blissfully unaware of my bothering him.  Then eventually he stopped bleeding.

So it turns out he's fine.  And I have almost recovered, too.  We are really, really lucky.

It's been a year since we had health insurance. Abe and I were both covered under his company's insurance plan until he was laid off. We didn't know if unemployment benefits would come through, so we trimmed our spending down to the bare essentials.  COBRA (the law that would have allowed us to keep his insurance temporarily, minus the employer's contribution) was way outside of our budget - especially for something we figured we could do without for a while.  We used the internet to self-diagnose sinus infections and we googled home remedies for sore throats and yeast infections (and conc@#$ions). Now I realize we're one chisel away from being completely screwed. I don't know how much the bill would be for a head x-ray, MRI, or Emergency Room visit, but I do know that we can't afford it. It's time for us to find insurance.

So I've developed a plan.