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Thursday, April 15, 2010

Feed prices and using Salts

 Here we all are waiting,stuck between early spring and late spring. Waiting for the ground to warm up so we can plant the next round of seeds. Waiting for more of the early spring seeds to show their little sprouts. Waiting for the earliest plantings to be ready to eat.
 What to do,what to do? The seeds are purchased, leaving the seed catalogs to gather dust ,their shining glory fading away. The garden is mapped,the beds laid out and the compost has been put to work.
  While waiting around for the garden to grow Chance and I have been busy,when are we not? Tuesday we took a field trip to Hillsboro Feed  to check out their prices and inventory. For us Hillsboro is not any further than driving into Portland for feed.We really liked the people at Hillsboro Feed,friendly,helpful and knowledgeable. The store is well stocked with the usual feed store things and had the scent of feed and hay that I always enjoy.HF mills all of their own feed from locally sourced grains and sells a #50 bag of  Layer Pellets for $11.80 a $9 savings from the local feed we had been buying.HF also sells their bales of straw for $7 which would save us 2-3 dollars. For less than the price of one bag of feed and a bale of straw from where we had been buying we were able to get 100 onions, WallaWalla Sweets and a yellow onion called Yellow Rock and our bag of feed. That made us happy.
  We needed straw for our coop but never feel like we need a full bale and have no where dry to store the half we don't use so our solution was to stop at Aloha Feed and ask Mason for some free floor sweepings. Mason gave us 4 large bags full,more than enough for the coop and run . Many feed stores will give away their floor sweepings which is a great resource if you are keeping chickens on a city scale. We sometimes buy our feed from Aloha Feed along with straw and seeds. Their prices are the middle price now that we know about Hillsboro Feed.We will continue to stop in Aloha Feed when we need to make a quicker run and really we like Mason and his Mother and consider them to be great people to network with.(Aloha Feed has stuck with it's old fashioned roots and has no website for me to share with you.)
  I have started a salt experiment.In our canning book Preserved there is a photo of a twig of rosemary encrusted in what I think must be salt since it's the first photo in the salting section.I am intrigued by this photo and how it was done.I know most of the beauty in the photo is the lighting, the closeness and the salt its self. I decided I would like to try and make some of these salted rosemary twigs. I made a solution of salt water like when you make salt crystals for a grade school science fair and suspended the rosemary twig above the salt water. Now what am I doing? Waiting. Once I have figured out how to make the twigs I want to move on to how to use them in cooking.I thought the twigs would also make lovely gifts,gently packed into a clear glass jar to show the sparkle of the salt.
  Chance and I use several types of salts in our kitchen. Each one chosen for its purpose,curing salts for meats,sea salts, kosher salt for general cooking and table salt for baking. Some of our friends purchase over priced flavored salts which makes us chuckle.I am not talking about those bottles on the grocers shelf that have some odd color to them I am talking about salts from the gourmet cooking stores with things like truffles added to them.A micro sized jar that holds all of a tablespoon of the salt for a price some where in the teens.
  Well,being Chance and Rois who have this I can do it myself rant we have been making our own flavored salts. To do this we have been cutting assorted fresh herbs from the garden,washing and patting them dry,chop coarsely and add them to a jar half full of sea salt. Shake the jar to mix the herbs in and then let the jar set for a few days. The salt will pull the oils out of the herbs and infuse the salt with the flavors. We sometimes add in fresh cracked pepper for the pepper kick.We are hoping to get out and pick some mushrooms soon.If we do we are planning to dry a few to make our own mushroom infused salt. The salt is super easy to do and if you shop around carefully you can find a 5 pound bag of sea salt for around 6 or 7 dollars.
   Today will be busy,friends are stopping by to pick some things up in the afternoon.Issac's Boy Scout buddies are coming over after school to do some baking for their weekend trip. Somehow I seem to be the only Mother who does not mind the chaos that comes from teen aged boys baking in my kitchen.On their menu for this trip: Brownies and a quick bread filled with bacon and cheese.
  I'll be back when the cloud of flour settles,the boys are gone on their trip and things are quiet for just a moment or two.Ha-ha that's kind of funny to me,the idea of a quiet house.Is it possible here?

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