Monday, April 1, 2013

Springtime and Sage Time

Clean up and clean out. Well kind of. 
 Spring tidying, of sorts, began this week.  

Everyday, my family and I tend to animals, organize, compost, and scoop poop!

These mounding piles of compost and cured animal pooh hail to the ritual of shoveling manure, daily.  Now, springtime calls for the business of mixing them into our fields and garden beds. 

Just as there are all sorts of animals on our farm. Some tall or squat; others feathery or furry. So too, there are all types of POOP! I must pay my respect to the stuff we scoop day-in and day-out! 

Let's talk chicken....They poop a soupy mess - the consistency of the bird poop that splattered on your windshield. It's no more than thumb-size, a handful at the most. But, the stink sticks to your nostrils. It lingers, eluding to the ammonia at its base.

  We can't ignore the horses, our expert poopers. Being vegetarian, they have bulky droppings (and lots of them!!!) with a less aggressive stink.

The donkeys' are much the same.
It's like a game to them.


Enough poop talk? I'll spare you the rest.

We don't get mad at the daily poop scooping. Instead, we try to scoop in thankfulness, realizing that this composted manure is spread into our garden. 
It brings the gift of new, nourishing soil. 

 ...a gift from which we can sew seeds...

...a gift from which we grow food...

...and, a gift from which we can cook and eat together! 

Then, we cycle through it all again. We whip the leftovers back to the chickens. 
They poop. We scoop. We compost. We spread. We grow. We eat. Together.



What a perfect time to speak about the leftover herbs in our garden. As winter continues to linger and spring creeps around the corner, sage pushes on. In this week's recipe, I mixed store-bought fresh stuff with the dried, straight from the vine in our outdoor herb box.  

I use sage because it's around, and frankly, I feel like it compliments many dishes. It touches on the beatuful turkey stuffing traditions of Thanksgiving Day. But, might we try something beyond the ordinary? 

Sage takes on many forms:

 It's hard to mistake its flavor: 
Sage's scent permeates Thanksgiving dinner. Sweet, floral, woodsy with a hint of mint describe it best.

Store fresh sage like so: 
Purchase sage that's fragrant and perky. Refrigerate it unwashed wrapped loosely in a wet paper towel.  Place in a plastic bag. In these conditions, it can stay fresh for couple of weeks.

Sage pairs with: 
Apple, butter, flavorful cheese (cheddar, feta, goat cheese, parmesan, and pecorino) , garlic, lemon, parsley, pineapple, red wine, rosemary, savory, shallots, and thyme

It bumps up the flavor of these dishes: 
  •  Mix it, dry or fresh, into goat or cream cheese with chopped garlic. Raw veggies or crackers contrast those strong flavor. 
  • Sprinkle it on canned tomato soup.
  • Roast it with honey-sweetened winter squash, sweet potatoes or other root vegetables.
  • Corn bread balances sage's woodsy tang.
  • Sauté it with olive oil and chicken or turkey.
  • Keep to the pig! Pair it with your favorite pork or bacon dishes.
  • Melt butter, garlic, and chopped sage over pasta.
  • Sage is the defining flavor in sausage. 
  • Top a bed of fresh salad with chopped sage leaves.
  • Mmm...Shred it over peppered and salted eggs and melty cheese on a crusty sandwich.
  • Fancy it with feta and prosciutto. 
  • Roast a slice of sweet potato topped with two sage leaves, wrapped in prosciutto. Coat the cooking sheet with olive oil, and bake it for 20 minutes in the oven (Thank you Mark Bittman!).
Grow sage like this:
 It's a perenial herb which grows back strong every spring. But, it's best if planted again after couple years. It prefers full-sun but also takes well in a small pot, in-doors. Just set it by a sunny window with daily watering.

Creamy Walnut, Sage Pesto

Serving: A 8 oz. jar
Prep time: 25-30 minutes

  • Measuring cups
  • Cookie sheet
  • Tablespoons and teaspoons
  • A food processor
  • a jar for storage

  • 1 cup of walnuts 
  • 3-4 tablespoons of thyme
  • 2/3 cup of fresh sage (I also used a big handful of our dried sage from our spice garden. But, this is optional.)
  • 2 garlic cloves, whole
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice (or 1 fresh squeezed lemon)
  • 1/3 cup olive oil
  • 1/2 cup of shredded parmesan cheese

1. To add flavor, I toasted my walnuts on a cookie sheet for 10 minutes in the oven at 350 degrees F. But, this is optional. 
2. Blend thyme, fresh sage, garlic and salt and pepper in a food processor. 
3. Trickle in lemon juice and olive oil as the processor continues. 
4. Pause the food processor to add the cheese. Pulse everything until it's combined. 
5. The flavor is quite distinct. A very little bit goes quite a long way!

For longterm storage, I cover it with piece of plastic wrap to stop the browning in the fridge. Make sure to squeeze out any air-space. Press it directly on the pesto. Screw on the lid, and into the fridge it goes.

I slathered sage pesto on my burger bun with caramelized onions. Later, I used the pesto in a homemade lasagna. But, I would imagine it delicious in a grilled cheese, a turkey sandwich, or mixed with goat cheese. 

The End.
I’m beside myself with the edge of my seat. Are you rarin’ to mix-it-up with herbs?


  1. That was a pretty sh---y post...Sorry, I couldn't resist..Cute..
    I like sage...At least it's familiar...Have a great week..

    1. Thanks for keeping your comment PG! I hope you, Molly and Max are doing just great!

  2. Mmmmmm, I can attest to the deliciousness of the Sage pesto! YUM!! We are so lucky to get to sample all of your treats as you experiment in the kitchen.....

  3. I like fried sage leaves in brown butter and then poured over ravioli. I will definitely try it as a pesto. Along with regular sage I also grown pineapple sage. When you rub the leaves it smells like a fresh cut pineapple. I haven't thought of a way to cook with it though. I just usually go out and rub it to get the aroma.

    1. Sage-butter sauce over ravioli....Mmmmm, you can't go wrong! And, I've smelled pineapple sage! It's so distinct! I'm sure it might taste good in some sort of mixed drink (with or without alcohol!).

  4. i could use some of your poop for my gardens! i have never tried sage pesto but i will this year. i can't wait to plant my herbs!

    1. Herb gardens are the best! Spring is coming soon enough (but I'm ready for it NOW!).

  5. Boy Oh Boy....can I relate. My sister and I were frequent shovelers of the horse barn and we had many horses! Our chores were not the chickens, cows or sheep ...just the horse barn.

    I think we will try your sage ideas! thank you!

    1. You're very welcome, Susannah (AKA my fellow pooh-shoveler)!