Archives for August 2011

Beef & Potato Samosas

I needed to place an on-line order for some baking supplies with The King Arthur Flour Company last week. On the front page of their site was a delicious looking recipe for Indian samosas. For anybody that doesn’t know what a samosa is, it’s the Indian version of  the Spanish empanada. For whatever reason, they seemed like the perfect thing to make later that day. Their original recipe was just for a potato and pea samosa, but I wanted to make mine into a family meal so I added ground beef along with finely diced carrot and red bell pepper as well. They were really terrific and my kids loved them too. I also used canola oil to fry the vegetables in rather than the butter the original recipe called for. While samosas are typically fried, this recipe called for them to be baked in the oven, which is what I would have done anyway. The frying has never seemed necessary to me and just makes the crust heavy. This quick crust was flaky and tender and perfect in the oven. I also used a dumpling maker to make mine, but you can just as easily make them by hand and seal the crust closed with a fork.

Samosas with Quick Flaky Pastry

Original recipe from King Arthur Flour Company, adapted by Crafty Farm Girl, August, 2011

Hands-on time:  25 mins. to 35 mins., Baking time:  15 mins. to 20 mins., Total time:  60 mins. to 1 hrs 25 mins., Yield:  20 to 24 small samosas

Sriracha, aka Rooster Sauce can be purchased in larger grocery stores, or in Asian markets. It packs quite a punch so use it sparingly at first.

To make egg wash, whisk one egg with 1 teaspoon of water and a pinch of salt. Eggs in a carton, such as Egg Beaters, makes an excellent egg wash.

This recipe can be easily doubled to make more, and they freeze great. I made a double recipe and have the extras in the freezer for company or another meal.

Quick Flaky Pastry

2 1/2 cups King Arthur Unbleached All-Purpose Flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup unsalted butter, chilled
1/4 to 1/2 cup ice water


2 tablespoons vegetable or canola oil
1 cup diced onion
¼ cup finely diced carrot
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 teaspoons minced or grated ginger
¼ cup finely diced red bell pepper
1 teaspoon curry powder
1/2 teaspoon cumin, to taste
1 teaspoon turmeric
¾ pound 90% lean ground beef
2 cups peeled, cooked potatoes, drained and cubed
1 cup frozen peas
1/2 teaspoon Sriracha hot sauce, to taste (optional)
salt, pepper to taste
egg wash for brushing pastries


1) Combine the flour and salt in bowl of a food processor. Ising on/off pulses, cut in half of the chilled butter with a pastry blender until the butter/flour mixture resembles granola.

2) Dice the remaining butter and add to the butter/flour mixture in the bowl. Briefly pulse a few times until the new butter until it is the size of dried cranberries.

3) Pour contents of food processor into large metal bowl. You can flatten the larger butter pieces slightly with your fingers, creating leaves of butter coated in flour. Pour half of water over dough. Mix with a fork. Slowly add remaining water a bit at a time until it holds together when you squeeze a fist full of dough.

3) Pour out onto clean work surface and knead until dough comes together, about 30 seconds.

4) Divide the dough in half and press gently into 2 discs. You should still be able to see bits of butter in the dough. Wrap each disc in plastic wrap and refrigerate for 30 minutes. You can keep the dough in the fridge up to overnight if desired.

5) While the dough is chilling, prepare the filling. Heat the oil in a medium-sized saute pan. Add the onion & carrot, cooking for two to 3 minutes until the onions turn translucent. Add the garlic and ginger and cook 1 minute more. Take care not to burn the garlic.

6) Add the red bell pepper, curry powder, turmeric and cumin and saute for an additional minute. Add the chopped meat to the pan and cook, breaking up in pan and turning to cook evenly.

7) Add the diced potatoes and peas to beef and stir to combine and break up potatoes.

Eight) Taste the filling for seasoning, adjust with salt and pepper and Sriracha hot sauce if desired.

9) Allow the filling to cool to just barely warm. When you are ready to roll your dough, preheat the oven to 400°F and line two half sheet pans with parchment paper.

10) Working with one disc at a time, roll the chilled dough to 1/8″ thick. With a pastry brush, brush excess flour off surface of dough, and folding dough in half to expose the underside, brush flour off bottom of dough and then fold the other side over to expose the other half of underside of dough and brush excess flour off. Cut circles of dough with a sharp edged round 3″ cutter.

11) Brush the edge of each round lightly with water. If using, place dough into dumpling maker and place 2 tablespoons of filling onto each round. Close dumpling maker and press to seal edges. You may need to push filling down a bit with your finger as you start to close the dumpling maker. Carefully remove samosa and place on a parchment-lined baking sheet. If you are making the samosas by hand, and fold the dough into half moons. Use a touch of water to help seal the rounds if needed.

11) Brush each samosa with egg wash to coat. Bake for 15 to 20 minutes until deep golden brown. Serve hot just as they are, or with yogurt or sour cream for dipping sauce.

*the filling recipe is very generous. If you have leftover filling, it can be frozen for up to one month, or served in pita bread or tortillas for a quick lunch.

Trumpeter Swans

There is a pond in a neighborhood in Jackson, Wyoming, that always has trumpeter swans on it. When my friend Lorraine was out visiting with me in June I took her to see them. Haven't we all read — and loved — the book The Trumpet of the Swan?

A Great Door

I wish I had a door like this. Look at those hand-forged strap hinges, the window, the beautiful wood, and the lovely light fixture to the right. It looks like something really important must be behind that door.

King Strut

King Strut has joined the farm.

Look what I got! I was at the Agway yesterday and they had all of these amazing roosters. Normally the Agway is not known for their poultry selection; you can usually just get rhode island red cross pullets with clipped beaks. These roosters, the guy working the loading dock told me, were all brought in buy a guy that had hand-raised 30 chicks in his basement. As the laws of averages would dictate, he got 15 hens and 15 roosters from this. Those are actually pretty good numbers. Whenever I get ‘straight run’ chicks (when you order chicks that are not sexed) I seem to end up with more roosters than hens.

I cannot have a crowing rooster where I live as it is against the town regulations regarding noise. Roosters do serve a purpose though — they protect the ladies. Their single purpose in life is to watch out for dangers and alert his flock if any is detected. As a benefit of existing in this role he gets to attempt to have sex with as many ladies as allow as often as they allow it. The side benefit to this is that if I get a broody hen (one that insists on sitting on eggs for the purpose of hatching), if a rooster is present there is a good chance that these eggs will hatch!

After my horrible losses of adolescent and older chicks and chickens this spring, I have somehow managed to stay at the same number of hens for almost 2 months — 29 full grown hens. That’s pretty amazing for summertime when so many predators are roaming around with babies to feed and longer days. However, right before I left for Wyoming this last trip my head count was off one night. The next night it was still off by one and I finally figured out that it was one of my blue buff cochins. Not Paula Deen thankfully, but her slightly smaller sister. I have a strong suspicion that a hawk carried her off, which would have been quite a feat since she was a very large chicken. I suspect a hawk because there was absolutely no “evidence”. No feathers. Nothing. She was just gone, which is consistent with a hawk attack as they just swoop in, pick up and leave. A ground predator would leave feathers from a struggle.

Paula Deen's (on ramp) sister is gone.

So I’ve been thinking that I may need to get a rooster to watch over the girls. If he turns out to be a nice rooster who treats the ladies well and isn’t aggressive, then I’ll think about keeping him around. If he starts to crow I’ll cross that bridge when I come to it.

I have never seen a chicken quite like this. He’s definitely a polish crested, and I’ve had plenty of those, but his trim figure and blue coloring (grey is called blue in the chicken world) makes me think that he is half blue Andalusian and half polish crested. He’s just stunning. I have two blue andalusian hens. One is not very blue at all and is the only hen that insists on sleeping in the goat house every night. The only one. All alone in there with the goats. The other one is a much prettier blue and although she attempted to roost in the goat house with her sister a time or two, finally gave up the fight and sleeps in the coop with the others now.

Here is the splash blue andalusian looking to jump through the open dutch door of the goat house for the night about a month ago.

My darker blue andalusian.

Since the color blue does not hatch true in chickens and is a diluting gene for black, there are lots of variations in blue that you can get with any “blue” variety of chicken. This is what a true show-quality blue andalusian looks like.

So back to King Strut. There he was at the Agway waiting to be bought. Truthfully there were so many beautiful roosters it was hard to choose. When I got him home I put him in a crate in the chicken coop with food and water so everyone could get acquainted safely. Late this afternoon I felt it was safe to let him out to meet his flock. There were a few initial scuffles, but he handily showed them who was boss and pretty quickly everyone settled right in. He seemed delighted with his new home, and with little encouragement went into the coop with everyone else as dark was falling tonight. I stayed outside to listen in case any feathers started flying in there, but all seemed fine. At last check he was sound asleep up on the roosts with the other hens and doing just fine.

Oh, and the silo is finally finished! It’s covered in this great super heavy-duty wire that will rust over time. We designed it to look like one of those corn silos you see in the midwest that are covered in wire rather than being solid so the air can circulate around corn cobs.

The finished silo

The roofs start to go on tomorrow (finally.)

Hawk on the Wing

I took this photo in Dubois last week. While it's not quite as clear as I'd like it to be, a hawk taking off from his perch is a very fast thing.

Western Meadowlark

I took this photo in July when Evan and I were off on an evening photo-taking expedition. I believe this is a Western Meadowlark, which is the state bird of Wyoming. He cooperated nicely for me as I took pictures of him in this lovely field of hay and wildflowers while he perched on this old fence post.

Brown Sugar & Cinnamon Peach Pie

Amanda picking peaches

Having picked 35 pounds of peaches with Amanda and Evan this past Saturday, I was grateful that they were just fine when I returned from my quick trip to Wyoming. Last night I made this delicious peach pie, and today or tomorrow I will be canning up some peach preserves.

Brown Sugar-Cinnamon Peach Pie

Original recipe from Southern Living, July, 2011. Altered by Crafty Farm Girl, August, 2011.

I would probably serve this with vanilla ice cream, but since I ate we ate it for breakfast this morning, I decided that might be a little indulgent.

Yield: Makes 8 servings
Hands-On: 30 Minutes
Total: 4 Hours, 50 Minutes


    • 1 ready-made pie crust, or make your own 2-crust pie dough
    • 8 large fresh, firm, ripe peaches (about 4 lb.)
    • 1/2 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
    • 1/3 cup granulated sugar
    • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
    • 1/8 teaspoon salt
    • 1/3 cup King Arthur Flour Pie Filling Enhancer (or 1/3 cup flour)
    • 1 1/2 tablespoons butter, cut into pieces
    • 1 large egg, beaten
    • 1 1/2 tablespoons sanding or granulated sugar


Preheat oven to 425º. Roll out one of the pie crust doughs on a lightly floured surface. Starting at 1 edge of dough, wrap dough around a rolling pin. Place rolling pin over a 9-inch pie plate, and unroll dough over pie plate. Press dough into pie plate. Place in refrigerator to keep chilled until your filling is prepared.

To peel the peaches, I cut a small cross into the bottom of the peach and placed them into a large pot of boiling water for a minute or two. Remove with slotted spoon and place immediately into a large bowl of cool water. This should make the peaches much easier to peel.

Peel peaches, and cut into 1/2-inch-thick slices; cut slices in half.

Add brown sugar, next 3 ingredients, and Pie Filling Enhancer (or flour) to peaches, stirring to coat. Immediately spoon peach mixture into piecrust in pie plate, and dot with 1 1/2 Tbsp. butter. (Do not make mixture ahead or it will become too juicy.)

Lovely Lattice: For an equally impressive top crust, roll remaining dough to about 1/4-inch thickness on a lightly floured surface. Cut dough into 3 (1 1/2-inch-wide) strips and 8 (1/4-inch-wide) strips using a fluted pastry wheel. With dough strips, make a lattice design. Brush lattice with beaten egg, and sprinkle with sugar.

Freeze pie 15 minutes. Meanwhile, heat a jelly-roll pan in oven 10 minutes. Place pie on hot jelly-roll pan.

Bake at 425° on lower oven rack 15 minutes. Reduce oven temperature to 375°; bake 40 minutes. Cover loosely with aluminum foil to prevent excessive browning, and bake 10-25 more minutes or until juices are thick and bubbly (juices will bubble through top). Transfer to a wire rack; cool 2 hours before serving.

Alternative Regular Top Crust: Roll remaining dough disk to about 1/4-inch thickness on a lightly floured surface. Carefully place remaining piecrust over filling; press edges of crusts together to seal. Cut off excess crust, and reserve. Crimp edges of pie. If desired, reroll excess crust to 1/4-inch thickness. Cut into 3-inch leaves using a knife. Brush top of pie with beaten egg; top with leaves. Brush leaves with egg; sprinkle with 1 1/2 Tbsp. granulated sugar. Cut 4 to 5 slits in top of pie for steam to escape.

Fancy Footwork

This past Tuesday we picked up Maia and India from their month at camp in Dubois, Wyoming at Teton Valley Ranch Camp. It was Maia’s first year there as a ‘Yearling’, and India’s third year there, which made her a ‘Top Hand’. Final Rodeo is the big event that marks the end of the season, and although for the parents after the first time or two (and this time made our 5th Final Rodeo) it does begin to have a repetitive quality somewhat akin to the movie Groundhog Day. All in all though it’s a pretty fun day. You meet your kids new friends and re-connect with families that you’ve become friends with.

One of the events at final rodeo is the Dance Contest. This is an event that neither Evan nor India have ever chosen to partake in. Maia, however, it seems has gotten her dad’s dancing feet. Jim is a very good dancer. I am not.

Check her out. You can just see the happiness that defines Maia’s sunny personality.

The Slide

The Shuffle

The Side Step

The Back Kick

The High Kick

The Split!

The Worm

And my personal favorite, The Wave

Unbelievably she did not win. I, as her mother and being completely unbiased, found this rather shocking. She’ll win next year for sure.

The Raven

I don't think I've ever seen a raven here in Connecticut, but they are a frequent sight in Wyoming. They get really big too when you're used to the common crow! This lovely fellow was perched atop a telephone pole against the blue sky. A lovely silhouette.

Boots & Tubes

While picking up the girls from camp this past Tuesday in Wyoming, I paused for a moment on the dock of the lake there.