Tag Archives: Urban Homesteading

Anasazi Green Beans

If you have seen my previous posts on Anasazi Beans then you know I am a huge fan of the heirloom bean. Although we typically allow them to dry right on the vine and then use the beans as you might use pintos or black beans, I recently learned that Anasazi green beans are another delicious option!

anasazi green beans

Papa Bird has Anasazis growing as vines along our bottom fence, but discovered a gopher had eaten the roots off of one of the plants. Since the plant was on the verge of toppling over, he picked them for use as Anasazi green beans!


For a recipe for the most delicious veggie burger ever, the legend of Anasazi Beans, and more on victory gardens, see my post on Anasazi Bean Burgers. And for more growing tips on Anasazis and a recipe for a twist on a Southern holiday classic, check out Anasazi Bean Hoppin’ John.

Can you recommend a recipe for Anasazi Green Beans?

We usually cook green beans simply, and Little Bird loved to gum them as one of her first “holding” foods at 8 months. But please tell me, what are your favorite recipes for green beans?

Baby Goats! (…Which Means Fresh Milk!)

I’m so excited! Yesterday we received our first milk delivery in a while. As I explained in my Home Dairy 101 post, we are members of a goat co-op and receive fresh milk weekly. We actually haven’t been receiving milk for the last few months as all of the does have been pregnant and just had their babies.

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Springtime is for babies! I know I claimed that there was nothing cuter than a baby chick in the post on how we hatched chicks without a rooster, but these baby goats are pretty cute!

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Many thanks from Cari at White Mountains Ranch for the use of her photos, as well as taking such excellent care of our goaties. You can see more of the goats and their babies here.

Even if you don’t own goats (or a part of a goat) spring is the best time to buy fresh goat milk at farmer’s markets and other stores. Not sure what to do with fresh goat milk? Brush up on how to pasteurize milk at home, homemade cajeta, and how easy it is to make goat cheese (chèvre) at home. I hope to add some posts soon on ricotta, feta, and a mold-ripened goat cheese, inspired by Humbolt Fog.

Click on any picture in the gallery below to enlarge.


Baby Birds No Longer

Today is the 17th and my Baby Bird is 17 months old. She has been a toddler for quite some time. Running, coloring, eating PB&J and saying “no!” (All at the same time.) I suppose it is past due that she get a promotion. From this point on she will now be called “Little Bird.”

She is not our only baby bird growing up. With the passing of Steve, “Bebe,” the chick in our banner and Facebook profile picture, who we watched hatch from an egg, is now our senior hen. She is a proficient layer, laying a large, light brown egg daily.

Bebe, all grown up

Although we don’t have any roosters, we were lucky to watch Bebe and her sibling hatch and grow. A few years ago my husband noticed that one of our hens, Butters, a sweet and social Buff Orpington, was broody. “Broody” hens sit on the eggs all day trying to hatch them. In the wild this is obviously a necessary characteristic in order for the eggs to survive. However, most laying hens have the trait of broodiness bred out of them as it can disincline them to lay more eggs. For the purposes of egg production they simply need to lay the egg and move on.

When picking up our organic, soy-free, Modesto Milling poultry feed and scratch from White Mountains Ranch, Papa Bird chatted with the owner about how to get Butters to stop being so broody. She surprised us by suggesting that we let her! She graciously gave us four fertilized eggs to take home and let her sit on. Butters was a wonderful foster mom. She sat and sat and sat and sat…

And finally, one day in the spring, we had babies!! Two of the eggs hatched. Give me the meanest, grouchiest person, put newborn chicks in front of them and I guarantee they will just melt. There is nothing cuter.

Token and Bebe

One chick was strong and healthy. Since the baby bird had black feathers, well black fuzz, Papa Bird kept the South Park references going and named the chick “Token.” The little one we called “Bebe.” Unfortunately, little Bebe was born with a club foot. Her foot curled in and didn’t open up properly. She couldn’t put weight on it or walk properly. I imagine that back in the old days, on a large farm, such a deformed chicken wouldn’t get the chance to survive. Then again, in modern, large scale egg production the chickens live in cages and aren’t really allowed to walk around. So who knows what they do.

Papa Bird did a little research and decided to try to splint her foot. I was so proud of him and his All Creatures Great and Small skills. As I played nurse and lent extra hands, he experimented with various splints for Bebe. First he tried a little piece of cardboard and some medical tape. Unfortunately, Butters kept pecking at the white cardboard. We were worried she would hurt the poor baby’s foot. Eventually we found that what worked best was just a bandaid or two. Fortunately, after about a week her foot worked well, if a little smaller at first. Now you can’t even tell!

Bebe's BandAid Foot

Token, on the other hand, had a different problem. You see, he ended up being a “he” which is illegal in the City of San Diego! We took him to White Mountains Ranch later that year so he could enjoy the spoils of country life.

Click on any photo in the gallery to enlarge.

 

Dedicated to the Memory of our Hen Steve

This week our oldest surviving hen passed away, we believe of old age. Her name was Steve.

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Steve was an Easter Egger Chicken and laid large, light blue eggs. She was a survivor and an escape artist. Steve was our only chicken to survive the Coyote Massacre of 2011 that decimated our flock and claimed the life of my 12-year-old kitty. Previously, she had been given to us by our neighbors in 2010 and they had no idea how old she was. They had also lost every single chicken to coyotes, except her, and were giving up. They called her “damn chicken”, but we renamed her after a good friend who requested the honor.

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Out of our first flock, and the second flock after the Coyote Massacre, Steve was the hen most likely to break out of the enclosure and into the vegetable garden. Once, after we thought that she had stopped laying for a couple of weeks, my husband stumbled upon a hidden catch of eggs that she was laying in secret.

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Rest in peace Steve. We will miss you!

Anasazi Bean Burgers

My mom was visiting last weekend. We had a nice visit and she checked out this blog. She let me know that I am again taking after my great-grandmother, Alpha, who wrote an article on Victory Gardens during World War II. I have always felt an affinity for this ancestor despite never meeting. Alpha (her father planned on working through the Greek alphabet except she was an only child) was an artist who studied under John Sloan. She was also a Long Island socialite who threw legendary Prohibition Era parties, attended by artists like author Thorton Wilder, who was supposedly in love with her. Before our urban farm days, I was known to host a party or two.

Anasazi Bean Burger from BabyBirdsFarm.com

So I am all the more happy to carry on the tradition of championing Victory Gardens today. As much as we love fresh salads, tomatoes, and herbs like basil and mint, “salad” type items are actually not the best way to maximize a home garden. To really get the benefit of a “victory garden” try to plant calorie dense items, like potatoes, sweet potatoes and beans. Beans are an amazing source of protein, fiber and nutrients and my favorites by far are Anasazi Beans. The are a slightly sweet Heirloom bean, pretty and speckled maroon and white. If I were to describe the taste, I’d describe it as how the most awesome pinto bean should taste. They cook much faster than other dried beans (they don’t need to presoak) and don’t have as much of the compounds found in other beans that can cause gas.

Plus, there is the legend of the beans…. Botanists may dispute the factual basis, but the story is that a dusty, sealed crock was found by archeologists in the ancient ruins of the Anasazi Indians, and lo and behold, the beans were viable and reintroduced to our diets. I have fond memories of exploring Mesa Verde and the dwellings of “the Ancient Ones,” carved into the stone, with my family as a child.

You can find Anasazis in the bulk section of a lot of grocery stores now, as well as online. Papa Bird has been growing them the last few years. One of the things I find “magical” about a bean is that it contains its future in itself. The bean is simply the seed. You can sprout and plant the beans from the grocery isle if you like. (I think we started from a bag I bought at the farmer’s market.) We try to remember to reserve a few from each harvest to plant the following year.

Anasazi Bean Burger Recipe

My husband usually feels more satisfied with a little meat in a meal, but he makes an exception for Anasazi Bean Burgers. They are my favorite veggie burger and I hope you enjoy. From Moon Time/The Elk Restaurant.

Servings: 4 burgers

  • 1 cup dried Anasazi beans
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil, plus more as needed
  • 1/4 cup onion, diced
  • 1/4 cup red bell pepper, diced
  • 1/4 cup green bell pepper, diced
  • 1/4 cup carrots, diced
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 egg
  • Approximately 1 cup dried bread crumbs

Step 1
Distinctive-looking Anasazi beans have a unique, slightly nutty flavor and firm texture. Cook the beans in plenty of water for about an hour until soft but not mushy.

Step 2
Coarsely chop the drained and cooled beans. You can use a food processor, using only a couple of pulses, but I never have. Mash them with a fork, or a mashed potato masher, or break up the beans using your hands. Add the sauteed veggies to the chopped beans and then add the egg, seasonings and bread crumbs.

Step 3
After forming the patties (I usually do 4 large patties, but have also made sliders), saute them in oil until they’re golden, about 3 minutes on each side over medium high heat. I find starting the patties in a cold pan gets a nice crust. Add a slice of cheddar and finish the bean burger in a 400° oven for 2 or 3 minutes. Serve on a bun with typical burger “fixings” (i.e. tomato, lettuce, pickle, avocado, mustard, ketchup, siracha, etc.)

Notes:

Although Anasazis don’t cause as much gas as other beans, it never hurts to add a little cumin, bay leaf and/or epazote to the cooking water. All three are classic flavorings for beans and are carminative, meaning they help reduce gas when cooked with beans. Never salt your water when cooking beans. Only add salt and acid (like tomatoes or vinegar) once they are fully cooked. Otherwise they will be tough and not cook properly.

Feel free to substitute another bean in this recipe if you can’t find Anasazis, but you will probably want to presoak them before cooking.

Tips for Cooking for Baby:

Reserve some of the “batter” with all the ingredients added, minus the egg. Blend or grind in a baby food mill. Add a little breastmilk, maybe some avocado. Delicious! Babies love the naturally sweet taste of beans and they are an excellent vegetarian source of protein.

For a baby that is ready for finger foods, cooked beans (e.g., Anasazi, black or pinto) and sautéed, diced veggies are excellent ways to practice pincher skills. If it is the first time, if your beans are still on the crunchy side, or if you are just paranoid, feel free to cut the beans in half or squeeze each one between your fingers to mush it a little and make it easier for baby to gum.

Updated 1.5.13 to add a photo of the burger. Originally posted 8.21.12. -Mama Bird