Clay pot chicken with 40 cloves of garlic

I have had a lot fun experimenting with cooking in my clay pot. The first thing we made were the Cornish Game Hens, which were good, but they were not great. In my research of clay pot cooking I found a recipe for chicken with 40 cloves of garlic – yum! As a garlicholic I knew we had to try this.

I covered my pot in a 5-gallon bucket worth of water (perfect size I might add), and let it soak while I peeled 40 cloves of garlic.
garlic - final
The garlic, yes I counted to make sure I had 40. Would hate to short change the recipe 🙂

Garlic hack: throw your garlic in the freezer with skin on, I just put it in a ziplock bag (left). When you are ready to use it, pull out what you need (top right), peel it (bottom right), and use as you would with fresh garlic. Fresh garlic can sprout or rot quickly, and it can make your house smell a little fragrant (bologna like). I have had garlic in my freezer up to year, and it is just perfect when I use it!

Claypot chicken - raw
I lightly coated the chicken in olive oil (the recipe calls for butter, but that is too messy for me, as I learned in the Cornish Hen cooking) and seasoned with my favorite poultry rub. I put a few cloves of garlic under it, inside of it, and sprinkled the rest over the top, and put just a touch of lemon juice over the top. Doesn’t it look beautiful?
Clay pot chicken with 40 cloves of garlic-cooked
TAA-DAA!! The last few minutes I cooked it with the lid off so it would brown.

The original recipe called for 50 minutes with the lid on, but it took this one about 70 minutes with the lid on (size of the bird probably has something to do with it). Make sure to check the internal temperature with your meat thermometer to ensure it is at least 165 degrees Fahrenheit.

This recipe was great! The meat was so tender and juicy and the garlic was amazing too. We will definitely be making this again.



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Farm Tours: Another perspective

I can’t believe it is already the middle of August! Where has the summer gone?! I feel like mine was spent dragging a suitcase through an airport, where I got more sleep on an airplane than I did in my own bed. The good news, I have a ton of posts in my head, I just need to get them down here!

One of my job responsibilities is to provide the Saunders County Livestock Association members with an annual agricultural tour. This was their 56th annual! Pretty amazing that there is that much history and tradition within this county based association. It is also tradition for the Extension Educator who does the tour to take them to their “home” area, for me that is Western Nevada and Northern California.

The annual cap is nearly as important as the annual tour! And the red was a great color choice to find persons in our group when we were in busy public spaces.

I had 43 men sign up for the tour (the women stay home and supposedly have their own vacations while the men are away); good thing I am tough and can handle that much testosterone! Since we were flying, I had planned a six day, five night adventure out into the Wild West. We traveled via planes, boats, and buses 🙂 Below are photos from our recent trip. This was only my second tour to plan, but oh what a learning experience these have been!

You would think that since these guys see and deal with agriculture everyday, they would not want to see more of it when on vacation. But that is further from the truth – they love to see what other farmers and ranchers are doing across the county. I hope you enjoy this recap as much as the guys and I enjoyed participating in the 56th annual trip!

travel fun
We flew from Omaha, NE into Reno, NV. In route we saw Lake Mead near Las Vegas. And we saw a great bear mount in Reno.
Day 1_final
Day 1 included a trip to Seven Troughs Whiskey Distillery where we had a great catered lunch consisting of brisket and tri-tip (a west coast meat treat). We also got to see the open air fermentation process they use for their spirits. We toured a beautiful ranch where we saw some great Hereford bulls. And finally, we ended the day with a relaxing dinner cruise on Lake Tahoe. As an extra bonus, two representatives with the Nevada Department of Agriculture joined us. It was a great addition as the tour participants could ask them about all things concerning Nevada agriculture.
day 2-final
Day 2 included a trip to Jacobs Family Berry Farm where they are growing 27 different varieties of berries to determine which ones grow best in Western Nevada. We also went to Bently Ranch were they are growing their own crops for a whiskey distillery they are building. Additionally, they raise a lot of cattle and have a large human waste composting program. This stop was fun, because the Nebraska corn farmers were thrilled to see and talk corn with the Nevada cowboys. We had the chance to tour the “behind the scenes” of Topaz Lodge Casino (no photos due to sensitivity of the tour). Our last stop was a garlic farm which was in the middle of harvest. It smelled great, and accompanied dinner nicely…
My parents hosted the group for a Lamb BBQ Dinner. Some in the group were not terribly thrilled about this, as they had experienced mutton before (which is old sheep, and very different than lamb). David, the garlic tour host gave our group an entire burlap bag of garlic, so we cleaned some of it up and threw it on the grill too. I think by time the night was over the group had developed an appreciation for lamb and roasted garlic!
day 3-final
Day 3 meant heading over the Sierra Nevada Mountain range – which was hard on a few of the guys. Personally, I enjoyed being back in the mountains and enjoyed the scenic beauty. On this day the Sacramento County Farm Bureau hosted us and provided a turkey farm stop, a cutting edge dairy that has an automated calf feeding machine (which provided milk, hay, and grain every couple of hours) and a huge methane digester that we could walk on! We also went to a sturgeon caviar farm and saw the fish in various life stages. The fish also enjoyed our visit and splashed us as they showed off. We topped off the night with barrel smoked steaks at Giusti’s (locally recommended and enjoyed too). On this day my Mom also hopped on the bus with us!
Day 4 -final
Day 4 was spent in the Delta, just south of Sacramento, CA. It was a great day to see the diversity of crops grown. It was also pear harvesting season, so we enjoyed fresh pears and pear ice cream! Our Delta tour guide also made the day extra special by finding some fellow Nebraskans (i.e. Huskers) living in the area that hosted us for lunch. Come to find out one of the hosts and one of the tour participants were kin! We finished out the day at an olive tree and oil processing farm, where my tour participants were thrilled to talk wheat farming on California hills with the family! This was an eye opening day to the diversity of agriculture in the area. We also saw first hand and heard about the effects of the drought as well as the fight for water for agriculture. It will be a tough battle for California agriculture, one that we are now more sympathetic too.
day 5 final
The interesting thing about planning a tour like this is how it changes over the months (I start planning in January, and we leave in August). My original day 5 was much different than the day 5 we got, but it was an excellent day. Day 5 was a day to do and/or see the things in San Fransisco that interested you most. For some that included trolleys over the infamous hills of San Fransisco, the seals, mass at a Catholic church, and more. For me it was taking in a variety of things (and time with my Mom). I was not able to get our group tickets to tour Alcatraz (as I should have booked those in January!), so we did the next best thing – a boat ride around Alcatraz and Angel Islands and under the Golden Gate Bridge. Next a group of us took a tour up to Muir Redwoods. While it was busy, it was beautiful and peaceful. We couldn’t have asked for better weather or scenery that day.
day 6 - final
Day 6 was just a travel delay. We left San Fransisco and headed back to Omaha. The entire experience was great, there was only one bag that got lost coming back to Nebraska. Not too bad for 44 people traveling for six days!!

This tour was especially important to me, as I took everyone “home” to see the area I was born and raised in. It was very interesting to see things through 43 other sets of eyes. These tours are a lot of work, but they are also a lot of reward to see them come together.

I have heard many of the Livestock Association members reference how great the trips were when the other Educators prior to me took the group “home” – so I had big shoes to fill! I think all of the guys really enjoyed it, and it will be one they talk about for years to come. P.S. – my Mom was already invited to hop on the bus again next year!

If you would like more information about any of our tour stops, tips for planning a large tour, or are interested in participating on a farm/ranch tour – please let me know.


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The Perfect (or darn close) Leg-of-Lamb

Since Lamb Lovers Month is nearly over I thought I would do a post on how to prepare the “Perfect Leg-of-Lamb” (or darn close to perfect). If you haven’t yet tried lamb, I encourage you to do so. If you are hesitant on preparing it, prepare it like you would beef! It can be expensive, but with the guidelines I provide below and those recommended by the American Lamb Board you will be on your way to becoming a great lamb chef!

CheersI have 5 rules to eating/cooking lamb (and really these can be applied other species too) – these are very important!!

1. The lamb you eat must be young (under one year old – ideally 7-12 months old)! Lamb gets a bad rep because they used to serve mutton to persons in the military years ago. Mutton is old sheep and the meat is tough, has a strong flavor, and most people generally do not find it desirable. When the troops returned home, mutton (aka lamb) was off limits in the house. This has been a hard habit for the sheep industry to break…

2. It must be eaten HOT – not warm or warmish, and certainly not cold! If eaten cold, the fat in the meat kinda sticks to the roof of your mouth… So eat it HOT and by-pass that situation.

3. Lamb and garlic go together so nicely. Think of this dynamic partnership as powerful as macaroni and cheese, milk and Hershey’s chocolate syrup, or peanut butter and jelly (you get my drift).

4. Do not overcook lamb! Lamb is best at medium to medium well (should still be slightly pink). Overcooking it will dry it out, and make your eating experience not so desirable! Again, cooking lamb will be very similar to cooking beef.

5. Lamb and red wine are also very complementary. Cooking with wine adds such great flavors. If you are nervous about cooking with wine (kids, pregnancy, etc.) the USDA provides figures on the percentage of alcohol remaining of the original addition. In the case of slow cooking a leg of lamb, you can see that less than 5% of the alcohol would be left after the cooking process. If you are uncomfortable with wine, water will work just fine.

Alcohol Burn-off Chart
 Preparation Method  Percent Retained
alcohol added to boiling liquid & removed from heat 85%
alcohol flamed 75%
no heat, stored overnight 70%
baked, 25 minutes, alcohol not stirred into mixture 45%
Baked/simmered dishes with alcohol stirred into mixture:
15 minutes cooking time 40%
30 minutes cooking time 35%
1 hour cooking time 25%
1.5 hours cooking time 20%
2 hours cooking time 10%
2.5 hours cooking time 5%

Chart source.

Cooking lamb was passed down to me by my mom, and now I am passing the leg of lamb recipe onto you. You will not be disappointed.

Lindsay’s Perfect Leg-of-Lamb


Leg-of-lamb (our butcher cuts the leg in half, which is awesome for two people or a small family. But for a whole leg you would follow the same guidelines – except adjust your cooking time/temperature)

Garlic cloves (lots of it!)

Red wine/Water

Onion soup mix packet

Vegetables as desired


Completely defrost your leg-of-lamb.

Peel your garlic cloves.

Leg-of-lamb with garlic cloves

Heat a frying pan to hot (medium high to high).

Meanwhile, in the leg make “+” cuts about 1 to 1 1/2 inches into the meat with a knife, you will shove the garlic into these cuts. Add as much garlic as you find desirable (note: the garlic flavor is not as strong in the cooked garlic as it is in the raw garlic).

Make a “+” and insert garlic into the lamb.
You can see I added a lot of garlic!

You are going to sear your leg-of-lamb in the hot frying pan. Searing will quickly cook the exterior surface of the meat, this helps keep the juices inside the meat. Depending on how lean your leg-of-lamb is, you may want to add a little oil. I generally do not, and instead put the fattiest side down first. Do not put your meat in the hot skillet and walk away, you will need to be there watching it and turning it. You will only need to sear each side for about 30 seconds, make sure you get all sides and flip it up so the ends get seared too. Sometimes the shape of the leg-of-lamb will be awkward, just do the best you can.

Searing the leg-of-lamb.

Once the exterior is seared, you will transfer the leg to your crockpot.

Turn your crockpot onto to low.

Next mix together approximately 3/4 cup wine (water works too) and the packet of onion soup mix. I use whatever wine I have on hand (i.e. shiraz, cab, a blend, malbec – although never a sweet wine).

Onion soup mix and wine.

Poor this over the top of the lamb in your crockpot. Put the lid on and let it cook. I let this cook for about 6.5 hours. Again, the American Lamb Board has some good guidelines on how long to cook lamb cuts. Also, using your meat thermometer will help gauge how it is cooking.

Looks yummy!

Since I cooked this over the weekend, I added vegetables a few hours into the cooking process rather than throwing it all in there at once; as I would do on a work day. When adding vegetables I put the “hard stuff” (i.e. potatoes, carrots) on the bottom and then add the rest. This is a great time to clean out the veggie drawer in the fridge too!

This time I used carrots, celery, green onions, and bell peppers. You can use whatever you have on hand.

Once your lamb is done, let it sit or “rest” before you cut into it. When meat is cooked the muscle fibers will shrink and the moisture moves to the outer part of a cut of meat. If you let that meat rest for 10-20 minutes before you cut into it, that moisture will seep back into the meat – resulting in a juicy meat experience! Be sure to cover it with foil so it stays hot. Once you cut the lamb, you will notice the garlic. Serve it up with the lamb, it is delicious. I usually don’t make a gravy, but if you do, the juices from the crockpot would be excellent.

Look at all of that garlic!
Leg-of-lamb, vegetables, and fresh made bread!