October 2017
The Herb Farm

“Hoo-hoo, hoo-hoo. Hoo-hoo, hoo-hooooo!”

The barred owl said, "Hoo-hoo, Hoo-hoo. Hoo-hoo, Hoo-hooooo!"

It sent a chill up my spine and froze me in my stance on the back porch. A neighboring owl answered him back with the same call. Then there was yet a third owl in the vicinity screaming his call. All of a sudden, all three owls sounded as if they were competing! Whoo was going to make a meal of me tonight?

It was a foggy night and the air was damp, cold and as still as a headstone. No moon tonight and the only light I could see was the faint glow from my nearest neighbor’s security light on his big barn.

It’s nights like these that really get me going this time of year. They set the mood for the season and get me to looking forward to the holidays. Halloween, Samhain (pronounced: Saah-ween), All Saints Day and, of course, Día de los Muertos.

My friends, Carol Jean, Lady Muriel and LaWanda always celebrate the holidays with a big gathering of friends. Their soirées are the best; beginning on the afternoon of Oct. 31, Halloween, and lasting until after midnight on Nov. 2, the Day of the Dead. I am always enlightened and learn something new each year.

This year the Women’s Weekend Witches Society ladies are going all out, and the three who live on their little acreage are hosting this year’s event. It’s pot luck, and that is my favorite food; especially when these ladies all get together! I guarantee you will not see a green bean casserole, nor certainly any sign of divinity. Well, except for the High Priestess.

I decided to create a little twist to Lady Muriel’s Boo Stew by adding some chicken andouille sausage and giving it a name after a famous chicken. "Chicken Boo" is the famous giant chicken from the Animaniacs cartoon and I have always been a fan.

 

CHICKEN BOO STEW AND ANDOUILLE TOO!

 

When you make the Boo Stew, make enough to freeze some for later. Man, that’s a bowl of good!

2 Tablespoons olive oil, divided
Salt and pepper, to taste
2 or 3 large chicken breasts
1 (12-ounce) package chicken andouille sausage, sliced about ½-inch thick
2 (14.5-ounce) cans low sodium chicken broth, divided
1 large yellow onion, small diced
1 large green bell pepper, small diced
6 ribs of celery, small diced (destring celery before dicing)
1½ cups carrots, sliced
1 Tablespoon minced garlic
2 cups okra, sliced
½ cup fresh mushrooms, sliced
1 (28-ounce) can crushed tomatoes
1 (8-ounce) can tomato sauce
1 (14-15-ounce) can corn, with liquid
1 (15.5-ounce) can red kidney beans
2 (15.5-ounce) cans black beans
6 zucchinis, small to medium size, sliced ½-inch thick then quartered
2 Tablespoons cornstarch

In a large iron skillet, put 1 tablespoon olive oil and heat. Lightly salt and pepper chicken. Place in hot skillet and partially cover. Brown chicken on all sides and cook thoroughly. Remove from heat. When cooled, cut into bite-size chunks (about ½-inch cubes).

In quart stock pot, heat remaining olive oil. Brown chicken andouille sausage on both sides. Remove from stock pot and place in skillet with cooked chicken breast. Soak up oil in bottom of the stock pot with a paper towel or two.

Return stock pot to heat. Pour in ½ can of chicken broth to deglaze the stock pot. (Use a spatula to scrape yummy brown bits from bottom of pot.) Add onions, bell pepper, celery, carrots, garlic, okra and mushrooms. Add remaining chicken broth. Cover and simmer until vegetables are clear and tender, stirring frequently.

Add crushed tomatoes, tomato sauce, corn and all beans, reserving liquid from one can of beans. Bring to a simmer. Add zucchini. Bring to a simmer.

In a small bowl, mix cornstarch with reserved bean liquid. Drizzle cornstarch mixture into simmering stew and stir for a few minutes. Add cooked chicken chunks and chicken andouille sausage. Heat through. Serve and enjoy!

But wait! There’s more! We also created a cool-looking festive cheese ball shaped like a stylized human skull using Miss Opie’s recipe.

 

MISS OPIE’S CHEESE SKULL

 

 Playing with Photoshop is fun. This cheese ball tastes better than it looks. BOO!

Makes: 2 medium or one large skull
½ pound extra sharp cheddar cheese, shredded
1 (8-ounce) package cream cheese
5 ounces crumbled blue cheese
1 Tablespoon finely minced onion
1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
½ teaspoon chili powder
2 sheets of parchment or waxed paper
1 cup chopped pecans, divided
Whole black olives, for skull eyes, nose and teeth

Use a large serving fork or a food processor, thoroughly mix first 6 ingredients.

Lay out parchment/waxed paper. Place ½ cup pecans near corner of each sheet. Spread about ¼ cup pecans in center of each paper. Divide cheese mixture in half. Place each half on top ¼ cup pecans. Make each into a skull shape. Place remaining pecans on top and sides of each skull. Press a teaspoon into cheese to make eye sockets and use a large serving fork to define teeth. Cut black olives to fill and garnish the eyes, nose and teeth.

And, for something to drink, here is my recipe for mulled apple cider.

 

MULLED APPLE CIDER

4 bottles (750 ml) matured crabapple wine
2 Valencia oranges, juice 1 and slice other
1 star anise
10 cloves
4 cinnamon sticks

Put all ingredients in a cauldron and simmer for one hour before serving.

Be safe this holiday season.

Send me some of your pictures from your Halloween party and recipes, too!

I eat my yard! You should eat yours, too!

Until next time, remember to watch your salt and sugar, drink plenty of pure water, and breathe in and out!

Thanks for reading!

For more information, email me at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. I’ll answer your questions and I enjoy the emails!

Be sure to find me on Facebook at "Herb Farmer-The Herb Farm."

As always, check with an expert, like your doctor, before using any herbal remedy.