Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Sausage Making Day

Back in November, my Mister filled his elk tag with a beautiful, young cow elk. We have been enjoying her for the last few months, but there are parts of her that had yet to be processed.

Until today.

We had planned to turn all 65 lbs. into approximately 85 lbs. of sausage today, but as the day went along, we found that we only had enough time to get through half of it.

The only disappointing part of this process is that we could not find grass-fed pork. Pork needs to be added to the venison because it is so lean. It ended up being 1 pound of pork shoulder butt, (That doesn't even make sense, but who am I to question the butcher?), to 4 pounds of venison. When I asked to the butcher about grass-fed pork, he asked, "Do pigs eat grass?"

Hmmm....Another reason to start building a pig pen.

After the venison and pork was cut into 1-inch chunks, my Mister mixed them, then fed the meat into the meat grinder.

The first time through, we used the disk with the largest holes.

After the first time through the grinder, the spices were added and mixed in. We used a premade spice pack from a sportsman's store. Next time, we'll try mixing our own spices.

We then ran the meat through the grinder a second time, using the medium grind. I wish the picture had turned out, because it looked very appetizing.

For raw meat.

After the second grinding, we stuffed the 2 pound bags and my Mister crimped the hog rings on the end. Son #2, Tanner, marked all the bags, while son #3 asked if we were going to eat some for dinner.

So we did.

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Sourdough Scones

I really enjoy a good scone.
Until a few years ago, I thought only royalty ate scones.
Either I was wrong, or someone forgot to tell me something pretty important.
Actually, scones originated in Scotland, were made with oats and cooked on a griddle. They were usually served with clotted cream, honey, or lemon curd. Sometimes dried fruit was added and then they were called "fancy scones".
Up until a couple of weeks ago, I thought that I had Irish ancestry.
Someone got it wrong. I'm actually Scottish.
My life is about revelation. And quite often, denial.
So technically, this recipe is from my people.
Even if I've only known about them for a short time.
Now, is there any royalty in the mix I should know about?

Sourdough Scones
1 cup hard white wheat flour
1 cup unbleached, organic white flour
3 Tb. organic sugar
1/2 t. sea salt
1/3 cup unsalted butter, chilled and diced
1/2 cup sourdough starter
1 egg, beaten lightly
2 Tb. milk, room temperature
cream for wash
In a food processor, combine flours, sugar, and salt, then cut in the butter by pulsing a few times until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs.

Place the flour mixture into a mixing bowl and add the sourdough starter, egg, and milk, then mix well.

I forgot to set out the milk, so in a pinch, had to bring it to room temperature by placing it in very warm water for a few minutes.

Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured board and knead until smooth, about 2 minutes. Roll the dough out into a circle no more than 3/4-inch thick, then cut into 12 wedges.

Cover with a clean dish towel and let rest for 30 minutes.
Preheat the oven to 425F.
Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper and place the scones approximately 1 inch apart, onto the sheet. Brush with cream.

Bake for 15 minutes, or until golden brown. Cool on a wire rack before serving.
And of course, serve with clotted cream, honey, or lemon curd.


Monday, March 29, 2010

Vanilla Bean & Banana Raw Milk Ice Cream

First, let me apologize for not coming up with a snappier title for this post.

Vananana Ice Cream doesn't flow from the tongue easily.

Bananilla sounds like a Saturday morning cartoon character.

Well, from my childhood anyway.

You know, in the olden days.

Which makes me wonder why my children would even think that we had televisions if we were still driving chariots in those days.

One more thing to ponder.

Since we started reading labels, it has been very difficult to find ice cream that doesn't scream


Here are some names you might recognize from the ice cream carton: **1)Diethylglycol, 2)Piperonal, 3)Aldehyde, 4)Ethyl Acetate, 5)Butyraldehyde, 6)Amyl Acetate, and 7)Benzyl Acetate.

What? You don't recognize them?

Then why would anyone eat them? Or worse yet, give them to their children?

A simple rule of thumb...if we can't pronounce the ingredients, it's probably not a good idea to bring them into our homes.

Unless the word is cinnamon. Just know, a lot of people cannot pronounce the word cinnamon.

At least 3 of them live with me.

Here's a healthy alternative to store-bought ice cream.

And you can name it whatever you like!

2 cups raw cream (or pasteurized cream, just not ultra-pasteurized!)
1 cup raw milk (or 1 cup whole, pasteurized milk, not ultra!)
2 large egg yolks (from free-range, organic chickens)
1/3 cup pure maple syrup
1 vanilla bean
1 t. vanilla extract
1 organic banana

Mix cream, milk and egg yolks in a bowl. Add maple syrup. Slice open a vanilla bean and scrape the seeds into milk mixture. Add vanilla extract. Pour mixture into an ice cream maker. Add 1 banana that has been sliced very thin. Process according to manufacturer's instructions.

Moaning with pleasure is optional.

**1) used in antifreeze and paint removers (used in place of eggs)
2) used to kill lice (in place of vanilla flavoring)
3) inflammable liquid used in aniline dyes, plastic and rubber (cherry flavoring)
4) used as a cleaner for leather and textiles; its vapors have been known to cause chronic lung, liver and heart damage. (pineapple flavoring)
5) an ingredient in rubber cement (used in nut flavored ice cream)
6) used as an oil paint solvent (banana flavoring)
7) nitrate solvent (strawberry flavoring)

Information from Nourishing Traditions and PPNF Health Journal

Sunday, March 28, 2010

I think I spoke too soon. Someone asked me recently how we had fared the cold & flu season. I replied, "Unscathed."

Too cocky perhaps? I am sure I don't know, but kiddo #2 just went down. While it's neither a cold or the flu, it is some 24-48 hour virus that renders it's victims helpless with headaches and a sore throat.

And a whole lot of whining.

Okay, the whining is me, but with a family this size, sickness seems to linger a little too long here. And it's not pretty. (That could be me again.)

My Mister and I made another trip to Bob's Redmill last week and scored some more good stuff. I'll be trying some new recipes using different gluten-free flours and will be doing quite a bit of baking this week. This is our "spring break" week, so I plan on having a little fun in the kitchen and working on a new quilt in the evenings. I'm hoping that the sunshine makes another appearance so that we can get the garden ready.

This week, we'll also be outlining our own animal, vegetable, miracle plan, which is set to officially begin on Thursday. Now if only we could agree on the rules of this experiment!

Here's what's cookin' this week...

~Blueberry Applesauce Coffee Cake (new!)
~Turkey noodle soup
~Spinach/Ricotta White Spelt Pizza(carried over from last week)

~Simple soaked Oatmeal, blueberries
~Sourdough Scones, (new), Plum fruit smoothies

~Lemon Poppyseed Muffins (new)
~homemade tomato soup, toasted cheese sandwiches
~Polenta, creamed Swiss chard, baked tilapia

~Fried eggs, sourdough toast
~Pinto bean burritos on sourdough tortillas
~Barbecued meatballs, sauteed green beans/garlic, Peach Kuchen (new)

~Banana bread, hot chocolate
~Egg salad sandwiches on sourdough, canned pears
~Salmon patties, (new), cornbread, spinach salad

~Waffles, peaches

~Elk roast, potatoes/gravy, green bean casserole, whole wheat rolls, Key lime pie, Peach cobbler

As you can see, our Easter dinner does not include ham. This makes me sad. But I cannot in good conscience serve a ham knowing where it came from.

Because, it did not come from our farm.

And that is a problem I plan on rectifying before Easter 2011!
For more menu ideas, visit Laura at Organizing Junkie on Monday morning!

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Coconut Custard Pie

To an outsider, our home life may appear as chaotic.

I'd like to think that it's organized chaos. (Again, denial.)

In reality, we're a "fly-by-the-seat-of-our-pants" kind of family.

Sometimes, we land on our feet.

Most of the time, our feet fail us and we land sunny side up. (Or down.)

But every now and then, the feet do what they are intended for, and that is to hit the ground running...3 steps ahead of the kids!

I got up early this morning, fixed breakfast, put the turkey carcass on for broth, went to town to pick up our milk, fixed lunch, baked a pie, then sat on the couch with my sick son.

For just a minute.

Next thing I knew, the kids were asking what the dinner plans were. With the broth still simmering, I had to think quickly. The kids mentioned, rather loudly, that pizza from town would be easy. (Of course, nobody offered to drive the 1/2 hour into town or pay for this fabulous idea!) I had to act quickly because it was suggested that our 18 year old son, with the driver's license, make the trip. (Again, who was paying?) In 30 minutes, dinner was ready. Instead of Turkey Tortellini Soup, we had Thai Peanut Sesame Noodles with roasted asparagus basted with lemon/EVOO. The ultimate fast food. Without the guilty conscience!

Score: Kids-0, Mom-1

And we still get to enjoy pie! Just not in the pizza form.(And that I really did mean to do!)

Coconut Custard Pie (gluten-free version)

4 eggs
6 Tb. butter
1/2 cup flour (I used GF flour, not the tapioca flour in the picture!)
2 cups milk
3/4 cup organic sugar
1 t. vanilla
1 cup unsweetened, shredded coconut

Since making this GF was an experiment, I decided to use this instead of the tapioca flour...just in case...

In a blender, combine eggs, butter, flour, milk, sugar and vanilla. Blend well.

Look! Twins!

Add the coconut and blend for several seconds. Pour into a greased and floured 10-inch pie pan. I greased it with coconut oil and floured it with coconut flour, but butter and regular flour is fine too.

Bake for 50 minutes. The pie forms its own crust.

How easy was that?

And, it's pie!!!!

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Meanwhile, on the Farm...

Spring is definitely here.

And I'm hoppin' mad.

Spring, on a farm, is not just about anticipating a new gardening season. It's not about cute little lambs, baby chicks, wobbly legged calves, or the return of the robins.

It's about the return of the raccoons.

I wish that I had pictures of the one that we are dealing with.

We named her "Lucy-fur". She is a return customer to the all-you-can-eat chicken buffet.

And this time, she's brought friends.

Lucy-fur doesn't just get her name for the fact that she's female and has fur.

There's another side to her.

And it's bad.

She's also missing half of her face which makes the implied meaning of her name even more fitting.

To anyone not living in the country, raccoons are cute. In fact, they are downright adorable.

To city-dwellers, raccoons may seem like a great pet idea. They look soft and cuddly and probably smell like peaches.

To us country folk, however, this is what we see.

And don't even get me started on the smell! (Think dead, rotting fish, not peaches.)
This is NOT the animal that is shown on all the sweet little wildlife shows. (Pictures taken by so-called city dwellers!)

Add that to the squawks from the chicken house, and the yowling from the cats, just trying to protect their feed bowls, seeing this little farm demon at 2 a.m. is just plain old frightening!

So, tonight, we implement Plan A.

The scene of the "take down"?


"Get a room already...I'm trying to save your lives!"

"Excuuuuuuse meeeeee. A little privacy please!"

"Danger! Danger! Danger!"

"Hey're interrupting our bath-time!"

"Run! Run for you lives!"

You see, chickens aren't very smart. They need our protection from the evils of this world.

Mostly from raccoons and young boys with BB guns and arrows.

While they are busy, living in denial, I'll be preparing for The Mission.

Point of entry...

Point of exit...

And if all else fails, we resort to Plan B.

At 2 a.m., the chances that we'll need a Plan C are a pretty sure bet!

Just ask the porch.

To be continued....

....I'm sure.

Monday, March 22, 2010

Sweet Cornbread

This was my children's favorite dish while they were growing up.

They thought it was cake.

Served with chili.

For a short while, I was their hero.

And it was good.

Then I discovered a more healthy recipe for cornbread and life hasn't been the same.

But every now and then, I make this to help me remember the good ol' days.

And it is good.

Remember to use organic if possible!

2 cups cornmeal
2 cups flour (I used white spelt, but you can substitute half whole wheat.)
1 t. sea salt
1 cup unsalted butter, melted
1-1/3 cup organic sugar
4 large eggs, slightly beaten
2 cups buttermilk
1 t. baking soda

This is white spelt flour. Great substitute for white flour!

Sift together cornmeal, flour, salt and sugar.

Make a well in the center.

Add butter and eggs to well.

In a separate bowl, add baking soda to 2 cups buttermilk and let sit for a couple of minutes.

This is what happens. It grows!

Pour buttermilk/baking soda mixture over cornbread mixture and stir well.

It's okay if there are lumps.

Grease a 13x9 inch pan and pour batter into it.

Bake at 375 F. for 30 minutes.

Check for done-ness by inserting a toothpick in center. If it's clean, it's done!

Feel free to slather this in butter, but it is really good without it!


Sunday, March 21, 2010

My Mister and I have been reading "Animal, Vegetable, Miracle" for the last few weeks, and have decided to try a similar experiment.

Grow it, buy it local, or do without is what we've decided on.

We're still working on the details, but I'm getting excited about this new endeavor.

It keeps life interesting.

In the meantime, I am digging deep into the darkest corners of the pantry and freezer again.

Here's what's cooking....

~Simple soaked Oatmeal, frozen blueberries
~Pb&J on Sourdough bread, clementines
~Venison Stew, cornbread

~Plum smoothies, sourdough toast w/ honey
~Planned leftover stew
~Roasted turkey, Fermented Cranberry Relish, Buttermilk biscuits, green salad

~Fried eggs, sourdough toast
~Turkey sandwiches on sourdough, cottage cheese, peaches
~Bun-less hamburgers w/ caramelized onions, Curried Broccoli Salad

~Simple soaked Oatmeal, frozen blueberries
~Strawberry/Peach Slushies, Quesadillas
~Rustic Sourdough Noodles, sauteed mushrooms, green salad

~Bran muffins, applesauce, homemade hot chocolate
~Taco salad
~Turkey Tortellini Soup, sourdough bread

~Buttermilk Pancakes, apples & cinnamon sauteed in butter for topping
~Planned leftover soup
~Spinach/Ricotta Pizza

~Simple Sunday Supper (Translation: We decide what to have on the way home from church and stop at the store to get the ingredients. Then the kids make it. Because the Bible says that even the donkeys take the sabbath off. And my sanity is more important in this household than a donkey's. And.....Well, I have issues. I'm working on them.)

(On Sunday.)

For more greatmenu ideas, please visit The Organizing Junkie!

Saturday, March 20, 2010

On the First True Day of Spring...

It has been such a beautiful couple of days, I though I'd share some highlights with you to celebrate the official arrival of spring!

Have I mentioned how much I love spring?

While working in the flowerbeds, Maisie thought she would wake up from her "I'll pretend I'm in Acapulco" nap long enough to protect the family...

...from this lil' guy!

Proof that Spring has officially arrived!

Meanwhile, in the greenhouse, the growing season is alive and well! Remember the lettuce I planted a couple of weeks ago?

I went to town and just had to stop at the local nursery. Had to. Couldn't stop myself.

It's still too early to put the herbs in the ground, but this well get us started!

Yesterday, my cousin-in-law, Jill asked me about artichokes. All I know about them is that they can be purchased, already marinated, in small jars at the grocery store.

And they taste great in salads.

In our quest to be more self-sufficient and eat locally, I decided to learn about artichokes and grow them myself.

Hopefully, I'll be able to figure out what to do with them once they are ready!

The rosemary, applemint, spearmint, peppermint and broccoli are all waiting to be planted.

I'll get more broccoli starts, but want to wait until our farmer's market opens.

This is the patio we built last summer. Now it is weeded and ready for some more plants!

I planted some lavender and plan on adding sweet peas, nasturtiums and petunias.

We also planted a hydrangea called "Annabelle". (It's in the corner!)

As I finish this, the sun has gone into hiding behind some very large, ominous looking clouds, so for the next couple of days, it looks like I'll be doing a little cyber-gardening instead.

Friday, March 19, 2010

How to Cut Cinnamon Rolls

Once in a blue moon, I make my family cinnamon rolls. Not the kind that I should be making, with whole wheat, sucanat and applesauce, but these.

The kind that stick to your ribs, thighs, hips and abdomen.

And sometimes the little jiggly spot under the arms.

My sister was here, providing quality control, and noticed the way I cut the cinnamon rolls. I thought that everybody knew this technique, but she assured me that she had no idea.

Apparently, we're not born with this knowledge.

But I'm sure that you already knew that.

So this is for anyone else who doesn't know how to cut cinnamon rolls without squashing them.

Thank you Erin for letting me teach you something new! Finally!

To cut the rolls, take dental floss and tear off a long piece. Slide it under the roll...

...cross the floss...

...and pull.

Grab the cut piece...

...and lay it in a pie plate of melted butter.

Wha-lah....almost perfect rolls! That crazy looking one on the right was a renegade roll that wouldn't conform for anything. Of course, it was an end piece, but that is no knows what it's supposed to do!

Now I need to go convince myself that the smoothie I'll be having for breakfast is way better than these rolls....