Wednesday, November 28, 2012

48 # of ground venison!

Last week, my husband bagged a nice deer for us.  This is the first one he's ever gotten.  It was very exciting and very welcome.  The whole idea is so we can have healthy meat to eat and can save money.  We didn't want to pay for processing, so we decided to turn it all into ground meat.

It hung, in the garage, for four days, and we were blessed with nice cool weather, between about 30 and 40 degrees, so it was perfect.  Today, he took the meat off of the bones, cut it into chunks for me and then I put it through a grinder that attaches to my Kitchenaide mixer.
Then I packed it into freezer bags, 1 # in each bag and put them in the deep freeze.  I froze 45 pounds of the meat. 
Two pounds of it was made into jerkey.  It is in the dehydrator right now.  The other pound we had for lunch.  Yummy!
When he took the meat off of the bones, he dropped the pieces into an old cooler that I had sterilized.  Here is how it looked.  Not very pretty, but so much food!
And here is about 12 pounds of it all ground up.
I am very grateful to have all of this food.  It was a big job, because we don't really know what we're doing, yet, but in the end, it worked out just fine.

Meat balls
Meat loaf

Yes. :)

This post is linked to Simple Lives Thursday #123.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Replacing a zipper in a coat or jacket - repost

This is a re-post. (?)  It's that time of year again, and if you have a nice coat or jacket that needs a new zipper, help is at hand!   


Replacing a Zipper in a coat/jacket

Here you can see a perfectly good jacket. The problem is, the zipper is broken! Replacing a zipper is really not difficult, but it is tedious and takes considerable time. If your coat/jacket is nice, and/or you love it, it is more than worth the trouble to replace the zipper.

Here is the zipper I ordered over the internet here. This company is wonderful. They have everything and excellent customer service!

A closer look at the invoice:

The zipper I purchased cost $6.03 including the shipping, and so for a nice coat, you can see that this would really be worthwhile.

Now, don't be afraid. Breath. Relax. Here we go.

FIRST ~ set your sewing machine to its longest stitch length. Sew a line of stitching along the jacket opening, far enough in from the edge that you do NOT catch in the existing zipper. This is to hold everything together nicely and make the reassembly easier. Do this on both sides of the jacket.

Here I am doing the same thing on the other side:

SECOND ~ take your little seam ripper and do (carefully and don't stab yourself) whatever it takes to remove the broken zipper:

Here I've gone a little farther in the process:

Here I am removing some stitching from the surface:

And here is what it looks like with the zipper removed. Now you will see the wisdom of doing that basting line of stitches so the jacket doesn't blow up and get all weird.

THIRD ~ carefully remove all the bits of loose thread:

FOURTH ~ Thread a sturdy hand sewing needle with a doubled thread and run it through some beeswax so it will be less likely to tangle while you are sewing. Rosin will work instead of the beeswax, too, or if you have neither, find a piece of candle or even hand soap to use!

FIFTH ~ I hope you took the time to observe how the old zipper was positioned. You are going to unzip the new zipper, and one side at a time, you will put the new zipper in, and pin it in place and then hand baste it in place:

See? Here is one side basted together:

And here is the other side:

Oh, yes, and it is very helpful to have a fuzzy cat walking around under your work table at this point:

SIXTH ~ Before you sew the zipper in with your machine, zip up the jacket to make sure it is going to work!

SEVENTH ~ Now, simply, using a normal stitch length, sew along the same line where the old zipper was sewn in like this:

Make sure to replace any seams or stitching you have removed:

Be sure to remove any basting stitches. On this one, there was the nice little tab on the old zipper, so I just transferred it to the new one:

That's all you need to do! Even if it doesn't turn out perfectly, it is better than throwing away a perfectly good coat.

Please feel free to ask questions if I can help.

Linked to Clever Chicks Blog Hop!

Monday, November 26, 2012

Unstuffed stuffing...

I realize that Thanksgiving 2012 is now past.  I want to show you this and tell you how I do "stuffing".  After all, Christmas is not long from now and it might be helpful.

I have never used a recipe for stuffing and I don't actually stuff the poultry anymore.  "They" have scared me off with all the warnings about possible salmonella exposure, so now I roast the bird and bake the stuffing separately.

Here is a list of what I use:

Stale homemade bread
Homemade poultry broth or stock
Chopped onion
Chopped celery
Salt and pepper
Parsley, sage, rosemary and thyme (whole, dried and rubbed until small)
A small amount of ground poultry seasoning (be careful with this.  It is very strong.)

1.  Slice the bread, as much as you like (for 12 people I use 2 loaves) and lay it out in trays to get stale and dry out some.  You don't want it to be hard, just dried up a bit.

2.  Break the bread into small pieces into a large bowl.  Add celery and onion, as much as you like.  For this amount I would use 2 medium onions and about 5 celery ribs.

3.  For this amount, I pour on 1 cup of melted butter and enough broth to make it moist, not soggy.

4.  I never measure the seasonings.  I just put on "some" and keep tasting until I like the flavor.  Do the salt first and then start adding bits of the other things, the parsley, sage, rosemary, thyme and black pepper.  When that tastes nice to you, sprinkle on a little bit of ground poultry seasoning and stir it all well.

5.  Taste it a few times and pay attention.  You will know when it tastes right.

6.  Pack it all into an oven-proof covered dish and bake at 350 for about an hour.

7.  When it is time for your big dinner, reheat in the oven, just until warm.  Serve with gravy that you make from the drippings from your roasted bird, as follows...

Remove the bird from the oven and use your baster to take out the pan drippings. If you don't have a baster, with a little help, pour the drippings out. Put them all in a saucepan. Add enough of the aforementioned broth to make the amount of gravy you would like to have. You will have to gauge the amount of thickening by how much liquid you are now using. For 1 cup of liquid, use 1 Tablespoon cornstarch or 2 Tablespoons of unbleached flour mixed in a little warm water. When it all comes to a boil, then slowly add the thickening, stirring carefully to prevent lumping. Add any little bits of meat from the neck and dice the giblets too if you like. Simmer until thick, then taste it and see if it needs anything else, like a little more salt or pepper, but it probably won't.

Leftover stuffing can be frozen and reheated for future meals.  I like to make what I call "Thanksgiving pie."  Cut up some of the leftover turkey, mix it with some leftover stuffing, pack it into a pie plate and pour gravy over it all, then top with mashed potatoes and bake at 350 until the potatoes start to brown a little bit.  We love this!

I have even filled some pie plates, as above, without the potatoes, and wrapped them snugly and frozen them for later use.  All you have to do is add the potatoes and bake.

Monday, November 19, 2012

Pizza for Two

This is what we had for dinner tonight.  Here is how I made it.  Two days ago, I got a few of my "sun-dried" tomatoes out of the refrigerator and let them sit at room temperature so they could soften up in the olive oil.  You can see my little pot of sourdough there on the left in the back and next to it a bowl.  In the bowl I am mixing the following:
1/2 cup whole wheat flour
1/2 cup sourdough starter
most of the oil from the little bowl of tomatoes
1/4 teaspoon Realsalt

I stirred all of that together and gradually added a little more water until it was of the consistency of bread dough.  Then I let it sit all day, covered tightly with plastic wrap, until it was time to make the pizza.

Then, preheated the oven to 450 F with our pizza stone inside.  While it was heating, I sliced up a link of Italian Sausage and sauteed it in a little lard with a drained can of mushrooms, a sliced onion and the tomatoes, cut up, until the onion was softening:

To finish the dough, dump it out onto a lightly floured surface and sprinkle 1/4 teaspoon baking soda over it.  Then, fold it in half and press it down 15 times.  Form into a nice round shape and let it rest for a few minutes on the work surface:

Sprinkle some corn meal on the "peel."

Roll out the dough and place it on the peel.  Then I added some homemade pizza sauce and sprinkled it with dried Italian herbs:

added the toppings and slices of homemade mozzarella cheese.

Then it went onto the hot pizza stone for 10 minutes.  I took it out using the peel and sliced it in quarters immediately with a pizza cutter:

This made enough to feed us both nicely, and with the soaked crust and other wholesome ingredients, it agreed with us and tasted good also!

This post is linked to Traditional Tuesday.

Bone Broth...

Often, in movies that are set in days gone by, if someone is an invalid and bedridden, a caregiver can be seen carefully feeding broth to the invalid.  For instance, in "Little Women," Jo says to Beth, who is very ill, "Drink up all this good broth."

I never understood that until just the last year or so.  It made no sense to me why some watery soup would be considered nourishment.  Now I understand.  In the past, family cooks understood the importance of broth made properly with bones.  Not only are properly prepared stocks and broths delicious and versatile additions to soups, stews and sauces, they have important health benefits.

In Nourishing Traditions by Sally Fallon, there is an excellent article on the benefits of "Stocks."  I will not quote the whole article here, but will just list a few things that are mentioned.

1. "...the use of homemade meat broths to produce nourishing and flavorful soups and sauces has almost completely disappeared from the American culinary tradition."

2." Properly prepared, meat stocks are extremely nutritious, containing the minerals of bone, cartilage, marrow..."

3. "Acidic wine or vinegar added during cooking helps to draw minerals, particularly calcium, magnesium and potassium, into the broth."

4. "...stock is also of great value because it supplies hydrophilic colloids to the diet... Gelatin acts first and foremost as an aid to digestion and has been used successfully in the treatment of many initestinal disorders, including hyperacidity, colitis and Crohn's disease.  Although gelatin is by no means a complete protein... it acts as a protein sparer, allowing the body to more fully utilize the complete proteins that are taken in.  Gelatin rich broths are a must for those who cannot afford large amounts of meat in their diets."

The article goes on to explain a number of other health benefits of properly prepared bone broth.  So, how can it be "properly" prepared?  Here is how I do it.  Do you recall that last week I ended up with the bones, etc. of 6 roosters that we butchered?  I stuffed all of the bones into my 2 gallon soup pot, covered them with filtered water and added 1/2 cup of raw apple cider vinegar.  I simmered it for about 24 hours, let it cool, strained it through a cotton cloth and refrigerated it.

Here is a picture of what it looked like when I took it out of the refrigerator:

You can see the lovely gelatinous consistency of it, as I am ladling it there.  

We drank some with our breakfast, some is in the fridge and I pressure canned 3 quarts for later.  Sometimes I freeze broth and stocks, but not this time.  Here is a picture of this morning's breakfast... warm, salted chicken bone broth, hard boiled eggs (still warm - so nice!), goat milk and goat milk kefir.  We both used Realsalt in our broth, to taste.  If you are not familiar with unrefined sea salt, please go to that link and see how good for you it can be!

Yes, I do pull back the table cloth when we eat.  Sigh... ;)

This post is linked to the Homemaker Hop #5

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Supper. I don't think it can get much better.

Here you see my husband's supper plate. Chicken liver (from yesterday's butchering) and onions fried in kettle-rendered lard, home grown broccoli, a home grown baked potato, real homemade butter and some fresh goat milk.  We are so rich.  And I am very grateful.  This time of year we focus more on what we are grateful for.  I have so much.  A sweet and good husband, a warm home, plenty of food, wonderful friends, the Gospel of Jesus Christ, and even though we have our problems, this is still a fabulous country to live in.  I could go on and on about what I'm grateful for, but I won't.  Suffice it to say I am.  Thank you for reading my blog.  I love writing it.

Six "extra" roosters = 1.5 gallons of meat and lots of stock...

My friend, from whom I get fresh eggs, had 6 roosters that needed to be dispatched.  That's a nice sounding work for "killed."  :(  They were taking up space that she needed to use for milk goats through the bitter cold of winter we are expecting.  When I was there last week, she asked me if I'd like to have them.  Inwardly, I groaned a little, thinking of all the work it would entail, but rarely do I turn down free food, so I said I would like to have them.

Fast forward to yesterday.  Another friend and I (she wanted to learn how to butcher chickens) went and brought the poor boys home in feed sacks.  When I took the wiggly sacks out of my trunk, our dog, Badger, was fascinated.

We butchered and prepared them and all six of the carcasses fit in my huge stock pot.  I covered them all with water, and simmered them for about 3 hours.  Then I let it cool for a while.  Next, I removed the cooked chickens from the broth and let that cool enough that I could handle it easily and  removed the meat from the bones.

The bones went back into a 2 gallon pot with more water and about 1/4 cup of raw apple cider vinegar, and it is still simmering.  I like to cook bone broth for at least 24 hours to get all of the lovely minerals and gelatin into the stock.  Here is what it looks like this morning with about 12 hours to go:

I stuffed pint jars with the cooked meat, covered them with the cooking broth, leaving 1 inch of "head space."  The rest of the cooking broth went into a few more pint jars and I processed it all together in the pressure canner for 75 minutes.  (Consult a good canning guide for instructions.)  Here is what we ended up with:
Later, I plan to can the bone broth too, and we will have many nice meals from all of these poor, unwanted roosters.

I have frozen the feet and giblets to use later.  The feet make excellent and healthy stock.  The giblets... ah...  liver and onions, hearts and gizzards braised in butter with salt and pepper.  Oh, yum.

I'm grateful.  It was a lot of work, but with my friend here, and with my DH helping, it was also a lot of fun!  And, hey!  It was "free!"

Thank you so much, Deb.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Just a pretty picture...

From the hoop house for our lunch salad.  :)

Monday, November 12, 2012

I don't understand this sauerkraut!

Normally, sauerkraut can take quite a while to ferment.  Something was different this time.  I know I made it a little differently, but it was just a matter of a few days before it got done.  The way to tell if it's done is to taste it, and if it tastes like sauerkraut, it is done!

I used a "Pikl-it" jar, which is very handy, but it can be done other ways, too.  I had a rather large head of green cabbage, so I shredded it in the food processor, put it all in a stainless bowl and added 3 Tablespoons of sea salt.

Next I mixed it up with my hands and then let it sit and wilt for 30 minutes.  Normally, at this point, people "pound" the kraut to get the juices flowing.  I didn't do that.  Instead, I just kept squishing it with my hands until it was nice and juicy.

Then I packed it in the jar, put on the lid, added the water to the airlock and let it sit on the counter.  It was done in about 4 days!  Oh, and I also added a couple of Tablespoons of  Carraway seeds.  It really added a nice flavor.  This will keep for a long time in the refrigerator and is rich in lacto-bacteria and enzymes and such.  I love sauerkraut.  Fortunately, my DH doesn't.  ;)

This post is linked to Traditional Tuesday #27 and Simple Lives Thursday #122

Friday, November 9, 2012

Using Lentils wisely...

 Sprouted Lentils

Many of you are undoubtedly familiar with the account in Genesis of Esau, the elder son of Isaac.  He sold his birthright to his younger twin brother, Jacob.  "...And Jacob sod pottage; and Esau came from the field, and he was faint: And Esau said to Jacob, 'Feed me, I pray thee, with that same red pottage; for I am faint... And Jacob said, Sell me this day thy birthright.  And Esau said, Behold, I am at the point to die: and what profit shall this birthright do to me?  And Jacob said, Swear to me this day; and he sware unto him: and he sold his birthright unto Jacob.  Then Jacob gave Esau bread and pottage of lentiles; and he did eat and drink, and rose up, and went his way: thus Esau despised his birthright."  Genesis 25: 29-34 (The Holy Bible.)

I find this story intriguing.  Esau was "a cunning hunter; a man of the fields," and Jacob was a "plain man, dwelling in tents."  Plain, in this context, comes from the Hebrew for whole, complete, perfect, simple, plain.  It is not hard to visualize the scene.  Esau comes home and he's been out hunting and it's hot and he's tired and hungry and sees his brother with this nice yummy bread and lentil stew.  He says, "I'm starving!!  Gimmee some of that food!"  I suppose we could be critical of Esau, since he sold his priviledges, but if you've ever eaten some well-prepared lentil stew, you might have a little compassion for poor Esau.  ;)

Here is a link to the nutritional profile of lentils. This humble and ancient food is incredibly nutritious.

My friend blogged about lentils and she states that lentils, if sprouted, contain all of the essential amino acids.  They are inexpensive, readily available, and very versatile.  Think lentil soup, lentil stew, lentil burgers, as an addition to other soups and stews, as a "meat stretcher"... they are wonderful and we love to eat them!  I like to keep some cooked, and frozen in small amounts to add to dishes so that it's convenient.

Lentils only take about 1/2 hour to cook, however, it is worth the extra step to sprout them as this improves the nutritional profile, deactivates the anti-nutrients that can interfere with mineral absorption, and to me, sprouting also improves the flavor and texture of lentils.

They are Very Easy to Sprout, and all it takes it a little foresight and planning.  Here is how I do it ~

Pour 1# (about 2.5 cups) of dried lentils into a colander.  Rinse them thoroughly, and pick over them to check for any little stones or other contaminants.  Pour them into a stainless or glass bowl and cover very well with cold water.  Let them sit in the water for 8 hours.  Drain through the colander and rinse them.  Leave them in the colander, which you will set back into the bowl and cover with a plate to keep things out.  Every 8 hours or so, give them another good rinse.  They will probably be sprouted within 36 hours.

At that point, you can cook them in more water and freeze them cooked, or you can freeze them raw, or just add your sprouted lentils to whatever dish you are making with them and simmer until they are tender, which won't take very long.  Look at the picture above.  See the cute little sprouts coming out?

My personal favorite way to enjoy lentils is to cook the sprouted lentils in some nice rich homemade stock, until they are tender, and then season with Realsalt, freshly ground black pepper and plenty of butter.  SO good.

This post is linked to Simple Lives Thursday #121 

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Odds and ends...

I just I thought I'd post some pictures of some of the things I've been up to the last couple of days...The time change has me waking up earlier.  Early for me, anyway.  :)

When I save up 4 gallons of goat milk, it's time to make cheese!

 ...and wash the empty jars:
 Cutting the curd:
 Draining the curd... I LOVE making cheese, now that I know what I'm doing.  It was hard to learn.
 It's all in the press now:
I made a 3-loaf batch of long, slow - rise whole wheat bread:
I had been saving up leftover fats from cooking for quite a while.  I also had several small jars of salve I had made that was not up to par, and so I combined all of that together to make soap.  Here the fats are melting:
The water and lye ~ ALWAYS add the lye TO the water, not the other way.  If you add water TO the lye, it can explode!
Here I'm mixing the soap with a hand-held blender:
And now it's at "trace."
Here is the soap after I cut it into bars today.  It will be interesting to see what it's like after it cures for a while.
I tried sprouting some broccoli seeds...
but the seeds must be old, because they didn't do too well.
I ate a yummy banana:
While I was looking at pictures of newlyweds on our fridge.
A trip to the hoop house resulted in things for a nice salad:
And I started a batch of sauerkraut in a Pickl-It jar:
I really don't have any new recipes to share with you right now.  If you have any questions about any of these things, just leave me a message!

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