Ohiofarmgirl's Adventures in The Good Land is largely a fish out of water tale about how I eventually found my footing on a small farm in an Amish town. We are a mostly organic, somewhat self sufficient, sustainable farm in Ohio. There's action and adventure and I'll always tell you the truth about farming.

Thursday, November 29, 2012

The Best Thing. Ever.

Friends, I am so excited I can barely type. No... I didn't win the megasuperduper lotto - this is even better than that!  Remember when I said something terrific happened the other day? Let me tell you... no... let me show you what happened.....

Look what was delivered the other day! Even better.....

A signed copy of Tom Douglas' new book, The Dahlia Bakery Cookbook: Sweetness in Seattle! For me! What could be more amazing! Especially since its the Dahlia Bakery... as in "Dahlia" my least favorite goat and most favorite flower!

You know that I'm a huge fan of Chef Douglas and his products. Our favorite meal is still Smoked Duck Eggrolls and 12 Spice Sticky Ribs  from his book, Tom's Big Dinners. I made this meal again just the other day after our duck and pork harvests. And the soy honey glaze made with our farm fresh honey? Delish!

So you can imagine that I was over the moon to receive a signed copy of his newest book. And its about pie! I immediately cleared the kitchen and got to work making...wait for it..... "hot buttered rum" apple pie. Do I even have to say anything else?

I was pretty excited that the first step involved caramelizing the apples. You know that I love danger when it involves pie - so I busted out my favorite Le Creuset braiser and got things cooking.

The pie crust was a breeze to put together. The one thing he does differently than my standard recipe was to add a little vinegar to the dough. And of course I used some of that stunning leaf lard that I rendered last week instead of shortening.

Now if you are like me and got a little ahead of yourself and figured since you have a few minutes while the apples were cooling.. might as well put together the rum plus brown sugar plus spices plus vanilla and butter while you are waiting. And you take one whiff of that heavenly concoction...and suddenly find yourself sipping...then drinking.. then chugging that  its-not-hot-but-who-cares-its-buttered-rum right out of the measuring cup... well then. Don't come crying to me if you have to start all over again and measure out a new batch.... and maybe another... and chores were awfully hard because there was a reason we had to institute that "no drinking before chores" rule on purpose. I say no more on this.

The pie cooks low and slow for about two hours in a moderate oven. This was fine and actually its great for a winter project - it kept the kitchen warm and the house smelled like the best part of Christmas.

There were angels singing when I took the pie out of the oven. But then again, I had gone back and made more of that buttered rum stuff. For all I know it was the dogs howling... but who cares, the pie was stunning!

And yeah Friends, you know that this pie is a breakfast food. It's buttery and caramel-y and full of apple goodness. Its a winner for sure.

Chef Douglas, thank you so much for your generous gift. I really am the happiest girl in Ohio. I'll be cooking my way thru this beautiful book all winter. I've got my eye on that chocolate caramel pecan tart, the schnecken for sure, the toasted hazelnut whole wheat scones with maple glaze, and I may just give those eclairs a try...and your world famous triple coconut cream pie? Oh yes... 

Happy Thursday everyone! Didn't win the lottery either? Then run right out and get a copy of The Dahlias Bakery Cookbook and bake yourself happy!

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

MegaSuperDuperLotto Fever and Hunters

Oh golly, Friends. Did all y'all run right out and get a MegaSuperDuper Lottery ticket for the big drawing tonite? Well, just don't you even bother because I got the winning ticket right here in my hot little hands. By this time tomorrow I could be on my shiny new plane heading to Goosenstein. That's right - you all know my big plans to become the Grand Poobah of my own country filled with geese. Its a dream within a dream. I can't wait until it happens.

I really love my friend L. She takes me to lunch and listens to my ridiculous stories. And she's my smartest friend. So even tho it takes me a while - I always listen to her. Yesterday she brought me a present - a powerball lotto ticket. And because something else really great happened yesterday - more on that later - I just know that its the lucky ticket. If you don't hear from me tomorrow its because I'm counting my millions and ordering that lot of 1,000 geese I'm dyin' to have.

That's all the good news.

The bad news is... its hunting season. Oh heavens. Hide the children and run for your lives because gun season has started in Ohio. Technically its about half over but I dunno if we are all gonna make it. There is nothing but half drunk idiots driving around the country side flashing their hot orange and carrying rifles....and shooting at everything.

Don't get me wrong. I love good hunters and I personally feel all them deer need to be blasted to kingdom come. Especially now that deer are my mortal enemy since my run in with one of them malcontents earlier this summer. But what I can't stand is the idiocy and lack of the fundamentals of gun safety.

Take yesterday. That low down, no good, son-of-a-golly-what with the stupid now-long-gone beagle was shooting on his property. Directly into our woods and the Good Neighbor's pasture. His property probably isn't even a quarter of an acre. But I think we all know that a bullet from a rifle goes much further than that. The Good Neighbor's stock had all run for their lives, Nibs and Dahlia had taken cover in the goat house, my chickens were flying everywhere, and the dogs were losing their minds. But I hope he enjoyed his target practice.

Gosh. I hope that wasn't him hunting down back in our woods this morning. I've had the dogs out there barking since just after sun up. There probably isn't a deer to be found for miles since Zander's big woof carries for miles. Sorry your hunting trip didn't turn out how you wanted it. Now get off my property.

Good luck on that lottery drawing folks, and remember to run in a slow arching pattern while you are out there doing your chores. From time to time drop and do a barrel roll... then run for the house in a zigzag pattern just to be sure.

Happy Wednesday!

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

How to Smoke A Duck

Editor's note: It goes without saying that I am not mature enough to do this post. We'll just try and muddle thru. In the meantime, lets get the obvious joke out of the way....lets all just say it together "Smoke a duck? How do you keep it lit?" There. We said it. Its stupid. But its still funny.

If you don't have ducks for your backyard for barnyard you need to run right out and get some. Now. Right now. For snuggling? Slug, bug, and snail eating abilities?

No. For eating.

Friend, I am telling you that duck is the other red meat. You have to try it. If you don't believe me then run right out and get one. There are probably tons of frozen ducks on post holiday sale at your grocery store. Try one. Once you are convinced, then scan Craigslist or just order a heap of ducks from your closest hatchery. They are basically "bomb proof," as my pal L says, which means they are pretty hardy, they are easy keepers, they mostly feed themselves, and they breed like rabbits. For my money they are the cheapest thing in the barnyard.

We had a duck harvest recently. They were just delicious. The harvesting is different from chickens.  Mostly, the plucking is ridiculous. We are the World's Worst Pluckers. And after about 10 minutes I get bored. Feathers get everywhere. Its a big disaster. So normally I just skin and not pluck. But wow we had a beauty that begged for plucking. So I stood there. A wise man once told me there are not enough hours in the day to pluck a duck. I believe him but I tried hard just the same.

This is why I put all that effort into it. Duck breast is like steak. But without all that irksome mooing and waiting around for a year or more while it grows out. It only takes a summer to grow out a duck to get breasts like this. And it's like the best filet you've ever had. Only better.

The best thing about having foodie friends is that they don't think you are out of your mind if you send them an urgent email telling them that right there in your kitchen you are having caramelized pears with smoked duck, figs, and extremely stanky, moldy goat cheese for an appetizer...and a seared, rare duck breast with a soy-honey glaze, plated up with crisp fried sweet and regular potatoes, and greens. You know who you are, and I appreciate that I have an outlet for my culinary celebrations.

When I lived in the city I'd have a similar meal at a nice restaurant....for about $50. My home grown meal was my time and about $2 in materials.

This bring us to how to smoke a duck. After I took off the breasts for the above meal, I had the rest of the duck and another smallish one to deal with. I just fired up the charcoal grill by making a stack of briquets on one side, and put the ducks, well salt and peppered with a drip pan under them (I just used a cast iron fry pan), on the rack on the other side. Then I tossed a handful of soaked hickory chips (from the store by the bags of charcoal) on the hot coals. And I just kept doing that until the ducks were done, adding charcoal and chips from time to time. How did I know they were done? By looking at them. I know. Its not very scientific. Here's better instructions.

Using a smoker is my new favorite thing. Basically you can't monkey it up. The only thing to remember is to allow yourself plenty of time.

Once the ducks were cooled down I took as much meat off as I could then put the carcasses into a stock pot and let them simmer until I had lush, rich stock and the meat was falling off the bone. I canned up the stock and took off all the meat. I got a nice big bowl of meat for my efforts and will be using it for eggrolls and potstickers.

I also got some beautiful breast meat that I'll be using like smoked salmon - probably in a pasta dish kinda like this.

I know that it sounds too easy to be true, but really, smoking a duck is extremely easy. *Struggles to not make any more stupid jokes.*  I have an older model of this smoker, the Char-Broil Offset Smoker American Gourmet Deluxe Charcoal Grill. The best thing about this model is that I can either have the smoking fire on one side of the barrel or use the "smoke box" on the side. I use this type of smoker for our bacons and such - and I'll be using it for the ham that is curing right now.

So now you know. Now run right out and smoke that duck... if.. um... you can keep it lit! Ha!

Happy Tuesday everyone!

Monday, November 26, 2012

Nibbles. Already Lookin' Large.

I'd say that the breeding thing went well for Nibbles. She's already lookin' pretty large.

If Nibs is gonna just keep getting biggerI might just have to send her to Weight Watchers. This is ridiculous!

Is everyone's goats all puffed up for the winter?  Happy Monday everyone!

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Meats on the Move!

It's a meat march! The creepy meats are on the move and headed out for action and adventure!

The other day on "the facebook" a couple of us were comparing the progress of our meats. Several of us were moving them outside and into freedom. Since a bunch of us took advantage of Meyer's superduper meat chick sale we all have meats that are about the same age. It's fun to see everyone's meat progress.

I've been teaching mine to go outside. This is a huge step in a creepy meat's life. It's a scary world out there fraught with danger. And steps. It took a while for the meats to take that one big leap into freedom. As Bugs Bunny would say, "Watch out for that first step, Mac! It's a looloo!"

The meat finally took that leap and ended up on the ground. They thought it was awesome.

These meats spend the first full day outside a few days ago when we were having warmer weather. They were pecking around with the other hennies. It was a little overwhelming and they were exhausted from their first day of freedom.

When they say me coming for evening chores they all heaped into the meat coop and dramatically threw themselves down into their feeder. It was a little sad. Then I went around and collected all the loose meats and herded them back into their coop. We had several more mild days last week and they loved it. However, its currently snowing (!!!!) so they are inside. Maybe next week they can get outside again.

Now, you need to supervise your meats. You can't just let them fly free as they are kinda stupid and extremely vulnerable. At first I only let them out for a few minutes when the other chickens were still cooped up. As a very wise woman once said, "Its a chicken eat chicken world out there." And yes your "normal" hens will attack and kill a helpless meat chicken. So I gradually let them out for longer periods of time and only when they are about as big as my smallest laying hen. You have to give your meats a fighting chance.

And don't let any harm befall them. Or let them out in the bad weather. Secure your yard before you shove your meat outside. Before I let them out I went around and made sure there were no water buckets around where they might fall in and drown, I gated the hen yard so they couldn't get far, and Dahli "The Chicken Stomper" has been incarcerated for a couple days now.

I hung around outside watching them to make sure they could hold their own against the other chickens. Fortunately they are still too immature to ensnare the rooster's affections. It also helped that Kai and Zander were in the dog yard where they could see the meats toddling around and alert me if anything was swooping in from the sky to make off with my meats. My pals over at Tilton Hollow put their meats in a beautiful hoop house - which is a great way to make sure your meat is safe. 

Happy Saturday everyone! Is your meat loose today? Perhaps I should rephrase.... Is anyone else letting their meat run free today? Dang. That's not right either..... How about, "Is anyone free ranging your meat chickens?"

Friday, November 23, 2012

Did you gobble? Did you wobble?

Hope everyone had a great turkey day! Did everyone gobble until you wobbled?

[Still no picture here. Sadly]


Hey! I think I might have resolved that picture situation. Lemme monkey around with it and I'll letcha know. But check it out! But let me know if you see a picture of Zander crashed out on his bed at the bottom of this....
Thanks for everyone's support about the comments and also for the suggestions for my picture-less situation. I'm working on a solution. Looks like lots of folks are running into this same thing. While I can't blame "The Google" for wanting to make some money.... I was kinda mad that I had no warning at all. I had a great update post about the creepy meats and when I tried to upload some pix... nothing.

I think there are a bunch of us who may have started blogging about the same time. So I'm happy to give everyone a heads up that you may be next. I'm not sure how to check how much spaces you've used.... but once you are full you are full! So rats.

[Normally I'd put a picture of rats here... but I can't]


Usually I like the day after Thanksgiving better than the actual Turkey Day. I love leftovers and nothing is better than a turkey sandwich. Unless its a smoked pork roast sandwich and I can tell you that is going to be great.

[Imagine a fabulous pork sandwich picture here]

And the only thing better than that is pie. So much pie.....  I'm having this pie for breakfast. Its stupendous. The dogs have been pigging out also. On so many trimmings from our recent pork harvest. My hands continuously smell like meat from all the processing I'm doing. The dogs think I smell like love.  And they are meat drunk.

Unfortunately today is a normal work day for us so I've been up for a while. This morning I'm making special liver meat balls, a country style pate (with tons of liver, and working on the last of the lard.

Happy Post Turkey Day everyone!  Gobble gobble!

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Happy Pie Day! Something new and....comments.

Well here's an interesting development. Apparently I've used up all my photo storage space on the free Google. The Google said I had to buy something.  So I gotta figure something else out. I'm a little flummoxed to tell you the truth. I had a whole other post ready.

[No picture here cuz I can't upload one. Dang!]

So let's do this while I try and sort out how its now gonna cost me money to keep on blogging....

First, I'd like to wish everyone a happy pie day! Yep this is the day that everyone does their baking for the big Turkey Day extravaganza. Do you have your bake on? Whatcha making?

Next, this has kinda been rolling around in my head for a while so I think I'm just gonna blurt it out. I absolutely love my blog pals. I love hearing about your lives, your successes, and all of us cheering each other on. Whether you are a professional herdsman, farmer, just starting out, or just a wanna be homesteader I really enjoy hearing about everyone's lives. So the comments and emails I get are truly appreciated.


Sometimes I get some crazy comments and way off emails. Not often. But sometimes. So here's the thing, if you don't like this blog then don't read it. I'm only gonna drive you more crazy and bashing your head against the "you're doing it wrong" rock will only make your life shorter. We like the way we do things and it works for us. If it doesn't work for you then that's fine. But if you want to come here to troll or fight just take your kind of crazy somewhere else. Not only will I not publish your comment, I'll make fun of you to my friends.

Some people like controversy and fighting. I don't. If you think I'm wrong then fine. I'm clear on your position and I'm still not going to publish your comment. Don't like my chickens? That's fine. Don't like my friends, cats, or my spelling? That's fine too.

This goes for "the facebook" too. If you go to my page just to fight with me or my friends I'll just keep deleting your posts. If you wonder what happened to your comment you may want to think about what you said before you keep trying to post it. It will just keep getting deleted. More often then not I'll contact you directly and let you know why. But if you're just trolling then I won't bother.

Here's why -  if you took everyone I knew and stuck them in a room they'd probably have nothing in common..... but me. I know, and love, a huge range of people from every point on every spectrum. I may not agree with everything about you, but there is probably one thing that I really love, admire, or respect and that is good enough for me.

So if you throw some kind of strong comment out there it will probably splash up, unkindly, on someone I know. That's why I'm not publishing it. Me? You can call me names all day and I'll just think you are ridiculous.  But if you have something unkind to say about anyone it will probably affect someone I care about. So that's why I keep a tight rein on the comments.

So in the spirit of tomorrow's big Turkey Day I just want to say how thankful I am for all of you. Thank you for your hilarious tales, ridiculous stories, constant encouragement, well wishes, well timed advice, and those deeply personal, extremely touching emails and notes.

Happy Pie Day everyone - now go and make pie all day, hug your loved ones, and get your fat pants ready for tomorrow!

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Meat Day Happy Snaps

Meat Day continues again today... but first a few happy snaps of what happened yesterday.

One of the belly, or middle sections of one of the halves of pork - these were much bigger than the first pork last month. What a difference a month makes in growing! And yes I did a horrible job of skinning this side. But I still got tons of fat to be rendered.

This time I saved the caul fat to make a country style pate...with so much liver. Whoot!

Soon to be bacon. See how I cut away the bacon from the ribs?

This side of the belly turned out perfectly and this belly piece is just stunning! And the ribs turned out pretty good too!

And look at this "naturally rolled" pancetta! Thats my biggest chef knife - see how big this piece is? This is part of the belly that just naturally curled and it makes a super pancetta. I just cure this round piece and hang it as it - I don't use a flat belly piece and then roll it. I'm very excited about how beautifully this turned out.

Loin chops waiting to be bagged up. Having small portions like this makes dinner a breeze. These defrost in no time and are pre-portioned for supper.  Each of those stacks is a dinner portion...and you know, for breakfast the next morning too. They easily fit in gallon freezer bags.

I've got another ham and both shoulders to work on today. However we have extremely mild weather and I really need to get outside for a bit. I might do a little work inside and finish up with the grinding tomorrow.

Happy Tuesday everyone!

Monday, November 19, 2012

What's in your fridge?

Guess what I'm working on today?

Belly and ribs on the left, ham on the right.

That's right, meat. Its meat day!

We butchered the second big pig this weekend and now today is nothing but meat, meat, meat, and more meat, followed by additional meat on the side!

We barely got both halves shoved in our 2 fridges. This is really just the belly - or the middle third of a whole side of pork - and a ham (a back leg). I can already see that I'll have a lot of lard and some spectacular chops! We think the pig ended up being just about 250lbs - which was the upper end of what I could help lift. And when I say "we" I mean The Big Man had to do the hoisting and I just provided management.

I was so glad to get this done. Not only because of the feed costs but also because we've had some colder weather and I was a little worried that the lone pig would be cold. Ha! That pig had a nice big layer of fat and was well marbled. One of my pals, you know who you are, said I didn't need to worry about that pig now because it could be snuggling with the first one in the freezer! Very funny.

Today will be about taking off the fat to be rendered into lard later, parting up the big hunks, and parceling into meal sized servings. I'm going to cure and smoke the bacons myself.  specially since I just got Ruhlman's new book, Salumi: The Craft of Italian Dry Curing and there is a whole section on pancetta! And I've been swooning since I spotted this smoked porchetta over at The Jacked Up Grill. Does everybody know this guy? You have to check out the meals he's made! Plus he's very funny.

So that's what I'm up to today. I'm working myself up to cure and smoke a whole ham. I think my smoker might just be big enough. But definitely I'll be making a fresh (not cured) smoked ham again. Probably for our turkey day. Rest easy, gobblers, its all about pork this year.

Happy Meat Day... I mean... Happy Monday everyone!

Sunday, November 18, 2012

The Dust Bowl by Ken Burns - Tonite!

Hey friends! Don't forget that The Dust Bowl by Ken Burns starts tonite on PBS. I can't wait.

This summer, during our own drought, I read a very personal account of living thru the Dust Bowl. I was amazed and astounded. But more on that later.

In the meantime be sure to tune into The Dust Bowl tonite!

Happy Sunday everyone!

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Meat Pie!

It's meat! It's pie! It's meat pie! All my favorite things all in one place! Are you kidding?

My pal, Ken, over at Living the Life in Saint-Aignan posted a glorious Savory Swiss Chard Pie the other day. When I saw it I just new I had to try it. And how easy peasy!

I had to make a few adjustments because I didn't have any already cooked chicken or ham. So I decided to tweak the recipe and use ground pork. I browned about a pound of ground pork, added onions, swiss chard, and the all important pinch of nutmeg. I don't know why but that nutmeg really gives this savory pie some oomph.

I turned the browned meat and chard mixture into a bowl to cool slightly while I found the cheese and eggs. I didn't think it needed any olive oil because the ground pork had plenty of fat in it so I just used a glug of cream instead. Then I just mixed in the eggs and cheese, salt and pepper to taste and the filling was done. I did not use any rice.

The best thing I did was follow Ken's instruction to use an egg wash on the top crust. I usually don't do this but it made the lard crust even more extraordinary. I chose to use an all lard vs half lard/half butter on the crust because I knew the savory filling could handle the taste. And the crust turned out incredibly flaky. Add the extra crispness from the egg wash and this crust was spectacular.

I think meat pie is my new favorite thing. And yes. It's a breakfast food.

Happy Saturday everyone! Now go make meat pie!

Friday, November 16, 2012

That'll Do Pig

I'd say this pig is just about ready......

And if you want to get all arty you can interpret this picture as my shadow and the pig melding into one... the pig becomes me.... ha! Not really! Get in my belly, pig! I need me some bacon!

I'll have to check with my expert pig-weight-guesser but I suspect this pig is about 230-250lbs. So its about time. Normally we like to grow out pigs closer to 300lbs, and more like 320lbs, for the most glorious amount of bacon. But wow, we are getting crushed by feed prices this year.

You know I've been bellyaching about the drought and how its going to impact food prices overall...thanks in part to ridiculous regulations about how a certain percentage of the harvest will have to go to fuel. Well, friend, if you think that's all a lot of talk then buckle up and prepare for next spring.

To put it in context, normally feed prices drop about this time of year. They haven't. A couple years ago we could expect to pay less than $4 for a 50lbs bag of corn. Today's price is over $9. But that's nothing compared to my shock of when I picked up a bag of feed for the meat chickens... $16!! I nearly fell right over. I remember $8 for chick feed and $12 just doesn't seem that bad right now.

What all this means is that producers are paying a lot more for whatever food is the in pipeline and they will be looking to you as the consumer to pick up the tab.

Its already outrageous. Friend, to put it plainly... we don't understand how regular people make it. I was in the store trying to find a cheap package of meat a couple weeks ago. I needed special one time snacks for the dogs and figured I could find a $3 or $4 package of whatever. The cheapest I could find was not even a pound of "stir fry beef" that was $4.54...and that was a red tagged mark down from over $6!

To be sure I don't frequent the meat counter but wow! We are so glad we don't have to buy many groceries. I stood there wondering how all the regular people could even afford to buy anything. All we normally buy is catfood, chips, and beer. I couldn't imagine having to fill a cart of stuff we make ourselves.

And don't think you are going to get off easy by just not eating meat. What makes you think that fuel, seed, or fertilizer prices are any lower for the vegan options? No sir.  Think that fruity yogurt-like-substance is gonna still be a deal? Not when I'm seeing hay priced at $9 a bale when it should be $4.50 tops. Dairy prices will be hit hard too.

Any body see turkeys on sale for $4 this year? The best we've seen is $0.78/pound and they are doing their best to make it sound like a deal. I can't imagine what it will be like next year. As it is, this year I guarantee you we are having a pork roast for our turkey day, probably smoked like this.

So while we cringe every time we go to the feed store...and frankly we just resolve to do more fencing and have everyone do more free ranging... we can't imagine what grocery prices are going to be like when this expensively raised food hits the stores in the next couple of months.

We are taking action now by sending this little porker to the freezer on our next cold day. This will cut our feed bill and even tho we won't be getting the maximum amount of meat, we'll still do alright. And we will be thanking our lucky stars every time we walk thru the meat section and see all the regular people crying at the beef or pork case. At least we won't have a bacon shortage.

That's the way of it, friends. Today its all about getting the troops out and about to free range as long as we still have the good weather. I suspect we'll be moving the meat chickens into a different yard so they can meat around and free range their own supper. This business about $16 a bag of feed is for the birds!

Happy Friday everyone! Anyone else scheduling a butcher day?

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Hog Hero Duncan MacLeod!

He's a beekeepin', boat buildin', chicken raisin', fly fishin', kilt wearing man of God. And now he's a hog slayer and home butcherer. What could possibly be better? Well, he has a beautiful family too. Friends, do you know Duncan?

Normally I don't identify folks by their names but Dunan's website is his name and yes its really Duncan MacLeod. All you wise apples can keep your Highlander jokes to yourself because.... you know... there can be only one.

I have to admit I was a little dubious to click on the email but wow am I glad I did! I got to meet this extraordinary man. I'm so glad he wanted to share his success at their recent hog harvest.  Talk about a home run! Duncan and his friends butchered 4 hogs and documented their victory here. Yes there are graphic pictures but they are beautifully done so go ahead and click.

Duncan and his family and pals raised the pigs from feeders on a little farm in Yakima, Washington. He's also got bees and chickens and stuff. Duncan is an experienced hunter and outdoors man...but even so in preparation for their hog harvest they attended one of the Farnstead Meatsmith hand's on classes. You remember these guys, right? They created the anatomy of thrift's superb video tutorial of how to cut up a half a hog?

Boy did they take that learning to heart. And they had a fabulous set up. Duncan explains the soup to nuts process in his blog post. They did a terrific job of shooting, bleeding, scalding, gutting, and parting up those hogs. And it looks like they all had a great time.

One of the best things about Duncan is this thoughtful review of the process and his "postlude." One of the things I've noticed across the board is that folks who undertake their own home butchering are always in deep gratitude. Not only for the fruit of their labor but for being part of the entire cycle of life.

Its profoundly satisfying to "make" your own food. Sometimes folks tell me they "couldn't do that." If this is your thinking I hope that you take encouragement from seeing how Duncan and his friends DID do it. Food production isn't a mystery left to professionals, its something that regular people can do. You can do this. All you need is a little learning and some confidence.

Thank you, Duncan, for sharing your incredible experience with us. We are so glad to know you and can't wait to see how your home cured bacon turns out! 

And.. um.. just so's ya know... pictures in this post, especially the last one, virtually guarantees you a staring role in an upcoming adventure in these good lands. I'll try to work in a woad covered, kilt clad warrior from the North Islands.

Happy Thursday everyone! Now read Duncan's post, put on a kilt, and go slay yourself some hogs!

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Little Buddy

Just the other day I was outside at this time - in shorts and a tshirt. I spent the morning digging the last of the taters and hauling firewood up the hill. Splitting the firewood seemed a little pointless as I was hot and sweating....and now this. It's 21* this morning! That firewood is making a toasty fire. I think today may be a sit around by the fire day.....with all these cats.

Nicholas and Little Mo know how to snuggle in. Nicholas keeps a careful watch on his best buddy, Little Mo. They are the most unlikely of friends. Nicholas is a stone cold killer and Little Mo was the world's worst barncat incapable of slaying anything but my heart. His cuteness is his superpower. Mo has nothing to fear when Nicholas is watching out for him.

That's the way grey boys, just snuggle in and we'll all enjoy the fire.

Happy Wednesday everyone! Anybody else got a snuggle buddy by the fire?

Monday, November 12, 2012

Pear Upside Down Cake

I've really been gettin' my bake on lately....and this was fabulous, Pear Upside Down Cake.

This is one of those great recipes that I only make once or twice a year....so much sugar and butter... but its worth it. Actually this is a "wow" dessert if you are going fancy. And its easy. I think I found this recipe originally in Sunset Magazine - but that's back when I was still speaking with them. I kept the recipe and ditched the subscription. I found this recipe which is close to the one I taped in my cookbook. The best part? The liberal use of molasses and buttermilk which makes this a rich dense cake waiting to be served warm and swimming in a pool of cream.

Start with an easy peasy caramel sauce in a heavy skillet. I used my braiser because I love it so much. Then slice some pears and decoratively arrange in the pan. Or just flop them in there.

The batter is a cinch to make... I love the molasses and buttermilk which makes this really moist. No one makes better sorghum than one of our Amish neighbors. I got this half pint at their farm stand.

Spread the batter in the pan on top of the pears and caramel.

Then bake. Easy!  Except.... there is danger involved. Not as much as "Danger Pie" because this isn't as gooey as that... but you might want to have everyone stand back. Invert the cake onto your biggest platter and voila! Isn't that stunning? I only had to scoop out a couple pear slices that stuck to the pan.

And yes. Just in case you are wondering.... this is a breakfast food. Served warm and swimming in a bowl of cream.

Happy Monday everyone! Don't you love fall baking?  I'm starting the day right.... with a big ol' bowl of Pear Upside Down Cake!

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Ribs and Carrots

We had a farm-tactular meal last nite, friends... this one was a hit right out of the park. Actually we've made this a couple times..... Chinese Five Spice Sticky Ribs and eggrolls. And OK fine, we had pork stir fry.We can't drive far enough to get this kind of meal so I just love making it at home.

The ribs were stunning. Remember when I was belly aching about how there wasn't any bacon on the first of our four pigz? Well, there is one upside to a bacon-less hog.... the ribs. My oh my.... The local butcher gave us a tip once about this. He said to not even bother taking the bacons off a non-bacony hog and just leave the meat right on for extra delicious ribs. That man was correct.

These ribs weren't even the good ribs! Look how meaty they are!  These were just weird little end pieces that I put in bags marked "Chinese ribs" for the freezer. We really don't waste much. These little rib pieces usually end up as sticky ribs but sometimes they become the foundation to a bolognese sauce...and sometimes they are just covered in whatever BBQ is in the fridge and baked. Easy peasy.

Prep for these sticky ribs couldn't be easier. I just grab up one of the freezer packs the night before and let it thaw in fridge, sprinkle in a bunch of Rub with Love Chinese 12 Spice  the next morning, add some soy and rice vinegar to marinate for a couple hours, then plop in a baking pan covered tightly with foil and bake for about an hour or so at 325*. The ginger-honey-soy glaze comes together in a few minutes - then just brush on the ribs and broil to finish.

Eggrolls are a breeze... you've all been making them at home, right? We don't have any duck meat... but the day isn't over.... so I just used some leftover pork I had the fridge.

Which brings us to the carrot. All I've ever wanted is to grow a carrot. Everyone ELSE can grow carrots but I can't. Finally I had one from the garden for this meal here. So when I wanted some shredded carrot for my eggrolls I marched out there to the upper garden to get me another one. And this is what I got.

I say no more on this. Go ahead, Mockers, have your fun. Me and my shameful, mutant carrot can take it.

I guess I'll try again next year and be more specific with my prayer... I would like to grow normal, non-weird carrots appropriate for eating. Please.

Happy Saturday everyone! Did you have eggrolls for breakfast? I did!

Friday, November 9, 2012

Sweet Peep

This is Peeper, perhaps one of the most interesting members of The Insane Cat Posse. We raised her as a bottle baby after we found her abandoned. Her momma, Mrs. FluffyPants, was chased off her nest by mean poodles and left Peep behind. Have I told you that story? Well... I'll work on that. There's action and adventure and travel.

Peep's favorite hobbies are being smug and being picky about what she eats. She pretends she hates me during the day- much preferring The Big Man. Yesterday she actually sat on my husband's lap and stuck her tongue out at me!  But then at night, when no one is looking, she cuddles up with me. I almost always wake up with a calico turban wrapped around my head.

One of the best things about her are her feet. She has all pink paw pads...except one. Peep has one black toe.

Its a rare thing when I catch Peep being sweet... so here it is... our one chance so see her loveliness. Shortly after snapping these pictures I went to pet her and she batted my hand away then ran off to torment Nicholas. That's our Peep.

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Thursday Happy Snaps and Comments

My new camera is working out great! I just love it - easy to use, great results, and its a shiny red color so I haven't lost it yet. The day isn't over tho. I've been taking happy snaps left and right.

My slightly confused duck momma... I need to take her off this nest soon. I think the eggs are dead but she's been very protective. I'm hoping she hears the babies and that's why she tried to kill me with mean looks when I checked on her. Maybe I'll give her a couple more days.

The meatlets are growing like gang busters. They think my shoes are gods... they swarm my feet whenever I get close thinking this will make their feed appear faster. If we get the good weather they are predicting this weekend (70*!!!!) then they might be making a meat-walk right outside. We had a man down the other day - no reason, just a random creepy meat death. Dang! That makes me so mad. But still have 25!

The little pigz are lookin' good! One of my pals said that Tamworths with black spots are the best eatin' and this one is extra mean so he is going to be delish!  They love their yard way back in the woods and are bull dozing (pig dozing?) everything. I'm hoping the deer hunters don't shoot them by mistake. Yikes!

My Bubby - after a hard day of Bubbing around, with Lucky for scale. Zander is huge and is having another growing spurt. His legs are almost as long as mine and his head got bigger. He is extremely impressive these days.

My most excellent good dog. Dog#1 has been helping me a lot lately. We have to go out for chores before 5pm these days and he helps me keep the troops in line. Especially our new rooster, Taco Loco.

Taco Loco is crazy and mean. Someone pawned him off on us and now we know why. He chased my Miss Duck and has flogged me a couple times. Dog#1 explained to him that we don't do that. We'll be changing his name to "First" on our next butcher day. Then he'll be just "delicious tacos."

Thanks for everyone's fun comments lately!  Especially JJJ, and yes my major award was fragile..which is Italian.  I've been a little under the weather so I'm behind in replying. But I read each and every comment that comes in here and on "the facebook"....and I really appreciate everyone's contribution. I'll get back on track here soon.

Happy Thursday everyone!

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Look who is on our pond

I have a friend who is a terrific birder - she can spot a female blue bird at a thousand yards....so I know that she'll let me know what this is... I think its a heron?

This big bird showed up a couple weeks ago and has making itself right at home. Isn't it amazing? The dogs don't like it because it makes funny noises.

Happy Wednesday everyone! Anyone else got a funny bird on their pond?

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Get out there and vote!

Stop what you are doing and run right out and vote!

Today is the day if you haven't already sent in your ballot or been an early voter. Remember what I always say.... "Don't be a pig in a poke - get out and vote!"

Actually this is not a poke but it is a pig and this pig says "Everyone should vote!"

The TV folks will tell you that Ohio voters are the only ones that count, but I'm here to tell you that everyone matters. Too many people have fought and died for the freedoms that we enjoy in this country and if, for no other reason, we owe it to those brave souls to vote.

As for being an Ohio voter and all the press coverage... I am running right down to our small town polling place as soon as I finish chores. I'm gonna be as farm-y as I can be and hopefully one of them press boys will want to interview me. I can't wait!

Happy Tuesday everyone! Now run right out and vote!

and a special note to folks who subscribe to the email feed and get posts the next day.. yep this post was from Tuesday. thanks for everyone's comments and um.. due to the sensitive nature we'll all just keep our comments unposted. THANKS to everyone who posted a comment. i've read every one. 

Monday, November 5, 2012

Quick and Easy Pumpkin Bread

Just so everyone know... this whole time change thing doesn't make morning feel any later... at all. Good thing I have a nice warm slice of pumpkin bread to keep me company on this early morning.

Doesn't everyone love quick breads? And perfect for this time of year. I was looking for an easy pumpkin bread and found this recipe here. Which was exactly what I needed because I only had about a cup of pumpkin puree left over from something else.

Technically it was butternut squash. I'm not so sure pumpkin vs squash makes a whole heap of difference so use whatcha got. You can see how to cook down a pumpkin (or squash) here. I'll be cooking down a couple of these bad bad boys today. 

The only thing I did differently in this recipe was, of course, I cut the sugar...and also I don't have vegetable oil so I just used melted butter. Otherwise this is a quick and easy say to enjoy some fall goodness. I toasted a slice and had a little cream cheese with it this morning. Extra easy and extra delish!

Happy Monday everyone! Anyone else making some quick breads?

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