Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Making Bacon- pig processing part 3

This is the final post about the pig I swear! We made up a rub rather than a brine. It was a combination of maple syrup, a TON of salt, and brown sugar. Maine Man rubbed it on and we kept it in the fridge for 7 days flipping daily.

We came up with a couple smokers. The above one was borrowed from some friends, Mike & Bea (THANKS SO MUCH!)

And this one came from my dads, he had it in storage for many years.
Thankfully we had M&B's because this one did not work. That was a real bummer because I really loved the look of this one. What year do you guess this came from? I still have the booklet downstairs so I will check and see.

This is a rather fatty piece of bacon that we actually kept as a salt pork. Unfortunately the only one that I took a picture of. We had to soak the bacon for a couple hours prior too smoking to get some of the saltiness out. After rinsing the rub off the meat MM soaked it for an hour then cooked a piece repeating this cycle until we felt it was not too salty.

Processing the pig ourselves was well worth it and we will do again. We have sampled everything we put up and it is SOOO good! Since we do not have a whole lot of deer hamburg left I have found the ground pork has been a great substitute. So for I have used it in spaghetti, chili, tacos, and plan to make a meatloaf with it over the weekend. Before now I never thought to use this way before.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Sticky Toffee Pudding

The picture has NOTHING to do with this post. I just can't post something without a picture! I have been promising this recipe to a friend at work. Instead of writing it out the old fashioned way I thought it would be nice to share with you folks. (and it is always nice to have in my recipe archives) My friend Anna gave it to me years ago after she made it up for us a work. It is simply delicious! I cooked it for my in-laws last week and my MIL wanted the recipe, that is a FIRST. Just goes to show how darn good it is!

Sticky Toffee Pudding
3/4 cup dates (pitted & chopped)
1 teaspoon baking soda
4 Tablespoons of butter
3/4 of super-fine sugar
2 eggs
3/4 cup self rising flour
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
Mix dates & baking soda. Pour 300ml boiling water over dates & leave to stand. Cream butter & sugar until pale. Add eggs, 1 at a time, beat well after each. Gently fold in flour. Stir in date mixture and vanilla. Pour into buttered cake pan. Bake @ 350 degrees for 39-40 minutes until done.
Butterscotch Sauce
2/3 cup brown sugar
2/3 cup of heavy cream
1 vanilla bean (split)
2 oz butter (1/2 stick)
Combine all ingredients in a pot. Bring to a boil then simmer for 5 minutes. Remove from heat and remove vanilla bean. Pour on & serve!
I always buy the "superfine sugar" that it the above recipe calls for but my MIL suggested putting regular sugar into a food processor. What a good idea!
I like to make it up and serve it cold with warmed sauce.....the flavor, texture, and contrast in temperature really make it happen!
Remember that vanilla extract I made months ago. I used it for the above recipe and have and it seems to do the trick. I will being buying some more vodka to start my second batch since it needs to sit for 3 months.

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Making Sausage - processing pig part 2

One of the perks of making your own sausage is that can determine the amount of fat you want to add. We made ours on the lean side. A few days before I picked up some casings from a local butcher. I knew what they were made of but I was not sure what animal they came from.... anyone know or want to take a guess? My kids were a little grossed out but quickly got over it when I told them, "that is what hot dog casings are made of" and reassured them they were cleaned out really good.

We used our electric grinder that we have had for years. It has a sausage attachment that goes out the side. Some time soon we will need to upgrade to a heavy duty grinder. My ultimate goal is to have a meat cutting area/canning kitchen in the shed.....maybe someday. John will be building a chicken plucker in the near future. He will use the book that Angie gave us to guide him. Her husband Eric built one last year. I have attached a link to you tube if you have any interested in seeing how a whiz bang chicken plucker works.

Ha, gotta love the bud light Luke got in the picture below. If you noticed in the picture of my watch (2 pictures back) the time was 19:54, which is 7:54 pm in standard time. I still have my watch set at military time from when I worked nights. He started this project at 5 am and a couple bud lights helped to ease the pain.

We let the sausage sit for a few days before freezing. I made a sweet & a breakfast sausage mix,
below is the later of the two. We made enough for 2 - 10lb batches.
Breakfast Sausage
2 pounds pork butt (2 1/2 pounds with bone), diced into 1/4-inch pieces
1/2 pound fat back, diced into 1/4-inch pieces
2 teaspoons kosher salt
1 1/2 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper
2 teaspoons finely chopped fresh sage leaves
2 teaspoons finely chopped fresh thyme leaves
1/2 teaspoon finely chopped fresh rosemary leaves
1 tablespoon light brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon fresh grated nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes

Making the sausage was certainly the highlight event for the kids. They were fascinated by the process. The final post will be "Making Bacon". We did not make hams this time around but plan to in the future!
P.S. We have the greenhouse! It took us 5 hours to disassemble and move. Thankfully my brother showed up with a tool we needed and helped us with the big stuff. Big THANKS to Steve once again!!! I will post on it when we get it up. I am afraid it may not be up until late summer with all we have (GARDENS, animals) going.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Do you notice anything missing?

Leah lost a tooth!

My Family by Leah

I love my family they are nis to me and asum to me. I love them. I like playing with my bruth . I love him and my mom and my dad the love me to. My dad taks me ies fishing . I like him. My bruth likes me a lot. Dad and my mom love me a lot I love them a lot to. They tak car of me and my dogs. they bey me food. I love them so mach. I have 3 cats and 2 dogs and 1 preket his nam is pet the parcet. I love my anmul so much and I have ducks and 4 pigs but we dot have any coms but I wit one. But now I have 4 pigs ones neme is pugi she is nice to avre one. She is the godst pig in the who wid wrld. I like her alot. She loves me a lot to. I love my pigs and we have a fat pig it's rilley fat. About the author. Hi my name is leah I am 6 years old. I like swimming a lot.

(This was something she came home from school with too cute not to post)

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Skinning A Pig by Maine Man - processing part 1

Some say you can't skin a pig you must scrape it. Around here we reserve the C word for special occasions. I have found by letting the carcass cool for a few hours the loose greasy fat hardens and the hide takes on a leathery quality. Today's 40 degree temps were just perfect for cooling your hog. After skinning the animal down just past the tail I placed a small rock about 1/2 the size a baseball under the hide and wrapped it tightly with a slip loop. I then let off the clutch on the tractor in super low range. One could do the same thing by hanging the animal from a large branch and pulling with a truck. One word of caution this process requires a great deal of pressure and if your knot slips or the branch breaks there's 200lb of meat coming your way at 100 mph (pigs can fly). I used double slip loops on each hind leg, one set carried the load. The second set carried little to no pressure and acted as a safety lanyard in case the first rope slips or brakes. A high quality 5/16 rope will snug up tighter than 1/2 inch and is far less likely to slip. Guide the intestines out of the way with your knuckles this method will open them like a zipper and more importantly it'll keep the poop off the bacon.

Happiness comes from a large stack of meat ( you betcha). Here's a ham, 2 sides of bacon, and the fat back (or back fat which ever your prefer). We have a book called Basic Butchering of Livestock and Game that is written by a DR of Veterinary Medicine, John Mettler. It's a good reference for all you weekend warriors and backyard butchers like ourselves and has some great recipes as well.

Pork chop!!! ( the other white meat) although it kinda pink isn't it.

Oh yes, lovely bacon. Here I am slapping on a mixture of salt, brown sugar, and maple syrup. This is our first time making bacon, we'll let your know how it comes out. It needs to set for 7 days in fridge with this solution and then a few hours of smoking to be complete. As of now we have no brilliant plan for the smoking but, necessity is the mother of invention.

Some fine fat indeed the kidneys are encased in this pure snow white fat which is the consistency of Crisco.

Ok, back to me. It was nice to have Maine Man do a post, don't you think? Since he does not regularly follow my blog (he says he lives it) I told him about the responses I received on to post or not to post the pictures and he said "they are not gory pictures and it is for educational purposes." I hate to admit but he is RIGHT. Hope I do not have to say those words again anytime soon. ;)
Back to the fat. Some of was packaged up and put into the freezer for future soap making. I plan to combine it with cow fat. I previously read over at Throwback at Trapper Creek
this method is the way to go because if you used only pig lard it would be to soft or exclusively cow to hard. I look forward to making this recipe!
Some of the lard will be made into salt pork for my dad. The lard in the above kettle can be used like you would use Crisco. I cut it up into chunks, placed it in my cast iron kettle with approx 3/4 cup of water and cooked it in the oven for 2 hours at 225 degrees. I used a strainer and a piece of cheesecloth to strain it when it was done and below is the end result. The water was drained after it hardened. It is said to be healthier than the traditional fats we buy at the grocery store. I found this post this morning but I cannot find the site I used as a reference that night. :(
Meat total: 38lbs bacon
10lbs sausage
36lbs boneless chops & roasts
14lbs ground pork
gave away a front shoulder (approx 15 lbs of pork)
= 113 lbs of meat

Sunday, April 12, 2009


Last night Luke says: "Mom, if you see the Easter Bunny can you please tell her to hide the eggs harder. Last year it was as if she just dropped them everywheres."
This morning while gathering their final eggs he says: "Mom did you hide any eggs over here?" I said "Do you mean the Easter bunny". He says "yes" and glances back at we both had smiles across our face. I love that he plays along and allows Leah a little more time. Plus he's no fool, he wants the treats to carry on!

Friday, April 10, 2009

Getting Dirty & Loving it!

Despite the picture above things are starting to dry up around here. Yesterday I was able to walk our trail with the dogs to the back of our land without getting soaked. I still had to wear my hiking boots but not my knee highs. I did not come back clean by any means but that would be NO fun!
A couple days ago the ice went out in the ponds and the peepers started peeping. Such a wonderful thing! My boy was right out there knee deep for the first time this season.

The kids caught a few critters.

Tonight I was looking through my pictures of the pig processing and I was thinking about how to break it up into posts. Should I start from the beginning with a few pictures of Maine Man skinning it? (which is not the traditional way to deal with a pigs hide) Then have him explain his technique etc and go on from there? Or should I skip the gory details and just go to the the meat processing? What do you think?

Wednesday, April 8, 2009


I tossed and turned throughout the night knowing that at 5 am Maine Man would awaken and prepare to take the life of one of the pigs. A few minutes ago at 6 am I laid in bed wide awake as I heard the fatal shot. My heart started to beat faster and a few tears came down my face. I am saddened that the pig has lost it's life in order to sustain ours. I also have an extreme sense of guilt knowing that MM is out there doing this dreaded deed by himself. Would I have felt that way had a went to the market to buy some pork chops? No way, and chances are our farm raised pig had a much better life. Sometimes people ask, "how do you do it?" Well, even though I am not the trigger man, it is not easy. I am thankful that we have MM who is able to do the task and is skilled at butchering .

On a lighter note we will be getting a greenhouse. It is the one in the previous post second picture down. It is 92' long. It will extend our growing season on both sides, provide a good place to start seedlings, and a great hen house in the winter. Off to wake the children for school.
Good day all!

Monday, April 6, 2009

Sneak Peek

Tomorrow we are meeting with the greenhouse guy FINALLY! Here is a peek at the abandoned site. I am hoping we can get AT LEAST one of these! Maybe more if the price is right :)
If I had lots of money I'd love to buy the whole deal: house, land, and greenhouses.
Not going to happen! :(

This site has been here for years but I finally just got the nerve up to track down the owner and haunt him down. Sometimes that is how you get the best deals.

Maine Man is going to process one of the pigs on Wednesday. It will be the first time we do the whole thing ourselves . I would love to hear from any of you that have experience in processing the meat, bacon, etc. Tomorrow I will make up this breakfast sausage mix . Looking forward to filling up the freezer with some homegrown pork!

Sunday, April 5, 2009

Sunday Stills ~Animals~

I have been a bit delinquent posting my Sunday Stills but this weeks topic was way too easy for me to let it slide. I did not take out my camera over the weekend but my archives are full on animal pictures. I can't imagine why!
Rona has officially been named the black sheep on the farm. Maple the goat bucks her, Bob the rooster is always looking to put the spurs to her, and Smokey the cats does not let her pass by without a swipe and a hiss. Thankfully she is loved by the kids and she has worked our way into our hearts as well.

Lots of chicks peeping around here.

The last two pictures are from our Sunday Stills Challenge
two weeks ago and the theme was lines.

The kids and my boys buddy at my brothers.

Friday, April 3, 2009

Best Blueberry Buckle

This past summer I put up 20 lbs of blueberries. So as I use up my freezer preserves I am always in search of a good blueberry recipe and this is the BEST yet. This recipe could easily be made with another berry if that is what you have on hand. I promise you will not be disappointed if you make it! I made this last weekend for the in-laws served with vanilla ice cream and fresh warmed maple syrup.

It was rated 5 stars with 16 reviews

Best Blueberry Buckle (Blueberry Crumb Cake)

Streusel Topping
1/2 cup unbleached all-purpose flour (2 1/2 ounces)
1/2 cup light brown sugar (3 1/2 ounces)
2 tablespoons granulated sugar
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 pinch table salt
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into 8 pieces, softened but still cool (1/2 stick)
1 1/2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour (7 1/2 ounces)
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
10 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened but still cool (1 1/4 stick)
2/3 cup granulated sugar (about 4 3/4 ounces)
1/2 teaspoon table salt
1/2 teaspoon lemon zest
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 large eggs, room temperature
4 cups fresh blueberries, picked over (about 20 ounces)
1 For the streusel:.
2 In standing mixer fitted with flat beater, combine flour, sugars, cinnamon, and salt on low speed until well combined and no large brown sugar lumps remain, about 45 seconds.
3 Add butter and mix on low until mixture resembles wet sand and no large butter pieces remain, about 2 1/2 minutes.
4 Transfer streusel to small bowl and set aside.
5 For the cake:.
6 Adjust oven rack to lower-middle position; heat oven to 350 degrees. Spray 9-inch round cake pan*(I used a shallow rectangle white dish and it cut neat squares) with 2-inch sides with nonstick cooking spray.
7 Whisk flour and baking powder in small bowl to combine; set aside.
8 In standing mixer fitted with flat beater, cream butter, sugar, salt, and lemon zest at medium-high speed until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes; using rubber spatula, scrape down bowl.
9 Beat in vanilla until combined, about 30 seconds.
10 With mixer running at medium speed, add eggs one at a time; beat until partially incorporated, then scrape down bowl and continue to beat until fully incorporated (mixture will appear broken). With mixer running on low speed, gradually add flour mixture; beat until flour is almost fully incorporated, about 20 seconds.
11 Disengage bowl from mixer; stir batter with rubber spatula, scraping bottom and sides of bowl, until no flour pockets remain and batter is homogenous; batter will be very heavy and thick.
12 Using rubber spatula, gently fold in blueberries until evenly distributed.
13 Transfer batter to prepared pan; with rubber spatula, using a pushing motion, spread batter evenly to pan edges and smooth surface.
14 Sprinkle streusel evenly over batter.
15 Bake until deep golden brown and toothpick or wooden skewer inserted into center of cake comes out clean, about 55 minutes.
16 Cool on wire rack 15 to 20 minutes (cake will fall slightly as it cools).
17 Cool until just warm or to room temperature, at least 1 hour. Cut into wedges and serve.
Enjoy Your Weekend!