On the business of pork part 2

Part 1 here
Part 1 was how the pigs became pork. And then I used pork (but NOT the pork from the pigs at the harvest, this is all pork purchased at the meat counter across the street).
Last night I made sausage, delicious sausage. To make this I had a beef round bottom roast, trimmed pork loin, untrimmed pork shoulder and a lot of thick cut bacon.
For the seasoning I use some premixed sausage seasoning from Penzeys but always augment it with more herbs and spices for super deliciousness. I work roughly 1 tablespoon total of my spices to 1 pound of meat.

MMMM toasty fennel
For approximately forever I was missing the worm screw for my stand mixer grinder attachment. I finally bought the damned thing. I love that grinder, it chews up even the toughest sinew. Love it! I grind everything on the coarse grinder, I prefer that to the finer grind.
Ground round bottom
Ground pork loin
Pork loin
Unfortunately I didn’t get pictures of the pork shoulder or ground bacon, but you get the idea, pink and nubbly.
I made my regular spicy italian sausage and got about 4.5 pounds of that. I portioned that out to 8 ounce packages and froze it. That was just a thing. I make italian sausage regularly.
Then I wondered about my breakfast sausage. What is delicious for breakfast? Sausage is delicious, but so is bacon. Sometimes seems unfair to have to choose only one. Now you don’t have to choose! Made up 3.5 pounds of breakfast sausage and of that, a pound of it is ground bacon. Bacon sausage!! Broke those down to 6 ounce portions and wrapped and froze them.
And I mixed up delicious hamburger patty magic! I did 2/3 ground round to 1/3 ground pork loin and also about 8 ounces of ground bacon. Mixed all of them together with no seasoning and worked them into (roughly) 6 ounce patties. Got a total of 13 patties out of that. I made some up for dinner and wrapped and froze the rest to be easily thawed and cooked when we are feeling lazy.
I made up a really rich egg bread dough to be used for the hamburgers, a super decadent and delicious hamburger bun. And… I forgot to add the yeast. Solid pucks. I’ll be cutting and drying them and using them as dog treats.
My freezer is packed full of sausage and burger. It was a big production, all of my mixing bowls were dirty. I had to very carefully wipe down every surface afterward to make sure there were no jibbly-ickies left behind. There is something so satisfying about using something you made, whether it is my own sausage or a scarf made from wool that I dyed and spun and crocheted or cheese tart made with cheese I made. This is really what moving to Vermont means to me. I hope at some point to be able to participate in the pig cooperative and then make food with a pig I helped raise and slaughter. And then also eggs from my own chickens, chicken dinner from my own chickens, fruits and vegetables from my own garden, and trading jam for milk or something, I am glad we are here.

On the business of pork part 1

Pork is good, lets talk about it and lets start at the beginning.
We have a homesteading mentor. She has a little goat farm up in Bethel and that farm is clustered with a few other farms. All of the people in the cluster work together and help each other out. In this case, one person raised 5 pigs for 4 of the surrounding farms. There is no sense in everybody raising a pig and duplicating all this effort. The pigs stayed in the pasture of one farm and everybody pitched in with the feeding and care.
And everybody pitched in and helped with the slaughter.
The pigs live in an open pasture with a pen in there, a pig pen as it were. They have a lot of room to run around and do piggy things. They are fat and happy and calm. It was very very important the the pigs not be stressed or scared or otherwise upset. The ‘harvest’ took place right there in the pasture. You would think that would be upsetting to them but it absolutely was not. There was no chasing, no herding, no panicking at all. Just pigs wandering around being all pig like
We went up to watch and maybe help. I did not commit to any help because I did not know how much I could handle.
When we got there they had one pig down and had just started the skinning process. I was okay with that. It was meat in a pig suit. I know where meat comes from, it comes from there. Fine.
He went to do the next pig. The pigs were calm
He walked up to the group of pigs, put a .22 rifle with short rounds between the eyes of a pig and shot it. The gun was very quiet, the other pigs jumped away but didn’t run or panic or get upset. The shot pig fell to the ground and started seizing and then he reached down and slit the neck.
There is nothing poetic about a pig dieing, nothing beautiful about it. It is visually a bit brutal but you remember that the pig is not in pain, there is no more mind in there to register and react to things.
I forced myself to watch the whole thing. And that was okay, tough but okay. They grabbed the pig with the hooks and brought it over to where they were skinning the pigs. A pig suit meat pig was okay, a pig dieing was okay. Transitioning that pig from dead to meat what what got me. Those first few cuts, the occasional twitch, I couldn’t do it. I quietly left and walked back up to the farm.
David stayed to help and got to inspect all the organs and everything. I’m a bit envious about that, I would have liked to have seen that. But not on that day.
The next time they do this I will try again.
Once the pigs are skinned, emptied of organs and split in half they get sent to a butcher who breaks them down into the various wanted and then sent back to the people.
Part 2

I did a thing that was make delicious chili

It’s a bit scatter but I will put it up, how I made my best chili ever.
First, I start with this base recipe and I note my changes here

into the crockpot…
1 can diced tomatoes (with the juices) 1 28oz can of Muir Glen crushed tomatoes with basil
1 dried guajillo pepper, ripped to pieces
1 dried ancho chili ripped to pieces
2 diced jalapenos
2 tbl chili powder
1/2 tsp oregano
1 tbl cocoa powder
1 cinnamon stick
1 bay leaf
1/2 tb pepper
1/2 tbl salt
1 tsp cumin seeds
1 tsp lightly crushed coriander seeds
1 cup water beef stock noted below
1/8 head of garlic
1 black (not green or white) cardamom pod
1/2 tbl smoked spanish paprika

I take dried ancho, guajillo and new mexico chilis put off the stems and toss the seeds. Toast them up and then grind them together. I call this my 3 chili and I added about 1 1/2 tablespoon. I know it’s redundant but when I’m standing there with a drawer full of jars I just put whatever sounds good.
To this I added 1 1/2 cups beef stock that I made a couple weeks ago and it all goes in the crock pot on high for 2 hours, then on warm for another 2 hours. Quick soak some black beans by bringing a bag of beans to a boil, boil for 2 minutes, let stand 2 hours.
Find the cinnamon stick in the crock pot and toss it, puree the rest and stick it to the side.
Chop 4 pieces of bacon into half inch wide pieces (or full inch, I don’t think it matters)
Chop 1 1/2 pounds of top round into chew size pieces
Make up a mire poix with 2 carrots, a stalk of celery, half an onion (or more, I don’t like onion so I go light with it. Other people like it and want more), and 2 fat jalapeƱos (seeded and ribbed)
In the dutch oven I fried the bacon until crisp but not burnt. I added the veggies and cooked until the onions were starting to be translucent, I put the cover on for a few minutes to facilitate cooking and avoid burninating. This is the part where I tell you to brown the beef in small batches, but I didn’t do that because…meh. I just tossed the beef in there, added the previously made crock pot sauce, 1/2 the beans (the other half to the freezer to be used another day) and 2 1/2 cups of beef stock. Covered it and ovened it at 275 degrees for 3 hours, then 350 for 30 minutes because it seemed a bit on the soupy side.
The big change was the tomatoes and I honestly think that was the best change I’ve made to this recipe so far. The flavor was less acidic than before, much rounder and fuller. I also usually use chuck roast in my chili, I like the shredded beef. David doesn’t care for that so I used round roast instead, it didn’t add as much collagen mouthfeel as the chuck but it was still a pretty excellent chili. It made delicious nachos the next day.
I am sure I am missing something.
Oh, also, I made cheese!
Fromage blanc
More about cheesemaking later. I have 2 loaves of bread dough rising right now and we will be eating homemade cheese on homemade bread with homemade clementine marmalade.

What we do

Pulled out the pressure canner and decided it was time to work it out and learn how to use it before I needed it. Decided to try it out on chicken stock and beef stock. Normally, stock is easier kept in the freezer, it lasts a long time and has no real problem with the freezing. My freezer is small and already I am filling it with italian sausage and breakfast sausage and other delightful treats. I don’t want to take up space with stock. Also, if I screw up something in the pressure canner I would rather it be a simple batch of chicken stock instead of, say, our entire green bean harvest or something like that. It’s a 21 quart Maid of Honor pressure canner with an old school dial gauge and jiggler.
Pressure canner
I got my canner from a thrift store a couple years ago. $15 for the whole set up. Insanely cheap. I replaced the gasket and emergency valve and the whole thing is in perfect running order.
I used my own basic chicken stock recipe and Alton Brown’s beef stock recipe, because, you know, I have a pressure cooker. The chicken stock only yielded 4 quarts where I usually get 6, so I probably got it a bit concentrated. Beef stock got me 7 quarts. Since I was using quart sized jars and I can only process 5 quarts at a time I froze the last 2 quarts of beef. A single run in the canner takes a few hours from beginning to end and you can’t speed it up so running the entire thing for 2 quarts seemed excessive.
It worked. I read all the instruction tutorials out there, I got great advice from people in the know, I checked everything twice. Seriously, pressure canning is NOT a thing you want to get lazy with. We do not need 9 quarts of botulism in the pantry.
A thing I did
I also got a crate of clementines and a lot of them were used in clementine caramel (holy crap, so delicious you should be pissed that I am telling you about it instead of sharing with you). Managed to make up 11 eight-ounce jars of marmalade as well. Those get water bath processed, no pressure canning for them. Easy.
I did not clarify the stock so it looks cloudy, all that will settle to the bottom.
We got set up at the dairy up the road. We have a 1 gallon milk pail that we drop off at the dairy one day and pick it up the next day full of fresh milk. I just drank some hot cocoa made with the milk, it was painfully delicious (as hot cocoa tends to be), but we have to get better at shaking the cream back into the milk or skimming it off. I drank a mug of heart attack.
Milk can
A gallon of fresh milk is $7. It is very expensive compared to what we can get at the store. We want to change our relationship with food. Getting less, but higher quality food. Supporting local sellers when possible. It is definitely more expensive but I am willing to cut the tostitos and cereal out in order to pay for it. We’ll see how it goes.
As for seeing how it might go, well, I decided to see if baking all our bread was a reasonable thing to do. It’s not. It’s not that the bread had problems or that it was too much work. I tried a couple different recipes, got a very good recipe worked out for a whole wheat sandwich bread and tried out the 5-minute-a-day technique for freeform loaves. The bread was delicious, it was definitely easy to make and keep up with. The reason why we had to stop is that we were shoveling fresh bread and butter into our mouths nonstop. WITHOUT END! Buy a loaf of bread from the grocery store, it’ll last a week or so using it for sandwiches and toast or whatever. Bake the equivalent amount of bread and it’s gone in 36 hours. It was entirely unreasonable to enable such mass consumption of bread, not to mention all the butter and marmalade that it carried into our bellies. We have to accept that we can’t just ‘control ourselves’. Don’t fight it, work with it.
So, again, we need to try all these different ideas and options. Things that may seem like good ideas may turn out to suck balls and the unnecessary things, like pressure canning chicken stock, might just be the thing to do.
The dizzy dozen
Four dollars for a dozen eggs might seem to be a lot but where else are you going to find such a mismatched set of eggs?!

Hurricane Preparedness Action Beta

Go to your local grocery to stock up on essentials. Since you might lose power it is important to get things that do not need to be refrigerated or cooked. Contrary to that theory, however, you SHOULD buy a carton of ice cream. Buying products from your local grocery injects much needed cash into the local economy helping to ‘spur growth’ and ‘aid in the clean up process’ after the storm. Also, it makes one less thing that will go bad when the store loses power and all of its refrigerated inventory. What if I lose power? Won’t it go bad? The awesome thing about ice cream is that should you lose the ability to freeze it you just end up with a delicious chocolate peanut butter milkshake.
Everyone wins!
Be safe!