5 Bog Plants, Food prices, Rosemary, Permaculture Voices YCH#55

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5 More Water Bog Plants:

Water mimosa  (Neptunia oleracea)

Water Mint (Mentha aqautica)

http://paulkirtley.co.uk/2011/water-mint-mentha-aquatica/

Water spinach  (Ipomoea aquatic)

Watercress  (Nasturcium officiale)

Wild rice  (Fritillaria camschatcensis)

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fritillaria_camschatcensis

http://www.plant-world-seeds.com/store/view_seed_item/2721?itemname=FRITILLARIA+CAMSCHATCENSIS

http://www.zerohedge.com/news/2014-02-17/15-reasons-why-your-food-prices-are-about-start-soaring

 

Raising Rabbits and Meat Chickens with Cris CantinYCH#41

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I have a special treat today.  An interview with Cris Cantin.  Cris is a homesteader that lives on a 1/4 acre in Wisconsin.  She raises most of her own vegetables, meat rabbits and chickens.  She was nice enough to be interviewed and share a recipe and pics of her Rabbit Taj Mahal.  There is also a link to her website.

Green Rabbit Chili (yes, really.)
You’ll need: one rabbit, dressed for the pot, about 3 pounds  maximum; one bottle of good beer; large can of green enchilada sauce;  two small cans of salsa verde; one can of diced green chiles; one large  can of white hominy; one teaspoon each of cayenne pepper, cumin,  coriander; one-and-a-half teaspoons kosher salt; two teaspoons minced,  dried garlic; a couple of dried jalapeno slices or similar hot pepper (I grew these in the garden, and dehydrated them). Start the process by placing the rabbit into the crockpot, and  pouring over the bottle of beer.  Cook all day on low heat, until the  meat is done and very tender.  Remove from crockpot, and chill in the  fridge overnight.
The next morning, pick all the meat from the bones, shred using  two forks, and return to the crockpot.  Add all the seasonings and mix  well.  Add the green enchilada sauce and salsa verde, hominy, and diced  green chiles.  (Note:  I grew a ton of tomatillos one year, and made  vast amounts of salsa verde and enchilada sauce–so much better than  store-bought!)  Stir well, and add enough water until it is a loose soup consistency, around 3 or 4 cups.  Cover and cook on low all day, until  the flavors have combined and the chili is nice and hot.  Serve with  cornbread or biscuits of your choice.
When I’m asked to bring chili to an event, this is my go-to chili  recipe.  Not only is it delicious, and uniquely green, but it gives  people the opportunity to try rabbit meat in an approachable way.  It  always gets rave reviews, even from people who don’t usually eat any  meat!

Just an aside:  I have a little website, that connects in to my blog as well, if you wanted to check it out or share it on your site.  I go on and on about my chickens/rabbits/and everything else, so its almost as entertaining as talking with me!  🙂
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Make self Watering Planters From Soda Bottles

          sodaplanter2cut the top

Don’t pollute with plastic soda bottles. Take a few seconds and make a self watering planter.  It is so easy and tested by me.  Just cut the top off.  Loosen the cap.You can cut the sides here

Flip it upside down and shove it back in the bottle.  Before this you can cut the sides of the top you cut off to make it go down easier.  Some people add a string between the inverted top and soil mixture for wicking, but it is not really needed.  I love these easy self watering planters.  Listen to podcast episode 15 for details!

plntrplntrtwaterchamberHere is the water chamber – easy
finished planter with elderberry plant

Herbs And Making Medicine YCH#14

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  • Making medicine from herbs.  Where do we start?  First you will need the herb.  You can grow your, find them in the wild, own or even purchase online or locally.  Just  a word about wildcrafting.  Take just enough and leave at least 90% to keep the species growing.  many wonderful herbs have been over harvested and are now at risk for extinction.
  • Dig roots of biennial plants in the fall of the first year or the spring of the second year.
  • Dig roots of perennial plants in the late fall after 2-3 years of growth.
  • Annuals should be dug in the early spring.
  • If not used for an extraction right away the roots will need to be dried.
  • When preparing roots for drying cut in such a way as to expose a large surface are.
  • Harvest stems prior to flowering.
  • Harvest bark in the early spring.
  • Harvest leaves prior to flowering.  Exception is ginkgo – they should be turning yellow.
  • Biennial leaves should be harvested in the spring of the second year.
  • Harvest flower just before fully developed and berries just before ripening.
  • Seeds are harvested when fully ripe.
  • Saps and pitches should be harvested in late winter or early spring.

Once you have your herbs you  will need to process right away or dry them.  Don’t dry too quickly or it will destroy the  goodness in the herb.  85-100 degrees is the temperature needed.  They can be hung in bunches or placed on drying rack.

Many ways of using herbs:

  • Freshest is bestest
  • Infusions and decoctions
  • Syrups
  • Oils
  • Salves
  • Tinctures
  • Liniments
  • Pills
  • Baths, poultices, compresses

 

 

 

 

 

http://www.searchherbalremedy.com/  A great site to quickly look up what herb for what problem.

Medicinal Herbs For You And Your Livestock YCH#13

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Hippocrates – the father of medicine – stated, “Let your food be your medicine, and let your medicine be your food.”  He also stated “Medicine should do no harm.”  Modern medicine does harm.  And with “factory farmed food” it’s questionable what harm our food is doing.  So I’d like to challenge you to consider herbs for food, beauty, cleaning products, and medicine. Spice up any dish with fresh herbs. Use herbs for medicine; not only for you, but also for your animals.  Hope you enjoy! herbbooks Such a huge subject it is hard to know where to start.  So I’ll start with my first experiences with herbs, sassafras tea and kukui nut.  When we were kids we’d dig the sassafras root to make tea.  I really liked the taste and remember it was really hard to dig in that Georgia clay; but it tasted oh so yummy. I didn’t know at the time it was considered a medicinal herb. It is used for GI complaints, colic, menstrual cramps, arthritis, skin diseases, acne, and rheumatism.  In the1560’s it was used mainly for venereal diseases in Spain.  It is used in Cajun cuisine as a thickener for gumbo. Roots can be made into a tea, and used in the soft drink industry..  It will set like jello.  It has been used for smoking hams. The essential oil is very potent and has been used for insecticides and perfumes.  Essential oil from this is not to be ingested as it can cause death.

When I lived in Hawaii I learned of the kukui nut.  You know when you see the Polynesians on tv carrying torches.  They are burning kukui nut oil.  My child had thrush.  after going through 3 bottles of medicine from the doc which just resulted in diarrhea and no cure I was desperate.  My mother in law told me to pick a fruit and rub the oil in the baby’s mouth.  I was really afraid to do this with a 1 week old baby but I trusted her.  I rubbed the oil in and it’s like the thrush was peeling out.  Within 2 days it was gone.  I also learned about putting used tea bags on the eyes to treat pink eye.  It works like a charm.  I later learned it’s the tannins in the tea that cure the pink eye.  I have used this cure many times over the years.  Within a day or two the pink eye always clears up.  After these experiences I was hooked! So now comes the question, how do I tackle such a vast subject? I have decided to start off with growing a simple herb garden for food, as well as medicine for me and the animals in my care. Maybe I could even have an herb section to each podcast.  I think that would be a great way to become more knowledgeable about herbs.  After all if SHTF Zombie Apocalypse happens; medicine will be hard to come by.  And if it doesn’t, I would still rather take herbs I grow myself than medicine. I have looked at several sources and it is so hard to decide what herbs to grow.

First I’d like to give a list of 15 common kitchen herbs that are also powerful medicines:

Basil:  Great for soothing upset stomach and gas.

Cayenne: Used to relieve pain, improve appetite and digestion.  Relieves gas nausea and indigestion.

Cinnamon: Kills bacteria including E. Coli, salmonella, and staphylococcus aureus.  Stops growth of Asian flu virus, regulates the menstrual cycle, and has a tranquilizing effect.

Clove: great for toothache pain, healing cold sores, and helps the body use insulin efficiently.

Dill: soothes the digestive tract, treats heartburn, colic, and gas.  it has an antifoaming activity that may help break up gas bubbles and is rich in chlorophyll to treat bad breath.

Fennel:  It’s a carminative herb – meaning eases bloating, gas pains, and digestive spasms.

Garlic:  Lowers cholesterol and blood pressure.  Prevents blood clots.  It kills many bacteria and virus and may even help prevent cancer.

Ginger:  Great for motion sickness and settling the stomach.  Relieves vomiting, nausea, gas and diarrhea.  It also lowers cholesterol.

Mint: It’s great for the stomach.  Used for nausea vomiting, muscle spasms, flatulence and even the hiccups.  Kills many microorganisms and may boost mental alertness.

Oregano:  Contains 4 compounds that soothes coughs and 19 chemicals with antibacterial actions.  It can lower blood pressure.

Parsley:  It is a diuretic herb and great for menstrual bloating.  Also high in chlorophyll.

Rosemary:  It’s a rich source of antioxidants and has 19 chemicals with antibacterial properties.  Has been traditionally used for asthma by reducing airway constriction.

Sage:  Helps fight infection with it’s antiseptic and antibiotic oils.  Effective for menopause – easing night sweats and hot flashes.  May be helpful with diabetes.

Thyme:  Increases blood flow to the skin.  Relaxes respiratory muscles and is used for bronchitis.

Tumeric:  Has circumin with anti-inflammatory effects.  Great for arthritis, carpel tunnel, lowering cholesterol.  High in antioxidants and vitamin A,C, and E.  Prevents cataracts.

So I will just give a list here for a big herb garden and go through some of their uses on the podcast: anise, blackberry, black cohosh, burdock, calendula, cayenne, chamomile, cleavers, comfrey, dandelion, gingko, echinacea, elder, fennel ginger, goldenseal, gumweed, hawthorn, marshmallow, mugwort, mullein, nettle, oat, peppermint, pippsissewa, plantain, saw palmetto, Siberian ginseng, reishi, St John’s Wort, skullcap, valerian, vitex, willow, yarrow, and yellow dock.

How to prepare herbs for use on next podcast…

Neem, Goat Diseases YCH#12

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Is neem safe to use in the garden.  My answer is yes.  Neem oil comes from the fruits and seeds of the Neem tree (Azddirachta indica), a fast growing tree from India.  Neem is used in India for cosmetics and in Ayurvedic medicine for many afflictions.  The most common are inflammations, skin diseases, fevers, and rheumatic disorders. As homesteaders we know this as an insecticide. I researched Neem as I was concerned about using it in my garden.  I was delighted to learn of all of it’s medicinal uses.  I was ready to buy the seed and get it on my homestead.  But alas it doesn’t tolerate cold below 35F.  It can be grown indoors as a houseplant, but I will just  buy it.  There is a warning that pregnant women should not handle it -causes aborting in rats.

http://www.nap.edu/openbook.php?record_id=1924&page=23

We talk about the rising food prices and what we can do.

I’ll tell you about gardening in an apartment.  Here is a link.

http://tlc.howstuffworks.com/home/sixtysixthings-growhome-containers-withoutgarden.htm

I found an interesting article on alternate ways of cooling a home.  does that spark an idea?

http://tlc.howstuffworks.com/home/ice-block-ac.htm

We discuss basic goat care, trimming hooves and checking for problems. Trim hooves with a specialized hoof trimmer or straight pruning shears. Hooves should be trimmed flush with the foot.  The hooves tend to curl under and get debris built up. A goat should stand on a properly trimmed hoof at about 45 degrees.  Disinfect tools between hooves  and goats. Here is a link to a pic:

http://www.piedmontdairygoats.com/HowtoTrimHooves.jpg

We discuss dehorning and castration. Signs of  a healthy goat:

  • Eyes clear and bright.   Tearing or cloudy eyes probably mean a pinkeye infection.
  • Coat smooth and shiny.   A dull coat could indicate parasites.  Fluffed up coat means  the goat is not feeling well.
  • Appetite good.   However, it is normal for a doe in labor to refuse to eat.
  • Attitude alert.   Hunched back and droopy tail mean something is wrong
  • Here is a link that you can read the Merck Veterinary Manual online http://www.merckvetmanual.com/mvm/index.jsp

 

 

Rendering Lard and Good Fat/Bad Fat YCH#11

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Separating fat lard from protein strands

 

lard 001

Completed product ready for the freezer

Don’t fear the lard. Just the thought of fat grosses most people out. Artery clogging animal fat; YUK!  But don’t fear the fat IF it is from pastured pork!  Don’t be brainwashed by the big food corporations that want to sell you their fake fats with long shelf lives that will destroy your health. For an in depth explanation on this check out this article: http://www.westonaprice.org/know-your-fats/skinny-on-fats#benefits Please read this VERY excellent article on lard and fats: http://footstepsfarm.com/footstepsfarmblog/2009/11/lard-facts-again.html The fact is lard from pastured pork is very healthy, high in Omega 3 and vitamin D. It’s about 40% saturated, 48% monounsaturated.  Lard comes from pastured pork.  tallow comes from ruminants such as grass fed cattle.  To render lard, one would just heat it gently.  This separates the fat from the protein strands. (Cracklins YUM!).  At the end of this article I will discuss fats in more depth. We did our first ever lard rendering the day after Christmas.  It was easier than I thought.  We had a 5 gallon bucket stuffed full of cut up fat from our hog we harvested – “fat boy”.  I did a little research and decided to grind it all first.  This way you get the most lard from the process.  The process was so easy: Just put a little water on the bottom of the pan (it evaporates anyway) , and start it off on 2.  Once it starts warming and you see the liquid separating from the fat, turn it down to 1.  Stir every few minutes.  We let it go several hours.  From about 1/2 of a 5 gallon bucket we got a case of pint jars of beautiful, white, soft lard.  Hindsight is better than foresight, and I learned a few things.  Ours is beautiful and a great first attempt.  It does smell a little like a good pork roast.  But not like a boar or anything!  We just had all the fat mixed together. You can also render cut up pieces of lard in the oven in a large roaster at 225F.  I learned the fat from around the kidneys (called leaf lard) doesn’t have that piggy flavor and is therefore perfect for pastries and such.  Lard actually makes superior pastries to butter or other fats.  Fat back is the next best and excellent for frying.  I will use every scrap of fat I can get.  But next time I will separate the leaf lard first.  Of course you want to use stainless steel and a wooden or stainless spoon.  A crock pot will work too.  Another thing I learned is to do small amounts at a time. We did 2 large pots on the stove and had them a little less than 1/2 full.  I think we would have had better results with smaller amounts. We put it in pint sized mason jars with enough headspace to expand or freezing.  I was disappointed that our chicharones didn’t come out very good.  For one thing when you grind the fat they don’t form as well.  And another thing is we let it go way too long.  I did scoop out some after a couple of hours and it is beautiful light and fluffy!  I let it keep going then and the lard was a little darker and a little more porky.  From this and further reading I have decided next to take the fat out way before it browns – maybe 1 1/2 – 2 hrs.  I can then fry them up later.  The second thing is next time I will just dice the fat into 1/2 inch pieces so I can get chicharones. (even though this will sacrifice some of the volume of the lard).  Today as I am typing these show notes I am trying it in a rigged up double boiler.  It is working out very well.  We took the lard off within a couple of hours and now will fry up the chicharones in more lard. You can use lard for baking, frying, and even spread it on bread like butter.  Our ancestors used it also for soap, candle and even oiling machinery.  The heritage breed hogs with a high fat content were in vogue. In the 1930’s a pig farmer could make more from the fat off the pig than the meat. Then along came Ansel Keys, George McGovern and the government with trumped up studies to prove fat is bad! Big business selling us “vegetable oil” that had been processed to have a long shelf life. Ansel Keys was a vegetarian working for the McGovern Commission post world war 2.  He put together studies to prove fat causes heart disease (and later everything from cancer to declining mental health).  The problem is he threw out all the evidence proving this false.  Even though scientists of the time had outcries of opposition McGovern stated they didn’t have time for the data to come in. They had to do something now.  So with this came the hypothesis that fat makes you fat and causes heart disease. Of course the corn industry responded by producing highly processed corn oil. And so started the decline of America’s health.

So what are the different fats and why are they bad? I won’t go into great detail here as there is much more in depth information available.  I would like to cover a few facts.  Fat does not make you fat.  It’s not that simple.  How you process your food makes you fat.  Sugar and carbs cause hormonal changes that cause you to be hungry and overeat.  Those highly processed vegetable oils and fat free foods that are so popular don’t communicate well to the brain that you are full.  Studies have also shown that elevated  triglyceride levels are caused by the liver processing sugar.

We were never designed to eat fake fats “trans fats”.  These are polyunsaturated fats created from corn, soybeans, and other vegetable oils.  They heat it expose it to hydrogen and a catalyst (solvent).  The resulting product has a long shelf life and is the darling of the food industry.  They however, ruin liver function, increase insulin sensitivity and raise blood lipids.

What is important is the n-3 to n-6 ratio in fats (Omega 3- omega 6)  You want a higher Omega 3 intake as these are super foods that improve so many areas of health and hormone balancing.   sources of these include fatty fish such as wild Alaska salmon, anchovies, sardines herring mackerel, trout, GRASS FED MEAT, and omega 3 enriched eggs. 3’s come from animal fats, 6’s come from seed.  If 6’s are too high it can cause a host of problems including inflammation.  Inflammation is now considered a cause of heart disease.

What about cholesterol:  I guess most people have heard of HDL and LDL cholesterol  I could never remember which was the goo or bad.  Then I though of LDL as low down and it was easy.  LDL is converted to the small dense type that stick in the arteries, this happens under the influence of excessive carbs.  Cholesterol is needed for hormone regulation.

My favorite oil is coconut oil.  I buy it by the 5 gallon bucket.  My last bucket lasted about 1 year. With shipping it was about $175.00.  That comes to around 14.50 / month.  A great investment in your health.  Olive oil is good too but not for cooking.  Not only that some companies mix other oils in and sell it as olive oil.  Especially the ones from “several countries”. If you put your olive oil in the refrigerator and it doesn’t become solid then you have a fake.  Here is a link to an article on that with brand names listed http://www.foodrenegade.com/your-extravirgin-olive-oil-fake/.

Coconut oil is so good for you because it is a medium chain triglyceride (MCT) with the wonderful, healing lauric acid.  The liver and gallbladder do not have to emulsify MCTs, so it does not stress your liver like all those “heart healthy” fake fats. Once in our body lauric acid converts to monolaurin, a compound that is highly toxic to viruses, bacteria, funguses and  other microorganisms because of its ability to disrupt their lipid membranes and  virtually destroy them. The only other place lauric acid id found is in breast milk.  It effectively fights fungus such s candida, athletes foot; bacteria and virus such as measles, influenza, hepatitis C and HIV.  It is great for the skin and hair.
Coconut oil is rich in anti-oxidants and has the microbial  and antibacterial agents caphrylic and capric acids.  The MCT’s help boost you metabolism which helps in weight loss.  There are so may articles and scientific studies on this.
To learn more, here is a start:

http://www.naturalnews.com/036156_Coconut_oil_superfood_healing.html#ixzz2HUs0Lq2U
So my number 1 oil is coconut oil, #2 is lard.  And if I can get my hands on some real olive oil it is great for dressings, but not for cooking.  We do have a grower here in Georgia. Georgia Olive Farms.  Their oil looks to be excellent.  The cheapest on their page is 32.00 for 500 cc, way out of my price range. I stick with my coconut oil and lard.  Although they do sell trees for 10.00 each so maybe…….

Next as promised last week we discuss smoking.  Smoke adds a wonderful flavor to meats, cheeses, and nuts. It changes the color and helps preserve the fats to keep them from going rancid. There are basically 2 types.  Cold smoking is done at less than 100F.  This would be needed for larger cuts of meat such as hams and chesses.  Pastrami for example could be cold smoked and then dried.

Hot smoking is done at over 150F.  This partially cooks the meat.  Some sausage, bacon and nuts. can be hot smoked.

Smoking can be done in so many ways.  Hot smoking can be done in the grill.  Smokers can be built from 2 cardboard boxes taped together.  A cooler with ice  and a smoke generator on the side.  A smoke generator can be made from a fire pit or other ways.  One of the simples I have seen is a tin can with sawdust and a new soldering iron for heat.    I was thinking of making a cooling box from a chest freezer with a temperature controller. Then adding a smoke generator on the side.  I do have a Bradley Smoker which works wonderfully.  I have hot smoked many meats and some almonds with excellent results.  I also have an attachment to cold smoke.  My problem here in the south is it is too hot to cold smoke except in the coldest part of the winter.  That’s how it was done before.  On the podcast I will discuss how you can make bacon and then hot smoke it.

 

 

Making Sausage, The Art of Chacuterie And The New Year YCH#10

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I hope you all had a great holiday. I have a tip for anyone that may have overloaded their sink and clogged a drain with all that holiday cooking.  Vinegar and baking soda is a great way to unclog a drain.  Just pour in about 1/3 to 1/2 cup baking soda and about 1 cup white vinegar.  It will even go through standing water.  It will make a volcano and unclog your sink!  I even added it to my bathroom sinks.  It seems to have dissolved the hair and soap gunk.  And best of all it is safe for my septic system.

Speaking of the New year; I’ve never been one to make resolutions.  I do like to set goals however and the New Year is a wonderful time to look at your life and set goals.  Here is a list of mine:

1 Get out of debt and buy silver
2 Expand my goat herd with a Kiko female and dwarf Nigerian male
3 Perfect charcuterie and build a cooling room
4 Get or build a greenhouse
5 Finally start aquaponics
6 Grow most of my animal food
7 DECLUTTER my life
8 Make my podcast and website rock
9 Learn gimp and power director (photo and video editing software-GIMP is FREE)
10 Get closer to family and help them
not necessarily in this order
Sad Sad Sad SadSad

Over the last few days. I have been thinking about how corporatism affects our lives.  I have actually been thinking about this a long time.  Just consider how music has changed over the years.  In the sixties and seventies (and long before that) singer/songwriters could get signed with a small recording company,  travel all over promoting their music on the local radio stations.  A lot of these very talented people wouldn’t make it today because they didn’t fit the picture perfect look that the big business recording industry is wanting.  I just love going on YouTube and watching all those old videos of singers that climbed the ladder and became famous with songs from their hearts.  Now it seems they are all packaged up pretty boys and girls pressed into a mold created by big recording industries.  I hate it.  Fortunately, with the internet,  people can be seen and heard without big business!

The same goes with our food.  It just seems to me big business and the government control our food.  We are told different stories every year about what is healthy; and what is not.  Remember when we were told not to eat eggs?  Now we are told just to limit the yolks (the healthiest part).  But all those prepackaged, fat free, chemical laden foods are “heart healthy”.  HUH!  I’m not falling for their lies anymore!

My goal this year is to step up my own food production.  I want the full fat, homegrown eggs, pork, goat, sheep, chicken and hopefully rabbits.  I want to grow most if not all my own veggies without chemicals or store bought fertilizers.

You see, I spent years listening to those and eating all that “heart healthy” food.  I ballooned up to over 210#.  I hardly ate anything, as compared to now.  I was sick and tired and on multiple medicines.  I tried every diet I could;  including: low fat, low carb, weight watchers, vegetarian, raw food vegetarian, and just screw it I’m gonna eat what I want. Thanks for all the lies Uncle Sam and Big Business; your are really good at killing millions!

But I guess Granny was right all along: eat real food, fresh vegetable and real meats.  Stay away from junk food and don’t be afraid of fat.  “It sticks to your ribs”.  And get off your behind and get outside and work.  Thank God for grannies. So simple and so profound.  I have lost over 40# and it’s going away continuously.  While I am eating wonderful meals and not counting the first calorie or point.  Here are some links to my way of eating if  you are interested. www.robbwolf.com  www.latestinpaleo.com

I found a cool website for planning your garden.  This might be fun to play around with and get you in the gardening spirit: http://www.makeuseof.com/tag/plan-your-garden-for-the-new-year-with-these-great-websites-and-apps/  I found this site looking for videos for beginners in GIMP.  They have some great beginner how to videos over there. http://www.makeuseof.com/tag/top-10-beginner-level-video-tutorials-learn-gimp-fast/

We have been making sausage around here from the heritage hog we harvested.

Fresh sausage:  If you don’t have a hog you can make sausage from store bought pork, chicken, turkey or any meat of your choosing.  We also make venison sausage.  My favorite though is the pig!  Patty sausage are so simple to make.  If you buy a fresh pork butt or shoulder and grind it.  Often the butcher will do it for free just for the asking.  It is just a matter of mixing in the spices and frying it up.  You can also make link sausage, smoked sausage, emulsified sausage and fermented sausage.  There are tons of recipes available on the Internet and in cookbooks.  Just like cooking it is good to look at several recipes and adjust according to your own taste buds.  My husband just made a wonderful Portuguese link sausage.  He dried it in the refrigerator.  It was a link sausage and we have a stuffer.  But, other than that no special equipment needed.  This one did have insta cure in it.

A word about insta cure #1 – sodium nitrite or cure #2 sodium nitrate.  This is used for curing ham, bacon and some sausage. It adds that rosy color and some flavor. I had such a hard time with this.  I didn’t want to use it until further investigation.  It inhibits botulism, which will kill you really fast. (or get rid of your wrinkles)  You can buy nitrite free products like bacon, hot dogs, etc.  The thing is they use celery to produce this. Celery and other green vegetables have  a natural sodium nitrite.  So after much investigation and reading I decided sodium nitrate is much less likely to kill me than botulism. Nitrites are controversial because they can, under certain circumstances, produce cancer causing nitrosamines.   Like all things moderation is they key. If properly refrigerated this is not needed.  I wouldn’t eat all  processed meats in my daily diet.  But as a treat they are safe.  You will have to decide for yourself.  I have  a link to a very interesting article regarding this from Chef Michael Ruhlman: http://ruhlman.com/2011/05/the-no-nitrites-added-hoax/.  Please take the time to read this and visit his awesome site if you are at all interested.  He has lots of great recipes there too.

A wonderful quote that sums it all up is actually in the table of contents in the book Chacuterie: “4.  SAUSAGES  The Power and the Glory:  Animal Fat, Salt, and the Pig Come Together in One of the Oldest, Divine-Yet-Humble Culinary creation Known to Humankind”  WOW, that says it all!!

Fresh sausage is the easiest to make.  If you are buying meat the best is pork butts.  Catch it on sale and stock up. You will need a meat grinder.  A kitchen aid attachment works.  Or you can buy a stand alone grinder mechanical or electric.  They are not really expensive.  A stuffer and casings are needed if you want links.  A stuffer is sometimes included with the grinder.  Our first electric grinder was less than 60 bucks and included a stuffer.  We still use it.  Although I have invested in a much more powerful grinder for all the venison we process.  A instant read thermometer is also helpful.  You will want to cut your meat in cubes small enough to fit through the feed tube of your grinder.  If you have to push them through they are too big. You need fat to make sausage. You need 25- 30% fat to make good sausage. That is why boston butt is a good cut for sausage.  If you need to add fat you can use fatback – from the pigs back or the jowls.  Jowls are actually preferred. Season and salt your meat prior to grinding.  You will get more flavor and it will mix in better.  Kosher salt, about 1/3 oz/10 gms per pound/450gms of meat is an excellent guideline.  3 #TBL for 5 # meat for us Americans. Add 1 ice cold cup of wine or water and your seasonings for the style of sausage you want.  And of course adjust to your own taste.  You can add any spices, even cooked diced veggies onions, peppers, etc.  Let your imagination run wild.  But use common sense about things that pair well.  Make sure you keep the meat cold during processing to prevent the fat from breaking down and for sanitation.  If the fat and protein separate it will be dry and crumbly instead of juicy.   Knead it like bread dough to get it to stick together.  It’s called “the primary bind”.  Do it by hand, with a paddle attachment on a mixer or with a wooden spoon.  A couple of minutes are good.  Keep it cold. The best way is by hand. Now the fun part comes.  Fry up a small sample and taste test.  Adjust your seasonings if needed and taste again until you are happy with the results.  You can leave it as patty or…..

Stuffing sausage with casings: You can buy sheep, beef or pork casing at the grocery store and even order them online. Or process your own – which is more work than I care to do.  It’s pretty simple soak the casings for at least 1/2 an hour and up to 2 days.  Overnight sounds good to me.  Then open and rinse them with the faucet.  Put your meat in the stuffer until it reaches the opening, attach the casing and fire away. Easy easy easy… You CAN make sausage.  Tie off each link with a string or just twist one link clock wise, next link counter clockwise.  Easy peasy!

Now the best part.  Please, please, please do NOT overcook your perfectly crafted sausage you have made.  The best way in my humble opinion is sauté  in oil 10 to 12 min on medium low heat.  Temp 150 degrees with instant read thermometer.  Or if you must, roast in oven 300 F/ 150C in oil about 10 minutes.  Or just throw them on the grill….

Emulsified sausage: This is your bologna, wieners, bratwurst, etc.  It is a very finely textured meat made with emulsified meat.  This emulsification is best achieved with a food processor.  For home food processors you would need one with a direct drive shaft to turn the cutting knife.  The belt drive would wear out quickly.  You would add ground meat thoroughly mixed with the spices a little at a time while adding a little water as you go.  Then it’s stuffed into casings and smoked or cooked.

More on Casings: Natural casings come from animals (cattle, hogs and sheep) intestines submucosa (The collagen layer).  The inner mucosa lining and fat are removed. Natural casings have the advantage of traditional appearance, texture and cooking performance expected in sausage.

Beef Casings: Include bung caps for large diameter sausage such as bologna and salami, beef rounds for ring bologna and polish sausage; beef middles can be sewn to shape,beef bladders used for specialty sausage such as souse or head cheese.

Hog Casings: Used for fresh sausage and fully cooked smoked sausage.  They are transparent and smaller than beef.  Bungs are used manly for liver sausage.

Sheep Casings:  These are the smallest of the commercially available casings.  They are used for fresh sausage, especially pork and high quality frankfurters.  They range in color from white to gray.

Regenerated Collagen Casings:  These are physically similar to animal casings.  They are chemically made from the hide of beef animals.   They are produced by extracting the corium with an alkaline solution.  They are easily available and very uniform in size. Good for machine processed sausage.

Cellulose Casings: Made from cotton bags and cotton linters (fuzzy material from cottonseed).  Chemically processed to be smoke permeable and impermeable to meat emulsion.  Some bologna and large sausage use this.

There are also fibrous casing, plastic casing and COFFI film which I don’t imagine I would use.

Hope you have fun and know You CAN make your own sausage,  Better than anything you ever buy in the store!

 

Getting Ready For Spring, Seed Starting, Lighting, Making Pots YCH#9

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Today we talk about farm updates.  What has been going on with the chickens, pigs and goats.  I hope you have your seed catalogs out and are planning your garden.  Remember don’t be afraid to start small.  Small raised beds or container gardening can give a bountiful harvest and build confidence and skills.  You can grow something now indoors.  A little supplemental light would be a great boost at this time of year.  So we discuss different lighting ideas.

First one may ask “why garden”.  Gardening is economical.  You can eat better quality food for much less money than the grocery store.  Your food will retain more nutrition because it is fresh and hasn’t travelled across the country.  You can grow awesome vegetables and fruits you may never see on a grocery store shelf.  Just read any heirloom seed catalog and see all the beautiful pictures.  It’s good exercise ad healing for the soul to grow things.  And it is fun and exciting watching you new babies grow!

So, how do we start?  We start with tiny seeds.  I’m going to attempt to grow all my veggies from seed this year.  It is more economical and I have the best choices for what  I can grow.  Not just what the big box stores and nurseries sell,  which is usually all the same things.  So decide what you like to eat and order a bunch of seeds.  To start seeds you will need containers.  There are many options, peat pots or pellets, homemade paper pots, soil cubes, and the plastic or wooden boxes.  You can even make self watering pots from soda bottles or milk jugs.  Some beautiful pots can be made from concrete and vermiculite. Next you need a soilless seed starting mix.  You can do this with a 1 to 1 mix pot peat moss and vermiculite.  There are many recipes available.  Or you can buy a prepackaged one.  You can plant right into the pots or germinate seeds in vermiculite or on paper towels.  I’ll give a tip on using jello and milk  and using a cornstarch jell in planting. Since peat is great at holding water but has no nutrition you have to feed the seedlings once they develop true leaves.

Once your plants start growing they will need light.  This can be accomplished with a south or southeast facing window.  But this time of the year it is better to supplement with light.  fluorescent bulbs are probably the cheapest route to go.  But after Christmas LED lights for Christmas trees will be really cheap.  Some people even make light boxes and we will discuss that.

Once your seedlings get 4 sets of leaves they can be planted if no danger of frost.  You will need to harden them up for about a week by bringing them outside several hours a day.  Place them in a protected area.  If it is still getting cold at night keep them warm or bring them in.  So let’s get going!

 

A link to using recycled 2 liter bottles fro self watering seed pots: http://lifehacker.com/5913914/turn-a-soda-bottle-into-a-worry+free-self+watering-planter

Build an LED light box

http://www.cheapvegetablegardener.com/2009/01/cheap-led-light-and-grow-box.html

A seed starting chart:

http://www.organicgardening.com/learn-and-grow/seed-starting-chart

 

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