I know life has gotten away from me yet again but that is kind of a good thing and kind of not. I have been sick off and on for what seems like ages. Daycare has kept me busy as have my own children. We have tried many new foods and old foods in new ways. We have kept up to a point with lifting but that is because if we have been ill we have stayed at home and worked on recovery. January held several hikes that were completely amazing and worth braving the cold. February has blown by faster than we were ready for. To celebrate the Chinese New Year we had a feast that was lots of simple work but was well worth the full effort. We were going to have more company than what landed but that is what happens when children (not mine) get ill with flu and pink eye. Maybe the will make it next time. I could post all the food we had here but instead I will direct you to a different blog as I posted it on the business page for Entwined Vines Jewelry. I posted simple to follow instructions with fast pictures (I was to busy eating to do grant shots). Anyway. this is just a fast post to get back in the motion of writing. Have a great time and check back soon.
04 Nov 2012 Leave a Comment
I have a love of most things created with Pork if you have not noticed by the last few posts. I ended up with 3 pig heads that I really wanted to make a form of head cheese with yet not tangy where my children would not want to eat any. I had an oportunity to let them try Mortadella a little while ago to make sure they would enjoy it and although the primary recipe I have for this is out of Charcuterie By Michael Ruhlman & Brian Polcyn calls for pork shoulder and back fat along with several seasonings that I am not fond of, it worked great as a frame work. If you ever feel the pull to try your hand at this art, I strongly suggest checking this book out. Anyway, we pulled all three heads out and basicly disected the heck out of them. My hubby made several “stacks”; fat, solid meat, Soup Pot, and finally done/leaving the house. While he got the heads all done I; blogged, rendered fat, measured and mixed what would be needed for the Mortadella, tended the children, etc..
I used; meat from hogs heads, fat from same hogs heads, back fat to supplament, white wine, fresh garlic, kosher salt, pink salt, ice, white pepper, ground mace, ground roasted coriander, fresh grated nutmeg, a splash of milk, pistachios, and a large pork casing.
We started off with three ugly heads the one up-above was the largest and had two strange “skin tag” looking things beneath the ears. With the help of Whole Beast Butchery by: Ryan Farr my hubby trimmed and cut till the heads were “used to the fullest” and off we went…
The large one had HUGE Jowels I mean take a look!!!
We then took a chunk of Fat and blanched it to fold in later.
Diced the meat and put in the freezer to grind later.
Diced and froze more fat.
Put all the tools to be used in the freezer while we soaked the casings.
Once everything was cold enough and the casings had soaked we pulled the meat from the freezer, ground it with our second smallest disc in the hand crank into a cold bowl set into a larger ice filled bowl to keep it all just right. We then added the wine through salts into that meat and set back in the fridge to site while we ground the non-blanched fat. Once everything was ground we dumped the whole ball of wax into the frozen mixer and blended to emulsification…
After mixing I hand folded in the pistachios and should have added the blanched fat but I forgot so it is still sitting in the freezer for next time it seems. We then opened up the casings and stuffed them to full and tied off.
Once the casings were ready we submerged the whole mess in hot (170 degree F) water and cooked till the center of these hit 150 degrees F.
Once cooked through we pulled them for the heat and slid into a sink full of ice and cold water to cool.
Once cool, we had to slice into one of these to take a taste and WOW!
All in all we ended up with 11 pounds of delectable pork yummm for all our work and even though this round did not have everything because I forgot the fat, it was well worth the effort. We did learn that my ultra amazing bosch mixer really would do better to do half as much at a time and that would have helped with the end result it still worked great and we look forward to the next round. Please let us know about your own charcuterie experiences…
03 Nov 2012 1 Comment
Several months ago I had read on another blog about noodles made from pork skin that the author had savored while in my city (Portland, Oregon) at a locale that I had not heard of till that point. Hubby and I, not many months later, had the oportunity to have a date night where we had toodled off to try the faire at Ned Ludd where we had a smattering from all sections of the menu to a taste bud delight. The one thing that completely blew to top off though was those noodles what I had been anticipating as they did not disappoint in the slightest other than maybe being so rich and delectable to make small servings a necceisity. Once having tried these though I knew I had to try my hand at making them myself as the potential for other meals started percolating through my mind. I did a search online and did not find much, although I did find one blog that had some potential that I forgot about till after I started my version… I really wish I had remembered about it this weekend before I started cutting the skin but lesson learned and I will make note of what I will try different the next time, as there will be many next times for this one as all I can say is yummmmm!
Obviously, you need to start with pig skin. I decided to to try adding a little flavor as well as skin has the under-current of flavor but it is very very mild. I had no pork stock made-up but I did have beef so I decided to try that this round. I also added a huge sliced onion and a handfull of dried mushrooms, and a lump of non-rendered leaf lard. I will add a batch of slow roasted garlic next time.
So one of the first things I will do differently is I will pre-cook my skin before trying to slice as this stuff is a big ginormous pain in the rear to do before. Another is take the time to make a strong pork stock instead of wimping out and using beef as the flavor was just not strong at all.
The first thing I did this round was to slice all my skin into thick noodle shape. In the future just trade this step for after slow cooking into a gelatinous yummm. Always remember to have the right knives on hand for the job that fit your hand the best way you can find. Have your knives SHARP and in good repair or you will be working way harder than you need to as well.
Once I had my “noodles” cut I dumped them into a vacu-seal bag with the slice onions (remember to add garlic next time), handfull of dried mixed mushrooms, a lump of fat (in this case a chunk of leaf lard although back fat would work well also), covered with stock then sealed. I made a large batch because I wanted leftovers for other meal ideas but I would guess about 1# would serve 4 pleasantly and when I say 4 I really mean 4 “real” servings as when we eat hear we mean it.
Once you have your bag sealed, put it in a crockpot and cover with water, plug in and set to low. Once it is going forget all about it for about 24 hours as this stuff is going to need to slowly get mouth wateringly tender. In the future, I will skip the bag part and just dump all my goodies into a crock to make a LARGE amount to play with over time as I am thinking it should freeze alright (I will know for sure in a week when I take my test batch out to thaw for pho soup). When your “noodles” look more like gelatine than skin pull out and slice if you have not already.
I poured off most of the stock, put a small layer of more mushrooms into a skillet with bacon fat,
dumped the “noodles” in,
Added diced meat from smoked ham hock (1 hock per # of “noodles”),
Stired and simmered until the juiced had reduced by about half. Next time I make a skillet of this, I will take most of the juices and make a true simple reduction sauce adding some fire roasted tomatoes for a larger burst of flavor.
For our supper, I paired the noodles with slow roasted lamb chops that I had covered with fresh mushrooms, diced onion, dots of butter, and a mega amount of fresh ground pepper. I covered the roaster and put in the oven to cook at 350 degrees F for about an hour till tender and juicy.
While everything was cooking, I diced kalarabi, sweet baby peppers, cucumbers, carrots, celery, and persimons to go on a side salad.
Also made a dressing from homemade mayo to which I added a bunch of onion, garlic, and italian seasoning that I mixed up.
Once everything was done, we sat down to a feast that was filling and satisfying to all. When asked there were very few suggestions on how to make this better beyond adding garlic as we tend to consider garlic as its own food group that should be consumed at almost every meal.
*** if you do not have a sealer, try just putting strain in the crock pot.
I would love to see meal ideas from you and your experiences of pork noodles so leave a comment, thanks.
02 Nov 2012 1 Comment
Leaf lard is the best grade of fat from a hog. Other hog fat is great for frying but carries an under-current of pig flavor that is not desirable in baked goods. Leaf lard is light, snowy white, and amazing in that it does not impart an animal taste to the end product. If you are wanting a stunning crust or pastry this is the way to go. Leaf lard is created by rendering down the fat from the kidney area of a hog. This sounds strange and potentially hard if you have never done this before. In reality this can be very simple and rewarding. If you are able to have a butcher pre-grind your fat it will make the end result of cracklins better but do not worry if you can’t. This round I was gifted with a mind blowing deal on pastured non-grain finished leaf fat that was in strips as you can see.
I took these strips and cut into slices. I then placed the slices into a crockpot that I then added a splash (maybe 1/4 cup) of water to so it would have time to melt before scalding the fat.
Once I had the crock full, I covered it and took the whole thing outside to slow cook on low as I did not want to whole house to smell like hog.
After a couple of hours I went out to stir and check on the pot. Once all the fat had melted off of the solid bits, I poured the whole batch into a cheese cloth lined strainer set in a bowl. I then squeezed the fat through and poured this into a jar to cool and then put the solid bits into a separate jar for storage.
This solid “goo” will later be browned and chopped to add to soups, salads, and caseroles in place of bacon as it is so tasty once crisp.
The fat jars I let cool till they were solid snow white…
that is then labeled and capped. Then a little is put in the fridge and the rest frozen for later use.
20 Sep 2012 Leave a Comment
I always hate the day after a push myself kind of workout and it had LUNGES from crips sake!!! I have a love hate thing going on here I tell you lol. Anyway, I went to bed last night and could not get to sleep for hours. I heard the toilet running every 13 seconds for 10 seconds at a time and it drove me absolutely crazy (not a long drive to be honest) until after 1am I finally got my tired grumbly rear back out of bed and took the lid off and worked on the darn thing a few minutes by the light of the night light till it was fixed. I then headed back to bed covered myself with the pillow since my hubby was ON all the covers and after about 2 minutes of no water running sounds passed out like the dead till the alarm went off at 2 for hubby, turned over and passed out again till my alarm went off at 5am. Man morning really did come way to early with not nearly enough sleep. Daycare was really pretty good today with no real fits from the 2 year old, mostly easy feeding for the infant that is finally starting to get comfortable with a bottle, and the 3 year old was great in learning a couple more colors in sign and actually remembering to use her signs for “help” and her manners. Our food was beyond easy and affordable:
Breakfast: I wanted some sunshine in my day so I heaped on the eggs and bacon (I was needing a major influx of protein) and added the sliced of one tangerine baby to make a sun. Way yummy and the tangerine thing was just the right level of tart. (about $2.08 for my serving and $1.60 per serving for all the normal sized eaters)
Lunch was leftover BBQ chicken legs, fruit for the kiddo’s, and I had a nice cup of coffee that tasted devine. Total averaged out in cost was $0.60 per serving.
Supper was breakfast again so just look up and the numbers and picture really did not change much.
After supper we headed over to the gym to take in the nice hot water feature cold hot tub thirty and then stand in the steam sauna doing all our stretches as I mentioned our rear ends were telling us that we had them and pushed hard the night before and needed the extra help in stretching, and relaxing. All in all it was a mellow but good day and I am greatful that although I have hard days, they are still better than they have been since highschool.
19 Sep 2012 1 Comment
I always want to get online and post something and then I don’t seem to make it happen. There are all kinds of reasons and most of them are even good (though some are just lame and lazy showing through). I think that if I am being honest with myself and all you readers, it really boils down to I have never developed the discipline to journal or blog and I am slowly working on that. I am not going to say that I am going to post every single day as that would be a flat-out lie. I am not even going to say that I will post on the same day every week. I am just going to post as often as I do and I hope to post some interesting stuff. I know that my grammar and spelling are… well horrid. I never did pick up the skills to be a good writer even though I am an avid reader. Teachers tried really hard with me and they did their best, I am just a writing challenged person so please be kind and do not get to stuck on these details and if that is not possible, feel free to not read my posts as I am doing all I can most days…
So I am still plugging away at living a paleo lifestyle and it has majorly helped me. I have been thinking about posting a short bullet list of some of the things that have improved with all of this since I am really close to the one year mark from starting down this crazy but amazing path. So, here it is:
- my vision has gone from really bad bifocals to 20/20 (I am thinking my astigmatism is still acting up just enough with my Entwined Vines Jewelry work that I may get glasses this next round)
- I am now off of 11 prescription medications including but not limited to; glucophage, metphormin, insulin, ativan, lisinaprile, lovastatan, actos, and others (I have been off of these since the beginning of the year and have forgotten many of them)
- my seasonal allergies have been almost (I broke down and took something 3 times this past year when I used to take meds every day)
- My skin is healthy, glowing, and I no longer have “scales” or major skin cracking issues or massive pealing
- My women’s health is the best it has ever been with no cramps, easy flow, short normal cycles, no major water retention, no PMS, no fear of major hemorrhaging any-longer, no crazy weight fluctuation, no blotting, no food cravings, and I have no hormone based migraines
- I have a history of my gums bleeding and that has become a non-issue now
- I have more energy to physically keep going. I still have a day here and there that coffee would be great but I know that I have enough to make it through the day. My energy is also more focused and I am able to stay on target easier as well as calm that energy at a reasonable time of evening to get a “normal” nights rest more often than not.
- My flexibility has gone up as well. One year-a-go, I did not have the flexibility in my ankle to do a proper squat, now I do weighted back squats and lunges without fear of hurting myself as I compensate for that lack to name just a small area of improvement
- I am gaining strength of mind, body and spirit as I keep reaching new personal bests. I am learning what I can do, not what I can’t do as I lift heave stuff, put it down, and lift again. I have been working through fears and phobias as there is not stopping me at this point.
- My diabetes is in amazing control as I eat as much as my body wants without feeling deprived or crazy. I dropped down from a 9.8 A1C to a 5.0 and am looking forward to my next test in October
- With the energy of my body coming into control, so is my mental focus. I am staying so busy because for the first time in ages I have the focus to DO things and not just veg on the computer or some other screen.
- I still have tons of stress in my life sich as in May we had to move with very little (20 days) notice yet I did not turn to meds to cope or feel like it was beyond what we could get through. I still have hard choices and hard moments but I knew all through that, that they were just moments at it would be alright.
- With the decrease of medical bills, we have more money to spend on better food that in turns keeps us from having more medical bills… Also even with spending more per item for better local products, I find that the food budget has gone down because we are not eating TONS of filler that does not KEEP us full. Add up all those foods that you snack on, grab in traffic, or pickup as a quick grab and it is a bunch in the way of budget. Buy good food that your body can release the correct hormones to say “hey, were full” and you will stop eating with less.
- I have the strength to have gone from firing a 22 cal to a nice 45 cal wow being a tough broad is cool!!!
- I eat way more and am in better shape than I have been since high school
- Even my cholesterol is way down and that is cool since I eat a mega amount of eggs and bacon every day
- I have lost lots and gained much; a whole person in weight, 11″ so far from my waist alone, 1″ from my wrist (how the heck can something that bony loose an inch?), gained tons of second-hand clothing shopping fun, new cooking skills, and an amazing adventure
So now that I have rambled about some of the cool benefits that I have seen in the almost 1 year, I figure I will share a little of what we ate here today;
Breakfast: The kiddo’s had pumpkin spice pancakes topped with applesauce or berries (I am still working on these before I share how I did them. I had 1 and I know “paloetized” food is not good for us but I have to make something that the USDA will not have a cow over that covers those requirements and this was still Paleo friendly as there was no grain and no milk). I also had my normal heaping plate of eggs and bacon. (the pancakes worked out to an average of $0.25 per serving and my plate of eggs and bacon was $1.00)
For lunch The daycare children mowed on leftover chicken, cantaloupe, cheese cubes, “crackers”, and celery. I on the other hand had a bowl of amazing spicy sliced corned beef.
Snack seems to have slipped us by for the most part although I did pass out mini tangerines and quail eggs before sitting down with the littlest one with her jug of mom milk.
The day passed in an almost blur of activity, noise, and creativity. When it was all said and done though school went well for the olders, college stuff is prepped, and dinner was an interesting event.
My currently 18-year-old wanted to cook up the duck that has been camped out in one of the many freezers since late winter/early spring so I let her. She forgot to do the empty the cavity thing so the neck just went for a ride in the hot box instead of being lumped into the bone bin for soup stock. Another interesting part to supper was the fact that our duck had a slight fish taste to it. The two younger girls were not impressed while the eldest tried to eat both whole birds on her own. The rest of us did not mind but were not overly thrilled either.
She took a simple rub of; salt, paprika (hungarian sweet), black pepper, butter and those crazy ducks and let them cook for a couple of hours. Really nice. I will have to find a different source again as I am not sure HOW those ducks ended up with fishy taste but I would rather not have that again when I am really after DUCK.
To finish of this cool meal she choose to saute up a pan of asparagus in butter and fresh slivered garlic (have you tried that cool gadget from Pampered Chief??? Got mine at a Paleo party!!!) (total for supper was an average of $2.66 per serving)
Anyway, after the grub and chores, The hubby, the 18-year-old, and I headed off to see what we could do… Did a 1 RM heavy lift (weighted back squat) and although I can not lift as much as they can, I am still happy with the direction I am going. After the lift, we pushed through 5 rounds of; 12 farmer carry lunges and then 20 sit-up. We timed this and allowed for rest if needed to finish all 5 rounds. I have to say I am tickled to have pushed faster than them even though it is not a race with them but a “race” with myself. I also am really feeling the back of my thighs, glutes, and man I am still fat but hello abs!!! It is far later than I had planned and I am trashed so I will be wrapping this post up and heading to shut-eye land in a flash as morning comes way to early.
24 May 2012 Leave a Comment
I had every intention of making this a really nice full post but tonight (the 24th) I just don’t have it in me. I had to go to basicly urgent care and have a few stitches on my thumb so my hand is throbbing and I am just trashed. I will post more really I will… Sorry everyone
The grub for May 23rd, 2012:
Breakfast: Omelets and that morning cup
Now you remember my saying yesterday to make extra breakfast scramble right? This is why, I took the amount of eggs wanted per omelet, whipped them in a bowl and poured them onto a hot skillet that I had already coated with fat (I used butter as I really wanted the rich tone). Once the eggs had just started setting up, I crumbled some of those leftovers onto one side, added a handful of sliced mushrooms, a fist full of spinach, and sprinkling of cheese (for those that eat it) and finished cooking. Once dished I added a few sliced of avacodo for a meal that averaged out to less than a dollar per person in under 5 minutes each.
Lunch: Bacon Wrapped Scallops with asparagus
So I was to lazy and in to much of a hurry to wrap the scallops. Instead I layed out in a hot skillet a handfull of fresh asparagus and drizzeled a little olive oil over then sprinkled good coarse salt and a little pre-mixed seasoning on. While the asparagus cooked, I sliced the bacon into bite size pieces, dumped them in a hot skilled then dumped the wild caught sea scallops (I got these at new seasons although normally I get them from the local seafood distributer with sever others so we can get wholesale prices) and cooked till the scallops were golden and the bacon was done. I plated this up and it took only 7 minutes and cost less than $3 per person
Afternoon snack: Yogurt & Paleo Granola We totally skipped snack today as again we were all full
Supper: BBQ Chicken with green beans & Bacon
So my second oldest daughter cooks on Wednesdays and this is what she did: dumped the chicken (we got these pastured legs on sale at new seasons for $1.49 pr #)onto a lines baking sheet then she rubbed a tiny amount of BBQ sauce on (we still use pre made but we have found a locally made kind that is paleo friendly so check around or make your own) just enough to help glaze the meat without over riding the scrumptions flavor of real food. The then slid that pan into the oven at 350 degrees F and let bake for 30 minutes before turning and baking another 15 minutes. While the chicken baked, she browned the diced bacon then sauteed the green beans in the pan of bacon and bacon fat. Yummm
I am now off to bed and it life is good, I will have a much better post for you all Friday