Monday, January 3, 2011

January Jewels of Thought

We slaughtered a pig before Christmas for an adventuresome colleague.  He made hams in brine, and bacon and blood sausage (we saved the pig's blood).  He boned and rolled the loins with the cracklin' tied on and made tenderloins as Wiener Schnitzel.  He shared the finished results in the above photos. The other photos describe the kill, scalding and scraping the skin and cutting the pig into primals.   The prize was the head, carefully wrapped.  I can't wait to see what Jason does with the ears, jowls, snout and tongue.

Snow Storm and Border Collies Cavorting

During Christmas week, a couple of feet of snow were dumped on our valley so we had a white white Christmas.  Since our only travel was to the barns and pastures and back to the house, it was a joy to be snowed in.
New Year Food Resolutions

We are fortunate to have farm fresh eggs, milk and grass-fed meat and a cellar with canning cupboards stacked high with green beans, jams, jellies, coleslaw, applesauce, tomatoes, tomato paste and sauces and salsas. The root cellar is brimming with parsnips, squashes, potatoes and onions and the leeks are still in the garden. I pour boiling water over the leeks buried in the snow to unearth them.   My New Year Food Resolutions for 2011 are:

• Host a pantry swap in April so ten years from now there will not be ten-year old pickled cauliflower in my canning cupboard
• Buy a milking cow so I don’t have to buy milk from the store or bribe my family to drink goat milk
• Plant more exotic greens and edible flowers in the gardens
• Build a smoker for meats
• Make bread more than once a week
• Cook more in the fireplace using methods such as string turned roasting
• Eat more wild and foraged food
• Try to buy less than 10% of the food we consume from the grocery store.

When I shared these resolutions with my friends they asked me to come up with resolutions for people who do not have access 24/7 to farm fresh, organic food. The points below were shared at the Farm Catskills Annual Meeting in 2009.

1. Stop drinking sodas and other sweetened beverages (like iced teas, energy drinks, etc).  You can lose 25 lbs in a year by replacing one 20 oz soda a day with a no calorie beverage (preferably water). (from Center for Science in the Public Interest)

2. Eat at home instead of eating out.  Children consume almost twice (1.8 times) as many calories when eating food prepared outside the home. And, you’re more likely to be eating locally grown foods, and more of your food dollars will go to a local farmer.

3. Stay away from processed foods; prepare meals from scratch.  Many delicious and nutritious meals can be made very quickly and simply – and you get more nutrition and value from your food dollars.

4. Tell schools to stop selling sodas, junk food, and sports drinks. Over the last two decades, rates of obesity have tripled in children and teens.

5. Eat local, grassfed meat.  An estimated 70% of all antibiotics used in the United States are given to farm animals in feedlot conditions. Grassfed meat is available year-round from local farmers who do not give their animals growth hormones or routine antibiotics.

6 . Buy organic or sustainable food with little or no pesticides. According to the EPA, over 1 billion pounds of pesticides are used each year in the U.S.

7. Support a local farmer; visit your farmer's market, join a CSA, or shop at a locally-owned food retailer.
Buying local foods allows farmers to keep a larger share of each food dollar, AND keeps more of your money circulating in the community. Find local farmers near you at

8. Make a point to know where your food comes from—READ LABELS.
The average meal travels 1,500 miles from the farm to your dinner plate.

Comfort Food and Fable 
Our bodies crave comfort food when the temperature drops and the snow piles high and the winds are ripping and whipping.  We want to eat stews, roasts, soups, puddings and pies and eat next to the fire sipping hot spiced cider and red wine.  So to give you what we crave - Fable's Second Saturday Suppers begin January 8th and are held the second Saturday of every month from January to May at 5 pm. Come sit by the fire and share supper with us and friends and neighbors at the large farm table. Three courses for $30. Great selection of local beer and New York State wine. The menu for January 8 is:

Starter:  winter greens with poached pear vinaigrette
Main:  zinfandel glazed beef short ribs with horseradish mashed potatoes and bacon braised brussels sprouts
Dessert:  old-fashioned baked custard with caramelized sugar sauce

Here are a couple of comfort food dessert - Custard and Bread Pudding:
Old-Fashioned Baked Custard with Caramelized Sugar Sauce
6 eggs
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 tsp. salt
4 cups goat milk or whole cow milk
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1/8 tsp. nutmeg

In a large bowl, beat eggs slightly, add sugar and salt; mix well. Add in milk and stir well. Flavor with vanilla
and nutmeg, mix thoroughly. Butter a 9x9-inch baking dish and pour in custard mixture or butter ramekins. Place dish or ramekins in a shallow pan containing warm water; bake at 325 degrees for 75 minutes or until knife inserted in middle comes out clean. Pour caramelized sugar in each ramekin or serving dish.

Bread Pudding

2 cups granulated sugar
5 large beaten eggs
2 cups milk
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
3 cups cubed Italian or French bread, allow to stale overnight in a bowl
1 cup packed light brown sugar
1/4 cup (1/2 stick) butter, softened
1 cup chopped walnuts

For the sauce:
1 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, melted
1 egg, beaten
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1/4 cup brandy

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Grease a 13 by 9 by 2-inch pan. Mix together granulated sugar, eggs, and milk in a bowl; add vanilla. Pour over cubed bread and let sit for 10 minutes.
In another bowl, mix and crumble together brown sugar, butter, and pecans.
Pour bread mixture into prepared pan. Sprinkle brown sugar mixture over the top and bake for 35 to 45 minutes, or until set. Remove from oven.

For the sauce:
Mix together the granulated sugar, butter, egg, and vanilla in a saucepan over medium heat. Stir together until the sugar is melted. Add the brandy, stirring well. Pour over bread pudding. Serve warm or cold.

One of my favorite comfort foods in rice pudding but no one in my household likes it so I don't make it. We had a big New Year's Day bash and Morgan George of Sherman Hill Farmstead brought a rice pudding I remembered from my childhood.  I resisted the temptation to whisk it off the table and hide it in the closet so I did not have to share it.   Chicken in A Pot is my favorite main meal - using a whole chicken in the crock pot and adding homemade chicken stock and the assortment of vegetables are in the root cellar.  And bacon. Bacon marmalade will be available in the farm store in a couple of weeks.
The New Oven  - the Fireplace

We saw this method of string turned roasting at the Farmers Museum.  Here is our version of Roasting Chicken in the Fireplace usingthe String Turned Roast Method.