Sunday, January 27, 2013

The wine bottle experiment

Have you ever been out of town and NEEDED  to open a bottle of wine in your hotel room but found you had no corkscrew?  No, me neither.  I always travel with a corkscrew.  But if this has happened to you, have no worries.  Thanks to my friend, Sherry, who posts very important things on Facebook - ways of the world, critical political news stories, things I need to know.  Today she posted something I may need to know in an emergency.  Please watch and take notes - In French.

Of course I couldn't resist trying this out for myself so I rounded up my also-curious-ever-so-cooperative-partners-in-crime and we have our attempt right here for your viewing pleasure.  I won't give away whether the experiment was successful or not.  You're just going to have to watch all the videos to see for yourself.  I should mention one of my most responsible, logical, and dare I say, smarter teammates suggested we do this in the basement where there are drains in the floor.  Just thought I'd mention that so you don't think I have plaster and paint falling off my walls in our livable space.  Ok, disclaimer out of the way.  Here we go.

Shucks.  Let's try again.  One of the teammates thinks this is bull----.

Did we give up?  No we did not!

So there you have it.  When I did a Youtube search for "Open Wine Bottle With Shoe" there were many other videos so we're not the only ones who couldn't resist this magic trick.  I didn't, however, see my friend Sherry's attempt on there.

Friday, January 25, 2013

First meat curing - need more practice

I didn't want to make the title of this blog Duck Prosciutto because I didn't want someone randomly doing a search for it and come upon my blog since I'm experimenting myself.

A friend gave us this great book, Charcuterie - The Craft of Salting, Smoking and Curing.  I've been really excited about trying out some of the recipes so we can have our own bacon, prosciutto, smoked ham, sausage, etc.  We have a freezer full of meat and 2 pigs to butcher yet this year so it might be a good idea to cure some of it so it doesn't have to be kept in the freezer.  Plus, I think learning charcuterie is going to be really cool. 

My first attempt was duck confit and duck prosciutto.  Duck confit is basically duck legs (or other parts) seasoned and then stored in fat before cooking.  I didn't have enough duck fat to cover it so I had to use some lard I had rendered from a pig in the past.  It was too salty for me and it didn't fall apart or melt in my mouth like I had expected.  I didn't even take pictures so you know it was a bust.  It was eaten though.

The duck prosciutto was better but by no means something I'd be pleased with if I was served it at a restaurant.  I think part of the problem was my breasts were too small - story of my life.   I followed this recipe  which was the same recipe as in my book but see how thick their breasts were
and then here are my breasts before they were dried
after they were salted for 24 hours
And then after 7 days of drying.

See how I have almost as much fat as I do meat?  It tasted ok but was better when cooked like bacon.  I had some with my eggs in the morning and then cooked the rest and put it in a quiche for dinner, which was tasty.   Still, it was nothing like prosciutto from pork like we had in Italy.  

Now I have a leg of goat marinating in the refrigerator for 18 days which will then be rinsed off and dried for a few (?) months before we can eat it.  I hope it's better than the duck.  This recipe came off the internet.  My book didn't have any recipes for goat meat.

More to come.

Tonight's dinner?  Nothing fancy, stewed rooster with sweet potatoes and turnips. 


Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Animals and the cold

It's cold here.  The past few mornings have been in the upper teens.  Luckily it's been sunny during the day so it's not as bad as I'd anticipated.

I used to worry more about my animals in the cold weather.  I've since learned my animals have it good compared to many of my internet friend's critters.  Many of the folks in my mammoth donkey Yahoo group have been having temps around -10.  Brrrrr. 

Last night a friend called to ask me if my pigs would be ok in this cold.  I thought it was a bit strange he'd worry about my pigs and not the goats, rabbits, donkeys, etc.  I told him the pigs had the horse trailer with hay in it and each other to curl up with.  I should have told  him people raise pigs in Alaska too and they don't heat their barns.  Hmmmm, come to think of it, this could be the reason he asked.  He's our electrician and we haven't hired him for a job in awhile.  Maybe business is slow and he wants us to build a barn with electricity. 

Keri sleeps with the goats in their barn now.  I'd love to know if they curl up next to her since she's so nice and furry but if I snuck out there at night she'd notice and come barking before I could get a peek.  It took awhile but they've finally bonded, especially Luti and Keri.  I had them all in our big field for awhile and Luti would follow Keri all over the place, which meant all the other goats had to follow along, much to fat Pessa's chagrin.  It's a lot more work for her to keep up but probably good exercise.  Even in the pouring rain Keri would stay outside the goats' little house (in the field) instead of going to the other shelter for cover, which was much farther away.  I'm glad she takes her job seriously.  I should mention that Chy and Wilson, my standard donkeys, really missed them while they were over there and were glad when they returned.  One day I saw Keri rolled over onto her back and Wilson sniffing her belly.  I think she thought he was going to rub it. 

Of all the animals, Keri is the one I worry about the least in this weather.  We took her for a walk around the field the other day and instead of walking in the grass she stayed in the snow and even took a moment to roll in it.

55 days and 1 hour till spring.

Thursday, January 17, 2013

The cook, the nourisher, the whiner

Here's another posting I found in my draft folder.  I wonder if I was in a bad mood the day I wrote this.  I think it was written over a year ago since I haven't been in a bad mood since then.   snort

I don't know if this is a woman thing or just a Karen thing.  I like to cook for my family (most of the time).  James has always been the family provider financially so I feel like I'm supposed to provide the nourishment.  I take pride in my cooking (again, most of the time).  Today I realized I'm expecting too much from the rest of my family when it comes to showing appreciation for my attempt at pleasing their palettes.  Afterall, I don't say to James every day, "wow, good job at earning a living so we can pay our mortgage".  Or, "you're so awesome working all day long when you could be out playing like I am".  I should add here that James and Adam rarely (maybe never) get up from the table without saying, "thanks for dinner". 

What I'm referring to is how when I yell up the stairs, "time to eat", and they don't jump right up, I think, what? you want MY dinner to get cold?  If I've thought early in the day about what I'm going to cook I might get offended if Adam tells me at the last minute he's not going to be here for dinner.  Didn't he KNOW I left out 3 pork chops, not just 2?  Harumph!

When I was a teenager my boyfriend's mother would get irritated if anyone asked what's for dinner.  She also got pissed off if they put their grubby fingers in the food while she was cooking.  I never knew what the big deal was......until now.  I also hate when I say, "are you going to be here for dinner?" and the response that follows is, "what are we having?"  or "I don't know, what time are we eating?"

It's also not all that unusual for me to leave out 3 pork chops and Adam asks 15 minutes before dinner if 4 other people can eat here.  I have to admit I'd prefer this scenario to no one showing up.  That seems a little odd, doesn't it? 

That's where I quit writing.  Maybe I didn't know how to wrap it up.  I'll see if I can do that now.  Since Adam doesn't live here most of the time I probably don't feel this way very often.  I rarely get dinner on the table before 6:30 or 7:00 so James is hungry by then and it doesn't take long for him to show up.   Also, he never asks what's for dinner, or invites friends without asking me, or decides at the last minute he's not eating here.  One day I'll probably miss these things and think, if only someone would ask what's for dinner.  Or maybe I'll wish more folks showed up with big appetites at the last minute. 

Perhaps I should save this again as a draft and see how I feel in another couple years. 

Time to eat!

PS.  James, thank you for earning a living so I can put food on our table. 


Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Birth Order

Today I was looking at some of the drafts I had saved for my blog but had never used.  Many of them I deleted but a few I saved in case I may want to use them at a later date.  I came across this one on birth order when I was finding this so interesting.  I thought it might be amusing to some of you other last born children.  I don't know where I got the information but I copied it from the internet and pasted it with my remarks in orange.                                                                                                                                                         

Last born children tend to be the easiest to define when it comes to the correlation between birth order and personality, this is mostly due to the fact that there is only one main type of last born.
Last Born Traits
  • Risk takers  I never thought of myself as a risk taker but maybe in some ways.  I'm the only one in my family to move away. 
  • Idealists  Yeah, I think I am.
  • Good sense of humor  I don't know.  You tell me.
  • Hard working  I think I'm hard working at things I like and not so hard working at things I don't.
  • Immature  I beg your pardon.
  • Attention seeking  Of course.  Why do you think I keep a blog?
  • Secretive  That's for me to know and you to find out.
  • Sensitive  Depends on what they mean by sensitive.  Do I get feelings hurt easily?  Not easily but occasionally.  Sensitive to other's needs?  I hope so.
Last born children are often considered the baby of the family, and live up to this role. At times it is difficult for the last born child to find his/her place in the family, as the first and middle child have already left huge footprints to follow in, and carved their own niche into the family.

Strengths V.S. Weaknesses





Outgoing, sociable, affectionate, caring, creative, empathetic, and confident. Pardon me while I pat myself on the back.

Spoiled, manipulative, immature, self-centered, and capricious. Hey, I resent that but I do think it's funny they use the word "capricious" since "caprine" is another word for goat.


Careers in sales, or invention corporations work well because of their ability to sell things, including themselves, work well alone, want to be the boss, and just do their own thing at their own pace.  I like the part about doing my own thing at my own pace and I can be pretty bossy.

Do not like to be tied down to committment I hate having appointments, can be perceived as "cut throat"  I don't think so, try too hard at times, alternative routes in life may make them the odd man out. Definitely odd.

Fun Facts
  • Famous last born children: Howard Stern, Jay Leno, Ralph Nadar, Bill Gates, and Danny DeVito
  • Tend to go against the norm
  • Make the biggest stirs in life
  • Know no boundaries

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Cheese - It's what's for breakfast

Every month I get a cheese newsletter from the company I buy some of my cheese making supplies from, New England Cheesemaking Supply.  Reading it always makes me want to make cheese.  It also makes me hungry.  Since all our girls are dried up now I don't have milk to make cheese so this morning I just had to eat it instead of make it. 

I've been experimenting with cheesemaking for 3 or 4 years and just when I think I understand what makes a good cheese, I take one out of the cheese cave (wine refrigerator) and I don't like it.  The biggest problem I've had is some cheeses have an acidic taste.  I don't really know how to describe it.  I've fed many of these cheeses to the dogs and pigs.  They like them just fine.  Cheese connoisseurs they're not.

I'd been sealing my cheeses with my Food Saver and that helped prevent unwanted molds but occasionally one of the cheeses would be wet and those were the ones that had this acidic taste.  I think I need to let them air dry longer before sealing.  My last 2 cheeses, a gruyere and a monterey jack, were left unwrapped in the cave.  I couldn't wait to see how they tasted.  This morning I cut into the monterey jack, which is only 2 months old but it looked very dry and had a pinkish hue to the rind.  Hold on one moment while I pat myself on the back...........................
It's really good.  I like that it has a more developed rind than the ones that are in sealed plastic.  There's more flavor than some of my cheeses that were wrapped and much older.  I won't cut the gruyere until this one is gone but I hope it's just as good or better.  I'm sure I don't have it figured out yet but I'm going to keep trying.  I can't wait till kidding season and we have our own goat milk again.  Luckily we have plenty of cheese to get us through the winter. 

Cheese and crackers were a good breakfast but maybe I shouldn't have eaten so much in one sitting. 


Saturday, January 12, 2013

Don't feel loved?

If you don't feel loved then you need pets.  Sometimes we're loved a little too much by our animals. 

Today James and I were working on the boat project.

As we did, 3 big donkey heads hung over the gate huffing and complaining because they wanted to come out to be with us.  This would have been a very bad idea (though I considered it) because they'd rub against the posts we just concreted in the ground.

Just as we finished up Keri appeared.  She had squeezed through the fence and water trough (a tight squeeze for a big dog) to be in the fenced in area with the donkeys.  She couldn't get to us either but she sure wanted to. 

I walked back through the field to put a wiggly Keri back with the goats where she belonged when my phone rang.  It was a neighbor asking me if we had an old brown boxer.  Lex was in the road but couldn't get through the gate to be in the field with us. We were gone from the house too long, I guess.

I think if the chickens were smart enough they'd have crossed the road too.  Every time I walk out my back door I'm surrounded by chickens waiting for me to feed them.  I'm not sure they really love me but they appreciate me, I think. 

The more animals - the more love.  That's how I see it. 

Friday, January 4, 2013

Thank goodness for tame pigs

There's rarely a dull moment at Elk Cliff Farm. 

Strange car drives up the lane, "there's a huge pig running in the road."

Me - running up the road calling for Roxie.  She hears me call her and comes running.

Cars are stopped in the road watching.  As she follows me a man in a truck, laughing, says, "they come when they're called?  I say yeah, just as Roxie turns around and heads back the opposite direction in a panic. 

Finally she turns around again, still running (she's pretty fast for such a big girl), and jogs with me just about back to the gate where James meets us and heads her off so she will follow me back to the safety of her field.  Woman in another car watches, laughing.

It appears a gate had been left open and Roxie found an exit through the second fence to the road.  The other pigs and donkeys were also outside their first fence but luckily not out the second.  They all followed us calmly back.  I'm so glad they cooperate when it's really important.

I think every type animal we own has been in the road at least once.  What kind of farmers are we?

Walnuts, peanuts, goatnuts

Nuts are good for you, right?  James and I eat lots of them, mostly peanuts, but we like just about any nut.

Yesterday we took 4 goats to the butcher.  Joe-the-butcher asked, "do you want the oysters?" 

"Ummm, I don't think so."  I answered.  I know we should be using as many parts of our animals as we can if we're going to raise them for food but I just didn't know how I'd use testicles, other than feeding them to the dogs. 

I told James what Joe asked and my adventurous (and maybe a little nuts) husband said, "sure, we should get them".  I don't know what he had in mind for them but today I asked if he'd eat testicles if I fixed them.  "Sure, I'd try 'em". 

So now I'm looking forward to this event, and it WILL be an event.  Maybe not of this magnitude
testicle festival
but still, an event I'll want to get on video.  After Googling goat testicles (believe-it-or-not, there's quite a bit on this subject) I found a few ways I may try to prepare them.  Seeing them on skewers doesn't look very appealing so that's out.
sheep testicles
But as a pizza topping or fried I might even consider eating them (after a few glasses of wine). 
testicle pizza
For certain, we will not be eating them raw and they'll have to be disguised in some way.  Are you finding this hard to swallow? 

Another first for us is we'll be getting the hides back (along with all the organs and bones) and I plan to tan them.  I don't know what I'll do with them if I'm successful at it but I want to give it a try.

We haven't fired up our brick oven lately.  Anyone interested in sharing some pizza with us?

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Ringing in the new year

Ring out the old, ring in the new,
Ring, happy bells, across the snow:
The year is going, let him go;
Ring out the false, ring in the true.

We actually stayed awake to ring in the new year.  Well, we didn't really "ring" it in.  We blew obnoxious horns but the new year came just the same.  Some friends invited us to celebrate with them and about 9 other couples.   It was a great night - fun people, excellent food, circus animals
and entertainment that I can't even find words to describe.

It was a distinguished group.

For the most part the party was laid back and no one got out of hand ........that is until James had a few
and threw the potatoes and broke the china.  I hope we're invited back. 

Happy New Year, Everyone.  Great things are going to happen in 2013.  I can feel it.