This has been the weirdest year for our tomatoes. Early in the season it was so cool and rainy, which meant that our tomatoes would keep producing new growth but no ripe tomatoes. Once the summer got its act together and shot up to 90 degrees, we got an overflow of ripe tomatoes. Thank you jeebus! On the weekends I’ve been canning my brains out. I’ve done tomato jam, tomato puree, tomato sauce, but I wanted to do something different this year. Because I don’t really want to live off of lasagna this winter. I’m not Garfield. I thought about canning something outside the box… or.. jar. Something that would incorporate a lot of our garden’s bounty and also be very useful. So obviously, I made bloody mary mix. Here’s a big shocker: we have a lot of friends that come over to visit, camp, help out on the farm, visit the animals and surprise, surprise… drink. And drink a lot. In the morning, they’re often searching for a delicious hair of the dog antidote. Who doesn’t love a good bloody mary? And what’s better than a bloody mary than a healthy homemade bloody mary mix! You’re welcome, friends.
Last week we talked about whole hog butchering. The whole idea of whole animal butchery is using every part of the animal that you can and letting virtually nothing go to waste. The only part of our pig that we didn’t use was the skin (we skinned it instead of scalding it) and hooves. There are things you can do with the skin and hooves, namely cracklin’s and… I don’t know, pickled pig feet? For this first time around we didn’t use them. But something we were very excited about using was the head for head cheese and pork stock. Oh buddy! It’s a twofer! Head cheese is awesome and it often gets a bad rap because it’s a weird name. Much like the very popular AMC Gremlin or Hoobastank. We’ll talk about the name in a second. I know there’s something called “head cheese loaf” you can get in the grocery store but let me assure you, that stuff is weird. Real head cheese is a delicious, rich mixture of fat and muscle with endless spice options. So let’s get on this salty meaty train and learn how to make authentic head cheese at home.
If you’re anything like us, you may have over-planted summer squash. And that means that, also like us, you have summer squash coming out the yang right now. It’s the summer squash-pocolypse. We may be sick of it now but come winter, we’ll be begging for a taste of summer. Squash and zucchini can be so easily preserved in a number of ways besides just zucchini bread. I mean, zucchini bread is delicious but c’mon… who needs 20 loaves of that in their freezer? Maybe your grandma. Like, if she was storing up for the winter church bazaar or something. Variety is the spice of life, grandma! Here’s three ways to preserve your summer squash and at the same time give you lots of different meal options throughout the rest of the year.
This past weekend marked four years since we moved to the farm. Not four years since we’ve been farming, because that first year was a lot of cleaning and moving. And honestly, we didn’t know what we were doing. But four years ago we started this weird journey. I remember sitting down by our creek and in our new house full of old people furniture from the previous owners and dreaming of what our life would be like in the future. We moved out here with the goal to be homesteaders; have a few chickens for eggs, a garden, maybe some livestock. Over the past four years we learned a lot, quit our jobs, started a business, expanded our garden three times, currently care for 100+ animals and met some pretty incredible people. We had some of those incredible people out at our farm this past Sunday to help us fill our freezer with delicious, heritage breed pork that we raised ourselves. In short, it was the best day ever. Oh, besides our wedding. Whew. That was a close one.
Goat’s milk. It’s what dreams are made of. It’s everything I dreamed of when we started raising goats almost two years ago. Well, that and lots and lots of cuddles. And goat kids. Really, goats are just the best. But the reason why we started raising goats is for goat milk and goat’s milk products. About a month ago we finished drinking our last gallon of store bought milk and started milking our first freshener does, Judy Garland and Liza Minnelli. More on the joys of milking goats later. But ever since then, our fridge has been full of delicious goat’s milk. Once we started getting milk in larger quantities, our eyes widened with all the possibilities of what we can do with goat’s milk. Homemade greek yogurt, homemade ice cream, soap, butter, and cheese! In fact, I started a pinterest board dedicated to goat’s milk products and recipes. Honestly, I’ve been practically standing on my milk stand, preaching the benefits of goat’s milk to anyone who will listen. But let’s get right down to it. Today we’re talking about reason #459 why farming is awesome. And that’s cheese. Delicious, creamy, farmmade raw goat cheese (also known as chevre).
It’s that time of year again! The time of year where we schlep through the woods to tap maple trees, collect sap and spend hours upon hours of boiling it down in order to make sweet, sweet maple syrup. This year we’re stepping up our game by increasing our taps from 100 to over 200. We’ll also be doing something very special with our finished syrup but you’ll have to wait a little bit longer to see what that is! We’ve been storing last year’s syrup away like squirrels and we’re almost to the very end of our stash! So I thought that this week would be a great time to make something special with our homemade maple syrup. With lots of syrup, fresh duck eggs on hand and a sudden “heat wave” (50 degrees!) that meant one thing and one thing only…. dessert. Sweet, creamy, most excellent dessert. In my belly. Now.
This weekend our metal shop was buzzing with activity, testosterone and beer. Dave and our buddy John were replacing the motor in a bobcat and getting that thing up and running. Our other buddy Bob was here working on setting up some new electrical lines in the shop so that they can all do more manly stuff in the future. Dudes are genetically designed to survive off of beef jerky, canned ravioli and tuna salad. They can do this for days, weeks, even 31 years. But this weekend I wanted them to eat some real food. Gasp! They had been working so hard this whole weekend. But the problem is that we haven’t gone grocery shopping in three weeks. I didn’t have much in the fridge or pantry but I did have some fresh farm raised rabbit! How that is possible, I do not know. I used what I had in the pantry to make a sweet honey and curry oven roasted rabbit. Not all guys like sweet with their meat but I figured since they can ravenously eat this with their hands, they wouldn’t mind.
A few weeks ago I professed my love of persimmons and made homemade persimmon vinegar and vodka infusions. Well, since then I’ve been saving up all the persimmons that I’ve harvested and put them in the freezer. This past weekend, I defrosted them to find a gooey, sticky glob of persimmon mess. But that’s not a bad thing, in fact it’s perfect for making persimmon purÃ©e, the basis of basically all persimmon based recipes. Muffins, cupcakes, jam, butter and homemade persimmon ice cream!
I’m going to get right down to it. I’m talking about making homemade marshmallows, people. Home. Made. Marsh. Mallows. It’s about to get real. Let me back up a little bit. This year for Thanksgiving I was in charge of bringing the sweet potatoes and a pie. We all know that the best part of the sweet potatoes is certainly not the sweet potatoes, it’s the gooey, messy, sweet morsels of heaven on top. Duh! But for real, the best part of anything when it involves marshmallows is ALWAYS the marshmallows. Hot chocolate is nothing if not a hot tub for mini-marshmallows. A s’more is given that soft, velvety (sometimes chard) texture when marshmallows are added. It’s the best. Everyone knows that. But I digress. This year I really wanted to step up my culinary game for Thanksgiving. So why not go for gold and make homemade marshmallows for the sweet potato casserole topping. Not only are they great to bake with, but they make an impression addition to the dessert spread and make wonderful homemade gifts.
I can’t believe it but we had peppers still thriving well into October! We’ve been letting our jalapenos turn red most of the season so we had a myriad of red peppers left on the plants. Before we pulled the plants up for the season, we tried to harvest and make use of every single pepper possible. Since I don’t think our pigs would be a fan of hot jalapenos, I needed to think of something creative to do with these spicy guys. I immediately thought of hot sauce! Duh! But not just any hot sauce, the most amazing, most special hot sauce there is… Sriracha Hot Sauce. We love the heat, the flavor and the extra punch of sirracha. We put that ish on everything! Eggs, pizza, burgers, chilli… hell, I’d even have a sriracha birthday cake if I could. The only thing that’s better than sriracha itself is homemade sriracha, which turned out to be really easy to do.