Saturday, June 30, 2012

Cranberry Wine- Part 3

Today was the 10th day that the wine had been fermenting so it was time to strain it. The worst part really is all the sterilizing. I was going to strain mine into a large pot and then put it in the jugs, just because that seemed the easiest way to do it. So I had to sterilize the large pot, the funnel, the cup I was going to pour with, the cloth I was going to strain through, the strainer, then the jugs, tops, airlocks and bungs. Plus Phil had to drill the holes in the tops of the jugs for me because my bungs didn't exactly fit the tops of the jugs. Anyway, once I got everything sterilized, things went along smoothly.
This is what it looked like to start with. I had been just picking up the bucket and swirling it around instead of opening so I hadn't actually seen it since about the second day. It was very obvious that things were going well from the minute I opened it. The whole house now smells like a winery and, if you ask me, it is a pretty nice smell.
So this had to be strained through a cloth in a strainer and then squeezed out. It is obviously not clear at this point. I could have let it set after the straining and then racked it afterwards. I did buy a racking cane...
but I have yet to buy the tubing to go with the racking cane. So this wine was just strained one more time through a small strainer into the jugs.
However before doing this I tasted it. It is amazing that it could taste so good already. I did add just a little more sugar before straining, putting in the jugs and putting the airlocks on.  So now it sits for 30 days before I rack it  (I should have my tubing by then).
 I am incredibly pleased and can't wait to try another one.  After all, we have to make more than 2 gallons! I see the wild muscadines in the woods are setting fruits this year. I imagine they would make a very nice wine.

Thursday, June 28, 2012


It is supposed to be 97 degrees F. today. We often hover in the upper 90's for weeks during the summer but we seldom have weeks where we get in the 100's. This is going to be one of those weeks. Tomorrow is supposed to get 105 degrees F. Then Saturday they are calling for 106 F. Sunday we still don't get a break at102 F. And then we drop back into the 90's for the week which will probably feel cool by then. By the way, the chance for rain is extremely slim and the humidity is going to be ridiculous too. I will be struggling to keep the garden alive and watered and also to keep the house anywhere near cool.
Next week I have completely off though we don't get paid for it and I am so looking forward to it, even if it is hot enough to cook on the porch without a stove.
Here's hoping  you all will be having better weather for next week than we are going to get!

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Lemons and Flowers

I just wanted to give you all a little update on how the Meyer lemons were doing. They ended up having lots of blooms and lots of little lemons formed but then fell off. I had started to get worried but it finally stopped dropping fruit and kept some. There are 8 or 10 on there. I don't know, I have actually counted but I am very pleased with them. They do grow REALLY slo-w-ly though.

I also took a picture of my one "mammoth" sunflower. It turned out to be one of two because while I was down in the garden taking this picture I saw that one other bud had reached above the tomatoes.
This last picture is of the 4 o'clock's. I was given a few seeds from a friend and they have definitely multiplied. These are on the end of the house with the massive patch of lemon balm but they will also overtake the front flower garden before the summer is over. I have the yellow and pink. One year I had some lovely ones that were kind of stripey but like most flowers they seem to go back to their primary colors when left to live naturally. My morning glories all do the same thing too, eventually I end up with just purple.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Fried Squash and Ham

Last night we had leftover ham for dinner. Phil made his in sandwiches but I wanted something with a vegetable in it and there was still one yellow squash sitting on the counter. So I fried it with some onion and chunks of ham. I didn't add anything else but it was definitely good!

Yogurt Pops

It is HOT out there this week!  We need something cool to eat but also healthy. Yesterday I had seen a recipe for yogurt pops online and thought it was a great idea and today when I was in the store looking for cat wormer I picked up these
My mother had something similar that she used to fill with Kool-aid to make us cheap popsicles but yogurt-sicles are much more nutritious and tasty.
I made strawberry yogurt pops. I had some strawberries in a bag in the freezer. I just thawed a few strawberries in the microwave. It didn't take many- maybe 8 strawberries. I  then wizzed them up in my mini chopper. . .
...and then mixed it into some yogurt. To do all these little popsicles it took a little over half a quart of yogurt. I used my homemade yogurt (see Popular Posts on sidebar).

That's all there was to it. Put it in the little popsicle molds and freeze. Here is the final product. Sorry for the picture, batteries in the camera died so this is a phone picture.
I can already tell that these aren't going to last long. I have a few bananas on the table. I think the next ones will be Yogurt Banana Pops.

Monday, June 25, 2012

Harvest Monday 6/25

This weeks harvest included a few more beans, tomatoes and peppers. I took this picture on Saturday and got a few more tomatoes on Sunday. Most of them are gone already.

I also cut back some of the herbs. Since it is getting in the 90's now I wanted to get them in case the heat got to be too much for them or in case I didn't get to water enough or whatever. I just know they were looking good and I am good at killing them so it was time to cut them now.

This is basil, thyme and oregano. I used the basil in pesto pasta, as we are calling it, which we had Saturday night along with some of those tomatoes. The rest were put on a cookie sheet and slid in the oven to dry. I don't use oregano for a lot--yet but I am happy to get the thyme which we use quite a bit and it is entirely too expensive in the stores.
And, of course, we have the usual harvest of eggs. This is just a days worth for the quail and a couple days worth for the chickens.
The quail eggs are saved to go in the incubator since I just hatched another dozen quail and the chicken eggs will be used for all the things chicken eggs are used for.

Join us at Daphne's Dandelions to see all the harvests.

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Ham- Part 2- First One Is Done!

Smoking meat is different from regular cooking in that you don't get to open it and check on your progress. You have to wait until the thermometer says it is done before you get a peek at how your meat looks. But the smoker never seems to disappoint.
 The ham in the top of the smoker had the thermometer probe in it. We opened the smoker when it reached 160 degrees F. It was lovely but after checking the temperature of the lower ham, we found that one was only at about 150 degrees so it had to stay in a bit longer.
We, of course, took the top ham to be taste tested. 

Beautiful isn't it!
We did find it to be slightly salty on this end but not enough to bother you any. This end is the side that was on the bottom of the bag of brine. The color inside is wonderful and it is juicy. It tastes like ham only better than store bought, of course.

Ham -Part 1

There really doesn't need to be two parts to this but I just can't wait for the ham to get done to post about it. Remember the big hams?
We cut the hock off of them and then cut them in half and one whole ham (two halves) was put in the frig. in a 2 gallon bag to cure. We cured it 10 days. Yesterday they were taken out of the cure and washed off and then put back in  the frig. to develop the pellicule.
I was so worried that they wouldn't fit in the smoker together and it was close but they made it. I didn't put a glaze on them. I don't like a glaze on ham, never have.
So keep watching. I should have a post of how they look all done in ....several hours.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Canadian Bacon

I have about two minutes for this post before I leave for work. I just wanted you all to see the end result of the Canadian bacon. When we did the rest of the bacon I did one piece of loin for Canadian bacon. I used the same cure (see the Buckboard Bacon link on the sidebar) but added some brown sugar. It could have been a bit sweeter and probably should have had syrup put on it before smoking but it really is extremely good anyway. I have been having Canadian bacon, egg and cheese muffins for breakfast and adding some to my salad for lunch as well.
This morning I have been working hard cleaning quail pens and moving ducklings and chicks. Now I'll go to work and relax some. Strange how that works out...

Tuesday, June 19, 2012


On Sunday besides  making wine and sausage (there will be a post eventually on the sausage), I made granola. I have never had homemade granola . I followed this recipe.  The recipe called for roasted slivered almonds but all I had was almonds still in the shell so I had to crack them all and chop them up but they weren't roasted and I threw in a few pecans and hazelnut meats too.
I mixed up everything and spread it out on the pan.
It was supposed to cook for 30 minutes. I stirred it three of four times during the cooking. For some reason I thought it would clump together more. It didn't. It smelled absolutely wonderful! I removed it several minutes (like 8) early as it seemed to me that it was getting too dark.
I tried it the first time on some of my homemade yogurt. It was pretty good but wasn't as sweet as I thought it would be. It is very crispy but doesn't seem to have a lot of flavor to me. I really think it cooked a bit long or maybe I just need a better recipe. I'll be looking around for other ones and see what I can find. It is important to me to not have to buy a lot of things to make one thing though so I want it to be made out of at least some things can be produced at home (this one had honey and nuts which could be produced at home though I don't have bees as of yet). If you have a blog post to a good granola recipe please feel free to leave it in the comments :)

Monday, June 18, 2012

Cranberry Wine-Part 2, Adding the Yeast

This morning I had to add the yeast to the bucket of "must" that I made yesterday. After getting those helpful comments from Misty yesterday, I knew to start the yeast in warm water. I also read the back of the yeast packet and it said to just pour it in the water and leave it for 15 minutes, then I could stir it in. So that is what I did.
Here is the yeast that I used.

 This is not the wine yeast that the recipe called for but when I bought this yeast a month or so ago, I didn't even know there were different kinds of wine yeasts so this is the one that will get used for the wine this time and maybe later I will branch out and buy a few different kinds of wine yeast and make even better wine!
Here is the yeast in the bowl (which I did sterilize with boiling water. I don't know if that is necessary but I did it just in case) waiting the 15 minutes. It smelled just like any bread yeast.
I, then, stirred it and added it to the must in the primary, stirred it all in and put the top back on. There isn't any more to it than that. 
I do want to mention that I have found Jack Keller's blog and website to be extremely helpful. I am still reading at both but I am learning a lot from him.

Monday's Harvest

I have harvested a couple more squash, a couple more full sized tomatoes--the Taxi variety and lots of these little Sungold tomatoes this week but because of all the work involved with the hog meat, I really haven't had time to take pictures of everything. Here are a few that things I picked Sunday though. More tomatoes and our first beans! We won't get very many beans because it is just half of a raised bed but we have a few anyway. These are a flat Italian bush bean. I have always liked the flat Italian beans for some reason.
Not sure how I will use these few beans. In previous years I would blanch and freeze them and just keep adding to the bag of frozen beans until I had enough for a meal and I might just do that again but if I come across a good recipe before I get that done...well,who knows? They could be gone tomorrow.

See all our harvests at Daphne's Dandelions!

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Cranberry Wine - Part 1

Remember these?

These are the cranberries that took so long to be marked down after Thanksgiving and Christmas but that I finally got for a dollar a bag. I saved these so that I could try wine making and I put it of and put it off but this week there was no room in the freezer for these, so I had to do something with them and I still wanted that wine.
I am using the recipe here even though these aren't highbush cranberries and I have changed it a bit as I boiled the cranberries and golden raisins first:

 I cleaned and sterilized my "primary" which is just a bucket with a lid.

Boiled the cranberries then let them cool some and put them in the bucket with a crushed campden tablet.

 I did use the lid on the bucket as I don't like the idea of how many bugs I could attract with a bucket with just a cloth on top. It has cooled quite a bit an I will soon add the sugar, yeast nutrient and pectic enzyme.
I think I may need a few more things before I am through. I have one airlock and bung but I only have gallon jugs to use as "secondaries" (so far) so may need another bung and airlock for this much.
I am very interested to see how this turns out. I have wanted to try wine making for a long time. It seems complicated at first since I have never done it but last year bacon and sausage making were a mystery too so I am sure...eventually, I will at least turn out a product that is drinkable. I wouldn't know a good wine from a bad one though so I guess "drinkable" is the best I can do....well, alcoholic would be nice too.

Saturday, June 16, 2012

Bacon Makin'

So the bacon came out of their curing bags today, it was soaked, and was put in the smoker. Yes, I know I should wait at least over night for it to form a pellicle but I just don't have time for it. So it went in the smoker today. It may not end up looking as pretty but I think it will still taste like bacon which is all I need. I fried up a piece after it soaked to taste test it and it tasted like bacon so really smoking it is just extra.
This picture shows you the amount of bacon from just the one pig. There is one jowl and one piece of loin for Canadian bacon in this picture.
 So this went in the smoker and cooked until it had an internal temperature of 160 degrees and I actually left it about an hour after that because I just didn't feel the jowl was done.
Meanwhile I did not do a thing that was constructive. No spoons today. I watched the birds. I have not had a bird feeder for years because I read an article then on how feeding the birds caused them to not migrate when they should and it was also like "fast food" for birds since the seeds in most bird feed were not what they normally would eat but what they like instead.  Anyway, this year I got over it (since all the birds haven't died as the article seemed to suggest they would) and I put up two little cheap feeders.
Sorry but my camera does not take pictures very well from about 15 feet apparently. 
I am rather amazed that the same variety of birds come to my feeders here as did when I was 1000 miles away in New England. I get chickadees, tufted titmouse, blue jays and cardinals. The only difference is that the blue jays and cardinals are more cautious here but that may just be because of the cats. 
I also chipped up more plum wood. Plum chips is what we used to smoke this bacon. The smell is just wonderful! This is when I peeked in when the thermometer told me the meat was at 160 degrees F. I let it smoke an hour more.
Here is what it looked like when it came out. Not as nice a color but the smell... you just can't describe how good it smells!
We, of course, had breakfast for supper. I won't tell you that the bacon tastes just like store bought because it doesn't. It might have been closer if we had smoked it with hickory but I am glad we didn't. While the taste is not exactly like store bought bacon it is much better in my opinion. I love the taste of the plum smoke on it. It is different but so much more...savory.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012


Since there was an amazing amount of views on the pig butchering and the posts since then I thought I should give you a little update on it. There are 8 bags of bacon in the frig. curing that are being turned every day. There is one jowl also being cured in there (I never did find the other one and think it ended up in one of the sausage bags--there are lots of sausage bags.There is also the one loin curing for Canadian bacon.  One of the hams, cut in half, is being cured in a wet cure in two different bags in the bottom of the frig (in a pan in case of leaks). 
We have eaten pork from the pig twice. One of the meals I posted about and this morning I took a piece of loin and put it in the crock pot with some dried mushrooms, water and a small can of brown gravy that we happened to have. It cooked all day and then I shredded it this evening and used corn starch to make the juice around  it into a gravy. We served this over mashed potatoes with corn mixed in. It was quite good but there are leftovers and I will probably end up having to can the roast and gravy if it doesn't get eaten.
We almost have to eat out of the freezer every day just to use up some of the meat so that when those hams and bacons are done--the bacons will be smoked this weekend, the hams may have to wait until the weekend afterwards unless I can get a day off during the week (unlikely).
Every evening after work there is more work except tonight. I should be trying to make some sausage but I am taking the night off. I'm tired. I crammed the bag of sausage chunks into the freezer. It will have to wait.
Our grocery bill this week should drop considerably :)

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Dinnner Tonight

Home raised buffalo chicken strips and pasta salad with Parmesan cheese and cherry tomatoes from the hanging baskets. Too good!

Monday, June 11, 2012

Dinner and Cutting, Cutting and More Cutting

Of course tonight we had to get in that cooler of meat and figure out how to cut everything up and cure things. I had started with one of the loins and cut slices off it for supper then cut the rest in decent sized chunks and bagged them and put them away as I was making supper.
Supper tonight was pork loin slices, yellow squash and homemade macaroni and cheese. Umm, yes it was good and I ate too much!

After eating and feeding the animals we went to cutting and bagging more of the meat. Unfortunately Phil grabbed his crappy camera to take pictures with so some of the pictures are...crappy.
We started with the bellies and got it cut up and put in bags with some cure. Even in a crappy picture these look nice! (No it is not 2010-what a wonderful camera--NOT).

One on top of the other-hard to see in the picture. 
In the bag to be cured. Yeah, this is my camera after we were done.
The bacon took forever and then I moved on to the other loin and we cured a piece of it hopefully for a Canadian type bacon.
Then it was on to the shoulder. We cut the hock off and left them whole. 
Then we did one of the hams. Huge aren't they.

We cut the hock off of this and then cut it in half. The other one is still in the frig. We are out of freezer space! 
We figure we will cut the other ham tomorrow and start it curing..maybe..and then take this weekend and next and do a whole lot of smoking and sausage making.