Friday, December 28, 2012

Deer Burger and Jerky

The other day, as you who read the last post know, I made deer burger and jerky. Originally I had thought to keep the deer leg whole but I just don't have enough room in the freezer. My brother posted a Youtube video on facebook about adding bacon to your ground deer meat to make burger and I have plenty of bacon so decided to do it that way.
I got all the white skin off of it and it ground up really nice and easily. Every now and then I would throw in a hunk of bacon and keep grinding (the bacon had not been sliced yet and I used the fattier ends).
I ended up with 6 very generous pounds of deer burger. I also had a backstrap which I cut in half. The deer meat is all the darker meat on top of the freezer.

The rest I prepared as jerky. I have several jerky kits (Eastman Outdoors) that I bought last year after deer season when they went on sale, plus I had regular jerky mix that came with my jerky maker. One of the jerky kits was for 3 lbs, that was the BBQ one the other pound or so I did with the regular jerky kits from the jerky maker.
These are some of the BBQ jerky before it was dried.
I had to drag out the old brown dehydrator for the regular jerky. These were made before they came with fans so it takes a lot longer to dehydrate anything.
This isn't even all of it. The two darker pieces on top were the only two pieces of the regular jerky that were done when I took this picture. They are all done now though. I have some in a canister and the rest in a Ziplock in the refrigerator.

So this was a few days ago. I love being home! But you all know how fast the days go when you are home. I am trying to get things done that haven't been done for far too long. Went through the bedroom and collected a Salvation Army bag full of junk. Got the shades off the lights and scrubbed them clean, etc. etc. Today I got to town to do a little shopping though we didn't eat much since most of last week was ham eating week. I did however get a deal on a box of smoker chips. They had a box that had 4 different big bags of wood chips- cherry, apple, mesquite and hickory plus it had a DVD and a metal wood chip holder for $9. Can't wait to try the cherry and apple wood!
When I got home I finally got another batch of wine going. This will be more of the Welch's grape wine only this will be a 3 gallon batch.
So that is all that has been going on this week. I am still practicing the violin every day...some day... a few years from now...I'll be good at it :)

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

A Violin

Today was all about deer meat here but since I mentioned the violin on facebook, I will save the deer meat post for tomorrow. I should have some finished jerky to photograph but then anyway.

When I was a child in 4th grade, for one year, I took violin lessons in school. Our school had their own violins and trumpets so my brother and I were able to play without having to buy an instrument (he played trumpet).  I can't say that I was all that good at it. I never did understand how to read notes. Our teacher must have explained it to us but all I remember is that she took us step by step through the first selection that we were to play. She told us the string and how many fingers and apparently we were supposed to just know the notes after that. I never did.
However, all these years I have wanted to play the violin again. To see one, anywhere, made me long for it but I never could afford one...until now. Not because I have so much money now but because there are cheap violins on eBay now and that is what I got as an early Christmas gift.
It actually came in on my birthday Dec. 8th but I didn't get the tuner until several days afterwards and then I broke the fine tuner on the E string the first time I tried to tune it because they are just plain made cheaply. So Phil took it in to a music store in Augusta with him and they replace the tuners with nice metal ones.
I remember very little about how to play the violin. I know how to hold the bow and the violin properly but other than that I don't know a thing. I bought several books to help me get started. I practice every day and I love it. Oh, I'm terrible right now but I am slowly getting better and best of all I understand how to read the notes now.
For Christmas Phil gave me a nice stand and a very nice binder to hold the sheets of music. I don't know as I'll ever get really good at it but I truly enjoy it anyway.

Tuesday, December 25, 2012


I just wanted to show off our Christmas ham. I wish I could send out samples so you all could taste how perfect it was. Normally my hams are a little dry but this one was wonderful.
It cured for about 3 weeks and was in the smoker on 250 for about 6 hours. It was a pretty big ham and we were pleased that it was done so quickly. The rest of the meal was great too though we cooked way too much as usual.
Hope you all had as nice a Christmas as we had!

Monday, December 24, 2012

Venison Heart and Liver with Mushrooms Meal

You were expecting cookies or candies, I suppose.... well, we did make cookies and cherry pie but this post is about what I made for supper. The deer meat sitting in the cooler can't sit there for more than a couple of days and room in the freezer is..questionable so some of it had to be used and I was curious about the heart and liver. Phil normally is more of a fan of liver than I am but I do like heart meat. I did a little investigating online and then came up with this:

Take the heart and clean it out really good (there will be coagulated blood in it) and cut it into slices (the bottom of the heart has better meat than the top. The top has all the valves and they need to be cut off).
Cut the liver and soak it a bit to get the blood out. I only used half the liver for this recipe.
In a pan put 3-4 slices of fatty bacon and cook these until almost done, then dredge your pieces of heart and liver in flour and put them in the pan to brown. During this time I added almost a whole pint of sliced mushrooms and one green onion stalk. It looked and smelled pretty good even at this point.

When the meat is browned good put it in your crock pot with 2 cans of cream of mushroom soup and one can of milk and salt and pepper. Cook in your crock pot 3-4 hours.
Serve over mashed potatoes or rice.  I added some more green onion on top.
Phil was not real sure about it at first but he ate two helpings so it was definitely a success!

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Free Deer Meat

We went to town this morning to pick up a few things and just as we got back the phone rang and it was my brother, Rob. He said, " Ah...what are you doing today?" My brother doesn't call to just chit-chat so I knew he needed something and I said, "Nothing." And we really didn't have plans to do anything special anyway. He said he had a deer and wanted to know could he bring it out to skin and cut up. So I said sure. After all, we're getting pretty good at it. Why not?

So he brought the deer out.It had been given to him by some of his first wife's family. It was a small deer. Just a "picker" as they call it because the antlers are just spikes or "pickers". I know everyone wants the big deer but there are benefits to getting a nice young, tender deer as well.
We used the same come-along set up that we used to for the pigs.
He may have had only "pickers" but he was a nice long deer.
Deer are a lot easier to skin than pigs are...
but the gutting is just as nasty.
Sorry I didn't take any pictures after this since I did all the cutting up of the meat. We split up the meat so we took a  backstrap, ham, heart, liver and a lot of bits and pieces for burger. The meat is in the cooler on ice for a couple days.
Deer butchering is pretty easy when compared to pigs.

Monday, December 17, 2012

Harvest Monday- Lemonade

My lemons, of course, were last weeks harvest but I hadn't done anything with them until this morning.  I was so anxious to pick them but then couldn't bring myself to cut into one. I did pick them up almost every day just to smell them though and make sure they were still nice and firm. I meant to make my lemonade this weekend but the apple jelly happened instead so this morning I decided not to put it off any longer and I dug out the little hand juicer.
Six little Meyer lemons do not make much juice, though they do have lots of seeds.
Yes, this was all the juice from all six of them. I just added water and sugar. A little over a quart. The taste makes it all worth it though. This was the sweetest nicest lemonade I have ever had.

The peels went in a jar with some vinegar and water to make some cleaner with. Someone suggested making some kind of candied lemon peel but I am trying to cut back some so more candy is not a good option for me this time.
To see all the Monday's Harvest hop on over to Daphne's Dandelions.

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Apple Jelly

Sorry I wasn't around last week. Last weekend we had our family Christmas and I really haven't done anything interesting until today.
Today I took another try at jelly. As you all know, I tend to make lots of syrup because my jelly never turns out right. I am hoping this jelly will be different. I followed the directions on the Sure-Jell package exactly.

3 lbs apples (I used Rome apples), peeled and cored

Put the apples in a large pot with enough water to cover. Add a tablespoon of lemon juice. Bring to a boil and boil covered for 10 minutes or until the apples are soft.
Line a colander with cheese cloth and then pour the hot apples through it. Pick up the corners of the cheese cloth and hang the apples until most of the juice runs out. Measure out 7 cups juice and put it back in the rinsed out pot.

Before you do anything else measure out 9 cups of sugar into a bowl so it will be ready when you need it.

Add pectin to the juice and bring to a rolling boil. Add all the sugar at once. Bring to another rolling boil. Boil for 1 minute exactly. Spoon off foam. Fill hot, sterile jars with jelly (hopefully). Boiling water bath for 10 minutes.
Mine made 12 half pints.

Thursday, December 6, 2012

The Lemon Harvest!

My lemon harvest may not seem like much to some people but it means something to me. It is another one of those things crossed off my "to-do" list. Citrus is not an easy thing to grow here in Northern Georgia. We don't have quite a long enough growing season and we get too cold in the winter. Therefore my lemon tree has to stay potted and I have to move it into the greenhouse when it turns cold and move it back out when it warms back up. I have tried several times to grow citrus from seedlings but never managed to keep them growing for long. Starting with a tree this year definitely has advantages.
My little meyer lemon had lots and lots of lemons on it this spring but as we moved into summer it kept dropping them until there were only a few left. Yesterday I was finally able to pick the few remaining since they had finally turned completely yellow.
There were 6 of them. How that number got to be six I'll never know because I would have sworn for months now that there were only five and it is not like the extra one could have gotten all hidden in the foliage either. Still there were six when I went to pick them.
They all ripened at the same time and they are all approximately the same size.

So here is my harvest. A few days late to join in Monday's harvest but I wanted to make sure that they were completely ripe (those are the eggs from the last few days as well).
I'm thinking I might make lemonade with them just because I want to make sure I get to really taste them.
Now that I have harvested the lemons I believe the tree needs to be transplanted into a larger pot. I'm hoping it will  then produce even more next year. What a wonderful thing it would be if we could produce all our own lemon juice!
I'll also keep the peels and put them in some vinegar and water and try to make my own homemade lemon cleaner.  
The seeds from the lemons will have to be kept and planted because I have read that meyer lemons seeds produce very good trees that produce nice lemons even if they aren't grafted. If I can just keep them all going through the winter...

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Raw Fries with Mushrooms

We still have a lot of potatoes that I haven't gotten around to canning but on Sunday I was able to use some of them up for dinner. It is a very simple recipe. You take a deep frying pan, and add some bacon grease (or butter or  oil or whatever you prefer), then peel and slice several potatoes into the pan, then peel and slice an onion on top of the potatoes, salt and pepper on that,  another layer of potatoes, then another onion and salt and pepper, on top I put a couple of spoonfuls of minced garlic and then I poured in one of my jars of canned mushrooms after I had drained it. I covered the pan and cooked it on medium for about 20 minutes, turning the potatoes a couple of times. I then uncovered the pan, turned the heat up, and cooked the potatoes until they browned some. It was quite good and I could have used my canned potatoes with it as well, even though they are in chunks and not sliced, if I hadn't had the fresh potatoes.
I served this with steak and some creamed corn.

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

How to Save a Wheelbarrow

This was Phil's project last Sunday.  Our wheelbarrow had rusted through where it attaches to the legs and only one bolt was still holding what was left of the metal on.

We have had this wheelbarrow for several years and they just don't last forever. With a piece of wood and a few bolts Phil has saved our wheelbarrow and it should be good for a few more years at least.
It was very simple and didn't take him long. He cut a board to fit into the bed of the wheelbarrow.
He then had to come up with some bolts to go through both the board and then into the legs.
He then tested it out and moved 17 wheelbarrow loads of leaves off the lawn and into an absolutely huge pile beside the compost bin (I'll add some to the compost bins as needed).

Monday, December 3, 2012

Diabetic and Regular Cookies

Yesterday I made peanut brittle for my Christmas baskets but I also wanted to make cookies. Since most of my family is diabetic I didn't want to load their baskets up with too many sweets so I bought a bag sucralose no calorie sweetener to make one of the batches of cookies with. It is not something I would want to eat but it is a necessity for them and most of them aren't real good about taking care of their health so every little bit helps.
The sucralose was easy to use, you just replaced the sugar with sucralose. For the brown sugar you used the same amount plus a tablespoon of molasses.
What surprised me was the difference in the cookies. The sucralos cookies have a whole different look from the cookies with regular sugar. Sucralose cookie on the left, regular cookie on the right.
 They both taste good but I have to say I did prefer the taste of the regular cookie myself even if it didn't look quite as nice.

Sunday, December 2, 2012

Peanut Brittle

I would have liked to get more done today but I did get enough done for at least a couple of posts so here is the first one (the others will follow in the next couple days). I started out late this morning to make peanut brittle. I haven't made it for a few years but wanted to have some to put in Christmas baskets this year.
Peanut brittle is one of the easier candies to make. It tends to come out right every time as long as you have a candy thermometer.

Here is the recipe:

Peanut Brittle

2 cups granulated sugar
1 cup light corn syrup
1/3 cup water
16 oz. bag of raw peanuts (unroasted)
1 tsp. salt
2 tsp. butter
2 tsp. baking soda

Butter two large baking sheets and set aside.
In a heavy saucepan combine sugar, corn syrup and water. Stir well.

Bring to boil over medium high heat. Reduce heat to medium. Continue to boil until your candy thermometer reaches 250 degrees F (about 20-30 minutes).Stir in peanuts and salt. Cook until mixture reaches 295 degrees F.  Remove from heat. Quickly stir in butter and baking soda. Stir. (I had it ready in a bowl so I could just add it all at once. It will foam up.). Immediately pour mixture as evenly as possible over your buttered baking sheets.

Cool completely, break into pieces.

Saturday, December 1, 2012

My Little Winter Garden

I can't say that I have put a lot of effort into my winter garden again this year. There are beds that have bare spots that I could have planted and haven't. On the long bed I planted the seeds grew at first then all died off except on one end and I need to replant something in there, just haven't gotten to it. Christmas is taking up more of my time this year. I normally don't really like Christmas that much. It stresses me to try to get things for everyone but with the invent of online shopping things have gotten so much easier so that this year my Christmas spirit is quite a bit better. I even sent out cards and I haven't sent out cards for 15 years!
Anyway, back to the garden. I haven't even gotten down to my garden all week and even today I only took pictures and didn't do any actual gardening work. I might not have even gotten down to the garden except I could see from the driveway that the plants had grown quite substantially since I had last visited, probably due to the nice rain we finally got this week.
We'll start on the porch with a picture of the lettuce and kale again. It is doing quite well. Now this really isn't enough lettuce for a salad but it makes nice lettuce to add to sandwiches. The kale can be added to any soup, stew or quiche if we don't get enough for a meal but we may get enough between the pot here and some that is growing in that half bed in the garden.
Down to the garden we have these nice big cauliflower in one of the "bed" beds. It would be nice to get some decent sized heads this year but I will be happy with the small ones if that is all I get.
In the other "bed" bed is the cabbage which looks to be doing fine.
Then in this long bed is the savoy cabbage. It is growing much slower but then I think it probably does that naturally and not because anything is wrong with it.
The 3 broccoli are also doing well in the center bed.
Besides this there is just the blueberry bush beds which aren't real photogenic now with their leaves off them and the one bed that has a few kale, turnips and garlic in it. Rather a pitiful garden for someone who would like to be self sufficient but it is all we can do right now.

Seed of the Month Club

If you follow on Facebook you will know that I got a "seed of the month" club deal on black Friday. The deal was 6 months for $9.06. You get 8 packages of seeds the first month and 4 ever month afterwards.
I really didn't know what to expect having never joined a seed of the month club though I have always wanted to try it. My hopes were that it would be a mix of regular vegetable and more unusual vegetables.
This was my first shipment:
The seed are:

Beets- Ruby Queen
Cabbage- Late Flat Dutch
Radish- China Rose
Salisify- Mammoth Sandwich Island
Carrots- Chantenay Red Core
Dill- Bouquet
Winter Squash- Vegetable Spaghetti
Tomato- Marglobe

They are supposed to be seeds of things that I can actually plant this time of year. Of the seeds sent to me I see three that I can plant now..possibly 4 as I don't know about the salsify. There are a LOT of things that can be planted here in the winter-- lots of varieties of lettuce, cabbage, cauliflower, broccoli, brussel sprouts, spinach, mustard greens, turnip, kale, beets, radishes, rutabaga etc. So I was rather disappointed to end up with 4 packages of seeds I can't plant now, although I can start the tomatoes in a few months. After looking over their site better I find they really don't have a whole lot to choose from but there are 16 types of lettuce.

 Also almost all of the seeds were 2012 except the Marglobe tomatoes which were 2011 and the dill which was 2010. I just didn't think we would get seeds that are a year or two old.

However considering the low price that I am getting these seeds for and the fact that I find it really fun to get a surprise seed package in the mail, this was definitely worth it though I am not sure I would pay the normal $3.08 per month.