Sunday, November 29, 2009

Pumpkin delivery system

A new house favorite is this pumpkin coffee cake. Here's the recipe:
1/2 cup butter, softened
3 eggs
3/4 cup sugar
1 tsp vanilla
1 cup sour cream
2 cups flour
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp baking powder
1 15oz can of pumpkin (or 2 cups fresh pumpkin)
3/4 cup sugar
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground ginger
1/4 tsp ground cloves
1/4 tsp nutmeg
2 eggs
1/2 cup evaporated milk
1/3 cup butter
1 cup sugar
2 tsp cinnamon
1 cup walnuts
1. Grease or spray the bottom of a 9X13 pan
2. Mix together the first 8 ingredients
3. Spread 1/2 the mixture in the pan
4. Mix together the next 8 ingredients
5. Pour the pumpkin mixture over the batter
6. Dab the rest of the batter evenly as possible over the pumpkin layer
7. Sprinkle the topping on top
8. Bake at 325F for 1 hour (until toothpick comes out clean), let cool & enjoy!

We started the big bedroom makeover in March, but when summer hit it was put on hold for outdoor doings. Now that the rainy season has arrived, we worked a bit more on the drapery.

And below we have Magnus, in stealth mode under the kindling papers. He is very helpful when it comes to getting the fire lit. On a less thrilled note, the much anticipated Uncle David's Dakota Dessert Squash has proven to be rather unsuitable for long-term storage. They grew well, they taste great, but they are going bad faster than we can eat them. We're starting to plan the 2010 garden, and we'll be skipping any buttercup squash varieties this time around. We also didn't care for the Kentucky Wonder green beans. They grew like crazy, but the flavor & texture just isn't as good as the Blue Lake variety we usually grow.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Honoring the livestock

We spoke with Keizer AA Meats this week and it looks like they'll be out to butcher our steers on December 8th. We approach this day with mixed feelings, because above all we do love our animals and make every effort to ensure they are happy and healthy. Douglas Fir of Seven Trees was conceived here, born here, and will end his life here. He is the only offspring of a purebred Dexter cow, Stella who we no longer own, and it is doubtful as long as we both must work fulltime off farm that we'll have another milk cow again soon. When Douglas and Buddy are gone it will not just be the end of their lives, it ends a cycle here at the farm that will not be repeated again for a long while. It is only appropriate as we close this circle that we make the absolute most of these animals to honor their sacrifice that we may eat meat that we raised with a considerable effort on our own land.

We are keeping Douglas's hide and will be quickly transporting it to Quil Ceda Leather Company in Marysville, Washington where it will be tanned with hair on. We are also thinking of the other products of home butchered animals to make that most people these days never consider, let alone eat or make any more.
One of these is blood sausage or black pudding as it is known in the UK, Blutwurst [Germany], or Boudin Noir [France]. Essentially it is a sausage made with blood cooked with regional fillers like barley, heavy cream, onion, potato, bread, fat, suet or some variation of these items, and then placed in casings to be grilled or boiled in skin and eaten. We'll collect a gallon or two of blood from one of the steers at butcher in a sterile stainless milk pail so we can try making this sausage.

1# Leaf Lard
10# Onions, diced
1 quart heavy cream
Salt to taste
Pepper to taste
1 Tbsp Pate spice
1/2 gallon beef blood
Pork casings

Nordic cultures, Swedes, Finns, etc. aso make something that is known in Swedish as Blodplattar or blood pancakes - click the link for recipe. These are a savory pancake with fresh blood as one of the main ingredients, and are traditionally eaten with lingonberry jam.

We will also keep the tongues, liver, heart, bones for soup, and whatever else we can for either our consumption or to stew up as homemade dog food, which we pressure can and the dogs adore.
While it is rather unsusual for most people to have a hand in the slaughter of the meat they consume these days, it is something we felt it was very important to do. There was no factory in the raising of our meat. Our cattle have lived good lives, they frolicked in the sun, slept in our pastures of green grass, ate until their bellies were full, had shade and shelter from wind/rain/snow, and were treated each day with care and dignity. We will honor all they gave us in sustenance and the pleasure of knowing the food we eat.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Garlic planting day 2009

We took advantage of the one nice day this week to get our garlic in the ground. In the PNW, mid-Oct to mid-Nov is the time to plant.
The ground is still soft and lush, and we added quite a lot of nearly finished compost to it. Garlic likes to set down roots before the weather really turns, and it's ready to start growing as soon as the days get longer in the spring.
By next July, the 329 cloves we planted will be ready for harvest. This year we're planting Chesnok Red, German Porcelain, and some generic white variety from California.
Stewart must have learned from Gemini! He's got the drive-thru window figured out.
These Sweet Dumpling delicata squash are cute AND tasty! What's not to like?

Even better with teriyaki-grilled London broil and nettle-wild mushroom brown rice. The shroom is our own Prince that we dried last year. He didn't show up this year, but hopefully he'll return soon.

This kettle of cow parts doesn't look too tasty as is, but chopped, sauteed, mixed with carrots, kale and some odds & ends from the freezer..... makes dog food! And look at our spiffy new pressure canner! An All American #921 cast aluminum and ready for battle....

Tuesday, November 03, 2009

Still harvesting!

First off we need to establish a November benchmark for relaxing. Magnus demonstrates his usual style....
Dinner was this wonderful broccoli, cheddar, potato, ham soup, with fresh-baked bread. A great way to enjoy the flavors of our fall harvests. The recipe is here, in case you'd like to try it yourself - Yummy soup recipe
Here's one view of the garden right now. Pretty grim. All the dead squash, tomato & bean vines will make way for our garlic planting later this week. We'll also be tilling in tons (literally) of compost and manure, so next year's garden should be even better.
Another view of the garden, showing how much is still going gangbusters. Broccoli, carrots, chard, lettuce, kohlrabi, soup celery, parsley, green onions, spinach....It's so nice to be eating fresh at this time of year!
The last of the carrots are out of the ground, except for the experimental late planting I did. The apples are from next door, saved from the cider press to be lunch treats. There was one last delicata squash hiding in the garden. I think we've finally gotten them all.
The busy tiny kitchen at Seven Trees. Who knew such a small space would end up being the stage for so much good food. Here are eggs getting dozened-up for customers, canned cider, dried broccoli, and other evidence of harvest activities....
We'll be busy the rest of November, getting ready for Doug & Buddy to go to freezer camp. Lots of goodies to process out of the freezer....blackberries to turn into jam, beef offal (liver & hearts) to turn into dog food, and we'll be buying a 2nd small freezer as well.
P.S. Does anyone have any tips for what kind of stuff we can collect when they come to slaughter the cattle? I know people make sausage out of pig blood, but does cow blood work? And how do we process it? We want to make use of anything we can, but I really have no clue what the knackers will leave that is useable. We are planning to have Doug's hide tanned, but haven't found a local tannery yet.....