January 30, 2010

Eggs are Good

The first stray nest I found had 75 eggs in it. I had no idea if the eggs were good or not. Whenever an egg gets wet it destroys a natural sanitary wrap on the egg called the bloom. This is why people should wash eggs. When I find a stray nest I half fill my pot with cold water and add the eggs one at a time. If it floats I compost it without breaking it. With the good eggs in the pot I add a glug of vinegar and bring it to a boil then drain. The shell comes off easily from older eggs than newer. Peace for all

January 25, 2010

Discover Life

Can you find 6 species and 10 individuals in this image? What are they doing?

Found a new site today!


Our mission is to assemble and share knowledge in order to improve education, health,
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We provide free on-line tools to identify species, share ways to teach and study nature's wonders, report findings, build maps, process images, and contribute to and learn from a growing, interactive encyclopedia of life that now has 1,295,438 species pages.

January 24, 2010

Fermented Foods - Sauerkraut

Smoked meats and wine are fermented foods. Another fermented food I make is sauerkraut. It is unbelievably easy to make with only salt (course salt, no iodine or additives) and cabbage as ingredients. I have read you can add other vegetables, fruits and herbs for a variety of flavors. It is made in a large plastic or glass container, not metal or Corelle.

Grate the cabbage, I use my food processor. Put a 1/2 inch layer of cabbage in the container and sprinkle with salt. Stir each layer into the next, stir well after last layer. The salt keeps wards off unwanted bacteria and draws out the moisture from the cabbage keeping it crunchy. To fill a gallon crock I use 3 tablespoons of salt to 5 pounds of cabbage. When full pack the cabbage firmly into the container. Add salt water if necessary so the brine is covering the cabbage.  Wipe the lip of the container, the edge above the cabbage, with a paper towel so it is clean.

Fill a ziplock bag with water and use this as a weighted lid. This lid is vital as the water bag fills the container and packs the cabbage so no air can spoil it. Store in a cool place, heat will only encourage unwanted bacteria. I never have had mold using this method. Turn the weighted lid, or bag, over onto a clean plate ever couple of days and give the cabbage a good stir. Remember to reclean the edges before putting the weighted lid back on. After 30 days I put the sauerkraut into sterile jars in the fridge.

It is so yummy you will soon be addicted to it just like me! Peace for all

Smoke Bacon or Smoked Bacon or Cold Smoking

This post illustrates smoking hams and bacon. It is primitive process, a little time consuming but very easy to duplicate. I dare say that the smoked meat will be the best you have ever tasted with no chemicals or nitrates and at a mere fraction of a cost of packaged processed meats. The ingredients are two pork legs cut into two inch roasts and the bacon meat or pork belly and brine. The meat should not be frozen.

The brine draws moisture out of the meat and aids in preservation by warding off bacteria. The basic brine ratio is 1 cup salt (coarse salt, no iodine, no additives) and 1 cup sugar (or maple syrup) to 16 cups of water (or 1 gallon). I quadruple this recipe in a large stock pot. I also add a cup of apple cider vinegar but you can also add dry herbs for different flavors. Bring the brine to a boil and let cool overnight.

In a sterile plastic garbage can pour in some brine, then a piece of meat, then brine etc. until the meat is all covered in brine. Use something heavy is make sure the top piece is submerged in the brine. Glass is best, don't use metal or Corelle dishes. Keep the garbage can in a cool spot, heat is your enemy here. As you can see by the picture I put mine in a tub of ice water. Your meat will sit in the brine for a few days, I let mine sit for 7 days. Check for mold on the top piece everyday. The top piece can be removed and cleaned and then the can topped with new brine if necessary. When ready, the meat is taken from the brine and set on the newspaper on the kitchen table to dry overnight. The meat must be dry so the smoke will adhere to it and saturate the meat with flavor.

My smoker is recycled from a old fridge and burns wood chips on an electrical hotplate at the bottom. I use my cherry and apple wood but sometimes buy hickory chips from others for different flavors. We smoke for 48 hours straight. You don't want to cook the meat, only encapsulate it in smoke. Thick smoke is made by smoldering your small branches broken into bits or wood chips by adding a little water. Keep water by the smoker for this reason, and to keep your fire from getting too hot and cooking the meat. Again you don't want this, the fat should not drip from the meat.

Everything I read says that meat processed this way will keep without spoilage in a cool spot but I haven't been brave enough to try that yet! Half the hams are wrapped and frozen whole for celebrations. The rest are baked in the oven, cooled, boned, sliced for sandwiches and put in freezer bags for the freezer. The bacon is put fridge overnight so it will be firm enough to cut with the slicer the next day. The bacons have the rind trimmed and are sliced for freezer bags.

But I don't stop there, oh no, you gotta know I get as much out of this resource and my labor as possible. I boil the ham bones with celery, onions, carrots and bay leaves in a large stock pot for an afternoon. I let cool, and refrigerate overnight. In the morning I scrap off the fat, pick the bones clean and strain off the broth. I put 3 cups on broth in bags for the freezer, to be used to future soups (just add 3 cups of water and grated vegetables and voila soup in 30 minutes, or add grated carrots and dry split peas to be soup in 60 minutes).

Click the pictures for more detail, see the beautiful cherry smoke on that ham!!
Peace for all

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To worry is to pray for what you don't want.
-- Deepak Chopra

Click on title is visit Wake up Tiger blog, it is full of inspiration.

January 18, 2010

Over Land by Steve Suderman

Over Land

Over Land is an intimate and personal portrait of a family facing a crisis in agriculture. Between 1996 and 2006, despite warnings of an impending food shortage, prices for farm goods dropped to their lowest point in Canadian history, driving many farmers off the land. With a family history of farming spanning generations, the Sudermans now face a challenge that threatens to pull the family apart.

Over Land features original music composed and performed by Dirk Powell.The executive producer is Robin Schlaht. Directed by Steve Suderman.

Hi Steve: Just came across your stuff today. Can't wait to see the documentary. I have posted about you on my blog. If you visit there you will see we have a small mixed organic farm in BC. We are not for profit farmers, since we can't make money yet from the farm. So we are eat what we produce from the farm and do it in a self-sustaining manner. We used to raise goats and pigs and would do so again if we could find other people interested in this lifestyle enough to help with the workload. We are alone as farmers here, 10 years working this homestead. This lifestyle requires community, everyone helps everyone gets ahead.

But enough about me. I do not need to learn more about the state of farming in this country as I fight its demise daily. I want to support anyone with the balls enough to shout the truth of this crisis, and the sacrifices that this takes, to the world. Bravo!! So where do I send my $20? Thanks in advance,
peace for all

January 17, 2010

Help for All

The time has come to share our excess with those without. This could be the moment of critical mass for the human race. There are many excellent charities for international relief aid, if you have money. Donate to your Salvation Army or food bank from your house even if it is only things you don't want anymore. Invite the old man next door for dinner, pick up take out for the poor family down the street with all the kids, or tip your service people who are working so hard for so little. Don't support violence or inequality but don't judge the poor as being not worthy of anything better.

There are over 1 billion people displaced people in the world. The hunger in Africa has not gone away, the suffering in Sudan, nor the helplessness of orphans in impoverished nations. Lets hope the rally we see to this crisis will continue until no one is without. There are homeless and destitute people in our own countries still in need of assistance after natural and manmade disasters. I hear everything for the relief effort in Haiti is run by gas powered generators and gas is a rare commodity there now. Maybe it is time to invest in solar powered equipment. Maybe next time it will be us that needs the helping hand.

Peace for all

January 13, 2010

Chicken Feed

The cost of buying feed for chickens through the winter is getting to be outrageous, not to mention how far the feed comes from the farm. I have been having a lovely e-conversation with Beth Wooten. Please join us with any further discussion or tips on homegrown poultry feed, it would be greatly appreciated.

Hi -
I live in the mountains of Western North Carolina in the country. I work full time but when I was home recovering from a back injury I made a feed mix which my chickens loved but it was too much work, getting grains that were trucked in (not how I want to do things) and grinding them... Currently I feed them Purnia Layena which seems to be about the best commerical feed. I also grow watercress in the back stream and pull that through cold weather until it runs out. In the summer I give them comfrey. I have to keep them under wire in long runs due to hawk problems so I provide them greens when I can. They love chick weed of course. In the summer I have Japanese beetle traps which have a zipper in the bottom. After crushing the beetles I dump them in their yard. I did some reading online about raising insects to feed them. I discovered some third world country projects doing that but in warmer climates.
I can't remember the blog I found your post on. I was searching for information about growing amarath for chicken feed. I also had ducks and geese.

Ruralrose said:

I pull the amaranth plants by the roots and hang them to dry. I feed them usually in February when they are desperate for real food. They do pick the seeds off the stems, I think it gives them something more interesting to do than watch the snow fall. This works for pigsweed too. They do love weed seeds, in my head i am working on a device that would allow me to collect seeds from grass and weeds all summer. They seem to relish dandelion seed. It is hard to get a good feed mix they will eat year round. I use my mix in the winter when they can't be fussy. For the most protein it is best to grow sunflowers for the winter. I have not tried others grains. I do add apple cider vinegar, molasses and kelp to my winter feed. I also collect rose hips and berries for winter feed. I also put down a layer of mung bean and alfalfa seeds before a good snow. It makes for yummy sprouts in the spring. I am considering covering a corner of the yard with plastic before the snow too, to try and get a head start of food for them in the spring. If you come up with another idea please let me know.

Frugal Food Security - Freezing Fruit

You don't have to wait until summer to put food away for another day. Berries can be frozen whole. To remove field heat from my berries I put my haul straight into the freezer. An hour later I sort the stems and such and put in plastic, very easy with no waste. Bananas can be frozen without plastic. They last 4 months and are indispensable in cakes and smoothies. The best way to preserve ginger is to freeze it whole. I just grate frozen ginger into my recipes and but the remainder back in the freezer.

Frugal Food Security - Freezing Vegetables

Melodie makes a good point about freezing not being the most dependable way to secure food, especially if your power availability might come into question. Freezing is the easiest way to preserve food.

When we were first starting out we could only afford used freezers. We lost 3 freezers full of food in 5 years. Old freezers use way to much electricity to be viable for any length of time. A full freezer, even if it is just bread, will same energy. Save energy by keeping your freezer cool, it is ok outside. Our new freezer is larger and uses less than a quarter the electricity the old ones used. Old freezers are good for storing feed to keep the mice out. We turned ours into a smoker, but that is a story for another day.

Old school had you blanch vegetables in boiling water before freezing them but this denigrates the nutrition. As long as you cut them into small pieces, to be added to recipes on demand, the texture and flavor is excellent. See how I cut the parsley into bits with scissors?

January 11, 2010

Frugal Food Security - Freezing Food

If you power source is secure, freezing is the best way to preserve food. Cut vegetables into small pieces. Press into a freezer bag removing all the air. "Freezer" bags are thicker than "storage" bags. If you don't use a freezer bag, the dry cold will dehydrate your food in a way to make it unpalateable.

This is tomato sauce, lay it flat so it takes up less room.

This is beans cut into single recipe portions, for soups etc.
Ziplock freezer bags are expensive, and twist tie bags aren't easy to get airtight. For the optimum protection, with the least amount of waste and expense I have found this inexpensive vacuum sealer.

January 10, 2010

Freezing Peaches

John, I think peaches are best canned - tender, sweet, succulent and convenient on a cold day.

But I freeze mine. Canning heats the house in the season I want it cool, lids must be bought new and stored jars must be rounded up and sterilized, too much sugar is added and the fruit is cooked too long. But mostly I don't want to stand for hours processing them. I freeze most everything.