Thursday, November 27, 2008

To you...

Image Credit: Vintage Holiday Crafts

Monday, November 24, 2008

Let the Season Begin

.... Gun season that is.

Today was the first day of deer gun season here. Our resident hunters, Tim and family friend Terry, each got a deer early in archery season, but then, in what has become a pattern over the past few years, the deer have been scarce. Hopefully, they will each get another in gun season.

Hunting is a big deal here. Not just in the 100 Acre Wood, but in the state. In the area of Ohio we are from a fair number of people hunt. I would have called it a fairly normal activity. In fact, the school that I did my student teaching in made the first day of gun season a day off school. But hunting there is not nearly the big deal that hunting is in this state.

I wouldn't say everyone hunts here, but I bet everyone has a good friend or family member that does. Camo, gun racks, and four wheelers in the back of pick ups are frequent and normal sites. Sunday, our local news station had a fairly long segment on the six o'clock news about how to site in your gun. The local paper regularly has hunting articles, and Sunday's edition featured about a 3/4 page article about the start of the season. It confirmed to me that deer season is a big deal here. (Read the full article: Deer Season Starts)

It brings $233 million into the state economy.

Last year during the two week buck season 67, 213 bucks were tagged.
Over 67,000 bucks in just two weeks in a state that is only a little over 24,000 square miles. That is crazy to me.

Deer season is a big deal to me too. It fills my freezer, and is our "beef" for the year. Cooking venison is different than beef though. Gail asked me for some deer recipes. I referred her to a post I wrote on another blog, Venison Roast. The main thing to remember is that deer has less fat than beef, and will dry out easier. Steaks are best cooked medium at the most. When Tim butchers he cuts the tenderloin into thick steaks which we wrap in bacon and grill medium rare. Those are the best!

Roasts need to be cooked with liquid. Since writing the post above, I have had better success with cooking roasts in the crockpot. They turn our very tender when put in the crockpot with broth or other liquids.

After the roasts are cut from the legs, we (mostly my mom) makes broth and stew meat by boiling what is left. The stew meat is canned. It is so convenient and delicious to use with noodles or rice for a quick dinner.

Not exactly recipes, but ideas I hope. Enjoy the season, and your venison.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Cooking Rabbit

Living here in the woods, and becoming more self sufficient has involved cooking a lot of new to us foods. Luckily, we are pretty adventurous and enjoy trying new things. Our gardens have consisted mostly of your standard vegetables. New vegetables have come in the wild foods that we eat. The food group where we've had the most learning to do is the meats.

We are learning to cook venison, rabbit, lamb, and soon will be learning about goat. I'm happy to say that the only meat I buy now is sausage and bacon, and we should have our own hog in the freezer late this winter. It is a good feeling.

Rabbits are wonderful meat sources. They can produce a lot of meat year round. They are easy to raise, and would be ideal for an urban homesteader. The meat is lean and mild. In fact, rabbit meat is extremely healthy. It is lower in fat and cholesterol than chicken. See rabbit meat nutritional facts.

Ideal market weight for rabbits I'm told is between 3-5 pounds. We usually let ours get bigger than that, up to 10 pounds, before butchering. In young rabbits, the meat is still tender and it is enough for a meal for us when they are larger.

Yes, it really does taste like chicken. In fact, I'm willing to bet if you served deboned rabbit to anyone they'd never suspect that it wasn't chicken they were eating. Though they taste like chicken, they obviously aren't shaped anything like a chicken. Learning how to cut the meat has been the hardest part. The best meat is in two long strips along the back. The belly meat is tough, but can be used in soups and stews. The front legs are similar to a large chicken wing while the back legs are comparable to a chicken thigh. I mostly cook the rabbit whole in a crockpot and debone to use. Sometimes, like for the grill, it needs to be cut into pieces. Then, we cut the legs off and cut the back into two or three pieces, depending on the size of the rabbit.

So how to cook it? I think that I've used rabbit in just about everything I used to make chicken with. Like chicken, it works well with a variety of spices and herbs, and can be cooked lots of different ways. As I mentioned above I mostly will cook it in the crockpot. The first meal I will serve it deboned and then use any leftovers to make soup, casseroles or other meals. One of the best things we've tried with rabbit recently is BBQ. The rabbit was cooked in the crockpot, deboned and then reheated with homemade BBQ sauce, roughly based on this Western North Carolina Vinegar Barbecue sauce. Rabbit is also excellent grilled.

Cooking new meats has been interesting. There have been challenges, but learning to use rabbit has been as easy as substituting rabbit for chicken in a recipe.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Oh she is a smart one

Awww isn't she cute and sweet?

Don't be fooled. Although she is terribly cute, and can be incredibly sweet, behind that veneer the wheels are turning.

Vivian has a bad habit of asking for something to eat, eating a bite or two and saying she is all done. Then ten minutes later she is asking for something different to eat. It drives me nuts.

I'd rather let food go to waste (Well not exactly to waste since we feed the scraps to the animals, but that is expensive feed!) than to force the kids to eat when they aren't hungry. One thing I've done is to give her very small portions, but even then she doesn't finish it. The other, and much more effective approach has been to save her food. then when she asks again for something to eat, I pull out the food she did not finish. This does not meet with her approval most times. We've been battling this way for sometime now.

This morning she decided she was going to try to out smart me. She ate maybe two bites of her cereal. When I picked up the table, I set her bowl on the counter. It wasn't there long. Yes, the cereal was very soggy, but it isn't like the milk had turned or anything. Soggy cereal is gross I know, but we are trying to break a habit here. I went out to let the chickens out. When I returned, Vivian was dumping her cereal into the sink.

She had that "busted" look on her face for a brief minute. Then she smiled sweetly, and said, "I hungry." Oh yes, she knew exactly what she was doing. I simply responded, "Then you shouldn't have dumped your cereal." She had no argument, but simply walked away.

Cute? Yes she is. Sweet? Most certainly. But don't forget smart and tricky too!

Friday, November 07, 2008

More Annoying than a Political Ad

I do not enjoy election season. I do not enjoy politics. Although I respect the foundations our government rests on, in my opinion the whole government has just gotten too large, too complicated, and the elected officials, along with many of the people who put them there, too self serving and short sighted to ever make any real change. I still try to stay somewhat informed. I vote, but let's just say I'm slightly disenchanted with the whole process. 

Frankly, this election season I was more ambivalent than ever. Neither of the gentlemen running for the top seat of our nation inspired me in the least. Neither promising to lead down a road that I wish to follow. Then consider that I live in an area which is bombarded with political ads from three states. Can you understand that when the election is over, I just want it to be over? I'm tired of hearing about it. I'm done with it. 

To the best of my recollection this is the first even remotely political post that I've ever posted on any of the blogs I write. Although I am so ready to be done with all things to do with the 2008 election, even though I've never expressed support for Obama or McCain on my blogs, Obama supports feel the comment sections of my blogs are a place to celebrate the Obama victory. And one to insult the people of West Virginia for not voting for Obama.  

Most of you know that I'm not one to get riled up easily, but these commenters really tick me off. I am fully willing to attribute part of this irritation to hormones, to the TV experience my family had last night, to the field trip I drove an hour for today that was not what I was expecting, or to the inconsiderate person on a chat group who unjustly accused a friend of being biased and then got mad when another friend defended her. Yes, basically right now I'm irritated with people in general. I'm tired of inconsiderate, self serving people, and commenters who use my blog to celebrate an event that I've not discussed at all, fall into that category. 

The election is over. Obama and the Democrats won. I am not celebrating. I would not be celebrating had it gone the other way either. So, to those who are celebrating, keep it to yourself, and let's move on. 

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

Election Day in the Woods

We belong to a co-op that meets every other Tuesday. My children have made a lot of great friends and look forward to our meetings. This year our meeting happened to fall on election day. Because the building we meet in is a polling place, we thought we might have to cancel co-op for the week. Instead we decided to have co-op in the woods.

Yesterday we had round about 50 people here. (I never did get a count.) We had beautiful weather and lots of fun. Activities included a scavenger hunt, petting the animals, sack races, egg tosses, and eating apples tied to a string. (Or off the string as the case may be.) We also had hayrides and a campfire with s'mores. Everyone brought food to share and we feasted after all the activities. It was a wonderful day. Here are a few pictures: