Wednesday, October 27, 2010

The Complete Book of Butchering

I was planning to give you a thorough review of this book. The trouble is that I'm having a hard time getting it away from my husband, Tim, our resident butcher. I have been able to sneak a few peeks at the book, albeit mostly over Tim's shoulder.

Look closely at the rather long title. This book is about much more than butchering. It is also about smoking, curing, and sausage making. Butchering includes your common farm animals from cows to chickens. Wild game is also covered from Elk to fish. 

Each butchering chapter takes you step by step through the process. The pictures are detailed, but not for the weak stomached. Of course, if you have a weak stomach, you may want to reconsider the idea of butchering your own meat.

In addition to how to cut up your meat, the book provides detailed information about preserving it, using a variety of methods. I noticed Tim spent a lot of time looking at the diagrams and information about building a smoke house. He has been talking about building a smoke house for at least a year. Perhaps there is a smoke house in our near future?

One part of the book Tim was eager to point out to me was the recipes. After the butchering of each type of animal is discussed, numerous recipes are shared. Tonight we will be having roast leg of lamb, using one of the variations suggested in the book. It involves mint and grape jelly, and my mouth is already watering. 

From what I could gather from over my husband's shoulder, this book looks to live up to its title. It would be extremely helpful to those just learning the process, and obviously it is also interesting to those, like Tim, who have processed a few animals over the years. 

Friday, October 22, 2010

Fall = Comfort Food

There is so much that I love about fall. I love the cooler crisp weather, especially the cooler nights. Nothing is better than snuggling under a thick comforter to sleep for the night. I love the harvest abundance, and the fully stocked shelves that are the result of a summer spent gardening and preserving. The burst of color from the woods around us is simply breathtaking. In fact, about the only thing I don't love about fall is that winter is just around the corner.

Of all the things to love about fall though, what I love the most is the food. After a summer of eating grilled, raw or other foods that don't heat up the house, it is comforting to come back to our warm family favorites. There is time (and desire) to spend in the kitchen. The oven is cranked, and the food abundant. Chili, casseroles, soups, and baked goods rule our fall menu.

Last night's meal was a particularly good one. All the main ingredients came from right here on the farm. Let me tell you that feeding the family from things we've raised ourselves is a comfort in itself. On the menu were sweet potato fries, green beans, and the star of the show, Meatloaf.

2 pounds ground meat (last night I used one pound lamb and one pound beef.)
3/4 C crushed saltines
2 eggs
1/2 C ketchup
1 onion chopped fine
2 small green peppers, chopped
1/2 tsp salt, pepper, and garlic powder
1TB Worcestershire sauce
Mix all together, frost with additional ketchup if desired, put in a loaf pan, and bake at 350 for one hour.

Maybe I just enjoy food too much, but there is something about fall comfort foods that warms me body and soul. Bring on the soups, the breads, and don't forget the desserts. I am ready!

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Dear Six Year Old,

Dear Six Year Old,

I love you very much, and am happy to grant your requests with in certain guidelines and boundaries. Your latest request, alone time, fits well into the category of things that I am happy to give you. It is a big place out there. Please go find some space, and be alone for awhile. I will gladly keep your siblings from following you and disturbing your peace.

Please note, however, that when you request "alone time" which includes playing with one sister while excluding the other, you have gone beyond the boundaries of requests that I am willing to grant. By definition, my young son, that is not a request for alone time. The request is to leave out your younger sister. It is not a request that I will support.

You may scream, "It isn't fair" as much as you like. I never said I was able to give you fair. You may throw yourself on the floor. You may cry. You may kick and punch the floor or other things that you can not break, but you will do so away from me. You will do it alone in your room. As I said before, alone time I am more than willing to allow you.

I hope you enjoy your alone time. I wish you could take advantage of it without the current distress that it seems to be causing you. Alone time can be a precious gift. It is one that I wish I had at this moment.

When you are finished with the screaming, kicking, and crying, you are welcome to come and join us again. You may choose to play with all your siblings who want to play, or you may choose to seek a place for a more peaceful time to be alone. The choice is yours.

Love you,

Saturday, October 16, 2010

If you don't have anything nice to say....

I haven't had much to say here on the blog lately. It isn't that there isn't anything to say, it is just that I've been in a bit of a funk. The thoughts running through my brain are grumpy and negative. I'm trying hard to keep it to myself. I've been pretty successful, at least here on the blog. In person? Well, my apologies to those who have been on the receiving end of my grumpiness and occasional rants.

I've let myself get irritated and frustrated by other people. As ridiculous and irresponsible the actions, or in actions, of people may be, they should not steal my peace and my joy. I've let self righteousness and probably envy creep in. And many days I just want to stomp my feet and scream, "It isn't fair!"

And maybe it isn't. But do I really want it to be?

The fact is I work incredibly hard at home and at work. The fact is that many days I am incredibly tired, but I remember that this is what chose. We chose homesteading and homeschooling because it is the kind of life we want for our family. I have no regrets.

I chose to go back to work because we previously did not choose to manage our finances wisely. I chose to work all weekend at a physically demanding job because it it the best fit for our financial goals and our lifestyle. I work hard there, but I wouldn't have it any other way. I couldn't stand myself if I didn't.

The fact is that my rest, my peace, and my joy don't come from myself or from anyone else around me. Those things only come from the life of Christ in me. No matter how lazy, annoying, and selfish the people around me are, I do not have to be irritated and frustrated. Focusing on them is keeping my focus from where it should be. And that only makes me grumpy. It certainly isn't fixing them.