Add to My MSN


Modern RootsRosemary complements venison and eases the gamey taste while sage enhances the overall flavor of this sausage. In addition, I use un-rendered lard to create a happy, juicy, flavorful sausage that marries the ingredients nicely.



rosemary sage venison sausage

Rosemary Sage Venison Sausage

6 pounds venison, cubed and cold (got a roast
     you don't know what to do with?)
2 pounds pork fat (un-rendered lard), cubed
2 tablespoons chopped or crushed sage
2 tablespoons chopped or crushed rosemary
3 tablespoons fresh minced garlic
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper (does not give
     heat at this amount, just depth of flavor)
2 tablespoons + 1 teaspoon sea salt
1 tablespoon white pepper
1 cup COLD water

Mix all ingredients except the water together in a large bowl. Let sit 20 minutes.

Run through a meat grinder on the largest dial setting. I prefer the largest because mushy sausage is not as desirable. After running all the sausage mix through the grinder, place in mixer bowl. Add the 1 cup cold water and mix on low for 1 minute EXACT (I use my Kitchen Aid for this, but you can also just use a hand blender or any standing mixer). This creates a beginning emulsion and marries the flavors together.

packaged venison sausageAfter mixing, package in 1-pound 'loaves,' wrap with plastic wrap and place in freezer bags. Keeps up to 1 year.

You can also create sausage links/brats with adapter and hog intestines if you chose to from this point with this recipe.

Enjoy your healthy venison!!





Modern RootsI love this soup because the ingredients follow the gardening calendar, especially for Minnesota and other cool states in the fall. Enjoy!

Zuppa Toscana Soup

1 pound Italian mild sausage - use bulk loose sausage, not in tubes
5 medium garden potatoes - skin on diced into 1/2-inch pieces
1 large red onion, diced
3 slices of bacon, cut into bite size pieces
4 garlic cloves, roughly chopped
5 large leaves of kale, middle rib taken out and sliced into strips
1 1/2 quarts best quality chicken broth
1/2 quart water
1/2 tablespoon salt
1/4 teaspoon fresh ground pepper to taste
1 cup heavy whipping cream
Fresh grated Romano cheese

Zuppa Toscana Soup | Fotolia/chiyacat 

Photo: Fotolia/chiyacat

Cook sausage in large soup pot until done. Remove from pot and set aside. I like to leave the pan drippings and fat in, drain if you'd like. The benefits from lard are plenty, very high in Omega 3s, especially if you buy organic or non GMO sausage.

Saute bacon (until crispy), garlic and onions in sausage fat. Add all ingredients EXCEPT cream and Romano cheese to soup pot. Bring to a medium boil until the potatoes are done (25 to 35 minutes). Lower heat, add cream.

Serve in bowls, grate fresh Romano on top. Wonderful served with crusty sourdough bread.

More recipes and homesteading mayhem at my website; and like on Facebook for updates and new recipes.


Modern RootsA super dose of antioxidants in this cucumber salad. All the ingredients are fresh from the garden making it cost effective and easy to put together.

Yields 2 side salads.

2 leaves of kale – core removed, Julianne cut
10 to 15 Sungold, or any grape tomatoes, sliced
5 leaves Swiss chard, Julianne cut
5 leaves purple opal basil – any basil will be great – Julianne cut
1/4 cup feta cheese
1 long cucumber, cut in half moons
1 tablespoon fresh parsley

Toss all together.

1 teaspoon flax oil
1/8 cup extra virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1/8 cup raw apple cider
1/4 teaspoon Himalayan salt – sea salt is great, too
1 to 2 tablespoons raw honey – I like 2 tablespoons but if you don't like as sweet use 1
2 pinches of pepper

Whisk together until it emulsifies, pour over salad – enjoy immediately! Wonderful with pizza or serve with a grilled chicken breast, salmon, or flank steak for an entree.

Antioxidant Salad - Meg 

More recipes at or click here. You can also get connected with my Facebook page to read about fermenting, heritage hogs I raise, and how to become self-reliant yourself!


Modern RootsFinally, all my pigs/sows are here on the Modern Roots Homestead. Getting the fencing ready, the huts for farrowing, and the specific breeds I wanted all took quite a bit of planning and effort. But they are finally adjusted to their new home and thriving. I love heritage breeds for their abilities to mother naturally, fight disease better than the commercial breeds, and they taste so much better! Therefore, I am raising Tamworths, Berkshires and Mangalitsas. 

Tamworths – our Tamworth's name is Tammy – are long rusty red colored, lean and athletic. Known for the best bacon in the world, they originate from central England. In this region, there were dense forests of oak and beech trees where the pigs were kept to forage in the autumn and winter. Which is why I wanted this breed, to easily free-range. The breed takes its name from the village of Tamworth in Staffordshire. The Tamworth first entered the states in 1882. The characteristics of the Tamworth reflect the breed’s long lived selection for life outside. Pigs of this breed were expected to find their own food. Long heads and impressive snouts enable these pigs to be efficient foragers. Long, strong legs and sound feet give Tamworth pigs the ability to walk for considerable distances. Ginger red coats make the pigs adaptable to a variety of climates and protect them from sunburn. When I raised Yorkshire's, they would always sunburn unless I had a large mud pit for them to coat themselves in. Tamworths have an active intelligence, and they are agreeable in disposition. Sows are prolific, able to produce and care for large litters. The piglets are vigorous and often have 100 percent survivability. Super important for the natural way of raising pigs. I want them to farrow on their own not be put in crates away from their piglets. In nature, sows obviously would need to do this on their own and that's a huge benefit to the heritage purebred breeds.

Berkshires originated in Berkshire England, an English county. They are black with some white-dark colored skin to reduce sunburn. Shorter snout, stockier legs, arched back, and strong feet. Our Berk, Olivia, is quite the character. They are known for being curious and having a great disposition. This couldn't be more true. I really look forward to breeding Olivia next year as she is so much fun now. She especially likes Mr. Hunky. In fact, tries to climb him like a tree?! Yes, she's a pig. I know, it's weird. In 2008, there were less than 300 breeding Berkshire sows in existence and were considered vulnerable. So glad I have one of these beauts. The meat is finely and equally marbled, and prized for its juiciness.

Mangalitsa's are a Hungarian heritage breed prized for it's flavor and fat. Originally descended from a wild boar breed it is currently the most sought after pork in high end restaurants pricing well into the thousands for one raised hog, making it five times the cost of regular pork. One of the reasons for this is they take about twice as long as regular Yorkshire or cross-bred pigs to raise. Therefore, over a year's worth of keeping before they are slaughtered. Just 20 years ago, there were only 198 of these wooly creatures left in existence when a Spanish ham producer starting breeding up the numbers. Super pumped I have one. Mangalitsa's are also known as the wooly pig because they have more hair than what we "Americans" think of a pig having. The hair helps them stay warm and protected in cold climates during winter – hence perfect for Minnesota! All the heritage breeds I want to raise have not had the "fat" bred out of them. When you breed the fat out ... there goes the flavor and great omega's for brain development and maintenance. I am selling 5 of the 7 Mangalitsa piglets I have and am selling them for $275 each. Steal of a deal compared to other states at over $1700 for a 3 month old!

Feeder piglets were/are very hard to find this year as a disease wiped out many young piglets which would explain the increase in cost for your plain ol' Yorkshire at about $120.

Be sure to read more about my natural homesteading at and 'like' my Facebook page for recipes and new product information at my Modern Roots Store


Modern RootsBlackberry Cream Cheese Coffeecake becomes an easy and wonderful pastry/cake to bake in the evening and serve in the a.m. with a hot cup of Jo or tea. This recipe is easy to manipulate to your taste. Want to make an apple butter, strawberry or pumpkin coffeecake? Easy peasy, just insert the sweetened preserves, jams or butters where I have my blackberry preserves listed. Done.

Blackberry Cream Cheese Coffee Cake


2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour

1 cup white cane sugar, divided

3/4 cup unsalted butter, cubed

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon baking powder

1/4 teaspoon sea salt

3/4 cup sour cream

2 teaspoons almond extract

1 tablespoon vanilla extract

2 eggs, divided

1/2 package (4 ounces) cream cheese, softened

1/2 cup blackberry preserves

1/2 cup sliced almonds

1/8 cup powdered cane sugar

10 to 15 drops vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 350 F. Grease a 9-inch spring form pan. Yes, you should use this, it will make your life easier.

Fork together flour, 3/4 cup cane sugar and butter until well-mixed and resembles small peas. Remove 1 1/4 cups of mixture, set aside.

To remaining mixture, add baking soda, baking powder, salt, sour cream, almond extract, vanilla extract and 1 egg. Mix until just combined.

Spread batter into prepared pan; be sure to get up the sides at least two inches. You want to create an edge or crust for the filling to sit inside of.

Beat cream cheese, remaining white cane sugar and remaining egg. Spread on top of batter, try to get some up to the edges.

Now spread your preserves on top. Don't mix it in, just lay it evenly on top. And don't be perfect, that's what makes this 'cut' look so pretty. Imperfections.

Combine the reserved crumbs and almonds, spread on top. Bake for 45 to 50 minutes. Top should be a light shade of golden brown.

Cool 15 minutes, then take the spring form sides off. STARE it down and let sit another hour in the fridge. Drizzle top with combined powdered cane sugar and drops of vanilla extract. Delish! Be sure to stun someone with your awesome creation.

Be sure to checkout my natural homesteading blog at and 'like' on Facebook at for more recipes and fun homesteading projects!


Modern RootsI go through a lot of essential oils with the products I make and sell at my Modern Roots Store. I grow my own medicinal herbs and plants to get the best quality and highest yield without the use of pesticides or other nasty who-knows-what 'Big Ag' uses these days. Much of my herbs go directly into my soaps, lotions, conditioners etc. But I want to extract the precious oils from them too. So, on this blistery winter day – with dreams of summer lavender, I came up with a contraption to do so ... and the Modern Roots Essential Oil Still was born.

I was pressure cooking some chicken stock when I was watching the pressure gauges thinking ... the steam that escapes and that's inside the pressure cooker could really be used to steam anything, but what could I attach it to to get the job done – and in a smaller quantity? Simple really. Other than blowing myself up, of course.

What you need:

– 10 feet of 3/8-inch copper tubing. Wound into two coils – you can easily manipulate this or buy it pre-rolled.

– 1 smaller pressure cooker (4 quart to 6 quart); you could use bigger but quality, effectiveness and time are all important so I like to control it in smaller amounts. *NOTE: I LOVE me some thrift shops but in this case I bought a new one to make sure all the safety valves, etc., work well to prevent me and my kitchen from getting blown to smithereens. Of course it would smell lovely, so that would be a positive, but let's try to alleviate problems like this from the get go.

– plastic container, or wash tub for cold water – tall and skinny so your copper coils fit into it. It's better to have your coils at the bottom of the container because cold water is heavier or denser than warm water.

– plumbers putty

– 3/8-inch clear or threaded tubing

– glass jar to catch lavender water and oils

 –Syringe – meat syringe works good

See slideshow below for more in depth descriptions.

Copper tubing

Copper tubing

Plastic tubing – a small piece, about 3 to 4 inches will be needed from this.

Plastic Tubing

Plastic tubing, cut and fitted over one end of the copper tube.

Plastic tube attached to copper

Metal fastener/tightener to tighten down to the pressure cooker – you may or may not need this.

Metal Fastener

3 to 6 quart pressure cooker

Pressure Cooker

Oblong pail (if your copper coils fit into a pail you already have, use that).

Oblong Pail

Lavender buds (or any plant you want to extract oil from).

Lavender Buds

Tea pot – to pour hot water over the plant/buds.

Tea Pot

Jars to catch lavender oil and water


Assembly is pretty straight forward. Attach the tube (there is a video below to watch) – which you've attached to the copper pipe – to the pressure cooker. Cut this to size. It should fit snug and erect but not too long so that it bends over. Tighten with the small clamp. Add lavender or plant you want extracted to the pressure cooker, add boiling water (about 3 times the amount of plant you have – 4 cups lavender = 12 cups boiling water). Keep in mind dried plants or herbs will require more than fresh plants.

Place the coils in the tub of cold water with ice – as this warms you will need to add ice and/or replace the water with cold water as it heats. Place catch jar at the other end to catch the oils and steamed essential water. Set up as in picture below. Cover and set heat to medium high. If it begins to leak once started, seal with plumbers putty around the tube/pressure cooker area. Placing a bit of downwards pressure on the copper pipe attached to the pressure cooker helps it to seal better as well.

Process Set Up

See video on how it works here!

Now you can syringe the oils off the top or siphon them away from the water underneath. The lavender water or essential water you have left is great when used in vinegar for an all-natural fabric softener, as a room air spritzer, or as a sheet and bedroom freshener. Most essential oils are anti-microbial and anti-fungal so they actually kill the nasty in your homes.

When I distill in my house. I know that the air is getting a nice cleanse and it leaves a wonderful scent throughout the house. Talk about some spring cleaning!

Checkout my blog at – like on facebook at

And be sure to check out my Modern Roots Store for all natural body products that I have created!


Best Oils For Consumption

Best Oils For Consumption

Olive Oil

Modern RootsCome on, who doesn't know that olive oil is great for you? But who knows why?? Polyphenols are present in olive oil from harvest until about 1 year old. After that the health benefits associated with olive oil diminish almost completely. You get olive oil from pressing the olive seeds. Most olive oil sell by dates are 2 years from pressing the seeds and, in the United States, most olive oils that are on the shelf are already over the 1-year mark. It doesn't mean that the olive oil isn't still good for you but the health claims decrease such as heart disease risk factors by lowering blood pressure and cholesterol, reducing blood clotting and improving the health of artery linings has a direct link to the polyphenols in the olive oil. Polyphenols also reduce cancer risk by lowering inflammation and cellular proliferation. They act as antioxidants, reducing oxidation and cell damage, which leads to many degenerative diseases. Yay! They even reduce microbial activity and infections.

There's regular olive oil and extra virgin olive oil. There is actually four types, but these two are most readily available. Regular olive oil is a blend of refined pomace oil and virgin olive oil. Pomace is produced by processing the leftovers of the virgin olive oil extraction. The blend (which usually contains as little as 5 to 10 percent virgin olive oil) is cheaper to produce. It doesn’t have as strong a flavor and is best for frying or high temps. I use this in my natural soap and body products because it has a high heat temp, but it's also equally good in baking or cooking in which your pan will reach medium to high temps. Extra virgin olive oil, which has a low heat temp and more distinct flavor, is more suitable for salad dressings, light sauteing, drizzled over bruschetta or fresh breads. Look for cold pressed because a heated press takes some of the health qualities out if it.

Coconut Oil

Fantastic for high heat because over 90% of the fatty acids in it are saturated, which makes it very resistant to high temps. Stores easily as a semi soft solid allowing it to keep for months without going bad. Coconut oil also has wonderful health benefits. It is particularly rich in a fatty acid called Lauric Acid, which can improve cholesterol and help kill bacteria and other pathogens. What a work horse! This is the fatty acid breakdown: Saturated: 92%; Monounsaturated: 6%; Polyunsaturated: 1.6%. It is important to note that saturated fats used to be considered unhealthy, but new studies prove that they are totally harmless. Saturated fats are a safe source of energy for humans. The fats in coconut oil can also boost metabolism slightly and increase feelings of fullness compared to other fats.


Grass fed butter is epic, no? yea I don't know about using the word epic either. Not really sure I'm as cool as the teeny boppers out there but it's true- butter is truly amazing. It contains more Vitamin K2, CLA and other nutrients than store bought GMO grain fed butter. All unaltered butter contains Vitamins A, E and K2. It is also rich in the fatty acids Conjugated Linoleic Acid (CLA) and Butyrate, both of which have powerful health benefits. CLA may lower body fat percentage in humans and butyrate can fight inflammation, improve gastrointestinal health and has been shown to make rats resistant to becoming obese. Fatty acid breakdown: Saturated: 68%; Monounsaturated: 28%; Polyunsaturated: 4%.

So skip the margarine, smart balance and other human made fats and stick with the real deal ... butter. Butter is best used for baking with or spreading, but not high temps unless you make Ghee or Clarified butter which takes out the proteins. The proteins are what burn when sauteing causing a burnt bitter taste.

Animal Fats, Lard & Tallow

Remember when Crisco and Shortening were/are such a hit? The manufacturers attacked natural animal fats for being 'bad' for you. On the contrary, animal fats are recognized by the body as natural and are therefore processed by our bodies differently than man made GMO oils. You can buy lard from the butcher or buy it rendered from the grocery store. I like to render my own animals fats from my own animals because I know how they were fed (NON-GMO). If you'd like to render your own fats checkout my recipe/instructions by clicking here.

Palm Oil

Palm oil is derived from the fruit of palms. It's great for cooking because it consists mostly of saturated and monounsaturated fats, with small amounts of polyunsaturates. I get my palm oil unrefined, in fact I try to get all my oils unrefined. Why? Because the process in which refining takes place can remove the natural vitamin E qualities, Coenzymes, and other nutrients while adding unnecessary trace chemicals.

Avocado Oil

The breakdown of avocado oil is similar to olive oil. It is primarily monounsaturated, with some saturated and polyunsaturated fats. This oil is best suited for the same things you would cook or make dressings with like Extra Virgin Olive Oil. It's more delicate in flavor and does not have a high heat temp. I use this in my body care as well as it has great softening and  moisturizing qualities.

Peanut Oil

Most people think peanuts are an actual nut but they are in fact a legume. Peanut oil is great to use as long as you pick a brand that the ingredients include, ahem, Peanut Oil and that's it. It contains Omega 6 linoleic acid, which helps to lower LDL or "bad cholesterol" and increases HDL or "good cholesterol" in the blood.

It also has a great shelf life, so stock up and save!

What Oils Are Worst For Consumption?

I call it the naughty liar list because the companies that market these oils to consumers are straight up liars. They know consumers are not stupid and have to play the game of trickery to get them to buy these 'oh, so healthy, manmade oils.'


Yes, Canola. Capitalized you see because it actually comes from Canada (location where it was created) and Oil. Canadian Oil. The manufacturers will have you believing it's great for you, but it is a horrible oil for consumption. Canola is made from the rapeseed which is a great insect repellent. I mean, I guess I wouldn't want to name it Rape Oil either but making up a name to represent something else really is not, well honest. Do a quick search on how Canola oil is refined – with chemicals, Hexane, bleach etc. – and it will be enough to make you never buy it again.

Vegetable Oil or Soy Oil

Just look at the contents of "All Natural Vegetable Oil" the next time you are at the grocery store. It is 100% soy oil. Yes, the same soy that is raised by mono-crop farmers **most typically seed that is genetically modified from companies such as Monsanto. Yum. :/

When people ask me how I eat, or if I'm gluten free or vegetarian etc. My answer is simple, I try my best for me and my family to eat 'closest to nature' or things that have not been altered. Things you would find naturally without human input or modifying chemically. Hybrids are very different than genetically modified. If you ask yourself, could this have naturally happened in nature? And the answer is yes, generally speaking, then I believe it has a natural viability and health that is good for us. If we all tried to eat more like this, or supported people that did these things by purchasing from them, think of the health of not only our country ... the world and our environment! We think we are so smart but in fact, mother nature will outsmart our every move.

Recipes and more information at & 'like' on facebook for homesteading chaos and new articles at

Pay Now & Save 50% Off the Cover Price

First Name: *
Last Name: *
Address: *
City: *
State/Province: *
Zip/Postal Code:*
(* indicates a required item)
Canadian subs: 1 year, (includes postage & GST). Foreign subs: 1 year, . U.S. funds.
Canadian Subscribers - Click Here
Non US and Canadian Subscribers - Click Here

Live The Good Life with Grit!

For more than 125 years, Grit has helped its readers live more prosperously and happily while emphasizing the importance of community and a rural lifestyle tradition. In each bimonthly issue, Grit includes helpful articles, humorous and inspiring articles, captivating photos, gardening and cooking advice, do-it-yourself projects and the practical reader advice you would expect to find in America’s premier rural lifestyle magazine.

Get your guide to living outside the city limits delivered straight to your mailbox. Subscribe to Grit today!  Simply fill in your information below to receive 1 year (6 issues) of Grit for only $19.95!


At Grit, we have a tradition of respecting the land that sustains rural America. That’s why we want you to save money and trees by subscribing to Grit through our automatic renewal savings plan. By paying now with a credit card, you save an additional $5 and get 6 issues of Grit for only $14.95 (USA only).

Or, Bill Me Later and send me one year of Grit for just $19.95!