Christmas Lemon Loaf
1 1/2 cups flour
1 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons vanilla
1 1/2 teaspoons lemon extract
2 tablespoon butter, room temp
1/2 cup oil (regular olive, canola or veg)
1/3 cup lemon juice
Preheat oven to 350 F, mix all ingredients in a bowl, whisk good at the end to incorporate well. Pour into a 9x5-inch greased bread loaf pan. Bake 45 minutes.
Remove from pan when it has cooled for 20 minutes. Continue to cool. Drizzle top with following icing.
1/2 ccup powdered sugar
1 teaspoon lemon juice
1/4-1/2 teaspoon water
Combine until water incorporates and icing drizzles from a knife or fork easily.
Enjoy more recipes and natural homesteading tips and ideas at www.modernroots.org
'like on facebook at facebook.com/modernroots.org
There is nothing like homemade sausage. You control the salt and ingredients, making it a healthier option for breakfast, soups, or stuffing! After tweaking this recipe to get the right sweet & salty, I believe this to be a winner. If you don't like any 'spice' to your sausage omit the red pepper flakes, but it is NOT hot spicy, just gives it a little extra.
5 pounds pork shoulder cut into 1-inch sections (you can buy pre-ground pork sausage plain, if so do step 1, then step 4 ... done)
1/3 cup maple syrup
1/4 cup brown sugar
2 tablespoons kosher salt – or sea salt
5 teaspoons fennel (lightly roast in dry saucepan)
3 teaspoons cracked pepper
1 teaspoons crushed red pepper flake
1 cup COLD water
1. Mix all ingredients in large bowl. Let sit in fridge 30 minutes. It is important to make sure the meat is very cold before processing through a meat grinder – it goes smoother and quicker.
2. Take out of fridge and send through meat grinder on small die cutter.
3. Place ground meat into mixer bow, add 1 cup cold water and mix on medium speed for 1 minute. NO LONGER.
4. Roll into links, patties, or a log and freeze immediately. Use some immediately too if you desire.
Checkout modernroots.org for more homesteading recipes. Follow on facebook at facebook.com/modernroots.org for new recipes and information on becoming self-sustainable.
I am going to start this by saying ... this isn't for the faint of hearts. So, if you are one of those, please stop reading and skip to my gardening blogs :)
With all of the excitement I had from buying to raising to feeding and apple finishing my pigs, I was a little nervous to butcher. EVERYONE and their mother had advised me to "just bring them to the butcher." These are my reasons for not doing so:
1. You may not get the meat you bring in back. Mix ups happen, especially at harvest time.
2. You will not get YOUR lard back.
3. Self-reliant living really isn't sending your stuff out for someone else to finish. I've put too much effort into specific feeding etc. to waste it on paying someone else.
4. I want to learn. I need to know how to do this sort of stuff. And I needed to know if I had it in me.
Essential items needed for slaughtering, gutting and scalding (hot water bath):
1. .22 caliber rifle
2. 6 inch boning knife
3. Bone saw, you can use a wood saw – but bone saws are meant for this.
4. Cast-iron bath tub (many times old ones are free on Craigslist like ours was)
5. Really strong handsome man – I guess they don't have to be handsome but it helps.
6. Lifting hoist, tractor or backhoe, etc.
7. Cool weather 35 to 50 F is perfect
8. Hanging ropes/chains
9. Thermometer for water temp
10. Cool/dry area for hanging 2 to 4 days
11. Water hose with spray attachment
We butchered the female (gilt) first. For no apparent reason, that's just how it worked out. She was about 300 pounds. My husband and I did all of the butchering from start to finish. These are the steps for the 'kill' portion.
1. .22 caliber long rifle – not hollow point, shot between the eyes slightly off to the right. Point blank. The female went down well. She kicked a bit at first, which is normal. Keep in mind the .22 only stuns them.
2. After they are down – stunned – you have to bleed them out. Slit the throat – best done by sticking a 6-inch boning knife into front base of neck and moving the knife around until you hit the carotid arteries. You will know as the blood will gush and bleed the pig out quickly. You want this. You need to have the pig bleed itself out so the meat is clean and free of blood. This is what kills the pig. We like the Green Acres Farm video of this. We didn't follow all his stuff to a tee, but he was really informative, which you can see below with the hot water bath section.
Next is getting the pig hung up from a tree or tractor/backhoe.
We found that cutting behind the back leg/ankle where the tendon runs and putting braided or really tough rope through it and hooking onto the backhoe is the best for hanging. The picture above on the right looks like the cut was much longer than it was. It was just on the skin's surface. You really don't want to cut too long into the meat because this part is the ham.
Hanging the carcass securely is important so you don't drop it – which we did once, not far off the ground but enough for us to realize we needed something more secure, which is why we cut in front of the tendon behind the back leg bone.
The hooks you latch onto for hanging (on the backhoe) should be about 1.5 feet apart, give or take a bit – it makes gutting much easier. Lift it head down. The following picture is driving it out of the pasture.
We are hot bathing our pigs. For a couple reasons.
1. I get more lard because skinning cuts into the fat.
2. You get a better amount and prettier slabs of bacon.
3. For those who like to utilize the skin for pork rinds/pork crackling, this is the best way.
4. The carcass looks nice and neat when you are finished, and I like my things clean and tidy.
**Quick note: male pigs – especially Yorkshire breed are sometimes difficult at kill. Our male pig was kind of a shock to us. It took six bullets to put him down. He finally went down at the fourth shot, and I insisted we do again. And on the fifth shot, it woke him up :/ He jumped back up on all fours, and it was game on again. I must admit, if he was my first experience, I may have called it day, named him Earl and kept him as a pet. But no, it wasn't and the sixth shot put him down. My husband stabbed him perfectly and cut the carotid arteries, and he bled out quickly. From there on, everything went as planned. Just keep in mind that not everything is perfect and that is normal. Just stay calm and keep your cool.
Hot water bathing includes using a cast-iron tub lifted on cinder blocks and filling it about half way with water. Next you need to start a fire under it keeping it going with scrap wood. You need the temp of the water to be 150 F before placing your pig in the water. This way the hair is easy to scrape off. We used wide mouth canning lids as our scrapers. They worked great. You don't want to keep the pig in the water too long or it will burn (4 to 6 minutes) and you need to move the pig around so it doesn't stick to the bottom.
After scouring books and you tube videos we found this one to be most useful for this part. This also includes the kill.
We had to dip each of them twice, which is fine. The pigs that this guy has are about 200 pounds and ours, female 300 and male 350, were much larger so they fit in the tub a bit more snug. We also washed off the pig before putting it into the tub. Keeps the water clean.
I am scraping the pig and pulling on the hair to see if it is ready to come out in the picture below. Once its hair starts to pull out easily (about 4 minutes) you need to take them out hanging and scrape the rest off. This takes about 20 to 30 minutes with two people.
This is a clean, hairless carcass. After scraping, washing down with a hose to clear the skin of hair and any dirt is necessary.
Now it's time to gut. Again, Green Acres pulled through with an informative video that we followed exactly.
Part 1: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=trAEOw8aeYc
Part 2: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bgFvcM7dqJ8
Below, the picture on the left is me starting to gut the female and on the right is me starting to gut the male. We did the female on Friday evening and the male Saturday afternoon. Each took us about 4 hours. Which, we took a little break in between, took time to get our water up to temp, etc. So next year, I imagine we will be much quicker. We also will have everything set up in stations next year. I plan to do at least six pigs next year so having everything in specific spots will really reduce the amount of time.
Now it's gutted and ready to hang for 3 to 4 days so the meat firms up making it easy for butchering. We hung the carcasses in the shop by placing a long ladder across the ceiling trusses (distribution of weight) and with pulley ropes. We are hanging 3 days (weather is nice and cold here in Minnesota mid-October).
In the culinary realm, 1 inch of fat around the carcass is most sought after. The hog ate well but is healthy. I'm sure my apple finishing for the past month helped. My female ended with 1 inch fat and the male was 1.25 inches.
Head on over to www.ModernRoots.org for my butchering process and specific specialty cuts of meat that I did. You'll also start seeing some amazing Charcuterie recipes (salami, sausages, bacon!).
Like on Facebook at Facebook.com/modernroots.org for updates on all the homesteading fun!
I have a lot of comfrey... I planted a lot of it and am glad I did! My sister, Annie is the knowledge keeper of anything rare, garden interesting, or just plain weird. I was telling her about all my comfrey and she told me NOT to waste it. Meaning, use it as fertilizer. It is rivaled to be the BEST fertilizer there is. If you are anything like me, I want to know why? What makes it so great?
It's hard to find a fertilizer with natural potassium. Enter----> comfrey. It's full of potassium (3 times that the amount in organic manure), an essential for veggies and other plants to grow and fruit to their full potential. Comfrey is also high in calcium, nitrogen, phosphorous, & potash. The perfect mix for fertilizing your garden organically!
I have Russian Comfrey, Bocking 14. This is a sterile plant. It doesn't re-seed itself. Thank goodness! At the rate this stuff grows, I can certainly see how it could get out of control if it did re-seed itself. It is also one of the most potent comfrey plants in medicinal terms, which is why I grow it- to make healing salves. Who know it healed plants too!
First, I made comfrey tea. This is how:
Fill a five gallon bucket with comfrey leaves. Pack it tight. Then add water to cover the leaves. If you ferment anything, same concept (without the sugar). Place a lid on the bucket or piece of wood. I prefer the wood piece because I hate trying to get those tight lids off without spilling. Leave outside, in the sun for a week +. It creates this slimy, sludgy, bubbly green tea. Use this as a liquid fertilizer. 1/2 cup will make all the difference in the world for new and old plants :) You can dilute as well if you don't want it as potent.
The second use of my comfrey: Take the leaves and mulch all my raised beds with it. After pulling out veggie plants for the season and weeding, I placed the long, beautiful, elephant sized leaves in 5 of my 4 by 10 raised garden beds. This will act as a fertilizer for next spring and as a mulch as I laid it pretty thick. I then placed my tomato cages over the top so the wind didn't rip off some of the newly placed leaves (it was windy that day).
There you have it! Your own organic, natural, potent fertilizer. And look, you re-cycled/re-used something :) Head over to modernroots.org for more gardening, homesteading, & canning mayhem!
'like' on facebook at facebook.com/ModernRoots.org
I love fresh herbs- but what's even better is when you store them yourself from your own making! The best grocery store varieties have been sitting on the shelves/manufacturers warehouses for who knows how long and the best herbs have a shelf life of 6-12 months, depending on the variety. You can never be sure when they were harvested. So to get best flavor without pesticides and the costly price tag, drying and storing them yourself is the way to go. Herbs don't need much room to grow so you can grow them almost anywhere and they are easy. I store my harvested, dried herbs in glass baby jars and paint the TOPS of the lids white. I like to hand write my labels, as it adds a little bit of 'home' in the kitchen. You don't have to use baby jars, they are super easy and a great size for herbs but if you start looking at the jars you throw away- you will be amazed with the quality of glass shapes and lids you can reuse. Save a few over the next month or so and you'll know what I mean :)
I use this dehydrator http://www.amazon.com/Nesco-FD-75A-600-Watt-Food-Dehydrator/dp/B0090WOCN0/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1378349165&sr=8-1&keywords=dehydrator Cheap, effective and easy.
You can use whatever dehydrator you like OR you can place your herbs, single layer on a row of paper towels to dry. You can also bunch them together with a rubberband or string and hang them to dry. If you use the dehydrator, they are dried in about 15 hours set at 95 degrees F with 5 racks full. If you chose to dry by hanging or laying on paper towels, it will take about 2 weeks. It is very important that you get your herbs completely dry before storing otherwise they will mold and spoil the entire jar.
After drying, try this awesome crowd pleasing recipe
Herb Crusted Pork Loin
Preheat oven to 475
2 lb pork loin (can be more or less too)
1/2 T. sea salt
2 T. olive oil
4 cloves of minced garlic
1 tsp dried rosemary
1 tsp dried thyme
1 tsp. dried basil
Mix all ingredients in small bowl, let sit 10-15 minutes. Place loin in a large ziplock and pour marinade over it. Massage the sauce into the loin a bit to get it good and covered. Let sit in fridge for a minimum of 30 minutes. Bake for 30 minutes at 475, reduce temp to 425 and bake another 25-40 minutes (depending on the size of loin) until the internal temp reaches 145 degree F.Once cooked, let rest 10 minutes on the counter before cooking. This allows the juices to get sucked and dispersed throughout the meat. If cut immediately, you loose the juices to the cutting board.
Goes excellent with steamed broccoli and a baked potato.
You can find more homesteading mayhem at my blog www.modernroots.org AND 'like' on Facebook at www.facebook.com/modernroots.org for posted recipes and pictures. Happy Harvesting!!!
Essential oils are expensive! Much more so than fragrance oils. Fragrance oils are man made scents to mimic smells we remember. Many times fragrance oils are needed to get a specific scent we like (perfumes etc). Essential oils are plant derived. Which is why they cost more. But you can make your own very easily! Especially with summer in full swing and an abundant supply of herbs out there! Here's how.
In this demonstration I will be making peppermint oil.
What you need:
A small bottle (4 or 6 oz) to store your essential oil
3, 4" sprigs of mint- take leaves off the stem
small piece of freezer paper
4-6 oz carrier oil, I like almond oil but you can use grape seed or jojoba as well.
Mallet for smushing the mint
1. Place leaves between freezer paper. Close freezer paper with the mint between the paper (wax side with the leaves).
2. Mallet the leaves releasing the oils- don't pulverize the leaves too much.
3. Take the smushed leaves and place them in the container.
4. Fill with your carrier oil. Shake.
5. 2 days later remove the leaves if you chose to (I leave mine in making it stronger).
6. Use for back rubs, stress relief, hot bath, or perfume :)
*Note - you can use ANY herb in this recipe to create an essential oil you like. It's fun to mix and match too like Lavender Mint, Rosemary Mint, Basil Oregano (in grape seed oil so you can cook with it), Tomato Scent - VERY popular right now...and the list goes on.
The BEST soaps, pies, and desserts are made from animals fats. They provide a hard, silky soap bar and a great suds, and delicious flaky pie crusts. It is also the best way to not waste a butchered carcass. In order to render fats, you must have chunks of the fat from the carcass. Most people just buy their lard and tallow already rendered but it can be costly if you use it often. I use a reputable butcher in my local town. He charges .25 a lb for un-ground beef fat (tallow) and .35 a lb for ground beef fat. I get it ground because it saves me A LOT of time and the extra .10 is worth it. You do not necessarily need to grind the fats but you get more of the fats rendered if you do so. In this demo, I am rendering tallow, but the process is the same for pig fat or lard or any other animal fat for that matter.
What you need: wire mesh fine strainer, animal fat ground, 1-5 gallon bucket (depending on how much you plan to render), bowl to strain into.
This is what the beef fat looks like when I pick it up.
I take it out of the bags and place into a roasting pan/large stainless steel sauce pot and cook in the oven at 375 for 1 -2 hours depending on the amount. If there is still pink meat attached to the fats, let it go longer. If the meats start to get brown and crispy that's ok. You aren't keeping that part anyway. You will start to be able to see the fats become clear and separate from the meat that was still attached to it. That means it's done and ready to be strained.
Time to strain the pieces of remaining meat from the fat into the bowl. Do not wait too long to strain because tallow sets up at room temp. This is essentially ground beef, do what you please with it.
Poured off into a 5 gallon bucket. You can skip putting it into the bowl and strain directly into your storage bucket but I like that my strainer fits perfectly on top of this stainless steel bowl and working in smaller batches ensures a cleaner product.
After it cools, this is what is looks like.
Tallow set up harder than lard. Lard can be pretty soft so be sure to place in an airtight/leak proof container. Now it's ready to use! Soaps, baking, cooking you name it :) Oh, and recent studies have shown the benefits of animal fats in moderation is healthy for brain development and whole body health especially in children!
Click on over to modernroots.org to read more about homestead development, canning & gardening ---> like on facebook at facebook.com/modernroots.org :)