Thursday, October 20, 2011

Change The World Wednesday Challange

Today's blog post is about Change The World Wednesday Challenge from Small Foot Prints.

This week is about lowering your pets impact on the planet.

Here are a few things we do and a couple ideas that I probably should do.

The first thing we do is buy pet supplies that last. The bedding, combs, and such. If you buy good quality the first time then you do not have to replace it as often.

The second thing is to reuse. We use our plastic cups from fast food to scoop the feed, totes that have small cracks in them for food or water. The best thing for watering large livestock and such is a reclaimed bathtub from where they are remodeling a house.

Third is the feed. We buy our corn from a local farmer so we reuse containers. Our hogs (when we have them) get food from a restaurant kitchen. No not the stuff from the tables but the kitchen. That way it doesn't end up in the dump. All our left overs from our kitchen are put into the animal feed or compost depending on what it is. We spread it around to the goat, chickens, and dogs.

The fourth is we look for earth friendly shampoos and meds for you pets. I read labels and look for recycled containers.

And last but not least is we water all our animals out of the creek in front of the house or rain barrels. This water is better for them because it has no chemicals in it like fluoride or chlorine.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Recipes and Pics From This Weekend

This weekend Hubby promised the kids he would take them squirrel hunting. Yes this just thrills me. No not the hunting part but the squirrel part. I eat deer but that is about where I draw the line on the meat from game animals. They ended up with three squirrels. That is perfect since there are three of them.

Anybody that has read my blog or has known me for a while knows that Hubby loves to cook outside. He would rather eat food cooked on an open fire in cast iron that any thing else in the world.  Here is his squirrel recipe and a corn fritter we put together. I made the batter and he fried them.

 First thing you need here is some squirrels. Thankfully he handed them to me already cleaned.  The next step is to wash them and get off all the hair. This is a hard thing to do as it loves to stick. Then we soaked them over night in salt water. I drained them and cut them into pieces. I removed the legs and left the ribs and back bones together. He then parboiled them for about 30 minuets at a good rolling boil. Then he drained them and let them cool. I coated them in butter milk then seasoned flour. I set them on a baking sheet and let them sit for 15 minuets to let the flour stick. He then fried them covered in a cast iron skillet in lard.
Here is Wesley eating his first squirrel leg. Yes he asked me why I did not eat one. I told him I don't make him eat things he doesn't like and I do not like squirrel and he left it at that. I did not tell him I will not eat frog, rabbit or squirrel. Two are to close to the rodent family for my taste and I am not starving and The other reminds me of Kermit the frog to much.

 Here is the recipe for the corn fritters.
1 cup self rising flour
1 cup self rising cornmeal
2 eggs
1 can cream corn
1 cup pepper jack cheese
1 small onion minced
3 tablespoons of pickled jalapeno minced
season salt to taste
right at 1 cup butter milk

I mixed all the wet ingredients in one bowl and all the dry in another. I then added the wet to the dry and stirred until mixed together. I used right at a cup of nonfat buttermilk. It may need more if you want a thinner batter. He fried these in lard so they had a slight bacon flavor to them as well.

 Here is a look at my lardo. I removed it from salt and rinsed it. I then dried it really well. I then placed it in the fridge in a zip bag for later use. I did try it but since my car is still broke down and I did not have any good bread in the house I did the red neck thing. I sliced it really thin and put it on some saltine crackers and broiled it in the oven. It did really great even Hubby ate it. I just coated it in a mix of molasses, curing salt, thyme, black pepper corns, garlic, and rosemary. I then put it in the fridge for two weeks covered.
 This is the view from the back of my house. We have some trees turning but most are just brown due to lack of rain this year.
 This is from the back of the field towards the house.
 If you pull up in my yard you would think we are nuts. The grass at the barn is over our heads. Since the flood we have not had any animals out there. We decided to let it grow up for the wild life. When we did this we had a rabbit explosion.  We will clean it up when we fix the fence and put more live stock back out there. But for now we have some of the cutest baby rabbits running out there. I can watch them from my bed room window.
 People on twitter hear me talk about Smokie. (@waylandcook) Well here is one of his pictures. He is a double haired Pom. His hair is cut short here. He needs your thoughts and prayers right now. He is going nuts on me. When he is left alone and has one flea on him he chews his self. Right now he has no hair on his rear end. We are doctoring the scratches and handling the flea that is driving him nuts. If any one knows what to do for him when he is alone in the house please let me know. He has separation problems and does not understand he can not go every where I do. (No he is not spoiled at all lol)
And since Halloween is just around the corner here is one of Wesley's Scary pictures. Bekka and Wesley  were playing at taking pictures with her camera. I think he is supposed to be growling at the camera but I still think he looks mean. Handme is just happy to be there and is sticking out his tongue at you.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Italian Sausage Pasta Bake

Wesley wanted to make something with Italian Sausage. He got a taste of it this last week and decided he liked it alot.  Here is what Rebekka, Wesley and I came up with from things in our kitchen. Sorry I did not get a good picture of it. It did not want its picture taken.

One small package of pasta (your choice)
One package of Johnsville Italian Sausage- hot, mild, or sweet
One jar of artichokes - drained
2 Cans of Mushrooms- drained
2 Tablespoons minced Garlic
Small Onion
Can or Jar of your favorite Sauce
Cheese of your choice

Rebekka boiled the noodles according to package directions and drain. We sauteed the vegetables and added the sauce. We then mixed the noodles and sauce together and placed in a 9 by 13 casserole dish.We took cooked Italian Sausages and sliced them. Placed them on top of the noodles. We then topped it with cheese and baked it until the cheese was nice and bubbly. Then you can cut it out into squares and serve.

This is a great way to use left over vegetables or sausages. (Not that we would ever have any left over sausages)

Our Birmingham Trip

Last weekend we took a family trip with my parents and sister to Birmingham Alabama. We stayed at the Best Western Plus Carlton Suites, went to the zoo, the Vulcan, and the McWane Center. We ate at Taco Casa, the Birmingham Zoo, The Cheesecake Factory and the McWane Center.

The Birmingham Zoo is a nice half day activity. There are several animals to look at, it is clean and well layed out. Wesley and Bekka had fun feeding the Blue Faced Honey Eaters. The food at the Birmingham zoo is not worth the time or money. We ate at the Safari Cafe. We had to wait about 20 minuets to get our food. They left off one order, got one sandwich totally wrong (It was supposed to be a BBQ but they gave us a Steak and Cheese) and when placing an order they did not tell us they were out of something. After they gave us our order then they tell us that they were out of that kind of food. We were not the only one having problems several familes were complaining about the quality, or thier order was wrong.

 We went to Vulcan park. This is a great place if you like high places. There is a museum on the ground and you can see the statue from the ground. If you are brave there is an observation deck. There is an elevator and stairs. The observation deck is a grating that you can see thru. The view is great from up that high. Hubby, Bekka and Wesley decided not to stay very long.

That night we went to the Cheesecake Factory. We had a 40 minuet wait for 7 people at around 5:30 pm. It was well worth the wait. There is alot of food on the regular plates. I ordered fish tacos and I got 4 tacos,rice and beans. But the best part was of course the Cheesecakes. We ordered several different types and took them back to the room and shared them with coffee later. Lets just say Hubby loved them and he doesn't even like regular cheese cake.

On Sunday we went to the Mc Wane Center. This is well worth your time. It is a hands on science museum. It has 4 levels of hands on activities. Wesley really enjoyed the hands on exhibits. He also enjoyed the Dinosaurs. You can see an Imax film too. The had three of them but we did not go there. We ate at the food court. They have a Pizza Hut, Subway, A noodle place, A grill, and a frozen Yogurt place.

We stayed at the Best Western Carlton Suites. It was super nice. It had an inside pool, free breakfast, and really nice rooms. The people at the front desk were really helpful. When we asked for directions they would not only give us directions they would print out the directions and a map. There are a lot of different restaurants within walking distance from this hotel too.

On Friday night the kids and I walked to Taco Casa. They have decent food for a fast food place. They make more authentic tacos. They have no other type of meat but hamburger.

There are several different things to do while you are in Birmingham Alabama. It is well worth the visit and the time to check it out.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Rendering Lard

This weekend  was  cool  here. So we decided to go to the freezer take out one of the boxes of pork fat we got back from having two hogs processed. (Yes ask for your fat back.) It took us a while but we finally cut all this fat into little bitty pieces. It is easier when it is partialy frozen. You need to cut it up into the same size pieces. Then you take about a cup of water and put it in your pan. Cast Iron works best.  Place your fat pieces into the pan and turn on the heat. (Not on High) We did this in our cast iron dutch oven over a fire. It takes a while and you need to stir it. When the fat pieces turn light brown and shrink in size remove them from the lard and add more. Do this until you get the pot 3/4 full. Then remove about half the lard. (Do not throw those cracklings away.)

When you take the Cracklings out  place them on a sheet pan and crisp them up in the oven. When you take them out, cool them, and place them in a freezer bag and freeze them. We use them in corn bread, for snacks (yes I eat them occasionally warmed up on a sheet pan and then a little salt.) and some times I put them in a stir fry.

When you are done with your lard you need to store it in an air tight container. We have a large metal bucket with a lid called a lard stand. It should set up kind of firm and be white in color.  Now you have a wonderful fat to cook with, fry stuff, and use for any other thing you can think of. 

It has been proven that lard is better for you than butter and margarine. I am not saying just start using it at every meal. I use it sparingly. It is even better when you make it your self. It has no preservatives in it at all.

If you are not like us and do not raise pigs for your own meat you can ask your butcher for some fat. Our butcher always has it. They make sausage and ground pork. When we got ours from the butcher they threw in extra fat for us. I keep it around also for making deer sausage in the winter. You can never have to much pork fat in your freezer.

Another thing to do with pork fat is make lardo. I have never tried to make any so this will be my first time. I have it in the fridge right now. I got a recipe off of line. Now I have to wait 4 weeks to try it.  Hubby has already turned up his nose at it. Wesley, Rebekka and I are patiently waiting. We are looking for recipes that use it. We have never tried any and no one carries it around here.  I will keep every one posted on the progress.