This is the project I just finished up this morning, after working on it for nearly a week. My husband works in a small factory where they do everything from slaughter the animals to making sausage, ham, bacon, etc. By “small” I mean that they do 100-150 sheep and 8-10 cattle per day, and 125 or so pigs once a week. Last week on Friday he was working in the boning room, where they break down the carcasses, and brought me home a big bag of “dog tucker”–meaty brisket bones! We don’t mind eating that sort of dog food. I have a stock pot that holds about 25 quarts/liters, but it still took two rounds to get all those bones cooked. I filled the pot as full as possible with bones, then added water nearly to the brim. When the meat was cooked, I pulled the bones out and picked off the meat, then put the bones back in, with a bit of vinegar to draw out the minerals, and cooked it again for several hours. Then, I strained out the bones and bits of other things, and set the pot of broth outside overnight to chill. In the morning, the tallow had solidified and was easy to get off, so I did that, and scraped off the broth that was stuck to it. The tallow went into a pan to boil off the water that was left so it will keep, and I’ll use it for greasing griddles. I heated the broth till it was totally liquid again–it gelled nicely–and put it in jars and processed it at 10 pounds pressure for 25 minutes. The results: A big pot of soup for Sunday potluck dinner, with broth and meat, which also lasted us for two more meals; four meals’ worth of cooked meat in the freezer; another meal with meat from the second pot; about 10 quarts of broth in jars for adding to soup or making gravy when I need it later (my version of “convenience food!); and lots of tallow for greasing pans. One of the boys also wants to make tallow candles, and Esther has her eye on it for making doughnuts! We’ll see.
Activities at Home
This is Saturday morning, so I spent a little more time than usual on breakfast. I made mashed potatoes yesterday, and had nearly two quarts left over, so I beat about six eggs into them this morning and fried them up into cakes for breakfast. Yummy! They take a long time to cook, so I don’t do it very often. That gave me time to mix a batch of bread while I made breakfast, though!
Esther and I invented a new dessert this evening: Pumpkin Crisp! Gayle sorted through the pumpkins (in New Zealand, winter squash are called pumpkins) the other day and found several that were going bad. Some were beyond salvage, but a couple were still usable. We decided to try something new with a Butternut. We peeled it, and sliced it into pieces about an inch by two inches and 1/4 inch thick (they varied a lot, though), then tossed about two or three quarts of pieces with half a cup of sugar and a sprinkling each of cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg and ginger. We put it in the casserole dish with about half a cup of water and baked it for 45 minutes or so, then made a topping like we use for apple crisp (1 cup flour, 1/2 cup sugar, 1/4 cup butter) and baked for another half an hour. We served it with whipped cream. Yummy!
We’ve had a lovely Sunday evening. Gayle had time to play games with the children.
I helped Simon bread and fry dandelions for a snack (no pictures–they got eaten too fast!). We went to the neighbor’s to thank them for boarding our heifer and bring her home, then after chatting with the neighbor for awhile decided to wait two weeks. Esther and I made a batch of 24 whole wheat tortillas for supper–they all disappeared! And Joe decided it was his job to sweep the floor.
The cow needed fresh grass yesterday, so I had my trusty helpers move her. Boys thrive on jobs like that! The cow was very happy when the job was finished.
One of my young entrepreneurs wanted to earn some money this week, so I told him I’d pay him $2 if he prepared a certain bed for planting. He spent several hours on it last night and today, and now he wants me to inspect it to decide if it’s ready. I think it is; he may just get a little more than I originally told him! I’ll check it out in the morning.
I actually got to spend a few minutes working in the garden this evening, too. I was weeding a bed, and as I was digging up dandelions I realized they weren’t blooming yet, so wouldn’t be bitter! I brought them in and chopped them into the coleslaw I was making. We also had our fresh radishes and several carrots the boys found when they were digging up a bed to go with the cabbage and onion I bought. Yummy!
Did you know that eggs can stand on end–without being cracked? It can only be done twice a year–on equinox, the days that the sun crosses the equator. That is the first day of spring and the first day of autumn, so around March 20-23 and September 20-23. Today happens to be equinox, and for once we remembered to try this trick. It works! Take a look at these pictures.
About sixteen years ago, someone told my family about this, so we tried it. I have a couple of pictures of four or five eggs standing on end in our living room. I remembered that Tuesday morning, so found those pictures and took them along to Dead Boring (writing group), and told the group about this. Then, believe it or not, I would have forgotten again until too late, except that one of the moms texted me this morning about it!
A few days ago, Esther got in the mood to make doughnuts. It worked out well because that evening Gayle was away for a few hours at a Bible Study, and I like to do something special with the children those evenings. She found a recipe for Fluffy Raised Doughnuts in the Basics and More cookbook that I have. If you’re interested, here’s the recipe:
Fluffy Raised Doughnuts
2 C water (lukewarm)
1 T yeast
½ C vegetable oil
½ C sugar
2 eggs, well beaten
2 tsp salt
Approximately 6 C flour
Soften yeast in water. Add next 4 ingredients, then 2 cups flour. Let rise 30 minutes. Add rest of flour, just enough to work well with your hands. Knead till smooth. Let rise till double. Lay out, do not punch down or use rolling pin, just pat it out and cut. Let rise again. Fry in hot fat, deep enough so doughnuts float.
We used a jar ring to cut the doughnuts, and a milk-bottle cap to cut out the centers. We also used whole wheat flour, and lard instead of oil, then fried them in lard because that’s what we have in abundance. They were delicious! The next day, she made a glaze and dipped them in, and that was better yet.
Our bedrooms are totally unheated. During the winter, it is COLD back there! It never got quite down to freezing this winter, but not too far above. We’ve learned quite a good strategy for going to sleep in a cold bed, though: Bed buddies! Esther cut a sheet into long rectangles and sewed them into tubes, then filled them about half full with wheat or barley and sewed the ends shut. She made one for each member of the family, and in the evening we put them all into the oven for awhile to warm up. It’s amazing how a hot bag of wheat at your feet makes the whole bed feel warmer!
Tonight’s boy activity had to do with spear fishing from “boats” on the living room floor. Earlier, I had been hearing stories about riding sharks. It seems that you need to know how to swim before you try to ride a shark, because they might flip over and dump you! The game abruptly ended when I took a picture; the boy you see as a blur in the picture decided he was violently opposed to having his picture taken tonight, so they all decided pictures were taboo and went elsewhere so I couldn’t get another picture!
We got home from church a little earlier this afternoon than most Sundays, and I realized that the entire family was sitting around the living room doing their various things. What a special little time together!