Monthly Archives: September 2007

Goat collective

Although I would love to have goats in our backyard, I think to be fair to the goats, they need more space. Somehow I met a lovely woman who has a large backyard in Oakland who will host the goats. We’re gathering a team of 10 people who will share the duties of milking and feeding the goats. Each time you milk you get over one gallon of goat milk. Many people in the group are what I call goat cheese motivated. We’re planning on buying the goats in the springtime. Before then, we need to build outbuildings, fences, hay racks, stantions. If you’re interested, email me at novellacarpenter at yahoo dot com, our first meeting is October 9.

Full moon

I harvested only about 1/4 of the squash last night because most of them just aren’t ready. According to The Compleat Squash, winter squash aren’t ready to harvest until the rind passes the “thumbnail test”–ripe squash should resist the pressure of a thumbnail. Mine went right in. Also, the skin should slightly dull and the vines should wither as an indication of ripeness. Still, the Galeaux is starting to dull, so I’ll probably pick in the next few days. The Indian popcorn isn’t ready yet, either. Kind of disappointing, but the bonus was I did pick a squash that looks just like a butt. It had grown into a piece of wire fence. I had to cut the wire in order to free it. Talk about a full moon.

Ham on everything

Anybody out there have some good ham recipes? Bill and I have eaten ham for every meal for the past week. Fried ham, baked ham, Cuban sandwiches with ham, pickles, and mustard fried in butter and pressed. I bring ham with me to share everywhere I go. Got a meeting? Bring sliced ham. Got dinner guests? Feed them ham. We’re almost down to the bone but I predict there’s at least three more ham meals in my future. Not complaining, just explaining.
As for how I made the ham, I took the butt of Little Girl and submerged it in a briny solution of pink salt, salt, brown sugar and water. I let it soak, fully covered for 10 days. After one day to dry out, I put it in the bbq with wet hickory chips for 12 hours. Then I baked it at 250 degrees for a few hours. If I were to do it again (and I will because there were two butts) I would inject the ham with the brining solution near the bone in a few places. There have been a few soft spots, but on the whole the ham is pink and delicious, with just the right amount of salt.

Please come get your animals

The animals have invaded the apartment. Last night I was reading a book and a rabbit crept around the corner. The chickens have gotten bold, too, and come into the house, sun themselves, shit on the hardwood floors, and pretend like I’m an evil interloper when I shush them back onto the deck. I’ve never been much of a housekeeper, so I must admit that I like having the animals come into the apartment. I would draw a line with a pig, though. Or a goat as another example of an animal not allowed indoors.

Sunday food processing

I’m reading the Little House series–Little House in the Big Woods, Little House on the Prairie, Farmer Boy–by Laura Ingalls Wilder. “Reading” as in it’s the toilet book. They are basically how-to guides for all things homestead. Like there’re chapters about making butter, sausages, slaughtering a pig, and building a log cabin. It’s really nice, and I can relate (except the background noise for my homesteading is police helicopters and schreeching tires). Especially right now, what with the Harvest Moon coming up this Wednesday. Everything is yelling: pick me! The squash, corn, cucs, lettuce, beans, tomatoes. We went to our friends’ farm and picked up several buckets of dry-farmed tomatoes. Don’t get me wrong, we’ve got tons of ‘maters, but these are the best for canning. They’re super sweet yet durable so they stay whole in the jar. I’ve been raw-packing them since late last night. We should have enough to make it through the winter.

Makin’ bacon

Still processing that dang pork! I took one of the pork bellies and cured it using a bacon recipe from Charcuterie by Michael Ruhlman and Brian Polcyn. Per the recipe, I rubbed a blend of kosher salt, maple syrup, brown sugar, and pink salt (nitrates) on the slabs o’meat then put them in the fridge for 7 days, flipping them every other day. Many people don’t like nitrates but if they’re used properly, the nitrates become nitrites, which aren’t harmful. And it’s insurance against the perils of botulism, so I thought I’d use it this time around. Would love to hear from other people who make their own bacon and don’t use nitrates. Anway, then I made a small fire with wet hickory chips and a lump of charcoal. It’s smoking away right as we speak. Next step is to cut off the skin. Notice that it’s not terribly thick, that’s because it’s from Little Girl, the more dainty of our piggers.
I’ll be remembering her tomorrow at breakfast. Thanks piggie.