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A Week in Farm Food

December 20, 2010

Or, actually the basic ingredients for many dishes for the week.  Using stored food and adding to the stores becomes a rhythmic pattern.  Identifying the best use.  Is the apple too spoiled to use?  Now it’s a treat for Jane.  Frozen brussels sprouts on one side of the stalk?  A delicacy for the hens.  Always finding a use for everything we produce.

My broth on hand method still works the best for me.  I cook one chicken per week, making broth for cooking, drinking, ???.  I don’t can it, unless I don’t use up what I make for the week.  For me, seeing jars of broth in the fridge, makes me use it.  If it is buried in the fruit room in canned form or the freezer, it will most likely stay buried.  Using bone-rich broth for cooking in place of water can really up the nutritional value of your food, besides adding nutrients, it adds flavor.  Making broth each week also appeals to my cheap frugal side – I am not wasting that expensive chicken I raised, I am using ever single bit.  After we get done with the carcass, I give that chicken a go again in the stockpot and that goes to the dogs, or us if I need extra stock, and the bones that don’t break down sufficiently for the pups, go in the fire and will end up in the garden as ashes.

The winter food transition has begun, the weekly dig for roots is still small, I’m not giving roots to Jane yet, while she is still able to graze.  We have lucked out so far this winter.  We’ve either had snow or rain, and with snow that means the grass and vegetables are protected during freezing weather.  I have been lax and not hilled the root rows yet… but I’m keeping a weather eye for freezing without snow.

These are the last of the peppers.  I harvested them in October, but they are starting to get a little wrinkly.

The last of the peppers are frozen and put away for doling out – it’s a long time until summer and fresh peppers 😦

With the cook stove going all day, it’s pretty easy to cook beans.  Still left over from last years harvest, I’m hoping we have a dry bean summer for 2011.

I’m giving myself a break from years past.  No cabbage experimenting, and not much over-planting either.  I harvested the last of my cabbage and brussels sprouts last week.  My hardy chicory was already harvested by the rabbits 😦  We’ll get by this winter on kale and roots, or not.

My garden, winter and otherwise is morphing away from my OCD collectors garden, (you know where you have to grow ten different varieties of everything to keep up with the Jones), to vegetables that are easy to grow, harvest and keep.  Pretty boring, but much more like the gardens my subsistence mentors grew.  My mentors grew simple, basic gardens, with varieties they knew would produce in our climate.  They had not the time nor funds to experiment too much, food for the year was the main concern.

Plain, and simple.

24 Comments leave one →
  1. December 20, 2010 8:56 am

    Yum! Love the bone broth. I’ve been drinking it warm for breakfast and it’s so good. Looking at all you root veggies, made me think that our rat Templeton must be eating pretty well this winter!

  2. December 20, 2010 10:09 am

    Wonderful post!

  3. December 20, 2010 10:14 am

    I’m better with having food front and center so I use it. I’m embarrassed about what’s hiding in my freezer.

    • December 20, 2010 9:35 pm

      Linda, me too, I cleaned every single freezer this year before adding anything. The dogs and pigs made out like bandits.

  4. Diana Smith permalink
    December 20, 2010 10:26 am

    Don’t know how I could run my kitchen without chickens and cows! Never feel quilty as they’ll always eat what got lost in the frig or just plain have too much of….like the pears this year. Our cows adore pears. The best beef we ever raised had his last 6 weeks filling up on pears and apples from our orchard. During the winter I can always expect a couple extra eggs when I’ve been cooking and have carrot peels and squash skins.I always cook them so they are a warm treat. We have been spouting some wheat for them,too. DEE

    • December 20, 2010 9:32 pm

      Diana, me either! The perfect waste disposal system. Not to mention the benefits back to the garden from the output! I read in a gardening book the other day, it was wise to discontinue the “time worn” practice of using animal manures in the garden. Without the certain time worn practice I wouldn’t have a garden, or good pastures. Needless to say I wasn’t too impressed. Time worn, indeed.

  5. December 20, 2010 10:28 am

    I’ve got the carcasses from the chickens we processed in September in the freezer. When I am walking again I will make bone broth from them, and the bones DH cut up from the steer yesterday.

    I find I have no problem pulling the frozen from the freezer for use. The chicken broth has been gone for a while now (last year’s) and we still have a few quarts of beef.

    I’m having one for lunch today, as I’ve gotten a cold. I’ve added some leftover brown rice, some Swiss chard I dehydrated, some onion powder and celery salt I made and a bit of black pepper.

    I long ago cut back to just things my family liked, that did well here, and weren’t too labor intensive. I’ve not experimented much with other things, as I simply didn’t have the money and energy to invest.

    I really like knowing most of what I need for a meal we can produce here.

    • December 20, 2010 9:30 pm

      Pam, I never have time to bone out the chickens, since we are usually doing hay at the same time. So I freeze my chix whole and just process them as we eat them.

      I agree, it is very satisfying to produce most of your food. The taste is exceptional.

  6. December 20, 2010 2:08 pm

    I enjoy hearing your thoughts on this kind of topic, as it’s a type of micro-management item that seems to spin through the brain on an ongoing basis when putting up your own food, and it’s neat to hear the inner workings of others’ brains.

    I’m hoping we get a good dry-bean year here too. I love beans, and had my first successful crop last year in a bad year for them, so I’m allocating more space to them this coming year.

    I’m envious of your brassicas. We’re out already. Clearly room for improvement next year.

    • December 20, 2010 9:28 pm

      Kevin, ah yes, the improvement thing, there is always room in my garden for improvement! We have just been in a horrible state of wet for a year now, with dry being damp not dry. I am looking forward to summer, and in fact I am really looking forward to the the solstice and days a little longer!

      Micro-management for sure, I think about food many hours of the day, seed (plant & animal) to table is a worthy and thought provoking past time. Currying the steer’s haunch brings to mind the meat chart sometimes 😉 And more than one type of curry!

  7. December 20, 2010 4:15 pm

    I’m trying to listen soberly and well.

    But my catalog surfing is already out of control. Maybe it will be easier to reign myself in when I look at costs not just wish lists.

    • December 20, 2010 9:22 pm

      Hayden, LOL, I always have to pare my lists down. And usually a little ten key tells me in a fast way I need to spend much less. I’ve put all my seed catalogs in a safe place until after the the first of the year – house projects beckon, and so does my new copy of Charcuterie.

      • December 21, 2010 4:15 am

        “my new copy of Charcuterie.”

        Oh, man!! I just got that out of the library 2 weeks ago, and read through it. I priced it online and decided I may be able to afford it, later down the line.

        Now I can’t wait for your posts on what you have made….

        • December 21, 2010 6:06 am

          Pam, it might be a while – I love the curing where we take our pork. But I saved the jowls back. I got into a predicament like this when I started making cheese. I didn’t have enough time to do everything. My friend who I started making cheese with did much better than I did, her husband did all the animal chores, so she could justify spending the time it took to properly attend her curd pot.

          I gave up on waiting for the book at the library, if a book is popular the hold wait can be months. I waited months to get The Vegetarian Myth. It was so good I bought a copy. I decided not wait on this one, it was reasonable at Amazon.

  8. December 20, 2010 6:58 pm

    I’ve been using your technique to make bone broth for about a year now, my daughter has just started making her own, too. We all just love it!

    I don’t always get around to making soup/stew or whatever. In that case, how would you suggest canning it? I don’t have room in my freezer, so canning is the only long-term storage option in my kitchen.

    • December 20, 2010 9:14 pm

      Krystal, thanks, my DH fasts twice a week on chicken broth, so mine disappears fast, but sometimes I do can some. Pressure canner, pints – 20 minutes at 11 lbs, quarts – 25 minutes at 11 lbs.

  9. December 20, 2010 8:48 pm

    Curious about how you manage the ashes from your wood stove. How much to apply? When?

    • December 20, 2010 9:16 pm

      Ben, no real recipe for that – I empty the ashes when I need to, and spread thinly on the garden, like you would lime. If you spread it on your fruit trees apply it in a circle at the drip line. I don’t have too much ash, since we burn softwood, so I never have enough to even begin to cover the gardens in one season.

      • December 21, 2010 4:19 am

        Note she has softwood. We use hardwoods here in New England and I found out the hard way that handling hardwood ashes should be done carefully. I got lye burns on my fingertips…

        I leave my ashes out in the weather, and let the rain water leach the lye out. But I was hasty 2 springs ago and the lye hadn’t thoroughly leached.

        • December 21, 2010 6:07 am

          Pam, I have dumb question. How were you handling it? I’ve never had to touch my ashes.

        • December 21, 2010 10:52 am

          I burn construction wood for kindling in our heating stove. (For the heat, we add all types of hardwoods.) It often has nails. So I sift the ashes to remove the nails. So I was sifting it prior to spreading.

          If yours is soft wood, chances are it doesn’t make lye or not as corrosive as hard wood does. Hard woods were used to make lye for soap making. That’s why I leave them out in the weather, before using.

        • December 21, 2010 1:12 pm

          Oh, that makes sense. I used to give soap making demos for the hysterical society and getting enough hardwood ash around here to make lye took quite a while. We finally just skipped that part, no one was really that interested in the total picture, just the actual saponification. Much like making butter, no one observing really asked too much about the cow and how you got cream.

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