Monthly Archives: February 2013

Taking stock

Had to see what we have in the freezer. It’s this time of year we have to decide on how may chickens we need, how much meat we would like and if we want to buy into our CSA. This year with the purchase of our home, we are opting out of the vegetable CSA and trying to grow our own. We took 10% of what we spend on the CSA and bought seeds, hoping we would get at least the same amount of food from our own back yard. Only time will tell.

We did decide to get half a hog, as I mentioned the other day, instead of a meat CSA. I put in my cut requests. The hogs go to the processor on Tuesday and we need to make sure we have enough room to store what we get. I think we will, I hope we will. If not, we will have to run out and get a new freezer. We did it before and we will do it again if we have to. So I took stock of what we have.

15 lbs of Italian sausage (we bought 25 lbs orginally, and we still have over half)
5 whole chickens
1 whole cut up chicken
10 packs of thighs and legs
8 chicken breasts
4 lbs of ground beef
1 lb of ground pork
1 tenderloin (less than a pound)
1 loin roast (2 lbs at least)
2 jars of lard
A bag of backs and wing tips for stock
1 pint of butter

That’s a lot of food. First chicken days are in May and June. So we can assume my chicken stocks will be down. 13 weeks before we will have a new stock of chicken in the freezer. Which means 26 to 40 meals with chicken before now and then.

For the record we are frugal with the meat in the house. Before buying store bought stuff, we would eat a whole chicken in one sitting, we now get 2 or 3 meals out of one, depending on what else we have to eat. If we have a huge assortment of sides and other options we go easy on the protein but if we are stuck with corn and beans we will have more. So that chicken total might be closer to zero by time chicken day rolls around. With ordering in advance, knowing what we need, getting only the amount we will use but time chicken day rolls around, helps us budget and the farmer’s plan. They aren’t raising more than they need and being left with their freezers full. If they don’t sell everything at the market, they can’t do a managers special/closeout price.

The only problem with that list, it adds to the anxiety about needing a generator. I think I would be able to live with out a hot shower, no a/c and limited entertainment while the power was out but would hate to lose that investment of food.

Half hog

We are going to buy in bulk, not at Costco but with our favorite farmers out at Bramble Hollow. Since we started buying all our meat locally we talked about buying sides of beef or half hog and this year we are doing it. We get to decide what we want our hog to be…sausage, chops, roasts, ham, whatever.

With that in mind we are gonna try and wet cure the ham. I hope to one day forget how the store bought hams taste and adjust my palate to the non nitrate cured ham. Thoughts of charcuterie dancing in my head, prosciutto, salami and I remind myself that we need to take small reasonable steps. We should get all the boxes unpacked before we start looking like an Italian deli.

Also getting half hog will let us see what we need to feed the family for the year. We have gotten the number right for chicken, the magic number is between 30 and 35 and knowing what we will have in the pork department will let us see what our family needs. I like the idea of knowing exactly what we eat in pork and chicken for the year.

I got the Shannon Hayes book Long Way On A Little for christmas (Thanks to my mother in law!) and I look forward to using that book and taking advantage of every possible inch of that hog to get more value out of our investment. Oh yes, I will be making my own lard, bone broth and maybe even a little OINKment.

These last few years have have shown me that I can try and do anything with food. I have always loved food, going out to dinner, eating great meals. Now I love cooking and making that great meal. One of the first meal I made Boomer when we were dating was spaghetti, from a jar, I made it halfway homemade, with ground beef, mushrooms and onions, I didn’t want it to be OBVIOUS it was Ragu. Now I make my own sauce, salsa, can seasonal fruit and I don’t see that stopping anytime soon. This lifestyle has given us the freedom to believe we can do anything with the right ingredients.

Never a dull moment

Life is never dull. 30 days ago we signed paperwork on the house, we have gotten moved in, discovered some projects that need be on the to do list and have gotten settled in. Oh and if that’s not enough, the place where I work has filed for bankruptcy (but it’s to protect the business and our jobs) and my meniere’s is showing symptoms.

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January 1 2010 I woke up not being able to hear out of my left ear. It sounded like a bathroom fan or the rumble of a train in my ear. There is also the aural fullness which makes you aware of your inner ear. It’s not painful, just distracting/irritating. I would spend the day trying to make my ears pop. With a round of steroids and taking water pills, adopting a low sodium diet did the trick the first time.

So with the changes and adjustments this last month we have been taking shortcuts for dinner, I have been eating more bread (200 mg sodium per slice on average) and eating out more often. So it’s not a shock that the stress and sodium have put me at the beginning of a menieres episode.

This time I am less angry about it, 1/2010 I was pissed. I hope I apologized to everyone who I snapped at when they were trying to let me know that even if I lost my hearing everything would be okay. I mean my job always includes headphones (whether it is radio or a call center) so the ability to hear is important to my income. Since I hadn’t known what I know today which is episodes will come and go, symptoms will fade and you will go back to hearing like normal again. (there is a chance that some loss will be permanent but I am trying not to focus on that)

If you see me this next week or two, and I am tilting my head like the RCA dog, it’s to prevent the vertigo. If I ask you to repeat something you said it’s cause of the buzzing/hum in my ear, and if I am a little grupmy this menieres is a pain in the ear.

It’s not Little House on the Prairie

We are going into town to pick up supplies. We are gonna make a day of it. So hitch the horses up to the wagon and let’s get to getting.

We drive to school and our jobs Monday thru Friday and we are near all kinds of stores. It is right around the corner from restaurants and a mall, book and grocery stores. The problem is we are really only there for the job and school. I drop Madigan off before the bell, then get to work by 8:15. Sure I could run errands after work, but I would rather get home to my family.

So today we are planning a shopping day with multiple stops, which Madigan will hate, but we have to do it. We need to hit the COOP, the health-food store, the farmer’s market, a couple of craft stores, a home improvement store or two, maybe lunch while we are out, over to visit friends or family, grocery store and then home.

We could do it over the course of 3 days, a little trip here or there, when we were in the apartment, but now, all day, all done. If you don’t hear from us, send out the cavalry.

A view of the back yard

On this the 4th or 5th Friday snow day in a row. Thought I would post a picture of the back yard/future garden area. I might take a picture once a week from the same POV. Not a lot of snow, but I will take the day off.

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It doesn’t feel like “home” yet

We are still getting settled in. I am still not able to sleep well with all the house noises. Everyone asks how excited and happy I am. I am happy we got the house, but it is a huge adjustment. Years and years of apartment life has caused me to except certain noises. I am out of my comfort zone and will get comfortable with it, eventually. I haven’t found the camera so these pictures are from the iPad, quality is not great but you get an idae

Madigan’s room is taking shape
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And she picked out this clock…gotta love an 11 year old who loves math!
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Our Super Bowl snack night was good. One day we might have a party, but it would have to be for foodies, since we only have a 20 inch TV.