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Good Monday (again)

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First a picture of breakfast. This is thinly sliced brisket from last nights leftovers (brisket, butternut squash and cream cheese stuffed Anaheims and mushrooms all on the smoker – can you say yummy?!), wrapped in my mini muffin pan with whipped eggs in the middle. Nothing special but pretty dang good. The brisket wasn’t fork tender but not tough either which made for bacon like slices this morning and with that layer of fat on them these bites came out tasting like bacon and eggs.

Another week of in my head. Here’s a short list of what I’ve been doing in my head the last couple of weeks.

A.) If you like to play silly games on your cellphone but are not real particular about what games you play than you can make a little cash. When I say little I mean the first week I dedicated myself to it and made $20 the second week was a little less dedicated and I’m almost to $10. It’s not exactly going to pay the bills but it’ll buy a 12 pack of my favorite beer.

B.) With the $20 that I earned playing games I decided I needed to learn something new. What did I decide to learn? The Stock Market! Yes. Me. It’s weirdly intriguing. I found this app. After careful research it’s true any one. I’m definitely in the category of anyone. Can play with stocks. No fees unless you want the premium account. They give you one free stock and there isn’t a minimum deposit. Or if there is it’s under $20. Because that’s what I earned playing games so that’s what I put into it.

I gravitate towards research. I really get off on learning new things so the market thing really dragged me in. 3 days of a run through and by Sunday I was talking shop like I knew what I was talking about. And I could identify at least 3 or 4 of the forms that are information filled for the common wannabe stock holder.

I ran into some good ones too. If you haven’t noticed I’m a woman who doesn’t really go with the flow. I’m a single mom who choose to grow food and farm animals even though I wasn’t raised this way. It’s peculiar to say the least.

Ok so if you like playing silly smartphone games like I do. I don’t know if this app is in apple form or just android. I use an android. Here’s a link to play for real money. They give you the option of Amazon gift cards, visa prepaid card which you can use virtually anywhere. I actually mean it’s a virtual card you can use anywhere. See what I did there?

And if you like stocks, want to learn about it or just want to see what stock they’ll give you try your luck/fun here.

Just a note I’m not an expert at anything but I will earn a free stock if you sign up and I will get points for the gaming for money app. It’s been an interesting experience on both accounts. Yeah not punny at all.

Remember play and trade responsibly but have fun too. Seek your sense of curiosity and you really can’t lose.

 

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MacGyver’d Skewers

I’ve been a little in my head so I haven’t been posting as regularly as usual but I haven’t forgotten about my readers so I’ve made a point of taking pictures when possible to reconstruct a moment and hopefully pass on something new.

This past weekend thanks to the deep summer heat the girls and I were locked out of our favorite backwoods spot so camping was cancelled. We also spent a good amount of time indoors out of the sun. This always leads to interesting things.

Saturday I got a craving for food on a stick. Yep that’s a real food category. I’m pretty sure it’s part of the food pyramid like vegetables and bacon.

I usually keep a cheap pack of wood skewers in a drawer because they come in handy for all sorts of things. Unfortunately I let my pack run empty. No big deal.

If you’re anything like me you have a handful of cheap whisks around. You can get them at the Dollar tree for a helluva cheap price… $1

Any wire clippers work I just happen to have my best friend in my back pocket most of the time. This tool is a memory box full of stories. I’m pretty sure my girls roll their eyes now when I describe how it helped me build my farm. :-/

The tines can be easily straightened. Or mostly straight.

Slid on your favorite foods.

Bend the ends just a little to keep things from sliding off.

The bent ends help with rotating the skewers on the BBQ.

For this particular case I used thinly sliced brisket marinated in soy sauce, ketchup, brown mustard and molasses. Because brisket needs a little help I put the veggie/pineapple skewers on top then closed the BBQ lid. The extra juice and flavor of the onions, peppers and jalapeno really did the job.

When I was satisfied with the meat I put it in off the direct heat and gave the veggie skewers a chance to caramelize.

A little awesome dip later and dinner was served. The MacGyver’d skewers are easy to wash and hold on to for another time. They stand up to the heat much better than wood skewers and can be reused all summer.

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Good Monday

I’m intently watching my oven again from the floor watching a new concoction to perfection. Perfection = Cooked I’ve been debating on switching breakfast vehicles as I’ve been using a mini muffin pan a lot lately. It’s been fun though and I had at least one more idea to try before changing creative channels.

This morning I rolled bacon into each cup, filled each with tiny diced and seasoned potatoes and topped it off with whisked eggs.

I’ve been rolling it over in my head for the last three days to make sure all of the components would cook accurately together without diminishing any. Which is also why I’m sitting down here on the floor with the oven light on watching them cook.

Turned out ok. 20 minutes at 400°.

I use a convection oven which really is nice for crisping food. I think what would’ve made it better would be a cast iron muffin pan. Cast iron is great for adding crisp where the convection heat doesn’t reach.

The girls loved them though so I suppose that’s what matters.

Enjoy your breakfast and your day!

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50°, Charcoal & Repeats

My tween and I are sitting in front of the oven watching Dutch Baby Bites grow. 5 minutes to go.

It was 50° this morning at 5:45. Yeah I’m going to start going out earlier. I’ve neglected to push my alarm back. It’s at 5:09 now but I’m pretty sure the sun rises before 5:45 nowadays. Or pretty close. This morning I didn’t even worry about a shirt. Tank top season is here!

Besides I had to haul a bag of grain to the garage/upper barn and a bale of hay down to the ewe and her lambs. Who needs clothes to stay warm when you have work?

No I’m not working in shorts yet. I have a couple of roosters I need to put in the freezer first. They’re mean to bare legs.

This is me making charcoal because buying it is just silly. lol I’m kidding. Kinda. When you’re short every month buying something like charcoal feels luxurious.

My solution free wood, make sure it’s green wood. Not treated. Start a roaring fire with big chunks in a pit, barrel or whatever has a lid you can close. The close the lid and weight. The fire slowly dies as it consumes the oxygen and the leftover is awesome charcoal that burns slowly.

Why charcoal? Because the majority of my summer cooking is done outside. And today I have to make some more bacon. Yep.

For breakfast I made Dutch Baby Bites again. I said that already. But this time look! They’re extra fluffy.

Note to self and whoever’s reading. Let the oven get to temp before putting pan in. The way something bakes has a lot of influence on how it comes out.

This is actually the second time I’ve had this conversation.

Ok time for breakfast!

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Short Sleeves & Burrito Bites

No pun intended but it does have a catchy ring to it! 😉

This morning it was already 45° at 5:45am. Second morning working in short sleeves. My sun touched shoulders actually help a little but I’ve learned once I get chores started I don’t need much help to stay warm.

And now on to breakfast. Don’t be overly impressed, the meat and peppers were leftovers from a couple of nights ago when I made taco salad.

I cut tortillas into 2-3″ strips and put them rolled up into the tins before adding the leftover beef and peppers. Of course a burrito just isn’t done until you add cheese so these have a little square of pepper jack cheese on each.

Baked at 400° for about 12 minutes and they were perfect.

I don’t have a nutrition label today because I can’t remember everything I put in the beef and peppers but I can’t imagine the calories would be very high.

You could call it a refurbished leftover burrito bite but that’s quite a mouthful. 😀

7:45am it’s going to be another hot day so the tween and I are headed outside to get a couple things done before it gets too warm.

Have a great day!

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Feels Like Summer!

We skipped spring straight into summer. This kind of weather calls for rearranging my schedule. With sunburn probabilities up I have to plan outside chores/projects very early or very late.

Feeding/watering of the animals gets done first thing and then water is topped off half way through the day (when it’s really hot the buckets get refreshed in the evening too) and a couple of other outside projects get attention too.

From breakfast until afternoon I have been doing the majority of my studies/business while my brain is fresh. After noon chores I get dinner prepped and started in time for a 5:30 dinner.

With these high temps and sunny days outside I’ll readjust my studies and farm projects to maximize cool mornings outside.

Hopefully this weather is a temporary look at our usual summer. We can’t skip spring!

The fun of living according to the weather.

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Dutch Baby Bites

I posted a Dutch Baby recipe awhile back. Because it’s one of our favorite breakfast I decided I needed to try it in the mini muffin pan.

I don’t know what it is but bite size food is kinda fun.

This is one of the easiest recipes you can find. It’s just eggs, flour and milk at a ratio of 4:1:1 – 4 eggs, 1 cup of flour, 1 cup of milk.

Bake at 400° about 10 minutes for the minis.

If you’re using a non-stick you don’t need to butter the pan. I haven’t buttered this pan once. It’s great.

Tradition says the best way to eat Dutch baby is with a little powederd sugar, splash of lemon juice and a little syrup.

48 bites called for a double batch; 8 eggs, 2 cups of flour and 2 cups of milk.

At 36 calories a bite and almost 2g of protein each. I think these qualify as healthy food. I had 8 for breakfast. 🙂

7:30am I better get back to it.

Enjoy your breakfast and your day!

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Camping Fun and Fail… :-/

I forgot the third sleeping bag!!!

We had a blast though. I took the girls and Long Dog up to the mountains to play, shoot and camp. We all got loads of sun. Explored the area.

“Cool a snake mom can we eat it?!”

“No it’s too small.”

We’ve caught and eaten snake before but it was a 5″ long gopher snake. My girls are very adventurous. They make this momma proud!

Roasted dogs and smores for dinner.

And did a little target practice. My 11yo fell in love with shooting which will make getting ready for hunting season loads of fun.

She was so proud of hitting her target she wanted a picture. She’s a natural like her momma.

Collected enough firewood from around the area to last us until bedtime and for breakfast making in the morning. We got tent set up and unrolled the sleeping bags to discover I failed to bring one sleeping bag and it got into the 30’s last night so we packed up and made it home about 9pm.

We were all really disappointed. We’ll probably try again next weekend.

Honestly it’s probably a good thing we had to come home early, cause boy camping fun takes a different set of muscles because I am sore in new ways.

2700 calories burned in one day! It usually only takes 2100 for my average on the farm day.

Sunday is definitely going to be a day of rest. Someone bring me a Bloody Mary!

Hope you all are enjoying your weekend!

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Bringing Home the Bacon

Frank & Squeak

One of my biggest evolutionary steps of cooking on this farm was in the form of Frank and Squeak. I’d never owned or even spent much time with pigs before these two but as many of us are I was/am a believer that bacon goes with EVERYTHING.

A conversation this week has had me thinking about the journey of growing bacon from the ground up. All pork for that matter and the health benefits of growing your own food. Mainly speaking it’s a whole lot of exercise to get the bacon from the piglet to the table.

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Homegrown ingredients from the hoof up.

I quickly learned the fastest way to a pigs heart is a good beer. Squeak like myself loved a good porter and made it clear whenever I got out of the car with a six pack. Frank on the other hand didn’t care for the dark beer and preferred a lager (particularly Hamm’s – no pun intended).

The couple of times they got out of their pen or needed some hands on attention all I needed was a bottle of their favorite beer and they would heel like well trained retrievers. It was quite fun.

FrankGrown

Squeak was meant to be kept for breeding more pork each year but after a year of watching her grow I decided she wasn’t the best suited for the job so my search for a new pig for compounding chops and bacon continues.

Homegrown cured and smoked bacon
The true love of cooking is growing the food from the ground up and being part of every step of it’s creation.

I don’t think I’ve ever met so many disagreements as when it comes to talking about homegrown bacon being healthier than the highly processed counterpart you get at the store.

Bacon in general gets a bad rap for being unhealthy, no matter where you get it from. I always sat in content with the knowledge of how much work and time spent outside no matter the weather when it came to measuring the health benefits of growing food, even bacon.

Low and behold though bacon really doesn’t deserve such a bad rep. I borrowed a couple of screenshots to emphasize my point. I’ll provide a link below also so you can check the references like I did to make sure the article was a creditable source. You can’t just believe everything you read online. Right?

What’s even better about bacon is the quality of the fat. Yeah, who’d think it?!

Check out the entire article.

I think the hams were my favorite part of the whole experience of raising pork from the ground up.

Thanks to a couple of University websites and a couple of YouTube videos I learned the art of curing hams “country style”. This is done by rubbing the hams with salts until they can’t absorb anymore, leaving a thick layer on by wrapping the ham in brown paper and hanging them in a cool shed/spot for a couple of months. I converted what used to be my garden shed into a larder because it’s location keeps it extra cool and even temperature without much help. I used the same bags that I cover deer with it’s much like a cheese cloth to hang the hams.

After a couple of months the brown paper is taken off a new bag is used to hang it from the rafters for what’s called a “summer sweat”. The hams are very dry at this point which helps with mold and the salt keeps the pests away. It’s pretty fascinating to learn how people used to do things before refrigeration.

When it’s time for smoking, the ham is soaked for 12-36hrs to get the extra saltiness out. The below picture is a ham ready for smoking. It’s not the most beautiful thing.

After about 48hrs of low smoking the ham looks delicious!

I use a charcoal smoker which means checking on it regularly. After smoking two hams some bacon and summer sausage for Christmas I think I lost all the weight that I ended up putting back on from eating over the holidays! Nice trade off if you ask me.

A true summer sausage is left to hang for a few days to ferment before it’s smoked to perfection. I could post a chapter on pork alone so I’ll leave you here with some mouth watering pictures of bacon and summer sausage until I get another chance to sit down and share some more.

It’s 8:30am on a Saturday and after some awesome homegrown bacon and eggs it’s time to go play!

What do you think, is homegrown healthier or is it just the health benefits of exercise and being outdoors raising food which evens up the score?

Either way I can’t wait to bring home the bacon (and all the other porky parts) and start the journey again.