Sunday, January 15, 2012

Comfort Food

Filipino Pork Adobo ready for slow cooking all day
Winter is here and that means hunkering down at the farm to deal with the tribulations that bitter cold weather presents--a third meal for the animals throughout the day, maintaining access to fresh water and eventually, kidding season. While it's true that I eat very well throughout the spring, summer and fall, winter is when I turn to those stick-to-your-ribs meals that can power me through a walk around the farm after an ice storm, high winds and heavy snows to look for downed branches on fencing and to brave sub-zero wind chills as 40 knots of Arctic blast blows across the top of the hill.
Lamb Liver with onion gravy over mashed turnips & cauliflower

Yesterday when I was loading up a batch of dog treats into the dehydrator, the aroma of liver prompted me to break out a package of lamb liver for myself and cook up a batch of liver & onions.
Fried Catfish, sweet potato medallions & spinach salad.
It may be winter, but that hasn't kept my dad & brother from fishing and there is nothing more I enjoy than locally caught fish. I still have a stash of sweet potatoes from Garner's Produce and until just a few days ago, there was still spinach in the garden.

I've had several requests to include recipes for the meals I post on this blog, so here you go. And yes...I'm still working on that cookbook!

Filipino Pork Adobo
3 lbs fresh pork
2 heads garlic, cloves husked and left whole
3 bay leaves
1 cup soy sauce
1 cup Filipino sugar cane vinegar
1/2 cup honey
Fresh ground black pepper to taste
Load it all in a crock pot and forget about it for 8 hours. Enjoy! 

Lamb Liver with onion gravy over mashed turnips & cauliflower
1 lb Lamb liver (I also use goat and veal liver)
1 large onion
2 tablespoons lard

1/4 cup arrowroot powder
1 cup stock (I use veal stock)
2 cups turnips 
2 cups cauliflower
1/4 cup cream (I've also used coconut cream to make this...awesome)
4 tablespoons butter
Season to taste
Melt 1 tablespoon lard in a heavy skillet and caramelize onions. Remove from skillet and set aside. 
Dredge liver (cut into four serving portions) in arrowroot powder. Melt remaining lard in skillet and cook liver on medium heat until cooked through. Return onions to pan with liver and add stock. Cook until bubbly and thickened. Serve over mashed turnips & cauliflower.
Steam turnips and cauliflower until very soft. Either in a food processor, with and electric mixer or by hand, mash the cooked vegetables with butter and cream. Season to taste. 

Fried Catfish & sweet potato medallions
2 whole small catfish or catfish fillets
1/4 cup arrowroot powder
1 cup beer (I've used champagne, too). Whatever you use, it should be carbonated.
1 tablespoon Old Bay seasoning
1 teaspoon Tabasco sauce
1/4 cup lard or coconut oil
1 sweet potato cut into medallions approximately 1/4 inch thick.
Coarse sea salt
Heat the oil in a heavy skillet and cook sweet potato medallions until they are cooked through soft and starting to brown. Remove from hot oil and blot on paper towel while cooking fish.
Just prior to cooking, mix beer, arrowroot powder and seasonings. Dip fish in batter and cook in hot fat until cooked through and crispy on the outside.

Monday, January 2, 2012

The Omen of 2012

  Maybe the name of this post should be....
  • Don't try this at home...
  • Oops!
  • I was just saying....
  • Holy Shit! What did I do?
Even better, a text shot off early in the afternoon commented on how sore I was going to be this evening from the frenzy of farm work in preparation for the Arctic blast about to envelope the farm for the next few days. Bedding for over a hundred animals covering six different species at the tail end of a holiday when family is in from out of town takes on urgency as well as orchestration. Stock tank heaters are my best friends. Ruminants get extra hay to keep those big brew vat bellies working while everyone is nestled all deep in their warm Triticale straw compliments of Pecan Meadows. Patagonia gift certificates and Muck Boots for Christmas? Oh, my family knows me well and loves me.

Gearing up for extreme weather at the farm, whether it be searing triple-digit temperatures with oppressive humidity or the stinging, bitter cold that dries out ones' skin as to create a pale dust like that of plaster demolition, is hard work. I contemplated calling in back-up, but opted to tackle my to-do list solo.

"I'm not going to do any large-scale animal handling or farm chores by myself," I professed only hours previously. And when it came time to ensure that everyone had bedded shelter from the elements, I resorted to my IH 444 for assistance moving portable shelters behind the shelter of tree breaks. After all, I should use my tractor instead of hurting myself.

While I'm at it.....

Nothing sucks more than livestock getting loose during inclement weather so prior to those days that the weatherman says is going to be batshit miserable to both man and beast, I take inventory about the farm that could lead to my four-legged employees roaming the 'hood. They may not mind the cold, but chasing down the herd when the air outside gives you an ice cream headache is definitely on my not-ever-to-do list.
 Since the number one culprit tends to be dead trees falling down on the fence, I try to pre-empt disaster by removing vertical dead pine trees in proximity to the fence lines. Seeing three dead devils woefully listing aft, I thought I'd kill a few birds with one stone while the tractor was in the area.
 "Give me a chain and my IH 444 and I can move the world," I used to say. 
No more. 
Farming accidents happen fast...really fast. 
As you can see, the remaining two trees are leaning aft. The one that is wedged between the wheel fender and bucket armature was in a similar position. A chain around the base attached to the 3-point hitch. Second gear should jerk those shallow roots clear of the soil. 
But before I could hit the clutch and break, the tree pivoted toward the tractor and came crashing down only inches from my head. 
Oh shit.
Oh, big shit.
Over the years I've pulled out, pushed over and lifted many dead pines with my beloved little diesel tractor, but iron & engines are dangerous no matter if they're a top drive on an offshore oil rig or a forty-six year old tractor tooling around in the dirt.
Today was a big reality check, the kind that roll out the black and yellow caution tape from the edge of the gate to the bridge. 
Reality bites.