So I've been all preachy about appreciating our food and eating less meat, but BETTER meat and only eating free range, etc. etc. and a part of that whole mindset is learning to cook the lesser appreciated parts of the animal; to use the whole thing; nose to tail if you will.
Well, I am NOT an adventurous eater. When I was in Africa I survived on hard boiled eggs and bread. The one time we did get to a grocery store I spent nearly our whole budget on a bag of chicken breasts from who knows where. Looking back I realize how silly that is to me now, but it's just one example of my reluctance to branch out. I've grown considerably in my willingness to try new things, but it's marginal. In any case, when we butchered Poppy, we had all intentions of keeping the cheeks since we had had an amazing beef cheek dish at DB Brickhouse in Ch'town and in talking to the chef, it seemed simple enough. Anyway, we forgot to tell the butcher and the cheeks got tossed with the head :(, but Mark was kind enough to remember to ask for the tongue and the heart (which is GIGANTIC!). Mark, who I don't think is particularly brave when it comes to food, just not discriminatory, is always ready to try whatever I've come up with. I'm not sure I've found anything that man will not eat-which is maybe one of my favorite things about him. :)
So everytime I open the freezer here's this seemingly HUGE cow tongue staring back at me, its reminder like a sandpapery lick on my conscience. I realize that tongue is NOT that big of a deal in most circles. It's even common in some circles, but not for this girl. I've never even tried a chicken giblet for heaven's sake! I can't even fathom the heart at this point so I've set my sights on the tongue. The point is, I'm working up to the tongue. I'm taking baby steps. Maybe liver will be the next stop on the road to tonguetown.
But yesterday's stop was ham hocks. Well, I insist on calling them pork hocks, because ham suggests to me that they were smoked or cured, and a lot of recipes call for smoked ham hocks. But mine were the regular variety. I had accumulated a little collection from the various sides of pork we've bought over the last couple years, so I had a slow cooker full of them. I basically just threw them in some broth with the usual vegetables (carrot, onion, celery) and cooked the bejeezus out of them on low, all day. Seems like that method is pretty much foolproof for anything, except the really good roasts which just get tougher. Anyway, they turned out fine, if not a little tasteless, so I made up a quick bbq sauce and tossed the meat bits (as opposed to the small bones and fat bits) in and we had pork hock a la pulled pork sandwiches. Delish! It's no tongue, but it's a small step towards it.
So, one victory down! I was glad that I had accumulated a few hocks though because the meat from all those hocks did not add up to a whole lot and one meal of the Bernard bambinos took care of it. I don't know why I continue to be amazed at the lack of leftovers in this house.
In other farm related news, Rosie is slowly drying up (have I talked about this before?). She's not due until mid Feb. but I think partly because we only milk her once a day and partly because it's winter and she's pregnant, but we're only getting a little under 2 L a day. That's a shocker to a family who used to drink milk recreationally and use 3 times that much in a day. It's strange how my brain went from "What can I make that uses lots of milk?" to "what can I make that doesn't need milk?". Thayne still has a full bottle at night too, so he gets priority and that takes a good chunk. Did I forget to mention that more than half of that 2L is pure cream as well? I am curious to see if there's any weight change in the adults in this house when she dries up until the calf comes. ;)
And of course, with winter and reduced egg customer traffic comes an onslaught of egg production from the hens. All the young girls are laying and it's in full swing in the coop these days. So now we're on a egg-heavy diet. What we lack in milk, we make up for with eggs. Our new favorite is egg quesadillas. I've tried getting my kids to eat quiche of every kind, since they love scrambled eggs, but there is some sort of mental block when it comes to eggs in pie form, so the quesadillas seem to disguise whatever the resistance is.
I guess the point of this email is that we're pretty blessed in the food department around here and I'm excited to try my next culinary adventure.
Tips for cooking liver?
Hope this finds you trying something new in the kitchen!