Green eggs and prosciutto.

I AM A FOODIE!  Always have been.  Always will be.  I was a foodie before people starting using the word foodie. I scour magazines, books, internet, tv, everywhere for recipes.  I love talking about food, food culture, where food comes from, what I can do with it, and what other people are doing with it.  I love cooking it.  And most of all I love eating it.

Since my kids are both in school now I find myself alone in the house in the mornings and I have time to think about what yumminess I need to get myself going for the day.  A bowl of cereal or plain toast just isn’t going to cut it most of the time and so quite a few mornings breakfast has become…lets just call it eccentric.   Don’t get me wrong here.  I’m perfectly happy with simple fresh ingredients, but if I can make those simple fresh ingredients into something heavenly with relatively little work, that’s exactly what I’m going to do.  This morning’s breakfast is no different.

***This is where turn into a total food nerd.  This next paragraph needs to be read imagining its being narrated by Anthony Bordain.  Oh crap!  I just wasted about 90 minutes watching YouTube because I wanted to post a link to one of his videos and I got distracted.  Best bet is to Google him or search on YouTube if you don’t know who he is. I’ll wait.  It’s worth it to get the right voice in your head……now back to breakfast. ***

Open the fridge and lets begin.  Start out with fresh mushrooms broken into pieces and fried in real butter.  Now grate a zucchini and add that to the pan with some fresh cracked pepper.  Add little bits of paper thin home cured duck breast prosciutto and let it all start to crisp up in the pan.  breakfast1

Crack two fresh green/blue eggs plucked from the hen house just the day before and whisk them into a froth before pouring over the veggie/prosciutto mixture.  MMMMMM fritatta.  Carefully flip it all over, turn off the heat, and add just a few pieces of left over roasted potato to warm in the left over heat of the cast iron pan.  Serve that with some gorgeous crusty bread toasted to perfection and I’m in heaven. breakfast2 

I think everything would seem way better if you had someone like him describing what you were eating. ‘Once the delicate noodles are al’dente it’s time to add the brightly colored cheese powder, like nuclear fallout dust gathered from Chernobyl, some butter, and whole milk and stir to create the flourescent mac and cheese dish we know and love from our childhoods,’ Who wouldn’t be all over that?  (Please, no hate mail about the Chernobyl reference.  I just had no other nuclear reference in my head when I was writing this.)

If I won the lottery I’d want to travel the world with Anthony Bordain, Daniel Boulud, Eric Ripert, David Chang, and Jacques Torres as my own personal food ambassadors as we romp through the countryside finding tasty morsels to gorge on day after day.  Of course we’d need to walk from town to town just to work off all the food we’d be eating wherever we went but I’d be ok with that.

For now I’ll have to settle with my own creations and being inspired by what’s around me, and I’m happy to say that with the resurgence of craft foods and the back to basics movement we have quite a bit of good food and ingredients to pick from in our area.

Recently I tried a new recipe using our amazing duck meat and it doesn’t get more local than our back yard.  Hubby and I decided it was time to reduce our flock size and I took that opportunity to make some duck breast prosciutto.

I know, I know.  All  you purists are thinking that prosciutto comes from a pig and that’s it.  Ok, so traditional prosciutto does, but I’m certainly not a purist or a traditionalist and am up for a challenge and a change.  Who knows, we might just find something to add to our “favorites” list.

I started out with two amazing duck breasts which I put in a container and completely surrounded with salt. No parts of the meat could touch each other or the sides of the container.( I always think about taking pictures when I’m in the middle of something so I didn’t get pics of most of this process.)  It probably would have been easier to do them in separate containers but that’s a lesson learned.  I used pickling salt because it doesn’t have the anti-caking agents or other additives of table salt.  I’d say it took me 5 minutes and then into the fridge it went for about a day.  I left mine a little longer, maybe a day and a half by the time I got around to the next step…which was rinsing all the salt off.  So far, so good, so simple.  Make sure the salt is rinsed off really well then it’s onto the drying step.

All of the recipes I read said to use paper towel to dry the meat really well but I used a clean kitchen towel and it worked out.  Maybe paper towel is just easier for most people.  Either will work as long as you get that meat really dry.  The texture and size had changed quite a bit at this point making it firmer and smaller due to the loss of all that moisture,

Next thing I had to do was wrap it in some cheese cloth and hang it in the fridge for a week.  My wrapping wasn’t the prettiest but it worked. duck prosciutto 3You might have to get creative with how you hang it in the fridge since most newer fridges have glass shelves vs. the older wire racks.  Something like a banana hanger would work well.  Whatever you use, make sure your little parcel isn’t leaning against anything and it has air circulating around it.

When I finally unwrapped it, around 10 days of hanging, this is what it looked like.   The white around the edges is salt but my first reaction when I opened up the cheesecloth was “oh no, i’ve ruined it”.  Nope.  It was just fine.

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That’s basically all you do and then it’s ready to enjoy.  Slice it nice and thin and eat it the same way you would eat pig prosciutto.  The kids couldn’t get enough of it the first night I sliced it and we put it on pizza last weekend.  Yummy!

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I wish I had a slicer to get it paper thin but my filleting knife did a pretty good job and I’m happy with my accomplishment.  Maybe I’ll save my pennies for the next year and save up for a really good slicer since charcuterie is definitely something I’m going to pursue some more.  Or maybe if I’m a really good girl Santa will bring me one…I should be ready to slice up some homemade bacon or salami or more prosciutto by then.  Ok I have to go now.  I’m drooling and it’s time for lunch.

Have a beautiful day everyone and try making something new today.  You just might have a new favorite on your hands.

Chestnuts roasting on an open fire…

No not really, just a duck sitting by the fireplace.  That’s right, there’s a duck in my house bundled up in old baby blankets sitting in front of the fireplace.  And that’s also something I never thought I’d say.

Hubby was getting ready to take Little Man to a birthday party when I asked him to check the birds water.  It’s COLD out there today so we have to check it a little more than usual to make sure it’s not completely frozen.  So he comes in and yells to me upstairs “do we have any old blankets or towels?”  I thought maybe his wine mixture had bubbled over or something but nope, he found a duck in the yard that wasn’t moving very much so he brought him in.  Down I come with an armload of receiving blankets that I just couldn’t let go of and Mr. Duck gets bundled up.  On goes the fireplace and there I sit with bundled duckie trying to get him warmed up.  I figure he’s still blinking and trying to move his head so he should be fine. Right?!

Little Miss was home with me so we sat there for a little while, she did some dancing for him and talked to him, and then we laid him in a laundry basket with the blankets while we did some baking.

Slowly he started to move his head some more and made some soft noises so I was pretty hopeful he’d be ok.  Two hours later he’s not quite as mobile as I would have expected but he’s trying to flap a bit, moving his head quite a bit, and moving his feet a bit.

Now you might think this is a cute little duck but these are big guys.  He just barely fits in the basket.  Little Miss took this picture for me so you’d have an idea of just how big they are.  And the drakes are strong too so there would probably be a few things broken if he decided to start flapping and jumping around.  I’m keeping a close eye on him and ready to grab him as soon as he tries to make a break for it.

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We expect him to make a full recovery and be ready to make little duckies in the spring but for now he’s just happy sitting there enjoying the heat.

Have a wonderful day and make sure your pets and farm animals are nice and warm if it’s cold where you are.

Dreaming of Piggies

Well I wish I could dream.  Lack of sleep means lack of ambition for me these days, but that doesn’t mean I don’t still think about our upcoming pig endeavor, it just means not much housework being done lately and no Christmas decorations packed away yet.

But back to the piggies.  I’m so excited (and a little nervous) that we are going to be adding pigs to our little farm this year.  The kids are excited too and have started coming up with some funny names like Frankenswine, Peter Porker and his alter ego Swinerman, Albert Einswine.  We’ve been accumulating pallets to make a fence, researching breeds, checking on prices, looking at feed, and researching all the different ways people raise their pigs.  There’s so much to read and sometimes I get overwhelmed with it all.  The main thing that I keep reading over and over again is that they are intelligent and need to be trained just like you would train a dog.  Not that they are going to be doing tricks or anything, but they have a hierarchy within their groups and we need to show them that we are the alpha and they aren’t above us in that hierarchy.

Some people claim that pigs are scary and they are vicious and that they never go into the pig pen because the pigs charge or bite and you should never ever bring children in a pig pen but I don’t think that properly socialized pigs that have adequate room will be aggressive for no reason.  They also need things to play with so they don’t get bored and destructive.  I haven’t read too much about what people give their pigs for them to “play” but I’m sure I will find something in the next few months.

Another part of my research is learning how to butcher a pig.  I’m still not sure about the slaughter part yet but butchering is something I can definitely do! Hubby just bought me a new butchering set with all the different knives I could ever ask for.  It even has a bone saw and a sharpening steel so I’m all set there.  I found a great tutorial on Youtube one night, The Scott Rea Project, and this guy has lots of info on Facebook, on YouTube, and on Twitter.  He has been butchering for years and has really good videos on butchering domestic animals as well as wild game and he has some recipes as well.  Kind of a funny guy and reminds me of my friend Doc Rock (not his real name) with his heavy metal references. Anyway, check out some of his videos and let me know some of your favorite sites or videos on butchering…if you have any.

I’m certainly more excited about the end result than all the work that is going to go into the pigs and I have such grand plans for the meat that we end up with. I had a mouthwatering list made up a while ago but i find myself adding to it all the time and by the time I’m finished with my list we’ll need about 6 pigs to do all the things I want to do.  Porchetta, bacon, guanciale, sausages, chops, pancetta, roasts, chicharones, hams, proscuito, hocks, liver and a big ole pig roast.    Now I just need to get  those little porkers and start making them yummy!

Have a beautiful day everyone, and learn something new and exciting today.

Back to school.

Am I the only one who IS NOT excited about the kids going back to school?  I actually like having the kids home and not having a set schedule.  I love snuggling on the sofa in the afternoon watching a movie with my munchkins.  I love not having to plan lunches and snacks.  I like being able to take the kids to visit friends on a week day.

I’m also not one for new years resolutions or making changes just because the calendar says January 1.  Of course I think about making changes around the new year because that’s what I hear about the most but if all of those people talked about resolutions and changes on July 1 I’d think about them a lot then too.  I’m more about making changes when it’s good for me or my family.  Like making the decision to start raising animals. We didn’t sit down on New Years Eve and say “hey, lets get chickens in June”.  And our decision to raise pigs this spring…one of hubby’s wants from last year.  You all know I’ve been scanning online buy and sell sites already looking at prices of pigs so i can budget for our little porkers.  It’s going to be an interesting summer on our little (ever growing) farm.

All that being said, the kids were super excited to get back to school to see all of their friends this morning.  And I was even reasonably organized. I made pumpkin muffins last night for lunches. In bed early and up early.  We finally had enough green eggs from the Americaunas so we could all have some for breakfast.  The kids helped pack lunch bags and made sure they had everything in their knapsacks. We had the ducks and chickens fed and watered, eggs gathered, and still had time to spare before heading off to school.  Good thing too because mittens were still wet from yesterday.  10 minutes in the dryer fixed that and I’m sure it will be a daily occurrence as long as the weather stays the same.

So for tonight lunches are ready, molasses cookies are on the cooling rack waiting to be packed away, and my pillow is calling my name.

Have a beautiful night, sweet dreams, and be sure to compliment someone first thing in the morning…it might just be the pick me up they need for the day.