Friday, October 13, 2023

Friday Food: Sausage and Shelk


Short version: Sausage variety, rice, carrot sticks, watermelon

Long version: We had plenty of meat around, since we spent all day cutting up the elk. This activity does not make me enthused about eating the elk, however. So instead of cooking any of the elk, I cooked some of the sausage I bought in the city when I was there on Tuesday.

I don't know if it's because this city is close to Texas, and thus Louisiana, or because the city has an Air Force base in it, but the store there had both boudin and andouille sausage. I cooked one package of each, and then, since I knew they would both be too spicy for Poppy, I also cooked two pieces of the plain smoked pork sausage.

It barely all fit in the pan.

So much sausage. And all eaten, except for one piece of the smoked sausage.

The watermelon also came from the store in the city. There were bins of watermelons outside the store, and I checked one on our way in to make sure they were seeded. The one I saw was, but the child that was with me picked out a watermelon just before we checked out, and we ended up with a seedless one.

You all know my feelings about seedless watermelons.

Nevertheless, we ate it. And you know, it was pretty good. Not as good as a really good seeded watermelon, but better than a bad seeded watermelon.


Short version: Elk steaks and stuff

Long version: The day before while we were butchering, I had put some elk steaks in a marinade of oil, vinegar, salt, pepper, ang garlic. I was at a baby shower in the afternoon with two of the children, but A. was home with the other two, and he grilled those steaks.

They were really good. The children who were with me had some of them when we got home around 6:30 p.m., along with some roasted butternut squash I had made the day before. The children who were with A. had them with bread and butter, I think.


Short version: Asian pork ribs, rice, corn on the cob, pots de creme

Long version: When we make pork ribs, we always put a barbecue kind of spice rub on them. However, we had used up all our chile powder and paprika making elk chorizo, so I needed to do something else.

That something else was vaguely Asian, in the sense that there was soy sauce and ginger involved.

For the initital slow and covered cooking in the oven, I rubbed on salt, brown sugar, ginger, garlic powder, and a random sample of a spice mixture that included sugar, turmeric, and coriander. There was quite a bit of liquid left after the ribs were tender, so I drained that off, de-fatted it, and reduced that with soy sauce, vinegar, and more garlic powder and ginger. I poured that sauce over the ribs and then broiled them to make them crispy.

It all worked out. They were delicious. 

Oh, I think I never told you that I got tired of running out of chocolate chips and bought a 25-pound box of chocolate chips through the school Sysco ordering program. Twenty-five pounds of chocolate chips is a LOT of chocolate chips. It gives me a great feeling of security and abundance.

I decant some into that old peanut container there. That's a bit more convenient than hauling twenty pounds of chocolate chips out of the big freezer whenever I made pots de creme.


Short version: Various leftover meats, garlic bread, raw cabbage, watermelon

Long version: We had leftover elk steaks, ribs, and smoked sausage, which I apportioned out according to preference. 

I had made the garlic bread the day before while I was baking bread, so I just warmed that up in the microwave.

And the last of the seedless watermelon. 


Short version: Shelk loaf, baked potatoes, green salad with vinaigrette

Long version: I know this constant combining of words to describe our random meats is probably annoying, but I just can't help myself. This was ground sheep and ground elk. Hence, shelk.


I combined them because I thought that might tone down the sheep meat some. I find that to be quite strong in flavor, as does at least one of the children. That child--or anyone else--didn't seem to notice the sheep in this, but I sure did. It had an unpleasant aftertaste to me. Thankfully, I was the only one, and it was okay for me if it was mixed with everything else in my salad.


Short version: Leftovers

Long version: I went straight from work to the first First Communion class with our future communicant, and we didn't get home until just after 5:30 p.m. This is why I had planned on leftovers. Most people had the shelk loaf, buttered rice, and salad. One child elected to have his shelk loaf in a sandwich. I had some in a salad.


Short version: Pork, cornbread, sauerkraut, roasted green beans, rice pudding

Long version: A pork sirloin roast, slow-cooked and then broiled with mustard, maple syrup, and salt. I made the rice pudding because one child had a sore throat, and the oven was on anyway to cook the pork. And then, since there was rice pudding, I made cornbread.

My sister came for a visit this day and she brought the green beans from a store she stopped at on the way here.

Okay, your turn! What'd you eat this week?

Tuesday, October 10, 2023

Growing Food: An Early-morning Tour

Let's see what's in the garden this sunny and cool morning in October, shall we?

Tiny calabacitas.

A not-tiny watermelon.

Exuberant calendula.

Stripey squash.

Healthy basil trio.

New growth from the asparagus.

And lots of green tomatoes.

All good things. 


Our forecast is getting perilously close to freezing overnight this weekend. Specifically, on Friday. None of these plants can take any kind of frost. This time of year always comes with decisions about covering plants versus letting the garden season end with a frost. 

Whether we cover them or not mostly depends on if the forecast after that one night looks good enough that it would be worth letting the plants mature for another week. This year, given the delay in getting any harvests at all, I'm probably going to be more proactive about covering plants in an attempt to salvage a bit more food out of them.

We'll see what happens on Friday. I suppose if worse comes to worst, I can always start looking up green tomato recipes. Got any good ones?

Sunday, October 8, 2023

Snapshots: Butchering

Before we get into the main event of our week, I'm just gonna drop this photo right here so the butchering photos aren't the first thing people see when they see the post.

This is a 1960 Studebaker coupe.

That was parked outside of church last Sunday. When one child and I stopped to look at it, the older gentlemen who just bought it came out to talk to us. It's apparently been sitting in a barn in the village for 30 years, and only has 29,000 miles on it. The guy who bought it is bringing it back to his home in Flagstaff, Arizona, to restore it.

Okay! Now on to the butchering!

Last Sunday, A. took the middle son hunting. He (son, not A.) had a tag for a bull elk in an area only about 40 minutes from our house. A friend of ours who is really into hunting had been bow hunting there just the week before, and had actually scouted the water tanks and so on in the area the day before son's hunt. He told A. exactly where he saw the elk, and how to get there. 

The hunters left at 6 a.m. and when the rest of us got back from church at 9 a.m., there was a message on the machine that they had a bull elk on the ground and were going to start skinning it.

If you've never seen an elk, you should know that they are very big. They're the largest member of the deer family here by far, and are second in size only to the moose on this continent. I have a photo for a handy reference.

Warning: Dead animal photo ahead .....................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................

It dropped right where it was shot, so they didn't have to track it at all. Good shot, son. From a hundred yards, too.

Luckily, the kill was only about a mile from where the Honda was parked. But that's still a very large mass to move that mile. A. skinned it, gutted it, and boned it out right there where it fell. Then he put about half of it into a game bag and hiked it back to the car. He did the same for another trip, which means he did four miles round-trip, carrying around 100 pounds of meat on his back for two of those miles.

Son, meanwhile, carried back A.'s pack, which was almost as heavy as he was. Strenuous hiking all around.

The same friend who had been so helpful before the hunt had called me asking if they had had any luck, and upon hearing that they definitely had, actually drove to them and helped our son carry out the head. They brought the whole head out for two reasons. 

One is that sawing through the base of those antlers would require a saw much bigger than they had, so popping the head off at the neck with a knife was much more practical.

The other is that elk are the only land animals on the entire continent that have ivories. That is, they have non-functional teeth in the back of their mouths that are actually ivory because they are vestigial tusks. Son was very enthused about these, so of course they had to be packed out as well.

Red meat, especially game meat, needs to be aged for at least a week. This helps with both the flavor and the texture. We couldn't hang this meat because it was already boned out, and the weather was also too warm, so we put it in big coolers with big blocks of ice, draining off the water and adding more ice as needed, until Friday. That's when I was done with my work week and could help with the butchering.

Butchering an animal this big is no small task. We started at 9:30 a.m. and I didn't finish cleaning up until 4:30 p.m.

The butcher shop in action.

Of course, since all four children were home, all four of them wanted to help. They're all proficient with a knife, so I gave them the trimmed pieces to cut stew meat and steaks. They also spent a lot of time turning the grinder.

We ended up with three boxes of more than a hundred pounts of steaks, stew meat, ground meat, stir-fry meat, and some we ground with extra fat to make chorizo sausage.

Elk in a box.

And then I could finally scrub down my hard-working dining table.

Much better.

We've already tried some of the steaks, and I am so pleased to tell you that this elk is very, very mild in flavor. Such a relief, given the last elk I had to use that was in full rut and tasted like it.

This is just the beginning of hunting season. Between A. and the two older boys, there's still a deer hunt and two more elk hunts to come. Plus we have a ram that is going to meet his freezer reward this fall. 

I think it's safe to say that our iron requirements are going to be met this winter.

There you have it! My carnivore life, snapshotted.