All posts filed under: Nature

Local meat – sausage making & bone broth

Now that we have slaughtered and butchered the pig, we need to move on with processing some of the last parts, which in this case was the bones, skin, fat and meat that was set aside for sausage making, including the heart and tongue. The easiest and longest part of this process is making bone broth. There are many ways of doing so, and depending on how you plan on using it, you can make it as simple or complicated as you wish. When I am looking for a stock with lots of flavour, I tend to roast the bones in the oven with onions and vegetable scraps before covering with water and setting aside to cook. But with the quantity of bones we had on hand, we decided to simply get the best nutrients out of them and leave them with a neutral taste to use in a variety of ways. Many claim that the bones should be soaked in vinegar to enable better leaching of the minerals from the bones, but I have always been content …

local meat – butchering and processing

As mentioned in my earlier post, we have a pig that we slaughtered earlier this week, and when you have that kind of meat coming into your house, you are best to have some sort of plan as to how you want to manage it. We did a lot of reading in advance (highly recommended), and arranged to have all of the tools/supplies need as well as cleared our calendar in order to take care of the meat. Now that we are all done, we have seen that it took us three days with multiple people each day in order to manage the task. This is definitely a group project! Here is how we broke it down: Day 1: Slaughter halving of the carcasses removal of heads hanging Day 2: Butchering cutting the primals leg shoulder belly loin deboning the legs and removal of hooves tying and packaging roasts, ribs and chops scraping stock bones setting aside fat and meat for grinding and sausage production Day 3: Production / Processing making stock from the bones seasoning for dry curing …

Local meat – farm slaughtered

In recent years, we have been fortunate to have truly become involved in being part of our food supply chain. The appreciation you have for what is on your plate when you are part of the entire process is something I can not convey in words. This year, we took it a step further and I am so grateful to have been able to partake in the entire process. A smallholder farm a few kilometers from where we live offered us the opportunity to be part of a small group who would buy, slaughter and butcher our own meat. We of course jumped on the chance! So this spring, three little pigs were introduced to their new home where they had lots of place to play and dig up the ground, be fed well and live a happy life. Well last week, the time to do the dirty deed came along. With the help of another local farmer, we as a group learned by doing. And it was a very educational and rewarding experience. The pigs had …

Coq au vin and stock from rooster feet

When you raise hens in your garden, you are bound to end up with more than a rooster or two. We opt to let ours enjoy life with the girls, happily free-ranging until the day comes, when it is time to become part of our food cycle. We have learned quite a bit about how to take care of them in a humane and careful manner. I will not go into the details in this post, but will try and write about it sometime in the future. But for the time being, what do you do with a rooster? I have always been a fan of coq au vin, many people make it with chickens, because roosters (unless you raise your own) can be very hard to come by. You will find a variety of recipes online, each with their own nuance. Some call for armagnac vs. cognac, pearl onions vs. shallots, I say go with what you have and feel free to experiment. But one of the key ingredients is a good quality chicken stock. …

Expanding the flock with a broody hen

Our chicken adventure began a few years ago when we joined a local CSA farm (Community Supported Agriculture), we wanted our children to get a better understanding of where their food came from and enjoy the experience of being with the animals that provide for us. It was not long until we were so enamoured with the lifestyle, that we decided that we would have both chickens and bees at home. True to my nature, I read up on everything I could to figure out what would suit our family and property best. It was quite clear that having a rooster was not going to sit well with our neighbours, many of which have hens as well and also conceded to ‘no roosters’, so we needed a plan on how to expand the flock when that time came. When we chose our girls, we purposely selected heritage breeds and wanted one of those breeds to have a strong instinct to go broody.(see Broody Hen Notes at the end of this post). For that reason we chose two Icelandic hens, and …

Know where your food comes from – it’s ‘egg’cellent!

Eggs, have you ever tasted a really good egg? Chances are you haven’t. I am writing this post while visiting my mother in Florida for Easter, so eggs are on my mind (and yes, I am very fortunate to be able to combine family reunions and beach life.. I know!) Earlier this week, we went out with old friends for breakfast at a typical diner and ordered the standard bacon and eggs. My son looked at his food with a special look on his face and said ‘what is wrong with my egg?’ as he dipped his toast into a pale yellow yolk. We are used to deep orange yolks, full of flavour and nutrients, and we eat them with good conscience because we have our own chickens. They quite honestly won the chicken lottery getting a spot in our hen house after having lived their lives indoors before they came here. Now they eat our kitchen scraps and garden slugs and free range in the sun. And in return, we get eggs, garden fertiliser and entertainment – they are great company! After having been …

foraging – spruce tip syrup – granskudd sirup

Living and eating through the seasons means one needs to enjoy the bounty while it is at its peak and preserve it. Our home, a timber summer house built in 1921 is known by the name Granbakken, which means ‘Spruce Hill’ in norwegian. It is simply appropriate that spruce tip syrup is on the agenda for local goodness. The children and their friends are more than happy to gather the ingredients for many of our concoctions 😉 Spruce has many purported benefits, and one can preserve spruce tips in a variety of ways: dried and combined with salt as my dear friend Louise does with a variety of plants made into a tincture/dram/schnapps via infusing with alcohol made into a pesto similar to ramsløk/wild garlic using pine nuts, garlic, olive oil and parmesan/pecorino romano dried and pulverized and added to a multitude of recipes but one that we enjoy purely for the taste is syrup, and it is so simple to do! bring the spruce tips and water to a rolling boil turn down to medium …

Foraging and Ramsløk – wild garlic pesto

Ramsløk as it is known in Norway, is also known as ramsons, buckrams, wild garlic, broad-leaved garlic, wood garlic, bear leek or bear’s garlic. Latin name: Allium ursinum Long overlooked, Ramsløk has made a comeback of late, gourmet restaurants and epicureans everywhere are hoarding what they can. There are few places locally where it grows, and hopefully those special places, much like favourite mushroom spots will remain secret such that it will continue to grow and those who harvest it are responsible and follow the foraging rule of take no more than 1/3 of what is available. Doing so will help it thrive for generations to come. Last year, our family took a course on local wild edibles, wandering the path and woods, collecting and nibbling as we walked. It was a revelation to see what can be foraged locally and was of immense value to increasing our knowledge about local food. We are fortunate to live in an area where we are able to obtain wild mushrooms, game, mussels, oysters, fish and more. We are blessed to …

“you say you want a revolution…”

In 1975 a visionary named Masanobu Fukuoka (1913-2008) wrote a book, The One Straw Revolution. He was a farmer and philosopher, who foresaw the problems we face today. It was clear to him that the industrialization of agriculture and the seeming ‘progress’ of the last half century was misguided… and yet only now is the rest of the world truly understanding what was so evident to him. The answers are clear, we know what we need to do. We need to create a sustainable plan to provide our communities with ethically produced food from smallholder farms, championing seasonal diets from local resources and care for our soil. Now we just have to do it. For the last 6 months I have been fully immersed in working on a solution for my local community, and in doing so met and listened to so many passionate souls from around the planet who wish to do the same for theirs. Whether those communities are remote rural towns, urban centres or major cities the likes of Oslo, New York, Washington or London. What has become obvious is …

2015 – International Year of Soil

2015 has been designated by the United Nations Food and Agricultural Organization as the International Year of Soil. Today we celebrated our daughters 9th birthday, and soil was on the agenda! Soil has been on my mind on more ways than one.. permaculture, composting, bokashi, chicken manure and more.. but today it was all about children, 15 níne year olds, your typical birthday party – with a twist.. a soil cake and a make and take party favour, that hopefully will yield edibles for them to enjoy this summer 🙂 Organic Heirloom tomatoes (blue beauty, black cherry and  yellow pear tomato) as well a few who preferred Big Max pumpkins (let’s hope their parents can find a place to plant those!) 😉  and calendula flowers (one of my favourites – see my post on calendula salves and tub tea) I think our children enjoy party prep as much, if not more than the party itself… this year they did most of the work 😉  cake decorating has become a family affair and they even made the hand dipped beeswax …

Calendula salves and ‘tub tea’

Calendula.. ahh.. such an amazing plant! This week for the farmers market at Hellviktangen, I am putting together more of my salves and ‘tub teas’. Throughout the summer I collected calendula from Ekebo, our collective farm. The more you pick, the more buds appear, it is amazing what mother nature can do. Once home, I laid them out on trays to set in the dehydrator. I prefer to keep the temperature down and wait longer than to rush the process and risk overheating the flowers. Once they are bone dry, I remove the petal from their stems and store them in a clean airtight jar to be used in a myriad of ways. In order to make an infused oil from them, fill a clean jar halfway with petals and then top up with the carrier oil of your choice. Many use olive or coconut oil, but I prefer almond oil for skin products. Vitamin E can also be added to help prevent your oil from going rancid. Let the oil sit in a warm spot …

Black garlic

Patience is not a virtue I possess. Ask anyone who knows me and they will attest that my curiosity almost always gets the better of me. So when my latest culinary experiment’s success hinged on my letting time do it’s thing, I was not sure I could pull it off. Garlic is something that we use in abundance in our kitchen, and I am always interested in trying new cultivars and means of preparation. It was in researching fermented garlic (next on my to do list) that I stumbled across black garlic, and I knew I had to find a way to make it myself. Black garlic (falsely referred to as fermented – as it does not involve any microbial action) is garlic that has been heated over the duration of many weeks at a constant temperature and humidity. The sugars in the garlic are slowly caramelised and develop a deep umami flavour that is quite simply fantastic! The texture of the cloves soften and the flavour mellows to something reminiscent of balsamic vinegar and truffles. Last night while …

Bees are buzzing!

Always keen on trying out new pursuits in life, it was just a matter of time until apiculture was on the agenda. Many who know me are surprised, given my distaste (for lack of a better word) of bugs, but these little girls (and their drones) are just lovely! With hopes of harvesting honey, all the while helping the environment, the adventure begins! So along with my cohorts at Ekebo we have set up our hives and are learning all about what we can do for the bees, as well as what they can do for us. Enlightening is the word I would use to describe apiculture. There is simply so much to learn about how bees do what they do. A little overwhelming at first when you are reading about it, but once you have your own bee colony to follow and learn with, you simply go day by day. The bee gang at Ekebo consists of new beginners, a few who have taken beekeeping courses, and some who have some solid experience to help us all out. I can …

felted laptop bag – using raw fleece

Forever inspired by my dear friend Elis Vermeulen of Holland to work with raw fleece (see my previous post on working with Texel with Elis), I decided to make myself a laptop bag a while back using my favorite medium. I have yet to add the straps (really need some studio time this week), but will be using some good quality leather with a buckle to make it adjustable. The base is made using norwegian C1  (I planned for a shrinkage of 30%). It is the perfect wool for sturdy bags. It produces a nice firm felt that hardly pills and wears well.  Now to pull out a hide of leather and some brass findings. Oh! by the way, if you are interested in learning more about how to work with raw fleece, Elis will be teaching a bag class at the Creative Felt Gathering in Michigan this september. See her website for more details, or contact her to arrange a workshop in your area.