Dark Days Week 8

Week 8 and here is the lineup this week:


Homemade beef jerky. I’ve been planning this one since I got the cow but finally managed to make it happen. I used a package labeled “bottom round” which I *think* is a pretty tough cut and it came out awesome! I partially thawed it then sliced it as thinly as possible against the grain and marinated it overnight in 1/2 cup soy sauce (US but non-local), a good shake of onion powder and a good shake of garlic powder. The next day I put it in the dehydrator for about 4 hours until it was done. It’s so nice not having to monitor the kid’s consumption, even though I won’t keep this on hand all the time since it is a pretty salty snack. But perfect for Pancake Man who I suspect is low in iron and won’t eat anything but guess what?


More beet whip for Chicken Little who doesn’t like beets but somehow is addicted to this juice of the week. Freshly juiced Nash’s Detroit Red beets with heavy cream poured off the top of the Dungeness Valley milk jug.


Sausage experiment #1 today. I used 1 pound of ground pork from Thundering Hooves that I’ve had in the freezer, mixed it with a small amount of chopped gala apples from Rockridge Orchard that I dried last summer, a pinch of ginger, cinnamon, 1 teaspoon salt and 2 teaspoons of sage. It was so yummy Chicken Little threw his arms around me and told me I was the best sausage maker ever. Wow!


I find it ironic in the scrambled egg pan the eggs are dark yellow and cheese is white. That is as it should be – dark eggs from pastured chickens and cheese without coloring agents. We rounded out the breakfast with toast from homemade bread and home canned apricot jam made from Rama apricots last summer. Ah apricots, so magical.


We have a fair bit of liver from our Cascade Range Beef cow in the freezer so I thought I would make chicken fried liver. It looked good. But before putting it on the table I did a taste test and oh my hooves and ass! Too barnyard. I love liverwurst and chicken livers but wow I could not do that to my family. So they got this instead which was supposed to be the side dishes:


Sorry family.  I’m just glad I had bought some Willipa Hills Little Boy Blue to add to Nash’s beets and roasted brussel sprouts with bacon.  The carmelized onions were supposed to go into cream sauce over the liver.   And Pancake Man ate a pancake which he would have done anyway. I love having a big stash of those in the freezer for pancake emergencies!


My husband was fighting something all week after running himself into the ground on New Year’s Eve so I made a big pot of chicken noodle soup before heading out to the school board meeting to communicate to them my ardent desire that my two children attend the same elementary school.  I used a jar of home-canned chicken broth made from carcasses of previous roast chicken meals, carrots from the garden and Nash’s chinese cabbage and kale.


Rose Brand Chinese noodles are made in the International District in Seattle. They are the perfect noodle for soups or those yummy Chinese peanut noodle dishes I stopped making since I can’t get local peanuts.


Freshly ground corn pancakes, Swedish pancakes and coconut pancakes. Because Pancake Man says so.


My desem start from Bluebird Grain hard red winter wheat.


You see how it is? Now that my year is up I’ve been to the store twice! And I was talked into these tortilla chips which I agreed to because they are made in Richmond, BC (less than 150 miles from me) from organic corn which is nixtamalized to unlock more of the nutrients. To celebrate a highly competitive checkers game I opened up a fresh jar of peach salsa made last summer from Rama peaches and our own jalapenos and onions. I whipped up my kitchen version of the little black dress – basic white sauce and added some grated Tillamook cheddar (outside the 150 mile range I know but it was 2 for 1 at the store – see how I’m becoming!) and some home canned green tomato chile sauce made last fall with the last green tomatoes as the bushes were succombing to blight.


From the depths of the freezer – smoky turkey, white bean and green chile glop. It’s amazing the number of meals we got out our Pastured Sensation turkey. This was made entirely from the bone broth and meat that would have been otherwise discarded. So frugal! So yummy! So fast from the freezer!


Our Sunday ritual – pizza made from 100% white whole wheat flour grown in Dufur, OR, home canned tomato sauce, still the contraband pepperoni bag from last week and mozzarella from Golden Glen creamery. I had to try their mozzarella since it’s local and Julie of River Ranch is no longer selling mozzarella at the market. I was surprised at the price tag ($10 for the blob) but embarassed to hand it back over so I swallowed my wallet and put the cheese in the bag.

After getting used to Julie’s mozzarella (where I learned to make it by taking her class which she IS still teaching) I was really disappointed to cut into the cheese and find out it was tough and rubbery, just like Tillamook’s. I guess I need to set aside some time to make another huge batch of fresh mozzarella to freeze again!

But here is my favorite part of the week:


I finally managed to locate the Kitchen Aid meat grinder attachment that I had gotten for my husband for Christmas and ground up an Akyla Farms picnic ham from the freezer along with some pork back fat that I had purchased from Skagit River Ranch.  I just paid money for fat, yes I did.  When that was ground up (can I say how cool that was to watch little worms of sausage come wriggling out of the plates?) I added some seasonings and some Chateau Ste. Michelle cab then mixed it all up and bagged it into roughly 1 pound bags. Some went on our pizza along with home canned cherry bomb peppers from Tonnamaker Farms.

I cannot believe how inexplicably cool that meat grinder is. Especially with all the hamburger recalls and knowing that the USDA’s response to the outbreaks has been to spray meat with ammonia. Did you know that? Oh yeah, they never really told you. All that meat is either irradiated or sprayed with ammonia. It’s sickening. Literally.

So if you eat meat please be sure you buy it from a local farmer and a local butcher, not one of those huge meat packing outfits somewhere behind a curtain, completely cut off from the people who buy their meat.

For those in the Seattle Area you can buy great quality ground pork or beef from Thundering Hooves.  Their sausage is $7.99 per pound but the plain ground pork is $3.99 per pound.  All you have to do for that $4 per pound is add some seasonings that you probably already have in your cupboard. 

To my roughly 4 pounds of meat I added 1/2 cup wine, 4 minced garlic cloves (mine were roasted from the freezer), 1 T black pepper, 4 teaspoons sea salt, 1 T oregano and 1 T basil.  If I had any fennel seed I would have added 1 T of that but what I thought was fennel turned out to be caraway.  I wanted to add some chopped dried tomato to it as well but my husband nixed the idea so I’ll have to sneak some in next time when he’s not right there.  There, doesn’t that sound like $4 per pound’s worth of seasonings to you?  Pshaw!

Happy Dark Days!

14 Responses to Dark Days Week 8

  1. Yes, yes, yes! Home-ground meat tastes SO much better. I asked the farmer I’m getting the side of beef and pork to tell the butcher not to include any ground meat. She said that they use the scraps for that. Well, I can use the scraps for stir-frys and to make my own ground beef with the amount of fat I want.

    Annette, I have to thank you once again, this time for posting about the juices. I ordered a masticating Omega juicer for my husband. It arrived three days ago and it’s a joy to use. He loves this wonderful thing and has been making kick-ass veggie juices (we had no idea organic mesclun could produce such tasty juice, he mixes it with carrot, pear, beet, apple, parsley and celery). :) AND the juicer also grinds meats!


  2. Yay for jerky! Add some other liquids (vinegar, juice, etc. — even water) with soy sauce in your marinade to reduce saltiness and let the kids eat all they want. :-)

  3. the sausage idea is a great one! i’m saving for a couple more gadgets for the kitchen. dehydrator is the top of the list, but i bet i should add meat grinder, too.

    by the way, i picked up some little boy blue on saturday as well. it’s SO good!

  4. Hi Auburn, that is funny because my juicer is starting to crap out. So which one did you get? I started looking at them tonight but need to get to bed by 1. I’m betting you probably just did some research so I’d love to hear what you found and then sum it up. I know you can make juice with a vitamix which I’ve always dreamt of and it looks like masticating juicers would get me almost to that same price point and then I could retire my juicer & blender.

    This one is going to mean dipping into my yoga pants fund I think! Have you tried grinding meat with the blender yet?

    SGFB – yes, just started another round. Your blog got me thinking of other flavors. I just did a quick stir fry marinade for it this time but I love the idea of thai curry spices, pho spices, carne asada spices etc. Why just stick with plain old jerky when making it from scratch right? So brilliant!

    Angela – I just sent you an email about little boy blue wholesale buy. Yum yum! Also if you are on a tight budget you could certainly just buy the Thundering Hooves preground meat and mix it up. I can’t believe I didn’t think of that years ago. My food is in my control what? :) So empowering. RAWR!

  5. My eyes just ran straight to the words “brussels sprouts” and “caramelized onions” – two things that belong together, and belong in my mouth! And thanks for the idea about corn pancakes – on tap to try this weekend now.

  6. So many great ideas in one post. The pizza’s look awesome!

    I absolutely detest liver … so as soon as I read that you were preparing it I thought ‘YUCK”… and then when I read on some more and saw your response to the taste test … I bust out laughing! That was good of you to invoke dinner menu plan B and not put your family through that.

  7. Mangochild – now that you mentioned it they were really good together but at the time I was stuck on the liver debaucle. I’ve found this year it’s necessary to always have a plan B. Plan C is delivery Thai food. I’ve made it to plan C once or twice this year.

    KFG I was getting worried no one had commented on that. Hoping I hadn’t offended a liver lover. I still have pretty vivid memories of either refusing to eat dinner and then being hungry all night or being forced to sit at the table until I finished and I vowed never to inflict that upon my kids. I ask that they take one no thank you bite and bribe them heavily but I never force anyone to eat my cooking.

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  9. Annette, dear, is everything ok?

  10. Auburn, yes fine, just trying to plow through as much year end accounting as possible and get a few nights of sleep in since I’ve been waking up with a sore throat this week. :)

    I had asked on another entry which juicer you ended up getting and where you got it from – I’m just starting to research new juicers since the centrigal juicer is jamming up with all the apples trying to make cider. Perhaps a press is in my future, or a different juicer.

    I’m also organizing seeds and planning for the spring garden. I can’t wait!

    I’m hoping to post a bunch of recipes tonight. How are you? I tried some potato starch in my bread today since I’m still suspicious of the vital gluten but I’m not at all impressed.

  11. I’m fine, thanks. :)

    I wrote a very long answer to your question, two days ago. I can see it (the 9th comment under Dark Days Week 8) but it says “your comment is awaiting moderation” so it probably wound up in your spam filter because it includes a few links?

    Yesterday I tried a rice bread recipe I found online, won’t include the link here now, don’t want this comment to get lost, but the bread turned out really bad. I was going to run it by you before making it because it just sounded weird but I thought you were away/busy so I went ahead and tried it. Bleh. ;[

  12. Auburn that is so weird – it never even notified me but I’ve approved it now. It must be because of the links.

    Wow Auburn! I want to dedicate an entry to juicers but I think you just sold me. I wish I hadn’t just gotten the kitchenaid meat grinder attachment because I could have put that cost toward this mixer. :) However, with all this bread making my kitchenaid is starting to slow down in it’s old age so it would be nice to have a backup plan.

    When I get that entry up I’ll move your comment over to it where it’s more pertinent. I’ve tried juicing things like cabbage, parsley and spinach in my juicer and it just doesn’t cut it. We take juice plus as our nutritional supplement which is awesome but spendy. I just may make an exception to my local rule if I could actually get leafy green juice on a daily basis! Or I’ll take out the back lawn and pant a green field of juicing veggies. :)

  13. A couple of things I forgot to mention:

    Even though the guy on the video puts whole carrots, if you wind up buying this juicer, take the extra few minutes and chop the veggies and fruit into one inch pieces. You’ll get the most juice that way (I tried both ways) and it’s gentler on the machine.

    You’ve got to alternate soft and hard, also.

    Roll up leafy veggies as he says. With the mesclun we’ve been rolling it, a messy roll, but it works.

    Oh, and with this juicer, if you use cold produce, you get cold juice, not warm-ish like with regular juicers. :)

    I hope you’ll feel better tomorrow.

    Gotta go to bed.


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