Sunday, January 6, 2013

Venison Sausage

I have been trying out a few recipes for venison sausage.
The first two are loosely based on recipes found on the internet: and

I combined them as follows:

Approx. 6 lbs venison to 3 lbs fatty pork ground together
1 cup cold water
3 T sage
3 T garlic
6 packets red pepper flakes
3 T salt

The mild version
1 cup water
1 1/2 T sage
1 1/2 T garlic
3 T salt
3 T brown sugar

These turned out well, although I thought that it could use some improvement and flavor.
I was given a recipe book 301 Venison Recipes; The Ultimate Deer Hunter's Cookbook.
This recipe calls for:
5 lbs venison, 1 lb pork
1 lb ground beef fat or suet
2 T salt
3 T sage
2 t pepper
1 t red cayenne
2 T molasses

I blended this into the first recipe and added a few things, tweaked the flavor a little.
This is what I used:

6 lbs venison, 5 lbs pork
1 T. Garlic, Rubbed sage, Powdered Sage
2 T. Curing Salt, Molasses
6 T. Dark Brown Sugar
1/2 t. Paprika
1 Cup Cold Water

6lbs venison, 5 lbs pork
1 t. ground black pepper, ground red pepper
1/8 t. ground white pepper
1 t. paprika
1 T. Garlic
2 T. Sage (1 T. rubbed sage, 1 T. ground sage), curing salt
6 T. brown sugar
2 T. molasses
1 cup cold water

The flavor of the mild in the last recipe was heavy in garlic, and light on sage, without much other flavor. the molasses and increased sugar should meld well with the paprika, and I reduced the garlic slightly. We are using curing salt this time, so I have decreased the amount and we will see how it goes.

The hot recipe was hot enough but I felt that the crushed red pepper was too chunky, so I put it through a pepper mill and I was pleased with the results. I also reduced the amount of garlic so it would not over power the sage. I switched the recipe to curing salt and added sugar and molasses this time, which it did not have in the last recipe.

The rubbed sage is a little hard to mix and blend, I may use only powdered next time, but I thought that it would nice to have recognizable herbs in it. I think in the future it would be nice for it to be a homegrown sage and I can dry and powder it myself.
In addition, I might try a hint of liquid smoke, and adjust the amount of sugar and molasses. I also have ground red pepper, but I didn't want to over do it. It seemed plenty spicy last time, just too garlicy and a bit unbalanced. I am hoping the curing salt/sugar/molasses is the element I was missing in the last batch. We shall see. I plan to taste it in a few days, and vacuum seal the rest.
The problem is that you have to let the meat cure for a few days before you really know how it will taste. And, really, it is too late to change the batch. But I can add to the recipe the ideas for the next batch, so that I can follow that recipe.
I sort of lost the first one with my original notes, so this time I stapled it into the venison cookbook.
Last time, I vacuum sealed it and kept it over in the fridge for 3 days before freezing. This was in hope that the flavors would have a chance to meld, without aging the meat much. Being as fresh as the deer is, I don't worry, but using store bought pork, you just don't know how long it has been in the freezer case...

The best part of the sausage making process is that less meat is wasted. I always had a hard time with the foreshank and neck for jerky or stew. I tend to use the very best cuts in my stew and I use scraps of any of it for jerky. Now I really have a system of meat use as I butcher.

Roasts are cut large and left whole. They can be cut partially defrosted for steaks, for stew or for jerky. Any meat that is cut off the large roasts while processing is cut in cubes and put in a bag labeled precut stew. Another bag is filled with marinade for jerky, and any slim and slender scraps go here. A bowl is loaded with scraps with too much work in cleaning, and too much fat for other cuts. This is the sausage bowl. The Backstrap is put in a bag of marinade and saved for wrapping in bacon. This is the prime meat. In this way, very little is wasted.
At the rate we had deer this year (5 so far) I think that it would pay to save hides. After fleshing, I think I will salt, roll and freeze the hides. As they are collected, (8-10), I will process them after the butchering is done.

Saturday, June 9, 2012

Homestead Brain

I have to admit, I have homesteading on the brain, in a bad way. A friend of mine joked that my hen going broody has my biological clock ticking, but I disagree. It does have me amazed in wonder about our future farm life.
Last night I did a google search on homesteading. Of course I land on Mother Earth News, and I can across an article that asked readers how they knew they were homesteaders, that they had arrived at their dream. Many replied that they left the house with chicken poop on them, or that they had not had to buy eggs in so long they had to ask friends for cartons (who generally tend to want them back full of eggs) or that they rarely visit a store until they run out of salt. I have noticed how declined I am to shop at the grocery store, although my family has a serious addiction to cereals.
But I think that I have begun to feel that I am more of a homesteader than I give myself credit for, but also, that I won't think that I have arrived at my dream for quite some time. It has really made me think about what homesteading is about, and I think that the full image is different for everyone with this dream.
Personally, I feel like there are very few skills I have that even make me a some-what homesteader.
I love gardening and have more many years, but the last several I have increased my garden's size and scope nearly every season. I read all through the late winter and spring, mouth watering, about what I want to grow and imagine the harvest. The difference now is that I actually do have a harvest. Each year, with little work but weeding and watering I get to harvest strawberries, blueberries, raspberries and blackberries. I have asparagus which thrives in it's own bed that marks the coming of spring each season, and in the past two seasons have produced enough to share on several occasions. I have planted garlic bulbs each fall and this year, I believe will have enough to last until the following year. I have fresh lettuces for any meal, anytime, and more crops on the way. I plant potato, corn, beans and carrots, onions, leeks and chives. All veggies that we will use and store, and all from my own yard. There is no greater feeling than eating the food you have produced and food you, yourself have preserved. I want to continue this until I can grow all our family food needs each year, and supplement store bought goods only for the things we must have and cannot possibly produce ourselves. When finances are more stable, I plan to buy whole meats from local organic producers, and know my beef and pork by name. I will build a smoker and produce the juiciest ribs and the smokiest jerky and sausage. And that makes me a homesteader. The urge and drive to want these types of things.
On my list for the future are many more homestead skills. From soap making to cheeses. From woven crafts to buildings and greenhouses. Planting a vineyard, an orchard and a grove. Making the the things we want most and enjoying the process. That is what a homesteader does, more or less.
I think what has occurred to me this season is the jealousy factor. In years past, I would tell friends and family about progress and drawbacks in different areas of my mini farm. And they would be entertained by the lessons I have learned and how I was able to circumvent disaster. But this year, I feel that others are wishing that they too, could get a start on their own mini-mini farm. Some long for their own laying hens, and remark how nice to have the eggs. Others are proud of the volunteer tomato that is happy to exist in such shallow soil. Many, of course, salivate at the asparagus spears as the emerge in the spring, or the blueberries loading down the branches of the bushes. This year, I feel the jealousy, which I never noticed before. I notice comments about how they long to have food in their back yards, and I tell them to just do it! There is no reason to wait. The great thing about gardening, farming or any other endeavor, is that it is a learning process, and until you begin, you will learn nothing.
I am no expert, I am still a novice, but I take the time to learn as much as possible about everything I try to accomplish. I take notes, and observe the outcomes and the process to see what needs improvements. I allow my mistakes to humble me, rather than be humbles by wishing for something just out of reach. I drive forward until I am near enough to grasp my goals. And I enjoy learning from all that happens around me. And that, too, makes me a modern homesteader. But I will not accept the title until I feel that we can stand on our own, and produce what our family needs on a regular basis. Until we are able to store away and preserve the fruits of our labors enough to last through a long winter. Until we are able to withstand a storm without it bothering us at all, because we make a point to always be prepared. Then, I will truly be a homesteader.

Monday, June 4, 2012

Bad birdies and broody hens

I made the unfortunate mistake of uncovering ripe blueberry bushes. To my dismay they were void of anything blue by morning. I had been showing the bushes to friends, as this year marks our first blueberry harvest. What a shame! They are now recovered, but the majority of this years crop was stolen.
I then realized I have even bigger fish to fry. My don's hen, General, has been acting rather strange this week. I noticed that she looks pretty fluffy and makes strange noises when laying her egg each day. I have collected several very warm eggs. Yesterday, I pulled her off the nest to forage with the others, but within minutes she was sitting back in the coop. Then it dawned on me that she has gone broody.
At this point its just comical, she screeched when the coop door is opened and acts like a real turkey. Today our other two hens wanted to harass her off the clutch so they could add to it. They are not acting like she is but they insisted on sitting on top of her in order to lay the eggs with the clutch.
Last night I ordered 10 rare breed hatching eggs. We will move her to her own place with her 10 plastic Easter eggs and replace them Friday when the eggs are shipped in. 44$ for 10, which is rather steep! I hope she hatches them all and that many are pullets!

Friday, December 30, 2011


I have been laid-up, so to speak, the last week because I had my wisdom teeth pulled, OUCH!
The last few days I have been feeling better and craving some good home cooked food. I got into my old Fannie Farmer Cookbook and decided to make rolls for dinner last night. I have been craving some good bread, and yearning for a new bread recipe book :s
The rolls came out ok, and I had dough to spare that I wrapped up and put in the fridge. It was a quick mix recipe, so I am hoping that it holds. I decided today to make cinnamon bread, another bread I have been daydreaming about and have never tried. I just set it to rise, so I will have to get back to you on how it turns out. Either way, it really is so much fun. Bread is like a living thing, and it is so much fun to m. make! My dear friend, and future sister in law, makes a lot of bread with her mom. They use a bread machine to knead the dough. She has this recipe for jalepeno cheese rolls that is really fabulous. My husband loves the bread, but can't eat the peppers, so I will have to omit the fillings. The rolls themselves are seriously sweet. Great for dinner rolls! I am going to have to get that recipe from them!

So I have been online scouring Amazon to use a gift card I got for Christmas. I found a few really interesting books and put some on my wish list, and others I used the card for. Here are the ones that are on the way: (I read a bit of them with the "look inside" feature, really cool!)
FRESH BREAD COMPANION (Traditional Country Life Recipe Series)

this looked interesting, and was the only bread book I could afford. I hope it is good!
500 Treasured Country Recipes from Martha Storey and Friends : Mouthwatering, Time-Honored, Tried-and-True, Handed-Down, Soul-Satisfying Dishesthis one I have heard about, and I love Storey Publishing, so I am confident I will love it. Plus it was less than $1...Can't beat that price!
Then I also purchased several Storey Country Wisdom Bulletins, one for milk soap, making cheese, butter and yogurt, and one on braiding rugs (I was wanting to make some rag rugs out of old work jeans for the house, LOL).
The book I am most excited about is:
Make the Bread, Buy the ButterThis is one of those books that I would have loved to write! So I know I will love reading it. I wanted the hard copy, not the kindle version for this one!
I have already read the intro online, it is going to be fabulous! And one that I think my sister-in-law will also enjoy!

There were so many things I wanted to buy on amazon, but I will wait! But I am still in the mood for some baking and home cooking, so I am delving into my Fannie Farmer Cook book and my Fleishman's bread book, which I adore!
Fleischmann's Bake-It-Easy Yeast Book
The Fannie Farmer Cookbook Eleventh EditionI love these books!!!

Sunday, September 18, 2011


This spring we bought 6 pullets (or so we thought). One turned out to be a rooster, and we gave him away along with one hen.  We now have 4 city hens, that have just begun to lay.

 The weather has turned cold, and I am about to seal the coop up so that it is waterproof.
We have been feeding the girls Layena, and I just gave them a Flock Block. 

Now comes the planning portion of my chicken project. I orginally hoped that we would be moved to the Farm by winter, but since we are not, I have plenty of wiggle room in planning the future of the Flock's coop plans.

We are currently using a Chicken Ark, which we found pictures of online, and just slapped together after a bit of haggling and banter. What we came  up with works well for a handful of laying hens, but could still use a little fine tuning to make "just right". 

I am working on a back trap door for egg collection. Our current larger door would be used for cleaning. It needs new and sturdier handles.  I need one more board across the top, before I seal it up.  I would like to adjust the roosting perches, to ensure there is plenty of room with 4-6 hens. I would like to add a few hens each year and perhaps cull the older ones. I am not sure yet.

Now the "planning" I spoke of.
I currently have 3 raised beds made with cinder block, a potato bin made of recycled pallets, and 2 compost bins, also made of pallets.  When we move, I plan to change the garden quite a bit and also expand it greatly.
I have always wanted to practice sustainable agriculture, using crop rotation, green manures, compost and animals combined to get greater fertility in a concentrated intensive growing situation. What I plan to do now, is keep this "chicken Ark" and use it for the winter at the farm on top of my raised beds.

Bed #1 would be ready to plant...after having composted there previously.
Bed #2 would be current compost. Two bins that cover an entire bed. One would be the active bin, the other would be used to turn the compost into for the finishing stage.
Bed #3 would be the current location of the Chicken Ark. It would be used for one month (during winter and possible late fall or early spring, depending on that particular season). Straw would be used in the upper chamber along with pine shavings for bedding or nesting material. Each week this area would be scooped out, but the litter thrown below to the ground level.  As water and food is changed out, a new layer of CLEAN straw several inches thick would be added to the soiled straw, and the clean food and water brought back in. After 4 weeks, a thick layer of bedding and manure would be left. And the Ark moved to the next bed. This bed would then become divided into the 2 compost bins from bed #2.
Bed #4 would be the last of a cold frame crop (which there should be several to stretch through winter). As the crops are finished being harvested, the left over vegetable debris would be left for the chickens, when the Ark is moved onto it from Bed #3. This is done as in Bed #3. The chickens eat the vegetable debris, and bedding is added for 1 month, and all is composted once the birds are moved to the next bed.
Bed #5 Would be another cold frame, exactly as in bed #4 but at an earlier stage of maturity. This would be harvested at the same point that the Ark is moved from Bed #3 to Bed #4. The Ark would be moved here after spending 1 month on Bed #4. Followed by composting the manure and bedding.
Bed #6 Would be a hoop house that would have been put up about the same time as the two cold frames. The crops in the hoop house would likely differ from the cold frame crops. These would be brassicas, specifically Brussels sprouts, and Broccoli, Cabbage, etc. Perhaps some clamped potatoes, Some onions, leeks, garlic, etc from a fall crop.  This should be harvested by the end of the cold season (usually by March) and the hoop moved to the beginning of the beds to harden off transplants started elsewhere. The Cold frames can also be moved to the beds that are ready and have been composted to start more carrot, spinach, lettuce and other early plants in Spring, as well as early potatoes.

By the time that the chicken ark has moved from Bed #1 to Bed #6, the season should be warmer. The hoop house could have the plastic sheeting removed, leaving only plastic netting. The Entire hoop would be moved to pasture, and a shelter/nest box could be put inside. This structure would be light enough to move daily during the months when the grass is very green and there are many bugs. You would have to come to the location of the hoop house to collect eggs, feed and water the chickens. But they would get the full benefit of pasture, without being harmed by predators or becoming messy around the farm buildings.

At the end of the warm season, the chickens would be transferred to the ark, and the process would begin again. The hoop could have the plastic put back on to protect late vegetables, and the chickens would be moved successively as the crops are harvested. Ant new beds would be planted down to the winter crops for the cold frames.

My plan has so many advantages, and I try to take sanitation into consideration. By building a hot compost pile, all at once and turning it into the second bin, the bedding and manure should reach temperatures hot enough to kill harmful microbes and bacteria.  The sanitation of the ark is considered, by cleaning the upperchamber weekly, and refreshing the litter beneath, giving them a clean and safe place to walk about (normally it would be much too snowy for them to be outside.)
And the benefit it provides to the owner, by keeping them close to the house (as is the garden) for taking care of them and collecting winter eggs. Also by being close to the home in winter, added light or heat can be used more easily.