Monday, November 24, 2014

Moody Monday's: How To Make A Snack Stick

Photo by tlpoague
The shift of warm to cool air burrowed into the folds of her coat. She slightly adjusted the scope attached to her favorite .243 semi-automatic, Belgium Browning rife. Her target...a meager 400 yards away. It was going to be a gamble, but, one she was willing to take to keep from loosing her game.
Taking a deep breath, she applied pressure to the trigger. Recoil from her weapon nearly scoped her. Her shoulder ached from the impact. Her ears rang from the percussion of the shot. Still, the bullet held true to its target. It was a clean shot, hitting its mark.
When I was a child, I had many memories of going out to harvest our own meat. Sure, we could have bought it as easily as our neighbors, but Dad always claimed there was a lesson to be learned when providing for yourself. As a child, I thought everyone knew this and it was normal. Little did I know then, as I do now, that not everyone has an opportunity to learn the things as I did.
Harvesting the meat was fairly easy, as long as you had a strong stomach. It was the process that was time consuming and often messy. But, in the end, well worth it.
This year, the hubby and I decided we would break out the meat grinder to make jerky sticks again. It had been a couple of years since the last time we did it, so we had to prep the machine, clean the parts, and make sure everything was in working order. While he did that, I prepped the work space. Living in a small house made it a bit more difficult to have room to work in, so we turned the dinning room table into our processing center.
Photo by tlpoague
Hubby is making sure the machine is ready to go. 
Instead of going out to harvest our own meat, we used what we had from the freezer. We began by de-boning those that needed it.
Photo by tlpoague
Here is the chicken that needed to be de-boned.

Photo by tlpoague
I'm hard at work trying not to cut a finger.
Next we needed to run the meat through the meat grinder. (We used the largest steel hopper plate to grind it the first time.)
Photo by tlpoague
This is the first grind with the large blade.
Once that task was done, we changed the blades to a smaller setting and ran the meat through it again. (If you look closely to the right of the bowl of meat, you will see the hopper blades I am talking about.)
Photo by tlpoague
This is the second grind with a smaller blade.
Once the meat was ground to the texture we want it, it was time to add the water and seasonings. (Here you will need to follow the directions on the box of seasoning you are using.)
Photo by tlpoague
Hubby is making sure that he has the right measurements of spices and water.
Then it was time to run it through the meat grinder again to make sure everything was mixed evenly. (We ran it through twice on the small blade.) The next step is to start loading the casings with the meat mixture.
Photo by tlpoague
Filling the casings with the meat mixture.

Photo by tlpoague
The finished product before cutting them down.
After they are filled, we cut them down to the size we wanted. 
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These are now cut down to size and ready to cook.
We let our sticks cure over night in the fridge before we baked them according to the direction on the seasoning box.
Photo by tlpoague
These treats are ready to eat.
We ended up with a total of 23 pounds of snack sticks after all the work was done.

tlpoague 2014

Monday, November 17, 2014

Moody Monday: Prepping For This Winter From Apples To Making Butter

Isn't it odd how fast time seems to get by you? In an instant weeks have passed before you paused to realize how long it was since you last called a loved one, enjoyed a quiet moment, or in my case, wrote a post. This is how my fall went...with sneeze, suddenly, here was winter knocking on my door.
For as long as I can remember, my life wasn't measured much by calendars or clocks, but by seasons. There was a fishing season, hunting season, and a couple harvest seasons. There was a time dedicated to when you would go out and load up on wood or coal. Many of these memories were wrapped around family gathers to help with the work load.
This year, my hubby and I decided we would try our hand at canning, drying, and making a bit of butter. Of course it had been decades since some of us had done anything like this. There was nothing more interesting than dusting off the cobwebs of the brain and getting back into the swing of things.
Many a phone call was made to my mother, as she endured her cancer treatments, to reassure myself that we doing things properly. (Sorry Grams, I know a few of them apples and pears weren't pealed paper thin.) With each pass of the knife I could hear a small voice in my head chastising me if I tried to hurry. I could only imagine the chaos I would have endured had my great-grandmother witnessed my quick tips for making apple sauce and jams.
Between my dad's gift of pears, and my sister's gift of apples, I had plenty to keep the hubby and I busy for weeks. We began with the traditional task of hand peeling them until we realized that we owned an apple peeler/corer. This make the task so much simpler and quicker. Soon ideas began to develop. How could we speed up the mashing process?
It didn't take long till we had a rhythm going. Mr. P. would peel and core the apples while I ran them through a shredding process. Then it was off to the stove to be cooked into sauces or jams.
Photo by tlpoague
A small sample of our sauces and jams.
Suddenly we were hit with the canning bug. Soon I found myself peeling potatoes to can. Along with making soups, chili, and salsa to add to our collection.
Of course, horrified at the idea of the pressure caner popping its lid, I got it in my head to multi-task by making caramels and bread. Mr. P. decided to add butter to the list.
I didn't realize how simple it would be to make butter. The process was amazingly easy.
Step one: Gather some real cream.
Step two: Add half the cream to a butter churn.
Photo by tlpoague
Here is Mr. P. prepping the churn for me.
 (Now it is time to crank it till your arm falls off.) If you would like a quicker version...
Photo by tlpoague
Mr. P. thought this would be quicker.
You could try the drill method, but it didn't take long for the batteries to wear out.
Instead, the fastest and cleanest version was to mix it in a food processor.
Step three: Drain the solid from the liquid. (The solid is your butter and the liquid is the buttermilk.)
Photo by tlpoague
Step four: Knead in a little salt and place in a butter dish. Then refrigerate or freeze. (You can add a little sugar if you would like for a sweeter butter.)
Photo by tlpoague
Here is a small sample of the jam, bread, and homemade butter, we made while waiting on our canning.

Photo by tlpoague
Our grandson wanted to join in the baking fun.

Photo by tlpoague
Bit by the canning bug!
Naturally since I didn't think I had enough to do, I found myself crocheting and sewing in between projects.
Photo by tlpoague

Photo by tlpoague
I have to say, it has been a busy fall. Next week I will share with you the process of making your own snack sticks. Thanks for joining me for Moody Monday. Hope to see ya again soon.