Monday, December 17, 2012

Old Age Setting In

I have not posted in over a week.  I am having problems with my eyes, guess when you turn 40 things don't work quite right anymore.  Looking at something up close such as the computer or reading and then trying to focus on something else in the room is giving me major headaches.  I am trying to get an appointment to have my eyes checked, not easy this time of year with everyone's Holiday schedule.  But I promise to try and get back to regular postings as soon as possible.  I hope the few followers and readers I have will bear with me through this.  Thanks everyone.

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Greasy Doorknobs Part II

A continuation of our day processing a pig.  After the sausage was made and meat cut up and packaged we set about trying our hand at making livermush and souse meat.  For those outside of the southern region, and probably outside of North Carolina let me explain about livermush.   Other areas of the country have similar products, scrapple and liver pudding for example but, they are not livermush.  To make livermush you have to use the pig's head.  No ears or eyes though.  We were going by Farmer Joe's grandad's general instructions so we were a little nervous about how it would turn out.  The longest part of this process is the boiling of the head to get the meat to fall off the bones, it took about five hours of cooking for us.  You boil the liver in a separate pot, this is due to the fact that you will use the broth from the boiled head, but you don't want to use the broth from the liver.  Once the meat is falling off the bones, you take it out of the pot and strain the broth and put the broth back in the pot.  Pick the meat off the bones, reserving at least a cup of lean meat for Souse Meat (more on this later).  Then run the meat and the liver through a grinder and put it back in the broth.  Next comes a tricky part, add spices to taste.  We used salt, black pepper, sage and cayenne pepper.  Bring the pot to a boil and stir.

As you can see we used a really big pot.  I could stir it standing on the floor, but kept getting close to burning my arm.  So out came the step stool, I am only five foot tall.  This worked perfect but Farmer Joe, Jim and Sharon got a big kick out of it.

Once the pot is back to boiling add in white cornmeal, lots of it!  And stir constantly.  It gets thick so this was Farmer Joe's job.  He was the only one with enough stamina to keep at it.                                      

 It is kind of a crapshoot about knowing when it is thick enough, we judged by the spoon method.  When the spoon did not sink we guessed it was good.   This what it looked like.

Please don't say "Eww!"  I know that it does not look real appetizing, but remember we weren't done with it yet.
Have lot's of lightly greased pans at the ready and ladle it in.

Set them in a refrigerator overnight to cool and set up.  Then unmold and enjoy.  We ended up with about 35 pounds of livermush.  Thirty four of it in molds.  Farmer Joe's favorite way to eat it is right out of the pot warm with a streak of mustard.  So we all indulged, some more than others.  I think Farmer Joe's final count was four and a half sandwiches.  The normal way to eat livermush is slice it and fry it up in a pan til the outside is a little crispy but still soft on the inside.  You can add whatever you want to the sandwich, but eggs (my favorite), mustard, onions, or coleslaw are the most common.

Now the Souse Meat.  This is basically a slightly pickled, gellied mold of meat.  I know that does not sound appealing, you just have to taste it.
Measure out the amount of lean meat (a little fat on it is good, but not too much) you reserved.  However much meat you have you will need that same amount of broth.  I measured and reserved my broth before we made the livermush.  In a pan heat your broth and 4 to 6 tablespoons of vinegar til boiling then add spices to taste.  I used salt, a bay leaf and crushed red pepper.  Boil for five minutes, then add your lean meat and simmer for five more.  Scoop out the meat and place in a small loaf pan and pour over the broth.  Cover in plastic wrap and place in the refrigerator with some type of weight on top.   The next day take it out and unmold.

Okay, again many of you will say "Eww!"  But a little bit of that vinegary, spicy meat on a saltine cracker is heaven to me.

We took a couple of pounds of livermush and half the loaf of souse meat to Farmer Joe's grandad.  We are anxiously awaiting his critique.  We hope he likes it and we hope he is proud of us for starting to carry on a family tradition.

Monday, December 3, 2012

The Greasing of the Doorknobs

On Friday, friends of ours, Jim and Sharon, had to put down a hog.   She had broken her leg.  So we were asked to come help with the meat.  Jim and Ken had it skinned and cut up and we were supposed to make sausage Friday night.  Remember my jelly fiasco, well the sausage Friday did not turn out much better.
Farmer Joe ended up working late and by the time we got to the hill, Jim was already in bed since he had been up since two o'clock that morning.  So we sat and talked with Sharon for a while, had a cup of coffee and a couple glasses of wine and came home.  After the woodcutting at Farmer Joe's grandad's house Saturday morning we headed back to the hill and went at it.
Jim and Farmer Joe getting the meat cut up and ready.
Once it was all ground the mixing began.
And of course once it was all mixed , we had to taste test to see if the spices were right.
By this time of the evening we were getting hungry and a little tired.  So in the refrigerator the sausage went for the spices to absorb better overnight.  Then supper was cooked.  Yep, you guessed it sausage, eggs, biscuits and gravy.  After clean up and coffee and conversation, we bade each other good night and crashed.

Sunday morning dawned a beautiful day and we headed back to the hill to finish the pig.

I measured, Joe weighed and Sharon vacuum sealed.  In the end we came out with 33 pounds of sausage for their freezer.   In Farmer Joe's family whenever a hog was killed, they called the sausage making part the annual greasing of the doorknobs.  And this turned out to be true for on the hill as well.  No matter how hot and soapy the water was, it seems that a little grease just has to stick to your palm so that it is extremely hard to open a door.  All we can say is that we are glad no one had to rush outside for any reason.

Jim, aka Hambone, had band practice with The Hamtones Sunday so he missed this part of the fun.  But that was okay, we got to listen to some great music while we worked.

Once the sausage was done we finished cutting and packaging the rest of the meat for their freezer.  Our day was not done by a long shot, but I think I will save that for part two of this post.

Sunday, December 2, 2012

Where Farmer Joe Gets It From

In families it is always said, "Oh, they get that trait from great uncle so and do."  Well Farmer Joe gets the majority of his farming traits from his Granpa Miller.  Yesterday Farmer Joe and his youngest brother J and his cousin J went down to his grandad's to help split wood.  I of course took pictures.

Beautiful place he has and he always has some type of farm animal.  The goats were cooperative enough to let me take pictures, but the young steer was no where to be found.

Grandad, youngest brother J and cousin J

Farmer Joe splitting the rounds

Farmer Joe split the big rounds of wood so it would be easier for the boys to handle, while Grandad ran the wood splitter.   It only took them about four hours to get it all done.  Then of course Grandad had to feed everyone lunch.  What is it about grandparents that they can't let you leave without feeding you?  But it does give you warm feelings from knowing they care.  Farmer Joe's Grandad is one special man.  I love sitting and talking with him and hearing him tell stories and then joke and try and get one over on us.  There are tons of memories and love in this gentleman and we cherish any time we get to spend with him.  When Farmer Joe tells a story about growing up, nine times out of ten, they involve his grandad.  And whether they are funny, loving or informational I am so thankful that he has them and was able to spend so much of his younger life with this amazing man.  Farmer Joe is the man he is today due in part to the influence of his grandad.  For this I am grateful, he could not have had a better role model.  If you ask Farmer Joe he will tell you that his grandad is his hero.  A better one he could not have chosen.