Maine Fiber Frolic 2017 Poster
MOFGA Common Ground Fair Poster

new wheels

I was all excited about my new wheels and was going to post about them but it turned out that Jim was more excited about my excitement…so excited that he put the story of my new wheels on the home page of our website!  Eesh!  

What Jim didn’t cover in his story was my complete and utter surprise when the wheels were revealed on Christmas morning.

look at those spiffy new wheels!

I’d been asking… pleading… begging for them for over a year!  I was told the research had shown that new wheels weren’t happening.  There was no hope.

By now you’re surely wondering why I didn’t just buy a new cart.  Well, it has to do with weight.  I haven’t found another cart that is as light weight but still as sturdy as this one.  The Vermont Cart Jim bought to replace mine weighs just about the same as mine with 2 bales of hay in it.  When you add 2 or 3 bales of hay to it,  I can barely move it.  And that’s why it’s now Jim’s cart!

Now for my Dark Days meals for weeks 5 & 6.  We woodland-raised some Berkshire pigs last summer and kept one for ourselves.  We enjoyed a dinner of pork chops with caramelized onions, potato pancakes, apple sauce and steamed carrots.  I made the apple sauce from wild apples that grow on our land…no sugar needed.

Berkshire pork chop dinner

I have no idea of the variety but they’re very tasty despite no care.  The trees self-prune during winter storms.  Potatoes, carrots and onions were from our CSA and the egg that held the potato pancakes together came from our own hens.

  Mother Nature gifted us a few 50 degree days…what a treat!  We were ready to bring out the lounges and the grill called to me.  (We never really put it away but 50 degrees makes it much more appealing)  I grilled a lovely london broil — part of the grassfed beef quarter we bought from our friends at Meadowsweet Farm in Swanville.  Assorted potatoes along side were simply roasted in a little olive oil, salt & pepper (not local) and

grassfed beef london broil

 we enjoyed their different flavors and textures. Steamed green beans finished the plate. Veggies were from our CSA.

It may have become obvious that carrots and green beans are on the menu often around here…way too often if you ask me!  I’ve never met a veggie I didn’t like.  Problem is that Jim isn’t a big fan of cooked veggies.  Carrots, green beans, wax beans, ummm…that’s about it for him.  I’m working on him, though.  Hey! when we got married, he didn’t eat tomatoes and thought iceburg was the only lettuce on the planet.

always learning…

These are my Dark Days Challenge meals for weeks 3 & 4…

Week 3 — braised lamb with beans — was a dinner that promised to be quite tasty but I kind of rushed the beans a bit and grossly underestimated the amount of liquid the beans would need to cook properly.  It wasn’t a total disaster because I discovered the need for more liquid before it was too late but the beans could’ve been cooked a little longer.  I don’t use dry beans very often so this was a departure from my comfort zone.

lambnbeans

braised lamb shoulder chops with cannellini beans & carrots

  I learned a lot and will try this again because I think it has good bones.  Next time I may use shanks because I think they’d hold up to the longer cooking time.

Here’s what I put together —   Hatchtown lamb shoulder chops from our freezer; cannellini beans, onions, garlic, carrots and celeriac from our CSA (Bluebird Hill, Jefferson, ME); a cup of homemade CSA tomato puree and 2 cups of homemade chicken stock from our freezer; a couple of sprigs of rosemary & thyme, salt & pepper.

The beans were brought to a boil and then set aside and left to soak for about 2 hours. I browned the shoulder chops in a bit of rendered lamb fat and then removed them from the pan. I added the veggies (except for carrots) to the pan and cooked them for a few minutes, then added the herbs, beans and all the liquid.  I settled the chops into the bean mixture and laid the carrots on top of everything.  It then went into a 325 degree oven, tightly covered.  After an hour, I checked it and discovered that most of the liquid was gone.  Here’s where I went wrong… I should’ve heated the extra stock before adding it but I didn’t and I think adding it cold pretty much stopped any cooking. Of course that meant it had to get back up to speed before it started to cook again. After another hour, the lamb was falling off the bones, the carrots perfect, the beans not so good…still a bit al dente.

eggybread

french toast on the way

Week 4 — french toast & canadian bacon — OK…another breakfast and a repeat performance of canadian bacon but the package our friends at Three Little Pigs Family Farm (Wiscasset, ME) gave us was huge so we’ve been picking away at it…and enjoying every minute of it!

We were scheduled to pick up a load of hay on Boxing Day so I cooked up a breakfast that would keep us going until it was put up in the barn.  The french toast was made from our own hen’s eggs, a little local milk and bread made locally from wheat grown in Aroostook County.  I used Kate’s* butter to fry it and the canadian bacon and served Maine maple syrup from our CSA along side.
*Kate’s butter is made in Maine but buys milk from New England farms. I’ll be looking for a more local source of butter.

and another thing

WARNING…In this post there are photos of a whole pig being prepared & roasted.

Just about the time that our pigs went to the butcher and the beef & lamb we’d ordered from our friends arrived, it became obvious that we had a bad case of  freezer overload.  It was definitely time for the whole 40 pound pig that was hanging out in there to go.  He was completely stretched out and as long as the freezer…and every time I needed something that was under him I had to lift him out.  This gets old really fast especially as the weather changes to cold. I wasn’t loving hugging the frozen pig so much.

Our neighbors, Doug and Heather, who are always up for a food adventure came to our aid and the roast was on!  A few phone calls and emails produced about 15 friends who were willing to take a chance on our 1st attempt if it meant  feasting on some slow roasted (and a bit smoked) Tamworth pig…assuming we didn’t incinerate it.

We picked up the roaster from our friends at Three Little Pigs Family Farm and armed with detailed instructions and hours of internet research we went to work at about 7AM. 

Jim and Doug (aka The Cooks) got the fire started and then prepared the pig.

prepping pig

Doug and Jim butterflied the pig

  I tried not to get involved.  I had plenty to do preparing the sides and getting the house ready to receive hungry friends and family.  Heather arrived about 10:30 to help and brought some beautiful desserts.  Bless her!

waiting for fire

The roaster is getting up to speed...

By about 9:30 the fire was ready —

placing pig

On he goes!

Now it’s all about waiting…and waiting…and waiting — and resisting the temptation to lift the lid!

inside roaster

checking on the fire through the peep hole

OK…had to look!  At about noon, we’re almost there!  And people were starting to arrive — following their noses to the roaster in back of the house — and bringing more yummy food for the feast!  Wow!   The spread was spreading!!

half baked pig

Looking good!

The Cooks declared the pig DONE around 1 o’clock — YAY! — and called on me to carve.  Like I knew anymore than they did about how to dismantle the pig. I thought The Cooks should do it but…

pig done

That's one good lookin' pig!

As it turned out, the meat just separated from the bones…perfectly done,  juicy and flavorful. YUM!!  Those who braved the cold and smoke got to preview the main event.  Notice everyone snacking around the roaster…

attentive dogs

The dogs got into position just in case!

With one side completely “carved” we were off to the house for feasting and merriment…

carving

half the pig ready to go

And a good time was had by all!! 

pig party goers

gathering in the kitchen for pulled pork and all sorts of other goodies

I promise… This is the end of “catching up.”  More current news coming soon.