I’ve been studying astrology. I began with tropical but shifted into sidereal placements and study of the 27 nakshatras (indian jyotish astrology) after comparing both my own charts and those of people I know . . . have found sidereal offers a closer picture and a deeper story, sort of zoomed in. It positions information against constellations where they are above rather than against signs, named after constellations when once upon a time there was an overlay, but over time have shifted about 25 degrees due to the way the Earth moves with a wobble, so they’re no longer representing ‘star’ stories but have evolved into having their own story, sign stories. The two systems result in two zodiacs with degrees of difference; as they are tools, depending on the interpretation, both systems can be simultaneously valid . . . Continue reading
Making Head Cheese:
We, me and mom, started out when a friend of ours had a pig head for sale. We bought it because ever since I had told mom about headcheese, I had wanted to make it and mom had heard that it was good. And so dad picked up Henry, the pig head, and brought him home where he stayed over night in a cooler with ice.
I took it upon myself to do all the gland removal and butchering process, I like doing that kind of stuff for some reason!
The next morning, we brought Henry up stairs and put him in the sink. He had the brains, glands, eyes, ears, and snout . . . . . . . everything.
I washed him off while mom watched and gave me instructions. Then I cut off his ears and snout with the kitchen shears. Apparently you can fry and eat them!
Then I turned Henry over and started to cut off all the glands that look like bubble wrap or something similar with a sharp knife combined with the kitchen shears. I took out all the glands from the inside of the cheeks so that the inside was completely hollow. I had a big pile of strips of glands next to me when I was done. I gave them to our dog. The funny thing was she did not eat them at first. She sniffed them and then waited for a bit to see what the stuff in her bowl would do. She ate it in the end though. Then I came back to the sink and washed Henry off.
I turned Henry over and started to cut out his tongue. It would not come out the mouth because his jaw was locked in place. So instead I cut it out from behind, on the severed part of the head. I had to dig the knife deep into his throat and pull and pull to get the tongue out. But it came out and I put it with the ears and snout. Then I washed Henry off again so that he would be clean when we put him in the pot. Mom stood and watched most of the time.
Then I tried to take off his hair with a razor blade. It refused to come off so I used the scissors and knife to scrape and cut it off from around his jaw and bone of a snout and from around his eyes and his floppy, fat cheeksjowls.
When I was done with that, I cut out his ear bones. Then I washed him off again. Then I tried to get to his brains but I could not get through his skull. So we decided that it would be okay to roast him with his brains and eyeballs in since they were encased in skull 🙂 I put him in a roasting pan with seasonings [carrots, onions, celery, garlic and spices] mom had prepared. Then Henry went into the oven for just about an hour.
Mom took him out and we tried to put Henry into the pot so we could simmer him. He was to fatty to go in so mom cut off some of his fat and then I popped him in. He fit nicely.
We filled the pot with the pan juices and all of the vegetables and spices and 3 gallons of water. I moved the pot to the stove and we cooked him on high until the water boiled. Then we reduced it to a simmer and let him cook for 3-4 hours. When he is done, the meat should peel away from the bone.
We took Henry from the pot 4 hours later. During the time he was cooking, I baked cookies.
The meat came right off the bone. Mom cut off most of it. I finished the rest of it. Then I separated the fat from the meat. Henry had more fat on him then meat! That really surprised me! I shredded the meat into tiny, tiny pieces and put it in a mixing bowl and mom added salt, cinnamon, fennel, chili flakes and pepper. I mixed it up.
Mom cooked the fat in a pot on the stove to make it into lard. She put the skeleton into a pot with vegetables and water to make it into stock. The gelatin is in the stock. When it cooled after it was strained, the lard floated to the top, the soup underneath it. The gelatin is in the top layer of the soup part.
Then mom assembled it. She made sure the gelatin set properly by putting some in a bowl in the fridge. When she was satisfied, she put Glad wrap in the bottom of two loaf pans and put the head meat mixture on the bottom. Then she poured the gelatin/stock over it. Then meat mixture, then a layer of gelatin again. She did the same with both loaf pans and then she put the loaf pans in the fridge.
All that remained of Henry was a skeleton of the head in two sections: The lower jaw and the top part.
The brains had cooked into the meat but that is all right: They are completely edible and not in the least bit harmless unless you are allergic 🙂
And that is the story of the first making of headcheese by our family from my view.
If you are wondering who wrote this . . . . . . . . . .
Written and edited by;
We have an acquaintance who has a small farm. He has snowy white geese with bright orange beaks, brown-black huge nosed guinea hogs that eat all their kitchen scraps and scrub and whatever they can dig into (they’ve cleared the garden space where the potatoes grow and all the underbrush just from rooting around, it’s quite a sight . . . . beats tilling and hand digging if you have a small farm, as opposed to a big garden *wink*, and if you’re into turning over/disturbing the soil in the first place) and really good potatoes that we dug up last fall. We got a bone in ham from him that I thought I’d like to cook on the grill. So I did. Like this:
I rubbed a mix of 1 tbsp. cinnamon, 1 tbsp. thyme, 1 tsp. salt, 1 tsp. black pepper, and 1 tbsp. turbinado sugar into an uncooked 6 lb. bone in ham
Heated up the gas grill on medium-low (between 250- 300 degrees).
Placed the ham fat side down on the grill for about 5 minutes till it was smoking and sizzling!
Moved it to foil with tongs and wrapped it.
Left it on the grill cooking while dead applewood chips were prepped, added to grill in foil, and burnt.
Added green applewood shavings to the coals in the dead applewood foil packet, got smokey!
Opened the ham foil a bit, added a cup of water half way through.
Kept cooking and adding green applewood to the coals.
The ham was done in about 3 1/2 to 4 hours. The temperature inside the ham was about 145 – 150, lower by the bone (saved that for split pea soup in the fall or winter).
The lid was closed unless I was adding wood/checking on the ham.
It was THE BEST ham ever and would’ve been just as good with hickory chips or some other chips or even none at all, maybe with a whole peach tucked into the foil instead 🙂
Maybe I’ll try it on a live fire or in a pit next time . . .
24 days ago we set up a broody box outside the coop in the run. It’s a black rubber tub that we filled with straw and covered with some plywood boards. Into this we put a waterer, a tray of corn, and our Mama Hen: a beautiful, buff rock henny who was picked because she would sit and sit and sit in the nesting box after laying, which seemed to indicate she wants to brood. Over 4 days she made herself a nest space in the tub, and we gathered eggs from the hens: Silver Hamburgs, Auracanas, Speckled Sussexes, and a Barred Rock. We collected them in a basket that was left at room temperature until the 4th night, when we slipped 18 eggs under Mama Hen in her tub-nest. Every day Layla took her out of the box, once, so she could attend to her bowels outside the box, and we kept her food and water filled. Over the course of sitting on her eggs, Mama Hen would get off and turn them over with her beak . . . . so they warmed evenly we are guessing.
Yesterday Layla came in, her eyes shining and filled with excitement as she exclaimed, “there’s chicks in the box!!” So we all went out and looked, and lo and behold! There were three little chicks peeking out from under the sides of her wings! They’re hatching, eggs are stretching and shells cracking, and Mama Hen is fluffed out with her feathers all ruffled up about her :0) Today we’re up to seven. Seems like they hatch behind her, and then she lets them get toward her front and under her wings. Can’t wait to see how many hatch in all and what they look like . . . . they’re really little and fuzzy and sweet. There are two eggs toward the outside of the clutch, in which the chicks look like they grew on one side and the other remained stuck to the egg, so they didn’t survive the hatching . . . . looks like part of the egg didn’t turn or develop as it needs to. The roosters we have are Copper Maran, Black Java, and Delaware, so the mix will be pretty interesting and so will watching the little chicks grow around Mama Hen!
We picked April to start this experiment since it’s warm enough for the Mama to be out of the coop and in the tub at nights. We knew the chicks would hatch in May, when it’s also warm enough that they can grow under and around Mama without needing lights or other warming devices. We’ve boarded up the entrance between coop and run to keep the other chickens from coming and going. The chicks and Mama have been moved to a straw filled kennel in the run, and Mama Hen can come and go with her babies, showing them the way. The run is walled with eleven gauge welded wire and chicken wired around the bottom, to keep the small chicks from escaping. Sometime in the summer they’ll be big enough to go outside the run and come and go freely, without being in danger of death should Clover, our dog, chase them . . . . she’s a half great pyrenees, half boxer, and takes her job of herding the chickens very seriously, sometimes to their discomfort! She has certain areas she thinks they shouldn’t go, mostly out in the open spaces where hawks can see them easily, and keeps them in the woods and around the coop where they have cover if they need it. The only exception is after or during a rain, then she’s okay with them going anywhere they please. Since she’s joined our family they’ve not provided food for the hawks, raccoons, and foxes like they used to and the woods are thick with wormy hummus for them to peck, so we let Clover chase them . . . . seems like whatever she’s doing keeps them alive, and that works for us all :0)