Grilled Ham!

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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 . . .


Pickled turnips

We like turnips in apple soup. We like them mashed with carrots. Also steamed, then sautéed in butter with garlic and honey, kind of caramelized. Having partaken of turnips in these ways and still there’s turnips left, the last ones pulled actually; I thought I’d pickle them for later. Here’s what I did:

Peeled and quartered approximately 2 dozen turnips
Peeled and quartered 6 beets, they were small to medium sized
Peeled 8 garlic cloves
Chopped a handful of celery leaves
Boiled 2 cups water with 2 cups apple cider vinegar plus 1 tbsp. sea salt and ½ cup honey
Washed 2 quart jars

I layered the jars with beets, turnips, garlic, and the celery leaves, repeating till each jar was full. Then I poured the hot vinegar/water mixture over top, right till the rims and capped the jars. Now they’re sitting in the basement, waiting at least 3 weeks before we open them up. We’ll probably wait till winter to do so.  Once they’re opened, they’ll go in the fridge until finished.


Peaches and Bear

Peaches and bear have what in common exactly?  Well, they both grow real fine in these mountains that we live in, bears like peaches, and the children are like bears in a blueberry patch around canned peaches, that’s all.  Down the road from us is a peach orchard where we bought 3 bushels of peaches yesterday.  Two of those bushels are now 21 quarts of peach halves, 7 quarts of peach sauce (I use the skins for the sauce, then bake with it or pour it over pancakes, waffles, pound cake, etc.), and 2 gallons of sliced, frozen peaches for smoothies and pies.  Pretty good for two days of canning; here’s hoping they make it till winter before getting eaten all up!

Speaking of bear, one of our neighbour’s is a bear hunter.  He has a pack of hounds and a pack of friends with their own packs of various dogs, and together they all hunt bear, well the dogs hunt and the men shoot, or something like that.  We’ve had a couple of incidents with dogs chasing bear through our garden over the past two seasons, though the hunters are quick to oblige by gathering up their dogs at the sound of gunshots coming from our place . . .we’re learning mountain talk I guess, gunshots mean “Come git yer dawg ‘fore yer dawgs doggone” or they can mean “dinner time, come on home”, depending on the situation  🙂  Anyway, while chatting with the good man’s wife the other day, we got to talking about all the bear, bear skins, mounted bear heads, and eating bear.  Turns out (and she’s the first person to have said this to me)  bear meat is really delicious . . . .but only if cooked a particular way, which was passed on to her from an old mountain woman, and she passed on to me, and I to you, so:

First the bear meat has to be cooked in a pot of half water-half cider vinegar until the liquid is next to all gone.  Then this is repeated two more times, for a total of three times.  After this the meat can be cooked any way you please and it will be tasty and tender, without the fatty, heavy, greasy, and yes even disgusting taste that it apparently has otherwise.  Now to score some bear meat to try this out with!!  Maybe with peach cobbler on the side . . . .


The napa cabbages have grown jy-normous!  Harvested six and had no room for any of them in the fridge, so did what I usually do:  make kimchi with most of it, and keep a bags worth in the fridge for stir frying or soup.  It’s really easy to make and all that’s needed, aside from the napa cabbage, is garlic, ginger, onion, chilli flakes, salt, and fish sauce . . . . which I use according to how gingery or garlicky or spicy or fishy I want it.

First the cabbages have to be de-leafed and washed, leaf by leaf.  I stack them on the counter as I wash them.  Then they get shredded as best as possible with a knife, and put in a 5 gallon bucket.  Six napa cabbages will fill a 5 gallon bucket to the top.  As the bucket gets filled, salt gets sprinkled over top and mixed in.  Each cabbage takes 1/2 cup of salt, so use accordingly.  Once everything’s salted and done, the bucket gets filled with cold water and the cabbage sits for about 4 hours or longer; I left it out overnight.

Now we make a paste out of the garlic, ginger, onion, chilli flakes, and fish sauce.  The cabbage is drained and lightly rinsed.  It’ll be about 1/3 full in the 5 gallon bucket.  Always surprising to see how it shrinks!  The paste is rubbed all over the leaves, then I pack it into 1 gallon jars and put the jars in the basement for 2-10 days, or until I see little bubbles inside.  Then it goes into the fridge, where it stays until eaten up . . . .we all like it on it’s own but with brown rice it’s even yummier, especially with a bit of beef.  Sometimes I’ve added shredded carrots and apples and beets to the cabbages in the pasting stage, and the combination is really good, but when those aren’t on hand napa cabbage still makes good kimchi on her own :0)

Flower Essence (Bloodroot)

Bloodroot has been catching my eye this past week, quite persistently.  Little and low to the ground, there’s something very determined and cheerful about Bloodroot.  White petals and yolk yellow dotty middles, they open and close and open every day, the leaves curled up around the stems like a cape.

I thought I’d make a flower essence with a few of the flowers, so one morning, before the sun was hot and at its brightest, we all set out with a glass jar of spring water.  Bloodroot grows prolifically on a bank along the roadside and we picked seven flowers from where they grew in large numbers, being mindful not to let our shadows fall upon them.  We had poured a 1/4 cup of water from the jar into a shallow glass bowl, and we covered the water’s surface with the flowers.  These were brought home and put in a sunny spot for 5 hours, enough time for water and bloodroot to marry :0)

I picked out the petals and poured Bloodroot Mother Essence into a clean, used 1 oz. tincture bottle.  I then put 2 drops of this into another clean, used 1 oz. tincture bottle that was filled with brandy first.  Once capped, the bottle was shaken for a little bit.  This is the Stock Water.  I took 2 drops of this and put it in yet another clean, used 1 oz. tincture bottle, added 1 teaspoon of brandy, and then filled it with more spring water.  Capped, this too was shaken.  And this is Bloodroot Flower Essence that I partook of and will partake of until Bloodroot says , no more . . . . . this method can be used for making flower essences with different flowers.  I’m curious to see what calls to me this year and what they all have to say!

The Mother, Stock, and Flower Essences made this way keep for quite a long time, but it’s best to make a small amount at a time . . . .  I like this way as it means I’m using what I make and picking very little of what’s given.  Keep in mind that the 1/4 cup of water goes a long way at 2 drops at a time in making the final essence, I’ll probably start with 1/8 cup next time.  Also, always gather wildflowers from a spot that is ABUNDANT (as in at least 200 plants in an area, that way they have enough vitality to share a bit with you without endangering themselves) and pick flowers from more than one plant when possible.

Now, what flowers are calling you these days?  Even if you cannot make flower essence married with water and light, just meditating on or being in company with flowers provides an essential interlude to remember :0)

dandy lions and friends

ah dandelion.  sunshine flower, lion’s teeth.  how we’ve been enjoying you.  your green leaves chopped up in salads, with violets, cleavers, chickweed, bee balm, and chicory are tangy, and sauteed with garlic send a shiver deep down into the belly.  your flowers are steeping in oilve oil, to rub on aching muscles and hands after a good day of digging and planting the garden.  now you’re beginning to open up into seed sending globes, and we help you spread far and wide as we twirl and blow you hither and thither.  we thank you and your friends :0)  yummiest of all are your blossoms as a syrup.  the recipe:

2 quarts dandelion blossoms, 1 quart cold water,  1 quart sugar, 1 whole lemon sliced, 1 whole orange sliced

bring the blossoms and water to a boil, cover, turn off stove, and steep overnight.  strain, pour water over another quart blossoms, add a bit more water, boil.  turn off stove, cover, and steep till cool.  strain.  pour blossom water back into pot, add sugar and citrus slices, cook uncovered till thick like honey.  remove citrus and eat them up!  bottle syrup and enjoy on crepes, pancakes, or any number of other ways.  yummmmmeeee in the tummeee!

we’ve been busy with our green friends by the creek over the past two weeks.  we go to play by the waterfall on the driveway, basket in hand, and come back laden with nettles to cook and tincture, or horsetail to drink and tincture; never empty handed.  the bounty is full and tasty, leaving us satisfied and springy :0)  best of all: garlicky nettles and morels over crepes.  the lilacs are in bloom and so sweet smelling.  the butterflies cover the petals, along with bees, and we all gather under the bush to laze away in the shady fragrance.  we’re collecting petals every morning, to pack in a jar of vodka and see if we can capture the scent for later.  the liquid gets strained when the petals turn white, new petals are placed in the jar, and covered with the same liquid.  we’ll do this till the blossoms blow away and see what turns out :0)  ah it’s so dandy when our green friends are near at hand!