Since buying a shotgun I've started reading a couple of hunting blogs. NorCal Cazadora is good, as is A Mindful Carnivore. No doubt there are others as well. I'm so new to hunting and guns that I don't even know enough to ask the stupid questions. So it's nice to have access to the worlds of thoughtful and experienced hunters.
This coming weekend I'm hosting a cookie baking party. It's a more social version of the holiday cookie exchange. Instead of just passing out plates with cookies to friends, I bring the friends and their doughs together for the baking. Then we divvy up the cookies at the end. It's always fun to see what kinds of cookies people bring. I used to ask folks to bring copies of their recipe too. But now that everyone has email, it's trivially easy for those as want the recipes to get them. I host get-togethers so rarely these days. I'd like to do it more often, but it seems I only find the time for such things when the garden is not in full swing.
I made my first ever batch of duck confit, with duck raised on grass locally. I'm not sure if the birds were in rigor mortis, or if duck is just a lot more tightly put together than chicken. The ducks were slaughtered the day before I brought them home and cut them up. It took quite some doing; almost an hour to break down two birds. I know my butchery skills are rusty, but it doesn't take me that long with two chickens. Anyway, the legs were cured for two days, then poached in duck fat, and stored in a wide-mouth quart canning jar covered completely by their own fat. The confit is supposed to sit for two weeks before sampling. I'm hoping I can wait that long. What I really want now is a baguette worthy of the name to smear the confit over, to see if I can reproduce a simple, unctuous, perfect appetizer I once enjoyed in Europe. I made just a modest quart of stock from the roasted carcasses, and put the breasts into the freezer. At some point we'll have a feast of duck breast.
As of the end of November we've exceeded our harvest tally from last year by about 145 pounds. And there are still hardy leeks and a few cabbages out there to harvest, plus a trickle of lettuce and spinach coming from the cold frame. I'm curious too about the gobo still in the ground. I wonder how it behaves over the winter. Does it become sweeter, as many other roots do? Will it hold until spring?
I'm planning to experiment with repurposing an old wool sweater into felted mittens. We have a few old sweaters with holes in them, and I'm hoping to get at least a couple pairs out of the first sweater I felt. This video shows how to do it, and makes it look pretty easy. I'm no great shakes at all as a seamstress, but that project looks manageable. It would be nice to revive the old skill of making something so useful from worn out sweaters. I'll skip the decorative buttons though.
Two and a half weeks to go, at most, for the turkey. We plan to have her for New Year's Eve dinner, unless we can't get a grass-fed prime rib for Christmas. I feel very lucky to know of three local-ish farms that raise beef entirely on grass. None of them are in my county, but there's one each in two adjacent counties, and another at the near end of Lancaster County. Our chances of obtaining the cut we want from one of them are good. Prime rib is such a luxurious thing. Most of the meat we buy all the rest of the year is either whole birds or ground meat - essentially the cheapest kinds of meat, albeit from local grass-based farmers. So, we content ourselves with the cheapest (not cheap) of the best kind of meat all year, except for this one winter feast. Feast days are very important to me. I love the traditional dishes that make up our very different Thanksgiving and Christmas meals. Though I deeply enjoy prime rib and Yorkshire pudding, I wouldn't want to rob this singular day of its significance by indulging in them at other times of year, even if we could afford to do so. The rarity is what makes me appreciate them, treasure them, and celebrate them. I'm really looking forward to it!