Wednesday, August 21, 2013

When the Cows Come Home

Which is about when both my readers thought I'd make another post. I will make no promises here - just consider this a random, semi-annual post. If more follow, then you and I will both be surprised.
The cows did come home. Several times. One of the last times was after a two day absence in which we recieved several reports of sightings and shenanigans. There were the neighbors we know who knocked on the door to say, "I think I just saw your cows all the way down by the next road." The neighbors we'd never met who knocked on the door to say, "Do you have two big black cows?! They are in our garden. Eating." I felt so bad. After reassuring her that they weren't dangerous and would flee if she approached them, I went and hung my head in shame. Eventually, after a multi-hour attempt at roping and leading them home failed, another neighbor saw them in the field next to our property and offered to help chase them back into their own pasture. Bless you JB. So the cows came home. I baked fresh blueberry muffins for both the neighbor with the egarden damage and JB. I wrote a note of thanks and one of apology. I offered to make it up to them... somehow.
And then I called my husband (who was at work during the cows return) and said, "Stop on your way home and buy these pastured bovines some cow crack! I want them to be dependent upon you as their drug dealer until the butcher can fit them in his schedule. There will be no more wayward steers!" He, much relieved to hear that they were, indeed, confined to their own pasture once again, stopped and bought them some corn. It didn't take much to get them hooked and they would stand at the fence all day looking for someone to bring them a scoop. (Insert sigh of relief.)
I called the processor and made an appointment. I called family and let them know, "Your beef will be on it's way soon - make room in your freezers."  And then I took my own advice.
I know my husband's penchant for cranberries with his turkey. You know, that pasture-raised turkey we put in our freezer and can? And he won't eat that jellied storebought stuff. No way. Turned out I had a lot of cranberries stashed in the freezer. Since you can't buy them year-round, in season I'm always snagging them when I see good berries for a good price. There must have been a lot of good prices. I believe I uncovered (between two large chest freezers) about 20 bags. Including a couple of monster-sized Costco bags.

I got inspired and decided to make up the cranberry conserve he liked and can it. Ready-to-eat. After studying the recipe I found it to be even more acidic than the recipe for basic cranberry relish in the Ball canning book so I didn't make any changes. Lots of fresh lemons, fresh oranges, fresh Granny Smiths and frozen cranberries later, we had significantly more room in the freezer. And 50 pints of Cranberry Conserve in the pantry. I won't encourage anybody to can something that isn't an official canning recipe but it is a very tasty dish. I will encourage you to try it with your next turkey. Or pork roast. Or roast chicken. Or come help us eat some. I left out the nuts from the recipe to add fresh and toasted on the day of use.

ANYWAY, I also canned frozen peach filling. Talk about making work for yourself. Freeze it and then can it. I was desperate for space. And I dehydrated frozen peas. And canned a couple of frozen turkeys.

The day came When the Cows Came Home. I had to laugh when my husband noted that he wouldn't have thought we could fit a steer in the Subaru. But we did and we hurried home to tuck all that frozen, vacuum-sealed, pasture-raised deliciousness in the freezer. We had managed to free up almost one entire chest freezer for this purpose. We organized, we applied our best Tetris skills, we used up every square inch we could. And it all fit!!

All except 63 pounds of ground meat. So I started canning. Are you starting to see what it is I do when food storage is in doubt? I can. I can all I can.

You can brown 10-12 pounds at a go when you use a roaster over two burners. Win!

And we chopped veggies, we browned meat, we formed meatballs, we cheated and used store-bought red sauce because, frankly, the kitchen was already a disaster site with the beef preservation. And we chipped away at 63 pounds of beef slowly defrosting in a large chest cooler in the dining room. If that isn't motivation to keep working, I don't know what is.

And when the dust settled, we had beef vegetable soup, meatballs in sauce, and ground beef for super-speedy dinners! Here are some of the jars of wonderfulness waiting to cool and head to the pantry.

I'm especially excited because for me, each of these jars represents a day with extra sewing time this late fall-winter-early spring. Yay! Dinners nearly done before I even get started. I see me finishing a quilt!

No promises but I think I may have another post or two in me at the moment...


Rae said...

You are amazing!!!

Natalie said...

Please, oh please, can you share your source for canning these...the soups, the meat, the meatballs in sauce? I have yet to try canning anything with meat in it because the recipes are hard to find, but I have bought a (still unused) pressure canner so I'm ready to go at it.

Thanks...and I have added you to my "blogs I read" sidebar. I found your blog from a comment you left me on mine, and I love it.

Kristine said...

Natalie, I'm sorry I didn't see your comment until just this morning. Let me give you a link and a recommendation for canning recipe that include meat. My go-to for canning, especially if it's something besides jams and jellies, is Jackie Clay-Atkinson of Backwoods Home Magazine. She's my homesteading hero. Here's a link to her blog associated with BH: Here's a link to her articles: And finally, she has a cookbook which contains the recipes I used (which you may also find by combing the links I gave you), it's called Recession Proof Your Pantry. She tackles lots of canning that the Ball Blue Book doesn't cover. Probably because most mainstream canning info is trying to cover something else in this overly-litigious society. Jackie is not afraid to give you the info you need to tackle lots of canning projects.

Natalie said...

Thank you so much. I will look her up for sure!