I got a call this morning. I don't do the phone much. Give me e-mail. Give me blogs. Give me facebook. Nice lady. She and her family are getting into homesteading. Lots to her story (as there is for all of us, and I do love people's stories). She was asking a lot of homesteading questions and, you know, I'm no expert -- we've just done it for years. It is a YMMV thing. What we've done works for us, and yet we are always changing it.
Anyway I am not on the phone going to try to answer the question, "How do you slaughter a chicken." Actually the question was more on the lines of, "How do you eat a goat." I don't actually think I've handled that particular one on this blog although we've done it, many times. Goats, even females, even slaughtered right, even aged right, can taste a bit "strong", can be a bit stinky. Then you cook by boiling adding vinegar every so often and letting that smell vaporize, mostly. And maybe add barbeque sauce. People are accustomed to bland. Food from your homestead isn't bland.
Anyway, she had questions so I said, "Hey, I kept a blog for years. Why don't you go there and see what you can find? I don't write much over there anymore but I did for years." So this post is to say, "HI KIM!"
And this post is to say, does anybody besides me still make the no knead bread that was so popular some years ago? Here's the link to my version back then. My version today looked like this:
Yes, they are that big. I used 10 cups of flour in each loaf. Just look at that crust curl on that front one! Woohooo! I'm thinking it was 5 cups of water, five tsp. of salt of course, a bit of yeast, and actually, a bit of whey off of yogurt to give the bacteria a good start. That is probably supposed to kill you or something when you are leaving the stuff sitting out for a whole 24 hours or more. But it is what I did.
This is how I cooked it:
Our outdoor caldron with a lipped lid is BIG, thus the big loaves. Before I did 8 cups in it -- 10 is better, fits better. It is a trick to cook like that because it is pretty much by instinct. You have no real idea how hot the thing is. I added coals, I guessed, I measured both loaves at about 40 minutes and neither was done in that time. I think they both took more than an hour, and lots of added coals. If I'd had a better bed of them to start with maybe. The second fire is to keep coals coming because I cooked not only both loaves of bread but also am even as I write this roasting some chicken and carrots with cinnamon. We'll see how that comes out. I just try to see how much I can cook in there at a time once I get it going. Today was about the limit as I'm tired of fire tending and cooking.
I was thinking as I was fire tending, though, how I used to think a lot about peak oil and how cooking like we do is so independent energy wise. It is scrap wood, all around us. Even burning it ads nothing to any environmental impact as it was going to rot anyway and that is just rapid oxidation vs. slow oxidation. I don't think much about it anymore probably because we are so used to living it.
And in thinking of that first paragraph up there, how we are always changing what we do and yet mostly doing the same things -- you know I have this thing that people don't change, not really. Not that it is impossible but it is rare. There was this liar in our lives once a long time ago and she said, I won't lie any more, and we said, if you haven't lied to us in the next three years, then we'll believe you. I think that stability allows for real change which is transformative. Changing all the time, flitting this way and that, hither and yon, that's only surface change, not substantive. And not getting anywhere. Not that I want to get anywhere, but there are places I don't want to be so perhaps what I am doing is moving away from those.
And I was thinking about conformity and how I just can't do it. And how the people I truly appreciate have never been able to pull it off either. Neither to the mainstream nor to the counter-stream as it were.
This was my favorite photograph --
well darn, can't get it to load it right now but it is the deaf cat, supervising, from the tree that fell down just a few days ago, with the caldron and the fire in the background.