"Once again, my life has been saved...

By the miracle of lasgana!" - Garfield (or possibly Jim Davis..)

 

Uh. 

 

So you didn't think that I managed to set up my curing chamber that quickly, did you????

 

Check out the sites I linked to last week, and you'll see, it takes a good deal of energy and time to set one of those up. And mine isn't ready yet. 

 

But I had to do something with all that shoulder meat, didn't I?!

(Take a peek over my shoulder and you'll see my new Kitchenaid, who, *coughs, was not entirely a waste of space in this endeavour!)

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The Hearty Partner Digs In...

NUM!


"I hate to hear you talk about all women as if they were fine ladies...

...instead of ratonal creatures. None of us wants to be in calm waters all our lives" - Jane Austin

Continuing on with the audible references - take a look at this story that NPR did a few weeks ago on ladies with cleavers. 

While I do agree that there is an laudable trend towards women picking up knives - is it just me, or does this particular story have the ring of Rosie the Riveter? In other words, I can't quite say where, but I occasionally here a slight twang of "Ain't they cute? Looking at them picking up the slack!"

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The section where Kari Underly explains that the meat industry is changing in a way that allows for more women? She didn't mean that attitudes towards traditional gender roles are changing, or the we have been correcting the inaccurate expectations of how much weight a woman can carry (by the by, if you're curious, I can handle a whole pig over one shoulder)... She only meant that there is more demand than the industry - i.e. the MEN - can keep up with.  Sigh. If you ask me, the salient point to be made here is that women are feeling more comfortable expressing an interest in these types of things. SO: Where are the numbers on the attendance at her Grrl's Meat Camps?! Where are stats on women in training or teaching these knife skills? Amirite? Sure, I'm glad to know that there are more ranchers in North Carolina than there were in the 2000s... but if it is 'unclear how many are women'... how exactly does that fact fit into this narrative? Ack! Summon a better editor! Stat!

Frankly, I think the real story here is that we have a new generation of people interested in classic trades - that there is a resurgence of interest in knowing how, why, and what people are eating. Did you catch that? PEOPLE  are eating. Not just men and not just women. Why does it always have to be about gender anyway?!

If you're interested, here, in my opinion, is a much better look at a woman in the meat industry: Melissa Cortina. Even Rosie approves of this one!

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"Open Your Refrigerator Door...

And you summon forth more light than the total amount enjoyed by most households in the 18th century." - Bill Bryson

Back! Back from a visit to ye ol' piggy farmer with a purse full of shoulder meat. Thankfully, there aren't any borders between Colchester and London. I don't want to think about the lies I'd have to tell to sneak a load like this one if I were heading back to Canada!

I have to admit, I was perhaps a little too excited at the scene set before me at the farm - and I let it get the better of me in their farmshop... 

The Butcher ShopIMG_3936

Especially... ESPECIALLY, because I haven't any real capacity to turn meat into sausage at the moment! You mightn't be surprised to learn that meat doesn't become shelf-stable, fermented or cured on its own. But it takes more than just the run-of-the-mill ingredients that you keep in your kitchen. Or even the ones in my kitchen. (Yup. I'm implying that I stock better sh*t in my kitchen than you do. So what? I totally do. But I don't stock fermentation chambers, as a general rule...)

If this whole adventure has taught me anything though - it is that I have a grand capacity to push my dreams/schemes into reality. So I simply sat about dreaming/scheming on how to get what I needed to turn this glorious hunk o' shoulder into sausage (that one, yeah, the one right behind the leg!) before I had any premises set up. 

Then, lo and behold, what should I find on a quiet walk through my neighborhood?!

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No... it didn't come in the trolley - That was another serendipitous find. Seriously! I found the trolley first, and was wheeling it back to Tescos when I found the fridge on another side street. 

Trolley
See! Proof.

You may not know, unless you follow sites like Ben Starr's, or The Sausagemaker's, that small refrigerators like these make just about the most perfect home-curing chambers you can get. A little elbow grease and some retro-fitted controllers and you're good to go. 

And, as street-finds go, I didn't really hit any snags at all when it came to claiming this refrigerating beauty... unless you count what it feels like to walk through a crowded suburb wheeling a mini fridge on a shopping cart. Yeah. Basically, I think it was more alarming to people that I was walking calmly, and not talking to myself or throwing cats. 

I'm nothing if not resilient under trying circumstances - so a little whistling, a confident cheerful demeanor, and an elevator large enough to fit my entire shopping cart were all I really needed to see this particular scheme to its logical conclusion.

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As regards the next step, I'll spare you the gory details, but picture a lot of soap. 

 And then, finally, just a matter of hooking up these babies

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and Treeby Humidor 2.0 will be ready to go!

Saaaaaahhhweet. (If I do say so myself).  Next up! Logos, Leases, and Lasgana, oh my!

 


"I am Fond of Pigs...

Dogs look up to us. Cats look down on us. Pigs treat us as equals." - Winston S. Churchill

In early November I set out, as promised, to visit several of my proposed pig purveyors (try saying that ten times fast!)

So, one morning, absurdly early, I headed to the train station:

Liverpool Station

where I hopped on a train to visit an Essex-based Gloucester Old Spot and Sandy Black farmer...

 

 Along with about 15 other Restauranteurs and Butchers as it turned out!

Meta.

How many cooks does it take to watch one man butcher a goose?! Amirite?

Apparently, every year, this particular farmer invites all of his customers (or in my case, potential customers) up to visit, in order to see first hand how fabulous a life his animals enjoy before the inevitable. Or perhaps it was to see what a fabulous life he enjoyed, as besides visiting with his free-range geese, turkeys and piggies, 

With an oink, oink here...

we also drank beer, 

Drinking Beer

hung out in his deer 'hide'*

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and munched on sausage roll!

Num.
Hey... Didn't I just meet your cousin in the forest? 

All in all, it was pretty exhilerating. Not just the activities, mind you... But frankly, the difference beteween dreaming of a farmer who shared your ethics and actually getting to confirm first hand that they exist is pretty wide. The difference between a kettle of fish and hmm... a kettle of pigs?  

Soooeeeeee!
Can't wait to see you at my arch! 

On to the next adventure! Where our heroine rescues an orphaned cure-box and designs a logo... 

 

*Also called a "Blind" where I hail from. Essentially, where you hang about trying to aim at wild deer. 


"It is a Good Rule in Life Never to Apologize...

... The right sort of people do not want apologies, and the wrong sort take a mean advantage of them." - P.G. Wodehouse

Without question, this post deserves to be headed by an apology...

Two months is a long time to drop off! On the other hand, I've filled that time with extraordinarily exciting activities. All of which have been documented extensively - but simply... not shared... *laughs. Hardly makes you feel better does it?!

Christmas Blogging
Computer and Smorgasbord

At any rate - I am carefully putting together all of these missed posts - so you should be able to expect some regular updates most, if not every day for the next few as I try to catch you up to where we are at this moment... Hovering on the edge of 2015, and FAR, FAR, FAR from where we started! 

So get your good reading glasses, blankie and mug of preferred-steaming-beverage ready!

xx


Reading & Eating; This Week in Pictures

"A writing cook and a cooking writer must be bold at the desk as well as at the stove" - M.F.K. Fisher

--------------------------

Madly dashing around town this week trying to accomplish multiple, contradictory agenda items. Nail down a contractor, assign the placement of drains for the new arch (within a pretty intense time crunch - why I couldn't have had the drawings weeks ago is still slightly beyond me), get a proper business bank account, change my surname over to my shiny new married name, meet with a few designers, confirm parttime work while this little baby is working out its growing pains and attend a Level 3 Health and Safety course. Most items on the checklist are ticked, so... uh... huzzah! Sleep was on my list, as was cleaning my house and trying to pack for the grand move tomorrow, but whatever. Sleep and Pack when you're dead. Or something like that. Here's the week in pictures. X

 

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Why Do We Love Meat? It's in Our Genes...

Read this great article from the Wall Street Journal about why we all so meaterific. 

"Kangaroo ham. Rhino pie. Trunk of elephant. Horse's tongue. Domestic life was a trifle off at William Buckland's home. Some visitors to his Oxford, England, house in the early 1800s best remembered his front hallway, lined with the grinning skulls of fossilized monsters. Others recalled the live monkeys swinging around. But no one could forget Buckland's diet. A deeply religious geologist, he held the story of Noah dear, and he ate his way through most of Noah's ark. There were only a few animals he couldn't stomach: "The taste of mole was the most repulsive I knew," Buckland once mused, "until I tasted a bluebottle [fly].""

via online.wsj.com


Steps to Opening a UK Food Business - Part 2

"I don't know where I'm going, but I'm on my way" - Carl Sandburg

Picking out a premise!

Here's my baby-in-progress.  

Adding in drains, finishing the floors, more cladding on the walls, fixing the small matter of the 'no front wall' (not pictured), and then its on to the CURING ROOMS!

Artist Rendering

 

 

Whimsical Alcoves
Whimsical Alcoves!

 

 

Arch #8
The Whole Shebang!

 

 

WISH ME LUCK!

 


"Avoiding danger is no safer in the long run...

...than outright exposure. The fearful are caught as often as the bold." - Helen Keller

Have a gander at this article about nitrates and nitrites. And remember while reading it that 'how I was going to deal with these dangerous additives' was the first question I ever received about this project... long before, 'how ya gonna pay for it' and 'what about E coli 0157'. Hmmm. 

 

Article on Nitrites
I hope people feel about Jane, they way they do about Simon!