in my kitchen, around the farm

ferments, pineapple weed ice cream, butchering beef, and head bunting babies

Saturday posts are usually reserved for paid members as a little ‘thank you’ from me to you. Sometimes, like today, I open them up to all subscribers. Enjoy!

Well, the weeding is all caught up, that’s something. And with that comes the impending planting of fall harvest vegetables. There will be turnips and rutabagas and fall carrots. Our main carbohydrate source in winter is winter squash. I have no issues eating any of the varieties, no inflammation or other problems like I do when eating nightshades, and I find it’s one of the most diverse, both taste-wise and texturally, ingredients in the kitchen. So, we grow a lot of winter squash. For the last couple of years, while I was doing a strictly animal foods protocol, we grew less winter squash, but we’re back at it. Who knows how much winter squash we’ll be eating. Maybe I grew too much. Maybe, with the way things are looking, I will be sharing it with some hungry folks.

Where we hang out and read in the evenings. Our little screened in porch is one of our favourite places. There’s a massive, ancient apple tree in the front and trees all around. The birds sing and we chill. One of the best parts of summer.

As I start making my way down into the last bits of my freezers, I’ve found some treasures I’ve now been processing. I had a few bags of various organ meats including brain, kidneys of goats and rabbits, a beef spleen, and a bunch of rabbit livers. I sliced everything up and dried it on our solar dehydrator. I can’t tell you how much I love our little dilapidated solar dehydrator. We used some sort of free plan for it that we got off the internet and it didn’t work at all. So, Troy started jimmying and jamming as one does when something doesn’t work, and somehow rigged me up this awesome little dehydrator that I use all summer long. He said he was going to build me another one, but I won’t get rid of this one, I will just use two! I used to use a “food safe” screen that we built to put the food on, but I switched to a swath of linen material a few years ago and love it. It gets quite hot in there so there’s no need for me to wash the linen, the sun bleaches and sanitizes it all on its own

Organs in the sun (garlic scapes drying, too).
A couple days and all is dry. I pulverize these and add them to seasonings and meals.

After some back and forth discussions with my cattleman friend extraordinaire, I’ve made the decision not to use Peter as a bull. He looks great, has great conformation and I’m sure would make a fine bull for anyone that wanted to introduce Limousine genetics into their herd. I do not want to introduce Limousine genetics into my herd. Peter’s mom was held at a friend’s farm last year and bred by their bull (hence the Limousine). We work hard to finish our cattle solely on grass AND have still have a good finish on them. “Finish” is in reference to the animal’s fat cover. It is truly an art to learn how to judge the finish on cattle. It used to be how things were done, often still is, but commonly, people just butcher their animals by age now. That’s unfortunate. The deep flavouring and fat cover on a properly finished beef animal determines the enjoyment, and nutrition, of the beef. So, it’s just not in our best interest to introduce a breed like a "Limo” into our herd. They are best suited for grain feeding operations. They grow big and lean fast, that’s what they’re designed to do. Luckily, another farmer pal has a young Devon he’s willing to loan us. He should be arriving sometime this week.

Buttermilk and kefir culturing with some raw milk clabbering. Milk that has the cream removed for butter making gets clabbered and frozen for the bird’s winter feed.

Speaking of beef, we’ll be harvesting our first one of the year sometime in the next two weeks. For each beef we harvest, we have to factor in three weeks of hanging time and then two days for butchering. Our walk-in cooler only fits one beef animal at a time. We could put in a sheep or pig at the same time, but definitely not two beef which is by design. We could butcher the meat like fiends, but it’s a lot of time and effort and we’ve found we enjoy things a lot more when we pace ourselves. So, we would rather butcher for most of a day, wrap it and then have a nice meal and evening to ourselves before tackling the next bit the next day. All in all we give ourselves two days to butcher one beef.

My favourite ferment of the week - tiger lily buds. I have a few more of these bubbling away. They’re crunchy and have a nice little kick of spice. Water brine with some fresh herbs and a grapevine leaf to maintain crunch.
I ferment carrots in slices to put on things, but I like sticks for grabbing and munching on, too. Just a brine ferment with some fresh dill, garlic, and some summer savoury.
Thought I would show you the incredible fermentation crock I put the carrots in. Admittedly I have a thing for fermentation crocks. This one is such a beauty and came to me from a talented potter, David Kaufmann, in Alaska.
The colour of these French Breakfast radishes is so gorgeous I want to just leave them on my counter like a centrepiece.

Our rhythm when butchering meat is that Troy does the big cuts and operates the meat saw and I do the steaks and roast shaping. We grind the beef together, reserving some of the organ to make into an organ grind. We prefer a fattier, coarse grind. Mushy ground beef makes me gag, ours always has texture. We also add about 25-30% fat to our mix, often using the suet which we also like. So that’s fattier than normal, but that’s how we like it. I’m the wrapper and quality control and Troy is the bone cutter and dream maker. Hey, how did that get in there? Sorry, out of my control, these things just come through my heart and out my fingertips.

So, butchering is always a sombre and big job, especially with cattle, but it’s also celebratory and an incredible honour for us. It’s also very rewarding to see the literal fruits of our labour and to know we couldn’t buy what we’re doing even if we wanted to.

Paco with the cutest dirty feet in all the land.

In the meantime, it’s been ice cream making bonanza here as I continue to fill the freezer. My latest ice cream was pineapple weed and we really liked it. It’s a softer, subtle flavour and I had to use a lot, but it’s really tasty. It’s simply just infusing the pineapple weed into the custard base overnight.

I listened to a couple of podcasts this week. They were both absolutely phenomenal in different ways, and both from Bari Weiss’ podcast, “Honestly”. We listened to this one twice. This one is a call to a radical little thing called, “Fun” - brilliantly done. I wish I could make every human sit down and listen, too.

Sigh… Dreamy McDreamboat with a fine cow in the morning sun.

I’m going to do a Q&A next Saturday for paid members. If you have a question, just one question per person please, drop it in the comments section here. I’m going to keep this Q&A to 45 minutes so if I get too many questions, I may just pick what fits and hope you’ll resubmit again next go around.

Enjoy your weekend everyone. We’re getting the first delivery of our winter hay this weekend. Hooray! Hooray! Always a nail biter with hay!

Slowdown Farmstead is a reader-supported publication. To receive new posts and support my work, consider becoming a free or paid subscriber.