Urban Basics

Getting back to basics in an urban setting


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Learning to Render Lard

The pigs were delivered today in cute little white packages.
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The first pig dressed out at 133 pounds and the second was 137 lbs. They didn’t seem that big but I am happy with the amount of pork I now have in my fridge and freezer. I sold one pig to a friend and I have the other.
I have all the pig fat and have been reading up on how to render lard. SO today I started my first attempt ever at making lard. Two things I didn’t know that I do know now:
1. Its very easy to render lard but it is time consuming
2. It STINKS! My whole house now smells like hot pig fat.
I have company coming in the morning so Im cringing… can you imagine what my house is going to smell like to guests? ew..
I just finished my first quart of lard.unnamed (17)
I just hope the rest of it finishes before I fall asleep. I made the mistake of putting large pieces of fat in the crock pot so its taking a very long time to melt down. Once its melted down, I will use a piece of cheesecloth and spoon the hot lard into the mason jar through the cheesecloth to filter any pieces of meat or gristle.


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The pigs have left the building!

The two pigs have been loaded on the truck and carted off to the butcher today. I cant wait to get all that meat loaded into my freezer. This is the first set of large animals raised for meat on our little farm. I learned a lot and hope to raise more pigs in the future. Now… if I could just figure out how to feed them cheaper… FYI… pigs eat A LOT!!unnamed (6)


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Making Butter

I love making butter. Its so easy! I put some farm fresh milk (4%) cream in my kitchen aid mixer and started whipping the cream. Your cream will start forming peaks and will turn to whipped cream. Keep mixing. You are almost done at this point. When the whipped cream starts to break down.. it will look like a light yellow cottage cheese. Keep mixing until you see buttermilk separating from the solids.

 10303750_10204425078019881_4711093261572071787_nIt will look like this when you are done mixing.

10710633_10204425077859877_5287129099472746583_nUse cheesecloth draped over a clean bowl and pour the mixture into the cheesecloth. Lift up your cheesecloth and let the buttermilk drain into the clean bowl.

1653489_10204425077699873_1479863937026984873_nKeep the buttermilk to use in cooking. I love making buttermilk biscuits!

Next, remove your butter from the cheese cloth and place in new bowl. Run under very cold water to wash away any remaining buttermilk. You may need to rinse and drain the water 5 to 10 times before the water runs clear. Make sure you get as much buttermilk out of your butter as possible so that your butter keeps longer. At this point you can add salt if you like salted butter. Be sure to mix it well.

10354684_10204425077539869_4171336826259805787_nHere is a picture of my buttermilk and butter. I re-used the half gallon milk container for the buttermilk.

1654347_10204425086820101_3788680692774364675_nHere is my finished butter. I have not weighed in on my scale yet but It feels like almost 2 lbs of butter!


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Dry canning

I learned how to can dry goods in mason jars. I wish I had a Food Saver with the mason jar attachment… but I dont. So the way I make sure my jars get sealed is to use an oxygen absorber inside the jar. Today I canned a few packages of the 15 Bean soup you can buy in the dry beans section of the grocery store. Inside the package is 15 types of beans as well as a seasoning packet. I poured half the beans into my mason jar and then placed the seasoning packet down the middle and then covered it with the rest of the beans. I cut off the instructions for making the soup off the package and placed in the jar on top of the beans. I then added an oxygen absorber on top then screwed on the lid. After about 20 minutes the oxygen absorber has done its job and taken out all the oxygen inside the jar and sealed the lid down tight.

The food inside the jar will now last way longer then the expiration date on the package.

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Our new Horse, Dusty

There are currently 3 horses that call our homestead home. I board all three of them for their owners. I wanted to get a horse of our own so that my children could learn to ride. So, meet Dusty, the newest addition to our little farm. He is the calmest, most gentle horse and we really lucked out. He was a rescue horse and lived in pretty awful conditions. We love him already!10501876_10204408120035942_3935280261811735092_n 10653450_10204186865104707_5779195228581229281_n IMG_2721 IMG_2727 IMG_2755


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Learning to cook with dehydrated foods

I love the company Shelf Reliance (Thrive). They sell freeze dried and dehydrated foods in a variety of sizes. I first used dehydrated food after visiting the LDS Cannery two years back. It was a lot of fun learning to can our own food in #10 sized cans. I love eating the dried apples like potato chips. But when it comes to cooking with freeze dried foods, I’m at a loss. The reason I buy foods this way, is that it lasts a very long time. 20 years or more. I live out in the country so I like having food on hand so that I don’t have to run to the store every day. I use the dehydrated broccoli all the time. When I make pasta, i just throw in a handful of dry broccoli and let it boil with my noodles. I can’t tell its freeze dried when its done. It tastes grate! So after having this minor success with broccoli, I went on the search for other meals I could make using my dehydrated foods. I found these two recipes on line and I thought Id share them. They are really good! I love the fact that they are meant to be placed in mason jars and dry canned with an oxygen absorber. They will look awfully pretty sitting in your kitchen! Make a few and give them as gifts!

Dry canning – recipes using dehydrated ingredients.

Chicken and Rice casserole recipe *** 1 c. chicken
1 c. rice ( I use instant)
1/4 c. instant potatoes
3/4 c. non-fat dry milk
1/4 c. cheese powder ( optional)
3/4 c. mixed vegetables
1/3 c. onion
4 tbl spoon chicken bullion
1 tsp. garlic
1 tsp sage
1/2 tsp pepper
Remember..all dehydrated ingredients
Layer in qt. jar
When ready to cook, add about 2 1/2 qts water.
This one jar makes about 4 qts of casserole

chicken & stuffing casserole– need dehydrated items, bought or dehydrate yourself .
In qt jar.. 1- c. Dehydrated chicken
1 1/2 c. stuffing (stove top)
1/4 c. Carrots
1/4 c. celery
1/4 c. Onion
1/4 c. dried cranberries
1tsp. poultry seasoning
1/2 envelope of country style gravy mix
Put the gravy mix in baggy on top.
Put oxygen absorber or seal with food saver.
Remember all dehydrated ingredients.

NOTE:: with the chicken and stuffing casserole ** start with one qt water. Add water or instant potatoes as needed. In separate pot mix water for gravy. And pour over casserole. Yum