Friday, April 8, 2016


Behind on posting and all I have to offer is excuses. 

Much of what I enjoy doing here is sharing. I do not want to teach what has already been taught or talked about all over the net and YouTube. You do not need to visit another blog site that repeats everything. Rather, this is sharing "if I can do it, so can you." Do not use me as an instructional site - do your own homework. I have found it necessary to visit quite a few sites on the things I share with you. Few folks know how to teach, so look around if you want to learn from net articles or videos. We have also asked many questions of folks who have done this already.

First today is making bacon. We have talked of doing this for a couple years now.  Two months, ago a close friend shared some of his first batch of homemade bacon. That is all it took. "If he can, we can." The flavor of homemade bacon is reason enough. Tastes like yesterday on the farm.  So much better and the little labor that it takes will be worth it. 

We finally found pork belly at a newly re-opened Asian store. I found this morning that there is still bone in the pork belly we purchased so next time out I will ask for a  larger, boneless slab. Regardless, we have product to work with. 

I used a simple mix of equal parts sea salt and brown sugar. Added a few shakes of coarse-ground black pepper.  We will adjust our recipe from this basic one. I stripped the rind from the pork belly and trimmed out some of the bone, trying to leave as much meat as possible. Nothing was thrown away. Each piece was generously coated and hand-rubbed with the cure. Now, we wait as it cures in the fridge for up to 7 days. When it is ready, I will smoke for one to three hours, depending. Will share the results in a few weeks

Next is Mead. Friar Tuck's brew. Honey, yeast, some fresh fruit/juice and bottled spring water. I started making mead 5 years ago when a friend shared a few glasses with me over good conversation and a late night.  "If he can make it, I can."

My first batch was a gallon-size using bread yeast, honey, fresh-squeezed orange juice and bottled water. I used a cleaned/sterile gallon water jug and a balloon with a tiny pin hole for controlling the escaping gas and preventing air from getting inside. Covered the gallon with an old towel to keep the temperature stable and let it brew on the kitchen counter for the first month. Followed brewing instructions and a year later, had my first taste. Was good, but not as good as the 5-year-old mead I am into today. Good brewing practices, learned brewing knowledge and age. The small bottle in front shows the 5-year-old aged mead. The bottles behind have been started over the past two months. I found I was running out from gifting and sharing with visitors. Time to get more on the brew.

Mead has its own flavor. More alcohol content (10% to around 17%). The amount of honey and flavor added yields smoothness and depth. I keep the mead in the basement and it stays that perfect "shot" temperature. Never had anyone, new to mead, turn down a second or third taste. And none have ever turned down a gift bottle.

This is an easy hobby to start and enjoy. It all can be learned from the net and finding someone who has some experience is quite easy. Ask around, learn and try a batch. Do not despair on the time of brewing I mention here. Mead is good at the end of the first year. It gets better with age, so keep brewing and you will stay ahead of your consumption. 

I read about Spruce Tea over a year ago. I never knew about this but I bet my grandparents did. My folks too.
We planted spruce trees here 13 years ago when we built the house. Building a new home tears up the countryside and it takes mother nature a few years to recover and bring back the beauty of natural surroundings. Planting more trees helps her along. Today, the house cannot be seen from the nearby roads for all that she has added.

This morning, I finally pulled a few fresh sprigs off of a younger tree. This is the time of the year the sap is running and those fresh sprigs smell wet with Christmas. I pulled the needles off, chopped them up and put them in a spice ball. You will see that most folks who show this through video, just add the needles to a warm broth and stir for 10 minutes or so. I just did it differently so I did not have the extra step of straining. I let the tea steep and did not boil.

After 10 minutes, I removed the tea ball, added some honey and tested. Who knew? Even the queen bee raised her eyebrows to the mild flavor. It is a tea I will add to our tea drinking and share with others now. I will add less honey next time around to better enjoy the wintergreen flavor of the spruce.

You will be surprised to know the vitamin C content is much higher than orange juice and all for the knowledge of spruce and pine tea. Useful for sore throats.

With a little knowledge of our surroundings, we find more ways to take care of ourselves if times turn down. Study spruce tea. I must have read a few dozen articles and watched a dozen videos on making this kind of tea. Learn the pros and cons and give it a try.

The little bag in the picture is a fill-it-yourself tea bag. I will try that with the next cup.

Salt Pork

Salt Pork is made from the same cuts as bacon, but is noticeably more saltier. It can be fried and served  as a stand-alone meat. We use it from time to time as a side with eggs and toast. A change of pace but I will bet most folks will not like it due to the noticeable salt flavor. Three small slices is enough for a meal.

I fix it like my elders did. A light coat of flour, a few sprinkles of pepper and lightly fried in oil. It spatters much more than bacon so a wire cover or lid over the pan should be used. Usually a couple minutes per side and then drained. The salt pork is eaten up to the rind and that is thrown away. Some folks like the crunch of the rind, but it can be hard on the teeth.

This is a side dish worth trying. Has a noticeable bright flavor and offers a change of pace for breakfast.