April 23-28 Cured Meats and Homemade Soap

It was a busy week here at the backyard farm with lots of projects winding up and new ones starting.

The soap had cured enough to finally trim and use.  I shaved off the white, powdery ash that had formed on one side (apparently from cooling too quickly) and they are ready to go.

On Tuesday night we finally had some time to smoke the bacon. Joe had soaked it on Sunday and it had been drying, uncovered, in the refrigerator waiting to smoke. He smoked it with Hickory for a couple of hours to an internal temperature of 150 degrees and then pulled it off to cool.

On Thursday evening, I borrow a meat slicer from my BFF, Stacy, and we spent an hour or so slicing it and packaging it into vacuum sealed bags for the freezer. It is rally delicious. Noach thinks it could be a little sweeter and a bit less salty. It was a fantasy first try.

Oops – I almost forgot.  On Wednesday when I went to the farm store to get a new hose nozzle, they had more chicks for half price so I picked up two bronze turkey chicks.  They are a little older so they were discounted – perfect of me.  I tried putting them in to the tub with the barred rock hens we picked up two weeks ago, but there was pecking and nobody wants that so I separated the turkey hens into a rabbit cage for now.

The Pancetta has also been curing in the wine fridge since Saturday afternoon and is doing quite well.
We rinsed it from the brine, rolled it tightly and tied it off. Then I added more crushed pepper to the outside and put it into “The cave” to dry.

Pancetta on Day 2

It’s now day four and there is no mold forming yet and it smells delicious.

Pancetta on Day 4

I almost forgot the two new turkey chicks I picked up at Wilco on the 25th. They are Bronze turkeys.


Spring Pruning of the Raspberries

We’ve had such a wet spring in the Pacific Northwest that I am really behind on all of my winter and spring pruning and gardening.  We finally had two days in a row in the seventies and when I walked by the garden I noticed the sad state of our raspberry bed.

The "Before"

When I got up there, it was even worse than I thought.  The golden raspberries are in pretty good shape, they just needed to have the dead stalks and the volunteers removed.  The red raspberries do not look good.  They have become very “viney”, long and straggly, curled and weak.  I headed them back and removed all of the dead canes.  When I finished pruning, I weeded to get it ready for a top dress of compost next weekend.  At least it looks better.

The "After"

Spring Cleaning – Part 1

Today I decided that it was the day to straighten up the freezers.  I started by taking everything out of Freezer #1 and laying it out on the pool table in the garage.  All was going well until I hit the bottom and the iceberg that sunk the Titanic.  Our drain had clogged and all of the defrost liquid was draining into the bottom of the freezer and freezing.  I got out the hammer and chipped away at the “berg” while Joe helped me quickly stuff everything from the table into Freezer #2 and a couple of ice chests.

Freezer #1

Freezer #1 defrosted pretty quickly once the sun came out and Joe sucked the dog fur mouse nest out from under it with the shop vac.  Then came the bad news……While Freezer #1 was defrosting, so apparently, was Freezer #2 which had not closed completely.  Ahhhhhhhhh.  Out everything came, into the now fairly cold Freezer #1, the refrigerator, and the ice chests.  After another stint in the sun, both freezers are plugged in and chugging away.  After everything is tucked neatly away, I will try to include photos of our accomplishments.

Freezer 2

Canadian Bacon

I found a couple of pork roasts on clearance and since we are curing and smoking a pork belly for bacon, I thought I’d try these for some Canadian bacon.  The only hitch might be that they were packaged in some odd, slimy, “gravy” that I washed off as well as I could.

I modified the recipe from Michael Ruhlman’s Blog post on Canadian Bacon

  • 2 quarts of water
  • 5 tablespoons kosher salt
  • 2 tablespoons pink salt
  • 1/2 cup white sugar
  • 5 cloves garlic – smashed
  • 2 bay leaves (I left these out as they are trapped in our pantry)
  • 1 bunch of dried sage
  • 7 or 8 springs of thyme
  • 1 lemon – halved
  1. Combine the ingredients in a pot and bring it to a simmer, stir to dissolve the salt and sugar.
  2. Remove it from the heat and chill it in the refrigerator.
  3. Place the pork and the brine into a vacuum bag and refrigerate for about 72 hours.
  4. Remove the pork from the brine, rinse it and pat it dry.
  5. Refrigerate it uncovered for 4 – 24 hours.
  6. For Canadian Bacon: hot smoke the loin to an internal temperature of 145 to 150 degrees.

In the end, the Canadian Bacon tastes really good and sliced just beautifully.

It’s in the fridge waiting for breakfast.


Boccone Dolce

I first had this dessert with my BFF on “girls day” at a local restaurant called Papa Hayden in Portland, Oregon.  It’s crunchy and creamy, light and fruity, and altogether delicious.  It looks so difficult to make, but when I found instructions online (thank you SubRosa) it didn’t look to bad to try.

This morning I started the meringue.

  • 1 1/2 cup egg whites – about 10 eggs
  • 2 cups white sugar
  1. Preheat the oven to 225 degrees.
  2. Beat the egg whites until stiff.
  3. Gradually add the sugar (1-2 T at a time) to incorporate it. Continue beating until glossy.
  4. Draw 3 8″ circles onto sheet of parchment – flip over and divide the meringue between them.  Spread it ou to the edges of the circle with a spatula
  5. Bake until dry and crispy – about 2.5 hours

…….more to come

Filling – whip until fairly stiff cream

  • 4 cups whipping cream
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1 T vanilla

Put one layer of meringue onto the serving plate.  Add 1/3 of the whipped cream.  Layer on strawberries drizzle with melted chocolate (I used dark chocolate chips.  Add a second, then a third layer to complete the dessert.


Thank you very much to Mark S. at Belly to Bacon for the recipe idea and procedures for trying my first Pancetta.  Joe had ordered 5 pounds of pork belly from Shy Anne Meats to make into bacon.  When I picked it up they asked if I wanted the whole 8 pound piece  – Of course, time for experimenting. The process of making Pancetta starts in the same way as bacon and with the same cut of pork.  Joe cut off a quarter of the belly for me because I only want about a 7 inch long tube because I’m going to try to hang in the mini fridge to cure.

The Rub

  • 1.5 cloves of fresh garlic
  • 3 grams pink salt
  • 15 grams kosher salt
  • 7.5 grams brown sugar
  • 4 grams pepper
  • 2.5 grams juniper berries
  • 1 bay leaf (oops I forgot this in the pantry*)
  • 1 grams grated nutmeg
  • 1.5 t thyme leaves

We rubbed both sides of the belly with this, slide it into a vacuum bag, sealed it and tucked it into the refrigerator with the rest of the brown sugar bacon for a rest.

brown sugar bacon and pancetta


*  The reason I didn’t go back into the pantry for this is because the first time, when I retrieved the juniper berries and thyme, I had to go around to the garage to get into the pantry, squeeze past the air scrubber and dehumidifier, move a floor to ceiling tension rod holding up the plastic tarps all to get the pantry door.  Then I had to put everything back and try to reseal the tape.  I was not going back in for a bay leaf.  We had a leak in our hot water pump and have been living in an insurance disaster zone since.