Speck and Parma… Unna and Jr and a gobbler in between

speck going for a jog

yum apples and parma, our pig

It’s long overdue that I post about our piggie venture for the year.  Warning, there will be a lot of photos of meat or butchering in this post.

thirsty piggie

speck and parma, our pigs eating the garden veggies we brought them

I have mentioned our pig share in the past.  Last year’s pig’s name was Pancetta.  She was tasty but we ran out of our pork supplies in the spring, so this time we thought we would go whole hog – literally.  Last year we split one.  Now we have not just the whole hog, but 1.5 hogs and our freezers are full.  Add to the freezers 20 free range organic chickens raised by my brother (Leelanau Farm and Game) and you see I mean really full.  Oh and we still have part of the 1/4 of grass fed steer in there too and now a local leg of lamb.  Sounds like we are carnivores.  Yep, we are, esp Eby.  But to show you our versatilty we also eat tofu and have a pantry full of canned tomatoes from our garden.    By now you should have time to leave the blog before we get to the photos, I have given you ample warning.

thirsty piggie

parma and speck getting a shower

Those were all pictures of our pigs in July and about one month before we butchered them.  As you can see, they are happy.  They have treats, mud to wallow in and lots of water to play in or drink.

Ginger with her sides of pork

Here’s our co butcher Julius with the ban saw behind him. Note the honey boxes, yes we were in the honey house as it is full of stainless steel and easy to bleach after wards.

butching our pigs in the honey shack

making ground pork in the honey shack

We have about 45 pounds of ground pork now.  A lot you may think, but many cuisines use ground pork and we cook a lot of Asian and Mexican food.

For a little variety, below is a shot of my brother butchering our Thanksgiving Turkey (it was a small one) by hand (not his favorite thing to do) as we needed our a bit early to bring home with us. I watched the process from start (catching the turkey and killing it) to finish (de-feathering, gutting and putting it in a bag for transport home). I am glad I did as it makes me appreciate even more what it takes to put healthy, sustainably raised food on the table.
Our turkey is the black and white one on the right:

heritage turkeys

our thanksgiving turkey

Next up: Dexter cow and half Dexter/jersey steer. Stay tuned for the adventures of Unna and Jr.  Unna will be kept and bred, Jr will be many dinners of grass fed beef.
the new kids on the farm, Dexter cow and steer Unna's hut

This will be their winter home as soon as it is fixed up (it is structurally sound, but needs some minor adjustments):

old shed, changed landscape - no trees

i’m out

Menu of the Week Nov 17th: Rutabagas and several stories.

I am a bit behind on this post.  This always happens when I am gone for the weekend, get back late and then Monday night I had to attend a “Arbonne” party.  If you want to know what that is, I will be happy to hook you up with my friend who is just getting started.  She loves a good road trip.

So, I know you all have been waiting to see what the secret ingredient is (even though you may have glimpsed at the header – put that out of your mind).  Rutabaga, that is what we are experimenting with this week.  Now, the only time I really have eaten rutabaga, or swede as it appears to be called in the British Isles, is in pasties, a specialty (perhaps the only one aside from any deep fried vegetable and I mean any) of the UP or Upper Peninsula of Michigan as we Michiganders call it.  The part that borders both Lakes Superior and Michigan.  A really beautiful part of the state.  You should go there.  I think of moving there sometimes when I want to leave normal society.  At any rate, pasties are everywhere up there.  The miners used to take them for lunch.  They are a pocket pie filled with (typically) beef, onions, carrot, potato and rutabaga.  There seems to be only salt and pepper in there, no such thing as herbs in the UP a hundred years ago I guess.  They are often served with gravy (always from a jar I am sure) but the Yoopers (think UP-ers) insist on ketchup with theirs.  I have no love affair with ketchup.  None at all.  Ok, maybe occasionally with a tator tot that missed the buffalo sauce.  But really, that’s it.

At this point you are thinking… all this info and we haven’t gotten a menu yet and it is the day after menu day.  Well folks, that is what a long day on the road and a strong vodka cranberry juice does for you, well, me.  Ester at Lilac Kitchen is this week’s host and who we have to thank for my long pastie post!

So, on my way home this eve I stopped by the store for some much needed groceries and knew that it was rutabaga/swede week and found myself staring at not one, but a box full, in the fresh starches isle (near the tators).  I debated.  I walked away.  I walked back.  I picked one up and resolved to attempt a pasty.  I will attempt the best pastie ever.  One with herbs.  And garlic.  No ketchup.  Maybe gravy though as I am a sucker for a sauce.

So, now you know about pasties (pronounced paasties – like Pa in Little house in the Prairie).  You have to watch out when you say the name or you will get some thing that only women in strip joints wear.

Menu time now.

Ok, maybe not yet.  The reason we were back late on Sunday was because we were returning from our pig butchering weekend.  We have a pig share of sorts which I will blog on in a new post but have blogged on it here before.  This year’s piggies were named Speck and Parma.  We had the entire 3.5 hours back which was more like 4.5 hours due to black ice everywhere and many collisions along the way, to think about how we wanted to cook our first pork dinner.  By the time we got home it was late and we were hungry so we made ground pork in a miso sauce and fried rice.  We have a total of 1.5 pigs in our freezer now.  Seem a bit extreme?  It might be.  We aren’t sure yet.  The bacon is getting cured in Traverse City aside from a 5 lb piece that I cut off to try curing ourselves.  So by butcher, I mean butcher.  The pig was shot and gutted by our bee keeper Julius.  It then hung for a day until we arrived on a Saturday afternoon to start slicing.  He does have a ban saw, thank goodness, but we do all the trimming, tell him what cuts where and wrap and label it.  I cut the tenderloin out myself, three times.  It is very humbling.  I am extremely thankful for our good fortune to hook up with these great folks: A raspberry and sustainable everything farmer who works on cherry harvesting equipment, his wife and a cherry/apple farmer who is also a large bee keeper.  No the bees aren’t large, just his operation, rather the honey operation.  We bought some honey from him while we were there.  Thankfully I haven’t needed a hot toddy yet this year, but I am ready when I do.

Ok, now on to the menu.

Saturday:  I didn’t really cook all of this, but my brother (and friends) did for a dinner party while we were up there.  It is definitely blog worthy.  It was all wheat free.  It was all local, every bit of it, except the cheese and crackers, which I brought.  I always travel with cheese and crackers.


cheese and crackers

spicy pickled dilly beans

fresh pate made from our friends freshly butchered pig – I hate hate hate liver and loved this stuff.  Will find recipe soon.  I think the fact that it didn’t have much liver in it made all of the difference.

salad : local greens with balsamic dressing and slices of seared pheasant breast


local organic free range chicken breasts stuffed with pheasant and chestnut force meat – a meat stuffing of sorts – with a morel mushroom supreme sauce


sauteed brussel sprouts

leek tartin minus the crust to make it gluten free

roasted small potatoes with rosemary and garlic (i made this one)

roasted butternut squash


homemade spelt  pumpkin pie from scratch, local pumpkins and all (the spelt is grown and milled in MI too)

to drink

our friend’s hard and sweet cider – they just opened their hard cidery, Tandem Cider,  a month ago and have 5 varieties of hard cider as well as tasty sweet cider.

I tell you, it was Thanksgiving.  Really.  Great friends, great food, all grown or raised by us or my dad.  I really can’t ask for more than that.  Honestly, it is the norm up there.  That is one reason we want to move back.  I am so making that pate and I have never said that before.

Sunday:  Ground pork in a miso sauce and Steamy Kitchen Jaden’s fried rice posted on Elise’s Simply Recipes.  Only we cheated.  We had no leftover rice – a big no no.  So I used Sushi rice and didn’t cook it all the way.  Sushi rice is so strong and sturdy that it worked just fine.  We used Martin Yan’s quick Chinese book for the pork.  It was really tasty!

Monday:  Mexican shredded pork stew (with ancho chiles, roasted garlic, chipotle and red chile) over rice with black beans (with green chile and garlic) and brussel sprouts ( I was craving brussel sprouts and decided to forgo the Mex theme for some extra green yummies.)

Tuesday: Corn, Crab and Potato chowder with a bit of bacon and mashed sweet potatoes as the thickener.  On the stove right now.  Whoops. I totally scourched it.  To the point of having to pray that it doesn’t taste burnt and moved all the non burnt items into a new pot.  That also comes with drinking a strong vodka cranberry and blogging.  Luckily the crab, cream and milk had yet to be added.  There is no burnt taste, soldiering on, will eat when the post is finished.

Wednesday:  Trader Joe Chicken Sausages with spinach sauteed in a pasta toss with asparagus, dried tomatoes, parmesan and pine nuts.

Thursday:  Moletes de papas y queso  (potato masa torpedoes) and fish enchiladas with tangy tomatillo sauce via Rick Bayless.  Will use the rest of Monday’s black beans with green chile and garlic too.  Or if enchiladas don’t strike me, we will grill the fish.

Friday:  Pasties!  My pasties will have grass fed beef (if I can get to the bottom of the freezer), and all the normal veggies plus herbs, lots of them.

i’m out

High Holy Food Magazine Day

That’s right, in terms of food and cooking magazines, it is the day I look forward to the most every year.

The Bon Appetit Thanksgiving issue is here!  As many things as I dislike about Bon Appetit, the Thankgiving issue makes up for most of it.  This also means that within days, the Gourmet Thanksgiving issue will be arriving.

heritage turkeys

I will admit, it is only September, but already last week I started thinking about what we wanted to do for my favorite holiday, the one that honors tradition, history, food, friends and family – Thanksgiving.

In the face of tradition I was thinking of doing a pork loin on the grill, or something with pork to give thanks to our piggies – Speck and Parma.
parma and speck speck and parma
We hope to be butchering them around the middle of November.  I have also considered doing the turkey on the rotisserie grill.  Again this year, our turkey will be from my brother’s organically raised heratige turkeys.

heritage turkeys

I am also considering rice instead of potatoes – if I can get away with it. I do love my potatoes but a change of pace might be interesting.
So, let the planning begin!

i’m out

Non menu of the week: Raspberries just the same

I guess there is not much reason to post a menu this week as we just returned (Monday eve) from a long 4th of July weekend in NW MI.  We decided we needed something with some flavor, a bit of spice, and are making Jamie Oliver’s South Indian Crab curry.  As for the rest of the week, well, unfortunately, I have meetings Tues, Wed and Thurs evening and of course the days are full too (meaning no prep time)!

Just the same, go check out Gluten Free Goodness who is hosting this week’s menu and see what she and everyone else is cooking!  If I come up with a menu for Friday, I will add it to this post.

Would that I had just once thought about menu planning on our 3.5 hour trip home today.  Then I might have crock pot something for the one night I return home by 8.  At least there is Friday and we still have our friend’s smoker, so I just might have to smoke those ribs from our pig Pancetta.  We did visit our new pigs Speck and Parma just yesterday and they are growing nicely.  We brought them some overwintered apples from the cellar that needed to be eaten.  They loved them and the attention.  Pics coming soon!  Our pigs free range fencing is in the middle of a U-pick raspberry field.  So, I walked by lots of little greenish white unripe raspberries.  Hopefully people will wander over and hand feed our piggies some raspberries when the season is right.

July 08 food and garden 179

We also visited my brother’s organic free range chickens, ducks and turkeys.  Pheasants on the way.  We hope to put about 20 chickens away for the winter months.  We got to help schlep haying equipment around.  I almost got to drive the tractor the 5 miles to the hay field, until I reminded my dad that I hadn’t driven one in 20 years.  We were then downgraded to the pickup and haywagon.  I parked next to a wild asparagus stalk, which we fed to Speck and Parma.

July 08 food and garden 114

Alright, the crab curry is ready and you have heard enough of the tales of Speck and Parma for now.  Stay tuned for more tales of the North (polka, parades and strawberries on the farm), and maybe a anti pasta pasta salad recipe!

July 08 food and garden 187

Update:  Wednesday’s and Thursday’s evening meetings were rescheduled, so here is what we ate/are eating:

Wednesday:  Tex Mex

Unstuffed poblano peppers with grass fed ground beef and cheese

Thursday:  Pork contest

I was at an organic apple farm where they let baby pigs run through the orchard for pest management.  The pigs are Berkshires and our pig is half Berkshire half Yorkshire, so we are grilling some of both to compare.  Also on the menu, baby new potatoes sauteed in butter with garlic scapes and parsley, grilled asparagus and a fabulous appetizer: cornmeal pan fried oysters with corn tomato salsa and horseradish cream sauce.  It is loosely based on this recipe.

Friday:  Indian

I found fresh fenugreek/methi at the Asian store, so something with that, probably methi potatoes and pakora and  tikka chicken on the grill.  Need to use the purple cabbage too…..

i’m out