Life’s Lessons

New addition

New addition

Typically lessons learned the hard way stick with us longer than others.  And we got a dose or two of hard learned lessons this week.  We have been busy trying new things and welcoming a new family member into the household.  We didn’t have a baby, we adopted a house rabbit.  Who taught us a series of hard learned lessons.

First, let’s talk about the new things we are trying out; after all this is a blog about our experiences with new things.  We raise our own meat to the extent that we are able; my parents raise a couple of pigs every other year and we try to help with that, they have chickens that we not only gather eggs from but also eat, they buy a cow from a local farmer who raises his cattle on grass exclusively, and they raise meat rabbits (no, we are not telling the new bunny).  So we have freezers full of a variety of meat.  If you have never met my husband you don’t know that deep down inside he was born a chef, and along the way life got in the way of him pursuing that dream as a career (we have been encouraging him to go be a damn chef already! for a few years now).  He spends time on YouTube learning new cooking techniques and comparing kitchen notes with other chefs from around the globe (some of our favorites, by the way are the Frugal Chef, look her up, and Chef John on Food Wishes).  I digress.  He came across some videos about curing meat.  Long story, well, long, we now have dozens of bags of sliced hams, pastrami, pancetta, and other various delectable cured meats.  He spent the last two weeks playing with recipes for rubs, marinades and smoke.  He is a natural (really he is).  That is one of the new things we are trying this week- the question can we successfully produce our own ham, etc at home with our own livestock.  Thankfully that was a yes.

We also delved into the world of homemade cream of soups.  We are freezing it currently, as we do not have a pressure canner yet.  Last night we put up 8 quart bags of base for cream of mushroom soup.  It was ugly, oh wow it was so ugly.  I’m like my mother in the sense that I really like pretty food.  But it was delicious.  So I will overlook the  ugly for now.  I will also have to come back and let everyone know how the base turned out when we go to cook with it.

In the process of making the cream soup base, we also made at least 4 gallons of chicken stock.  My hubby spent an entire night cooking down chicken carcasses, and processing the whole chickens into breast filets and tenders.  We ended up with 12 bags of 2 breasts and two bags of the tenders, separated and frozen for later consumption.

We have two dozen ears of sweet corn that need to be shucked and turned into freezer bags of corn kernels.  And the garden taught me a lesson this week.  I have noticed how older pictures of farm wives always feature a multipocketed garden/kitchen apron.  When I went to gather up some produce today, I figured out why all those women wear that apron out to the garden.  Alas, my t-shirt was no match for the tomatoes, green beans, okra, onions and squash I found ready to be picked.  Thankfully the hubs had on cargo shorts.  So since my wonderful momma made me a garden apron, I’m going to learn this lesson and wear the thing!

Now for the new addition- there they were, little fuzzy, sweet bunnies at Rural King.  I’m a sucker for a sweet fur face behind bars.  That’s why we have three rescue cats, mom and dad have 10+ rescue cats and why now, we have a house rabbit.  We named her Sigrid and she has a crate, but we let her run around the kitchen/living room area.  The list of things we didn’t know is exponentially larger than what we did know.  She has two settings, full out and passed out.  She is a toddler; she puts everything in her mouth and gives it a little experimental nibble.  She will eat just about anything she can find, including cheese, cat food and spilled milk; none of these were intentional, we just didn’t manage to get to the spills in time.  She is smart; if there is something she wants or somewhere she wants to be, she will find a way.  And she learned what the fridge is- the mecca for all things food related.

We learned that the garden, just when you think it isn’t going to do anything, it gives you more than you can stuff in your pockets.  And we learned that it’s a darn good thing we don’t have a toddler.  The rabbit is enough of a trouble maker for now.  And we learned the same lesson we learn every time we get out in the garden, into the kitchen or on the couch with a fur baby that wants to snuggle- we love this.