Friday, October 9, 2009

The Weather Is Frightful

"The weather outside is frightful, but the fire is so delightful..." is still singing its way through my head but what do you expect?

This is our weather forecast for the next few days. So I'm keeping the fire stoked with lots of wood and coal. Meanwhile, my husband is up on the mountain hunting elk, deer, and blue grouse. No thank you. I'm not staying in a tent with weather that is most likely worse than it is here. I don't care if the wall tent does have a stove. My average body temperature is in the 96's as it is. I'd freeze.
To me it seems all wrong for him to go all that way to shoot a deer when we've good sized bucks eating out of our garden.

Alas, if only we lived out in the country and not the last street in town with the prairie on our backside, then one of these fat sassy boys would be in our freezer.

Oh well, I guess I'll use the worry wart skills my mother ingrained in me and pray Kirk stays safe while he sets up camp, hunts for two days, and awaits the arrival of our son. He is scheduled to fly in tomorrow from his trip scuba diving in the Bahamas. Won't that be a shock, from the warmth of the Bahamas to below zero temperatures on the mountain?

I'll just stay here and can some more milk and chicken breasts. The canned goat's milk makes wonderful sausage gravy for a biscuits and gravy breakfast. It also adds richness to my home-made caramels at Christmas time. I use it instead of the evaporated milk my recipe calls for. And though we don't drink it, I cook with it for the three months that the goat's are dry before they kid. I know you only have to keep them dry two months but my girls are old and I figure they can use the extra months break. It also gives me a break from milking twice a day.

The chicken breasts I buy at the store. Unfortunately, we don't have the facilities to raise more than a few meat birds of our own. These boneless breasts cost me $6. 97 for three pounds and yesterday I used two packages divided amongst six wide mouth, pint jars. So it adds up to around $2.32 a jar not counting electricity. Which since I usually do this on a cold day, I chock that cost up to warming the house. It is more meat than I previously got in a can and for less money. What the cost of canned chicken breast is now, I've no idea.

With this we will make sandwiches just like you do canned tuna. I add a little mayonnaise, diced dill pickle and onion, and a sprinkling of celery salt along with celery if we have some. On top I place a few slices of Jarlsburg cheese and grill it between some home-made artisan European style bread. It makes a quick lunch with chips or soup. This mixture is also good on lettuce for a salad.

The idea originated from our buying canned chicken breast instead of tuna for sandwiches and then after a year of this and a price hike on the item I said my favorite old line from what movie I can't recall, "Anything they can do, I can do better." So I did. This philosophy has held true on almost everything. But not frozen cheese cake.Mine tastes better but won't freeze. Don't know if it is the preservatives, or chemicals they use. Anyone out there had success? I'd really appreciate your secret.

So as I thought about it, I decided that I liked the taste of grilled chicken, instead of fried or broiled so now I place my raw chicken breasts on our gas barbecue grill and cook them to just barely done. If they are slightly pink inside that's okay.

Then I cut the breasts into three pieces and stuff them into the jars. If you have a family then you might want to cut the pieces smaller so you can fit more inside each jar. With just the two of us, we can get at least four sandwiches out of a pint so I don't pack the jars really full. Pour boiling water over the chicken in the jar and process at 10 pounds (- 12 at our elevation-) for 75 minutes. I've gotten creative with some jars and added spices, chicken bouillon, and onion before processing.

What is Bard,( our son's dog) doing while I can and the weather outside is frightful. He's underfoot chewing on stuffed snowmen. To be precise, Annie and Arnold. He has the nose chewed off poor Annie and the hat off of Arnold. They were given to him by our daughter who felt her children had way too many stuff animals. Bard loves them and hauls them everywhere. His dog toys have been ignored.

Yes, he is remaining on his leash at the corrals as he repeatedly lunges toward my chickens. Sheds had to be bedded and the coops given sawdust to help ward off the cold. Poor animals don't have their winter coats yet. It is suppose to be fall and I forgot and wore cotton socks instead of my wool ones. By the time I got home my toes were bright red and stinging.

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