Sunday, November 11, 2012

A Meaty Week is Now Over

Poet's Walk

Did you notice I hike quite a bit? Do you hike? Walking is probably one of my favorite things, aside from eating, which is a darn good thing. Today was so beautiful that I went on two hikes. One alone in the morning, and one with the family later in the afternoon. I would have walked all day in between those two hikes, too, but alas I couldn't. As we drove home from the afternoon hike, I said to Steve, "I look forward to one day hiking for as long as I want without looking at the clock and rushing back home. Or going on a hike that I know is going to take me hours." I do look forward to that day, but I wonder if I will really do it once that day arrives. Do I really want to hike all day, or am I just saying that because I can't? I do that a lot, you know. Want to do a thing because it is beyond my reach. Do you do that, too? Good. I'm not alone.

Bacon, and yes, skin.
 Today I finished the week-long meat curing and smoking marathon. Things are all now tightly wrapped in freezer paper, and snug in their ziplocs. (I'm going to admit that I love ziplocs SO much. Do you?) I'm going to stop posting photographs of large chunks of meat, I promise. Now they're all little pieces of meat in my freezer. I almost made salt pork, but I ended up curing the skin-on fatback I had as for bacon, and smoking it alongside the bacon. Now I have cured, smoked fatback cut into convenient chunks for all sorts of things, like chowders and stews. What I love about using these fatty pieces is that they flavor a dish so intensely, but with the most minimal use of meat itself. It's very frugal, very tasty.

Strips of cured and smoked fatback.
That said, I honestly don't want to look at another piece of cured and smoked meat for a while. I smell like bacon, which I'm sure some people would be delighted by, but honestly I'd rather eat the huge knobby celery roots I bought today at the market instead. Even though I didn't "dispatch" or "harvest" (that means kill or slaughter, but you may know this) this pig myself, by doing all the curing and smoking, and having all the parts to look at--the jowl, the feet, the tail--I see what I am doing. I am preparing half of a large animal. At one point, when I wrote "skin" on a ziploc bag, I felt rather grisly. And then let's not talk about the liver. I don't often feel that way, but after this week I do.

Actually, for dinner tonight, I made my family ham steaks with mashed potatoes and steamed broccoli. I tasted the ham, which came out very good, not very salty at all, but instead I had a big bowl of red skin potatoes, cut in large chunks, cooked to perfection, soft and creamy, and doused them with rosemary olive oil. It was SO good.


  1. I wouldn't call what I do "hiking" - it's more like "meandering". Which is why I prefer to go solo: I don't like being nagged that I'm not keeping up (because I stopped to pick up a really cool feather). The Ziplocs: good to know I'm in good company. As much as I want to, I just can't give them up!

    Total respect for processing your half hog. I know beyond a shadow of a doubt it's something I will never do!

    1. I like your kind of hiking! Meandering is a good thing. More people should do it!

  2. yes, yes, yes...hiking - meandering, what's the difference? sleeping is another good way to meander - and i feel so rested afterwards.
    the very idea of walking, i think a nice glass of whiskey, sitting by the fire, watching the leafs fall, there is plenty of that. ah, and thinking about stephanie, who is presently out on one of her meandering walks. she'll be back in a few hours, all rosy cheeked with a cold nose. yes, the delights of a holiday.

    1. I love to sleep. If I had the chance, I would do it much more often!

      It sounds like one of the nicest ways to pass a day; has it gotten chilly there yet?

    2. not in an east coast sense, enough though for a fire late afternoon. it's raining and chestnut leaves are on the way down.
      pasta arrabbiata - my favorite. we'll have it tonight. it's messy to get a good image, but i suppose messy is ok every now and then. yes?

  3. Jules, I love the idea of a poet's walk, and I love that photo. Keep walking, keep writing!