Jan 15 2009

Pancetta!!

It’s been awhile and I’ve kept this quiet in order to save embarrassment in the event of a complete failure, but alas, this wasn’t the case and the Pancetta has landed!

I cured this lovely belly for 7 days with a relatively conventional Pancetta cure and a few added extras (my secret). After the 7 day wait, it was rolled and tied in order to spend the next 6 weeks in my laundry room outfitted with a humidifier and thermostat so I could constantly monitor its progress. After pinching it everyday, I finally decided on January 14th to get up the nerve and slice it open, and to my surprise it hadn’t gone bad. Not only did it not spoil, but it’s delicious…. I wish I’d made more than just one!


May 16 2008

A sea of green…

One of my absolute favorite things about living outside of the city is that seasons finally really mean something. Winter is beautiful but very taxing on the soul and allows us to imagine balancing the weight of the world upon our shoulders in an endless drone of white. Despite the hardships of winter, what it really does is prepare us for the explosion of spring. There is no better way to want something so bad than to have been deprived of it for so long. In such a short time our landscape became dappled with colors that soothed our weathered minds and thawed our frost bitten hearts.

One of the first things to arrive amongst the avalanche of green are Ramps (a.k.a. Wild Leeks). They appear from one day to the next and scatter themselves across south facing slopes all over the countryside. Ramps are a spring treasure because they are one of the first forageable edibles of the year. They have a wonderful aroma of garlic and taste of tender onion. Recently I went out with a friend (Sean) in search of 30lbs of the stuff for a restaurant. They fetch a high price for a short period of time, in some cases they can go up to $10 a pound. In any case, the best thing about them is the fact that they come and then go. It’s a rare feat these days to only be able to enjoy something during the season it’s available. If they could be domesticated it would be the end of their luster.

field of ramps

ramps

ramps in hand

ramps 2

sea of ramp

sean 1

ramp scale

weighing ramp


Mar 2 2008

Slaughter Redux

It’s been brought to my attention that in a previous post concerning the nature of slaughter, that I was a bit crass and may not have explained the process thoroughly enough. In essence, what I was trying to convey was the fact that one should proudly eat meat, if and only when they have learned to be honest about their relationship with it. Before we get ahead of ourselves, I am not a preaching fanatic and by no means have I been this way my whole life, but after learning a few things and experiencing that much more I can’t help but feel that I’ve been lied to my whole life.

For some reason, after reading Michael Pollan’s “Omnivores Dilemma”, something inside me changed. There was something brooding inside me yearning for change and it was as though a veil had been lifted from my face, allowing me to see clearly for the first time. We make decisions everyday of our lives that impact us greatly and eating has to be one of the most significant and most undervalued decisions there is. Ironically, we’ve developed and nurtured a culture where we rely on corporations to make food choices for us. This system could be fine and hum harmoniously alongside this great engine of a society that we’ve created if it weren’t for the fact that we let the corporations treat it like any other capitalistic business model.

Food production in the United States is controlled by the USDA, which has commissioned a food business that worries more about numbers and subsidies than actual quality and taste. The USA alone produces around 9 billion chickens a year. We have a pork and cattle industry that has been dumping so much waste into our water systems that we’ve created a toxic wasteland the size of Massachusetts in the gulf of Mexico in which no life form can be sustained except algae and bacteria. These are only a few examples of food production atrocities that go so deep, most people will never know or would prefer not to know what they really put into their mouths on a daily basis.

It makes me furious and sad when the USDA recalls 143 million pounds of beef, not because they deem it unsafe to eat but because a video on youtube surfaced showing cows being tortured at what is considered a humane industrial farming cattle operation. The video was so disturbing and horrific, that the embarrassment endured by the USDA caused it to issue the largest beef recall in history. What most people fail to realize is that the atrocious abuse of those animals is by no means unique and practically a standard in our food industry. If that doesn’t say something about the priorities towards the way our food is produced in this country than I don’t know what does. I even saw a commercial the other day from McDonalds which touted the fact that now they were actually serving 100% Beef as though we were supposed to assume that in the past a hamburger was something other than all beef. I can’t even begin to imagine what was in the last Big Mac I ate 15yrs ago.

In any case, back to my original point concerning slaughter. We all eat, and we all make choices about what we eat. I personally wanted to get in touch with what I ate and even more so understand what I was eating. Therefore, I set out on a mission to find meat that was produced under conditions that satisfied my requirements for humane and healthy food. In the galleries below, which are viewable after clicking on each link, I participated in two slaughters that were extremely humane and honest. The animals you see here have all gone to families that have raised and nurtured them through their entire life cycle.

You can say what you want about the notion of slaughter, and yes there is nothing pretty, fun, or easy about it. Although, there is something honest, rewarding, and humbling about it. Most of my experiences in this field have begun with a shot of whiskey around 8am and this is mostly due to the fact that it is very difficult to play God with something you’ve put so much time and effort into. In one instance, after deliberating for awhile because one lamb had witnessed another as it was in the throws of death and had become frightened, we decided to spare it for the time being because our primary concern was that the animal never suffered in the slaughter process and that hopefully death went unnoticed. Another interesting note, concerning the slaughter of a cow, was that after shooting it in a field grazing happily amongst its peers in order to make sure it wasn’t expecting is final moment, all the other cows didn’t flinch as though they didn’t notice at all. Somehow this made me feel better.

Please click on the links below if you’d like to see how something like humane, small-scale slaughter is done. The photos could be considered gruesome so beware, but I would just like to say that I only consider them to be honest.

CHICKEN SLAUGHTER

COW SLAUGHTER


Feb 12 2008

Gradient Horizons

I’ve been struggling with a good reason to start this account of my life because in short, it’s not as though I deem my life to be that entirely interesting. Essentially, I’ve been going through some monumental changes in the last few years that have all accumulated in a continental drift of goals and aspirations for what I suppose one could consider a “meaningful” life. My entire existence to date has been spent on the notion of a city life with all its accoutrements. So easily forgotten was a world outside of that something simple and more in touch with a world that’s speedily slipping through our fingers.

By no means have I achieved any of my goals, but I have nonetheless begun my journey…..

sunset at home…