Friday, August 31, 2012


Five Tips to Help You Spring into Canning in 2012 (via redOrbit)
Shirley Camp, Retired University of Illinois County Extension Specialist provides five practical tips to help make canning at home simple, safe and fun for the whole family. Shirley's tips and other practical advice can be found in the upcoming edition of Mrs. Wages Canning Guide to be published later…

Monday, August 27, 2012


The Home Food Preservation Renaissance (via sustainablog)
Berries and lettuce and tomatoes, oh my! This time of year brings an abundance of fruits and vegetables to farmer’s markets and grocery stores. In most parts of the country, it’s possible to buy the majority of your fresh produce from local sources only a few miles away. This is the season to begin…

Saturday, August 25, 2012

Raw Milk versus Pasteurized

You can't own milk goats without the inevitable discussion of raw (unpasteurized) milk versus pasteurized milk.  Lots of goat owners own goats for the reason that they want raw milk, and the only way for them to have it is to own the animal.  In some states it's illegal to sell raw milk with some amazingly stiff penalties; other states require herd shares or purchasing it directly from the farm. 

But what's all the hubbub about raw versus pasteurized milk?  Is raw better?  Maybe; maybe not.

What is Pasteurization?

Before discussing raw versus pasteurized, it's a good idea to understand what pasteurization is exactly.  Pasteurization is cooking milk at the temperature of 165F for 15 seconds to eliminate pathogens.  (You can also heat milk for 30 minutes at 140F to achieve the same result).  Louis Pasteur was looking for a way to eliminate harmful pathogens such as tuberculosis from milk.  He came across the relatively simple process that bears his name.

Good Bugs and Bad Bugs

Pasteurization doesn't discriminate when it comes to bugs.  Heat kills most of them and reduces some temperature sensitive nutrients.  That means that pasteurized milk is free of harmful pathogens when it comes out of the pasteurizer (it doesn't make the milk safe if pathogens are introduced afterward).  Proponents of raw milk claim that pasteurization also kills milk's natural antibiotics, thus making the milk unsafe, dead, and not healthy for you.  On the other side of the argument for pasteurization, people have gotten sick from raw milk, notably from E.coli, listeria, and campylobacter. 

Raw proponents claim that raw milk will help with digestive problems, asthma, allergies, and a plethora of other ailments.  The pasteurization camp claims that it just isn't so.

So, which is it?

Dogs in the Fight

Interestingly enough, I've noticed that those who have squared off seem to have dogs in the fight.  It's sort of like watching a tennis match between two archrivals.  Both have reasons for why they support the position that they do, so when looking at websites, one has to read both sides.

Statistics

The CDC states that between 1998 to Present there were 118 outbreaks of food poisoning with raw milk as opposed to 26 outbreaks with pasteurized milk.  But if you look at the number of those sickened, raw milk caused 2,128 total illnesses, 2 deaths, and pasteurized milk 2,786 total illnesses, 4 deaths.  So, there were more outbreaks with raw milk but fewer people sickened as opposed to more people sickened with fewer outbreaks or contaminated products.  

So, fewer products could make more people sick, no doubt due to our reliance on eating foods obtained from single sources and larger food companies.

My Thoughts and Opinions

In principle, I think everyone should be able to choose whether or not they want to drink raw milk.  Let people do their own research and decide for themselves.  Maybe they won't make the right choice; maybe they will.  Maybe there isn't a right choice.

I'm no fan of factory farms.  I think a lot of food recalls are due to limited sources and distributors.  Lots of food can get contaminated in a very short time if it is single-sourced. 

I raise my own goats for milk.  I also pasteurize my own milk.  I do it because I feel it is right for me.  If you want to drink raw milk, do your homework and decide for yourself. 

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Home Canning Is Season's Hottest Food Trend; Consumers Preserve The Fresh Flavors Of Summer In Growing Numbers



Home Canning Is Season's Hottest Food Trend; Consumers Preserve The Fresh Flavors Of Summer In Growing Numbers (via PR Newswire)

DALEVILLE, Ind., Aug. 22, 2012 /PRNewswire/ -- Home canning is this summer's hottest food trend with Jarden Home Brands, makers of Ball® brand fresh preserving products, reporting a 31 percent year over year* sales revenue increase in Ball® Brand glass canning jars, year to date. "With a growing…

Weird Foods I Never Knew I'd Like

At some point in my life, I've discovered that I liked a plethora of foods that I hadn't been exposed to as a child.  A goodly portion of these I've discovered since living in Montana.  Since I've been designated the one with the weird tastes by my sisters, I figured I'd share with you some of the odd, and really not so odd, foods I've discovered in Montana.

1.  Kohlrabi.  Kohlrabi looks remarkably like Sputnik, but tastes much better.  A member of the cabbage family, this plant has a bulb that you peel and saute with garlic.  Milder flavor than cabbage, but can be tough if grown too big.

2.  Morel mushrooms.  These mushrooms are yummy and have a honeycomb-like texture.  You have to cook them -- you can't eat them raw.

3.  Kale.  Not a weird vegetable, per se, but I never had this as a child.  If you don't cook it properly, it can taste bitter.  Best to blanch it first and then saute in a favorite dish.

4.  Box Elder Maple Syrup.  Woody and oh so good.  Use like regular maple syrup.

5.  Turkey eggs.  My first taste of a turkey egg was from my own bird.  I tried it because she was laying.  What a treat!  Now I know why turkey eggs are gourmet.

6.  Quail eggs.  In particular, pickled quail eggs.  Yep, this one is odd.  I really didn't know I would like pickled quail eggs, but I had a bunch and needed to do something with them.  I had an egg pickling recipe.  Normally this would sound awful, but I tried it and lo and behold, pickled quail eggs are the bomb. 

7.  Antelope.  I got hold of some ground antelope and discovered how good it was.  Like beef in lots of ways. 

8.  Goat meat (Chevon).  This was a natural progression from antelope.  Chevon is a lot like beef but is a bit like lamb without the lamb aftertaste. 

9.  Goat milk.  Lots of goat owners claim that goat's milk tastes nothing like the abomination that is sold in stores.  I took the risk and discovered that goat's milk is incredibly sweet and creamy without an aftertaste.  Most things I've read state that the goaty flavor happens when the milk is no longer fresh.

10.  African and Indian Spices.  I tried some spices that a restaurant was selling and was amazed at how good the flavors were. I've used them in cooking game and goat with remarkable results.

11.  Duck and goose eggs.  Not as good as chicken eggs, but great for baking.

12.  Arugula.  I had no idea this little spicy leaf was so darn good in salads.

13.  Dragon's Tongue beans.  These beans are green or whitish with purple stripes throughout.  Best beans in the world.

14.  Maple hot chocolate.  I can thank the local coffee shops for this decadent treat.

15.  Water Buffalo Cheese.  Yep, a local organic store suckered me into eating water buffalo cheese.  Darn good and mild.


I'm sure there are more foods that I've tried here that I love, but those are some of them.  I already ate venison and elk, so that was a no brainer.

Monday, August 13, 2012


Steppe Wisent, Bison priscus (via redOrbit)
The steppe wisent (Bison priscus) or steppe bison was common to North America, Central Asia, Europe, and Beringia during the Quaternary period. It is thought that the steppe bison appeared around the same time as the aurochs , an extinct type of cattle, in Asia. Descendants of the steppe bison are…

Friday, August 10, 2012

And What the Heck is "Elevenses?" A Book Review



I had no idea what an Elevenses was, or if this was something I would consider buying had it not been an Orangeberry promotion.  But I saw it was a cookbook, and I love cookbooks, so I decided to take a look at it.

The description went as follows:

"Elevenses from Around the World Farmer's Ham from Germany, French Toast from the Bahamas, Beef Kebab from Vietnam, Potato Salad from Brazil, Purple Corn from Bolivia and more. This book offers an insight to much loved breakfasts, brunches and snacks from around the world."
Oh, okay, we're talking breakfast/brunch foods.  So I went ahead and checked out the recipes.

First, let me say that I didn't expect to see so many versatile egg recipes.  This is awesome, given the number of eggs I have in my fridge.

Second, most of the recipes aren't weird, despite the "around the world" flavor and the fact that this was written by someone "across the pond."  Yes, I know that good food is good food, but what Americans think is tasty can be different from other nationalities, despite our melting pot.  So, seeing food that wasn't weird was good (this is coming from a woman who eats venison and chevon).

So, what looked good?  The Bahamas French toast (with banana rum sauce!), the Australian cinnamon porridge, the Belgium morning mushrooms, the purple corn (with pineapple and spices!), the Cuba eggplant fritatta, the Croatian baked sandwich, the ...

Almost all of them are winners.  There are some odd foods that I wouldn't care for such as the Egyptian mashed fava beans, and some ingredients such as black pudding in the English breakfast that I'm not that sure about, but some ingredients can be skipped or substituted if too odd or simply not available.

For 99 cents on Amazon, it's hard to beat.  You can purchase it here: Elevenses from Around the World

Monday, August 6, 2012

Goat's Milk, Flathead Cherries, Bartering, and Canning

Annie's Progress

First, some good news on Annie the Goat.  Saturday she let me milk her until I got a quart of milk from her.  This is huge, considering that she used to not let me milk her at all, and sometimes all I'd get is about a cup of milk before she threw a hissy fit.  She's getting more comfortable with me touching her udders and petting her in general. Most of the time now she gives about a pint of milk a day.

I don't know exactly how much human contact she had in her other home, but she is getting better with me.

Eggs for Cherries

One of the farmers who grows cherries had put up a post on Craigslist asking to trade cherries for something else of value, including eggs.  Well, considering my chickens are laying like crazy, I took them up on the offer.  They gave me over 20 lbs of cherries for 8 dozen chicken eggs and 1 dozen quail eggs.  They saw my eggs and started pouring part of another lug into my cooler.  I guess having really unique chicken eggs (blue, green, chocolate, terracotta, pink, olive, and brown) wows people.  So this left me with the conundrum of what to do with that many cherries.

The obvious answer is to can them and make jam from them.  But that required me to get a water canner and learning how to can.

An Idiot Learns to Can

Back when I was growing up, my mom used paraffin to make jams.  According to the USDA or FDA, this is risky, but I've eaten jams from hundreds of jars and never got sick.  My mom never canned with the seals because she thought it was too difficult or complex.  But that's the way the government says you should can, so I took the step to can the fruit.

The first thing I did was can cherries.  This is remarkably easy with a water canner, but tedious as I wanted my cherries pitted.  I guess you can put them in jars with the pits, but if you're going to eat or cook with them later, what's the point?

The plus to water canning is that it's pretty easy to tell if the canning makes a seal.  The canning process makes a vacuum and pushes the lid down.  You unscrew the rings that attach the lid and try to remove the lid without using force to break the seal.  If the lid comes off easily the canning process didn't work for that one.  So far, I haven't had any real problems with them.

Canning cherries was simple.  Add a light sugar syrup and pack clean raw cherries in.  Can in a waterbath for 35 minutes (I needed to add 10 minutes for altitude).

In a Jam

Yesterday, I tried making cherry jam.   Tried is an operative word.  I think it's runny because I didn't account for high altitude in cooking the jam.  But the jam can take up to two weeks to take a set, so I'm going to wait before recooking the recipe.  (The good news is that you can get a "do over" with jam if it doesn't set.

Today, if I have enough canning supplies, I'm going to try making spiced cherry jam.  Sounds good, doesn't it?

DNA Traces Cattle Back To Ancient Times (via redOrbit)
A new genetic study confirms that modern domesticated cattle are descended from 80 domesticated wild oxen in the Near East over 10,500 years ago. Scientists from CNRS, the National Museum of Natural History in France, the University of Mainz in Germany, and University College London (UCL) in the UK…

Friday, August 3, 2012

Goat Kids Can Develop Accents



Goat Kids Can Develop Accents (via redOrbit)
The ability to change vocal sounds (vocal plasticity) and develop an accent is potentially far more widespread in mammals than previously believed, according to new research on goats from Queen Mary, University of London. Vocal plasticity is the ability of an individual to modify the sound of their…