Thursday, September 13, 2012


About 2 months ago, I made a a massive batch of Kimchi, which is quite possibly one of the greatest things on the face of this planet. Actually, anything fermented is quite possibly the greatest thing on earth! Where would we be without fermented foods? No beer, no bread, no kimchi, sauerkraut, sriracha, chocolate, coffee, the list goes on... It would be a sad world indeed.

Anyhoo, back to the kimchi. Amongst the many things that we planted this spring was a 50 foot row of napa cabbage, and all of this was planted for the sole purpose of making kimchi. Mid June rolled around and the Napa was just about perfect; nice tight heads that had lots of moisture and tasted great! 

How do you make kimchi? Well its actually quite simple, the hardest part is sourcing the Korean ingredients, but with the magic of the internet, that’s not too hard these days. And for those of you living in big cities (suckers, kidding, sort of) you can go to your local Asian market and pick it up there...

Because there is no point in making this in small amounts, start with about 10 pounds of napa cabbage. Cut the cabbage into quarters length wise so that the root end is still holding the leaves together. Place this in a large bowl or some other container that will easily hold the cabbage and sprinkle with half a cup of kosher salt. toss the cabbage and spend a little time working the salt in between the leaves of the cabbage. Let this stand for one hour and then toss again, and then cover and let rest for a further 3 hours or even overnight. This process will start to soften the cabbage leaves.

While your cabbage is salting, make the spice mix. For this you will need:

1 cup Korean chili powder, make sure its fine and meant for Kimchi
1 cup sweet rice flour
2 cups water
1 cup fish sauce
Half cup of sugar
10 cloves of garlic
3-4 oz of fresh ginger
10 or so green onions
3 carrots, grated
1 medium size daikon radish, grated

Whisk together the sweet rice flour and the water and bring to a simmer, whisking the whole time. This will create a glue of sorts that will make the spice mix “stick’ to the cabbage. Let cool once thickened.. (side note, this is a bitch to clean)

In a food processor, blend the garlic, green onions and the ginger into a paste with the fish sauce and the sugar. Mix in the spice mix, the carrots and daikon and once cool, the sweet rice “glue.” Taste to see where its at. Remember that this will be diluted once it gets added to the cabbage. It should be pretty spicy and a little salty.

Give the salted cabbage a quick rinse to remove excess water and squeeze, yes squeeze out any moisture and let drain. In a very clean container, add the drained cabbage and mix in the spice mixture, hands work best for this but do make sure you use gloves, as the chili can burn you hands. Once mixed well, over the container and let ferment at room temperature for at least 3 days, 5 is better and if you want it really sour, let it go for a week. After this time, pack it into smaller containers and enjoy over the next month. It will continue to ferment in the fridge, so after a month it will be really strong, but great to cook with. So are all the juices left over, but that’s for another time.

Please feel free to ask any questions in the comment box.


Somehow we ended up with a slaughtered piglet that had nowhere to go, so we decided that the best thing to was to build a small pit and have an impromptu pig roast, not such a bad thing, if you ask me. I wanted to do this one a little different from the roast we had in the early spring, and because this was a much smaller pig, I decided to go it Porchetta style. This meant deboning the  whole animal while leaving it in one piece and the skin intact. I’ve done this many times before in my last life as a rocking New York City chef. 

Its quite a fun process, deboning a whole animal, especially cause this one was going to keep it’s head! I start by laying the piglet on its back and running a knife, very gently as you don’t want to pierce the skin anywhere, along both sides of the rib cage, slowly exposing the ribs and then the belly. (wow, thats sounds kinda naughty....) This gets pretty delicate because at some points there is only about a quarter inch of meat between the bone and the skin. I keep the knife pressed against the bone and follow the rib cage till I get to the spine. The tricky part is the hip bone, I separate the ball and sock joint, and then work my way around the hip bone. Once this is all free, I can then remove the whole ribcage/spine by pulling up at the neck and cutting along the top of the spine, being very careful to pot cut the skin. 

One this whole piece is removed, it gets pretty easy, just boning out the two shoulders and the two legs. After this is done, you have a whole hog that has been deboned from the inside out. I then cut off about half the hams, both for infill purposes and for to square off the end. I butterfly the ham meat that I removed and lay it on the area of the belly that is the thinest so that every slice has a good meat to skin to fat ratio. I then season the whole inside with salt and pepper and then add a thin layer of pork sausage, to add fat and flavor. The real excitement comes when I roll the whole thing back up into a tube and presto, we have Porkpedo!! 

We cooked this beats on a small cinder block pit that I built heated with charcoal and pieces of apple and oat wood. I kept the fire pretty low and let the Porkpedo cook for about 10 hours, basting it for the last few hours with garlic, maple syrup, mustard and vinegar wash. The result was epic!! Perfect tender meat encased in a shatter crisp skin...

My brother and my buddy Andy came up just for this and we had a good group of farm friend and volunteers to help it it. I was a truly fabulous meal and something we will be doing again, maybe for the October party! 

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Escape at the Slaughter House!

Today was slaughter day, which actually happens almost every Wednesday, as thats the day the local slaughter house does pigs. We had put the trailer in place last night, had a plan for which pig was going to meet its maker and a plan for getting him on the trailer. Dan and I have done this many times before and have gotten pretty good at it, and our confidence ended up biting us in the ass this morning. 
The load went great, this pig actually had a name, Socks, and was one of the first that I got to know when I got here. We have him some treats after we got him in the trailer and then drove him to the slaughter house. On the way I mentioned to Dan how smooth it went and that we never have any problems....I think you can see where this is going.
We get to the slaughter house, back the trailer up to the back door, (usually there are 55 gallon drums full of cow heads, but not today) open it up and start shooing the pig down the ramp and into the slaughter room. We had his nose in the room when he decided he wasn’t going in. They never really do, but today we had let our gaurd down just enough and ole Socks took full advantage of that. He spun around, and headed for the parking lot, I was able to hold him back for a second,  but at 220 pounds or so, he pushed right by me. I grabbed his ear to try to steer him back the other way, but he just drug me along with him, scrapping the crap out of my knee in the process, and I had to let go.
He took off at a slow trot across the parking lot towards the woods and the river; Dan, myself and 3 guys from the slaughter house in tow. We tried one more time to get a hold of him, but to no avail, Socks had plans of his own. He made his way into the woods, which were thankfully really thick with brambles, so we were able to contain him while one of the butchers ran off to get the inspector and a .22  
Socks was pretty calm though out this, I guess he wanted to go out on his own terms. We finally got him in somewhat cornered, and the butcher then shot him in the head, slashed his throat and let him bleed out. He was on a slope and bucking and kicking a lot, so I had to hold him down so he didn’t roll into the river, getting a lot of blood on me as a result. When his nervous system had stopped firing and he was totally gone, we drug him back on the trailer and then into the slaughter house.
This only goes to show that you always have to be on your toes around animals, they are smart and can get the better of you. We sure won’t make that mistake again...

I'm back!!!

Holy moly, its been way too long since I put anything up on this site, embarrassingly long.... its just been so busy here, so now I will start bombarding you with lots of short posts. First, turkeys!! Its hard to believe its been this long, but in early may, we got a call from the Clearville Post Office saying that we had a box that was making peeping noises. So I drove down and picked up a box of 15 Bourbon Red turkeys. They were tiny and made a super cute peeping sound. We had a box ready for them with a layer of straw, water, feed and a heat light over them. Poultry hatchlings need a very hot environment for their first couple weeks, somewhere around 110 degrees F. They lived in this box for  about a month at which time they outgrew it and they were ready to move outside and get some real sun. 
We did loose one of them quite unexpectedly, it was sick in the morning and by the afternoon it was dead, so now we are down to 14, and they all look great.
I built a large pen for them out of PVC pipe, chicken wire and some mesh netting and moved the birds out to their new home. They get moved daily so that they have fresh grass, bugs and roots to eat and a clean area to poop and pee on. Let me tell you, they are messy birds! They are also really big right now, which is great and it means that they will be huge come Thanksgiving! 
They are probably the dumbest animal we have on the farm. From what I can tell, they have two thoughts: “can I eat that?” or “that’s going to kill me!” Which must make for quite the dilemma for them come feeding time.....

Sunday, June 24, 2012

The Garden

The garden is looking great. The main reason that there has been such a gap in posts is that we have been crazy busy for the last month or so getting the garden planted, weeded, watered and maintained. My days have been easily 12 hours long and that at 7 days a week, so once I get done work, it’s dinner, a few beers, maybe some target practice with the .22 and then off to bed. This leaves little time and energy to write, that’s reserved for rainy days, like today...
Lettuce field number one is in full swing, with field number 2 being a few weeks behind, meaning that we’ll be in lettuce for the rest of the summer, and there aren’t many things as tasty as fresh greens from the garden simply dressed with lemon juice, olive oil, salt and pepper. The beets are looking amazing, as is the chard. Yesterday I picked an English pea which was so good! Unfortunately the pea patch had bad germination, so we will only have peas for house use, pea risotto anyone? 
We have plenty of potatoes now, with more on the way and our cabbages are looking great. We have a whole 50 foot row dedicated for Napa cabbage, which is destined for Kimchi, which I cant wait to make. The regular cabbage will be eaten fresh and turned into sauerkraut, another of my favorite things in the world.
We now also have just over 300 tomato plants in the ground and over 500 pepper plants, both sweet and hot. I think it will look great in a few months when all the different shapes and colors of peppers and tomatoes hanging off the plants, not to mention the amount of tomato salads, and grilled peppers we’ll be eating!

The sweet potatoes, asparagus, carrots, onions, garlic and kale are all looking very good, and we will start to harvest some of them soon. We removed all the scapes, the flower shoot, from all of the garlic and have been making pesto and using them instead of garlic for weeks now. The garlic is starting to dry out and I think we are only a couple weeks away from getting it out of the ground. We have about 17 different varieties, and about that many 50’ rows, so we will have garlic galore....

Monday, June 18, 2012

First Harvest and a Recipe

Last week Thursday was out first harvest day! It wasn’t huge, but it was really great to pull some food out of the garden and to see some fruits to all of our labor. Friends and local farmers go to Cumberland every friday for the weekly farmers market, and they called us Wednesday morning asking us if we wanted to send some stuff along. It was a bit short notice, so we had to scramble to get potatoes, red and golden beets, spinach, chard, scapes, and lettuces pulled from the garden, cooled and packaged in time, but we made it happen.  
Like I said, it was really cool to get some food pulled out of the garden for market. I remember planting the seed potatoes a few months ago, burying the plants in after they reached about 6 inches tall, checking them daily for Colorado potato beetles, and then finally pulling them out of the ground to find 5-6 beautiful potatoes per plant. I cooked up some for dinner that night using my favorite technique for roasted potatoes, and they were simply amazing...
Super Tasty Roasted Potatoes
(serves 6)
2 Pounds small new potatoes
3 Tbsp butter, olive oil or lard
1 Tbsp Thyme (fresh or dried)
1 Tbsp Rosemary (fresh or dried)
1 Tbsp Paprika
Salt and Pepper
Pre heat oven to 450. Put all the potatoes in a suitable pot and cover with water. Add a bit of salt and bring the water to a boil then turn down to a simmer, once simmering, cook the potatoes till they are about half cooked. Drain through a strainer and let cool for a little so you can handle them. Using a small pot, crush the potatoes a little, so they crack in a few places and have lots of rough edges. Toss the crushed potatoes with all the spices, salt, pepper and fat and place in a single layer on a roasting sheet. Roast in the oven for 45, turning them half way through, making sure they get really nice and crispy. Enjoy!


We have so many piglets! Both Fern and Willow have given birth in the last ten days, and we now have 22, we have two more pregnant girls in the barn that are due by this weekend! We will be swimming in piglets, so much cuteness shouldn’t be allowed.
It hasn’t all been easy and fun however. Because we have four pigs pregnant at the same time, we decided that the two senior sows, Fern and Willow, who had already farrowed once before, were to give birth in the woods, while Juniper and Strawberry would be moved down to the barn to farrow. We prefer having the girls give birth in the barn as it’s close to the house and we can keep a good eye on the pigs and piglets, as well as start the socializing process of the piglets. Accidents do happen, the piglets are really small compared to their moms, and they like to hide under the hay and they run the risk of getting stepped on or squashed. This happened twice with the infamous Ruby farrowing, but because this happened in the barn, Dan and I were able to get there fast enough to save the pigs. Unfortunately with the pigs in the woods being so far away, we have had more piglet mortality than we would like. Willow lost five of her seventeen piglets and I found two dead piglets this morning in Ferns den, leaving her a total of ten.
It’s hard to see these tiny little dead bodies, and I think in the future we won’t be having pigs farrow in the woods. There are just too many variables and there is too much risk. 
The surviving piglets are doing just great! They are super cute and soft and smell like babies...