Art of Proprietation

Friday, January 25, 2008

Negative numbers

Lately, it's been chilly around here. Zero is the day warming up. It was negative nine when we got up and it was negative twenty the other morning.

To combat these temperatures, we use a pretty tried and true approach, a wood stove in living area to give a point source for heat. A large high temperature object in the room warms the air and more importantly gives off radiant heat. With that radiant heat, the air temperature in the room can be a lot lower and still comfortable.

But the woodstove isn't just about comfort heat. That's bread rising on the upper shelf, a molasses wheat. I really enjoy fresh bread and everything that goes with it. We can get the oven on the woostove up to about 450 F. It's a little tricky keeping a steady temperature and given the hot fire box on one side means it is important rotate the bread in the oven.

With a little monitoring, though, they come out even. This batch did.

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Tuesday, January 22, 2008

A pig in small parts

Believe it or not, that is the better part of a pig. 105 lbs of cut meat. Not a huge pig, but not a small pig either. I didn't count anything, but there is a large pile of pork chops, two slabs of bacon, at least ten packages of ground pork and eight or ten roasts including loin end roasts. Somewhere in there is even the heart, liver and tongue. I haven't tried those before, I'll have to let you know.

We have gotten into the habit of buying a whole pig at a time. We buy it from a farmer, have it butchered and eat it out of the freezer for about six months. It is not the only meat we eat, but nearly all we buy uncooked. By buying it this way, we are able to get fresh, local meat that has been raised in a way we can live with. It was raised on pasture, no hormones or antibiotics, not chemical growth enhancers in humane conditions. We don't save any money, it was $300 for the pig and $125 for the butchering for 104 lbs, you do the math. The chain supermarket has pork loins for 1.99/lb on sale (at least they used to, we go to the store a lot less now). But, like I said, we can live with it.

Personally, I am not a raging localvore type. I think that's a fad like any of a number over the years. I still eat chocolate, drink coffee, etc. There are delicacies I enjoy that come from away. I am concerned about the imprint industrial agriculture is having on the planet and us as a species, though. So, when I have a choice, I try to stick close to home.

Along with local, I think also about the tasty bits. A long time ago, I came to realize that in our culture we are taught to only want the tasty bits. It comes out in a lot of ways, wanting only that sweet cookie, white rice, the choice cuts of meat. It becomes reflected in our bodies as we have to be forced into eating bran to prevent cancer and our environment as we have to find places to put the tailings left over from our habits. Buying a whole pig helps keep things in balance. We can't just always eat chops or pork loin as we end up with a freezer full of the other bits. It's more like building a stone wall. You have a pile of stone and you have to make the best of each piece. You can't go using all the best pieces right off, you need to spread them through the whole wall and make those other ones do in the meantime.

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