Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Chicken Sausage Homestead style

Yesterday we spent the day Making Home Made Chicken Sausage and it turned out fantastic. Homemade chicken sausage is tricky, since you are dealing with chicken ( and not super duper ultra fatty greasy pork,, yum! heheee) its very easy to make chicken sausage that has an end result similar to sawdust, trust me I know, we made that variety 2 years ago ....
with a little trial and error we have come a long way in our sausage making....

what you need:
**a chicken or 2 or 3 or 4.. :)preferrably from your backyard. . The following recipe is based on 3 lbs of chicken meat./ about 1-2 chickens depending on breed etc...
** a Meat Grinder
** a sausage Stuffer
** sausage casing
**spices n extra fixins depending on what kind you want to make..

Step 1.. least favorite part.. butcher your chickens :/  this is my husbands Job
Step 2: Remove meat from the bone,, this is my Job. Be sure to add some of the Fat and skin into the meat as well, if you dont, you will end up with a dry sausage,,, I would say add 50% of the skin and fat from the bird.

steps 1 and 2 will take a better part of your day if you are butchering your own birds. Its time consuming, and labor intensive, but knowing it came directly from you homestead makes it all worth while.

SAVE the Bones if you want to make chicken stock later.

Step 3: Put the meat through the grinder. we use the biggest setting for the first time through

Step 4: add spices ( see recipe below)

Step 5: add Chicken broth or water.. I added chicken broth, we had broth simmering from a previous meal, and Ive read that broth is 100 times better than adding plain ol water.  I added about 2 cups worth to this recipe. This is also going to aid in keeping the moisture content in the sausage.
Step6: Attach sausage stuffer. now some grinders have sausage stuffer attachments, or you can buy a seperate sausage stuffer, we have both :). this is just a little plastic hicka ma doo, that goes on the end of the grinder... This is where we put the other attachment on to grind the meat up even smaller and then it goes directly into the casing.

You can make the links any length you want, you can twist and tie the ends when you have the desired length.
and Voila************ Homemade Chicken Sausage****** You can freeze or Pressure can your sausage.
Recipe for Bratwurst Style Chicken Sausage ( this is what we made)

3 lbs Chicken
1/2 Tsp All spice
3/4 Tsp Caraway seeds Crushed
3/4 Tsp Marjoram
1 Tsp Pepper
1 Tsp Salt
1 Tbsp Liquid Smoke ( be easy on this stuff, I hear its easy to over do it)
1-2 cups water /broth/beer , some kind of liquid. I hear beer is great to add!

 Recipe for Italian Style

5 lbs Meat
2tsp Whole Fennel seed
2 tsp crushed red pepper
1 Tbsp Salt
2 Tsp Oregano
2 Tsp Fresh Ground Black Pepper
1 Tsp Garlic Powder
( again I would probably add some kind of liquid if using chicken and not pork)

Recommendation: I personally recommend cooking these on the stove top. You could grill them, but again chicken sausage has a low fat content/moisture content so grilling them may dry them out,, but hey! give it a shot and let me know how it comes out :)

Happy Homesteading :)

The Cool Family
Oh,, dont forget to save the bones for Chicken Stock! Ill be canning some up this evening :)

Sunday, November 11, 2012

The story of Beeswax

The past few days, Robb and I have started preparing for our annual Holiday Market up in the mountains. We sell raw and infused honey & everyonessss favorite Beeswax Candles!
Beeswax candles are different than other candles. how so you ask??  Beeswax candles burn brighter, longer, and cleaner than any other candle. And after you see how its all done, you will have an even greater appreciation for beeswax.

Worker Bees develop special wax producing glands in their abdomen. These glads turn the sugar from the honey into wax. The wax is then able to move through tiny spores in the bees body, leaving flakes on the bees abdomen. The wax is then chewed up by the bees and added to the construction of their hive.
Honey bees also Cap the frames of honey with wax( like a little lid on top of the honey filled cell :). This is usually a good indication for us as beekeepers to know when to pull the honey from the frame... If you pull the frames to early, the honey can still have to much moisture in it ( the bees fan the honey with their wings to draw out the moisture,, and they know Exactly what they are doing and when its ready to be capped)
Pulling honey that is runny can result honey that will spoil or ferment.

Here is a photo of a frame of honey with the wax capping still in place:

When the frame is about 80% capped thats where we come in. We give the frame a quick shake, if no honey runs out, we know we are good to go...

Before we put the frames in our Honey extractor, we have a tool that scraps off the wax cappings , (its similar to a wire comb) to open up the cell and allow the honey to flow from the frame.

Next the frames go in our honey extractor ( a large machine that spins the honey out),, and the honey comes out a spout at the bottom and then through a large strainer to remove any large bee parts etc.. the WAX cappings are also sitting on top of this strainer , allowing as much honey to strain through before bagging up the wax.

After all the honey has made its way through the strainer ( NOTE: we use the largest strainer possible, allowing the pollen,small bee parts and some wax into our honey, because thats all the good stuff ;) we take the wax, throw it in a gallon bag until we are ready to make candles...

When we are ready to make candles, we pull all that beautiful sticky wax out from the freezer. There is still honey in the wax. The only way to seperate all the honey from the wax is with a solar wax melter or using a double boiler on the stove.
We place the wax in a coffee can, then place that coffee can, in a pot with water and melt the wax down completely.
Once the wax is melted, we cover containers with cheese cloth to strain it yet once again,, to remove any other little bee parts, dirt etc..from the wax.
Then you let it cool, The wax will solidify at the top and the honey will be at the bottom of the container . When you pop the wax out of the container you are left with this:,, almost ready, but there as you can see, there is still a bunch of honey n gunk on top of the wax..
This obviously must be removed before making candles...
so what to do???
FEED THE BEES :) give em back what is rightfully theres to begin with:)

Then just take a butter knife and scrape off any excess gunk, and you are left with a Beautiful chunk of beeswax to make Candles, lipbalm, soap ***********
The whole process is very involved, labor intensive, and when it comes to the bees part in the whole process, nothing short of amazing...

Be sure to support your LOCAL Beekeeper at this Years Holiday Markets..
The Cools

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Its SNOWING.. winter projects ;0

It hasn't snowed here yet... while they called for a lot last week, we didnt get a single flake, but the Mountains got a couple feet! This morning the sky spit out some rainy sleety stuff that vaguely resembled snowflakes, but all in all, it eventually turned to rain.

But even with the lack of snow piling up,, the winter projects are! I always look forward to this time of year, a time to slow down a bit, but I really feel like we have a lot on our plate this season. I am not going to rush my husband though, or myself for that matter... I am learning that taking our home off the power grid is a process, and instant gratification does not apply...
especially when funds are short and you have more projects that you can handle anway..

Santa Came early,, and look what he brought us ;) 6 240 watt solar panels ...........

and whats even cooler is they are USA MADE!!!

Plans have been drawn up , so Robb will be building the stand for the panels this winter.
This week we are Finalllllllllly hooking up our hot water to our cookstove which will most likely be my next Blog post.. so STAY TUNED!

In the meantime Im enjoying quiet crafty mornings next to the cookstove .
working on gifts for the Holidays...