Monday, December 5, 2011

Kudzu The vine that ate the South!

You see it everywhere down here. It grows anywhere and at a rate that is unbelievable. We spray it we mow it we plow it under and yet it still keeps making gains. Its called a number of names from mile a minute vine, foot a night vine, the vine that ate the south, and it's even been called the miracle vine. 1876 at the centennial exposition in Philadelphia is one of the first recorded dates of Kudzu being introduced as a ornamental plant. Then in the twenties farmer found that animals would eat so it was sold by mail order as a forage plant for animals.In the thirties the Soil Conservation Service pushed Kudzu as a soil erosion control. Even paying farmer up to eight dollars an acre to plant it. The Civilian Conservation Corps planted it in many of their projects. Channing Cope called it "The miracle vine" and promoted it in the Atlanta Journal for soil erosion control. The U.S. government decided to stop supporting kudzu in 1953 and it took them until 1972 to call it a weed.
The plant can really grow as much as a foot day in the right conditions. Some herbicides will actually make it grow better most have little to no effect. The U.S. Forest Service recommends repeated herbicide treatment saying t take up to four years to completely kill it.
Now the plant itself has been used for food, for building, as a medicinal plant, and as an ornamental plant for centuries in Asia. Its bright green leaves and beautiful purple blossoms make it a pleasant looking plant.

Very Pretty and the blossoms have a scent of almost that of ripe grapes. Most people don't ever see the blossoms because they tend to be hidden by the large leaves. the stories of the vine swallowing houses are true.

It's said that the vine can even stop an Abraham's M1 Tank. Having tried to get through this stuff I would not doubt it. Back to the food aspect tough.
The wife makes this wonderful Kudzu Blossom Jelly. It comes out a light golden color and has a taste that is somewhere between grape and plum. She will take the same blend and not add the pectin and makes a delightful Kudzu syrup. The large leaves can be treated like any other green. Cook of some bacon ans onion then add the big kudzu leaves and cover with chicken stock and simmer just as if they were collards ot mustard greens. The large leaves can be blanched and then stuffed with chopped lamb or goat or whatever. and served as you would stuffed grape leaves. Now the new little sprouts and leaves can be used raw in salads but they need to be very young. If you can find the root and if you can muscle it out of the ground. I say that because the root can be huge up in the hundreds of pounds. It can be dried and then ground and used as starch to thicken soups and sauces and as a breading for fried foods.
 As far back as 100 AD the Chinese have used kudzu to treat a number of aliments from headache and migraines to agina. To even speed the progression of measles in children. As a demucalent to soothe mucous membranes. It can lower blood pressure and help with hypertension. Not bad for a weed that everyone hates.
 Its been used to make bales to help insulate houses. The vines being very strong and flexible are used to weave baskets and mats.
So I say The vine that ate the South should be the vine the south eats. I will try and post some photos of the jelly later

Bikers and Beer

Saw this over clip of some bikers and a couple at the movies on a blog called small dead animals. It's from a young lady from our northern neighbor Canada eh! She has some really good stuff smart, and funny. Check her out. The clip is great a little insight to how first impressions can be.

Wednesday, November 30, 2011


A friend had given me a couple rabbits. I had her place them in pens and "free range" them on grass and No Pellet food for a couple weeks before she brought them over. I will spare you the skinning part only because I did not take any photos during the process.
We will start with a couple nice clean ready to break down carcasses.

I always start by removing the legs front and then back. Front will come off with little effort. The Hind legs you need to be careful and go through the joint at what would be the hip.

Now for the loin just like any other loin it starts at the top of the hind quarter and runs up the back bone to the front shoulders.

Well when its all said and done I have a nice little pile of tender tasty rabbit. What shall I do with it?

Well that leaves you with the back bone and rib section all intact. I will take it and in a large stock pot I'll add a little oil. When its hot add the left over carcass and some chopped onions, carrots, and fresh parsley brown it off a little then cover with water and boil.

Let it boil down to a fourth, then replace he water and repeat for about three times ending with about a four cups of liquid.. This will give you a really great rabbit stock for making a sauce for your tasty little bunny.

As you can see it goes from a light color to a nice deep rich brown. Only thing left is to reduce this down.

Now for the rabbit parts and pieces. Must marinate I think, maybe confit some. sous vide it? Pan fried? Oh the delima too many tasty choices. I must step back and thing ..........

Friday, November 25, 2011

Acorn Flour

O.K a break from breaking down deer. The acorn flour project is back on. So the wife and I gather a few bags full of acorns. White oak produce acorns that are lower in tannins than the other oaks. You can use what ever you have though it will just take more washing.

This time of year they are everywhere. So gather them and then just give them a little whack with a hammer and peel the shell off. Or you can use a knife to slit the shell and then peel if off. The Shell is rather flex able. Here is a bowl full that I peeled with a knife.

Once you get all your nuts shelled or peeled how ever you want to put it.
They need to be washed to remove the tannins. Yeah a good many people think that they are poisonous but they aren't. I use the two pot method to wash mine. Place two pots of water on the stove and bring them to a boil. Take your acorns and bust them up a little using a hammer this will make the easier to wash. Then place them in one of the pots of boiling water. Boil for about ten to fifteen minutes. Drain them and place them in the second pot of water. Refill the first pot and place it back on stove to bring it to a boil again. Boil the acorns till the first pot of water reaches a boil. Then drain the acorns and repeat the process over till the acorns are not bitter anymore. It takes about five or six boils to get them where I like them.

After they have been boiled and the tannins have been leached out you will need to dry the out. The liquid that you get from the first boiling will be a nice brown golden color. That liquid has a few medicinal uses it is antiviral and antiseptic. It works well on rashes, poison ivy, burns, and itches, and yes even good as a wash for hemorrhoids. Made into a tea it can be helpful for dysentery and diarrhea. As a gargle for sore throats. You can use it to wash clothes, it will slightly color whites so be careful. Was your camo for deer season in the water and it works better than any scent cover you can by. Just store the acorn tannin water in sealed mason jars in the fridge. If it does mold just skim off the mold and bring it to a boil for ten minutes and its good to go. Anyway back to the flour.
Dry the nuts in a dehydrator or the oven set on a very low temp. I like the dehydrator method less work less fuss. Once dry I will toast them in a skillet before I grind them. I will reserve some the chop and and use in cookies. The rest I grind and a piny jar of chopped nuts will yield about one and a half times the amount.

One ounce of acorn flour has 2.1 grams of protein, 140 calories, 9 gr of fat, no cholesterol or sodium, 15 gr carbohydrates not too bad. As for minerals lets see Calcium 12 mg (1%), Iron 0.3 mg (2%), Magnesium 30.8 mg (8%), Phosphorus 28.8 mg (3%), Potassium 199mg (6%), Zinc 0.2 mg (1%), Copper 0.2 mg (9%), Manganese 0.5mg (24%)

So Natural is better. When I use the flour I usually do a fifty fifty split with flour. If you use all acorn flour for bread it will be crumbly no gluten in the acorn flour. The wife uses the chopped nuts for cookies they are great.

Some people will grind the nuts to a mush and place the mush in  flour sack and rinse it with cold water over and over. That method takes a great deal of time. I have also seen where they take the nuts place in a cloth bag and place in a flowing stream and leave it for several days to wash the nuts. As with everything you will find a dozen different methods. I can tell you about my method as that is the only method I have used.  Try which ever method you think will be best for you. All ways use caution when trying something new.

Monday, November 7, 2011

Fall colors

Fall in the Ozarks

The trees are full of color and the trees are dropping the leaves. Deer season in full swing with Bow right now rifle season starts this week end. We've already put several deers in the freezer already. and I family member dropped this off today.

So time to break out the tools of  "Deerstruction" I keep it pretty simple a good bone saw, a thin blade boning knife, a steel, and a 4" paring knife. Yes I can break a deer down with just those couple of tools.

I've had that boning knife for more than thirty years. Well back to the deer. I peel the hide down to the base of the head. Starting at the first joint of the hind legs and working my way down. I leave the hide hanging on the carcass. That's just me, some take it all the way off.

Once I get here the next thing is to remove the loins. The loin starts at the top of the hind quarter and runs all the way down to the neck, ending behind the front shoulder.

This is one of the better cuts from the deer and getting the whole loin out is fairly easy to do it just takes a little time. The results of careful knife work is a very nice big loin.

One down one to go. The next photo shows the loin hanging from just above the front shoulder to give you a better  ideal of where they are.

Once removed you carcass will look like this.

Now I usually remove the front shanks. The shank is the part of the leg starting at the second joint and running to the third joint. I remove the lower part with the bone saw, and the remove the shank.

Once the shanks are removed I take off the front shoulders. They come off with little effort.

Now I take out the actual tenderloins. They are located inside the carcass along both sides of the spine. They start at the base of the hind quarter and run fro about 10 to 12 inches. They are small but Oh so good. That's them laying on top crossing each other.

The last thing is to take off the hind quarter. Use the bone saw to cut them free from one another and remove the lower leg section. The the hind shanks. The what you have left is the hind quarter.
Now I have a cooler full of meat to break down even more. so lets get started.
 The loins I cut one in half to save as a roast. The other loin I slice into medallions.

I break down the hind quarters to the muscle groups and the slice the larger muscles into steaks that I pound with a meat mallet. The rest of the meat I will clean off the silver skin "tendons" and cube some for stew meat and the rest will be ground with pork fat. The ground meat will be used as ground and some will be used to making sausage. All of the meat is packed in bags and vacum sealed, labeled, and dated then place in the freezer. I pack it this way so that I get nice flat packs that stack well in the freezer.

I will also season some of the larger pieces vacum seal them freeze them then slice them for jerky.
That will be so good jerky The wife made some that is very spicy and will lite up your face. The freezer is starting to look pretty good now. Still plenty of room for a few more deer though.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Acorn Flour

The son in law has be a mass murder of deer the last few days. I spent the last two days standing in the kitchen at the island breaking down two deer. The wife made some great liver pate from the deer livers and hearts. I saved the necks to be braised and slow cooked in the style of Osso Buccu. The Kids were a little amazed at how much I can get out of a deer when I butcher it. I waste nothing. After all the large and small cuts are remove I cut the backbone into smaller sections and place them in a stock pot with some onion and garlic and stew for several hours. remove the bones and scrape the meat off the bones and reserve. Once you get all the neat scraped off the bone, I thicken the stock made from boiling the bones. Once thickened I add the meat scrapes back to the gravy and then all you need is some biscuits or mashed potatoes for a nice little meal of what would have went in the trash.
 I also made sausages from the meat from in between the ribs and and any other scrape pieces that I had or did not want to include in what I ground for burger. I Save several of the loins for roasting and sliced two for grilling. We cut steaks and pounded then thin. Stew meat was cut as well. All meat was then vacuum packed and labeled with date cut and tag number. Always put the tag number on the packets of meat. It could save you a lot of questions and trouble in the future. I should have done some photos of the butchering but I didn't. I will on the next deer. It's urban hunt here that's where you can hunt within the town limits. The first deer you kill has to be a doe and it goes to the local food bank, then you can kill as many as you can it's all bow hunting too. Then we have black powder and then rifle. There is no excuse for not having meat in the freezer here. We are also on a large lake lake that is full of Bass, Walleye, Kentuckies, and hybrid strippers. The river is full of trout. Yes it is Paradise.
Anyway Acorn flour can to mind while I was breaking down a deer. I thought it would be great to bread some deer steaks with acorn flour before frying them and also the wife wants to make some bread using acorn flour so that is the project today. Pictures to come later of the steps for  making the flour. It's a cold windy day so plenty of acorns on the ground.
You want to make sure the nuts are firm, and that there are no holes in the nuts. Gather plenty