The Chef, The Waitress…And The Kitchen Hand…

Well, that makes it official! We will soon be joined by our very own kitchen hand. Due August 7.

If you still have no idea what I’m talking about…WE’RE HAVING A BABY!!!

Yep, that’s right. We’re thirty weeks today and although it’s now common knowledge in the “real” world, we have not made it official in the “virtual” world. Not even on Facebook. Although someone joked that it’s not official until you’ve announced it on Facebook. What’s the world coming to?

Anyway I’m not sure what else to say? We’re obviously very happy, excited, nervous etc. And we haven’t found out the sex as we’re happy to keep it a surprise. And the pregnancy is going well however there have been some minor concerns so your prayers would be appreciated!

I’ll leave you with this picture, which I think about sums it up.

Pregnant(And that’s just my navel ring, my bellybutton hasn’t popped!)



I didn’t even have to come up with a title for this post because what I’m sharing about needs no more introduction than itself.


Although this is no ordinary bacon. It is home raised, home made bacon. It makes all the difference. Once you’ve tried it, you will never go back.

As Kermit was older than the average slaughter age (most pigs are culled on average at 6 months, Kermit was around 18 months) he obviously had a bigger middle, which is what you make your bacon out of (middle = belly and loin). This meant that we could make a lot more bacon so we decided to try a few of the types of bacon mentioned in the book (The Gourmet Farmer Deli Book – see previous post) to see which ones we liked best for future reference.

1. Dry-Cured Bacon – the whole pork middle is marinated in a mixture of salt and brown sugar for several days.

2. Wet-Cured Bacon – the whole pork middle is marinated in a brine solution for several days.

3. American Bacon – technically you only use the belly and not the loin however we were more interested in the flavour, which is a generic wet-cure with added honey or maple syrup (or both! We used a half/half mixture of both), so instead of having proper “Streaky American Bacon”, we used the whole pork middle and just noted the flavour. Also Kel did a dry-cure rather than a wet-cure (we only had one tub and that was being used for the plain wet-cure).

4. Stout and Molasses Cured Bacon – Kel actually adapted this from one of the cured ham recipes from the book. The curing ingredients were salt, stout, molasses, bay leaves, whole cloves, cinnamon sticks, and allspice. Instead of wet curing it as you would do for a ham, Kel dry-cured it however it was more of a liquidy dry-cure due to the stout.

Kel also added bay leaves and black peppercorns to all of the cures.

It is suggested that you use the chemicals sodium nitrate and sodium erythorbate when curing bacon however we don’t believe they are necessary, especially on a home scale basis. The book is very open minded about it too, which we liked. Plus we portion and freeze our bacon rather than just vaccuum seal. Also you cook bacon, unlike other cured meats that you eat as is e.g. salami.

With each type of bacon, we only smoked half so we could do a proper taste test of unsmoked and smoked.

The verdict?

1. Dry-Cured Bacon – it was good, just like a classic homemade bacon. It cooked well and both smoked and unsmoked were equally delicious.

2. Wet-Cured Bacon – this turned out more like ham, it was a bit sloppy and not like bacon at all, both in texture and flavour. When cooked, it dropped a lot of liquid and didn’t caramelise very well (which is essential to bacon!!!) As the bacon was hot smoked, it didn’t really work either due to the amount of liquid that it was producing. We probably won’t cure bacon this way again.

3. American Bacon – very delicious however due to the added sweetness not as versatile as the dry-cured bacon e.g. too sweet for a Carbonara. Definitely best eaten as is and not as an ingredient e.g. Canadian pancakes! It cooked well, dropped the least amount of liquid however caramelised the fastest so with this one you have to make sure you watch it carefully while you’re cooking. Both smoked and unsmoked were again, equally delicious. Just choose what you feel like!

4. Stout and Molasses Cured Bacon – delicious, this cure paired really well with Kermit’s meat. As he is older, the cure brought the gaminess out and added a heavy earthy flavour too. Cooked well, pretty much like the dry cured bacon. The smoked was even better than the unsmoked as it increased the afore mentioned flavours.

There you have it. Now our freezer is stocked full of bacon of various types.

Unsmoked Bacon LoinUnsmoked Bacon – Loin

Unsmoked Bacon Belly and LoinUnsmoked Bacon – Belly and Loin

Smoked Bacon LoinSmoked Bacon – Loin

Smoked Bacon BellySmoked Bacon – Belly

The Cut Up

Last Thursday the mobile butcher came back to cut up Kermit and Chuck. Little pig isn’t going to be cut up as we’re going to roast her on a spit.

Previously we have only hung our meat for a week as that’s what the butcher’s normal is however we decided we wanted to hang the meat for two weeks instead and we are much happier with the results. The meat hung only for a week tended to always be extremely bloody. The meat hung for two weeks was a lot less and we’ve also found that when cooked, the meat holds its juices rather than just leaking out into the pan as it tended to do before. The only difference is we have to pay for an extra week when hiring the mobile cool room from the butcher – we think it’s definitely worth it.

Chuck was cut up mainly into steaks with a bit of mince. Kel specified our steaks to be super thick as you can see in the photo below. Those steaks are going to be good!

T-Bone Steaks

With Kermit, we had the pork bellies left intact so we could make our own bacon, only prime cut steaks and the rest was minced. Half of the mince was fatty and half was not so much – the fatty mince is what you make sausages out of.

As Kel’s parents owned half of Chuck, we obviously only got half of him however they didn’t want to halve his offal πŸ˜‰ With both Chuck’s offal and Kermit’s offal, Kel boiled it all and portioned it up for Solomon’s dinners. The way he did it also created a huge amount of gravy so not only does Solomon get cooked offal for dinner, he also gets offal gravy on it too!!!

Solomon's DinnerSolomon’s Decadent Dinner

Kel has been super busy roasting bones, fat and sinew to boil and create both stock and clarified fat. Clarified fat, also known as Lard, when made properly can last forever and is really good to not only cook with but also to season cast iron. We use mainly cast iron cookware so now we have enough lard to probably last us, maybe a few weeks?

Jars of LardThe jars go back five rows

A few Christmas’ or birthdays ago I bought this book for Kel:

The Gourmet Farmer Deli Book

With the pork bellies and fatty mince to use it was time to crack it open to make our own bacon and sausages. Obviously we’ve done both before however the book contains recipes for certain types of bacon and sausages and we having been wanting to try them. We decided to try as many of the recipes as possible however I’ll leave that for another post just to keep your taste buds in suspense πŸ˜‰

We Now Resume Our Regularly Scheduled Program…

And we are back!

Well we had a great adventure traveling to China, Switzerland, Germany, Italy, England, Scotland, France, Spain and Japan. We took around 40GB of photos (well Kel did!) that we now have to sort through however we hope to do it soon so we can share with you our amazing journey. There is so much to tell!

We also haven’t forgotten that we still have to update you on our farming activities so you’ll probably see a mixed bunch of posts until we’ve caught up!

I’ve also started catching up on my blog reading – I’m looking forward to reading about what you’ve all been up to.

Leavin’ On A Jet Plane…

Well when this is posted we’ll be on the plane off on our trip to China, Europe and the UK. While we’re away we probably won’t be blogging because we’ll be too busy having such a great time! Well I hope that’s the case πŸ˜‰

This brings me to my next point. Today it is also the first day of Spring. This means winter is over, which means that we should have caught you up on all our farming and life activities, yes? Just as we said in our post It’s Cold Outside. What do they say about good intentions? Sigh. Obviously we haven’t remotely caught up – at this point we will just keep plodding along and hope that one day we will have! So take note that in future blog posts we will be talking about both present and past happenings (hopefully you won’t get too confused!)

Before we say adios we’d just like to recognise a couple of achievements this blog has made.

First we’d like to thank “Cheergerm” from The Cheergerm & the Silly Yak for The Versatile Blogger Award, The Liebster Award and The Sunshine Award. In accepting the awards there’s a bunch of stuff you need to do and nominate others however we have enough trouble posting about our happenings that we thought we’d just say thank you and leave it at that – we really appreciate the recognition though!

On the 13th December 2013, we reached a total of 100 likes.


Then on the 26th July 2014, we reached over 100 followers/subscribers.

100 FollowsOur current tally is 127.

We’re pretty proud and we’re so thankful to all those who follow/subscribe, read, like, comment etc. We’ve made so many new friends and learned a lot too!

Anyway if you want to keep updated on our travels, I’m sure we will be Instagramming so follow us here (Laura) and here (Kel). Otherwise we’ll just catch you up when we get back! Although who knows how long it will take us to actually write the posts about our trip and publish them…

Well that’s it from our end. Later alligator!

Win A Date With The Chef and The Waitress!

Well not really…more like WE’RE GOING TO EUROPE!!! And we’d love to meet some of our blogging buddies if you live anywhere near where we’re visiting!

We’re hoping to visit Switzerland, Germany, Austria, Italy, England, Scotland, France, and Spain with stopovers in Beijing and Tokyo. We leave on September 1 and come home on October 13.

We’ve been incredibly blessed to have our trip mostly paid for by a very generous family member. They wanted us to experience the UK before we had kids and knowing that wasn’t going to be very likely on our current incomes, decided to take the matter into their own hands. We’re very excited πŸ˜€

We’d also love to hear of anyone’s experiences with the places we are hoping to visit – great places to see, eat, stay…please let us know!

It’s Cold Outside…

Well the incubators have been turned off after a little over nine months. It’s almost Winter here and it’s becoming too cold to rear chicks (well with our setup anyway). It’s also a good idea to have a break as one needs rest. Plus it helps to have time to reflect on everything that has happened. Work out what worked well and what didn’t, how we can improve on our systems and to plan for how we’re going to proceed from here.

It’s been a huge learning curve for the both of us. Personally I’ve done things in the past year I never dreamed that I would do, let alone COULD do. I have been pushed not just out of my comfort zone but so far beyond it, I don’t know what my comfort zone is anymore.

We’ve made brilliant choices and grave mistakes however all in all we’ve constantly sought God about everything and constantly reevaluated when something isn’t working. We’ve poured our blood, sweat and tears and our money! into this and at many points we have had to stop and rethink and redo the entire thing, which has been hard, don’t get me wrong, however we’d rather do that than try and make something work that isn’t. It’s a tough decision to make however a necessary one if you want to move forward. One of the hardest decisions in life is letting go.

Anyway as the days are getting shorter and we’re slowing things down over here, we thought we’d use this time to recap our venture thus far as we have been a little slack in keeping up to date as everything’s been happening. Hopefully now we will have the time and by the time Winter is over, we shall be up to date!