So New Years is just past but I want you to know we had a party at the Hall and you all missed a great time. We invited everyone we knew who might like to come and so did George, Danny's brother, and his wife Angela. Of course we all showed up with our kids, and some kids even came without their parents.
Eben brought his new stereo system, I brought my CD's (no Eben we are not going to listen to Convoy or the theme to Star Wars all night), lots of board games as Eben was hoping to find someone who would finally play Monopoly with him, but George and Angela broughta 5 GALLON icecream maker with them. This is George's newest icecream maker and he was anxious to try it out. I'm sure it took them all day to make the custard but by the end of the evening we knew there were some new tricks to master.
Some of us had never made icecream before while others were just good sports:
I think Doug started the cranking and then I cranked for a little while. The weather was pretty mild so it was nice to crank outdoors. Soon other people joined in:
Erica had never had home made ice cream before and she cranked valiantly. George was getting impatient; it seemed to be taking forever but the icecream didn't seem to be thickening. So he poured boiling water on the ice; he swears up and down this works to make it colder but I don't get it myself. Finally we gave up and looked inside:
It was certainly cold enough but it wasn't icecream. So we made the best of it and got out our bowls and had some:
Danny certainly enjoyed it.
So did the kids. And if they got tired of using spoons...they did ask for seconds.
So that was New Years but by Monday Danny was chomping at the bit anxious to get some work done. He cleaned barns and chicken coops, and then he decided we needed to experiement some more with the smokehouse. So he got some hams and bacons we've been meaning to get to out of the freezer and started looking at pickle recipes for pork. By Thursday he could stand it no longer so while he and George tried to figure out what was wrong with the tractor, Bunzie and I made several gallons of sweet pickle.
We consulted an 'old' family recipe. When we figured out how much salt we needed Bunzie had to run toBridgetown and to Annapolis to get enough pickling salt.
I found my trusty candy thermometer and we set ou to make 6 gallons of brine. We didn't have a pot big enough but figured if we made it double strength we could dilute it when we were ready to use it. This was a good idea up to a point but we were using so much salt, 4 kilos to 3 gallons of water, that as the mixture cooled the salt started to precipitate out of it quite quickly. we warmed it up again and added the remaining 3 gallons of water and everything was fine. The bacons were in a tub so we added the brine:
But we needed to know if the brine was strong enough so we had to use the handy dandy hydrometer that my Dad gave Danny to measure the salinity:
The hydrometer floats in the brine and measures the salinity. It was kind of cool to actually use something I remembered learning in high school physics in order to make sure we were doing things right.
Once that was done we had to make another 6 gallons of brine, that went much faster the second time. The second tub was started but not before we had a commotion in the driveway!
Danny was still trying to get the tractor going when he decided to tow it with the Heston to see if he couldn't get it to start that way. While he was doing that our new (to us ) porter arrived. I looked ouside to see it chasing the tractors up the driveway:
The porter is a piece of machinery that Danny hopes to take out in the woods this year. Much of our woodlot is difficult to reach awhich means the wood Danny cuts for us to burn; we use a wood stove and a wood furnace for all out heating, in not always optimum. More about this no doubt in another blog as I'm less than impressed with the wood we have to burn this year and I'm learning more than I ever knew before about the topic.
All of this has made for a busy week. The hams and bacons will have to pickle for several days/weeks in the brine before we start up the smoker but now we're one step closer. no doubt next week will bring it's own opportunities to try new things.
Be kind to one another.