Monday, 24 February 2014

Poplar Bud Infused oil, by Kira

In a few weeks I am going to be making poplar bud oil.
If you have poplar trees around your home you will recognize the sweet, woodsy smell of their buds opening in the spring.
This is one of my favourite scents.

The buds are picked in early spring before the leaves have started to come out. This is when the buds are rich with sticky medicinal resins.
Poplar buds contain salicin and populin.
These glycosides are similar to aspirin and are effective at reducing pain, inflammation, and fever.

The infused oil is used to treat chapped lips, dry cracked hands,
minor scrapes, and cuts.
It is great for deep massages and relief from arthritis.
If you have little ones in diapers you can use it to prevent or treat diaper rash.

The hardest part of this project will be retrieving the poplar buds!
We have many poplar trees, but most of them are very tall.
The best time to hunt for buds is after a wind storm.
Look for fallen branches on the ground.

Friday, 21 February 2014

Fresh cheese! By Kira.

On my sixth attempt, I finally succeeded at making simple farm cheese.
This cheese is made by heating milk and then adding an acid to separate the protein.
My past attempts weren't total failures; I got some cheese, just not as much as I should have.
The cheese wasn't clumping together properly and I would lose most of it when I strained it through the cheese cloth.
I was talking with my friend the other day about making cheese and she told me she was cooking it on the cookstove.
So that's what I did yesterday.
I cooked the milk on the woodstove and it worked out.
It may have been that I was heating the milk too hot and too fast.
Here is how I made cheese.

You need:
- 4 litres of whole milk
- 1/2 cup of vinegar or lemon juice ( I used lemon juice)

On low heat, slowly warm the milk.
The milk was on the woodstove for about an hour while I stirred frequently.
I brought the milk up to about 170F and held it at that temperature for about 15 minutes.
Remove the milk from heat and gently stir the lemon juice in.
The milk will separate almost instantly into whey and curd.
Strain the curd with cheese cloth lined in a colander.
Once most of the liquid has drained, tie the ends of the cloth together and hang it for about an hour to finish draining.
Add salt to the cheese and it is ready to eat!
We feed the whey to the dogs and chickens.

Tuesday, 11 February 2014

Butchering in the Kitchen, by Kira

Yesterday we processed some chickens.
When the weather isn't cooperating I clean the birds inside.
It's not a fancy affair.
Once Andrew kills the birds and lets them bleed out,
he brings them in for me to clean.

I start with a clear working area.
Over the counter is a big window facing the duck coop where I have been watching the blue jays quarrel over the ducks' feed.

The sinks get cleaned and one emptied while the other is filled with hot soapy water.
The draining tray off the sink is cleaned and ready for use as well.
I have clean cloths, sharp knives and a bucket (for inedible parts) by my side.

Sometimes we skin the birds and other times we pluck.
Yesterday I just skinned them since we were working indoors.

I start by skinning the bird and removing the wings, feet, and head, all of which finds it's way into the bucket.
Sometimes before the skin and feathers make their way into the bucket,
we pick feathers for crafts and feather hair clips.
At this point, the kids like to gather around the bucket and examine the remains. Next the viscera are removed from the carcass.
We keep the liver, heart, and gizzard, then eat these fried in butter after the butchering is done.
Once everything is removed, I rinse the carcass in cold water, bag it and freeze it.
The leftover parts are either buried in the garden or taken out back into the woods for the forest animals to enjoy.
Nothing wasted.

Here it is.
A Gold Laced Wyandotte ready for the freezer.
Grown out, they weigh about 4lbs.