Wednesday 12 November 2014

A Busy Kitchen

Dry-cured pork bellies air-dry in the
coolest room.
I can't remember when I have seen the kitchen so busy. Maybe on a run up to Christmas or a busy guest-arrival. The lovely Lizzie is in there full time at present working her fingers to the proverbial bone; beat that sugar into the butter 'till your wrists are twanging with the pain of RSI aches', then add an egg, some flour and beat some more...and so on. (Yes we did used to have a food mixer for that and will buy another, but the old one got thrown away when the slow-speed died and not replaced because, at that time "we didn't make cakes". Ha!).

Dry cured Tamworth bacon
The kitchen here is only 8 feet square, so a bit of a small space for all this activity, and some bits get evicted temporarily; the cake-mixing above is parked on the unlit range, but you'll get the picture. Our biggest (gumbo) pot sits on the hob, lid-raisingly full of lamb 'offal' bits being boiled up for the haggis. A lung is in there, plus a hearts and the lamb trimmings.

With the sheep now gone, the geese get the run of the
1.5 acre "East Field".
In the oven, an oval dish has the suet from around the lamb kidneys (we always ask for them back "with their jackets on") being rendered very gently down just to enable it to be separated from the inevitable membranes and fibrous bits. This lovely hard suet makes excellent pastry-crust. The three 2.5 kg bags of sausage meat are being divided up into more sensible portion sizes for freezing. We actually eat very few 'sausages' per se, though we do love a sausage pie. Liz adds the flavouring (apple, leek or what ever) to the sausage-meat prior to making the pie, we store the sausage meat 'au naturel' and we declined the butcher's generous offer of sausage 'covers' (skins) for free.

Bacon butties!
Our home made dry-cure bacon (the bellies) has now had its time in the salt, been rinsed and is drying in the air in its muslin bags. One of these is now dried, so has come back into the kitchen to have the rind skimmed off (makes it easier to cut into rashers!) and the skin is in the oven being slow-baked into dog treats. Only 'slow-baked' because of the slow suet render that's in there already.  The bigger chunks of meat (boned legs) are still in the salt. They get 7 days in salt for each inch of thickness.

The goose carcass, from which we only ate the legs on day 1, sits waiting to be stripped of meat. The meat will re-appear as cold-roast with tonight's risotto. Risotto is another firm favourite which comes in two 'versions' in this house. When I do it, it is the main course and is choc-a-block with different ingredients - the meat and usually some bacon, the onion, garlic and chilli of course, scallions, carrot, red and green pepper, any other root-stuff cut into tiny dice (turnip, parsnip etc), celery or lovage or spinach-beet leaves and stems, chard and so on. When Liz cooks it is is a far simpler beast, being (almost) just the onion, garlic and scallions with the rice and served as 'the carbs' alongside the meat or other veg. It's great both ways.

The dogs all white and fluffy from their shower.
Left to right. Towser, Poppy and Deefer. 
Finally, there's the Christmas cake in bowls and tubs, half assembled. Liz is off to town this morning to do one of her 'tutoring sessions' (History - the Hanoverians today, I think) and will return via 'Supervalu' with a new food mixer.

The kitchen is no place for the faint-hearted at present; hence I am out here writing about it rather than getting under the cook's feet, but while she is out I am let in to do a few 'sous-chef' jobs and will possibly even wash up. I'd be outside given half a chance but it is raining again and wet slippy puddles are not conducive to safe chain-saw wielding so I'm a bit pinned down. Not complaining, though; I am a chief beneficiary of all this kitchen based hard work. Another cup of 'tay', Liz?

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