Monthly Archives: June 2014

Slow Cooker Wild Turkey Breast, Wild Living, Wild Foods

One of the things that I love best about West Virginia is our lack of dependence on the commercial food chain. It takes time to learn how to make delicious meals with wild game, but I would not live any other way. We have been very fortunate over they years to have found some really wonderful hunting locations that supply my family with lots of wild turkey every spring. I even tried to hunt a couple of days this year, even in the cast. Tom and I never even saw a turkey those days, but he was lucky to fill his tags for the spring. Cody my oldest son was not able to go this spring as he was moving but this is a nice bird from last season. On average the birds weigh about 15 to 18 pound uncleaned and we get around 6 to 8 pounds of white breast meat per bird.

Cody with wild turkey

Toms spring gobbler The legs and thighs are for making poultry stock and any thing with a diced meat  like pot pie. The the dark meat from the legs and thighs is tougher than their domestic counter parts. They actually have to scratch, hunt and peck for their food so those legs have to work a lot harder than those white birds.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

So after we clean and butcher the turkey we are left with two large breasts. Usually they are to large for just Tom, Christopher and I to eat all in one meal. We either invite friends over or some times when we are in a rush I just toss a whole breast in the slow cooker and use the left overs for another nights meal.slow cooker wild turkey with pan sauce

Once a person eats well cooked wild turkey there is rarely a person who goes back to domestic turkey. Wild turkey is not dry and is not so pumped up on steroids so the meat is not as thick so it cooks more evenly. This means that seasoning and marinades penetrate the meat more fully.

In my case we make a soup stock to cook the turkey in and then thicken the broth at the end for a pan sauce with all the flavors you cooked the turkey in. I like it over mashed potatoes just like gravy.

 

Slow Cooker Wild Turkey Breast

 

1.  5 to 6 pound wild turkey breast off the bone.

2.  1 large carrot.

3. 1/2 med sweet onion..

4. 2 teaspoons minced garlic.

5.  2 teaspoons celery flakes ( do not like eating celery so I opt for the flakes if you have fresh celery use about 1/2 cup).

6. 1 teaspoon poultry seasoning.

7.  3 teaspoons butte.r

8. 1 cup white wine.

9.  2 bullion cubes in two cups water or two cups chicken stock.

10. 1/4 cup corn starch and 1/2 cup water to make as a thickener for sauce.

 

 

Starting with the turkey breast, remove any pin feathers, fat or connective tissue that remains after butchering. Set a side as you prepare the broth that the breast simmer in.

turkey breast with pin feather showing

turkey breast with pin feather showing

When finished cleaning the breast, I make what will be a traditional chicken soup starter. I start with heating up the slow cooker adding my water and bouillon or stock to the cooker.

slow cooker with water and bouillon

slow cooker with water and bouillon

Next I saute’ the remaining items on the above list until the onions are translucent and the carrots and garlic are soft.

Slowly adding in the wine as the mixture softens. I let everything simmer together for couple of minutes and then add all of this to my warming stock.

Vegetables and spices added to stock

Vegetables and spices added to stock

At this point I taste the broth and adjust salt and pepper. I usually add a little salt at this point.Then add the  breast and cover with the cooker lid and simmer two hours adding wine or water if  the broth is boiling away to quickly to keep the breast moist. I like to have the broth reach up about half way up the side of the meat.

wild turkey breast in broth

wild turkey breast in broth

I let the breast cook another 3 hours and check for tenderness and doness. I try to pick the breast up with a serving fork and if it is ready is will not stay together well enough to use a fork alone. It will begin to fall apart.

I then turn off the slow cooker and let it sit a few minutes. As it cools and I begin to thicken the broth on the stove. I place a small pan on the stove with 2 teaspoons corn starch mixed with about 1/4 cup water. Then I ladle about 1 1/2 cups of broth out of the stock pot into the sauce pan and heat over  med-low  until the sauce begins to thicken. Making a sauce with a nice chicken noodle soup flavor.

Corn Starch and water mixture

Corn Starch and water mixture

 

I then remove the breast from the slow cooker, cut thin slices and drizzle with sauce. We served this with southern side dishes of mashed potatoes, seasoned green beans with bacon and fresh cantaloupe.

simple southern wild turkey dinner

simple southern wild turkey dinner

 

Just as a funny side note as I was cooking I needed to open another bottle of wine for this recipe and got the cork screw out as the veggies were cooking away and tried to open  the bottle. Well in all of my years of drinking and cooking with wine I have never ever had this happen.

Broken cork floating in wine bottle

Broken cork floating in wine bottle

cork chewed up by cork screw

cork chewed up by cork screw

No mattered what I did, the cork screw just slowly descended into the cork and would not grip the cork. I lowered the handles and nothing happened. The screw just popped out and the cork just sat there with chunks of cork falling all over the counter. What a mess, I tried again and the mess just got bigger. I then got desperate and just tried to pry the cork out with a knife. A mistake I know, but my dinner was going to burn and I needed to get the darn things open!

Any suggestion on what to do if I face this situation again?  Maybe I will just go with Wild Turkey in the bottle instead of wine and make a double wild turkey dinner in stead.

 

Categories: cooking, country cooking, organic foods, slow cooker Wild turkey, turkey breast, Wild turkey | Tags: , , , , , | 15 Comments

My five year old learns about growing sweet potatoes and other garden plants

Tom tilling Christophers' Garden

Tom tilling Christopher’s  Garden

I have been a home gardener off and on for years. My gardens have ranged in size from a few feet to almost a quarter of an acre. This year we have a small plot that is more for my 5 years olds’ entertainment then to stock a pantry for the winter. It is a family garden that will help provide us with fresh organic food and really isn’t that whole the point. Family time with a 5-year-old does not need  fancy toys just plain out-door fun. The fun starts with digging in the dirt, looking for worms, counting plants, looking for blooms and watering with a tiny watering can. It is all part of the wonderful learning that happens in a garden. Lucky for me, I have good friends who like to share their love of gardening. This year they wanted to share their sweet potato slips with Christopher. I was not really planing to have a garden with sweet potatoes this year but boy am I glad that Tom took a look at these wonderful plants and said “Yea, we can make room.”

Sweet Potato slips ready to plant

Sweet Potato slips ready to plant

So without much of a plan this was what Christopher, Tom and I thought we wanted in a garden this year.We have planted 10 tomato plants, 13 pepper plants of 4 different verities, a bunch of beets, pickling cucumbers,  pumpkins, water melon, cantaloupe, parsnips, green beans and those surprise sweet potatoes. Every thing but the parsnips and green beans fit in our little space. We limited the number of seeds and plants so we could grow many things and not a lot of any one thing. Toms family is famous for growing a garden twice this size for just green beans and another three times this big for potatoes. We on the other hand want to not only freeze some of this fresh produce, but let Christopher learn about a lot of different plants so he will be able to grow some for himself in the future. The wonderful thing we will get to teach Christopher about sweet potatoes is that as long as you have one sweet potato you have the ability to raise at least 15 to 20 more plants the following spring. Like the eyes that grow on a russet or yukon gold potato you can reproduce many plants from one potato. My Friends Ken and Sylvia started a couple of sweet potatoes by saving nice healthy unblemished potatoes from the previous year. They then take the potatoes that they have stored in the cellar and run three nails about 1/2 way through the root to suspended in a jar of  rain water. As you can see the root is  half in the water and half out of the top of a canning jar. They let them sit in a sunny window for the next three months and this is what they get. This is a photo of what is left after they had removed about 15 shoots for Christopher and a few for another friend. The plant will continue to send out more shoots over the next month and they will plant them in their garden.

Photo of sprouted sweet potatoes in window

Photo of sprouted sweet potatoes in window

Sweet potatoes are wonderful for children to raise because they are super easy to grow, they are bug and disease resistant. They are a plant the roots and leave them alone kind of project. Then the fun really begins when he will be able to dig up his own sweet potato and eat it for dinner that evening. The wait is about 90 days or until the first frost. We planted our sweet potatoes in my opinion to close together. Ken recommends at least 12 inches apart and mine as you can see from the photo have been in the ground about 30 days and they are about 10 inches a part and I would have planted them more like 16 inches apart but they seem ok at this point. The vines will grow a couple of feet each way and get bushy as the summer passes. The time to harvest is when the leaves begin to yellow and or you have a good frost. Then dig away with a four tine garden fork and let the kids load up a wagon or several baskets.

young sweet potato plants

young sweet potato plants

Once you have the potatoes you have to make plans to store them. Most people store them in a root cellar or basement. I actually plan to can most of the extras we have but will store a few for fall use. Before storing the potatoes they need time to cure and get a leathery skin to protect them from the bumps and dings of storage, this takes about 10 to 14 days at about 75-80 degrees. I will place the unwashed roots in a cardboard box on our back porch for about a week and turn them so the air reaches all of the roots before wrapping them in news paper and putting them in our cool, dark basement for the winter. At the end of summer I am going to do a post about canning these wonderful nutritious vegetables  and how we make sweet potato casserole made from our own garden grown veggies . In the mean time Christopher and I will be tilling dirt around these guys as they grow. I am not sure if I should mulch them yet as we have had a very wet ( almost soggy) start to summer and I am afraid if I try to keep more moisture in the ground we will just kill the plants from too much water. Time will tell if we need more water or not.  Lets just see what Christopher learns when we get this little project finished up. sweet_potato

Categories: family fun, gardening, organic food, Sweet Potato | Tags: , , , , , | 6 Comments

Cancer sucks! /Know One Gets Out of Here alive

Most everyone has experienced  Cancer in some way.We all know some one who has it, is recovering from it or has passed away from it. I have even owned a dog with it. It is a ruthless killer and if you are lucky to know, or  be some one who has survived it, you are a miracle. My life is up side down due to my dearly loved mother-in-laws diagnoses with throat cancer. If all you were not following to close this maybe the first time that you have seen me write about it. I was trying to let the terrible words sink in and not totally put a damper on my husbands 50th birthday party the last time I wrote about it. March 26 we were given the news that she had stage 3 throat cancer. It was a hard couple of days and my husband had a large birthday party planed 3 days later. How to celebrate the life of one loved one and stifle the tears for another one. It was a hard couple of days.4 generations of the powers family 2014 This is not even the first time I have dreaded hearing the words cancer as my X-husband passed from stomach cancer about 7 years ago at age 41, his mother soon after was also treated for cancer and survives to this day. I have seen my aunt fight to keep her breast for as long a possible fighting a little lump that would change her life. Cancer is part every species, race, age group, nation and living creature on the earth.We all fight the same battle and none of us is going to get out of here alive.

Cancer seems to either bring out the very best in people or the worst. I am proud to say that most of our family has come together in support of my mother in law. We all have heard stories about wives or husbands walking away from a sick spouse or a families falling  apart when a child becomes ill. It is a strange  thing to observe who hangs in their and who walks away. My husband and I are in the stay and fight camp. We along with his brother and sisters are all standing our ground in her fight against cancer.

Grandma is now receiving  her first round of radiation and is fighting infections of all kinds. It seems that when the cancer started to really grow in her body she was just worn down and infections of all kinds set in. It is as if one break down lead to another, some are even mental and spiritual. It has been a long hard fight but there is some light at the end of the tunnel now. The tumor is shrinking and she is slowly healing and gaining strength. At this point we are just hoping that  she will get to go home and spend some time with us. It is a simple wish from the heart with nothing flashy or brash.We know that with this type of cancer our time maybe limited so we make the best our of what time we have. grandma Wanda Dec 2013 Living surrounded by so much beauty here in the country you forget about what really happens in life sometimes. We all do, we all focus on work and dinner and paying bills, we just don’t always think about what happens at the end. It is our nature to not think about it, we are human. Then something makes you look at it again and you can only embrace the fact that it is part of the plan that we are born into, we are babies, we live, we die and the cycle begins again. This is what I see in the country every day. The farmers, the ranchers, herders live with it day in and day out, with death and birth, over and over again. I look out my kitchen window and see the hay that grows and watch as it gets mowed down in its prime, just so in the cold of winter something will live again. It is a perfect undisturbed system. I have been so lucky to share this country life with my mother in law for so many years. We lived only yards apart on the farm, we shared in the planting, growing and harvesting together. It was on the family farm that I learned about her and cycle of life that she loves still today. She taught me that every thing on the farm was a gift and that gift needed shared.

Grandma Wanda Powers with Christopher

Grandma Wanda Powers with Christopher

My family and  I know that what seems like an ending is really just the beginning.  A new beginning for her no matter where it takes her and for all of us who get to learn to step forward and teach others about what she has taught us over her 76 years. Cancer sucks,on that we can all agree, but it is really only a step towards the next phase in the journey. One that she is prepared to take and we will stand by her all the way.

Spike buck horns in the woods

Spike buck horns in the woods

 

Categories: Death, Family, family memories, Healing, health, old age | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | 7 Comments

Donkeys, Donkeys ,Every Where and Why We See More Then Our Fair share.

Donkeys are making a come back in West Virginia and many other states that have large herds of  cattle. With their protective nature and over all hardy bodies many people find them the perfect guard animal for the hilly mountains of West Virginia. With the increase in use as guard animals and the discovery that they make wonderful pets our farrier business is booming with the once over looked Donkey.

Teaser and Baby Levi 6 days old

Teaser and Baby Levi 6 days old

What you might not know is with the growing population of  Coyote in West Virginia  farmers have taken to using them  as second set of eyes on their farms. Much like sheep herders have used dogs for thousands of years. They have a natural instinct to protect and alarm if some thing is just not correct in their pastures. This could mean any thing from a pack of coyotes is hunting a new-born calf to a cow down in a creek bed. They seem to know when to sound the alarm when a fence is down and 1/2 the herd is wandering down a road way or a strange person is near the barn. They save small-scale cattlemen ( less than 300 head) from having to worry that while out working their day jobs( most farmers need that income too!) that there is some one who will be on guard protecting the newest members of the heard.

Donkeys are hardy animals most have heavy bone structures and can easily survive on a grass alone diet.They tend have more of a fighting instinct  and a higher tolerance to spending lots of time alone then their cousin the horse. They rarely have the health issues of the other equine, so  farmers commonly add one or more to a herd of cattle and leave them to do their job for long periods of time.

This is where Toms second job as a farrier comes in to play. After turning out a donkey for several years you may end up with a crippled guard animal if they are forgotten and not regularly cared for.

Front Feet of apple jack

Front Feet of apple jack

hind foot of apple jack

hind foot of apple jack

Apple Jack is a wonderful donkey that a farmer decided to sell at a local stock sale. He ended up with an animal hoarder and placed on a hundred acre farm with 22 other equine and left for three years. Apple Jack and friends were eventually confiscated by the local police and transported to a horse rescue. The owner eventually faced 24 counts of animal neglect. The owner of the rescue took this photos for her files and asked Tom if he could save him. Apple Jacks’ feet were one of the worst we had seen that summer. Tom got to work trying to remove the excess hoof and correct the twist of his front legs caused by the  long hoof growth.In months Apple Jack was ready for adoption and found a good home with friends of our family who love him and take great care of him and his horse buddies. This is Apple Jack today seven years later.

Christopher riding Apple Jack

Christopher riding Apple Jack

 

Although Apple Jack is not a guard animal for cattle, he does watch over a small herd of goats. He is also  a wonderful mount for a boy Christopher’s age. He is friendly and enjoys us coming to see him about every 3 months to keep is feet healthy

This is a case that Tom just finished up this week (6-9-2014). This is the hooves of a 7-year-old Jenny Donkey with sever neglect . It is hard to believe that she was able to walk at all but some how she managed to get around for about 4 years like this.

7 year old jenny Donkey left in pasture 4 years with out hoof care

7-year-old jenny Donkey left in pasture 4 years with out hoof care

With just a little effort Tom was able to get her feet looking like a normal animal and she should remain looking healthy for a few months but the long deformation of her hooves will return if the are not trimmed regularly.

 

7 year old Jenny Donkey after 1st trim in 4 years

7-year-old Jenny Donkey after 1st trim in 4 years

 

Donkeys are also great for showing and jumping contest. Our communities have several Mule and Donkey shows every summer. People show their Donkeys at Halter ( for confirmation), in riding classes and driving classes. Donkeys and mules also show in a class that is all their own ” The Coon Jump”. Mules and donkeys have a wonderful ability jump great heights from a stand still. Frontier-men and Coon Hunters discovered that their mules and donkeys could jump fallen logs or  tall fences while in the woods from a dead stop. With a little encouragement these animal leap feet into the air to clear a wooden bar set on two posts ( think the Limbo except going over not under). It is exciting to watch a mini donkey of  32 inches tall challenge a standard Donkey at 45 inches to see who can jump the highest. In our area usually it is a mini donkey who wins.

Jose at the Wayne county Coon Jump

Jose at the Wayne county Coon Jump

Vicky with her newest Jumping mini Donkey Levi... his dad is a Champion Coon Jumper

Vicky with her newest Jumping mini Donkey Levi… his dad is a Champion Coon Jumper

 

 

Black mini Donkey 6 days old in the weeds

Black mini Donkey 6 days old in the weeds

 

 

Donkeys are also generally more suspicious of strangers then horses.When working with them it may take more time for them to get to know you and understand that you are not going hurt them. So Tom and I take our time talking and petting them before handling them.

Gab Garvin and Tom working to get to know a Donkey they call Eore.

Gab Garvin and Tom working to get to know a Donkey they call Eore.

 

Gab Garvins' little herd

Gab Garvins’ little herd

 

Just for fun I will remind you why many people chose not to have donkeys……. they bray! The bray is a farmers alarm clock, fire whistle and general alarm sound off  in the pasture and you either love it or hate it but it is all Donkey either way.

One of the funnest things that we deal with when working with Donkeys is that we usually get to hear their bray either when they see Tom walking out to the pasture or on our way out. They maybe saying , “Hell No We Wont Go.” or maybe” Get the Heck Outa Here.” either way, we always get them stirred up and hear the bray while we are around.It is one of the traits that sets these wonderful animals apart from the reset of the equine world and Tom and I just love it.

Donkeys are unique and wonderful smaller equine.They can be trained to pack, ride, drive, show or just enjoyed as a pet . Tom and I find that we are spending more time with these funny animals and we are both glad about it. I hope that post has put a smile on your face because I can not hear a Donkey bray without laughing just a little…. LOVE THEM LONG EARS. One day I am sure to have a bunch myself.

Jerry Posey leading his grand daughter in the St Patrick's day celebration in Ireland, West Virginia on her Donkey Heidi

Jerry Posey leading his grand-daughter in the St Patrick’s day celebration in Ireland, West Virginia on her Donkey Heidi

 

Categories: animal health, blacksmith work, equine health, Farrier work., Founder in Horses, hoof care, photo review, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

The Power in Not Being Trendy

I was never popular and trendy in school, were you? I was always the outsider looking in. I always wondered who made up the rules and who said that this was the best way to look and act. Often times I have found that my creative nature is the reason for my lack of being trendy. I was never drawn to the pre-made formula that is followed by the cool people. Many of my friends back then and still today are aspiring  artist, actors, musicians and writers. People who found the individual much more important than mass appeal. I still feel this way and find at times that I am still fighting the same old battles with myself again. I want more people to read my blog, but at what cost? I want my writing  friendly,welcoming and good for any age reader. I never want someone to feel that my writing is critical or hate filled or overly offensive. I must be true to myself and hope for the best when it comes to the popularity contest of the internet. But who are we kidding, the internet is just like middle school where bad taste is cool  and the rest of us just get passed over.

totally uncool in high school. 1986

totally uncool in high school. 1986

I know that I am not the only one who finds popular culture shallow and boring? I have found myself following a bunch of blogs that have some huge followings and discovering that I had to stop reading them. Maybe I am to old…being 45, maybe I want to much from other bloggers, maybe I am just finding the topics of conversation shallow. I find it hard to believe how many followers some blogs have and the amount of cuss words that are in each paragraph. It made we wonder about my blog again.

The conversion inside my head went like this.” Wow I really must be doing some thing wrong if ———( you fill in the blank)’s blog has been Freshly Pressed and got 1000 followers over the course of  a month.They must have something important to say if they are this popular with only 12 posts. I must read the rest of these posts to see what it is that makes this blog so trendy. I am sure that I can learn some thing from this author. OOOOPS, well I am not finishing all these posts, how can I even get through this one? What a total wast of time. I guess it is back square one. If this is what it takes to get followers I am in real trouble again.”

Well I did read some of the posts and found that every post was a confrontation, a middle finger in the readers face. I also discovered that every paragraph had at least one “F” word in it. The topics were about hate, destruction and rebellion. I got the impression that as long as I  wrote about how screwed up everything is, I would be a topical writer and a head liner. If I exposed every flaw I found at other blogs and wrote about how terrible their grammar and spelling was then I would be viewed as an expert.

It would all be a lie. I am to passionate of a person to spend a large portion of my free time trying to write a post that will get all the hipsters here reading every week. I will never say anything controversial enough to incite a blog word war. I am to sensitive about others feelings to slam another persons hard work with hateful words of criticism.

self Portrait with book 6-2014

self Portrait with book 6-2014

So in the end I feel empowered and don’t have to worry about being cool. I am free to write for the pleasure of it. The way creative people have been doing it since the pen hit the paper. I find that not being trendy leads me to wider topics and deeper feeling and more artful expression. Some days I just have to remind myself this is not a competition about who is the most trendy and remember that this is about letting you see my world through my words and nothing more. If one day my youngest son reads these words and loves them then I have reached my target audience and the rest is for the joy of it.

Christopher on swing set

Christopher on swing set

 

Categories: About me, Art, blogging, trends, writing | Tags: , , , , | 17 Comments

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