Friday, June 06, 2008

Beef tongue

WARNING TO VEGETARIANS: This post deals almost exclusively with meat.

WARNING TO OMNIVORES: This post deals almost exclusively with weird meat!

Okay, so I have put it off for a long time. Yes, years. I have had a growing collection of (deep breath) beef tongue in my freezer. Each steer we slaughter comes with a tongue. And various other things like a heart, two kidneys, a liver. We have these things all tidily packaged in white paper in our freezer.

A few months ago I made kidney stew. The Princess and I were reading Mirette on the High Wire as part of our Five in a Row curriculum (which I mostly just use to guide our circle time theme). "Delicious" kidney stew is mentioned, so in keeping with the theme, I found a genuine french kidney stew recipe, and we had kidney stew with crusty french bread for dinner. It was terrible. Ugh.

We have used up our regular frozen beef. We have eaten our last frozen chicken. We are down to the end, and I really don't want to buy factory farm meat at the grocery store.

So I cooked beef tongue today.

Do you have any idea how hard it is to learn how to cook beef tongue these days? Only one of my cookbooks has a recipe (The Joy of Cooking from 1964... and I'll bet the new edition doesn't have it). Online the recipes are few and far between. Seems beef tongue is especially enjoyed in Mexico and the Philippines. But not so much in the US.

I decided to take the Mexican angle today. So I made beef tacos. Note the word tongue is not mentioned... we had BEEF TACOS. Some of us have these bizarre psychological hangups. I'm not naming names.

So, on to the method. I kind of pieced this whole thing together from various sources and made the sauce out of what I had available.

First I (with great trepidation) unwrapped the packages. The tongues looked like tongues. Really big tongues. I decided to spare you pictures, but if you are really curious, look here. I scrubbed them and put them in a big pot, then covered them with water.

I put the pot on the stove, added a few bay leaves, a lot of garlic, about a teaspoon of salt and some coriander seeds. Brought it to boil and let it cook for 3 hours.

When it was done, I took it out and easily removed the skin, then cut up the meat. I sauteed (for 1 min):

2 T vegetable oil
2 T flour
2 T chili powder
1/2 tsp cumin

Then I added:

the sliced tongue
14 oz can stewed tomatoes (with liquid)
1 cup water left from boiling tongue
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp garlic powder

I mixed the whole thing and let it simmer until dinner time, about 45 minutes.

Here it is, on a home made whole wheat tortilla, with onions, cheese and lettuce, ready to be rolled up:

The meal met with approval, but I still hadn't told the kids what kind of beef we were eating. After Farmer Boy had seconds, I told them they had eaten tongue, and they laughed! I really have the best kids in the universe.

As for me, I would not be sad if I never ate tongue again. I'll confess. I'm the one with hangups.

Thursday, June 05, 2008

Recent harvests from our garden

Last week was our first green bean harvest (actually they were purple... Royal Burgundy Bush Beans from Seeds of Change... but they changed to green when cooked!)

We enjoyed wild dewberries in late April and early May, and the early blackberry bush in our garden area put on some huge juicy berries for us all through May:

Last night we ate our first corn:

And tonight found our first yellow tomatoes (we've had a few red ones already):

Soon to come... zucchini, yellow crookneck squash, peppers, cucumbers, cantaloupe, watermelon, and lots and lots of blackberries in a patch down the hill. And of course lots more beans, corn and tomatoes. Yum!!

Yet more baby birds

As you know, we live on a farm. We have domesticated animals. We have lots of wildlife. You'd think with all these acres, we would have some "humans only" space, even just right outside the house. Say, on the front porch, for example.


First there are the dogs. The cool concrete is very soothing in a hot Texas summer. Especially when you've just taken a nice dip in the pond then rolled in the dust.

Then the chickens. Doorsteps are great places to roost on. Rocking chair arms give a fine vantage point for surveying the lay of the land (aka the front yard).

And of course, there's the wildlife. We do have trees, quite a lot for Texas. But as I've written, we have already had a nestful of babes born in a hanging flower basket over the front porch this spring.

Around the time they were born, we noticed some swallows rebuilding a nest that had been inadvertently knocked off the house around Christmastime, probably due to Christmas lights. This nest had had two sets of babies born in it each summer we'd been here, so we were sad. We needn't have worried.

After the first fledglings from the flower basket headed off for adulthood, these scrawny cuties started peeping from the rebuilt swallow nest whenever they heard the squeak of the front door:

That picture was taken on May 21st, from our open front door.

Here they are on June 3:

You can imagine what the porch underneath the nest (yes, almost directly in front of our door) looks like.

Today I went out and they were gone. All "growed up" in a whopping 2 weeks. But never fear! We are not baby bird-less yet! For we have another hanging flower basket. Yes, now it too has a nest therein.

I sneaked a peak, and look who's ready to get a-growin...

So if you come to our house and wonder why we have two completely dead flower baskets hanging over our porch, now you'll know it's because they are actually bird nurseries, and bird mamas don't take kindly to having their babies' rooms flooded.

Monday, June 02, 2008

Planting flowers

The big kids and I took advantage of Little Guy's nap one Saturday and planted more seeds in the cut flower beds.

I think we are weeding in this picture. This day we put in zinnias; right behind me are two rows of cosmos that were a few weeks old. And obviously we are surrounded by unbroken ground (loads of grass and weeds). Think of the possibilities!


Stephen has been working hard to get water into the garden for me. He dug a 3 foot deep trench in the back yard and ran piping out to the garden fence. Then he installed a faucet inside the garden.

At the moment we have a series of regular hoses and drip hoses hooked up to the faucet, but we need more already. The flower beds still have to be hand watered, and I am starting a new area for a second corn patch.

If you give a 6 year old a camera...

... your iphoto library will look like this...

My personal favorite came with this gleeful explanation, "My bedroom floor was actually clean so I took a picture of it!!"

A portrait of the artist as a young woman:

May wildflowers

In May I made up this bouquet of wildflowers I found in our yard and garden. The picture doesn't really capture the amazing variety of color.

The trouble with allowing forklifts at the table...

... is that they are bound to lift your lunch...

Catching up

Been away from the blog for quite a while, so I will be posting lots of small entries to update things. Thanks for understanding the whimsical nature of being a mama, homesteader, and well, me. ;-) I suppose I shall have to someday post my musings on the problems of being rebellious about schedules.