All posts in kitchen

bread, bone broth and bacon

That, my friends, is homemade bacon and homemade bread for breakfast on a Sunday!

The last few years, I’ve either been staying at Boyfriend’s house or traveling for work … a lot. Some weeks, I’d only be back here at the farmhouse one or two nights to change bags and whisper hello to my plants. Who am I kidding. All the houseplants died.

I hadn’t necessarily been planning on spending a lot more time at my house this year, but I’m not complaining about the opportunity to sink in and enjoy this place I love so much.

While working from home and sheltering in place, I’ve been experimenting with a gluten-free sourdough starter the last few weeks (start here and then try this). I know there are a lot of sourdough starters out there nowadays, but I haven’t actually seen a lot of GF versions! I’m loving this recipe. It takes some planning and some dedicated time, but the bread is delicious and the sour is getting stronger as the weeks pass.

sourdough starter in progress
keeping a scale and a bag of flour on my counter: not things my house has ever experienced.
slice of bread with loaf in background
good crumb, perfect crust (not too hard) and great flavor

It’s also been really interesting living in a state with a lot of pork production, and numerous meat processing plants closing and reopening due to covid-19 outbreaks. For a while recently, thousands of hogs were being euthanized every day because the processing plants weren’t open to receive them. Boyfriend’s family has the equipment and know-how, so we (and I mean a royal We — there were lots of hands helping on this one) located, picked up and butchered seven 250-lb hogs (for $50 apiece) in the meat shed on his parent’s homestead. I’ve had exposure to deer processing over the past few hunting seasons, so I knew some of what to expect.

What I did not expect was finding that anyone would throw out the feet — the most nutritious part of the hog! So while the brotherly assembly line tackled the big stuff, I learned how to skin and clean pigs feet so that I could bring them home and make myself some rich, gelatinous bone broth. It’s going to save me a ton of money at the grocery store, based on how much broth I go through.

Lauren holding a skinned pig's foot
Very proud of my first solo skinning job
roasted pigs feet
My method for bones is 1) blanch to draw impurities to the surface 2) roast for 2 hours at 450 3) low simmer for 24 hours with a bit of apple cider vinegar in a pot of water just covering the bones
bread in the oven, blanching bones on the stove
Bread in the oven, blanching bones on the stove. I bake the bread in a cast-iron skillet with a small pan of water next to it for steam.
Bone broth after 24 hours on a barely-there simmer. I know it’s done when I cool a spoonful and watch it jiggle like jell-o.

Boyfriend and I got one hog for ourselves, which yielded probably $500 worth of meat for the $50 we paid:

  • Eight bags of bones and feet
  • Seven racks of ribs
  • Eleven roasts
  • Ten hams
  • Pork belly and bacon
  • Many pounds of ground pork
  • One tenderloin and one loin roast
  • Seventeen chops
  • Six t-bones
slabs of bacon in a smoker
Bacon in the smoker, courtesy of Boyfriend and his very patient dad

The bacon is being cured and smoked now, and the hams are up next. I got to try the first batch of bacon this weekend. This particular cut is chewy, kind of like brisket burnt ends — more pork chop than crispy fatty bacon. And so delicious!

slices of bacon in butcher paper
Bacon fresh from the smoker

I’ve always been interested in meat processing and fascinated by the cuts and techniques. It’s one of Boyfriend’s particular skills, so it’s been a lot of fun to work alongside him on this project and start to learn how to help.

We now have pork recipes earmarked to last us a long while — probably a good way through the year. We’ll still buy beef and chicken occsionally, but have plenty of venison still in the freezer to cut in with the pork (they balance one another nicely – one lean, one fatty) so I don’t think we’ll run out of ideas before we run out of meat.

Next up: broiling the bacon with maple syrup from this spring’s harvest! Which was, entirely, another adventure…

fix it february: cabinets + closets

The latest installment of Fix-It February: tackling cabinets and closets.

This is less of a how-to post and more intended to inspire you to get out that screwdriver and fix your own crooked doors and loose wall hooks. Maybe even climb on a ladder in your closet and install some battery-powered LED lights so that you can get dressed in the dark of winter? Because that was a pretty fun project.

Cabinets: I have the kind of kitchen cabinet hinges that snap apart (with a bang) when the screws get loose. They’re easy to fix, and I took a few extra minutes this time to go around the kitchen and tighten all the screws so there are fewer loud, scary noises in the future.

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I also deputized some drywall expansion screws (Twist-N-Lock) to fix this curtain hook that was falling out of the wall. Don’t know why it took me two years to think of that solution, but it definitely did the trick. These hooks hold back the curtain doors of my master bedroom closet…

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…which was also the site of some new LED lights. Eventually I’d like to have the closet wired for real lights, but these help well enough for now. If you can drill pilot holes and fill battery packs, you too can add remote-control-powered lights to your closet! I got this set on sale at my local ACE Hardware for just $15.

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All together with some projects not worth photographing, I fixed or installed 8 things around the house in about two hours. Much speedier than I planned, leaving plenty of time to enjoy season 2 of House of Cards 😉

miracle mineral oil

I’m a die-hard fixer of things I love … boots get re-heeled, shoes get re-soled, scuffed leather gets moisturized and polished. It’s no different with the architectural pieces of my house that can’t be so easily replaced as a pair of heels.

Take my kitchen cabinets. Custom-built mission-style wood that almost seems to glow from within (thank you, previous owners). And I love them to pieces.


Except for the worn and torn edges near the sink and stove. Most of the staining is from water (near the sink) and dry air (from the oven, and the house in general). Not the most inspiring thing to look at every time I’m at the sink:

But a few minutes with a soft cloth and a bottle of mineral oil, and everything looks as good as new.

I discovered mineral oil a few years ago when I was given a beautiful handmade wooden cutting board as a gift. Someone told me the best way to minimize the appearance of knife cuts on the board would be to treat it with mineral oil (available at stores like Bed Bath & Beyond or your hardware store). It’s food-safe and not only works like magic on minor scuffs and scratches but also restores the wood to its original color (without messing up the stain, if there is one).

So if you have a wooden cabinet, desk, chair or cutting board that could use some TLC, there you have it. My secret revealed.

xoxo, LG

lady, get on that!

I have a bee in my bonnet. And this is a good thing.

There are a handful of projects that I’ve been meaning to tackle since before I even moved furniture into the house.

Like…

finishing the edges and trim in the kitchen…

touching up paint mistakes in the basement…

and turning the garage into a truly usable space.

It’s time for me to get on those projects, my friends — plus a few others. I can’t tell you why (yet! maybe ever.) but there’s a reason and it’s a good one. And even if “it” never comes to pass, it is providing me exactly the motivation I need to finish some long-standing items on the to-do list.

Will you help? Encourage me with your comments, texts, phone calls and stories of your own DIY mis-adventures!

*Project name lifted directly from John and Sherry over at YHL

decorating: summer into fall

Chilly weather is here, and I’ve slowly been replacing summer/neutral decor around the house with fall and Halloween pieces.
I keep the same pieces on-hand from year to year (most came from my mom and our collective PartyLite stash) but I try to do different arrangements each time. Here’s this year’s versions!
Dining room table: silver bowl and hurricane shade –> wire apothecary vase with fall leaves and pumpkins
Dining room window nook: dried hydrangeas –> rosemary plant (has been outside all summer), red candlesticks & fall flower arrangement
Desk: mish-mash of summer wedding invites –> two of my favorite leaf-shaped candle holders
Kitchen corner shelves: Twins baseball memorabilia –> white and orange ceramic pumpkins
Front porch: blue jars and swirls –> pumpkins and jar candles
Living room: added leaf tealight holders to existing tablescape, and a big bowl and leaf coasters to the coffee table

two-year anniversary: the house now

Two years into living in the little farmhouse, a lot has changed. You can see the whole transformation here… but for those of you who have been following the transformation all along, here is an up-to-date tour of the house, top to bottom!
Kitchen

Dining Room

Living Room



Stairwell

Yellow Bedroom

Blue Bedroom
Master Bedroom

Bathroom





Basement



Front Porch


Makeover Alert: Cookbook Corner

My recipe binders got a makeover recently, and I finished the final details today. No longer do I have to sort through piles of papers clipped from magazines or printed from blogs!

I’m posting this via phone from my cozy spot on the couch, and I don’t know how to caption photos… But it was a pretty straightforward transformation. Pretty, matching fabric binders from Office Max. Special section dividers that have pockets for the smaller recipes. Removable/movable section tabs in case I reorganize the sections down the road when I fill up the existing binders. Number stickers for the spines so that I can quickly identify them on the shelf (numbers are key — this way, I can add more binders easily, and not be tied to categories labeled on the binder. Right now, #1 is breakfast and appetizers, #2 is soups, salads and side dishes, #3 is main courses, #4 is desserts and #5 is drinks and misc. If I need to add a binder and spread out the sections into 1-6, it’s all the more simple to do so. At least, here’s to hoping…)

How do you organize loose-leaf recipes? Any tips to share?

gold, silver and peacock feathers

I’ve found some amazing treasures at some antique and vintage stores in South Minneapolis and Uptown this summer.

First, a 30-piece set of silver to add to my collection of various silverware patterns (and, altogether, I only paid $1.73 because of a 20% off sale at Hunt and Gather and a gift certificate from some dear friends who know me very, very well).


Peacock feathers for just three bucks a pop, which you’ve already seen in the living room (a now-closed antique store on Hennepin and 27th).

And a fantastic gold key that is also destined for the living room (from Rewind Vintage at 48th and Chicago).

Aren’t old things just so much prettier than new ones?

Christmassy kitchen

A few fall-to-winter changes to the kitchen recently:
before
after

My mom used to display these blocks at our house in Texas… we had a desk in the kitchen with cubbyholes above it, just below the landing of the stairs. I always loved helping her change them for each new holiday. She sent them to me in September, and they fit perfectly on the ledge above my stove.

before
Whoops, guess I forgot to take a before picture 🙂 But this holder was filled with an autumn foliage assortment, courtesy of my mother, and sat on the top-most white corner shelf in October and November. For Christmas, I filled it with red glass beads and four ornaments that I picked up for free at a swap meet a few months back.


after


I also switched out the kitchen towels, and replaced my beloved Snow White and Dopey salt and pepper shaker set with an adorable snowman S&P set from my aunt. Overall…

weekends in the kitchen

Major house projects finished since I last posted to the blog: 0

Weekends spent in the kitchen and relaxing on the couch instead: 3
The big sprint to get the house in presentable shape before the party a few weekends ago left me a little wiped out… maybe I’ll have more motivation in August 🙂
But, in the meanwhile, here’s what I’ve occupied with lately:

More photos and recipes to come…
xoxo
LG

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