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Monday, May 4

fair is fowl and fowl is fair

(And dry cured, even).
Taking one step further in my quest to have more control over what I consume and the terms of it, I followed the instructions in Michael Ruhlman and Brian Polcyn's "Charcuterie" to make duck prosciutto.
I'd read about duck prepared this way this well over a year ago, back when Ghosttown Farm was known as the Your City Farmer, and Novella was recounting her 30 days of eating so local as to eat only what came from her yard ('100 yard diet').  Including the ducks she raised, and rabbits.  At the time I thought, Hell's bells, I could do that. 
"So, Sara... why duck?"
Mostly, it's about food preservation and learning new kitchen crafts.  If I ever raise ducks (I'll have chickens next month), it'd be good to have some novel means of preparation under my belt.  Secondarily, I'd like to learn how to dry cure sausages, and this is a gateway to that.  Why sausage?  Well, it's what you make with cheap cuts and leftover odd bits, and a little goes a long way.  And now that I'm paying for a house, I'm living cheaper. 
I've never been a serious carnivore, mind you, so it's not like I'm going to raise a pig in the yard and butcher it.  To be honest, having chickens is as much about composting my kitchen scraps faster and having the weeds and bothersome bugs nibbled, as it is about the eggs and eventually a pot of chicken soup.  It'll be nice to just rake out the litter from the pen and toss that into the compost pile, supplementing my current regimen of digging a compost pile in the yard that takes months to break down, eh.  Chickens are part of my biointensive gardening scheme.   
Quacking prosciutto...
I took one Muscovy duck breast, plopped it into a dish of kosher salt and then covered with more kosher salt, wrapped the dish and it went into the fridge for 24 hrs.  Next day, I rinsed off the salt, observed the texture was much changed (more leathery), patted it dry, ground some pepper over both sides, wrapped it in a clean dinner napkin (can't find the cheesecloth, which is probably with the cheese molds in a box somewhere in the garage, still packed), and hung that on a clothes hanger with some clothespins.  It is currently 'curing' in the front closet, which is the coolest spot in the house.  For a week.  Apparently, what is supposed to happen next is the moisture will evaporate, and I'll have something left over which is decidedly stiffer, but not yet jerky.
And just to show that it's not all carnage or curing meat at my house, I spent the weekend weeding, and planting.  And digging up agapanthus that's probably been in the ground since the house was built in the 50s.  Broke my shovel on that, in fact.  One of the mother bulb masses was as big as a soccer ball, ay caramba!
The following have been planted outside:
2 dozen sunflower seedlings (giant mammoth or some hyperbolic such)
2 dozen corn seedlings (rainbow Inca)
1 dozen Telefono peas
Seedlings waiting to be planted, after I use the cultivator and mix in composted manure:
tomatoes, eggplants, cukes, melons, pattypans, pumpkins, more peas, beans (7 varieties), artichokes, cabbages, cauliflowers, onions, leeks, chard
Cue up Pete Seeger :)

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