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I am an omnivore (like all humans) and I still have 'canine' teeth that are clearly made for animals that eat meat. I do not apologize for eating meat. I do, however, make sure that the meat I eat comes from sustainable, humane farmers so that I know the animals have had the best lives possible and a quick, humane death. After all, everything we eat must die before (or perhaps while) we consume it. That is true of plants as well as animals. Even fruit must be plucked or harvested after it has fallen from what gave it life.

I am also well educated about the environmental aspects of choosing to not eat meat (all based on modern livestock practices, not sustainable practices).

If you disagree with me, that is your choice. I do not welcome argument on this subject. Please evangelize your 'no meat religion' to someone else. Now, with that out of the way...

Regarding Organ Meat and Its Consumption

Many people have an aversion to eating organ meats and I think that is truly a sad thing. Like everyone, I have preferences regarding flavors and textures and in talking with people on the subject of organ meats, I find texture to be a key factor for their dislike. So, organ meats are not for everyone. Fine, if you are one of those people I'm sure there is another article either on this blog or elsewhere for you.

My parents were raised during the Great Depression and eating everything available was how you stayed alive. At that time, animals were not treated with poisons or raised in confinement conditions and that meant that everything edible on the animal could be nutritionally healthful. (I'm sure there were exceptions in the case of diseased animals being processed for food unbeknownst to the consumer; that is a different subject.) Because my parents ate organ meat (it cost less than muscle meat) prepared by their parents, they learned how to cook organ meat and that means that I ate organ meat as a child and learned how to cook it from my Mom.

Ever since World War II, the industry of farming has introduced more and more toxic elements/chemicals into our food sources. Unfortunately, greed is also found in the business of providing food and the responsibility for differentiating between healthful food and cheap food that is questionably healthful has been dumped on the consumer. We have to ask what is NOT in our food sources rather than be able to take it for granted that bad things are not part of those foods.

It is especially true regarding organ meats that you must know where and how that animal lived and what they ate because it is the job of organs to filter out the toxins and distribute the nutrients to the rest of the body. Cooking does not always remove harmful chemicals/toxins/etc.

I ONLY buy organ meat from local, sustainable farmers that I have researched and trust. I suggest you do the same.

Recipe/Instruction for Making Tender and Tasty 'Liver and Onions' (January 16, 2023)

This blog entry is about beef liver cooked with yellow (bulb-type) onions.

Before I was made aware of why I should know where my liver came from, I used to order beef liver and onions (if it was offered) at each new restaurant I visited. It was a good way to know if the kitchen staff knew their 'stuff.'

Most people overcook beef liver making it the consistency and texture of rubber. Now, most of my dogs liked it that way, but most people do not. In all actuallity, it should not take more than a few minutes per side at medium heat to take beef liver slices from raw to fully cooked while retaining a tender and juicy consistency.

As I said above, I've tried beef liver and onions at many eating establishments and I consider my Mom's recipe to be the best of them all.

Mom's recipe is not written down anywhere that I can find. It really doesn't need to be... it is very easy and simple to remember.

Everything is 'to taste'. If you like extra salt, no salt, extra pepper, no pepper, lots of garlic, no garlic, butter, no butter, other spices/flavorings, no other spices/flavorings; that is the correct way to season your liver and onions. You can even skip the onions entirely if you like.

I like butter (real butter, salted). I start with a couple of pats of butter (you know those markings on the wrapper? those designate one 'pat') in the skillet. I use a Cuisanart stick-free eco skillet. Use whatever skillet you like best (seasoned or unseasoned, your choice).

In the image at left are my ingredients (save the liver): sea salt, mixed 'black' peper, garlic powder (not salt), yellow bulb-type onions (we like about 1/2 of a medium bulb per person).

I keep my electric burner stove at medium heat to melt the butter and then I manipulate the skillet so the melted butter covers as much of the skillet as possible (sometimes I add more if I'm in the mood for extra butter).

The photo shows an entire medium onion (sliced) in my skillet with salt and pepper seasoned (to taste). I toss the onions and start the browning process before I cover the skillet and turn the burner to low to saute/simmer the onions while I prepare the liver.

This image shows the beef liver container. It happens to be from my cattle and the processor provided it frozen in the covered container. I like my frozen meats to last a long time without freezer-burn, so I used my vacuum-sealer machine to suck out the air around the container and seal it nice and tight.

Our processor provided the liver de-veined and sliced (at about 1/4" thickness, give or take).

This container had 0.86 pounds of sliced beef liver in it. Since liver and onions is an entire meal to me and the hubby, that means about 7 ounces of cooked liver each.

I leave the container (sealed) in the refrigerator for a day to thaw before I cut the vacuum material and open the container.

I use the tongs to pull each piece out (letting as much blood drip off as possible, but I don't dry it off) and lay it on my cutting board.

Once I have all of it on the cutting board, I can determine if there is too much 'silver' (tough outer edge) and cut off what I don't want. I also look for veins that the processor may have missed and remove those as well.

I also figure out how it will best be divided between us and how well the pieces will fit in the skillet so may have to cut some of the pieces for that reason.

The picture at left shows the onions at an 'el dente' stage. If you like your onions crunchy, this would be when you want to transfer them to a covered bowl to keep them warm.

I personally cannot eat onions this way (food sensitivies are a real pain) and so I will toss them to make sure they are cooking evenly and put them back under cover to saute until they are fully soft.

And here you see the onionis the way I can eat them (and the way the hubby likes them as well). They are almost transparent, they still have some structure (not mushy) but they are definitely 'limp' when you compare them to the photo above.

I transfer the onion using tongs to a bowl that I can cover. (I like to just put a plate on top of the bowl so I can put a spoon or something on it if I need to.)

I want the juice from the onion mixed with the butter and seasoning residue left in the skillet.

You might notice that for the photo I have removed the skillet from the burner. Although as I look at the photo I see it's difficult to tell where the burners are since my stove is the kind with the 'glass' over the burners.

When I'm ready for the liver, I put the skillet back on the burner to get the heat back up and turn the dial for medium heat again.

Sometimes I add more butter if the onions have soaked it up.

I also put a bit of salt and pepper in the skillet before I lay the pieces of liver in it. As you can see, it's kind of like arranging a mosaic, LOL.

After laying out the liver, I sprinkle each with a bit of salt, pepper, and the garlic powder (very liberally cuz we like it). I try to keep the seasonings on the pieces so they doesn't scorch on the skillet itself. Cover the skillet and check every minute or so (should only take a couple of minutes).

The photo shows what the liver looks like after just a couple of minutes. Much like pancakes, when the edges show a lighter color/that they are cooked, it's time to turn them over.

Remember how long it took to get to that point, because it is how long you want to cook the other side.


The thickness of the slice determines how long it takes.

Once you've turned the pieces, sprinkle again with your seasonings.

If you have been able to put 1/2 the liver in your skillet, cover it with about 1/2 of the onions from the covered bowl.

Cover the skillet again and trust that the time you determined from the first side will be perfect for this part.

When that time has passed, take the skillet off the burner and plate the liver and onions. I just let it slide out (I have a non stick skillet).

You should find that the liver can be pressed down and spring back ever so slightly. If it doesn't do this, you have cooked it for too long. It doesn't mean it won't be tasty, it just might not be as tender.

If you can use it for shoe leather, THEN it's too done. ;)

For us, this is the first serving and I always give it to the hubby (since I'm still cooking, it is hot for him and I get the second batch which will be hot for me).

This is the skillet now empty. If you don't like dark butter, you could empty this out and start with fresh butter. (I don't understand that attitude, but hey -- you do you!)

I personally like the crispy bits and dark butter, so I just add a bit more butter and scrape the bottom so it doesn't scorch during the next serving and add the other half of the liver pieces.

Here you see the second batch after I've returned the skillet and liver to the medium heat burner, seasoned, covered and checked every minute or so.

The second batch may take a different amount of time to get to this stage, so don't assume. Keep track!

Finally, you see the second batch turned over, seasoned and ready to be covered with onions and the lid to the skillet for the same amount of time as the first side.

From the photo, I'm guessing that I added a little butter after taking the picture -- skillet seems a bit dry to me.

Because I like the little black burnt bits, I would have plated the contents and then scraped the skillet onto of my serving. Another reason that the hubby gets the first serving and I get this one. YUMMY!

Do you eat it with ketchup (catsup)? Why, yes I do, thanks for asking. I don't smother it in ketchup, but I do like a little on the side to dip the liver into before I also add some of the onion to the fork.

The hubby does NOT eat it with ketchup. And ...maybe I should have told you this at the beginning... my husband would not eat liver and onions before I made it for him. The first time was one of those times I was craving this taste and decided to make something for myself and something different for him. He asked if he could try it (that was a surprise!) and from then on he has become a liver and onions guy (so long as its MY liver and onions, LOL).

A word of caution: if you have pets in your home, be sure you have them contained in another area of the house. Otherwise, you will find you have animals underfoot and trying to snatch your dinner away from you both as you make it and eat it. Liver is fine for dogs and cats, but onions (even cooked) are not a good idea. It's really difficult to time your liver when you are tripping over animals, LOL. If I'm in a generous mood, I cook extra liver in the first serving, set it aside in a leftovers container to cool and give it to the animals AFTER we finish dinner. Do that often enough and you will train your animals to be patient and leave you alone. And if you believe that I'd love to sell you screens for the windows in your submarine. ;)

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Preparing Strawberries for Now and the Freezer (January 16, 2023)

I don't like to assume anything. So if you already know how to pick strawberries, prepare them to eat and prepare them to freeze, you might want to look for something else to read.

Picking Strawberries Yourself - I love it when people want to pick their own strawberries from my raised beds. I have a firm policy that if you pick it and want to eat it, that is between you and the strawberry. One of the perks of picking. :) I only weigh what you bring to be weighted and taken home.

The best way to pick strawberries is to cup the berry in your hand and pinch the stem above the berry. When you leave the leaf and stem, the berry lasts a bit longer than if you pull the berry away from the leaf and stem.

Of course, some berries are SO perfectly ripe that they will unattach themselves. Those are the berries to use right away! Strawberry shortcake or strawberries and cream come to mind. :) Even squishy berries are good for making sauce or a smoothie.

This close-up image of strawberries gives you an indication of the variety of sizes, shapes, colors and levels of ripeness you will find when picking in my raised beds.

You might also note there are bits of damage on a few of them (mainly from strawberry bugs sucking a little juice). That little damage is easily cut away and unless it is over more than half the individual berry, that is what I do.

Sometimes, you get home with your berries, put them in the frig and wait a day to process them. Some of those berries will slip for ripe to over-ripe in that time. I highly recommend you process your berries immediately to avoid losing any of them.

This is my setup to process berries. I pick using the big orange bowl. I have two (2) of those and weigh the empty one so I can 'tare' it out (zeroes out so only the berry weight is shown) and weigh the full bowl to get the total weight of the berries picked. (This is what I will do when you pick your own as well. But I will pour your berries out of your basket into my orange bowl to do it.)

I then put the berries in the strainer and white matching bowl and spray them with cold water and immerse them if necessary. (For instance if there were lots of bugs in the raised bed.)

After I strain the water out, I transfer the berries into the white bowl alone and put a towel under the strainer to catch the juice as I cut away the leaf/stem and any bad bits (leaving them in the strainer).

If I am preparing strawberries for freezing, I place a piece of waxed paper over a large baking sheet (I like the ones with lips all the way around).

After I am happy with the berry after removing the leaf/stem/bad bits, I place them on the waxed paper leaving enough room so that they don't (or just barely) touch.

The full sheet goes into the freezer covered loosely with another piece of waxed paper for a full day.

(If there isn't enough for a full sheet, that is fine, I don't wait to fill one up before taking it to the freezer.)

The now individually frozen berries are transferred into zip-lock bpa-free plastic bags (quart-size) at a weight of 1-pound each. I write the date and weight on each bag with a Sharpie pen. I then put two (2) bags into a gallon-size zip-lock bag to extend their freezer life (and make it easier to stack and find later).

Back they go into the freezer until you decide you want strawberries (in or out of season).

If I am not freezing the strawberries (because I intend to use them in a recipe or just eat them within a few days), I skip the baking sheet with wax paper stage and simply put them in a sealable container in the refrigerator. Generally, in that case, I want them to release some juice so I don't have to add any other juice. To get them to release some of their lovely juice, I put a bit of coconut sugar* sprinkled over them into the container as well (how much sugar depends on how many strawberries there are and I'm not sure I can tell you how to figure that... trial and error is very TASTY). I then seal the container and turn it upside down and shake it around so the sugar coats as much of the strawberries as possible.

I find it takes about a day to get a lovely amount of juice. Again, trial and error with sweet food is FUN.

*I personally prefer the unrefined coconut sugar for it's flavor and lower glycemic value. Any type of sugar will do.

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Processing PawPaw Fruit and Recipes (January 16, 2023)

It is not easy to describe how to process the fruit of the PawPaw tree. I find it much easier to show you when you come to pick up your fruit. But, I'll give it a go. (You may already have ready some of this on the page about PawPaws.)

Below you see just a part of the harvest from 2022. We were SO surprised to get such overwhelming quantity of pawpaw considering the drought conditions that followed the late freezes in the Spring.

At left is what it a sliced open pawpaw looks like. The two (2) 'blobs' at the top are the two (2) seeds that were dug out (one on either side of the two remaining seeds from that fleshy half).

That is a very small pawpaw pictured. Normally they have at least six seeds per side.

The seeds each have a little 'pouch' of flesh attached to them and that pouch is edible but it has a skin of its own you should be aware of.

The external skin is NOT edible and contains naturally occurring insecticide chemicals. Which explains why insects leave them alone (until they are opened and then the bees are all over the fleshy part).

If you look closely at the cut open pawpaw pictured above, you can see the stem is pointing up and at a bit of an angle to the right from the rest of the fruit (now emptied of the fleshy part and seeds). That is how it hangs from the tree because there are usually one (1) or two (2) other fruits in a grouping all with their 'backs' to each other at that point on the branch.

OK, so knowing the stem angle, you can figure that the seeds are growing on either side of that stem outward. See how the remaining seeds on the fleshy side are angled? We are seeing the thin side of each seed so they are extending further down into the flesh. Imagine the seeds shown to be repositioned thin side up instead of the way they are: laying on the flat wide side.

Ideally, if you find the hanging direction and take your sharp knife and cut through the external skin and flesh all the way around lengthwise, you should get the result that the picture above has (well, before the flesh is scraped out of the empty side, of course). Which is one set of seeds in either side because you sliced between them. That, again, is the IDEAL.

The other thing that could happen is that you slice around lengthwise and don't hit the 'sweet spot' between the seeds. And that means you will hit the seeds themselves. This is not really a problem. In that case, just score all the way around (don't try to cut through the seeds), set down your knife, grasp the pawpaw like you would an avocado and TWIST it. If the pawpaw is RIPE, the flesh will separate from the seeds and you will have one side with some flesh resting in the skin and all the seeds in the flesh on the other half.

Either way, you will need to pop or dig the seeds out from the flesh. Scrape (I use a big spoon) the flesh from the external skin being careful to avoid that skin (try to leave it intact) and put it in a bowl. I use several bowls, actually:

  • one big one for the flesh
  • one medium size one for the pocket covered seeds
  • one big one for the external skins and stems and bad bits
  • and, of course, one big one for the pawpaws not yet processed.

The key to processing pawpaws is truly the ripeness of each fruit. If the fruit doesn't pass the 'squeeze-test', I don't even bother to cut into it. I know it will be hard and bitter and it goes directly into the compost bin (or bucket to toss into a hole where I hope a pawpaw tree will grow -- although not a great chance of that happening with a fruit that isn't ripe).

In this image, you see me separating seeds from the flesh pocket it is surrounded by. Looks awful, doesn't it!

I had already removed all the flesh from the pawpaws in that batch, separated out the seeds and now was putting that little bit of flesh back with the rest of the flesh.

After this I use my food processor and puree all the flesh so it is nice and smooth (no evidence of that skin from the seeds).

If I'm not in the mood to clean off the seeds to add to the flesh to puree, I set them aside and after I finish and have cleaned everything up, I sit down with a bowl of seeds and eat the flesh off each seed. Yummy.

The seeds, if you are planning to try propagating them, MUST be kept moist (so leaving them in their little skins is a good idea), given a winter experience (refrigerator is good), scarified and soaked before planting. And then have patience! I have found these seeds grow DOWN putting out LONG tap roots before they even venture to put up shoots. They need to be in damp soil the entire time. But we aren't talking about planting here, we are talking about EATING. ;)

I suggest you use your pawpaw flesh in whatever recipes you have right away. The flesh CAN be frozen, but (like apples) it goes brown as it thaws out -- edible, but unappealling. You can CAN pawpaw flesh, there are recipes available. I'm waiting for a few from friends to add here.

I like to mix the flesh with whipped cream and freeze it in single serving batches so I can have an something like pawpaw ice cream whenever I want. If you keep single serving yogurt cups, they work perfectly for that.

A friend (Meghan McCurdy) was kind enough to make a bunch of things from my excess of pawpaws in 2022 and provide her recipes so you folk can try them to. Obviously, there are no guarantees associated with this information... just a place for you to start and find what works best for you. Enjoy! PDF (218kb): 2022McCurdy-pawpaw-experience.pdf.**

**Be aware. There are reports that fruit leather made from pawpaws can cause gastric distress. Possibly due to it being overly concentrated in the product. Try this at your own risk.

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