Monday, January 11, 2010

Finally! A new year and a new post.

Okay, it's a new year and a new chance for me to try to put up more regular posts. Or at least a new chance for me to make up new excuses for not posting.

As you've undoubtedly heard by now, it's cold in the south. Everybody is whining and moaning like it's never ever snowed here before. We got less than a quarter-inch of snow (I could see more grass than snow) and life ground to a halt. Schools closed, mail went undelivered, cars spun off roads and I took a leisurely walk in the quiet woods.

I've had four different neighbors call or stop by to make sure I was okay - as if I'm some elderly shut-in in danger of freezing to death. I've slept in my car at 10 below zero in the Canadian Rockies. When it got down to 27 below zero in Anchorage, it didn't stop me from going to the bar. The current weather conditions remind me of Anchorage in late March, early April. This is springtime!

Frankly, I'm a little insulted that people think I need to be checked in on when nighttime temps dip into the low teens. They should be calling me for pointers. They should check on me in the summer when it's 105 sweltering degrees and I'm hosing myself down in the plastic kiddie pool.

The truth is I almost ran out of propane a few days into the cold spell. Thought I had about 40 gallons but it turned out to be closer to 12 gallons. It was three days before I could come up with the money to get more (got an advance payment on taking care of Gramma Guthrie). I turned the thermostat to 50F and stoked up the fire in the fireplace. I stopped using the gas stove and made hot water with a coffee pot.

It hardly qualified as "roughing it." I still had electricity and internet. Just had to wear a sweatshirt and an extra pair of socks. But I didn't tell the concerned neighbors about this. No need to worry them anymore than they apparently already are.

Since my last post, I completed another task in my quest for Authentic Rural Southern Experiences. Along with "drink moonshine out of a Mason jar," "go to a cockfight" and "play dominoes with old men in a shack in the woods," I can now add "hog butchering" to the ARSE list.

I helped a couple locals turn two big hogs into several hundred of pounds of sausage. I was paid for my time with delicious sausage as well as lots of unwanted organ meats, gristly bits for the cats and a giant pile of bones. I also got to keep a couple choice cuts of pork. We even fried some up on a hot plate while we were working. Can't get much fresher than that.

It was quite the experience cooking with all that organ meat. I guess it counts as another Authentic Rural Southern Experience. I love liver but never had to face ten pounds of it. I made lots of liverwurst and pork liver pudding (it's kinda like meatloaf made out of liver). I still have five pounds of untouched liver in the freezer.

The lungs were the weirdest thing to cook. I boiled them in a big pot. They float on top of the water because of all the air inside. Duh - they're lungs, right? But it's just so unappetizing. I had to keep flipping the lungs over to make sure they cooked thoroughly. I assumed they were done when the tiny bubbles frothing out of the main tube turned from pink to white.

Remember those pictures of a healthy human lung compared side by side with a smoker's lung? Raw pig lung looks a lot like the healthy human lung. Cooked pig lung looks like the smoker's lung.

But, Jackie, how does it taste?

I don't know yet. After I boiled the lungs (and a heart), I cut them into pieces and then put them in the freezer. I plan on using them in a Filipino recipe I found on the internet. I didn't taste the boiled lungs before freezing. I figured I'd wait until they were fried up in a pan along with real food.