Weekend in a Cooler: What the Hell is That Smell?

Yes, there are recipes in this post. Hold your horses, sit back with that cup of (hopefully Fair Trade Certified) coffee, and read on.

Gaylin has a way with words as well as food, and one of my favorite things about this series has been the chance to email with her more. Why?  I’m glad you asked…

Obviously, part of the challenge was that everything had to fit into a cooler and a tote. While we were putting notes together for the write-up, I get this email (er, lightly edited for language, because I know a few of you have work filters):

I have to tell you about the cooler too. Oh you’re going to love this. So…you know (her husband) hunts, right? Well when he brings back a deer (or three), we process it ourselves. He’s incredibly picky about the processing and we get far better quality by doing it ourselves. So we got two deer this year and processed them. Guess what Don forgot to take out of the cooler IN NOVEMBER? Yep. One small ice cream bucket of broth cuts. Junk meat, essentially. But the cooler was so well sealed the whole time that we never smelled it.

Until he opened it, that is, and then jesus god almighty on a pogo stick what the f**k. So he says to me “we can fix this!” and fool that I was, I believed him. He set off to scouring that cooler like it had just held all the hosts of hell and their minions. And I have to admit that when he was done, that cooler didn’t seem to smell a bit.

Until we got to the hotel.

So to make a long story short, everything fit in the cooler just fine. And thank god I’m anal retentive about packing everything double bagged and in containers. The smell still in the cooler was just present enough that I made him take everything out of the cooler and then fill one end of the bathtub in the hotel room with ice. We stored all the food there.

I’m making him throw away that f**king cooler. Best damned cooler we ever owned too.

You can see why I get along with this woman. And, speaking of Gaylin, it’s time to turn things over to her, since my involvement in the recipe-prep portion of this whole wacky challenge was nil. That’s right, it’s time to start the recipe portion of the series! Take it away, Gaylin!

Homemade Rawmilk Yogurt
Our milk comes from Thomas Organic Creamery (but their site is down as I type this). Our cow’s name is “Amanda” and I get regular reports on her health and what she and her compatriots are doing. Right now they’re mostly birthing babies. I love that I know this. Seriously. I mean how many people are connected enough with their food that they know a baby just got born?
Most people cringe when they hear how much we pay for a gallon of milk. We pay $7.50. It’s a lot. Especially when you see how little milk costs in the grocery stores. But what aren’t you seeing in that milk? Safety, for one. And hidden costs, for another. How far did your milk travel? I know. Mine traveled 86 miles from door to door to get to me. I also know what my cow ate most days. Grass. Unsprayed, untreated, grass. I know what my cow did. Largely it wandered around free on that grass, minding its own business and doing cow type things. Happy cows play with each other. Did you know that? It kind of looks like they’re playing tag with each other like little kids. It makes me smile every time I see it.
Here in VA, Thadd and I get our milk from Our Father’s Farm. We pay $35/month, which is still far more than grocery store milk; but, we do it for all the reasons Gaylin does. It’s worth the cost).
I still use the crockpot to make my yogurt, mostly because I still don’t own a thermometer to allow me checking these kinds of things and we simply don’t keep much ice around to cool things down quickly. If I get into cheesemaking more (which I fully intend to), I’m going to invest in one and then. Until then, I make use of my crockpot because I can pretty much ignore what’s happening and just use time as my guide for what’s going on. The original recipe I came up with I’ve modified as best I could to try and lower the temps a bit and allow a lot more of the natural bacterial cultures through to the end. I’ve just not really noted the time changes.
Someday, I need to post my cooler recipe. I keep thinking I have, then realize I haven’t. Ergh.
Clean the Cupboards Granola
Our farmer’s market doesn’t sell nuts and dried fruits (more’s the pity), so we looked for a local source and were pleased to find the Germack Pistachio Company in downtown Detroit. They’re the oldest roaster of pistachios in the United States and one of the few companies in the US that roasts pumpkin and squash seeds. They roast in small batches and they’ve had the same master roaster working at the company for over two decades. They source through Michigan sources whenever possible, though most nuts can’t grow in Michigan. But the fruits they purchase for drying frequently can be grown in Michigan and they try to work with vendors within the state before they go out of state.
With the end of the food year and the start of the next (this is how we think of the transition from Spring to Summer in our house), our cupboards are fairly bare. There were, however, several small bits and bobs of nuts and fruits left in the cupboard. Some dried dates, cranberries, and grapes. Raw almonds we still had in abundance because I’d just bought them. Making up a batch of granola was one of the best ways to use all this up. Technically I don’t follow a recipe (when is that a surprise) but I do have one written up on my blog.
The oats we use in our house come from Hampshire Farms. They’re an organic farm about 78 miles from us. In addition to our oats, we get all of our grains, grain flours, dried beans and peas, and seeds from them. When our Amish farmers can’t make it to market, we get our eggs from them too.

8 responses to “Weekend in a Cooler: What the Hell is That Smell?

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