Saturday, February 23, 2013

Another first...*

Had a cracking pedal with my mate Al today up at Cwmcarn. The weather was cold and the snow was spitting about in the air but the conditions were spot on.

A knackered chain nearly put paid to the fun to start with but after a couple of adjustments it thankfully stayed put and didn't snap. That's not to say I didn't think of the potential damage to me if it had snapped on some of the climbs.
So, the first time on a singlespeed at a trail centre and I thoroughly enjoyed it. I didn't make it on a couple of climbs, once due to chain jumping off with 10 feet to go and the other just running out of grip on the rocks. Hey ho. Other than that I thoroughly enjoyed it.
Thanks for a good day out, Al.
*thanks for the inspiration, you know who you are.

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Makin' Bacon

Oh what the hell, I know it's a cliché but it's about as accurate a title as any.
Last night I began cold smoking the side of bacon left whole. I maybe hadn't thought it through entirely as well as I should have given that my smoking shack AKA the lean-to greenhouse I built on the side of the house, was on the side of the house. By virtue of crap windows and old brickwork (I'm blaming the windows) quite a lot of the lovely smoky goodness came into the house. This means that even now, a day later, there is a distinct odour of smoke.
Anyway, with the apple tree woodchips smouldering away nicely I left the bacon hanging for 20 hours. There are no pictures because a) it was really smoky and you couldn't see anything for all the smoke and b) I forgot and went to spin class and by the time I got back it was dark and you definitely couldn't see anything.
This evening then with the bacon lovely and cold I brought it in, admired the texture and feel of it and then got ready.
You'll notice the Ginger Pig Meat Book in the background. A great read but actually doesn't say much in there on how to slice bacon. So I took a stab in the dark and sort of rolled and folded it in half before tying with some crap string to keep it together.
My first few slices were just to even the end off so I won't show you those. I also grilled them pretty much immediately to see what it tasted like. It was very nice.
I began with a carving knife as you can see here-
but I found that it wasn't long enough and it also flexed a little it felt like as I was cutting through the meat. I swapped to a thicker and slightly longer knife and progress was far better, with each rasher coming away much better presented.
After getting about halfway through the side the meat was beginning to get warm and so wasn't cutting as well. I wrapped it up and put it back into the cold room and bagged up the rashers cut so far.

Friday, February 15, 2013

Where do good pigs go?

You may, or may not, remember that I had two rare breed Saddleback pigs up on my friends farm; Cinderhill Farm. They were called Genghis and Aristotle.
Well the time came for them to go to the piggy seaside after seven months of living the life of Riley on the hillside. They went to separate butchers as they were different statures. Aristotle (a meat pig) went to my local butcher, Neil Lewis and in return I got some cracking joints, plain sausages made to his award wining recipe, faggots, diced casserole meat and a middle side being cured for bacon.
Genghis (a bacon pig) went to a chap called Gerald who does a lot of curing. I received close to 50lb of lincolnshire sausages, offal, bacon and some lovely hams, including this absolute gem.
That's for a special occasion.
Here's some bacon;
and lurking at the bottom of that box was this beautiful side that I'm going to cold smoke.
I am so pleased with how the pigs turned out. The meat is delicious and for those that will look at the bacon and wince thinking it will be fatty, I can assure you that all the lovely flavour from that band of fat melts into the meat and the result is truly outstanding. I have eaten a lot of bacon and sausages and modesty be damned, this is the best I've tasted.
If you want to know exactly where your meat comes from and how it is treated then speak to Neil or Debs at Cinderhill.

Sunday, February 3, 2013

The Flying Gate

Stopped for a brew and some cake on a club pedal today and as we were leaving this lovely bike arrived.
A bit of rummaging and it's a T.J. Cycles Flying Gate
Very interesting and I imagine pretty responsive given the short wheelbase and rear wheel position.