Today, January 24, is my daughter Susan’s 15th birthday. She wants to bake her own cake, so we’ll have that along with ice cream tonight. Susan was born on my sister Liz’s birthday, so Liz is 42 today. Friday evening we helped Jacob and Emma dress two hogs. On Saturday morning we went to go help cut up the meat. The hogs both weighed over 300 pounds. We usually start by cutting out the pork loins, hams, pork steak, side pork, bacon, ribs, or whatever we prefer to keep out of the sausage. Jacob and Emma wanted more sausage so they only kept two hams, four pork loins, one chunk of pork steak, and the ribs. The rest was cut up and ground into sausage. Everyone pitched in to help. The children helped by cutting up the lard into small pieces. Also the sausage meat was cut into small strips for the grinder. The big black kettle was used to cook the meat off the bones. The juice from the meat - along with flour, salt and pepper - was used to make 21 gallons of “pon hoss” and some meat from the bones was added. Liver pudding was made from the ground meat that was cooked off the bones.
Butchering day is usually a long, hard-working day. Emma and her daughters made breakfast burritos so we did not have to take time to eat before we left home. Our thermometer said -2 degrees when we left for their house Saturday morning, so we made sure to take plenty of extra coats for the buggy ride. You can’t run the horses as fast when it is that cold because it can be harder on them.
The meat was all cut-up inside Jacob and Emma’s buggy tool-shed. They had a heater burning in there and it was warm enough that we didn’t get too cold working up the meat. We didn’t get the lard rendered yet. We plan to help them with that this Friday night. We took a quick break from the hard work for noon dinner. On the menu was fresh-fried tenderloin, mashed potatoes, gravy made from the drippings of the meat, dressing, corn, lettuce salad, celery and carrot sticks, bread, butter and jam, and chocolate, butterscotch and lemon pies for dessert. Daughter Elizabeth made chocolate chip bars on Friday to serve during the mid-morning break. Mom would always make lard cakes on butchering day morn. I remember her mixing these up even before we ate breakfast. Lard cakes are sort of like a doughnut.
We enjoyed pon hoss for breakfast yesterday morning at our house. All the children like it so I fried quite a few pans. Along with that we had fried eggs and potatoes. We are still using the potatoes from our garden and the eggs are from our own chickens. It really helps on the grocery bill at this time of the year. Joe will be home next week. I am hoping we will be able to butcher our beef while he is off. I would like to do so when Joe would be home to help during the days. Joe will also not have work on the week of February 14 so hopefully one of the weeks will work.
Yesterday morning it was really cold. Our wireless thermometer showed minus 16 degrees and the other one by the window showed -9. Joe turned the coal stove up another notch and with the propane lights on a little longer the house stayed cozy. It was our Sunday off church so we stayed home in the warm house. I will share Mother’s recipe for pot pie soup. She would make this from a ham bone she cooked. It was a soup she was brought up with when she was a child also.
Pot Pie Soup
2 cups flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
3 diced potatoes
Crack the egg yolk and white into a cup and fill the cup halfway with water. Stir and pour into a bowl. Then add flour and salt and knead until a pie dough consistency forms. Roll out thin and cut the dough into 1-inch by 1-inch squares. In a kettle put sausage or ham broth (vegetable, chicken or beef broth can also be used) and bring to a boil. Then drop in the squares of rolled out dough. Add diced potatoes and heat on medium until potatoes are tender. Serve warm.
EDITOR’S NOTES: Photos from butchering day, including the liver pudding cooking on the kettle can be seen at www.amishcookonline.com. We also are wanting reader’s favorite memories from The Amish Cook as we celebrate our 20 year anniversary this year. Memories can be submitted at firstname.lastname@example.org. This was shared from Diane in Omaha: I first started reading The Amish Cook when we moved to a small town in Iowa where we knew no one and were living in a pretty isolated area. Before I started to work and meet people, I always looked forward to reading your column - like having coffee with a friend. Favorite memories from readers will be included throughout the year.
Also, we still have sets of slightly damaged cookbooks available at over 50 percent off regular price. The sets include the following