One day last week, Max, Mary, Thomas, Patrick, Maggie, Rose, Nora and Kathryn sat around the table. I asked them if they had thoughts on a name for our dear little heifer.
Mary cried out, "Mary!"
I thought that was cute, naming a little calf after herself, but she assured me the name wasn't hers, but was after Mary, the mother of Jesus, since little calf was born so near Christmas Eve.
How could I resist?
So Mary is Mary, but the other one.
She is so adorable. With the blessed warm weather, I have let her and Coco hang outside the barn the last two days. No matter how sad one is, it is impossible not to laugh when watching the healthy little thing tear and frolic around the yard. She curls her tail up, gathers up her feet and leaps into the air as if bitten by a snake. Then runs as if chased by wild coyotes. Then whirls and saunters, never straying too far from placid Coco.
We have decided that Mary is the closest thing to pink that could happen in an organic heifer. Rose pink, kind of like the crepey cloth made into a great grandma's thin housecoat, the dressy one with lace around the edge of the sleeve.
She is the most lovely of lovelies and I am happy she was born. Being forced to go out to milk is good therapy for me and I feel certain that the timing is providential.
Seems like the mastitis has been cured, what with Patrick's diligent help with massage and milking and hot cloths. And Mary's diligent help in nursing.
The barn kitties believe this just might be the best holiday ever since they and the dogs are getting the milk until all sign of illness is over. Actually, I did strain the milk tonight and put it up for us, since it seemed perfect with no sign of colostrum or mastitis.
A warm wind blew in a thaw and my eyes are relieved to see earth. The kids are relieved to see the pond begin the thaw, hoping that in a week or so it will refreeze into a smooth surface. The house is warm. I am grateful for the break.
But now, for a recipe or two. And for the record, any meal conjured up with my dear friend Holly is pretty much the best. And having Kathryn hear to help chop and listen and eat and drink and share abundant gifts is dessert. And seeing the kids play and romp and build and design is heavenly. Truly. Max and Patrick built a castle fort, and I wish you could see it.
Venison Tenderloin with Port reduction
First, we sliced the tenderloin into rounds, 1 1/2 cm thick, give or take and dusted them with whole wheat flour. Holly seared them in a hot skillet with a light coating of oil, until just barely done.
Then, Holly cooked up a small amount of bacon and crumbled it. While she did that, she put on a cup or so of port to reduce. That means, put it in a small saucepan and let it simmer/boil to let a third to half evaporate. You could use red wine.
I took some of the plums which Max and Patrick picked last end of July and Kathryn and I made into brandied plums. They were damson plums. After five months in the brandy, the plums shriveled up to half their size. I took around a half cup of the plums and cut the meat off them and chopped it up. Also took a knob of fresh ginger and minced it. Holly added the plums and ginger to the port as she finished preparing the venison.
Right before we served our midnight meal, she poured the port/plum ginger sauce over the platter of venison, sprinkled bacon crumbs on top and generously salted and peppered. I wish I could embed the scent into this blog post. It was SOOOO good!
NOW, for a couple of sides, we made oven roasted sweet potato fries, sliced into finger length sticks, tossed in a little olive oil, then roasted at 450 until crispy on the outside and tender on the inside. Sea salt on top.
And Creamed spinach.
Here's my recipe: Saute two or three cloves of minced garlic in olive oil or butter. Add a huge mound of spinach and sprinkle with a little salt. As soon as the spinach wilts, you can serve it as is, and it is the most delicious, but we wanted to gild the lily. As soon as the spinach wilted, Holly added some cream and a couple of pinches of curry powder, just to give a subtle nuance. The curry powder off set the fruity ginger and the earthy venison in an amazing way. The sweet potatoes were perhaps a divinely inspired counterpoint.
I so hope you have friends who can access some deer tenderloin for you, for it is the penultimate organic, free-range red meat. And other friends who will stand around your kitchen with you concocting gourmet feasts. We were satisfied with that feast. And I am wondering when we can prepare it again. But first, another dear friend shared some locally harvested bear meat and now I am dreaming of bear bourgignone. What do you think?