Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Beef Brisket in the Slow Cooker

Now that we are getting down to the end of the home-raised beef in our freezer, I'm challenged to cook some cuts of meat that are less known to me. One of these is brisket.

I made the first brisket in the slow cooker and served it as pulled meat sandwiches on buns. I thought it was delicious. Hubby said it wasn't what he expected. He admitted it was okay but couldn't tell me what he had expected.. So when it came time to cook the other, I did a little more research. I decided he must have been visualizing something that resembled a roast rather than a sandwich.

So I chose a recipe from one of my grandma's old cookbooks. I made a few simple changes, especially in the amounts used since the brisket I was using was significantly smaller than the 4-pounder they suggested. Our steer "Chuck" was on the small side when we sent him to the butcher, but we are a family of two these days, so we definitely don't need 12 servings.

I sliced an onion very thinly and covered the bottom of the slow cooker with the slices, then placed the meat on top, fat side up. The fat will keep the meat moist and delicious as it cooks; you can remove it when the dish is cooked if you wish.

The recipe then called for a "rub" made of 2 tablespoons of ketchup combined with 1 tablespoon each of red wine vinegar and brown sugar. It doesn't really made a rub, more of a very thick sauce that I spread over the meat with the back of a spoon.

Next I minced two cloves of garlic and topped the brisket with it. (Do you know how to peel garlic the easy way? Place a clove on the cutting board, put the flat side of your knife on top, and bang it with your fist to smash the garlic. The peel will come off very easily.) Finally, sprinkle with salt and pepper, and cook on low for about 8 hours.

If you have a bigger brisket, cook it longer. I cooked mine for about 7 hours and it was absolutely perfect.


Beef brisket (not corned beef)
1 onion, thinly sliced
2 cloves of garlic, minced
2 Tbsp ketchup
1 Tbsp red wine vinegar
1 Tbsp brown sugar
salt and pepper to taste

Place sliced onions in the bottom of the slow cooker, and place brisket, fat side up, on top.

Combine ketchup, vinegar and brown sugar in a small bowl and pour over the beef, spreading it to cover the top. Place the minced garlic on top, and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Add enough water to cover the bottom of the crockpot. Cover and cook on low for 8 hours.

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Monday, April 14, 2014

How Does Goat Milk Taste?

This is a question I hear often: what does goat milk taste like? Some of the askers have tasted the nasty stuff from the grocery store; others have heard rumors and tales of how "goaty" goat milk tastes. Properly handled, fresh goat milk tastes good. It is very similar to whole cow's milk; most people can't even tell the difference.

The canned goat milk from the grocery store does taste pretty bad, I'm told. In my opinion, the canned cow's milk from the grocery store tastes pretty bad too. But that's not good, fresh milk, so I think it's comparing apples to oranges. Both apples and oranges are round and grow on trees, but that's where the similarities end.

Factors that affect the taste of goat milk include freshness, the goat's diet, her environment, and how the milk is handled after milking.

If you were to buy goat milk in a carton from the refrigerated dairy section of the grocery store, keep in mind that the milk is several days away from the goat. It's not fresh. On the other hand, if you own your own goat and collect fresh milk every morning, that milk is FRESH. The taste will prove it.

Many plants and herbs will affect the taste of the milk. Eating wild onions, for instance, will give the milk an onion-y taste. We've noticed that ragweed will change the taste, as can other plants. Another culprit is feed that includes soy.

A goat that lives in a dirty environment, lying around on dirty straw, will produce off-flavored milk. Keeping a strong-smelling buck near the does, or in the same pen, can also cause the milk to taste "bucky". If you've ever smelled a buck in rut, you'll know what I'm talking about.

Milk Handling
How you handle the milk once it comes out of the goat's udder is a big factor as well. Chill the milk as quickly as possible - I wrote about this here. Keep it cold. Drink it while it's fresh. We drink this morning's milk today; tomorrow we will drink tomorrow morning's milk.

Keep everything clean, clean, clean, from the milk bucket to the jars that store your milk. Milk your goat in the cleanest environment possible. Wash your equipment thoroughly and rinse it very well.

If you are used to drinking 2%, 1% or even skim milk from the store, goat milk might taste "funny" at first. Fresh goat milk is whole milk, with none of the fat removed. Switching from 1% cow milk to whole cow milk will taste funny too.

Goat milk is naturally homogenized, but the cream will eventually separate a bit and rise to the top of the jar. Simply shake the jar to mix it up again, or spoon off the cream to go in your coffee.

So, how does goat milk taste? It tastes like milk.

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