What’s been cookin’ in Tanzania this week? PORK! Poor, lovely, little Maisy to be precise. What an experience! Another first for the Mongers in Tanzania! Be warned now though, if you are squeamish or vegetarian you may want to skim this update!
We discovered that Greg Whittick (our Tadley church pastor who has been visiting us for two weeks) worked as a butcher many years ago! So we just had to make the most of his time with us and put him to this rather unexpected task! And so the day before he (and Hugh and Lyn) left Iringa, the deed was done! We hired a couple of guys to come and do the worst bit, which rather unfortunately happened at the same time as a visit from Miriam from Compassion Iringa. So while chatting about compassionate things like child sponsorship, there arose a terrible squealing and some rather distraught wailing from two little girls! But the trauma subsided, and there was much to do and much to learn! Now I am not sure that this blog is to be “how-to” guide on pig butchery, but it was such an experience I have to share some of it!
|Out with the liver|
We had a fire going and a huge pot of boiling water ready with which to scald and scrape off the hair. I was surprised how easy this was and how beautifully smooth and white the skin appeared underneath. Then we hung the body from the two back legs in a tree to drain the blood. We had a little trouble with bad string which caused her to suddenly drop, but with many hands, she was easily caught and tied back up! Greg took over here, for his first time eviscerating a pig (taking out the innards). We had done some research online, studied Andy Sharpe’s book on Self-Sufficiency by John Seymour and I of course had reread "Little House in the Big Woods" which is my classic textbook on all things pioneering (chapter 1 is brilliant for everything from making the smokehouse to butchering to making a ball with the bladder). Greg expertly managed to tie off the bung gut – the girls were fascinated by the poo! And then to cut out the insides; we were nervous here about slicing too deep down the belly and piercing the intestines (not a good thing to do!) but Greg’s careful hand slit neatly down and all the various bits and pieces really pretty much slid right out. I was eagerly looking for the bladder for the ball and we had a brief visual lesson on hearts and lungs and stomachs.
With everything out, the pig was laid on a table, ready to butcher and Greg was now in more familiar territory. He did a fantastic job, and left us a whole pig in recognisable joints! Usually when we buy pork here, random bits arrive in a plastic carrier bag. He boned and rolled the legs for us (now being saved for Christmas). We have chops, spare ribs, belly, shoulder joints, trotters …. I had put aside the tail and was looking forward to roasting it (like they do in Little House on the Prairie!) but to my great disappointment, the dogs sneaked over and got away with the tail! Greg worked really hard; it’s no quick, easy task!
And since the butchering, the job has been what to do with all the meat. Maisy was not a big pig, but she has given us a good supply of meat! Joints and chops have been labelled and put in the freezer. I am very excited about my first attempt at making bacon with the belly (we really miss bacon!) We haven’t had time to make the smokehouse, so I am dry-curing two batches of bacon. One is maple-cured and the other is rosemary and garlic! I hope it will taste as good as it sounds! I have also made liver pate (made with our fresh homemade butter) and chilied kidney sauce. I have cubed pork for casseroles and ground meat for meatballs. I have made Chinese pork stock, and now am just preparing Sweet and Sour Pigs Trotters! (Not entirely sure about this one to be honest, but couldn’t pass up the chance to try!) We have the fat ready to make lard, and have already used the fat to cook ugali! And for some non-edible fun, I have blown up the bladder for the girls to toss around.
|From this ...|
So I now feel like someone somewhere between the Good Life and the Little House on the Prairie! I never would have guessed a few years ago that I would be living like this! It is good; nothing is wasted, everything is used and re-used and by being creative, we learn to manage with so much less. (Mind you, I feel like I am running out of “creativity” to manage without water so much of the time!) Maisy was a good pig for us and none of her was wasted! And I guess I’m thinking the same for me in all that I do, and also for the girls as they grow up … may none of us be wasted! May our lives be used and re-used by God, may our time be well spent, may our words and actions be useful and fruitful.