Now that my kids are in their teen years and the empty nest is in sight, I get a little nostalgic for the days when they were young and the times seemed more simple and their needs seemed less daunting. I think back over the years when they were little and to the toys that seemed most memorable to them, and to me, and it reminds me that regardless of how fast the world around us moves, some things remain the same and will always do so. I remember the Christmas I got my son and his cousins a tool tray and filled it with rope, a hammer, a flashlight. some bungee cords and a few nails. After the fray of opening all the gifts, the first thing the boys grabbed and took outside was that tray full of items ready for creative use. Made me feel proud as a dad and uncle.
Cooking owns this same kind of simplicity for me. Start with a few ingredients, add some creativity, go to work and admire the outcome.
I am fortunate to have found a supply of good raw ingredients with which to begin, like this big farm chicken from Sanders Farm in Valparaiso, NE
It takes about 3 hours to break everything down, to trim and pack it up for my cooks and I to use in kitchen. My job is make sure everyone has what they need to do their job; shoulder for sandwiches, bellies for bacon, fat and trim for sausages. Below is a batch ready to be turned into coppa, a spicy stuffed cured meat that will need to hang and dry for a few weeks. Here is the tube in its “green” form, that is, as it is assembled and full of moisture. As it drys, it will lose a significant amount of weight, and this weight loss is one way to determine the progress of the aging process.