Impress the fam- Pork Wellington

This dish came about partially by accident. Partially because I had been eyeing Beef Wellington on Pinterest since I was planning my holiday menus months ago. Mostly however, because my 10 year old saw puff pastry in our fridge and said “aw mom I don’t feel like eating chicken pot pie!!”

She was right. That is why puff pastry was in the fridge. Chicken pot pie was my original plan for dinner that night. She is not a fan of peas and even though, because of this, I omit the peas in my pot pie recipes she still gripes once in a while about the thought of them maybe, possibly, perhaps being in her dinner. She’s also one of those kids who doesn’t like her food touching. The meat has to be separate from her greens. The starch can’t be touching anything on the plate. She is a good eater but she has her quirks too.

Any how, no pot pie- no pot pie. What to make?

I had a pork tenderloin that I needed to use soon. I had mushrooms. The puff pastry. Pork Wellington! “Let’s wing it” I thought–and the outcome was absolutely scrumptious. My husband James even said “Sarah this tastes amazing!”

And that’s really all I needed to hear. I will be making this again. And again. And well probably forever cause it’s a winner!

Here’s how to make it!

Pork Wellington

  • 2-3lb pork tenderloin- plain or pre seasoned depending on your preference.
  • 1 sheet of frozen puff pastry, thawed
  • 1 c of Bella mushrooms, sliced
  • 1 shallot, chopped
  • 2 cloves of garlic, chopped
  • 2-3 sprigs of thyme
  • 4-5 slices of good provolone cheese
  • 1/2 cup shredded Parmesan cheese
  • Salt and pepper
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tbsp of butter
  • 1 egg
  • Parsley to garnish (optional)

Preheat oven to 375

If your tenderloin is pre seasoned or marinated skip over salting it. Other wise season the pork generously with salt and pepper.

Heat a cast iron skillet on high. Add your olive oil and butter to the skillet and sear the tenderloin on ALL sides.

Once seared, set it aside to rest.

Sauté your shallot and mushrooms until browned and cooked completely, add more olive oil if needed. Season with salt and pepper. Next, add in your garlic and thyme. Cook for 1-2 minutes longer.

On a parchment lined baking sheet, lay out the puff pastry. Spoon the mushroom mixture in the middle of the pastry, leaving room at the edges. Top with parmesan and then provolone.

Then place the seared tenderloin on top of that and carefully wrap the puff pastry around it. Pinching the seams.

Turn the Wellington seam side down. Cut 3-4 slits in the top of the pastry to allow steam to escape.

Whisk your egg and brush over the top of the pastry. Garnish with chopped parsley and more Parmesan if desired and bake 30-35 minutes. Check at 25 min to be sure pastry isn’t getting too brown.

Let the Pork Wellington rest covered with foil for 5-10 minutes before slicing and serving.

Meaty, cheesy, savory, doughy goodness!!!

I am pretty sure this recipe comes with a satisfaction guarantee!

Do yourself a favor and try it. You will thank yourself for it!

Homestead Essentials 

 

threeacrehomestead

 
This is our barn. 

The barn that houses so many of the essential tools we need to build our homestead and maintain what we’ve started.
Haste makes waste… This is one of the many lessons my grandfather has taught my husband and I. 

We find ourselves repeating this mantra often on the homestead. With so much to do day in and day out, it would seem easier to take a short cut every once and a while. 

You can’t rush things on a homestead. It’s important to do it right the first time so whatever project you may be working on is sure to last and last and in the end save you time. 

You can’t be hasty on the homestead. Things have a way of coming back to bite you when you rush.

There’s some beauty in that too…The time you take can not only teach you a lesson in patience but will teach you an appreciation for every mundane task you have as well.

For example… I can’t tell you how many times I would wake James up in the middle of the night saying “hunny I forgot to close the chicken coop!!!” 

 
I would rush rush rush to get all of my afternoon chores done so I could cook my family a meal and perhaps enjoy that rewarding glass of wine at the end of my day. 

James got sick of the haste and sick of getting out of bed at midnight to go close the dang coop. Trust me, don’t poke the bear is another manta in this house… He does whatever we need without hesitation but he does it, well…grumpily?

Is grumpily a word? My computer is not auto correcting me so I’m assuming it’s a suitable word here. And certainly is fitting for the bear protecting my hens at midnight. 

So when he finally had enough, he took his time and built this pulley system. 

 Brilliant! With just a few things we had around the stead, he made it so we can easily open and close the coop from inside our barn. 

No more going outdoors at midnight and the pulley is so easy it’s become a natural part of my evening routine. I rarely forget it now! 

There are so many wonderful, essential tools to have on your homestead. I’ve listed just a few of my favorites that have helped us out tremendously and has given us more time to conquer the next chore on the list!

1. The Kindling Cracker 

 This tool has been a life saver for me! 

Although we work to build a self sufficient lifestyle, James still travels quite a bit for his career away from the homestead, leaving me to do much of the farm work by myself. 

Funny enough, I actually bought this as one of his Christmas gifts this past year but it has served me most well because of the ease and safety it provides.

Chopping wood and kindling is not an easy task. We heat the majority of our house with 2 wood stoves. We actually have 4 fireplaces in this old house but I’m pretty sure it would be a full time job to run them all at once! 

The Kindling Cracker is so easy to use and takes the danger out of chopping wood. Check out a demonstration video here, just don’t mind the intense music in the background… Makes me giggle! 
 
2. The 5 Gallon Bucket 

 It may sound simple but having a good supply of 5 gallon buckets on the stead is absolutely essential!

I use them to bring extra water to the pigs and chickens. 

I plant herbs like mint, or other invasive plants, in the buckets to separate them from the rest of the garden.

They are helpful for storing different grains or shells the chickens will need for extra calcium. 

We use them during the slaughter process for any “extra parts” that will need to be taken away and disposed of. 

We use them to carry kindling to the indoor wood box.

They are perfect when the fruit trees are ready to harvest, and even great when collecting sap during maple sugaring season.

I could probably go on but you get the idea…These are a huge must have on any homestead.

3. Zip Ties 

 Anotjer simple yet essential tool.

We use these things more often than you can imagine… They are perfect for holding together a simple garden border to keep foragers away… 

 OR perfect for when a fence or protective netting may fall because of the weather or playful animals having a little too much fun.  

 They really are a smart thing to have on hand!
 
4. Good Boots 
 Proper foot wear may sound like a reach for this list but it is hands down one of my top essentials on any farm or homestead. 

We spend all day on our feet. Whether we are slopping pigs, weeding the garden or cleaning the coop- a bad shoe can ruin your day in an instant. Investing in good boots that will stand up to weather and wear is so important. 

   
5. Mason Jars 

 My ‘all things canning’ post will come at a later date but any homesteader should have a surplus of these jars on hand at all times!

I use them day in and day out. 

Aside from the typical canning process, we use them to store bacon grease, homemade vinegars, soaps, even refrigerator pickles and dilly beans.

They are so versatile and something I use almost everyday! Even all our drinking glasses are old Mason jars that I never bothered to buy new lids for! 

 Stock up! You won’t be sorry! 

 
6. Egg Cartons 

 This is pretty specific to those who raise chickens but I just can’t get enough. 

I never refuse old egg cartons from family and friends, and trust me… I end up using every last one!

If you have laying hens, don’t be scared to ask people to save their empties for you! Just be a good homesteader and give them back a full one to say thank you! 

7. The Food Saver 

 I know this may be a more hefty investment, but it is well worth it! We were able to process a large amount of our own meat and vacuum seal veggies that aren’t always can worthy.

There’s nothing better than fresh summer veggies in the dead of winter!  

 
8. 10 Gallon Drums 

   Similar to the 5 gallon bucket- perfect for grain storage and collecting rain water!

Research getting food safe drums to be sure no harmful chemicals within the drums will get into your feed or water supply. 

9. Food Scale

 
Lastly, and certainly not least is our food scale. This is such an important tool when canning and packaging meat. Even if we aren’t selling our product, it helps us to ration and label all that we preserve. 

It’s much easier to reach into the freezer and quickly read a tag that says 1lb ground venison, or 3lb pork roast, rather than guess the weight and have a recipe that’s too heavy or rather lacking what we should have thawed. 

I would reccomend a food scale to every homesteader out there. It truly eliminates waste and makes for a cleaner and more accurate product. 

So that’s my list of essentials for now! 

Make some of these investments- they will save you time and money in the end….

Mind Your P’s & Q’s

 Pigs and common Questions about raising them|

Believe it or not a couple years back when we first began our homesteading adventures, I would have never dreamt of raising pigs for meat. 

I was scared of their smell. I was scared of slaughtering them. And for whatever reason that scene from Animal Farm always really stuck with me. 

 
Photo credit deviantart.com

As time went on I became pretty decent in the garden. I learned to can a large portion of our harvest and my hens were laying a couple dozen each week. I realized it was time to expand my horizons, and so the discussion began between James and I. What would be a realistic next step? 

Our dreams of raising a dairy cow or two just seemed too large of an undertaking at the time.

James is a hunter and I admit, having a freezer full of venison for the winter, along with our fresh and canned vegetables made for a rewarding season. It seemed that raising our own meat would be the next step toward true homesteading and self sustainability. 

I read and read, and read some more… I mean, I really did my homework people! I had so many questions but when push came to shove we just lept in… Figured it out- and now I can’t imagine a spring that I won’t be raising pigs. 

I can honestly say that it was one the the most rewarding experiences of my life from start to finish. It was emotional at times, but I learned that it should be. Quality of life for any animal is what makes the difference. Whether they be a household pet, or livestock that you raise to feed your family- providing a happy and healthy life will produce a wonderful product, and give you peace of mind and heart. 

Saying goodbye in sacrifice or illness is inevitable on the homestead, and  will always really hit you in the feels. 

But let’s get back to the rewarding part shall we??

I can remember writing down question after question about raising the pigs before we picked them up for the first time. I was a little embarrassed to even ask fellow farmers because I felt like I should already know the answers. WRONG!

You never know everything there is know until you experience it first hand and even then, nature will probably throw a curve ball at you. It’s just natures way. 

So if you’re considering raising pigs to feed your family or sell for profit on your small farm, I’ve compiled a list of commonly asked questions before you get started.

Q: how much space do you need to raise pigs?

A: our entire homestead sits on just three acres and the pigs barely seemed to take up any room at all. Our pigs had a simple 8×4 shelter, equipped with hay for bedding to keep warm, and a 30×60 double fence. I call it a double fence because it really is. The inner fence being an electric fence that is solar powered.  Pigs can be escape artists so it was important to us to run the electric fence first. Two feet around the perimeter of the electric fence, my husband and I built a wooden fence for extra stability and to keep our free range children, chickens and dogs from any shocking encounters.   

  
We only had four pigs this past year and this was more than enough room for them. They will dig up the earth and eat all of the grass and roots. Make sure they have a pasture like this to root up and keep busy.  

 
Q: can you only raise 1 or 2 pigs?

A: two is better. There is a sense of safety in numbers plus having a cuddle buddy will help them to stay warm at night. They love to lay on one another and one little baby alone would be sad to say the least. 

 
Whether they are approaching slaughter weight or still young, they WILL fight over food a bit, however in my experience- if you give them plenty they learn to figure it out on their own.  

 
Q: what is the cost of a piglet?

A: it will vary depending on your location but I would bet $100.00 to $150.00 for a wormed,  35lb piglet is pretty accurate. 

Q: how old will the pig be before it is fully grown and ready for slaughter?

A: pigs are ready for slaughter once they reach the 250 lb  to 275 lb mark. There are different measuring techniques out there for you to research but for us… Our 35 lb babies from April were fully grown and ready by October 25th-November 1st.

Q: what vaccinations will they need?

A: they should come to you wormed and at least have been given an iron shot. It’s important not to introduce too much into their system as it will change the quality of the meat. Pigs are not immune to infections such as pneumonia. If you notice your pig is not interested in their food or seems sleepy and withdrawn they may be sick. In most cases penicillin can be administered to help. Call a veterinarian or a fellow homesteader at first suspicion of illness. 
Q: what should we feed our pigs and how much per day?

A: pigs need a constant supply of water. Make sure you have a system in place that is easy to access so you aren’t hauling buckets of water to them all day, everyday. Pigs love to roll around in water and mud to keep cool and protect from bugs and pests, so havering a watering system is key!!

We fed our pigs all natural pig and sow grain. This will range anywhere from $10.00-$15.00 per 50 lb bag. Go for the good stuff. You are what you eat as they say!

Pigs will eat around 6-8 lbs of grain per day. I got into the habit of splitting it up into two feelings per day. Morning and night. I was also fortunate enough to supplement with old fruit and vegetable scraps from my local grocer. I highly recommend researching your options for this as well. Your pigs will love you! 

 
Speaking of love…

Q: how can I avoid becoming attached to my pigs?

A: you can’t….

These guys and girls will steal your heart.  

   
Try not to name them, that’s my best advice. Give them a good life and take heart, not every pig is so lucky. 

All in all these animals are a delight to raise and they provide a surprising  amount of meat. One 250 lb pig gave us 170 lbs of lovely organic pork for our family. It is well worth the effort…. And the feels.