I’m cooking a goose this year for Christmas. We have always made a standing rib roast and I think it is time to replace the roast beef with goose. I feel I need to pay homage to a “pet” goose that we recently killed.
A goose moved onto our property back in June when he (or she) started hanging out with the chickens. He appeared to have a wing injury and we allowed him to stay. When he became a bit aggressive with the chickens, we got aggressive with him. He seemed to understand very quickly who was boss and he settled into following orders. As time went on, we ended up throwing him some grain each time we fed the chickens and he became one of the flock.
It’s one of many dilemmas we face in raising animals and becoming attached to them. This was always the case of wild animals moving in and becoming somewhat domesticated. I am a bit cautious of geese. A few years ago we raised African Geese and they became very aggressive towards everyone but me. When my children began racing from the house to the car and refusing to be outdoors for fear they would be attacked, we had the geese killed. After that experience, I came home one day to find a domestic goose in my yard that someone had dropped off. I was less than thrilled at having another goose. After the goose became overly loud when anyone (mainly the UPS truck) came into the driveway, I decided to take it to Mermaid Farm where it did not have a very long life. SO, when this new one appeared, I expected that it would either move on or we would take care of it, but as time went on, he seemed to respond to my voice and my attention. He approached in a very thoughtful non-aggressive way and I came to think of him as the keeper of the hens. Although I never shared this with my husband Rich, I assumed he had a similar experience with the goose, as it is he who feeds them and checks on them daily and interacts with them more than I do.
So imagine my thoughts when I opened the refrigerator one day to find a goose nicely plucked and wrapped in plastic. I asked my husband about it and he replied that it was the goose from our yard. I did not let my surprise show, but I pondered it over and over trying to get a grasp of my feelings. I chose my words carefully and asked Rich what made him kill the goose and his reply was “I figured it would be one less mouth to feed this winter.” Really?!
So I pushed further: “Was he aggressive or annoying?” I asked.
“No, actually he seemed quite content and friendly” he responded.
I was even more confused as to how this came to be.
Raising pigs and chicken is not a profit raising business for us because we choose the most expensive organic grain and the costs of the feed outweigh the price we would need to charge to make money. So, we are used to losing money on farm animals. I felt as though we had betrayed the goose, and when it came time to cook him, I became very uninterested. Rich had a recipe with prunes and olives that he had made many years ago and he wanted to use it again. My heart was not into helping him or in preparing it. We cooked our goose. It was tough and chewy and it sat in the fridge for a week before I offered it up to the chickens - they devoured it.
And so, I am considering finding a goose to cook that has been raised on a farm over a short period of time that was was raised for meat. I feel I failed in the attempt to cook the goose properly and would like to make amends.
I know several folks who kill the Canada Geese, as they are a nuisance, and they grind them up for sausages, mixing the goose meat with pig lard. One year, a friend delivered three geese and hung them on our porch. He claimed that if you allow the bird to begin to ferment, it will be super tender. Fermented and tender or tough and fresh? This is our tough choice. Perhaps we will have stuffed squash and scallops for Christmas.
Caitlin Jones knows how to make the best darn eggnog I have ever tasted and here I share the Eggnog recipe. Of course having eggs from a trusted farmer is a must. With the risk of salmonella, it is a must to find a farmer using organic grain, raising chickens on pasture. When humane methods are used in raising poultry, the risk of salmonella outbreak is minimal.
This week is Hanukah and we will be lighting the candles and making Potato Latkes. I replace the white potatoes with sweet potatoes or use half and half. I also make ours gluten-free. We celebrate both Hanukah and Christmas in our home.
With the latkes, I will be making Stuffed Cabbage. Loads of kale is still coming out of the garden so sautéed greens are a must next to the stuffed cabbage and latkes.
It is the season to eat pomegranates. I was telling a class of students from the MVRHS today that when I was a kid, we did not have pomegranates. Although they are an ancient food with deep cultural roots throughout the world, they have only been available in the last 10 years abundantly in the United States. Try this Pomegranate Drink this holiday season. I have also included links to more recipes I have mentioned below.
In the coming weeks, may you find a small bit of quietude and moments of simple pleasures. It is the season of giving. May you have loads to give and offer and be surrounded by those you love around a table filled with delicious food, of course!
Scallops and Parsnip Puree
Sweet Potato Latkes
Consider joining us on a week-long retreat in Costa Rica in Feb/March or join our Spring Rejuvenation Cleanse on Martha's Vineyard in April.