Monday, August 24, 2009

Practicing What I Preach

Connection problems are driving me crazy. I wanted to post this several days ago, but I just now got back on...

I'm always harping on joining a CSA and eating whatever's in your box. A lot of people have a problem with that. They don't like to try new things.

Generally, I'm adventurous enough that I like to try new foods. But I do have a few things I can do without, EVER.

Like black-eyed peas.

They've never done it for me. I don't actively hate them, but I'll walk several blocks to avoid them.

Yep, you guessed it. Last week's box had fresh black-eyed peas.

I figured it wouldn't kill me to eat them. And the information sheet in the box had a nice little recipe, so...

I shelled the peas (that was fun, seeing how patient I am), then chopped up an onion, a bell pepper, a couple of garlic cloves, some tomatoes... that's all I remember.

I sauteed the veggies (except for the tomatoes) for a minute or two, then added the peas and tomatoes. I also threw in a bit of chicken broth to give it enough moisture. At the end, I added some fresh corn. Take a look:

Then I made cornbread:

You know what? This tasted GOOD! Rick thought a little pork would nice, and he's right. I may toss in some sausage when we have the leftovers.

Was it because the peas were fresh, that I liked this? I don't know. But if I'm going to eat black-eyed peas, I'm sticking with this simple recipe.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Bacon Success

It's bacon!

This stuff is so good, that once again, I'm flummoxed trying to understand why people of a certain bygone generation ever let themselves be seduced away from Real Food.

I truly do not understand it. This was not even very hard to do, although I realize I have a refrigerator and an oven and plastic bags... maybe it was a little harder for our ancestors.

After its day of rest in the frig, getting nice and dry, I put the bacon in the oven, 200 degrees for about 2 1/2 hours. I tested it with a thermometer and took it out when it got to 150 degrees.

Then I started slicing. This takes patience...

Of course, as the Chief Cook and Bottle Washer, I had to fry some up and make sure it passed the Taste Test:

Isn't that gorgeous?

Here's the pile of sliced bacon:

I wrapped these in packages of four slices, since two each is the most we can have at one serving (proving I do TRY to show constraint). It all went into the freezer to await Saturday morning pancakes.

The taste was deep and rich. Next time, I will probably use less mixture - less salt and less sugar. I may even leave the sugar out and keep it savory, trying out various herbs. I definitely want to do this again!

Monday, August 17, 2009

The Bacon

The curing is done (I think) and now the bacon is drying:

The next step would be smoking, but I'm not going to be smoking it. I'm not clear on whether I must roast it to 150 degrees, or if I can just slice it and cook it up, at this point.

Does anyone know?

Since all the instructions I've found have said to either smoke it or roast it, I guess I'll roast it, unless someone can tell me otherwise. That will happen tomorrow.

Friday, August 14, 2009

Bacon Day 3

Here's what the bacon looks like after curing for a few days.

I think it's behaving just right, since by now it's supposed to be letting out lots of juice. A few more days of this still to go...

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Michigan food processors turn groundwater orange

Michigan food processors turn groundwater orange

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Making Bacon

Part of my share of the Berkshire hog was a side of bacon. Fresh meat that needs to be cured. I thought I'd chronicle my first attempt at making bacon.

Here's the slab of meat. Sorry, I don't know how much it weighs, but probably about 4 pounds:

Here's a mixture of kosher salt and brown sugar: I used about 1/3 cup of each.

Adding 1/4 cup maple syrup:

Here's the slab with the mixtuer rubbed all over it (showing meat side up):

The slab is placed in a plastic bag (I used a garbage bag since I didn't have anything else big enough). It goes in the frig for seven days, turing it over the first few days.

After that, I dry it and smoke it. Fun, no?

Monday, August 10, 2009

Julie & Julia

I just saw "Julie & Julia" yesterday. What an inspiration. As it happens, I don't have "Mastering the Art of French Cooking," but I do have "The Way to Cook." I've used it a lot over the years, but I have to admit it's been mostly sitting on the shelf lately.

Time to get it out and remember what's in it. No, I won't be tempted to make every recipe in it. In fact, I'd love to know how Julie Powell did it without gaining fifty pounds. Maybe she did gain that much. And what did she do with all that food? She and her husband couldn't possibly have eaten it all.

Maybe she gained a hundred pounds.

Anyway, I am inspired to try a few things. The first thing I looked up was pork chops, since I just - you know - brought home thirty pounds of various cuts from a Berkshire hog.

But Julia's pork chop section is pretty basic (after all, "The Way to Cook" is about the basics), and lo, I already know how to cook a pork chop, even accoriding to Julia.

So in honor of summer, I'm going to cook them with peaches or plums (probably plums since I already have 'em). Should be good.

By the way - I LOVED the movie. Funny and touching and definitely inspirational. A real keeper.

Saturday, August 8, 2009

Food Chores

Today I made pesto, and roasted a bunch of sweet peppers. I'll use a few of the peppers tonight with potatoes, red onions, and the pesto. Sort of like a pizza without the crust (to save me the calories). I put the rest of the peppers in a jar and covered them with olive oil. Just have to make sure I use them up in a few weeks.

I also cleaned out my freezer since tomorrow we get the 1/7 of a hog I ordered back in April. I don't know why it took so long, but I can't wait to see what I get. And what I do with it all.

What did I take out of the freezer? Vegetables. I usually compost the leavings when I cut veggies for dinner, but a few times I stored everything in plastic bags, with the idea that I'd make broth one day. But we just don't use broth that often. I have a bunch already made up and frozen. Since I need the freezer space, I just gave up and composted everything.

So yay. I've done the weekly CSA box catch-up. Now I just need to go grocery shopping...