Category Archives: Cooking

Olio – Nov. 24, 2017

Olio: A miscellaneous collection of things

The blog has been quiet of late, but not for a lack of activity.  Jim and I continue to strive for a daily walk, though the past few days because of extra folk in the household, prep for Thanksgiving, child keeping for daughter and SIL to get their house painted inside before they move their furniture in, my walks have either been missed or have happened on our mountain road with visiting son, DIL, and eldest grandson.  Last evening, we walked our road so that I could show them the fossil.

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Grandson had been shown it before, but couldn’t find it again to show his parents.  It stays hidden and you have to know where to look to uncover it.

Today is  resident granddaughter’s  sixth birthday.  She was born on Thanksgiving and celebrated on Thanksgiving last year but won’t hit the holiday again for a few years.

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Her Dad is not a fan of spiders so her wicked sense of humor requested a chocolate cake with a spider web and spider on top. Above is daughter, our resident cake decorator, molding a purple spider from Rice Krispy treat mix to go on the cake that will be revealed tonight.

Yesterday’s feast was a treat.  We worked together to pull it off, with DIL helping with side dishes,  son’s assist to spatchcock the 19.5 lb turkey.  He also is in charge of rubbing the herb butter I made under the skin and lifting the monster onto and off of the baking rack and carving it.  This process produces the juiciest, tastiest poultry in such a short time.  It only took 90 minutes cooking time with this method.

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We don’t put the whole bird on the table to carve so it’s unconventional appearance is okay.  The aromatic vegetables under the turkey are pureed and added to the backbone, neck, giblets, and carcass to cook down for broth.  We ended up last night putting 2 1/2+ gallons of broth in jars for future gravies, cooking rice, potatoes, or beans.

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I survived turning 70 this past week.  It was a busy day of cleaning, food purchase for the feast and to feed the 9 people currently staying here, but ended with Jim taking me for a delightful meal at a local upscale restaurant.

This morning, eldest grandson (12), resident grandson (10), and the birthday girl, helped me stack the load of firewood that was delivered earlier this week.  This required removing the old wood from the makeshift rack first, driving a couple new T posts, scrounging for a few more old cedar posts to use as the base, and stacking high enough to have room, low enough to not topple over. The old wood then piled back on top to be burned first.

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It is two rows thick at one end and the chick raising water trough is full of old wood, set on it’s side behind the stacks as additional storage.

Today, being Black Friday, I won’t venture from the house.  I don’t like to shop when it is quiet, I sure don’t want to be out in the chaos that even our smaller towns seem to have.  I will support some of our local businesses later, and will purchase some gifts online next week.

I hope my readers, had quality time with family or friends yesterday or will be able to this weekend.  I am thankful for the time with my husband, children that could come and their families.  Hopefully, we will soon get to visit the one that could not come.

End of Week – 9/10/2017

The cruise obviously did not happen.  We are safely in our Virginia mountains, not at sea.  We will use our credit to try again in the spring when we are out of hurricane season.  Since we are home, we took advantage to make a short trip to Meadows of Dan to supply with Bent Mountain cabbages, Virginia apples, and Ashe County cheeses from the Poor Farmers Market.  This was done after our morning trip to our local Farmers Market yesterday.

Each day we try to take a brisk walk to improve our stamina and help both of us shed a few pounds.  Yesterday was a home football game, bringing thousands of extra people into the small town, making traffic miserable, especially as the main bypass road around the town is in the midst of construction, repaving great sections and a new interchange at the campus.  This has made travel even more miserable.  With no place to park on football days, we missed our walk yesterday but enjoyed getting away from it.

The apples purchased yesterday were processed today to make two batches, a total of 15 pints of spiced applesauce.  It is cooling from the canner to be labelled tomorrow and added to the shelves in the basement for our winter enjoyment.

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Two of the cabbages were slated for kraut.  One of our favorite winter dishes is pork chops seared then topped with applesauce and sauerkraut and slow cooked in the dutch over.

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Two half gallon jars are fermenting on the counter.  If I can stir up another wide mouth half gallon, the third cabbage may also become sauerkraut as one of these jars will be packed in pints or quarts and given to eldest son and his family once it is fully fermented.

Tomorrow, a couple of flats of jars will be purchased for another prep of salsa and an attempt at making Asian Pear Butter.  Once that is done, the fading tomatoes will be pulled and that bed seeded with a cover crop.  The peppers are being allowed to ripen to red before making a batch of Sriracha style sauce and for drying to use in enchilada sauce this winter.  The corn stalks are about to be pulled for fall decoration, the fall radishes and turnips pulled for salads and kimchee.  The sweet potatoes will be left until the first frost is threatened, then dug.

The young hens are now giving us 9 to 12 eggs each day.  The old hens have all but quit laying and some appear to be beginning to molt.  They have had a good life and will be humanely killed soon to be stew chickens.

On the craft front, I have spun little since I returned from the retreat, but I have been working on designing a fingerless mitt pattern.  I think I have gotten it all figured out and written up.  Here is a peek of the finished mitt.

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They should soon be in the shop.

 

Same Song Different Dance

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Yesterday was clear and sunny, but cold.  We are in the week’s yoyo on the climb back up the string.  Today is gray, but expected to be about 8 degrees warmer than yesterday.  Maybe the mid 40’s (8ºC), breezy, but no heavy wind. We will climb another 10 degrees tomorrow and Tuesday with increasing chances of rain, then plummet on Thursday back to a high of freezing and a low in the teens.  My system doesn’t like these flucuations.  With the changes bring wind.  Wind brings power outages.  We are low on wood for supplemental heat.  This spring, the woodlot will be checked for dead or dying trees to try to resupply.  A few years ago, a huge oak blew down in the woods of our farm.  It landed on thick branches so it was propped up at a dangerous angle and it sat that way for two years.  Eldest son tackled it with the chain saw and cut many thick branches from the tree, but our saw wasn’t long enough to go through the trunk.  Our farmer friend that hays our fields came in with heavier equipment than our chainsaw and little tractor and left with a couple of thick long logs for the mill, loads of firewood for another neighbor who had recently had bypass surgery, and left us enough firewood for two winters of supplemental heat and ambiance fires.  Two Thanksgivings ago, eldest son and I took down a dead tree and between then and a second visit at Christmas, we got it all cut up, I split most of it with his help on some and it was stacked.  That wood is almost gone.  Hopefully there will be no extended outages before it warms back up.

What does a “Mommom” (my name to these two grands) do on a Sunday morning?  Grandson’s breakfast of choice is pancakes or Honey Nut Cheerios.  About once a week, a week’s worth of pancakes are mixed and baked on the griddle to be frozen for him.  The last batch ended up too thin for his liking, Granddaughter loves them.   This morning, I felt they were too thick, but he insisted that was the way he liked them.  They are so thick that they didn’t bubble up on the edges to indicate the griddle side was baked and ready to flip.  His weekly batch of pancakes are cooling and will be frozen for this week’s breakfasts.  His Mom and Dad are grocery shopping now and he asked for sausages to go with them. The microwave will be busy this week.

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And I don’t even like pancakes, I would rather have oatmeal or a farm fresh egg, right from the nest of my girls.

Sissies

Old age ain’t no place for sissies.” ― Bette Davis

The housecleaning diet was imposed after Christmas and maybe some improvement was occurring, but oh that sour dough and homemade bagels from the Farmers Market, the mug of hot cocoa on a snowy day, maybe with a dash of Chambord, the local cheese and pizza, pasta…  It was difficult and sliding occurred, joints complained along with an increase of another symptom.

As the joints hurt, my mind wanders to my baby brother, 6 1/2 years my junior.  As a kid, he used to run into a room, launch into the air and skid across the carpet or floor on his knees.  Bet they pain him now.  Then as an adult, he had a slip on ice that resulted in neck surgery.  As we age, the old injuries, separated shoulder skiing, broken wrist roller blading with daughter return to haunt now with discomfort and stiffness.

The gluten must go.  The dairy is easier with alternative milk products for coffee (the current favorite is unsweetened Toasted Coconut/Almond milk), but oh the cheese, sob.  Hot cocoa can be made Mexican style with water, but it still has the sugar, not as much as commercial or even homemeade mixes, if you use real Mexican chocolate disks and grate them yourself, but still probably too much.  I have eliminated other sugar such as jam, honey, and sweets once the Christmas chocolate was gone.

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Perhaps the elimination process would be easier if only a category is eliminated at a time.  Peanuts were easy, just use Almond butter, eat whole almonds instead.  Peanuts are a huge trigger.  Wheat is next, a real tough one, but something must be done and it seems to be a major trigger as well.  Ibuprofen daily isn’t the solution.  Some of the damage is done and can’t be undone, but perhaps further damage can be slowed and some of the discomfort reduced.  Mountaingdad will never go for this type of cure, so I go it alone.  Lunch out is going to be a bear.

The snow is gone.  Now we wait for this weekend and the next round of winter liquid or solid as the case may be.

Cleaning House, not a resolution

I have arthritis and as I age, I find more and more areas it is affecting.  I know that it is going to happen regardless of what I do, that repetitive actions (spinning, knitting, gardening) help it along, but I’m not going to stop doing those things.  I also know that injuries can contribute, but I can’t go back and undo the 39 year old shoulder separation, nor the 17 year old wrist break, the torture my knees took when I though running was the only exercise.  So I decided instead to clean house.  Not just the log home in which we live, already cleaned that this week, but my internal house.

I am not one to go flying off to try this cleanse, that herbal “cure,” or some magic elixir. Generally, I eat well, local when possible, homegrown is best.  This is why I garden and raise chickens.  I know what goes into my soil, I know what my chickens eat and how they are housed.  I buy local pasture raised beef and pork when I eat that, but we are bad about eating lunch out, and I am bad about buying bread and pasta from the Farmers Market that is not whole grain, though I don’t eat a lot of either of them.

I have been particularly bad the past couple of weeks with lots of white potatoes, a few dark chocolate candy bars that were in my stocking, cream cheese and hot pepper jelly (it has been delicious Whit) on crackers that are not whole grain, the white flour buns at fast food, hot cocoa with Chambord and whipped cream at night.  I haven’t gained any weight but I have gained enough inflammation to have joints that hurt, a couple that are swelling and it is time to clean up my house.

A bit of Dr. Google and I see that refined grains, sugar, alcohol, dairy, processed meat, grain fed meat are all major contributors.  I knew that, I didn’t really have to look it up, but sometimes doing so is the kick in the right direction.  I can eat a salad or soup instead of a sandwich, I can give up the cream cheese and hot pepper jelly (I enjoyed it for a week), I can stop with the hot cocoa and reduce the amount of white potatoes and pasta that I eat, but breakfast becomes a problem.  The half a bagel or English muffin have to go.  As I am genetically predisposed to high cholesterol and can’t/won’t take statins because of the way they make me feel and the current research, eating eggs each morning is out, even if my girls are free range and eat a healthy varied diet.  I’m not a fan of smoothies that don’t have yogurt and reducing dairy plus no local fruit in season, make that not a good option.  My other breakfast choice is long cook oatmeal.  With walnuts and flax seed, that is a good option, but it is boring every day.  When berries are in season, that is a boost to the anti-inflammatory foods and an improvement on the oatmeal, but not in the middle of winter unless I want berries that have traveled father than I ever will and cost a premium. We never went berry picking this past summer as I wasn’t making jam this year, so there isn’t a stockpile in the freezer.

I do know that some foods must go or certainly be seriously moderated.  Some foods that I love need to become a part of my daily diet and hopefully, this winter won’t be too uncomfortable as the cold and damp become the norm for the next few months.  I see curry, ginger, cinnamon in my future.  Plenty of dark greens and veggies, fewer starches, less cheese (especially the softer ones), a break from the sugar monster, more dishes with my homegrown canned and frozen tomatoes.  A cleaner house.

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To Grandmother’s House They Came

Over the creek and through the woods to Grandmother’s (and Grandfather’s) house they came.

Part of the family converged on the farm yesterday to celebrate Thanksgiving together. With nine in the house, meals are major.  While one family was driving here, and the other at work, I cooked up a pot of pasta sauce with sausage and turned it into a huge thick lasagna and added a big salad with some of the last of the Farmers’ Market salad greens, some carrots and daikon radishes also from the market and we ate hearty last night.

Today was so mild and beautiful, son, daughter, daughter in law, a grandson, and I set up an assembly line to put the 6 cull chickens in the freezer before we tackled the Thanksgiving feast.  With everyone chipping in, the 6 birds were dealt with, the garage and driveway cleaned up, and Thanksgiving prepared.  The 20.48 lb turkey was spatchcocked to reduce the cooking time and because we learned last Thanksgiving, what a moist delicious bird it makes.  The huge bird cooked in only a bit less than an hour and a half.

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Though preparing a turkey this way does not let you put a whole golden bird on the table, we don’t do that anyway and this is so much more delicious.  With a turkey as large as this one, son is called in to cut the backbone out, flatten the bird and lift it into and out of the oven.  He also is the carver while the remaining dishes were being finished in the oven and put on the table.  Last year, with a slightly smaller turkey, we bought the huge pan and worried it wasn’t going to be large enough today.  After Thanksgiving last year, I bought poultry shears which makes removing the backbone possible.  The organ meats and backbone were tossed in a large stockpot with some celery, water, and salt and started simmering.  The cooked turkey bones were added after our feast.

The giant sweet potato from the garden was peeled, boiled and then baked with a touch of butter, cinnamon, and a little brown sugar.

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It didn’t take but the one sweet potato to make a casserole that had leftovers.  Green bean casserole, mashed potatoes, gravy, bread dressing, rolls, homemade pickles and cranberries, assorted olives, pumpkin and pecan pies, and we are all in food comas now.

Nadia

Though granddaughter has celebrated her birthday twice this week with the roller skating party with her best friend on Sunday, her classroom celebration on Tuesday, today was her real birthday.  Though she had her cake on Sunday, her Daddy bought her a chocolate chip cookie cake for today and we all sang to her one last time for this birthday.  They have taken her to the new Disney movie Moana for her birthday after dinner.

The kitchen is cleaned up, the table linens laundered, the dishwasher run and dishes put away, the broth is cooling enough for me to debone it.  Tomorrow, I will reboil it and can it for later use.  The freezer still has jars of broth that I need to use for making soup, gravy, or to cook rice.  For now, I am just sitting and resting for a bit.

Tomorrow, we will eat turkey leftovers then as a group will go out to dinner on Saturday.

Today we gave thanks.  Hope you had a good day too.

I Didn’t Think I Would Get Here

With all of the awayness last month, I felt overwhelmed and frustrated that I was so far behind that I couldn’t catch up. The grass was tall, the stick weed invading the hay fields, the apples, Asian Pears, and tomatoes ripe. Applications were due. My chickens were disappearing daily to a red tail hawk.  Usually, I can take one step at a time, but this time, I just couldn’t see an end in sight.

Jim stepped in and hopped on the tractor, mowing more than half of the fields in need of attention.  I like riding the tractor, like mowing, so I did get on it a few times, mowing the areas around the house and around the trees.  I mowed the smallest west field, the one with the rock bar.

After a couple of days at home where I awoke disoriented, wondering which bed I was in that night, I finally got a good sound night sleep and the rest allowed me to start tackling the problems at hand.  I came up with a solution to keep the hawk out of my chicken runs, harvested a 5 gallon bucket of tomatoes and got them canned along with the ones in the freezer as diced tomatoes and pasta sauce; harvested apples and made applesauce.  The weekly supply of peaches was made into sweet chili sauce.  The quart of ground hot chilies, mostly habeñeros, was made into hot pepper sauce and all of the applesauce, sweet chili sauce, and hot pepper sauce canned, labelled and making their way to the root cellar shelves.  Another harvest of tomatoes await preparation into sauce.  The Asian Pears still need to be harvested and made into Ginger Pear Conserve and pear sauce, but I now look forward to working on them in days to come.

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Now that the applications for fall shows are in, I need to make a few batches of soap, but that too is something I look forward to doing.

Another task that was on my plate, was making a gift that I had started twice, undid twice, and finally decided that I would not even unpack my spinning wheel until it was done.  Daily work on it has rewarded me with a gift that will be finished within a few more days.

The shelves are filling for a winter of good food.  The fields are mowed, and it has been dry for about a week, so the grass is not growing fast enough for me to watch.  I am feeling good about our efforts.

 

Busy Days

The past few days have been busy.  Granddaughter started back to preschool, the dogs have had check ups and shots, we have been busy around the farm.

Between us, most of the fields have been mowed for fall.  I haven’t harvested the pears or apples yet, as I have been trying to catch up on tomatoes and peaches.  One day, I canned 30 pints of tomatoes and pasta sauce.  Of that, only a few didn’t seal, so we had a big spaghetti dinner last night and the leftover sauce was put in wide mouth jars and frozen.  We will use it first before we start opening the sealed jars.

Days work

Each Tuesday, daughter and son-in-law pick up a one person food share of meat and one of fruit as a test to see if it is worth their money.  A lot of the fruit has been peaches, though the late frost killed off almost all of the peaches around here, so they must be bringing them from south of us.  Jim and I are the only ones in the house that will eat a fresh peach.  The first batch was made into peach/mango chutney, a very authentic tasting chutney.  The second batch were peeled, sliced, and frozen.  The third batch went to the spinning retreat with me and were enjoyed by the group.  The fourth batch was sitting there about to attract fruit flies, so I made 9 half pints of sweet chili sauce today.  I tasted a bit of it and it is sweet and spicy with hot chili sauce added.  It should make a great chicken or pork basting sauce or topping.  I think it would be good over cream cheese with crackers.  It is cooling on the counter and will be added to the increasing jars of goodies on the shelves.

Sweet chili sauce

Tonight late, our eldest son and eldest grandson will arrive for the weekend.  I have a dry rub pork shoulder that I will cook in the crockpot tomorrow and I think one of the jars of sweet chili sauce, a jar of the apple/pear chutney from last year, the last  jar of Pear Ginger Conserve will all be put out to eat with the pulled pork and slaw with a batch of roasted veggies for out dinner.

Tomorrow, we will get to return to the Farmers’ Market for the first time in a month.  We will precede that with breakfast out, and I will turn in my applications for the two winter Holiday Markets.

I am loving being able to return to a routine and see things getting done.

Putting by has commenced

Putting by” is an old-fashioned term for preserving food for eating long after the harvest or butchering.  This is a challenge each summer and fall to try to store enough from the garden, the orchard, and the coops, to help us stay local and to reduce our winter food budget/footprint.

One of the easiest items that go on the pantry shelves are pickled jalapenos.  Jim and eldest son both love them and eat them with most dinners.  Some years the last jar gets opened just as the first peppers are harvested from the garden.  This year, too many peppers went into salsa and the freezer, as some of my plants last year produced the jumbo variety.  We had to buy 2 cans of commercially canned ones.  The first 3 jars have been pickled and are curing.

Today, a few bell peppers, a handful of Dragon Thai peppers, and the first Habenero were harvested.  The Thai and Habeneros will be made into hot sauces as more are harvested.  As they come in to the house, they are washed, stemmed, and put in a jar of good vinegar or frozen.  When there are enough in the jar, they will be ground, garlic, salt, a grated carrot added, cooked until smooth, jarred in half pint jars and canned.

Daughter and SIL purchased a fruit share from a Farm to Table group and this time of year, the share has been heavy in berries which they enjoy, peaches that they don’t care for fresh, and spring green cooking apples.  Today to make sure the peaches didn’t all spoil, I bought two mangos, a box of golden raisens, and good sized chunk of fresh ginger, and made 7 pints of Mango/Peach Chutney.  It smelled heavenly cooking and after canning it, one did not seal so I got to taste it before storing it in the refrigerator.  It tastes just like real Indian Chutney.

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Tomorrow, the second batch of green apples will be made into applesauce along with some of the apples that were frozen last year.  There are already 5 pints of applesauce made from the first batch of the apples that they brought home.  There will be fewer apples from our orchard this year.  We had a late frost that killed all of the flowers on the three trees that produce our eating apples.  We will get some fruit from the smaller cooking apple trees and a small harvest of Asian pears.

This is a start to our old tradition of putting by.

Tomorrow, the fiber challenge ends.  Today, I went out with a bang, finishing the second bobbin of the red Pohlworth, plyed it into 205 yards of sport weight yarn.  Tonight it is resting and will be washed tomorrow.  I still have some of the lime green alpaca and merino blend to finish and one fiber that was in my plan did not get done, but it will eventually.  I need to get busy knitting or sell some of the yarn I am making, it is accumulating quickly.

Fun with Food and Fiber

To keep the sourdough starter going, it has to be fed at least every couple of days.  The longer you go between feedings, the longer it takes to get going again.  In order to not have buckets of the stuff, you have to use it, discard about 80% before you feed it, or give it away.  Since I had to feed the starter left from making bread the other day, I decided to feed it a goodly amount and make muffins this morning.  The recipe that I used makes a product that is a cross between a scone and a muffin in texture, but sweet, crumbly and delicious.  It made a dozen and N and I ate 2 each right out of the oven this morning.

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This is what was left after we gobbled down breakfast.

Today was spinning group day.  Since it was beginning to drizzle with more significant storms due, I chose not to take my wheel, but just the drop spindle and some knitting.  I enjoyed visiting with the ladies, knitting some, listening to the various conversations, entering some of them, and spinning on my drop spindle.  Like kids in kindergarten, we often do show and tell and I took the two skeins that I have recently finished, one on the wheel and the other from the drop spindle.

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The top one is Merino from Hawk’s Nest and there was still a bit of the purple left after carding it with the blues and grays, and the bottom is Romney from a fiber club.  The ladies said I should blend some of them together, so this afternoon after getting home, I decided to play with my new to me Strauch Petit Drum Carder.

I took this

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and this

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and there was still some of this unspun

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and made these

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It is only a couple of ounces and I don’t know if I will spin it on the spindle or the wheel. There will only be enough yarn to use as an accent on something, maybe with the purple Merino blend above.

As I expand my fiber skills, I get more deeply hooked on the craft.  I have yet to work with locks or a whole fleece, nor have I more than toyed with dyeing, but I have a bag of Mohair locks to play with and am getting bolder with the idea of dyeing some fiber or yarn.