Busy canning

What a busy weekend!  I have been canning stuff I picked up in the valley.  Y’see, I decided I couldn’t wait for stuff to ripen around here (we got a late start to planting due to TWO plant disasters) so I decided to go down below to pick up large quantities of cannables.  I also decided to go to the movies while down there so I would have more than one reason to waste all of the gas money.  I went to the Galaxy Theater in Riverbank, one of those new fancy-schmancy stadium-style theaters with rocking seats, digital projection and plushness abounding.  So, I saw the new X-Files movie “X-Files: I want to Believe”.  Oh how I wanted to believe!  I was very sad after watching that movie, as Mulder and Scully had a pretty rotten life after the show, fictionally speaking. A sad life, none-the-less.  I won’t spoil it for y’all right now; maybe later I will do a post that has spoilers below the fold, cuz I have QUESTIONS!  A LOT of questions as to WHY this?  Why that?  How Come? The Old Man pointed out that the little clip in the credits equals a sort-of happy ending and a goodbye, and I want to believe him as well!

Mulder and Scully

But, back to the canning.  I will try to get pics of some of the stuff I canned.  I got a lug of peaches and canned them into quart jars; it has been so long since I canned instead of freezing and drying I made a couple of rookie mistakes, feeling my way through the process. I also canned some salsa from Roma tomatoes, but am not totally pleased with the results and so I will finish the case of Romas as tomato sauce, a la Rotel tomatoes.  I also need to get my basement cleaned out so I can start storing these gems down there in the 63 degree year-round coolness so I will get the most storage time possible.  I have a bunch of stuff to shift down there; I am thinking about taking more vacation time to get some work done.

Well, off to work I go!

Back up and running

Sorry to be gone so long; I have been busy trying to recover from the drunken stupor that was my Tahoe WEEKEND;)  A good time was had by all; my daughter turn 20, my niece 22 and my friend 30 (they are all BABIES!)  The kid and niece got tattoos, we drank a boat-load of Sam Adams beer and ate until we burst (can I say 10 pounds?!?! In ONE weekend?!? lol!)

First off, Sam Adams beer rocks.  New find: cherry wheat.  This stuff is superiorly smooth and really tastes like cherries!  The pale ale and summer ale were also excellent.  I think I shall be drinking my way through the Sam Adams collection this summer 😉

Second: the carnitas were a HUUUGE hit. Gods bless the Homesick Texan for her recipe. I have made a lot of carnitas before, but the recipe that she gives is the best I ever came across.  Watch those cooking temps, tho: I nearly scorched the whole thing cooking on an electric stove.  My “highest” compliment: one gal exclaimed “It was like real taco truck food!”  The rice was great too.  Big secret here: wash the rice before cooking, and fry it in oil until brown.  Makes a huge difference in the Mexican rice taste.

We also did my Fettuccini, and in spite of missing an ingredient or two, was well received amongst the hungry and drunk women.

And Tahoe: spectacularly gorgeous.  Our condo overlooked the lake and the mountains.  There were trees! Sigh.

9 Crazy Women in a Beach-front Condo

Well, folks, I will be gone for the next couple of days to a beach-front condo at Lake Tahoe, celebrating the birthdays of my friend, my daughter and my niece.  It will be a weekend of drunken debauchery and will be blessed by copious amounts of good food and beer.  I am the primary cook for the trip (shock shock) and will try and get a couple of canned posts lined up through Saturday to talk about the menus, etc.  We are having Tex-Mex one night (oh, sweet sweet juicy carnitas, my love, my light…I will be cramming it in with both fists, I tell ya.) with carnitas, bean, rice, these nifty uncooked tortillas we picked up this week at Costco, cortido, and good beer; one night will be Italiano of sorts with a Fettuccini Alfredo that uses TWO ENTIRE STICKS OF BUTTER and A PINT OF HEAVY CREAM, lol, along with chicken and veg, and one night is old fashioned BBQ of hamburgers, sausages, and fresh salads of one variety or another, all washed down with 6 different kinds of Sam Adams beer 😉  Man, o Man, this is gonna be good!

I Been Stimulated!

Stimulated, I tell ya!  By both the timely stimulus check from Unka Sam and by Tony Bourdain in Colombia tonight.  I just love that man.  I had a nice Honey Moon beer from Belgium Brewery while watching the show.  I swear the man smokes so much that he makes ME wanna smoke while the show is on and I don’t smoke!  I also saw the Colombian version of chiccarones tonight and was going to attempt to emulate it with thick bacon and my Fry-Daddy but alas, I could not find the cord for the wee bugger.  Never have teenage children.  (Although my teens are rolling into twenty-somethings this weekend. **sigh**)

My stimulus check was well spent on a new 23 Qt. pressure canner, a food-sucka-ma-jigger (vacuum sealer), a boat-load of wide mouth canning jars, and FOOD!  More food than you could shake a stick at, if you were so inclined. As I start canning and pickling I will post pics.

Also up: an 870 Remington Marine Magnum 12 GA shotgun and an 870 Remington 18″ Express Synthetic 20 GA shotgun with loads of shells and clay pigeons. But that is another conversation!

Sabbath Traditions

Friday night is our holy night around here and we keep it as such.  Although we have no formal religious tradition here my husband grew up in a household that respected a “special” day of the week and found that it helps to transition into the weekend by leaving work and the secular world behind and opening way to sacred home time. So, I clean up, light the candles and incense, we have a nice meal, and have Sabbath pie 😉

Ahh, Friday.  I just can’t get enough.

This week’s Sabbath pie: I am thinking chocolate crème. Dinner: beef shanks. Note: I get my beef shanks along with other really amazing cuts of meat at Barendregt’s in Jamestown.  The shanks are lovely and thick, very meaty.  My other favorite place to get meat is Angels Food Market for Creekstone Beef.  I have been meaning to purchase some Table Mountain local beef from Hurst Ranch, also in Jamestown.  I heard something about the Hursts taking over Rawhide meats; I will do some investigational work this weekend and report back!

Recipe here from the Weston A Price website.

Braised Beef Shanks

4 pieces center-cut beef shank, about 2 inches thick
1/2 cup beef tallow or lard
2 cups peeled and cut carrots
2 cups peeled and cut onions
1 tablespoon mixed dry peppercorns
2 large bay leaves
2 quarts filtered water
1 small can tomato paste
1 cup balsamic vinegar
several sprigs fresh thyme
1 tablespoon chopped fresh garlic
sea salt to taste

Remove shanks from the refrigerator and allow to come to room temperature. Place the stockpot over high heat, add the tallow or lard and when a drop of water sizzles vigorously in the hot fat, begin searing the meat on both sides until nicely browned. Add the peppercorns while searing, since the heat will bring out a desirable nutty flavor. Place the vegetables in the pan with the meat to coat them with fat, and then pull the meat away from the bottom of the pan so that the vegetables can soften and brown. To the stockpot add the balsamic vinegar and a mixture of the water and the tomato paste. Bring to a gentle boil then immediately reduce to a slow simmer. Using a ladle or spoon, skim any foam from the top of the stock and discard. Add the thyme and bay leaves.

Allow to simmer very slowly, covered, 3-4 hours until the meat is tender and almost ready to fall apart. Remove the meat to a platter or baking dish; then strain the stock through a sieve and return the stock to the pot with the garlic. Let the stock reduce for about 1/2 hour by boiling gently, uncovered. Meanwhile, gently remove unwanted tissue from between the nuggets of meat (but don’t scrape off the beautiful, shiny coating of gelatin that will tend to remain on each piece).

Return the meat and bones to the baking dish, cover and keep warm. Continue to skim any foam from the top of the stock. Once the stock thickens and becomes a sauce, carefully season to taste with sea salt.

Arrange a shank bone on each plate with the nuggets of meat placed around it. The marrow will be present in the center of the bone for those who appreciate this delicacy. Pour the sauce over the meat. Serve with buttery mashed potatoes and oven-roasted carrots and leeks. (You may also wish to serve toasted sourdough bread on the side, to spread the marrow on.) Garnish with a sprig of fresh parsley

Fajitas tonight, W00t!

Can you tell I am a fat girl?

How I make my fajitas?  Crock pot style, that’s how!  I use a sliced up chuck steak, a good quality beer, a couple of tablespoons of New Mexico chili powder and cumin, salt, pepper, a chopped onion, two chopped bell peppers (different colors make a nice contrast) and a clove or two of garlic.  I cook it all together slooowly, over the day, and come home to heaven!

I serve it with low carb tortillas for me, and these really nice “hand made” masa tortillas I buy in bulk from Trader Joes for everyone else, along with cut up avocado, tomatoes, shredded lettuce, grated raw jack cheese, and crème fraiche. I also leave out a cut lime to squeeze over the finished product.  A nice Mexican beer like Negro Modelo goes VERY well with this.

This makes killer leftovers 😉

How I like to make cream of any veg soup

Soup saves my life and soul.  Seriously!  It is generally quick, easy and super-nutritious.  I like it at breakfast, lunch and dinner!  Soup can be a big time saver as well, and helps to use up leftover veg if you do it right.

Here’s a quick-and-dirty primer on cream of something soup:

Cut some onion, garlic, and carrots into a small dice then sweat (c’mon, you  DO know how to sweat a veg, right?  Any food TV vet should know how to do this.  If you don’t go find Alton Brown on FTV.  He is sure to have the most efficient manner recorded) with some salt and oil in a Dutch oven (or deep stainless steel pan) until tender. Try not to chop the tips of your finders off while doing this or obsess over the perfection of each tiny dice since everything will be blended and your efforts will be for naught. Add 4 cups of veg, whatever you have handy such as zucchini, cauliflower, asparagus, cabbage, potato, turnips, parsnips, leeks, greens, anything that you like. You will need to add at least two cups of stock: beef, chicken, fish, whatever your pref. Just remember to mentally “pair” the veg with the stock to make sure you like the combo.

Bring to a boil and simmer until vegetables are tender. Puree soup in batches with one of those nifty wand-a-majiggers then put back into the pot; at that point taste for salt/seasoning. Optional: Chop up some roasted red peppers and stir into the soup along with some grated cheese if you fancy. Finally: cream!  I like to stir in cream but not to the point of runniness.  Pepper the top, baybee!  Finally, with a tip ‘o the hat to Sally and NT, add a dollop of sour cream or crème fraiche after ladling into the bowl.  Heavenly!

Whassup for dinner tonight?

Mystery Casserole! Tonight’s MC is a quiche: I have a TON of eggs to use up.  The ducks should start laying soon which means even more egg-based dishes coming soon! Pair it with a salad and some nice white wine, and ya got yerself a winner!  (Still no wine for me, sniff.  Soon, my precious.  Soon.)  I will report back as to how the experiment with the zucchini crust goes 😉

I will be using Cleo’s (bless ya, Jamie!) zucchini crust recipe for pizza, I am thinking.  Recipe here:

After that I will fill it with a standard LC quiche mixture:

8 eggs
2/3 c. cream
2 c. chopped ham
red and green peppers, chopped
chopped mushrooms
Cleo’s crust OR 2 c. cheese, any kind
season salt to taste
pepper to taste

High-carb yummy find of the day

Bacon chocolate chip cookies with a cinnamon-maple glaze.

Link to original:

Should I ever do a refeed, these are  on the menu.  Note: Remind me to tell you the story about my year without chocolate some time, and the ensuing reunification party.

I will repost the recipe here for posterity’s sake 😉

Bacon chocolate chip cookies-
(this is for a FULL batch)

1 cup butter
2/3 cup packed brown sugar
2/3 cup granulated sugar
1/2 teaspoon hazelnut (or almond) extract
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 eggs
2 1/2 cups flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup white chocolate chips
1 cup dark or semi-sweet chocolate chips
2 cups bacon bits*

*An important note- Be sure to use real bacon bits, not Bacos

Also, you can make your own bacon bits, just make sure you pat down the bacon chunks with paper towels to remove as much extra bacon grease as possible.

Directions-

preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.

Beat together the butter, sugars, flavoring and eggs until creamy. In another bowl, sift together the dry ingredients. Add the dry ingredients to the butter mixture and stir together. Dough will be slightly soft. If you want a cakier cookie, add another half cup of flour. Add in chocolate chips and bacon bits. Stir until well integrated. Place dough on a sheet of waxed paper and refrigerate at least an hour. Remove dough from fridge, pinch off 1 1/2 inch pieces of dough and roll into balls. Set dough balls about 2 inches apart on an ungreased cookie sheet. Flatten dough balls slightly with your fingers in the center.

Bake cookies for about 10 minutes, or until the dough starts to turn golden brown. Allow cookies to cool on a cooling rack while you ready the glaze.

Maple cinnamon glaze-

2 cups powdered sugar
1 tablespoon maple extract
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
enough water to make a thick glaze (I used about 3 tablespoons)

Mix all ingredients together until smooth and creamy. If lumpy, use a whisk.
Spread a small amount of the glaze on the top of each cookie and top with a small piece of crisp cooked bacon.

Weekly menu

This week’s Menu

Breakfast:

oatmeal, smoothies, or eggs

(depends on the person low carbing or not)

your choice, request before 7am.

Lunch:

Three soups:

Cream of Veg, Chicken Noodle, Cream of Broccoli

Salad, veggies and dip, salami, cream cheese, kimchee, yogurt, cheese sticks, crackers, leftovers

Dinner: (no particular order)

Beef Stir Fry

Noodles and Veggies

Beef Shanks

Mashed Potatoes, Cheesy Broccoli, Salad

Fajitas

Beans, Chips, Salsa, Green Garnish

Meat Loaf

Mashed Potatoes, Salad, Corn, Rolls

Mystery Casserole

Green Salad, Corn Bread

Steak

Coconut Shrimp, Veggies, Bread

Desserts:

To Be Announced

I deserve a beer for working this hard! I don’t eat the “carby”food but the old man and son do.  I just add another veg for myself.

I got the recipe for the beef flanks from an older Wise Traditions. The flanks are pan seared and slow simmered in a stock pot with veggies.

My fajitas are cooked in beer and spices, and I serve them with lots of veggies, raw cheese, and crème fraiche. The meatloaf has organ meat hidden in it, so the family won’t know and complain, and the “mystery” in the casserole is what kind of meat I thaw, which will probably be chicken.
I got the coconut shrimp recipe from “Eat Fat, Lose Fat” (Fallon/Enig) and they are pretty darned tasty. I will post a version of it later today.
I want to talk about supplements in the future, as I am getting ready to start using acerola, dolemite powder, and have been using HV CLO and HV Butter oil for a while, along with ConcenTrace mineral drops. I really don’t like liver, and may try desiccated liver capsules soon.
I went to the doctor for a full check up and had amazing blood work and results. I will work up a post about the whole experience later and will give a thorough run-down.  My health is on the mend!