Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Notes on a Busy Week

The holiday distribution of all the canned goods has begun, and I've managed to get a few packages in the mail today as well.  I have one more package to finish and mail, and a few more to deliver, and I need to finish up the gifts for my work colleagues - I'm making a very large basket of foods for the nurses:  jams, salsa and chips, caponata and chips, coffee K-cups, chocolates, fruit, cheese and crackers.  Then I can distribute the neighborhood gifts, which I hope to do this weekend (it usually takes several trips). 

As I've been working my way through the freezer I found a can of lobster meat, purchased when it was mismarked for $10 (usually it's much, much more!  I'd bought a few and this was the last one).  I decided to make lobster mac and cheese, which was lovely, and made not only dinner for Monday but lunch for yesterday and more for today.  

Today I'm making a batch of yogurt, which I'm hoping will go well.  It's been the case in the past that I have had to use a new starter yogurt after several batches.  Since I haven't had to do that in a while, every single time I wonder, will this be the time it doesn't grow?

I have about 36 jars going to work, and another 31 for friends and neighbors, and I keep adding to my list!

Thursday, December 11, 2014

NOW it's Ready

That gift list grows and grows as I remember more people I wanted to send treats to!

This morning I made another batch of cranberry-rhubarb compote, but on Roxanne's advice I added 3/8 tsp. of the crushed ghost peppers which gave it an excellent kick.  This yielded 9 cups and a single 4-oz. jar.  Now I can start making up some care packages to pop in the mail, and get the rest of the stash delivered.  Once I get some bows or ribbon or something!

Monday, December 8, 2014

Chocolate Sweet Potato Pie

Wow, it was awesome!

The only change I'd make is to add an extra ounce of chocolate chips into the sweet potato mix and leave them off the top.  I decided I didn't like the texture of the chips with the smooth pie filling.  Oh, and maple candied bacon just rocks.

You know how you taste something once and then spend forever trying to recreate it or find it again?  We've had this discussion before about bread and butter pickles but I also had this problem with chocolate sweet potato pie.  Many years ago we used to frequent a restaurant in Cambridge called Magnolias.  The food was always so good.  We went there so much that the waiters and the owners knew us.  Anyway, once they served this pie, with Chantilly whipped cream.  It was amazing.  We never caught it on the menu again, and it became one of those legendary foods for me.  I think with this recipe I might have finally succeeded.

Friday, December 5, 2014

Venison Meatballs

Yesterday I found this recipe for venison meatballs on Hank Shaw's website and I recalled that I had ground venison in the freezer.  I went to the butcher but was unable to get caul fat.  I did get uncured pancetta which was sliced very thinly which I used to wrap the meatballs.  I did have to make several other changes to the recipe:  I didn't have extra bacon or deer liver, so I just used 1.75 pounds of ground venison; I used turkey stock rather than beef stock because that was the richest stock I had, and I made gravy with the braising liquid/drippings and added sauteed hen of the woods mushrooms.

They were so good, the 13 year old asked if I could make them every single day!  (Sadly, even though the 9 year old helped me make them, they weren't a favorite.  At least 3/4 of us liked them.  Loved them, actually.)  And they were filling.  The recipe made 6 meatballs and we have one and a half left.  

Pie Crazy!

Tomorrow is the long anticipated family gathering and I've spent the last few days planning, wrapping, and baking.  Here's the finished products:
Apple, Pecan, and Chocolate Sweet Potato
The chocolate sweet potato pie came from this recipe but instead of using chocolate shavings, I mixed 2 oz of chocolate chips with the mashed sweet potatoes and then sprinkled mini chocolate chips on the top just before baking.  The pecan pie recipe came from here.  The maple candied bacon was made in 2 batches and crumbled so it will be ready to sprinkle on top.  I had a little, it was all I could do to not eat the whole thing.

After all the pies were made, I had enough leftover crust for 3 strawberry-rhubarb tarts (one was my breakfast...).

Later this afternoon, I will be trying to make venison meatballs for dinner.  Hopefully, yum!  I ended up buying uncured pancetta since the meat counter staff had never even heard of caul fat.

Sunday, November 30, 2014

Quick Batch of Turkey Stock

After dinner on Thanksgiving, I separated all the meat off the turkey bones before I put the bones away.  If I don't do that right away, it's so much harder to make stock when I want to.   Yesterday I took the bones and simmered them with celery, carrots, and some onion skins, plus salt, pepper and bay.  The stock was then put in the fridge until this morning so I could skim off the fat before canning.  Ultimately I had 10 pints of stock that I pressure canned for 20 minutes at 10 pounds of pressure.  Now, the next time we have ducks, I can make turducken soup again!

Also this morning, I started a batch of yogurt.  When I get home from work around 3 am I will get that in the fridge as well.

In 6 days my extended family will be having our Thanksgiving/Birthday/Christmas celebration so, later in the week, I will make 3 pies.  Here's the plan:  Apple, Pecan, and Chocolate Sweet Potato with Bourbon whipped cream.  I will also make maple candied bacon sprinkles to put on the latter 2 pies when they are ready to be served.  Maybe that's too many flavors, but at least it'll be an optional topping...

Friday, November 28, 2014

So Very Full!

Happy Thanksgiving to one and all!  We had our feast this evening, complete with the turkey my husband roasted while I was at work.  Everything was ready when it was supposed to be and, while we ate, I popped the pies in the oven to warm up.

The apple pie wasn't the prettiest I've made, but I think the pumpkin pie more than made up for it.  They both tasted pretty awesome.  I even made whipped cream for them rather than using the canned stuff.  After the eight of us had our fill, there was half a pie of each flavor left.  And a loaf and a half of pumpkin bread.  And lots of turkey, and veggies, but the stuffing and the deviled eggs are all gone.  And then we all rolled into the living room to sit by the fire and play games.  How perfect is that?