Sunday, January 12, 2020

Mixed Fowl Stock and Soup

Winter season canning has begun!

I needed to get all the bones of chickens and ducks out of the freezer so the other day I threw them ALL (3 ducks and 3-4 chickens) into my lobster pot and added 12 quarts of water. Once the stock was made I set it aside and took all the residual meat off the bones and saved that as well. Today the stock was skimmed, warmed back up, and 14 pints were canned in the pressure canner. I was running fairly low on stock so it's good that I made so much. This way, since it's duck and chicken together, it'll add a richer taste to whatever I'm making.

The rest of the stock, all the meat, and some vegetables from the fridge were combined to make a variation of Turducken Soup. This time, I added about a cup of turkey stock which was still in the fridge so I can technically call it Turducken but just barely. I added 2 small leeks, 2 parsnips, 7 small carrots, 1 rib of celery, 1/2 red onion, and half of a small can of tomato paste, plus wild rice, salt, pepper and bay. I may or may not can this as I'm running out of pint jars. If we don't eat most of it today, maybe I will just save the rest for when I'm working this week. 

Tuesday, January 7, 2020

New Year Catch-Up

Happy New Year!

Since I was working on the 31st and the 1st, I didn't do the cooking. My husband roasted 3 ducks on New Year's Eve, which were more than enough for 6 of us to enjoy. We had almost a whole duck left over, which I used the other day to make a terrific duck pad thai.

But with those ducks came duck livers and I had enough to make a triple batch of paté (recipe from Duck, Duck, Goose). Actually, it was an all-fowl paté as I'd been freezing livers from ducks, geese, chickens and a turkey. I had just about 22 oz. once everything was thawed, then I sautéed them with shallots, sage, capers and cognac and blended them with butter and cream. I used my new little ramekins to make 8 small pots of paté plus some for that evening. Each ramekin was sealed with a layer of duck fat and eventually stored in the freezer for later. It came out a little runnier than expected so I hope that while they're in the freezer they will dry out a little and fix the consistency. One of my Christmas gifts was reusable food wrap and I'm trying to use less plastic wrap in general. Sealing the pots in fat should provide coverage for the paté but I'll probably have to check on them soon to make sure it's sufficient.

Yesterday school started up again and the youngerchild was responsible for bringing snack to advisory. There's a whole schedule. I've sent in cookies before but decided to make mini muffins this time. I used this muffin base recipe and added wild blueberries (from the freezer stash) and a few white chocolate chips and ended up with 4 dozen little muffins. They're excellent, and bite sized, and they were popular with the advisory group.

There's been a lot of take-out, too. We have a fridge full of leftovers which is helpful when I'm working so I can either take something for myself or leave something for everyone else so they don't have to cook. Last night I finished the duck pad thai and they finished the pizza. I think there may still be some Indian food.....

Friday, December 27, 2019

Even More Christmas

Last night a larger subset of our family got together for gift giving and dinner. There were 10 of us in total, and we had a lovely afternoon of appetizers and presents. Then for dinner I roasted a beef tenderloin, Mom made baked stuffed shrimp which we baked after the tenderloin came out of the oven, and I made Persian rice. Apparently, I had not yet made Persian rice after I got my new pots, which are thicker, so my usual timing to make tadiq didn't work out, and the tadiq did not form properly. At least the rice tasted good! I guess I'm going to have to practice.

For dessert, I made individual trifles from this recipe; it was fun to assemble everything in wine glasses but it definitely took up too much space in the fridge....

It was great to get together with my family, some of whom live far away so we don't see each other often enough. Merry Christmas!

Wednesday, December 25, 2019

Merry Christmas!

Well. It's been a while, hasn't it? It's amazing that I never really know where the time goes. As far as I know, Thanksgiving just happened, and then Christmas came up like a freight train. You know. First you can't hear it at all, and then it's just this vague, slightly familiar sound in the distance. And then before you have a chance to really process what that sound might be, it's RIGHT THERE and you have to run to stay ahead of it just long enough to let it pass by safely. Only, in this case, safely means everyone is together and well fed and gifts are purchased and wrapped on time despite all the other commitments.

I'm not quite done, mind you. We just had Christmas. Tomorrow is the big shindig for 10 people.

Today, just my parents and the four of us feasted on duck legs confit with miso cauliflower and these amazing Parker House Rolls from eat the love. I made the dough yesterday and stopped at the point where the rolls were in the pan before they were proofed. Today they proofed and baked and I topped them with Hawaiian black sea salt and they were just terrific. Yesterday I also made eggnog crème brulée and had them ready so all I had to do today was the brulée part and the garnish. Made things so much easier, giving us time to open presents in the morning and make a Lego Gingerbread House centerpiece. (It's pretty cute.)

Tomorrow there will be beef tenderloin, baked stuffed shrimp, Persian rice, and individual berry trifles. So much cooking!

Saturday, November 30, 2019

A Week of Feasting

After last Sunday's mini-Thanksgiving, we've continued to eat our way through the week. Monday we had a fondue night, with tiny potatoes, broccoli florets and bread and two different types of cheese fondue. Tuesday we went out for Thai food and Wednesday we had some leftovers to clear the fridge for the meals to come. On actual Thanksgiving I was working and our site director sent an entire traditional Thanksgiving meal which was good because it got busy and it was nice to have food ready to eat when we had a few moments.

Last night we went out to dinner at a Chinese restaurant, Red 8, in the new casino in Boston. We did not go into the casino part because not everyone in our party was over 21 but the whole place was quite the spectacle. After a whole lot of very good Chinese food we went to another restaurant, Sinatra, for dessert, most of which consisted of little pastries on a "gold record" made out of dark chocolate! It was Frank Sinatra themed, after all.

Tonight we finally had our family Thanksgiving, with my parents, while also celebrating my father's birthday. I made the pumpkin pie a few days ago but last night started the candied cranberries for a garnish. This recipe for pumpkin pie really is terrific. Yesterday morning I made the apple pie, this time cooking the apples first before baking them in the pie. I am really pleased with how this turned out. Also, I used honeycrisp apples instead of Cortlands and I think I like that better. I also made a quick cranberry-pomegranate sauce by making cranberry sauce and tossing in the seeds from half a pomegranate at the last minute.

Mom made the sweet potatoes again and, again, I overbroiled the marshmallows but this time I got them out before they entirely burned. Whoops. My husband got the turkey brining on Thursday while I was at work which was so helpful, and I made the stuffing yesterday. So today, between raking leaves and running to the store for last minute things, we got everything cooked and on the table by 4 pm.

So, Happy Thanksgiving to everyone and, Happy Birthday, Dad!

Monday, November 25, 2019

Pre-Holiday Feast

This year, instead of one large Thanksgiving meal I'm hosting two smaller ones. The first was yesterday, with pork roasted with onions and potatoes, applesauce, butternut squash, an apple pie and pumpkin bread pudding.

The pumpkin bread came from my first attempt to make pumpkin muffins a few weeks ago. The bottoms had burnt because my oven is so unreliable, so I sliced off the burnt parts and froze the rest. Yesterday I tore up the muffins into a 9x13 baking dish and added a custard: 2 cups milk, 4 eggs, 1/2 cup sugar, 1 tsp cinnamon. This was baked at 350˚ for about 25 minutes which was just enough to set the custard. It was served with salted caramel sauce.

The apple pie was tricky because I was trying to not add as much water to the crust - which worked because it turned out very flaky and light - but which made it harder to roll out so when I went to put the top crust on it broke into several pieces. The elderchild and I patched it together and made a bunch of leaf cut-outs to cascade down the ugly side and made it quite lovely, I think. I'll have another opportunity to try it since I plan to make another pie for Saturday's meal.

Monday, November 11, 2019

A Melancholy Day

It's overcast, and cold, and it might snow tomorrow. After discovering yesterday that my bees were gone I needed to get into the hives and clean them out. I didn't need the smoker, but I got into my suit just in case.

Hebee's hive was just...empty. No bees, not even a lot of dead ones. It appears they just left. They left their honey behind, though. Which I'm currently straining (the combs have to warm up first, so the honey will flow better) and so far have gotten about a pint.

Beeyoncé's hive was almost empty. There were a handful of bees, moving slowly in the cold. There were a lot of dead bees on the floor of the hive, and there was still honey in that hive, too. I left it for them, in case they suddenly and unexpectedly rally.

I really can't explain this. I even saw honeybees on my Montauk daisies less than a month ago.

Every time I lose a colony I do a lot of soul-searching about it. Maybe I did something wrong (likely). Maybe being a beekeeper or a bee guardian or whatever it is that I do isn't working and isn't for me (possibly). Maybe next time will be better (or not). I think I will give it one more go, with the Langstroth in the springtime, and see what happens.