Thursday, October 30, 2014

Venison Pie

As has been mentioned all week, I had a plan to make a venison pie.  I was following this recipe, which I altered just a little bit.  First of all, the juniper was OUT.  (You can find out why here, in case you were wondering.)  I didn't have Scottish ale, but I had my foraged hops homebrew, which is an ale.  I used foraged Dotted-stalk Suillus mushrooms.  And I made my own pastry instead of using puff pastry.

Ah, the pastry.  I had been trying to find an occasion to make a savory pie, so I could experiment with using the rendered duck fat to make a savory crust.  Now was my chance!  Since it melts at such a low temperature, I mixed it with butter:  2/3 butter to 1/3 duck.  Even then, it was the most fragile thing I've worked with, even with putting it in the freezer frequently to keep it cold.  It broke every time I tried to put it in the dish, which was probably too deep anyway.  I finally had to press the crust into the dish.  The top crust went better.  From a taste and texture perspective it was really, really good, but just not worth that much hassle.

The filling before adding the beer
I did, however, use the scraps to make a cheese tart, having figured correctly that the 9 year old wouldn't enjoy the meat pie as much as the rest of us.  It was obviously a hit as the kids almost came to blows trying to divvy it up.

The pie was served with baked carnival squash topped with truffle butter and a stir fry of tat soi and komatsuna greens.

Dotted-Stalk Suillus

About 4 quarts
Since I had a plan to make a venison pie, and the recipe I found called for "field mushrooms," I figured I'd look around the stables yesterday and see if there were any shaggy manes or puffballs I could use.  There weren't.  So I wandered around and looked at all the mushrooms.  I'd seen boletes there before, and I knew most of them are edible, so I thought I would try to see what I could find.  Well, I hit the jackpot.  There was a huge patch of bolete-type mushrooms.  The coloring and size were consistent with King Boletes.  But they didn't have the clubbed stem or the nice rounded cap.  They grew in clumps.  As they didn't turn blue when they were bruised, and the pores were not red or orange, two warning signs for potentially poisonous boletes, I picked them anyway.  A lot of them.

Once I got them home, I did a spore print and finally identified them as Dotted-Stalk Suillus.  My husband and I tasted some last night, fried in butter.  They tasted amazing!  Very meaty and rich.  I set aside some for that venison pie and figured I could dehydrate the rest in the oven.  I sliced up all the other mushrooms and laid them out on cooling racks that I then left in the oven overnight.  This morning, ALL those mushrooms fit into one pint sized ziplock bag.  I suspect they will last me a while.  I'll bet they make a nice stroganoff.

Monday, October 27, 2014


The 13 year old has been taking archery for a year, and we get supplies at an archery shop much closer to the stables than home.  I was there last Friday, picking up arrows, and joined in a conversation about deer season.  Somehow the conversation ended with the shop proprietor asking me if I'd like some venison.  I said, "If some venison fell into my lap, I wouldn't say 'no.'"  So he offered to bring me some, I offered to pay for it, and he said he'd just give it to me since he had to empty out his freezer in time for this season.

Well, I wasn't one to take something without at least some compensation, so the next day I went back with a cooler and some jars of preserves:  strawberry jam, hot pepper sauce, and eggplant caponata.  Unfortunately, he'd forgotten his cooler!  We made arrangements for me to stop by today and the venison is now in my possession.  I've never cooked venison before so this will be an interesting experiment!  Thus far, there has been a request for a pie, with which I shall try to comply.

I'm also in the middle of a jam for eggs barter as well with a woman who works with my husband.  He brought her a jar of jam from me (raspberry) and, when her hens cooperate, a dozen eggs will be coming our way.

Friday, October 24, 2014

Culturing, Fermenting, and Pickling

Yesterday was the last farm share installment for the year, which means that I have more potatoes and squashes and rutabagas than I know what to do with.  I also got a head of cabbage, lots of greens, more leeks, onions and garlic, some turnips and popcorn.  We can't have the popcorn until January because it has to cure.

This morning after a telephone meeting I made 2 things simultaneously:  a batch of yogurt (culturing) and a batch of sauerkraut (fermenting).  Last time I made the sauerkraut I forgot to set up the water seal on the crock and it rotted.  So I am trying again.  5 pounds of cabbage was shredded, mixed with 3+ T. of kosher salt, and I put some of the outer cabbage leaves over the top as I weighed it down.  Tomorrow I'll add the white wine and recheck the brine levels; I can add more if I need to, which is something I should have done the last time as well.

After that, since now I know I'm not getting any more beets from the farm, I pickled all the beets I had.  That came to 1 quart jar and 1 pint jar, which is just enough for Thanksgiving and to give more to my mother-in-law.  We don't eat a lot of beets otherwise.  Although maybe we should.... they are really good for you.

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Quick Radish Pickles

The other day I was at a local bookstore and found a new canning book:  Preserving by the Pint.  It's nice because it's full of recipes that are for very small amounts of produce, the kind one gets from a CSA or farmer's market.  One of the recipes that sold me on the book was a recipe for pickled Hakurei turnips which, in turn, was based on Japanese pickled radish.

And I had a lot of Daikon radish in my fridge.  Why not reverse the recipe back to radishes?

Last night I peeled and then sliced the radishes with my mandolin and then salted them and let them sit for an hour.  Then I made the brine with rice vinegar, ginger, pepper and sugar and poured it over the radishes and put them in the fridge.  Today we ate some.  And ate some more.  And some more.  They were so good, I couldn't stop!

They are particularly good wrapped with arugula for even more bite. 

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Breakfast and Dinner

This morning, despite a slow/late start, found me making a peach kuchen for breakfast.  It was super easy, although if I'd planned it ahead of time I would have softened the butter overnight.  It used almost a quart of the peaches I canned in August.  My whole family wolfed it down in no time.

After speed-cleaning the house for an hour or so, we went out for the afternoon and watched the Head of the Charles.  The day was windy and chilly; I even brought out my alpaca scarf for the first time this season!  When the wind finally drove us off the shore of the river we slowly worked our way home.  At which point it was time to make dinner.

Garnished with field garlic and a nasturtium leaf from the yard.
The other day I had sauteed those shaggy mane and puffball mushrooms with shallots and garlic in butter.  Today I could put them with the milk, chicken stock, and sour cream required to make cream of wild mushroom soup.  I also made duck fat biscuits which we ate with local honey and various plum jellies from my pantry.  The soup was tasty and filling.

Friday, October 17, 2014

Have You Seen This?

My mother sent me several links to videos showing people using a drill to peel apples.  She said my brother had tried it and it had worked well for him.  I was intrigued.  I had to try it!  I had half a peck of apples waiting to become sauce.

All in all, it's easier than peeling them by hand, but it is probably not as easy as cooking them all up with the peels and then running them through the food mill.  Clean up is easier than with the food mill.  Regardless, it was pretty fun!