Thursday, February 26, 2015

Published!

It's pretty exciting!  A while back, Roxanne (my friend from the Topsfield Fair) let me know that someone was interested in publishing a cookbook of canning recipes that had won blue ribbons at fairs.  Since I'd won two (that was 2013), Roxanne suggested I contact the author, Linda Amendt.  Well, I did, and even though my recipes weren't much beyond the standard jam/jelly recipes, my Wild Grape Jelly recipe was included.  As was a little bio and photo.

The book arrived in the mail today, and I couldn't be happier.  There are lots of nice recipes in this book, variations on basics and interesting flavor combinations.  The best part, for me, is reading everyone else's bio and seeing the wide variety of people out there who have gotten into preserving for so many reasons.

Go ahead and check out the cookbook for yourself (I am not compensated for plugging the book, I'm just so excited to see my name and photo in print) - it's available for preorder.  While you're at it, go to Linda Amendt's website: www.lindajamendt.com.  Canning is but one of her many talents!

Do you know what makes it totally awesome?  Seeing the looks on my kids' faces when they saw my photo IN A BOOK.

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

It's Late February, So I Must Have Been....

Looking toward Breckenridge from Copper
...skiing!  This, plus the final push at work, and taking a class in Boulder, CO, explains why I have done almost nothing of note in the kitchen in the last month.

Well, that's not entirely true.  We brought 1 jar of salsa and 2 jars of jam with us on the trip, and brought home 3 empty jars.  We had our usual go to meals, with a few variations.  Since there were a few more people this time, I started with roasting 2 chickens.  One chicken was dinner the first night with mashed potatoes and green beans, and the meat from the second chicken was the protein for the burritos another night.  The bones all went into making soup, which was lunch for several days.  We had BLT night, and pasta-with-Rick's-famous-lamb-sauce night, and went out for dinner one night.  At that point, I left the crew and headed to Boulder for my class, and they were on their own with instructions to eat up whatever was left.  They did pretty well, actually, only bringing back a little bit of food to my sister's place.  My sister had been kind enough to buy all the groceries before we got there, which saved us a HUGE amount of time and effort.  I think it was, quite possibly, more groceries than she'd ever bought at one time ever in her life!

While in Boulder, I recertified as a Wilderness First Responder.  It was an adventure!  I was one of the three people who got to be doused in cold water and shoved out into the snow so the rest of the class could rescue someone with hypothermia.  To be fair, I did kinda volunteer.  It was fun, in a shivery sort of way.

I got home last night, and today involved a lot of quality time with the laundry machine and some time spent chipping away at the ice that covered half our driveway.  I did make 2 loaves of bread, and I have a pork roast in the oven.  I think we might use the last of the spiced crabapples on the roast.  And preserved garlic.  I can't wait for dinner!

Friday, February 6, 2015

Brownies!

As I'm in the final 2 weeks of my job, and working way too much, and navigating all this snow (last tally was about 39 inches at our house since the blizzard 2 weeks ago, the biggest problem is that we have no place to put any more and they're expecting at least another foot this weekend, eek!), I haven't had much time to do any cooking or baking.  But, yesterday, I pulled together Dark Chocolate Brownies.

In the past, I have usually opted for cookies over brownies.  Quite often I find that brownies are dry.  I don't like them if they have nuts in them, either.  My mother has a recipe for brownies that's really good but even with that, it seems brownies are not my go-to baking Thing.  That might have changed yesterday. 

My mother sent me a subscription to Better Homes and Gardens.  She's been getting that for as long as I can remember.  I wish I had more time to leaf through them all.  But the kids, well, they got a hold of the most recent issue and I found it next to the computer, opened to the page with the recipe for Dark Chocolate Brownies.  A not so subtle hint.  One of them even wrote, "This is Beautiful," next to the photo.  How could I let them down?

I'm not going to reprint the recipe here, as it's copyrighted, but I will post a link:  Deep Dark Chocolate Brownies.  I would use slightly less salt.

These brownies are decadent, and rich.  Almost too rich.  The 9 year old had to peel the ganache off the top because it's "too much chocolate," as if there is such a thing.

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Digging Out

The finally tally is 24 inches of snow at my house, and more expected on Friday (hopefully, not that much).   My husband spent the morning getting the driveway and the sidewalks cleared.  I used this day to haul out the pressure canner and get various things canned, getting more things out of my freezer in the process.  First I made a batch of vegetable stock using the frozen vegetable scraps in my freezer.  This made 8 pints of vegetable stock, which were processed for 30 minutes in the canner.  Then I moved on to the beef and barley soup I made yesterday.  After taking some out for lunches, I canned 5 pints (75 minutes at 10 pounds).

Lastly, I made a batch of chicken noodle soup from the chicken I roasted yesterday.  First I made the chicken stock with the chicken bones and some frozen onion/celery/carrot scraps and a bay leaf.  Then I strained it, sauteed carrots, celery and leeks (from the farm, which had been chopped and frozen) and added the stock back in.  I chopped up about 3 cups of chicken meat and put that in the soup.  Just before I serve it for dinner tonight, I'll add a package of egg noodles.

The bread I made yesterday is gone, and there are very few cookies left!

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Upping the Ante

I see you, Blizzard of 2015.  I see you conspiring to trap me at work for three days (unsuccessfully), to make all my plans for the next few days completely meaningless.  You may have buried my house in two feet of snow, but I was prepared.  I raise you:

Two loaves of whole wheat bread, 1 batch of beef and barley soup, 1 batch of chocolate chip cookies, 1 batch of yogurt, and a roasted chicken.  And that's just today.  I even got all the laundry done before you buried the dryer vent.

The soup used a 2 pound beef roast I had in the freezer, plus some frozen "osso buco" leftovers from 2 separate occasions, and a little more frozen steak leftovers, with 2 pints of tomato sauce provided from our mason's wife.  I even pre-cooked the beef in a vinegar and water solution to make it more tender.  I am debating whether or not to can it. We ate one of the loaves of bread with the soup for lunch, and will have the other loaf tonight with the chicken.

As far as the cookies go, I had shortening but not enough butter, and they came out tasty but flat.  I'll go back to butter next time.

Tomorrow I expect to work on chicken soup and maybe vegetable stock.  Then the freezer will have more room in it for other things!

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

New Year News

From the food perspective, not a lot has been going on.  I've been eating more than I've been cooking.  (So says the scale, anyway.)  Today I am making a batch of yogurt, with a new cup of starter.  Not too exciting.

However, the news of the season is that I am changing jobs.  I'll still be working as a doctor, but closer to home, with better hours, and only part time.  I'll be doing something completely different and, once I get settled, I plan to go back to school and learn some new things.  (More on that when it happens, of course.)  I hope to finally have my weekends back and to be home for dinner almost every night.  And to do a whole lot more cooking and baking.  And sleeping!  As time had gone on, the job I had began to consume more and more of my time.  I miss being home with my family.  I have mixed feelings about leaving, though.  I have worked 18 years at the same place, first as a resident, then as a moonlighter, then part time, then full time as the director of the pediatric emergency department.  I shall miss my colleagues, the patients, the type of medicine that I do there.  And, yes, I shall miss the adrenaline rush that comes from not knowing what is coming next, the chaos of a busy emergency department.  But this is the right thing for me.

There is a different sort of adrenaline rush to doing something new, and I'm going to enjoy the ride.

Thursday, January 1, 2015

Reduced by Seventy Percent

Over the summer I accumulated a lot of tomatoes, which I froze until I had a full day to make them into sauce.  Today I pulled 5.5 gallons of tomatoes out of the freezer.  They took up a lot of space.  (5.5 gallons of space, to be exact...)  I brought them all to a boil and then ran them through the food mill, getting about 25 pints of tomato juice and puree.

This simmered on the stove the rest of the afternoon and cooked down into a nice, thick sauce.  Two pints were canned with Persian spices and the other 5 pints I left plain.  I would have made more jars of the Persian spiced sauce but I ran out of ground lime and didn't want to grind any more today.  We had a lot going on in the kitchen, as my husband was also roasting three ducks while all this was going on.

From those three ducks, we rendered almost five pints of duck fat, which is good because I used up all the fat from the last few ducks to make that confit yesterday.

The dishwasher is on it's 3rd load today, and we have at least one more, maybe two, before we'll have the kitchen cleaned up.  Now I'm going to go put my feet up and rest!