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!

Happy New Year!

Let's start 2015 off right, by making a pie!

Pears, cranberries and apricots, with 2/3 cup sugar, 1 T. lemon juice and 1.5 T. cornstarch.  One cheese tart and one beach plum tart.  I used my new pastry mat and it was the easiest pie crust EVER.


Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Venison Confit

Over Thanksgiving I received a gift of a couple of venison roasts from my brother-in-law, who works in northeast Ohio with a guy who hunts.  The roasts came from that coworker (thank you!) and my brother-in-law thought I would appreciate them.  I had decided that I would prepare one as a confit, using all the rendered duck fat I had left.  Today I set up the slow cooker with 7 cups of duck fat and a 3 pound roast.  I had to slice up the roast so that it would fit in the cooker and be submerged by the fat.  I let it cook all day and it was very good - moist and rich tasting.  As side dishes, I made a risotto with nettles and some of those suillus mushrooms, and sauteed broccoli rabe with garlic and cayenne pepper.

Happy New Year to all of us!

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.