Sunday, July 7, 2019

Chicken in Mole Sauce

Recently my husband was in Houston and he came back with two containers of homemade mole sauce, a gift from people he met while he was there. Mole sauce, I have learned, is regional. Every part of Mexico has their own version. This version hails from Oaxaca.

And it is SPICY. I have no idea what is in it except the seeds from the hot peppers are visible. It's dark brown and basically a paste which we were told needed to be mixed with some sort of liquid, ideally whatever the pan drippings are.

For a relatively quick dinner, we picked up a rotisserie chicken and I shredded it. Most of the meat was put into a sauté pan with a pint of turkey stock and about 1 cup of the mole sauce. It simmered and thickened as I let the liquid evaporate off. (The rest of the chicken was mixed with water and taco seasoning as the youngerchild felt the mole sauce was too spicy.) From this chicken mole, we made tacos.

Diluting the mole sauce definitely helped make the kick more manageable, and you can just detect the subtle chocolate flavor. It's terrific. I'll bet using pulled pork would be just as good.

My Bees are Confusing Me

After splitting the colony about a month ago, and making sure there were queen cells in the second half, I left them alone for a while to settle themselves out. Today it's gorgeous outside, 70's and clear, so I went to go check on them. To my chagrin there was no evidence of a queen. There were some workers, and they were making honey like crazy, but there were also a lot of drones and very rare cells with larvae. Since workers can lay eggs but can only make drones, it's a good bet that without a queen the colony will die off.

I don't have the time to get a new queen and put it in right now, as we're going away for a bit, but after a chat with my husband it made sense to see if the other colony, which was full to the gills again inside the hive, might be thinking about swarming again. That way, if I found a queen cell or two, I could move them into the second hive. I got my combiner board prepped with newspaper (the two colonies stay separated until they adapt to each others' pheromones and then they eat through the paper to combine themselves). Then I went into the main hive. My first look in showed that there was comb all the way to the back and there were gaps so the bees were hanging out above the combs and had sealed the cover on. Once I pried to cover off, I was faced with hundreds of bees just sitting on the top of the hive. I still needed to get into it, though.

In order to do so, I had to bring out my nuc box because otherwise I had no room to move comb around to see anything. There was one comb, in the middle of the hive, which I could access easily so I pulled that one out and put it in the nuc box. Then I started inspecting and basically annoying all the bees. They lashed out at me a couple of times, whenever my smoker petered out, so I would be frantically trying to relight my smoker while surrounded by angry bees. I did get stung once, on my knee, through my suit. But otherwise it was fairly okay. Intimidating, but okay.

What I found was plenty of brood cells and LOTS of honey. So much so that I didn't take out the last few combs because I didn't want to disrupt them any further and there was no evidence at all of queen cells. So, despite there being probably way more bees than the space could accommodate, they didn't seem like they were going to leave.

Ultimately I moved 4 combs with a lot of brood cells into the second hive, with the combiner board in between. This is the confusing part - I never did see Beeyoncé but as soon as I put two of the four combs in, the bees started to fan, suggesting she was there. I took the combs back out and looked again but didn't see her.

So. Either Beeyoncé is now in the second hive and they will be requeened by this, which would require the original hive to make an emergency queen, or she's in the original hive and hopefully the second colony can make an emergency queen. With luck, by the time I can get in there again, if I find either hive is queenless I can get a new one before the end of July.

Lastly, I think I will start to transition them over to Langstroths. Top bar hives are supposed to be easier but it's much harder to prevent swarms this way than with the Langstroth. Plus I am considering getting a flow hive box for the top to make the honey extraction easier since I wouldn't be getting involved with a centrifuge to extract honey. 

Thursday, July 4, 2019

Strawberry Tart

That looks like a strawberry, right?
Yesterday after work I made a quick tart with more of those strawberries. I made a half-recipe of pie crust and pre-baked in a tart dish for about 10 minutes. After that, I arranged about 3 cups of strawberry halves in crust, sprinkled with sugar and topped with a strawberry shaped piece of crust. The whole thing baked for about 30 minutes at 375˚F and, as soon as it came out of the oven, I brushed it with saffron syrup.

Between yesterday and today, with all the consumption of tarts and shortcake and plain strawberries, we only have one quart left!

Happy 4th of July!

Tuesday, July 2, 2019

Strawberry Season

This morning, before the humidity set in, the children and I went strawberry picking. Before going I carefully looked at my strawberry jam inventory and declared we did not need to pick quite so many berries as usual. We set out, only a few minutes later than usual, and even though we arrived 10 minutes after they opened there were at least 20 people in the field before we got there.

As it turned out, the picking was so good we filled seven quart containers (about 11 pounds) in a very short period of time. We munched on fresh berries and warm cider donuts, admired the bunnies and goats, and headed home.

After a college tour this afternoon (yes, we're in that stage now) we got home and I quickly made shortcake for tonight. Then I puréed two quarts of berries and made a batch of plain, traditional strawberry jam. Nice and simple. 10 jars in total, but two are half-cups.

The last thing for tonight is a strawberry soup, which will be served with take-out chicken satay and pad thai. About a quart of berries with 8 oz. mascarpone cheese, 1 cup orange juice and a generous squirt of honey, blended into a thick soup. Thicker than a smoothie for sure. Served chilled, it's a nice meal on a hot day and a good counterpoint to spicy food.

Sunday, June 30, 2019

Cake!

For a friend's birthday, I made a variation of what I was told was his favorite cake: Black Forest.

First I made a chocolate wacky cake in a bundt pan. My error here was not using parchment which, in retrospect, would have a been a good idea. The top of the cake stuck a bit; I reconstructed it as best I could. I ended up using it to my advantage later as it was a great way to pour cherry syrup into the cake.

Most of a pint of homemade maraschino cherries were put into the center of the bundt cake and the syrup was poured over the cake slowly so it all would be absorbed. When it was time to serve it, I made some fresh whipped chantilly cream and decorated the top with more cherries and dried rose petals.

The cake was super moist because of the cherry syrup. The kids voted it one of the best ever.

Happy Birthday!

In Between Storms

We've had a lot of thunderstorms come through here in the past two days, and whenever the sun has made an appearance I went to the mulberry tree in the yard to pick berries. I must have forgotten how many cups of juice went into a batch of jam. I thought it was eight. Actually, it was four. So after a few days I had just about eight cups of juice, enough for a double batch of jelly. The tree is rather prolific this year.

Normally I don't like to double up jam and jelly recipes because then, if the mixture is too deep for the diameter of the pot it might not gel. Eight cups didn't seem too huge, though, so I simmered the mulberry juice with 1/3 cup lime juice and sliced fresh ginger (about 1.5 inches of ginger root, sliced as thinly as I could manage without a mandolin). To this I added two boxes of powdered pectin and 9.5 cups of sugar. All told, it made just over 13 cups of jelly. I strained out the ginger pieces when I poured the jelly into jars. Most likely, I will enter this one in the fair. It's time to start thinking about that again!

Friday, June 28, 2019

Mixed Vegetable Kimchi

Some of the greens we get from the farm are greens we're not too excited to eat. Some go straight to our rabbit (looking at you, mustard greens). Some clearly want to be made into something more interesting. Like kimchi.

Usually once I get a Napa cabbage and some scallions I'll make a batch. I have to say that in the past I've been disappointed in my kimchi but I think it's because I use too much liquid and so it's soggy. I'm going to try to remedy that this time. Also, I had four different vegetables I could use in the batch, so I did:  Napa cabbage, bok choi, scallions and daikon radish. For proportions of the salt and water and the spices, I used the cabbage and radish kimchi recipe on page 182 of The Joy of Pickling.

These have been brining since yesterday and, after a quick purchase of fresh ginger, I mixed up the drained vegetables with minced ginger, Korean red pepper, salt and sugar. Now this will ferment in its brine for a few days. And then I plan to make sure I remove most of the extra liquid so my finished product isn't so disappointing. I guess we'll find out next week.

Thursday, June 27, 2019

Summer Has Begun

And the farm share is really plentiful!

Today I picked up the share: Napa cabbage, collard greens, kale, garlic scapes, daikon radishes, bok choi, Hakurei turnips, scallions, 2 heads of lettuce, 2 kohlrabi, cilantro, parsley, 1/2 pint of strawberries, "unlimited" fava beans and snow and snap peas (I only took a quart of snap peas and some favas, I'm not crazy), 1 quart of shelling peas, and rainbow chard. Some was set aside for my friend's half, and then I got to work.

I chopped the Napa cabbage, bok choi, daikon radishes and scallions and they are currently brining. Tomorrow I'll start them fermenting to make kimchee.

With the cilantro (1 large bunch) and garlic scapes (20) I made a pesto using toasted pecans (1 cup) and parmesan cheese (1/2 cup, maybe?) with salt, pepper, and some cayenne for zip. For dinner we had a salad with fresh peas, strawberries, turnips and lettuce and then cheese ravioli tossed with this pesto and some blanched fresh peas. Now I have three half-cup jars of pesto to put in the freezer for another time.

The fava beans were blanched and peeled and are now in a jar with some salt water. I didn't want to marinate them because I'm hoping to use them to make baghali polo; I'll grab some dill next week so I can make it.

Also, I picked a whole lot of mulberries off my tree, simmered them with water and ran them through the jelly bag to start getting juice for a batch of mulberry jelly. The tree is covered with berries so I hope only 2 or 3 more picking sessions will be enough. 

Wednesday, June 26, 2019

Pacific Northwest Inspiration

While we were in Portland we found a stall at the farmers' market selling morel mushrooms. These were fresh, huge, big as your hand, morels. I've never seen anything like them, nor quite so many in one place! This was the same stall at which I got the ramp salt. We didn't buy any morels, but it got me thinking they were in season.

Today I had some chicken breast slices (I buy them pre-trimmed sometimes, so really about 2 breasts but cut into 5 or 6 thin pieces) and I stopped by Whole Foods for morels, figuring they'd be in stock. They were, but they were tiny. Like, smaller than my pinky finger tiny. What a difference!

Using a couple recipes as a guide I made this up a little bit as I went along, but it worked out great:

 Chicken with Shallots and Morel Cream Sauce

thinly sliced chicken breasts
flour
ramp salt, pepper
1/2 cup elderflower tonic water 
1/2 cup turkey stock
3 oz fresh morels, soaked briefly in 3/4 hot water
1 shallot, minced
1/2 cup cream
1 tsp herbs de Provence
1 tbsp lemon juice

Drain the mushrooms, reserving the liquid, and rinse the mushrooms briefly. Dredge the chicken in flour seasoned with the ramp salt and pepper. Sauté in oil until 150˚F in the center. Set aside in a warm oven. Add 1 T. butter to the pan, and then the shallots. Cook a few minutes until they are soft. Add the mushrooms and sauté briefly. Add the elderflower water and let it cook down, deglazing the pan. Add the stock and mushroom water, taking care not to pour the grit into the pan. Once this has cooked down, add the cream and herbs de Provence. Then add the lemon juice. Finally put the chicken back in the sauce, add any juices from the plate, and cook until the chicken is 165˚F. Serve over buttered egg noodles. 

Too bad I don't live in an area where they are plentiful in the spring or I might just get back into foraging for my own....

Tuesday, June 25, 2019

Travel and Food

We just came back from a quick trip to visit colleges in California and Oregon. Since none of us had been to Oregon yet, we organized our trip so we could spend the weekend in Portland. It was a good weekend to be there because the famous Rose Garden was in bloom and there was a lot going on as part of the Rose Festival. We even went to see a Milk Carton Boat Race. There was a dairy ambassador and everything!

On Saturday morning we went to the Farmers' Market at the PSU campus. It was easily reached by the light rail which had a stop right next to our hotel. Aside from perhaps the largest artichokes I have ever seen, there was all sorts of local produce, prepared foods, and so on. One stand had a tremendous amount of morel mushrooms and also this:
Since I can never find ramps locally while I'm walking in the woods, I thought that bringing ramp salt home would be a good investment. The first thing I'm preparing with it are pasta and meatballs, with the ramp salt mixed into the meat. I'll bet it's great just sprinkled on grilled steak.

Wednesday, June 12, 2019

Reliable

Once again, I have been conscripted to help make a food for a school project. See, the youngerchild knows that whatever I'm asked to help with, I'll probably find a way to make it. Case in point, the lava puffs for Latin class last fall. A few years ago we made an ancient Greek sweet with honey and cherries. Tonight, I was asked to help make some sort of ancient Roman sweet for Latin class.

We found a recipe for globuli, which is fried curd cheese soaked in honey. I bought a pound of ricotta and a pound of farmer's cheese which we mixed together and then added semolina flour. This had to sit for a few hours so, after dinner, I scooped portions of this dough into the youngerchild's hands so they could be rolled into "cheese orbs." Then they were deep fried in olive oil, drained, and the youngerchild rolled them in honey until they were coated.

After they cooled we tried a sample. They're pretty good. I suspect they should be soaked more deeply in the honey but since we don't really know what they're supposed to taste like I guess that will do.

Sunday, June 9, 2019

Two Hives Again

One of the issues I have with these top bar hives is that when the colony expands, they have no place to go but to leave. With a Langstroth I'd be able to tack on another box and give them room so they'd be less likely to swarm. I've been looking into a Langstroth setup, as it might make things easier in the long run but, for now, I have these two top bar hives.

When I checked on Beeyoncé's hive today it was FULL. Brood, honey, everything. The colony had moved all the way to the back and was starting to make swarm cells. I was prepared for this, however, so I moved the combs with the swarm cells and some honey comb into the other hive. I did not see Beeyoncé, which always worries me a bit when I do this, because I am afraid that if I move her into the other hive by accident I'll mess up the dynamic. I looked at each comb I sent over as carefully as possible and didn't see her, but I didn't see her on the ones that were left, either. It's quite possible I just missed her as there were SO MANY BEES.

I plan to leave them alone for the next few weeks and will check on them towards the end of the month. By then I should know if they're both queened and doing OK.

Wednesday, May 29, 2019

Experiments With Legion

Generally when I use Legion to make bread, I use all purpose flour and sugar because the youngerchild prefers this bread for sandwiches and is less of a fan of whole wheat. However, I had a few egg yolks lying around from another project and also found a white whole wheat flour I wanted to try. So I used that flour - the mix was about 2 parts whole wheat flour and 1 part all purpose flour. The sugar was the same. I did toss in the egg yolks (3) and adjusted the water accordingly. In general, I have been trying to add more water because I find that the final product is softer. My batch always makes 3 loaves.

The bread came out a light brown, the color of raw sugar, rather than the really dark whole wheat or the regular white; this is likely due to the flour choice. The crumb was also a bit softer, which I attribute to the egg yolks. We ate almost an entire loaf while it was still warm. YUM.

Wednesday, May 22, 2019

Her Royal Highness

Today was finally the right combination of: warm, sunny, I had no place to be urgently, and I could wash my hair and not put my styling products in (I have come to the conclusion it smells to the hive like their alarm pheromones. It's not a good scene when a bee is STUCK IN YOUR HAIR. Which has happened more often than I care to admit. Sometimes, I am a slow learner). Finally I could inspect Beeyoncé's hive.

Back when I removed the insulation panels, I had put in some comb from the other hive that was empty. It has been well used, with honey stores being formed in the back of the hive and a ton of new brood. Lots and lots of both worker and drone cells. As I moved forward in the hive I found some larvae and, finally, Queen B herself. Everything seems fine for now, but it does feel a little crowded in there. I'll have to get back out there soon to make sure they're not getting ready for a swarm. So far, I didn't see any queen cells. There is also a little cross-combing going on which, if I have to split the hive, I can remedy.

I am still pondering whether this is the right hive setup for me. At some point, I would like to get some honey and maybe, with a modular hive like a Langstroth, I could accommodate the changes in population better. I have no idea how to convert an existing colony from a top bar hive to a Langstroth and I'd also have to get a bunch of new equipment. For now, I will continue to ponder.

Monday, April 22, 2019

Bees and Birthdays

The youngerchild had a birthday, and there were many parties, as usual, as we spent time with each set of grandparents. For the one where I wasn't baking in my own home, I made red velvet cupcakes (from a MIX, what were you thinking, mom?) with chocolate cream cheese frosting. I have to say I wasn't too happy with the frosting, and we tried to find Pop Rocks to sprinkle on the top but couldn't. We resorted to Nerds, which were OK, but not Pop Rocks.
Back at home, the youngerchild specifically requested a Brazilian Carrot Smith Island cake. I guess that's my specialty now. The chocolate fudge icing was so strong I couldn't taste the cake part at all!

Now on to the bees - it's been warm but I've not had enough time to get into the healthy hive (Beeyoncé's) and move the false back to give them room. It's supposed to rain today but I jumped in quickly and did get the insulation panels off, the false back moved, the candy board taken out, and I moved over some of the empty comb left from Phoebee's hive so they wouldn't have to do any significant work. I did not inspect, given they were all in there I decided to leave them alone and pick a different, sunnier and warmer day to inspect. At least now they have more space.

Sunday, April 7, 2019

Farewell, Phoebee

In the late fall, when I put the insulation panels on the hives, Phoebee's colony was a little aggressive. I had fed it as often as possible during the late summer and fall, and even put in a candy board when I sealed it up for the winter. I hoped that would be enough. Beeyoncé's hive got the same treatment. A few weeks ago I peeked in both windows and didn't see any activity in Phoebee's hive. I figured I'd lost them. Then, on a warm day, I saw bees orienting around the hive entrance so I guessed I was incorrect and maybe they were just collecting on the warmer side of the hive. Sadly, since then there has been no activity and today I confirmed that my original interpretation was correct. Phoebe's hive was gone.

In the hive I found evidence of a new brood that just never really made it out of their cells. All the bees were dead. I might have even found Phoebee; I definitely found a bee that looked more like a queen than a worker bee. And there was NOTHING in the combs. No honey, no pollen, no capped cells, no larvae. Nada. No signs of disease, either.

So now the hive is cleaned out with a lot of starter comb which I might use to replace any combs I take from Beeyoncé's hive once I harvest some honey this spring. I decided to leave them alone for a little longer, it's only been in the 60's for 2 days and I want to give them more time before I go in there, remove the insulation panels, and set them up for the spring.

It's possible Beeyoncé's hive might split again, and then I'll have a place for them. We'll see.

Saturday, March 23, 2019

Chocolate-Orange Marbled Cake

Guess what! It's birthday time again. And, as usual, my husband's cake needed to be chocolate. But what else? I consulted the elderchild who suggested orange. After tossing a few ideas around (chocolate-orange mousse filling?) I settled on a marbled cake. I warned my husband I was making it up and got to work.

First I made two batters: Orange cake, from this recipe, but I scaled it down to 2/3 of the recipe. And I made half of my usual sour cream chocolate cake recipe. Then I spooned everything into two cake pans and swirled them with a knife.

Since I wasn't sure how long they'd need to bake I checked on them frequently. Ultimately they baked for 35 minutes. After they cooled, I made ganache: 10 oz of cream, 10 oz of 60% chocolate (bittersweet), 2 T. butter.

Once everything was cooled and the ganache was the correct consistency, I assembled the cake. Since the layers were very rounded on the top I cut off the excess on one layer and that became the bottom. I used ganache and orange zest between the layers and then put the intact, rounded layer on the top. Then I poured the rest of the ganache and allowed it to enrobe the cake. I topped it with more orange zest and then some orange curls - I used a peeler to get strips of zest and curled them on a chopstick before placing them on top.

One thing I should not have done - refrigerate the cake. Unfortunately, the ganache cracked slightly. But not too bad.

This experiment was a success! After a birthday outing to an escape room, we had take-out Chinese dumplings and then, cake!

Thursday, March 14, 2019

A Separate Note

So I don't lose it, I wanted to link to this very easy recipe for alfredo sauce. I made it last week and it worked out much, much better than what I've done in the past. The recipe I'd jotted down involved eggs, milk, and cheese, but this one has cream cheese instead of eggs. It's easy, and it clings to the pasta nicely. 10/10, would make this one again.... 

Pi Day

Once again, Pi Day has arrived. This morning the elderchild and I made a peach pie, using two jars of peach pie filling I made last fall. I had a little problem with the pie crust and I'm not sure why, but I ended up needing a lot more water and the crust ended up crispy rather than flaky. No matter. We had pie. We also had pizza for dinner so we had all sorts of circular foods!



Sunday, February 24, 2019

Beeswax Candles

Last year, for a project, the youngerchild and I collaborated on making a beeswax-based wood polish for one step in making a wooden box which would hold all of the other items in the project. Well, the rest of the beeswax/myrrh mixture has been sitting on the kitchen counter ever since, waiting to be made into something else. Basically, it was the same thing as lip balm (which is kind of weird, if you think about it) but it's also mostly beeswax and scent, so I thought I could make little candles instead.

I remelted the mixture and poured it into tealight molds. Voilá. Candles.

However, whatever else was in the mixture has definitely changed the melting point so they burn a little too fast. I think I should just use plain beeswax from now on. When I get more wax.

I wonder how my bees are doing?

Saturday, February 23, 2019

Golden Beets

In the farm share, we got a lot of beets. Fortunately, they last a long time in the fridge if stored properly. When I get golden beets, I make a plan to make this Golden Beet Orange Cake. Last Friday I had a friend visiting and finally made this cake. It did take several days, as I roasted the beets on Wednesday and made the cake on Thursday. On Friday, I rushed home from work and made the glaze. The previous time I made this cake I used lemons instead; I think I like the oranges better!

Saturday, February 9, 2019

Many Tasks, One Canner

Last weekend, I cleaned out the freezer and made a whole lot of stock. I had bones from various turkeys, chickens, and even a goose. This was, however, the first time I roasted the bones before making the stock and it really did improve the flavor, so that will definitely be something I do again. For each type of stock I: blanched the bones in boiling water for 20 minutes and the roasted them at 450˚F for 30 minutes. Then I boiled them with salt, pepper, bay, and onion skins. There wasn't a lot of fat when I did them this way, maybe because the fat cooks off with the roasting? Not sure. Regardless I set the stocks aside to cool in the fridge so I could skim off any fat that was there. The only one that really needed that was the goose stock.

Since I had about a gallon of the goose stock, I used that plus turkey and chicken meat to make a "turducken" soup, I guess it would be "turgoosen" this time. This did not get canned; some is in the freezer and some is for eating now. I basically followed this recipe, including the farro and wild rice, but the meats and stocks were different, as I already mentioned.

Today I brought out the rest of the turkey and chicken stocks, reheated them, and they're now in the pressure canner together. Ultimately, this made 4 pints of chicken stock and 8 pints of turkey stock. That ought to be enough for the year? Maybe?

Wednesday, January 30, 2019

Remember These?

A while back I brined Meyer lemons with the intention to dehydrate them and grind them into lemon salt. While I never did get a dehydrator I was reminded by a friend who is currently making her own trail foods that I could use the oven. Well, it took two days, and I had to grind them, dry the powder, and then regrind that, but now I have a jar of a nice lemon powder which is slightly salty with a hint of bay. Last night I baked some chicken sprinkled with this and it was just lovely! Glad to have another project completed. Not surprisingly, it smells a bit like the ground lime used in Persian cooking. 

Sunday, January 27, 2019

Restocking

Since we'd run out of applesauce, I bought a bunch of apples at the store to make more. Which I did today. A dozen apples made just under three quarts of applesauce. I added maple sugar to these, to give it a little maple flavor. Which is good.

Learning from our history that we couldn't finish a full quart jar of applesauce without it going bad, I packed this in pint jars instead. So, five pints and some in the fridge.

Saturday, January 26, 2019

So Retro

A friend was coming over today and I got it in my head to make a pineapple upside-down cake. I've never made one before, in all this time! I remember my mother making one once or twice, back when I was a kid. It feels very retro to me. It was very easy. To be fair, it would have been easier if I used a cake mix, but I wanted to make it from scratch and this recipe fit the bill. It's a separated sponge cake and that was definitely fun to make. I even made sweetened whipped cream to serve with it. Mmm.

So I'm making a note of this because I definitely want to keep this recipe link!

Side note: I used my homemade maraschino cherries. Even better!

Tuesday, January 22, 2019

Wild Duck Confit

As I previously mentioned, I got a bunch of game meats from my brother-in-law, including the breasts of 5 ducks. I decided to try to confit them, even though the legs usually work better. Two days ago I marinated them in an onion/garlic/parsley marinade and then yesterday I cooked them slowly in a combination of duck and goose fat. Today, I looked for something to do with them and I saw online that duck confit could be added to mac and cheese. I've certainly added lobster to mac and cheese so, why not?

Usually when I make mac and cheese I make a simple white sauce and melt in 2 cups of
shredded cheese (I've been buying the Mac and Cheese blend from Cabot recently) plus 8 ounces of cream cheese. This is enough for one pound of macaroni. Then I took about half of the duck and shredded it and sautéed it with some diced onion. Once all that was mixed in with the mac and cheese and put into a casserole dish, I mixed some bread crumbs with the leftover duck fat in the pan and added pepper and parsley and sprinkled it on top of the casserole. This all was baked for about half an hour.

It was really great and, in my opinion, even better drizzled with a little white truffle oil. My husband found a little birdshot pellet in his portion, whoops!

Thursday, January 17, 2019

Ran Out!

Of applesauce!

To be fair, this is my fault because I didn't make any in the fall, partly because I thought I had more than I did. Last night I pulled the jar out of the fridge only to discover that it had gone bad, in such a way that we threw out the entire jar. Ew.

But, to my surprise, that was our last jar! No applesauce. We used a pear-cranberry compote made by a friend to go with our pork chops which was fine, but not applesauce. I guess I should pay closer attention to the inventory.

However, since we finished off all the apples from when we went apple picking, and it's the middle of winter, I might have to go buy apples just so we can have more... 

Tuesday, January 8, 2019

The Princess and the Nonpareils

As I mentioned in my last post, my mother-in-law requested gingerbread cookies. I decided on hearts this time, thinking I could get ready for Valentine's Day by making some cookies ahead of time and freezing them until February. I made them on Sunday and today I got to decorating them.

One thing I know - I should use the good metal tips rather than the cheaper plastic ones; the icing came out in globs. Despite that, the cookies turned out much cuter than they had any right to, considering my suspect decorating skills. And, speaking of that...

For Christmas, in my stocking there were various little sprinkle decorations, including a bottle of tiny white nonpareils. (Yes, I know nonpareils are the chocolate candy with the little white balls, but I think the term also applies to the white balls themselves.) Let's just say they are affected rather profoundly by static electricity and, the second I opened the bottle and poured some into a bowl, they scattered.

Despite sweeping, and roomba-ing, I am constantly stepping on these itty bitty, 1 mm-across candy balls. And I can feel every one. I have taken to picking them up off the kitchen floor by hand. And I haven't even checked out the dining room yet...

Sunday, January 6, 2019

Quite The Production

Holidays came and went, along with a quick ski trip in Vermont that was less "skiing" and more "staying inside and avoiding the rain." We did play a pretty awesome game, Betrayal Legacy, which kept us entertained for hours but needing to take a break once in a while because it was so complicated! We also discovered that ground venison is a fine substitute in tacos and spaghetti sauce. My brother-in-law sent me a bunch of game meat for Christmas; I sent him a signed copy of Hank Shaw's new cookbook: Pheasant, Quail, Cottontail.

One of the things on my agenda this weekend was to defrost the freezer, so exciting, but that meant I needed to get the four gallons of tomatoes out of there. Yesterday they thawed and this morning I boiled them and tried to run them through the food mill. I'm not really sure what happened except that somehow the food mill got jammed. I ended up scooping out tomato pulp from the hopper and pushing it through a sieve by hand, making a mess that the youngerchild suggested looked like a crime scene. Someone has been watching too much Supernatural, maybe? Anyway, after the liquid boiled off I was left with 3 and a half pints of tomato sauce; I added Persian spices to one pint, Italian spices to the other two and left the half-pint plain.

The other thing that I wanted to get done today was to make a batch of gingerbread cookies for my mother-in-law, who was envious that she didn't get any over the holidays. I got the cookies all made today - two different sizes of hearts - and will frost them tomorrow, hopefully. It's a LOT of cookies.