Sunday, November 27, 2011

Under Pressure

Not in a bad way, but I do have to go to work in a few hours and wanted to get the leftovers processed into stock and soup.  I started around 8:30 today, it is now almost 1:30 and the soup will be in the canner for another hour.  But I did make 6 pints of turkey stock and 5 quarts of turkey soup.

Since the kale and brussels sprouts salad was not a success, I had a bag full of shredded kale and sprouts.  I decided to add those to the soup.  First I simmered the turkey bones with a lot of the leftover meat (there is still plenty for sandwiches for at least 3 days) and then I got the bones out, added an onion and some celery, some pepper and thyme and, at the last minute, the kale and sprouts.  This is being processed for 90 minutes since it is in quart jars.  I didn't add any salt because of the brining of the turkey, but there may be a need to add salt when we open the soup.  We'll see.

I also used up the mashed potato leftovers by making potato pancakes.  The 6 year old did not like them and had a bagel instead, but the rest of us ate them up.  They are better with cranberry sauce than with syrup.  Here's how I made them:  2 cups of mashed potatoes, 2 eggs, 1/4 c. flour, and some buttermilk, with a teaspoon of sugar.  I mixed this all together and fried them in a pan.  That made 10 pancakes.  It took a little figuring out to know when they were ready to be flipped, the first ones kinda broke apart.  Even though they weren't pretty, they tasted fine - a little bit like potato chips.

Saturday, November 26, 2011


And tired!

I've been up since 6:30 am.  I rinsed and stuffed the turkey and got it in the oven by 8:30 am, and it was ready at 1:30 pm on the dot.  Amazing!  And the brining was a success - my father could not stop saying how wonderful the turkey was, which made me so happy!  I thought I was the last person on earth to get on the brining bandwagon but, if I'm not, and you haven't brined, you have to try it.

The kale and brussels sprouts salad was challenging, even for me.  I think the kale was too chewy for my taste, others found it too bitter.  My husband very politely avoided it.  I have some of the greens left that didn't get tossed in the dressing, I will likely cook them up sometime.  Maybe add them to some soup... which I need to make with all that leftover turkey.  Hopefully tomorrow, before I have to go to work.

The mashed potatoes were made with buttermilk this year, also successful.  Almost everyone chose the cranberry habanero sauce over the plain sauce, the spiced crabapples were a hit, and between the 10 of us we ate one and a half pies.  I totally missed out on the beets and eggs, they never even made it to my end of the table.  The kids were at their own table; there were lots of giggles and not a lot of eating going on.  But they did make a big dent in the pumpkin bread.  I froze the second loaf - we had, as usual, WAY too much food.  My fridges (I have 2) are full of food.  I do not need to cook for a week, I think.

I talk a lot about food, but the best part of the day was just having my family around.  My sister called during the festivities and joined in long-distance.  My brother and his family hung around for a while after dinner and it was fun just to sit around and talk.  That's what I'm thankful for - all the people in my life!

Thursday, November 24, 2011

New Things

Happy Thanksgiving!

As usual, Thanksgiving for us is whenever we can have it.  This year, it's Saturday.

I have my list.  I'm checking off things as I make them.  The other day I made the creamed broccoli.  Today I made:

1. A pumpkin pie, with homemade pie crust.  Added bonus: since I didn't have evaporated milk, I used egg nog.  Mmm.

2. Pumpkin bread:  2 loaves.  I was going to make 4 and freeze 2, but I was one egg short.  (I went through 17 eggs today, between the pie, breakfast, pumpkin bread, and:

3. Pickled beets and eggs.  I hard boiled 6 eggs and added them to the liquid of one of my jars of pickled beets.  Since I always have trouble with eggs cracking when I boil them, this time I set the eggs in cold water and waited to see which end floated.  I then poked a hole in that end and boiled them for 14 minutes. None cracked.  They were easy to peel.  I will do that from now on.

4.  Brined the turkey.  This is the New Thing.  I have never brined a turkey.  Fortunately, the turkey fits in my lobster pot so I didn't have to sanitize a cooler and worry about keeping it all cold.  I added 2 gallons of brine, 2 T. peppercorns, some sage, some thyme, and some celery seeds.  Tomorrow I will turn it over in the brine.

Tomorrow I need to make the stuffing, toast almonds for the salad (another New Thing:  a raw brussels sprouts and kale salad from Bon Appetit.  Most of my extended family is a little apprehensive about this one, but I think it'll be awesome), and go to the store for all those last minute ingredients.  Plus we are going to buy a new washer and dryer (my dryer is almost ready to give up the ghost, one can only repair these things so many times...) and there is this thing in the afternoon at the MIT Museum about kinetic/chain reaction sculptures that we must attend.

Saturday, I will do the rest!

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

It's Been a While

Since I made chicken soup!

When I last roasted a chicken, I knew there was not going to be any time for a while to make soup with the leftovers (I think I was headed off to work), so my husband froze the rest of it for me.  In a bag, labelled, "One Really Dead Chicken."  Well, if that just doesn't make your mouth water, I don't know what will!

Knowing that with Thanksgiving this week the space in the fridge and freezer will be at a premium, it was time to make a batch of chicken soup and clear up more room.  So I boiled the chicken bones and meat with 3 quarts of water, some salt, pepper, bay and thyme.  When the meat fell off the bones, I took all the meat out and let it cool.  Then I added onion, carrots, celery, and 3 turnips (the last of the farm share turnips) and put the meat back in to simmer.  This yielded 10 pints of soup which are in the canner now (75 minutes at 10 pounds).  While I was doing that I made one of the sides for the big dinner - broccoli with a cream sauce.  It's one of my favorites, yet I only make it for Thanksgiving.  Why is that?

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Slow Cooker Pot Roast Soup

The other day, I made a pot roast in the slow cooker.  It was a 3 pound roast, with sauteed leeks, carrots and celery, a couple of bay leaves, parsley, salt, pepper, and water.  And it was really good.  I saved the leftovers, skimmed off the fat, and made soup today - another variation on the beef and barley theme:

2 leeks, chopped
1 T. minced garlic
5 carrots, diced
3 small celery ribs, diced
1 celeriac root, diced
8 cups water
1 cup red wine
1 T. Worcestershire Sauce
8 ounces pearled barley
2 bay leaves
1 can tomato paste
pot roast leftovers, cut into bite sized pieces, fat removed
kosher salt and pepper to taste

The leeks, garlic, carrots, celery and celeriac were sauteed in olive oil until soft and then the other ingredients were added, including the leftover liquid from the pot roast (minus the fat).  This simmered for an hour.  We had some for dinner and then I canned the rest while I watched The Sound of Music with the 6 year old - which meant that every once in a while I had to leave to tend to the pressure canner.  I tried to only leave at the dialogue parts; fortunately the canner didn't need too much tending!  (6 pints, 75 minutes at 10 pounds of pressure.)

I'm getting close to the end of the farm share veggies I've stored up.  This used up the carrots and I only have one leek and one celeriac bulb left.  I still have 5 squashes and some turnips, but that's about it.  We even finished the popcorn - how can you watch The Sound of Music without popcorn?

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Not Dead Yet!

Yesterday's mushroom experiment was a success - no adverse effects at all!  And, since these mica caps lead short lives, I wanted an opportunity to really cook with them.  This morning I went out and harvested all the intact little ones I could.  The book says they are better when they are young, before the gills start to turn black.  So I left the big ones in the grass and took only small ones.

Once inside, I brushed them off (don't wash them, they get soggy), chopped up a shallot and a tiny pepper from a Brasilian pepper plant and fried it all in butter.  Then I made an omelette.  And it was GOOD.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Brave, or Crazy?

It's a fine line.

Today was a gorgeous day.  In the low 50's, sunny, with a good breeze, and most of the leaves in the front of the house are off the trees.  We went out to do some trimming and raking and the 10-year-old found mushrooms in the yard.  So I was called, and my book was fetched, and I got to work.

Tawny-brown caps?  Check.
Bell shaped caps?  Check.
Gills that start white and change to black as they age?  Check.
Growing in a tuft?  Check.

We decided we had Alcohol Inky Caps, which are edible but not if you plan on drinking alcohol, since they deactivate an enzyme which we need to digest alcohol.  Various medicines also do this - disulfiram is the main one and is, in fact, marketed to prevent people from drinking.  But something wasn't quite right; the color of the caps was more brown than the pictures.  So I did a little more research, and then I found a little tiny mushroom that confirmed that we, in fact, have Mica Caps.  Same family, also edible, but less likely to cause the alcohol reaction.  (Not that I care, I wasn't planning on having any alcohol for a while...but good to know anyway.)

After a spore print, examination with the loupe, and a little more on-line research, I decided I was correct in my identification.  That led to the next step:
Tasty, and as of an hour later, no ill effects.  Tomorrow I shall harvest more and use them for dinner!