Thursday, April 30, 2015

Baby Back Ribs

A few weeks ago, my husband traveled to Brownsville, Texas, to give a presentation.  He came back with a present for me:  Hot Peach Jam, which was purchased at a local farmers' market. (It's made in Brownsville and my husband met the person who made the jam.)  He sent me a photo of it while he was there.  I immediately thought of spare ribs and said, "Yes, please, bring that home!"

While I was in the store today, I found packages of baby back ribs, sliced into individual ribs.  I've never really done ribs before, but I love them, and then this jam popped into my head so I had to get them.  But, how to cook them?  I would have to wing it a little.

First I rubbed the ribs with Corky's dry rub and then placed them on racks in two baking pans.  Both pans were covered with foil and then they were baked at 300 degrees for almost 2 hours.  After that, I basted one pan with peach jam and one with the hot peach jam, and turned the heat up to 375.  The texture of the hot peach jam lent itself to basting.  It was smoother than the jam I made.  I put the ribs back in the oven, uncovered.  They baked for an additional 45 minutes and, halfway through, I turned them over and basted them again.

They were really, really good!

Sunday, April 26, 2015

Busy Sunday

Today I found myself with some time and not a lot of things planned.  It seemed like a good idea to get some more things out of my freezer and also take advantage of the copious amounts of field garlic in the yard.

First off, I made a batch of chicken stock, from which I canned 4 pints of stock.  The rest of the stock went into a batch of chicken soup.  Leeks (farm share, sliced and frozen), carrots and celery were sauteed and then the rest of the stock added.  To this I added some leftover rice and chopped up chicken (also from the freezer).  This simmered for a while.  When I was ready to can it, I put 2 tsp. of orzo into each jar, uncooked, and filled the jars with soup.  The soup was then processed the usual way, 75 minutes at 10 pounds of pressure.  When the jars came out, the orzo was cooked and plump and there was still plenty of liquid in the jars.  We'll see how the texture is when I eat some of it.

Lastly, I picked and chopped enough field garlic from the yard to get a cup.  With this, I made a double batch of field garlic bread.  Note to self:  do not use rapid rise yeast, as the tops of the loaves collapse and I think that's why.

Saturday, April 25, 2015

On Behalf of My Nepali Friends

Swayambhunath Stupa
In general, I avoid using this blog for anything other than food related notes.  Today, however, I need to make an exception.

Back in 1999, I was fortunate enough to fall in with a group of people who were starting up something special.  It was a partnership with a group of physicians in Nepal.  What began as a purely educational opportunity grew into a multi-faceted collaboration.  I had the pleasure of joining in the first joint mobile health camp, held in the village of Galyang, Nepal.  Four American doctors and one incredibly motivated educator/director joined a group of Nepali doctors, nurses, and medical students and, in four days, provided medical care to hundreds of people who might go most of their lives without ever seeing a doctor.  In that time, with the help of a medical student who translated for me, I evaluated ~380 children.  It was a trip that opened my eyes:  to the reality of the challenges in the daily lives of much of the world, to what one could do with minimal resources, to why I became a doctor.  It revitalized my passion for medicine which, at the time, was bogged down in fairly mundane issues.  My interest in Wilderness Medicine started with that experience.  I have photos, and memories, of crazy and wonderful things.  Of latex gloves being washed and dried on clotheslines so they could be reused.  Of working by candlelight, with cookies and chai tea keeping us sustained until we finally had to stop for the day.  Of sitting around a campfire at night, laughing with my new friends.  Of seeing diagnoses I'd only read about and feeling like I'd actually made a difference.

The organization has changed names since then, and the focus has expanded to promoting health and education for the Nepali people.  They have helped build a school, funded and provided equipment for neonatal and pediatric intensive care units, and hosted Nepali medical professionals to come to the USA for further educational opportunities, among other things.

Today's earthquake in Nepal has damaged and destroyed many buildings and taken many lives but it will not dampen the generous and kind spirit of the Nepali people.  I can say that that very same incredibly motivated educator, currently in Kathmandu, is safe, along with my Nepali friends and their families.  The school they built was designed with earthquakes in mind, but the village in which it is located suffered heavy damage and the school is currently a shelter for the villagers.  They need food, water and medicine and HealthCare Nepal is already working to make that happen.  Please consider donating; any financial donation would be greatly appreciated.

In addition to donating to HealthCare Nepal, there are other organizations accepting donations:  The Nepal Red Cross Society, Oxfam, UNICEF, and many many others.  The need is great.


Yogurt a Different Way

It's always surprising to me what I find in my freezer.

Every time I go in to get something, I discover something else I squirreled away, thinking I'll remember what I stashed and why.  And then, magically, it just *poof* leaves my brain.  This is why I need a better system.

As I was putting all that lamb in the freezer the other day, I found a collection of various bacterial cultures for cheese making and a whole bag of packets of yogurt culture.  So I figured I would make yogurt with one of those packets for a change and see what I get.  Well, after about 6 hours, I certainly have yogurt, which smells a lot like the Greek yogurt one gets at the store.  Tomorrow I'll taste it and report back.

Thursday, April 23, 2015

Spring is Finally Here

Yesterday I got to the stables a little early with the intention to do a little foraging.  I felt that the nettle patch should be sprouting, and I was right, although not as much as I'd thought.  However, I came home with a small bag of nettle tips which I stuck in the fridge until I had time, as I had 20 minutes to get cleaned up and leave the house again.  The nettles could wait.

When I got home from work today I blanched the nettles and set to work on dinner.  I boned eight chicken thighs and rolled them around some cheese and the blanched nettles.  After securing them with toothpicks, they were dipped in beaten egg and then into bread crumbs (homemade) and seasoned with salt and pepper.  The chicken was baked at 375 for an hour.

Meanwhile, I made a vegetable medley with cauliflower, baby carrots, and corn, which was sauteed in a little oil and then I added a packet of miso mixed with about 1/2 c. white wine.  When the liquid was cooked off, I added 4 T. of butter.  This seems to be the only way the 10 year old eats cauliflower without complaining.    I also made a white sauce for the chicken.

Yum, spring is here!

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Checkerboard Cake, Improved

This time, with the proper equipment!

For the now 10-year-old's birthday, there was a request for a checkerboard cake.  I'd made one before, without the fancy mold, and soon realized my error!  For this one, I purchased the little mold that allowed for the different colors of cake to be poured in more easily.  It would have been easy if I used cake mixes but, since I made the cakes from scratch, the batter was thicker, so the batter needed to be spooned in and then smoothed out.  Regardless, I was able to get the layers done yesterday and frosted it today.

For the chocolate part, I used the chocolate sour cream cake I usually do.  For the white part, I used this recipe.  The textures are similar which is nice.

After 12 kids and 6 adults ate cake at the party, there was nothing left!

Rose Hip Smoothie

Yesterday, I got a call from Lisa, with whom I was splitting a spring lamb delivery.  She had picked up the lamb and was swinging by to drop off my share.  After she left, it became necessary to make room in the freezer.  As I was cleaning out the freezer, I found 3 cups of rose hip infusion I had frozen to make smoothies.  Because one of the bags ripped, I decided now was as good a time as any.

This morning I tossed yogurt, the rose hip infusion, some mango chunks, a banana and honey in the blender.  It came out absolutely perfect!

Also in the freezer:  nettles, pumpkin puree, some venison, some coffee, and lots and lots of bones and veggie scraps for stock.  Oh, and a loaf of chocolate zucchini bread, which we ate with dinner last night.  This was just the upstairs freezer.  I need a better way to keep my freezers organized, otherwise I will end up in this situation again, rediscovering things that I forgot I had.

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Pommes Frites au Canard

I know, I know, I could just say, "French fries in duck fat," but it sounds so much better in French!

First I cut 3.5 Russet potatoes into strips for french fries, about 1/3" to a side.  The other half a potato was sliced for potato chips, as the 9 year old doesn't eat french fries.  The potatoes were soaked in cold water with a little vinegar for a while and then dried.  I heated up 4 pints of duck fat to 325 degrees and fried the potato chips first, since they could be cold by dinnertime.  Some were crispy, some not.  I think I cut them too thickly with the mandolin.  I could use a thinner setting next time.

After that, I fried the french fries in batches, with the fat at 350 degrees.  I think my batches were too big, as the temperature dropped about 100 degrees and took a while to come back up closer to 350.  They took about 7 minutes or so to cook.  Once they were drained I salted them and kept them warm in the oven until dinner.  As with the chips, some were soggy.  Next time I will use smaller batches and cook them closer to dinnertime.  (They only had a few minutes to wait, but it seemed to be enough.)  They tasted awesome, however, so that part was totally worth it.

I was able to reclaim 3 pints of the duck fat which I can use again for frying.  Next time, I'll try chicken.