Last Wednesday, I was thinking that I needed to do something with the peppers in my fridge and was also thinking that I have an abundance of empty 360 Vodka bottles, courtesy of my friend who makes limoncello. So, I decided it would be fun to make pepper vodka.( It was fun, as long as I used glovesCollapse )
Knowing that I scheduled one too many things this evening, I had to come up with some idea for supper that would not require me to be there to cook or serve it.I wandered over to Crock Pot Girls on Facebook,, figuring that would be a great method to find something with minimal effort. In looking in my freezer, I found venison, venison-burger, fish, chicken breasts, a bit of seafood and a ring of sausage. I pulled out the venison and defrosted it. Normally I like to defrost this the night before so it can marinate, but that obviously didn’t happen.( Then here is what I didCollapse )Now my family had a healthy meal waiting for them and it was still good when I made it home a bit later. However, I wish they had at least turned the crockpot to low as some of the sweet potatoes were beginning to fall apart. Oh well.
We spent the morning shivering at our middle son's football pictures and game. Well, actually by the end of the game the sun had warmed us a bit and the wind was dying off (and they won, so that was great). Still, I was fairly chilled, even after having Chicken Tortilla Soup for lunch. So, needing an excuse to run the oven--as the house wasn't really cold enough to start a fire and its supposed to be warm the next few days--I decided to take the apples that mom had gotten from a coworker and make a pie. I snagged the crust recipe from The Harvest Eating Cookbook and had enough apples to make two pies, but not enough defrosted butter. Oh well, the other apples are in the freezer and all ready to dump into a crust sometime later this week. My other reason for making a pie is that our church has an annual fall dinner and I always contribute pies. I did replace some of the flour with whole wheat flour and that makes it healthy, right? ;)( Pretty PieCollapse )As I mentioned in my last post, I've been in the process of making wine from grapes, instead of a kit. Though, we have some Montepulciano juice coming in right now that was special-ordered. I have pictures of the process so far...( Transforming GrapesCollapse )
I have a cold right now. As do two of my three children. So, last night, I made chicken noodle soup. I'm a strong believer in the benefits of chicken noodle soup when you are sick. I love how simple it is. I normally use three chicken breasts, 2 quarts of good quality stock, a couple carrots, a couple stalks of celery, half an onion, some garlic, and some oregano and thyme, or whatever herbs I'm in the mood for. Last night, due to still having some Swiss chard and one green onion around, I chopped up four leaves of the chard and added those ingredients in at the same time as the half pound of noodles. I figured the dark greens would only add to the nutritional value.Also, if you like spicy food, a dash of diced chili peppers helps clear out those nasal passages.( Soup PictureCollapse )A weekend project was making wine from grapes given to us. We had about half a bushel and unfortunately, some had started to mold. It was quite the chore to sort, rinse, destem and then crush the grapes. Next time, we'll buy a destemmer-crusher. So, right now I have a bowl of crushed grapes in my fridge. We tested the acidity, and its about 3.0, which is on the low end and so we will be diluting the juice slightly to try for an acidity of 3.2. Also, since there was mold present, I am going to adding potassium metabisulfite to kill off the wild yeast and bacteria, and then add commercial wine yeast.I'm going to have to acquire a gallon glass container for secondary fermentation as that it probably all I will end up with once pressing the grapes out.Also, the hard cider is continuing to ferment very nicely. After topping it off, all the of the ickiness bubbled out the top. I have now put a stopper and water airlock on the top of the carboy.
I really should do a lot more meal-planning than I do, but for once, I'm on top of the game...kinda.Tonight's supper will be Paella--the national dish of Spain. As my husband and his dad and brother are out working on a deer stand, I had time to prep supper. In fact, it was necessary to prep as we will be cutting and hauling wood for our fireplace for the winter once they return. And for me to not help with that chore to do prepwork that I could have done earlier...So, I have chopped and marinated three chicken breasts.I have a ring of sausage in the fridge for easy access.The mussels are in our upstairs freezer, also for easy access.I diced the veggies for the sofrito (tomatoes, onion, bell pepper), plus part of a pablono that I bought at the farmer's market.My only problem is the rice. I have brown rice, sushi rice, jasmine rice, and wild rice and while the brown would be preferable, I only have a cup and will have 7 hungry people to feed. I normally use two cups of arborio or white rice, but I have neither of those.I may just have to run to the store.Oh! The cider is coming along fairly well, or at least its fermenting quite a bit. Also, I have acquired grapes and so it looks like I will be juicing them tomorrow (need to get some yeast). Dad and I thinking about steeping the leftovers in vodka to make grappa. Lots of updates to come. :)
Though I have been cooking this week, there hasn't been that much exciting. One thing that is nice is that I know that I'm going to have a long, busy day and so have pulled out a lasagna from the freezer that I made a couple weeks ago. Its so nice to have real food sitting there, waiting for a day like today. I think I need to invest in another 9x13 pan so that I can do this more often. I have also been trying to freeze leftovers in single-serving containers to have for lunches if they are not eaten in the first day or two. After all, who wants to eat the same thing four days in a row?The other big project is making hard apple cider. I really need to rack it and top it off, but due to the aforementioned busy-ness, it keeps getting pushed off. I think that I had better get that done tomorrow morning.Time to get going.
So, I started with a loaf of dill bread that my dad gave me and with the temps taken a definite turn to fall, I figured that soup was in order today.Another consideration, I have A LOT of tomatoes. I raided my parents garden and even froze some, but there are still more.I was able to get to the farmer's market yesterday and picked up Swiss Chard, funky-looking radishes, and various other goodies, such as enough zucchini to make a triple batch of zucchini bread. Most of that is now in my freezer.These radishes were mild and very pretty. White-purple on the outside. Upon raiding my fridge, freezer and cupboards, I came up with the following minestrone-like soup.( Pork and Vegetable SoupCollapse )
Even though the 80-degree weather is not conducive to fall thoughts, I certainly was in the mood today. I finally took the venison that has been marinating and put it on the dehydrator to make jerky. Tonight, its tasting pretty good and I have another small batch to put on in the morning.( Here's what we doCollapse )After I got the jerky on the dehydrator, I finally dealt with a bowl of apples that a friend gave me a week ago. In my defense, I have been busy... Seriously. So, I took most of the apples (after peeling, coring, slicing) and made an apple crisp. I was being a 1950s housewife or something with fresh apple crisp and vanilla ice cream for the kids when they got home from school. ( Nummy apple usageCollapse )Speaking of vanilla ice cream, my great-grandmother used to ALWAYS have vanilla ice cream and cookies for my sisters and I when we came to visit. We would race up the stairs to her apt (I always won) to great her and she would insist on feeding us, frequently to our parents' chagrin. I remember one story she told about when her husband came over from Norway. At one stop he discovered ice cream and loved it so much that he bought some extra and packed it into his suitcase for the railway journey. You can guess how that ended up. :)Anyways...tonight I grilled some pork chops and red potatoes for supper and baked some tomatoes stuffed with cheese. Sorry I didn't take a picture of the tomatoes.
I finally remembered to get the picture of the cinnamon rolls off my camera so that I could post it here. They were very gooey. Normally, my preference for caramel rolls comes from cinnamon rolls being too dry, but that was not the problem with these. Recipe came from The Pioneer Woman's cookbook. Though, I altered the glaze recipe as I was out of milk, but did have orange juice in the fridge. ( Cinnamon rollsCollapse )Yesterday morning, I made her recipe for "migas", a Southwest scrambled egg dish. However, I cheated and instead of frying up my own corn tortillas and chopping them up, I used tortilla chip strips. I will definitely make this one again and add more tortilla chips. Oh, and from now on, I am ALWAYS making scrambled eggs in my cast iron skillet. Every time I use it, I am so happy with how the food turns out.( MigasCollapse )I've been feeling the need to get everything in order before the school year starts and with the cooler weather yesterday, I made a double batch of lasagna. One I froze, which I am sure I will be very thankful for sometime in the next couple months. The other, larger, pan we had for supper last night and there should be enough left over for lunch today.Also, I started a batch of venison jerky marinating yesterday. Normally, my husband is in charge of this, but he's been working a lot and I had opened up the 3L wine bottle that we had bottled the last of the European Pilsener into and obviously did not drink it all. So, that beer became the base for the marinade. We'll see how it turns out.Ok, time to clean my kitchen before my parents come over to make salsa. I picked up fresh tomatillos at the farmer's market on Friday and will either make salsa with it or probably just make salsa verde enchiladas for supper tonight.
So, we bottled the Chenin Blanc and some European Pilsener on Sunday. The wine went very well and I think we ended up with 38 bottles. I had moved the carboy up onto a table in the morning so that it would re-settle before we racked it. I added potassium metabisulfite as we don't drink as much white wine and these kits have a limited shelf life.The pilsener was an entirely different matter. It uses lager yeast, which is bottom-fermenting. The problem with racking this is that it was much touchier to stay off the thick layer of sediment on the bottom. We ended up with fewer bottles of the pilsener than the wheat beer that I made last time. The Chianti that we made is still not ready and tastes more like a Pinot Noir. We'll see how it is in a couple weeks.The wheat beer is almost gone. We ended up bottling some of it in a 3 L wine bottle (we ran out of beer bottles) and I don't want to open that unless I know it will be drank in one day. I have refrigerated it as we discovered that if left out at room temperature, the beer mellowed from its initial sharp, fizzy character eventually to not having much flavor at all.Next up: an imported Montepulciano, which comes in a bucket instead of a kit. Also, I'm going to be using a a recipe to make the next batch of lager and want to experiment with live yeast cultures. Maybe I will be really ambitious and malt my own grains...A wine recommendation for you: 2008 Guenoc Victorian Claret. My husband picked this up for under $10/bottle and I've been asking him to bring home more as it was very good and I expected the price to be closer to $13/bottle. Definitely worth trying if you see it.I'll try to do a new food post soon.