Sunday, August 26, 2012

Jelly Belly !!

Lots of jam is coming out of this kitchen right now, partly because I have too many bags of fruit in the freezer and also because I have alot of jelly jars for some reason.

Anyway, the other night I thought I'd so a little experimenting so I came up with Cherry Peach Jam and here is how the jam came to be:

I had cut up peaches and cherries in the freezer so I thawed 2 cups of each to make 4 cups of fruit. I placed the fruit in a saucepan and added about 1/4 cup of lemon juice and a box of powdered pectin, bringing it to a boil. Then I added 5 cups of sugar (winging it from instructions for Bing cherry jam and peach jam, trying to hit the right balance) and bringing back to boil, then boil hard for 1 minute. Ladle into hot jars, seal and BWB for 10 minutes. I thought I had some pics of the finished jars, but honestly, they look like every other jar of jam. I think I'm going to try this one more time with 75% peaches and 25% cherries and see if I can get that nice coral color.

Sunday Funday ?? More like Sunday Work Our Butts Off Day

Most Sundays around the lake house are our lazy days- lounging around, playing in the kitchen, maybe some football games..... today however, for some reason we were up early and hard at it all day. We started off with a quick assessment of our garden veggies and discovered yet another tomato hornworm had decimated one of our cherry tomato plants. ^%$#@!  We plucked him off and drowned him in a bucket of water (thankfully we had almost an entire day of rain yesterday so our rain buckets were full !!)

The Chef has thawed a 2 lb package of ground venison given to him by the other chef he works with and decided, perhaps as a welcome to the newborn Meatball Baby Lorenzo LaValle, that venison meatballs were on the agenda. Since I was going to finish up the canning of veggies already in the house, including a case of tomatoes from the Amish farm, some wax beans, and the last of the carrots, he decided on his famous red sauce and snagged a nice potful of the blanched, peeled and seeded tomatoes I had been working on.

While the Chef worked on his amazing meatball recipe, I prepped veggies for the canner, picked herbs, and set up the dehydrator with thyme, rosemary and sage as well as 3 trays of the tomato skins, which will be dried and then ground into tomato powder, which adds a real flavor punch to soups and sauces.

We were working away when inspiration struck us- HOMEMADE BREAD !! I searched online and found a basic white bread recipe and then made some additions and alterations to come up with Italian Herb and Cheese Bread, but the recipe called for a little too much yeast- the loaf fell, but even though it's a little dense, it still has pretty good flavor and we're gonna eat it anyway.

Now, let's talk meatballs. The Chef and I are not hunters but we do love game meats so we often trade what we grow/can/bake with folks who do hunt, so we have this amazing venison.  Since the Chef had never worked with venison before, it was a total experiment for him, but one of the most successful to date.

Joe's Venison Meatballs

2 lbs ground venison
4 beaten eggs
1 large onion, chopped
1/2 cup chopped red bell pepper
1 1/2-2 cups dry breadcrumbs
4-5 cloves garlic, minced
freshly cracked black pepper
pinch red pepper flakes (to taste)
2 tb minced Italian parsley
1-2 tsp finely minced oregano

Mix all ingredients will well combined. Set aside, covered, to allow meat to rest, crumbs to soften and flavors to meld, for at least 1 hour.

Roll into meatballs using about 1/3 cup mixture for each ball. Place on baking sheet.

Joe drizzled the meatballs with garlic infused olive oil and bake at 375 degrees about 25-30 minutes until meat is completely cooked (we always make a "test meatball"). Remove from baking sheet and add to pot of red sauce. Allow to simmer at least an hour, or if you're an all day sauce person, let em simmer in deliciousness. Serve with pasta of choice.

Disaster Bread

I've decided to go ahead and give the ingredients I used for the bread since it DID taste pretty good, next time I am going to use less yeast, so if you want to give this a try, make that adjustment.

3 1/2 to 4 cups flour
1 package active dry yeast (remember, one package was too much and likely caused my fall)
1 1/2 cups warm water
1 tb butter
3 tb sugar
2 tb mixed dried Italian herbs (I used Penzey's Tuscan blend)
2 cloves fresh garlic FINELY minced
small palmfull parmesan cheese

In the bread machine I added the ingredients in this order: flour, sugar, herbs, garlic, butter, cheese, made a well in the center, added the yeast, poured the warm water around. I set the machine for classic white bread (3 hour cycle) and let it do it's thing, adding a couple extra Tb flour to help the dough form a ball. When the baking cycle started I drizzled with melted butter and more parm cheese.

It looks totally fine at this point, rose well, punched down, rose again but when the baking cycle kicked on, my bread fell,

but after we got it out of the machine, we cut it and sampled and while it was a little dense, it still had good flavor and was ok to eat. I'll try it again with about 2/3 of a package of yeast.

Now we're both sacked out on the couch, FULL of our delicious dinner, tired from all work, watching, what else ?? Food shows on tv .....gotta love life with a chef........

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

You say tomato........

I say AVALANCHE !!!!!!

The chef spent his day off yesterday at the Amish farm. The plan was about 20-30 lbs "just to start with" but he kinda went crazy and brought home over ONE HUNDRED POUNDS !!!!

So today, in spite of feeling quite under the weather, I started to tackle this Himalayan pile of tomatoes. I got about 15 lbs in, washing,


peeling, cutting up......and felt wiped......

So into the fridge they went, hopefully tomorrow will be a better day to work on getting some batches into quarts and in the canner.