Saturday, December 21, 2013

Just call me Sweeney Todd of the Woods

Or maybe the Diamondhead Butcher. That's how I spent my day anyway- butchering. I felt like I was re-enacting a forensics scene. At least I wasn't the killer !!!!

Lots of people are concerned about what kinds of foods they are consuming these days. A lot of factory farms use too many chemicals/drugs in livestock production. Cows eat things cows aren't meant to eat. In the grand scheme of things, you can't get more organic than a humanely harvested deer. Venison is a very lean and delicious protein on top of the lack of chemicals and human interference. The chef and I are not hunters but we do have friends that hunt and share their bounty with us. This week we were given almost a half deer- on the bone still so we have to do our own "butchering".

I am not grossed out by cutting up raw meat, especially since this has pretty much been cleaned up- it looks like the big hunks of beef you see hanging in meat coolers. So armed with my extremely sharp Cutco knife (yes, that is a shameless plug for Cutco but they do make amazing knives), a plastic tablecloth, cutting board, and several bowls, I went to work.

First on the agenda, getting some beautiful slices for jerky. A lot of our hunter friends like the ground meat jerky but I like the real old-style sliced jerky- it has more bite and if sliced right, a nice texture. I got that done and set aside in jerky cure with marinade and continued on. I just used a simple marinade and jerky cure packet for this one- I will get to playing with flavors and cranking up the heat with future batches.

As I cut a large portion of the leg meat off I got a beautiful pot roast- cut perfectly against the grain so it will be perfect in the crockpot. Boneless and super lean this s going to be a real treat.

After that I worked on getting a much remaining meat off as I could. Mostly cubed, I plan on canning some and if I have room- getting some frozen for stews and soups.

Cutting up such a large piece of an animal is pretty hard work, and after about 3 hours of cutting I called it a night. I used a cheap party store plastic tablecloth to cover the table so I just wrapped it back up and stuck it back in the fridge for tomorrow.

I'm excited to use all this delicious venison in many tasty recipes and of course I will share them with you. I'm open to suggestions too! Just post in the comments if there is something you'd like to see, or a favorite recipe of yours- links welcome.

Monday, December 9, 2013

The Pumpkin Flour Project- Part 1

Do you ever get an idea that seems like a really good idea with just a wee touch of weird? I've been tossing this idea around in my head for a year- how to make flour from pumpkin. 

Why flour ? Well, I have been working on a recipe for almost two years- a lot of trial and error. Well, pretty much ALL trial and error. Using cooked pumpkin, dehydrated and ground into powder, didn't work AT ALL. I knew raw was the way to go.

Fall rolls around and I've been playing with this idea for some time and all the pumpkin patches are open, it's time to find the perfect pumpkin. And I do! I bring my pumpkin home and baby it lovingly until I have time to go on to the next step. Cutting up and cleaning a pumpkin is a super easy piece of cake if you're not trying to just scrape out the gooey stuff for a jack-o-lantern. I cut it up into manageable pieces, cut off the inside and loose crumbly pumpkin and cut off the peel. After slicing the whole guy into thin slices (it looked like I had a giant bowl of cheddar cheese squares) I spread them out in the dehydrator and let it dry completely.

Nine dehydrator trays yielded....... a smallish bowl of dried slices.

Once the pumpkin slices are completely dry, let them cool and store in airtight container until you are ready to grind into flour. I used a food processor because that's what I have- I doubt a grain grinder would have worked for dried slices.

I started grinding in the processor, then sifted out the flour from the little bits.

The little bits I ground by hand with my old fashioned spice grinder that came from Germany.

The little bits reminded me of instant mashed potatoes.

After a lot of grinding, sifting, regrinding, resifting, and grinding in the spice grinder, I ended up with just about 2 cups of pumpkin flour. What becomes of the pumpkin flour ??  You will have to stay tuned !! I guarantee it will be worth the wait !!