12/17/14

Countdown: 10, 9, 8…

I was going to call this post On the 8th day of Christmas, but, fact of the day: the twelve days of Christmas start on Christmas end end on the 5th on January. You learn something every day, or at least I do.

Nevertheless, 8 more days until Christmas! Is anyone else super excited for Santa season?

We’ve got our Christmas tree up and festooned with cheer. I’ve been baking like mad (what else is new?).

This year is a special year because Mr and myself are hosting a Christmas dinner for the first time this year. It’s a big mix of excitement and fear for me; I’m really hoping it doesn’t turn into one of those urban legends that gets told and retold about turkeys that won’t fit into the oven, or everyone getting food poisoning. On one hand, part of me feels like it’s good to go into a big project like this with a healthy sense of the things that could go wrong. On the other hand, though, it’s not as though making this dinner is all that much more complicated than making any other dinner. I can make a dinner for 14. It’s going to be fine.

I hope.

I just don’t want for this Christmas to be the Christmas dinner that the family brings up for years after as the one that was a total disaster.

A 22 pound turkey will fit into a standard size oven, right?

If I’m getting wrapped up in Christmas worries, some of you out there probably are too. So just remember what these seasonal holidays are all about: coming in from the dark outside, into the warm and welcoming homes of your nearest and dearest, to enjoy togetherness and expressions of love.

If you find yourself without near or dear to gather with, come on down. The more the merrier, and I intend on having a very merry Christmas.

It’s going to be awesome!

Apple Butter

(A recipe for your slow cooker! Though I’m sure it could be adapted for the stove top set very low.)
(Recipe adapted from Brown Eyed Baker)

3 kilograms of apples

1 1/2 Cups brown sugar

1/2 Cup sugar

2 Tbsp ground cinnamon

1 tsp ground nutmeg

1 tsp ground cardamom

1 tsp ground allspice

1/4 tsp salt

1 Tbsp vanilla

Directions

  • Wash all of your apples. Then peel, core, and slice the whole works.

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  • Plunk them into the slow cooker. They will fill your slow cooker very full, but do not fear, they mush down quite a bit in the cooking. If you need to, press down on the apples to pack them down enough so that the lid of the crock pot will properly close.
  • Sprinkle over top of the apples all of the dry ingredients, that is: the sugars, cinnamon, nutmeg, cardamom, allspice, and salt.

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  • Place the lid on the slow cooker, plug the appliance in, and cook on the low setting for 10 hours.
  • Rejoice at how lovely your house smells.
  • When the cooking time has elapsed, purée the apple butter until smooth using a stick blender (or in a regular blender, working in batches) and then stir in the vanilla.
  • Continue to cook on the slow cooker’s low setting, with the lid ajar to allow for more evaporation, until the apple butter is thickened to your desired consistency.  I cooked mine for an extra two hours.
  • Slather apple butter on toast or a biscuit, top some baked brie with it, use it as a condiment with pork chops, or add it to your morning oatmeal. Delicious!

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Mr says: “Apple butter is like delicious apple jam.” And he’s right. :)

Happy holidays everybody! xo

10/14/14

Honk Honk

Mr has been out and about hunting this season, and he has had some success!

Hello Goose!

Aren’t these just gorgeous? So pretty to look at.

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How easy is it to break down a goose? Not so easy as the videos on the internet make it seem. That may be more a matter of being well practised and less a matter of the job being a difficult one, though.

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Goose Sausages

(recipe adapted from this recipe from Hunter Angler Gardener Cook)

1500 grams goose (I used meat from both the breast and the leg)

1000 grams fatty pork

1/2 tsp caraway seed

3 cloves garlic

2 Tbsp kosher salt

2 Tbsp marjoram

1 Tbsp black pepper

2 tsp Dijon mustard

1 Cup red wine, chilled (you’re looking for something here with some red fruit and woodsy-ness to it)

Directions

  • First, trim away any thick silverskin or connective tissue that is opaque from the meats. The goose won’t have much, it’s the pork you’ll have to go over.
  • Cube up your goose and pork into small enough pieces that they will fit into the m0uth of your grinder. Lay out on a wide flat receptacle, I use a baking sheet, and pop into the freezer to chill. With the meat spread out over a large surface area rather than in a pile, as it would be in say a bowl, it will chill faster. I like to get the meat to a point where, if you pinch a cube between your fingers you can feel little ice crystals but the meat is still pliable.
  • Pop the wine into the freezer too! You want it to be quite cold when you add it to the sausage mix, starting to freeze around the edges.
  • While the meat is getting cold, give the caraway seed a bit of a bash in a mortar and pestle, or a brief couple of pulses in a spice grinder. The seeds just need to be opened up a bit to release their flavours, they don’t need to be pulverised.
  • At this time, I empty the caraway from the mortar and toss in the garlic cloves and salt. I use the pestle to grind the garlic and salt together into a paste. If you aren’t a mortar and pestle fan, a similar effect can be achieved by mincing up the garlic, sprinkling salt over top, and mashing it into a paste with the flat of a knife.
  • Once the meat has chilled, run it through a grinder on a medium grind (7 mm plate).

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  • Sprinkle over top the ground meat the garlic paste, caraway seed, marjoram, black pepper and Dijon mustard. Mix well to disperse the seasoning evenly though the meat.
  • Retrieve the wine from the freezer and pour it into the sausage mix.
  • Continue to work the sausage mix with your hands until it binds. You will know that you have achieved a bind when everything gets really sticky and holds to your hands.
  • Stuff the sausage mix into casings, and then twist off into links.
  • Let your sausages sit in the fridge for a few hours before cooking any up, this bit of a rest lets the sausages tighten up and all the flavours come together a little better. If you do not plan on freezing these sausages, eat them within a week. Freezing is a great option though, because you can take out and cook the amount you need as you desire.
  • Enjoy!

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Mr says:The goose sausage is particularly awesome for me, as I had never hunted anything successfully before. I’m glad it turned out so well. From the field to the plate in less than 48 hours.

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09/21/14

Chokecherry Syrup

Holy moly! The last few weeks have been a preservathon!

I’m starting to run out of jars to put things in! I will admit here that I don’t have  a giant collection of jars to begin with, but I still feel that having things in the majority of them is an accomplishment.  Especially since it is still September and there sill surely be some more things to put into jars.

I got the chance to make some chokecherry syrup, a delicious treat I’ve had the chance to enjoy a number of times, but had yet to make myself.

It’s pretty delicious stuff, so chokecherries grow in the area where you live, I would definitely suggest ear marking this recipe!

Chokecherry Syrup

(A recipe from the Mum-In-Law!)

Chokecherries

Water

Lemon juice

Sugar

Corn Syrup

Pectin

(Yes, I do realize that I haven’t specified amounts yet, but that’s because it really depends on how many chockecherries you can get your hands on. Don’t worry, read through and all will be cleared up!)

Directions

  • Rinse the chokecherries to wash away any dirt or dust.
  • Put the rinsed chokecherries into a large pot, and add water until the berries are not quite covered. When you start to see the water level rising up through the fruit, that is enough water.
  • Bring the mixture to a low boil, and simmer, stirring once in a while, until the chokecherries burst open. Remove from heat and let the mixure cool.

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  • Run the contents of the pot through a chinois or food mill, to separate the juice from the solids. Because this is a syrup and not a jelly, you can be a little more aggressive while pressing out the juice, because a little bit of sediment isn’t amiss here.

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  • Discard the remaining skins and seeds.  As a warning, chokecherries are mostly seed and skin, there will be a lot of leftovers to discard. Then measure the amount of chokecherry juice you have. For every 6 Cups of chokecherry juice use: the juice of 1 lemon (that’s around 2 Tbsp) , 5 Cups sugar, 1 Cup of corn syrup, and 3 1/2 Tbsp pectin (that’s one small packet around these parts). This is the ratio for the recipe, if you end up with more or less chokecherry juice, adjust accordingly.
  • Return the juice to the pot, and stir in the lemon juice, pectin, and corn syrup. Bring the mixture to a boil before adding in the sugar, and then boil for an additional 2 minutes.
  • Pour the syrup into sterile jars and then process.

If you’ve ever eaten a chokecherry off of the bush, you may be feeling a little doubtful of me, because they are so bitter, sour, astringent on their own. But with a little bit of the time, and the help of quite a bit of sweetener you end up with a perfectly puce syrup that still has a little bit of pucker that makes it a treat.

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Most of the times I’ve had chokecherry syrup we have poured it over top of waffles. I’ve been working on my crepe making technique, and discovered that the chokecherry syrup is quite a treat on them as well. I imagine it would be tasty on vanilla ice cream too, but have not tried that quite yet.

Mr’s favourite way to eat chokecherry syrup is with buttered toast, soaking the syrup up with the non-buttered side. Though, he mentioned, if you don’t butter your toast, you can soak up the syrup with both sides of the bread!

This time last year: Merguez Sausage

Two years ago: Tapenade

Three years ago: Roasted Tomato and Goat Cheese Tart

Four years ago: Kettle Corn