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Tomato Jalapeno Jelly

The garden is winding down, and while a few things are still producing, we’re coming to the end.  I took a swing through and picked a bunch of things last night, and found this to match what I got.  Here is my variation on the recipe.  I was looking for something a little tarter and more savory, but didn’t want to make homemade Vegamite.

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Ingredients:

16 cups of quartered tomatoes
5 to 10 cups sugar, depending on how sweet you want this to be
20 to 25 jalapeno, cerrano, and thai chilis, or whatever you like and get from the garden or market, with the stems taken off and cut into 1/4 to 3/8 inch slices
1 large sweet white onion, quartered
1 cup balsamic vinegar
1/4 cup worcestershire sauce
8 whole cloves of garlic
2 limes, cut into quarters, peel and all
Salt to taste. I used about 1/4 cup for the batch.
12 tablespoons classic pectin

Prepare jars and lids according to directions for a water bath.  This recipe made two pints and 10 half pints.

Combine all ingredients but the pectin in a large soup kettle.  Bring to boil over medium-high heat.  Reduce heat to medium and simmer for 30 to 40 minutes, stirring occasionally.  Drain first through a course collender into a large bowl, then through a find sieve back into the large soup kettle.  Bring back to a rolling boil, then measure off two cups of the juice.  Mix the pectin with this juice, then mix back into the rest of the juice.  Continue to boil for three minutes.

Ladle into your prepared jar, leaving about 1/4 inch of space at the top of the jar.  Use a hot, wet towel to wipe the rim and threads of each jar, then close hand tight.  Process in a water bath for 15 minutes.

Recipe – Homemade Applesauce

Ingredients

1/2 cup lemon juice
3 cups cold water
10 pounds or so of fresh, firm apples, whichever variety you prefer.  We used the kind-of granny smith’s off of our neighbor’s apple tree, which just ripened this week.
4 cups of sugar (you probably won’t use all of it)
Cinnamon and nutmeg to taste

Put the lemon juice and water into an 8 quart kettle.  Peel, core, and slice the apples, and put them into the kettle.  Make sure they get a coating of the water-lemon mixture.  This will prevent browning.  Once the kettle is just about full of apples, put the kettle onto the stove.  Bring to a boil over medium heat, then reduce heat and simmer for 10 to 15 minutes while stirring regularly, or until the apples start to fall apart.  Remove from heat and allow to sit for about 5 minutes.  Using a potato masher or similar instrument, mash the apple mixture to your desired level of smooth versus chunky.  Stir in 2 cups of the sugar, then taste.  It will probably be quite tart, depending on the variety of apple you used.  Sweet apples will require less sugar than tart apples.  Add the rest of the sugar in 1/2 cup increments, tasting after each addition, until the apple sauce is at your preferred level of sweetness.  Season to taste with the cinnamon and nutmeg. Put the kettle back onto low heat and simmer for about 5 minutes, stirring frequently.

This recipe made 8 pint jars and 2 quart jars of apple sauce, which were canned in a water bath.  Total time was approximately 2 hours, including the time it took prepare the jars for canning and can the applesauce.

Campout Venison Stew

Ingredients:

3 strips of thick cut bacon, cut into one inch pieces.
5 pound bag of potatoes, peeled and cut into 1/4 inch cubes
1 pound bag of carrots, peeled and cut into 1/4 inch coins
3 large onions, coursely chopped.
Whatever seasonings you like.  I used Canadian Steak Seasoning (dried garlic, coarse salt, and coarse pepper) and some Essence
1 to 2 pounds of venison roast, cleaned of connective tissue and cut in to 1/4 to 1/2 inch cubes.
1 cup of seasoned flour
2 12 ounce bottles of your favorite beer.  I used a nice wheat beer for this batch, but anything that’s not flavored with fruit will work.

Open both beers.  Enjoy one while you cook, but set the other one aside for the moment.

Parboil the potatoes.   Drain when they are almost fork tender and set them aside.

In a large soup kettle, fry the bacon until it is just about cooked crisp and most of the grease is out of it.  Add your onions and fry them until they start to become transparent. Season to taste.

Put the venison in a container that has a lid.  Pour in the seasoned flour, put the lid on the container securely, and shake the flour and venison for a minute or so.  Dump the flour and meat into the soup kettle with the onions, and scrape as much of the flour that sticks to the sides and bottom of the container into the kettle as you can.

Brown the meat in the bacon grease and onions.  A lot of the flour will stick to the bottom of the kettle, but scrape it off as much as you can.  Do not let it scorch.  Adjust heat as necessary.

Once meat is browned, pour in the beer you aren’t drinking and use it to dissolve the flour that’s sticking to the bottom of the pan. Add the potatoes and carrots, then add cold water until there is about an inch of water above all of the ingredients.

Bring to a boil over medium heat, then reduce heat and simmer for about 20 to 25 minutes, stirring often.  Taste the stew and season as needed.  The seasoned flour will have quite a bit of salt in it, so go easy on what you add.

Once the stew starts to thicken, shut off heat, cover with lid to the kettle, and let set for five to ten minutes.  The stew will thicken a bit more as it sets.

Goes well with biscuits or fresh bread and another cold beer.  Feeds a small army.

Dinner Tonight

DaddyBear’s Beef Stew

Ingredients

Butter, bacon grease, or olive oil, whichever you prefer
1 pound stew meat, cut into 1/2 inch cubes
Seasoned flour (flour, garlic powder, salt, chili powder, black pepper, whatever you prefer)
2 cloves of garlic, minced
2 large onions
6 to 8 large potatoes, washed and cut into 1/2 inch cubes
4 to 6 carrots, washed, peeled, and cut into 1/4 to 3/8 inch coins
1 bottle of beer
3 cans of beef broth

Put potatoes in a pan with water and bring to a boil.  Shut off heat and drain when they are almost fork tender.

Steam carrots until almost fork tender.

In a large pan, heat your fat.  Use enough to thickly coat the bottom, but use a bit more than you think you’ll need.  Add onions and saute.  Run stew meat through the flour, shaking lightly to remove excess.  Put meat into pan with onions and mix thoroughly.  Dispose of excess flour.  Some of the flour from the meat will stick to the bottom of the pan, and all of the fat will be absorbed.  Stir occasionally, scraping the bottom of the pan.  Once the meat is browned on all sides, pour in the bottle of beer and deglaze the flour from the bottom of the pan.  Add beef broth.  Bring to a boil uncovered, then reduce heat and simmer for 20 minutes.  Add potatoes and carrots and continue simmering for another 10 to 15 minutes.  Stew is ready when the broth thickens and the potatoes and carrots are tender.  Serve with fresh bread or biscuits.

Pasta and Mushrooms in a Spiced Cream Sauce

Ingredients

  • 6 to 8 cups of al-dente cooked pasta.  I used elbow macaroni, but use whatever you prefer
  • 1 large white onion, finely chopped
  • 4 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 2 tablespoons bacon grease
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 4 cups of coursely chopped mushrooms, whichever variety you like
  • 1 to 2 cups of spiced flour. I use Kentucky Kernel, but there are regional brands and blends in most grocery stores
  • 2 to 3 cups of milk
  • 3 to 4 cups fresh peas, boiled or steamed to preferred doneness.  Steamed broccoli florets would probably be a good substitute/addition.
  • 2 cups shredded mozzerella or cheddar cheese

In a large saucepan, melt the butter and bacon fat together and roll the pan to coat the bottom.  Add the onion and garlic and saute until the onion begins to soften.  Add mushrooms, mix with the onion/garlic mixture, and cover.  Stir occasionally.  If the mushrooms soak up too much of the fat, add more, but sparingly.  Once the mushrooms cook down a bit and give up most of their moisture, stir in the flour one or two tablespoons at a time.   Once all of the liquid in the pan is absorbed, stop adding flour, but continue to stir until the mixture starts to form doughy balls that are starting to brown on the bottom of the pan.  Add milk one cup at a time, stirring constantly, until all of the dough is floating and starting to dissolve into the milk.  The resulting sauce should be runnier than cream gravy, but thicker than milk.  Stir in the peas and pasta, then transfer all of it to a 13 x 9 inch pan.  Spread the pasta into an even layer in the pan, then sprinkle the cheese over the top.  Put into a 350 degree oven for 15 to 20 minutes.  This will cause the cheese to melt and toast, and the pasta to soak up any excess liquid in the sauce.  Let stand 5 minutes after taking out of the oven to let the cheese cool down from “lava” to “edible”. 

This went really well with the baked turkey breasts we had with it last night, and should compliment just about any meat dish.  The spiced flour adds enough salt, pepper, and other flavors that I didn’t add anything else, but the sauce can be adjusted to fit any taste.  It isn’t exactly health food, but it is a great side dish.

Dinner Tonight – Spanish Rice

Ingredients

2 cups white or brown rice
4 cups water
Salt

Olive Oil
1 large white or yellow onion, chopped fine
2 jalapeno peppers, cleaned and deseeded, then chopped fine
2 bell peppers, cleaned and deseeded, then chopped fine
Chili seasoning to taste (Choose your favorite or make your own)
1/2 pound ground beef (optional)
1 dozen roma tomatoes
1 dozen canning tomatoes (Big Boy or Better Boys were used tonight)

In a saucepan, combine rice, water, and a couple pinches of salt.  Cover and bring to a rolling boil.  Shut off heat and leave covered until rice has absorbed all of the moisture.  Note – Nothing smells worse than scorched rice, so as soon as it comes to a rolling boil, shut off the heat.

In a large frying pan, heat olive oil, then add onions, peppers, and chili seasoning.  If desired, add meat as well, but this dish is great without meat.  Cook until onions are soft.

While that is cooking, clean the tomatoes.  Cut off the stems and butts, then chop.

Add tomatoes and all resulting juice to the onion/pepper mix in the frying pan.  Cook at high heat, stirring occasionally, until all of the tomatoes have broken down.  There will be a lot of juice.  Shut off heat and add cooked rice and mix thoroughly.  Rice will soak up most of the juice in the pan.

Goes well as a side dish or as a main dish with sliced fruits and vegetables.  Makes enough to feed a small army, so either have a lot of hungry people or be prepared to freeze leftovers.

Chicken and Mushrooms in a Tomato-Cream Sauce

Ingredients

2 large Vidalia or white onions, chopped fine
1 pound white mushrooms, or your favorite variety, coursely chopped
3 cloves of garlic, crushed
Salt and pepper
1 pound boneless chicken thighs, cut into 1/4 to 1/2 inch pieces
10 to 15 roma tomatoes, coursely chopped
1/2 to 1 pint heavy cream
Olive Oil

In a large saucepan, heat enough olive oil to coat the bottom, then add onions, mushrooms, and garlic.  Saute until the onions soften, then add chicken.  Season with salt and pepper to taste.  Cook until chicken is browned. Add tomatoes and mix well.  Cook until the tomatoes fall apart.  There will be quite  a bit of juice in the pan.  Simmer, stirring occasionally, until the liquid reduces by about 1/3.  Add cream until the sauce is a light pink.  Reduce heat and simmer, stirring frequently, until the sauce cooks down about 1/3 and darkens a bit in color.  Serve over rice or pasta.

One of the benefits of taking vacation but staying home is that I get to cook.  Usually, I get home too late to make dinner during the week.

Vegetable Garden Salsa Recipe

Ingredients from the garden:

6 to 10 jalapeno chilis

3 to 5 sarano chilis

3 small green bell peppers

2 large red bell peppers

30 to 40 roma tomatoes

5 to 10 canning tomatoes (We used better boys from the garden)

1 or 2 cups of grape tomatoes

Ingredients from the store:

1 bunch celantro (about 2 loose cups)

5 cloves of garlic

2 large red onions

4 tablespoons salt

Lime juice from 4 limes

Assembly:

Wash all of the ingredients thoroughly.  Remove stems and butts from the tomatoes.  Remove the stems from all of the chilis and remove seeds and veins to your liking.  The more seed and vein you leave in, the more heat your salsa will have.  In batches, move all of the ingredients through a food processor.  Use the processor to chop them to your desired chunkiness.  Mix thoroughly in a LARGE container.

Makes about 15 pints of salsa.  When sampled immediately after mixing, it had a nice fresh flavor with a good bit of heat.  If canning, put in prepared hot canning jars and then give a water bath for 15 minutes.  Will lose some of its deep red color during canning.

It’s not mild enough for Boo, but it’s not so hot that the flavors of the tomatoes and onions are overpowered.  This is going to taste great when it’s cold and snowy outside and I need to taste sunshine.

Whole Wheat Banana Pancakes

Ingredients

1 cup all purpose flour

1 cup whole wheat flour

4 teaspoons baking powder

2 large eggs

3 to 5 bananas, very ripe, peeled and smashed into a chunky puree

2 cups cold milk

Combine the flour and baking powder in a bowl,  In another bowl, thoroughly mix the eggs, bananas, and milk.  Mix the wet ingredients with the dry, but only until the dry is absorbed.  There should still be a few small chunks in the batter.

Heat up your favorite griddle over medium heat and grease with either butter or bacon grease.  My cast-iron griddle works the best because it’s essentially non-stick and holds a good even heat over its cooking surface, but whatever works for you.  Spoon enough batter onto the griddle to make a circle approximately six inches across.  Allow to cook until the top is full of bubbles and the batter firms up a bit, which for me is between two and three minutes.  The cooked side should be golden brown.  Flip and cook the other side until it is also nicely browned.  Repeat process to use up all batter, as it does not keep well.

I prefer these pancakes just as they are, but the kids like them with butter and syrup.  I’ve also seen people put peanut butter or Nutella on them, but that gets very rich very fast.  These go well with sliced fruit and your favorite breakfast beverage.

Dinner Tonight

Ingredients:

1 pound hamburger

1 white onion, cut in half and sliced very thin into half moons

1 green bell pepper

4 cups fresh broccoli florets

5 carrots, cleaned, peeled, and sliced thin on a bias

2 cans chicken broth

Canadian Steak Seasoning, to taste

Red Pepper Flake

2 cups dry couscous

2 cups water

1 tablespoon butter

In a medium saucepan, combine water and butter and bring to a boil.  Shut off heat and stir in couscous.  Cover and let steam.

In a wok, combine the onion, bell pepper, red pepper flake, carrots, and hamburger.  Begin browning the hamburger.  Mess up which side of the lid on the Canadian steak seasoning, and dump about 1 cup of salt, pepper, and garlic into meat.  Try desperately to scoop it out before you realize you’re spitting into the wind and dump the entire thing into the trash and start over.

Go to the refrigerator and realize you have no other thawed meat or bell pepper.  Look in the freezer and grab a package of mild Italian sausage.  Throw the sausage in the microwave to defrost.  Cut up another onion and five carrots.  Cut the sausages into coins about 1/2 inch across and put in the wok.  Add onion and carrots.  Season with red pepper flake.  Check the lid on the Canadian steak seasoning, then check it again, and just to be sure, a third time.  After making sure you don’t make the same mistake twice, sprinkle lightly over the meat and mix well.  Once the onions, carrots, and sausage are cooked most of the way through, add one can of the broth because the sausage gave up a lot more liquid than you thought it would.  Put broccoli on top of the food in the wok, cover, and let simmer for 5 minutes until the broccoli is bright green and softening.  Shut off heat and mix broccoli in with the rest of the meat mixture.

Serve vegetables and sausage over couscous with a crusty bread.  Try to find a way to explain why there’s a pound of hamburger and onions in the trashcan when queried by your wife.

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