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Category Archives: Fun with Food

Pasta Pr0n – Spaghetti with Meat Sauce

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Mmm… French Toast

I mentioned the day we bought a jam maker and that our first go at jam was not a roaring success.  The strawberry jam we were trying for turned out as strawberry syrup.  That’s not a total loss!  We’ll try some blueberries next time, and try to follow the manufacturer’s instructions rather than go by third party recipes.

Stir Fry Pork and Broccoli

I was in the mood for a stir fry last night – I had some broccoli I really needed to use and a red bell pepper I’d bought on spec.  The pork is deli sliced tenderloin – not ideal but it worked pretty well.  It was already cooked so I added it after the veggies were done to warm it through before adding the sauce.  I usually make a generic brown sauce for these impromptu dishes but went with a simple sweet and sour sauce for this.

For the sauce mix 1 Tbsp cornstarch with 1 Tbsp of water and set aside.  Add 1/3 cup of rice vinegar, 2/3 cup of juice, a dollop of ketchup, a splash of soy sauce, and 1/3 cup of brown sugar to a small saucepan and bring the mixture to a boil, whisk in the cornstarch slurry and continue to cook while the sauce thickens.  Remove from heat and set aside.  Most sweet and sour recipes call for pineapple juice but I wasn’t going to open a can only for its juice so I used orange juice I had in the fridge.  I need to get a can of frozen concentrate for those times a spoonful in a little water is all I need.

Tidbits

I thought we might have a gadget post on the new jam machine but so far it’s been more of a pancake syrup machine.  We tried to make a sugar free strawberry jam but even with the no sugar needed pectin it didn’t set up.  Might have to adjust the cooking time or go for reduced sugar rather than no sugar.The last of the homemade bacon.  I used most of it in a new version of the tomato bacon pasta salad:This about the same as the last one – I did go with rotini pasta this time, and added sliced black olives and shredded cheddar.  I used a store bought ranch dressing in this one, plus a bit of sour cream and a few dabs of that homemade garlic mayo.  I am constantly amazed on how much liquid the pasta can soak up overnight.  Kept adding ranch dressing from the bottle until it was all gone.Mrs J made an apple pie/crisp/crumble.  Not sure what to call it.  The bottom crust is made from crushed vanilla wafers with butter.  The top is a Martha Stewart recipe flour/brown sugar topping mixture with cinnamon.  We love it!  Mrs J is saying it’s her favorite of all the apple cobblers/pies/whatevers.  She had her doubts about the ‘nilla wafer bottom crust, was worried it would get too mushy so she baked it off before she added the apple filling.Random comfort food dinner – ham with fingerling potatoes and green beans.  The trick is to simmer the ham hocks with onions in either water or chicken stock for a few hours.  You want the onions to practically dissolve into the broth and the ham to soften enough to pull away from the bones.  Add the beans and potatoes during the last hour or so.  This is not a stir fry – you want the green beans soft, not crisp.  Or heavens forbid, with a snap!  Eat these with cornbread and sweet tea.These were an experiment with using the toaster oven on its slow cooker setting.  That setting gives you two options, slow and slower.  One is for 4 hours and the other is for 6.  I have no clue what the temps are set to.  I went with the 4 hour setting using a metal pan with a lid but I think the chops ended a bit dry.  I didn’t add any additional liquid to the pan, the bbq sauce and dab of pineapple went on in the last hour.The bone-in rib eye was good, the cauliflower and potato roasted with garlic was fantastic.Kroger had a sale on ribs, they sold three full racks in a sealed plastic package.  I went ahead and cooked them all up, ate one the same day, and froze the other two.  This is the last of that batch.  The onion rings are those cheap kind made from processed onions, I found a partial bag when I dug out the ribs and decided to use them up.

Fig Jam

We gathered more ripe figs and decided to make jam after seeing how easy it was.  First step is to rinse them, then cut off the stems and slice them up.  I quartered these but I’ll be chopping them a little smaller in the future.Our batch weighed in at 2-1/4 pounds, the recipe we were looking at was for 3 pounds so we adjusted the proportions to suit.  We figured 1-1/2 cups of sugar for our jam – we used 3/4 c Splenda and 3/4 c granulated sugar.  We went ahead and used the one lemon for the zest and juice.The figs make their own juice so no need to add any.  These have been simmering for a little while.   Cover them and simmer for an hour, stirring occasionally.  The jam still looked too lumpy even after a go with a potato masher so I buzzed them with a stick blender.The jam got thicker and darker, we filled 2 half pints and this much of a third jar.  I kept it for the fridge.  You can see that, even still warm, it’s pretty thick.Thick and tasty!  This is on a hunk of the fig bread we made the other day.These are just out of a boiling water bath.  Recipe says give them 10 minutes at a full boil.  The lids sealed with that satisfying snap after a minute or two out.

Chocolate Chip Peanut Butter Oatmeal Cookies

Pretty good cookies!  From this Kraft recipe, Splenda subbed for the white sugar.  We had crunchy peanut butter and it worked perfectly.  Mrs J had too many to fit on one pan, she opted to test drive the first tray rather than load two.  She thought she needed to mash the second batch a little bit flatter and add minutes to the bake.It’s finally cooled down outside enough to cool the cookies, thanks to a front that brought us some rain early this morning and sun this afternoon. The smeared look to the chips is due to her mashing that first batch while they were still mid-bake.

It added a bit of an interesting look to the batch.  Top was mashed during the bake, the bottom cookie is from the second batch.  The longer baking time added a little more crunch to the texture, as you would expect.  I ate some from both batches and can’t pick the winner.

Tidbits

This poor thing was brought in with two broken legs, the one appears to be less of a problem than the other, going strictly by the casts.  I have no other info but he is in good hands at St Francis.Made some mayo from scratch.  The other day I roasted a bunch of garlic cloves in olive oil and used a 1/4 c of that oil in this.  The recipe for the basic mayo is easy – put an egg with 1/4 c oil in the bowl of a processor, add a pinch of salt and 1/4 tsp of dry mustard and give it a spin.  Start drizzling in more oil until you’ve used about a cup, total, or until it gets to the consistency you are going for.  I added canola oil for the drizzle.  This turned out very garlicky.I used it on this sammich – very good!  I assembled it after the photo, and went sans lettuce.  That’s more of my maple pepper bacon.  Yum!Now here comes Bitsy, slowly, a step at a time.  Head on a swivel, looking for threats.  She finally made it all of the way in.  Yay!This was Taco Tuesday for us.  I’m torn between piling on the goodies or going sparingly with them for a better picture.  These white corn tortillas are smeared with refried beans, layered with smoked pork, cheddar, shredded cabbage, and pico de gallo.This looks like a short loaf of banana bread but it’s actually made with figs.  We had a fairly good batch we weren’t quite sure what to do with.I quartered them and stuck them in the dehydrator overnight – too long, alas.  They were barely pliable and too tough.  We dropped them into a stout blender and whirled them with water to break them up.  The result looked much like bananas that had been pureed so they went into a banana bread recipe.This is one of those soups that come from what I think of as a “bottomless” soup pot – I keep adding to it as we eat out of it.  Those diced potatoes were not in there yesterday and I added more carrots.  The beef will get scarce after a few iterations, but right now there’s still plenty.I’ll wind this up with another shelter kitteh.  This one looks like our own Ginger Boy.

Even Better the Next Day

That tortilla soup with sour cream and pico garnishes and buttermilk cornbread.

Honey? What Else Can We Make With Bacon?

That spaghetti thing?  With the eggs in it?

I’m on it!

Mmm… Homemade Bacon

We had a 3 pound piece of belly leftover from the pork belly with mustard greens we did the other day in the pressure cooker.  I’ve done homemade bacon before but this time I wanted to try it with the pink salt cure.  This one sat in the fridge with a cure of brown sugar, kosher salt, and a little pink salt.  We applied the cure as a dry rub, bagged it it plastic and let it go for a week, turned over daily.  Here it is after the week was up, rinsed and air drying.  Overnight drying is best but 4 hours will do.After the slab dried it was rubbed with maple sugar and coarse black pepper and placed into the smoker at 175 degrees for a few hours.  It still hadn’t reached an internal temp of 150 but I didn’t want it too smoky so it was finished in the oven indoors.  It was cooled to room temp, bagged in plastic, and put back into the fridge for another overnighter.It wants to be chilled for easier slicing.  One of the benefits of home curing is that you can slice it as thick as you want it.  I’m a little disappointed in what Kroger sells as “thick sliced”.The maple sugar in the finish turns a nice crusty caramel color when frying.  I have one more half slab of pork belly in the freezer, I’m tempted to pull it and start more bacon.