Here’s half of the kitteh crew, the youngest half. They’ve arranged themselves on the tree by order of seniority – Bitsy on top, Ginger Boy, and Ollie, the newest addition.I tried a couple of those refrigerated pizza crusts that come rolled up in parchment paper. I figured they couldn’t be too bad. I figured wrong. Those roasted garlic cloves were very good – cooked at 400 for 45 minutes or so.I peeked into the oven after 14 minutes and saw that the crust edge had little or no color so I gave them a few minutes more. That was a bad call. The edge was hard and tough, the rest was just tough. I have a tube of pizza dough that they package like the biscuits that you rap on the counter edge to pop open. I’ll give that a go but my hopes for it are limited.It’s getting to be soup weather – the temps are below 90 and that is what we call fall weather these days. I made a potato soup – boil some ham hocks in chicken stock with onions for an hour or two then add chopped potatoes and continue to simmer until they are soft enough to run a stick blender. Take out the ham and set aside to cool, run the blender, then pick the meat off the hock and return to the soup. I added a splash of half and half and melted in a handful of shredded cheddar but that’s optional.I still had a package of sour mustard greens that were an ingredient in this dish – pork belly with mustard greens. I thawed some of the pork belly I had saved from our last trip to our supplier to use in this and I have the rest of it curing for homemade bacon. Still have a few days left before that will be ready.I thawed a brick of the last batch of red beans and made a new batch of rice to go with it. I can see why Louis Armstrong often signed letters “Red Beans and Rice-ly Yours”. Tsk tsk, I see Homer has been out frog hunting again. He’d best hope he doesn’t step in a snapping turtle’s open maw.
Mrs J says these are the last of the tomatoes by which she means these are the last she is going to pick. They have pulled out of their doldrums and have really come on. Might have been the heat.I skinned them all, crushed them, added green peppers and onions, and boiled them down just a little…ending up with 15-1/2 quarts total in quart and pint jars. Took the best part of a day – peeling the skins was the hardest part. It didn’t take all that long to cook them, nothing like as long as it takes to cook the juice down when making soup. It did take three pressure cooker loads to finish them, with the ramp up to pressure and the cool-down included it took over an hour per load.I hoisted down the big enameled cast iron pot from its usual spot atop one of the cabinets for cabbage and sausages. (And carrots, potatoes, and onions.)Made enough for lunch the next day. The sausages were particularly good – some were ordered up from Louisiana through the Cajun Grocer, and there were a couple left over from the package that I broke open for breakfast the other day.Sous vide is the killer app for steaks. These were cooked to 138 degrees for half the day and were as tender as you would expect.Chili dogs! Yay! I keep cans of chili in the cupboard for those days when I’m just about covered up with other chores (canning tomatoes).I’ll wind up this one with Gabe keeping watch over the back yard. There is often something to bark at and he doesn’t want to miss out. Homer is keeping him company though his vigil.
Gabe waits for his dog mama, she won’t be gone long because she misses her dog boy.We eat some of the tomatoes fresh! I set a few aside when we are processing for soup or stewed for canning. I try to get the best ones – no marks or splits or spots. This sammich started out wanting to be a BELT but I didn’t have the lettuce so it just gets billing as a breakfast sammich. Brunch, actually, we don’t get up early enough…I used up some odds and ends of pasta for this one. I still have plenty of parsley, the caterpillars that were eating it have gone away. Still have a hornworm or two – they seem to be specializing on my hot peppers now that the patio tomatoes are gone. We love these upside down cakes. I cut them into single serving squares and freeze them in plastic containers. They really hit the spot for late night snacks while watching videos.More cookies! These are my current favorites. I’ve been leaving out the almonds and adding raisins. I’ve made these often enough that I can do them without looking at the recipe.Mmm… French toast and garlic pepper sausages. The sausages are from that processing plant we travel to a few time a year to stock up. They have the best ham hocks, and they are the closest place I know that has fresh pork bellies. I buy a couple, cut them in two, and vacuum seal the halves for the big freezer.Mrs J said we have plenty of tomato soup canned. I think she mentioned 40 quarts. Well, we better get busy with it! I used a veggie peeler to shave Parmesan for a garnish.Mmm… smoked pork makes a fine sammich. The sides are potato salad in the back and bacon, tomato, and basil pasta salad.I’ll wind this one up with a few cute kittehs.
Like I said, the killer app for steaks is sous vide. These spent the afternoon at 136°F. A quick sear then a rest while a pan sauce was made from the bag liquids, butter, wine, and soy sauce. That was a big rib steak, even I didn’t eat the whole thing.A veggie beef soup follows leftover steak at our house. A smoked pork sammich turned the soup into a real meal.Kitteh! The kittens were recipients of a round of claw clipping, they were a bit disturbed and needed a firm grasp to hold them for the task.I told Mrs J to mention that too firm a grasp causes their little kitteh eyes to bug out.
Teeny weenies! Hash browns and eggs! Mmm… breakfast for dinner.Mrs J spends most of her volunteer time in the kitteh house but she does catch the occasional pupper. This little girl came in when her owner passed. She’s heartworm positive but is expected to be fine.Fried fish for the win! I made a tartar sauce with fresh dill, lemon juice, lemon zest, minced dill pickles, and mayo.I’ll finish with an adult cat. No info at all on this one but Mrs J days she’s very friendly. She’s been at the shelter for a week or so.
Lasagna! Each of these holds just enough for two. I used egg roll wraps again for these because I am lazy and they work very well.The layers were Italian sausage in tomato sauce, plain ricotta with a couple of eggs whipped in, and various shredded cheeses. We ate these right away, the others were portioned and frozen, then sealed in vacuum bags.Kittehs! Mrs J says they have a good crop at the shelter – nearly 30 that are still with their mommas.Smoked chicken, just out of the smoker. No seasonings other than granulated garlic. I bought a case lot of those aluminum pans a couple of years ago and they have proved handy.Ginger Boy has filled out, he’s not as big as Toby but that’s not from lack of appetite.I canned a bunch of tomato soup one year, put it up in quart jars. That is the perfect amount for two servings.
Whoo Boy! We got some rain last night, the thunder seemed constant all night long. Bitsy just crawled out from underneath the sofa a few minutes ago.Here’s Gabe and Homer Kitteh messing about by the pond a couple of days ago. It’s been down a little all winter long, several inches below the overflow pipe. I haven’t looked this morning yet but it has to be up close, now.I’ve found that using a can of refried beans in my chili recipe really adds some body to it. I used refried black beans in this but the regular refries from pinto beans should work fine.I’ve been making gravy from the chicken fat captured when I roast a chicken beer-butt style:I pour off the fat (and the water I’ve added to the pan) and refrigerate it to make separating the fat easy. Make a roux of the fat and flour then add stock to make gravy. You can also add milk to make it creamy but I don’t except when making it for a pot pie. We eat half the chicken the first go, then bone the rest for later. The carcass goes into the pressure cooker to make a stock, takes an hour at pressure rather than all day on the stove-top.Kittehs! There are a couple of brand new momma cats at the shelter, they were brought in pregnant. The shelter will eventually spay her but the kittehs have to be weaned first. Mrs J says 6 to 8 weeks is normal.Rib steaks! Sous vide is the killer app for steaks. These spend the afternoon at 138 degrees in their vacuum sealed bags. Kroger sells whole slabs of these, I slice and bag them with salt and pepper and then freeze. They go right into the hot bath frozen.Another batch of cuties! Mrs J says they had to open the overflow kitten room because they have too many right now for the dedicated kitteh nursery.
Bitsy is a fan of boxes but she deemed this one too small.It’s really too soon for B(E)LTs but I was in a hurry and they make quick lunches. I made do with a Kroger tomato. They can leave the vine on, connecting a half dozen tomatoes, and call them vine ripened but that doesn’t lean for a minute that they taste good.We have puppies too! A trio of picnic side salads. A bog standard potato salad on the left, a copy-cat slaw on the right, and a mish mash of a bean salad in the middle. My usual recipe calls for chick peas but I was out of them and subbed in great northern and black beans. I though it needed more color so I sent Mrs J to the freezer for corn. She said it was white corn but it might do, so we tossed those in as well. It didn’t hurt it.Beans! I made a double batch because I figure we are heading into peak container garden planting season and they would go well with the other stuff. Kittehs! A brand new batch.A sloppy dog, now with extra slop.