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Just a reminder for those with an Instant Pot electric pressure cooker – you can make a nice stock out of those chicken bones you are saving.I set it for an hour and that seems sufficient.  The Food Lab has much more!

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Tidbits

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.

Hungarian Mushroom Soup

This soup was recommended in a comment at another blog.  I’m a big fan of mushroom soup so I dived right in.  It’s easy and delicious.  I used those brown button mushrooms in mine because they were cheap and available.  The picture on the recipe page shows a yellow soup, almost as if it was made with turmeric.  The tamari  soy sauce is in no way yellow.  This is delicious soup!

Mmm… Butterbeans and Cornbread

20160920_1853301600x1200Nothing special about these, I will note that I used the “boil for a minute and let sit, covered, for an hour” method rather than soaking overnight.  It worked fine.  You drain the beans after the hour and then cook to your regular recipe.  These are cooked in chicken stock with carrots, celery, and onions that were sauteed briefly.  I like to add a Creole/Cajun seasoning to mine, and a couple of bay leaves.  These have ham chunks that simmered in stock while the beans soaked to get a head start.20160920_1220001600x1200The cornbread isn’t anything fancy, just the back of the box recipe.

Andouille Potato Soup

20150930_120456 (1600x1060)It’s turned off cool again here in Beautiful Southern Illinois™ so Mrs J demanded soup Some Sort of Soup, then quickly refined that to Some Sort of Potato Soup.  I had the best part of a stick of Andouille sausage thawed from making the last pizza and I wondered if maybe… Yes!  One of the nice things about search engines is that you can input ingredients you have on hand as search terms and you will probably get recipes that use them.  A recipe from Emeril topped the page in the returns I got.  (Google personalizes searches so your returns may not match mine – I browse recipes pretty often.)20150930_104035[1] (1600x1060)You can do it all in one pan but the one I wanted to use was busy melting frozen blocks of chicken stock so I enlisted my wok to start the onions and sausage.  I just dumped all this into the pot with the stock when it was ready.  The long handle on the wok lets me flip the contents like a real chef – hey Emeril, long time no see, Pal!

A stick blender will let you blend in some of the potato chunks to thicken the broth.  I removed some of the potato pieces and stock to a small bowl to do that to keep away from the sausage and herbs.

Chicken with Couscous

DSC_7832 (1600x1060)We like Chicken Marsala so much that we made a variant of it tonight.  This has boneless skinless thighs dredged in seasoned flour and then browned in olive oil.  Remove the chicken and deglaze with the Marsala wine, scrape the bottom with a flat wooden spatula to break the nice browned bits up.  Add a cup and a half of chicken stock to it and bring to a simmer.  Add the browned chicken back and cover.  I used butter kneaded with flour to thicken the gravy before serving.  The couscous was from a box mix, this one was flavored with dried mushrooms.  I squeezed lemon juice over my chicken and liked it well enough, optional.

We don’t eat much couscous, but it is being stocked regularly and we may step up the pace.  I see from the Wiki that we had the instant variety which is quick and easy.  I may browse the International Grocery next town over for the regular stuff.

Shrimp and noodle stir fry

DSC_4829 [1600x1200]Not that much to this.  The shrimp were pre cooked and just needed warming.  I cooked the onions and broccoli with garlic and ginger and added a sauce that was little more than oyster sauce and chicken stock with a little sesame oil and soy sauce, thickened with corn starch.  I plated Mrs J’s dish and then added chili paste for a little heat and extra flavor to my portion.  The box the noodles came in said they were Chinese noodles and the box was printed mostly in Chinese characters but as far as I can tell they are just your basic wheat noodles.DSC_4828 [1600x1200]

Mmm… chicken dumplings

Mrs J called for chicken dumplings when I asked her if she had a preference for dinner today.  I have to say that these are a great Sunday dinner and are a real comfort food.  Plenty of leftovers, too.  Any good chicken dumpling recipe will start with a good stock:We save chicken bones in the freezer until we accumulate enough for stock.  We had plenty for this one today.  After roasting the bones for an hour in a 400 oven we dropped them into a stockpot full of water and added celery, carrots, onions, garlic, bay leaves, fresh thyme, tarragon, rosemary, and parsley, along with whole black peppercorns, coriander and salt.  Simmer for as long as you can, at least for several hours.

Strain the broth and discard all the solids.  Now you can cook some chicken pieces in it.  While the chicken is cooking make the dumplings.  We prefer simple rolled dumplings over the drop in kind.  When the chicken is done, take it out to cool and cook the dumplings.  Tear the chicken into bite sized pieces and add back to the dumplings, add a half a cup of cream and two tablespoons of butter.  Ladle into bowls and serve with bread rolls.

Cream of mushroom soup

Can’t say this soup is anything more than an off the cuff method of using up some mushrooms that were close to taking that fork in the road marked “garbage  dump”.  I hurried through some online recipes to refresh my memory-I’ve made this before and liked it well enough.  Mrs J is not a fan of mushrooms so this was to be for my sole benefit.

I’ll run quickly through what I did, this is not to be confused with a real recipe even though it did do what I wanted it to do.

I sliced a Vidalia onion, and a double handful of those little brown mushrooms and cooked them down in some butter.  Added a couple of cups of chicken stock and simmered it all for a half hour or so before going at it with an immersion blender.  I cooked that for another little bit and decided to thicken it some, I used a cornstarch slurry because it was faster than a roux. I put in the tiniest pinch of dried tarragon, and a bit of chopped parsley.  I think it will eat OK at this point but I had some heavy cream and wasn’t afraid to use it-added a good cup.

I served it with saltines and a daub of sour cream for a garnish.

 

Salsa Verde

Wasn’t very long ago that I made my first batch of this stuff.  It’s pretty easy but it does take time to cook the peppers and to drag the blender out and then clean it up.  While at the farmer’s market yesterday I took note of all the nice peppers and decided to make a larger batch for canning.

Into the pot this morning went 2 onions, 4 poblanos, a double handful of sweet banana peppers, 2 green bell peppers, and 2 heads of garlic-peeled and crushed.  I added enough chicken stock to aid in cooking them and let them simmer for 15 minutes.

I dipped those out of the pot and into my blender in  batches and pulsed it to reach the desired texture, and then pureed a small last batch to provide a thicker liquid base for the salsa.

I poured it all into 3 pint jars and processed them in a boiling water bath.[*]  Consult your local county extension website for proper canning method.  [Canny advice-Eds.]  Groan-jeffreyw.  

[*] Edited to add:  A comment at another venue warned that a boiling water bath was not appropriate for this recipe!  Use a pressure canner or preservatives to prevent botulism!  h/t waiowai.