Applesauce Yummies

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Here at the Little House on 17th Street – partly due to my recent endeavor at weight loss and fitness – but mostly due to Shannon’s preferred methods of preparing meals, we’re always looking for ways to smarten up some of our favorites. I like cookies – and in the old days I would eat close to a dozen at a time… (not all at once mind you… but one here, two there, three a little later… by the time I was done, the bowl was gone, and I had my Forever Alone face on…)

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It turns out – Shannon used to make these cookies before I had started working on my weight without me even realizing it. I had no idea they were significantly healthier than the recipe on the back of the Toll House Package – I knew they looked different, but they were pretty delicious – I couldn’t even tell there was flax in them!

The recipe we use is adapted from the Rodale Natural Foods cookbook, and Shannon sat down with the boys and made a batch last night… We love em, so we thought we’d share the recipe with all of you. They’re designed to be a sort of drop cookie, and they don’t really flatten out like Toll House and make the ‘traditional’ looking Chocolate Chip Cookie… but looks aren’t everything. They taste amazing.

Applesauce Yummies

Ingredients:

  • 2 Cups Whole Wheat Flour (Sifted)
  • 1 tsp Baking Powder
  • 1/2 tsp Baking Soda
  • 1 tsp Ground Cinnamon
  • 1 1/2 Cups Rolled Oats
  • 1 Cup Natural Unsweetened Applesauce
  • 1/2 Cup Honey
  • 1/2 Cup Extra Virgin Coconut Oil
  • 1 Egg (We used 2 Tbsp Flax Meal to 1/4 cup boiling water as an egg substitute – let it cool till it goo’s… then toss it in with the rest of the ingredients…)
  • 1 tsp Vanilla Extract
  • 1/2 tsp sea salt
  • 1 Cup Chocolate Chips (optional)
  • 3/4 Cup Chopped Walnuts (optional)

Pre-heat your oven to 375 degrees, while the oven is pre-heating, grease a baking sheet.

We’re not real big on pomp and circumstance over here… Mix all of your dry ingredients together, and in a separate bowl (large mixing bowl) mix all your wet ingredients. Add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients and mix well. Fold in your chocolate chips and walnuts if desired… then drop in teaspoon sized cookies onto the greased baking sheet, and bake for 10-12 minutes or until the edges start to turn brown.

Remove from the baking sheet and cool on wire racks. Makes about 4 dozen cookies.

The beauty of this basic recipe is 4-fold:

1) It’s simple. Seriously – doesn’t really get any easier than this. (ok.. opening a sausage pack of Pillsbury Chocolate Chip cookies is easier… but then you don’t end up MAKING the cookies because you’ve eaten the entire sausage pack with a spoon… then there’s the inevitable shame spiral…) These are also cheaper than the bill from the therapist.

2) They can be fully customized into the type of cookie you want. Add anything you want! Hand in Hand with total customization comes the ability to alter – can’t do refined sugar or looking to reduce it? Cool – sub out carob for the chocolate chips. Can’t do eggs? Use the flax seed substitution we used. Can’t do gluten? Sub out the whole wheat flour for some other variety… the possibilities are pretty endless.

3) Did I mention that they’re really good? They’re also something you can feel good about giving your kids – as it’s got applesauce, honey, and other natural ingredients… (unless of course you added the chocolate chips like we did… in which case that means you have a problem… you hear that honey? A problem!! She needs an intervention…) All joking aside, these are better for you – they don’t have an entire box of butter, 3 cups of refined sugar and unicorn sprinkles… so they’re pretty good for you as far as cookies go – but they hit that sweet spot we all get now and again.

4) Less than 100 calories a piece. That means you can eat ten, six, three, one or two and not blow the budget.

Give ’em a shot – our family loves em – we think yours will too.

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Lacto-fermented Sauerkraut

Here at the Little House on 17th Street – we LOVE sauerkraut.

I could go on and on about all the benefits of eating lacto-fermented foods, the loads of probiotics, the digestive enzymes, the need for these beneficial bacteria in our diet today as everything is super-pastuerized for ‘safety’… but I won’t get into all of that here. Suffice to say, if you’re going to give this a shot – you too are convinced that you need to eat more fermented foods.

We have a somewhat interesting track record with sauerkraut here at the Little House. We have attempted it several times before, a couple times it’s even turned out ok… but now that we’re making Kefir – with its seemingly endless supply of whey, we can now make a sauerkraut has a boost of lactofermentation from the Kefir whey, which will give us a more consistent and predictable product.

Since I’m home with sick children today and can’t get anything else done – I decided to destroy the kitchen experiment…

In order to make this version of sauerkraut, you’ll need:

  • 1 head cabbage
  • 2-3 carrots
  • 2 small onions
  • 2 Tablespoons of Himalayan Sea Salt
  • 1/2 cup of Kefir whey
  • 1/2 gallon Wide-Mouthed Mason Jar
  • a large glass mixing bowl
  • Basic Kitchen Utensils – knives, wooden spoon, potato masher/meat tenderizer…

Once again, for the TL;DR folks… it should look a little something like this

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To get the process started – you’ve got to core and wash the cabbage really well before you start thinly slicing it for the sauerkraut. My preferred method for coring the cabbage is to slice it into quarters, then to angle cut the core out of each quarter like so.

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Once you’ve got the core out of the cabbage quarters, you can wash each one really well, and with the outside of the cabbage facing down, thinly slice the cabbage into ‘kraut’-like sizes. You may wish to cut the long strands in half once to make them more manageable.

Once that’s done – you’ll want to put the cabbage into a glass bowl so you can add the rest of your ingredients prior to putting them into the fermentation crock.

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Now you can concentrate on your other ingredients. The carrots and the onions, or whatever else you want to add to your sauerkraut. That’s one of the cool things with homemade sauerkraut and kimchi, you can really add whatever you would like. It’s all up to you.

I peeled the carrots and then used my food processor with the shred/grate disk to make them small enough to complement the sauerkraut, but as I was doing that, I had a thought (my wife informs me these are dangerous) – the vegetable peeler would work well giving you some long thin peels that would look pretty good in there. I suppose it’s a matter of preference – I went with grated this time around.

Once the carrots are done, using your hands – mix everything up. Yup… that’s right. Dig in!!

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Next came the onions, and they were probably the easiest to do – just make sure you slice them on the thinner side so as to not have some super thick pieces once they ferment. I halfed mine once they were peeled, and started at one side with the cut side down slicing them along the rounded side.

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Mix the onion into the rest of the vegetables really well, and make sure that it’s evenly distributed.

Next we have to sprinkle the 2 tablespoons of Sea Salt all over the cabbage, carrot and onion mixture, and mix it in really well. You’ll want to sprinkle the salt two or three times, mixing the vegetables and salt together really well in between those sprinklings.

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Sprinkle the 1/2 cup of whey over the top of the vegetable mixture and continue to mix. If you don’t have Kefir whey, you can get whey from quality dairy products with limited pasteurization, we used to get whey from Nancy’s yogurt – you can put it in a cheese cloth, and hang the cheese cloth over a bowl in the fridge letting the whey drip off – and then not only do you have whey – you have yogurt cheese and can use it around the house.

But 1/2 cup of whey should do us in this experiment.

Once that’s been added – grab your meat tenderizer, potato masher or the like, and it’s time to take out your aggression on the sauerkraut. You’re working on bruising the cabbage and vegetables, in order to allow them to mix with the salt, release some of their water, as well as start the wilting process.

So go crazy. Let that sauerkraut have it. SHOW IT WHAT’S UP! IT CAN’T TALK TO YOU LIKE THAT!! DOESN’T IT KNOW…. sorry about that… got carried away…

Once you regain your composure… you can smash and stir the vegetable mixture about every 6-8 minutes for 45 minutes to an hour.

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Once the 45 minutes is up – it’s time to put the sauerkraut into the fermentation container you’re going to use. We have a large ceramic crock we use for pickles, but that’s overkill for this particular project. A 1/2 gallon mason jar is the perfect size. Using a canning funnel, spoon the mixture into the jar, packing it down as you go.

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Pack it down really good – so much so that the fluid brine made by the smashing and stirring + the salt we added earlier can rise above the vegetables. If there’s isn’t quite enough brine to cover the vegetables, you can top off with a little water (chlorine-free) so if it’s tap – leave it sitting out for at least 24 hours for the chlorine to evaporate off. The chlorine can kill the beneficial bacteria in the fermentation vessel.

Once you’ve packed it down, we have to seal it. A friend suggested using a ziplock bag – pressed down into the jar and looped over the edge of the jar, and then fill the bag up with water. The water holds the cabbage down in the fluid, as well as expands the bag to seal the edges.

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Once it’s full of water, it’s ready to sit for a few days – a little warmer than room temperature is a good idea, but you don’t want to exceed the low 70’s, or go lower than upper 60’s. There’s a definite sweet spot – right around 70 degrees. Put the lid on the jar – set it aside for about 3 days. You should begin to see bubbles and activity in the jar at that point, and the primary fermentation is complete at that point. You could eat it right away – but it gets better with age. If you put it in the fridge for about 2 weeks, once the primary fermentation is done – it should be money.

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We’ll update you on this batch later next week. Here at the Little House on 17th Street, we’re going on Sabbath Silence. Have a great evening, and we’ll catch you all on Sunday.

Happy Fermenting!

Shut the Door!

An unusual thing happened this morning. I got out of bed before 6 am.

Thing 3 had just gone back to sleep in her crib, and Ben had the coffee on so I figured I might as well stay up and take a cup out back to enjoy a rare moment of peace and quiet.

The opossum peeking at me from the back corner of the garden, however, was enough to throw off that thought process.  Little pointy head. All teeth. Little waddling “run”.  Ugh.  So that’s what is chewing on my little pumpkins and pooping all over the garden. I had strongly suspected raccoon, but that little guy indicated otherwise.

Ben joined me and we got to talking about opossums and what strategies we might try to convince them to head elsewhere. I pointed out a gap in our bamboo “fencing” rigged up around the garden where it looked like something possibly climbed it and caused the cross-pieces to pull downward.  While we were looking at that, the girls started getting stirred up inside the coop and clucking. A rat came tearing out from the eave of the coop roof, scrambled down the siding and dove out of sight. So much for a quiet and relaxing morning in the garden.

I spent the rest off the morning inside researching how to identify opossum and raccoon poop and reading Internet horror stories of opossums getting inside people’s houses.

The neighbor kid came over later that to play with Thing 1 and Thing 2.  I promptly kicked the three boys outside and decided to try and throw together a batch of granola bars despite Thing 3’s insistence at attaching herself to both my legs and crying (brothers woke her from both nap attempts this morning–might seriously be time to get Project Third Bedroom started. . .).

Thing 3 finally contented herself emptying my cupboards, the granola bars were mixed and in process of  getting smoothed out into the pans when next thing I know, three boys come bursting through the kitchen door from outside, all yelling and hollering something that sounds like, “GET IT! IT’S IN THE HOUSE, GET IT!!”

Something big, sleek and black streaked past the corner of my eye, toenails scrabbling to keep traction as it hit the hardwood floor.  Three boot clad boys pounded the floor right behind it.  It rounded the corner and fled into my bedroom.

My first thought after the morning I had: “WHAT kind of rodent did THOSE BOYS just chase into my house?!?”

As the boys and I collided around the corner–Thing 3 scooting on her butt right behind us–the animal began to squawk and bock and flop and flap back and forth across my unmade bed, three sets of grubby little hands reaching and diving after it.  Chicken Nugget, you stupid chicken, don’t you dare poop on my bed!!  (And yes, of all the chickens, it would be Chicken Nugget to end up in the house.)

Thing 3 thought the whole fiasco pretty entertaining until Chicken Nugget found the bedroom window and started flapping her wings in a desperate attempt to escape.  The flapping wings hitting the window freaked her out and she began shrieking.  The boys continued trying to corner the chicken which only resulted in more flapping against the window and more shrieking baby on the floor.

“EVERYBODY OUTSIDE–NOW!!” I yelled.

The boys vanished.  Three faces soon appeared at the outside of my bedroom window (though the  look on those faces when the chicken hit the window again gave me something to laugh about later).  Chicken Nugget tried to squeeze under a chair in the bedroom.  At that point I easily grabbed her and tucked her under my arm.  (“Yay!  My Mom got her!” I could hear through the window.)  Out went the chicken.  Baby got scooped up and snuggled until she had calmed enough to stop trembling.  Granola Bars went into the oven.

Lesson learned?  Don’t get up before 6 am. Oh, and when baking Granola Bars, shut the back door.  One simple step to keep life that much more sane.

Curious about the recipe?  Like most of the recipes I use, I originally found it on allrecipes.com. . . but have changed it a bit since.

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This is the version I used today:

4 ½ cups rolled oats

¼ cup wheat germ

¾ cup flour

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1/3 cup coconut oil

½ cup maple syrup

1 cup applesauce

2 cups assorted chocolate chips, dried cranberries, and unsweetened shredded coconut

First, make sure the back door if firmly shut.  Then go ahead and preheat oven to 350 degrees F.  Lightly grease one 9 x 13-inch pan.  In a large mixing bowl combine oats, wheat germ, flour, coconut oil, maple syrup, and applesauce.  Stir in the chocolate chips, dried cranberries, and unsweetened coconut.  It takes a bit to mix and make sure all the dry ingredients are thoroughly incorporated into the liquid ingredients.

Lightly press mixture into the prepared pan.  Bake for 30 minutes or until golden brown.  Let cool for 10 minutes then cut into bars.  Let bars cool completely in pan before removing or serving.

Winter Doldrums…

WELL!! It’s been quite some time since I’ve done an update on here and the primary reason for that is… well… nothing has been really happening. Seriously… I could tell you all about the minutia of my daily life. Getting up, having breakfast, going to work, having dinner, going to bed… but it’s boring enough at times living it, let alone trying to make it sound interesting to you guys… but the reality is, both Shannon and I have been working like crazy and nursing Thing 1, Thing 2, and Thing 3 back to health as they’ve all been sick with colds and obnoxious.

… keeping our sanity of late has been tricky.

With the MLK Jr. holiday today, I had a day off, and a chance to sit down and put together an update.

The past few days weather have been unseasonably cold for Oregon in the winter. We’re on what feels like our 12th consecutive day of below freezing temperatures and freezing fog and It’s been hovering between 28 and 32 degrees for almost a fortnight, with a periodic increase to 37 or 38 degrees, but even those days are few and far between. In the decade or so that I’ve been in Oregon, this seems like the coldest its been for an extended period of time – at least that I can remember.

I know some of you will read this and chuckle to yourself, because in your world, winter is 0 degrees and below. Turns out in Oregon, we’re not much different than Southern California sometimes when it comes to whining about cold weather. Just see the recent Jimmy Kimmel video about Southern California’s weather issues for an example… (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_6t-EjrtD3U) That’s what it sometimes feels like in Oregon… We get a dusting of snow and our whole world shuts down (as a teacher, don’t get me wrong – I’m not necessarily complaining… but it is humerous nonetheless)

Growing up in Spokane, this kind of weather was fairly standard, with much of the winter spent significantly colder, and I don’t remember what we did there during the winter. I lean in the direction of nothing… which is about what we’ve gotten done here in the last week. I’m definitely excited for things to warm up a bit so we can get back at the outdoor projects, and get to checking some things off. The chicken house is pretty well stalled out at this point, and the yard can wait – the ground is frozen solid; the lager is well… lagering in secondary. (actually, if we want to get technical, it’s in the midst of its diacetyl rest before lagering) I bottled some wine yesterday that we had made from some Concord Grapes we got from a friend, and I’m in the process of brewing a Stout today. Well.. I will be as soon as finish this and figure out the mechanics of the protein rest, I’ll be starting that this afternoon.

Shannon has been experimenting a bit in the kitchen, and we’ve had some successes, and a couple of “wait and see’s” that are worth sharing.

First, a huge success. Colcannon.. perhaps you’ve heard of this before, perhaps you haven’t, but this recipe was obtained from Mother Earth Living, and is unreal. It also happens to be another really good way to eat kale.

I had never heard of this stuff, but it turns out Colcannon is a traditional Scots-Irish dish that consists of primarily potatoes and greens like Kale all mashed together. It’s a fairly simple dish, (tasty enough to inspire a song) and its typically made during the autumn and winter when the Kale was harvested. It is nourishing as well as filling, but most importantly, with the sweet potatoes, leeks and orange zest – this particular version is absolutely delectable.

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Sweet Potato Colcannon

Ingredients:

-3 very large or 4 medium Sweet Potatoes
-2 Medium Leeks
-1 Bunch Kale
-3 Tablespoons Olive Oil
-Zest of 1/2 Orange
-1 or 2 teaspoons ground black pepper
-2 Tablespoons sweet cream butter

Directions:

Boil a large pot of water. Peel Sweet Potatoes if desired. Cut potatoes into 1 inch cubes. Set Aside. Trim bottom 1/4 inch and top 2 inches from leeks. Slice each in half lengthwise and soak in a bowl of water, swishing to remove sand and grit. Repeat with clean water if leaks are gritty. Dry leeks, then cop into 1/4 inch half-moons. Rise greens, shake to dry and tear each leaf from thickest part of stem (discard stems). Gather leaves, roll like a cigar and chop roughly.

Place sweet potatoes in boiling water, and boil for about 15 minutes. Place olive oil in a large frying pan on medium heat. Add leeks and stir regularly for 3-4 minutes until they begin to soften. Add greens and continue to stir until wilted, no more than 5 minutes. Remove from heat and set aside. Cut largest potato chunk in half. If center is hard, cook for another 2-3 minutes. When soft to center, drain and return to pot. Add orange zest, salt, pepper and butter. Mash with a handheld potato masher or large fork until you reach desired texture.

Add greens and leeks, stir and adjust seasonings to taste. This can be made a day ahead and heated in a covered casserole dish.

Secondly, a “Wait and See”.

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We’ve been reading a lot about lacto-fermentation, so we thought we’d give it a shot. We started simple, at least I think we did. We started with some cabbage in an attempt to make some sauerkraut, and the jury is still out on it. We’re not super familiar with lacto-fermentation, but it doesn’t taste like sauerkraut to me. It’s really salty, and I’m not sure that we’re fans of the caraway seeds. So for those of you who have done more lacto-fermentation than us… is this normal? Should it be all sauerkraut-y? Or more wilted and salty? We’re going to let it sit a bit longer in the fridge fermenting to see if that makes the difference since we tried it pretty early, but suggestions are greatly appreciated.

With that, I’m going to wrap it up. I have some beer to make. Hope you’re all finding more to do on the home front than we are – soon the weather will warm and we can take care of the projects – until then… we plan and get ready for when it finally does.

Winter on the Homestead.

Here at the Light homestead, we are in the middle of the – ‘not-really-sure-what-to-do-around-the-house-because-one-second-it’s-raining-the-next-it’s-really-cold-and-getting-things-done-on-the-homestead-to-do-list-is-ultimately-*BREATH*-really-difficult-in-this-nasty-weather-and….” – in other words, it’s that time of year where I try to find every excuse in the book not to go work outside… because its raining/COLD… The part of this that doesn’t make sense is…  I don’t mind being in the misery if I’m fishing. How exactly DOES that work?

In the last few days of 2012: my wife and I made it back home from Spokane, laid her Grandfather to rest, spent quite a bit of time with extended family, had an opportunity to spend some quality time with good friends from the east coast, and with the events of the past couple weeks and a strong desire NOT to work on the homestead… I needed some time on the river. So I’ve been doing everything in my power with the two days left on my 2012 license to get some meat for the freezer.

One of the wonderful things about Oregon is that in addition to the temperate climate region which allows us to garden year round pretty easily without a lot of extra stuff, there are harvest opportunities available year round. I know that there are some homesteaders out there that are not into meat consumption, period… choosing to grow all of their own food on their land and living a vegetarian lifestyle, or at least a lacto-vegetarian, or ovo-vegetarian lifestyle. On our homestead we look at things a bit differently.

Shannon and I take issue with the industrialization of ‘food’, and I use those quotations lightly. The idea that the meat you pick up at the store is raised in large scale CAFO type operations full of antibiotics, with meat products and GMO corn in the feed is disturbing, not to mention seriously damaging our food supply. We don’t have a problem with a carnivorous lifestyle, in fact, we enjoy it… but we do want to ensure that what we take in has the least amount of industrialization/processing/adulteration/carcinogens/shards of metal and glass/rat poison/etc… my wife is REALLY good at this… I’m not. But that’s something I’m working on changing in my life. Trying to be better about avoiding processed foods and drinks, and sticking to natural foods. Looking at labels and avoiding the stuff I can’t pronounce. That stuff isn’t food. It’s chemicals.

The homestead mantra is Michael Pollan’s quote from Omnivore’s Dilemma.

Eat Food. Not A Lot. Mostly Plants. – Michael Pollan

As a result, as much as possible, we try to eat more plants than we do meat, but also we try to supplement our food that we grow here on the homestead or pick up at the local markets with natural options either by hunting or by plain old gathering (blackberries, nuts, etc..) Here in Oregon, we have big game hunting opportunities available to us; deer and elk, bird hunting – duck, goose, and turkey — as well as year-round fishing for the big boys… 2 different types of Salmon; Chinook and Coho, and the legendary Steelhead, and in the summer fresh albacore tuna.

The last couple days, I hit some of our coastal rivers in search of some of the ever elusive Steelhead. On the first day, my friend Dave and I banked it on one mid-coast river and weren’t able to rustle up much other than a cutthroat trout that we sent on its merry way. It was really slow, and we only saw a couple of fish caught. It was a beautiful day though, with the sun shining and the temperature warm, which was refreshing. However, “Mission: Fill the Homestead Freezer”… FIsh 1, Me 0.

Yesterday I had a trip lined up with my friend Matt Halseth, who recently got his guides license and started up his business. We’d been trying to line up a chance to fish with one another for a while now, and it finally panned out yesterday as he didn’t have clients. Along with another really cool guy Curtis, we put into another coastal river in the dark, and started downriver. It was crazy cold here in Oregon the last couple days. It got down below freezing, and within moments of heading downriver in the boat, I wasn’t sure if my toes had gone on strike, or had just simply died. They almost didn’t recover. Though, by cramming a couple of hand-warmers in the toe of my boot – all was well, until the hand-warmers quit working. The fishing was slow to begin with, and we didn’t touch a fish for the first 4 hours. But we didn’t let it get us down, we know we’d get em once the air temperature came up and the water warmed a bit. Around 11 it picked up quite nicely, and we picked up 5 fish in the next few hours. It wasn’t lights out fishing we really had to grind em out, but we had a great time, a lot of laughs, and ended up 5/5 on the day, with one beautiful native hen released to go her merry way. (Something that can’t be said for many of the other boats on the river…)

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4 keepers…

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One of which was a very good sized, very hot (peeled line like crazy) 12-14 pounder. (the girl on the left in the above picture) Here she is again…

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The guys decided they didn’t want to mess with their catches last night because of New Years Eve (we got back pretty late), and they transferred the meat to me, so I was able to put all four fish away last night instead of just the two I caught, so I was very thankful for that.

Probably managed to put away close to 20 pounds of fish when it was all said and done. Since sizes are deceptive without a frame of reference, the Forschner Scimitar fillet knife next to the fish is 17 inches from tip to tip.

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Tried a new smoked Salmon Brine, well, it’s not new, it’s an adapted version of our standard brine recipe. We like to keep it simple, and let the fish speak for itself. We were out of brown sugar last night, so we ended up adapting by using regular sugar and molasses… we’ll see. I don’t know that it will have quite the same taste… but I’ll let you know.

1/2 Cup Raw Sugar
1 TBS Molasses
1/4 Cup Kosher Salt
1 tsp Celery Seed

Mix the Raw Sugar and Molasses together to make a brown sugar substitute, add the salt and celery seed and mix well with a fork. Dissolve the mixture in warm water continuing to mix well with the fork. Pour over chunked fish in a non-reactive bowl, add cold water to cover fish. Let brine for 24 hours.

Smoke however you prefer. I typically will put it in the smoker until it looks done (anywhere from 6-12 hours depending on air temperature) with 2 pans of Alder chips. Turns it into candy.

I’m looking forward to putting a lot of fish away this coming year, both smoked and filleted, which is doable since the winter run of coastal Steelhead is just getting started, then come the Springers, then come the Summers, then the Fall’s…. but the winters are nowhere near their peak and it only gets better from here out. Seriously… give Matt a call. He’s a great guy, and really knows what he’s doing when it comes to catching fish. A real class act — if you’re thinking of getting out this year, send me an email and I’ll put you in contact with him…

After taking a couple days off, my to-do list today is about a mile long, and my cup of coffee excuse to be online is almost gone, so I’d better bring this to a close.

2012 is in the rear view, 2013 up ahead and the world is making resolutions… here on our homestead, we’ll keep on keeping on…

Cheers,
Ben

Kale Me Maybe…

As promised earlier, the recipe for the AWESOME soup we’re having this evening.

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Taken directly from Mother Earth News, it was the perfect answer to the question, “What do I do with Kale?” Particularly if you’re like us and don’t care for Kale chips…

“Kale/Potato/White Bean Soup

Ingredients:

  • 1 pound Turkey or Chicken sausage, sliced
  • 1 1/2 cups chopped onion
  • 2 – 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 4 cups chicken stock or broth
  • 3 cups chopped red potatoes (cut into 1 inch cubes)
  • 1 cup carrots, chopped
  • 1 cup chopped celery
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 8 cups coarsely chopped Kale leaves, tough stems removed
  • 1/2 tablespoon snipped fresh Rosemary
  • 1 (15 ounce) can white beans, rinsed, drained (or dry beans precooked)
  • Salt and Pepper to taste
  • 1/4 Cup freshly grated Parmesan Cheese for garnish (optional)

Directions:

  1. Brown sausage 3 to 5 minutes in large pot or Dutch Oven. Add onions and garlic and sauté for 5 minutes, or until onions are limp. drain any excess fat from pot.
  2. Add chicken stock, potatoes, carrots, celery, and thyme. Bring to a boil, then simmer, covered for 15 to 20 minutes, or until potatoes and carrots are near tender. Add kale, rosemary, and white beans. Cook 5 minutes more, or until carrots and potatoes are tender.
  3. Remove from heat and season to taste with salt and pepper. Ladle soup into individual serving bowls and garnish with freshly grated Parmesan cheese, if desired.

The soup was delicious, and went well with a Widmer Hefeweizen, though admittedly, there isn’t much that it doesn’t go well with, but it also paired well with an Angry Orchard Crisp Apple.

…Give it a shot, Kale’s good for you, I promise.

You trying this recipe is naan-negotiable…

Ok.

If you’ve ever read Genesis 25 and shook your head in silent resigned judgment as Esau comes back from a long hard days hunting with nothing to show for it – half starved and near death – only to sell his inheritance, his very birthright to his somewhat conniving brother Jacob…

Put that judgment on hold…

No seriously. I believe I’ve just eaten a bowl of this stew, and you need to cut the man a break…

Shannon whipped this up for dinner recently, and it is absolutely delicious. You have to try it. I would have taken pictures of the finished product, but it was gone before we knew what had happened. I’ll have to get some pictures the next time around.

“Esau’s Dilemma”
(adapted from LaBelleChef’s Vegan Red Lentil Soup recipe on Allrecipes.com)

  • 1 tbs peanut oil
  • 1 small onion
  • 1 tbs minced fresh ginger root
  • 1 clove garlic, chopped
  • 1 cup dry red lentils
  • 1 cup butternut squash, peeled, seeded and cubed
  • 1/3 cup finely chopped fresh cilantro
  • 3 cups homemade chicken broth
  • 1/2 can coconut milk
  • 2 tbs tomato paste
  • 2 tsp curry powder
  • 1 pinch cayenne pepper
  • 1 pinch ground nutmeg
  • salt and pepper to taste

Heat the oil in a large pot over medium heat, and cook the onion, ginger, and garlic until onion is tender. Mix the lentils, squash and cilantro into the pot. Stir in the water, coconut milk and tomato paste. Season with curry powder, cayenne pepper, nutmeg, salt and pepper. Bring to a boil, reduce heat to low, and simmer for 30 minutes or until lentils are done. Hide your birthright.

We needed something to go with it as a side, so Shannon and Thing 1 worked to make some Whole Wheat Naan to go along with it. This has become one of our favorite new recipes as we’re working to have fresh vegetables, hummus, and feta cheese around for a bit of Mediterranean flair, and we much prefer the naan to the Pita.

“Naan-yo-bidness”
(Whole Wheat Naan Recipe from CheekyKitchen)

  • 1 pkg active dry yeast
  • 1 1/2 cups very warm water
  • 2 tbs maple syrup
  • 2 tsp salt
  • 2-3 cups whole wheat pastry flour (We prefer Bob’s Red Mill)
  • Olive Oil to prevent sticking and burning

In a large bowl, combine the water and yeast. Whisk in the maple syrup. Allow mixture to sit for 3-5 minutes. Then, whisk in the salt and stir in just enough flour with a wooden spoon to form a dough that follows the spoon around the bowl. Sprinkle more flour onto the dough if needed to keep it from sticking while you knead it lightly in bowl. Cover and set aside for 1 hour.

Heat a large skillet to medium heat. Use olive oil to prevent sticking. Generously cover a clean work area with flour, then pull the dough off in golf ball sized pieces. Roll each piece of dough in the flour, then use a rolling pin to roll it about 1/4 inch thickness. Transfer to your hot skillet, cook until golden brown (about 60-90 seconds), then flip with a pair of tongs and allow the other side of your naan to cook until golden brown (about 60 seconds later).

You won’t regret giving this dinner a try. Seriously. Pair this with a Shock-Top Belgian White beer, or a favorite light or wheat beer so as not to overpower the curry and spices, and you’re headed for the land of happy tummy.

On an unrelated (well, semi-related note) — what’s your best ‘Naan’ pun?

Go.