What I did this summer

The summer of 2014 is at an end. In Colorado it was a wet one. The garden did well this year.

I kept up with the produce but I invited neighbors and friends to stop and “shop” as well. Joy said this was better than the grocery store because she could come in her nightgown.

the 2014 garden

The food processor I got for Christmas got plenty of action with chopping and shredding

the food processor

I used this batch for a zucchini chocolate cake with a chocolate cheese frosting.

I forgot to get a picture, but I’ve made the cake for two potlucks.

At Mary Beth’s Labor Day party I got a standing ovation from an admiring crowd stating it was the best chocolate cake ever. Then laughed when they heard I snuck vegetables in a dessert.

shredded zucchini

Our neighborhood is full of rabbits (lack of foxes and presence of coyotes). One and maybe two bunnies made it into our garden although interestingly they haven’t eaten anything that I can see.

the garden bunny

 We grew cilantro this year, it was gorgeous so I tried my hand at some Indian Chutney.

making chutney

This Cilantro Chutney recipe is from The Splendid Table (my favorite website).

I fell in love. I put it on roasted chicken and fried eggs.

cilantro chutney

I joined the spiralizer craze, getting one for my birthday.

the spiralizer

I spiralized carrots, zucchini, potatoes and yams. I loved placing the carrots and the zucchini in a microwave safe bowl, steaming it for about a minute and tossing basil pesto in it. Yummy!

It could also be adapted into a cold salad and tossed with a vinaigrette or dressing.

spiraled carrots

I had a lot of cucumbers this year. This salad was a combo of cucumbers, mint (both from the garden) with black and white quinoa and brown rice

IMG_4961

This next recipe was from Bon Appétit  magazine Watermelon Gazpacho.

Cantaloupe was abundant and inexpensive at the grocery store, so I adapted the recipe.

melon gazpacho ingredients

Patty’s Cantaloupe Gazpacho. Oh it was so good. Sweet and cool eaten as an appetizer on the back porch.

melon gazpacho

 This recipe was also from Bon Appétit  magazine for a Grilled Salad.

I adapted this as well. The romaine lettuce was 99 cents per head. I brushed it with olive oil and my husband grilled each side for about 1-2 minutes. Oh this was wonderful! I adapted this recipe to what produce was available.

grilled salad

And finally, Ginger Marmalade. I was excited to make this recipe since sampling James Keillor and Sons Ginger Marmalade.

I surveyed many recipes on-line, it was a daunting task.

peeled ginger

shredded ginger

Time consuming little recipe!

hand blended ginger

canning the marmalade

Ginger can be a bit HOT. This marmalade was HOT. The ultimate experimenter, I looked at other recipes and found an Orange-Ginger Marmalade. So I mixed my marmalade with regular store-bought orange marmalade and tamed it down a bit.

I also used it as a glaze for roasted chicken and roasted carrots from the garden.

ginger glazed chicken & carrots

I went to Portland in August with nursing colleagues Nancy, Rita and Kathy, for a conference. A manager for a local retailer tipped us off on to Nong’s Khao Man Gai food truck for lunch.  Nong was the named Food Network Chopped Champion just 4 days before we visited.  What a sweet girl who has her own bottled sauce and make the best chicken and rice.

Nong's Food Truck

It was a summer of reflection for me. Autumn will bring some changes. Ready for new challenges.

A Fearless Woman

Oktoberfest 2011- Bratwurst

 

The Fearless Cooking Club’s Oktoberfest adventure Part II was the making of the sausages.

I have to admit that I was pretty scared at stuffing meat so I had to do my research.

First I read two blogs from The Paupered Chef website on making Wisconsin bratwurst  and how to stuff sausages. The pictures were great for step by step directions.

I found that there are three steps to making sausage: the casings, meat preparation and seasoning, and stuffing the sausages.

Casings

Now out there in the world are hog casings and synthetic casings.  A friend’s spouse, who has butchered wild game in his basement, told me that he only liked the collagen casings. He said he always had trouble with the hog casings breaking. Then I talked to two butchers who stuff and sell sausages and only use hog casings.  Hog casings are stored in a salted water solution. When you are ready to use them you must soak them in water. Pliability of the casings is the key. 

Hog casing are cheap and any butcher will sell them to you by the foot. Casings come in different forms but all are not edible so do your research if hog casings make your skin crawl.  I started with three feet of hog casings soaked in water for 30 minutes. Then I knotted the end and put about a teaspoon of water in the end before slipping it onto the sausage stuffer. Again, it’s all about pliability.

Joy had an attachment for a meat grinder and sausage stuffer for her KitchenAid mixer. Lucky for her she got all the attachments at a yard sale for about $5 or $10. Otherwise you could buy them online at the KitchenAid website.

Next the casings have to be slipped onto the sausage stuffer (pictured below). It’s  like rolling up hosiery before putting them over your feet.

The picture above was the second batch of sausage stuffing. As you can see it was air tight and it blew out air instead of sausages. A little phallic eh?

Meat preparation and seasoning.

The actual making of the sausage was the easy part.

4 lbs of pork shoulder

4 TBSP seasoning  (1TBS per one pound of ground pork)

I had the butcher de-bone the pork shoulder at the market. I’m sure if I didn’t have a meat grinder at home, he would’ve ground it for me at the market as well.

Seasoning  the sausage varies to specific tastes. In the Pauperchef Chef blog, mentioned above, had a traditional Wisconsin bratwurst seasoning.  Penzeys Spices, also a Wisconsin-based company, came out with a Bratwurst seasoning this year that I also tried. So we made 2 lbs with the homemade seasoning and 2 lbs with the Penzey’s bratwurst seasoning

Stuffing the sausages.

Now comes the fun! We figured out the casings, the pork is ground and seasoned and now it’s time to stuff!

Key points on stuffing the sausages:

1.WEAR GLOVES. Slippery endeavor.

2. Figure out the length of your sausages, then twist. When you get to the next sausage length then twist the opposite way. The second batch was funny because the lengths were all different.

3. Do this with a least two people, one to run the machine and one to twist the sausages.

Four pounds of pork yielded 15 sausages.

The Fearless Cooking Club is getting together at the end of October to eat our bratwurst with our homemade sauerkraut (please see the 9/18/2011 blog post). My sauerkraut is currently five weeks into the fermentation process. I am hoping to can it this weekend.

Auf  wiedersehen! Froher Oktober!

Pizza on the grill – The men take over

The end of the summer and the Labor Day holiday called for an impromtu meeting of The Fearless Cooking Club. This time the men wanted to perfect pizza on the grill, so my hubby showed the rest of the group how it is done.  The fire was all in the men’s corner and the women were prepping the toppings indoors. How else would it be?

Last year I saw a recipe in The Denver Post July 2010 on making a healthy version of pizza dough to grill and to use minimal toppings (i.e. minimal cheese). We loved it so much it became a big hit with our family.  One Fearless Cooking Club spouse had been attempting it this summer so we decided to have a party out of show how to put the pizza pieces together.

Pizza Dough

2 C all-purpose flour (or 1 1/2 C all purpose with 1/2 C whole wheat)

1 tsp salt

1/2 tsp sugar

2 1/2 tsp yeast (or 1 packet)

Process the above in a food processor 3-4 times to mix

Add 3/4 C warm water with 2 TBSP olive oil and drizzle into the flour mixture while pulsing the food processor until it forms a ball.

Turn the flour out onto a floured board, knead a few times then cover and let sit for 15 minutes.  Cut the dough into four parts and roll out each onto floured board until it forms a round enough disk for a pizza dough base. Place plastic wrap in between each rolled out dough, keep refrigerated until ready to throw on the grill.

You need a pizza stone that is compatible with the high temps of the grill. My hubby is here brushing the stone with olive oil.

Place the dough on the oiled stone, cover and let it bake 5-6 minutes. Get those toppings ready to go because when you flip the dough it is time to top!

We made five pizzas for six people: 1)fresh Roma tomatoes, fresh basil leaves and fresh mozzerella, 2) cream cheese, anchovies, red onion and capers, 3)chicken, red onion, barbeque sauce and parmesan cheese, 4) roasted green chiles, sliced meatballs, monterey jack cheese, tomatoes and onion, and 5) fresh pesto, feta cheese and sun-dried tomatoes.

 

And for dessert fresh Colorado Peach Cobbler

 

It was a clear, beautiful night with a half moon shining down on us from above.  A perfect way to end the summer.