Tuesday, November 30, 2010

A Day To Be Thankful – The Day After

Our kids prefer to visit with us when it’s just them so we get maximum exposure to one another, and as I’ve thought about it, I agree. So, son, Eric, Ann and their two kids, Matthew and Sophia, and daughter, Wende, came down here on Friday for a repeat of our Thanksgiving day meal (reheated leftovers).

And if I’m asked what I did after a busy three days of making the Thanksgiving meal happen – the answer is - a relaxing visit and meal, and this.

Sophia wanted to cuddle under the blanket.

On my way to the mailbox that day, I noticed two Blue Jays flitting around in a couple of dogwood trees. Since they still had a few leaves until the past couple of days, I hadn’t noticed the abundance of bright red berries – these are loaded while some others have none.

And what did I do Saturday, you asked – some serious laying around here at Almost Heaven South with my darlin and watched a some college football.

Have a great day and thanks for stopping by.


Monday, November 29, 2010

A Day To Be Thankful – The Meal

After the trials and tribulations I posted about yesterday, we finally got down to the eating about an hour late – fortunately we’d served salad and hot rolls, so we were pretty content.  The salad was provided by our friends Kathy and Ashley (mother/daughter) and it was beautiful.  Here's the link to our menu.

The bottom line is the turkey turned out fine – the breast was perfect – moist and tender and the dark meat could have been a little more done but it was fine, none the less.  We used a maple-cider glaze recipe from the newspaper, which the sweet toother’s loved, but us savory folks wouldn’t use again.  The dressing that went with it, which included the normal mirepoix along with apples and pecans was the same – very good if you like the sweeter dressing. 

All of the items cooked in the smoker turned out fine, except for not browning the dressing top - which I forgot.  Since I grew up on moist, unbrowned, stuffing from the bird, and not dressing, from a pan, I thought it was cooked just right.

I was so busy, and frustrated, I only remembered to take two pictures – here’s the buffet layout.  Counterclockwise from lower right , it was turkey, pork chops w/ dressing, dressing, mashed potatoes, gravy, broccoli casserole, brussel sprouts, baked sweet potatoes, cranberry salsa - Bev delivered the rolls hot to the table.

 We used The Pioneer Woman’s mashed potato recipe, which includes cream cheese, and they got some best I ever ate” comments.

The pork chops with dressing turned out well from the smoker, except for failing to uncover and brown the dressing top.  I had just sliced up a pork loin into ¾” chops and covered them with Pepperidge Farm Stuffing Mix.  The chops were tender and juicy, but we decided at the last minute to toss some dried cranberries into the dressing, which meant we ended up with sweetness in both dressings.

The broccoli casserole was your basic recipe, but the foil didn’t get sealed tightly and it picked up a little smokiness (from the smoker), which some just loved.

We steamed the sprouts, al dente, the day before, then sautéed them in butter, garlic, and lemon juice to reheat and added some chopped bacon just before serving.  This was our normal sprout treatment, except for the bacon, which I would do again, but with a different bacon.  Bev had bought one labeled “apple smoked, maple bacon” which smelled and tasted like it had been soaked in and injected with maple syrup.  It would have been great with pancakes, but it over powered the sprouts.

Bev makes her bread from a sour dough starter that she’s kept going for 2-3 years and she used it for the rolls.  Some of the guests raved about them and they also got “best I ever had” comments.

Here’s my plate and as you can see, I go for the things that can accommodate gravy - pork chop with dressing, regular dressing, mashed potatoes - I prefer turkey made into leftover dishes.  I could easily just eat dressing (the un-sweet version) with gravy and hot rolls and forget the other stuff.

The desserts were provided by the guests and they were all outstanding.  We had pumpkin, pecan, and chocolate pies and pig licking cake, which is a yellow cake containing coconut and pineapple with a whipped cream icing.  I think I, also, heard some “best I ever ate” comments during dessert. 

While everything turned out fine, I think we’ll save the riskier new recipes for non-holiday meals from now on, and since everyone stayed around to visit until 10pm, we must have been having a good time – I hope yours went as well.

Thanks for stopping by and have a great day.


Sunday, November 28, 2010

A Day To Be Thankful – The Best Laid Plans

After many, many conversations in the past month, 2 hard days of preparation, which included tearing up the house so the carpets could be cleaned, Thanksgiving day finally arrived and we were ready. We prepped as much in advance as we could and as a result didn't have near as much to do that day as normal.

Being my normal anal self, I made a pretty detailed plan in hopes of not forgetting anything. This is the final version after a few revisions as we went through Tue. & Wed. As you can see by the L’s, most of them were mine because Bev had the big job of getting the house ready, plus she helped out on several of mine.

Monday – Go to store

Tuesday – Make turkey brine-L, make salad dressings-L, wine into fridge-L, make some virgin cranberry cocktails (to find one we like)-L, dry the bread for stuffing cubes-L, make turkey glaze-L.

Wednesday – Prep turkey and into brine-L, boil giblets-L, slice up pork chops-L, prep potatoes-B, feed & make bread-B, steam sprouts-B, set up salad/ drink table-L, make broccoli casserole-B, make up stuffing and pork chop dish-L, make dressing-L, prep smoker-L, make cranberry salsa - L

Thursday – set out cream cheese and butter for taters, make margaritas & salt-L, fry bacon-L, prep turkey veggies-L, make cranberry cocktail – L, set dining tables-B, blow off front porch-L, finish house-B, make rolls-B

07:30 – Turkey out of brine and rinse
10:30 – Turkey out of fridge
11:00 – Preheat oven to 300*
11:30 – Turkey into oven,
01:00 – Cook & mash potatoes, make gravy, start smoker to 300*
01:30 – Bev get ready
02:00 - Casserole, chops, & dressing out of fridge, flip, uncover, baste turkey
02:30 - Larry clean up (I'm fast and can wait until the last minute)
03:00 – Guests due to arrive
03:00 – Casserole, chops, dressing, and sweet potatoes into smoker
03:45 – Turkey out of oven, rolls in, spouts into butter/lemon/garlic
04:00 – Eat salad then carve turkey, heat gravy
04:15 – Set up buffet

The plan was working perfectly until 1:30 when I noticed the smoker wasn’t coming up to temperature very fast, so I opened the fire box door and it quickly went past where I wanted it, so I closed the fire box door and assumed all was well. When I went out to put the food in at 2pm, it was 50* low again and so I opened the firebox door again and it quickly went back up. After a couple of iterations of this, I finally noticed the air inlet valve was closed – operator error #1.  With all of this going on, I also forgot to uncover the dressing so it could brown - plus it wasn't on the plan.

I had a probe thermometer in the turkey and at 3pm, it registered 165*, and I took it out – 45 minutes early – damn. So I covered it with a couple of thick towels knowing it would stay hot until carving time. When I uncovered it at 4:15 and prepared to remove the leg, I noticed it wasn’t very loose, so I probed it with another device and it was 15* short of done in the thigh – damn. So I jacked the oven up to 400*, covered the breast with foil and stuck it back in the oven, let it cook another 20 minutes or so and decided too eat it wherever it was temp wise.

If I’d only been dealing with one of the issues, I likely would have caught things much sooner, but with two of them at the same time and guests to see to, I didn’t do too well. One bad thing about having a plan is it gets stressful when the plan falls apart. Fortunately, we all enjoyed visiting after the salad course while the turkey cooked.

Tune in tomorrow to see how it all turned out.  I notice some recent additions to the follower list - welcome.


Saturday, November 27, 2010

Thanksgiving Day Breakfast

Bev  made a meal for me the other day and I didn’t get a shot of it, so I asked her to make a similar one to start our Thanksgiving day. We had some left over hash browns from the previous day and still had a little piece of smoked pork tenderloin so this was what she turned out.

Needless to say, I didn’t have to eat again until our evening feast.

Have a great day and thanks for stopping by.


Friday, November 26, 2010

More Outside Fall Activities

I hope you all had a terrific Thanksgiving.  I'll post a little about ours in a day or two.

We’re perhaps a little late in the month, but November is usually a pretty good time to plant trees and shrubs at Almost Heaven South and we dare not let another warm spell go by without getting ours in the ground. We have three cherry trees in a grouping and wanted a fourth, so we bought another Yoshino (which gives us two) to go with the two Kwanzans. Since seeing the cherry’s around the tidal basin in D.C., we’ve decided we wanted a grouping of them in our yard. They are beautiful in the spring with the only drawback being their close-to-the-surface roots, which make it difficult for the grass. My Apr 7 & 14 posts had shots of them from this spring.

Since many of you have commented about enjoying my gardening tips, I decided to use this as a tree, or shrub, planting tutorial. This is where the cherry goes and has no grass because it still had one of those rubber mulch things from where the previous tree died. The new tree is in a 5 gallon pot and hereinafter is called a root ball whether from a pot or wrapped in burlap.

The whole should be dug about twice as big as the root ball at the top and a little bigger than the ball at the bottom. It’s important that the hole not be dug too deep so that the root ball is sitting on undisturbed ground (and therefore not able to sink deeper) and sticking an inch or two above the ground level.

The sides, especially in clay should be scarfed up a little to provide the roots and easier way out. Clay can become like a pot and cause the roots to stay in the hole.  I just slice it with the side of the shovel.

Before putting the root ball in the hole, it’s a good idea to rough up (tease) the roots on the outside of the root ball, to encourage them to grow outward or they can keep growing in a circle and girdle the tree. If you're planting a balled in burlap root ball, set it in the hole, loosen the burlap and put in all in the bottom of the hole or cut off the excess then tease the roots as needed.  Trying to unwrap, then set it in the whole will often result in the root ball falling apart - not a good thing.  See how the roots are now sticking outward.

Set the root ball in the hole and get the main part of the trunk plumb – this one was a little curved at the bottom.  This is an example of not plumb enough.
Refill the hole with the same soil that came out. Amending the soil, as used to be done, encourages the roots to stay in the soft, rich, soil of the planting hole rather than move out into the main soil. I had one that did this and eventually had to cut it down because it would never stand up by itself, as the main roots went round and round in the planting hole. Fill the hole about ¾ full and tamp down some, but not too tight, then add water until it won’t take anymore, which settles the soil and forces out the air pockets (which will dry out the roots).  Finish filling with soil to the original level, water this soil in, and if on a slope, I like to build a little dam at the bottom to trap the water for a couple of years.  As you can see, I'm dealing with chunks of damp clay.

 Finally add mulch, to prevent drying out, 2-3 inches deep and ensuring it is a couple of inches back from the bark (this is true for all mulching). Bark is great at protecting the tree from the elements, but it is not designed to protect it from the organizims, moisture, diseases, and bugs that may be in the mulch – soil, mulch, etc. should never be placed against the bark - as it can rot the bark and kill the tree.  This is finished and it has a good base and small top, so I think it will be okay without tieing it off to stakes, but I'll check it in the spring to be sure.  If it had leaves on it, as many spring planted trees do, I would stake it - 3 stakes, 60 degrees apart tied around the trunk just above the first set of branchs.  Be sure the loop around the trunk is big enough to allow the trunk to expand.

I’ve posted before about the many azaleas we have in our landscaping, so Bev bought some more to replace some we’ve lost over the years. These, however, will be our first that bloom all summer – Bev’s sis has some and we like them a lot. See my April 28 blog for some shots from this spring's blooms. The new ones were all in 1 gallon pots which I greatly prefer as they are considerably cheaper, require only a growing season or two to be at the 3 gallon size and best of all they only require a 1 gallon hole be dug.

Glad this job is behind us for this year.  Several weeks ago, I'd posted some shots of our fall colors and mentioned the Japanese maples were still green, but here they are a few days before Thanksgiving and just a little past their prime.

And lastly, after several very hard frosts, can you believe all of our knockout roses are still blooming - here's a shot of one.  That's a hardy banana behind it - it didn't care for the frost.

Have a great day and thanks for stopping by.


Thursday, November 25, 2010

Pizza From Leftovers – Mostly


It's 5:30am and I'm sitting here reading the paper, drinking coffee, blogging, and getting myself mentally prepared for the very busy day to come.  It's supposed to be a balmy 70 degree day (more like Thanksgiving in Florida), before the cold that many of you already have moves in for a not so balmy 40 degree Friday - may have to build my first fire.  Here's a post from a meal we had a day or two ago.

I’d assumed we were having leftovers for dinner, but the chef wanted to make pizza and I reluctantly agreed. :-)

The other day, I'd made Chicken Pepperoni and used part of several items, so we had containers in the fridge to be used. And what better way than the blank canvas of a pizza crust – Thin Pizza Crust Napoli Style, which we’ve used before and looks like oversized Naan bread. We get them at Walmart.
For this version, it was marinara, from the just opened jar of Bertolli with some additional pizza spices sprinkled on, followed by opened artichoke hearts and mushrooms, and diced pepperoni from the newly opened stick. It then got onions, sweet peppers, diced garden maters, sliced olives, and mozzarella & asiago cheese.  Pizza is like vegetable soup - just go thru the fridge, freezer and pantry and add what you have and strikes your fancy.

It was very good and we ate all but one piece, with Bev commenting that she believed she could eat pizza every day - I could sure eat it once a week.  When she makes it from scratch, we always make extra so we can reheat it for breakfast - which we both like.

Hopefully you can see a little difference in picture quality as I finally took the time to learn how to shoot close ups with Bevs camera.  Not as good as the SLR cameras, but better than I was getting.  There must be a lot of folks taking shots of food as the setting for close ups on my camera was "close up" but on this camera it is "cuisine" - food bloggers rule.

Have a great day and thanks for stopping by.


Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Breakfast Burrito Ala Beverly

A few days ago, I posted my version of a pulled pork burrito (the lazy man’s version).

Well, we still had pulled pork in the fridge that needed to be eaten, so Bev decided she wanted to have them again – she didn’t eat one the first time. And of course, as is always the case, Bev went the extra mile, or two, with making hers. The stuffing was made up of pulled pork, refried beans, onion, jalapeno, salsa, cheese, and scrambled eggs. The topping was cheese, diced tomato, green onion and cilantro. The stuffing was all pre-warmed and so bulky, she couldn’t roll it up and had to just fold it in half. She then nuked it to melt the cheese on top. Here’s the result and it was delicious – a little better than mine, as usual, and almost as good as McDonalds. :-)

I may revise my blog and only post the meals she cooks. :-)

I needed this start for the day so I could plant a few things later in the day - more on this later.

Have a great day and thanks for stopping by.


Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Thanksgiving Preparation

Once again, we’re having Thanksgiving dinner for the wayward souls – friends who might otherwise not have family and friends to share the day with or those who just want to eat with us. We’re having a pretty traditional meal, however, several of the recipes are new to us and our guests understand that when they eat here, they are likely to be Guinea Pigs.  Here's the basic plan:

3 pm - Social hour
  • Cocktails
  • V. Sattui Gamay Rouge as an aperitif – no Hors d’Oeuvres as we’ll have plenty to eat.
  • Non alcoholic cocktail
 4pm - Salad
  • Tossed salad provide by a guest
  • 1000 Island, Blue Cheese, Ranch, Raspberry Vinaigrette
 4:30 ish - Dinner served buffet style
  • Roasted turkey, using the Pioneer Woman’s brine and a basting recipe from the newspaper
  • Pork chops baked with dressing
  • Dressing using the recipe with the turkey from the newspaper
  • Mashed potatoes, Pioneer Woman recipe
  • Gravy
  • Baked sweet potatoes - a must for the true Southeners
  • Cranberry salad using another newspaper recipe
  • Broccoli cheese casserole using the recipe in Bev’s head
  • Brussel sprouts using our normal cooking method
  • Homemade rolls
  • Sauvignon Blanc, dry riesling, and pinot grigio
6:00 ish - Dessert

  •  Desserts brought by guests
  • Coffee
  • Muscat dessert wine
The turkey, sweet potatoes, and rolls will be cooked in the oven and the dressing, casserole, and pork chops will be wrapped in foil (to keep the pans clean) and cooked in the Stumps smoker - my big, charcoal fired, outdoor oven. We'll pre-make and do as much prep as possible on Wednesday, to help reduce the stress level on Thursday and as you might expect, I have a detailed gameplan for both days (the engineer in me never goes away). We'll have a table set up in the living room with drinks and salad to get it away from the kitchen while we're still cooking, and we'll eat in the dining room and the sunroom..  Then we'll get the buffet laid out around the kitchen while the guests finish their salads and visit with one another.
I sure hope it turns out great but if it doesn't we'll try again at Christmas. :-)

I hope ypur planning is going well and that you have a happy holiday.  Thanks for stopping by.


Monday, November 22, 2010

Chicken Pepperoni Ala Dennis

Many years ago, we watched the movie “Seems Like Old Times”, starring Chevy Chase and Goldie Hawn and one of the plotlines involved Goldie, or her housekeeper, making her famous Pepperoni Chicken for her husbands boss. Bev thought the name of the dish sounded delicious and we searched high and low for a recipe, to no avail. Bev finally invented a dish using the ingredients and it was pretty good, but we were both really excited when Dennis over at More Than A Mountful posted a recipe for it. We decided we had to try it – whether or not it was Goldie’s version. I won’t repost his recipe, so you can go to his site and read the story that goes with it, but here are a few preparation photos.

I used two breasts that weighed a little more than the pound called for in the recipe and sliced them cross-grain about 1/2" wide.  I salted and peppered the chicken directly as I never seem to get enough when I use seasoned flour.  I then coated them with flour in a plastic bag - evenly coated,  no flour all over the kitchen, toss in the trash when done.  I think I started with too much oil.

Here's everything else ready to go - I like to have the ingredients that go in at the same time in the same bowl.  If you know us, you'll be flabbergasted when I say I had to deglaze the pan with chicken broth as we had no white wine.

Peppers and mushrooms added - obviously we had yellow peppers left from the garden.

Next batch of ingredients added.

Pepperoni added and fire turned off.

Almost ready to dip up - I later added 1 1/2 tbsp of cornstarch to get the sauce to a thickness we liked.

 My plate with a little more shredded cheese.

We didn't have any sides so we could eat all we wanted of the dish and I went back for seconds. In addition to the thickener, the other thing I would to different is cut the pepperoni into smaller pieces to get the flavor spread around more.

We all thought it had a unique flavor with the following conclusions - Pat thought it was okay (not unusual for her), Bev liked it and I thought it was very good and I'll plan to make it again sometime - thanks Dennis for posting the recipe.

Have a great day and thanks for stopping by.


Sunday, November 21, 2010

Mom’s Pizza Sandwich

When I was growing up, my mom made a sandwich that she just called a pizza sandwich, which she only made on occasion and which I really liked. It was basically a layer of ham, then cheese, then tomato and onion. A little S&P and dried oregano gets sprinkled on and it goes under the broiler to warm up the goodies. Add a little mayo to the other slice of bread and it’s a fine sandwich.  Bev was cheffing today and decided to make it on both slices of bread, using mozzarella- just out of the toaster oven.

And assembled - ignore the stuff sitting around on the island, we're reorganizing the pantry.

It was delicious and I don't know why we don't have them more often.

Have a great day and thanks for stopping by.


Saturday, November 20, 2010

Beef Stew Leftovers

First there was the cold roast beef sandwich, then the hot roast beef sandwich, and now comes the Hot Roast Beef Stew Sandwich – open faced and regular. I dipped out a couple of spoonfuls of the leftover beef stew, cut everything into smaller pieces, and reheated it in the microwave. For the regular, I sliced off a couple pieces of homemade bread and topped each with some of the stew.

For the open faced version, I split a couple of leftover rolls, toasted, and topped with the stew.

They were as good as the original and I loved them - two different meals of course.

My mom would always get 3 meals from a pot roast.  First was the roast baked with veggies then gravy made with part of the pan drippings.  The next one was hot roast beef sandwiches with mashed potatoes.  The third she called hash, but it was the chopped up remaining meat, any remaining broth and veggies and additional potatoes and onions with water added to make a broth.  We just ladled the concoction over sliced bread.  If the roast was large enough, there might also be a cold roast beef sandwich for lunch.  Folks who were depressional era kids knew how to stretch the expensive ingredients.

Have a great day and thanks for stopping by.


Friday, November 19, 2010

Naan Bread Pizza – Better Next Time

We’ve been trying to eat our bigger meals earlier in the day and wanted to go lighter for supper. Bev had me looking for recipes that used ricotta cheese as we had some getting old. After a little searching, I found a ricotta cheese on flat bread pizza from Bobby Flay, but I had few of the necessary ingredients. I liked the concept and decided to make it with what I had, which meant a southwestern version as I had fresh cilantro on hand, along with some avocados that were getting ripe.

I brushed a little good olive oil on a piece of naan bread, then spread on the ricotta and sprinkled it with taco seasoning, then added some sliced tomato and red onion. I baked this at 350* for 10 minutes, added the cilantro and baked another 5 minutes.

I finally added the sliced avocado, cut and served.

We thought it was ok but weren’t crazy about the ricotta texture in this application. I also thought it needed a lot more flavors and if doing it again would mix the seasonings, cilantro, and minced garlic (which I didn’t use) with the ricotta and taste until I had it right. The tomato, onion and avocado were all fine. A spritz of lime juice at the very end would likely have worked well.

I like it when I try to create dishes even when they just turn out okay because I learn something. I’m confident I can go back in the kitchen and make one much better.

Have a great day and thanks for stopping by.


Thursday, November 18, 2010

Pulled Pork Breakfast Burrito

While we had our dock closing party three weeks ago, the dock is now really closed for the season - water and fridge turned off, seat cushions stored, tables covered, water toys deflated and stored, boat buttoned up - but still usable, lake's down 3' but still usable as well.  Above is how it looks now.

I’d wanted to cook this meal for several days, but didn’t have a sauce to put on it until this weekend, when Bev made up some fresh tomato salsa for the Walkers visit.

My goal was to use up some things in the fridge, so I sautéed some onion, sweet pepper, cremini mushrooms, and a jalapeno and then added some pulled pork. I considered adding potato, but realized I didn’t need the filler and likely wouldn’t taste them anyway. I seasoned with salt, pepper, some Chipotle Tabasco Sauce and scrambled in a couple of beaten eggs.

When it was done, I rolled it in a couple of flour tortillas.

Topped with some salsa and shredded cheddar.

And nuked for a minute to heat the salsa and melt the cheese. I don’t usually use sour cream, but decided it would make for a prettier photo.

It was worth the wait and I ended up eating it all – glad I didn’t have anything else to go with it.

Have a great day and thanks for stopping by.


Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Beef Stew In The Pressure Cooker

I’m still trying to eat up items from the freezer and I came across a piece of arm roast the other day – arm roast is a cut from the chuck. I envisioned roasting it with veggies, but Bev decided she wanted beef stew, which to her means pressure cooking the meat, then adding the veggies and pressure cooking them. She likes her beef to be really tender and likes to use a pressure cooker to insure it gets there – it also cooks it much quicker and the meat is more steamed than boiled.

For those not familiar with pressure cooking, it basically works by forcing the liquid to boil at higher temps – in the 250* range vs. 212* for un-pressurized. Bev has used one all of her life and as regular canners of veggies, we are very comfortable using a pressure cooking device – here is some info on pressure cooking. Ours is just an old aluminum, 7 quart, Manttra (made in India), which Bev likely bought on the cheap – but it has served us very well. If I were getting a new one, it would be stainless steel to eliminate the possibility of reactivity. Care must be taken to use the device correctly and to not overcook foods – they can turn to mush.

The cooker we have is basically a pot, lid, seal and jiggler – which is a weight that allows the pressure to be relieved at a pre-determined level.

We cut the meat into chunks, coated it with flour seasoned with Tiger Seasoning, S&P, and browned it in a 12” sauté pan – our pressure cooker would have required several batches to brown vs. just two in the pan. As it was browned, the meat was added it to the pressure cooker and the pan was deglazed with a half cup of merlot. I've mentioned before that I like good tools, including knives.  This 12" Forschner comes in handy for carving big pieces of meat like this or a wide piece of well smoked brisket.

This liquid was added to the cooker along with 2 cups of water, which made it a little under an inch deep - only enough water is needed to last through the cooking time, but we wanted a little extra for gravy.

We also added a couple of bay leaves and a tsp of tried thyme leaves. At this point the heat was set on medium high until it began to make a steaming noise (some actually jiggle), then turned lower to maintain the steaming – which means the pot is operating correctly. It usually requires a couple of adjustments to get it to the right place.

The meat was cooked for 15 minutes once up to pressure (steaming) at which point the pot was put under running cool water to de-pressurize (never remove the jiggler or try to open the lid with the pot under pressure). It will quit making a steaming noise and open easily when it’s safe to do so.

At this point, we tested the meat and it was nearly perfect, so the veggies were added, along with two more cups of water (one would have made it a little thicker), additional seasoning, and cooked to desired doneness without pressure. They could have been pressure cooked as well, requiring about 10 minutes and by lessening the initial meat cook time to 10 minutes (which would have given it 20 minutes total). However, veggies are easier to overcook and I like to be able to easily remove the lid for a check without having to de-pressurize. Without the jiggler, the pressure cooker is just another lidded pot.

Bev normally doesn’t do the flour thing and ends up with broth rather than gravy. Her family tradition is to serve it with cornbread – this is East Tennessee afterall, and we just happened to have some left from the potato soup lunch the other day. Normally, I’d think in terms of hot rolls or biscuits to go with the thickened gravy in the stew. But the cornbread was nuked and added to the meal and it worked very well. I’m glad we have lots of leftovers.

This was perfect comfort food for a dreary day.

Thanks for stopping by and have a great day.


Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Follow-up Odds And Ends

I’m confident that since I reported the tough bison ribs for BBQ day, that all of you have been wondering and wishing I’d tell you the outcome for them. Bev steamed them in the pressure cooker for a little while and they came out moist, fall off the bone tender , and delicious. This turns out to be a great way to deal with a tough piece of meat because the pressurized steam tenderizes it while removing very little of the flavor as boiling would.  Steaming without the pressure is, afterall, what the big time New York delis do with their pastrami for it's final cooking process.

I’d also posted shots of our buckets full of tomatoes and peppers the other day and the peppers have been dealt with - we're still eating the tomatoes as they ripen. We keep several of the sweet peppers out to eat on, then sliced and froze the remainder. We freeze them individually on sheet trays, then, store them in food saver bags - this way we can just get out the amount we need without thawing an entire bag full. For the jalapenos, we kept some out to eat fresh, froze a couple of quart bags whole, and pickled the rest. We usually slice them with a knife, but Bev used the slicing blade in the food processor for these and it worked great. She also used the machines traditional blade to chop up one pint into relish size to see how we like them this way. We didn’t can them, but sterilized the jars and lids, packed in the peppers, added the boiling solution of 3 cups water, 3 cups white vinegar, 1 tbsp canning salt, put on the lids and stored them in the fridge, where they will keep for years.

And finally I forgot to post this with the crawfish michaela recipe - it's the brand of tails we used and they were very good.
That's it for now from a dreary Almost Heaven South.  Have a great day and thanks for stopping by.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Tater Soup

Sunday was cool and rainy - perfect soup day, and one of the things the Walker girls all like is potato soup. I’ve posted before about Bev’s potato soup, but it is potatoes, water, butter, milk, a little flour for thickening and S&P and she will not hear of anything else being in it. This is one of those the-way-Mom-fixed-it deals we all seem to have. I have several delicious sounding potato soup recipes saved, but I’ll have to call them something else to get them by her.

So for lunch today before the kids left, Bev made up a batch of soup and a pan of cornbread. While she doesn’t like stuff cooked in her soup, she does like to adorn it – in this case with bacon, green onion, cheddar and smoked gouda cheese.  We just filled each persons bowl as they filed by and they added their own extras.

Here’s the cornbread Upside down on the dish and my plate.

Pretty good rainy day lunch I'll have to say.

Have a great day and thanks for stopping by.