Saturday, December 27, 2008

My first sausage-making venture

I've been interested in sausage making for some time now, but have never done anything about it, until now. A 5 lb pork shoulder roast caught my eye at the grocery store the other day so I bought it. The smallest recipe that I could find online was for starting with 10 lbs. of pork, so I just cut everything in half. I believe in starting off small and easy in most of my new ventures, and I thought that 5 lbs. was more than enough to start experimentation.

Stuffing sausage into casings is my goal, but I still have some equipment on order and have to make bulk sausage for now. I bought some casings at a local butcher shop yesterday but still need the sausage stuffing tubes for the KitchenAid.

Here is the recipe for 10 lbs of breakfast sausage that I used, cutting this in half for the 5 lbs of meat I had:

10-lbs ground pork
4-tbsp salt
1 3/4-tsp white pepper
3 1/2-tsp ground sage
2 1/2-tsp ground thyme
2 1/2-tsp nutmeg
2 1/2-tsp ground ginger
1/2-tsp red chili peppers flakes
1/2-cup cold water

I cut the meat from the bone-in shoulder roast, and cut the meat into about 3 by 1 inch strips. These fit easily into the feeder of the KitchenAid meat grinder. Before I ground it, I put the pieces on a cookie sheet and placed the sheet in the freezer for about 20-30 minutes. Getting the meat COLD makes it easier to work with and helps prevent the fat from smearing in the cutter of the grinder.

After running the meat through the grinder, I mixed the spices and poured them into the meat. I put the spiced meat into the mixing bowl of the KitchenAid and mixed it all together using the bread hook.

Then I bagged the mix into one-pound bags and froze all but one of the bags, which I will use for breakfast tomorrow.

I had a small amount remaining and cooked two patties. It was very lean for sausage (low fat content) and it was VERY good. In future batches I will probably add pork fat to the meat, but for now this tasted fantastic.

Soon I should have the equipment for making links, and hope to be making Italian sausage links and bratwurst soon. I'm off from work this coming week after Christmas and hope to be posting more regarding sausage links, and more cheesemaking. I'm going to build my own cheese press and will let you know how that goes.

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Homemade Butter

“As for butter versus margarine, I trust cows more than chemists.”

I got another wild idea, to make my own butter. This was easy, but I still managed to make a big mess in the kitchen because I had a brain cramp.
Pour 2 cups of heavy whipping cream into your stand mixer or food processor, I have a KitchenAid stand mixer (ok, it's really my girlfriend Sue's but she keeps it here at my place.) Using the paddle I mixed it on medium speed for about 10-15 minutes. At this point I added a couple teaspoons of salt, just to the point where I liked it.
Here's where I goofed up. The cream starts to thicken, the whey comes out of the cream, and butter starts to form. If you aren't careful, or in the next room as I was, it starts splashing whey all over the kitchen counter. What a mess. If I were in the room at the time, I would have just turned the mixer to a slower speed while the butter was forming.
I turned off the mixer, and drained off the liquid. Then I lined a collander with paper towels and ran the butter under cold water until the liquid became clear. Then I placed paper towels into the collander and let the butter sit for a while to dry out. I chilled it in the fridge for a few minutes, then gently squeezed the butter wrapped in paper towels. Forming it into a brick/log gave it a nice look and I placed it in the refrigerator.

The Mother Of All Vinegars

Home Made Vinegar

I decided to make my own red-wine vinegar. Why? Just for kicks and giggles. It seems lately that if I start thinking "I wonder how easy it is to make xxxxx...." then I am obsessed with making whatever it is.
While researching vinegar making, I learned that if you leave wine sitting for a few months that it will turn to vinegar. This is similar to sourdough and buttermilk in that there are natural bacteria, molds and fungi in the environment that are required in the process. However, for more consistent results, it is best to purchase a 'mother vinegar', or get some from a friend that makes vinegar. I bought my 'mother' from an online brew-making website.
I wanted to watch my costs in this experiment, so I bought a 5 liter, boxed Cabarnet Sauvignon. A crockpot (washed thoroughly then scorched with boiling water) that I use for pickles and sauerkraut seemed to fit the bill, so I poured the wine and mother vinegar in that. Since good vinegar is aged in wooden barrels, I also added a handful of wood chips. I didnt have any oak chips, and hoped that my hickory chips will suffice.
Vinegar should age in a 70-80 degree temperature range, cooler than that and it takes longer. The best I can hope for in the house is about 68-72 degrees. I placed it near the kerosene heater in hopes that I can get a few more degrees in placing it there.
A towel or cheesecloth must be placed over the top to keep out the fruitflies, I used a towel.
Now I have to wait for about 3 months to see if it worked or not. In a week, I noticed in stirring it that I did have small amounts of the telltale nasty-looking sludge which is the bacteria, the 'mother'. In future batches I can transfer the mother and/or a couple cups of the vinegar to a new batch, and the cycle continues.
I will post more news regarding this, but it looks like it is a 'hurry up and wait' game from here on out.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Homemade Yogurt

Growing great bacteria in the kitchen, or, How to make your own yogurt at home.

This was easy, and it turned out good. You can buy a fancy yogurt incubator but I just used my crockpot to incubate it. I started with a half gallon of store-bought, whole milk. So you will need:

1. Milk, low fat or whole (not nonfat)
2. About 1/4 cup of yogurt that has active cultures (I used Dannon Plain Yogurt) for every quart of milk used.
3. (Optional, for thick yogurt) Unflavored gelatin, about 1/4 oz package per quart of milk.
4. A food thermometer that can measure between 100 and 180F.
5. A stainless steel stockpot, and a crockpot.
6. Two or three large, thick towels
7. Fruit and/or flavorings of your choice

Using a stainless steel, thick-bottomed pot, I heated the milk to 180 degrees and held it at that temperature for 10 minutes, stirring frequently. This kills the unwanted bacteria in the milk. Then I removed it from the heat to cool.
I turned on my empty crockpot for about 5 minutes on LOW. When the milk cooled to about 100 to 115 degrees (no higher than 115, this will kill the good bacteria in the yogurt.) I poured the milk into the crockpot.
This is when you add your yogurt starter. For every quart of milk, add a 1/4 cup of active-culture yogurt. Mix the yogurt with an equal size amount of the warm milk and stir it together before stirring in to the crockpot.
At this point (after the high heat) you can flavor with fruit, sweetener, anything you want. For my half gallon of milk I used a couple teaspoons of vanilla and a half cup of sugar dissolved in a small amount of hot tap water.
Also at this point is where you want to add your gelatin. I experimented and added a 1/4 oz package of unflavored gelatin for every quart of milk. I dissolved the gelatin in a small amount of hot tap water before stirring it into the milk. (Late note: after this sat for 24 hours I noticed it was very thick, so I might cut down to one packet the next time and see how that does.)
Then I put the lid on the crockpot and covered around the base and lid with the towels to try to maintain a good working temp of 100-115.
I left it overnight (because I started too late in the evening) and awoke to a crockpot full of yogurt!

Notes: I am experimenting now with the temperatures my crockpot heats liquid to, on the high and low settings. I hope to make my next batch in the crockpot only, and not use a separate stockpot to heat the milk.
I let this sit overnight without the crockpot on because of time. I read where, if you do this during the day, that you can turn your crockpot on LOW for about 5 minutes every hour to maintain a good heat of between 100-115. I’m sure more experimentation will help with this.

Coming soon: Mother of all vinegars!

Monday, November 24, 2008

'Cheating' Method Of Sourdough French Bread

I have made a lot of sourdough bread, and it is common for me to have a starter going in my kitchen. However, I always wondered if many stores and bakeries cheat and make their sourdough without a traditional starter. This would involve less time and effort, and thus be less costly. Also, many store-bought sourdoughs have a much more tart aroma and taste to them, which leads me to believe they were 'cheating'. I thought I would try my hand at this cheating and see if it would work for me also. This is what I tried, it turned out great!

Sourdough French Bread (Easy method, no starter)

4-5 cups bread flour
1 Tbsp. sugar
2 tsp. salt
2 pkgs. dry yeast
1 cup warm water
1 cup sour cream or plain full fat yogurt (I used my homemade sour cream, see post dated 10/22
2 Tbsp. vinegar
1 egg white
1 Tbsp. water

First, mix a package of yeast with the cup of warm water (100-110 degrees), then add a Tablespoon of sugar and stir gently. Allow the yeast to rise for about 15 minutes. It will really grow a head on it so be sure to place in a container that will contain it. I use a very large coffee mug that I have pre-warmed, a cool cup will cool the water down too much.

Combine 1-1/2 cups flour and remaining dry ingredients in a large bowl. Add water, sour cream or yogurt, and vinegar and beat well. Stir in additional 2 to 2-1/2 cups flour until dough forms.

On floured surface, knead in 1/2 to 1 cup more flour until the bread dough is smooth and elastic. I usually knead it about 100 cycles. Place dough in greased bowl, turning dough over once to grease top. Cover and let rise for 45-60 minutes.

Grease large cookie sheet. Punch down dough and cover with an overturned bowl on the counter for 15 minutes. Divide the dough in half. Roll each half to about a 14x8" rectangle. Starting with long side, roll dough up tightly and pinch edges firmly to seal. Place seam side down on prepared cookie sheet. Cover and let rise in warm place until doubled, about 15 minutes.

Heat oven to 375 degrees. Bake bread for 25 minutes. Beat egg white and water in small bowl until frothy. Brush over partially baked bread. Return to oven and bake an additional 5 to 10 minutes until bread is golden brown and sounds hollow when tapped. Immediately remove from cookie sheet and cool on wire rack.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Sick Puppy

I've been taking a break from my blog, I've been a sick puppy. Pneumonia has been kicking my butt for at least 2 weeks and there isn't any light at the end of the tunnel. I have all sorts of subject ideas to write about and hopefully I can start writing again soon. It will all depend on how I feel, and it will be a day to day process. I hope to return soon, bye! - Marty

Monday, November 10, 2008

Homemade Yogurt Cheese

I got another wild, random idea today, which can be a bit scary for the people around me. I've been bored silly lately, laying on the couch. Today was Day Eleven of being sick. The doctor told me this morning that I have pneumonia and started me on some antibiotics. I can't get off the couch for long periods of time, so my idea could not involve anything strenuous nor time-consuming.

I had been reading some materials regarding home cheese making, and kept seeing references to making yogurt cheese. Apparently it is so easy to make it is almost criminal. The idea is to drain the whey from the solid part of a container of yogurt. I used 5 squares of cheesecloth that were about 3 feet square each (this ended up being much larger than I needed.) I used this many layers of cheesecloth because, ironically, I learned while reading about cheese making that cheesecloth is almost worthless in actually making cheese. The holes are too big for many cheeses. Some normal materials are much better for this kind of work.

I had a 32 oz. container of Dannon Plain Yogurt and poured it into the middle of this square. Then I tied a string tightly just above the top of the yogurt, and left a couple of feet to use for hanging it in my kitchen. Placed below the bag of yogurt was a bowl to catch the liquid. It hung for about 7 hours and I squeezed it slightly by hand before opening the cloth.

The final product looked like cream cheese, maybe slightly more solid. I'm sure that if you vary the draining time you can vary the final consistency. The final yield was probably 30-40% of the original 32 ounces. By itself it tasted fine, but was uneventful. I read a few recipes on the net and decided to add some salt, pepper, garlic and onion. This time I just used powdered onion and garlic but I will probably use fresh items next time. I also added finely chopped chives and parsley, mostly for color.

I can't taste much at all since I have been sick, so I had the boys taste-test it for me. They both liked it; my son Tyler said that it reminded him of French Onion Dip. However this is a bit thicker than standard sour cream dip. It is also a lot healthier than a dip made of sour cream. Next I will have to try it on some good crackers, bagels, or anything else I can think of eating it with, and will vary what spices I add to it.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

What do I do with all these leaves?

I started using the fallen leaves in my yard to my advantage some years ago. This is the easiest way I have ever used to get rid of my leaves, and they all go into the garden soil.
Using a mulching mower, I put the side guard down in the mulching position, where there is no discharge out the side. First I mow over the leaves, sometimes a couple of times depending on how many leaves I have. This will reduce a lot of leaves down to almost nothing. Next I put the bag attachment on to my mower and start going over the leaves again to collect them off the ground.
If the weather is conducive to tilling I will dump the leaves right into the garden and till them in. If it is too wet or cold to till, then dump them into your compost pile or make a pile on the garden. The first chance you get to do any tilling the following spring, till them all in to the soil.
This stuff is like gold in the garden. Many times you will see me going well into the neighbor’s yards to get their leaves up. However, I haven’t heard any complaints from them yet.

Home grown horseradish

It's the time of year to dig my horseradish. You can dig it any time after mid-summer but after the first frost is best. I have dug it as late as December, but forget it if the ground is frozen.
My plants were here when I moved here 12 years ago and haven't stopped coming back every year. Every year I dig up every root I can find and it still pops up every spring. Some growing directions state to keep a few of the roots aside to plant for next year's crop. I have never needed to do this.
First I cut the leaves down to about an inch, if that, off the ground. After digging up the roots as deep as I can get them (I never get the whole root, some are very long!) I lay them out in the yard and spray them hard with a hose, with the sprayer on 'jet' setting. You could do this inside in a sink instead, but this is easier and not nearly as messy.
Next using a 'tater peeler' I take off all of the outside layers until the remaining root is very white. For roots thicker than 1/2 inch, cut them lengthwise until they are about 1/2 inch across. Then cut crossways into about 1/2 inch slices.

The next part involves chopping the pieces in a food processor. Do this OUTSIDE, preferably with a breeze blowing, no kidding. I run an extension cord out to my porch for the processor. Grinding horseradish makes working with hot peppers look like kindergarten, it's right up there with chemical warfare.

Put an inch or two, at most, into the food processor. Having a second processor here is helpful, because the tougher pieces can scratch the plastic bowl of your processor. Keeping the processor at least at arm's length, grind the pieces down until they look like fine sawdust, or like the horseradish you see in the store. This might take 5 minutes or more, depending on the toughness of your roots. CAREFULLY remove the top of the processor and mix in about a teaspoon of salt. Pour white vinegar into the horseradish, just barely covering it. Spoon into jars or small freezer containers. If you are planning on freezing any of the jars/containers, leave about 10% of the room in the jar for expansion.
In the refrigerator it should remain pungent for a month or two. In the freezer it will remain pungent for a longer time, how long I don't know because it doesn't usually last that long in my house. The best way to keep fresh horseradish is to only dig enough to make one batch, but I like to get it all done at once.
This will light up your sandwiches, roasts, and corned beef. It's also good to add to home-canned pickle and/or pepper recipes.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Calzones and Pizza

(This is a little long to read, but is much easier to make. I guess I get a little too 'wordy' sometimes)

I made calzones tonight, and they were a hit with the boys and one of their friends. This is the same recipe I follow for pizza dough.

Dough, Ingredients
1 1/2 Cups - Warm Water (110° -115° F)
2 Tbsp. - Sugar
1 - 1/4 oz. Packet or 2 1/4 tsp. - Active Dry Yeast, (Fresh, not out-dated)
1 1/2 Tsp. - Salt
2 Tbsp. - Olive Oil
4 Cups - White, All Purpose Flour

Calzone Directions
Pour the warm water in a large mixing bowl. Add the sugar and package of yeast. Stir the mixture slowly until yeast and sugar are dissolved. Let sit to allow the mixture to "mature" for about ten minutes or so (this is important.) The mixture will begin to react; clouding and forming a foamy "head" on the surface of the mixture. Add the salt and olive oil and stir again to combine and dissolve the ingredients. Add 1 cup of flour and whisk in until dissolved, I use a KitchenAid mixer with a dough hook.) Add the second cup of flour and whisk it in. Add the 3rd cup of flour and combine. By now the dough mixture should be fairly thick. Add the last cup of flour, and if necessary, with your hands, begin to combine and knead the dough.
Remove the dough ball to a tabletop to knead it. You may need to add a dusting of flour from time to time to reduce the stickiness of the dough. Be patient, folding the dough ball in half and then quarters, over and over again for about 8 to 10 minutes, (or about 100 "cycles".) Kneading by hand is laborious, but very important. Better to over-knead than under-knead. You'll know you've done well when the ball no longer sticks to your hands. It will become a smoothly-textured ball slightly larger than a large grapefruit.
Coat the dough ball with a thin layer of olive oil, and place it in the bottom of a large mixing bowl which has also been coated on the inside with olive oil. Stretch a piece of kitchen film over the top of the bowl and set it in a warm place such an as unlit oven, (ambient temperature of 70°F to 80°F). Allow the dough to rise, undisturbed, for 60 to 75 minutes. The dough will have grown to at least twice its original size. Take the dough out of the bowl and cut in half with a knife. You now have two pizza dough balls, enough to make two (2) 12" deluxe pizzas. Take each raw dough portion and hand-mold them into balls. Press each dough ball flat to squeeze and release any air trapped inside. Form the portions back into balls, smoothing the outer surface and tucking each ball "into itself" from underneath, (like folding a sock into itself), before storing or going on with the next step.
If you wish to store the dough, by either freezing or refrigeration, you can place the dough balls in zip-lock bags. Squirt a little olive oil into each of the bags to keep the balls moist and pliable and to ease removal when ready for use. If you choose to freeze or refrigerate: the dough balls may continue to rise until they are substantially cooled down or frozen, which is OK as long as they don't break out of their bags. If they do, mold them back down into balls and re-bag them.

For calzones I use all of the dough, and cut the entire batch into eight equal pieces. Using a rolling pin, I roll out each piece into an oval about 8-10 inches long. Spread the filling longways into the middle of the oval-shaped dough, leaving a space on all sides, this space will be used to attach one side to the other when folding over.
For filling, use whatever you would like, whatever you like on pizza. Tonight I placed a line of pepperoni slices, small ham pieces, mozzarella cheese and pizza sauce (probably a couple of tablespoons.) Don't fill it too much or it will be hard to fold over and seal.
Lengthwise fold one side over the filling and to the other side of the dough. Press the rim of both pieces of dough together and slightly crimp it by rolling the edge over itself.
Place the calzones in a preheated 450 degree oven and bake for about 10 minutes, until nicely browned. I use a pizza stone for this type of baking. When using a stone, allow it to heat up in the oven for at least 15 minutes after the oven has heated up to 450 degrees. The stone is very hot, so be careful and use a spatula or other tool to avoid touching the stone.

Pizza hints
If you have a very large stone, at least 16" diameter, use the entire batch of dough. Otherwise use the dough to make 2 pizzas.
Spread the dough out in a circle but do not put any toppings on it yet. Place on pizza stone for about 6 or 7 minutes in the oven at 450 degrees. It's tricky to get pizza dough onto a hot stone, but here is a trick. I spread the dough out on a separate pizza pan that has been oiled well, then sprinkled with corn meal. The dough slides off easier this way.
After pre-baking the dough, then I add toppings. Top any way that you like, be imaginative!

Monday, October 27, 2008

The BEST fish batter ever, period.

I have tried everything trying to make a good fish batter/coating. I've never really liked too many things I have tried until I tried this one. This was good with largemouth bass, white bass, tilapia and I have used this for deep-frying vegetables and such too. Deep-fried pickles are fantastic when you use this too.

Fish Batter
Any beer will work in this recipe, even nonalcoholic beer, with the exception of dark stouts and ales. Serve with traditional malt vinegar or with tartar sauce.

Enough peanut oil(or canola oil) to deep fry, plus 1/4 additional cup
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup cornstarch
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/2 teaspoon paprika
1/8 teaspoon ground black pepper
Table salt
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 1/2 pounds 1-inch-thick cod fillet (or other thick white fish) cut into eight 3-ounce pieces
1 1/2 cups beer (12 ounces), cold.

Whisk flour, cornstarch, cayenne, paprika, pepper, and 2 teaspoons salt in large mixing bowl; transfer 3/4 cup of mixture to rimmed baking sheet. THEN add baking powder to bowl and whisk to combine.

Heat oil to 375 degrees. Thoroughly dry fish with paper towels and dredge each piece in flour mixture on baking sheet; transfer pieces to wire rack, shaking off excess flour.

Add 1 1/4 cups beer to flour mixture in mixing bowl and stir until mixture is just combined (batter will be lumpy). Add remaining beer as needed, 1 tablespoon at a time, whisking after each addition, until batter falls from whisk in thin, steady stream and leaves faint trail across surface of batter.

Using tongs, dip 1 piece fish in batter and let excess run off, shaking gently. Place battered fish back onto baking sheet with flour mixture and turn to coat both sides. Repeat with remaining fish, keeping pieces in single layer on baking sheet.

When oil reaches 375 degrees, increase heat to high and add battered fish to oil with tongs, gently shaking off excess flour. Fry, stirring occasionally, until golden brown, 7 to 8 minutes. Transfer fish to thick paper bag or paper towels to drain.

Friday, October 24, 2008

Homemade Sauerkraut

Got cabbage?


25 lbs cabbage
3/4 cup canning or pickling salt


Work with about five pounds of cabbage at a time. Discard outer leaves. Rinse heads under cold running water and drain. Cut heads in quarters and remove cores. Shred or slice to a thickness of a quarter. Put cabbage in a suitable fermentation container (see page 1), and add three tablespoons of salt. Mix thoroughly, using clean hands. Pack firmly until salt draws juices from cabbage. Repeat shredding, salting and packing until all cabbage is in the container. Be sure it is deep enough so that its rim is at least four or five inches above the cabbage. If juice does not cover cabbage, add boiled and cooled brine (1-1/2 tablespoons of salt per quart of water). Add plate and weights; cover container with a clean bath towel. Store at 70 to 75 degrees F while fermenting. At temperatures between 70 and 75 degrees F, kraut will be fully fermented in about three to four weeks; at 60 to 65 degrees F, fermentation may take five to six weeks. At temperatures lower than 60 degrees F, kraut may not ferment. Above 75 degrees F, kraut may become soft.

If you weigh the cabbage down with a brine- or water-filled filled double-bag, do not disturb the crock until normal fermentation is completed (when bubbling ceases). Bags with brine are safer than water in case the bags break. If you use jars as weight, you will have to check the kraut two to three times each week and remove scum if it forms. Fully fermented kraut may be kept tightly covered in the refrigerator for several months or it may be canned as follows:

Hot pack--Bring kraut and liquid slowly to a boil in a large kettle, stirring frequently. Remove from heat and fill jars rather firmly with kraut and juices, leaving 1/2-inch headspace. Adjust lids and process.
Hot Pack processing times: Pints 10 minutes, Quarts 15 minutes

Now that I have posted this and the corned beef recipe, how about a nice Reuben sandwich?

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Garlic Jelly ??

Every year when I do my canning I like to attempt to make something different, something I have never made before. This year I decided to use some of the incredible amount of garlic that I grew, and make garlic jelly. Yes, it sounds very strange, but it is really good when served with cream cheese and crackers. This is also the way I serve my Hot Pepper Jam, and it is really tasty this way. I'm thinking that it would go well with a plate of bread, cheeses and olives also.

Garlic Jelly Recipe


1/2 cup fresh garlic, finely chopped
2 cups white wine vinegar
5 1/2 cups sugar
3 cups water 1 (2 ounce) package dry pectin
1/4 teaspoon butter or oil
2 drops food coloring (optional)


Combine garlic& vinegar in a 2 qt. kettle. Simmer mixture gently, uncovered, over medium heat for 15 minutes.
Remove pan from heat& pour mixture into a 1 quart glass jar. Cover& let stand at room temperature for 24-36 hours.
Pour flavored vinegar through a wire strainer into a bowl, pressing the garlic with the back of a spoon to squeeze out liquid. Discard any residue.
Measure the liquid and add vinegar, if needed, to make 1 cup. Measure sugar into a dry bowl. Combine the garlic-vinegar solution& the water in a 5 or 6 quart kettle. Add pectin, stirring well. Over high heat, bring mixture to boil, stirring constantly to avoid scorching. Add sugar,& stir well.
Bring mixture to a full, rolling boil. Add butter to reduce foaming. Continue stirring.
Boil the mixture hard for exactly 2 minutes.
Remove pan from heat& skim off any foam.
Add red, yellow or orange food coloring if desired. Pour jelly into prepared glasses.
Place in boiling water bath canner for 10 minutes.

Homemade Salami

I started a batch of this homemade salami last night.
First, I will admit that this is not the same as deli-bought hard salami. However, it is still pretty good. I've made this with venison and had good results with that also.

Homemade salami

Ingredients: 2 cups water
1 tablespoon liquid smoke
2 teaspoons garlic powder
2 teaspoons mustard seed
1 teaspoon coarsely ground pepper
2 teaspoons onion powder
2 teaspoons crushed red pepper
5 pounds freshly ground chuck (ground beef is ok too)
5 tablespoons Morton's Tender Quick


Combine water, liquid smoke, spices, and Tender Quick. Add beef and knead with hands, mixing well.

Divide meat into 3 rolls. Wrap each roll separately in heavy-duty foil. Meat will be soft and moist, so be sure to use heavy-duty foil. Wrap foil tightly closed down center and seal ends.

Refrigerate for 24 hours.

Using a fork, make holes through the foil on the bottom of each roll, about one inch apart.

Place rolls on the rack of a broiler pan with the hole pierced part on the underneath. Place hot water in the shallow pan of the broiler, underneath the rack.

Bake in center of oven at 325 degrees for 2 hours. Remove foil and set rolls on rack to drain and cool. Slice as desired. Cover and store in refrigerator for up to ten days, or freeze.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Homemade Buttermilk And Sour Cream

I started a batch of buttermilk today. Now this is easy. In a quart canning jar, add 1/2 cup of cultured buttermilk to 3 1/2 cups of milk, whole milk is preferable. Allow to sit on the counter for 24 hours and it's done.
To make sour cream use heavy cream in place of milk.
Save a little from each batch to start another fresh batch, as in making sourdough.
Easy enough eh?

Corned Beef

I discovered how to make corned beef and really enjoy it now without having to pay $10-15 per lb. This takes 2-3 weeks to make but most of the time the meat is just sitting in a brine in the fridge. It's fairly easy though.

Buy at least a 5-6 lb brisket though I have used cheap roasts that I have found on sale. They all seem to work well.
Cut the beef into about 1.5 lb chunks. A 6 lb piece of beef will cut into 4 pieces and can be put into 4 freezer bags with brine added
Place each chunk into a gallon-sized freezer bag.
For the brine, start with a gallon of water. Add one cup of either canning salt of kosher salt.
To the brine add 3 tablespoons of Instacure (also known as pink salt, Prague powder) pickling salt, 8 smashed garlic cloves, and 8 bay leaves.**
Add the brine to the each of the freezer bags, equally distributing bay leaves and garlic. Remove as much air as you can when sealing the bags.
I double-bag each piece of meat, just in case one of them leaks. Or you can place all 4 bags in a large bowl in the fridge.
Place the bags in the fridge for 2-3 weeks. I hear 3 weeks is better than 2, but I usually run out of patience at the 2-week mark. Each day, squeeze the bags slightly and shake spices around to help work brine into the meat.
When you reach the 2 or 3 week mark, take meat out of the bags and rinse the meat well.


Place the meat into a large pot. You can be creative here, cooking it in just about anything you want to cook it in. I usually stick to this basic idea though. Add a bottle or two of any beer. Add a couple of smashed garlic cloves, two bay leaves, and freshly ground pepper. Again, be creative.
Cook on low heat for 3-4 hours, covered.

This is good served in Reuben sandwiches, corned beef hash or with potaotes, onions and cabbage, and many other recipes.

** Fresh bay leaves are SO much better than store bought. Buy a bay tree at your local nursery and grow them yourselves. Here in growing zone 5 I put mine in a container and have to bring it in during the winter.



I have started this blog where I can relate my gardening, cooking and canning that I do here at the Junker Ranch(all .2 acres of it.) to you.
I started gardening about 1985 after I moved to central Ohio from Cincinnati Ohio. After starting a garden, I wanted to preserve my harvest. At first I was just freezing things, but got curious about how to do home canning. I learn while doing, so I asked my friend Chris B. to show me in person. She showed me how to pressure can beans in her home and I was off to the races. I quickly bought canning equipment for both water bath canning and pressure canning. I learned how to make jams and jellies, vegetable canning and fruit canning.
I moved into this house in 1996 and it is now a lot easier to do vegetable gardening and canning. I used to have to travel to a friend's property and bring the produce home. I have a 25 by 40 foot garden, and of course wished I had a lot more. The thought of a 5-10 acre piece of property for growing fruits, berries and veggies appeals to me quite a bit. Oh well. True contentment is being happy with what you have.
I hope to keep current with my cooking, canning and gardening activities with this blog even though we are in the advent of fall/winter. Stay tuned for recipes, hints and the activities that I am up to around here.