In the kitchen

IMG_7264Remember those days when you’re littles wanted to “help” you cook in the kitchen? Everything would take twice as long and be twice as messy! But it pays off in the long run. I’m blessed to watch my older daughters become efficient and proficient in the kitchen.IMG_6575 And I’m blessed to watch them patiently take the time to teach their younger sister. I made a cake with Ruthie the other day and homemade ice cream with Jack, and it took more patience than I expected.IMG_6589 Mia is much better at including the little ones and letting them get their hands messy than I am. But I like to think that she learned to be that way when I was younger and  teaching her!IMG_6572

Bacon, bacon, whose got the bacon?!

Preserving meat. This is something I’ve been reading voraciously about lately. I love this book called The River Cottage Curing and Smoking Handbook. It makes the mysterious process of turning a hog leg into something delicious like prosciutto seem easy. I can relate to the way the author likes to use what’s at hand. Keeping it simple. Bacon is first on the list. Oh my, I don’t think my family could ever have too much bacon. We’d eat it on eggs, on potatoes, in soup, with chicken, on salad. Is there anything in this world that in not made better by adding a sizzling, dripping piece of preserved pork belly? I think not.IMG_5116 So the process is relatively simple. I followed a recipe for a salt/sugar rub and I rub a dub dubbed that stuff all over both pork bellies, making extra sure to get it in all the nook and crannies. Then, into the fridge it goes. Right now the meat is soft and wiggly. At the end of this process it will be quite firm and rigid. IMG_5120Some recipes call for simply leaving the belly in the fridge for 5 days and then draining and rinsing it. Other recipes instruct to drain the liquid off daily and re-applying the salt mixture. This is the method that I went with. After 4 days, though, I didn’t have any more curing mix left. So, I just drained off the little liquid from the bottom of the container and put the container back in the fridge. The majority of the liquid will be expelled from the meat during the first day or two, anyway. IMG_5122After 5-7 days, rinse all the salt off the belly really well. Pat dry. Now, if it is fall or winter, you can hang that beautiful belly on hooks out of doors to finish curing for 5-7 more days. However, it is quite warm here, so I had to just put it back in the fridge for the remainder of the curing time. After 5-7 days, now is the time to smoke it. I do not have a cold smoker, so I sliced up the belly and cooked some up right away and froze the rest for future use. IMG_5173It’s good. But I’m after Jeremie to build me a cold smoker because I think that will make it great!

Noky?

No! Gnocci!! A delicious, plump potato-y dumpling. Amazing. And homemade bolognese sauce. Oooooh, it was good, let me tell you. IMG_4161The girls have a friend who is from Brazil. But Ms. Gina also has spent time in France and Italy. Her cooking is out of this world!IMG_4177 She spent one afternoon teaching the girls how to make gnocci. It is quite an involved process, but so worth it.IMG_4167 Potato, cheese, flour, eggs, rolled together, cut into small pieces, boiled, cooled, covered with warm sauce. Mmmm! All the kids enjoyed it. IMG_4147And they enjoyed her fancy desserts..chocolate mousse cake, coconut pudding with prune sauce.IMG_4202 It was like eating at a delicious ethnic restaurant, plus we got to spend time with an amazing friend.IMG_4208

A taste of summer

Bright yellow cheery lemons! An order of sweet meyer lemons has arrived from our local co-op! Nothing beats the winter doldrums better than a tart, tangy lemon-y treat! I sliced many of the lemons and froze them so they will be ready to add to lemonade or water kefir all summer long.IMG_2393 I made a ton of lemon curd. I have a plethora of eggs, so what better way to use them than in a beautiful curd. And the whites were reserved for Katie to make a couple angle food cakes out of. I love lemon curd on scones, on biscuits, in yogurt, on angel food cake, in smoothies, but right out of the jar is my favorite way to enjoy it.IMG_2398 I’m also trying something new this time. Lemon infused vodka. After a month of sitting in a dark pantry, I will strain the lemons out, mash them, mix them with some honey and water and add back to the lemon infused vodka. What a great way to spike some summertime drink! IMG_2389