Solstice! and Menu of the week Dec 21: Cranberries!

Happy Solstice!  Solstice occurred around 7 am this morning.  The days will be longer soon!  This week’s ingredient is cranberries.  I guarantee you I will consume at least one cranberry vodka cocktail this week, plus we will use cranberry sauce on Friday with a turkey dinner.  Angela’s Kitchen  is this week’s gluten free menu swap host, so click on over there and check out all the great menus floating around.

This weekend I made three different batches of brittle:  pine nut, pumpkin seed, almond brittle with red chile and fleur de Sel; coconut cardamom brittle  and macadamia nut, almond, coconut brittle, both of the last two also had cayenne and fleur de Sel.  That heat combined with crunch and salty sweet  is so delicious!  It is the best brittle I have ever eaten and the first time I have made it.  I made the coconut brittle for a friend who has a peanut allergy and she loved it.

Sunday: Snowpeas with pork stirfry – a hold over from last week’s menu 
Monday: Latkes/potato pancakes with Weiss wurst
Tuesday: Vietnamese Chicken Pho – I still have fresh Thai basil growing in the basement greenhouse/room.  Organic free range chicken raised by my brother for this pot of soup.
Heading North for the holidays at the farm:
Christmas eve – shrimp cocktails and roast beef
Christmas day tradition: cheese fondue with veggies and beef fondue with many dipping sauces with baked potatoes, cheesy parm bread and salad
Christmas day after Roasted Turkey (extended family gathering) with hot spiced wine
Saturday night:  Hanging and likely eating too, at the Bluebird in Leland – traditional reunion weekend gathering spot for all those who no longer live in Leland, but are home for the holidays.

I am bringing apps for both Christmas eve and Day:  mini meatballs with porcini mushroom, parm and thyme, spinach veggie dip with tortillas, shrimp, hopefully some blue cheese gougeres, and a cheese and salami platter with lots of GF crackers.  Oh and pate, if it works.  I have a liverfree pate in the oven right now.  I used chestnut puree instead of liver hoping it will give a similar spreadable texture.  Country pate with homemade fermented dill pickles and dijon.  I have the whole week off to play and cook until we head North.

Happy Solstice and Merry Christmas!

i’m out

Speck and Parma… Unna and Jr and a gobbler in between

speck going for a jog

yum apples and parma, our pig

It’s long overdue that I post about our piggie venture for the year.  Warning, there will be a lot of photos of meat or butchering in this post.

thirsty piggie

speck and parma, our pigs eating the garden veggies we brought them

I have mentioned our pig share in the past.  Last year’s pig’s name was Pancetta.  She was tasty but we ran out of our pork supplies in the spring, so this time we thought we would go whole hog – literally.  Last year we split one.  Now we have not just the whole hog, but 1.5 hogs and our freezers are full.  Add to the freezers 20 free range organic chickens raised by my brother (Leelanau Farm and Game) and you see I mean really full.  Oh and we still have part of the 1/4 of grass fed steer in there too and now a local leg of lamb.  Sounds like we are carnivores.  Yep, we are, esp Eby.  But to show you our versatilty we also eat tofu and have a pantry full of canned tomatoes from our garden.    By now you should have time to leave the blog before we get to the photos, I have given you ample warning.

thirsty piggie

parma and speck getting a shower

Those were all pictures of our pigs in July and about one month before we butchered them.  As you can see, they are happy.  They have treats, mud to wallow in and lots of water to play in or drink.

Ginger with her sides of pork

Here’s our co butcher Julius with the ban saw behind him. Note the honey boxes, yes we were in the honey house as it is full of stainless steel and easy to bleach after wards.

butching our pigs in the honey shack

making ground pork in the honey shack

We have about 45 pounds of ground pork now.  A lot you may think, but many cuisines use ground pork and we cook a lot of Asian and Mexican food.

For a little variety, below is a shot of my brother butchering our Thanksgiving Turkey (it was a small one) by hand (not his favorite thing to do) as we needed our a bit early to bring home with us. I watched the process from start (catching the turkey and killing it) to finish (de-feathering, gutting and putting it in a bag for transport home). I am glad I did as it makes me appreciate even more what it takes to put healthy, sustainably raised food on the table.
Our turkey is the black and white one on the right:

heritage turkeys

our thanksgiving turkey

Next up: Dexter cow and half Dexter/jersey steer. Stay tuned for the adventures of Unna and Jr.  Unna will be kept and bred, Jr will be many dinners of grass fed beef.
the new kids on the farm, Dexter cow and steer Unna's hut

This will be their winter home as soon as it is fixed up (it is structurally sound, but needs some minor adjustments):

old shed, changed landscape - no trees

i’m out

Thanksgiving week Menu Swap: sweet potatoes

heritage turkeys

Sea of Book of Yum is hosting the swap this week and has chosen sweet potatoes as the ingredient.  It took me a long time to realize that sweet potatoes are great.  As a kid they were always coated in marshmallows and brown sugar, not having a sweet tooth and not liking marshmallows much, the dish was never for me.  I really like sweet potatoes in a more savory dish.  Or in sweet potato fries.  Speaking of fries, that reminds me that soon we will start a new post series called Deep Fry Fridays, although I seem to deep fry more on Thursdays for the record.  Friday rhymes better.  Since we celiacs typically can’t eat any deep fried foods in restaurants because of cross contamination, I thought I would push our limits and have a deep fry fest month.  I am thinking January might do.  That gets us safely behind the busy holiday season, albeit everyone seems to diet in January.  Deep frying doesn’t have to be super fattening.  Sauteeing can be just as bad.  So stay tuned for some great ideas to dip into your fryer.  Send your suggestions this way too.  We will do a menu round up and see what is frying around the country.

Saturday: Porchetta, leftover from the freezer, ancho chile, cilantro new potatoes, roasted broccoli

Sunday: Szechuan beef (using our grass fed beef) and broccoli stir fry

Monday:  Pizza!!  I will be trying out Whole Foods 365 GF pizza crust mix.

Tuesday: Chicken ala Veracruzana from one of Rick Bayless’s books, arepas (chicken raised by my brother)

Wednesday:Grilled salmon, ethnicity to be determined, sides to be determined.  Leaving this one up in the air for now.  Maybe an Indian theme.

Thursday:  Thanksgiving!  Our menu this year is mostly based on Gourmet’s Come Together menu, very modern Mexican/New Mexican.

Apps: shrimp cocktail with cilantro and lime, chipotle meatballs, guacamole, chips and fresh salsa using my canned tomatoes and adding fresh cilantro, onion and serranos.

Salad: Clementine Jicama Salad

Main course and sides:mango salsa with pomegranate, spiced roasted sweet potatoes, adobo turkey with red-chile gravy (brined and charcoal grilled), corn-bread and chorizo stuffing, poblano potato gratin, green beans with a brown butter shallot sauce, center cut pork loin with rib on the rotisserie (with my homemade Mexican rub), rice (to go with the gravy),  and cranberry sauce (you have to have it)

Desserts:lattice apple pie with mexican brown sugar (although GF it probably won’t be latticed), chocolate cinnamon cream pie, with Pamela’s chocolate cookies used as the crust vs graham crackers, Haagen Daz Swiss Vanilla Rum ice cream

No, I am not cooking all of it, a good friend of mine and her hubby are bringing the meatballs, the stuffing and apple pie and making them all GF, another set of good friends (my aunt and uncle) are bringing sweet potatoes to roast and cranberries.  Both are bringing lots of wine. Both are coming from far away to join us.

Localvore part: We are using our ground pork in the meatballs, skipping the veal, the heritage turkey raised by my brother, the pork loin that we helped raise and butcher, tomatoes that I raised and canned, apples from the farm, potatoes from the farm and all garlic used is from my brother and sister in law.  The tortilla chips are made localy in Ann Arbor and are addictive. Oh, and our bubbly and several wines are local from LMawby Vineyards and 45, a new winery in Suttons Bay, both with great winemakers.

Friday : Brunch with the house guests: Sausage and Egg Casserole with slow roasted tomatoes and mozzarella (using pomodori al forno tomatoes instead of sundried) – this is naturally GF and I made it years ago and finally found the recipe again, recovery bloody marys, home roasted coffee.

Dinner:  Pork Pozole Party: our good friend Dan is in town (as well as our Thanksgiving guests) and we are hosting a party for him so that he has a chance to see everyone.  Pozole sounded like a tasty crowd pleaser and is comfort food for me when it is cold out and it is already cold cold cold out.  Radishes, shredded cabbage and onion for toppings.  We will use our pork for the pozole and red chiles from NM.  Margaritas will flow.

So, a wonderful week is on it’s way and once again, we have a lot to be thankful for!  Happy Thankgiving to all of you!

pigs and apples Ginger with her sides of porkour thanksgiving turkeyheritage turkeys purple potatoes in the gardenripe ready to can tomatoes garden fingerling potatoes apples apples

i’m out

Menu Swap Monday October 20th: Squash

Squash.  It has such a great sounding name and it can make a nice squish when you eat it.  Food that sounds like it is.  Kim of Gluten Free is Life is hosting this week’s swap.  I do have two pumpkins that I will attempt to carve this week in honor of squash and their lovely seeds.  It is really all about the seeds for me.  I do like butternut squash soup and some nicely roasted acorn squash.  I am squashless at the moment, with the exception of our pumpkins, so those will have to do.  I forgot to check the ingredient before we went grocery shopping yesterday. We have a heavily Italian country oriented menu this week due to Eby picking out some dishes and making his way through some more Italian cook books.  They all sounded good to me too.

Sunday: Hunters stew with rabbit and smashed potatoes.  It took me a while to get over the concept of rabbit, even though most of the world eats them if they have rabbits running around.  It was tasty.  Eby made it, but I had to cut it up for him.  If it hadn’t been for recent work events that gross me out worse, I might not have made it through.

Monday: Pork cutlets with prosciutto, parmeasan and Marsala wine with a pesto risotto

Tuesday: Rice and Cabbage soup with pancetta – the recipe looks better than the title, trust me.

Wednesday: Turkey tenderloins stuffed with spinach or stuffed porchetta style and roasted.

Thursday: On the road and back late: Ragu Bolonese with noodles.  I did a crock pot full of grass fed beef short ribs recently and froze the meat to use in a ragu.  It was already slow cooked so shouldn’t take much time to throw together along with a spinach salad.

Friday:  Chicken ala Diavola with potatoes chianti – this didn’t happen a couple of weeks ago and now we have chicken again from my brother.  Lots of smoked paprika and lemon zest in this dish!

Saturday: Grass fed burgers on the grill, tator tots with salad

Sunday:  Down to Eby’s parents for dinner.  Their first time cooking a gluten free meal and Eby has been coaching them 🙂

i’m out