Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Science Experiment, Day 1

Apparently, Aaron's Grandma wants sourdough bread and his father is supposed to deliver it to her after his visit here later this month... Crap... I am SOOO not a baker... However, I did guilt Aaron into buying me a professional grade Kitchen-Aid stand mixer just so I can make bread... Double Crap... He even gave me some "sourdough starter" with the mixer, to get me started... I used the excuse that I don't have a sourdough crock for my fridge to avoid using it... I no longer have that excuse... (Thanks again, Jessie!) I can't bring myself to use a product that is sold to the tourists pretty much as soon as they get off the cruise ship for a buck... And, since I can't say "No" to Grandma Dora and don't know anyone who already has an established starter, I decided to make my own starter.

This lead to me scouring my library for the perfect sourdough starter recipe... Hi, My name is Jen, and I'm addicted to cook books... (this is where you say, "Hi, Jen!"... you know, just in case you've never been to one of these meetings before)

I consulted the Holy Bible of cook books (at least in my humble little library)... The Joy of Cooking... It has quite a few starter recipes, one that uses yeast to get it going and one that allows it to ferment (sour) over time... I went with the second option, hoping to obtain a more authentic flavor in the final product.

All you need is bread flour (check!) and water (check!). That's it... Oh, and patience... And maybe a little bit of skill.... This will take quite a few days to get to a point where I can actually bake a test loaf. I have about 3 weeks before the in-laws descend, so I figure if the first batch doesn't go well, I still have time to make a new batch.

Take a clean bowl and add 1/2 c. bread flour and 1/4 c. "barely lukewarm water (80 degrees)" and mix thoroughly. I underestimated the process for getting cold, clean water to warm up to 80 degrees... I ended up microwaving some water (ended at 102 degrees) and waited for it to cool... This took about 1 and a half episodes of Bones on Netflix to do... Probably about an hour, but it felt longer than that...
Water too hot... Flour ready to go!

Not "quite" 80 degrees, but close enough... got a little impatient...

Then it said to "turn it out onto a clean surface (unfloured) work surface and knead the dough using the heel of one hand until it is smooth and elastic, 3 to 5 minutes"... Um... yeah... It's really sticky... and makes a whole lot of mess... and I'm not sure if I actually reached the "smooth and elastic" state described in the text... (and before you start ragging on me for the quantity of water in the measuring cup being WAY more than 1/4 c, I measured out a 1/4 cup from the measuring cup and added that to the flour...)
Sticky, sticky mess...

Messy, messy counter...

You then need to return the dough to the bowl, cover tightly with plastic wrap, and punch 4-5 holes in the plastic.
Evil, sticky mess, back in the bowl (where it belongs)

Try not to take out too much of your frustration on the plastic wrap...

Final product for day 1...

This is the final product (at least for now)... Before I go to work tomorrow, I'll "feed" it again with the same proportions of flour and water, but this time, the water just needs to be room temperature. According to the text, I don't have to knead it again until it is actually "bread"...

Monday, January 30, 2012

The list...

So here is the list of things that have been made in my kitchen over the past 4 days:

Cinnamon Buns (Awesome!)
Spinach Salad
Grilled Venison Braciole with Home Made Tomato Sauce
Grilled Smoked Venison Sausage
White Chocolate Cheesecake
Venison Potato George Kibble (My dog has allergies)
Twice Baked Potatoes
Venison Pot Roast
Doughnut Bread Pudding
Jalapeno Corn Bread

I've been busy! :-)

Which one should I start with?

Friday, January 27, 2012

Simple is always better (at least in my opinion)

I love experimenting with different recipes, putting my own tweak on things. I scour the internet in search of different ideas... Sometimes I come up with gold, like in this instance... My version increases the whole grain values and can be modified in any number of ways... My name for it is "Brown Rice, Chicken, Spinach, & Cheese Casserole".... I know, it's a rather lengthy name... I'm still working on another one, but I haven't come up with one yet. I'm open to suggestions!

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Quick! Duck!

My husband went to breakfast with his father yesterday. He called me on his way home to tell me he had a huge surprise! After a guessing match, it was determined it would be an item for the kitchen that could be plugged in, but not necessarily that should be plugged in.

I had no guesses.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Holy Canoli! It's homemade Pasta!

I am not Italian. Not even a little. I'm a mutt but not in any way from Italy. My husband loves pasta. Any type really. With fresh sauce, not from a jar. We don't eat much from a jar around here. So I didn't have any boxed pasta in the house and I didn't feel like going to the store. That lead me on yesterdays culinary adventure into homemade pasta. I absolutely adore The Pioneer Woman, Ree Drummond. She's completely awesome and has amazing recipes. I used her recipe, found here, as a base for my own creation.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012


Little known fact: Jen is allergic to eggs. In her honor, here are two delicious clucking egg free recipes. Sometimes they aren't all that easy to find.

French Bread

Most everyone loves bread. There are so many variations to this simple recipe. I've tried coconut flour (yum! but requires more yeast), wheat flour (dense like a short bus but good), spelt flour (be like Mike and give it some extra air time). In my house the plain old unbleached AP flour goes over the best.

1 pack yeast
1 1/2 tsp salt (increase this if you feel like it, adds a bit more flavor)
1 tbsp sugar (or honey)
1 tbsp shortening
4 cups flour
butter (optional, but who the hell doesn't like butter!?)

Run the tap until it's plenty warm. Put 1/2 cup of water in a bowl and sprinkle the yeast on top. When it starts to smell funny and bubble some, it's probably good to proceed. This will take around 5 minutes. Add the sugar and stir. Let it rest another minute or two. Again, the bubbling is a good indication you're doing it right.

Add in everything else with another 1 cup of warm/hot water. Make sure it's not scalding or you will kill the little yeast guys. You need those guys alive to make fluffy bread.

Mix the dough (either by hand or with a mixer) until it's kind of smooth and no longer sticky. Let it rest for 15 minutes. Kneed it again for about a minute. Let it sit another 15 minutes. This seems like a pain but it's worth it. Take your "me time" here. Just make sure you wash your hands when you come back to the kitchen!

Split into balls or loaves or however you like your bread to look. Round it out (basically just smooth the top). When it feels like a 18 year old boob (the real kind, not fake) it's about right. Let it sit for another 20 minutes or so in a warm spot with a damp cloth on top.

Bake for 20-40 minutes (depending on size) at 400 degrees. It'll be nice a fluffy if you did it right. If not, make bread pudding!

Chocolate Snack Cake

Admissions being what they are, this came from my Mom this week. She took it from her sister in law. Either way you steal it, it's still good right?

1 & 2/3 cup flour
1 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup cocoa
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1 cup water (or leftover coffee if you like mocha)
1/2 cup oil (any kind works here, we like coconut or sunflower)
1/2 tsp vinegar
Courtesy of Mom!

Mix all together. Pour into an un-greased 8x8 glass pan. Bake at 350 for 30 minutes.

When it's cool take it out and dust with powdered sugar or smear with your favorite icing!

So there ya go, it's a day for Jen!

Happy eating,


Sunday, January 15, 2012

Waste Not, Want Not... Or how my dogs devoured deer legs in an hour....

If you're of the faint of heart regarding hunting and animals in general, tune out now.

Glad you're still here! So it's still hunting season here in MS. That means Sunday Morning is hunting time in my house. Jeff came home today with 5 deer legs. Fur and all. Gross, yeah, a little. I skinned them (I'm a badass chick with a knife) and popped them in some boiling water for a few seconds to sterilize the outside. Just to get the nasties off. Took all 5 outside, hooves attached, and let the fur-kids at them. If I had actual kids I might have some sort of regard for my dogs actually being a difference species but fact o' the matter is, they are my kids and have a better life than most actual homosapien children.

So I went about washing dishes (a necessary evil of spending about 24 total hours making a mess in the kitchen) and about 20 minutes later went to check on them. HOLY SHIT BALLS! Those dogs devoured like everything. There were a few long bones left. Hooves? GONE! Joints? GONE! Charlotte? Territorial as hell! It was hilarious!

We left them out there for awhile. I find solace in the fact that although an animal gave it's life, we are very good about honoring it and using everything we can. I think that's my thought of the day. Honor your food. If it's from the ground or had a heartbeat... just honor it. Make it special and realize what a gift honest food is. No preservatives. No processing. Just raw nature. Natural food is a gift we should all learn to appreciate a bit more. I know tonight as my dogs are sprawled across the living room floor in blissful and joyful sleep, they are appreciating nature and honoring their delicious treats of the day!

Damn, I wish I was my dog...


Thursday, January 12, 2012

Yes Deer!

This year my husband took a dear hunting. The processor turned a good bit into sausage so my goal was to find some new ways to use deer. Today, amongst finding boxes and more unpacking, I managed to come up with some decent dishes. I know what you're thinking... Deer? Eww. Not so much! Bambi is good, y'all!

Number 1: Ragu very much...

1 Onion, diced
3 cloves of garlic, minced
about a foot of deer sausage, casing removed and sliced into medalions
1 inch of peeled chopped ginger root
1 tbsp paprika
1/4 tsp cinnamon
1 tbsp fresh coriander (ground in a spice grinder or mortar)
about 2 cups of carrots, sliced into thin medallions
1 can chickpeas
1 zucchini, diced
1 yellow squash, diced
1 can stewed or diced tomatoes (whatever is in the pantry works!)
1 can tomato paste
2 cups chicken stock (much better if home made)

Saute everything but the tomatoes in about 2 tbsp of olive oil. When it starts to get a little crusty (not burnt, this is NOT a Cajun dish) add some of the stock to deglaze (this is foodie talk for get all the crusties off the bottom)the pot. Add the rest of the ingredients and cook for about 10-20 minutes. If you have more time, well go ahead and leave it on. Nothing will really hurt it at this point. Just turn the heat down low.

I served it over some mashed potatoes. I kind of like the Idaho boxed potatoes. They don't have anything but dehydrated spuds and none of that weird junk. Add your own weird junk!

Makes a great hearty meal for a cold day. Even my husband, the squash hater, liked this one. He did however want to trade out the chick peas for green beans, which is totally acceptable! Throw whatever you have in the pot so long as it's a veggie.

Number 2: Can you Deer? Chili

This one is super hard. You'll need a crock pot, can opener, and possibly a knife. That last one is up to you.

1 ft long section of smoked deer sausage (substitute whatever meat you like here if it isn't available)
2 cans of black beans
2 cans light kidney beans
1 can dark kidney beans
2 cans corn
1 onion, diced
1 pack taco seasoning
2 cans diced tomato and green chili
1-2 fresh diced jalapeno

Throw everything (including liquid from cans) in a crock pot on high for like a minimum of 4 hours. This stuff is great the next day. Make some corn bread for it though. It tends to get a little warm. You can tone it down with some extra corn or beans. If you want to use fresh, go for it.

I also made some of Jen's famous chicken soup. I'll let her tell you about that one. Sufficed to say, it's like, awesome.


I haven't quite gotten the kitchen back together. Everything is still in boxes or wrapping. Though that doesn't seem to make you any less hungry... ever...

So here's a quick way to dress up popcorn. It uses my absolute favorite spice company, Penzey's Spices


For fresh > 1 cup popcorn kernels, 3 tbs coconut oil, 1/2 tsp good salt

For easy > 1 bag of microwave popcorn

If you're using microwave popcorn, put the bag in the microwave and press "Popcorn".

For fresh, heat the coconut oil in the bottom of a medium sized pot or high sided pan. Make sure it has a lid or you'll be cleaning up popcorn for awhile. Add the popcorn kernels to the pot and swirl in oil over medium high heat. Keep the lid on but vented a touch. In 5-10 minutes it will start to pop. Keep swirling so the fresh kernels can hit the oil. When it stops popping heavily or your pot fills (either one works) take it off immediately and dump it into a bowl. Sprinkle with the salt mixture and toss well.

Now to make it awesome:

Take about 1/4 tsp of Penzey's Spices "Brady Street" seasoning. Sprinkle and toss well with about 2 tbs of melted butter and popcorn. I'm telling you, it's like heaven!

Once I have pots and pans again and a kitchen I can move in without knocking stuff off counters, I'll post some more!

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Recipes while traveling (or how to make wallpaper paste)

So, Jessie is on part two of her "adventure" (or, is it part 3?). She is on a ferry in the middle of the ocean and we have had communications via text all day. But, that does not diminish her superpowers of coming up with appropriate ideas for what is for dinner. So, I thought I would share our conversation this afternoon (while I was at work transcribing minutes from the last board meeting and she was around Ketchikan and had a cell signal).

Jen: Got any good recipes for potatoes? I have a shit ton and I'm best at mashed. (read: I don't feel like making mashed potatoes tonight)

Jessie: I bought that cookbook at your recommendation. It has a bunch of good potato recipes.

The fiddlehead one. (please ignore the lack of proper grammar... it's a text message... like yours are always grammatically correct?)

Yeah. You said it was good so I bought it. :)

The millet bread recipe is awesome. We call it bird seed bread and it was out (should be our) favorite when the restaurant was open. (I secretly hope that Jessie perfects this recipe as she is awesome at bread and I suck at it... OK, now that it has been published for all to see, not so secretly)

So... from here, we have a few non-food related text messages that pertain to my opinions on the best way to get rid of a bruise (lavender oil... seriously) and a funny blog she introduced me to (barefoot foodie - hilarious!)... I won't bore you with this discussion, but I will bore you with more of our food related conversation...

How about twice baked potato? They freeze and reheat well

I have about every potato imaginable except for russet. My Yukon golds don't bake well.


What kind? Can I do a chicken chowder? (I have to make this clarification because Jessie has an affinity for the various kinds of seafood chowder at a local restaurant here in Juneau and I do not... I prefer land-based animals in my bowl, thank-you-very-much)

Yeah. Or corn

I've tried making corn chowder and I don't care for it. (I'm starting to sound like a whiny little bitch about now, aren't I?)

Chicken would be ok

Have I bored you yet? Yeah, it was a really intense conversation about potatoes and chowder options... I know... But the recipe for wallpaper paste is included in these messages, I swear... There's a bunch more that extol how much work sucks and food is better, etc, etc... On to the recipe!

Purple potatoes broasted (I'm assuming that this is supposed to be "roasted") with cauliflower and pureed with cream is delightful. (See, I told you!)


Get an already cooked chicken and pull some to eat with the puree and you're set.

Is it like a soup? Or more like mashed 'tatos?

Kind of like grits.

Sounds easy and tasty.

It really is. Some salt and pepper and you're good. Could even throw some leftover Alfredo in (we made homemade Alfredo sauce for New Year's Eve)

What temp for roasting veggies?


K. I might make that tonight and make the soup tomorrow (one of the omitted conversations from above was about soup... my specialty)

Toss in some olive oil and maybe one of the seasonings I gave you. Then roast. Will give everything a nice flavor!

So, there you have it... We are so bad ass at recipes that we don't need more information than that... What? You do? OK... Here is more info:

Roughly chop up 1 head of cauliflower

Peel several potatoes (I used 3 med. sized yukon golds and 3 med. sized purple potatoes... feel free to use whatever you want) and chop into chunks... it's not too precise, but roughly the same size.

Put the chopped veggies into a cake pan or roasting pan. Drizzle the veggies with olive oil and sprinkle liberally with the seasonings of your choice.... salt, pepper, etc... whatever you like. Toss to coat.

Roast at 375 F until the cauliflower is golden brown and the potatoes are soft (pierce with a knife)... My oven took about an hour or so.

Here's where I took my liberties (and it probably resulted in why it turned out like wallpaper paste). After roasting, I mashed the veggies with a potato masher (so much for not making mashed potatoes), added about a cup of cream, a squeeze of crushed garlic from a tube (you could probably add some garlic cloves to the roasting pan, but I didn't think of this until after my veggies were roasted). I took my stick blender to puree it, because I don't own a food processor. I needed to add some more regular milk to it to loosen it up a bit. After tasting, it needed a lot of salt and pepper, but it was still pretty darn tasty. To save me some time and grief, I bought a rotisserie chicken from the store. The chicken and wallpaper paste combined was awesome! 

This is why I think that Jessie has awesome superpowers when it comes to food and recipes... She can be super stressed out, in the middle of "nowhere" with limited resources and electronic services, and she can knock it out of the park! I had absolutely no idea what I was going to have for dinner tonight and lucked out that she was available to give me some pointers... I probably would have ended up eating a bowl of Captain Crunch (not that there's anything wrong with that, of course, unless my mom is reading this...)

Completely satisfied in Juneau...


Monday, January 2, 2012

Breaking news: A new Petco opens in Juneau AK! Here's a recipe for fish!

His name is Mr. Fishy... I know, real original, right?
... It's one that I stole from the Fiddlehead cookbook to fry a lot of halibut one day for Fish & Chips. Note: This recipe is not to be confused with my new Betta fish... he is pretty and blue and is peacefully swimming around the Buddha... but I digress...

If you have ever been to Alaska or have ever thought of going, there are two things you should know:

 1. To enjoy Alaska you will need beer. Lots of it. Thankfully it's the state in the nation with more breweries per capita than anywhere else. I'm willing to go so far as to be the world. So drink up muthas!

2. Everything kind of smells like fish. Or bear poop. Take your pick, kinda the same thing. Tends to make you hungry, you know, after all the beer.

I need to throw on one last small note, when thinking of moving here, you may want to, you know, scout out a bit instead of throwing all your earthly possessions in a truck and moving across the country to find out maybe, just maybe, impulse decisions aren't so great.... Yay expensive mistakes! (again, I digress)...

On to the food, which made the 6,000 mile round trip move in 10 days totally worth it (in addition to my insurance company never being able to screw me because I have a current and accurate inventory of all my earthly shit).

What you'll need:
1 c all purpose flour
2 tsp oil (we're dealing with flash points here people, go high temp!)
2 tsp salt
1 cup of beer (drink the rest, and by god use ALASKAN! - if you use Budweiser, I cannot be held responsible for the quality of this dish)
2 egg whites
2 lbs of fish (or whatever you have)

How to make it yum:

Whisk flour, oil, salt, and beer together. Cover and let sit for half hour. Drink another beer.

In a separate bowl, whip egg whites til you can hold them over your head and they don't spill out. If you get covered in eggie goodness, try again. And possibly just ask a friend to stand near you. Its good for your hair and all but not entirely great for getting laid....

When it looks right (these will be standard directions, if you have questions, call us... or don't) fold the eggs into the batter.

Cut up the fish to look like, the right size. Somewhere around 2 inches works. Think of gym class, cold pool, banana hammock...

Dip the fish in the batter... oh yeah... feel the goodness.

Lower into some hot cooking oil (375 works). Note: after a few beers, you may want to watch your hands or use tongs. Hot oil is... well... hot. (PS - when using a deep fat fryer with a basket that you bought from Costco, DO NOT raise the basket and place drippy battered fish onto the basket and then lower it in the oil... this will cause all kinds of evil regarding your fish... Do what I figured out later: put the fish nuggets in one at a time with tongs and kind of hold them there for a little bit until the batter firms up... otherwise, you'll have a really bad burned mess to clean up, which is really only good for attracting firemen)

When the fish floats like a guppy at the pet store (but, golden brown and delicious), its good and done. DO NOT EAT IT RIGHT AWAY! Give it to the closest male and say "it might be hot". Drink another beer and laugh!

When he stops cursing, it's probably just right. Dig in!

Serve with lemon, or tartar, or vinegar. Depends on what floats your boat. Either way, that's some good shit.

Much love from AK (for now)...

Jen & Jessie