November 29, 2011

Dark Days Fast Leftover Turkey Pumpkin Chili

A super quick version of pumpkin chili to use up leftover pumpkin puree from pie making and turkey from Thanksgiving.  This is made with local ingredients, except the spices.  It was a perfect way to make use of the turkey that we feel obliged to have every Thanksgiving but no one in our family really loves.

Fast Leftover Turkey Pumpkin Chili
Makes about 3 servings

3 cups cubed roasted turkey meat
1 1/2 medium onions, diced
~1 green pepper, diced
1 stalk celery, diced
1 tablespoon turkey schmaltz (or oil)
1 1/2 cups pumpkin puree
1 pint jar crushed tomatoes
2-3 tablespoons ancho chili powder
2 teaspoons ground cumin
1 teaspoon oregano
1 teaspoon granulated garlic
smoked salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

-Cube your turkey meat into ~3/4 inch cubes.  All dark meat would be my preference but I used both white and dark meat in this and was surprised that the white meat was saved by the chili spices.
-Soften the onion, green pepper and celery in the turkey schmaltz along with salt and pepper.  If you're not like me and don't almost religiously save fat from roasting meat then by all means use a neutral oil.
-Add the spices and cook about a minute until fragrant.  Add the pumpkin and tomatoes. Season to taste with smoked salt and black pepper.  The smoked salt really does add depth and improve this quick dish.
-Add the turkey meat and bring to a simmer.  Do not let it boil!
-Simmer for 10 minutes, check seasonings and serve.

I'm adding this to the Dark Days of Winter Challenge.  Recipes will be recapped on Sundays at Not Dabbling In Normal.  Also visit our Midwest coordinator at Unearthing this Life.

Dark Days Challenge info: We got our turkey from Hubbell Farm.  The onion and green pepper are from my garden (I actually used two tiny peppers left from a bunch that I saved right before the hard frost and were left neglected in the crisper). The pumpkin and the tomatoes were both from the farmers market but I don't remember who grew them, the tomatoes I canned in August.  The celery stalk and the spices are not local but all but the cumin was organic.

Other pumpkin chilis I've bookmarked lately:
Primal Pumpkin Madness
Pumpkin chili with venison

The kids were reading Christmas books together.  I love this time of year!

November 24, 2011

DB Filipino Desserts

Catherine of Munchie Musings was our November Daring Bakers’ host and she challenged us to make a traditional Filipino dessert – the delicious Sans Rival cake! And for those of us who wanted to try an additional Filipino dessert, Catherine also gave us a bonus recipe for Bibingka which comes from her friend Jun of Jun-blog.

Filipino desserts were chosen to be this month's Daring Baker challenge.  Already wheat-free with lots of eggs and low dairy these recipes were a fun adventure that began with making salted duck eggs.  Raw duck eggs sat on my pantry shelf, curing in a salt brine, for over 20 days before they were boiled and used as a garnish for the sweet rice cake, Bibingka.  The salted eggs weren't that strange in flavor but the texture was unusual.  To complete the authentic flavor, the rice cake bowl was lined with a banana leaf I clipped from my own banana plant.   It was an interesting combination but not something I loved.  The Sans Rival was a more familiar recipe for a chocolate nut meringue, cashew in the original recipe/almond in mine, layered with French butter cream.  The meringue was wonderful, chewy and nutty and a tad crispy.  The lack of real butter in my butter cream was disappointing but mattered little to the kids who haven't had anything frosted in a while.  It was fun to try some new things.  Thanks for the challenge Catherine!

-For the complete challenge recipes visit our host, Catherine, at her blog Munchie Musings.  The Sans Rival recipe is her creation.  For the original Bibingka recipe and more Filipino food take a look at the site Jun-blog.
-My alterations this month were simple.  Coconut oil in place of the butter in the Bibinka and no cheese.  I used Spectrum Butter Flavor shortening in the butter cream, remember that it is unsalted and so you need to add salt to the egg yolks so that it will dissolve.  The butter cream was flat tasting without any salt and added later it didn't dissolve.  If I were to try this butter cream again I would try  adding a single tablespoon of milk (almond or coconut) to cut the waxiness of the shortening.  It did pipe beautifully though!

The chocolate Sans Rival
A vanilla frosted version requested by Alex
My banana plants
Their sacrificial leaf
My flock feasting on $1ea after Halloween pumpkins.  
They graciously provided the eggs for this challenge.
Our dog Perfect, I'm recently trying to get her out with the poultry with the hope that I can train her to help in some way.  Of course I have no idea what I'm doing but she is smart and obedient and starting to get over her puppy craziness.

November 12, 2011

"Gremolata" Balls for the Freezer

To stash the last of my fresh parsley from my garden I made this. It's only sort of gremolata because I added lemon juice and olive oil in an attempt to have it last better in the freezer.  I tried it out on top of roasted beef marrow bones and it was fantastic!  The verdant and piquant flavor cut through the richness of the marrow.  I plan on using the rest of my stash to garnish stewed meat or soup, similar to the uses for gremolata on osso bucco or like pistou in soup.

"Gremolata" Balls for the Freezer
Take a couple of cups of fresh parsley and pulse in a food processor with a couple cloves of garlic.  Add the zest from one lemon and the juice from 1/2 lemon with enough olive oil to moisten.  Salt and pepper to taste and add more garlic or oil until you like the flavor.  Scoop tablespoons onto a cookie sheet, freeze until solid, then store in an airtight container (zip bag, etc).  Serve on top of stewed meat or as a last minute addition to perk up a bowl of winter soup.  To serve: place a still frozen ball in soup or allow one to defrost slightly and then spread on top of stewed meat.  Also very good in place of parsley salad with roasted marrow bones.

A homesteading milestone

This weekend I pushed myself to get enough done around the house so that I could have nothing in particular to do and was blessed with a sunny day to enjoy doing my "nothing", which meant having a lot of fun.  We started out with a deep cleaning and winter prep of the coop. While we were there our fussy chicken, which I have only recently decided to call Gertrude, was sitting on a big pile of eggs. She didn't mind us taking the eggs but got a bit frantic when I started cleaning out the old bedding. We soon found out that this was because she needed a nest to lay in. Just after I got the new bedding in place Alex was watching her remake her nest and got to see an egg come out of her!! Of course I'm tremendously jealous of missing such a rare opportunity but so thrilled that we've given Alex this chance to experience things most kids would never see outside of YouTube.

We finished the coop cleaning and after some time hand feeding the chickens autumnberries we made our way down to the garden to see what was left there. In the frost aftermath we found two forgotten mini pumpkins, a couple bunches of beets, broccoli, parsley, cauliflower, and a cabbage.   We also found an orange-sized watermelon that had been buried under the foliage until the hard frost hit.  It was pink inside but a little mushy so it went to the poultry.  Alex ran off to try building up a fire and Penny and I followed the dogs around until it was time for her nap.

Later, we went out to our new property. Yes, we've done something really crazy and bought a farm. It's sorta an investment, sorta a hopefully we'll change gears and move there thing, if, if, if... It's complicated but basically it was just too good to pass up. And it has a barn!! And a spring! And ponds! And a log cabin!  Anyway, see the pictures for more.
Alex in the coop with Gertrude
Garden harvest
Alex with the freshest egg we've seen yet
Penny practicing some ninja moves with a bamboo stake
The spring on our new property
The big willow at one of the ponds
The barn *swoon*
An old wagon in the barn which fascinates me
The log cabin
A project from last week, we pressed some apples from our land into cider.
Milkweed Fuzzy Penny
Dreamy Penny

November 8, 2011

Enjoying some Enjoy Life Freebies

If you are a parent of a food allergic kid it is unlikely you haven't heard of the brand Enjoy Life.  For us their chocolate chips have long been an essential staple.  They have been especially helpful since we have mostly eliminated soy this year and soy-free chocolate is very hard to find.  When we heard the news of their new Mega Chunks, we ran out to buy some as soon as our local co-op had them.  So I gladly accepted some free goodies and in exchange I'm mentioning them here.  We received a package of the Mega Chunks and something new for us, their Double Chocolate Crunch Granola.

The Mega Chunks don't disappoint.  They are the same chocolate as their mini chips in a useful bigger chunk size.  While I'd personally love it if they came out with a bittersweet version with less sugar I can't deny that my kids think their chocolate is great.  The granola however isn't something I think we'd buy.  Penny kinda liked it but Alex and I thought it was too hard.  It reminded me of Grape Nuts in texture and had a floury rice flavor.  We aren't granola eaters to begin with so take that into consideration.  I will come clean and recommend their new Crunchy Sugar Crisp Cookies.  I know, I know-- I rail against store bought cookies!  But these are really good tasting basic sugar cookies and they beat out the gluten-free sugar cookies I've so far tried to make.  Everyone has to eat their words sometimes, including me, not that I won't keep trying to top them ;)

Here is Alex sharing his own taste test of the Mega Chunks:
And Penny with some granola

We received these products free of charge but this is our honest review of them.
See more about Enjoy Life at: The Enjoy Life website, Enjoy Life blog and of course on Facebook

November 7, 2011

Going Whole Hog 2011

Going whole hog figuratively but half hog literally, this year I purchased a half pig from Bare Knuckle Farm and had it broken up into primal cuts to further process myself.  I cured and smoked bacon and a whole ham and with the help of friends made a bunch of fresh sausages to stash in the freezer.  

Not only has this been a project I've wanted to try for awhile but it's also a way for us to have locally, responsibly raised, pork sausage without the risk of sneaky milk powder, which my son Alex cannot have.  For all my pork preparations I followed the instructions in the book Charcuterie by Brian Polcyn and Michael Ruhlman.   This book is amazing!  The directions are detailed, easy to follow and very helpfully they include a basic ratio for fresh pork sausage.  The tough part was deciding what flavor sausages to make.  

We ended up making a maple breakfast sausage (with my maple syrup), a basic herb garlic sausage (sage and rosemary from my garden), a chorizo-like sausage with smoked paprika, a garlic chive/ginger sausage (similar to the meatballs in this soup), and apple/anise seed.  I already owned the KitchenAid meat grinder attachment but went ahead and bought the sausage stuffer attachment in spite of the bad reviews.  At times burping out the bubbles of air got a little tricky but by creating a raised platform to catch the stuffed sausages I thought it worked decently, worth the space and money saved compared to buying a dedicated sausage stuffer.  You can see my set up in the photos.  I also highly recommend the food tray attachment.  Why didn't I know they had that sooner!
Here are some things I'd like to remember/try for next year:

  • Mentally prepare yourself for the lewd *sausage* jokes your husband will make repeatedly, there is no stopping him.
  • Have a pot of soup on for the meat cutting.  We were starving and needed a break from our sausage testing nibbles. 
  • Buy hard cider for the apple sausage 
  • Get some beef to make hot dogs at the same time
  • Don't bother with the breakfast sausage sized casings unless making hot dogs too.  Instead make sliceable logs of breakfast sausage.
  • Don't forget to make a dried cherry sausage
  • Make and hot smoke some kielbasa


  • Weigh the ham before sticking in brine to accurately get curing time.  I forgot and had to guess.  The ham was still edible (and good) but it was half ham and half pork roast.  
  • Add some cloves, maybe other spices to ham brine.

  • Borrow meat slicer from mom and dad
  • Don't wait until next year to get another pork belly, homemade bacon is so awesome!
This year's sausages: maple breakfast, herb/garlic, apple/anise seed, garlic chive/ginger, and chorizo-inspired
My setup for sausage stuffing
The sausages with Charcuterie.
Note the labelled tags for quick reference, I highly recommend doing this.
With my mommy duties, I couldn't participate in most of the recent event in our town, Pigstock TC.  A pork enthusiasts dream, you can read more about Pigstock in this My North article. I did get to go to one of their events open to the public, a breakdown of a half hog, and took a bunch of photos.  It was incredibly helpful and maybe next year I'll do the job myself.

For a description of what is happening in each photo, go to the Flickr set

Created with Admarket's flickrSLiDR.
I added this post to the Make Your Own Mondays 

November 4, 2011

Pumpkin Donut Holes (redone GF/DF)

I made these last week to bring to our orchard trip because even though the place we visited doesn't sell donuts it is ingrained in me that cider must equal donuts.  Besides, it had officially been at least 3 months since my last donut frying and four times a year seems reasonable to me.  These are a work in progress because the batter is too loose to make into rings and can only be scooped into donut holes but that doesn't stop them from being delicious!

GF Pumpkin Donut Holes
Thanks to Comfy Belly's Pumpkin Muffin recipe for giving me a starting point.
Makes ~ 3 dozen holes

1/2 cup roasted pumpkin puree (or use canned pumpkin)
3/4 cup maple syrup
4 eggs
1/2 cup sweet rice flour
6 tablespoons arrowroot starch
6 tablespoons coconut flour
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon grated nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon allspice
1/2 cup fine maple sugar + 1 teaspoon cinnamon, optional for coating the finished donuts
+Fat to fry in, I used rendered beef tallow but of course you could use another high heat fat/oil.

-Warm your fat/oil, you will need at least an inch but preferably two inches in a heavy pot.  I use a enameled cast iron dutch oven to fry in.
-Mix the pumpkin, syrup and eggs by hand or in a food processor.
-Whisk together the dry ingredients and add to the wet.  Process or stir until combined.
-When the fat reaches 350 degrees F, scoop tablespoon sized blobs of batter carefully into the hot fat.  Add more blobs but do not overcrowd.
-Turn the holes gently with a wire spider or slotted spoon.  Fry until dark golden brown, ~ 1 1/2 minutes.   For the best results time a sacrificial hole and cut it open at one minute to see if the interior is cakey and cooked through.  Then judge how much more than one minute you may need of frying time.
-Remove the donuts and drain on a wire cooling rack set over a baking sheet to catch any dripping grease.
-After they have cooled enough to handle quickly, roll them in maple sugar and cinnamon mixture.  They are also good with a chocolate glaze.

*In search of a vegan pumpkin donut made with wheat flour?  Here is my recipe from a few years ago.  For a gluten-free and vegan option, I am fairly certain that these recent donuts would work well with flax eggs (1 tablespoon flaxseed meal + 2 tablespoons water = 1 egg) but I haven't tried it yet.

Some Halloween pictures to share as well, one of the family
Me and my little devil, Alex
Angel Penny and John the dark wizard