Beka To Basics

Real Food Cooking

Archive for the month “March, 2012”

Chicken and Meatballs and Bread, oh yum

The most exciting Friday night is happening here at my house tonight.

Lots and lots of cooking.  I have been slacking recently with my planning, but since I found a farm to buy meat from, I decided it was time to start again.  Especially since they only deliver once a month (sometimes twice).  My poor freezer. Almost full, half full, almost empty, completely stuffed.

So to make all my plans happen, it means I need to get cooking! Hence the exciting Friday night.

#1 – Sourdough Whole Wheat Bread

I’ve actually been working on this since last night, and I made bread without an exact recipe, so we’ll have to see how that turns out.  The crumbs are really sour – sourdough sour, but more so than the store bought sourdough I’ve had before.

#2 – Roast Chicken with Green Things

Yes, it’s probably the most awesome name you will ever hear for a recipe, ever. It’s exactly what it sounds like – take chicken, cover with butter, or oil or some other fat and the season with salt, pepper, and all of the green herbs you have.

#3 – Pasta Dough and Meatballs

Not too much of a recipe, but here it is.  Half ground beef, half ground pork, breadcrumbs, egg, garlic, random herbs that felt right at the moment.  They smell sooo good while they’re cooking.

And yes, this is just the beginning of what I have planned.  On the books for tomorrow, and the rest of the weekend?  Chicken stock, spaghetti sauce, Broccoli and cheese soup, making more bread (really, can there be too much?), and refried beans.

And later next week, my very first attempt at homemade gnocchi!!!

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Fat

Tallow and Lard

This week I bought meat directly from a farm for the first time in my life.  I also bought suet and pork back fat to make tallow and lard. I’ve used lard before, but always from bacon drippings, so I’ve only used it when I knew I wouldn’t mind a slight bacon flavor – like crackers! Back to the suet…

I didn’t realize that one order consisted of 8 pounds of suet.

You can’t just start cooking with it, you have to render it into tallow first.  After lots of internet searching I decided to try.  Suet is something else. Not quite butter like, not quite meat like, but it was relatively easy to cut up in chunks and grind in my food processor. At least I thought it was, until I almost killed the food processor grinding 8 pounds of fat.  Luckily, I think it will make it.

Into the crock pot (which will also recover from all the fat hopefully). A few hours later, it turned into this

Yummmm Crock Pot full of fat. Actually, it smells pretty strange and I’m glad I made the decision to render in the crock pot outside on my patio. Apparently that’s normal? And the smell goes away after it cools?

I’m letting it cool in a pan and tomorrow, I will be frying some potatoes and chicken wings in it!

(Which I hope is ok with all of the people coming over tomorrow. I guess I’ll find out when they get here…)

UPDATE:  The smell does subside as it cools.  It definitely has a tallow-y smell to it, but that’s ok.  It’s the way my grandma’s house used to smell. 🙂 Feels like home.

Raisin Rosemary Crackers

These are a copycat from Trader Joe’s Raisin Rosemary Crisp Crackers that I really love, but don’t want to spend the money on all the time.

They aren’t as crispy as the ones from TJ’s, but they’re still good and even better with goat cheese.  They’re really easy too.

I used an alteration of yet another Kitchen Stewardship recipe.  Use about a cup of whole wheat flour, 4 tbsp of butter, tsp or so of salt, tbsp sugar, rosemary, raisins roughly chopped, and enough cold water to make the dough come together.  Blend the dry ingredients together and cut in the butter.  Add water a little at a time and mix, but apparently not too much otherwise you’ll have tough crackers, although I can’t imagine tough crackers since they’re being baked until they’re crispy anyways.  Bake at 400 for 10 mins or so, mine took less time. They were a good first try, but I think I’ll leave out the sugar, or use less next time since they are a bit more sweet than I wanted. I rolled these out by hand, but while they were baking I realized I should have used the pasta press to make them even thinner (DUH!).

Putting All Your Eggs In One Basket?

Yep. That’s what I did.

And some more in an egg carton.

And even more in another egg carton.

And don’t forget about the ones that were already in my fridge…

You might ask, what to do with all those eggs?

I’ll tell you. Invite people over and feed them eggs. Or Invite them over and give them eggs when they leave. Or make sweet potato whole wheat buns and put an egg in them. Or (this is a novel idea) eat them. Because eggs are delicious.

My eggs come from the CSA that I signed up for this year.  I haven’t gotten any veggies yet (cause it’s still March), but I have gotten to go out to the farm and walk around and see all the little baby veggies that one day I will get to eat. AND I get an email about once a week basically begging all the CSA members to please come to the farm and pick up some free eggs.  AND I get to meet the chickens that lay my eggs. AND the farmer who takes care of them.

Dinner

Tonight we had tacos and guacamole on tortillas for dinner.  The past few nights we had white chicken chili with cabbage slaw.  Simple quick dinners, right?  Not so much.  It sometimes takes me three days to make one meal (one meal that can be eaten for a few days of course!).

White Chicken Chili – chicken, beans, peppers (and you’re probably asking how that could take soo long, don’t worry, I’ll tell you.)

For chili you need beans.  Beans come in a can, but cans are expensive, and wasteful, and who knows what is put in them.  So dried beans it is.  To eat the chili on Tuesday, the process starts on Monday morning.  Rinse and pick through beans and put them in a pot with a lot of water.  Monday night, drain, add new water. Tuesday morning, drain, add more water.  Put them in the crock pot Tuesday afternoon with some chicken stock (good thing I made that on Saturday so I have stock and chicken to put in the chili already), an onion, jalapenos, pepper, cayenne, cumin, and fresh garlic. Cook on high for a few hours, then add the chicken and heat on low for another hour or so.

One meal for the week done… now to start the next.

Tacos must have tortillas, and being me, I must make them.

Tacos on Thursday night means starting the tortillas on Wednesday night.  I use my sourdough starter, a cup of whole wheat flour and 1/4 of lard (yes, lard).  It’s a recipe for crackers that I found on Kitchen Stewardship, but it works awesome for tortillas.Mix it all together and let it sit in a tupperware until I’m ready to cook the tortillas.

Thursday night, make guacamole and taco filling.  I added an equal amount of refried beans to the taco meat to double the amount of filling I had. I made the refried beans the last time we had tacos and used half in that batch and froze half for later.

Can you tell half of that is beans?  Secret veggies!!!

On to the tortillas. After rolling them out, I put them in a cast iron pan and fry for a min or less on each side.

After you’re done, it’ll look something like this

What I did with my evening

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