Monthly Archives: July 2012

Preserving | Pat Crocker

 

A great way to sample today’s harvest tomorrow.

Preserving: The Canning and Freezing Guide for All Seasons

TITLE: Preserving: The Canning and Freezing Guide for All Seasons
AUTHOR: Pat Crocker
PUBLISHER: William Morrow
CUISINE: Canning/Preserving

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Featured Ingredient: Mason Jar
A Mason jar is a molded glass jar used in canning to preserve food. The mouth of the jarA friend in the kitchen; or, What to cook and how to cook it .. (1899) by CircaSassy has screw threads on its outer perimeter to accept a metal ring (or “band”). The band, when screwed down, presses a separate stamped steel disc-shaped lid against the rim of the jar. An integral rubber ring on the underside of the lid creates a hermetic seal to the jar. The bands and lids usually come with new jars, and bands and lids are also sold separately; while the bands are reusable, the lids are intended for single use when canning. [Wikipedia]

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First Impressions
If you’re into canning or preserving food in any way shape or form, this cookbook will make your eyes bulge (in a good way). It is really something to see. 541 pages of pure preserving pleasure. The cover says 140 recipes, but, there it seems there is WAY more going on here than just recipes. The author, Pat Crocker, is also the photographer. And, she did a wonderful job. Big, bright, colorful images are used throughout. It doesn’t appear to be a canning handbook. It’s more than that. It’s a guide to making the freshness and flavor of each season last.

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What You’ll Find Inside (aka Table of Contents)
Introduction
Preserving Basics
Spring
Summer
Fall
Winter

Each of the seasons is broken down by the fruit or vegetable that is available at that time. There are a lot! Too numerous to breakout. Sixty different sub-categories.

• • • • •

FLASHBACK: 1978

I realize that canning people are happy people, but, this is over the top! I’m not sure who told this guy that wearing that apron was a good idea. Obviously, he had no clue that YouTube would come thirty almost years later.

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The Best Of The Book (Our Favorite Recipes)

Spring Herb Aioli Blueberry Grunt
Currant Catsup Grilled Salmon with Asian Plum Sauce
Dilled Beans Curry Pickling Spice Blend
Thai Turkey Garlic Scrape Pesto Potatoes
Country Style Chicken Vanilla Pears and Gingerbread
Honeyed Beets Frozen Coleslaw
Chile Corn Bread Gremolata
Lemon Curd Pineapple Mustard
Grilled Scallops with Roasted Tomato, Fennel and Basil Relish Roasted Onion and Garlic Marmalade

 

Under the artichokes sub section is a great recipe for Roasted Chicken Thighs, Artichokes and New Potatoes (p. 78). If this tastes half as good as it looks it should be a family favorite for years to come. I love nectarines. So, the Curried Summer Salad (p. 172) is a no brainer. Those spices blend great with that fruit. I’ve always wanted to try my hand at dill pickles. I’ve had the chance, but, never took the leap. I’m marking this recipe for Classic Dill Spears (p. 222) for when I take my maiden voyage into the world of pickle making. And, I can only think of ten thousand uses for this Mediterranean Herb Paste (p. 440). It might even taste great on your corn flakes.

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Special Features
OK, here’s the best way to sum this up: The entire cookbook is one big special feature. I wouldn’t even know where to begin. Each fruit or Preserving: The Canning and Freezing Guide for All Seasonsvegetable has unique handling tips and uses. There is a lot of storage advice and super useful timing charts. The basics section up front gives you a pretty good look at the canning process. A nice list of the required equipment follows. Since canning and preserving is a specialized thing, it’s helpful to see the list of things you’ll need. A glossary of terms helps you answers some of the questions that you will inevitably have. In the back of the book is an online resource list. Fantastic. There is one thing missing. With a book this size, it would have been great to have a bookmark ribbon. I can imagine this book will be littered with Post-It notes. You’ve got to keep your place one way or another. What no metric conversion chart? You just scored a few extra point with me!

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Conclusions
If you want to learn how to can like a pro you’ll only need one book. This one. You could probably toss the others out and not miss them much. I thought the process was tough. Pat breaks things down in easily understandable pieces. I’ve never canned a thing in my life. It’s not that I haven’t wanted to. I just haven’t. After reading Preserving: The Canning and Freezing Guide for All Seasons I can’t wait to pick my cucumbers and get at it!

• • • • •

Culinary Expertise Required: 6.5
1= Boiling Water (novice) 10= Liquid Nitrogen (expert)

Preserving: The Canning and Freezing Guide for All Seasons

Resources, Links and Press
Pat Crocker’s Website
National Center for Home Food Preservation
Ball Corporation
Preserving at Harper Collins

Girl Hunter | Georgia Pellegrini

 

They say that the hunt is half the fun.

Girl Hunter: Revolutionizing the Way We Eat, One Hunt at a Time

TITLE: Girl Hunter
AUTHOR: Georgia Pellegrini
PUBLISHER: Da Capo Lifelong Books
CUISINE: Game

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Featured Ingredient: Javelina
A peccary (plural peccaries; also javelina and skunk pig; Portuguese javali and Spanish2011/365/65 I'm So Pretty... by cogdogblog jabalí, sajino or pecarí) is a medium-sized mammal of the family Tayassuidae, or New World pigs. Peccaries are members of the artiodactyl suborder Suina, as are the pig family (Suidae) and possibly the hippopotamus family (Hippopotamidae).They are found in the southwestern area of North America and throughout Central and South America. Peccaries usually measure between 90 and 130 centimetres (3.0 and 4.3 ft) in length, and a full-grown adult usually weighs between about 20 to 40 kilograms (44 to 88 lb). The word “peccary” is derived from the Carib word pakira or paquira.

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First Impressions
If you’re expecting a straight forward game cookbook, you will be surprised. Pleasantly so. This cleverly written book is part cookbook, part travel log. It’s a collection of hunting stories with some nicely crafted recipes at the conclusion of each “hunt”. Girl Hunter, Georgia Pellegrini, ushers us through her journey to get better acquainted with her meals. Some people just grow tomatoes. Not this girl, she’s out tracking squirrels in upstate New York and stalking elk in the vastness of Wyoming.

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What You’ll Find Inside (aka Table of Contents)
The Beginning and the End
The Village
Hunting the Big Quest
Grouse and Other Creatures
Calamity Jane
The Upland High Life
A Moveable Feast
Waiting for Pate in the Floatant
All of the Jewels That Get Unnoticed in the World
NASCAR Hog Hunting
Seeing the Forest for the Squirrel

• • • • •

Sometimes bagging that rabbit may be more difficult than it first appears…

• • • • •

The Best Of The Book (Our Favorite Recipes)

Wild Turkey Schnitzel Pulled Javelina
Apple Wood Smoked Pheasant Stuffed Quail
Braised Hog Belly Buttermilk Fried Rabbit

 

I’m lucky. I have a friend who’s a hunter. The best part is he is willing to share. His freezer is pretty well stocked with venison, elk and caribou. We also have a county 4H youth fair close by. So, we have pretty easy access to ducks, rabbits, turkeys and the like. For most of these recipes I can find the main ingredient. That might be a tad tougher for others. Yes, there are some recipes that looked pretty delicious. I like Moroccan food. So, the Pheasant Tagine (P. 122) is right in my wheelhouse. Love those flavors. Jerry and I are going to make an attempt at the Elk Jerky (P. 85). So, you’ll see a complete post later on that recipe. Keep an eye out for that. If I can get him to part with some prime venison meat, I would like to try the Fried Venison Backstrap (p. 162). The original method is to cook this over an open campfire. We’ll have to see just how ambitious we are when the time comes.

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Special FeaturesGirl Hunter: Revolutionizing the Way We Eat, One Hunt at a Time
Lots of stuff packed into the back of the book. A nice section on marinades and gravies. There are two great charts located there. One for birds, the other for game. They list cooking temps and the characteristics of the meat. There is also a nice chart for aging game meat and birds. And what would a book on wild game be without a metric conversion chart?? I was sweating that one, second to last page! The only glaring omission is a list of game purveyors. Not everyone can go out and shoot their own dinner. Some people like me love the meat, but, don’t have the stomach for the killing part. Others, may just not have access or opportunity. There are lots of great places you can get game without trudging out to the fields. I’ll give you some online resources at the end of this post.

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Conclusions
This was a fun ride. From beginning to end, a great tale of education and indoctrination. You can tell that Georgia develops a rich respect for the food she is eating. The recipes are medium difficulty. The hardest part for most will be gathering the necessary ingredients. It’s not a game reference per se. But, it does have some special features you may refer back to again and again. If you’re looking for a tantalizing story that is intertwined with some delicious end results you’ve found your prey.

• • • • •

Culinary Expertise Required: 6.5
1= Boiling Water (novice) 10= Liquid Nitrogen (expert)

Girl Hunter: Revolutionizing the Way We Eat, One Hunt at a Time

Resources, Links and Press
D’Artagnan – Great site for all type of game meat and birds
Georgia’s Website
Follow Georgia on Twitter
Hunting Trips

Old School | Shrimp Toast

 

Sitting right alongside a pile of old magazines. In a dusty box, tucked away on a seldom used shelf. Or, possibly in a prominent place in your busy kitchen. There they sit. A piece of culinary history. Sometimes taken for granted, other times revered. Your family’s food legacy. This series of articles, “Old School”, aims to take those family traditions out of the recipe box and put them back on the plate.
Let’s enjoy the past together!

My Mom’s recipe box seems like a logical place to start…

Shrimp Toast

My mom was not a gourmet chef. She was a pretty capable home cook. She cooked delicious meals. Nothing flashy, just great home cooked food. She never owned an immersion blender, but, her soups turned out just fine. Her idea of “sous vide” was, Green Giant Boil n’ Bag. But, those veggies always came out perfect. Never fail (OK, maybe a touch on the soggy side).

She had a box of family recipes. As you can tell from the image above they’re well loved. At one point she transcribed them onto the computer and printed them out. She may have been trying to save the original cards. That appears to have been only partly successful.

Like most families, a lot of our traditional recipes revolved around the holidays. A special set for Thanksgiving and then a collection for everything else. Thanksgiving had/has its dishes that you could easily make any other time of the year, but, for some reason don’t. Sure you may cook a turkey from time to time. I know I do. But, the rest of the array of Thanksgiving foods make their appearance just once per year.

One of our turkey day standards was my mom’s Shrimp Toast. I’m sure she didn’t invent this recipe. But, like so many other family food finds, she is the default creator since no other attribution can be found (or admitted to).

Canned Shrimp

My sister has been in charge of making the Shrimp Toast at our Thanksgiving gathering for a while now. She’s a pro. In a blind taste test, four out of five tasters would be unable to discern which person had whipped up this year’s batch. Probably even five out of five. That’s a tribute to how well the original recipe has held up over time (and, to my sisters ability to follow directions.)

Want a try at it? Sure you do. The beauty is, if you make it right now, it won’t have a holiday association attached to it. That means you can make this easy and delicious appetizer year round and still feel pretty good about yourself.

Shrimp Toast

Ingredients
¼ butter, softened
1 can tiny shrimp
1 small jar, Old Tavern sharp cheddar
¼ tsp. garlic powder
1 Tbsp. mayonnaise
6 English muffin halves

Method
Preheat oven to 350°. In a medium size bowl, mix all of the above ingredients except the muffins together. Mix well.

Shrimp Toast Mixture

It should look like this.

Shrimp Toast Mixture

Spread the mixture on the 6 muffin halves. Cut each muffin into 6 pie shaped pieces. If you want to make this ahead, you can freeze the coated muffin pieces for later cooking.

Place pieces on a baking sheet and bake for about 15 minutes. Keep an eye on them on so they don’t burn. Remove from oven and serve immediately. It’s OK to burn the roof of your mouth like you would on a slice of pizza. I was led to believe that’s part of the charm.

Shrimp Toast

Remember, don’t eat too many. You’ll want to save room for your turkey and pumpkin pie!

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