Saturday, February 21, 2009

Spam and Eggs

This morning I ate something I never thought I'd eat again. SPAM!
I remembered, for some reason, I never liked the stuff. My dad loved it and forced me to eat it. One of those WWII things I guess. I hadn't eaten the stuff in so long, I forgot why I didn't like it. Well, I got the chance to recall why. My lovely husband brought home a can of the stuff in the spirit of the depression/recession we're living in these days. I was torn about this. On the one hand, I could remember hating the stuff, and on the other, I was intrigued. I mean, all Hawaiians eat the stuff right? Even McDonald's in Hawaii serve it. Maybe it was just a childhood thing. There are so many things I didn't like as a kid that I do now, things like avocados and crab, so hey! Maybe it'll be an eating revelation. So I fried it up in some butter, like it said to do on the can, along with some fried eggs.
The first bite, for me, was unbelievably salty. And I'm a salt maniac. I over salt EVERYTHING, and this was too salty for me. I didn't remember that from my childhood. My husband devoured it. The girls fell in love with it. I enjoyed half of the first slice, then I started feeling extremely thirsty. I forced down two whole slices, regretting it as I ate it, as my husband moaned in pleasure an my girls raved about the stuff, all the while telling me how thirsty they were quickly becoming. About 10 minutes after it was gone, my stomach cramped up and I was running for the bathroom. This only happened to me, everyone else was fine. I spent my entire morning on the couch in a nauseous state burping the stuff, remembering this is the reason I didn't like the stuff as a child. It all came back to me. That affect it has on my stomach. I don't think I can ever eat the stuff again. It's probably more of a mental thing, but Spam just doesn't sit on my stomach well. If I ever go to Hawaii, I'll have to avoid the Spam burgers and just stick with the roast pig at the Luau. So, I think if I have to depend on Spam as my depression meat, I may have to become a vegetarian and just eat what has been grown in our garden. I'll leave the can's of Spam to my family, who, like my father, seem to love the stuff.
So! In the spirit of Spam and eggs, enjoy this Monty Python skit about Spam:

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Loleta Cheese

I just want to give a shout out to a couple of our local businesses who both provide outstanding products to our county from our little town of Loleta. First is the Loleta Meat Market located on 350 Main St. in downtown Loleta. The owner, Pixie, makes some of the best sausage I've ever had!
And if you're a hunter, she'll butcher what you've bagged for you. You can reach Loleta Meat Market at 707-733-5319.
And second is the Loleta Cheese Factory. They've been in business in our little town, making some of the best cheese ever, since 1980. If you can't make it to Loleta to stop by and pick up some awesome cheese you can click on the link above and order on line. Get yourself some Loleta Cheese and have a cheesy day!
I just love living in dairy land!

Monday, February 16, 2009

Waste Not Want Not - Homemade Chicken Broth

A few days ago I roasted a chicken, then used the leftovers for enchiladas. So today, I used the carcass to make chicken stock. As the saying goes, "waste not want not."

Why take the time to make chicken stock? First of all, it's easy, second, it's a great way to use up vegetables in the fridge that are close to going bad, still safe to eat, but not really good enough for anything but broth, third, you're using the whole animal, and fourth, homemade chicken stock has far less sodium then canned, and far more nutrition; collagen, niacin, riboflavin and calcium and plain ol' tastes better.

The only downfall to making your own stock is time. But that's workable. Plan your roast chicken around your day off. On the day you're off throw your stock ingredients in a pot with some cold water, bring to a boil and simmer for 4 hours. If you're a vegetarian and could care less about what to do with a chicken carcass you can still make a good veggie broth, putting all of your odds and ends of veggies from your fridge in a pot with water, spices, peppercorns and some kosher salt and simmer for 2 hours and you have a great veggie stock. Again, waste not want not.

What you need to make Chicken Stock:
1 chicken carcass
2 to 3 carrots
2 to 4 celery stalks ( great way to use up those little stalks you never use up)
1 onion quartered
2 garlic cloves, peeled and smashed.
1 bay leaf
10 to 15 peppercorns
a sprig of thyme
a few pieces of fresh oregano
4 or 5 leaves of fresh sage
several springs of parsely
8 quarts of water

Bring to a boil and simmer for 4 hours. Strain, cool and place in containers. The broth should keep for 1 to 2 weeks in your fridge and for up to 3 months in your freezer. If you'd like a darker richer broth, roast the bones for 40 minutes in a 450 degree oven before making the stock.

Enjoy your stock!

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Valentines Day Dinner and more

With the economy the way it is, I've been trying to be more frugal and to waste less. We already recycle everything we possibly can, and all food waste goes to either the compost or the chickens. (Chickens are remarkable garbage disposals - they could almost put a pig to shame.) Now, I'm trying to find other ways to stretch our food. A while back I bought an overpriced watermelon for my youngest daughter. It's hard to say no when they ask for healthy foods. I had some kind of "oh yeah" moment when I recalled seeing pickled watermelon rinds in a store when I was a child. I thought, "hmmm. Why not? I'll give it a shot and pickle the rind and not waste it." I haven't been brave enough to try the end results yet, but here is the one jar I managed to pickle.

Looks yummy. I'll let you know when I try it if it was worth the effort.

The other thing I've been doing is buying whole chickens instead of the pieces. It's so much cheaper. I roasted one the other night and it came out perfect along with mashed sweet potatoes (using up left overs) and green beans. Of course we had plenty of leftovers from the chicken, so I used the meat to make enchiladas and I'll be making stock with the carcass.
I was lazy and used canned enchilada sauce, which made this an easy way to use up the chicken.
I sauted half and onion and a couple cloves of garlic with the chicken meat I pulled off the carcass and added some red enchilada sauce. I heated up the rest of the sauce and dipped each corn tortilla in it to make them pliable then placed about a 1/4 cup of chicken in each on and topped it with shredded jack cheese. I rolled them, topped them with the remaining sauce and more shredded cheese and baked in a 350 degree oven for about 20 minutes. They came out great.
So, with all of this frugal food prep, we were able to afford going out to a nice Valentines Dinner with our girls. I know, not so romantic with the kids along, but it was a nice dinner. We went to Hurricane Kate's for dinner.

Unfortunately we got an inexperienced waitress, but fortunately for her, we're experienced diners and helped her along. The kitchen staff was spot on as usual. John and I started our meal with cocktails. He had a mojito and I had something called Bloody Refresher. Sounds awful, but if you like bloody mary's and martini's you'll like this. The nice thing about Hurricane Kates is that they give everyone crayons, whether you have kids or not, and you can draw on the butcher paper table cloths. They also have a good kids menu. My youngest had a grilled cheese sandwich and fresh fruit, which she devoured. My oldest had a personal cheese pizza which looked awesome! We ordered a starter called "The Holy War" which is a plate of "Angels" (bacon wrapped scallops) and Demons (bacon wrapped chicken livers). They were so good, even the girls enjoyed them. I must get one of those cheap buckets of chicken livers and start making my own at home! Then John had their hot and sour soup, which was apparently good from the vacuum sound I heard from across the table as he inhaled it. I ordered a Shafts blue cheese and asian pear salad. I was expecting their normally small salads, but was surprised to get a huge salad. It was delicious and my husband was lucky enough to get his salad fix for the day since it was too much for me to finish with a full meal coming. Next John had the Grilled Cumin Spice Rubbed New York Steak - with Tomatillo Salsa Verda, Cuban Spiced Black Beans, Red Annatto Rice, and Grilled Peppers. It was cooked to a perfect medium rare. I was lucky enough to get a bite. I had one of the specials of the evening. Bacon encrusted steehlead served in a clam chowder sauce. The sauce was more like a butter, white wine sauce with 4 perfectly cooked butter clams cooked in it. I wish I could learn how to cook fish as perfectly as that steelhead was cooked. Steelhead is a far milder fish then salmon, and the bacon made a nice salty and crunchy contrast to the buttery milk texture of the fish. Mixed in the clam chowder sauce was wilted spinach and fresh corn, and the fish was placed on top of 4 potato croquettes, which I could have made a meal of alone. I woke up wishing had had some to eat for breakfast. They were barely fried and crunchy on the outside and creamy and smooth on the inside. I'm drooling thinking about them. All together a great dinner.

Then to top the evening off we went to a great place that has been in Eureka's old town for years and years. Bonbonniere Ice Cream shop. It's in an old victorian era store constructed of brick (not a place to be in an earthquake, but hey! If you're going to die, you might as well be eating the best ice cream in Humboldt County while you do it) and got the youngest a cotton candy ice cream cone and my oldest some homemade fudge. I almost got some of their locally made green tea ice cream, but decided I wasn't up for a stomach rupture and just had a double espresso with my husband. The kids were happily sleepy and ready for bed when we got home, and John and I got to enjoy a good movie by ourselves and finish off our Valentines Day romantically quiet.
Hope everyone else had a nice Valentines Day. Next holiday up......Mardis Gras!

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Humboldt Crud

No it's not some new recipe. Unfortunately, it's the reason I haven't posted anything in so long. So sorry. First my oldest came home from school sick, then I spent 5 days moving from my bed to the couch, now my youngest is home with the crud and an ear infection. It's been a rough year. We don't usually get too sick in this household, so I know these viruses are bad ones. I'm hearing from the rumor mill that the whole county is having issues with sickness right now. So, I'm baking up a chicken covered in ginger and garlic, hoping the heal ourselves with some home cooked food. Wish us luck and I hope to be back on top of my blogging game soon.
Hope everyone else out there is well!