Here's the view from my kitchen window. Actually, there's a lot more snow now that what you see here - we got 5 inches or so today and it's still coming down. The stubborn chickens still haven't ventured out of their coop since the first snow fell. They seem content to stay inside, where they're eating a lot of food and laying a lot of eggs. We've had some bitterly cold days here with highs of 10 degrees or lower, so I can't say I blame them.
The big news is that Dave moved out this week, exactly a year to the day from when I arrived from California and moved in with him. He's graduated from school and moved on to his own house. Living with my little brother has been a blast. It's an experience I won't ever regret and I think we'll be closer in later years because of it. That said, it's very nice to have this little house all to myself! There's a good chance that Stanley will move in in the spring, and though I am very excited about that, I'm also planning to make the most of a few months to myself.
I know a food blogger is supposed to make a big deal of the holidays, but obviously Christmas slipped right by without a peep from the Good Food Muse. I generally find holidays like this to be too busy and hectic to blog. Taking pictures and finding the time to write seems like an unnecessary stress in the middle of a fun but nevertheless stressful time. Blogging is supposed to be fun, not a burden! Needless to say, I had a wonderful holiday and ate lots of delicious food.
This is the story of a meal I made a few days ago for Dave and Stanley. Venison stew, pumpkin pie, and a Jerusalem artichoke and citrus salad.
This venison roast was not the most appetizing cut of meat I've worked with, at least not initially. The deer was butchered by Stanley's father and brother. They did a nice job, but it's definitely different working with meat like this compared to a roast from a professional butcher. It took a while to cut the white gristle and sinew away....
One I did, the meat suddenly looked a lot better, beautiful even! This venison has a vibrant deep red color to it that I really like. It's incredibly lean, and chock full of iron and other good stuff.
The meat got cubed and I browned it with a little local sunflower oil. I've switched almost entirely from olive oil to sunflower oil. It's really tasty, and it's just wonderful to have a local oil to work with!
Steamy browning meat.
I was going for straight traditional stew, nothing fancy: local carrots, onions, and potatoes did the trick. I seasoned it with dried thyme, a tiny bit of garam masala, and cayenne.
For the liquid I pulled this bag of tomato sauce out of the freezer. It is so nice to have these frozen goodies saved from the summer!
I added the tomato sauce, a little local apple cider, and water to make a thick liquid and cooked the sucker on low for a few hours. It was really really cold out (close to zero F), and the aroma of the stew bubbling away was the most delightful thing I can imagine. Winter's not so bad when you've got something like this on the stove!
This is the last of the Winter Luxury Pumpkins I grew. I had roasted it a few days prior (with a bit of sunflower oil of course!). It was getting a little soft, and wasn't in the best shape. I had a feeling the flesh would be stringy, but I decided to make a pie anyhow.
If you follow this blog you know that I usually make everything from scratch. This is an exception. We make these pie crusts at the Co-op. They're made from organic flour, and at $3.49 for two, are a steal. I am terrible at pie crust, so I gave in this time and just bought two..... some day I will work on my pie crust and never buy one ever again. Some day, but not today.
I had some crumbles leftover from the brittle I made for Christmas (this was the second batch that included maple syrup, apple brandy, hickory nuts, and bacon.) I pressed it into the pie crusts to add an extra flavor dimension.
Through the magic of the food processor and the addition of eggs, condensed milk, and spices, my pumpkins were transformed into a smooth custard, just perfect for pie. For the first time, I didn't use a recipe for pumpkin pie - I used the whole pumpkin without measuring and intuitively added the right amount of eggs and spices. It worked! I poured it into the pie crusts and started the pies baking.
Every meal needs something fresh and crunchy. I don't care that it's January. These local Jerusalem artichokes provided just the crunch I was looking for and were the base for my salad.
I am generally a locavore. Last winter I barely bought any produce that came from outside the state. I've been avoiding California fruits this year too, but I broke down last weekend and bought a bunch of citrus. I couldn't help it. It's citrus season, and I just can't bear to miss it entirely. This Meyer lemon was one of my choices.
The tangerine selection was pretty limited at the Co-op. What I really wanted was a Page mandarin or a Fairchild tangerine - something with a lot of bold citrus flavor, not just a one dimensional sweet and/or tart flavor. I ended up with this minneola tangelo. The produce manager recommended it to me, and I wasn't thrilled but I wasn't disappointed either. It did make me realize that 6 years in California as a produce buyer must have turned me into a citrus snob.
Anyhow, here's the salad I put together. The last of the local Honeycrisp apples, Jerusalem artichokes, minneola, walnuts, and Meyer lemon juice. I added a tiny bit of mayo to make it creamy. When it was done, I was impressed with myself - it was delicious and had just the right combination of flavors and textures.
Speaking of delicious, here's the finished stew. I tasted it at the end and decided to add a bit more apple cider and some apple cider vinegar. It turned out flavorful, hearty, warming.... everything a stew should be.
The pies also turned out well. I wasn't completely happy with the texture of the pumpkin - I should have used it sooner. It was fibrous, but the flavor and a big dolop of whipped cream made up for it. We ate almost a whole one betweeen the three of us, and unfortunately I left the other pie out overnight. As much as I wanted to, my food safety training dictated that we not eat it after sitting out so long. Damn. At least it will give the chickens a delicious meal!
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