Zucchini Soup

We saw our first zucchini of the season at a farmer’s market this past Saturday. If you are like the Pickle Queen and myself,  you are always looking for a new way to use this plentiful garden veggie. If you haven’t thought about making a soup out of zucchini, try this recipe.

2 c zucchini, sliced thin
1/2 c onion, sliced thin
1 tsp lemon juice
1 c heavy cream
1 Tbsp butter
Salt and pepper
2 c chicken broth

Cook zucchini and onion in butter until soft. Add the remaining ingredients. Cover and simmer 20 to 30 minutes.

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Cold-Smoking

Both hot and cold smoking traditionally has been limited to proteins. Recently, innovative chefs, bartenders and regular Joes have been experimenting with smoking techniques in various ways. A bartender in Portland  hot-smokes ice, then re-freezes it to use in his cocktails. A chef cold-smokes yogurt to use with a salad to give it a smoky taste. The possibilities are endless. Here are some random, rambling thoughts on cold-smoking, with some hot-smoking thoughts thrown in.

  • Cold-smoking ingredients impact a smoky flavor to food that doesn’t need to be cooked (e.g. butter, cheeses, salt, nuts) or that you plan on cooking later.
  • Hot-smoking ingredients imparts a smoky flavor to foods while cooking them (e.g. meats,fish).
  • The four things you need for cold-smoking include: A way of producing smoke; A method of cooling the smoke before it gets to the smoke chamber; A smoke chamber to hold the food/ingredient being smoked; Methods to regulate the amount of heat and smoke.
  • The internal temperature of the smoke chamber for cold-smoking should be below 85 degrees.
  • For hot-smoking, the internal temperature of the smoke chamber should be between 120 to 180 degrees depending on what’s being smoked.
  • If the internal temperature of the smoke chamber is greater than 180 degrees, you are cooking rather than smoking.
  • The conditions for cold-smoking are also ideal for bacterial growth. Therefore, cold-smoking is usually done in the colder months or in colder regions of the world.
  • Since cold-smoking does not fully preserve the food being smoked, the finished product should be kept in the refrigerator until it is used.
  • In addition to cold and hot smoking, meats can also be cured through brining, salting, wind drying or combinations of these methods.
  • Since cold-smoking doesn’t cure meats, salting or brining before cold-smoking is suggested.
  • Various types of equipment is available for purchase, or you can make your own. Being fancy is NOT necessary!

Here are a couple of pictures of my cold-smoker.

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Southern Broiled Trout

Southerners have various ways of fixing most dishes. Here is a good recipe for broiled trout with a southern twist to it.

4 large fresh speckled trout
Salt and pepper
1/2 c melted butter
1/3 c lemon juice
5 Tbsp chopped parsley
1/2 c grated onion
1/2 tsp paprika
5 Tbsp Worcestershire sauce
Few grains cayenne pepper

Salt and pepper the fish and place on foil. Combine remaining ingredients and pour over the fish. Broil in 450 degree oven until done.

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Peanut Butter Bread

Remember how good peanut butter sandwiches used to taste, or still do in some of our cases. Have you ever wondered if anyone has come up with a way of having that goodness without the mess of smearing the peanut butter between two slices of bread, or on one slice if it’s an open-faced sandwich? Well, wonder no more. Here’s a recipe for peanut butter bread.

2 c flour
4 tsp baking-powder
1 tsp salt
1/2 c sugar
1 c milk
2/3 c peanut butter

After sifting the flour, measure and sift with the baking-powder and salt. Add the peanut butter and sugar, working the peanut butter into the dry ingredients with the tips of your fingers. Add the milk and mix lightly but thoroughly. Pour into a well-greased (or use cooking spray) baking pan. Bake at 420 degrees F. about 30 to 35 minutes.

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Liver Patties

If you like liver and onions, you’ll like these liver patties.

1 lb liver
2 slices bacon
1 small onion
1 green pepper
2 Tbsp flour
1 tsp salt
1/8 tsp pepper
1 egg

Grind the liver, bacon, onion and green pepper in a meat grinder. Combine and beat the egg, salt, pepper and flour. Add this mixture to the liver/bacon mixture. Mix well. Drop from a spoon onto a greased griddle. Serve hot.

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Simmering Beans

This is number 6 in what may be considered a series on dried beans. We’ve decided which types of beans to plant, grew our own beans, harvested, dried, stored and finally washed and soaked the beans in preparing them for use. Now, we have to simmer them until they are tender.

In generations past, our ancestors were urged to simmer their beans in the same water in which they soaked them. Today no one is quite certain whether to do the same or to use fresh water for simmering. To most people, the minimal loss of nutrients into the water during the soaking process doesn’t offset the better taste and less “musical fruit” problem when simmered in fresh water. If you are in it for the nutrients, and don’t mind the diminished taste and the gas, use the same soaking water for simmering your beans. Also, remember that the more times you consume beans, the more your body becomes accustomed to the extra B vitamins and fiber found in the beans (less music). I know that my taste buds can’t tell ‘used’ water from ‘fresh’ water and would bet yours can’t either. If you use a salt soak, the extra salt in the ‘used’ water may result in over salted beans. Some people taste the soaking water to determine if it is sweet or bitter. They will simmer in the soaking water if the taste is sweet and use fresh water if it is bitter. I guess the last word would be that it’s six of one and half a dozen of the other. Do what you want. There’s no right or wrong.

Where there is a right or wrong is adding baking soda to the simmering water. DON’T use the old trick of adding baking soda thinking it will speed up the simmering process. Baking soda will destroy the vitamins found in the beans.

Foaming can also be a problem when simmering beans. Add a tablespoon of butter or cooking oil to the simmering water or simply tilt the lid and lower the heat until the foaming stops.

A few things come into play when considering the amount of time to simmer the beans. Varietal differences, length of storage and dryness of the bean are the big three. Allow extra time from what the recipe suggests, just in case. The beans are done when the skins begin to break open and they are tender all the way through when you bite into them. Remember, the acid found in tomatoes, vinegar and wine slows down the cooking process, so add them last if time matters.

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Roasted Hog Maw

What is hog maw you might wonder. Hog maw is the exterior muscular wall of a pig’s stomach without the interior lining (mucosa). The hog maw contains no fat if the stomach has been cleaned properly. If you are a connoisseur of Chinese, Italian, Mexican, Pennsylvania Dutch or Portuguese dishes, you may be familiar with or have eaten hog maw. Here’s a recipe for plain ole roasted hog maw.

1 pig stomach
2-1/2 lb ground pork sausage
1/2 c diced celery
1 small onion, chopped
1 tsp salt
1 small bag seasoned pork stuffing
1 c warm water
1/3 butter
1 qt raw diced potato

Wash and clean the pig’s stomach and soak in salt water for 2 hours. Mix stuffing with the warm water and butter. Add the other ingredients and mix well. Rinse, drain and fill the stomach with the stuffing mixture at the end of the soaking period. Secure the opening to the stomach with picks or lace it shut. Bake in a covered roasting pan for 3 hours at 350 degrees F.

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