Pigs in a Blanket (Sarma)

Sarma

“…the following is a rendition of Gramma Anna’s Sarma recipe which she tried to teach me to make. Like her Povetica recipe, so was her Sarma- all memorized with pioneer measurements- a handful of this or that- a pinch or a dash of something else- always turning out delicious (perfect) dish.”
An excerpt from the family history book my Grandma wrote. Gramma Anna would have been my great grandma. She came from Yugoslavia (the old country), I don’t think she ever learned English. My grandpa grew up speaking Croatian and learned English once he started school.

I never knew Gramma Anna, but if her cooking and baking was as good as Grandma, it was great! Her Povetica is something that we still make for all special occasions and holidays. It’s this great nut roll with walnuts, honey and cinnamon. There are other kinds but this is the one we make the most. I’ve heard Gramma Anna’s recipe used baking powder rather than yeast, but Grandma uses yeast so for now I do too.

PoveticaAs for the Sarma (Pigs in a Blanket) which is what I was really excited to tell you about. Grandma made  this for our family Christmas dinner this year and it was wonderful!.I admit the first time I heard Pigs in a Blanket I thought of corn dogs (which I find kinda disgusting). Sarma is a recipe Gramma Anna brought with her from the Old Country. Its ground ham and beef with rice in a ball wrapped in a cabbage leaf and cooked in sauerkraut. Yum! Ok maybe it’s not for everyone, but I definitely recommend giving it a try!

Sarma
Sarma
Walnut Povetica
Print Recipe
Servings
1 12x18 pan
Servings
1 12x18 pan
Walnut Povetica
Print Recipe
Servings
1 12x18 pan
Servings
1 12x18 pan
Ingredients
  • 6 tbsp Yeast
  • 1/4 cup Warm Water
  • 1 tsp Sugar
  • 1/4 cup Sugar
  • 2 tsp salt
  • 1/4 cup Butter melted
  • 3 each Eggs
  • 1/4 cup Vegetable Oil
  • 2 cup Warm Milk.
  • 8 cup Flour
  • 3 1/2 lbs Ground Walnuts
  • 1 cup Brown Sugar
  • 2 cup Honey
  • 2 can Evaporated Milk I use buttermilk
  • 1 cup Butter melted
  • 2 tsp Vanilla
  • 2 tsp Cinnamon
  • 3 1/2 lbs Ground Walnuts
  • 1 cup Brown Sugar
  • 2 cup Honey
  • 2 can Evaporated Milk I use buttermilk
  • 1 cup Butter melted
  • 2 tsp Vanilla
  • 2 tsp Cinnamon
Servings: 12x18 pan
Instructions
  1. Mix the yeast, water and sugar in a bowl and set aside.
  2. In another bowl combine the second sugar, salt, butter, eggs, vegetable oil and milk. Mix well.
  3. Slowly add the first bowl to the second.
  4. Gradually add the flour while stirring.
  5. This will make a medium soft dough. Knead by hand for 10-15 minutes.
  6. Let this rise until it doubled in a greased bowl covered with a flour sack towel.
  7. FILLING:
  8. Mix all of this together and cook over low heat for about 10 ten minutes, stirring occasionally. Remove from the heat and allow to cool.
  9. ASSEMBLY:
  10. Roll the dough very thin on a floured surface. (Grandma rolls the dough to almost paper thin so the edges of the dough hang over this sides of a dinner table). Carefully spread the filling onto the dough.
  11. Combine 1 c sugar and enough cinnamon for a good mixture and sprinkle over the filling.
  12. Drop by the tsp. some soft butter here and there. Then roll the dough up like cinnamon rolls. Roll this very tightly! Swirl the roll into you pan. DONT LET THIS RISE!! Cover with tin foil.
  13. Bake at 325 for 1 1/2 hour. If it needs to brown more, remove the foil and bake for another few minutes.
Share this Recipe
 
Sarma (Pigs in a Blanket)
Print Recipe
Sarma (Pigs in a Blanket)
Print Recipe
Ingredients
  • 2 lb ground Beef
  • 2 1/2 -3 lb ground Ham or pork
  • 3/4 c White Rice uncooked (I use brown rice)
  • 1 tsp garlic
  • 2 tsp Paprika
  • 1/2 tsp Black Pepper
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 3/4 c Water
  • 1/4 c Diced Onion
  • 1 each Cabbage head
  • 1 qt Sauerkraut or more if you like
Servings:
Instructions
  1. Mix everything together except the cabbage and kraut and shape into balls a little smaller than a tennis ball and wrap in a wilted cabbage leaf. Set aside.
  2. Wilt the cabbage leaves in a pot of steaming but not boiling water.
  3. Remove the leaves from the water and save the water.
  4. Lay the wilted leaves flat.
  5. Put a layer of kraut in the bottom of the kettle, layer with leaf wrapped meatballs and cover with the remaining sauerkraut.
  6. Add enough cabbage water to cover the kraut. Sprinkle with additional paprika.
  7. Simmer for 1 1/2 hours or until done.
  8. Then Serve!
Recipe Notes

* Unwrapped meat balls will freeze well for later.

I know it doesn't sound like much but it's great winter comfort food. I like it with a good squash or mashed potatoes

Share this Recipe
 

 

Continue Reading

The Canning Stocks and Soups

 

CanningIt may be the dead of winter and there’s nothing to harvest outside but I still have my mason jars and canner going. Winter is a season of hearty foods; beef roast, roasted chicken or ham to name a few. When the meat has been mostly picked from the bone I love to make soups and stocks.

Soup was never meant to be made in small batches as far as I’m concerned. After a little bit of this and little bit of that,  there’s a lot of everything. So I usually make a big pot of soup and can three to four quarts. I have such a hard time buying cans of soup, I don’t trust their ingredients (paranoid, I know) and the lining on the inside of the can leaches chemicals into the soup, not to mention soup is so easy to make.

I prefer homemade stocks for a lot of the same reasons. I do feel the store bought stocks are missing some important nutrition as well. I also can guarantee my stocks are made of grass fed animal bones.

Canning Soup
Canning soup is so easy too! When I make soup a make a huge pot, we have a meal of it and I can the rest. With an exception of noodles; I don’t can soups with noodles. A soup like Chicken Noodle, I make the whole soup without the noodles, can it then add the noodles when I’m ready to serve it. Whole wheat pasta tends to get mushy fast especially when canned. Pasta also absorbs a lot of liquid. Bean soups, and vegetable soups can great!

Basic Stock (from baked chicken, beef bone or ham bone
Print Recipe
Basic Stock (from baked chicken, beef bone or ham bone
Print Recipe
Ingredients
  • Bones from 1 baked Chicken or Beef Bones or Ham Bone
  • 1 each Yellow Onion chopped
  • 3 each Carrots chopped
  • 3 each Celery Sticks chopped
  • 4 each Garlic cloves smashed
  • 2 each Bay Leaves
  • to taste Salt and Pepper
Servings:
Instructions
  1. Place everything into a large pot and fill with water.
  2. Bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer for about 6 hours. Adding water if needed
  3. At this point the stock is done.
  4. You can strain the stock and only keep the liquid, I just remove the bones. I like to keep the residual meat and vegetables because I usually use this for soup, if I make gravy or pasta I strain it as needed.
  5. To can the stock I pour it into quart jars, leaving 1 inch of head space and process for about 30-45 min.
Recipe Notes

This is a very a basic stock, using what I always have on hand during the winter.

In the summer adding fresh herbs to the simmering stock adds a lot of depth to the flavor.

I definitely recommend adding herbs as well as other root vegetables, and apples.

Apples add a really nice sweetness to the stock, usually ham stock.

Parsley goes great in chicken and beef stocks. Dill is good in chicken but I really like it with beef.

Options are endless so get creative!

Share this Recipe
 
Continue Reading

Good Morning English Muffin

 

English Muffin Rings

There are three different types of English Muffins, the good ones and the really good nook and cranny ones and Sour dough English Muffins. My favorite is the Sour Dough English Muffins, then the Really Good Nook & Cranny ones, but I will settle for the other.

English Muffins as we know them have, as most things, come from a long line of evolution. Starting with a pancake type bread, that turned into a crumpet almost biscuit type, then they were made with crumpet and bread scraps. Finally when they came to the States we adapted once again to what we know today. History in a nutshell.

**If you don’t have English muffin rings tuna cans with the bottom cut out works well too.

Really Good English Muffins (cut out)
Print Recipe
Really Good English Muffins (cut out)
Print Recipe
Ingredients
  • 1 c Milk
  • 1 tbsp Sugar
  • 2 1/2 tsp Dry Yeast
  • 1 each Egg
  • 2 cup Whole Wheat flour
  • 1 tsp Kosher Salt
Servings:
Instructions
  1. Warm the milk and dissolve the sugar in it.
  2. Add the yeast and egg. Mix to combine.
  3. Mix in the flour.
  4. Knead for a few minutes and let rise for an hour.
  5. Once risen, knead in the salt and let rise another half hour.
  6. Meanwhile, heat a cast iron skillet or pancake griddle to medium heat.
  7. Once the dough has risen a second time gently pat down to about 1/2 inch thick. Cut with round cookie cutter or tuna can.
  8. Sprinkle the skillet or griddle with cornmeal and place the cut muffin on the meal. Let it bake for 7-10 minutes and flip.
  9. Bake for another 7-10 minutes.
  10. Let cool slightly and pierce side with a fork to split. (I usually don't split them, rather I cut them as needed)
Share this Recipe
 
Really Good Nook and Cranny English Muffin
Print Recipe
Really Good Nook and Cranny English Muffin
Print Recipe
Ingredients
  • 1 tbsp Honey
  • 1 tsp Kosher Salt
  • 1 tbsp Butter
  • 1 cup Milk warm
  • 1 tbso Dry Yeast
  • 1/3 cup Water or Whey
  • 2 cup Light Whole Wheat Flour
  • Cornmeal
Servings:
Instructions
  1. In a mixing bowl combine the honey, butter, milk, and yeast.
  2. Mix and allow to sit until doubled.
  3. Add the water (whey) 1/2 tsp of salt and flour. Mix well and allow to sit for about 30 min.
  4. Add the remaining 1/2 tsp of salt.
  5. Place your English muffin rings on a cast iron pan, griddle or electric griddle heated to 300 degrees.
  6. Dust the pan/griddle with cornmeal and scoop the English muffin batter into the rings, about 1/3 c per ring. This may need to be adjusted depending on your ring size.
  7. Flip after about 5 minutes. Another 5 minutes and they are ready to eat!
Share this Recipe
 
Sour Dough English Muffins
Print Recipe
Sour Dough English Muffins
Print Recipe
Ingredients
  • 2 cup Sourdough Starter see notes
  • 2 cup Milk
  • 3 cup Light Whole Wheat Flour
  • 1 cup Whey or water
  • 1 tbsp Dry Yeast
  • 1/2 cup Wheat Bran
  • 2-2 1/2 cup Light Whole Wheat Flour
  • 1/4 cup Molasses
  • 1/4 cup Butter
  • 1 tbsp Kosher Salt
  • •Cornmeal
Servings:
Instructions
  1. Mix the milk, starter and 2 cups of flour together and allow to sit for 2 hours. This is a sponge.
  2. To the sponge add the whey, yeast, wheat bran, flour, molasses, butter and 1 1/2 tsp salt.
  3. Mix well and let set for 1 1/2 hours.
  4. Add the remaining 1 1/2 tsp salt.
  5. Grease your muffin rings and place on a greased baking sheet dusted with cornmeal.
  6. Scoop the dough into the rings, about 1/3c.
  7. Allow these to rest for 1 hour. Then dust the tops with cornmeal.
  8. Bake at 400 for 40 minutes, flipping the muffins after 20 minutes.
Recipe Notes

Starter- Basic Sour Dough Starter
In a wide mouth jar combine 1 cup water and 1 cup flour and mix well. Cover with a flour sack towel and secure with a rubber band.
Allow this to sit for two days on the counter.
Day 3 add 1/4 cup flour and 1/4 cup water.
Day 5 add 1/4 cup flour and 1/4 cup water.
Day 6 the starter is ready to use.
If you don't use the starter on day 6 place the starter in the refrigerator. Continue to "feed" the starter every few days. After a couple feedings without use remove some starter or it can sour.

Share this Recipe
 
Continue Reading

Butterscotch Brandy

Well ice fishing season is in full swing. It’s been -50 outside for a couple days but in the fish house things have been pretty toasty. The pickled eggs are already almost gone, hopefully the next batch will be ready soon. The butterscotch brandy is hot and ready!

Butterscotch Brandy

Butterscotch Brandy
Print Recipe
Butterscotch Brandy
Print Recipe
Ingredients
  • 1 cup Brown Sugar
  • 1/2 cup Honey
  • 1/4 cup Clarified Butter
  • dash Vanilla
  • pinch of Salt
  • .75 ltr bottle Brandy
Servings:
Instructions
  1. Combine the sugar and honey in a small sauce pan.
  2. Slowly heat to dissolve the sugar.
  3. Bring to a boil for 2 minutes.
  4. Remove from the heat and add the clarified butter (regular butter will work, but your end product will be very cloudy), a dash of vanilla and pinch of salt.
  5. Mix this well and allow to cool.
  6. Stir in the brandy and serve!
Share this Recipe
 

Continue Reading

My Most Expensive Vinegar

A while back I received a very good, very expensive bottle of wine as a gift of thanks. It was even signed by the vineyard owner. It was a red wine, I usually prefer white but this was the perfect blend of fruit, chocolate and floral. It had wonderful flavor. I know because it was my job to create a dessert to pair with it. I have been saving my bottle for a special occasion.

When we moved the last of our things to reach the farm were a few miscellaneous boxes, garden and yard tools that were just stacked in the barn to be organized this spring. I went out in search of something the other day, what it was I don’t remember. What I found was a box labeled “fragile kitchen”. I had been missing a couple things in the kitchen but not enough to really think twice. Until I noticed the bottom corner of the box was purple.

My special bottle of wine had froze, and in doing so push up the cork and leaked all over. I was so disappointed. Having been expose to air, once the bottle thawed it would either need to be consumed immediately or left to turn to vinegar. I’m all for a bottle of wine but 10 am on a Tuesday, alone could be a bit questionable.

In it’s most basic form vinegar is just wine gone bad. Not bad like unusable bad but bad like not drinkable as wine. Wine left exposed to air will pick up natural bacteria and aromatic yeasts which will feast on the alcohol and leave acetic acid in it’s place.

The type of vinegar is distinguished by it’s source of alcohol. For example my excellent red wine will turn to red wine vinegar, Apple Cider vinegar comes from the obvious hard apple cider, Rice Wine vinegar from rice wine, you get the picture.

The most widely used is distilled vinegar made of grain. (Malt vinegar is also made of grain but the process is a bit different resulting in a darker colored and more flavorful vinegar than its counterpart.) The popularity of distilled vinegar is growing rapidly as people are again exploring it’s many uses. Try searching uses for vinegar, you will find more sites boasting 101 ways to use vinegar. Apple Cider vinegar is a close second for the same reason, everyone having 101 ways to use it.

The alcohol content of the wine will determine the amount of time the wine will need to age to turn to vinegar and the acidity of the finished vinegar. A very rough estimation of time would be about two weeks in a warm, somewhat humid environment and about five weeks in a cool, dry environment.

If you are making your own wine vinegar it is best to follow the steps of making good wine all the way to then. Let it age as if you were planning to use it for wine and then expose it to air and allow it to further ferment. (Wine is already a fermented product) Once the alcohol has been consumed by the yeast the process is done. The vinegar will be shelf stable (not needing canning or refrigeration). Vinegar is the end of the line so to speak, it won’t turn into something else if left to sit longer.  You can taste your wine every week or few days to check this.

Fruit vinegars are another fun kitchen experiment. Put your fruit scraps in a crock or jar, add a little sugar and enough water to cover everything and let this sit to ferment for 2 to 4 weeks. (Longer if you like) This technique works great with apple scraps. When we were in Mexico I talked to a chef and was introduced pineapple vinegar, in which the same process was used. Pineapple scraps, sugar and water. Upon more searching I found a recipe for this in the book “Wild Fermentation” by Sandor Ellix Katz.

Homemade vinegar tends to be a little cloudy unless it is strained or pasteurized because it contains “mother”. The mother of the vinegar is good. Pasteurizing the vinegar will kill the mother and some of the healing properties. It would be comparable to raw milk verse pasteurized milk; both have health benefits but the unpasteurized of the two will have good bacteria that aids the body in many ways.

Infused  Herbal vinegars are a fun thing to make as well. Simply collect herbs, flowers, fruits, (you can us stalks, stems, leaves, petals, or even root in some cases) even nuts chop them finely and put them in a jar. Fill the jar with vinegar leaving about an inch of headspace. Seal with a cork or a few layers of wax paper under your jar lid. If the vinegar comes in contact with metal is will act as a corrosive and will poorly flavor your vinegar. Allow this to sit for about six weeks. It can be left longer, it will continue to get stronger. After the desired amount of time strain out the herbs and your vinegar is ready to use. It can be used for and recipe calling for vinegar; marinades, salad dressings, added to steamed vegetables, stir fry, soup, anything! Don’t be afraid to get creative with your herbs.

You can make vinegar until the cows come home and use it just as fast, if you do all 101 uses. You may also lose a few friends or at least be demoted to phone conversations only; you can only sit with someone soaked in vinegar for so long. Ok, I might be exaggerating a bit, but you get my point. After reading a ridiculous amount of things you can do with vinegar I think I will just stick with the couple that I use regularly.

Distilled Vinegar
Cleaning, of course. It’s great at killing bacteria, mold and unwanted germs. With a little baking soda and vinegar you can clean anything! (I know there are a million “recipes” for cleaning with vinegar and soda, but there’s no real need. Just a dash of vinegar and enough soda to use as a light abrasive when there’s extra scrubbing required.
Laundry, I add about a cup of vinegar during the wash cycle sometimes. It does a lot in there, whitens, removes any soap residue, softens, helps to repel lint among other things.

Apple Cider Vinegar With Mother
Digestion help, I mix a shot glass of vinegar with a glass of water to aid in digestion. ACV works as an anti-inflammatory; having IBD, anti-inflammatory is good.  Also I have a very acidic body, the cider vinegar, though acidic itself actually helps to turn your system more alkaline. This is  good because cancer cells like an acidic environment, so keeping your body more alkaline helps keep cancer at bay. There are more health benefits to drinking the ACV but those are the reasons I like it.
Facial Toner, every other day I put some ACV on a cotton square and use it as a toner. It helps to heal tissues and again anti-inflammatory. If you plan to do any serious detox you will most likely get some acne and inflamed face due to toxins leaving your body. ACV will help heal and sooth this. Only use it until things are under control.  **Don’t use full strength daily, it is very acidic and even with it’s healing properties less is again more. If you would like to use this daily dilute it to at least a 50/50 mixture with water.
Hair Rinse, I mix 3/4 ACV and 1/4 water and pour over my wet hair every few days. If you’ve ever had well water you know that you can get some mineral build up on your hair as well as some soap residue sometime. The ACV strips this from your hair leaving it soft and shiny again.

Continue Reading