Making Pear Cider Vinegar

This summer I purchased a case of pears and should have ordered at least two. I canned the fruit and saved the peals and cores to make cider vinegar. It is finally ready and tastes so good!

pear cider vinegar http://wildflowerfarm.orgI went about making the vinegar the same way I made apple cider vinegar, I added more sugar to this batch though.

All the scraps went into a two gallon crock with a few handfuls of granulated cane sugar and enough water to cover everything. I placed plastic wrap over the top and laid a flour sack towel over the top and brought it to the basement, which for the time being was the root cellar. It stayed relatively cool down there which caused the fermentation process to go much slower. Slow fermentation is just fine as long as it is “working”, if it stops fermenting it will most likely sour or go bad.

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The Dandelion Wine Has Been Bottled!

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Last spring I spent a morning picking dandelions in the front yard and using an old recipe that I wasn’t too sure how correct it really was I made wine. More on the beginning of this can be found in the link above.

I left off with the bottles being fitted with balloons. After that I received a call from my aunt, who knows her wine. She said wine will age better and have better flavor if it is aged in bulk rather than in the bottles. So I jumped on-line and ordered a large cask with the “little burp cork deals”. As soon as it arrived the bottles were emptied and everything was left to age in the cask.

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Apron Strings and Rolling Pins

I am not a food blogger. I do post recipes that I make on occasion. I should be a food blogger, from what I have seen they can make some good money just by tweeking other peoples work and some fancy pictures. I am not a photographer either. I do have a passion for the kitchen and the résumé  to show I have a good idea of what I’m doing.

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I grew up in the kitchen, helping mom with whatever was to be made for the day. I learned a lot watching her and grandma over the years. I served my time waiting tables; something I think everyone should have to do. It will give some perspective as to why things are not always as perfect as one would expect and just how greedy people can be. After graduation I went off to culinary school. Received my degree and started cooking in a couple small bars. From there I started in a bakery. At first it was my job to do the packaging, I then moved to cake decorator and soon after started a pastry chef apprenticeship. During this time I continued to further my education by taking pastry classes and attending conventions in Minneapolis, MN. When it was all said and done I earned my Journeyman Pastry Chef title (which means nothing in most smaller towns in Minnesota and North Dakota). I grew tired of the mandatory changes that were being imposed- the use of premade cakes and cookies, box mix cakes and bars, buckets of processed icing. I knew it was time to go. From there I started my own bakery, The Patisserie On Fourth, in downtown Bismarck, ND.

patisserie

At the age of 21 I was a business owner. It was a wonderful, humbling, trying and educational experience. We can get into that later if you’re really interested. I worked an average of 60 hours a week, baking, cleaning, accounting, the whole nine yards (even had a cot set up in the office over the Christmas season and for Downtown Street Fair)When the time felt right I decided to move on again. I sold the equipment and became a cook at The Toasted Frog of Bismarck, ND. It is great fine dining, martini bar and grill. During which I continued to bake and sell at the local farmers market. As time moves us, it was again time for me to move. The last move was back to northern Minnesota with my family, to our little farm where we are today. (and began working at the local telephone company, bet ya’ didn’t see that one coming. I didn’t either, but I’m thankful for the job.)

I continue to bake for the occasional wedding cake order and things of the sort. It’s a good way to “stay in shape”. Years ago I had dreamed of writing a cookbook and just never seemed to have the time or know where to start. At the bakery the recipes were made in too large of batches to try to put those into use. Finally on the farm I have been able to do some baking. Let’s be honest I’ve been doing more baking than any one household would ever find necessary. My husband has been a good support over the years and continues to be. I set my goal of the first cookbook done in one year.

ASRP Cover

It is finally finished! One year’s worth of baking like crazy all wrapped up into one nicely bound book (or ebook if you desire). It was a long process, I learned a few things and the finished product has turned out very nice. Over 70 recipes, a combination of breads, cakes, cookies, pies and more.

In writing a cookbook, one can not simply throw some recipes on a page and call it good. Each recipe must be tried multiple times, fixed when they don’t work and tried again. Then a picture should be taken because people like pictures these days. If you forget to take a picture and the cake gets eaten, the recipe must be made yet again. Unlike a lot of recipes found on-line, the recipes you set to print should be your own, not a copy and paste job, or copy and change a couple ingredients. I understand there are only so many ways to make something like Angel Food Cake, but for the majority it should be an original. If it’s not than should be made clear too. I did put a couple in my book that were versions of something old and something borrowed, I made sure to let you know which they were. (One was an amazing cookie recipe from http://Loneprairie.net. She also turned my sketch into the graphic design for the Patisserie’s logo years earlier.)

As for what I learned through this process, well here goes…

Measuring ALL the ingredients (including vanilla extract) can be hard to remember when the habit is “just add until it looks right”.

Remembering to use a timer is another challenge. I know it’s done when I can smell it or when it looks done. That is not an acceptable form of time for some people I guess.

Disposing of the multitude of  baked goods is a job all in itself. Thank God we have family, friends and coworkers that like to eat. (I still have a couple cakes and some cookies in the freezer if anyone is interested.)

I have a very hard time leaving recipes out (book two on the horizon) and not giving the endless variations. There are so many possibilities to one recipe I could very easily overwhelm the reader with them.

I am very thankful for a long napping little boy and that he was still up for taking 2 a day. (One for mama to bake, the other for mama to nap in the later months.)

If you don’t watch little boys closely while baking the kitchen can look like this… or worse.

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I now wash plasticware before and after I use it. On the other hand, by age one he knew exactly what to do with a rolling pin. (and proceeded to roll cheerios into the rugs. Yay!)

I make a valiant effort to add cinnamon and vanilla to almost everything. Sometimes it stays, others… I don’t know what I was thinking.

The simple “drag and drop” software to put a book together is a whole new challenge. It also comes with reformatting everything as you go.

Self-publishing is not a very profitable way to go about book selling; after print cost, commissions and shipping, you can break just above even if your lucky. Hey, it could be a stepping stone to something bigger. I’m just thrilled to have written one of my own.

After all that I am so glad I accomplished such a feat and began book 2 while I was waiting to get this one back from printing to proof!

Versions available to date are: Softcover, Hardcover, ebook in ipad format and pfd. Click the picture above or the link below to get your copy!

 http://blur.by/1ufkNRq

Do check out http://Loneprairie.net. She really has some amazing talent to share and hire! The Lone Prairie Magazine is always a good read, her paintings are wonderful, and she does free-lance writing if your in need.

 

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Pan de Muerto and Tamales

I am a little late but we finally had my Dia de los Muerto meal last night and it was great! Red rice, refried beans and tamales. It was as authentic tasting as you can get this close to Canada, with one exception, the method of wrapping.

Traditionally tamales are wrapped in a corn husk before steaming. It’s 50/50 whether or not I get those to turn out. This time I cut parchment paper squares and filled them just as I would a corn husk, it worked so well! I did still put the husk in the bottom of my steamer (my metal colander and soup pot). I don’t know that I will fill the corn husks again until I am trained by a little Mexican grandma.

Tamales in Parchment - Wildflowerfarm.orgThe tamales filling is rehydrated Ancho peppers, garlic, onion and chicken, wrapped in a masa paste if you will. They were then topped with a green sauce, made with tomatillos and pablano peppers. Delicious! The red rice was made with brown rice, pureed tomatoes, celery and onion. I make my refried beans with lard or bacon fat, pinto beans and some spices. My tamales and green sauce recipes can be found at the bottom.

Tamles - Wildflowerfarm.org

As I mentioned previously, I had hoped to make Pan de Muerto for Dia de los Muerto. The first round didn’t work. They looked nice and where the density of a hockey puck. I tried the recipe again, this time with none of my own changes. Again I had lovely, golden brown, sugar-coated hockey pucks. The third try, I made a few of my own changes again- the recipe called for 2 cups of sugar, to the 7 cups of flour. I’m pretty sure that’s where the density problem lies. That recipe turned out a little better but still not good. I then tried it with new yeast, thinking maybe my yeast had gotten old.

Hockey pucks.

I have decided that recipe is wrong and will not be trying that one again. From what I can see the dough is a sweet dough, that is rich with butter and eggs. Something similar to brioche or challah. This bread is driving me too crazy to wait for next year to try again. I am making my own recipe now.

Dead Mans Bread

I finally came up with something edible. However, I didn’t realize it would almost quadruple in size, so I still ended up with an ill-shaped, basketball loaf of bread. It needs work and for now will wait until after the holidays. I have a deer hide to tan and Christmas baking that needs to begin are just a couple things on the never ending list of things to do.

Tamales with Verde Sauce
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Tamales with Verde Sauce
Print Recipe
Ingredients
Meat Filling
  • 1 each Whole Chicken
  • 6 each Garlin Cloves
  • 1 each Yellow Onion sliced
  • 10 each Dried Ancho Chilies seeded and stems removed
  • 1 tbsp Lard
  • 2 tsp Kosher Salt
Masa
  • 4 cup Masa
  • 2 tbsp Lard
  • 2 tsp Baking Powder
  • 1 tsp Kosher Salt
  • 1 cup Chicken Stock
Verde Sauce
  • 1 lb Tomatillos husked and cut in half
  • 1/2 cup Chicken Stock
  • 1 each Poblano
  • 6 tbsp Cilantro
  • 1/2 each Yellow Onion chopped
  • 1 tsp Kosher Salt
Servings:
Instructions
Meat Filling
  1. Place the chilies in a medium sized bowl and pour hot water over them. Let the peppers sit for 10-20 minutes to rehydrate.
  2. Place the chicken in a stock pot, add enough water to cover the chicken. Chop 3 of the garlic cloves and add them to the pot as well as the onion. Bring the water to a boil, then reduce the heat to a simmer and cook until the chicken is cooked through
  3. Reserve the broth. Shred the chicken.
  4. In a sauce pan. sauté the rest of the garlic cloves with the chilies in the lard for about 5 minutes. Add the salt and shredded chicken.
Masa and Assembly
  1. Combine everything in a medium mixing bowl and stir for 5 minutes.
  2. Using corn husks that have been soaked until pliable, or parchment paper squares (about the size of your hand), spread 1-2 tbsp. (I use more and make them a little bigger, but traditionally -1-2 tbsp.) of masa mixture onto the center of the husk/paper.
  3. Pile about the same amount of chicken mixture on the masa. Fold the husk/paper- one long side over, then the two short sides in, followed by the last long side. Tie with a piece of butcher twine to keep them folded.
  4. If you are lucky enough to have a steamer place a couple corn husks in the bottom of the basket and line the edge with the folded tamales. If you do not have a steamer, use a large stock pot with a few inches of water at the bottom, place a metal colander into the pot (this must not sit in the water only above it!).
  5. Do the same, place the husks on the bottom of the colander and line it with the folded tamales and cover with the pan lid. Steam these for about one hour- Keep and eye on the water in the bottom of the pan you do not want it to run dry. To serve remove them from the husk/paper.
Verde Sauce
  1. Place everything but the cilantro into a sauce pan and cook until everything is very tender.
  2. Add the cilantro and puree. Serve this over the tamales
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Baked Oats – A delightfully easy breakfast bake

Baked Oats Wildflowerfarm.org

I like a big breakfast with all trimmings; eggs, bacon, hash browns, pancakes, it’s all good. As far as I’m concerned, cold cereal is a great snack or late night supper. Even the little boy gets eggs, meat, fruit and some sort of toast or pancake every morning. That’s just the way we do things.

Just like everyone else, I have those days that I know I will have a lot to do and could use something quick to serve. Baked Oats are one of the things I use for those days. I make them the night before (although they are best right out of the oven) that way the next morning all I have to do is warm them a little. By the time they are warm, the eggs are done and we are ready to eat!

This recipe is very easy to change to fit the tastes of anyone. Simply add other spices or substitute different fruits and/or nuts. The versatility of this recipe is great when it comes to keeping it simple and not too repetitive.

Baked Oats

2 c.            Old Fashioned Oats
1/3 c.         Spent Grains (optional)
1/4 c.         Flax seed, ground
1/3 c.         Brown Sugar
1 1/4 tsp.   Baking Powder
1 tsp.         Cinnamon
1/2 tsp.      Cardamom
1/2 tsp.      Kosher Salt
2/3 c.         Dried Cranberries
2/3 c.         Walnuts, chopped
1/3 c.         Chocolate Chips
3/4 c.         Heavy Whipping Cream
1 c.            Water
1 1/2 tsp.   Vanilla Extract
2 tbsp.       Coconut Oil, melted
1 ea.          Egg

In a large bowl, combine all of the dry ingredients. In a smaller bowl, combine all the wet ingredients and whisk them to break up the egg. Add the wet to the dry and stir to combine. Pour the mixture into a greased 9×13 pan, cover and bake at 375 for 30-35 minutes.

That’s it! Serve it immediately or the next day. It’s great “as is” but it also good with a little sweet cream too.

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