Stuffed Acorn Squash

 

Stuffed Squash

Summer is a very distant memory now and there’s so many months of cold left. I think I’m pretty well acclimated now as I went to get the mail this afternoon and thought to myself it was pretty nice out… it was -10. That doesn’t mean I’m not craving a garden fresh meal on the deck. It’s still winter and winter flavors.

 

Stuffed Acorn Squash
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This stuffed acorn squash is a nice change of pace and has a few different adaptations too!
Stuffed Acorn Squash
Print Recipe
This stuffed acorn squash is a nice change of pace and has a few different adaptations too!
Ingredients
  • 4 each Acorn Squash
  • 1/2 each Yellow Onion diced
  • 1 each Carrot diced
  • 1 each Celery Stick diced
  • 3 each Garlic clove minced
  • 4 each Button Mushroom chopped
  • to taste •Salt and Pepper
  • 1/2 tsp Sage crushed
  • 1/2 lb Ground Elk
  • 1/2 lb lb Venision Sausage
Servings:
Instructions
  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Put the whole squash in the oven for 10 minutes then remove and slice off the bottom. Scoop out the "guts" (seeds and such). (the short time in the oven makes cutting the squash easier)
  3. In the mean time saute the rest in a cast iron pan. (I use cast iron for almost everything. I love it!)
  4. Once the meat is cooked through stuff the mixture into the squashes and place them in a Dutch oven with a little water.
  5. Cover and bake for about 45 min, just until the squash is done.
  6. Then serve.
Recipe Notes

Variations:

  • Substitute ground beef and pork sausage for elk and venison.
  •  Add 1 1/2 cup of cooked wild rice.
  • Add 1 cup of cooked wild rice and 1/2 cup of Craisins
  • Add 3/4 cup of crushed Ritz crackers and 1  egg. (this should be combined after the meat is browned and before stuffing the squash.

These are just a couple ideas add or subtract to fit your families tastes.
I usually just stuff two squash and save the rest of the filling as a start to hotdish, as my husband gets tired of leftovers and really likes hotdish. 🙂

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Canned Venison

 

Canned venison

Fall means deer season around here. Hunting opener was the one time of year you could be guaranteed to see more of the family on my dads side than any other holiday. Over the years the crowd has thinned considerably with the cousins growing up and spreading out and travel getting to be too much for some in the questionable northern weather.

This year I was graced with getting a small (very small) buck. Any other year I would have left him to grow for a few more years, this year however the freezer was empty and so is the checkbook. We moved before I could harvest our gardens at the old house so every little bit helps.

I went out about forty five minutes before sunrise because I wanted to get to my tree grove by the barn before shooting time. It was cool, but I was bundled for -50 out. I sat in the snow by the pine trees and waited.

I watched the sunrise in facing west. If you’ve never done this, you should it’s really quite amazing. Like most people I like to watch the sunrise and set facing the sun. It’s very hard to describe the rising in the west. It’s like God flips a switch, “and there was light” it’s not on a dimmer. Just dark to light. From then the little critters begin to stir and so do I. I’ve been sitting for about an hour, being quiet and not moving, that’s got to be record. I watched and waited for another hour and decided I was hungry and it was time for breakfast.

That afternoon we went to grandma’s. My dad said I could sit with him in his deer stand. I got a chair and it was heated. Now that’s my kind of deer hunting! It was almost dark and a little buck came into sight. With dad’s permission, I dropped him. He didn’t know what hit him. Just the way it should be, I don’t like them to suffer and I don’t like to track a wounded deer in the dark.

With the help of my brother, husband and a couple cousins the deer was hung, skinned and gutted. (I don’t think an animal that small takes the whole family to take care of but I don’t complain about help. 🙂 )

After it hung for a few days it was brought home. Dad, my husband and I cut it up into steaks, ground meat, sausage meat and some for canning. I would have loved to can the whole thing. There’s something great about hot canned venison over mashed potatoes with caramelized onions in the middle of winter. Good old comfort food.

 

Here’s my recipe:

Canned Venison
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Canned Venison
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Ingredients
  • 1 qt Canning Jar
  • 3 each Garlic cloves smashed
  • 2 slices Yellow Onion
  • 1 tsp Kosher Salt
  • 1/2 tsp Pepper
Servings:
Instructions
  1. Put everything in the jar and fill the rest of the jar with venison cut into chunks.
  2. Be sure to pack the meat in the jar, you don't want air pockets. Leave 1 inch of head space.
  3. Process in a canner for 3 hours.
  4. You can use a pressure cooker, I believe the process time is 1 1/2 hours. I do enough dangerous things around here I don't want to add pressure cooker to my list, so I water bath it.
Recipe Notes

To serve the venison just warm in a sauce pan. Saute a couple yellow onions in butter until they are a nice caramel color. Then mashed potatoes, I like russets, nothing fancy about them. Just boiled and mashed with butter and a dash of milk. Potatoes on the plate topped, with a scoop of onions and venison accompanied by a healthy slice of homemade sourdough. You just can't beat it.

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Felted Wool Dryer Balls

Felted Dryer Ball

I was recently snooping on the Mother Earth News and found an article on dryer balls. I had totally forgot about these! There’s not much to it and they’ve been around for years. Simply put they are a felted wool ball that you toss in the dryer. They tumble with your clothes separating them allowing the dryer to work more efficiently thus taking less time to dry. I’ve been told you don’t need to use dryer sheets when you use the wool balls because they soften your clothes during the tumbling. I still use the sheets because with our wood stove drying out the air we have a ridiculous amount of static and the sheets help.

Essentially, tennis balls would do the same thing. I use them to break in a new Carhart coat. Even though they would they would work to dry quickly and soften clothes, your clothes will end up smelling like tennis ball, not always the most appealing smell.

Using the clothes line in the winter kinda works. It’s how my grandma grew up doing laundry in the winter but I’m not that much of a die hard. I use the clothes line in the summer and dryer in the winter.

Here’s how to make your own:

Wool Scrap

I start with the scraps of pieces from previous projects and bits of wool that didn’t spin like I planned (I messed up). Wrap them tight to start the ball. Then continue to wind yarn in a ball as you would wind a skein to a ball. Normally I wind my yarn loose, I don’t like to lose the give in it. For the dryer balls wind them tight. The tighter the better.

Dryer Ball

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Once you’ve made your balls, place them in a pillow case and tie a string around the case to keep each ball in it’s own spot. If they rub together before they are felted the can unravel.

Toss the tied pillow case into the wash machine and was on with hot water and dry on the hottest setting in the dryer. (From what I’ve heard felting doesn’t work too well in the new wash machines with out the agitator. I don’t know, I’ve never had a new one)

Once they are dry and felted they are ready to use. Just toss them in the dryer and go! (The finished picture is at the very top.)

I use undyed wool yarn because I don’t want to worry about colors bleeding. You must use wool for it’s felting properties.

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Scratch Apple Cider Vinegar

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I could have sworn I wrote about making your own cider vinegar before. As I was reorganizing the recipe pages I couldn’t find the article. Apparently I just posted the recipes on the “What’s Cookin’ ” page. I guess I’d better get on it.

I generally make my vinegar in the fall when I make apple cider, apple butter and apple sauce. You can save your apple peels in the freezer through out the year and when you have enough thaw and ferment. Personally I never peal my apples, with the exception of pie and then they are usually given as dog treats.

By now you’ve probably heard about the million and one uses for distilled and apple cider vinegar. I have the beginning of a vinegar article started and I think that’s where I will leave the history, facts and tips.(Finished it here) So without further ado the easiest vinegar recipes:

Apple Cider Vinegar 1
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This works well with pears too!
Apple Cider Vinegar 1
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This works well with pears too!
Instructions
  1. Place apple peals, cores and scraps in a crock or bucket and cover with water.
  2. Place a plate on top to keep the apples submerged. An extra weight may be needed. A jar filled with water or a rock that has been scrubbed and boiled works well.
  3. Cover the crock with a tight woven cheese cloth or flour sack towel and move to a dark cool place.
  4. This will sit and ferment for about a month. A taste will tell if it's done. If it seems weak let it set for another week and try again. If it's to your liking strain the apple pieces and pour into glass jars for use.
  5. There will be some sediment at the bottom of the jars this is referred to as the "mother". It can be strained out through a coffee filter if you like.
Recipe Notes

**Adding some sugar or honey to your apple peals will give the good bacteria something more to munch on and will hasten and strengthen your vinegar.

** Do not use metal containers to ferment or store the vinegar.

**A piece of wax paper under a metal lid will help prevent corrosion of the lid.

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Apple Cider Vinegar 2
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This one I find to be a cheater recipe, but it does work.
Apple Cider Vinegar 2
Print Recipe
This one I find to be a cheater recipe, but it does work.
Instructions
  1. Any amount of Organic Apple Cider in a crock left to set on the counter will ferment in a week or less.
  2. Once fermented this can be bottled and finished as hard cider or left on the counter for another week or so (check after a week and let it set longer if needed) to turn to vinegar.
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Using a Tree For a Curtain Rod

Ok, so before Christmas I wrote “Don’t Mind the Tree in the Kitchen” and it was left “to be continued”. Well here’s the other half. It’s not nearly as big of a “Ta Da” as I had hoped.

curtains

This is a picture of the curtains in the kitchen. As you can see… you can’t. The wood shelf/valance that is there hides the rod. I was going to take it down but who ever put it up nailed it from every possible direction! Taking it down would involve filling holes, removing wall paper and painting. I will take on plenty of new projects but I am still sick of painting from when we moved in, so for now it stays.

above the sink

Using the drop cloth for the fabric has worked well. It got too cold much faster than I anticipated so I didn’t get the loops sewn to the back so they work as a roman shade rather than a tie back curtain. The one above the sink is done. Pictured here.

I still hope to use some brown paint and paint a silhouette of a tree with branches reaching through all three panels. That’s permanent and I haven’t got my game plan together yet.

work room

This window in our “work room” or craft room works well with the tree. You will have to excuse the curtains, the belong in a different room but for demonstration sake I hung them here. With a few twigs or a round of dried flowers or leaves for tie back they would be simple but kinda cute. For the mean time, it doesn’t get above -20 out, so keeping the cold out and the warm in is my goal. I plan to revamp the window treatments come spring, when it’s still frozen out but warming up.

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