Saturday, November 19, 2011

Steak and Veggie Pie...on the Wild Side

We had a big venison steak feed a few days ago...sadly we cooked waaay too much steak and had a ton of leftovers.  We also had leftover pie crust in the freezer too.

To me, that means just one thing...time for meat pie!

I scrubbed, peeled and chopped some of our garden potatoes and cooked in the microwave for 4 min.  Sliced some onions too, also from the garden.  The wonky carrot in the picture below was also from our garden and here is where I digress...

This wonky carrot was tasty and delicious!  You'll never see its equal in any store.  Going into stores now creeps me out, as everything is so damned uniform.  Each and every thing looks identical from the next.  Like you are actually shopping in the clone aisle instead of the produce aisle.  Aberration in produce stores is akin to disease! 

Ok...I feel better now after that rant.

Back to the recipe!

I also grabbed some garlic which I bought at the Verona Garlic Festival from my friends Cam & Michelle Mather.  I pulled out the leftover venison steak (supplied by my step dad Rob Cory) and chopped it coarsely.  The dough came out of the freezer, thawed, and left until the stew was well under way.

The onions get fried with veg oil, followed shortly by the chopped carrot and nuked potatoes.  Simmer for a bit until it starts to smell good.  Then dump in the chopped venison.

On the side, you'll be boiling a kettle of water to add to the beef broth...
not too much though, we're not making soup here. 
We've since run out of the peas from our garden (they do go fast),
so these are store bought sweet baby peas. 
Once the beef broth powder has completely dissolved in the boiling water, you can go ahead and add it to the pot.  The potatoes add a thickness to the broth after a while so there is no need for flour for thickening.  I don't know what it is about wild game that makes me always want to add beer, but here I've done it again. 

This time it was a large splash of a nice dark lager, Steelback's Tiverton Bear.  Dark beer and wild game combine in the most unexpected way.  I was going to add some worchestershire sauce, but the beer was sweet enough that I didn't have to add anything else.  S & P was about it.

Once the whole mix has simmered together for a can divide it between a couple of small ramekins (or other small, oven-safe dish).  Try not to eat some while you're dividing it!!!  (unless you made extras, in which case good for you!  You were thinking ahead!)

Next step is to roll out the dough and cut out two circles, slightly larger than the ramekin.

Arrange dough circles on the ramekin dish and pierce the top. 
I just used scissors like my mom did on apple pie crusts. 

I whipped up one egg and brushed it over the crust.

Place in an oven at 400 degrees C and bake for 30 min.  Check on them after 20 min though.
A helpful tip I would a baking sheet under these suckers whilst baking them.  If you fill the ramekins too full of stew, they will overflow while bubbling.

I couldn't have been prouder with my first attempt at pot pies.

I was even prouder to take a look at my costs:  Beer from father-in-law, venison from step dad, carrots, onions and potatoes from our garden, garlic from a local provider, and one hellvua home made crusty topper!  Seems like the peas and beef broth were the only thing we had to get from a store. 

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Down n Dirty with the Carrots

So in a previous post I said all we had going on with the garden at this time of year was broccoli.

This post will prove I was lying....

I totally forgot about the carrots.  Which is what you're supposed to do! 

If you leave a root vegetable in the ground for a few frosts, they turn sweeter.
We discovered this when we grew parnsips in previous years. 
For whatever reason, the parsnips didn't even come up this year!

Carrots are nutritionally awesome.  The website says "The power and goodness of carrots - Carrots have many important vitamins and minerals. They are rich in antioxidants Beta Carotene, Alpha Carotene, Phytochemicals and Glutathione, Calcium and Potassium, and vitamins A, B1, B2, C, and E, which are also considered antioxidants, protecting as well as nourishing the skin. They contain a form of calcium easily absorbed by the body. Finally they also contain Copper, Iron, Magnesium, Manganese, Phosphorous. and Sulphur - better than a wonder drug!!"

We asked the boys to come help out with the digging up of the carrots last weekend.

It turned into quite the adventure!

As soon as big brother Noah got digging...Owen was jumping right in. 
He kept yelling, "Get me a shovel!"

Big brother Noah gave Owen instruction on how to properly pull out a carrot without grabbing up only the greens and leaving the rest of the root in the ground.  The sound of surprise in Owen's voice when he produced his first carrot was hilarious.

Turns out we produced some monster carrots this year!

Owen was compulsive...non-stop carrots pulling...

For about 10 minutes...which is a long time for him actually.

Noah kept on working for a few hours, pulling up carrot after carrot.
Each time he thought he had unearthed the biggest carrot of the year...the next one would be even bigger!

This was our total end of season haul.  Orange and purple carrots!
Some of the carrots turned out bigger than my head!!!
Keep in mind that we had already dug up half of the total planting.  We haven't bought store carrots in over two months...

We brushed off the excess dirt and broke the greens off of the top. 

We will keep them this winter in buckets, labelled, filled with moist peat.
Unlike potatoes, root veggies need moisture to stay fresh all winter.

This is something I've only read about.  Its our first year storing food without the use of hydro electricity!

We have a makeshift root cellar in our basement.  The onions kept well down there last year, in wire baskets.  We don't currently have a temperature gauge in the cellar...but that may be something I'll invest in this year.

I'll be doing future posts on root they are my new-found obsession!  Storing food without using electricity is amazing to me.  The concept has been around for ages...but for whatever reason root cellars have fallen out of fashion.  I am to bring new awareness of it.  Anyone who owns their own house can do it!

Keep an eye out for a root cellar tutorial...

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Beans are not just musical...

I am not fully a vegetarian..but I do love a lot of vegetarian recipes.  I have an open mind when it comes to other concepts and cultures of diets.  I've tried all sorts of foods in my travels.  Many things I would never repeat...but the point is to taste without fear and tread onwards.

I also do no subscribe to any celebrity based diets.

Now that's been said...I want to mention a concept that isn't new...

and is heavily promoted by Sir Paul McCartney.


Ok, vegetarianism isn't a new thing...but this concept talks about trying it out for one day of the week. 

I try to impliment this as frequently as I can.  It's not always possible with a busy schedule and a bunch of hungry boys (Hubbie included)

This week I tried to make my first bean patties.  If you follow my blog, you'll recognize the beans below from my broccoli quiche post.  They are in fact the same beans!  The first attempt at blind baking my crust failed.  I added far too much butter.  The beans could not be reused, because they had essentially been deep fried in grease!  Hubbie soaked them and boiled them one night.  Once cooled, he placed them in the fridge for future use.  I decided to put them to use in the dish below! 

First off I took the beans that had already been soaked and boiled.  I mashed them with a potato masher, but this task would go a lot easier if our food processor was working!

Once the beans were mashed to a granual texture...
I added garlic powder, parmesan cheese, rosemary, S & P to taste. 

I know this is suppose to be meat free...but I did add a beaten egg.  The recipe called for salsa...but I was not in a salsa mood.

Next step is to take the mixture and blend well. 
Using your hands, press the mixture into patty form!

Fry up in hot veg oil and serve!

They aren't pretty, but man did they taste great!!!

I served my patty on a bed of greens and a dollop of lemony mayonnaise.  (I know, again with the egg products!)  I give this a 50/50 for vegetarianism...and a full 100% for taste!

As I said, I do try to make vegetarian dishes for the familly at least once a  week. 

Try it! 

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Broccoli, Baby

Our garden is all but done for the year. 
Most of the plants are long dead and have been yanked out of the ground.
The only thing still growing and producing (for some reason) is our broccoli!

Broccoli is one of those plants that likes cool weather.  You can plant it early in the season, as the cold evenings will not affect it adversely.

Its almost as though broccoli was made for Canadian weather!

We are having a tough time finding new ways to eat it though.  A side of fresh broccoli is nice...but it gets tired very quick.  How many things can you serve with a side of broccoli?  

Turns out, quite a lot. 

Any followers on my Facebook page will have noticed broccoli show up on some of my frequent meal pics.  But that doesn't mean your broccoli has to be boring!  My Mom makes a GREAT cold salad with broccoli, sunflower seeds, bacon bits and a bunch of other great stuff.  If anyone is interested in the recipe, I can get it for you...just let me know in the comments section of this post.  Sadly, it isn't a dish my kids like.  Live and learn.

I've decided to make a quiche for the first time tonite.  I've never made quiche.  I've also never made a crust from scratch either...well see how this goes...

I made the dough according to the recipe found in "The Joy of Cooking" for deluxe butter flaky pastry dough (pg 862).  I think I added too much butter though.  It just seemed like a ton!  Once the dough is must divide it and refrigerate it for at least 30 min.  The longer the better really.  The directions say 1-2 hours.  When I was working with the dough, I kept having to put it back in the fridge to firm it up.  

I pressed it into the pan, as this was my first time, so I didn't feel confident enough to roll it out and place it in the pan.  Once the dough is pressed thin in the pan, place dry beans in the center, enough to cover the bottom of the pie pan.  This method is called blind baking.  It helps keep the dough from bubbling up in the center or sliding down the side of the pan.  (ps.  you can keep the beans for reuse the next time you make crust from scratch)

I REALLY added too much butter...I suppose it helps to read the directions VERY thoroughly.  Hubbie had a good laugh at my expense...but, in the end, it all worked out.  I grabbed what was left over from the dough and kneeded it with several more tablespoons of flour.  I kneeded it until the dough wouldn't absorb any more flour and the dough was no longer sticky.  (Please do not follow this the actual directions!)

This time I tried the rolling pin and it worked much better for me...


The new crust was blind baked at 400 degrees C for 35 min (you tent some tin foil over it for the first 20 min, then remove for the rest of the time).

Then you add the other ingredients...such as shredded cheddar cheese, fried onions and garlic as well as the steamed broccoli chopped up into chunks.  After you've laid all these ingredients in the bottom of the crust, then you add the egg mixture.  Egg mixture:  3 eggs, 1 1/2 cups dairy (we used 1/2 cream and 1/2 milk), dash of nutmeg and S & P to taste.  Pour egg mixture into crust and bake for 25 min on 375 degrees C.


So I lived AND learned on this recipe.

The quiche turned out great...but what to have as a side???  Hubbie had been out in the garden the whole time I was struggling with crusts.  He grabbed what was left of our beets and was removing the greens when I asked him what should we have as a side?  His reply...beet greens with honey mustard dressing!

As a bonus to this post, here is the recipe for honey mustard dressing a la Chester.

4 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp grainy dijon mustard
1 tbsp honey (organic or local)
1 tsp of white vinegar
S & P to taste

Makes enough for two...quick and easy!!!

Hope you guys enjoyed following along as I tried to make crust, hopefully the next time will be LESS EXCITING...haha.

The really nice thing about quiche is you can make it, cook it and freeze it for another day.

ps.  Hubbie was quite impressed I was able to save the dough...not bad for a beginner eh?