Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Godspeed the Plough

Though the wealthy and great
Live in splendor and state
I envy them not, I declare it
For I grow my own hams
My own ewes, my own lambs
And I shear my own fleece and I wear it

By plowing and sowing
By reaping and mowing
All nature provides me with plenty
With a cellar well stored
And a bountiful board
And my garden affords every dainty

For here I am king
I can dance, drink, and sing
Let no one approach as a stranger
I'll hunt when it's quiet
Come on, let us try it
Dull thinking drives anyone crazy

I have lawns, I have bowers
I have fruits, I have flowers
And the lark is my morning alarmer
So all farmers now
Here's Godspeed the plow
Long life and success to the farmer

~Agrarian Folk Song

   A most splendid farmer's toast. Shared by Jenna over at Cold Antler.

Monday, March 21, 2011

Reubens again...kind of

Rye Bread
The Corned Beef Vessel

  The Reuben Sandwich! Oh, I know I had mentioned previously that Round One of Reuben creation/consumption had all conspired very quickly. So quickly in fact, that no pictures of said sandwich were produced. I made Reubens once again, and once pictures happened. I am a terrible photo documentor. So to make up for it, I instead include a photo (and recipe!) of the deliciously fantastic rye bread I used for the elusive sandwich. Enjoy!

James Beard's Sourdough Rye Bread


Three Days in Advance- 1 package dry yeast
                                      2 c lukewarm water
                                      2 c all-purpose flour

One Day in Advance-     2 c rye flour
                                      1 c lukewarm water


1 package dry yeast
2 1/4 c lukewarm water
2 tsp kosher salt
1 T caraway seeds
1 1/2 tsp poppy seeds
2 T melted butter
3 T sugar
4 c all-purpose flour
butter and cornmeal for loaf pans
1 egg + 1 T water beaten for egg wash

Three Days in Advance- In a bowl, combine yeast and water.
                                     Add flour and blend.
                                     Pour the starter into a container and seal tightly.
                                     Allow starter to sit at room temperature for 2 days.
                                     Then place in the refrigerator for 1 day.

One Day in Advance-    Put 1 cup of the starter in  bowl.
                                     Measure in rye flour and lukewarm water.
                                     Mix together and cover with plastic wrap. Let stand overnight at room temperature.

The Bread:

Dissolve yeast with 1/4 c water.
Stir down dough that has been standing overnight.
Add dissolved yeast, salt, caraway seeds, poppy seeds, melted butter, and sugar.
One cup at a time, add flour, stirring to make a stiff dough.
Turn dough out and knead for 10 to 12 minutes.
Shape dough into a ball and place in a buttered bowl. Turn the dough over to coat it with butter. Cover and let rise until doubled in bulk, about 2 hours.
Meanwhile, butter 2 loaf pans and generously sprinkle with cornmeal.
Punch down dough and divide in half.
Shape dough into loaves and place into loaf pans. Cover and let rise for 1 hour.
Preheat the oven to 375°. Brush loaves with egg wash and bake for 30 minutes, or until bread is golden and sounds hollow when the bottom is tapped. (= Delicious).

Notes & Tips: 
  • I personally could have stood to cut the amount of caraway seeds in half or more. Some people love them, I'm not really one of those people so much.
  • I omitted the poppy seeds. Simply because I was too lazy to buy poppy seeds.
  • I cut most rising times in half by boiling a small saucepan of water, setting pan in oven, covering dough with dishtowel, and placing dough into oven above saucepan.
  • What do you do with the rest of the starter? How do you feed a "mother"? Please enlighten me bakers.

 I will get right on that Reuben sandwich photo thing. Let me just corn some more beef first...

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

CharcutePalooza: The Brining

Corned Beef
Corned Beef

   Brining. Such a simple concept that produces such wonderfully tasty results, yet so few of us utilize it. The CharcutePalooza challenge for the month of March was based on brining. The Apprentice Challenge being brined pork chops or a whole chicken, and the Charcuterie Challenge being corned beef. I skipped the Apprentice Challenge this month, as I brine every piece of pork and poultry that I cook. If you have not tried this technique before, please do so at once. You will be amazed at the difference in juiciness and flavor. This is my very basic brine recipe that I use for just about everything.


Brine for Chicken, Turkey, Seafood, and Pork


2 quarts water, divided (can substitute half with sweet tea)
1/4 c salt
1/4 c sugar
any seasonings you like

Place 1 quart water in freezer.
Meanwhile, heat 1 quart water in small saucepan with remaining ingredients until dissolved, let cool.
Combine liquids in a nonreactive container.
Add meat and place in refrigerator, let chill for 30 minutes for pieces, up to 2 hours for a whole chicken.
Remove meat and pat dry. Discard liquid.
Cook any way you like.

   Brining really couldn't be simpler. Thanks to that fun process called osmosis, salt, flavoring, and moisture penetrate to the core of the meat, something a simple surface seasoning can't do. So I'm not sure why it came as such a surprise that corned beef could be so easy or tasty. It was nothing more than the same basic brining idea and a cheap cut of beef brisket with a little pink salt and pickling spice thrown in, and then a rest in the refrigerator for 5 days. After which it is simmered for several hours. All I can say is I have never had corned beef like it before. It was so incredibly tender, subtly spiced, and deliciously fatty.
   So, obviously Reuben sandwiches had to be made. They just had to. So going along in the challenge of the month, I also tried my hand at sauerkraut. Oh yes, did I mention veggies can be brined too? Even easier. Water, salt, and cabbage, left to mingle with one another in a coat closet for 2 weeks. Produces magical results. I am truly convinced that all of the most wonderful food things in life are all fermented.



17 cups water
3/4 cup + 2 T kosher salt
1 green cabbage, shredded
1/2 tsp caraway seeds (optional)

Combine salt and water in a medium saucepan and heat until dissolved, chill.
Combine cabbage, caraway, and brine in a nonreactive container.
Fill a large plastic resealable bag with water and place over cabbage to keep completely submerged.
Keep in a cool dark place for at least 2 weeks, longer for a stronger flavor (mine was a little mild, I would try 3 weeks).
Strain the brining liquid into a pot and boil. Let cool and combine with cabbage.
Store in the refrigerator for up to 3 weeks.

Brined & Fermented Cabbage a.k.a. Sauerkraut

   Here is where I was supposed to show you a picture of those stunning Reubens, the beautiful lovechild of brined things and home baked bread (another post). But alas, they were all consumed too fast for the camera to capture. I guess I will just have to brine more meat.