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North Carolina State Fair 2014…First Place!

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My 2014 batch of Crab Apple Jelly is officially a Blue Ribbon award winner! I got first place in the category this year! I entered three items this year: the crab apple jelly, muscadine grape jelly and a peach salsa. Three entries and one blue ribbon…not bad, not bad at all!

Here’s the blog entry with the process: http://mmmfoodies.wordpress.com/2014/09/05/2014-crab-apple-jelly/

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Boursin Cheese Rangoon Packets…I know, right!?

 

Ingredients. Simple.

Ingredients. Simple.

My wife loves Boursin cheese and she loves the rangoon, like you get at Chinese restaurants. Unfortunately for her, she has allergies to shrimp, shellfish and sesame, so that pretty much forces her to steer clear of Chinese restaurants for the last 25 years or more. So, in response, I have learned to make a few Chinese style dishes “my way” and most turn out pretty well…stir fry, fried rice, kung pao with peanuts, etc. And then there’s the rangoon. I ain’t kiddin’ man…this stuff is crack-a-licious.

Set-up. Easy.

Set-up. Easy.

All you need is a stack of won ton wrappers and some Boursin cheese, water, oil and a little time.

Here’s what you do:

Lay a won ton wrapper on a flat surface. Take a small amount of the cheese…maybe a teaspoon…and put it in the center of the wrapper.

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Went a finger and use it to moisten two adjacent side of the wrapper.

Fold the two dry sides over to meet the moistened sides, making a triangle. Press as much air out as possible and then press the edges to seal, leaving the cheese in a little mound, inside the wrapper.

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Dab a touch of water on the lower,  right corner of the triangle, fold the lower, left corner across the cheese, from left to right. Fold the moistened corner in the opposite direction and press carefully to make it stick.

You should have what looks like an open envelope.

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Moisten the flap and fold it over to “close the envelope”, tucking it slightly under the other folds. Now you have a nice little package that will fry quickly and evenly.

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Once you get the hang of it, you can pick up the pace a bit. I put together a tray of 20 in about 20 or 25 minutes. If not frying immediately, cover with a wrung out, damp paper towel and store in the refrigerator until ready to cook. I imagine these can be made ahead and frozen as well. I haven’t tried it, but I imagine they could go directly from the freezer to the frying pan.

Twenty rangoon ready, with just enough cheese left to make a sample to try.

Twenty rangoon ready, with just enough cheese left to make a sample to try.

To cook: Bring a frying pan with about an inch of oil up to about 350F. Fry the rangoon in batches. Do not crowd the pan. Watch them carefully, because the cooking goes very quickly. Don’t let the oil overheat. The cooking time isn’t an exact science, but about a minute on either side…watch for them to turn golden brown on one side, turn over and repeat.

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(By the way, a deep fat fryer would be a great option for cooking these, but I’m doing a small quantity and it didn’t seem worth the trouble.  I also didn’t want to have to deal with all that oil.)

Side #2

Side #2

Frying the rangoon.

Frying the rangoon.

 

Drain on paper towels and sprinkle with a little salt,  if you like,  when they are removed from the oil.

Drain. And I like a little sprinkle of Kosher salt.

Drain. And I like a little sprinkle of Kosher salt.

Serve with duck sauce or plum sauce…or Chinese hot mustard…or, as I like to do, mix a little mustard into the duck sauce. Allow the rangoon to cool for a couple minutes before serving. The cheese filling will be very hot!

Gooey and hot on the inside, GBD (golden- browned  and delicious) on the outside.

Gooey and hot on the inside, GBD (golden- browned and delicious) on the outside.

I cooked a sample for testing purposes. Being the cook has a *few* benefits. My wife will get a nice surprise at dinner tomorrow! Give these a try and enjoy!

 

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aroma, funk, gut health, health benefits, healthy, scent, update

Oh, Come On! Make and Eat Sauerkraut!

 

Sauerkraut is in this 2 gallon fermentation bucket, in a nice out-of-the-way corner.

Sauerkraut is in this 2 gallon fermentation bucket, in a nice out-of-the-way corner.

What do you mean, you don’t eat sauerkraut?! I know, I know. You eat your hot dogs with different toppings. That’s a New York thing. Yeah, well, me too. I do the Southern thing with mustard, chili, onions and, if I want cabbage, then slaw. I would admit to using ketchup, but that would blow my credibility with the “Foodies” crowd. Anyway, try searching “sauerkraut recipes” online and you’ll find that sauerkraut is NOT just for hot dogs. Also, if you think it’s too salty or too sour, you can give it a rinse in a colander and tone that way down. Personally, I like it pretty much full strength. Either way, you are really missing out on something, if you don’t give sauerkraut a try!

Now, this is my first attempt at fermenting sauerkraut at home. I’ve had it canned (many years ago…yuck! If this was your last experience, you definitely need to try again!), from a jar, and refrigerated from a jar or bag. Of those options, I like the “fresher” stuff from the refrigerated bag. I have been fermenting ciders and beer over the last year and have gotten more comfortable with the concept, so I decided to try making some kraut at home. The added benefit here is the lactobacillus in freshly fermented sauerkraut. It’s good for your gastro-health and immunity…like yogurt. Of course, if you home can the kraut or heat it too much, you take away that benefit, but should still be delicious.

I basically followed the process outlined here: http://www.food-skills-for-self-sufficiency.com/making-sauerkraut.html . I like to give due credit to my sources! The main things I changed concerned the cloth and rubber band cover for the container and the wooden “tamping” board.  Since I’ve been fermenting cider, I have a couple of 2 gallon fermentation buckets and airlocks. These can be purchased very inexpensively at a local home brew shop or ordered online. The benefit is not risking exposure to contamination. I also have a spray bottle of “Star-san” that I use on all my containers and utensils. It is a sanitizer that does not have to be rinsed off. Very convenient.  I don’t have a tamping board, so I sanitized my hands and pounded that cabbage with my bare fist! I feel so macho.

One other thing, I sliced the cabbage by hand, using a chef’s knife. I didn’t feel like preparing and cleaning up after my electric slicer and the mandoline slicer just seemed like it would be too slow. Yeah, mine’s a little coarser than some, but now I know anyone can do it without special equipment. Your welcome!

I didn’t get pictures up to this point, because my camera’s battery was recharging, but I’ll add some to a follow-up post. I think we can all imagine finely sliced cabbage in a bucket. ( And the link has photos.) I started with two fairly large heads of cabbage that weighed a total of about 8 lbs. After processing, I had about 7 lbs. I did need some extra brine to make sure that the cabbage was covered by liquid. I added a sanitized plate and a small canning jar (1/2 pint) on top of that, to weight down the cabbage and keep it submerged. Then I sealed the lid and added the airlock. I have read that the fresh kraut can be kept in a sealed container, in the refrigerator, for a few weeks.  Fermentation is supposed to take 4 to 6 weeks. I’ll check it regularly for mold, to keep it clean. The airlock should tell me when it’s done fermenting. Looking forward to seeing how this goes. I love roasting pork on top of a bed of kraut and letting the juices flavor it! Enjoy!

Okay, update 9/20/14 After a couple of days, there’s not too much to see, but when you lift the lid…ooo-weeee! That’s some funk! There’s no foam or any activity obvious, but the aroma tells a different story. Here’s a look inside the fermentation bucket:

Making Sauerkraut...all the cabbabe is unfer a plate, weighed down with a little canning jar and water.

Making Sauerkraut…all the cabbage is under a plate, weighed down with a little canning jar and water.

Update 10/10/14: So, there hasn’t been any airlock activity to speak of.  I guess the process for sauerkraut just doesn’t really happen fast enough to really see that kind of activity. Anyway, I sanitized around the lid and opened the bucket today to do a progress check. It’s been about 3 weeks and the liquid seems noticeably darker and the smell is pretty strong.

Inside the bucket after 3 weeks.

Inside the bucket after 3 weeks.

I went ahead and sanitized a spoon, removed the jar, and raised the plate to peek inside. The cabbage is a bit paler, but still not the color I associate with kraut. I removed a couple of shreds and resealed the bucket. The sample still has a little crunch to it, but is definitely moving from the very salty cabbage flavor towards the fermented flavor of kraut. The directions said it would take 4-6 weeks. It’s headed in the right direction, but I think this is going to take the full six weeks…and maybe more. This is probably being affected by the fact that I hand-cut the cabbage, instead of using a mandoline or slaw shredding tool. That’s okay, I’m in no rush and I kind of like the rustic look and texture.

Peeking under the weighted plate...coarse sauerkraut at 3 weeks.

Peeking under the weighted plate…coarse sauerkraut at 3 weeks.

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Canning Peach Salsa for a taste of the Summer…Anytime!

Peach Salsa, canned. Pretty. Tastes even better!

Peach Salsa, canned. Pretty. Tastes even better!

As the Summer begins to  wane and the Summer fruits and veggies become harder to find, I figure it’s time to make a few jars of my peach salsa for the pantry. Actually, one jar will be sacrificed to competition at the North Carolina State Fair, next month. I haven’t canned this year as much as I did last year, but I will be entering the salsa, crab apple jelly and wild muscadine grape jelly and hope to come home with a ribbon! Enjoy!

Peach Salsa

Ingredients for Home Canned Peach Salsa:

6 cups chopped peaches, about 3 pounds
3 large fresh tomatoes, seeded and cut into chunks
1 1/2 cups red or sweet onions, chopped
2 to 4 medium jalapeño peppers, finely chopped and seeded
1 large sweet red peppers, finely chopped and seeded
1/2 cup finely chopped cilantro
1/2 cup white vinegar
2 tablespoons honey
3 garlic cloves, finely chopped
1 1/2 teaspoons cumin, ground
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
Directions for making Home Canned Peach Salsa:

Step 1: Sterilize 8, 1/2 pint jars, I do this in my dishwasher.
Step 2: Blanch peaches, cool in cold water, peel, pit and chop.
Step 3: Blanch tomatoes and cool with cold water, peel, remove seeds and cut into chunks.
Step 4: In a large stainless cooking pot, combine peaches, tomatoes, onion, jalapeño peppers, sweet red pepper, cilantro, vinegar, honey, garlic, cumin and cayenne pepper.
Step 5: Bring to a boil, and cook for about 5 minutes, stir frequently. If the mixture is too soupy, boil for a few minutes longer so that some of the liquid evaporates and the mixture thickens.
Step 6: Taste and adjust seasonings to taste. Add more cayenne pepper if you desire a spicier taste.
Step 7: Ladle salsa into hot jars to within 1/2 inch of top leaving head space.
Step 8: Remove air bubbles by sliding a rubber spatula between the glass and salsa.
Step 9: Wipe jar rim to clean off any spilled salsa.
Step 10: Place lid and band and screw until tight.
Step 11: Place jars in a hot bath in a canner and process for 15 minutes.
Step 12: Remove jars and place on a towel; allow to sit, undisturbed, for 24 hours.
Step 13: Jars are sealed when the lids pop and are curved down. Remove screw bands. Store in a cool, dark place.

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2014 Crab Apple Jelly

Getting ready to boil the crab apple juice.

Getting ready to boil the crab apple juice.

Yes, it’s time for my award winning crab apple jelly! For the recipe and last year’s notes, check out this link: http://mmmfoodies.wordpress.com/2013/10/21/crabapple-jelly-2nd-place-at-nc-state-fair-2012/

The only differences this year are that 1) I had to forage my crab apples from a neighbor because our HOA Board of Directors had all the ones on community property cut down. *steam*

Community crab apples cut down...have to rely on a neighbor.

Community crab apples cut down…have to rely on a neighbor.

and  2) I used about 5 lbs of crab apples instead of four. I wound up with 7 cups of juice, but I only used six cups and did not have to add any water.

Cooked and strained crab apples=juice

Cooked and strained crab apples=juice

I’m keeping my fingers crossed for another winner at this year’s North Carolina State Fair!

Finished crab apple jelly

Finished crab apple jelly

Now I need to figure out what to do with 21 more pounds of crab apples before they start rotting!  I only need so much jelly…maybe one more batch for gifts. I’ll probably do another batch of hard cider…my little counter top extractor is a bit under sized for the job, but it’s all I have. One of these days, I’m going to burn out the motor. Maybe I’ll get a press some day…when I have substantially more money!

 

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2014 Foraged Muscadine Jelly

Muscadine Jelly 2014

Muscadine Jelly 2014

This year, my first batch of forgaged grapes went towards making wine.

Muscadine Wine in the fermentation bucket

I have almost 3 gallons fermenting, but when the crushed grapes are removed (they are in a mesh bag), and I go through the process for extended fermentation and clarifying, I’ll probably wind up with about 2 gallons. So, I went for another round of grapes from my closest sources and gathered another 2 pounds of grapes, plus a couple of ounces. Referring back to last year’s post, I made another batch of jelly. The main difference is that this year, I was short on the juice by just a little over a cup. So, I pulled out a pint of crab apple juice that I canned last year and brought the measurement up to 5 cups.

Prepared crab apple juice, high in pectin.

Prepared crab apple juice, high in pectin.

Crab apple juice that has been made from cooked crab apples, and strained, is supposed to be high in pectin, too.

I followed the instructions and wound up with eight 1/2 pints and a little extra that I stuck in the fridge.

Eight 1/2 pints of muscadine jelly

Eight 1/2 pints of muscadine jelly

As I write this, the *ping* of sealing lids is making me happy! Will one of these jars be a ribbon winner at this year’s N.C.State Fair? Time will tell.

Here’s a link to last year’s post with instructions for making the jelly. (Store bought or farmer’s market bought grapes are usually bigger and juicier…but they ain’t free!) http://mmmfoodies.wordpress.com/2013/10/28/wild-muscadine-grape-jelly/

This year, I have a compost bin, so I’ll be composting the grape skins/seeds. Since the seeds have been boiled, they should compost and not germinate.

Cooked and squeezed grape must, headed for compost bin.

Cooked and squeezed grape must, headed for compost bin.

I pulled the little extra jar from the refrigerator, once it had chilled and sampled it…a little tart, great grape flavor. The texture good…not loose. Good stuff. This would qualify as “spoon fruit”!

Pretty...tasty.

Pretty…tasty.

Little extra for sampling.

Little extra for sampling.

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Day 149 Spent Grain Muffin Loaves, Muscadine Wine & Cider Still Going

mmmfoodies:

From my brew blog…using grains from brewing beer (spent grain). These are yummy!

Originally posted on Brewing stuff:

Spent Grain Peanut Butter and Banana Mini Loaf

Spent Grain Peanut Butter and Banana Mini Loaf

I had a small bag of spent grain left from my most recent batch of dog treats, so I found a recipe for banana & peanut butter muffins and gave it a try. I have some mini loaf pans and I decided to use them, instead of muffin tins.  Here’s the recipe:

Banana Peanut Butter Spent Grain Muffins
Adapted by Chef Lisa at http://cheflisa.lisahartjes.com/2009/09/banana-peanut-butter-spent-grain-muffins/

from: Eat Me, Delicious (http://www.eatmedelicious.com/2009/09/banana-peanut-butter-oatmeal-muffins.html)

1 1/2 cups whole wheat flour
1 1/2 cups spent grains
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
2 tbsp vegetable oil
1/2 cup brown sugar
2 large eggs
3/4 cup mashed banana (about 2 med.)
1/2 cup natural peanut butter
1 cup light buttermilk

Preheat oven to 375F. Lightly grease a 12-cup muffin tin.

In a large bowl, whisk together flour, spent grains, baking powder, baking soda and…

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