Wednesday, August 5, 2009
Cooking up a Storm
Chance and I had a very productive day today. I made whole wheat crackers for the first time more on that in a moment.Chance put a chicken in the smoker for dinner and he started to cure some bacon.Lots of new skills used today and a few moments of frustration on my part.
I have never made crackers before and I found it to be a bit frustrating,I had to overcome the urge to throw the dough through the closed window.I think if I did not have the baking skills I do have, our kitchen window would be in shatters.The recipe was vague on how much flour and the baking time listed was WAY off.So I fiddled around added more flour and baked them longer.I rank baking crackers up there with making drop cookies time consuming and only sometimes worth it.The crackers were tasty but I am still out on wither I will make them again.I think I'd like to try Matzo crackers next time,they are like bar cookies (the main way I bake cookies) bigger sheets of dough make things go faster.
Chance is really enjoying his curing bookand putting it to good use.Last night he put a chicken in to soak in an herb and lemon brine.Then this afternoon when he got home he put it in the smoker, he kindly lifted the lid so I could get a photo to share with all of you,the bird had been in for around an hour.The second photo shows the bird just before he took it out of the smoker.Although the chicken has been cooking in the smoker Chance will finish the cooking in the oven for about 30 minutes.I think dinner will be awesome tonight.
Yesterday we took a field trip to my childhood neighborhood,the Culley Neighborhood for those of you who live here, to do some shopping at Gartner's Country Meat Market.
Gartner's has been in business since 1912 and was the market my Mom bought all of our meat from growing up.They feature their own smoke house and top quality meats.If you are in the neighborhood stop in and check it out.
There were two childhood memories that came to me while there,Sol got a free Pepperoni just like when I was a kid and the man behind the counter was the same guy (who was a teenager long ago) who used to wait on my Mom,now that's a sign of a good long time business.
While at the meat market Chance bought 5 pounds of Pork Belly to make our own bacon with. Although if you are not into making your own Gartner's is awesome,thick and smokie.They even have English Bacon,it's is round and made from Pork Butt. After the chicken was in the smoker Chance got busy starting the curing of the pork belly.Bacon takes a week to cure in the fridge before you can smoke it.Acorrding to Chance bacon is the simplest of the cured meats to make at home.The ingredients are easy to find and you don't have to have a smoker to finish the curing.After the meat is done setting in the fridge you can roast the bacon in the oven to finish it off.
Below are pictures of the Pork Belly.The bacon will be sliced after it has been smoked which is something I did not know until today.
Here is the pork covered in the curing mix.This mix is dry made from a couple kinds of salts,brown sugar and pepper.Good night Pork Belly have a nice nap in the fridge then it's hello BACON. I guess there are different cures for bacon depending on the flavor you want.Next week when the Bacon goes into the smoker I am going to ask Chance to be a guest blogger and write more about making bacon.
BREAKING NEWS,Chance just gave me a bite of the smoked chicken, OH MY GOODNESS SO VERY GOOD! Now I can't wait for dinner tonight.
Tomorrow morning I am going to pick Blueberries with my friend over at Acorn Cottage.Most of the berries will go into the freezer for winter and some will end up as dessert tomorrow night.I am also stopping to pick up the cucumbers for pickles.I'll be making pickles Saturday a task I enjoy very much.I don't know why but seeing rows of jars filled with pickles is satisfying to me.
Oh pickles, we tried the Refrigerator Pickles that we made and I say YUCK,they taste like vinegar and that was all I tasted. Well,we tried.If you copied the recipe from the blog and have not made them you may want to skip it.Or if you liked them good,I will feel better knowing not all was lost.
I must go,I need to think of something equally wonderful to have with Chance's smoked chicken.Salad and......?