So the onslaught of chillier weather and sudden dampness in the air has made me A) want to hibernate and B) want to eat all the stuff that is bad for me. Mm rich creamy fatness.
We have a few more weeks with out CSA getting delicious fresh local produce and I wanted to take the time this fall to really start getting into food stuff that I have either not done in awhile or not done at all. In order to prepare for another long dreary rainy season, I decided to stock the pantry with as much healthy shelf stable food stuffs as I could afford in one trip to the store.
Some of the things I picked up to help get me through the winter:
Tons of dried beans. (pinto, navy, black etc)
A huge pack of bacon ends and pieces (freezer)
Soup stocks, chicken beef etc
Gluten free Udis bread (only cause it was onsale and can live in the freezer)
pasta sauces (cause if I dont have access to real tomatoes and have to rely on store bought....I'm gonna eat the Newmans own instead of attempting anything else with those cardboard spheres playing tomatoes.)
and the list goes on.
First thing was first, beans and bacon.
My Mom used to make beans and ham-hocks but I fiind ham-hocks to be a waste of time. Little of the ugly buggers are actually edible and frankly, they take too long. This is why I decided to go with the bacon ends and pieces. For those that have never bought ends and pieces, I suggest you do. I found TONS of thick slabs of bacon meat that separated from the fat easily. It was almost like a bacon meat steak without the fat in places. Beats ham-hocks hand down.
I made a base with 7 large tomatoes (best if you get homegrown, took longer and didn't taste as good with store bought) and chicken stock. I soaked the white beans overnight. The next steps were super easy. I put the stock and the beans on low in the crock pot. Came back 8 hours later and added the bacon ends/pieces, carrots and onions. Another 2 hours later I had creamy rich awesometastic winterific beans. They freeze well too so I can enjoy them later on.
The second project was more complicated, only in time. I decided to make cheese. Not the really excellent cultured kind, just sort of the white creamy spreadable kind. The recipe is as follows:
1 gallon of whole milk
1/2 cup lemon juice
1 teaspoon salt
chives or other herbs of choice.
Soft boil milk in large saucepan stirring constantly. This may take 30 minutes. Remove from heat. Drizzle in juice, stirring till curds separate from the whey. Let stand for 15 minutes. Set curds in large cheese cloth line colander and let drain. Rinse curds with lukewarm water. Gather up cloth and squeeze. Put cloth bound curds in nice bundle at bottom of colander (make sure it has a place to drain to) add plate with weight on top and let drain for 45 minutes min. Take curds, place into bowl and add salt/herbs. Knead till smooth or put in mixer using dough hook. Roll into a log and chill for 2 hours. Makes 16 ounces and goes great with sliced ripe tomatoes, olive oil and basil.