country cooking

Apple Hand Pie or Fried Apple Pies

I love everything apple and will eat apples just about any way that you find them. I love to use wild and free apples when ever I can to make treats for the family but one treat I love more than most is hand pies. Some southern families make these small fried pies with biscuit dough others with smashed Wonder Bread and mine are made with frozen white bread dough. All of them have a freshly made filling, some sweet some savory, and all are fried to a deep golden brown on the stove top while the little ones watch. Hand pies have been made in the South for generations and no one ever turns one down. The pies are eaten hot and served as dessert, breakfast or as an after school snack. Often the fillings for the pies are whatever a southern mother had left over from a family dinner. Apple sauce, peaches, raisins, even savory pies would have left over roast and veggies.

My mother in law would often make then with white bread in a pie maker with home canned pie fillings. The neighbor  kids could smell then 1/2 mile away and knew what she was making and pray she would make them one!

toas-tite-camp-pie-maker

I personally have not invested in a pie maker of any kind although they seem to make great pies and bind the edges together very well… less of the filling leaking out is always a good thing.I just use my fingers to roll the bread dough together. The edges are a little more individual but they rarely leak.

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Filled Apple Hand Pies

So to make my version of an Apple Hand Pie, I start with a frozen bread dough for dinner rolls and place them out to thaw. I also peal, core and dice two or three snake size apples. The apples in these photos are Gala but you can use just about any apple that will not turn to mush when cooked.

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dinner-roll-flattened-for-pies

Frozen dinner roll dough 

 

 

fired-apple-pie-filling

Fried diced apples with butter and brown sugar

I dice the apples into a skillet with two teaspoons of butter and cook over med heat for 3 or 4 minutes.Adding brown sugar, cinnamon , and a little water to the hot apples. I let the water cook down until the sauce is thick and sticky. With some apples no water is needed to soften the apples,they provide enough juice to cook down the apples with out scorching.I had to add water to cook them until they were soft around the edges. I let the filling cool while rolling out the dough. Each dinner roll makes about a 5 inch circle with a little tugging and rolling. I put about two table spoons filling on half the pie crust and fold over the warm apple filling. I squeeze the edges together then roll them upward and roll up the edge with a pinch at the end of the pie.

I then fry the pies in hot oil about 325 to 350 degrees just long enough for the pie to float and turn brown on both sides. The dough is thin and gets crispy fast. I make two pies at a time.

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Cooling Apple Hand Pies with cinnamon sugar 

Draining them on paper towels and topping with a dollop of butter and a pinch of cinnamon sugar. Let cool slightly before eating or cutting open to share.

 

Apple Hand Pies ready to eat.jpg

Fried Apple Hand Pies with homemade filling

Recipe for Apple Hand Pies:

One bag of frozen dinner rolls.. I make two per person.

3 small snack size apples per 3 people Gala, Winesap, Red Delicious work well.

3 Tablespoons salted butter.One used to add to cinnoman topping.

2 Tablespoons brown sugar.

1/2 teaspoons cinnamon and a dash of nutmeg.

1/4 cup or less water

Cooking oil for frying

a mixture of cinnamon and sugar for dusting tops of pies

 

 

 

 

 

Categories: Apples, country cooking, Hand Pies, Pie, Uncategorized, wild food | Tags: , , , , , | 6 Comments

Venison Jerky a Tradition in the Mountain State

Drying meat into Jerky is a tradition in the mountain state and has always been a safe convent way to store meat over the winter. Our family makes it and shares it at the holidays as gifts with friends and family alike. We make several flavors and some are savory and some are more sweet but all of them taste great and make great snacks for the woods or the car.

As the last day of deer season approached this fall I had my older son and his family come to our house to help make venison jerky. I made a quick trip to the local store to pick up supplies and flavorings for the jerky. My whole family likes a traditional recipe that uses Soy Sauce and Worcestershire as the salty marinade for the preservative marinade for the Jerky but when heading to the sauce section of the grocery store I found empty shelves. No Soy Sauce of any kind and only a small selection of Worcestershire sauces.  So I added a selection  of A-1 sauce and Teriyaki sauce and a small bottle of Worcestershire sauce, thank goodness I had Soy Sauce on hand at the house.  So we made 4 flavors of Jerky with 8 pounds of Venison Roast.

white tail deer meat

white tail deer meat ready to be boned

With several hind quarter roasts that were lightly frozen we cut the meat into thin slices. Using slightly frozen meat allows us to control the slicing better. Setting my slicer to #1 we were able to get a slice that was about the thickness of a coin.  I placed a forth of the meat into individual Ziploc bags. Added a selected marinade and sealed the bags and placed them in the refrigerator for 24 hours.

The following morning I removed the thawed steak and marinade from the refrigerator and prepared my drying racks. I also have a dehydrator but it is to small for large amounts of jerky that we were making on this day. So I placed a bakers cooling rack on top of a standard cookie sheet and sprayed both with a non-stick cooking spray. Pulling the marinated meat from the bags I placed one thin row of steak on the rack trying not to over lap the edges. Then placed the rack and cookie sheet into an oven that was preheated to its lowest setting. My oven will only go as low as 140 degrees and set timer for 6 hours. My dehydrator goes as low as 120 degrees and can run as long as the power is on. 8 hours is good for drying overnight and works great for about 1 pound of meat.

marninated-deer-steak-for-jerky

Soy Sauce Jerky ready to dry

 

After 6 hours I tested the Jerky for dryness. Jerky stores best if there is no fat and the moisture level is low but not so dry that the meat breaks when bent. I like my jerky slightly chewy and will cut the meat thicker to make it chewy. The meat will reduce in size about twice while drying, the thicker the meat the longer the dry time, and the chewier it will be when finished.

The recipe that I fallow “Soy Sauce and Worcestershire Jerky” comes from one of my favorite wild game cook books (North American Hunt Club Wild Game Cookbook). The A-1 sauce was a random idea and I would make it again any time my son asks for it. I have made the Teriyaki before and it is my personal favorite. The A-1 and the Teriyaki are used straight out of the bottle with out the addition of any other ingredients.

cookbook-with-jerky-guide

I used  4 pounds of  roast to make this jerky recipe and it worked wonderfully.

Oven-Dried Soy Sauce Worcestershire Jerky

by J.W. Kaufman Jr.

4 pounds Venison sliced or ground

1/2 cup Soy Sauce

2 Table Spoons Worcestershire sauce

1 tsp pepper

1/2 tsp garlic powder

1 tsp onion powder

Trim and Discard all fat from meat.Cut meat into 1/4 thick strips cut across the grain. Mix remaining ingredients together. Stir to dissolve as much as possible.Add meat,mixing thoroughly to coat meat well. Let stand 1 hour to over night, stirring occasionally.Place meat strips on drying racks or on oven racks covered with foil. Dry at lowest temperature until dry. 4-6 hours. I personally used the oven setting of 140 degrees and dried my jerky for 6 hours.

dried-jerky

Soy Sauce Jerky dried at 140 degrees for 6 hours.

 

I made gift bags after the jerky was totally dry and ended up with 6 bags of jerky. The first two ended up in my husbands and sons backpacks for the next hunting trip and work. The other 4 was given as gifts to friends of our family. The response from everyone who received a bag has been wonderful.$5.00 for 6 oz  bag for store-bought Jerky  Vs a 10 oz. bag of free jerky as a gift is always well received by the men in my family.

Hope you all have a happy and productive New Year as I cut up the last of the deer from the 2016 hunting seasons.It has been a busy year, my family was successful in filling my freezer and pantry once again.I am personally looking forward to spring and getting back out in the woods fishing and turkey hunting. Happy New Year!

 

 

 

 

 

Categories: country cooking, deer, Dehydrated Foods, Dried Foods, Hunting, Preserving, snacks, Venison, Venison Jerky, wild food | Tags: , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Easy Homemade Strawberry Jam

Making homemade jellies and jams is one of my favorite thing to do when fresh fruit comes into season. Strawberries wild and cultivated are in season here and I just could not resist a large sale that featured strawberries at a local market. Strawberry Jam is one of the easiest jams to make and is almost fool-proof.

Homemade strawberry jam

Homemade strawberry jam

I would love to have a strawberry bed in the near future but for now I have bought mine. So in about 1 hour 30 minutes, I made enough jam to feed my family for the rest of the year. The total cost for making Strawberry Jam was about 8$ compared to 17$ dollars if you pay 3 dollars a jar for store-bought Jam.I am hoping that next time I can drop the cost to 3$ dollars when I can raise my own berries.

Ingredients :

Following the Ball Blue Book canning guide you will need 2 quarts or 8 cups crushed clean fresh strawberries. I bought 5 pounds of strawberries and used about 3 pounds to get 8 cups of crushed strawberries. 7 cups of sugar, 1/4 cup lemon juice and 6 Tablespoons Ball Classic Pectin. This is one whole jar of powdered pectin. 1 to 2 tablespoons butter if needed to reduce foaming.

Supplies:

You will need 8 half pint jars ( we call them jelly jars) with lids and rings I always get two extra ready also. A boiling water canner with enough boiling water to cover the tops of you jars with 1 to 2 inches of water.You will need a potato masher to make the crushed fruit, a jar lifter, funnel and a ladle. One large dutch oven or stock pot for cooking the jam in. I like to wear rubber gloves to protect my hands from the boiling hot jam but you can skip it if you are careful.

After washing jars lids and rings, sterilize the jars either in the microwave or in the boiling water of the canner. I boil my lids and rings separately in a small sauce pan that I keep very hot until ready to us. Remove from sterile jars from canner or microwave and place on a towel to cool and dry.

ready to crush 2 cups of strawberries at a time in dutch oven

ready to crush 2 cups of strawberries at a time in dutch oven

In large stock pot add the 2 quarts of smashed berries, lemon juice and classic pectin mix together well. Bring to a boil, stirring to keep from scorching. Add sugar to pot and stir until sugar dissolved. Return to a rolling boil, one that will not stop when stirred.  Boil one minute stirring constantly. Remove from heat add one teaspoon of butter if jam is foamy on top. Mix in well and skim top of Jam to remove foamy skin. Ladle hot jam into clean jars leaving about 1/4 of inch of headspace.Be careful to not to burn yourself on hot syrup. Clean top rim of jar to remove any leftover fruit or juice adding lid and adjust ring. Process 10 minutes in boiling water canner. Remove from hot water and let completely cool check rings and tighten if needed and store for up to one year.

8 cups mashed strawberries, lemon juice, pectin ready to boil

8 cups mashed strawberries, lemon juice, pectin and sugar ready to return to a boil

jars loaded into canner to process 10 minutes.. no pressure needed

Jars loaded into canner to process 10 minutes. No pressure needed.

In the end I finished the morning with 9 half pint jars of jam and still had a few strawberries left over for strawberry rhubarb jam also. I grow rhubarb so I made a small batch of Jam with the leftover berries and three stalks of rhubarb.They all tasted great and will keep us thinking of summer all winter long.

Ball Classic Pectin

Ball Classic Pectin

 

Categories: canning, country cooking, strawberries | Tags: , , , , , | 7 Comments

Celebrate Easter with Trout and Ramps .

It is official spring has come to the Mountain State. Trout and Ramp Season has begone and I am getting excited for the first skillet full of the wild food that is traditional in West Virginia.  My husband’s family have enjoyed fresh trout and ramps for generations. As far back as the family story can remember. The family enjoyed the freedom of the Mountains where tiny speckled fish and ramps are always a part of the celebration spring.

Brookie3_Handy

Brook Trout by Mat Hardy from Trout Unlimited

Often my husband and his father would take off in the middle of April for a trout fishing trip with hopes of also gathering a burlap sack of ramps. The farther from civilization they drove the smaller the trout got and the larger the ramps grew. So off on some deserted logging road on a mountain top, where a small stream started, my father-in-law and husband would be found fishing. The tiny native trout with copper skin and bright orange spots are fighters like anything that lives so far into the mountains.Making an almost freezing morning exciting as the two would wade the stream looking for ramps along the way.

Field of wild growing Ramps

Field of wild growing ramps

When the noon day sun would finally reach the steam at the bottom of the holler they were fishing the two would break for lunch. The two eating pepperoni rolls off the tail gate of an old truck, they would talk about if the fishing was good enough to spend more time in the water or if it was time to trade the fishing poles for a ramp hoes. Neither father or son would want to leave the peacefulness of the rushing spring water but they knew more treasures waited for them on the mountainsides.

Tom fishing on a cold Easter Morning

Tom fishing in a stream in Pendleton County, West Virginia

 

The team would drag themselves up the steep banks of the mountains with a short-handled hoe, looking for clumps of green in the otherwise brown forest floor. If ramps were spotted, one would yell out to the other in the other wise silent woods and the digging would start. Gathering just enough of the bulbs for the family and leaving many to spread out the seeds of future plants.By late afternoon the two would shimmy back down the mossy covered banks to the truck. Fresh fish would be in the cooler chilling, topped with a sack of muddy ramps. The two would ride the bumpy road back home for a fest of fresh spring foods.These foods were almost impossible to get any other time of the year and the deep joy of finally being free from the winter always made the meals more pleasant.

Often the first dinner that we fix of ramps is meatless. Not for any reason other than it seems fitting that such an early spring meal would have also been meatless for  generations of homesteaders of this land. They would have enjoyed a meal of fresh ramps with brown beans, cornbread and maybe if their storage was good fried potatoes. Our ancestors would have celebrated that fresh greens had to grown again and life had returned to the hills they called home.Ramps brown beans and fried potatoes cornbread

So as my family celebrates Easter weekend, I am not only thinking of my Savior and his miraculous life, I am thinking of countless generations of West Virginians who have come before me. I am thinking of the blessings and bounty of another spring and of how to share its traditions and stories with the next generation. How a fish and a sticky bulb were not a trendy food but a way of life for the mountain people of Appalachia and how I can keep the spirit of thankfulness alive.

Happy Easter my friends enjoy Spring !

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Categories: Appalachian Mountains, Corn bread, country cooking, Country life, Easter, fishing, Homestead, ramps, Ramps, trout | Tags: , , , , , , , | 5 Comments

Foraging spring greens and weeds

A friend sent this to me on Face Book just a few days ago. It makes me wonder how many of us really understand how foraging can help control evasive plants. It also made me want to share this with any one who likes foraging for greens. Wild Garlic Mustard is found growing almost everywhere in the Eastern US and can be cooked and eaten like any other bitter green. Another green that is problematic in our area and across the south is Stinging Nettle.  Hardy and fast spreading by seed if given the right  growing conditions these plants crowed out natural flowers and plants . Animals do not like the smell or taste of the Garlic Mustard or Stinging Nettle so they are not controlled by the environmental conditions .

Garlic Mustard Pull flyer

Forest Service Garlic Mustard flyer

 

 

KONICA MINOLTA DIGITAL CAMERA

Wild Mustard in Bloom

If you are in the West Virginia area and have time to help with this problem and enjoy the outdoors and cooking free wild food we could use your help. My family hopes to attend one of these pulling dates and make a nice side dish of Garlic Mustard Cakes when we get home.A dish made from boiled greens drained to remove bitterness, eggs for a binder and Italian bread crumbs fried in brown butter.

April and May is prime pulling time before the plants start to seed and West Virginia could use all the pickers we can find. We are allowed to take home as much of the Garlic Mustard as we wish but they would love for us to remove some of the plants also. For ideas on how to cook the wild greens  follow this link Cooking Mustard Garlic. Hope to see you in the woods picking this spring.

 

 

 

Categories: Appalachian Mountains, community service, country cooking, Foraging, Monongahela National Forest, organic food, regional food, Uncategorized, West Virginia, wild greens | Tags: , , , , , | 4 Comments

Grandma Powers Southern Style Carrot Cake

Many of you who know me or read this blog regularly know that I like to  share my families culture, history  and traditions. So to honor the State of Virginia where this cake was first made and to honor my  mother in law I want to share her cake receipt with you. In doing this I am hoping to keep one more of our families traditions alive.

Around 50 years ago my husband’s family  lived just outside of Winchester Virginia. Where they lived with up to 7 children off and on, some are from a first marriage, ( they added one later to make a nice round 8). Moving often due to the nature of Grandpa Powers work as a bulldozer operator. He spent years building the many interstate and highway systems of the two states. I- 79 running north and south in West Virginia is one of the last he worked on. Grandpa would often fallow the construction for many miles often leaving for months at a time.This meant leaving Grandma with a house full of kids to raise on her own. So as a frugal home maker she often made home-made desserts for her children and neighbors kids. One of the mothers that she met while living in Winchester, shared this wonderful cake with her and told her that it came from a very expensive hotel in the area in the late 1950’s. It has been in the family ever since and is my personal favorite cake of all times. So someone in the 1950 got it right and we have not changed much about the cake in the last 65  years.

So as my birthday is only a few days a way, I though it fitting to make myself this cake. It is a frosting free cake. I am not an icing person and neither is my husband so this cake gets served at our house with just a cold glass of milk. I hope that all of you will try it and love it. It is just one of the many traditions that I am so happy to have gained from one of my favorite people.

Southern Style Carrot Cake

3 cups sifted flour

2 cups sugar

2 tsp baking soda

2 tablespoons cinnamon

1 teaspoon cloves

1 teaspoon allspice

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 1/2 cup vegetable oil… ( yes we know that it seems like a lot but it is just perfect)

3 beaten eggs

2 tsp Vanilla

1 20 oz can crushed pineapple ( Use a good brand, generic seems tough in the cake we use Dole)

1/2 to 3/4 cup chopped pecans

Just use a kitchen spoon for this cake no need to get the mixer out. Bake at 350 for 1 hour and 1/2 to 1 hour and 40 minutes, test with tooth pick to make sure the cake is dry inside.

I start shredding 2 cups carrots this usually means about two large and one small carrot. If you have slightly more than two cups just add it in.

Mix dry ingredients together, flour sugar, soda, salt and spices.

dry ingredients for carrot cake

dry ingredients for carrot cake

Stir and then add in wet ingredients, oil, can of pineapple, vanilla and slowly at the end add beaten eggs.

adding wet ingredients to carrot cake.

adding wet ingredients to carrot cake.

ready to beat eggs and add to cake

ready to beat eggs and add to cake

When eggs are incorporated in the  batter add shredded carrots and pecans. Pour batter into a large pan like a 13 x 11 deep ( not a Pyrex 11 x 13 glass pan) cake pan or angel food cake pan. The cake can be cut into about 12 to 15 pieces.

two piece angel food cake pan with cooking spray

two piece angel food cake pan with cooking spray

I use this pan so the cake can be placed on my cake stand and it cools faster with out the outside ring.

 

Carrot cake out of the oven

Carrot cake out of the oven

This cake is dense and rich but not overly sweet.The cake stores well at room temperature and with out cream cheese icing it does not need refrigeration.  It does take about 4 hours for the cake to totally cool and get firm to eat with you fingers. Yummy as a late night snack.

Finished Southern Style Carrot Cake with no frosting needed

Finished Southern Style Carrot Cake

 

Thanks for the Birthday cake recipe Grandma it is delicious as always.

Wanda Gay Powers At Christmas 2012

Wanda Gay Powers At Christmas 2012

 

Categories: Birthday, cakes and family deserts, country cooking, grandma | Tags: , , , , , | 4 Comments

Grandpa’s Home Canned Venison Chili Sauce, made from the garden.

When trying to live closer to the land many families turn to hunting, fishing and home gardens. In our families case we do all three, letting nothing that comes our way go to wast. Canning venison chili Sauce is a great way to use up extra produce in the garden and take a little of last years deer burger and make it into an on the go meal for those cold winter months still to come. This Labor Day weekend my family made about 13 quarts of this chili starter in about 6 hours. Each quart of sauce when added to one large can of kidney beans will make 5 to 6 servings of home-made goodness.

We started with only one problem, my tomato plants blighted this year. I have only one remaining tomato plant and we had to buy the two quarts of juice this recipe calls for. In better years I have made tomato juice and added some Tabasco sauce for the bite we love in our chili. So instead this year we bought two bottles of V-8 ( one hot and one regular) to fill the needed juice in this recipe.

I used the current Ball “Blue Book, Guide to Preserving” as our guide for processing times and head space for  making our meat sauce base. Any ground meat including venison should be processed for 1 hour and 15 minutes with chili needing a 1 inch head space. We then used grandpa’s recipe for the broth portion of the chili and added the recommended 5 pounds of ground venison. This resulted in 6 quarts of what my family knows as  Grandpa’s venison chili and it is a family favorite.

My kitchen smelled soooo good for most of the day because of the  fresh ingredients from my garden like hot peppers and garlic.

Cody,Jamie and I cooking and canning

Cody,Jamie and I cooking and canning

So for Grandpa’s Venison Chili

1 large yellow onion

2 teaspoons chopped or pressed garlic

1 cup sweet pepper diced

1/2 cup hot peppers ( we used banana peppers).Up this amount to 1 cup if you use plain tomato juice

3  cups tomato paste or 4 small cans.

2 quarts of tomato juice, or in this case 2 quarts v-8 juice one hot and one plain

1/2 cup sugar

1 tablespoon salt

1/4 cup chili powder

1 tablespoon Italian seasoning

black pepper to taste

5 pounds ground venison

2 table spoons vegetable oil

this makes 6 to 6 1/2 quarts of canned chili.

Some of the many peppers I have growing in the garden

Some of the many peppers I have growing in the garden

In a large 8 quart stock pot add oil, onions and garlic. Saute’ until onions are beginning to soften and add ground venison. Brown all 5 pounds over mid heat with onion and garlic. Once the meat is cook add juice and all remaining ingredients. Simmer for about ten minutes string often to prevent sticking and making sure all the ingredients mix thoroughly.  Bring chili to a boil and ladle into clean, sterile, quart mason jars leaving 1 inch of head space. After cleaning any spills off top lip of jar, top with clean sterile lids and rings that are just tightened. Place in pressure canner with simmering water ( amounts vary)  and add lid and begin to process after ten minutes of steam has escaped the canner. Process jars for 1 hour 15 minutes at ten pounds pressure. Remove hot jars from canner and set in a clean dry place to cool and you should hear the ping of the lids as they seal. Eat any chili in unsealed jars with in a few days and store inside the refrigerator. The remaining jars that have sealed should be used within a year of processing and stored in a place that stays above freezing.

Home canned Venison chili with canner

Home Canned Venison Chili with Canner

Now all I need is a crisp cool day to enjoy this home-made chili. Happy Canning!

 

Categories: canning, country cooking, deer hunting, gardening, Hunting, Tomatoes, Venison, venison | Tags: , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Blog anniversary… Who knew this would lead to T.V.

I have written my way through 2 years so far. For a person with a frustrating learning disability like Dyslexia this is HUGE! I have taken on my weakness and confronted it, pushed through it and in some way over come it. Well maybe just worked around it, but because all of you are here it means that some thing in the last two years is working.

anniversary 2x

anniversary 2x

I took on writing a blog for a couple of reasons. The first was I  needed a creative outlet that I could do while at home with a 5-year-old and with a mother in law who was very ill. I also needed all of you, I needed to think about things other than the pile of toys on the floor and the trips to the cancer Dr’s office. My home was not a place to make crafts or paint large paintings at the time. So I wrote about who I love,what I love to do and some how you all found some thing here that spoke to you. Maybe it was the stories about cooking wild game and maybe it was that we love to garden and do canning, maybe the battle I fought to make sure my mother in law stayed well through her cancer treatments made you stay. Who really knows why you all have been here for this bumpy ride, but it is wonderful and has been one of the best hobbies that I have ever attempted.

I have recently been contacted by the DIY Network about my blog, yea shocked me too! They have a show called  “Barnwood Builders”  filmed in West Virginia and they are filming a barn in my local area. They found my little ( less than a thousand followers) blog and want Mountain Mama and the family in an episode of their show. So I am in total shock and over joyed that some where out in cyber space I have left an impression about who and what I am. At the current time it looks like we will be working together on the home we just purchased with some reclaimed barn wood. They also wanted to see my husband working with some of the horses he is responsible for as a farrier. They loved that we lived in a style that is already present in the show. We share a love for West Virginia history, working with our hands, seeing the beauty of our state and trying to live more simply.

I will write more later about the filming and when the episode should air… sometime next year for season two. But for now I have a few more topics to write about before the crew arrive here March 11th and we get to get dusty and dirty making my 60′ ranch feel more like the home of a county family. So hang in their if you love old barns, wood working, home improvement and decor because this spring should make for some great stories.

 

 

Mary Conrad Cabin Jackson's Mill, Jane Lew West Virginia 2013

Mary Conrad Cabin Jackson’s Mill, Jane Lew West Virginia 2013

Categories: blacksmith work, blogging, cancer treatment, canning, country cooking, dyslexia, Farrier work., furniture, hobbies, Home Decor, home improvement, home remodeling, recycling, West Virginia, writing | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | 13 Comments

Pablano Chili Peppers Roasted Straight from the Garden

Our family loves chilies and peppers of all kinds. We always plant sweet and hot peppers but this is the first time I tried to grow chilies at home. The most prized are always the Pablano chili peppers. They are a mild heat chili and make  the base for many of the traditional Tex-Mex dishes and some to the true Mexican classics like Chili Rellenos. My family loves them and we roast hundreds every year in my little kitchen making the house smell spicy and sweet at the same time.

Pablano chili in the garden

Pablano chili in the garden

Roasting a pepper of any kind takes time and  I usually do the roasting in the morning while the house still cool. I actually roast my chilies in my ovens broiler. Some use the open flame of a gas stove top and others do it out side on the grill but in any case it is a job that you must keep an eye on. On one wants to burn the peppers they just want to char the skins and then remove them. I use an old metal roasting pan and set my broiler on low. On low it takes about 8 minutes to roast the peppers turning the peppers as the skin slowly turns black and brown and the skin withers.

 

Roasted Pablano chili peppers

Roasted Pablano chili peppers

 

There are endless ways to uses the peppers when they are free from the though skin. My husband I  love to make traditional Chili Rellneos but the process is a long one and some nights we just don’t have time to bread and fry and then bake them. So I have shortened the steps and in the process and lightened the fat content up. I just bake mine and I buy a pre-made sauce to bake them in. We also stuff the peppers with meats like ground venison, chicken or pork sausage mixed with bread crumbs and cheese. These peppers spicy but with the seeds and veins removed they are not a HOT burn. Well unless you happen to miss a seed … then things get a little hot.

After the Chilies finish roasting, to remove the skins some people place them into paper bag. I happen to have an old ice cream bucket with a nice tight lid that I toss the hot peppers into the let them steam and cool. I then peel the skins off, remove seeds and sometimes the stems.

Roasted chilies in bucket ready to peal

Roasted chilies in bucket ready to peel

pealing the skin on the chili pepper

pealing the skin on the chili pepper

 

In the meatless version I peel open the pepper remove the seeds and veins and stuff each one with an easy to melt Quesso  cheese. My husband also likes to use Monterrey Jack or Cheddar. I place the pepper seem side down in the base of a baking dish covered with a tomato sauce. Personally use an enchilada sauce made from roasted tomatoes.

Chilies stuffed with cheese

Chilies stuffed with quesso cheese

I then cover the peppers with more sauce and a layer of shredded cheese and back then 25 mints at 350. We usually serve this with re-fried beans, rice and cornbread. Making a wonderful meatless Monday dinner.

 

Stuffed Chilies ready to bake

Stuffed Chilies ready to bake

 

Recipe for cheese stuffed chilies for two servings

6 to 7 med Pablano peppers.

1 1/2 pounds Quesso cheese. We use a good melting kind.

1 jar roasted tomato enchilada sauce

1 cup shredded Monterrey Jack cheese or blend

Roast peppers then remove seeds, veins and stems.

Cut Quesso cheese is long chunks that will fill the peppers full.

Pour 1/2 can enchilada sauce in bottom of 13×9 pan add stuffed chilies to pan pour remaining sauce over the top of chilies and top with shredded cheese.

bake for 25 minutes at 350 degrees.

 

Categories: cooking, country cooking, gardening, pepper /chilies, Tomatoes | Tags: , , , , , , , , | 7 Comments

Time Saving Home Canned Chili Sauce with Beef or Venison

I am sure all of us have had times when you get home from a long day and really don’t want to cook. I have many days that I just don’t plan ahead enough and it is 5 and I still have no idea what we are going to eat and everyone is hungry. This is my back up plan, it is a home-made tomato sauce that we use as a chili base and saves me from making the chili base from scratch every time. No looking to see if I have all the ingredients. No reason to worry over long cooking times.So when cool weather sets in and chili sounds like the perfect meal to put together in a slow cooker or a quick last-minute dinner this is the way our family makes chili. I also love that it uses a large amount of our garden tomatoes every year.

6 quarts of finished chili sauce

6 quarts of finished chili sauce

The idea to can a chili base came from my father in law and his disliked of making a pasta sauce that needed hours to cook down. This idea is so much faster and easier than making large amounts of pasta sauce. It also tastes great and a 1/2 bushel of tomatoes ( about 25 pounds or about 80 to 90 plum tomatoes ) makes about 6 quarts from one patch of sauce. I usually make 18 quarts every year. The other thing that is wonderful about this is it is a non-pressure recipe, it is made in a boiling water bath canner. As long as you stay with the ratio of 25 pounds tomatoes to one cup of onion and 2 1/2 cups peppers you will not  lower the acid levels of the tomatoes. In our sauce we use a mixture of hot and sweet peppers and you can adjust the heat to your families liking. In our case we use 2 cups sweet peppers to 1/2 cup hot peppers or around 4 banana or other large hot peppers. This mixture adds flavor but not much heat.If you like it hot reduce the sweet peppers to 1 cup and raise the hot peppers to 1 1/2 cups and feel the burn, do what ever sounds good to you.

The hardest part of canning any kind of tomato is the necessary step of blanching the tomatoes. This is the process of removing the skins so that you do not have chucks of skin floating around in the sauce. I have tried to grind the tomatoes and leave the skins on and it is just better to remove them if you do not like the taste or though texture of skins floating on the top of you chili.

To blanch Tomatoes I use a 8 quart stock pot of simmering hot water and a sink full of cold water. The colder the better, adding ice if you have a good ice maker is great. Into about 5 quarts of simmering water I place about 20 plum or any tomatoes and simmer for about 3 minuets then plunge them into the ice-cold water with a strainer.

simmering tomatoes for blanching

simmering tomatoes for blanching

The trick is to make sure before you remove the tomatoes from the water that you see the skin of one or all the tomatoes either tear away or start to wrinkle before the plunge. If you get that step right the skins almost fall off in the ice water and pealing is a snap. I core the tomatoes before blanching it makes the skins slide off faster as the water is able to get under the skin of the tomato. I have friends that do it after blanching because they do not want any extra water entering the tomato before cooking…( this is a very important to pasta sauce makers not so much for me). After pealing the tomatoes I have another stock pot ready to place the tomatoes into and blanch more as I place peeled tomatoes into a larger pot.

This photo shows what you start cooking with.

 

25 pounds of pealed tomatoes

25 pounds of peeled tomatoes

You will next cook the tomatoes and juice down and run through a food mill before adding any spices or other vegetables.

Here is the recipe for  cooking the chili sauce in our families traditional way.

Chili Sauce

1/2 bushel fresh tomatoes

2 cups sweet peppers

1/2 cup hot peppers ( we use yellow Banana peppers)

1 cup onion

2 teaspoons chopped garlic or about 5 cloves mashed

1/2 cup sugar

4 Table spoons chili powder

salt and pepper to taste

2 small cans tomato paste

2 table spoons mustard seed

1 bay leaf crumbled

5 whole clove heads all bundled together in a cheese cloth sack or in a tea strainer

this mixture usually makes 6 quarts of fresh sauce

Cook freshly peeled tomatoes for about 15 minutes to break them down into a watery broth. When most of the meat of the tomato has cooked down but you still have a few stringy portions and lots of seeds floating on top run hot tomatoes through a food mill, ricer or sieve to remove seeds and any tough tissues. Place back over med heat and add peppers, onions, garlic chili powder, salt and pepper. Add the spice bag or tea ball and simmer 15 more minutes. At the end of the cooking time remove tea ball and  add two cans tomato paste and stir until well blended. Ladle into hot sterilized jars leaving a 1/2 inch head space, wiping lip and covering with sterilized lids and rings. Process in a boiling water bath 20 minutes..

 

fresh tomatoes being pressed through a foodmill

fresh tomatoes being pressed through a Foodmill

Chop hot peppers with some kind of gloves they will burn skin and eyes is not careful

Chop hot peppers with some kind of gloves they will burn skin and eyes if not careful

hot peppers, sweet peppers, onions

hot peppers, sweet peppers, onions

 

 

final stage of chili sauce simmering away

final stage of chili sauce simmering away

When ready to make chili all that you need is one pound of ground meat. We use venison or beef or both mixed together browned and two cans or about 4 cups beans. We like to mix up our beans so I have used light kidney, dark kidney, pinto, cranberry beans, use what you have on hand. Brown the meat drain off any excess fat, pour in one quart jar of chili sauce and add 4 cups of your favorite beans and simmer a few minutes and you have dinner in about 10 minutes. The best part of all is this if all goes well in our garden the only thing that we did not grow ourselves is the tomato paste. Farm fresh goodness all winter long and a quick family meal that should make about 4 servings.

Categories: canning, Chili, country cooking, Tomatoes, venison | Tags: , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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