Posts Tagged With: countrty cooking

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.

 

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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

Hill Billy Venison Hot Dog Chili.

In West Virginia there are two staple foods, 1st is the Pepperoni Roll  with a close 2nd being the Hot Dog. Some will say T&L style is the best but I am sure that the Custard Stand would argue both serve wonderful chili dogs with all the fixens. Yet I took what was best about both companies hot dogs and made them better for anyone who eats venison. Below is a photo of the traditional way to eat a West Virginia Slaw Dog. Yes, to any one who is wondering, you eat cole slaw on top of the hot dog chili in West Virginia and it is a wonderful combo.

anatomy of a west virginia dog

We are not going to change the line up of the Slaw Dog we are just going to Change the ingredients in the chili. I prefer the home-made venison version because it is a little more on the spicy side.  This is the final version of what we love to make and eat with a large group in the summer time with fresh roasted wieners.

Hilly Billy Venison Hot Dog or Venison Slaw dog

Hilly Billy Venison Hot Dog or Venison Slaw dog

The idea and basic recipe for my chili actually came from Elkins West Virginia through Toms Dad more than 25 years ago. I worked on the idea with venison and came up with this.

Hilly Billy Venison Hot Dog Chili.

2 pounds ground Venison

1/2 cup yellow onion

1 1/2 cups ketchup

3 tablespoons yellow mustard

1/4 cup brown sugar

1/8 cup white vinegar

1 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon pepper

1  1/2  Tablespoons chili power

1/2 teaspoon garlic salt

1/4 teaspoon cloves

Hot sauce to taste  I usually add about one or two teaspoons.

3/4 cup water

Ground venison with onions and water

Ground venison with onions and water

1. Chop one half of onion and 3/4 cup water add to ground venison in large skillet. Cooking the meat is a small amount of water keeps the meat for forming large chucks that would make the chili lumpy it also thins the Ketchup some to making the chili have a more traditional hot dog style texture. If you choice to use hamburger in this recipe either use the best burger you can afford or be prepared to see fat floating on the water later in cooking. Cook this mixture over med heat until meat is smooth and brown.

2. Add ketchup, mustard, brown sugar, vinegar, salt, pepper,chili powder, garlic salt and cloves. Simmer the mixture and blend everything together until a smooth texture is achived.The resulting mixture should look much like this. Cloves added to chili darken the chili and add a spicy sweetness to the salty richness of the venison and I highly recommend trying it.

Venison hot dog chili

Venison hot dog chili

3. Taste the chili and add a little hot sauce at a time to get the desired heat you want from the chili. Red pepper flakes could substitute for hot sauce but they seem to add more heat than flavor.

4. Simmer mixture for about 15 minutes.

5. Serve chili with home-made cole slaw that is on the sweet side. We make ours fresh with cabbage, and a simple dressing made from Miracle Whip, white vinegar, and white sugar. About 1/4 head of cabbage to 1/2 cup miracle whip, 1 Tablespoon vinegar, to 1/4 cup white sugar. We like ours on the creamy side and on the sweet side.

6. Warm hot dog buns and simmer wieners. We split the wieners in half to allow for more chili in the bun add fresh finely chopped onions and a squirt of yellow mustard and eat.

This recipe makes enough chili for ten chili dogs with half wieners you maybe able to get a few more if you use a regular size wieners.

hot dog assembly line minus the chili

hot dog assembly line minus the chili

Coming from Colorado I had never eaten a hot dog with cole slaw before or for that matter I did not really like slaw. It was a pleasant surprise when I tried my first slaw on a pork BBQ sandwich and even better on the chili dog. I think the reason why it is so good together is the salty richness of the chili mixed with the sweet creaminess of the slaw. In my version I get added flavor from the venison against the spices and you have a sweet, salty, spicy,combo.

Categories: Chili, cooking, country cooking, Venison, West Virginia | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , | 12 Comments

Five Random In Door Facts Friday

When ever I have time I love blog hopping with Nancy Claeys,

“A Rural Journal”    five facts friday.http://www.nancyclaeys.com/blog

 Today I am a home body with a Virus. Yea, just when the weather is nice I can’t go out side… so here are my                 five indoor facts friday.

1. I love to take photos of old buildings and while my husband is working hard on customers horses, I am always looking around to take photos on their farms or near by property. Today while inside I am going to learn some more creative editing tools from Nancy’s pages.

snowy hunting shack

snowy hunting shack

2.  Another of my favorite  indoor activities is baking.I can cook, but find that making cakes, pies, muffins and cookies is much more satisfying for me.  Today I will be lucky to make toast… but you get the idea.

old fahion stack cake.. appircote and orange

old fashion stack cake.. apricots and orange

3. Another favorite in-door activity is going to my local library for a monthly book club meeting.. I wish I had more to read these days but joining with other people who like to read has kept me  motivated. I also love this building and it is a pleasure to see it all the time.

Louise Bennett Memorial Library

Louise Bennett Memorial Library

4. I also love to have company and visit with friends … we do an open door sunday dinner almost every weekend where any one who is free can stop by and eat. So times that means just a couple and sometimes that means ten… love it!

Grandbaby Paige and I making dinner for the crrew

Grandbaby Paige and I making dinner for the crew

5. But my favorite in-door or out-door activity is spending time with my best friend Natalie…

love spending time with my best friend Natalie

love spending time with my best friend Natalie

 
http://www.nancyclaeys.com/blog

Categories: cakes and family deserts, family fun, Five Facts Friday, Friendship, Louis Bennett Library, Photos | Tags: , , , , , , | 10 Comments

Ramps(wild Leeks) a West Virginia Tradtional Wild Food

Ramp digging  is a foragers delight and every spring we take off to the mountain to see if  we can find some of these smelly delicacies. The whole family usually goes and we share our bounty with friends and family. We spend about half the day collecting the onions and spent the other half trout fishing another wonderful natural food that we love.

Spring ramp digging Chritopher holding a the frist ramp

Spring ramp digging Christopher holding  his frist ramp

I know some of you are wondering what a Ramp is and what we use it for so I will explain that and share a few ideas on how to use them also.  Ramps are a wild leak or onion with a flavor like garlic when cooked and hot like a green onion if eaten raw. They are found all over the eastern united states but few states love and dig them like West Virginians. They grow in the higher elevations of our woods and are a bulb  that tends to grow in clumps of 5 or six. The leaves are broad and have a distinctive red seam down the center to the root bulb. The bulbs are traditionaly dug in early spring and  before the bulbs flower and the leaves grow to large and tough to eat.

Wild ramps under a tree

Wild ramps under a tree

This is what ramps look like after digging and cleaning

Ramps ready to clean look like green onions

Ramps ready to clean look like green onions

washed, roots removed and ready to eat

washed, roots removed and ready to eat

The Ramp does have one draw back its smell. It is extremely strong, turning  many people away from eating it… think fresh-cut garlic but 10x stronger… So when handling, eating or cooking the ramps that we collect we all “STINK”. It is actually joked about and people who do not like the smell have been known to leave a kitchen or home because of the pungent odor.  But, the rest of us who love them know and love that smell, it means that a dinner of fried, steamed, or raw ramps is on the way to the table. In our house, we use some of our collected Ramps for Easter dinner, it is my way of giving thanks for spring and a way to share them with a crowed of friends and family.

Basic preparation of ramps is simple, wash, remove roots and tough outer skin, (it appears brown), chop and cook. Our family likes to eat the leaves as well as the bulbs but this is a personal choice and does not add to the over all flavor of a dish. If the person is not used to eating greens it is not nessicery to force the issue. In certain recipes like soup I do skip using the greens because it does turn soup a bright green color.

Our families traditional preparation is to take whole ramps about  1/2 of a pound or all that will fit in a skillet and about 1 Tablespoon bacon grease and saute them together. Ramp bulbs are hard so I add about 1/4 cup of water to steam the bulbs and keep the greens from burning or getting to brown,watch and stir, adding more water as needed to soften the bulbs until translucent… and serve.

Ramps with bacon grease and water steaming away

Ramps with bacon grease and water steaming away

Most of the families we know serve their ramps with potatoes of some kind.We usually serve them with baked ham and hash browns, brown beans and corn bread.This is our southern style Easter dinner.I personally also like just brown beans, ramps and corn bread and a little ketchup to top it off for an easy dinner.

Their are hundreds of other ways to use the “Ramp” and her are just a few ideas that we use all the time to enjoy these wonderful little treats.

I  make a Stromboli with ramps that my husband and I just love for an afternoon lunch.

base for stromboli

base for Stromboli

Using store-bought pizza dough, I fill the bottom of buttered sheet pan and cover it with  ham from the deli, ( I like smoked ham for this), then  shredded Swiss cheese (about 2 cups) then 6 to 8 diced rump bulbs, then a layer of corned beef for the deli, about 1/4 of a pound. Then roll up the dough jelly roll style and bake in the oven at 350 for 25 to 30 minutes until out side of dough is golden brown and cheese looks melted.  We serve ours with a Mariana sauce on the side for dipping.

We also make a potato and ramp casserole that is very good in the fall and uses frozen ramps. They freeze well and store for about a year without any loss of flavor or crispness. Do not precook or blanch the bulbs. They need to retain their texture or they will be mushy when thawed. In most cases ramps can substitute for onions in any recipe the only thing that our family has had any trouble with is meat balls.Ones that are fried, not baked. It appears that the ramp is not able to withstand the temperature needed to cook meatball this way without scorching. It can make a meatball taste terrible to have a scorched ramp all through the meat. Yuck.

Ramp Casserole

4 or 5 diced potatoes

10 to 12 diced ramp bulbs

1/2 lbs pork sausage

3 beaten eggs

1 cup shredded cheese… cheddar works well

8 slices of bacon fried and crumbled

1/2 cup diced ham

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon pepper

1/3 cup milk

Peal  and boil diced potatoes until barely tender to a fork,  drain.

Steam chopped ramps in large microwaves safe bowl cover with plastic and steam for 2 min. and then add potatoes to bowl.

Fry sausage drain add to bowl, fry bacon drain crumble and add to bowl.

Then add ham, all eggs beaten, salt, pepper and milk  mix well,

Pour into 9 x 13 baking dish and top with cheese, bake uncovered for 30 minutes  at 350 deg.

Next spring If you are lucky you may find me and my family with ramp hoe in hand standing on a hillside in the spring sun laughing and talking about fish and the smell of ramps. It is a gift that I am able to do so much foraging here in these mountains. Spring is only the beginning and I will looking forward to summer berries and fall fruit.I am blessed with everything  that the earth gives to us freely to enjoy.

Categories: country cooking, family fun, Foraging, Hacker Valley, organic foods, ramps, State Park activities, West Virginia | Tags: , , , , | 15 Comments

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