Thursday, February 10, 2011

Charcutepalooza: The Cure or What is wrong with my Mother??

Let me start off by saying that I really am going to be serious here. Well, as serious as *I* can be. It has to do with food and it has to do with me being like Andy Rooney and it also has to do with my Charcutepaloozaness. It even has to do with my Grandma.

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First off I would like to say that I hate when people have to take something that is wonderful and turn it into something unrecognizable. Ok, I don't really HATE it but Andy Rooney would say "Don't you hate it when...." Since I have the "voice" of a grumpy old man in this post *I* am channeling Andy Rooney.

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So let me just say that personally, if I go to the trouble of making something that is cured or canned or slaved over, or if I go and get an ingredient from a local farm, or if I grow it out in my garden, I want to TASTE that item for its own merits and not turn it into an art project. I guess that makes for pretty boring blog posts but I amuse myself so I guess that is good for something.

Lets me move on and talk about this Months Charcuteapalooza challenge. This month was a choice of Bacon, Pancetta, or Guiancle. I choose to make the Bacon and Pancetta. Lord knows that I tried to find Hog Jowls for the Guiancle and searched from Boston to San Francisco to no avail. I did end up making plans to buy a whole pig and also I ordered jowls from the Berkshires that I will pick up in March. *I* want to be the woman with the most bacon ever!

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We started off with the gateway meat. Bacon. Who doesn't like bacon? We did half of it smoked and half of it not smoked. Since we had to use the stove top smoker there wasn't all that much difference. Smoking isn't easy in 5Ft of snow or we would have done it on one of the outside smokers. We bought an electric slicer in preparation.

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We waited patiently while the bacon was in the CURE. We waited and waited until one day it was THE day.

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What did we do with our bacon? You may scoff because we didn't do anything fancy. I wanted to taste this piece of porky goodness that I made myself. I didn't want to hide the flavor in any way. As a matter of fact that is my policy with most my life. I don't hide. I am out there in your face. So is my bacon.

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We made simple dishes. Dishes others would cluck their tongues at.

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A simple wedge salad with ICEBURG lettuce.

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Homemade tater tots.

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We ate it plain.

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Here it is in with some beef shanks. Yum.

Meanwhile back at the ranch...

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One day I WILL get to have one of these miniature ponies...go away little dude, that is MY miniature pony.

So we started our Pancetta. We cured it and rolled it and hung it.

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We hung it up to dry in a prominent place so that all our friends could admire it.

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Since the cat was giving it the "Stink Eye" we decided to put it in the "Meat Chamber" where it would be safe.

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When it was all done I couldn't believe the beauty of this slab of piggy goodness.

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I wanted simplicity. I wanted to just fry up the whole thing and eat it that way. So, I thougth that I would just throw it into some beans that I was making with spinach for dinner.

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I couldn't wait to taste it and as I was cooking it up I may have been stealing all the fried up pancetta. Shut up Dr. Food. I was saving you from yourself. I SACRIFICED my own health.

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Last nights dinner was scallops with pancetta. I also made an amazing risotto with cabbage and pancetta. It was our Pancetta Palooza blowout!

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Then it was time to pack it up and put it away for a while. So, we used our new slicer to slice it and we vacummed sealed it.

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It is now in the freezer with its friend Mr. Bacon.

Lastly, why wouldn't I want it to be "My mothers (Fill in the Blank)?" Everything has become "Not your mothers..." or "Not your Grandmothers...". My mother still goes fishing and catches the biggest fish and wins awards. I don't mind it being "My mothers..."

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THAT is a Halibut that my 5ft 80 year old mother caught. She has nerves of steel and a mean casting arm. When she cooks for me it reminds me of my childhood and I get really good feelings of going back in time. A time when my mom stayed home and cooked and took care of her family. Why wouldn't I want my Mothers whatever recipe?

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My Grandmother was amazing and I adored her (Mom you look so cute in THAT picture. I think you were MY age there!). She used to cook all sorts of things that I loved. One of them being this fruitcake. So here you have it. My Grandmothers Fruitcake. I would never call it "Not my Grandmothers Fruitcake" and then do something really weird to it like make it into a Whoopie Pie or a Cupcake. This is a recipe she brought with her from England. It is more like a black bread and not overly sweet.

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Ok, I got the "Andy Rooney" out of my system. Back to our regularly scheduled program.

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Did I introduce you to my mushroom burl? It is REALLY growing shiitakes. I know it looks a bit nasty but that is a whole other post.

Grandma's Fruitcake

1 C Raisins
1 C Boiling Water
1 tsp Baking Soda
2 Eggs
1 C Sugar
1/2 C Vegetable oil
1 tsp Vanilla
1 1/2 C Flour
1 tsp Baking Powder
1/2 tsp Allspice
1/2 tsp Cocoa
Pinch of salt
1/2 C Walnuts

Preheat oven to 350

1. Pour boiling water over raisins and baking soda. Let cool. Drain water but save for cake.
2. Sift Flour, Baking Powder, Allspice, Cocoa, and salt into a bowl.
3. In another bowl mix eggs, sugar, 1/2 C oil and vanilla.
4. Alternate dry ingredients and wet ingredients while mixing (Raisin water, dry ingredients, wet mixture)
5. Pour into a greased loaf pan.
5. Bake for about 45 minutes or until toothpick comes out clean.

19 comments:

  1. Aw, great post Janis :-) I'm all in favor of a good curmudgeonly rant now and again, particularly when there's yummy bacon & pancetta involved. Your belly is hot. And so is your mom! That is a SERIOUS fish! I'm a Very Serious Fisher-girl, so I know.

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  2. Your post is such fun! I can just imagine the crazy atmosphere with the cat trying for that ham on a string :-) Amazing job with all the cuts and as if that's not enough.... there's that Halibut and mushroom. Incredible!

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  3. I admire any gal who can cure her own meats. Yahoo!! Way to go - love it. Great post and I wish I lived closer and knew you personally so I could have some of that lovely meat!! :)

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  4. I really enjoyed readon this post! You are amazing!

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  5. Great post - I love the things you did with your bacon. And the image of your cat stalking the meat is outstanding.

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  6. Janis Giiiiirrrrrllll!!!! You can write! I love the laugh you give me! Love reading your posts! I too don't understand the "not your grandmothers" anything..I Loved everything my Mom and Grandmother made! Congrats on the Pancetta! I'm sure Dr Food was happy to have the Wine Fridge back :) Great Post Thanks!

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  7. I love reading your posts about this and your tweets. I think your passion for this is just awesome. Can't wait to see more!

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  8. Oh my - you went ALL out with this challenge! What a great variety of recipes and uses for your bacon! YUM!

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  9. You could do a Korean spin with that unsmoked bacon. In Korean, it's called Samgyupsal and it's one of the classics of Korean BBQ.

    Just grill it on an electric grill at your dinner table with lettuce (for wrapping), raw sliced garlic and a sesame seed oil/salt/pepper dipping sauce. If it wasn't for the fact that I don't eat pork for religious reasons, I'd probably have to have some right now thanks to your post.

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  10. OMG! You are super awesome... you even got a meat slicer.... I just love it! That is super dedication.

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  11. Wow! I am well and truly impressed. I love all that piggy magnificence. I wish I had a place to hang pancetta that Patsy couldn't get at. You have such great equipment, loving that super cool slicer.

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  12. I'm reading this and wishing that you lived closer to me so we could get together. Kudos to you on the "your mother's" comment.

    If you ever need another pig and plan to visit NC (the pig capitol of the world), please know that you have a stopping place, ok? Would love to help you pick the right hog. :)

    I am very, very jealous of that bacon. Very.

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  13. My goodness. That IS quite a charcutepalooza fest! And Andy Rooney, too. :-)

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  14. We are so impressed!!!

    We recently received a blogger award and wanted to pass it along to you!

    http://acoupleinthekitchen.blogspot.com/2011/02/stylish-bloggers-we-are.html

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  15. What a fun read! I totally enjoyed reading your post though now I have an ELECTRIC SLICER ENVY.

    I have a big grin on my face, and looking forward to your next post! Thank you for sharing.

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  16. I am peeing my pants and had to take a laugh break when I got to "meanwhile back at the ranch" with the miniature pony picture. My G-d how funny is that?!!! I love your Mother simply from this post alone. That's it, I need to start the "adopt a Butter campaign." The food at your house looks absolutely divine. I love bacon and there is nothing like having it fresh. My sister used to raise pigs with her husband while I was in college...I would visit and play the poor student bit a little strong to get an extra helping - incredible. Thanks again for a belly laughin' good time :)

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  17. I am peeing my pants and had to take a laugh break when I got to "meanwhile back at the ranch" with the miniature pony picture. My G-d how funny is that?!!! I love your Mother simply from this post alone. That's it I need to start the "adopt a Butter campaign." The food at your house looks absolutely divine. I love bacon and there is nothing like having it fresh. My sister used to raise pigs with her husband while I was in college...I would visit and play the poor student bit a little strong to get an extra helping - incredible. Thanks again for a belly laughin' good time :)

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  18. Today is a happy day, because today I discovered your blog and if I ever need cheered up or entertained or educated or culinarily inspired, yes I said, "Culinarily", I know where to go! Biggest kudos to you on the homemade bacon and pancetta.

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  19. OMG! You are super awesome... you even got a meat slicer.... I just love it! That is super dedication.

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