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.
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!
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.
We waited patiently while the bacon was in the CURE. We waited and waited until one day it was THE day.
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.
We made simple dishes. Dishes others would cluck their tongues at.
A simple wedge salad with ICEBURG lettuce.
Homemade tater tots.
We ate it plain.
Here it is in with some beef shanks. Yum.
Meanwhile back at the ranch...
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.
We hung it up to dry in a prominent place so that all our friends could admire it.
Since the cat was giving it the "Stink Eye" we decided to put it in the "Meat Chamber" where it would be safe.
When it was all done I couldn't believe the beauty of this slab of piggy goodness.
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.
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.
Last nights dinner was scallops with pancetta. I also made an amazing risotto with cabbage and pancetta. It was our Pancetta Palooza blowout!
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.
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..."
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?
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.
Ok, I got the "Andy Rooney" out of my system. Back to our regularly scheduled program.
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.
1 C Raisins
1 C Boiling Water
1 tsp Baking Soda
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.