Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Filling the Freezer

Remember the buck Warren shot on Saturday?  We spent a small part of our Monday morning grinding and packaging the meat for the freezer.  Venison, America's original organic meat is the staple of our meat laden diet.  I could live on many meals in a row devoid of meat, however my family does not share that desire.  So I cook with meat, lots of it.  We typically eat around 6 deer a year.  Most of which we process ourselves.  This entire deer, except for the choice tenderloin was ground into hamburger.  Many people have trouble using straight venison burger.  Ground venison often breaks up during cooking or grilling when using it for hamburgers.  Our grinder must grind it a tad finer therefore making it the perfect texture for making hamburgers, cheeseburgers and pizza burgers out of straight venison burger.  Our kids really get into this.  Everyone has a part.  Warren always holds the drill, too much torque for the rest of us.  Nick and Amber feed the hopper with hunks of venison.  Sam and I fill and weigh the freezer bags, 1.5 pounds.  Emily and Amber take turns flattening and zipping the bags.  This bow-killed deer yielded 47.5 pounds of burger plus the tenderloin.  Harvesting and processing our own wild meat is satisfying, especially knowing that I'm giving my family the best quality red meat around.  Venison is much lower in saturated fats and higher in B vitamins than beef.
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Saturday, October 22, 2011

It's Official

Harvest is Over
There goes the last full truck.
Life is good!

Joseph loves Sam.  And I think it's mutual.

Winter is on its way.  The frost froze our pumpkins.

We have meat in the freezer again.  Warren just crawled into his bow stand and within minutes connected with this nice 6 point.  Yum!

Joseph is a cutie patootie.  And that's official.
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Thursday, October 20, 2011

Internet Recipe Reviews

I've made a number of new recipes lately.  A few from the latest Taste of Home magazine.  Those sadly were not our favorites.  However, the internet recipes have all been winners.  I'll share the link and a few notes about each recipe.

Betty Crocker:  Classic Beef Stroganoff
I made mine with ground round from locally raised beef.  I did not add mushrooms.  Since I used hamburger I skipped the 15 minute simmer and thickened the cooking liquid right away and then dumped it all in my crockpot, except the sour cream.  I kept it at low all afternoon and then added the sour cream just before we ate it.  The sour cream helped to cool it down a bit too.  My harvest working family members come in hungry and don't want to wait around for their food to cool.  They want to eat now!  This recipe was very simple, very basic, very good.  I've tried a number of stroganoff recipes over the years and this is finally THE ONE.

Tasty Kitchen:  Cheesy Potatoes
These were on last night's supper table and oh were they good!  I made a half batch, which filled my small blue and white speckled roasting pan.  Since I cut the recipe in half I didn't want two open cans of cream soup so I used only cream of chicken (the whole can).  My bag of shredded hashbrowns was 26 oz. Don't shy away from the jalapeno.  It didn't add too much kick at all.  No one even said anything about the flecks of green.  I didn't have the french-fried onions but if I did I would use way more than 1/2 cup.  We love those darn things.  I also decreased the salt and pepper to 1 tsp. each.  I could've added more of each without it being to salty or peppery.  Next time I'll probably add about 1/2 tsp. more.  I baked mine for about 1 hr. and 20 min., added more cheese and then broiled for about 5 minutes.  I already had a favorite cheesy potato recipe from my church cookbook.  It has a lot more sour cream, is topped with buttered corn flakes and has a drier consistency.  But a couple of weeks ago we were at a Packer party and Warren had someone's cheesy potatoes that were very creamy, almost a tad drippy; he liked them so well that I thought I'd try to find a recipe more similar to that.  These are close; definitely creamy and more wet than my favorite recipe, but not drippy.  I'll make these again that's for sure, but I won't throw away my beloved thick, dense cheesy potato recipe.

The Pioneer Woman:  Caramel Apple Sticky Buns
Make these today!  You'll be glad you did.  According to my notes I didn't change much when I made them.  I couldn't find Apple Brandy so I used Apple Pie Liquor in the gooey caramel.  They way I rolled the dough made it so I had 15 rolls in each 9x13 pan.  This used up all the dough and all the goo.  To one pan I added the diced apples and also added chopped fresh cranberries.  The other pan was intended for the kiddos who like things plain.  Since these are so sweet the cranberries really added a nice little bite of tartness.  I also cooked these for only 26 minutes and the rolls in the dark pan were VERY dark.  They must've been good because they all got eaten anyway.  The rolls in the light colored pan could've gone for just a few minutes longer, but I was smelling burnt sugar and so I feverishly removed both pans from the oven to be safe.  I covered 2 large baking pans with foil and covered in vegetable spray.  I inverted the pans, leaving them in place for a good 10 minutes before removing them.  This really helped the caramel stay where it's meant to be, on the sticky buns.  In the past I've inverted and lifted the pan right away.  The caramel is so hot and runny that it all runs off the rolls and ends up being wasted because it sticks to the platter instead of to the rolls.

Next up will be these two yummy looking recipes:
Cranberry Preserves
Squash Casserole with Crunchy Pecan Topping

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Sunny Harvest Monday

Monday was a gorgeous sunny harvest day, especially if you were watching from the inside.  On the outside, sure it was sunny, but also windy again and cold.

Of course Joseph enjoyed his stroller ride.  There's so much to look at and he's really into pointing at something and telling me a story all about it.  It's babble with inflection and lots of eye contact and pointing and various other hand gestures.  I just love it and respond with lots of: Really?  You see a bird in that big oak tree.  What kind of bird do you think it is?  Then he continues with his babble story.  And we keep walking.  He found a pinecone early on during our walk when he was actually walking and not riding.  He examined it quite closely for a while.

Sometimes you have to get right in there to make things work right.

The whole crew winding down the day's work.  They were raking up cranberries and tossing them into the cranberry corral.

I love these pictures that capture the sunlight rays.

Amber looking all pretty in the sunshine.
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Tuesday, October 18, 2011

A Sunday Afternoon Outside

Sunday was cold and blustery, but so sunny that we couldn't stay inside one minute longer.  After preparing for Monday's meals Joseph and I headed outside for an afternoon of cutting back dead flowers and playing on the sand pile.  The kids were outside in their "little woods" which was a total blessing because Joseph played with them and generally stayed nearby.  He usually goes in the opposite direction of me making it difficult to get anything done outside. 

After cleaning up the yard we hopped on the 4-wheeler to check out what Dad was doing.  The wind was so strong it actually made waves in the cranberry beds.  You can't tell much from the picture but the waves made the cranberries ripple up and down.  It was so cool.
Warren was raking the bottom Stevens bed.  Only two more to go, then the raking tractor can be put away.

I've always loved the way cranberries look when they are still on the vine, but underwater. 
Joseph enjoyed running back and forth along the dike while I snapped a ton of pictures.

He's a boy, can you tell?  He loves climbing on the 4-wheeler.

We had a glorious Sunday afternoon.
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Saturday, October 15, 2011

RAP - Rustic Apple Pie

Hello YouTube Friends!!!

This post originated the first time I made Rustic Apple Pie.  I've since changed it up a bit depending on how time I have or just how rustic I want it.  You can follow the recipe as written below and end up with a delicious rustic pie.  However, if you want something a bit more sophisticated follow the video directions, but use the measurements down below.  It's all a guideline because these turn out great no matter how rustic or chic you make them.  Enjoy!!

In case you didn't come here from YouTube here is the video I'm referring to.

RAP - not music but Rustic Apple Pie

In dire need of a dessert and having no eggs and noticing a large box of apples still sitting in my porch, I decided to make apple pie.  I didn't have a lot of time and so the thought of making two-crust, peeled and thinly sliced apples apple pie wasn't going to work.  I tried something new and really liked how it turned out. 

First I made one two-crust recipe of pie crust.  I rolled them out right on my pans to avoid the messy counter.  I brushed off the extra flour before baking.

I washed a pile of apples.  Mine were pretty small.  I think I used 8-10.  Using my handy apple wedger, I cut them up in a matter of minutes.

I divided up the apples and placed them on the middle of the pie crust.  I sprinkled with about 1/4 c. flour.

I sprinkled on about 2 Tbsp. brown sugar and 1 Tbsp. white sugar.

I sprinkled over a serious amount of cinnamon, probably 1 1/2 tsp. per pie.

Carefully, I lifted up the edges of the pie crust and simply folded it over the apples.  I dotted the top with about 2 Tbsp. butter and popped them into the oven for 25 minutes at 375.  When the timer went off I switched around the pans and baked for another 25 minutes. 

We let them cool while we were eating lunch and sliced with a pizza cutter into 8 small wedges.  Some enjoyed it as is while others dolloped on Cool Whip.  The other RAP was saved until it cooled and eaten for breakfast the next morning.  I especially liked it cool because you could just grab a slice and eat it.  No plate, no fork, no mess.  Yummy, applely, cinnamony goodness.

Just a note:  by not mixing up all the dry ingredients it definitely looked rustic.  If you want a prettier looking RAP, mix the dry ingredients in a small bowl and then sprinkle half over each pie.

Friday, October 14, 2011

My 14th Annual Cranberry Harvest

October sure came quickly this year.  Seems we were just basking in the July heat and humidity one moment and then the next it was October with all the beautiful colors and gorgeous blue skies.  It's still October now, but the fall foliage has mostly dropped and the skies have turned a little darker.  It's very dark in the morning when we get up.  I open my shade expecting to see something, anything, but I don't.  I just squint trying to make out the shape of the chicken coop before coming to terms with the fact that we are indeed heading into another winter.  You'd think I wouldn't be surprised by this seeing that I've lived in this house for 14 years and have experienced 14 Octobers and 14 cranberry harvests here. 

Looking out over the swimming hole beds.  When Emily, Nick and Amber were little we have a large swimming hole in this exact spot, hence the name, swimming hole beds.

Joseph enjoying his mittens.  He couldn't stop looking at them.  This week didn't start out cold; Monday we had temps in the upper 70s.  Today we barely made it over 50.

The Dirty Jobs guy really needs to experience our type of cranberry harvesting because there's nuttin' clean about it.  Here Chad is blowing the ditch edge trying to get every last berry that's gotten tangled in the ditch grass.  The wind is out of the Northwest and he's on the south side of the bed.  He's getting wet!!!  That's why he's wearing raingear when it's not raining.

Years ago I read somewhere about the importance of boys having meaningful work.  Meaningful mans work.  Real work that needs to get done.  Not made up work to keep their hands busy, but hard laborous work.  The author said it helped them develop into hard-working, determined, needed men.  I think this counts big time.

With a mouthful of sunflower seeds to "keep him company", Nick picks up pipe from the cranberry beds so dad can rake the bed tomorrow.

The whole set-up.

Tooth decay fighting, urinary tract infection preventing, antioxidant loaded cranberries.  Eat some today!
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