Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Chicken soup

Last year I did not get a cold. I now see this as an opportunity lost to have some of John's special chicken soup. A rather nasty cold is currently being passed around - and I finally succumbed. John sprang into action and scored many packages of chicken necks (plus some whole chickens) from one of our really good locally owned grocery stores, the Brown's Valley Market. Not to give away the recipe, but it requires a lot of time and lots of fresh ginger. He uses a French mill to extract as much chicken goodness as possible. The soup is what Julia Child would have called "chickeny".

21 quarts of the best chicken soup resulted.

I've been reading a memoir of Julia Child - "My Life in France" - and enjoying it very much. John is one of the few people I know with a complete collection of Julia Child's cookbooks. As I wrote recently, around here WWJD means "What Would Julia Do?"

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Saturday, January 10, 2009

Cabernet Jelly

This is a recipe for perfectly ripe high quality Cabernet Sauvignon grapes. These were picked October 19, 2008 at 25.6 brix.

6 1/2 Cups Cabernet juice
4 Cups sugar, divided
1 cup water
1 packet (1.75 oz.) "Surejell" (pink - premium package)

For 6 1/2 to 7 1/2 Cups juice you will need about 6 1/2 pounds grapes. Remove stems by hand and mash grapes with 1 cup water and 1 cup sugar. Simmer in large non-reactive pot for 10 minutes. Drain through cheesecloth in a colander. This should yield 6 1/2 cups juice or more. Mix pectin with 1/4 cup sugar - mix into juice. Bring to boil. Add remaining sugar and boil one minute, stirring constantly. Put jelly in prepared sterilized jars, add lids as directed in your canning instructions and process 10 minutes.

Why do I give out this recipe? Because it worked for me - and there are no recipes that I could find on the internet for real top quality wine grapes. We racked the cabernet sauvignon and merlot wine today and the jelly recipe came to mind. The cab is in a new oak barrel from Demptos here in Napa. It is as yummy as the jelly, but needs quite a while to be ready to bottle. Maybe 2010.

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Mr. Lincoln

I recently finished reading "Team of Rivals" by Doris Kearns Goodwin. It is quite a bestseller now, with the newly elected President Obama also an admirer of Mr. Lincoln's ability to harness the talents of his former political rivals for the presidency. After reading the book - which was a very "quick read" for such a lengthy tome - I really wanted to have a companion book of the stories told by Abraham Lincoln. According to Ms. Goodwin, President Lincoln's ability to entertain with a constant stream of uproarious stories helped him immeasurably in his campaigns, his friendships, and his governance.

Several "Mr. Lincolns" are also new residents of the rose garden John planted the last couple of weekends. There are at least 50 (and more planned) bare-root roses now planted in the yard of the Fox Cottage next door. My contribution has been nominal - some help with layout, a trip to one of the local nurseries and bringing back one truck load of mulch and helping shovel it into the garden. John has acquired the roses, turned over and amended the soil, prepared the planting beds, laid out the roses, and planted them.

As the new president launches into his term, the roses will leaf out and flower - putting on a magnificent show. Will admiration of Lincoln's successful strategy lead to similar success?

Friday, January 2, 2009

persimmons - what are they good for?

A new favorite for the large, sweet Hachiya persimmons - Persimmon Frozen Yogurt

For this recipe (and other sherbets and ice creams) a 2 quart Cuisinart counter top ice cream freezer works very well.

2 C. plain yogurt
1 1/2 C. persimmons pushed through ricer (defrosted frozen pulp works especially well)
3 Tbsp. Meyer lemon juice
1/4 C. + 2 Tbsp. sugar
2 Tbsp. vanilla extract
1 Tbsp. Cointreau
1 Tbsp. vodka or Kirsch
large dash freshly ground cinnamon
smaller dash freshly ground nutmeg

Process in ice cream freezer. Pack in containers for freezer. In spite of being a low fat frozen yogurt, the alcohol keeps the texture from being too icy.
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Thursday, January 1, 2009

Hoppin' John

This note is not about husband John hoppin' around the rose garden or brother John hoppin' around the golf course. It is about the southern tradition of eating black eyed peas on New Year's Day to bring good luck in the new year. We can certainly use some this year, so here is a basic recipe for "Hoppin' John".

4-6 slices thick bacon, chopped
1 onion, chopped
1 clove garlic, crushed
black pepper and salt to taste
1 cup brown rice (any mixture - I used brown plus red wehani)
2 1/2 cups water (to start)
1 -20 oz. bag frozen black eyed peas

Cook bacon in large pot. As it begins to brown add onion and garlic. Add salt and freshly ground pepper. Cook till onions are soft. Add water and rice, cover and simmer about 35 minutes. Add black eyed peas (add additional water if it gets too dry) and simmer about 25-30 minutes more. Do not use "fresh" (reconstituted dry peas) - frozen peas are fresh frozen and the only way to get fresh peas in winter! Some recipes dress this up in many ways. Simple or fancy - you choose.

Happy New Year!