It’s a Pie AND a Dinner!

In another clean-out-the-fridge dinner, with an extra helping of use-up-some-damn-mincemeat, I was, in fact, able to use some mincemeat. Things that went into the pot, in order:

  • three slices of bacon, chopped, and some of the fat cut off first; when the bacon was crispy/cooked, removed it for later use
  • finely sliced onion, sweated then cooked in the bacon fat until getting nice and caramelized; added pressed garlic and the bacon back into the mix
  • the last hunk of shredded wild turkey dark meat from the freezer (Friend throws the wild turkey legs and thighs into a slow cooker overnight, then shreds the result, removing the tendons and natty bits as he pulls it apart)
  • about a third of a jar of mincemeat
  • about two thirds of the diced and roasted butternut squash (the rest went in the freezer; it was probably the equivalent of 1.5 medium squashes)
  • a dash of apple cider vinegar to cut the sweet of the mincemeat
  • about 12 ounces of spinach (the last batch from the farm share)
  • a splash of the ginger sesame sauce from the Ginger People, and some shredded ginger from them as well

I served it over some wild rice, with a sprinkle of grated sheep’s milk cheese (something strong, again to cut the sweet of the mincemeat). Overall, it was pretty good–and I realized I managed to get three different animal meats into the pot (pig, turkey, and beef, the latter from the suet in the mincemeat), which is rather unusual for me.

However, it was still a little sweet, so I think the next effort is going to be a tomato sauce/stew of some kind, with the thought that the acid of the tomatoes will also cut the sweetness a bit. I had a spaghetti sauce made with mincemeat at a dinner party a million years ago (i.e., when I was in college, so probably nearly 35 years ago), and I remember liking it, even though the thought of mincemeat kinda grossed me out at the time. There was a large wad of leftovers for lunches, and today I mixed a little of the pulled pork from new year’s day into the pile as well, and it was tasty.

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When You Have Lemons

Remember all that cooking I said I was going to do? Remember with what the road to hell is paved? Yeah. That.

A lot of the weekend was spent in preparation for cooking more than actual cooking, and the things I did do in the kitchen were an object lesson in how my mind works, i.e., having one thing on hand led to using up something else. There was a massive errand adventure yesterday, including to the grocery store, where I stocked up on dried legumes of various sorts (white beans, garbanzos, and french green lentils, to be used for, respectively, white bean, garlic and sage dip, hummus, and this recipe, which sounded awesome and useful for lunches). I also ended up with a bag of lemons–partly because of this purple potato recipe (yes, I do like a lot of Deb’s recipes, at least as a starting point), which I intended for last night’s dinner, because I cut off the rest of the parsley from my window boxes and that seemed like a good use for it, and I knew I had some shallots from the farm share that wouldn’t last much longer.

As a result of the lemons on hand, I made a quick pistachio cake from one of my Moosewood cookbooks, though I subbed honey for sugar in both the cake and the syrup, and I used sour cream instead of yogurt, because I had purchased sour cream for the cake I’m making tomorrow. I picked the pistachio cake to use up a bunch of the pistachios that were hanging around in the fridge, and I liked the cake well enough that I’ll use up the rest of the pistachios, and more lemons, with another round of the cake.

Dinner was pretty awesome, actually. I made the beer-braised cabbage with mustard (another cabbage down!), but I used chicken stock instead of beer because we were having wine with dinner. The purple potatoes were also quite good. Finally, I still had two pork chops in the freezer, from last year’s farmers’ market; one of the vendors at the small Sunday market near me gets a pig from a farmer and then does all the butchering and rendering, and he made awesome pork products. I marinated the chops in a mix of about a cup of chicken broth, plus 3 tablespoons or so of soy sauce, some lemon juice, chopped garlic (lots of that), a little white wine, and some chopped sage–because I had the sage on hand. The chops were very thick, so they took awhile to cook through, and, after I got a good sear on the meat, I ended up adding the marinade and a bunch of white wine, a little at a time, to the pan so it wouldn’t burn. (I had intended to reduce the marinade and use it as a sauce anyway, but the meat really needed some moisture to cook.)

The reduced marinade-plus-wine also enabled me to scrape up all the fond for a sauce (mmmm . . . . fond . . .). The sauce was extremely tasty, and I think I’m going to do it again next week, except with a wild turkey breast. Wild turkey is quite good, though you can really only eat the breast as is; the legs have way too much sinew and connective tissue to eat like a drumstick, but if you cook them in a slow cooker (which I don’t have, but the friend who hunts the turkeys does have), you can separate out the meat pretty easily, and the dark meat is great for chilis and stews. The breast meat is denser than we’re used to eating–these are truly wild turkeys, after all, so that should not be a surprise–and it’s flavorful, and I think it will work well with the marinade/sauce.

I didn’t do any cooking today, in part because I simply didn’t feel like it, but in part because I hadn’t soaked any of the beans and figured I’d just do it all next weekend. What I did do was clean some crap out of the fridge while I did the laundry. (I live in a condo, and we have a shared laundry room, which I like because I can do multiple loads at once.) It’s one of those tasks that’s perfectly suited to the 35 or 40 minutes between times when you have to do something with the laundry.

One thing you maybe need to know about me is that I regard expiration dates as . . . modest suggestions. Most of the time the stuff is still perfectly useable. Obviously if it has mold on it or has gone off or sour in some way, or if it’s a nut or an oil (or even a whole-grain flour) that has gone rancid, then no. (It’s a good reason to keep nuts, oils, and whole grain flours in the freezer or fridge.) If it’s a bulging can, then also no. But if the item isn’t bad or sour, then I don’t care what the date on the container says, especially if I’m cooking with it rather than, say, eating it as is.

However.

It turns out that tahini (sesame paste) really does NOT stay good for 13 years. I know–what a surprise! So that got thrown out. There were some scraps of things that didn’t smell bad, but that even I thought perhaps should be tossed. And now there’s more room in the fridge, which is a good thing, because next Saturday is the cheese drop. No, it’s not a parachute drop of cheese. Another of the farmers’ market vendors has a mailing list, and once a month or so they let you order cheese, and a week later they show up at the spot where the market is in the summer and hand over the cheese from the back of a van. It always makes me think of Lou Reed–“Waitin’ for the Man”–except instead of a bunch of junkies waiting for a drug dealer it’s a bunch of middle-aged people waiting for the cheese guy.