Wolf SilverOak
Akita Owner.

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"I believe in god, only I call it Nature."
- Frank Lloyd Wright

June 2021



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Posts Tagged: 'daring+bakers/daringcooks'

Apr. 27th, 2020


Dad is home. They diagnosed him with ischemic colitis. So, kept him a week to see if he improved and sent him home when he did. Now we play the waiting game to make sure he didn't catch the novel coronavirus while in the hospital.

I got to talk to him on Sat. He said it was good to hear my voice. I don't get to talk to him often these days, it's hard to understand him because he tends to mumble or slur his words, or he's napping.

He mentioned his antique guns again, and wanting me to have them. We have this conversation nearly every time we do talk. I finally told him to have mom tape notes to the ones he wanted me to have, saying they were going to me.

Went over and cut my brother's lawn on Sat as well. Helped him get his small garden started. Hopefully he listened and got his seeds in before it rained that afternoon. He was going to plant sugar snap peas, green beans and zucchini. He's got a good spot for it, full sun through to early aftenoon, then light shade through to full shade in the evening. Hopefully it does well for him.

Our garden is really starting to get going. the peas are up, the lettuce and spinach are doing well now that we've fenced them to keep the squirrels and chipmunks from digging in the soft soil. The potatoes are sending up new sprouts, so hopefully we'll get quite a few pounds this fall. The radishes planted over the top are going crazy too. The carrots have just started sprouting. Never grew carrots before, so this will be interesting.

Was out there, in the rain, well the start of it , on Sat, putting in zuchinni, cucumbers, butternut squash, tomatillo seeds (purple!), and beans. Dan would not stop talking after I took over another bag of garden soil for him to use, as we told him he definitely did not have enough, and confirmed it after he put what he had in his bed and sent us photos, especially after I told him , rain is coming in, get your seeds in, I gotta go get mine in, several times, as the wind picked up and you could smell the rain coming.

Sunday we put in the tomatoes and peppers. So far, wildlife is leaving most stuff alone now. We put cages over the tomatillo row and the cucurbit seed mounds, to help protect them. Also put out a lot of pollinator plants in the center bed. These will stay permanently- Liatris, Phlox, Coppertips, all were sprouted and growing well in the soil medium I started them in. The 2 Echinecea that came with them, not so much. But I put them out anyway, maybe if they're in the ground, they'll wake up. If not, I do have seeds in cold storage I can start and transplant.

Te swamp milkweed finally started coming back up, as has some of the Anise Hyssop. Need to collect seeds from that this year and scatter it through the wooded area some. Bees and butterflies adore it and it usually grows well here. It'll look good against the biennial black eyed susans that grow in the wooded area too.

I have noticed, toilet paper is starting to get easier to find, as well as paper towel. I suspect, fresh produce and fresh meat will now become scarce, as people start overstocking their freezers on that, with all the doom and gloom news about meat packing shutting down and farmers dumping crops. Much of whats being destroyed was never meant for the grocery store systems, but people don't care. Good thing we already have plenty in the freezer.

Trying to wake up my King Arthur Flour sourdough starter. I suspect it's been in the freezer too long. Haven't given up on it yet, but it's really sluggish to get going. Also trying to start a wild yeast starter as well. That'll be a first for us, so hopefully it works. Its been a long time since I've bake with sourdough (5 years), so will be nice to get back to it.

Apparently *indoor gun ranges* have been deemed essential services by a Lynchburg judge. How exactly going to shooting at targets, indoors, practically shoulder to shoulder (certainly well below the 6ft spacing) is an essential need, is beyond me. So fucking stupid.

1 hospitalized in my county

Mar. 31st, 2020

Ugh. Mini rant, then the good stuff.

People simply want to be told what to believe and then, believe everything they see on Facebook.

See the recent meme about Hobby Lobby closing all their stores and laying everyone off, as well as that letter about it's in the hands of god, for example. Research shows, that letter in particular is may or may not be true, the veracity has not been established, it was *Oklahoma stores only, and the rest are abiding by the state they are in guidelines. I mean, there's numerous people who either work at HL who are questioning this, saying, that's not happening at my store, where'd you hear this?

*And no one provides links!*

I mean, if you don't want to buy from Hobby Lobby because they're a bigoted, misogynistic, chauvinistic, backwards, religious zealot owned company, that's one thing and perfectly good reasons to not frequent that establishment. But to take something, blow it way up and then post it as fact? No, don't do that. *Truth matters*. Look at the Gamestop fiasco. *It wasn't true*.

Ok, rant over.

So, we found out Friday, after almost 3 years of behind the scenes work by his boss, Mark has received a promotion and a significant pay increase. As well as being switched from hourly to salary. Now, instead of doing the work without the pay or title, he has both. Heh.

So, going to salary means a big change in how I pay bills. One week next month will be a no paycheck week, but it'll be late in the month, so maybe we'll get lucky and that so called stimulus check will come that week (not holding my breath). He's stressing over causing complications in bill paying for me and I'm looking at him and saying, I got this., it'll be ok.

And it will be. Because this was a good thing and we needed it.

Sunday we tried a new breakfast recipe.

It failed, miserably.

It failed so very badly, that even though we hate to waste food, we looked at it, at each other and said it had to go away. It was that unappetizing. It didn't remotely look like the recipe for breakfast tacos whatsoever. That recipe got trashed. Our version of breakfast tacos turned out beautifully.

Dinner was a new recipe too. THAT recipe turned out great.


Blackened Shrimp Tacos with Jalapeno-Lime Cole Slaw

Recipe courtesy of My Magazine from Kroger

Hands on time- 10 minutes ( closer to 20 if you ask me, especially if you use fresh jalapenos like I did)
Total time- 20 minutes (well....)
Serves 4 (yes, or 1-2 with leftovers)


3tsp blackened seasoning (I didn't have any, so instead I used Stone Spice Company's Screamin' BBQT seasoning They are a locally, artisan spice company)
1 tsp salt, divided
1tsp pepper, divided
15-20 large shrimp, raw, shelled and deveined, rough chopped into bite size pieces
2 Tbsp olive oil (or oil of choice)
Juice from 2 limes
3/4 cup greek yogurt
1tsp honey
3 Tbsp olive oil (again, or oil of your choice)
1/4 cup jalapenos (they say to use canned, I used fresh and deseeded them), diced
1-2 scallion onions, chopped
1 bag of cole slaw blend of your choice
8 corn or flour tortillas


1- In small bowl, mix shrimp with seasoning, 1/2 tsp of salt, 1/2 tsp of pepper, and 1 Tbsp oil. Toss to thoroughly coat. Set aside.

2- In large bowl, add lime juice, yogurt, honey, oil, remaining salt and pepper. Mix well. Add chopped jalapenos and scallions. Stir well. Add cole slaw mix and toss to combine. Place in refrigerator until needed.

3- Heat medium-large saute pan over medium-high heat. Add oil when hot. Add shrimp and cook through, about 2-3 minutes. Let shrimp rest while you prepare the tortillas. (heat or char the tortillas or do nothing as we did, your taste.)

4- Place 2 tortillas per plate and top with shrimp. Place roughly 1/2 cup of slaw on each, top with more sliced jalapenos and scallions, even black olives and sour cream if desired. Serve warm. Refrigerate leftovers, obviously.



Today's numbers in Virginia-
13401 tested
1250 positive
165 hospitalized
27 dead

2 in Bedford County

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Mar. 27th, 2020

Ow and Yum!


Took Caena and Leo for a really long walk yesterday, 1.27 miles. Leo was literally leaning against me as we walked up the driveway to the house. I think I broke them.

We had martial arts class online using the Zoom app last night. So stiff today. Hard wood floors are not conducive to proper workouts. We are biting the bullet and making a quick trip to get mats for next time, after we go and mow my brother's front yard for him, on Sat.

So, yesterday I said I would post the recipe of the Slow Cooker Citrus Salmon with Melted Leeks if it turned out good.

It turned out amazing. Here's the recipe-


Slow Cooker Citrus Salmon with Melted Leeks

active: 10 mins
total: 3 hrs 40 mins
Servings: 4


Cooking spray
3 cups sliced leeks (from 2 leeks) {I used 3}
1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh thyme {dried works too}
1 teaspoon chopped fresh sage {Oregano works as well as dried}
1 teaspoon kosher salt
½ teaspoon black pepper
¼ cup dry white wine
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into 8 pieces
4 (6 ounce) skinless salmon fillets
1 lemon, thinly sliced
1 tablespoon olive oil


Step 1


Coat a 5- to 6-quart slow cooker with cooking spray. Place the leeks in a bowl; toss with the thyme, sage or oregano, and 1/2 teaspoon of the salt and 1/4 teaspoon of the pepper, and spread in an even layer in the bottom of the slow cooker. Pour the wine over the leeks and dot with the butter. Cover and cook on LOW until the leeks are tender, about 2 hours and 30 minutes.

Step 2


Place the salmon on top of the leeks in the slow cooker. Sprinkle the salmon with the remaining salt and; top with the lemon slices, and drizzle with the oil. Cover and cook on LOW until a thermometer inserted in thickest portion of the salmon registers 140 degrees F, about 1 hour to 1hour 15 minutes. Transfer the salmon to a platter, and serve with the leeks.

Nutrition Facts
Serving Size: 1 fillet, 1/2 cup leeks

Per Serving:
369 calories; 20 g total fat; 6 g saturated fat; 569 mg sodium. 10 g carbohydrates; 1 g fiber; 3 g sugar; 35 g protein


I served it with oven roasted asparagus seasoned with lemon juice and slices, salt pepper and olive oil. If you get a chance, and like salmon, make this. You won't regret it.

Virginia numbers-

7337 tested
604 positive
83 hospitalized
14 dead

3 in my County (no change)

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Apr. 27th, 2014

Daring Bakers Challenge- Easter Breads

The April Daring Baker’s Challenge was hosted by Wolf of Wolf’s Den . She challenged us to Spring into our kitchens and make Easter breads reflecting cultures around the world.

Yes, that would be me. Fun, eh? }:P

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On to the Challenge! )

Jan. 28th, 2014

Daring Bakers Challenge- Treecake (Baumkuchen)

The January 2014 Daring Bakers' challenge was hosted by Francijn of "Koken in de Brouwerij". She challenged us all to bake layered cakes in the tradition of Baumkuchen (tree cake) and Schichttorte (layered cake).

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It took me two tries to get this cake right. The first was a big fail, as following the directions to the letter resulted in the very bottom layer burning completely. So it went into the trash.

The second try, I used the broiler method instead and that worked perfectly. Because I used a longer pan than the recipe called for, I was only able to get 7 layers. But they were 7 delicious layers.

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I dressed our cake simply, with powdered sugar instead of the chocolate glaze. But the next time- and there will be a next time- we'll try the glaze.}:P

It really isn't a hard recipe to do, just a bit time consuming and you need patience. And you literally have to hover over your oven for each layer, otherwise, a few seconds too long and it'll edge into burning territory.

All in all, a fun Challenge and well worth the time!


Nov. 19th, 2013

Remembering Lis, Queen of The Daring Kitchen

I found out last night, that Lis, a co-founder of The Daring Kitchen, the home of the Daring Bakers and Daring Cooks, passed away on Nov 12th.

Reading Lis' blog, La Mia Cucina, as well as Ivonne's Creampuffs in Venice blog, was the whole reason I joined the Daring Bakers, then the Daring Cooks. The sheer fun that came through the posts about the Challenges enthralled me. And so I joined.

Daring Bakers- Dobos Torte

A fellow Daring Kitchen member set up an event on Facebook, to celebrate the awesomeness that was Lis. It was suggested that we find a Challenge that we remember best, that gave us nightmares, that really Challenged us.

Honestly, there are quite a few, but the Dobos Torte Challenge was the one where, for the first time ever, buttercream actually worked for me. It was only my 5th Daring Bakers Challenge but I knew, after that, I could do any of them with a modicum of success and even if I failed, the group at the Daring Kitchen wouldn't care.

I've remade numerous Challenges since then, both Daring Bakers and Daring Cooks. Several are on permanent rotation, such as the Stacked Green Chile Enchiladas. In fact, last night, I made Cannelloni for the umpteenth time. And it was just as delicious as the first time.

Every single Challenge announcement was preceded by a humor filled paragraph or two, written by Lis. Every one of them showed her unique spirit and passion for this group of people who came together thanks to her and Ivonne.

Several months ago, Lis emailed me asking if I'd host a Daring Bakers Challenge in 2014 and gave me my choice of months when I said yes. I still have those emails. They are the epitome of her humor and warmth.

"Okay you are down for April. :D Just one thing.. NO CAKE. Hahahaha! I just realized we are doing 4 different types of cakes in 2014.. all of them very different, but still.. cake 4 times. ;)

We’ve got another Dutch pastry and bread – but not so much a special type of bread, but bread shapes so to speak.. it’s an awesome challenge. And then at the end of the year we’re doing a Spanish style King Cake – so that’s kinda bready and cakey, yes? We’ve got a big pie challenge still coming in 2013.. as well as a French pastry, another cake, verrines, flan and a savory pie challenge coming up in 2013. Not much savory in 2014 if that flips your switch. If it doesn’t that’s absolutely fine too.

Hope that helps in your choices? :)

Good luck!

Thanks, Lis, for the Daring Kitchen, for sharing your humor and passion for food with us all. We will endeavor to carry the Daring Kitchen onward in the spirit you would love and want. Come April 2014, I hope I do you proud.

And I'll try not to do cake.}:P

#tributetolis #daringbakers

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Oct. 28th, 2013

Daring Bakers Challenge- Savory Pot Pies

Hannah of Rise and Shine was our October 2013 Daring Bakers’ hostess and she challenged us to bake our own double crusted savory pot pies. Using any from-scratch crust and filling we choose, we were allowed to get completely creative with our recipe, showing off the savory flavors and fillings from our own home or region.

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I meant to post this yesterday, but well, that was spent relaxing after the 10+ hour drive back from Michigan the day before. I've now made my version of a chicken pot pie twice in as many weeks. Technically three times if you count the one that's in my mom's freezer for her and dad to have later this coming winter.

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I will admit, I totally winged this one, filling wise. I used the pie crust recipe provided for the one I made for us and store bought for mom and dad's. So there really isn't a set recipe for my filling, but I can say, it makes enough for TWO 9" pot pies. Yeah. And it's delicious.

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The gist of it is the following-

A 5 cheese (romano, parmesan, sharp cheddar, provolone, mozzarella) sauce- base is a basic roux, then heavy cream, then the cheese, mixed until smooth, seasoned with sea salt, pepper, garlic to taste. To that was added a pound of boneless chicken that was browned in olive oil, steamed broccoli florets, chopped red onions, chopped sauted mushrooms, sliced sauted leeks. And broken up pieces of thick cut applewood bacon. It was all mixed together then scooped into the waiting pie crusts, topped with a second crust, [mostly] sealed and baked at 375 for 45-50 minutes.

It makes enough filling for two pies, so the second can be made, allowed to cool( if the filling is still warm) and wrapped in 2 layers of tinfoil, then plastic wrap and frozen unbaked until you want to have it again.

I think I need to make a couple this weekend, as a matter of fact.}:P


Oct. 14th, 2013

Daring Cooks Challenge- Choose Your Own

In a "celebration" of past Daring Cooks and Daring Bakers challenges, Lisa challenged all of us to search through the Daring Kitchen archives and pick any one we'd like! The REAL challenge was picking which delicious recipe(s) to try!

Well, I made Cannelloni this month, and I made a whole bunch of Green Chile Sauce, some of which was eaten on stacked fish enchiladas. And I made homemade pasta sauce and ravioli and other noodles.

Sadly, I took photos of none of it. So all I have is my word. Heh.

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Aug. 28th, 2013

Daring Bakers Challenge- A cake and 2 cookies

Aparna of My Diverse Kitchen was our August 2013 Daring Bakers’ hostess and she challenged us to make some amazing regional Indian desserts. The Mawa Cake, the Bolinhas de Coco cookies and the Masala cookies – beautifully spiced and delicious!

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Look at that cake. That cake is delicious. That cake was also a right pain in my behind.

It took 2 different brands of milk to make this cake. Our normal brand of whole milk, refused to work. So I had to go get a half gallon of a local creamery's whole milk, which did work, but at a reduced amount than what I was supposed to end up with.

This pain in the butt cake is why I did not get to the other half of this Challenge, which is to make one of the two cookies as well.

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But darn if this cake wasn't worth it. I mean, LOOK AT THAT CAKE. You can see the flecks of Cardamom in it. You can smell the Cardamom and man, can you taste it. OmNomNom. It makes great snacking cake(as it apparently is intended to be) but it also makes great breakfast cake.

So yes, while it was a pain in the behind, man was it ever worth it.


Aug. 14th, 2013

Daring Cooks Challenge- Biryani

Grace, one of our talented non-blogging Daring Kitchen members, was our Daring Cooks’ August hostess who shared with us some of her family’s tried and true Bengali Biryani recipes – all of them delicious and all of them prepared fresh from our own kitchens!

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Mmm, biryani... The first time I had biryani, was actually Goat Biryani at Nawab Indian Cuisine here in my city.

This was that biryani-

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Obviously, there was quite a bit of differences between restaurant style biryani and homemade, Bengali biryani.}:P

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So, because we don't eat it very often, I decided to try the Lamb Biryani. Followed the recipe to the letter and let me tell you, my house smelled divine the day I made this. Mark came home from work and could smell the spices in the driveway. Well, to be fair, I had the windows open at the time.}:P

I will say this is a definite keeper and a definite make again and often.


Jul. 29th, 2013

Daring Bakers Challenge- Eeny, Miney, Moe...

In a "celebration" of past Daring Baker and Daring Cook challenges, Lisa challenged all of us to search through the Daring Kitchen archives and pick any one we'd like! The REAL challenge was picking which delicious recipe(s) to try!

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Since we could choose whichever recipe from past Daring Bakers AND Daring Cooks Challenges that we wanted, I chose to revisit the Cannelloni Challenge from June 2012.

We thoroughly enjoyed the Challenge the first time around and did again this time as well. I even made up extra and froze it in a way that all I need to do it drop it in a baking dish and toss it in the oven for a quick, easy and filling dinner.

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The only difference between this time around and the first time, was that I made the cannelloni smaller, more 'mini cannelloni' if you will. That got me enough for 3 baking dishes full, two of which were flash frozen, then wrapped very thoroughly for future use.

It was fun revisiting a past Challenge. I need to do that more often.}:P

The original Challenge and recipes are here.

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Jun. 28th, 2013

Daring Bakers Challenge- Pie

Rachael from pizzarossa was our lovely June 2013 Daring Bakers’ host and she had us whipping up delicious pies in our kitchens! Cream pies, fruit pies, chocolate pies, even crack pies! There’s nothing like pie!

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Mmm, pie...

I did two for this Challenge- one, our usual Blueberry Crostada because Mark practically begged for it, and the other the chocolate caramel tart. Both were very delicious.}:P

More! )

Jun. 17th, 2013

Daring Cooks Challenge- Meatballs

The June Daring Cooks’ challenge sure kept us rolling – meatballs, that is! Shelley from C Mom Cook and Ruth from The Crafts of Mommyhood challenged us to try meatballs from around the world and to create our own meatball meal celebrating a culture or cuisine of our own choice.

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Meatballs! Yum. We really like meatballs, generally have them one of two ways here- with spaghetti- usually baked spaghetti- or in a Tagine with couscous. My mom makes awesome sweet and sour meatballs.

So for this Challenge, I did Moroccan spiced Meatballs with Couscous and vegetables, in my tagine.

more! )

May. 15th, 2013

Daring Cooks Challenge- En Croute

Our lovely Monkey Queen of Don’t Make Me Call My Flying Monkeys, was our May Daring Cooks’ hostess and she challenged us to dive into the world of en Croute! We were encouraged to make Beef Wellington, Stuffed Mushroom en Croute and to bring our kids into the challenge by encouraging them to create their own en Croute recipes!

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Yes, we've done an en croute style challenge before- 4 years ago. Back then, I made a Salmon En Croute for Mark, and a Tilapia En Croute for me. This time around, I went with the ol' stand by - Beef Wellington, since we'd never made it before.


Apr. 15th, 2013

Daring Cooks Challenge- Chicken Ballotine

For the April Daring Cooks Challenge, Lisa from Parsley, Sage and Sweet has challenged us to debone a whole chicken, using this video by Jacques Pepin as our guide; then stuff it, tie it and roast it, to create a Chicken Ballotine.

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This was an interesting and fun Challenge. Very tasty too. And not as difficult as it sounds really. I watched the video twice through the day I made the Challenge. Then, I had Mark on hand to pause it as needed and had the whole chicken deboned in under 15 minutes. Not too shabby for a first try, eh?

More! )

Mar. 29th, 2013

Daring Bakers Challenge- Hidden Veggies

Ruth from Makey-Cakey was our March 2013 Daring Bakers’ challenge host. She encouraged us all to get experimental in the kitchen and sneak some hidden veggies into our baking, with surprising and delicious results!

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For this Challenge, I made 2 different things- cake and muffins. I didn't go all out on this Challenge like I could have. But well, it's just the two of us and there's only so much baked goods we should and need to eat.}:)

We're strange people who actually like to have veggies with dinner, every night. Tonight in fact, we're having grilled zucchini.}:P

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First up is the Banana-Spinach Muffins, from the recipe provided by the Challenge host. Mark thoroughly loved them. He says you can't taste the spinach. I refuse to eat them. Cause I made them so I know there's spinach in them.}:P

I tweaked the recipe- added an extra half of a banana and 1/4 cup of Amaranth Flour to add a hint of nuttiness. He said it reminded him of honey wheat bread with bananas added. I'll take his word for it.

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Next was a Carrot-Zucchini Cake with Raisins and Pineapple and Pineapple Cream Cheese Icing- Torte/Flan style ( Pampered Chef Torte cake pans, they used to call them Flan cake pans years ago.}:P). This is a staple here. With the exception of adding shredded Zucchini, I usually tweak a boxed mix- This time it was a Duncan Hines Decadent Classic Carrot cake mix- with pineapple, and substitute the water with pineapple juice. It tends to create a more flavorful, moister cake. The Zucchini, while sort of evident in the flecks of green, was not noticeable in taste.

That actually makes 2 of the torte style cakes, so one went to work with Mark. He texted me that it was gone in under an hour and no one he talked to that had eaten a piece, realised there was zucchini in it.

Overall, a fun Challenge!

The Recipes! )

Mar. 15th, 2013

Daring Cooks Challenge- Homemade Cheeses

Sawsan from chef in disguise was our March 2013 Daring Cooks hostess! Sawsan challenges us to make our own homemade cheeses! She gave us a variety of choices to make, all of them easily accomplished and delicious!

Daring Cooks Challenge- Homemade Cheeses

Well, suffice it to say, that finding non-UHT Goat's milk or even sheep's milk here, is impossible. I really wanted to try my hand at homemade Feta too. Bummer. Never did get any rennet either.}:/

So, instead I settled for a cheese I'd not made before or had either. Labneh, yogurt based cheese. It reminded us of cream cheese, only more tangy. It was great on crackers, on bagels, on the crispy flatbread from the Daring Bakers Challenge, on pretty near everything we put it on, or even on its own.

And because Photobucket is currently being stupid with throwing up a beta site that has so many issues to work out, you get only one measly photo. Sorry. Blame Photobucket.


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Feb. 28th, 2013

Daring Bakers Challenge- Crisp Crackers and Flatbreads

Sarah from All Our Fingers in the Pie was our February 2013 Daring Bakers’ host and she challenges us to use our creativity in making our own Crisp Flatbreads and Crackers!

This was a fairly simple Challenge. The hard part was making time to do it with everything else that's been going on here. So I did the crispy flatbreads and tweaked the herbs that were in the original recipe.

As you can see, we paired them with scrambled eggs and homemade hickory smoked roasted cinnamon cured bacon. Yes, we had breakfast for dinner. Doesn't everyone?


Feb. 19th, 2013

Daring Cooks Challenge for Jan AND Feb- SALUMI AND SAUSAGE, aka cured meats

For the January-February 2013 Daring Cooks’ Challenge, Carol, one of our talented non-blogging members and Jenni, one of our talented bloggers who writes The Gingered Whisk, have challenged us to make homemade sausage and/or cured, dried meats in celebration of the release of the book Salumi: The Craft of Italian Dry Curing by Michael Ruhlman and Brian Polcyn! We were given two months for this challenge and the opportunity to make delicious Salumi in our own kitchens!

It's been a rough few months and it's only the beginning of 2013.

Right before Christmas, I caught the flu. Then, right after New Years, I caught a cold. Needless to say, I got a very late start on this challenge.

Then, the second week of Jan, we lost one of our beloved pets, Max, unexpectedly. Needless to say, grief compounded with seasonal depression really set in and starting on this challenge got pushed even further back.

About that time, Caena, our Akita, started trying to chew her skin off, yanking her fur out and necessitating us resorting to a cone of shame. Then, a week later, we discovered a serious issue with mold/mildew in our bedroom, which resulted in our having to empty the bedroom to bleach and paint the walls with Kilz primer. It also required the moving of our 20 gal fish tank from the upstairs to the downstairs, as we think that, combined with the humidifier and absolutely no circulation beyond a fan in the hall, in that room, is what caused the mold/mildew.

Caena went to the vet- turns out she may have a mold/mildew allergy, which after a round of antibiotics and Prednisone, along with twice weekly baths using medicated shampoo, has cleared up nicely. That week, I broke down and went as simple as I could with this challenge, which meant making homemade bacon.

So, since I already had a pork belly, all I needed was a cure for it. I will admit, this actually cured for 2 weeks, because I got sidetracked by packing up all the books (7 boxes worth, close to 600-700), and moving out what we could from the bedroom, then priming the entire room with 2 coats of Kilz, next thing I know, it's the following week and I'm busy repainting the entire bedroom with 2 coats of lovely semigloss paint, so it got put off until last weekend. Umm, 2 weekends ago counting this past weekend.

The PDF file has links to sources for the 'Pink Salt', or you can go the simple route like I did and just use the Morton's Sugar cure, which works great. Initially, I added maple syrup to it, but between the natural flavoring that comes with the sugar cure and the smoking, the maple syrup flavor was lost. And we learned not to let the pork belly cure for longer than the week it's supposed to. Why? Because if you eat more than 2-3 pieces at a time, it tends to start tasting rather salty. And really, it's bacon, who can only eat 2-3 pieces? }:P

I really wanted to use Applewood smoking chips, but short of ordering them online, that just wasn't feasible, since locally, they're only around in the spring and summer. So instead, we went with hickory. Soaked for about 30-45 minutes prior to use.

Fired up the smoking box on the grill, added some dry smoking chips to help bring the heat up to temp. And then waited. Once the smoke built up and the temp inside the grill itself reached 200 degrees, the pork belly was added. Then it became a waiting game, where every 15-20 minutes, I'd add a few handfuls of soaked smoking chips to keep the smoke quantity up while the soon to be bacon smoked.

About 2 hours later, we had slabs of bacon! I will admit, I looked at the internal temp wrong, and well, it got a little hotter than I wanted. But it was still very good looking bacon.

I let it rest for about half an hour, then I carefully sliced the skin (aka the rind) off, trying to leave as much of the underlying fat as possible. And hour after that, while it was still warm but I was too impatient to wait any longer, I sliced it down into thick cut slices of yummy bacon.

Homemade bacon cooks just like store bought. But you know what? It smells oh so much better.}:P

And it tastes oh so much better than storebought too. Right now, I have my last 3lb piece of pork belly curing in the fridge. This time, I went with the plain sugar cure and added roasted cinnamon to it. Saturday, I'll smoke it. Then next week, I'll take it to my butcher, whom it turns out, will slice it for me on his meat slicer! WooHoo! and I'll also pick up the pork belly I ordered and make more bacon and I'm thinking of trying my hand at some pancetta.

By the way, if you're interested in making cured meats, bacon, sausage, etc, definitely check out the PDF file and go get yourself copies of both Charcuterie and Salumi. They are well worth it!

And definitely check out the slide show of other Daring Cooks' cured meats! They're delicious looking!


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Dec. 17th, 2012

December Daring Cooks Challenge- Pate Chinois

Our Daring Cooks’ December 2012 Hostess is Andy of Today’s the Day and Today’s the Day I Cook! Andy is sharing with us a traditional French Canadian classic the Paté Chinois, also known as Shepherd’s pie for many of us, and if one dish says comfort food.. this one is it!

So very late posting this. Ah well.

We make Shepard's Pie often here. Or, as I have been corrected about before- Cottage Pie. You see, apparently, certain people elsewhere get very touchy about Shepard's Pie and if you don't absolutely use ground lamb, carrots, I believe peas and that's it for the filling- besides gravy- then, they are adamant that it's Cottage Pie, not true Shepard's Pie.

To be honest, I've made it both with lamb and our standard ground beef and I can't tell a difference. So. Each to their own, I say.

However, the version of Shepard's Pie Andy makes with creamed corn, I've never heard of before, but it sounded really interesting. Unfortunately, I didn't get to it in time for this Challenge. It's been a very stressful month, which makes this comfort food an awesome addition, really.

Normally, I use mixed veggies, but Mark asked for just corn and peas this time around. It's an easy dish to prepare- browned beef (or lamb) and onions- optional, we like them, so we add them. Then I mix in a mushroom gravy. The meat mix goes on the bottom, topped with your veggies. Usually I mix the meat and veggies. This time I wanted that 'layered' look so didn't. Then the whole gets topped with mashed potatoes and liberally sprinkled with cheese.

Into the oven until the cheese is melted and the whole is bubbly and hot. Delicious, easy and leftovers are even better the next day.

Check out the other recipes here! The Fisherman's Pie version sounds delicious and is on our must try list after the New Year.}:)

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