Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Mango Chutney

I got my first Bountiful Basket this last weekend.  It is a great program to get fresh fruits and vegetables, and organic food locally.  I bought a flat of mangoes, and have been canning Mango Chutney.   I have ten jars, and enough mangoes left in the bowl for one more batch.
Chutney is a spicy sweet condiment for meats, fish, etc...It tastes vaguely of curry, and is very good with lamb, which is fortunate, since we are having lamb kabobs tonight.
As you can see in the picture above, the mangoes I got in my basket are not the typical red/green ones you see in the store, and are a little more tart than those bigger mangoes we are used to eating, but they made an awesome chutney.  I adapted this recipe from an old one I had from a Bon Appetite mag from the eighties.  It called for mango juice, which I could not find, but I used mango nectar, which they carry at Mr. D's grocery here locally.   The hardest thing to find was the hot pickled cherry peppers.  Everybody had cherry peppers, but only D's had the hot ones.

Mango Chutney

3 lbs. ripe mangoes, peeled and diced
1 C mango nectar
1/2 C lemon juice
4 garlic cloves minced
1 1 inch piece peeled fresh ginger
1 C sugar
1 tsp ground coriander
1/2 tsp ground ginger
1/4 tsp dry mustard
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
2 hot pickled cherry peppers minced
1/2 C cashews

In a non reactive pan, bring all ingredients to a boil.  Cook stirring frequently until the liquid becomes thickened enough to coat the back of a spoon.  Remove from heat and discard ginger.  Ladle into hot sterilized jars, and process 15 minutes in boiling water bath.  Cool and check for seal.  If a jar doesn't seal, refrigerate and use within two weeks.

Sunday, March 4, 2012

Cottage Bacon and Red Eye Gravy with Parmesan Pepper Biscuits

We had a breakfast eye opener this morning.  Red eye gravy is a yummy way to get some caffeine into your day.  It's made with the drippings from cooking ham, or in this case cottage bacon.  To that, you add strong hot coffee and a little brown sugar.  If you like coffee with cream and sweetener, you'll love red eye gravy.
The biscuits are out of the can, just sprinkled with some Parmesan cheese and cracked black pepper before baking them off.  They tasted awesome with a little gravy over the top!
If you can't get cottage bacon where you live, you could certainly substitute a ham steak.  We have Clark's Meathouse in Riverton Wyoming, and they smoke an awesome cottage bacon, so we always have some on hand.

Red Eye Gravy

3 pieces of cottage bacon
2 T butter
2 tsp flour
2 T packed brown sugar
1-2 C hot strong coffee (it depends how thick you want the gravy)
1 C milk

Brown cottage bacon in the pan with 1 T butter.  Remove bacon and add remaining T butter, and flour to the ham drippings.  Stir with a whisk until butter and flour is browned and nutty smelling.  Add coffee, stirring to prevent lumps.  Add in milk and bring to a boil.  Sprinkle in brown sugar, and simmer 5 minutes.

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Chicken and Sausage Gumbo

We are in the thick of lambing.  Nobody is doing much since yesterday morning, but you still have to check.  We don't live where our farm lease is, so it requires us to travel fifteen miles to check.  I'm burning up all the savings I got at the pump from buying groceries!  It's OK, I love lambing.  There is not a more beautiful thing than watching a new life come into the world.
I was fairly well prepared this year, having lots of homemade soups, and prepared dishes made ahead, so we won't be rushing to eat a meal, and have to resort to eating out. We gave up eating out for Lent, so that gives me extra incentive to have meals I can heat to eat ready.
We have noticed that when we do eat out, and eat junk food, we have no energy and feel yucky anyway.  All that fast food is not good at giving energy and providing what our bodies need to thrive.
I had some time here at the house day before yesterday, and so I fixed a big pot of Chicken and Sausage Gumbo.  It was so cold outside, and the hot thick Gumbo served over steamy white rice really tasted good after spending time in the lambing barn.
We had it again yesterday for lunch, and it got a mixed review from the daycare kids.  Bridger got a woody piece of okra, and so he was not too keen on eating more of it.  It happens occasionally, and I tried to convince him that the rest was tender and tasty.  He got really motivated to finish when he saw the other kids getting raspberry sherbet and homemade cookies for dessert.  Bridger told me that the soup was pretty good except for that straw piece that was in it.
I like to put both okra and file powder in my gumbo.  Okra thickens it if you leave it simmer for a long time, but I like to add the okra close to the end of cooking to keep it more tender.  Traditionally, gumbo was made with okra during it's growing season, and file powder when fresh okra wasn't available.
I can readily get frozen okra, and andouille sausage at my local grocery store, so this is a meal I can put together from my freezer and pantry without having to go to the store for ingredients.

Chicken and Sausage Gumbo
4-5 Andouille sausage sliced
4-5 skinless boneless chicken thighs cut into bite size pieces
2 T olive oil
1 yellow onion diced
1 C diced celery and it's leaves
1 large green pepper diced
2 quarts/large cans diced tomatoes
1 bag frozen okra slices
1 quart/box chicken stock
2 garlic cloves minced
1 tsp dried thyme
1 T Worcestershire sauce
1 tsp Frank's hot sauce
Salt and pepper to taste
file powder

In a large stockpot, sweat onions, celery, green pepper and adouille sausage and chicken in oil.  When onions become opaque, add garlic, tomatoes, chicken stock, hot sauce and Worcestershire.  Bring to a boil, and reduce heat to a simmer.  Simmer two hours covered.  Taste and adjust seasoning.  Add in frozen okra and bring to a boil.  Add 1-2 tsp file powder and boil until thickened.  Serve over hot white rice.
Gumbo is always better the second day, and it freezes beautifully.