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Posts Tagged ‘Cooking And Baking’

More high school students have done DNA on food samples and discovered that people aren’t getting what they’re paying for, whether it’s “sheep’s” milk cheese that has more moo than bah in it or “Caribbean” fish that turns out to be from China.  Yet again I’m convinced that we must know more about our food supply, personally if the USDA and FDA will not police producers more.  You can read about the students’ findings here.

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I can’t help but notice how many people find this blog because they are searching for a recipe for winter squash, especially butternut or acorn squash.  You’ll find both savory and sweet recipes at Ozarkhomesteader, because these squashes are incredibly versatile.

Tonight, for instance, I was working with green European cabbage, red onion, and turkey bratwurst.  These ingredients scream German or Austrian food (at least to me), but I was also staring at a butternut squash with a little damage, one that I needed to fix soon rather than keeping through the winter.  Ultimately, I boiled the brats in beer and then mixed just a touch of molasses in with a tiny bit of the beer to make a glaze, allowing me to get nice grill marks when I put the brats on a hot cast iron grill pan.  I served the brats on cabbage sauteed with red onion, cider vinegar, prepared grainy mustard, a touch of honey, and some soy sauce.  (Darn Alton Brown for mentioning umami right about the time I was reaching for the salt!)  I decided that the squash could be seasoned to stand in for pumpernickle–or maybe gingerbread.

DSCN2091I began by peeling the butternut squash.  Butternut is the only winter squash that peels easily when uncooked. Then I cut the squash into chunks, popped it in a casserole with a little water, and baked it at 350 degrees for 30 minutes.  Then I mashed it with about 2 tablespoons dry ginger and two generous drizzles of molasses (maybe about a tablespoon).

I served the brats on top of the cabbage with the squash to the side, some green beans, and some tiny sliced radishes.  Sure the squash looks like baby food this way, but it tastes rich!  And our entire meal celebrated the fall of the Berlin Wall.  It’s hard to believe that was twenty years ago!

Regardless of whether winter squash with ginger is your idea of a good time, know that you can bring its warm, comforting flavor to all sorts of cuisines, including Indian (try it with curry and coconut milk!), Italian (think ravioli with nutmeg, a little garlic), or even New England colonial (acorn squash stuffed with apples and dried cranberries).  Enjoy those squash you found at the farmer’s market, in your CSA basket, or even–like us–in your own garden.

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I blogged previously about the easiest bread I’ve ever made.  I use variations on this dough for a variety of baked goods, including sturdy buns that will stand up to juicy shredded chicken barbeque.  To begin, mix together about 8/10 cup of whole wheat flour, finishing out the cup with wheat gluten.  Stir the flour mixture with a pinch each of sugar and salt.  Proof a teaspoon of yeast in a half cup of water.  Now mix the flour and yeast and water together and knead into a dough, adding a bit more flour as you need to be able to handle it.  Put the dough in a glass bowl coated with olive oil.  Turn the dough a few times to coat in oil and then cover and let rise an hour or two.  Now form buns and bake at 375′ for about 20 minutes.  Slice the buns open and fill with your favorite  succulent shredded barbeque.DSCN1720

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I refer in my “easiest bread ever for camping and home” to a camping, or outdoor, Dutch oven.  I’ll talk today about how indoor and outdoor Dutch ovens differ from each other in appearance and use.  First, I’d like to sing the praises of cooking equipment that looks like it belongs in a shop in J.K. Rowling’s Diagon Alley rather than in a modern kitchen.

I am a big fan of cast iron because of its durability and health benefits.  My oldest piece of cast iron is probably my 1883 frying pan from Cleveland Stove Company, although I have a few unlabeled pieces that I suspect may be older.  Well kept for a century and a quarter, the cast iron delivers the same great service for me as it did for my great-great grandparents.  Cast iron has never been implicated in any adverse health conditions (unlike aluminum, plastics, etc.).  It even delivers an iron boost to you as you cook in it and foods absorb small amounts.  For these reasons, I believe cast iron is a frugal, healthy choice.

Twodutchovens.jpgCast iron comes in many sizes and shapes, including today’s subject, Dutch ovens.  Dutch ovens are pots with nipped handles and specialized lids.  I’m picturing two Dutch ovens here.  The one on the left is a typical Dutch oven for use inside.  The one on the right is for use with charcoal, although you could use it inside in a standard oven or on a gas stovetop.

Let’s look at how the indoor and outdoor versions differ.  First look at the bottoms.  The indoor Dutch oven has no legs.  You can easily use it on a stove top or in a standard household oven.  Now look at the outdoor Dutch oven.  It has legs that are designed to keep it just above coals, preventing direct contact with the heat and permitting oxygen to get to the coals.

Let’s move on to the lids.  The indoor Dutch oven lid is domed indoordutch.jpgon top.  It also has spikes spikesonlid.jpgthat are supposed to transfer juices back into roasts, basting the meat. 

 

 

The outdoor Dutch oven lid has a raised rim on a relatively flat top.flangedlid.jpg  This construction allows you to pile coals on the top as well as the bottom, letting you create a standard oven effect wherever you can collect coals from a fire or burn charcoal.  The underside of the lid is flat too, so you can flip it over and use it as a griddle.

Both of the Dutch ovens pictured here are from my favorite cast iron manufacturer, Lodge in South Pittsburgh, Tennessee, and both are the same size:  8 inches in diameter and 3 inches deep.  Lodge calls them 2-quart Dutch ovens, but you should only plan on filling half way for breads and cakes that rise.  These 8-inch Dutch ovens are ideal for today’s family, holding easily two chicken quarters with fixings, a good number of servings of soup or stew, a small loaf of my variation of easy-fix yeast bread, etc.  (I’ll talk in future blogs about recipes for home and camp.) 

 

Thanks to combining two households of Dutch oven lovers, two competitors in Dutch oven contests (and a few wins), and a general appreciation of Dutch ovens, my family has a variety of Dutch ovens in size, shape, and construction material.  Today I’ll stick to talking about cast iron.  Lodge’s largest Dutch oven holds 12 quarts and is 16 inches in diameter.  Lodge’s smallest, pictured here next to one of the 8-inch ovens, is 5 inches. DSCN1719 It’s cute, but beyond that I’d say you can live without it.

 

 

Next we have a Dutch oven from (shhhhhhh) China, shown on the right.  Something tells me J.K. had this kind of Dutch oven in mind when she wrote about Percy Weasley’s obsession with inferior, imported, thin-bottomed cauldrons.  This Chinese-manufactured Dutch oven cheapChineseimport.jpg has skimpy legs and thin walls.  I’ve used it successfully, but you really have to watch it to make sure it does not burn.  Can you figure out if it’s for indoor or camping use?  Yep, camping.

Do you have questions about cast iron or Dutch ovens? Post here and I’ll answer what I can.

Remember:  all rights reserved.  Copyright Ozark Homesteader.  I appreciate it when you link my work on your site, but please use only a tiny excerpt, and make sure you include not only a link to the original post but also the full URL, typed out.  Thanks!

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