I keep telling myself I don’t live “out in the middle of nowhere,” but I really do. It’s well over an hour to the closest Whole Foods Market, and at least 30 minutes to the closest grocery store. My dear friend in Nashville who once lived an hour away from “town” cautioned, “don’t forget the wine, and buy more than you think you need.” These country roads do not allow for a quick “beer run.” She speaks the truth, the only street light within miles of here is the one I had installed by my driveway. This place is dark.
The other side of the silence and the beauty of that darkness is connection with self.
We sold the yoga studio and Houston had become too much (too busy, too built-up, too loud, too dangerous) I just didn’t want to go back there. We considered the Texas Hill Country, but nothing really worked out like it needed to. I was born and had my early childhood in Tennessee, I have dear friends here, so we came here. And it is pretty amazing right now. (winter will be an adventure, I’ve not lived with snow “for real”)
We are not all here yet, but soon we will be. There’s a new kitchen, new local ingredient sources and a new attitude! You’ll see it all here, as I have a blast making it happen in the country.
In a couple weeks I will tell you more. For now, we remodel and bring all the dogs from Texas. I can not wait for George to see the fetch possibilities our new home presents!
And I can not wait to cook! See you soon!
I rendered lard a few days ago. It was my first try and it was easy. Not fast, but easy. It must be done slowly as not to brown the pork fat until the very end when all the fat has been melted out. It is recommended the process take place in a low crock pot. But you can’t really turn it on and leave it. You need to hover and stir. As the fat melts out you also need to ladle the lard out of the crock to cool while the fat continues to “render.” It is a simmering thing. If you have patience and go slowly you will get beautiful odorless lard that is white as snow.
I used this amazing pastured, organic, non-GMO happy as a pig- pork fat. Tendergrass farms is an amazing company. They’re not paying for this post, I bought this fat from them. I understand they have some amazing bacon too. I have not tried it, but I know the customer service over there is professional, kind and accommodating. I read several articles on the web about rendering lard, the one I went back to again and again was here.
I froze my lard in these plastic containers. when I need some I can chip it off and put the remainder in a Ziploc bag. Lard is very slippery, freezing in small sizes is a good idea, but freezing into a sheet and then cutting it into small sizes is not easy. Or clean. Or worth the trouble. I think these sizes will do just fine! This lard rendering is all about making tamales. I can not wait to mix masa with this!
All summer when I grill (or steam) corn on the cob I save the cobs after cutting off the kernels for serving. Once I have a dozen or so in the freezer, I like to make corn stock. This stock is a delicious vegetarian option for cooking liquid. With the addition of filtered water, a parmesan rind, a few black peppercorns, salt and a few parsley stems it transforms what you might normally throw in the trash into golden deliciousness. I simmer them for about 45 minutes, taste for flavor and let it go a bit longer if I want more “corny-ness.” The cobs are sturdy, and there’s plenty of flavor available from them, so they can take the heat for a while. Strain the stock and cool it. Freeze it in ziplock bags stacked laying flat on a cookie sheet. I like to freeze different sizes of containers so I can use only what I need- without waste. I can’t wait to make polenta with this corn stock!! YUMMM!
p.s. you could easily leave out the parm rind and have a vegan-friendly stock!!
The Esalen Cookbook inspired these delicious vegetarian fritters. Esalen Institute is a fantastic place on the West coast that has incredible everything- including a fantastic kitchen. One day I hope to visit there. Until then I’ll peruse the beautiful cookbook, make these amazing fritters-meditate and visualize myself soaking in the healing waters while looking up at the stars.
I was given an exciting gift at the end of testing the recipes for these chard cakes, and that was an accidental omelette!
The first recipe I tried was directly from the Esalen Cookbook, It doesn’t call for flour or buttermilk, only eggs, a little bit of water and some salt. Super simple, but a “runny” batter. Once I finished cooking the first batch I had a decent amount of egg mixture with tiny bits of chard and onion left in the bowl. I decided just to toss it into the pan and make a little egg treat for the dogs. I ended up not sharing it at all! It was delicious! An inspiration to make thin, delicious omelettes on purpose for brunch! Perhaps right along with the chard cakes.
Below is the second recipe I tested. I combed through the web and found Heather Hardcastle’s blog with her take on these famous cakes. I followed her lead on the flour and buttermilk to hold things together. I think it worked out more to my liking. Of course, if you were gluten intolerant you could use a GF flour. Try out this yummy recipe!
1/2 cup buttermilk
½ teaspoon sea salt
2 tablespoons water
1/2 cup flour (your choice)
½ medium-sized onion
½ pound Swiss chard washed and patted dry with paper towel
Sesame oil for frying
In a large bowl, mix eggs, buttermilk salt and water. Beat with a whisk or fork until light and fluffy. Add the flour to the liquids and mix well.
Cut the onion into small half-moon slices.
Cut stems from the leaves of the chard and slices the chard leaves into fine ribbons.
Add the chard and onion to the batter/binder and mix to coat.
Heat the oil in a frying pan and, with a large spoon, scoop up the egg and veggie mixture and drop into the pan.
Cook until golden brown about 3 minutes; carefully turn with a spatula and brown the other side.
Serve with Dill & Horseradish Sour Cream
Dill and Horseradish Sour Cream
½cup sour cream
1 tablespoon milk
1 tablespoon prepared horseradish
1 tablespoon fresh dill
¼ teaspoon sea salt
Mix the sour cream with the milk and horseradish to a smooth sauce-like consistency. Then add the dill.
Serve over Chard Cakes.
If you make this soon, it will be ready for your holiday cookies (and gifts!) It’s so easy, and so worth the wait. I just packed this one up for a friend so it seemed appropriate to mention it to you here again. Simply add the beans to the vodka, put in in the dark and shake it every once in a while. After a few months you have something really special. Buy a gallon of vodka while you’re out, and order the vanilla beans from Amazon now. Once they arrive it will take you 5 minutes. The original post is here. Make this awesomeness happen.
Lately most of the things I venture to cook in my tiny San Antonio kitchen never get talked about here. The oven is quick to go from almost ready to almost burned. And I have yet to find a nice “go-to” spot for taking pictures of what might be interesting. But I keep trying. For instance, yesterday while making ricotta I dumped a quart of warm whey on myself, the rug, and most of the cabinets. I bumped it while putting away dishes so I could wash dishes. (One counter top. A tiny 24″ of counter space.) It was a sad wet mess. There will be laundry!
I cheered up quickly because the cheese was delicious! I couldn’t wait for it to drain overnight, so after I cleaned up the floor I had some. Still warm, the creamy cheese sat on top of the most delicious easy little bread. I toasted the super grainy bread in the oven- I was recreating an herby tomato water, red wine vinaigrette. The whole dish was inspired by this recipe from Bon Appetit. I knew I would make my own version. It was yummy! Ripe tomatoes with fresh dill and basil go a long way these summer months.
And I’ll have the house-made ricotta on fresh bread whenever possible!
P.S. You can always pop over to my Facebook page, I will often post a photo there even if it never sees the blog.