Once picked up my pig, I had to figure out what I got in my delivery, and what to do cook with it. For pork and other types of meats, there seems to be no consistency in what different cuts are called. I tracked down a basic map from the Cooks Illustrated Meat Book and tried to annotate, as best as I could, the locations of my roasts. This map can help me determine the best way to prepare the roasts.
The shoulder is the area with lots of connective tissue and should be slow cooked, braised, barbecued or stewed.
The loin is the tastiest bits of pork and can be roasted, but also sliced thin or made into chops.
The belly is bacon, plain and simple. Don’t mess around with perfection.
And the leg gets smoked and becomes a ham. Or maybe prosciutto. Next time.
I found out on the Upper Valley Mailing list that there was a half of a hog available for sale. YES! I drove up to Bradford, VT to pick up my slaughtered, processed and frozen pork, with dreams of tasty tasty things. From the hog farmer, I found out some unfortunate soul had to back out of their pork order. Their loss.
I had to fill out a complex sheet for the butcher to process my pig. I do NOT want a bunch of ground pork and pork chops. We just don’t eat them. I want my pork in large roasts, which allow me to make roast pork, or, if I so choose, cut down the roast into smaller pieces. When I put food by, I want it to be as versatile as possible.
(That is not my pig, but is one of the porcine brethren that was raised with my pig.)
I usually by grade B maple syrup. It tastes more like maple, and is less sweet.it seems that the grades of maple syrup are changing. I now need to buy grade A, dark with robust taste maple syrup. Hrumpth.
We spent the afternoon at the Dog Mountain Summer Party. There were 50+ dogs, and ripe blackberries all over the mountain.
Some background, Dog Mountain is the former home of Stephen Huneck, an artist that did woodblock prints and sculptures with dog themes. His black Labrador retriever, Sally, featured prominently in his work. He bought land in St Johnsbury Vermont, built studios and a home. He built a dog chapel and designated the land as an off leash dog park. Dog Mountain is pretty darn awesome.
We took the dogs for a long walk around the mountain and found hundreds of blackberry bushes with beautiful, plump, ripe berries. What is a locavore to do? Pick berries into any available container and make blackberry financiers!
(Blackberries in the dog’s collapsible water bowl.)
Blackberry Financiers (they’re rich!)
7 tablespoon unsalted butter
1¾ cup sliced blanched almonds
½ cup granulated sugar
½ cup powdered sugar
5 tablespoon flour
⅛ teaspoon salt
4 large egg whites
½ teaspoon almond extract
6 ounce blackberries (or raspberries or blueberries
1. Position the oven rack in the center of the oven and preheat the oven
to 400 degrees. Butter a 12 cup muffin tin. (I use mini muffins instead.)
In a skillet, heat the butter until it begins to sizzle. Continue to cook over low heat until the edges begin to darken and the butter gives off a nutty aroma. Remove from the heat.
In a food processor, grind the almonds with the granulated and
powdered sugars, the flour and salt. While the processor is running, gradually pour in the egg whites and add the almond extract. Stop the machine, and add the warm butter, pulsing as you pour until the batter is just mixed.
4. Divide the batter evenly among the buttered muffin cups and poke 3
or 4 berries into each cake. Bake for 18 minutes, (14 minutes for mini muffins) until puffy and deep
golden brown. Let stand a few minutes then remove them from the
pan and cool on a rack.
Strawberry Icebox Pie from Cooks Illustrated is the best pie I have ever eaten. Icebox pie is a gelatin-based pie with fresh fruit in a pie shell, topped with strawberry whipped cream. It has all of the qualities of a perfect dessert:
Ripe strawberry flavor really shines through
Pieces of real fruit
Cold, refreshing and you eat it when its hot outside.
A positive uplifting note at the end of the meal.
I do one minor variation. I substitute goat cheese for cream cheese in the whipped topping. The slightly goaty and tangy flavor is unexpected in the topping and is a wonderful complement to the fresh strawberries.
My mom used to make these pies when she worked at Frisch’s Big Boy restaurant in Dayton, OH. Seems like it’s still on the menu. No way it can be this good.
When it is hot outside, I love to eat cold soba noodles. We dunk them in an ice-cold strong broth made from mirin, soy and sake. The trick to good soba is to cook them in just-boiling water, then cool them in multiple changes of cold water. I also “scrub” off the excess starch as they cool so the noodles don’t stick together.
Other dishes on the table are pickles, broccoli raab in mustard and chili sauce, steamed egg with wakame seaweed, and Chinese style pork with hakurei turnips and hoisin sauce.
Today was the first CSA delivery from Root 5 Farm. We got fresh asparagus. Definitely a day for Pasta with Asparagus.
The trick to pasta with asparagus is to build up of flavorful sauce to coat the pasta. Otherwise, the dish turns out kind of boring. I’m going to use leftover chives butter (green paste on the left), and chopped green onions (glass jar on the right). Additionally, we want some protein. So I’m adding tuna in oil. However, the tuna can overpower, so I drain off any extra oil or liquid. I also toss in the tuna at the very end so the flavor doesn’t spread around too much.
Not shown, but critically important, Parmesan cheese. The salty umami flavors complement the tuna and vegetables. I made Sam stop at the grocery to pick some up. Tip: use the vegetable peeler to get long strips that don’t melt into the background.
Next year – I’ll be able to make pasta with asparagus hopefully from my own garden.