I’m intently watching my oven again from the floor watching a new concoction to perfection. Perfection = Cooked I’ve been debating on switching breakfast vehicles as I’ve been using a mini muffin pan a lot lately. It’s been fun though and I had at least one more idea to try before changing creative channels.
This morning I rolled bacon into each cup, filled each with tiny diced and seasoned potatoes and topped it off with whisked eggs.
I’ve been rolling it over in my head for the last three days to make sure all of the components would cook accurately together without diminishing any. Which is also why I’m sitting down here on the floor with the oven light on watching them cook.
Turned out ok. 20 minutes at 400°.
I use a convection oven which really is nice for crisping food. I think what would’ve made it better would be a cast iron muffin pan. Cast iron is great for adding crisp where the convection heat doesn’t reach.
The girls loved them though so I suppose that’s what matters.
My tween and I are sitting in front of the oven watching Dutch Baby Bites grow. 5 minutes to go.
It was 50° this morning at 5:45. Yeah I’m going to start going out earlier. I’ve neglected to push my alarm back. It’s at 5:09 now but I’m pretty sure the sun rises before 5:45 nowadays. Or pretty close. This morning I didn’t even worry about a shirt. Tank top season is here!
Besides I had to haul a bag of grain to the garage/upper barn and a bale of hay down to the ewe and her lambs. Who needs clothes to stay warm when you have work?
No I’m not working in shorts yet. I have a couple of roosters I need to put in the freezer first. They’re mean to bare legs.
This is me making charcoal because buying it is just silly. lol I’m kidding. Kinda. When you’re short every month buying something like charcoal feels luxurious.
My solution free wood, make sure it’s green wood. Not treated. Start a roaring fire with big chunks in a pit, barrel or whatever has a lid you can close. The close the lid and weight. The fire slowly dies as it consumes the oxygen and the leftover is awesome charcoal that burns slowly.
Why charcoal? Because the majority of my summer cooking is done outside. And today I have to make some more bacon. Yep.
For breakfast I made Dutch Baby Bites again. I said that already. But this time look! They’re extra fluffy.
Note to self and whoever’s reading. Let the oven get to temp before putting pan in. The way something bakes has a lot of influence on how it comes out.
This is actually the second time I’ve had this conversation.
One of my biggest evolutionary steps of cooking on this farm was in the form of Frank and Squeak. I’d never owned or even spent much time with pigs before these two but as many of us are I was/am a believer that bacon goes with EVERYTHING.
A conversation this week has had me thinking about the journey of growing bacon from the ground up. All pork for that matter and the health benefits of growing your own food. Mainly speaking it’s a whole lot of exercise to get the bacon from the piglet to the table.
I quickly learned the fastest way to a pigs heart is a good beer. Squeak like myself loved a good porter and made it clear whenever I got out of the car with a six pack. Frank on the other hand didn’t care for the dark beer and preferred a lager (particularly Hamm’s – no pun intended).
The couple of times they got out of their pen or needed some hands on attention all I needed was a bottle of their favorite beer and they would heel like well trained retrievers. It was quite fun.
Squeak was meant to be kept for breeding more pork each year but after a year of watching her grow I decided she wasn’t the best suited for the job so my search for a new pig for compounding chops and bacon continues.
I don’t think I’ve ever met so many disagreements as when it comes to talking about homegrown bacon being healthier than the highly processed counterpart you get at the store.
Bacon in general gets a bad rap for being unhealthy, no matter where you get it from. I always sat in content with the knowledge of how much work and time spent outside no matter the weather when it came to measuring the health benefits of growing food, even bacon.
Low and behold though bacon really doesn’t deserve such a bad rep. I borrowed a couple of screenshots to emphasize my point. I’ll provide a link below also so you can check the references like I did to make sure the article was a creditable source. You can’t just believe everything you read online. Right?
What’s even better about bacon is the quality of the fat. Yeah, who’d think it?!
I think the hams were my favorite part of the whole experience of raising pork from the ground up.
Thanks to a couple of University websites and a couple of YouTube videos I learned the art of curing hams “country style”. This is done by rubbing the hams with salts until they can’t absorb anymore, leaving a thick layer on by wrapping the ham in brown paper and hanging them in a cool shed/spot for a couple of months. I converted what used to be my garden shed into a larder because it’s location keeps it extra cool and even temperature without much help. I used the same bags that I cover deer with it’s much like a cheese cloth to hang the hams.
After a couple of months the brown paper is taken off a new bag is used to hang it from the rafters for what’s called a “summer sweat”. The hams are very dry at this point which helps with mold and the salt keeps the pests away. It’s pretty fascinating to learn how people used to do things before refrigeration.
When it’s time for smoking, the ham is soaked for 12-36hrs to get the extra saltiness out. The below picture is a ham ready for smoking. It’s not the most beautiful thing.
After about 48hrs of low smoking the ham looks delicious!
I use a charcoal smoker which means checking on it regularly. After smoking two hams some bacon and summer sausage for Christmas I think I lost all the weight that I ended up putting back on from eating over the holidays! Nice trade off if you ask me.
A true summer sausage is left to hang for a few days to ferment before it’s smoked to perfection. I could post a chapter on pork alone so I’ll leave you here with some mouth watering pictures of bacon and summer sausage until I get another chance to sit down and share some more.
It’s 8:30am on a Saturday and after some awesome homegrown bacon and eggs it’s time to go play!
What do you think, is homegrown healthier or is it just the health benefits of exercise and being outdoors raising food which evens up the score?
Either way I can’t wait to bring home the bacon (and all the other porky parts) and start the journey again.
Last night while concocting this mornings mini muffin experiment idea I decided I needed to get back to using more eggs as they’re starting to pile up.
I scramble a couple every day to supplement the quails protein as they’re not free-range like the chickens and buying high protein feed is expensive and just silly when I get free protein from the hens everyday.
I still have a lot of homegrown ham from Christmas in the freezer which I like to get into occasionally. It was a 36lb ham that I raised for about 18 months and then cured country style for 12 months before smoking it for 48hrs. I’m very proud of my ham, his name was Frank.
Ok back to breakfast.
This recipe is just enough to fill my 48 mini muffin tin.
2 cups flour
1 cup whole milk
1 cup diced ham
1 cup diced pepper jack cheese
10-12 spinach leaves chopped
Mix the egg, flour and milk and pour into tins. Add spinach, a couple cubes of ham and cheese to each tin.
400° oven for 10 minutes
When they are done they almost pop out of their tins. I’ve never seen such a thing.
The flour makes these a muffin-ish quality which the girls and I loved. No need to add salt as the ham and cheese take care of the saltiness and flavor.
On another note the horses are starting to show resentment about me rushing back inside to make breakfast after chores instead of playing with them. I’ll get back to it on the weekend.
Enjoy your day!
Below is an affiliated link to quality non-stick mini muffin tins.
Although the girls and I are not real big on leftovers I’ve gotten pretty good at refurbishing them to make it appetizing the second time around.
Last night we had baked chicken thighs and a Southwest style side of black beans, corn, red Bell pepper, purple onion, tomato and jalapeno.
I had 4 thighs which I diced up (skin also) and added to the 3-4 cups of leftover side.
Tonight I wrapped up the leftovers with a little pepper jack cheese and some fun flavored tortillas and baked em until crispy on the outside and hot in the middle. 400° convection for 20 minutes. A little sour cream to cool the heat and it’s a perfect dinner or stick em in the freezer for another day.
The nutrition label is only an approx because I’m not in the habit of using measuring cups. I also didn’t include the tortillas because while I used some fun spinach and tomato flavored tortillas (210 calories a wrap) you might use a different variety.
4 baked chicken thighs and skin
1 cup black beans
1 cup of corn
1 large red bell pepper
1 large purple onion
1 large tomato
1 garlic cloves
Salt n pepper
6-7 slices pepper jack cheese
Everything but the chicken was diced and sauteed in a pan with a little butter.
The flavors really improve after sitting in the fridge overnight.
As a wannabe food growing/creating blogger I realize that I fall short in one big area. My food isn’t beautiful. I rarely cook with a recipe so it’s hard to translate also. I guess that’s two areas. This is one reason for the lack of blog posts. I cook 2-3 meals a day from scratch and sometimes dessert if my teen doesn’t beat me to it. Each meal is a little bit of a work of art inspired by ingredients available, cravings and a lot of love. 9 times out of 10 we have six thumbs up in our family of three. I’m not afraid of failure and certainly create a few dishes we all vote out or vow to try differently. Brussel sprouts was one of those dishes that I tried 5-million different ways before I found a method that everyone loved. And that’s who I am as a lover of almost all things food is a desire to master each major component so we’re never bored with our food and I can toss together a good meal with few options.
This mornings breakfast was a fantastic example of yummy food that was less than picture perfect. I’m pretty sure there is no proper name for it either.
Last night for dinner I made pork meatballs (homegrown pork) with what I’d like to call a “sweet n sour” inspired sauce/salsa of purple onions, bell peppers, pineapple, diced tomatoes, fennel and some ginger beer. I served it up on rice, also made with ginger beer.
What does that have to do with breakfast? I chopped up the left over meatballs in a pan, put the rest of the chunky sauce/salsa in the pan with it, got it bubbly and hot then poured dutch baby batter on top and stuck it in the oven to bake.
The above is what came out. It was definitely worthy of seconds. But like I said, it’s not beautiful. Over the years I gave up on taking pictures of the food that I made except for the rare dish that I thought was pretty enough to lock the memory away in my shoebox.
Here’s some of my other not so fabulous dishes that look like they could earn me a place in America’s Worst Homecooks. I promise they all tasted amazing though.
Wild Cooking (snake, rice and veggies)
Chicken Pot Pie stuffed Omelette
Potato Salad with homemade pickle relish
On the other hand the main stars of my dishes I love taking pictures of! Here’s a few.
Chicken and Eggs
It’s like Easter every day!
I suppose my goal should be to cook prettier food and build recipes that I can share with you all.
The business of gardening and kitchen yumminess (is that a word?!) has begun. Admittedly I like to start tomatoes, peppers and other summer/fall deliciousness at the beginning of the year, however this year I had to think on a larger scale. With the birth of Garden N Kitchen monthly club, the online store and future blog give a ways I’ve had a lot more planning to do which meant patiently (or not so much patience) for my extra large order of gardening products to arrive.
Yay! So excited!
Follow me into the garden and kitchen through mudroom diaries and see what’s to come!
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