Sunday, June 22, 2008

Hamburger, fries and a dish of ice cream -- all local!

DH likes a good hamburger but we rarely eat out these days as we like to know where our food comes from and there aren't many (any?) local food restaurants in our area. So this weekend we had our version of a hamburger and fries.

The hamburger starts with local venison we prepared ourselves. I have trouble powering my old handcrank meat grinder for very long so last summer, in preparation for hunting season, I bought a grinder attachment for my KitchenAid mixer. With that and the vacuum sealer, we can have ground venison in the freezer ready for use any time of year. Our hamburgers start with thawing the venison and a package of locally-produced country pork sausage, also stored in the deep freeze. I mix about 1-1/2 pounds of venison with a pound of sausage and shape into patties. No further seasoning needed.

DH put the patties on the gas grill while I prepared the fries. Thursday I boiled new potatoes from our garden in their jackets and the leftovers went into the fridge for just this moment. I pulled the skins off the cold cooked potatoes and sliced them to fry in a combination of oil and local butter, about 1-1/2 tablespoons of each. I use a heavy iron skillet as it's nonstick for all practical purposes and lets me get on with the rest of supper without watching the potatoes too closely.

While the potatoes sizzled, I topped and tailed a bowl of sugar snap peas also from the garden and threw in the first couple of garden zucchini which were ready today. I just steamed the vegetables and sprinkled a bit of kosher salt over top before serving. The buns were wholegrain made from wheat I sourced at a local farm last year. I used my all-purpose bread recipe, just shaped the dough into rolls and baked. The sliced onion came from the garden as did the cucumbers and onions in the jar of bread-and-butter pickles I canned last year and opened to go with the sandwiches. A little of the lettuce is still hanging in there so DS could have a few leaves on his sandwich but no ripe tomatoes yet -- don't think anyone noticed their absence.

Even the mustard and ketchup could count as local as they're from jars I put up last year. The tomato ketchup recipe (below) is called Western Gourmet Ketchup and comes from an old Farm Journal cookbook. It makes a nice table ketchup plus is good in recipes calling for ketchup or a slightly spicy tomato sauce. I've been making it for years from our garden tomatoes. The mustard, Nectarine Mustard, is a real favorite around here and I've learned to make it by the gallon, literally! For Christmas I give my brother-in-law a dozen pint jars and my mom says he still eats it at her house by the spoonful. Very easy and, since the nectarines come from an orchard just over the mountain, also very local.

For dessert we had ice cream made at Perfect Flavor, which uses local ingredients such as eggs from Joel Salatin's Polyface Farms and milk from Holsinger Dairy Farm. I'd been meaning to stop by their shop at the foot of Afton Mountain for several months and finally had an opportunity on Tuesday when the local homeschool group toured the creamery and talked with Lynsie Watkins about her business. The vanilla and chocolate ice cream samples were wonderful! Even though we usually make our own ice cream, I couldn't resist bringing home a container from Perfect Flavor. It was a great way to finish our very local dinner.

Western Gourmet Ketchup
(from Farm Journal's Freezing & Canning Cookbook: Prized Recipes from the Farms of America)

7 quarts tomato puree (18lbs tomatoes -- See Note*)
3 tablespoons salt
2/3 cup sugar
1 tablespoon paprika
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 tablespoon dry mustard
1 tablespoon whole black peppercorns
1 tablespoon whole allspice
4 bay leaves
4 chili peppers
1 tablespoon dried basil
2 cups vinegar, 5% acidity (I use apple cider vinegar)

Tie spices loosely in a cloth bag so they can be retrieved after cooking. Add all ingredients, except vinegar, to tomato puree. To prevent lumps, blend dry mustard with a bit of tomato juice before adding to puree. Cook until thick, about 1-1/2 hours. Will not thicken as much as storebought but should reduce by at least one-third.

Add vinegar the last 10 minutes of cooking.

Remove spices.

Pour into hot, sterilized jars; seal and process in water bath canner for 10 minutes. Makes 4 pints.

*Note: Cook 18 pounds of washed and cored tomatoes until soft. Then put through a sieve to yield 7 quarts of tomato puree.

If you've never canned using the water bath method, please refer to the latest Ball Blue Book of Preserving or the USDA-funded website, National Center for Home Food Preserving, for detailed directions.


marilyn said...

Don't think my previous comment went through.
My daughter laughed at me because I was giddy with excitement when I felted that cat bed.
The picture of beets from your previous post looked so yummy that I picked up some seeds today to plant in my tiny gardenspot.

Amaizing said...

Your blog is lovely! Great recipes and yummy looking photo's! I was wondering if you have plans to share your nectarine mustard recipe with us? I have made peach ketchup that I really liked, I am still in search of the perfect mustard recipe, the nectarine mustard recipe just might be it. I sure hope you will share!

Walnut Spinney said...

Thanks! Just got a box of donut peaches today from a friend who wants me to turn them into more mustard so will try to take a couple of pictures during the process and post the recipe shortly. The original recipe calls for nectarines but I've subbed fragrant, ripe peaches with no substantial difference in taste.