The Calm Before the Storm

I hope your Sunday is everything you had planned it to be. This Sunday afternoon we have what I like to call The Calm Before the Storm: when there is eerily no wind at all for an extended period of time, but the skies to the north and west darken in anticipation of the coming storm.

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I could not resist the opportunity to go for a run this afternoon due to The Calm Before the Storm and 41 * temps, even though I had intended to take today off since I have run the past three days. I knew I would regret it if I did not take advantage of these rare conditions, so I set out for a 3 mile out-and-back trip to watch the clouds darken to the north and the storm roll in. And now, and hour later, the storm has arrived and the snow is falling.

Yesterday I decided to flip back to an old recipe and make bread for the week. Molasses Wheat Sandwich Bread is from the cookbook A Taste of Dubois. It has been a while since I have made this bread, the last time being while I was still working as a pastry chef two years ago. When I make a sandwich or put an egg on toast, I like a hearty wheat bread, and this fits the bill. It has a distinct flavor from the molasses but is not overly sweet. This recipe makes a wholesome sandwich bread that would also be a good side for soups just plain with a smear of butter. The only suprise was that the slices do not get as large as store-bought sandwich bread, probably only half the size, which is fine by me because it is a filling bread anyway. Just be prepared for smaller sandwiches!

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Molasses Wheat Sandwich Bread

Yield: 1 loaf (approximately 17 sandiwch slices)

Bowl #1

  • 3/4 cup boiling water
  • 1/2 T butter
  • 1 t salt
  • 1/4 c. sugar
  • 1/2 c. old fashioned oats

Bowl #2

  • 1/4 c. + 2 T. warm water
  • 1 pkg. yeast (1/4 oz.)
  • 2 T. Molasses
  • 2 T. brown sugar
  • 1 1/2 cup Whole Wheat Flour + 1 T. for kneading
  • 1 1/2 cup AP Flour + 1 T. for kneading

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1. In a mixing bowl combine boiling water, butter, salt, and sugar. Stir in oats and allow to cool for one minute.

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2. In another larger mixing bowl, dissolve yeast in warm water.

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3.  Stir in molasses, brown sugar, and 1/2 cup flour. Beat with a wooden spoon until smooth. Add oat mixutre and the remaining 2 1/2 cups flour to make a stiff dough.

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4. Transfer dough onto pastry mat or board to knead until smooth and elastic. I added another Tablespoon of both whole wheat and AP flour during this stage to get the dough to the desired consistency.

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5. Shape dough into a ball.

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6. Place in a greased bowl sprayed with cooking spray, turning once to coat both sides.

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7. Cover with plastic wrap and let rise for about 1.5 hours (mine rose for 2 hours while I was out doing errands.)

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8. Remove from bowl and shape into a log. Fold into thirds.

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9. Now fold into half and place into a greased loaf pan.

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10. Bake at 375* for 4o minutes until lightly browned. Check at 30 minutes to see if the bread needs to be covered with tin foil for the last 10 minues if it is getting too brown. Loosen and remove from pan and allow to cool. I don’t have a wire rack, so I simply invert my loaf pan and let the bread rest on it.

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11. Once bread is completely cooled, slice into individual slices using a bread knife, if desired.

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My loaf yielded 17 sandwich slices, which I packaged into ziplock bags to make my own loaf for the week (6 slices per quart-bag, then all bags into a gallon-bag).

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Nutrition Data– From Spark Recipe Calculator, per 1/17 slice:

Calories- 106

Fat- 0.75 g

Total Carbohydrate- 23 g

Dietary Fiber- 0.75 g

Protein- 2.3 g

 

 

Elk Enchiladas with Homemade Enchilada Sauce

I made these enchiladas with a use-up-what-we-have mentality and they turned out pretty good. I think they tasted better the second day, actually. They would be good using chicken and cream of chicken in the sauce recipe, too.

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Elk Enchiladas with Homemade Enchilada Sauce

  • 2/3 lb ground elk/venison/meat
  • 5 medium flour tortillas ( I use Mission Carb Balance)
  • 1 c. shredded cheese ( cheddar / cheddar jack)
  • season salt
  • Green onions, optional

Homemade Enchilada Sauce:

  • 3/4 can cream of mushroom soup
  • 2 c. tomato puree
  • 3/4 c Mild Rotel
  • cumin
  • chili powder
  • garlic salt
  • black pepper
  • cilantro

Preheat oven to 350.

1. First prepare the sauce. On medium heat combine mushroom soup with tomato puree, 1/2 c Rotel, and spices in a frying pan. I did not measure the spices, so add a little at a time until you get the level of desired heat.

2. Transfer enchilada sauce to a small bowl. Spray the pan with cooking spray and cook meat until no longer pink. Season with season salt.

3. Add half the sauce into meat and stir to combine.

4. Begin assembly: Scoop meat into each tortilla and top with a big pinch of shredded cheese. Roll and place into a greased 8×8 baking dish. Repeat five times or until all enchiladas are assembled.

5. Pour remaining enchilada sauce over top and sprinkle the remaining cheese.

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5. Cover with tin foil and bake for 20 minutes. Garnish with green onions, if desired.

Gardening Tip-  These green onions are from the garden. After harvesting them, I washed and finely chopped the onions put them into a clean, empty pop bottle that I keep in the freezer. That way I can shake out however many onions I need throughout the year.

Venison Bratwurst Slow Cooker Style

Grilling outdoors is one of the best parts about summer. We have had some teaser weather lately with temps in the high 40’s, but still a bit too cold and dark for cooking on the grill. But, the good news is the creek is open for the horses so I can stop chopping ice- yay! Although I don’t mind visiting these guys at all…

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Whatcha got there…? Candy? Do I see horse candy?!

There are still about 8 packages of homemade venison brats in our freezer that were made last fall, and I am  slowly using them up. To make the venison brats, we used a kit from Hi Mountain Seasonings and added in frozen hash browns and diced yellow onions while grinding the meat prior to stuffing it into casings.

I saw on a pin on Pinterest a few weeks ago about cooking hot dogs in bulk in a slow cooker, and thought that the crockpot would be perfect for making brats during the winter months when using the outdoor grill is not an option and boiling them takes FORever. In the spirit of warm weather and to use up our remaining potatoes from the garden that are now growing eyes, I served these brats with MO’s Potato Salad.

Venison Bratwurst Slow Cooker Style

Serves 3

  • 3 homemade venison bratwurst
  • 1/4 cup water + 1/2 cup water
  • 1/3 c. chicken broth
  • 1/2 of a yellow onion, sliced into strips
  • Hotdog buns/ bread
  • 3/4 tsp. yellow mustard (optional)

1. Slice onion into thin strips.

2. Pour 1/4 cup water into a frying pan and sear brats in the pan on medium-high heat for approximately 5 minutes, turning once just so they start to brown on both sides and do not scorch.

3. Place brats in crockpot with 1/2 cup of  water and chicken broth and top with onions. Squirt in 3/4 tsp. yellow mustard, if desired. I really like the little kick that it added to the flavor of these brats, but the mustard is totally optional if it’s not your thing.

4. Cook on LOW for 6 hours of HIGH for 4 hours.

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4. Serve topped with onions.  (And then buried in ketchup!)

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MO’s Potato Salad

  • 4 medium yukon gold potatoes, or equivalent
  • 3 hardboiled eggs (my parents are nice enough to give me eggs from their chickens once a week!)
  • 3 T. yellow onion, diced
  • ~1/2 c. Hellman’s Light Mayo
  • 1 T. French’s yellow mustard
  • Pickle Juice, to taste (I probably pour in around 1/4 c)
  • salt & pepper

1. Wash, peel and boil potatoes.

Gardening Tip- Our potatoes were harvested in Septmeber in are just now developing significant eye growth. Store extra potatoes in a cool, dark place, such as a closet or paper bag, and they will last for months.

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2. Drain water from potatoes and stick pot in the freezer for five minutes.

3. Add in remaining ingredients and combine. I like to make a creamier potato salad so I use a hand mixer to combine. If you like a chunkier potato texture, combine with a wooden spoon or rubber spatula until ingredients are incorporated.

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4. Chill in refrigerator covered and serve.

Parmesan Broccoli Quinoa with Wild Game Sausage

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It has been remarkably cold the past three days, with lows at night down to -18 and daytime temps not getting above the 4-10 degree range. The nice part has been that the wind has stopped blowing though, so it’s not a bad tradeoff! I am having to chop ice out of the creek every other day now for the horses.

Before our snowstorm came in last Friday, I made a shopping trip down below on Thursday to the “big city” and stocked up for the month. The big city of 10,000 residents consists of Wal-Mart, Smiths, and Safeway, as well as feed stores and the like. We were out of several non-grocery items (dog food, paper goods, toiletries, etc) which would have made my 160-mile roundtrip worthwhile anyway, so I stocked up on groceries for the next four weeks while I was there. My plan is to save a little money in the budget to buy milk and the frozen yogurt that I like in town, and buy everything else I need for the month down below.

While I am all for supporting small town businesses, I have made the decision this month to once again make monthly trips down-country for groceries and supplies. Several ongoing factors over the course of the past year have led me to this decision, and at this time I feel like is the right thing to do financially and otherwise due to the price and quality of products offered locally (I am sick of buying expensive, expired and/or damaged food!). In mentioning my decision to others, I have realized that several others in the community are doing the same. I always take a list when I go, and I stuck to it pretty much completely with the exception of purchasing quinoa. I had planned on buying wild rice, and when I got to the isle I saw several types of quinoa blends nearby and decided to give it a try since I have been reading a lot about it over the past year.

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The box describes the Roasted Red Pepper and Basil blend of quinoa and brown rice as “a unique, versatile whole grain with a slighly crunchy texture and a light nutty flavor that is used around the world.” It is also Fair Trade Certified, and I feel good about buying products that benefit the producer and agriculture as well as the consumer. Fair Trade is a global movement that aims to give farmers competitive prices, improved trade terms and incentives to invest in their communities and help protect the environment.

Tonight I got done with work and did not have to go to my other job, and found myself with time to cook. This is what I came up with: Parmesan Broccoli Quinoa with Wild Game Sausage.

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Ingredients

  • 2 c fresh broccoli
  • 1/4 c parmesan cheese
  • 6 oz. (about 1/3 lb.) wild game breakfast sausage
  • Roasted Red Pepper & Basil Quinoa, 1 box prepared
  • Kraft Salad Dressing & Marinade: Roasted Red Pepper with Parmesan (optional)

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1. Cook quinoa according to package directions until water is absorbed (typically you just have to add water, olive oil is optional and I did not add it). You can cook the broccoli right in with the quinoa if your pot is large enough, otherwise steam or boil the broccoli separately.

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2. Crumble wild game breakfast sausage in frying pan and cook until no longer pink. This is venison breakfast sausage we made this year with a kit from Hi Mountain Seasonings.

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3. Combine quinoa, broccoli and sausage together in pot and stir gently to combine.

4. Transfer to 8×8 baking dish and sprinkle evenly with parmesan cheese.

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5. Serve immediately while hot. Top with a drizzle of Kraft Roasted Red Pepper & Parmesan Salad dressing if desired.

ON BUYING LOCAL:
Something to Digest….
According to Susan Witt, Executive Director of the E.F. Schumacher Society, “buy  local” campaigns serve another function: alerting a community about gaps in the local market. For instance, if consumers keep turning to on-line or big-box stores for a particular product—say, socks—this signals an opportunity for someone local to make and sell socks. This is the way product innovations get made, says Witt.
Read more: http://www.time.com/time/business/article/0,8599,1903632,00.html#ixzz2I0mFBTAL
Something to Think About…
“We as a society and as an economy need to start optimizing for a large number of small things, not just relying on a small number of large things.”
Woody Tasch, founder of the Slow Money Alliance, a new nonprofit that is raising money to support local food ventures.

How much do outside factors play into the decisions you make regarding the food you choose to buy and the food you choose to produce yourself? How important is it to shop local?

Elk Sausage & Spinach Quiche with Savory Crust

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What can I say, it’s hard to stop eating this quiche! The crust is buttery, savory and melts into the mildly spicy breakfast sausage, spinach, onion, and cheedar cheese. Simple, filling, and good for any meal of the day.

Elk Sausage & Spinach Quiche with Savory Crust 

Servings: 4 large slices

  • Savory Pie Crust: recipe follows

-1.5  c Butter or Crisco shortening

-3 c. AP Flour

-1 egg

-1 T. White  Vinegar

-1 tsp. salt

-5 T.cold water

Using a pastry knife, work flour and butter/crisco together until mixture forms into coarse crumbs, then add egg, vinegar, salt, water and combine. I prefer using Crisco, but real unsalted butter works fine too. Form crust into ball and place in freezer for 10 minutes in a ziplock bag if you are using it immediately, this makes the dough much easier to work with. This recipe yields a top and bottom crust; I use one right away and freeze the other for later use for quiche or fruit pies.

  • 1/2 lb elk or venison breakfast sausage
  • 1/3 c frozen spinach, or more if it’s fresh
  • 1/4 c diced yellow onion
  • 1/3 c shredded cheddar cheese
  • 3 eggs
  • 1/2 c Half and Half ( I use fat-free)
  • Salt and Pepper
  • 1 T olive oil

1. Make pie crust as directed above. Divide dough in half, use one half now & freeze one half in a ziplock bag for later use.

2. Layer pie crust in a pie tin WITHOUT greasing the pan first.

3. Pour olive oil into medium frying pan. Add in diced onion and spinach. I threw my spinach in frozen because I didn’t have much left. Sautee on medium heat for 2 minutes

4. Add in breakfast sausage and cook until it crumbles and is no longer pink.

5. In a small bowl, beat three eggs with 1/2 c. half and half. Sprinkle with salt and pepper.

6. Pour meat mixture into pie crust and spread evenly on bottom.

7. Pour egg mixture over top.

8. Sprinkle with cheddar cheese.

9. Cover with aluminum foil and bake at 350 for approximately 35 minutes. If eggs are still runny, uncover and bake another 10-15 minutes until eggs poof up and are firm when you cut into the quiche.

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Nutrition Information: 1/4 slice = Note: For dinner if I am really hungry I will eat an entire 1/4 of the quiche, but it is a lot. For breakfast or lunch, I often cut smaller slices, like 1/6 or 1/8 size. Information below is for 1/4 slice. The nice thing though, is that I never feel overly stuffed like after eating a large portion of some foods. This is a wholesome recipe with a good dose of protein that will keep you full and energized.

Nutrition Facts

Serving Size: 1/4 slice

Amount per Serving

Calories 674

Calories from Fat 395.5

% Daily Value *

Total Fat 43.94g

67%

Saturated Fat 26.06g

130%

Cholesterol 302.86mg

100%

Sodium 895.96mg

37%

Total Carbohydrate 37.16g

12%

Dietary Fiber 1.86g

7%

Sugars 3.32g

Protein 28.56g

57%

Est. Percent of Calories from:

Fat

59%

Carbs

22%

Protein

16%

* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet. Your daily values may be higher or lower depending on your calories needs.

Read more: http://www.livestrong.com/recipes/elk-sausage-spinach-quiche/#ixzz2HLWwgijd

What to Do with Gamey Elk

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Ah, nothing quite prepares you for that first bite of juicy, medium-rare, fried-to-perfection elk tenderloin, until……. you sink your teeth into it and realize it is completely and totally inedible and tastes like you are eating raw elk! I found myself in this predicament three days ago while making elk steaks for dinner. While I hadn’t marinated the meat–mistake #1- I had liberally seasoned it with Steak Seasoning while cooking, and it smelled great. Ha. It was truly the worst tasting elk meat I have eaten. EVER. By this time I was hungry and frustrated, so I put the meat in a plastic container to think about my options, and proceeded to make a grilled cheese for dinner. Yes. And it was cheesy, edible goodness.

So, what do you do with gamey elk steak? Why, make Crockpot Elk Fajitas of course! I am not one to waste food, so I knew I had to think of something. As a last resort I would have given it to Jade, but I reallty didn’t want to feed my elk to the dog if I could help it. So I left the steaks in the fridge for two days with the seasoning I had put on them while cooking to let that really absorb into the meat. At least I hoped it was. Then I came across this recipe for crockpot steak fajitas and decided that it would be my steak salvation. I followed the recipe more or less, but cut back on the Rotel and omitted the bell pepper (Joe won’t eat ’em and they are ridiculously expensive at our local store). I sliced the elk meat, added in the onions, then the seasonings, and turned the crockpot on LOW for about 3.5 hours. Now, the meat was already cooked to rare, and I didn’t want to dry it out. But if using raw meat, you would definately need to increase the time to 6 hours or crank up the crockpot to HIGH for 4 hours.

So, did it work? I would say yes, for the most part, this recipe saved the most gamey elk I have ever tasted (MY elk from this year!). There is still a slight elky flavor, but overall the meat is good and makes a nice fajita. We have had other steaks from this elk which have been great, and the burger is fantastic. I am not sure why this cut was so gamey, but it reminded me to 1) When eating elk steak, always lightly marinade for 1-2 days prior to cooking and 2) If you end up with inedible steak, make these fajitas!

Crockpot “Gamey” Elk Fajitas

Serves 4

  • 3/4 lb elk tenderloin/steak, sliced (already seasoned with whatever you like)
  • 1/2 of yellow onion, thinly sliced
  • 3/4 c. Mild Rotel tomatoes with green chilis
  • 1/2 tsp chili powder
  • 1/2 tsp cumin OR taco seasoning
  • 1/2 tsp coriander
  • 1/4 tsp garlic salt
  • Bell peppers (optional)
  • Medium Size Flour tortillas (I use Mission Carb Balance)
  • 1 c shredded cheddar cheese
  • Toppings: lettuce, salsa, sour cream, green onion, etc.
  1. Layer meat in bottom of crockpt.
  2. Top with sliced onions/peppers and Rotel.
  3. Sprinkle seasonings on top.
  4. Cook on LOW for 3.5 hours if meat is pre-cooked to at least rare. If meat is raw, cook on LOW for 6 hours or HIGH for 3-4 hours, depending on your crockpot.
  5. Layer meat mixture into warm tortillas, top with cheese and your favorite toppings.
  6. The gamey elk meat is now not just edible, but pretty darn good!