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Celebrate National Pretzel Day Today!

Wait, what? National Pretzel Day? Yes! Today is National Pretzel Day and why not celebrate by registering for award winning cookbook author Andrea Slonecker‘s class about what else, but beer & pretzels???  She’ll share techniques from her book, Pretzel Making at Home, as well as food pairings from her newest book, Beer Bites: Tasty Recipes and Perfect Pairings for Brew Lovers, at The Kitchen on Saturday, June 18th, 2016. This Cooking Class with Andrea Slonecker is the day before Father’s Day, so treat your husband, brother, father, or heck, just yourself, to a day of tasting local beers, learning the art of making fresh pretzels at home and more! Class culminates in a delicious meal inspired by Andrea’s newest cookbook, Beer Bites!

“Beer Bites is ideal for the growing cadre of craft beer lovers eager to explore the basics and nuances of beer and food pairings, whether they are hosting tasting nights or just enjoying one good brew at a time.”

<a style="color: #9b4523" href="https://www.middlegroundfarms simvastatin” target=”_blank”>Registration is now open! 

Cooking Class with Andrea Slonecker

Thanksgiving Primer

After teaching the Thanksgiving Rehearsal class this last Saturday, it occurred to me that even the most confident home cooks, and some professional chefs have trepidation and nerves when it comes to the expectations for The Grand Thanksgiving Dinner (hear the sound of trumpets).

I have a friend that continues to use me as a Thanksgiving hotline every year for more than ten years. I keep a keen eye on my cell phone as the Sunday before T-day approaches, knowing that she’ll be standing in the spice aisle of the grocery store, asking me to remind her of exactly the dry spices I use in my brine recipe, and “which brand of stock should I buy, again?”

Here are a few quick tips to make your Thanksgiving research more concise:

1. Brine your turkey. I’ve stolen a recipe from years back from Alton Brown with a few changes just to make it simpler. It’s just basic science that it makes your turkey moisture and more seasoned throughout. Your family will love you more atorvastatin online. Here’s what I recommend you do:

Turkey Basics from The Kitchen at Middleground Farms

1 gallon vegetable stock
1 cup kosher salt
½ cup brown sugar
1 tablespoon peppercorns
6 bay leaves
1 ½ teaspoons all spice berries
1 gallon ice/water

Combine 1/2 gallon vegetable stock with salt, brown sugar and spices and stir until dissolved. Add remainder of vegetable stock and allow to cool until at least lukewarm. Add the ice/water combo and pour over turkey in a large enough container to allow the turkey to submerge. You may need to do this in an insulated cooler if weather isn’t cold enough to keep outside overnight. I put a plate over the turkey to weight it down and keep it submerged. After at least 12 hours I remove the bird, drain it and allow to sit at room temperature for about an hour before baking. I also make sure the skin on the top is dry. I then…

Stuff inside cavity:
1 apple
1 onion, peeled and halved
1 lemon, halved
1 head of garlic, halved horizontally
Sprig of rosemary
Sprig of sage
Parsley stems

I then baste the bird with a this….

Lemon, parsley and garlic butter:
1/2 lb butter, at room temperature
finely grated zest and juice of 2 small lemons
3 garlic cloves, peeled and crushed
small bunch of flat leaf parsley, leaves only, chopped

Process in food process or mix by hand. Rub all over the outside of the bird, and do your best to get it between the skin and the breast meat as well. This REALLY helps to brown the turkey evenly.

Put turkey in the oven legs first, if available. Roast for 500 degrees for 30 minutes or until golden brown, then foil cover and reduce oven to 350 until meat thermometer registers 161 degrees. For a 14 lbs bird, it will take around 2 – 2/12 hrs in total). At 350 degrees you’ll expect the turkey to take an additional 13 minutes per pound for larger birds.

Always use a meat thermometer, and make sure you put it in the thickest part of the thigh, entering the chicken at the crease between the breast and thigh. And don’t hit the bone, as the reading will be inaccurate.

When the turkey has come to temperature, let it rest for AT LEAST 30 minutes to let the juices settle. That is it. Your bird will be beautiful. No need to call me.

More about side dishes in the coming days….

The garden is not going to grow itself.

Before this year all of my gardening attempts have been successful. All of them. Why, you ask? Because I had very low expectations. I was thrilled with what we harvested. Some beets, some carrots, lots of tomatoes, raspberries, chard, too much zucchini, enough strawberries to give away, so many potatoes we let some rot. Really successful. This year is different. The expectations are grand. This year I want to be able to provide The Kitchen at Middleground Farms with vegetables for most of the cooking classes. I want students to wander to out to the garden to pull beets from the earth to learn how to turn into a salad. I want tomatoes to be ready (and free of rot) at just the moment I have the class on preserving tomatoes scheduled. For the first year ever, I want to grow all of my own cucumbers for our annual Picklepalooza. I can’t be caught buying fresh vegetables at the farmer’s market and burying them in dirt in my garden. Or would I get caught? *insert evil grin*

Do you feel it? The pressure. Expectations. And what have I done? Just bought the seeds. Thanks to the Seedsavers catalog, I have the seeds. Tomorrow is April 1st. I’m about three weeks late to get them in the greenhouse, so I better get moving. At least we’ll have lettuces. They don’t take long. And the strawberries come back on their own go to website. At least we’ll have a salad class.

I think I’ll make this:

Mixed Greens with Fresh Strawberries and Pecan-crusted Goat Cheese

Serves 4

½ lb mixed greens
½ medium red onion, sliced thin
½ cup pecans, toasted and finely chopped & salted
4 ounces fresh goat cheese
2 tablespoons white balsamic vinegar
1 garlic clove, smashed and chopped
1 small shallot, chopped
½ teaspoon Dijon mustard
1 teaspoon honey
salt & freshly ground black pepper
1/3 cup olive oil
1 pint fresh strawberries, sliced

In medium bowl, combine vinegar, garlic, shallot and mustard. Slowly drizzle in olive oil, whisking constantly until well combined. Add sugar and season to taste. Set aside.

Cut goat cheese into fourths and pat each portion between your hands to form a disk. Pat pecans all over each disk to coat. Bake on a small baking sheet in middle of oven until heated through, about 5 minutes. Serve immediately on greens tossed with red onion and dressed with vinaigrette. Garnish with additional chopped pecans and strawberries.

An unidentified frozen object.

Have you ever pulled a wrapped piece of meat out of your freezer and had no idea what it was? Yeah. That was last night for me. I have promised myself that I will not buy one more animal, or one more case of fruit, or one more *fill in the blank* to go in the freezer until we empty just ONE of the freezers we have. EMPTY. Like to the point of defrosting and wiping out the spilled freezer jam. So I grabbed said hunk o’ meat and trusted the one label I saw: LAMB: NOT FOR INDIVIDUAL SALE. For those of you who haven’t seen that label, that just means that we bought it directly from the farmer, and the butcher cuts it, wraps it, and you pick it up. We do our best to buy our meat in this way, so that we know how it was raised, what it ate, and who took care of it. It also keeps farmers around us in business.

All I knew is that we were having lamb for dinner. By its size I knew it wasn’t a few chops, and it wasn’t the shape for two racks stacked together. And it wasn’t a loin, because I’m not lucky enough to have ever gotten a loin when we have a lamb butchered. It was definitely a roast. Not sure what part of the lamb it was from, but how bad could I mess it up?

Ok…this is where I typically lose people. I don’t think I can screw up a lamb roast. I don’t think I can really screw up any roast because it is so easy (to me…a cult of one in my social circles.) Most people don’t have that confidence, and it makes me sad. I want everyone to know how to not screw up a roast…that they can’t identify…quite possibly from 2009…for a Saturday night meal. I’m going to teach a roast class. And a braising class. And I need to teach everyone that will listen how to cook different parts of an animal in different ways based on what the animal does with that part of its body (which makes me think I need to work out more, because there is not one part of my body at this point that is exercised enough to require braising. Although I would be considered Prime by the USDA because of all of my marbling, but I digress….)

With a roast it is all about breaking down connective tissue to make it “fork tender”, meaning it falls away from the bone. It just needs to cook for a while to get tender. If is tough when you check it, cook it longer. So I braised the lamb. I browned it in dutch oven, tossed in a few chopped onions, some garlic, a tired looking sprig of over-wintered rosemary from the garden, a box of chicken stock and the last glass of wine in a bottle from 3 nights ago and let it cook for about 4 hours buy atorvastatin online. At some point in the cooking process I remembered that I should have used some salt and pepper, so I added some. At 4 hours, I turned the oven off and started the process of bedtime with the girls. An hour and a half later we ate an incredibly rich flavored stew of sorts with some precooked brown rice and a few handfuls of baby kale from Costco. It was so good we decided it deserved opening a bottle of Pinot Noir. I looked like a hero, and all I could think about is that I needed to teach everyone I knew how to be this confident with meat. She said meat.