Freestyle Recipes Archives

19th Hole Sauce Recipe

Posted on July 20, 2017 by Leave a comment

My friends Jim and Starr Ramsey gave me this recipe many years ago and we usually have some on hand. Jim and Starr were the ultimate grillers; grilling 3-4 times a week, no matter what the weather. It didn’t matter if there was a foot of snow in the winter, Jim would brush the snow off the grill and start a fire with real charcoal (not briquets!). This sauce may also be called Sitzmark sauce. You will find some other recipes on line, however this is a simple, easy to make recipe and you may already have most of the ingredients in your cupboard. We keep the left over sauce in our refrigerator for a month or more. It can be used as a condiment on all kinds of beef, pork, lamb, and chicken. We normally use it on grilled cheeseburgers on toasted english muffins. Lamb burgers are especially good!

I still have the recipe as I copied it down almost 40 years ago.

19th Hole Sauce Recipe from Jim and Starr Ramsey

19th Hole Sauce Recipe from Jim and Starr Ramsey

Ingredients:

1) 1/2 Cup of water
2) 1/4 Cup of vinegar (White or Cider)
3) 2 Tablespoons of oil (we use extra virgin olive oil)
4) 1 1/2 Cups of Ketchup (we use Heinz)
5) 1 Bay leaf
6) 1 Teaspoon of sugar
7) 2 Drops of liquid smoke
8) 1 Teaspoon of salt
9) 1/3 Cup of finely diced onion
10) 1/2 Teaspoon of paprika

Combining the Ingredients

Combining the Ingredients

A very colorful mix of spices!

A very colorful mix of spices!

Putting it all together:

1) Combine all the ingredients into a small sauce pan. It really doesn’t matter what order the ingredients are added.
2) Over low heat, gradually bring to a simmer. Cover and let it simmer for at least a half an hour.
3) Stir every couple of minutes to keep from burning on the bottom of the pan.
4) Check to make sure the mustard seeds are soft enough to bite into without being hard.
5) Ready to serve warm or cold.
6) Save the unused portion in a sealed container in the refrigerator.

Simmer and stir on low heat for at least 30 minutes

Simmer and stir on low heat for at least 30 minutes

The good old Revere Ware sauce pans!

The good old Revere Ware sauce pans!

Tips:

1) If you have never used Liquid Smoke, there are several brands which can be found in a grocery store. You only need a drop or two to change the flavor of a recipe, so a bottle will last you a long time.
2) Revere Ware. My mother always used Revere Ware, which is cookware made with lightweight stainless steel or stainless steel with a copper bottom. If you don’t burn what you are cooking, these pans are easy to clean and last forever. I prefer to use the old style Revere Ware that you can buy used on Ebay at a reasonable price. I have all the high priced gourmet cookware, but I always seem to cook with the Revere Ware when it comes to sauce pans or large 6 and 8 quart pans. The older Revere Ware is not “non-stick”, so you can use metal spoons for cooking and “Scotch-Brite” pads for cleaning.

We primarily use this sauce on hamburgers and cheeseburgers. We especially like the combination of Cheeseburgers, Sharp Cheddar cheese slices, with 19th Hole Sauce, on a grill toasted english muffin.

Grilling the burgers with toasted English Muffins and Sharp Cheddar Slices!

Grilling the burgers with toasted English Muffins and Sharp Cheddar Slices!

A little sauce on top and underneath the burger!

A little sauce on top and underneath the burger!

We usually eat our burgers with other common “Picnic” foods, no matter what time of year. We try to get some vegetable in our diet at the same time. Enjoy!

Don't forget the veggies!

Don’t forget the veggies!

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Vegetable Lasagna

Posted on June 17, 2016 by Leave a comment

One of our favorite summer dishes is Vegetable Lasagna. You can really make this any time of year with produce from the grocery store, but using the fresh picked vegetables from your own garden extends the adventure of growing your own food. What you pick from the garden varies and so you are “inspired” to adjust the recipe to what vegetables you have on hand. Our recipe is focused around summer squash, eggplant, and tomatoes, but the combinations you can use are many. This is a baked, layered dish and the number of layers will vary depending on your pan size, number of people to feed, etc. Of course, you can add meat to this recipe!

Basic Ingredients; Squash, Eggplant, Fennel bulb, Onion, Fennel seed, Peppers, Tomato sauce, Bread crumbs

Basic Ingredients; Squash, Eggplant, Fennel bulb, Onion, Fennel seed, Peppers, Tomato sauce, Bread crumbs

Ingredients:
1) Extra virgin olive oil
2) Bread crumbs
3) Onion
4) Peppers (almost any kind or combination)
5) Squash (Yellow, Zucchini, or similar)
6) Eggplant (we prefer the Chinese long purple, if you can find them or grow them)
7) Fennel bulb sliced or diced (optional)
8) Parmesan cheese grated
9) Fennel seed (optional)
10) Salt
11) Pepper
12) Pasta sauce, fresh tomatoes or a combination (if you use only fresh tomatoes, then you also need to add typical Italian pasta sauce seasonings)
13) Mozzarella cheese grated or sliced

Note: Fennel seed is the main spice in Italian sausage which gives it it’s distinct flavor.

Putting it all together: (pre-heat oven to 325 degrees)
1) Pour and spread a thin layer of olive oil on the bottom of the baking dish.
2) Sprinkle a thin layer of bread crumbs.
3) Add a thin layer of diced onions.
4) Add a handful of diced peppers (we used a mild green pepper).
5) Spread a layer of sliced squash (we used yellow and zucchini).
6) Spread a layer of sliced eggplant.
7) Dice or slice one half of a fennel bulb and spread evenly.
8) Sprinkle a teaspoon of fennel seed evenly.
9) Season with salt and pepper.
10) Sprinkle grated parmesan cheese
11) Add spoonfuls of pasta sauce.
12) Repeat the same layers for multiple layers.
13) When finished with the top layer, spread pasta sauce thickly over the entire top of the casserole.
14) Bake for approximately 1 1/2 hours and remove to add mozzarella cheese.
15) Bake for an additional 20 minutes or until the mozzarella cheese is melted and browned to your satisfaction.
16) Bake at 325 degrees.

First Layer, bread crumbs, peppers and onions

First Layer, bread crumbs, peppers and onions

Yellow Squash

Yellow Squash

Zucchini

Zucchini

Diced Fennel Bulb

Diced Fennel Bulb

Chinese Eggplant

Chinese Eggplant

Grated Parmesan

Grated Parmesan

Add some sauce in a middle layer

Add some sauce in a middle layer

Fresh tomatoes are always good!

Fresh tomatoes are always good!

Top layer of pasta sauce

Top layer of pasta sauce

Add cheese 12-20 minutes before taking out of the oven

Add cheese 12-20 minutes before taking out of the oven

Ready to eat!!

Ready to eat!!

Vegetable Lasagna!

Vegetable Lasagna!

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Freezing Green Beans

Posted on June 14, 2016 by Leave a comment

When growing our pole beans this year we grew more than we were able to eat fresh and decided to freeze some extra beans for later. Freezing green beans is a relatively simple process that can be done with items you most likely already have in your kitchen. The steps for freezing include preparing the bean, blanching, cooling, and packaging the end product. Blanching is the process of heating the vegetable to stop enzyme activity from further ripening and/or deteriorating the quality of the beans while it is frozen for months or years. Blanching preserves flavor, color and texture.

Picked beans!

Picked beans!

What you need:
1) Beans
2) Large pot of boiling water
3) Large bowl of ice water or cold water
4) Packaging containers

The "String" of a string bean!

The “String” of a string bean!

The Processes:
1) Remove the ends of the beans and the strings, if the beans are “string” beans. For stingless beans this part of the process can simply be done with a knife.
2) Cut or “Snap” the beans into bite size pieces.
3) Blanch the beans for 3 minutes in boiling water. Add small batches of beans to large pot of boiling water (At least one gallon of water per pound of vegetable to be blanched). Start counting the 3 minutes after the water returns to vigorous boiling. The water should return to boiling after one minute.
4) After blanching immediately place the beans in an ice water bath.
5) When the beans are cooled, drain and package the beans.
6) Label your containers with a date.
7) Place the bags separated from each other in the freezer. When they are frozen, you can place the packages closer together.
8) The frozen beans will keep for a long time, but are best used within 12 months for best quality.

Ends, and strings removed from the beans

Ends, and strings removed from the beans

Beans, strings removed and "snapped"

Beans, strings removed and “snapped”

Blanching in boiling water

Blanching in boiling water

Cooling in the ice bath

Cooling in the ice bath

Blanched beans ready for packaging

Blanched beans ready for packaging

Packaged beans ready to be labeled and placed in the freezer

Packaged beans ready to be labeled and placed in the freezer

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Freezer Jam!

Posted on May 20, 2016 by Leave a comment

We have been making jams and jellies for many years. We like both freezer and cooked jams. Freezer jams have a tendency to have a hight sugar content, but have a fresher flavor, closer to a fresh berry taste, since the berries have not been cooked. There are some jams we prefer as freezer jam. One of them is Strawberry. Jams can be made with frozen fruit and taste pretty much the same as being made with fresh fruit. This advantage allows you to make jam any time of the year, in small batches, as you need it! Many times frozen fruit is processed at the peak of ripeness and is sometimes of better quality than available “fresh” fruit that has been in transit for several days or weeks.

Start with simple ingredients, Fresh or Frozen fruit, Sugar, and Sure-Jell. There are other pectin products beside Sure-Jell, but we have always used it successfully and have not experimented with other similar products. You will also need clean jars, lids and rings. We like the wide mouth type jar because the jar is easier to empty and clean. We prefer the Kerr® Jars, but Ball® Jars work as well. Read the Sure-Jell label for complete instructions and recommendations. Our recipe follows the Sure-Jell instructions. We have added our own photos from our kitchen.

Start with fresh or thawed frozen berries!

Start with fresh or thawed frozen berries!

Sure-Jell helps make the jam jell!!

Sure-Jell helps make the jam jell!!

Follow the instructions for the type of jam you are making on the Sure-Jell instruction sheet, which is included in every box. The amount of fruit, sugar, and other additives (like lemon juice) is listed for each recipe.

Ingredients for Strawberry Jam:
1) 2 Cups Strawberries crushed (berries should be at room temperature)
2) 4 Cups Sugar
3) 1 Box of Sure-Jell

Measure the sugar in a separate bowl!

Measure the sugar in a separate bowl!

Putting it all together:
1) The first step is to prepare the fruit. For strawberry jam, we crush the room temperature berries and measure out 2 cups of crushed berries.
2) Measure out 4 cups of granulated sugar. We have used both cane and beet sugar with equal results. If we have a choice we use cane sugar.
3) Combine the sugar and crushed strawberries in the bowl and let it stand for 10 minutes. This time period allows the sugar to start to dissolve in the strawberry juice and pulp.
4) Place your clean jars upside down in a water bath on medium heat to sterilize the inside of the jars. Let the water come to a boil and simmer on low heat. The water will have a tendency to fill the jars. Move the jars and the water will release back into the pan.
5) Place the lids in a small sauce pan and bring to a boil on medium heat, then reduce to low heat until you are ready to seal the jars. We remove the lids with tongs from the hot water.
6) Add the package of Sure-Jell to 3/4 cup of water. Stir in with the water quickly to remove any lumps. Bring to a full boil on high heat. Stir constantly for 1 minute and take off the heat.
7) Pour the hot Sure-Jell mixture into the bowl of sugar and strawberries. Stir constantly for 3 minutes. Most of the sugar should be dissolved by now. Prepare to fill the containers immediately!
8) Fill the containers. Leave 1/2 inch of space at the top of each jar. The space is to allow for expansion when frozen. Cover with the lid and seal with the ring.
9) Label you jars. Let the jam stand at room temperature for 24 hours. Then place in the freezer.

Crush the berries!

Crush the berries!

Sterilize the jars in a water bath!

Sterilize the jars in a water bath!

Sterilize the lids!

Sterilize the lids!

Let the berries and sugar set for 10 minutes!

Let the berries and sugar set for 10 minutes!

Add the Sure-Jell!

Add the Sure-Jell!

Bring the Sure-Jell and water to a boil!

Bring the Sure-Jell and water to a boil!

Fill the jars!

Fill the jars!

Seal the jar lids!

Seal the jar lids!

Label the jars!

Label the jars!

ENJOY!!

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Picking Boysenberries

Posted on May 16, 2016 by Leave a comment

Boysenberries bloom over about a month in the spring and the berries ripen over about the same period of time unless there is a sharp increase in temperatures, which will make the berries ripen quicker. The berries gradually change from green to pink, then red, deeper red, purple and then almost black. The berries have druplets like a raspberry, but have a core similar to a blackberry. The berries are sweetest and most flavorful when completely ripe. If picked when they are a deep purple, they still have a good flavor and are a little more tart.

Ripening Boysenberries

Ripening Boysenberries

Fully ripe boysenberries are very large, juicy and flavorful!!

Ripe Boysenberries are large, almost black, soft, and nearly fall off the vine

Ripe Boysenberries are large, almost black, soft, and nearly fall off the vine

We pruned the fruiting canes last summer so they cascade from the top of the trellis down to the ground. We have a combination of fabric and mulch at the base of the plants to keep the berries from getting soiled. There are two drip irrigation lines at the base of the boysenberry canes since these plants have the potential to dry out. Because the plants are large and lush, we give them double the water when we irrigate. The extra water also helps fill the berries during fruiting.

Boysenberries ripening and some ready to pick

Boysenberries ripening and some ready to pick

The berries should be picked in a low flat container so the berries are not “stacked” on top of each other more than 2 or 3 berries deep. This causes bruising and leakage. They do not have a long shelf life and should be eaten or preserved quickly while their quality is still high. Boysenberries are rarely seen in a supermarket because they do not ship or store well.

Fresh picked boysenberries

Fresh picked boysenberries

We have enjoyed our berries fresh with ice cream, made into jam, and made into pies. We have made both freezer jam and cooked jam using SURE-JELL fruit pectin. The jam and jelly recipes are in the SURE-JELL box. The pie we made was a Rhubarb/Boysenberry pie; exchanging one cup of rhubarb for one cup of boysenberries.

Rhubarb / Boysenberry Pie

Rhubarb / Boysenberry Pie

We found that using a food processor to “crush” the berries worked very well. Since boysenberries have a core in the center of the berry, similar to a blackberry, it is slightly more complicated to crush the berries efficiency. The berries crush easily in the food processor in just a few moments.

Crush boysenberries for jam, jelly or juice with a food processor

Crush boysenberries for jam, jelly or juice with a food processor

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Ramps

Posted on April 28, 2016 by Leave a comment

Separated from the soil and ready to clean

Separated from the soil and ready to clean

Ramps (also called wild leeks) (Allium tricoccum) are a forest plant which grows in “patches” in the eastern United States. Our ramps grow in the mainly deciduous forest of western NY state. The ramps are in the onion family and taste similar to cultivated onions and garlic. We are fortunate to have them growing on our property, however we only harvest a few every couple years. They are really a novelty, in our opinion, for culinary use. This year we incorporated them into venison cheeseburgers and they were quite good. Some gourmet celebrity chefs could probably convince you they were the best tasting thing since Kale, but it is basically just a wild onion, and tastes like an onion.

Ramps growing in the Spring in the western NY forest

Ramps growing in the Spring in the western NY forest

We do enjoy seeing them grow in our forest, and we are glad they are a continuing part of our environment. They flower and go to seed shortly after they pop up in the spring. Then they go dormant, die back, and disappear from the forest floor until the following Spring, when they reappear. We believe mother nature has timed their life cycle this way because they come up before the leaves are on the trees, take advantage of the sunlight, and then go dormant after the trees are in full foliage. The spring is usually a damp time of year and the summer can be dry so the ramps survive this way by being dormant when the soil is dry and the other forest trees suck up all the available moisture. Energy and moisture is saved in the onion like bulb.

When first dug, the roots are intertwined with the soil

When first dug, the roots are intertwined with the soil

The ramps reproduce from seeds. The plant flowers in the early summer by sending up a leafless flower stalk. After the foliage has gone dormant, the plant flowers and seeds develop, falling near the mother plant later in the summer. Not every plant will flower. The seeds germinate when conditions are right in late summer or early fall. Not all the seeds will germinate and live.

This year we were lucky and the soil was quite dry when we dug our ramps. The soil crumbled away from the roots easily after we dug one shovel full. We separated the soil so it would stay in the woods. We tried to cut the roots off, but it seemed easier to just “snap” them off. A single ramp plant can be many years old and develop a root “stub” which is relatively easy to snap off.

Hauling the Ramps back to the kitchen

Hauling the Ramps back to the kitchen

Since the ramps are quite a way out in the woods we took our tractor and wagon to go harvest the ramps. Now we are ready to take them back to the house and the kitchen where we will prepare them to eat.

Ramps ready for your favorite recipe or fresh chopped in a sandwich or salad

Ramps ready for your favorite recipe or fresh chopped in a sandwich or salad

If you should happen to go out to the forest to harvest some ramps, please remember this is a wild plant treasure that does not reproduce easily. It is important not to harvest more than 30% of the “patch”. That way you will always leave more than you take. Not every year is a good growing year for the ramps so it is important that you leave enough so the patch can continue to grow. If you want to make the effort to go back to the patch in late summer to harvest seeds and plant them, you may be able to start another patch in another spot in the forest. In some locations the ramps are being over harvested and are in danger of being eliminated from their home range. Harvest sustainably!!

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Rhubarb Pie From Garden to Slice!

Posted on April 7, 2016 by Leave a comment

Rhubarb plants growing in the garden

Rhubarb plants growing in the garden

From my earliest childhood I have enjoyed rhubarb pie. My mother grew it in her garden and we have grown it in several gardens as our address has changed. Rhubarb is one of the few perennial vegetables and is relatively easy to grow. The stalks are the only part of the rhubarb plant eaten. The leaves are poisonous. To harvest, just pull or cut the stalk away from the crown of the plant and cut the stalk a couple inches away from the leaf.

4 to 6 large stalks make a nice pie

4 to 6 large stalks make a nice pie

There are quite a few ways to make pies with rhubarb as the main ingredient. we are sharing the recipe for a Rhubarb Pie with Tapioca and Orange Zest. We are including instructions for a 4 cup and a 5 cup rhubarb pie. We make the bigger pie if we have a pie pan for the larger pie. This is an easy pie to make.

Rhubarb Pie with Tapioca and Orange Zest

Ingredients for a 4 cup pie:

4 Cups of rhubarb cut in 1/3 to 3/4 inch slices
2 Eggs
1 1/4 Cups of sugar (a little more if you have a sweet tooth)
1/3 Cup plus, 1 TBS of tapioca
1 Two crust package of store bought or homemade pie shells
2 TBS of Orange Zest
1 TBS of Sugar

Rhubarb ready to make a pie

Rhubarb ready to make a pie

Ingredients for a 5 cup pie:

5 Cups of rhubarb cut in 1/3 to 3/4 inch slices
2 Eggs
1 1/2 Cups of sugar (a little more if you have a sweet tooth)
1/2 Cup of tapioca
1 Two crust package of store bought or homemade pie shells
2 TBS, plus one teaspoon of Orange Zest
1 TBS Sugar

Note: There are 3 teaspoons in a Tablespoon

Bottom pie crust and sliced rhubarb ready!

Bottom pie crust and sliced rhubarb ready!

Putting it all together: Preheat your oven to 400 degrees.
1) Place the bottom crust in the pie pan so it is ready to accept the filling.
2) Cut the rhubarb in 1/3 to 3/4 inch slices. The size slices depends a little on the size of the rhubarb stalks, which can vary greatly in size. Cut and measure the exact amount of cups into a medium bowl. Then pour the sliced rhubarb in the bottom of the pie pan and distribute evenly.
3) Grate the orange zest from a fresh orange.
4) In another medium bowl, combine the sugar, tapioca, and orange zest and uniformly mix.
5) Add the two eggs to the mix and blend together completely.
6) Pour the mixture evenly over the rhubarb so it settles in between the rhubarb slices
7) Put on the top crust. We used a lattice crust.
8) Spread the top crust on a flat surface and cut the crust in strips 1/2 to 3/4 inch wide with a butter knife.
9) Alternate the strips one at a time.
10) Lift the alternate strips to place the next strip, as pictured.
11) When your strips are in place sprinkle the sugar over the top of the lattice crust.
12) Place the pie in your preheated oven at 400 degrees. After 15 minutes reduce the heat to 350 degrees and bake for another 30 to 40 minutes for the 4 cup pie and 40 to 50 minutes for the 5 cup pie.

Sugar & Tapioca mixed and orange zest grated

Sugar & Tapioca mixed and orange zest grated

The egg, sugar, tapioca & orange zest is ready to pour over the rhubarb

The egg, sugar, tapioca & orange zest is ready to pour over the rhubarb

Start the lattice by slicing in 1/2 to 3/4 inch strips

Start the lattice by slicing in 1/2 to 3/4 inch strips

Fold the alternate strips back to overlap the next strip

Fold the alternate strips back to overlap the next strip

Ready for the oven!

Ready for the oven!

Just out of the oven!

Just out of the oven!

The tapioca soaks up the moisture!

The tapioca soaks up the moisture!

A nice slice of rhubarb pie!

A nice slice of rhubarb pie!

Rhubarb pie is great with serving additions like vanilla ice cream, whipped cream, a slice of extra sharp cheddar cheese, or any of your other favorite pie toppings!!

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Baked Ham

Posted on March 28, 2016 by Leave a comment

One of our favorite ways to eat ham is a home cooked, baked ham with cloves and pineapple. Several times a year, half and whole hams are placed on sale with a significant price discount. Easter is a common time for ham to go on sale. These hams can be cooked when purchased or frozen for use months later. The meat of a baked ham has a flavor similar to deli ham which is very expensive. However you can bake a ham yourself for about 75% less per pound. Baking and preserving a large ham is relatively simple and easy to do. These hams are already fully cooked, but are normally cooked a little more to add flavor.

Ready to remove pineapple slices & cloves - then slice

Ready to remove pineapple slices & cloves – then slice

When selecting a half ham you may notice two different types of ham shapes in the packaging. A whole ham is originally cut from the pig with the portion connected to he hip on one end (butt end) and the part connecting to the knee on the other end (shank end). When they cut a whole ham in half to be packaged, the shape of the half ham will look a little different depending on which half of the ham you are looking at. The bone inside the ham will look different. The ham cooks and tastes the same, however if you cook a lot of hams, you may develop a preference.

The simplest way to prepare a baked ham is to follow the simple directions on the package, by taking off the packaging, placing it in a baking pan, and putting it in the oven for the specified amount of time, at the specified temperature. Usually baking at 325 degrees for 15-20 minutes per pound. A fresh ham would need to be completely cooked for a much longer period of time.

Whole cloves

Whole cloves

Our recipe is for a ham baked with cloves and pineapple, which adds a clove spice flavor and a sweet pineapple juice flavor enhanced with honey. A clove is the dried flower bud of a tropical tree, grown in the Maluku Islands, India and Pakistan, with the botanical name Syzygium aromatic. We purchased Kroger® brand cloves which were of very high quality. These cloves were half the price of the branded clove products for the same or better quality.

Typical pre-cooked baking ham

Typical pre-cooked baking ham

Ingredients
1) One half or whole ham with package and plastic “bone” guard removed
2) Whole cloves
3) One can of pineapple slices, juice set aside (although you could also use pineapple chunks)
4) Honey
5) Toothpicks (we were out of toothpicks and substituted popsicle sticks broken in half and carved to a point)

Inserting whole cloves into the ham

Inserting whole cloves into the ham

Putting it all together
1) Pre-heat oven to 325 degrees
2) Place the ham in a baking pan flat side down
3) Insert the cloves an inch or two apart evenly spaced all over the surface of the ham
4) Attach the rings of pineapple with a toothpick evenly spaced over the ham
5) Combine pineapple juice with some honey as a glaze to baste on the ham as it cooks (optional)
6) Place the ham in the oven and bake per directions, 15-20 minutes per pound at 325 degrees
7) Baste 3-4 times with the pineapple/honey juice as the ham cooks
8) When done, remove the ham from the oven, take off the pineapple slices and remove the cloves
9) Wait about 10 minutes before slicing, (however it will be almost irresistible not to sample small bits of ham and pineapple)

Adding pineapple rings to the ham

Adding pineapple rings to the ham

We liked adding the pineapple/honey juice basting liquid. You could also do it with just the pineapple juice alone. It does create a sweet tasting accumulation of meat juices in the bottom of the baking pan. We used these meat juices to make a nice ham gravy to be served over mashed potatoes.

When the ham is out of the oven, let it cool down for about 10 minutes. While you are waiting you can remove the pineapple and cloves. If you are going to make gravy from the meat juices, now is the time to transfer the ham to a serving platter. Next drain the meat juices into a sauce pan for making the gravy. We served our dinner with ham, pineapple slices, mashed potatoes and ham gravy, with asparagus. It was delicious!!

Ham dinner!

Ham dinner!

Preparing to store leftover ham

We always have leftover ham and enjoy eating it in a variety of dishes, from simple sandwiches to omelets, scalloped and au gratin potatoes, pizza, split pea soup, etc. We prepare “chunk” ham, sliced ham and diced ham. The first step is to go through each piece separating the chunks along natural separation points. Next we trim away the fat and any other undesireable pieces. We save the bone for making split pea soup. You could also add the bone to mustard, turnip or collard green preparation.

Preparing leftover ham for storage

Preparing leftover ham for storage

Depending on how much ham is left and what cuts are available, we prepare the ham accordingly. When in doubt, we freeze the ham as a chunk, which can be thawed later. Using this method, we have a lot of options for using the ham in the future.

Sliced ham for sandwiches, diced ham for various recipes

Sliced ham for sandwiches, diced ham for various recipes

We package the ham according to our expected use. Since we use the ham a little at a time, our packages are small. We make sure that our packages are labeled with the date. It is important not leave the ham in the freezer for more than 1 or 2 months, according to foodsafety.gov.

Freeze the ham in labeled packages, in amounts you can easily use

Freeze the ham in labeled packages, in amounts you can easily use

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Gaspe Bread

Posted on March 28, 2016 by Leave a comment

In the early 1960s, I traveled with my family on a two week vacation trip from Buffalo NY, through New England, north through Maine into the Canadian Province of Quebec to the Gaspe Peninsula. We returned to Buffalo by crossing the St. Lawrence river further into Quebec, passing through Quebec City, Montreal, Toronto and back home. The Gaspe Peninsula, at that time, was a very rural area inhabited mainly by fishermen and small agricultural communities. The area was very economically depressed and families sold home made souvenirs, bake goods, hazel nuts, and wooden sailboats along the roadside to make extra money. French is the native language in the Province of Quebec. This was before interstates and fast food restaurants. We were camping in a small tent trailer pulled by the family station wagon. There is a famous and beautiful rock formation just off shore near the town of Perce which is a tourist destination. It was a wonderful, once in a lifetime trip!

Typical family Gaspe bread oven along the road, circa 1961

Typical family Gaspe bread oven along the road, circa 1961

We traveled a two lane road that followed the shore of the North Atlantic Ocean. Families along the roadside and the occasional souvenir stand, sold fresh baked bread, baked outside, in an outside “pizza” oven. It seemed like almost every house had an outdoor wood fired oven. Near the oven, you would see fresh baked bread and possibly loaves of dough rising in the warm sun. The loaves of bread would be set out on a table for sale. As I recall, purchasing the loaves was self service, and after selecting your loaf to buy, you simply put your payment in a box or a coffee can. This bread had a wonderful smell and flavor, being crusty on the outside and moist on the inside. We would have purchased sliced ham, bologna, or extra sharp cheddar cheese to make simple sandwiches with this bread. It was delicious!!

Gaspe oven and bread for sale, circa 1961

Gaspe oven and bread for sale, circa 1961

Recently I went on a quest to find a recipe for this bread, but could only find one, photo copied from an old 1961 newspaper article. The article was not printable. I have copied this recipe and have reproduced it here. The article noted that there were numerous recipes used by many Gaspe bread makers and this is just one example. After baking the bread, it has the same smell, flavor and texture that I remember. The full recipe makes two loaves. I added a list of ingredients for one loaf. The only adjustment is to shorten the baking time for the single loaf to maybe 30-35 minutes.

My sister suggested using the left over “potato” water from the mashed potatoes. We tried that and it worked just fine. Just be sure to let the water cool enough so it will not kill the yeast.

Homemade Bread From The Gaspe
By Cecily Brownstone (Retyped from the original article by Mark Kitson 3/15/2016)
Lakeland Ledger, Thursday, October 5th, 1961

Fresh baked and ready to cut

Fresh baked and ready to cut

Gaspe Bread
2 Loaves
2 Cups very warm water (105-115 degrees)
3 packages of yeast
1 Cup lukewarm mashed potatoes
2 Tablespoons sugar
1 Tablespoon salt
2 Tablespoons butter or margarine
7 Cups (about) of sifted flour

1 Loaf
1 Cup very warm water
1 ½ packages of yeast
½ Cup lukewarm mashed potatoes
1 Tablespoon sugar
1 ½ teaspoons salt
1 Tablespoon butter or margarine
3 ½ Cups of sifted flour

Luke warm mashed potatoes

Luke warm mashed potatoes

In a mixing bowl, stir water and yeast together until yeast is dissolved. Add lukewarm potatoes, sugar, salt, butter and 2 Cups of flour. Beat two minutes at medium speed on electric mixer or 300 vigorous strokes with a spoon. Stir in enough of the remaining flour to make a soft dough.

Turn out on a lightly floured board and knead until elastic – about 10 minutes. (The dough will be slightly rough and dull looking). Place in a greased bowl turning once to grease all sides. Cover and let rise in a warm place (80-85 degrees), that is free from draft, until doubled in bulk – about 30 minutes.

Let the dough double in size

Let the dough double in size

Punch down dough, cover and let rise again until doubled – about 20 minutes. Punch dough down and divide in half. Shape each half into a ball. Press into two greased 8 inch layer cake pans and let rise again until doubled in bulk – about 20 minutes. Bake in a hot (400 degrees) oven about 40 minutes (30-35 minutes for a single loaf). Remove from pans and let cool on wire racks away from a draft.

Crusty on the outside, moist on the inside

Crusty on the outside, moist on the inside

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Making Homemade Lemonade

Posted on March 23, 2016 by Leave a comment

Our recipe makes one quart of lemonade.

Lemon trees in southern California are pretty common. Many people have them in their yards and sometimes they are located in public areas and are available for picking. If someone has a lemon tree on their property, there may be hundreds of lemons that all ripen over several months between late fall and early summer. One lemon tree can produce way more lemons than any family can handle and consequently they are given away to friends, neighbors and charitable organizations. In our case we picked a bunch of lemons from my son’s tree.

In order to make the lemonade, first we needed to have some type of juicer to extract the juice from the lemon. We went on Ebay and purchased a classic glass juicer for about $16.00, including shipping. It has a big reservoir for holding the juice and a great spout for pouring.

Making lemonade

Making lemonade

Ingredients
1) Two medium lemons
2) About 1/3 Cup of sugar
3) Water to fill the quart jar

Squeezing the lemons with a classic juicer

Squeezing the lemons with a classic juicer

Putting it all together
1) Cut the lemons in half and juice the lemons
2) Separate out any seeds that the lemon may have
3) Pour the lemon juice in a quart container
4) Add 1/3 cup of sugar to start. You can add more if you want the lemonade sweeter
5) Fill the rest of the jar with water and shake
6) Let the juice cool in the refrigerator or add ice to your glass of fresh lemonade

A quart mason jar and a glass of lemonade

A quart mason jar and a glass of lemonade

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