Head Cheese

I was having a conversation with a good friend of mine who raises pigs.  As most of my conversations go, it turned to food.  One of the topics that came up was Head Cheese, looking for a good recipe and the appreciation of this odd concoction.  My grandpa made this after butcher season so I offered to post the process on how to make it the way I know how to make it.

Keep in mind I love pickled pigs feet, scrapple, fried pig skins and other deliciousness of the hills.  Making head cheese is a long drawn out process, but isn’t that the way with anything good?

Okay, so here we go.  I am not going to include pictures because I do not have access to a fresh butchered pig right now, and some of my readers may be grossed out a tad with the process.

First and foremost after the main butchering of the hog is done, comes the head prep.  There are no real rules to this and its done many ways.  The head should be cut in half to make it fit in your boiling pot (outside) a little better.  Hog’s heads are very large.

DAY ONE

The pig’s face needs cleaned (shaved) of random bits of whiskers.  Pigs have very course whiskers.  Clean the pig ears inside and out (yes pigs get ear wax too), grossed out yet?  You will be.  Next are the trotters, otherwise known as the feet and hocks.  Pigs feet are gross, yup, they wallow and step in everything and honestly uncleaned pigs feet STINK.  While trotters are cleaned immediately following butchering, especially if the plan is to make some pickled pigs feet and hocks, they still are gross.  It’s the feet that gives head cheese the thick gel, but you don’t want your cheese to smell like wet locker socks.  To take care of that rinse the feet in hot water to get rid of the ‘juice’.  Next boil a pot of water with some white vinegar.  Blanch the pigs feet for a minute or two and rinse them with cold water, repeat 3 to 4 times.  At this time you’ll notice the wet sock smell will be gone.  Very fresh trotters may not need this much prep, depends on your hog and how you’ve butchered it or had it butchered.

Now on to the fun stuff.  I remember this being done outside in a big boil pot.  Combine your brine in the pot:

  • 2 gallons of water
  • 2 cups of kosher salt
  • 1 cup of sugar
  • 1/2 cup of Pink Salt (processing salt used for headcheese)

Simmer your brine and cool.  Place the head and trotters in the brine to sit overnight.

DAY TWO

Rinse off the brine thoroughly.  I will tell you that the final product will retain quite a bit of salt.

Head cheese is one of those, use what you have type things so I’m going to list some basic items to include.

  • water
  • leeks/ramps
  • onion
  • parsley
  • garlic
  • peppercorns
  • bay leaves
  • nutmeg
  • allspice
  • vinagar

Put everything back in your large pot to cook for 4 hours.  All the flavors will meld together throughout the process.

Maintain a simmer in the pot.  Again, this should be done outside over an open fire, the smoke will lend to the final flavor.

After 4 hours the jawbone should easily separate from the rest of the skull.  The liquid should have a golden hue to it.  Drain the golden liquid out and set in the refrigerator to sit overnight (this will create your jelly).

Next, get comfy, because you are in for a lot of picking and sitting.  Put on some gloves, and once the head and trotters are cooled down enough to handle, spread out a place to pick all the meat off the head and trotters.  Spread your head and trotters out to cool, if you put the in another pot, they will only stay hot.

What to shred and keep is always up for discussion.  However, things like the eyes should be discarded.  The tongue, take out and skin and set it aside wrapped in the refrigerator.  Pull the meat first, you should have plenty to not worry about adding any of the skin or fat.

At the end of the day, cover the pork meat and put in the refrigerator.

DAY THREE  (I told you this was a long process)

Pull out your broth.  It should be gelatin, under a layer of pork fat.  Scrape off the pork fat.  This isn’t as easy as it sounds because the gelatin isn’t very firm.

Heat your gelatin on the stove until it becomes liquid again.  Strain the liquid using a micro-weave cheesecloth this pulls out any impurities.

After straining the liquid, put it back on the burner until it’s reduced by a third.  This takes a while so you can turn your attention to the meat mixture.

Take your pieces of pork and add the seasonings you like.  This is always up for taste.  I remember the seasoning being sage, rosemary and thyme with a little red pepper.  But that is up to you.  Mix your seasoning with your pork with gloves on.  Shred larger pieces as you mix through the meat, keep the fat that is with the meat.

Taste your gelatin once it’s reduced.  If it needs more salt, add it here.  You might also need to add a touch of vinegar, but that’s to taste and preference.

Remember the tongue that was set a side?  Take it out and cube it up.  You can always saved some for sandwiches.  Add in the cubed tongue meat to the pork bits, stir in.

Line your bread loaf pans with clear wrap (you’ll need a several bread loaf pans).  Make sure you use enough to cover the bottom, sides and plenty to wrap over the top.

Now pack in bread loaf pans.  Do not pack super tight, loose but full.  Tap down to where there isn’t much space between bits.

Pour your gelatin mixture over the pork bits in the pans.  Cover with the clear wrap over the top.

Put in the refrigerator to cool.

DAY FOUR

The next day you go to the fridge and there you have it.  Head cheese.

headcheese

It can bee eaten plain, on bread, on crackers, as a sandwich.

Enjoy!

Until Next Time,

Mrs. Kay Lynn Rice

 

Dill Pickles

It’s now the end of July and the garden is in full force!  Especially the cucumbers, okra, eggplant and squash.

Every pantry should have some pickles tucked away as special treat.  Here is my favorite dill pickle brine recipe.  This is a very versatile recipe that can be used with beans (dilly beans), okra, squash, eggplant and especially cucumbers, just replace the cucumber spears with beans, okra or squash.

Ingredients (Makes 8 pints):

  • 4 pounds of pickling cucmbers
  • 8 heads of fresh dill
  • 8 cleaned cloves of garlic
  • 1/2 cup of pickling salt
  • 4 cups of apple cider vinegar (canning grade)
  • 4 cups of water
  • 1 tablespoon mustard seeds
  • 1 tsp red pepper flakes (optional)

Directions:

  1. Prepare your pint jars for canning (wash/sterilize).
  2. Prepare your water bath canner.
  3. Slice your cucumbers into spears that fit into pint jars leaving 1/2 inch head-space.
    1. For Okra, slice off the stems, leave the caps, and slice off the tip of the bottom.
    2. For dilly beans, remove the top stem area and the tip at the bottom.
    3. For squash slice like you would cucumbers.
    4. For eggplant, slice into rounds or into strips, skin on.
  4. Pack each jar tightly.
  5. Add one clove of garlic and one head of dill in each jar.
  6. Add in your red pepper flakes if you choose to have spicy.
  7. In a large pot combine your vinegar, water, mustard seeds and salt and bring to a boil.
  8. Pour hot liquid into each jar, leaving 1/2 inch head-space.
  9. Clean the mouth of each jar, placing on the lids and rings.  Make sure your rings are tight, but not like Hercules tight.
  10. Place in your water bath canner and process for 10 minutes AFTER your water bath canner reaches a full boil.  (Please refer to your canner’s directions for best results).
  11. Remove and cool, they will POP when sealed.
  12. It’s best to leave sitting for 12-24 hours before moving into storage.
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Dill pickles

Enjoy!

Until Next Time,

Mrs. Kay Lynn Rice

 

 

 

Sweet Summer Squash Pickles

The one thing about yellow crook neck (summer squash) is it’s either feast or famine! I intentionally planted 8 plants in our garden this year. We love this beautiful golden squash all sizes and prepares many ways. My favorite, and our grandson’s favorite, is sweet summer squash pickles. This is a recipe that uses water bath canning for storage.

Sweet Summer Squash Pickles

Ingredients:

  • 8 cups of summer squash sliced thin, not paper thin. Smaller sizes are best, larger circles can be quartered or halved.
  • 2 cups sweet onion, sliced thin,rings or half rings.
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 4 green peppers, small. Diced into small cubes, no seeds please.
  • 3 cups sugar
  • 2 cups canning grade Apple cider vinegar
  • 2 tsp mustard seed
  • 2 tsp celery seed.

Directions:

  1. Place sliced squash and sliced onion in a large bowl.
  2. Mix well with salt (to pull out moisture)
  3. Set squash aside for 30 min to an hour.
  4. Prepare in a large boil pot add your remaining ingredients: vinegar, sugar, peppers, celery seed, mustard seed.
  5. Bring to a rolling boil while stiring. Remove from heat.
  6. Transfer your squash mix into a large draining bowel to drain off pulled out moisture. Do not rinse.
  7. Add squash onion mix into the hot brine mix and stir in for about 5 min.
  8. Transfer into sterilized prepared jars for canning.
  9. Water bath can for 10 min at high boil. (Follow water bath instructions).
  10. Remove and cool.

After the joyous pops of sealed jars I do my best to not open for at least 2 weeks. I TRY anyway.

Enjoy!

Until next time,

Mrs. Kay Lynn Rice

Old-fashioned Snickerdoodle Cookies

My momma was the best cookie baker I knew along with her momma, my Grandmama Inez. Her patience and perfection on every step made the outcome well worth the wait as the kitchen filled with the smell of butter and sugar.

One of my favorites has always been the simple little Snickerdoodle. Basically a butter cookie covered with cinnamon.

Here is my recipe.

You’ll need two bowls. One medium one larger.

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.

Line your cookie sheet with parchment paper.

In the large bowl:

  • Cream 1 cup (2 sticks) of Real Butter.
  • Fold in 1 1/2 cups of sugar.
  • In a small bowl, whip 2 whole large eggs until the are fluffy.
  • Fold in your eggs with your butter mixture.

In your medium bowl sift together:

  • 2 tsp of cream of tartar
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 2 3/4 cups of flour.

Add your flour mixture to your butter mixture a HALF CUP AT A TIME. Fold in completely to not have any lumps. When you have about a half a cup of flour left, you may want to switch out your spoon and use your Clean hands to knead in the remaining flour.

In a small bowl put in 2 tbsp of sugar and 1 tsp of cinnamon. Stir until well mixed.

Take your cookie dough scoop, with a Mellon scoop or small spoon, roll the dough into a tight ball. Roll the ball in the cinnamon mixture place on your cookie sheet about 2 inches apart. They will spread out a bit.

Bake at 350 degrees Fahrenheit for 10 minutes.

Place on a paper towel to cool. And enjoy!

Until next time,

Mrs. Kay Lynn Rice

Double Chocolate Chip Cookies

Recently, I baked one of my favorite stand-by cookies to share with friends and coworkers.  Upon receiving many requests to pass on the recipe, I decided to post it, so here it is.  It is a very basic chocolate chip cookie recipe, however, here is the secret.  REAL BUTTER and DARK CHOCOLATE CHIPS.  Yup, that’s the secret.

Double Chocolate Chip Cookies:

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees.

Ingredients:

Wet ingredients mixed in one large mixing bowl:

  1. Cream 1 cup (2 sticks) of REAL softened butter.
  2. Slowly whip in 3/4 cup of white sugar (or raw sugar)
  3. Slowly add in 3/4 cup of dark brown sugar (molasses sugar)
  4. Slowly fold in 1 tsp of real vanilla (imitation vanilla does not have the same flavor)
  5. Off to the side in another small bowl, whip 2 eggs until ‘fluffy’ and add into the wet mixture by folding the eggs in until well disbursed.
  6. Add in 3 cups of dark chocolate chips (4 cups if you use the small (mini) chips)

In a separate bowl, sift together your dry ingredients.

  • 2 1/4 flour
  • 1 tsp of baking soda
  • 1 tsp of salt

It is very important to thoroughly sift your dry ingredients together in a separate bowl before adding to your wet ingredients.

Next, fold in your dry ingredients into your wet ingredients a half cup at a time.  Yes, you read that correctly, a half cup at a time.  fold in making sure the wet and the dry combine evenly, so that the only lumps are your chips.

Once you have all of your ingredients mixed together in one bowl, set to the side.

Cover your cookie sheets with parchment paper.

I use a melon scoop so that my cookies are pretty even in size, but you can use a tablespoon or even a regular silverware spoon.  I scoop the dough and roll them into tight little balls.

Place the balls on your cookie sheet, make sure there is plenty of room in between because they will spread out a bit as they cook.

Bake for 10-11 minutes (until golden brown) at 350 degrees Fahrenheit.  Remove them from the paper and let cool on a paper towel (or cookie towel-thin weave towel).  Don’t put in your cookie jar or container until completely cooled.

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Sometimes I’ll add a cup of chopped pecans or walnuts, sometimes I’ll mix in a cup of mint chips as well, this is to your taste and mood at the time.

I hope you enjoy this recipe, please let me know how you liked it!

Until Next Time,

Mrs. Kay Lynn Rice

 

 

Preserving Wild Ramps

Wild Ramps, also referred to as Wild Leeks, are an amazing spring treat that grows in the wooded areas around the same time that morals (mushrooms) and Pheasant Back Mushrooms start to peek out.  April to the end of May these wonderful natural treats cover select patches of wooded areas.  They originally were gathered and enjoyed in the Appalachia Areas (that I know of).   Ramps taste like sweet garlic.  Some people say they taste like green onion, but to me they are more garlic.

This year my husband and I went foraging and were blessed with an abundance of Ramps and some Pheasant Back mushrooms.

Since I work in the city all week, I long for my evenings and weekends in the country.  I love coming home to simplicity, and it doesn’t get much more simple than this.  Enjoying the gifts strait from God.  The wonderful afternoon hike proved to be more than just good for my soul, but it provided a bountiful addition to our pantry.

We love both of these items fresh, but honestly their natural shelf life is not very long.  So what to do with all the wonderful goodies, without over eating or worse, wasting them?

My favorite recipe this year is Pickled Ramps.  A very good friend of mine from church sent me a link for a recipe she uses for her pickled radishes.  I’ve tweaked it a tad to include water bath canning time and preferred taste:

Recipe 1:  Spicy Pickled Ramps  (Makes 2 pints)

Preparation:  Clean your ramps.  Wash thoroughly, peel away the outer layer, cut off the roots and just below the leaves.  (Keep your leaves separated for the next recipe)

 

Once you have your ramps ready, pack them tightly in clean and sterilized Pint Canning jars.  I pack mine to where there is a layer bulb down and a layer bulb up so that they are nice and tight but not squished.

In EACH Pint Jar Add 1/2 teaspoon of red pepper flakes and 1/2 teaspoon of whole mustard seed.

Set the jars two the side, while your water bath canner is heating up.

Off to the side on another stove burner in a Simmering Pot Add:

  • 3/4 cups of Apple Cider Vinegar (canning grade)
  • 3/4 cups of Water
  • 2 teaspoons of canning salt
  • 3 tablespoons of raw honey

Heat your liquid mixture, constantly stirring until it is boiling.  Make sure you don’t stop stirring so your honey doesn’t scorch.

Pour your liquid over your ramps in your jars until the ramps are covered (1/2 inch head space for the jar).

Wipe down your jar rims from any splash.

Place your lids on the jars and tightly (but not like Hercules tightly) put on your rims.

Place the jars one by one in your water bath canner.  Water should be one inch over your jars after all jars are loaded into your canner.

Once your canner comes to a boil, you will want it to remain boiling for 20 minutes.

At the sound of the timer, the end of twenty minutes, I turn off the heat to the canner and let it sit until the boil is gone.  Then using canning tongs I take my jars out and put them on a clean covered area where they can cool for the next 12 hours.  Each sealed jar will give you that wonderful “POP”.  Let cool for 12 hours and put away in the pantry.

These are best if you can wait 5 days before opening, however, we opened one jar 24 hours after it was canned, we couldn’t stand it any longer, and it was absolutely heavenly.

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Refrigerate after you break the seal.

Recipe #2: Dehydrated Ramps

Remember when I said, don’t throw away those leaves?  Well here is why, they make yummy soup & stew & Stock greens.  Using your dehydrator (or oven on the lowest temperature), spread your leaves out and dry, then crumble up.

For the bulbs, we slice thin and put in the dehydrator at 100 degrees for overnight (or until they crumble).  Dehydrated ramp bulbs are so yummy to just eat like chips if you like garlic, which we do.  They are also perfect for dried goods for your pantry to be used anywhere you would use leeks, garlic or green onion.

We have a Vac-u-Sealer with a lid attachment, so we put our dehydrated goods in a canning jar, then using the lid attachment vac-seal the jar.  This is a great way to store without crushing your dehydrated goods.  NOTE:  You must use a clean jar and a clean canning lid each time you seal the jar.  You can not reuse lids.20180508_200148742386972.jpg

We also cleaned, diced and stored our Pheasant Back mushrooms this way with the dehydrator and the vac-u-sealer with the lid attachment.  The centers will be used for stew and soup stock while the tender outer areas will be used for pretty much anything.

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I really hope you enjoy this recipe and ideas to use what you have and venture out into nature to enjoy the beauty and bounty provided there.

But remember this, don’t take more than YOU can use.  Don’t be greedy.  Use a netted bag when collecting mushrooms (that way the spores will fall to the ground and make more next year).  Leave plenty for the animals and nature.  Oh and if you don’t know for sure if something is not edible, don’t eat it.  😉

Until next time,

Mrs. Kay Lynn Rice

 

 

 

Homemade Blueberry Syrup

Since I can my own fruit, especially berries, I have plenty of juice available as well. Each year I pick up fresh blueberries in Michigan when I visit my parents and to me nothing is better than blueberry syrup on pancakes.

Fruit syrup is simple to make.

Place 1 cup of juice in a small pot and add 1 cup of honey. While stirring heat on high for about 15 min after boiling. Let cool and bottle. Keep in your refrigerator.

Until next time.

Mrs. Kay Lynn Rice

Rabbit Stew

Rabbit is a wonderful lean meat.  Whether domestic or wild rabbit makes a wonderful meal.  This is a very basic stew recipe which uses a whole rabbit and lots of mushrooms.  I use my Dutch oven for this stew.

Ingredients:

  • 1 whole rabbit. (Cleaned and cut up into pieces)
  • 3 cups of mushrooms your choice (my favorites are baby Bella’s, oyster, morales) cut up in large pieces.
  • 2 small turnips, peeled and diced
  • 1 parsnip peeled and diced
  • 3 cups chicken broth
  • 1 cup cooking Sherry
  • 2 small onions diced
  • 8 cloves garlic sliced
  • 1 tablespoon of olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon of fresh or dried thyme
  • 1 tablespoon parsley flakes
  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 1 cup flour
  • 1 tablespoon of ground black pepper

Directions

  1. In your Dutch oven, melt your butter.
  2. While Butter is melting, dust your rabbit pieces (yes leave the bones in the meat) with flour.
  3. Brown your rabbit in the butter.  Just brown the outsides.
  4. In a separate skillet, sauteed your onions, garlic and mushrooms in olive oil.
  5. Add in your sauteed ingredients over your rabbit pieces.
  6. Add in your parsnip and turnips.
  7. Sprinkle in your herbs and pepper.
  8. Add in your chicken broth.
  9. Move your stove eye heat to medium.
  10. Add in slowly while stirring your cooking Sherry (white cooking wine works nice too, just don’t mix the two).
  11. Simmer for 1 hour.
  12. Turn down to low.
  13. Using some of the broth (take out about a half a cup) stir in a spoon or two of flour to make a rich gravy and stir back into your stew.
  14. Turn on low until ready to sit down to enjoy.
  15. Yes the bones stay in the entire time.
  16. Serve and enjoy with some sourdough biscuits.


Enjoy!

Until next time,

Mrs. Kay Rice

Sourdough Flatbread (& Sourdough Starter)

Rarely will you walk into my kitchen and not see a quart (or gallon) mason jar tucked away on the dark part of the kitchen counter filled with sourdough starter.  I use this starter for everything from breads, biscuits, pancakes pretty much anything bread based.  Wheat and raw flours work much better than bleached white flour but you can use that too.

If you don’t know how to make your own sourdough starter:  Here you go.

BASIC SOURDOUGH STARTER

In a mason jar (gallon or quart, nothing less), add in 1 tablespoon of plain real greek yogurt (this is your cultures), 1 cup of your flour (I like wheat), 1 cup of warm room temperature water.  Stir but do not whip. Cover with a cheesecloth over the top, and screw on a mason jar ring.  Tuck away in a nice warm dark spot on your counter.  NOW Here is the important stuff  EVERY DAY at the same time you MUST FEED your starter, kinda like a pet.  It will die if you don’t.  To feed it you add in 1 cup of flour and 1 cup of warm (not hot, not cold) water.  Stir do not Whip, put the cheesecloth and ring back on set aside.  Do this for 7 days.  You should see “bubbles” and it should expand a tad and have a nice ‘sour’ smell to it.  It’s ready to use in your sourdough recipe of choice. If you have to let it go to sleep (aka not feed it for a few days) put it in the refrigerator where it will go to sleep.  To wake it up, bring it out of the refrigerator and start feeding it again (you do not need to re add the yogurt).

Now onto the FLATBREAD.

But today, I thought I would share with you how to make flatbread.  I love flatbread, it can be used as a soft sandwich shell, you can dip it in hummus or other dips, or use as a “slice” of bread with soup, stew or eggs.  My favorite are whole wheat, and honestly from what I’ve seen in the stores around here, it’s expensive for all it is.

NOTE:  Make your dough the night before, it needs to “rise” at least 8 hours to be perfect.

INGREDIENTS (Makes 7-8 flatbreads):

  • 1 1/2 cups of flour
  • 1/2 cup of water
  • 1/4 cup of lard (yes, I use lard, you can use crisco or coconut oil if you prefer)
  • 1 tsp sea salt
  • 2 cups of sourdough starter

DIRECTIONS:

  1. Fold all of your ingredients together.
  2. Form into a large “ball” in a large greased bowl.
  3. Cover with a “bread towel” and set in a warm place in your kitchen (not on direct heat) and leave it alone overnight (or 8 hours).  Overnight is best.
  4. The next morning, Punch your dough down and form a new ball and let it sit for about 5 minutes or so.
  5. Take a mess of dough about the size of a small fist and form it into a ball.
  6. Place on your rolling mat with a sprinkle of flour (as to not stick to your board or rolling pin) and roll out with your bread rolling pin until round and about 1/4 inch thick.
  7. Carefully lift your dough and place it on a HOT skillet (a cast iron skillet greased is best).  Cook for 30 seconds, flip over and cook for another 30 seconds, flip again, cook for another 30 seconds, and flip a final time and cook another 30 seconds.
  8. Do steps 6 and 7 until all of the balls of dough are done.
  9. They are great to eat immediately, or store them in a bread bag and eat throughout the week.

Enjoy!

Until Next Time,

Mrs. Kay L. Rice

 

 

Pickled Brussel Sprouts or Cauliflower

With the growing season coming to an end there seems to be an abundance of brussel sprouts, cauliflower, cabbage, squash.  The Autumn veggies.

Cabbage always gets put into fermentation crocks to become saurkraut, but what to do with brussel sprouts and cauliflower? Pickling.  This recipe will give you great treats to enjoy all winter as a side, salad or snack.

Ingredients

  • 5 cups of brussel sprouts or Cauliflower (I don’t mix these two together in the same jars).
  • 5 cups white vinegar
  • 5 cups of water
  • 6 tbsp canning salt
  • 2 tbsp sugar
  • 5 cloves garlic spit
  • 1 1/4 tsp of red pepper flakes
  • 5 sterluzed pint jars with canning lids/rings

Directions

  • Split your sprouts in half and remove the end ‘nubs’. Soak in water. About 5 min.
  • Split your cauliflower into small florets. Soak in water. About 5 minutes.
  • In a large pot bring your vinager, water, salt, sugar and pepper flakes to a rolling boil.
  • In each (hot) sterilized jar place one whole garlic clove split (2 halved).
  • Pack each jar with your brussel sprouts or Cauliflower leaving 1/2 inch head space.
  • Fill with hot vinager solution leaving 1/2 inch headspace.
  • Use spacer tool to work out air bubbles.
  • Clean rims of jars.
  • Apply lids and rings.
  • Water bath can for 15 minutes after reaching canning temperature.
  • Cool.  Wait for the “pop”.  Make sure they seal.
  • Let set for 24 hours before moving to storage.

Enjoy!

Until next time,

Mrs Kay L Rice