Have we all recovered from the “This is Us” crockpot episode? I may never! Rutabaga’s need to use my oven on the daily basis to bake desserts has me using my new trusty crockpot to all of my friends & family’s glee. After my 2 decades of disdain for crockpot they are all getting a great laugh that I’m using one. I’ll sit here and eat my humble pie. I’m still not happy with relying on the darn thing. My tween baker though needs to experiment and bake tasty desserts much to my waistlines demise.
The crazy weather we have been having is wrecking my weekly menu. Today and tomorrow will be in the 60’s the rest of the week will be 40’s. The nice thing though is that it is sunnier here in Raleigh than it was in Nashville during February. I remember one February back in the early 2000’s that we had 0 days of sunshine in Nashville. Good sunshine goes a long ways on cold days.
The folks at Alarita are always full of sunshine though. It is a great family business where I have yet to see one of them smiling. It is pretty contagious when you’re around them. Their happiness for life translates into their products giving you bright happy flavors. Their dry rub has a great herb mixture for my tomatoes with just enough sweetness to dampen the acidity. The dry rub also works well on roasted veggies. The first time I met Jeanette I took her roasted eggplant with Alarita on it. She was an instant fan & is the one behind my home canned tomatoes I’ll be using today.
Cube steak is a machine tenderized coming from the round. Typically top round. It is one that needs a slow cooking process to help make it tender. Hello Crockpot. In each package of NCF Cube steak there are 3-4 steak(mostly 4) priced at $9 per lb. Perfectly portioned for a hearty meal when the sun goes down and it turns cold out. Alarita Seasoning runs $8 a bottle, buy it this will not be the only recipe you use it for. This is one spice I use frequently in my cooking. Finally I’m going to top this meal at the end with Redneck Romano as tomatoes slow cooked beg for cheese. Redneck Romano is sold for 9.45 per lb and is sold in 8 oz wedges in our store.
Now to throw everything into the pot set it and forget it till dinner. Try not to think of Jack too much.
Way back before we had Rutabaga, hubby and I would indulge every so often in a trip to Melting Pot for a fabulous fondue dinner. Rarely did we eat all the meat as we had stuffed ourselves silly on the cheese fondue appetizer. Since our daughter was born however I can count on 3 fingers how many times we’ve eaten there. And once was only for dessert.
Beer Cheese Fondue has a great cool nights flavor that sticks to the ribs. You can add bread for some extra carbs or just stick with veggies and fruit for the lighter side. It is something that you can play around with for flavor intensity. The secret ingredient to this dish is not the beer. It is 2 different varieties of cheese and a good healthy dose of powdered mustard, garlic, and worcestershire.
This dish is great for a fun dinner or to use at a party served up in a crusty sourdough bread bowl. Not gonna lie I miss the bread bowl fad. And since I want to use the best cheese around I’m grabbing Ashe Co Mild Cheddar and Redneck Romano. Since the Mimi’s Recipe I’ve been in love with Redneck Romano. If you have Lusty Monk Mustard on hand substitute it for the Dry Mustard to give this dish a bit more flavor & spice.
Need a Saturday pick me up to chase away boring weekend food? Come out to the farm visit the cows and pick up the ingredients for a fabulous snack. Let’s make some Mimi’s Ham & Cheese Beer Soft Pretzel Bites. This recipe is straight from Lin Johnson-Carlson founder of Mimi’s Mountain Mixes.
This is one dish I saw disappear quickly. I changed up the ingredients a bit to incorporate what I could find in the NCF store. The change worked great and my oh my what a snack. The Redneck Romano was subbed for swiss cheese . It was the perfect substitute. Redneck Romano has just a bit more flavor than you traditional Swiss. I think I’ll be using it more from here on out. The Lusty Monk was exchanged for Beer Mustard. Once again more flavor. The heat of baking mellowed the spicy punch. Rutabaga was hesitant to try one but was quickly hooked & ate 4. Lasty I used our Deli Ham made with our pigs by Weeping Radish. The thickness of the ham gave a more filling bite.
During the store expansion we decided to check out Ashe Co Cheese. Mostly as Dan wanted to offer a cheaper butter that was still a great quality and well cheese curds. He’s a sucker for the curds.
This recipe comes from the Clark Family here at NCF. Their friend’s southern mother handed it down to them so it it must be good right? Wrong! It is PHENOMENAL!! I can’t remember what was going on at the time but one night the adults were getting ready to go somewhere and the Clark’s were making this for their kids dinner. I snuck a bite. Then when we got back from our adult dinner I snuck the leftovers, yes I know Bad Lucy. Someone should really hit me on the nose more often.
With all of the summer family get together skip the box and the mayo based salad. Head straight for the pasta and cheese that kids and adults will eat up with glee.
Before we get to the recipe of it all lets talk add in’s:
Sub ghost pepper jack cheese for the spicy lovers
Add in some cooked bacon on top the last 5 minutes
Add in some sauteed onions, mushrooms and garlic for some fancy times.
Here you see four gallons of milk, turned into cheese then smoked in the smoke house a few days. It’s been fun trying the things coming out of the smoke house. One lesson I’ve learned already is that when you step in a grab a sample, you really have no idea how smoky it is since you’ve already enveloped yourself in smoke head to toe. Something with no hint of smoke eaten just out of the house will knock your socks off in the kitchen later. We had smoked raisins in our salad and even though they had only smoked a few days, they had a strong smokiness in the salad. Not overpowering but its surprising how well the smoke stays with things.
A few more of the items brought in from my last trip to the smoke house. We still have a month of smoking to go. Anybody need anything smoked?
On Thursday I fired the smoke house as I do each morning. I just love the look of the house venting a thin stream if smoke. It’s like watching a fire, but more productive. This particular morning it was only 7 degrees when I took this video. That may explain why its so short.
Before I fired the smoke house, I took the opportunity to remove some if the items we have in there smoking. Mostly cheeses. This particular cheese is mozzarella cheese that I made from our milk. It went from warm cheese, to a muslin and hung in the smoke house immediately. It developed a very nice rind and took on a good amount of smoke in a couple of days. I shredded some into the scrambled eggs for breakfast before storing the rest away. Good stuff. Actually breakfast was really good all around. Scrambled eggs(our eggs) with ground pork (our pigs) mozzarella cheese (our milk and our cheese) and cantaloupe. Alas, it’s the wrong season for our cantaloupe. Still, pretty local as an average.
I also pulled the other cheeses we had smoked , along with the cashews. The cashews are no good smoked. They took on a petroleum flavor which isn’t from and fuel as we don’t use any. It’s just the way they taste smoked. Maybe if I had baked them first. Everything else has smoked nicely though. The salt is really good. Any ideas on what to smoke next? We have a month of smoking ahead of us.