UPDATE! Evin of Food Good, Laundry Bad is the winner! YAY! I hope you love your box of meat!
That’s me– looking super cool in my cheesemongering get-up. I learned so much about charcuterie while working at Murray’s Cheese, and even more about cheese of course. During the holiday chaos, I madly ran to the walk-in and fetched Columbus finocchionas and soppresattas and hoisted them onto the meat slicer. My arm would get sore from ballin’ New Yorkers demanding two pounds of thinly sliced Genoa salami. There were fun times behind the cheese counter (like waiting on celebrities and selecting cheeses for Martha Stewart), but I’m thankful to be the customer now. I often find myself buying Columbus products because they’re good value and taste great.
I was thrilled when Columbus offered to send me a sampler and sponsor a giveaway. They recently launched a new line of minimally processed, pre-sliced meats called Farm to Fork Naturals made from hogs and turkeys that have been raised with no antibiotics and 100% vegetarian feeds. The Farm to Fork Naturals line kicks off with three deli meat and four salame varieties. I’m usually suspicious of pre-sliced salami, but this product tastes just as good as meat straight from the deli (believe me, I snacked on tons of freshly cut salami behind that counter).… Read the rest
One of the first things you’ll notice about Austin is the pecans littering the sidewalks. When I first moved here, I foolishly gathered them while passerby looked at me like I was nuts (ha ha). Now I just take them for granted– almost every yard in town has a pecan tree. They’re our version of autumnal red leaves in New England. And those sneaky squirrels usually get them before I do.
There are numerous pecan orchards all across the state. Back in October, I visited Royalty Pecan Farms in Caldwell, Texas. It lies in the Brazos River Bottom of Central Texas, which is traditionally cotton country. “River bottom soil is some of the most fertile in the world,” explained Rebekah Stallsworth, the daughter of orchard manager Andy Sherrod. She was raised on the property, home schooled there, and has worked in the orchard in almost every capacity. She’s truly a pecan expert.
As soon as we hopped into her SUV, we heard the squawking of a bird repel system masquerading as a hawk. “Crows are quite detrimental,” Rebekah said, “they can carry pecans off by the thousands of pounds per day.” Surprisingly, squirrels don’t cause too much trouble at the orchard– the real threats are deer and the pecan nut case bearer, a worm that lays eggs in the trees’ flowers and consumes pecans from inside the shell.… Read the rest
We left town for a few days between Christmas and New Years. We looped through Midland to White Sands, New Mexico, then on to the small towns of Marfa and Alpine.
A real live tumbleweed in Midland!
Frolicking in the beautiful White Sands of New Mexico.
A cat friend in Marfa.
Taking in the sites in Alpine, Texas, sort of near Big Bend.
A mesa on the way back to Austin! I guess there’s a reason I learned about them in elementary school geography class.
It was a relaxing way to end a busy year. I want to keep up the momentum in 2013!… Read the rest
This post is part of the Festa di Salumi from Punk Domestics. It is the last of three projects from Salumi by Michael Ruhlman and Brian Polcyn.
A unifying theme of all salami-making guides is, “you need to be meticulous, you need to pay attention.” Well, that’s just not me. I have zero interest in building a drying chamber from an old wine fridge. I finally broke down and bought a rack for my milk crate basket after I had done a million bike rides carrying groceries in my backpack. I won’t get the gear until I’ve earned it.
Making salami was similar to making any sausages– I flavored the meat with spices (fennel seed, black pepper, etc.), ground it up, and stuffed it into casings. Except this time sodium nitrite and nitrate were added along with a bacterial culture. I didn’t feel like ordering a bacterial culture, so I took an idea from Peter from Cookblog and added a few tablespoons of brine from my lactofermented sauerkraut.
Then I hung my sausages to dry. From the ceiling fan, no less. I scoffed at the special mold culture you can spray on your aging sausages and felt quite smug when powdery white mold appeared– “baller” mold if you will.… Read the rest
This post is part of the Festa di Salumi from Punk Domestics. It is the second of three projects from Salumi by Michael Ruhlman and Brian Polcyn.
I’m hesitant to call this cured meat “prosciutto.” Taking a recipe from Ruhlman and Polcyn’s Salumi, this dry cured leg of lamb flavored with garlic had an undertone of gaminess and character. There was also a vague jerky quality that was especially prominent after devouring the guanciale, a cut rich with luscious pork fat.
You know the drill by now: I completely covered the meat in salt and garlic slices and placed in the fridge for about two days. Then I rinsed it off thoroughly, patted it dry, and hung it from my ceiling fan. The flesh turned an exceptionally striking purple color.
I’m not sure where Ruhlman gets the eight pound lamb legs he speaks of. My boned out leg weighed in at about three or four pounds, meaning it took less than a month to dry instead of the standard three to four months. All and all, it was a satisfying charcuterie project, but I’ll probably stick to dry curing pork from now on.
… Read the rest