Austin Urban Gardens

Raised Bed Gardening and Eating Well in Austin, Texas

Mustard Three Ways July 31, 2015

I recently discovered the best hot dog I’ve ever had, the Texas Dogs from Salt and Time Butcher Shop.  Unfortunately, on the day I made this magic dog discovery, I also discovered that I was out of mustard.  So, I decided to embark upon a mustard making weekend.

I found a compilation of different recipes on a blog I refer to for lots of my canning inspirations, Punk Domestics.

I settled on three recipes, Dijon Mustard, Honey Bourbon Mustard and Imperial IPA Mustard.    The recipes all call for mustard seeds, brown and/or yellow or a mixture, apple cider vinegar, wine and or beer, and all required soaking for 24 hours or more for the seeds to absorb the liquid.  So I started on a Friday, doubling each recipe and measuring out all of the ingredients into three large jars with lids.  (Go big or go home, right?)

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After the 24 hour soak, all of the liquids were absorbed, so I decided to go ahead and finish them.

Each one got the same treatment, adding additional ingredients for 2 of them, then blending in the Vitamix, then cooking down to the desired consistency.  I like my mustards smooth, so there really aren’t any detectable seeds left.

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The only one of the recipes that I tweeked, was the Honey Bourbon Mustard, to which I added a little Bourbon Maple Syrup in place of some of the honey.  The flavor profiles sounded good, I’m happy with the result.

Each of these recipes is safe for water bath canning, and each processes for just 5 minutes.

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I’m very pleased with each of these recipes and would make them all again.  It looks like I won’t have to for a while.  It’s fun to have extra to share along with my recommendation of the Salt and Time Texas Dog.

 

Homemade Chorizo August 12, 2014

I like to make breakfast on Sundays, and had a craving for Chorizo, Potato and Egg breakfast tacos, so I decided to make my own.

I settled on this recipe, which looked like authentic Mexican chorizo.

A trip to Penzey’s Spice Shop  was necessary to purchase some of the spices I didn’t have.  It’s always best to use fresh spices.

Penzy's Spices

Penzy’s Spices

I measured them all out and set them aside.  This looks like a lot of spices because it is – I made a 5 pound batch, while the recipe called for just over a pound.

I backed off of the clove and vinegar in this batch, because some flavors get to be too intense when multiplied.

IMG_0141High quality pork, and the right ratio of lean to fat are very important.  I went to Salt and Time, and told Brian the butcher there exactly what I had in mind.  He ground the pork in a 70% to 30% lean to fat ratio for me.  It is awesome to have a local butcher shop carrying high quality, hormone free, local proteins.

Good Quality Pork

Good Quality Pork

I simply dumped the spices and about half of the vinegar called for into the pork and mixed it well by hand.  While you want to get all of the spices incorporated, you don’t want to overwork the pork.

The most important thing you can do, when making chorizo and other sausages, is to taste it!  I made a small patty, and cooked it to test the flavor.  It was good, but I wanted more heat and smoke, so I added some of Springdale Farm’s smoked pepper mix, and some smoked onion powder that we made on the farm a while back.

Taste

Taste

I tasted it again, and it was exactly as I wanted it to be.

Chorizo, is best after 24 hours or so of resting to let the spices blend with the pork.  By Sunday morning I was ready to test it out.  Boggy Creek Farm potatoes, Springdale Farm Eggs, Homemade Chorizo, Homemade corn tortillas and some delicious (soon to be launched) salsa from Austin Josie Artisan Foods.  Happy dance!

Breakfast

Breakfast

 

Homemade Butter June 5, 2014

Filed under: Uncategorized — austinurbangardens @ 9:38 pm
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When I was in Elementary School, first or second grade, we made butter as a class project, and I’ve never forgotten it.  Our teacher poured whipping cream into a quart glass jar, and had us all sit on the floor in a big circle.  We rolled the jar back and forth across the room, one person to another, until the butterfat separated from the milk.  She poured the milk out of the jar, and passed around the resulting butter, which we ate on pieces of bread. (Buttercrust, I’m sure, because there was a Buttercrust Bakery in Corpus Christi, which we also toured in Elementary School.)

Now and then, I like to revisit that experience, without the school children, and make my own butter.  It is so easy and gratifying and fun; taking just 30 minutes an really little effort as long as you have an Immersion Blender or beaters.  I sometimes imagine my grandmother, on her screened in porch, churning away with  a butter churn and I imagine that she would have thought it necessary chore, but I think it would be relaxing.

I procured some local, lightly pasteurized Mill-King Heavy Cream from Salt and Time last week, with butter making in mind.  (Mill-King has a booth at the SFC Farmer’s Market downtown on Saturday, and is also available at In.Gredients.) All you need, is the cream, a vessel of some sort, and an agitator.  I started with a quart jar and my Immersion blender.

Quart Jar and Cream

Quart Jar and Cream

 

Immersion Blender

Immersion Blender

 

Pour the cream into the jar, and get after it.  The first thing that happens, is that the cream starts becoming whipping cream.  You just keep going until it starts separating into curd-like bits.

The start of separation

The start of separation

 

Once I got to this point of thickness, I was afraid that I’d start to lose some butter in the Immersion Blender – it just sticks to the blade a lot – so I switched to my beater with just one attachment, and just kept beating until the milk started separating from the solids.

Just Beat It!

Just Beat It!

 

It will happen fast at this point, and the beater will start encountering resistance, as the butter solids separate into a clump from the liquid.  At this point, you pour off the liquid.

Pour off the milk

Pour off the milk

The milk fat solids left after you pour off the milk is butter.  I like to put a paper towel on top of the jar, and screw on the lid, as much as it will, then store the jar upside down for a few hours, so that the remaining milk can drain off.  Definitely save this, as you can drink it or use it in cooking and baking, just as you would milk.

The end result, is butter.  You can salt it, but I prefer not to.  You can always add salt later.  You can make it into make compound butters.  Just enjoy it as you would Grocery Store butter, but know that you made it and you controlled the ingredients and the process.  What could be better?  It’s BUTTER!

Butter

Butter

 

 

Winter Comfort Food, Braised Short Ribs with Cauliflower Puree December 12, 2013

Filed under: Uncategorized — austinurbangardens @ 11:51 am
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One of my favorite things to cook in the cold weather, is short ribs.  They are fairly inexpensive, super easy and so amazingly delicious.  I’ve served them to friends and family, all who have been overly impressed for the amount of effort involved.

This time, I procured 3 pounds of beef short ribs from Salt and Time – intended for a dinner for several people, which didn’t happen, so I made them for myself.  I seasoned them with salt and pepper, and then seared them in a dutch oven with a bit of olive oil.

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Fairly high heat produces good color, which is important for the flavor.

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Once seared, I chopped white onion, garlic and carrots into the pot.  You can add whatever root vegetables you’d like, really.

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I added some additional salt and pepper, the poured an entire bottle of Marietta Old Vine Zinfandel into the pot, and then filled the empty bottle half way with water, and added that two.  I like to cook with wine that I’d like to drink, personally.  Finally into the pot, went a fistful of thyme and two bay leaves  from the garden.

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I placed the covered pot in a 375 degree oven for 2.5 hours.  It was ready after that amount of time, but could have gone 3 hours with no problem.

The cauliflower is gorgeous right now, and I’ve been buying it at Springdale Farm and mostly roasting it with a little Parmesan.  For this dish, I wanted a puree, so I chopped up some and simmered it in Wateroak Goat Milk until it was mash tender.

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Yes it boiled over while I was on the phone, hence the messy pot.  I turned off the flame, and let it sit until closer to dinner time.  When it was almost time to eat, I re-fired it, added some salt, pepper and a disk of compound butter. (this batch of compound butter has thyme, rosemary, fennel fronds, garlic and lemon zest)

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You can tell when the ribs are done, because they are fork tender and the bone slips right out when you pick up the meat.

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I gave the cauliflower a turn with the immersion blender, spooned some onto a plate, topped with a short rib, and some of the carrots and onions.  It was a perfect hot dinner for a cold wintery night.

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No Mystery Meat Here! February 26, 2013

I am aware that other cultures eat horse meat, but I choose not to, having grown up with horses as pets and companions.

The recent (and widening) scandal about horse meat making it’s way into the food supply, (http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-europe-21569645)   has people up in arms and wondering “how can this happen?”  Hopefully, like the major egg recall a few years ago, that sent many people to their local farmer’s markets in search of safer eggs, this will have people paying closer attention to their meat supply.  I have a friend living in London, where lots of the horse meat disguised as beef, showed up in the local food outlets.  She reports that people are flocking to their local butcher shops for safer cuts of real beef.

If you buy your meat at a local supermarket, you can get to know the butcher there, and ask about their sourcing, and if they grind their own meat in-house, and what not.

If you’d like to take it a bit further, we Central Texas folks are so lucky to have so many of local sources of all variety of meats available.  You can meet the farmers, ask them about their practices, visit their farms and see for yourself how the animals are raised and what you are going to get.  This way, the chain of control is diminished and the chance of shenanigans is next to zero.

Here is a list of some, certainly not all of our local protein purveyors, all from whom I purchase meat.  I have met all of these farmers, ranchers and purveyors and trust them 100%.

I’ll attempt to list all of the locations where I know they are available, but this will not be exhaustive either, so click the name and it will link to their site.  Many on this list are available for delivery through Greenling and Farmhouse Delivery.

Richardson Farms, Grass-fed beef, pastured pork, chicken, turkeys (seasonally), and sausages.   SFC Farmer’s Markets downtown, Sunset Valley and at the Triangle, Barton Creek Farmer’s Market, and Waco Farmer’s Market, (Jim Richardson is a veterinarian, which gives me great comfort in how their animals are treated) (they also sell eggs, popcorn, wheat and sorghum flours, cornmeal and sesame seeds)

Hausbar Farms  Freedom Ranger Chickens – Boggy Creek Farm Farmstand

DearRun Land and Cattle Longhorn Beef – Boggy Creek Farm, Farmstand – All cuts of beef as well as Summer Sausage

Dewberry Hills Farms, pastured chickens, (and they are delicious) – SFC farmer’s market downtown and Sunset Valley

Thunderheart Bison, All cuts of grass-fed bison (including the hump!) –  SFC Farmer’s Market Downtown, Pearl Farmer’s Market, San Antonio

Full Quiver Farms, Grass-fed beef, whey fed pork – Barton Creek Farmer’s Market (they also make yogurts and some of the best farmstead cheeses I’ve ever had)

Windy Hill Organics, Goat, Beef, Lamb – HOPE Farmer’s Market

Countryside Farm, Duck, Guinea, Chicken – SFC Farmer’s Market Downtown and at the Triangle

Smith and Smith Farms, Chicken, Lamb, Eggs – SFC Farmer’s Markets downtown, Sunset Valley, Triangle, Cedar Park Farmer’s Market, Mueller Farmer’s Market  and Barton Creek Farmer’s Market

Peeler Farms, Chicken – HOPE Farmer’s Market

Bastrop Cattle Company – All cuts of delicious beef – HOPE Farmer’s Market, Mail Order Delivery over a certain amount, Bastrop Producer’s Market

Madrono Ranch  Bison – Boggy Creek Farm, People’s Pharmacy

Broken Arrow Ranch, Broken Arrow Ranch sells wild game such as boar, antelope, nilgai, and quail, online and ships

Salt and Time Butcher Shop and Salumeria  Austin’s newest brick and mortar butcher shop, which also specializes in-house cured salumis

Dai Due Butcher Shop  Dai Due doesn’t sell cuts of meat, per se, but makes delicious things with them, charcuterie, sausages, pates terrines and lots of other wonderfulness.  SFC Farmer’s Market downtown, and Mueller Farmer’s Market

Now days, you can buy all of the same cuts of beef, pork, chicken, lamb and goat that you’d be able to buy at the store, directly from the farmers/ranchers.  They come in plastic vacuum wrap, without the styrofoam and “juice catcher” pad underneath that you’d see in the store.  The meat is normally frozen as soon as it is processed, for maximum freshness.   Less packaging leads to less waste in the landfill, which is an awesome added bonus.

Consumers have choices, and hopefully, if you are looking for local proteins for you and your family, this will be a help.  Is it more expensive?  Yep.  Is it important enough for you to pay more?  That’s for you to decide.

Just so you know that I practice what I preach – a sampling from my freezer:

Thunderheart Bison

Thunderheart Bison

Bastrop Cattle Fajita Beef

Bastrop Cattle Fajita Beef

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Smith and Smith Lamb

Smith and Smith Lamb

Richardson Farms Ribs

Richardson Farms Ribs

Richardson Farms flank steak taco

For dinner last night, I quickly defrosted a slab of Richardson Farm’s Flank Steak, seasoned it with salt and Springdale Farm’s smoked pepper mix, seared it in a screaming hot cast iron skillet, for about 3 minutes on each side; let rest for 20 minutes, squeezed some lime over it,  then sliced thinly, and served on  Blanco Valley non-GMO corn tortillas, with some Full Quiver Cheddar and my own pickled jalapenos and pickled onions.  So easy and good.

 

No Grocery Store Challenge, Day 378 – BLT and Fajitas! January 14, 2011

Ok, I know I was said I was tired of typing “No Grocery Store Challenge, Day ___” , but in reality, I kind of miss it.  So, I’ll insert one every now and then when I get excited about a new find or meal.  Today was both.

For breakfast, fresh squeezed tangerine juice from the farmer’s market.  This will dwindle soon, as their season is nearing its end.  I’m contemplating ordering grapefruits and oranges from C&S Groves, but haven’t done so yet.  For lunch, I knew I wanted a BLT, but wanted to make it healthier than it could have otherwise been.  I had Barrie’s bread from Antonelli‘s Cheese Shop, an abundance of cheese as well, and some already cooked Kocurek Family Czech Bacon, local farm tomatoes and my garden lettuce.  In my cheese box, was some Pondhopper and it smelled like the perfect party with the bacon.

The result was the Pondhopper BLT.

Pondhopper Cheese

I cut off a smaller end of the Ciabatta than I wanted, but intended to load up on veggies.  I slathered on some Texas Olive Ranch olive oil, and toasted it in the oven.  The resulting sandwich was Kocurek Bacon, Pondhopper Cheese from Antonelli’s, a Milagro Farm’s tomato and my home grown lettuce. on toasted Barrie’s bread.  I can’t think of anything better.

BLT with add ons

If you salt and pepper the tomato and lettuce, it really makes a difference, as does toasting the bread.  Just sayin’.

So after too many errands to deal with this afternoon,  I finally stopped by the house around 3:00 to put some dried black beans in to simmer.  The beans were a gift from my oft mentioned friend Kristi, from one of her farmer’s market visits outside of Austin.

I dumped them into a pot of water, threw in some garden herbs, and the biggest smoked hock thing I’d ever seen, which was from Salt and Time.

smoked hock

I also threw in salt, pepper, chopped jalapenos, a bit of chopped green onion, and some chopped tomatoes.  Then, I left the house for 3 hours and they were almost perfect when I got back.

I then went out again for more chores, then turned them off and decanted them in to tupperware for later.

I met a friend at Bar Congress for a glass of wine, then home for dinner.  We also shared fried green tomatoes, an appetizer.

Then, I had thawed some Richardson’s Farms Fajita meat.

Richardson Farms Skirt Steak

It looked like a single package, but once out, if was a lot of meat, thinly sliced and tenderized.

Richardson Farms Skirt Steak

I seasoned it with salt, pepper, cumin and some red cayenne seasoning seared until it was medium rare.  I heated up a little of the black beans.

Black Bens (from farmer's market not here))

I built two beef fajitas with black beans, Full Quiver Cheddar and of course, a drizzle of Taco Deli dona, on two flour Tortillas from El Milagro on 6th Street.   Garnish is garden cilantro (from under its freeze protection). Voila! Fajita dinner!

Taco Dinner

And there are leftovers of everything!

 

The Egg Came First January 3, 2011

Filed under: Uncategorized — austinurbangardens @ 6:36 pm
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I’m accustomed to reporting my meals, so for breakfast, a piece of amazing quiche, made for us by my friend Rachelle, with Salt and Time  Lonzino on top, and a gluten free crust.  I’m still amazed at the crust and the quiche was delicious and greatly appreciated.

 

The Gift of Quiche

I’m trying to cook for my mom and aunt while my father is in the hospital. This has taken some planning, but I’ve learned a lot in the past year.  I had thawed a Smith and Smith Farms chicken for dinner.  We had a little jaunt out to Con’ Olio and Barnes and Noble in the Arborteum.  I picked up some Tuscan Herbed Olive Oil, and some Mushroom and Sage Olive Oil, and several cookbooks.

 

I brushed the chicken with Tuscan Herbed Olive Oil and baked it in the oven.  I sauteed some Kitchen Pride Mushrooms from the farmer’s market with some amazing huge green onions from Springdale Farm, and garden cilantro.  I tossed those in with some Lowell Farms rice and with some leftover salad, we called it dinner.