Friday, March 18, 2011

Corned Beef, Cabbage, and a Day at the Farm

I had fully planned on a detailed report of our St. Patrick's Day feast, but I'll be honest - we were so busy eating, I completely forgot to take any pictures!
However, here is the menu.  It was amazing.
  • baked Scotch eggs - while technically NOT an Irish fare, it was on a recent food show I saw, and I couldn't stop thinking about them.  Traditionally fried, I chose to find a recipe that called for baking them, as I didn't want to deal with frying when there were two little ones running amok through the house.  I used panko instead of regular bread crumbs, and I was pleased with the crunchiness.  I may have to make these again very soon.  Like tomorrow.
  • home-brined slow-cooker corned beef with cabbage and root veggies - I was VERY concerned that the beef would not be red, as it came out of the brine gray, save for one small area in the middle.  But, lo and behold, a mere 8 hours later, I took it out of the slow cooker (the linked recipe calls to cook it on the stove top, but I threw everything into the slow cooker with a bottle of Guinness and some water), and it was not only so tender I had difficulty getting the entire brisket out but it was that gorgeous red, thanks to the saltpetre.  This ingredient is very tough to find locally, so I found it online.  Worth every penny.  I did also have to substitute for the juniper berries; for every two berries, you can use a teaspoon of gin.  I also did NOT use ginger, since I don't like it; no one missed it.
  • beef and Guinness stew - this was phenomenal in the Dutch oven that we received for Christmas, although I would add a little more salt next time.  It was slightly bland, but that's OK; it still had a great deal of flavor.  Instead of carrots, I used a turnip from our CSA, as it didn't fit in the slow cooker along with the other veggies and beef.  
  • brown soda bread - this recipe, along with the brownies listed below, were from the March 2010 Cooking Light.  I really need to write these down on a card, as the pages of the poor periodical are now difficult to read what for the flour, water, and other ingredients that have been dropped onto them.  You can find this recipe, and all the other ones from that issue, here.
  • black and tan brownies - I didn't include the nuts that the recipe calls for; I just do not care for nuts in my baked goods.  The end result was smoooooooooth and delish.  HRH announced, "I like brownies!" this morning, as we all ate some leftovers for breakfast.  
  • Guinness and milk chocolate ice cream - Also a little bit left over, so I think I know what I am having for lunch after my corned beef sandwich.  Seriously, I love David Lebovitz; I also made his improved lemon curd to go on top of some lemon and dried cranberry scones, and it was so amazing, I may not need anything but a spoon to finish it off.  
POST SCRIPT - I would be remiss if I didn't add the drink selections for the evening.  I had a black and tan, the grandmothers had some white wine, but the most interesting drink was the home-brewed IPA brought down by Ed, Katie's dad.  He and Scott shared a few bottles.  It looked tasty, and it was great to have that as an addition to the home cooked everything else.  A big thanks to Ed for it!
Leftover lunch:corned beef and Sauerkraut with mustard
The only thing that wasn't homemade was the sauerkraut,
but once this jar is done...
It was a fantastic day; my friend Katie and her family came down for a bit of Mariners spring training, so HRH and I spent the day with them.  We went to Superstition Farms, which was a first-rate adventure.  Not only is it a local dairy, but it also focuses on reducing waste.  Local and sustainable - what's not to like?  Certainly not the milk - one of the things you can do is belly up to the bar - the milk bar - and sample some different flavored milks.  Samples yesterday by our group: cherry vanilla, raspberry, strawberry, peaches and cream, and orange cream.  They were all deemed delicious, and it was noted, too, that while, yes, we could taste the flavorings, the absolutely fresh flavor of the milk still came through.  I am starting to really think about adding dairy to our CSA, and this is pushing me in that direction.
The farm is also opening a grill this spring - I'm pretty durn stoked about that, too.  

Carmichael the "unicorn" - the staff told us that every couple of weeks,
he has to have his other horn cut so it doesn't grow into his skull.

All the animals, with the exception of the cows (who, of course, work there), are rescue animals.  HRH was in LOVE with Sushi the bunny, who was the calmest critter I've ever met.  She even gave him a kiss, and I had to distract her when we left so she wouldn't ask to take him home (I'm sure the kids who came today would have been disappointed were he not there).  The farm "mascot" is Toby, a black retriever, and he could probably live on the pats and brushes of the school kids whom he meets every day.
It was great fun to feed the animals; we got to feed the goats and sheep (who totally behaved as if it was their first meal in a very long time - just like a devil dog I know...) as well as one of the horses (make sure your hand is totally flat so fingers are not confused with carrots), and, perhaps THE most exciting... the Wee Ones bottle fed some calves.  This was so so cool (clearly - I have no capacity for eloquent adjectives here), and I had to hold myself back from elbowing small children in order to try to do it myself (and by "small children," I mean the children who were part of our own group)!
Seriously, get yourself out to Superstition Farm (it's at Elliot and Hawes).  It's a great time for kids and parents, you can sample some fantastic dairy products, and you can hang out with some pretty cool animals and people.  We are definitely making this a regular "show off our local businesses" thing when we have friends in town (and sometimes when it's just us).

Farmer Jason - check him out on Facebook!
(Toby the Farm Dog also has his own page)
The hayride took us past several cows - mostly Holsteins,
but there were some Jersey girls as well.
This is Cupcake.  He loves to eat.
I don't know what kind of chicken this is,
but it was so pretty!
We've considered getting chickens to help with scorpions, but
I think Zooey might try to play with them too roughly.
In other exciting news, I finally started my herb garden!  I have just gotten so sick of buying herbs from the grocery store for various recipes and then having the rest go bad before I'm able to go through all of it.  Growing up, my parents had a huge herb garden; when my mom sold the house a few years back, the rosemary was practically a tree - the stem was at least two inches thick!  
Arizona, of course, isn't the easiest state in which to grow herbs, but I'm hoping that a new resolve and a bit of help/advice/coddling from my mother-in-law, who can basically grow anything, will keep this little potted garden going.  I even got to use my thyme in the stew yesterday!  Woo hoo!  Currently, I'm still waiting to obtain some oregano and sage, but for now, I'm pleased with my sweet mint, lavender (um, can anyone say lemon-lavender marmalade????), German thyme, chives, tarragon, and curly parsley.

My preciousess...

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