Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Read-aloud ~ Ham Hocks ~ BBQ Sauce

What's Schoolin'?

We started reading Around the World in 80 Days by Jules Verne.  It's a great follow-up to Twenty-One Balloons, it fits with our History study, it fits with Geography, it's a classic, and will be just plain fun.  After the olders and I read it I'll look for the old classic movie in which Cantinflas (Mario Moreno) plays Passepartout.  I actually accidentally almost knocked that actor down when I was a tourist in La Zona Rosa in Mexico City *many* years ago!  I was walking down the sidewalk not watching where I was going as he stepped out of a restaurant - bam - I walked right into him.  Yikes, talk about embarrassing!!

What's Gardenin'?

I have 7 little cantaloupes growing :) but the pepper plants are wilting and I haven't gotten much from them :(. The eggplant is gorgeous but hasn't gotten pollinated all spring, summer, or fall. I need to go hand pollinate, but I keep forgetting. The sweet potato leaves are huge and the vines keep growing - it could be the main character in a low-budget sci-fi movie.

The lettuce, beet, kale, etc seeds that I tossed around the biggest bed recently are sprouting; although, they all look pretty much the same right now. At least I thought to mark each area with labeled popsicle sticks.

I pruned the peach tree and have a bucket full of trimmings in water. We were thinking about trying to root them or something - I need to do some research...

What's Cookin'?

[Today is Real Food Wednesday at Kelly's blog.  I'm having 2 issues with RFW. 1-I check e-mail before breakfast and I get soooo hungry! 2-I can't stop reading all of the wonderful recipes and informational posts!  I already have 2 recipes printed just from today.  If you haven't been to a RFW yet, give it a go.  Here is today's link, my post was the freezing eggs experiment: ]

Ham hocks: My first ham hocks. I was so excited to get some local ham hocks from pastured, organic pigs. Dd said, "Mommy, I know you are easily excited but even for you this is a little much." What can I say? I was thrilled :). I put half (2-3) in the crockpot with some black-eyed peas. They cooked all day and were *still* not ready by dinner so I had to come up with a Plan B on the spot - chicken sandwiches. I boiled the other half of the packet by themselves. It smelled like bacon and made me really hungry. I'm not quite sure how to serve the plain boiled ones. I don't have any of the ingredients that I saw in recipes online. I may just cut up the meat and put it in our scrambled eggs in the morning [update: delicious]. By the time they were done cooking I was too tired to deal with it so I just stuck the small pot in the fridge (not recommended but if you have adrenal fatigue or fibromyalgia you can relate - I have both). I got such a wonderful surprise the next morning: the whole thing had become a glorious, fabulous gelatin. My first thought was how good it would be for dh's joints (and mine since I'm still healing from Lyme). I had to warm it a bit so I could strain it into a jar.  I've been slipping it into everything I can, starting with the chicken noodle soup we had last night. If you are like me and can't afford the nice pork cuts from pastured, organic pigs, try ham hocks! For $2.50 I'm getting lots of nutrients and gelatin (glucosamine, anyone?). Yes, I'm thrilled.

BBQ: How do you serve a family of five with 2 eensy weensy pork chops and 4 potatoes? I decided to make BBQ sandwiches and homestyle mashed potatoes. For that I needed some sauce but I wasn't quite sure if the unmarked jar in the freezer was BBQ sauce or salsa. The mystery jar sat out defrosting all day. When dinnertime came and it had defrosted enough to taste it I realized it was salsa. Ugh. Dh offered to run to the store and get some BBQ sauce. Unfortunately they have MSG and high fructose corn syrup (plus the cost) - so they are out for me. I ran outside and quickly got a few little onions and some peppers. I sauteed them in oil. When they were almost done sauteing I found the recipe and saw that it doesn't even mention peppers. Oh well, it gave it a nice taste. Below is what I did for a double batch. This time I will LABEL the jar before freezing!

This was my double batch of BBQ sauce:  saute garlic, onions and peppers in oil in a sauce pan (I used 3 tiny peppers, 2 small onions, and 1 small clove of garlic)(I also added a tad of chicken fat). Add 2-15 oz cans of organic tomato sauce (from a glass jar would be better!), 2 tsp chili powder, 1/2 C rapadura, a bit over 1/4 C apple cider vinegar, 1 squirt mustard (which I forgot to add!), and 2 teaspoon salt (which I didn't have).  Simmer for a bit to let the flavors merge.  It passed the husband-test :).  The original recipe called for more chili powder, so feel free to double what I did.  I was also scraping the bottom of the chili powder - time to mix up some more.
An aside:  I ended up adding a pre-cooked, shredded chicken thigh to the BBQ/meat mixture for the sandwiches to have enough for everyone.

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