Exciting Development

While we are in the period of transition and preparing to move I thought I’d share an exciting development with you. Mrs. Wine and I have become members of a CSA. A CSA means community supported agriculture and basically, what it means is we have become shareholders in a local farm. The farm is Bird’s Havens Farms and it had some neat add ons. We’ll get 1/3lb of raw cheese/week as well as eggs. As if that wasn’t exciting enough, I found a farmer that sells whole, 1/2 and 1/4 beef as well as 1/2 or whole pork. Even better, he has trained under Joel Salatin. So we’ll be buying our yearly supply of beef from him as well as pork (something we’ve wanted to do for a while).  I’m looking forward to eating in 2015!

 

Rum Balls (Gluten Free)

I will be traveling a lot during the next few weeks so the postings will be sporadic.

I made rum balls yesterday. I’ve never made them before (and I don’t think I’ve ever had them before) but I wanted to give it a shot.

This is the recipe I worked with:

4 c. vanilla wafer crumbs
1 1/4 c. Baker Angel Flake coconut
1 c. finely chopped nuts
1 (14 oz.) can sweetened condensed milk
1/2 c. rum
Confectioners’ sugar

Combine crumbs, coconut, and nuts in bowl. Stir in condensed milk and rum, mixing well. Shape into 1 inch balls and roll in confectioners’ sugar to coat. Cover and store in refrigerator. Roll again in sugar, just before serving.

So I knew I was going to have to change things to make it gluten free. I bought a package of Schar Hazelnut Wafers and I had a bunch of these delicious almond cookies and I figured between the two I’d get enough cups to cover the vanilla wafer crumbs and finely chopped nuts. I was wrong.

My wafers gave me less than 1 cup. My almond cookies gave me 2 cups. So I used a combination of vanilla and chocolate chexs to make up the difference.

The result?

Well, we’ll see how people react. The flavor profile is definitely unique. With so many different flavors: hazelnut, chocolate, vanilla and almonds in the balls each bite is different. But the rum really dominates the flavor. Almost too much so. I’m not sure if that is because I used gluten free ingredients or if that is normally how they taste. But either way, I did successfully make gluten free rum balls so if you want to, you can too

Gin ‘n Tonic

One of my daughters yesterday kept telling me she wanted to “eat pizza.” So, I yielded to the pressure and changed the menu plan and made some pizza yesterday. But there was a problem: pizza and beer go together like peanut butter and jelly. It is simply meant to be. So, what to do when the Brewery is closed and all tapped out and you have pizza for dinner? I was left with a choice: live in the land of the 18th amendment or live in the land of the 21st amendment. So I chose to go take the 21st amendment and be sophisticated about it. Here is my recipe for the perfect gin ‘n tonic.

  1. 1oz gin
  2. dash of lime juice (a must!)
  3. 3oz of tonic water
  4. 4 ice cubes

Stir it up well and enjoy! I know Mrs. Wine and I thought it went well with the pizza. So here you have it: pizza, gin ‘n tonic, relishes and ranch dressing–all gluten free!

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Leftover Chicken Soup (for when you are sick)

Yes, I know today I said I wasn’t going to post for a while and here is my 2nd post since then but…I’m having trouble writing my sermon. So… Last night I made chicken soup. It was unbelievably good and hit the spot on a cold day for a family suffering with sinus/cold/ear infections. I don’t measure much so I can’t give you too many precise figures but I would recommend you try it out. It was fantastic. I made it with what we had on hand, so it was kind of leftover chicken soup.

Ingredients:

  • Cooked chicken (white and dark meat). Maybe 2 cups? The chicken was from Lamppost Farm. I can’t promote them enough!
  • Chopped Carrots (maybe 3 carrots?)
  • Chopped Celery (maybe 2 stalks?)
  • Chopped 1/2 of an onion (all we had on hand)
  • Chopped 1 Green Bell Pepper
  • Chopped half a head of cauliflower
  • 2 cherry tomatoes (because we had 2 cherry tomatoes…)
  • 1 can of great northern beans
  • green chilies (maybe half a can? They were in a bag in the freezer)
  • Some basil
  • Some oregano
  • Some thyme
  • Some dehydrated onion flakes
  • 2 teaspoons of minced garlic
  • Some salt and pepper
  • 2 cups of chicken stock (homemade)
  • 2 1/2 cups of water

I chopped up the veggies and sauteed them in butter and salt. Once they were pretty soft, I added the chicken broth, 2 cups of water and the cooked chicken. Then I eyeballed the seasoning. I simmered this for probably 2 hours. Quite a lot of liquid cooked off and it tasted just a bit too salty so I added a half cup of water to it.

This was really good. It kind of reminded me of white bean chili meets chicken vegetable soup. It had some heat but not too much. And it definitely hit the spot. Tasted just as good today.

Oh yeah, and it is gluten free.

The Yearly Pardon

The President partook in the annual pardoning of the turkey today. And he said the tradition was puzzling. I happen to agree with him. They might as well eat the turkey since the turkey that is prepared for the Presidential pardon will not live for much longer. It can’t live long because it isn’t bred to live long. It is bred to be slaughtered, butchered, cooked, and eaten in as little time as possible while producing as much white meat as possible. Pardoning it is a farce.

Last year, CNN did a great piece on where the pardoned turkey goes to die. I’ve copied and pasted it here for your reading pleasure. 

Mt. Vernon, Virginia (CNN) — Along a pastoral lane at George Washington’s Mount Vernon estate sits a sizable wooden pen built specifically to house the two turkeys that will be “pardoned” at the White House on Wednesday.

The well-appointed pen includes a small coop to protect them from weather and foxes, and an area for them to strut their stuff for camera-toting tourists.

But there is one thing that is missing: other turkeys. That’s because all the turkeys ever pardoned at the White House are dead, including the six already given a pass from the roasting pan by President Barack Obama in previous years.

“The bird is bred for the table, not for longevity,” said Dean Norton, the director at Mount Vernon in charge of livestock. “Some of [the pardoned turkeys] have been pretty short lived.”

Compared to domesticated animals, turkeys bred for consumption are usually plump and slaughtered after a period of months, and wouldn’t be expected to live much longer on their own. So, a pardon really can extend their lives a lot, relatively speaking.

The two turkeys pardoned in 2012 – Cobbler and Gobbler – died within a year of their White House appearance, despite what a spokeswoman at Mount Vernon said was diligent veterinary care.

Gobbler died on February 5, 2013, of natural causes. Cobbler lived a bit longer, dying on August 22, 2013, after he fell ill and had to be euthanized. Both are buried at Mount Vernon.

In the two years prior, three of the four pardoned turkeys died less than five months after their pardon.

The other turkey – Peace, who was pardoned in 2011 – lived 16 months after arriving at Mount Vernon.

So why do those birds — and others bred to be eaten — die faster than their wild brethren?

“The birds are fed in such a way to increase their weight,” Norton, who has worked at Mount Vernon since 1969, said. “[Americans] want a nice big breasted turkey and so they are fed high protein diet and they get quite large. The organs, though, that are in this bird are meant for a smaller bird. They just can’t handle the extra weight, so they end up living not as long [as wild turkeys].”

The differences extend beyond life expectancy, too.

“Your native bird can fly beautifully and roost in trees,” Norton said, while the type that receive pardons “does not fly, has very short stubbly legs and typically last right up to Thanksgiving.”

Final years? Figuratively

In 2012, when Obama announced the pardons for Cobbler and Gobbler, he hinted the birds were in their final years, telling the audience that they were headed to Mount Vernon “where they will spend their twilight years in the storied home of George Washington.”

The word “years,” however, seems to be an exaggeration.

The National Turkey Federation, a group that lobbies for the turkey industry and selects those to be honored each year at the White House, disagrees with any notion that the lives of these birds are cut short.

They are bred for consumption have a “life expectancy of about 18 weeks,” said Keith Williams, spokesman for the turkey federation. “They are not raised as pets and animals are not pets.”

Their short lives, Williams points out, says more about Americans taste for turkey and breeding practices than mistreatment or short lives.

Bred to be stuffed

Starting in 1960, farmers specifically started breeding plump turkeys that had large amounts of white breast meat — a response to American demand. The differences between wild and bred turkeys, Williams said, stems mostly from diet.

“A turkey that is bred exclusively for eating, eats corn and soybean that have minerals in them,” Williams said.

According to the federation, a whopping 219 million turkeys were consumed in the United States in 2011. On Thanksgiving that year, the group estimates 46 million were gobbled up.

Since 1970, around the time breeding practices changed, turkey consumption has increased 104 percent, according to the federation.

The practice of pardoning a turkey at the White House dates to Abraham Lincoln.

The story goes that around Thanksgiving, turkeys were brought to the White House and Lincoln’s son, Tad, grew attached to one particular bird and begged his chief executive father to spare the fowl from the table. Lincoln agreed and the turkey lived.

It is unclear if the practice continued for the next 100 years. But in 1963, President John F. Kennedy decided to send his turkey back to the farm it came from, telling the National Turkey Federation they should “just let this one grow” instead.

Bush “41” sent them to Frying Pan Park

The tradition became official in 1989, under President George H.W. Bush. On November 14, weeks before Thanksgiving, Bush pardoned a turkey and the White House shipped him off to live his twilight year at — Frying Pan Park — in Herndon, Virginia.

Since then, a President has pardoned a turkey each year.

All of Obama’s turkeys were sent to Mount Vernon. The birds spent the holidays in the public pen and then were moved to a livestock area out of view because they were not “historically accurate” to Washington’s time period.

According to Norton, the turkey federation wanted the birds to be more prominently displayed. So this year, they will head to Morven Park, a historic estate in Leesburg, Virginia, on January 7.

The estate was home to Former Virginia Gov. Westmoreland Davis, who ran it from 1918 to 1922. Davis was a prodigious turkey farmer, according to Teresa Davenport, a spokeswoman for Morven Park.

As for the near certainty that the turkeys will soon die, Davenport said they “are going to do everything [they] can to make that not happen.”

“These turkeys were raised in Minnesota, so they are used to cold winters,” Davenport said. “A lot of the employees here are already on turkey duty.”

Tea, Earl Grey, Hot.

If you happen to have access to Netflix, I’d recommend you watch the documentary Print the Legend. Recently, I had the joy of getting to watch it. Print the Legend is a documentary following several 3D printer start-up companies, most notably MakerBot. I’ve been fascinated with 3D printers ever since I read the Great North Road. The author really did a good job of imagining the possibilities of 3D printing in that book. After watching the documentary I must say: I’m excited about 3D printing technology. Heck, if I had the money I think I’d buy one. I mean look at all of the sweet things you can print with your own 3D printer!

I couldn’t help but think we are on the cusp of replicator technology–ya know, the replicator that creates food and drinks in Star Trek: The Next Generation. Although maybe, even that isn’t that far off.

 

 

Apple Upside Down cake

Another gluten free blog I like to check out is EZ Gluten Free. She has a Youtube channel so you can see videos of her preparing the dishes, which makes it easier to follow the recipe. One of the things I really appreciate about her recipes is that, for the most part, she uses Bisquick’s Gluten Free flour mix. Why do I like that? Because Aldi’s own gluten free baking mix is (please don’t sue me) a rip-off of the Bisquick recipe.

So today I made her Apple Upside Down cake. It has been raining off and on here and the leaves seem to be at their peak for changing and I just wanted something that said: Autumn. Apples, cinnamon and brown sugar seemed to fit the bill.

A few modifications (intentional and unintentional):

  1. I didn’t add the applesauce to the cake batter. I meant to, but I got interrupted while mixing the cake and when I went back to finish it–I forgot I hadn’t added the applesauce in until after it was in the oven! Oops and oh well–that’s part of life when you have young children.
  2. I didn’t have any walnuts so I left those out. But even if I had walnuts I wouldn’t have used them because when it comes to nuts, walnuts are my least favorite.
  3. I left the nutmeg out because Mrs. Wine will not eat anything I make if it has nutmeg in it.

I haven’t tried it yet, but I did take a picture for your pleasure. It smells great! Enjoy eating with your eyes!

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Update: It tastes amazing.

Gluten free at Aldis

I was going to write up a grand review on all of the new gluten free products at Aldis. I will say this: most of them are excellent and their bread is by far the best gluten free bread I have ever come across. You do not need to toast it. You can make a sandwich and take it wherever you want, it will not fall apart but rather is pliable and sturdy. I can’t say enough good things about their bread. I just wish the loaf was bigger.

However, I never got around to doing the review and then this morning I saw this lady kind of had a review of their products. So why not visit her site and check it out?

Crockpot Applesauce

So I love to make applesauce. But I never make as much of it as I’d like because it takes so long to peel the apples! But then I discovered a method for making the applesauce and leaving the skins on the apples. Cook them slowly in the crockpot and then, once the apples are broken down to the sauce like texture, get the immersion blender out and grind up the apple skins. This method has the added benefit of making the applesauce healthy, since the apple skin is the healthiest part of the fruit.

So my recipe is as follows:

  • A whole lot of apples.
  • Some liquid (water or apple juice) maybe 1 cup?
  • Sugar if you wish (I don’t use sugar)
  • Cinnamon stick if you wish

Apples in the crockpot, pre-cooked.

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Apples cooked down, but not blended.

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Applesauce, post immersion blender.

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