Thursday, December 25, 2008

Long Ago Christmas Day Memories

Sleigh Team Draft Horses
Draft Horse with Alpaca in Maine
While I was looking out over the sun-dappled snowy landscape across the river today, I found myself blessed with a short, happy mental journey back to a seemingly simpler time in my boyhood days on the farm. After Christmas morning milking and other chores were done and a hearty breakfast of the best the farm had to offer, we would all gather around the tree in the sitting room. The tree, in all it's glory, lovingly adorned with mostly homemade decorations, sheltered the few offerings beneath its full lower branches. Perhaps that the gifts were few, but well thought out by the giver, made each one seem that much more precious to us. In my case, the biggest treat was to be found in the red wool sock hung on the fireplace mantle off to the side, a big juicy orange! On a really good year it was often accompanied by a grapefruit. These were both hard to come by in our winter markets and Uncle 'F' would attempt to special order them for his truck garden store in the little city.
After opening the usual array of wool socks, gum rubber boots for school, wool pants, and perhaps a scarf or two and assorted undergarments, I'd be allowed to go visit friends on the nearby farms for a bit. This was always a super way to spend the afternoon. First would come getting one or two of the draft horses fitted to haul either the small sleigh or the logging sled, then off over the 'snow lanes' to the other homes. 'Snow lanes', as we called them, were simply the pasture, logging, and other rude farm pathways that we used year around. In winter a large wooden 'roller' would be drawn over the lanes to pack the snow into a frozen 'roadway' for sleds, toboggans, sleighs, and other winter equipment.
The visits weren't lengthy, and were mostly intended to distribute treats ranging from pies to baskets of apples, to our closest neighbors. While I was out making my rounds, other kids & young adults from the other farms would be doing likewise and including a stop at our place. Often an adult wanting to visit a bit would hitch a ride from one of us to another farm and return with a different traveler later in the day who was headed toward their home.
The nicest thing about this little tradition was that it gave everyone a chance to see how their neighbors and friends were coping with the harsh winter weather and see if anyone was running low on anything. If a need was seen, a return trip, usually by an adult couple, at a later time would give all a reason for another visiting period and an opportunity to exchange needed items with others. This visit was normally done New Year's Eve or New Year's Day, depending on folks' availability.
After the visits were done Christmas Day, the horses tended to, chores done, milking over, firewood restocked in the pantry, and vehicles tucked into the barn, we'd have a nice dinner followed by listening to Uncle 'Rs' big battery powered radio as it related rousing stories of the adventures of various radio heroes or comic families of the day. Then, full of hot chocolate, another rare treat, and sated by the events of the day it was off to bury myself under a pile of very old, very warm quilts. Hope you all had a great day, we did here. Until next time, take care.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Alternative Desserts For Holiday Meals

Hi again folks. I'm thinking of food (as usual) and thought if some of you are going to try alternative dinners, then perhaps I could share a couple alternative dessert ideas from Amy Bouchard and another from a local eatery. Bon appetit!
The First One From Amy
BOSTON CREAM PIECAKE: 1 3/4 cups sugar 1 1/2 sticks butter (3/4 cup) softened 2 eggs 2 teaspoons vanilla 3 cups cake flour 2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder 1 teaspoon salt 1 1/4 cup milk
DIRECTIONS: Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease two 8" or 9" round cake pans. Mix sugar, butter, eggs & vanilla until fluffy. Beat in flour, baking powder, salt & milk until well blended. Pour evenly into pans and bake for 30-35 minutes at 350 degrees.
CREAM FILLING INGREDIENTS: 1 box instant vanilla pudding 1 1/2 cups heavy whipping cream 1/2 cup confectioners sugar 1/2 cup milk 1/2 cup sour cream
DIRECTIONS: Beat all ingredients together with an electric mixer until fluffy (about double in size).
CHOCOLATE GANACHE: INGREDIENTS:6 oz semi-sweet chocolate (I like to use the squares) 3/4 cup heavy whipping cream 2 cups confectioners sugar
DIRECTIONS: Melt chocolate and cream together in microwave then add confectioners sugar. Whip or use hand mixer until well blended. Place the chocolate icing in the fridge to firm up. Place cream filling in the center of two cooled cakes then spread chocolate icing on top of the cake. Store in refrigerator.

Second One From The Delightful Amy

Amy Bouchard's Easy Ice Cream 1 14oz. can sweetened condensed milk

2 cups whipping cream

2 tablespoons water

2 teaspoons vanilla. Directions:

In a large mixing bowl mix together condensed milk, water, and vanilla. (Tip: Before mixing the whipping cream use a metal bowl and put in freezer for at least 15 minutes along with the beaters from your mixer as this will help the cream whip better.) Whip your whipping cream until fluffy then fold into your condensed milk. Optional:

Fold in 1 1/2 cups fresh berries, candy pieces, or chopped cookies. To make Chocolate Ice-cream:

Same as above just add 1 cup semi-sweet chocolate (melted and cooled) to the condensed milk mixer.

To make Mint Chocolate Chip Ice Cream: Use 2 teaspoons peppermint extract in place of vanilla, and add 1 cup mini semi-sweet chocolate chips after the whipping cream. Pour into a foil lined loaf pan or cake pan, put in freezer for 6 hours or overnight. Fun for kids: You will need small plastic container's ( 1/2 - 1cup size) larger plastic container's ( 2-3 cup size) crushed ice salt Put ice-cream mixer in small container then place the lid on tight. Put the small container in the bigger container fill with crushed ice and 1/2 cup salt. Put the lid on the bigger container and shake for 7- 10 minutes. You will have soft serve ice-cream.

From a Local Eatery

Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Cheesecake Bars Makes 16 bars Mixing time: 15 minutes

Baking time: 325 degrees F. for about 30 minutes


1 1/2 cups graham cracker cookie crumbs

5 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted

2/3 cup (4 ounces) miniature semisweet chocolate chips

Cookie dough for filling:

5 tablespoons soft unsalted butter

1/3 cup packed light brown sugar

3 tablespoons granulated sugar

1/8 teaspoon salt 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

3/4 cup all-purpose unbleached flour 1 cup (6 ounces) semisweet chocolate chips

Cheesecake filling:

10 ounces cream cheese, softened

1/4 cup sugar

1 large egg, room temperature

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1/3 cup (2 ounces) semisweet chocolate chips


Position a rack in the middle of the oven. Heat the oven to 325 degrees F. Line a 9-inch square pan with heavy-duty foil, letting the foil extend over the edges. Butter the foil. In a medium bowl, stir the crumbs and melted butter together until the crumbs are evenly moistened. Stir in the chocolate chips. Press the crumb mixture evenly in the bottom and 1-inch up the sides of the prepared pan. Bake 6 minutes. Set aside. Leave the oven on at 325 degrees F.

Cookie dough:

In a large bowl, beat the butter, brown sugar, granulated sugar, salt, and vanilla on medium speed until smoothly blended, about 1 minute. Decrease the speed to low speed and add the flour, mixing just to incorporate it. Stir in the chocolate chips. Set aside.


In a large bowl, beat the cream cheese and sugar on low speed just until smooth. Mix in the egg and vanilla, beating just to blend them in. Pour the cheesecake batter into the crust. Drop teaspoonfuls of the reserved cookie dough over the top of the batter.

Bake about 30 minutes until the top feels dry and firm and looks set if given a gentle shake.

Put the remaining 1/3 cup of chocolate chips in a heatproof bowl or the top of a double boiler and place it over, but not touching, a saucepan of barely simmering water (or the bottom of a double boiler). Stir until the chocolate chips are melted and smooth. Use a teaspoon to gently drizzle thin lines of melted chocolate over the top of the bars.

Cool the bars in the pan on a wire rack, about 1 hour. The chocolate topping will be set when the bars are cool.

Using the aluminum foil edges, lift the cooled bars from the pan and peel away the foil from the sides of bars. Use a large knife to cut the bars into16 pieces, wiping the knife as needed, and slide the bars off the foil. Be careful to hold the knife blade away from you when wiping it.

Serve cold or at room temperature. The bars can be covered and stored in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.

And so, until the next 'Weighing-In', ENJOY!!

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Alternatives To 'Roast Turkey or Ham'

While searching for tasty alternatives to the traditional 'roast' turkey or ham dinner, I mentioned my quest in an E-mail to my generous friends in Spokane, WA, George & Linda Allen (of Glacier National Park travels posted about earlier this year). They responded in their usual manner and provided me with these 3 mouth watering ideas. Thanks for sharing with us, both of you!!
George's Holiday Prime Rib
5 lbs prime rib roast, trimmed
6 or 8 cloves of garlic crushed
1/4Cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil
2 tbsp Graded fresh horseradish
1/8 Cup Fresh Rosemary
1/8 Cup Fresh Oregano
1/8 Cup Fresh Thyme
Fresh ground pepper to taste
Zest of one lemon
Make a thick paste of all ingredients, rub top and sides of the roast, chill overnight. Remove 1 hour before cooking.
Preheat oven 450F degrees. Cook for 25 minutes. Then lower temp to 350F. Cook until meat at the thickest part reads 125F for rare or 130F for medium rare.Let cool in warm place for 30-40 minutes before carving.
We serve with fresh graded horseradish and au Jus Serve with a nice Latah Creek Huckleberry d'Latah from Spokane Washington, or tall 'Bloody Marys' with Dry Fly Vodka also from Spokane, Washington.
Looks Good Enough To Eat!!
Deep Fried Turkey a la Allens
We have no precise recipe for deep fried turkey, just a few steps before doing the deed.
Put 14 lb turkey in cooker and cover with water.
Mark water level.
Remove Turkey & wipe and pat until fairly dry.
Empty water from pot.
Fill pot to high water mark with peanut or cottonseed oil.
Heat to 325F.
Inject with Cajun Garlic butter marinade. Usually can buy marinade in most supermarkets or Sporting Goods. (Or look 'online' for one of your own choosing)
Hang until excess drips off (otherwise, if wet makes pot boil over possibly causing loss of hair on arms & eyebrows as George can verify).
Just before lowering turkey into oil, turn off flame!
Slowly lower turkey into pot, cook at 275F to 300F degrees for approximately 3 minutes per pound or until thighs are 180F or breast is 170F.
Remove from oil, rest for awhile(perferably with drink in hand), then carve and dig in!!!
Safety Tips: 1. Don't try this indoors. (duh) 2. Place cooker on gravel or dirt. 3. Avoid brines containing sugar as it will burn a inedible crust onto the turkey. 4. Wear long sleeves and gloves when lowering turkey in the pot. 5. All this has been learned the hard way (arm hair and eyesbrows grow back eventually according to George)

Deep Fryer for Turkey

Prepped Turkey
Going down!!
Cooking away
Looking good!
Dinner's ready!!
Brined & Smoked Turkey Brine Preparation In a large stock pot mix: 1 gallon water 2 cups kosher salt 1 cup brown sugar 12 bay leaves tablespoon of cloves tablespoon of course ground pepper 6 or so thyme sprigs 6 or so rosemary sprigs Bring to a boil until the salt and sugar dissolves. Pour into a clean 5 gallon bucket, add ice cubes to cool brine. Place turkey in brine and add water until covered, then cover bucket and place in a cool spot for 12 to 24 hours. Place in Smoker1(1) or (2); or Weber Kettle(3) with apple wood for smoke. Each smoker or kettle is different, so cook until breast reaches temp of 170F or thighs 180F. Let rest 15 minutes before carving. We have a Bradley Smoker and I slow cook for 10 hours at 200 degrees and only use smoke for half of the time. NOTES: The black smoker is like our Bradley(1); blue one(2) is a Brinkman; the other(3) is a Weber Kettle. These are the most common types in our area. Some smokers are charcoal, propane or electric, ours is electic.
Wood Chips For Smoking
Smoker #1
Smoker #2
Weber Kettle (#3)
Well folks, after all that, I still find myself thinking about something REALLY different: Lobster!! This is prompted by the fact that the current economic crisis has caused the price of lobster to drop into a nearly give-away price range. Whatever we decide, you can bet that the 3 methods of preparing beef & turkey will be on the menu at Chez Indian in the coming year. Mostly dependent on 'snow depth'. Until next time, take care. New Holiday Fare at Chez Indian??

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Holiday Thoughts

I sincerely hope this message finds all of you well and full of the Holiday Spirit, be it Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, or just the celebration of another year and the promise of the new year. Although written as a Christmas poem, this little gem seems to me to be more of an 'All Purpose' holiday message.

It's Christmas Time Again
(by Bob Lazzar-Atwood)
Put your problems on probation
Run your troubles off the track,
Throw your worries out the window
Get the monkeys off your back.
Silence all your critics
With your conscience make amends,
And allow yourself some happiness
It's Christmas time again.
Call a truce with those who bother you
Let all the fighting cease,
Give your differences a breather
And declare a time of peace,
Don't let angry feelings taint
The precious time you have to spend,
And allow yourself some happiness
It's Christmas time again.
Like some cool refreshing water
Or a gentle summer breeze,
Like a fresh bouquet of flowers,
Or the smell of autumn leaves,
It's a banquet for the spirit
Filled with family, food, and friends,
So allow yourself some happiness
It's Christmas time again.
Thanks to all the wonderful people who have visited here, may the coming year be one in which each and every one of you finds joy, contentment, good health, and all things that make life so grand. Until next we meet, take care. Mike