About this blog...

Food has been an important part of my life for as long as I can remember. Food and the festivities surrounding its arrival to the table has always been a focal point in our family. For many years I have been amassing the cookbooks, recipe cards, cooking journals, diaries, manuscripts and clipping files of our once extensive family.

Personally, I’ve been professionally involved with food for over 40 years in numerous and varied culinary capacities across the country so I also have the collected stories, as well as current and on-going food-related experiences from my own life I’d like to share.

My idea has long been that someday I would bring all of this marvelous raw material together into a culinary journey through our family’s heritage. This journal is the beginnings of that journey.

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Chicken Pot Pie

Tonight's dinner was Chicken Pot Pie and it really was "as easy as pie".
A couple of days ago I thawed a package of 4 each skinless chicken legs and thighs (from our own ranch-raised and butchered Cornish-Rock cross birds) and poached them until tender in a well-seasoned chicken stock. When done, I took them out of the stock to cool, strained the stock and got it chilled.  When the meat was cool enough to work with I carefully separated it from the bones, cartilage  and sinew and chilled it too.
Today I peeled and cut up about 6 carrots, an onion, 5 celery ribs and a dozen medium- large mushrooms and poached them all in the reserved chicken stock until almost tender.  While they cooked I picked over the chicken meat once more and cut it into small bite-sized pieces.
When done, I removed the vegetables from the stock then thickened the stock with a blonde roux, adding a little chopped parsley, leaf thyme, ground black pepper and adjusting the salt.  When thickened sufficiently I added back in the veggies and chicken and brought, once more, to a light boil then removed it from the stove.
While the veggies and stock were cooking I made a rich lard pie dough.  My recipe is:
Rich Lard Pie Dough
4 cups flour
2 tsp salt
12 oz cool, firm lard (home rendered as in my case is best)
4 oz water
1 egg
1 TBS red wine vinegar
1. Combine the flour and salt well.
2. Cut in the lard lightly (I used the paddle on a tabletop mixer with a VERY light touch).
3. Combine the water, egg and vinegar well then add all at once to the flour mixture and combine just until the mixture holds together.
4. Turn out of the bowl and mix lightly with your finger tips to moisten any dry bits, wrap and let rest for at least 15 minutes. Can be refrigerated at this point but I prefer to  work with it at room temperature.

One of the people I was cooking for has bad food allergies to legumes so I ended up making two pot pies.  I removed about 1/3 of the chicken mix to an 8"x2" cake pan then added frozen peas to the remainder, heated it through again, and then moved it into a 10'x2" cake pan.
I then rolled out the dough for lids for the two pies (make them a bit bigger then necessary so you have enough dough to make a nice fluted edge), put them on and cut a few steam vents.  I had some left-over dough so I also rolled out and cut a few decorative pieces for the pies (leaves and such), applied them and washed the whole tops with an egg yolk wash.
Just before dinner I baked the pot pies in a 375F convection oven for about 35 minutes until they were bubbling well and the crusts were done and nicely browned.

New Beef

It's been a while since my last entry.  Over a month, in fact (as has been pointed out to me by several followers - thank-you very much!). 
First our satellite internet service went down and we were without service for almost 2 weeks waiting for the repair guy to come out.  Our service is with WildBlue and I'm not shy about saying that their customer service sucks. That said, they are the best of a bunch of bad options for anything above dial-up internet in our extreme rural area.  When we learned how long we were going to be without service we immediately called WildBlue's biggest competitor in the area; Hughes Satellite.  They told us they could be out in 2 to 5 days so we signed up.  We've got a business we're trying to run here and email and web site work is an integral part of it. Well, their customer service is even worse than WildBlue's and, despite numerous calls to them and their designated installation company it was several days AFTER we finally got WildBlue service back that they finally called to set up an appointment to eventually come out. Arrgh. 
I also had several trips off-ranch, including one to Phoenix to ship and pick up a couple of goat kids and a trip to Kingman AZ ( 5 hours each way) to pick up a small goat herd that was being disbursed.  Some of the goats and almost all of the genetics came from our herd so we were happy to welcome them back to the Ranch.
Then my sister and her husband arrived for a visit from Philadelphia.  We've been having a great time with lots of food-related tales I'll review here soon.  They leave tomorrow.
But TODAY we had a new arrival on the Ranch that I didn't have to go anywhere to get.  A brand-new calf was born to our Belted Galloway cow Bertie.  This calf will be our beef for 2013 (talk about advanced meal planning).  At least we're hoping it will be our 2013 beef.  We have yet to determine the sex of the little cutie but we have our fingers crossed that it's a bull we can castrate to a steer.  If it's a girl (heifer), we'll probably have to sell her as we are not set up to keep her from getting bred too early, and by her father before it is time to butcher.
Calf gets a drink
Bertie and new calf (LGD Donna stands watch)

Bertie (mom), new calf, and Boone (dad)
      Anyway, Bertie calved with no problems at some point during the day despite it being very windy(sustained winds in the 20-30 mph range all day with gusts over 55 mph).  This is Bertie's 6th calf for us in as many years.  You gotta love those heritage breed animals: tough, thrifty, great mothers and fathers and all-around easy to manage. Oh yeah, and very, very tasty!