Hunk of Meat Monday – Spare Ribs

I was thinking all weekend about something that I could make for a Monday lunch for Boss Man. I don’t normally make him lunch (he has 2 fridges, 2 freezers, a pizza oven and a microwave in the shop…there are times where I don’t see him for days), but since it rained most of the weekend, I thought I would surprise him with a little surprise…spare ribs, slightly barbecued.

Let me tell you that I have never successfully made ribs. I mean, they usually taste good, but never look quite right, never taste quite like I hope and I either douse them in too much sauce or they get all greasy. Not today. Today I conquered my fear of ribs! (I can hear the theme to “Rocky,” can’t you?)

And I’m sharing my secrets with you…lucky you.

Spare Ribs

Ingredients:

  • Package of ribs
  • Rib seasoning (I used Pampered Chef’s Smoky Barbecue Rub, but you can use any type of seasoning that pleases you, bought or home-mixed…I just have no luck with finding my own combination…yet.)
  • Oil (I used Wildtree’s Natural Butter Flavored Grapeseed Oil. If you aren’t familiar with Wildtree and their grapeseed oil, you need to find a distributor…now. It’s amazing stuff. Really. Truly.)
  • Barbecue sauce (I just used an original flavored store-brand sauce…and not a whole lot of it. We all have our faves, just pick whatever is yours.)

That’s it. Again, for me, the big thing is getting ribs to look like ribs. And I found the secret…but let me walk you through it.

First, start with a nice package of ribs:

Now, that's a hunk of meat that I could love!

Rub them down with a bit of oil. I have a spray pump at home that I can fill with whatever liquid of my choosing and turn it into an aerosol-of-sorts (minus the aerosol)…I use this with my oil and LOVE making my own oil spray! 🙂

Coat with seasoning. I don’t use a ton of it, but that’s to our taste. Coat to your hearts content.

Those ribs are ready for an oven!

Place ribs on a shallow pan and broil in the oven for about 10 minutes on each side, or until browned nicely.

When done, remove ribs from the pan and place directly on the rack. Yes, it’s crazy. Yes, it’s a bit uncouth. But it really made a difference. (And place the pan under the ribs to catch drippings…we don’t want to start any fires!)

Place directly on rack...don't flinch, I promise it won't hurt!

Bake at 250* for about 2 1/2-3 hours. In the last half-hour, brush on a light coating on one side for 15 minutes, then flip and do the other. (You can do this earlier and keep repeating, as your taste demands. I’m truly a northern gal, complete with pretty tame tastebuds.)

I teamed it up with butter-fried potatoes and fresh steamed-asparagus from the garden. Yes, it’s April and we have asparagus ready to go in North Dakota. Crazy spring.

Here, check it out:

Go ahead, it's OK to drool...I promise.

Scrum-diddly-umptious!

Oh, and don’t forget about my giveaway! You’ll definitely want to enter today! Winner tomorrow! 🙂

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Monday madness – Giveaway!

It’s been a long, long time since I’ve sent off a package to a lucky blog reader, so I’m going to correct that problem today. By the end of today (midnight) I will pick a winner of this amazing bracelet from Premier Designs:

Talk about beautiful!

It’s a beautiful adjustable belt-buckle/rhinestone bracelet, and is stretchy, so I can truly fit anyone and everyone. I already have one, but snagged up this one specifically for you guys (and with Mother’s Day right around the corner, it would make a great gift!)

Just leave me a comment and you’ll be entered. Simple as that. I’ll announce the random winner tomorrow morning.

And don’t forget, help me out by spreading the word about my latest project…and if you have something you would like some help on, just give me a shout and we’ll work something out.

Oh, and stay tuned…it’s a double-post Monday. I’m working on a Hunk of Meat Monday recipe that will knock your socks off! (Well, it’s working on mine anyway!) Here’s a clue:

A yummy slab of pork for my Monday munchies! 🙂 Can't wait to share the rest of this with you!

Poor Man’s Lobster – Boiled Northern

My dad had a slight stroke last week…we use the word “slight” because he’s still here to tell about it. But, in reality, it could have been so much worse. He was lucky…and with determination, he came home without the walker they were predicting and he’s almost back to normal…whatever that is.

He asked Saturday evening if Big Bro could go with him fishing on Sunday, and although we usually go to church and Sunday school before any other events, I gave him a pass to spend the day with his grandpa. And he thought it was worth every minute!

The fishing was great, they were biting heavy, but better than that, the memories will be amazing for them both. And when they came home with four decent-sized northern, Big Bro was proud as a peacock.

I’ll share with you my new favorite recipe for northern…and it’s super simple:

Cut up your northern into bite-sized pieces.

All you need is fish and beef broth. This fish is fresh, so there are bones in it. (My Dad doesn't have his de-boning technique down quite yet.) Be careful with those!

Bring about 3 cups of beef broth to a boil.

Bring broth to boil, drop in fish.

Drop in fish and let it boil for about 5-10 minutes. Enjoy!

Fish are cooked through, moist and so yummy!

It’s a very simple, great-tasting dish, sure to please everyone! You can add other seasonings if you wish, but my family prefers it straight from the broth!

Hunk of Meat Monday – Chicken, Pork, Deer

It’s been awhile since I’ve had a recipe for Hunk of Meat Monday, but this weekend I tried something that was so out-of-this-world, that I HAD to share it.

It combined chicken, pork and deer (although, the recipe called for dried beef, I only had dried venison on hand). And it was de-lish!

Chicken Breast with Dried Beef

Ingredients

  • 8 chicken breasts, boned, skinned and cut in half (or just get boneless, skinless ones! 🙂 )
  • 1 pkg. dried beef, pulled apart (I used dried venison)
  • 8 slices of bacon (or more, can’t go wrong with bacon…ever)
  • 1 pint sour cream
  • 1 can cream of mushroom soup (I confess, I used cream of chicken)

Venison, chicken breasts and bacon...how can you go wrong?

Line the bottom of a 9X13 pan with dried beef. Roll 1/2 slice bacon around each half of chicken breast and place it on top of the beef. Mix together the sour cream and cream of mushroom soup and spoon over the chicken. Bake at 275* for 3 1/2 hours, uncovered. Can be assembled a day ahead of time and refrigerated. Serves 8.

Oh, and I served it with baked potatoes, so we weren’t in a complete meat coma.

And it was so very, very yummy!

So very, very yummy!

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Kneopfla Hotdish (Knepfla) – German Cooking

I thought I’d kick off this winter-storm weekend with a nice tasty, warm traditional meal.

And bonus points for it being super easy! (Especially with a Kitchenaid! I’m in LOVE!)

Knepfla Hotdish

Ingredients

  • 3 1/2 c. flour
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1 egg
  • 1 c. water
  • sausage, ham or meat of your choosing
  • 1/2 pint cream
  • 1 tsp. chicken bouillon

Mix flour, salt, egg and water, until dough ball forms. Cut dough into a kettle of boiling water (I use a kitchen scissors). Boil until done (they will float), about 5-10 minutes. Rinse under cold water.

Yummy, scrumptious deliciousness.

Prepare meat in a skillet (fry the sausage, heat the ham, brown the burger, etc.). Combine 1/2 pint of cream, 1 tsp. chicken bouillon and pepper in a small bowl. Add knepfla to meat and pour cream mixture over the top. Heat through.

It’s yummy, it’s great and it doesn’t take a lot of time.

ENJOY!

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Organic Romance

To buy or not to buy organic? That is the question.

But why does it have to be?

I thought about this question alot, while preparing this post. In fact, most of my posts are written in a very short amount of time, usually 10 minutes or less. Sometimes it’s as if the words were already there, I just needed to type them out. But not today.

As a farmer, I am proud of almost every aspect of agriculture. I truly value the organic movement, because anything we can do to continue to provide food is important. We NEED every farmer, every type, every size, to continue providing food for our world.

Over the weekend, a slideshow by WebMD was brought to my attention. At first, I was kind of excited about it…hoping it was going to put to rest some of the myths and misconceptions surrounding conventional and organic foods. But it didn’t. In fact, it went a step or two further than most articles. And I feel the need to set some “facts” straight.

1) It was stated in the slide show, that fruit and vegetables such as apples and peaches should be bought organic whenever possible, to reduce the exposure risks of pesticides.  The site said, “If you can’t afford to buy organic apples, scrubbing their skins under running water can help reduce pesticide residues, too.”

Well, to tell you the truth people, no matter where you get your apples, you should ALWAYS wash them. Period. The same is true for organic, just as it is conventionally grown fruit and veggies.

2) Directly quoted from WebMD, “According to the Organic Trade Association, livestock on an organic farm cannot be given antibiotics or growth hormones unnecessarily — a common practice in conventional agriculture. Some experts think using antibiotics this way may contribute to the rise of superbugs. And although the risk to humans isn’t clear, added hormones do show up in supermarket beef.”

Let me shed some light on what happens on our farm (since I can’t speak for everyone, but know that most follow the same type of protocol). We give antibiotics only when necessary, such as when an animal is showing sign of being sick. We would never consider giving all of our animals antibiotics on a set schedule for many reasons, including: a) cost, b) time and feasibility and c) we need those antibiotics to work when we truly need them. To say that most conventional ranchers use antibiotics unneccessarily is simply not true.

And on the hormone subject…let me break down the actual facts for you:

4 oz. beef from steer given hormones: 1.6 nanograms of estrogen

4 oz. beef from untreated steer: 1.2 nanograms of estrogen

4 oz. beef from non-pregnant heifer: 1.5 nanograms of estrogen

4 oz. raw cabbage: 2700 ng estrogen

4 oz. raw peas: 454 ng estrogen.

3 oz. soy oil: 168,000 nanograms of estrogen

3.5 oz. of soy protein concentrate: 102,000 nanograms of estrogen.

3 oz. of milk from cow given rBST: 11 nanograms of estrogen

3 oz. of milk from untreated (non-BST) cow: 11 nanograms of estrogen

Data from Foodstuffs Foodlink

Hmmm…so those extra hormones are a problem, but raw peas have 400% more estrogen in them. Perhaps we need to lay off the peas? I’m kidding, of course. That would be obsurd. Right?

3) This one I found funny. Broccoli. Yep, you should grow your own organic broccoli. Have any of you grown broccoli? I have no problem with growing your own food, even broccoli. I just appreciate the ability to choose not to. I don’t like the extra protein.

Mmmm...worms.

 
Well, those are just a few of the examples in the slide show…there are 29 slides to go through, all with varying degrees of ridiculousness. What’s funny to me is that it wraps it all up with this advice, “One thing the experts agree on: Regardless of whether you choose locally grown, organic, or conventional foods, the important thing is to eat plenty of produce. The health benefits of such a diet far outweigh any potential risks from pesticide exposure.” Oh, so the first 28 slides are supposed to make you terrified of all food not organic, and the last one says, “Eh, the risks aren’t that great, just eat.” Whew. I was worried for a minute.
 
Let’s cut to the chase. When it comes down to it: eat. Eat what you want, eat sensibly and get it from whatever source you have available. Supermarket, farmer’s market, online…just eat. If you have the desire and time to grow your own, do it. If you have the desire and time to shop farmer’s markets, do it. If you are a busy person with limited time and whatever is at the one-stop-shop is what you can grab, do it.
 
It’s time we stop making parents feel guilty for what we eat and just relish in the fact that we can feed our children. And by that, I mean HEALTHY foods, not just fast food.
 
That all being said, I respect organic farmers and see a true need for their products. There isn’t a single method of agriculture that isn’t needed for our future. I have not one problem with their product. Not one.
 
Organic farmers: thank you for all you do and the food you provide. Conventional farmers: thank you for all you do and the food you provide. WebMD: quit making me scared of the people that feed me, they’re nice.
 
I know, because I am one.

Introducing cheese buttons – a German tradition

Connie – pay attention, this one’s for you. Got it?

Earlier this summer, I finally wrote down my grandmother’s recipe for German Dumplings. I entered the recipe into an Iron Chef Challenge sponsored by King Arthur’s Flour…and somehow pulled away with a win! (I’ll be posting a recipe tomorrow, in a battle of the iron chef all-stars kinda thing. Stay tuned.)

It was requested that I work on a recipe for Grandma’s cheese buttons, and here it is. Well, kind of. If you want to go through the work of making your own dough, go ahead and use my recipe on the dumplings post. But I’m all for ease, and speed, and still tasting authentic. And oddly enough, my “new” way of doing this works just fine. Even my dad didn’t notice the difference!

So here it is, German Cheese Buttons, updated for 2011:

Ingredients:

  • Wonton or egg roll wrappers (egg roll wrappers can be cut into 4, wonton wrappers are just the right size)
  • Cottage cheese
  • Butter
  • Salt/pepper to taste
  • Meat of choice, I prefer fry sausage…but ham, pork or seasoned burger would work just fine…or go without

Place a kettle of water on the stove and heat it over medium to a boil. While water is heating, take your cottage cheese and place it in a bowl; season with salt and pepper to your liking. Take wonton wrapper and place a small spoonful in the middle of the wrapper. wet around the edges and fold the wonton in half, making a triangle with all the edges sealed. (It’s important that the edges seal, so that your cottage cheese doesn’t leak out.)

Yummy cottage cheese in middle, preparing to fold it in half! Notice the outside edges are wet...use water to seal!

Cheese button folded in half, press around edges to make sure it seals!

Make as many cheese buttons as you think you need…add 10 more. Trust me. They’re that good.

In a frying pan, melt half a stick of butter or medium heat. Place cheese buttons in the pot of boiling water, four or so at a time. Let them boil for 3-4 minutes. They should float when they’re done. Using a slotted spoon, take the cheese buttons out of the water, letting most of the water drain off. Place them directly into the frying pan. Continue until all cheese buttons are in the frying pan. Be sure to flip occasionally, to keep from sticking to the bottom of the pan. Warning: some of the cheese buttons may rupture in the water, some may stick and rupture in the pan. It will not affect the tastiness of the dish, just might tarnish the presentation a bit. One taste and all thoughts of what the plate looks like will fly out the window. Again, trust me.

Water boiling, cheese buttons floating. They are ready!

Use a slotted spoon to drain off excess water...then...

Fry them in butter!

Once all cheese buttons are in the pan, add your sliced sausage, meat, etc. Serve when meat is heated through.

I try to find ways to incorporate as many food groups into one pan as possible. I make these meat chunks large, so that I can pick them out for George's diet.

One thing you may want to add in if you’re really wanting to be authentically German, is bread crumbs. Fry them up in the butter, along with the cheese buttons. You won’t be disappointed. But do me a favor, don’t tell your doctor I told you to do that, ‘k?

Things you need to know:

  1. German cooking is not low-fat, low-carb or anything else a health professional would claim as “good for you.”
  2. German cooking tastes wonderful. And my grandma was 89 when she passed away. I can live with that.
  3. You may need to add more butter as you’re cooking, to “keep it from sticking.” At least, that’s what I tell myself. I’m sure it’s true.
  4. Do NOT boil your cheese buttons for too long. They will rupture. And then the dough will get gooey. It still tastes fine, just not appealing to the eye. And the textures a little oozy. Consider yourself warned.

Good luck, have fun…and enjoy your meal. And stay tuned tomorrow. I get crazy with a loaf of cinnamon raisin bread.

I’m linking to the Gooseberry Patch Christmas Favorites Round Up today…this was truly one of my holiday favorites that Grandma would make!
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