Archive for the ‘corn’ Tag

03-30-2018 My Wildlife Welfare System   Leave a comment

Being a lifelong animal lover has it’s ups and downs and living here in Maine makes things even more interesting.  With the harsh winters and constant snow cover the wildlife here has become quite  deligent in their hunt for food. I’ve been a loyal bird feeder for most of my life because I really enjoy having the birds around.  My better-half is also a bird lover and we currently have six feeders we keep filled.  I estimate the birds are eating close to 125 lbs. of feed a year  not counting the many packages of suet we purchase to keep the woodpeckers healthy and happy. Add to that two or three quarts of sugar syrup for the hummingbirds and you begin to truly understand.

It became apparent some months ago that the birds living in this area have a rather accomplished communication system to spread the news concerning food sources and the location of predators. This came to my attention when a herd of wild turkeys showed up out of nowhere and began feeding from the food accidently dropped from our hanging feeders.  Needless to say my better-half was quick to buy more corn and began strewing it everywhere. That’s all they needed to make our home the number one spot on their regular feeding rotation. With the heavy snow cover this winter they needed to do something inventive to help them survive the winter.  Thus began the feeding of a another new group of dependents that I couldn’t claim on my taxes. As always I just went along thinking that would be the last of the additions to our extended family of two hundred or so really hungry birds.  I was sadly mistaken once again.

Last year I erected a squirrel feeder on a nearby tree hoping it might convince the little buggers to stay away from the bird feeders. Once again, no good deed goes unpunished. We found out very quickly that turkeys and the occasional deer are also fond of corn.  So began the battle for the corn that lasted most of the summer and into the winter. My better-half still insists on bringing home an endless supply of corn to keep the battle going.  I left one of the bags sitting in the basement and hoped she would forget about it.  She forgot for a time but the field mice did not.  They like corn too and we soon found ourselves overrun with mice. Since the untimely demise of my lifelong best friend, my cat Stormy it’s been difficult to keep them under control.  He died a year ago and the mice discovered his absence rather quickly.  A new war was a brew’n.

A quick visit to Lowes supplied me with an armload of mouse traps and a determination to keep the mice out of our home.  I did discover that putting cheese in a mousetrap is a waste of time.  At first the mice were able to pull the cheese from the trap without harming themselves.  After some research I discovered that JIFF creamy peanut butter really gets the job done.  I’ve peeled 13 little corpses off those traps so far and I hope there will be many more to come. I toss their little corpses out onto the snow bank in the backyard where the crows and coyotes fight over the free meal.  At least with the mice I only have to feed them once.

I wish that was the end of this sad story but no such luck.  Next on my list is a large group of industrious little chipmunks who have quite a nice residence under our home.  My father always told me if you see one chipmunk you probable have at least ten. If that’s true then we may have upwards of a hundred roaming around. Oh yeah, they also love corn and bird seed just like damn near everyone else. It’s a little more difficult for them because they’re so small and the birds are constantly chasing them away.

I’ll begin working in our garden within the next few weeks and “Job 1” is to be certain that the fences are intact.  All these little varmints, birds, deer, and skunks are just waiting for me to make a mistake and then my garden will be trashed.  Don’t even get me started about that big fat skunk that patrols our property looking for trouble.  If he was any bigger I could just ride him around  like a horse.

So begins another summer here in Maine.  It should be interesting.

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08-20-2016 Journal – Another Salsa Day!   Leave a comment

If you follow this blog you already know I love all forms of salsa and make many versions of my own.  One of my favorites has always been Roasted Corn & Black Bean made with varying degrees of heat.  I love getting feedback on what I make especially from my son-in-law who loves salsa.

I made a batch a few months back and for the first time he made a request for the next batch.  He said it was delicious and hot but it needed more corn and more beans.  Many people feel that putting beans in a salsa is just wrong. It may be wrong but I do it anyway because it tastes so damn good. Yesterday was once again salsa day with many more beans and a lot more roasted corn.

I first collect the canning lids and rims and the jars and heat them up in a hot water bath.

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If you decide to try this be sure to wear a thick pair of kitchen gloves to save yourself a lot of pain from the hot peppers. Plain latex gloves are too thin unless you double them up.  Add your ingredients into the pot and cook for approximately 15 minutes and then it’s time to fill the jars and return them to the water bath.

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Looks good and tastes even better.

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After a nice boiling hot bath for fifteen minutes they’re removed from the pot and allowed to cool for a few hours.   I always recommend waiting at  least a week or two before eating. It’s been my experience that over time the salsa gets a little hotter and a little thicker.  Then it’s corn chips (Yellow) all around the table for a sensational Mexican pig-out.  Top it off with everyone’s favorite beer or wine and you’re good to go.

MY MOUTH’S WATERING AND BURNING AT THE SAME TIME

I LOVE IT!

11-22-2015 Journal–A New Thanksgiving Tradition!   Leave a comment

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‘No Thanks’

Why turkey? The tradition started with the Pilgrims struggling to survive and supposedly the Indians brought them food, they had dinner together, and so it began . . . but why turkey? It could just as easily have been lobster or maybe even groundhog. I doubt seriously if I would have enjoyed a big, fat, roasted groundhog for Thanksgiving every November for the rest of my life but it could easily have happened.  We could have easily combined Groundhog Day with Thanksgiving and had Punxatawney Phil as an entre.

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‘This is Phil’s cousin Bill’

I guess we can blame or credit one lonesome Indian out foraging for food for our Thanksgiving tradition that ended up lasting for hundreds of years. What we haven’t been told is that he took the good food home to his family and stuck the Pilgrims with some scrawny turkey he had left over.  That tradition has also created a number of cottage industries like raising turkeys by the millions for our eager consumption and all of the accompanying paraphernalia required to prepare them.

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‘Bill Before’

Don’t get me wrong I like turkey well enough but as a kid it was a special meal we had only once a year. These days we eat turkey year-round and have it readily available at food stores and even some gas stations and convenience stores. Not so special anymore, at least not for me.

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‘Bill After’

This Thanksgiving is a unique one for both my better-half and for me. Most of our family members are spread across the country and the ones remaining in Maine are visiting other family in northern Maine.  After some discussion we determined that because it’s just the two of us this year, we can do whatever the hell we like.  They’ll be no turkey this year and trust me, there won’t be any roasted groundhog or lobster either.

This years feast will consist of some traditional items such as cranberry sauce, stuffing, corn, and squash. The meat of the day has been upgraded a little as well. Picture a large standing prime rib roast dripping flavor from every pore and as tender and soft as eating marshmallows.  That’s what I call a proper dinner to give thanks for.  I eat turkey on an average of three times a week and won’t miss having it on the table at all.

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I hope this year goes well because this is a tradition that is long overdue and that I fully support. I may miss some of the turkey leftovers but truthfully I’ll get over it. I can taste and smell that prime rib already and it’s making my mouth water. A good bottle of Cabernet Sauvignon and the fixings’ and we’ll both be fat, dumb, and extremely happy.

SLEEP WITH ONE EYE OPEN PHIL, YOU NEVER KNOW.

07-15-2015 Journal–A Maine Chili Day!   1 comment

Every summer I set aside a few special days for restocking the shelves for winter. One of those days is spent making a large batch of salsa and the another is for for making of a huge batch of chili.  The salsa is canned for storage while the chili is normally frozen. As far as I’m concerned there’s nothing better than enjoying a steaming hot bowl of spicy chili with a bit of cheddar cheese melted on top while watching a Maine snowstorm through the kitchen window.

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My salsa day was completed last week and the finished product is on the shelf.  I decided this year to break with tradition and to make a different style of meatless chili, one that can be canned instead of frozen. I love experimenting and going-outside-the-box whenever possible and today’s the day.

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This chili is made from a number of off-the-shelf ingredients as well as fresh peppers from the garden.  For the first time in my life I’ll be making a non-meat chili using a Vegan approved meat substitute made from soy. I’ve always loved other soy products and I’m long overdue trying it in my chili.  This ingredient comes freeze dried and requires rehydrating in a vegetable broth before use. All preparations from that point on are identical as when using ground beef. I was more than a bit surprised when the soy looked and felt exactly like regular browned ground beef.

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I spent time yesterday cleaning and dicing jalapeño and Fresno peppers which will supply some of the heat needed for this chili.  Then I diced a few large white and red onions for that special flavor they provide.  Add to that a quantity of sweet bell peppers of assorted colors and you’re well on your way to a beautiful dish.

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Canning the chili this time around is new.  Normally to can chili containing meat you need a pressure canner.  By removing the meat, replacing it with soy, and increasing the acid level, I can now can the chili instead of freezing it.  I’ve always disliked freezing chili because it changes both the texture and taste. I’m hoping this experiment will keep the chili as close to the way it was originally prepared as possible.

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I’m also trying something new for this batch. Normally you seal the jar with a metal lid which is then held in place by a metal band.  Those bands are notorious for corroding and becoming difficult to remove. This year I’m sealing them exactly that way but just after the lids “click” to indicate a good seal, I’m removing the metal bands and covering the lid with a white plastic screw cap. This will keep the seal intact and keep the lid and top of the jar much cleaner during storage.

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The final result is fifteen and half quarts of a flavorful, hot, and spicy Black Bean & Corn chili. My mouth is already watering.

06-23-2014 Journal Entry–Hangover Remedy?   Leave a comment

As I sit here nursing what could be called a mind numbing, brain busting, and painful hangover I made the decision to stay in bed until it goes away. Unfortunately since I cut my alcohol intake by 75% for the last six months I’m now what is commonly known as a "cheap date".  A few glasses of wine and all of a sudden I’ve got a serious glow on and no longer have the ability to stop drinking.  After last night I now know what my new tolerance level for Sangria is.  It’s a sneaky drink that crept up behind me when I wasn’t looking and BAM, trashed.

Being in a semi-intoxicated state I decided I should help my better-half make dinner.  I was assigned the task of cooking up a batch of skillet cornbread which is my specialty.  I have numerous recipes for cornbread but did I use one of them?  Of course not.  I decided to adlib a little.  As you can see the batter looks as it should even though I had to read the recipe a number of times due to my alcohol induced focusing problem.

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I added a few new ingredients to the recipe which included a cup of crushed corn and heaping tablespoons of jalapeño and red onion powder.  I diligently checked the skillet periodically and things seemed to be progressing as expected.

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I did the tried and true toothpick test and removed the skillet  from the oven. I was happy with the result, it looked great and smelled even better.  I patiently waited a few minutes, had another glass of Sangria, and then sliced it up.

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Being a caring and meticulous chef I never present my food to others until I’ve tried it myself.  I cut a large slice, slathered it with butter, and pigged out.  It wasn’t until I swallowed the second bite that the heat caught my attention. Within a few minutes my head was sweating, my lips were on fire, and I felt myself sobering up rather quickly. It was so freaking hot. I guess Chef’s Tip #1 for anyone deciding to have a piece of this cornbread is to cover it with jam of some sort to help knock down the heat.  I guess I’ll file this new recipe away and save it for my friends who wish to be sobered up in a hurry.

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The morning is slipping away and it’s time for me to get my lazy ass up and do something.  I was planning on doing a serious detailing of my car today but I’m having trouble motivating myself.  I need two large hot cups of coffee, a few pieces of crispy fried bacon, two Tylenol, and one more big slice of that cornbread.  If that doesn’t cure me nothing will.

I should be back to my semi-normal condition sometime tomorrow. Hopefully I’ve been made a little smarter with my new understanding of Sangria and the pitfalls of drinking it like fruit juice.

01-05-2013   2 comments

Today is going to be creative cooking day for me.  I have a few hours to kill so I decided it might be a great time to adjust my favorite salsa recipe, Corn & Black Bean. I want to make it a little more flavorful than usual with a few new ingredients I’ve not attempted before. This takes a while to do but adjusting the written recipe is always much easier than making it work in the pot.

In the past I normally add the black beans (my fav’s) to the pot towards the end of the cooking process. This allows them to cook slightly in the pot and more during the twenty minute canning process. If done properly they’ll cook just the right amount and won’t be mushy.  My problem was getting the corn to be more flavorful.  I wanted a natural smokiness to come through my salsa without using something manufactured, like Liquid Smoke, to do it. My solution was to switch from whole kernel yellow corn to white Shoe Peg corn.   I prefer the flavor of Shoe Peg and it seems to hold it’s shape better when cooked. If everything cooks to mush it makes for a salsa with little or no texture.

I propose to  take the corn from the cans and spread it on an cookie sheet lightly sprayed with olive oil. Then lightly spray the corn itself and sprinkle with Cumin.  Place in the oven at 425 degrees until golden brow then remove it, stir it up, and replace in the oven. When it’s roasted to my liking I’ll remove it and set it off to the side.  That’ll give the corn a huge boost of flavor with some crispiness as well.

I normally make my salsa’s extremely hot but without losing all of the flavor to the heat.  I love habanero and in my opinion it has by far the best combination of flavor and heat.  I also intend to  add a dozen diced jalapenos for addition flavor and 6-8 Serrano peppers for more heat.  That should allow me eliminate Cayenne pepper from my old recipe.  While Cayenne has great heat it lingers in the back of the throat which I really don’t like. 

I want a person eating my salsa to initially taste nothing but the flavors of the ingredients and then slowly feel the heat begin to rise.  The more you eat the hotter it will get and to me that’s perfect.  Well, I’m off to shop for ingredients at the local supermarket and I shall return.

Do-Wa, Do-Wa, Do Do Ditty (Just a time killing tune)

I’m back with two bags of all of my favorite things; assorted hot peppers, fresh herbs, white onions, and my absolute favorite, red onions.  I have at least an hour of dicing up these goodies in preparation for cooking.  I like to throw them all into one container so they can mix and mingle their flavors overnight in the fridge before I toss them in the pot tomorrow. Hopefully by Sunday afternoon I’ll have ten quarts of dynamite, smoking hot, and tasty salsa .

I can’t wait.

Posted January 6, 2013 by Every Useless Thing in Cooking, Just Saying

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