Thursday, January 21, 2016

Wild Duck Tacos

Gifted a mallard,
and a deep appreciator
of water fowl), 
best efforts were put forth to carefully apply the dark gamey meat to the dinner table. 

A really good meal. 

A super fine bird. 

Wild Duck Tacos:
*1 wild duck, defeathered and fully cleaned 
*3 celery stalks
*1 full head of garlic, in skin
*1/2 onion
*sea salt
*black pepper
*2/3 cup tamari
*1/4 cup water
*3 Tablespoons maple syrup
*1 Tablespoon rice vinegar
*1 tablespoon fresh grated ginger
*corn tortillas
*sour cream for serving
*chopped scallions
*lettuce for serving

Rise duck with cold water. Pat dry. Place in a dry crockpot with celery, head of garlic and onion. Season liberally with sea salt and black pepper. Pierce duck skin a few times with a sharp knife. 

Place on low heat for the course of a day. Remove duck skin and lift meat from bones with a fork. Transfer to a bowl. Reserve garlic. 

Meanwhile, bring tamari, water, maple syrup and rice vinegar to a simmer in a small saucepan. Add 3 cloves of softened garlic from crockpot and ginger. Whisk. Reduce contents by over half. Strain through a sieve and return sauce to saucepan. Add shredded duck meat. Gently simmer until meat has absorbed most of the liquid. 

Serve on warm corn tortillas with shredded lettuce, sour cream, chopped scallions and lime wedges. 

Monday, January 11, 2016

Studded Raw Kale Salad

There are a million recipes for kale salad so this is simply just one more, but I want to emphasize how good it is to have this prepared and available in the fridge this time of year. Granted, I am more of a cooked vegetable advocate for cold weather months, but if you aren't fighting a common cold or compromised in any particular way (I leave this diagnostic completely up to relativity), going raw for a spell is a like jumper cables for our winter psyche. A zap of greenness. After all, these greens did not come from the sunny, yet very far away state of California, but from an absolutely beautiful couple with ready smiles from the first day of indoor tailgate market. Sometimes you can look at certain individuals and think: "they probably have really nice soil."
The dried fruit and toasted nuts in this situation are great with a choice sharp or creamy cheese. Have a little plateful and remember, however bleak, these months are sacred.

Studded Raw Kale Salad:
*1 bunch good fresh kale
*1/2 cup toasted almonds, chopped
*1/2 cup Thompson raisins or dried cranberries
*1 cup dried apricots, chopped
*1/2 cup shredded cheese of choice
*balsamic vinaigrette of choice

Rinse kale and shake dry. Remove ribs. Then stack leaves and roll tightly together lengthwise. Chiffonade then transfer to a medium sized mixing bowl. Add the almonds and dried fruit. Mix. Then toss in the cheese. Drizzle with a balsamic vinaigrette of choice to coat. Toss and serve.

Sunday, January 3, 2016

Local Flat Iron Steak with Rosemary Rub

I've had quite a few conversations lately about eating meat and the decision to do so. This has never been a boring or easy topic for me on this journey as an eater. I write about meat and animals often. Animals are adored creatures over here, not just in real life. And we consume them..often. They give us companionship, affection, literally the coats on our backs to the shoes on our feet, they teach us about the world we live in, the importance of husbandry, and they give us sustenance. 
Seeing eye to eye on this topic is not necessarily my goal anymore, but honoring the animal on the table is. Most of this, for me, is making sure not to prepare a steak like a jack-ass. 

Whatever your plate holds, may it feed you well. 

Local Flat Iron Steak with Garlic Rosemary Rub:
*1 grass-fed flat iron steak (or top blade steak)
*3 garlic cloves, pressed through a garlic press
*3-4 heaping tablespoons fresh rosemary, finely chopped
*1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
*1 heaping teaspoon course sea salt
*1 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper
*1/2 teaspoon white pepper

Place a cast iron grill griddle over medium heat or prepare charcoal grill.
Rinse and dry steak with paper towels. Set aside.
In a small mixing bowl combine remaining ingredients. Slather onto both sides of steak.
Sear steak until rare to medium-rare, turing only once during cooking time. Time will vary depending on thickness of cut. Make sure not to over cook.
Allow to rest for 5 minutes before slicing and serving.


Friday, January 1, 2016

Southerner's Guide To New Year's

Since moving to the South, learning traditional food-ways (especially those of Appalachian influence)  has shaped nearly every aspect of my everyday cooking. I am grateful beyond words for those who have shared their traditions and stories with me, from my late Grandmother-in-law Zelma's sour cream pound cake to all the local producers who are bringing back the old ways, keeping things like sorghum syrup and fresh gristmill grits on the table. These individuals have added a richness to my personal sense of place greater than any other I have once called home. 

To these mountains; 
to the food gleaned from them,
 to the people within them 
and too all those beyond----
 my deepest gratitude
 a most prosperous 
New Year! 

~My brief rundown of why we eat what we do on the 1st of each New Year. From Wednesday's Asheville Citizen Times. ~

A Southerner’s guide to lucky New Year’s foods

New Year’s holds special culinary traditions across the globe. Most regions include some type of meat, greens and a legume to represent good fortune and prosperity. Since most New Year’s customs are rooted in the immigration and agricultural history of a place, each region celebrates the holiday with unique representations of good luck.
In the South, pork, leafy greens and black-eyed peas are most commonly on the New Year’s menu. Here is a little background as to why:
Black eyed-peas
Black-eyed peas have various reasons for making it on to the New Year’s Day list.
Part of the Jewish celebration of Rosh Hashanah for centuries, black-eyed-peas were brought to the U.S. by Sephardic Jews arriving in Georgia in the 1700s.
Before this, black-eyed peas — domesticated in Africa more than 5,000 years ago — are thought to have originally arrived in the South on slave ships during the mid-1600s, becoming a significant representation of African-American influence on southern agriculture and cuisine.
Mistaken as cattle food, black-eyed peas were left untouched after raids by the Northern Army during the civil war, offering confederate soldiers a critical food source, thus representing good luck.
Also thought to resemble coins, black-eyed peas symbolize financial luck for the coming year. Others believe this particular legume is chosen on New Year’s because they expand so generously, also representing financial gain.
The most common southern black-eyed-pea dish is known affectionately as Hoppin’ John, the leftovers given the name Skippin’ Jenny. Hoppin’ John is traditionally prepared with black-eyed peas or field peas, cooked rice, salt pork or hog jowls and vegetables. Children would often “skip” around the table when it was served.
It is advised among some to eat at least 365 black-eyed-peas on New Year’s day to ensure good luck for each day of the new year.
Pork, a commodity abundant in the South, is often thought of as good luck since a pig’s nature is to root forward and not look back, encouraging us to do the same in the coming year.
In contrast, to consume fowl on New Year’s is thought by some to bring bad luck since birds scratch backward and bring the association of “scratching for sustenance.”
In Southern culture, and many others, pork is a traditional symbol of prosperity and security for the less abundant winter months. Traditionally, a family with a summer fattened hog had little to worry about in the months to come. This is why pork is often thought of as good luck.
And because pork is marbled with fat, consuming pork on New Year’s Day is thought to bring “fat” times.
Leafy greens seem to be included in most regional menus on New Year’s since green represents the U.S. currency.
Polish and German communities greatly influence the traditions of the Midwest, including the consumption of sauerkraut on New Year’s. Cabbage, a late fall crop, takes 6-8 weeks to properly ferment, ready just in time for January meals.
In the South, collards, kale and turnip greens are cold-hardy enough to show up in winter dishes. A flat leaf resembling folding money, collards are the most popular New Year’s choice for Southerners.
Lastly, to continue the tradition of eating foods for monetary luck, the color gold is not to be ignored in a Southern New Year’s feast. This color is usually represented by cornbread, another agriculturally significant food of southern states.
Native Americans were the first to bake with ground corn, passing on the method to early settlers. When wheat was scarce, corn could be used in its place for baking. Traditional corn bread is made with little or no flour, no sugar and plenty of lard.
This year, make sure to embrace the power of tradition and set your intentions high. Begin Jan. 1 with black-eyed-peas for coins, greens for folding money and cornbread for gold. With this combination, brought together by a lucky pork roast — may we strive to move forward and not look back — the upcoming year should be off to a lucky start.