Crest Cottage Creations

Food, Family, and Fun in our little cottage…

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Pancake Mix

In preparing for the arrival for our new baby, I have been making as many things to freeze as possible.  This pancake mix is one of them!  It can be used for waffles and biscuits, too, but I usually make pancakes with it.  
The hardest part of making the pancake mix is cutting the butter into the flour… and even that isn’t that hard.  Nonetheless, I felt compelled to make it easier on myself.  I took a whole chunk (1 cup) of frozen butter and popped it into the food processor.
I let the butter go until it formed little butter balls.  In the meantime, I mixed together the dry ingredients (5 cups of flour, 1/4 cup baking powder, 2 T coconut palm sugar, and 1 t salt.
The butter was done, so I added it into the dry ingredients and stirred it together.
Now, the mix is ready to store!  The pancake recipe uses 2 cups of mix at a time, so that is the amount I freeze in each bag.

How do I use it?  Bacon Pancakes!!!
This post was shared on Your Green Resource!


Beef Stock with Lots of Gelatin

Did I ever post about the marrow I made?  No, I didn’t think so.  Well, a while back I made some delish roasted marrow bones with crusty bread and lemony salad.  I saved the bones to make beef stock.  Of course, in the meantime, I got a little distracted.  While I was cleaning out the freezer, I stumbled upon the bones and decided to make the stock.  
First, I put the bones into a huuuuuge pot.
I added in frozen veggie scraps.
I filled the pot up with water and cooked it for ages.  By ages, I mean a few days, on and off.  Then, I took the jar of gelatin-ey broth stuff from rendering tallow out of the fridge.  
It was so jiggly!  I poured/dumped it into the pot and let it melt in.  It would be a shame to let all that good gelatin go to waste. 
Once it was melted in, I strained the stock and froze it.  I can’t wait to start using it!!

This post was shared on Real Food Wednesday, Your Green Resource, Pennywise Platter, and Simple Lives Thursday!


I Rendered Tallow!!

I am so beyond excited right now.  I can barely contain it!  I rendered tallow!  Successfully!  We cooked french fries in it!  They were tasty!!
Okay.  I want to tell you about it.  But I am too excited.  I don’t even know where to start!
The beginning.  Good idea.  Here goes.
Occasionally our supermarket has a great deal on grass-fed beef.  The catch is, you have to buy the whoooooollllle tenderloin.  We do it, of course, and then John trims the layer of fat off and cuts it into steaks, cubes, and other shapes.  We realized that the fat would be GREAT to use to render tallow.  Sure, it isn’t the “best” fat to use, but we already had it.  It wouldn’t cost us anything to use it, and if it came out badly, it was no loss.  So, we saved it from the last 2 tenderloins and froze it.  When I worked up enough nerve, I took it out and started to render it.  Instead of letting it defrost (and then losing my nerve), I stuck it in a pot as a whole chunk of fat-n-meat.
It took forever to cook down.  I kept the heat on low (between a 2 and 3 on my electric stove) and tried to break it up as best I could as it defrosted and then melted.  After a few hours, it looked like this:
 I started scooping the meat out of the bowl and letting the fat drain off of it.  Finally, I had just melted fat and some tiny pieces.  
 I CAREFULLY poured it through a cheesecloth to get rid of as many solids as possible.
When it seemed clear, I put it into a mason jar to store it.  
When it cooled, it was a beautiful shade of white.  Success!
In the background of the picture above, you might notice the other jar.  It has a top layer of tallow, and the bottom is a gelatinous mixture.  I think it is because the original fat had a LOT of meat, connective tissue, and other “undesireable” things in it.  What is it?  Could it be gelatin?  It is really jiggly!

This post was shared on Real Food Wednesday, Simple Lives Thursday, Fat Tuesday, Pennywise Platter, Fight Back Friday, and Your Green Resource!


Home Made Ricotta

There is a restaurant/store in our town that has the most delicious ricotta ever.  Unfortunately, they had a huge amount of damage during Hurricane Irene and have been closed since.  I hear they will be opening sometime this month, and I can’t wait!  In the meantime, I decided to try making my own ricotta.  Here’s the scoop:
First, I warmed a half-gallon of grass-fed milk until it was about 190 degrees.
While it was heating up, I juiced a lemon.
When the milk was at the right temperature, I added in 4 tablespoons of lemon juice. That is supposed to get the cheesey curds to separate from the whey. 
It didn’t really work, so I added in 4 more tablespoons of white vinegar.  Then, we got some action.
I strained out the curds and placed them gently into cheesecloth over a colander over a bowl to let the whey drain out.
The finished product?

It was very tasty, but not as good as the restaurant ricotta.  That is probably because theirs is REAL ricotta, made from whey left from making mozzarella, and mine wasn’t.  Either way, I ate it and it was delish.  AND I had all this whey leftover!

Stay tuned to see what recipes all these goodies made it into.

This post was shared with the Hearth and Soul Bloghop, Real Food Wednesday, and Your Green Resource!


Cream of Nothing Condensed Soup

As you may have read, we were recently gifted a freezer.  Since then, I have been working hard to fill it up.  Hopefully, this will allow us to eat real food during busy/stressful/lazy times.  We should also be able to save some $$ because we won’t have to buy as many expensive premade items and we can buy in larger quantities at lower prices.  
One of the newest additions to the freezer is Cream of Nothing Condensed Soup.  You know all those recipes that call for a can of Cream of Chicken Soup or Cream of Mushroom Soup?  Most of them work really really well with leftovers, and can be premade earlier in the day and thrown in the oven later.  I always stumble upon them when I am looking for quick, easy recipes.  Unfortunately, we don’t really keep that in the house and I am not one to run to the store for ONE thing.  Especially when that thing had ingredients I’m not all that excited about.  
Ingredients in Campbell’s Cream of Chicken Soup:
Chicken Stock
Chicken Fat 
Modified Food Starch
Wheat Flour
Cooked Chicken Meat 
Cream (Milk)
Cooked Mechanically Separated Chicken
Margarine (Corn, Cottonseed, Canola , ( Soybean Oil , Water , Beta Carotene (For Color))
Contains Less Than 1% of: 
Dried Whey (Milk) 
Soy Protein Concentrate
Monosodium Glutamate
Yeast Extract
Vegetable Oil
Soy Protein Isolate
Sodium Phosphates
Autolyzed Yeast Extract
Chicken Flavor (Chicken Stock , Chicken Powder , Chicken Fat)
Spice Extract
Partially Hydrogenated Soybean and Cottonseed Oil 
Butter (Milk)
WHEW!  Not only is that list extensive, but what do YOU think the odds are that the Chicken products are from healthy, happy chickens?  You know…chickens that ate bugs, had space to frolic in, knew what dirt and plants were?  And the chicken stock, it was probably a nourishing bone broth made from said happy chicken, right?  
My cream of nothing soups have less ingredients for a few reasons.  
One- The don’t need MSG to taste like meat because they have actual flavorful meat in them.  
Two- I don’t have most of those ingredients
Three- I didn’t season them yet.  Depending on the recipe they will be used for, I can season them (and add the chicken, mushroom, broccoli, whatever) when they are being used.  I always have a variety of spices available, and this makes it easier to make it in large batches. 
Okay.  On to the recipe (and the photos, of course)!
First, I chopped up 2 T of butter and let it melt.
Then, I slowly whisked in about 6 T of whole wheat pastry flour until the butter was thick.
Next, I poured in 1 cup of my chicken broth and 1 cup of whole milk.  I used the gently pasteurized un-homogenized milk as opposed to the raw milk because it was being boiled.  Why waste the good stuff?
I let it gently boil until it was very thick.  
When it was ready, it was poured into jars, 15.5 ounces at a time.  I know that sounds like an odd number, but that is the size of the little cans.  
Now I can use this in any recipe that calls for a “can of cream of whatever soup” and know that I made it and it has a grand total of 4 ingredients, all of which I enjoy.
This post was part of an awesome series called Baby Steps to A Rockin’ Life, hosted at A Moderate Life.  Check it out for more great ideas!

This post was featured on Monday Mania at The Healthy Home Economist, Simple Lives Thursday at GNOWFGLINS, and The Hearth and Soul Bloghop!


Infused Oil

Every year John and I give home made gifts to my extended family.  We have done various cookies, of course, and last year we ventured into coasters.  That worked really well, and we needed something just as awesome for this year.  We settled on infused oils.  I had made them a few times before and it turned out really well, so it was sure to be a hit.  
Want to know how I made it?
First, I put a mix of olive and veggie oil in a pan with a heap o’ red pepper flakes in. 
I warmed it over a VEEEERRRRRRRRRRRRY low heat until the aroma started to fill the kitchen.  Then I poured it through a cheesecloth-lined sieve into a bowl.
The finished oil had a beautiful red-orange tinge. 
It was funneled into beautiful bottles.
I don’t have a photo of the finished products with the cute tags, but they were a big hit!