Crest Cottage Creations

Food, Family, and Fun in our little cottage…


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Revisiting the Roasted Whole Chicken

Since my last post on the crockpot roast chicken, I have adapted my technique a bit.  Check it out, complete with new pictures.
To start, I stack the whole chicken on top of some veggies.  Onions are my favorite, but carrots are good, too.  Potatoes and celery also fit the bill.
I season the chicken with salt, pepper, and whatever other flavors I am in the mood for.  This one was paprika.  I cook it on low for about 8 hours.  Once it is done, I now crisp up the skin.  To do that, I place it on a roasting rack and broil it in the oven for a few minutes.
That is it!  Easy and it tastes great.  Now, I like to stretch out a chicken as much as possible.  The first night, we eat the legs (most recently, with onions and hyssop salad).
Then, I save the breasts for something else.  I usually use it on salads or in leftover cooking.
Then, I pick apart the rest of the chicken for scraps.  There is typically about a pint, sometimes more.  That is best suited for stir fries, soups, salads, or leftover cooking.
Now, I put the bones, skin that wasn’t eaten, and other scraps into the crockpot with all the veggie scraps I have saved in the freezer for this very occasion.
I fill it with water and apple cider vinegar and let it soak.  It is said that doing this extra step helps the nutrients in the bones become more available.  I’m not sure if it is true, but I figure it can’t hurt.  After it has soaked for a while, I cook it on high for a long time (usually until I have time to strain it).
Once it is cooked, I pour it through a mesh strainer into a big bowl and stick it in the fridge.  If a thick layer of fat forms, I skim it off.  Not because I don’t want it, but because I can then cook with it.  Free cooking fat!!
I typically end up with more than a half gallon of stock!
All in all, I get a dinner for 2 the first night, a dinner for 2 and lunch for 2 with the breasts, lunch or dinner for 2 with the scraps, cooking fat for a meal or two, and broth for a while!  Not too bad for one chicken, huh!This post was shared on Make Your Own Monday and  Simple Lives Thursday!
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Homemade Fettucine with Alfredo Sauce

For Macaroni Monday this week, I made fresh soaked whole wheat fettucine. I used this recipe as my blueprint.  I mixed together the whole wheat flour, water, whey, and salt the night before . 
I kneaded it up, coated it with olive oil, and let it sit overnight.
 In the morning, I rolled it out thinly in batches.
I then rolled the dough up loosely to slice.
I sliced up the dough log into fettucine-width slices.
Each piece of dough was then unrolled and hung to dry.  Yes, in case you were wondering, that is my clothes drying rack… and yes, I washed it before and after.
When it was time for dinner, I served it with our home made alfredo sauce and parsley.


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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!


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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!


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What To Do With Whey

After making ricotta cheese the other day, I was left with more than a quart of whey.  I wanted to use it, but I already had a plethora of lacto-fermented veggies, which is what I usually use it for.  After some extensive research (Google), I decided to try making bread with it.  I found a recipe that seemed hard to screw up, which was important to me after my last bread disaster. 
To start, I melted 5 T of butter in 1 cup of milk and 3/4 cup of whey. 
As it melted, I mixed together 5 cups of flour, 2 t salt, 1 T coconut palm sugar, and 4 1/2 t yeast.
When the butter was melted, I added it to the dry ingredients.
I used the stand mixer to knead it together for about 5 minutes.  Then, I shaped it into 2 funny-looking loaves.
I placed the loaves on the toaster oven, crossed my fingers, and hoped it would rise.  It did!
It baked in the oven 425* for about half an hour.  I would show you a picture, but John dug into it before I could.  It is a simple-tasting bread, but I like the idea that the whey added a little something extra.  Even if there is no nutritional value to it, I used a byproduct of cooking that would have otherwise gone to waste. 
Other things I used the whey for? 
Soaking Beans
Cooking Rice for this delish risotto!  I will share THAT with you next time.
This post was shared on Your Green Resource and Pennywise Platter Thursday!


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Fermenting Again!

It’s so nice to have the energy to devote to creating.  We haven’t started any fermented veggies in FOREVER, so I tackled that today. 
First on the list?  Dill Pickles.  Don’t the cucumbers look so pretty in the jars?
We had fresh dill from our last CSA delivery, so I added that to the jars, along with sea salt, mustard seed, and whey.  
The other thing I got fermenting was a sauerkraut concoction.  I started out shredding a head of cabbage and 2 apples.  I read in a few different places that adding apples will give it a different taste, so I am trying it out. 
It needed more color, so I added in a ton of carrots.
I sprinkled salt on top to get the juice out of the produce.
After mixing it together and letting it sit for a little while, I smushed it all up.
Into the jars it went, with some whey and water!
Since our house is relatively chilly, it will take more than a few days for them to get going, so I’ll keep you posted!

This post was shared on Real Food Wednesday with Kelly the Kitchen Kop and Simple Lives Thursday at GNOWFGLINS!


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Musings on My Bloodwork

I went to the doctor for my physical and I also had some routine bloodwork done.  This week I got the results back and I wanted to discuss a few things with you all. 
In general, the results were great.  I had great levels of the vitamins they tested for and my blood sugar was in a healthy range.  The only note on the chart was about my cholesterol.  It was “high.”
Well, the “overall” number was only 12 out of the preferred range.  Twelve WHAT over the range, I don’t know.  My “good” cholesterol was good, above the minumum they wanted.  The problem was my “bad” cholesterol.  “They” want it to be under 100, and mine was 135. 
::Cue panic::
Not my panic, mind you, but the panic that I was SUPPOSED to be exhibiting.  After this revelation, as I sat there in the office, my doctor started rattling off the things I shouldn’t be eating.  The beginning, it was good,  “Are you eating out more?  That could have something to do with it.  Make sure you are getting enough exercise, too.”  Then, it started.  “Try not to eat too much red meat.  No full fat dairy, only skim.  What oils are you using?  Stick with only olive oil.” 
You get the picture.
I didn’t say anything to her.  I like my doctor.  She is a good doctor.  She doesn’t push medications for everything.  I have asthma, and she supports the fact that I (for the most part) manage it on my own.  On the flip side, when I need her, she helps.  Honestly, it wasn’t worth the debate.  I may someday take this up, but I’ve found that people that are sold on the “meat is bad! fat is bad!” diet craze are very resistant to hearing the opposite. 
You may be asking what I WILL be doing about my “high cholesterol.” 
Nothing.  I am doing nothing about it.  I look and feel better than I have in a very, very long time.  I have great levels of all the vitamins they are checking.  My blood pressure is great.  Most importantly, I don’t know that having cholesterol slightly higher than the level recommended by doctors is going to lead to anything terrible.  I have heard that high cholesterol is correlated to other diseases, but is the cholesterol the cause?  Not necessarily!  Contrary to what many medical and pharmaceutical professionals would like you to think, correlation is NOT causation.  
I may change how I feel about this over time.  I may not.  Right now, I am going to continue eating in a way that feels right.  I refuse to let some arbitrary limits change my common sense.  
Those are my thoughts.  What are yours?

This post was featured on Simple Lives Thursday with GNOWFGLINS and the Hearth and Soul Bloghop!