Relaxing in the courthouse

Found this guy sitting in the courthouse yesterday when I went to read the court reports…

Huh.

Thursdays are also Farmers’ Market Days, which is held in front of the courthouse. I guess someone bought this and didn’t have room in their office for it. I just thought it was kind of funny, that’s all.

Hummus, Haggle-style

I’ve been meaning to make some homemade hummus for a while now, but I just hadn’t gotten around to doing it. But this Sunday, I was bored and I had all these pita chips and nothing to dip them in…..

Stop – hummu-time!
Sheesh let’s see you make a hummus-based pun…

So anyways, we got ourselves two cans of chickpeas (one labeled chickpeas, the other labeled garbanzos), warmed over the stove, with their liquid. Added to that is a half cup of tahini, juice of one lemon, half cup of olive oil, and salt, pepper and garlic to taste. The topping is cayenne pepper, chopped parsley, and more lemon and olive oil.

It was pretty awesome, BUT, it could be smoother. I don’t have an actual food processor. I used my chef’s pal (or some similar brand name) and there’s only so long my arms could crank the bugger. Still, the flavor was spot on, and much better than store bought. Also, warmed chickpeas = warm hummus, which is awesome.

Salsa time!

From the top, we’ve got saucy salsa, corn salsa, and pico style salsa.

As you may have noticed in a previous post, we have fresh tomatoes from our garden. Due to a combination of drought conditions, lack of a hose and laziness, we haven’t had too much luck with the other denizens of our garden, but tomatoes we’ve got.Among these are a fairly good amount of Roma-type tomatoes for me to make sauces and salsa with. And Meghan has been bugging me to get on it and make some before the ‘maters go bad…but it’s been so freakin’ hot!

This morning it wasn’t though. I got my motivation together and made three kinds of salsa, as shown above. I use a handmill type chopper to cut up my ingredients, it’s sort-of a like a small food processor with only one blade and a hand crank to operate it.

I quartered onions and the tomatoes and cut the stems off of the pitifully few anaheim peppers from the garden. Tomatoes I cut the stems from and halved or quartered.

For the corn salsa, I mixed frozen corn with fresh chopped cilantro, some of the tomatoes, some canned green chilis, some diced jalapenos (unfortunately, from a jar), salt, pepper. and lime.

For the saucy salsa (I don’t really know what to call it, but it comes out like a salsa you might buy at a store in a jar, just much fresher), I added a can of Rotel tomato and green chili sauce, diced canned green chilis, the rest of the anaheims, more jalapenos, garlic from a jar, and the salt, pepper, and lime again. This was all simmered on the stove for about half an hour.

Finally, for the pico de gallo style salsa, I used the same ingredients as the saucy salsa, but omitted the Rotel sauce. When I finished running it through the mill, it was very green (and probably still really tasty), but I wanted some more tomatoes, so I cut up a  few more fresh ones (They weren’t quite as ripe as the others I used, but still, they were good.)

Overall, my favorite was the saucy salsa. It gained a bit of sweetness from the cooking. I’m not a huge fan of corn salsa for dipping, so that one’s standing may improve as I make some tacos or something to put it on. They were all awesome, and all better than salsas without garden-fresh stuff in them. Next season, I’ll improve my gardening technique and will have even more to work with.

We got ‘maters!

Our harvest in its “ripening spot.”

We’ve got a garden this year. We tilled a 25X5 foot plot behind our house and planted it with assorted vegetables.We have had some…setbacks, especially one with a rotted out head of cabbage that sort of surprised me. It’s been hot and dry here too, and we have no way to easily water our garden. However, the tomatoes have been doing pretty good.

Don, my father-in-law, says, “Be sure to pick ’em right when they first start to turn orange, otherwise, the squirrels will get ’em!”

I was skeptical, but I defer to Don, because, A) These things ripen up super fast and taste amazing, and B) One that got left on maybe a day too long had a nice little squirrelly bite taken out of it. Bastards.

Anyways Meghan and I got home last night from a drive and as we’re walking to the house, she shouts, “We’ve got ‘maters!” Sure enough, we had plenty that were ripe or near-ripe. Between the two of us, we could barely carry them all back to the house. I asked her to be my stylist for a few photos. The one on top I set up, this one is hers. (She admits to kind-of having a fetish over nice glassware and bowls).

Meghan got one of her favorite bowls for this, a wedding present. I’ll serve something up in a torn piece of cardboard if it’s relatively clean. That doesn’t fly with her.

Of course, since we were taking pictures of something on a table, we had the usual visitor. I took his picture after I finished with the tomatoes. Swear to God, I couldn’t get rid of the little booger when I wanted to shoot the tomatoes, but when I try to get him up there, he wants no part of it. Cats.

“I only do this to vex you” – Eddy. And really, all cats.

And now our home smells like a smokehouse again…

Smoked pork loin and chicken

So my brothers are back in the United States from China. Or they were, Willy went back yesterday, but in any event, we’ve recently seen them both for the first time in about a year. They came down here, we had some fun then headed back to Chicago for a great big barbecue, family and friends and fun. My contribution was barbecue pork. Ok, Meghan and I managed a lot of the food, but the barbecue was the highlight and by far, the most labor intensive dish.

I started out before they came to see me in Flora, defrosting the pork butt, then marinating it in a crockpot with an apple juice and meat tenderizer marinate, both soaking and injected. Then, I drained off the excess juice, then I coated it in Hagglerub, which Meghan insists I call “Haglund’s Country BBQ Seasoning” because she thinks “Hagglerub” sounds gross. Then onto my little offset smoker, charcoal for heat, water-soaked hickory (I’ve used apple, cherry and mesquite too) for smoke. After about 5 to 8 hours on the smoker, or basically, when I get tired of babysitting it, I pull it off and finish cooking in the kitchen.

Blasphemy! I know, a purist would cook it the whole way on the smoker. Don’t care.

So anyway, we put the thing in the oven, covered, with some water for a while; or in the case of my my brothers’ welcome home barbecue, into the slow cooker, also with some moisture, and I let it cook until morning. Then I toss the thing onto a cutting board, shred it, add some more seasonings and freeze it for the trip up there. Oh yeah, cooked barbecue is better once it has been frozen.

I reheated it in the slow cooker again and added a can of chicken broth for some more moisture. Overall, it’s the best barbecue I’ve made. Unfortunately, everyone else agreed as well. I went to gather a little to hoard and bring home, but none was left. Which brings us to where we are now. I had a sandwich, but I was left without the fix I wanted.

So I had a few assorted packages of meat in the freezer and I thought, let’s do something a little simpler on the process than the full pork shoulder and marinated up a Tyson Lemon pepper pork loin and a few chicken drummies. I injected the loin with some vegetable oil, because they tend to be a little lean. Then, apple juice marinate for the loin and an Italian Dressing based one for the chicken,onto the smker with hickory they go, and , VOILA! Look’s good, dontit?

Yes. Yes it does.

Delicious Haglund house Chicken Tikka Masala

Image

Delicious Haglund house Chicken Tikka Masala

Made chicken tikka masala last night after having it in Chicago over the weekend. I really liked it, and I also really like the fact that it’s supposed to be the quintessentially British dish of the new millennium, even if it’s “Indian.” It kind of reminds me of our “Chinese” General Tso’s Chicken, or of Taco Bell. Bastardizations can be awesome. I based it on the recipe “Chicken Tikka Masala, by Pastor Ryan” from the Pioneer Woman’s site.