Spiced Coffee Liqueur

Contains:  Alcohol, added sugar.  Is:  An adult beverage, vegan, vegetarian. 

I prefer to use a white (clear) rum over a caramel-colored one.  Your mileage may vary.      

coffee, liqueur, beverage, rum, alcohol

Some Ingredients awaiting the venture into rum.

Goal here is NOT to turn this into a pumpkin or apple spice – hence, I left out cinnamon and nutmeg.

I suppose one can use a previously-spiced commercial rum here, but I’ve yet to find one whose tastes I can remotely tolerate.

Spiced Coffee Liqueur

  • 2 cups / 240 mL rum.
  •  9-10 cloves of clove.  
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cardamom.
  • 2 tablespoons coarsely ground coffee.  
  •  1/2 of the zest of an orange.  
  • 1:1 water + sugar. (I used a granulated light brown coconut sugar, but use as you choose)

Special equipment:  Muslin or several layers of cheesecloth.  I am informed I can buy plain muslin at a fabric store such as Joann’s.  In a real pinch, a few layers of undyed paper towel will work.  But you can re-use the muslin or cheesecloth.

Combine everything from the rum to the zest in a easy-to-tightly close jar.   Tightly close it, and shake ever so often for the next five (or so) days.

Decant at that point through a fine sieve and through the muslin/cheesecloth, into a suitable bowl or measuring cup, preferably with a spout.

Make a simple syrup using 1 part water and one part granulated sugar (v/v).  You can also do this by weight/weight which will yield similar enough results.  If you prefer a sweeter liquor than I do, you can go up to 1 part water to 2 parts sugar, but do test this before you make it quite that sweet.  You can make excess simple syrup to keep on hand for future projects – it will store well.

Mix the strained stock liqueur one to one (v/v) with the simple syrup.

To serve:

  •  Option 1:  Add a small amount (an ounce or less) to an aperitif glass.
  •  Option 2:  Pour a shot (an ounce) over ice, add unflavored seltzer water to taste and desired “kick”.

This beverage is 40 proof if made according to directions (20% alcohol) – as described for Option 1.   I seriously do NOT recommend using 141 (proof) rum!!!!  Shuddering at that over-inebriated thought!

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A Quick Chirashi Bowl, Japanese-Inspired

Contains:  Seafood, grains.  Is: Quick and easy.  

The Feast of the Seven Fishes didn’t happen for me here this past year.  I did manage to make four of the seven, but I will write this up so you can use whatever you have available, and chirashi certainly is great ANY time of the year.   I thought I had salmon frozen away – but it remains elusive.  

recipe, chirashi, seafood

A chirashi bowl with more ingredients topping the rice than standard. Normally, you SHOULD see the rice!

Chirashi is a Japanese dish where sashimi (seafood, often raw) and a few light vegetables of Japanese origin is laid over a bed of sushi rice, prepared the Japanese way (with a little rice vinegar and a little sugar mixed in).  

I will be doing a riff on a real chirashi – it was a last minute concept since 1) I couldn’t find the salmon and 2) some of the other ingredients I’d normally include were not in my house at the time.  Just don’t EVER pass this off as authentic – and don’t limit yourselves to the attempt to find a couple unusual ingredients I DID manage to include!  

I made the Japanese sushi rice in itself authentically – I have a stash of that rice, and some rice vinegar and some sugar – and a rice cooker.  But…

I also cooked in some rehydrated shiitake mushroom, and a little rehydrated “tree ear” fungi.  

The kingfish I found at the bottom of my freezer is a stand-in for the missing salmon.  I had gotten the kingfish from a Korean grocery, pre-COVID.  Sub with any finned fish you like or feel to be appropriate.  

Had they been available, I would have added perilla leaves.  Maybe half of an Asian pear, in slices.  An avocado half, sliced.  As it was, the grape tomatoes were needing to be eaten, and my lone avocado was… dead.   

At any rate, find what you can find, and work with it.  Keep some wasabi and/or soy sauce/tamari and/or ginger slivers aside.  Had I been thinking further – a good sprinkle of toasted sesame seeds?  

Chirashi, lumpfish caviar

When flying fish roe is unavailable — punt!

This was made for one (no sides, no dessert).  

Prep Time: About 10 minutes active, but let the mushrooms/fungi soak for at least 45 minutes. 
Cook Time:  About 40 minutes.
Rest Time: Eh?
Serves:  1 or 2, depending if there are sides.
Cuisine:  Adapted from Japanese
Leftovers:  Not quite as good.

A Quick Chirashi-Influenced Dish

  • 1/2 cup sushi rice
  • 3/4 cup water
  • 2 small to medium sized dehydrated “tree ears” (a type of fungus)
  • 3-4 dehydrated shitake mushrooms
  • 1 tablespoon rice vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon Kosher or flake salt

Various toppings of your choice – mine were:  

  • 3-4 raw sea scallops from a reputable source, sliced in half or thirds depending on size.  (These were bought fresh, and I froze them for a good FIVE days prior to use.)  
  • A heaping teaspoon of lumpfish roe (flying fish row is even better)
  • Deboned meat from one small kingfish fillet.  (This should be cooked – pan fried or baked)
  • Five or six medium-sized shrimp, shells removed, and deveined.  (These should also be cooked, pan-fried, steamed or baked.)  
  • Five or six grape tomatoes, sliced in half.
  • A scallion/green onion, sliced.  
  • One fresh raw quail egg yolk.  Discard the white.
  • Wasabi.

Optional topping ideas that I wish I had (or had thought of):   (Adjust quantities of the above if you are adding in additional things.  Adjust if things are out and out substitutions for ingredients above.)

  • Half an avocado, sliced.
  • High quality salmon, raw.  (PS, especially with salmon, I do a HARD FREEZE of this for at least five days before serving raw.)  
  • High quality tuna (yellowfin), raw.
  • Mung bean sprouts.  
  • Salmon roe
  • Japanese-style pickled ginger
  • Sesame seeds, white or black, perhaps toasted.  
  • Cilantro/coriander leaves.  
  • Tomago (the Japanese omelet).

Rehydrate the tree ears and the dried shiitake in warm or hot water for around an hour or so.  Remove the fungi/mushrooms and reserve the liquid for another recipe.  Chop up the mushrooms and tree ears to small pieces and discard any bits that are still tough.

Make the rice.   You need to rinse rice three or four times until the water runs clear of the starch.  

I used a rice cooker but a pot on the cooktop is fine.  Add the rice, water, salt, and the shiitake and tree ears together in the cooker or pot.  Cook as per instructions for your rice.  

While the rice is cooking, cook any topping ingredients that need to be cooked.  In my case I pan-fried the kingfish and the shrimp.  

For the kingfish: Pan fry on medium high with a little oil, adding some pepper and a tiny sprinkle of hot pepper flakes if desired.  Flip a fillet after cooking about 3 minutes, then cook longer for another 3 minutes.  Remove and slice into pieces.  

For the shrimp:  De-shell and de-vein.  Including the tail of the shell, although that’s not essential.  

For pan-frying, Pan fry on medium high with a little oil, adding a dash of ground pepper.  Cook for 1.5-2 minutes a side, depending on the size of your shrimp.  As you complete, add a dash of toasted sesame oil

For a boil, heat up a pot of water to a boil.  Add the shrimp, reduce to a simmer, and allow to simmer about 2 minutes.  If you go too long, shrimp goes MUSHY.  

When the rice is ready, place in a largish bowl, and top at will, aiming for some type of aesthetic presentation.  

Sit down and ENJOY!  

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Cooking Artichokes the Simple Way

Contains:  Nothing known to be allergen-problematic, depending on the dip.  Is:  Vegetarian, and depending on your dip, vegan.  Gluten-free, potentially Paleo, Whole30.  Easy.

recipe, artichoke, vegan, vegetarian, simple, easy

One of my favorite vegetables as a kid, and even now as an adult, is the artichoke.  

Mother always simmered or steamed them in a pot on the range, no muss, no fuss.  

The raw artichoke, with bottom leaves removed.  And the raw stem.

I am now seeing all these recipes where one stuffs artichokes, and I read the comments from people who note “NO, I won’t go through all that bother to get so LITTLE out of an artichoke!“.  Don’t blame them a bit.  

So, in the interests of simplicity, here is Mother’s recipe for cooking artichokes.  This does require the time and patience to sit around and enjoy, perhaps over good conversation.  Family (or friend) bonding time.  And, because they are slow to eat, satiety kicks in and you don’t need to over-eat.  I can eat two large ones with dip – and that’s all I need for dinner!  Not hungry for a bedtime snack or anything.  (Which is something I seldom have, anyway.)  

Mother loved the Catalina salad dressing for dipping.  Until they reformulated it about 30 years ago to make it more sweet and more “appealing” to the public.  We considered the change “appalling”.  Artichokes simply got served less often once that happened.  I did eventually do a Catalina Dressing Makeover.  The dressing is also awesome with Mom’s grapefruit and avocado salad.  

PS:  The artichoke (Cynara cardunculus var. scolymus) is the flower bud of a plant in the thistle family.  It originated in the Mediterranean region of the planet.  The flower bud is considered to be high in healthy antioxidants.  

recipe, artichoke, vegan, vegetarian, simple, easy

Photo: Fred.th à Montpellier, France,, CC by SA 3.0, Wikipedia. Artichoke flower in bloom.

 

Prep Time:  5 minutes.
Cook Time:  50 – 75 minutes, depending on artichoke size.
Rest Time:  Not needed.
Serves:   2 for a complete meal, 1 as a side or early dish.
Leftovers:  Sure.

Cooking Artichokes the Simple Way

  • 2 large artichokes per person.  (As a side, just one per person.)  
  • Dipping sauce.  Preferably a creamy yet mostly tangy salad dressing, one that remains emulsified.  

Take each artichoke, and chop off the stem.  Then chop off about a quarter inch of the bottom of the stem (it’s usually black).  Save the stem and discard that bottom.  (You are cutting off the stem to enable the body of the artichokes to stand upright in the steamer or in a pot.)  

You can remove and discard the first one or two rounds of leaves at the base of the artichoke, as there is little “meat” there.  

You can optionally slice off the top of the artichoke in order to remove most of the piercing needles.  We never did.  My brother and I never hurt ourselves more than once on those needles, even as young children.  Nor did this turn us “off” of artichokes!  

Place in a pot or steamer, bottom sides down, and add the stems anywhere.  Add water – enough to steam , or enough to mostly cover the artichokes. 

Set the pot or steamer to boil, and reduce water to a simmer.  Cover loosely and cook for 50 – 75 minutes, depending on artichoke size.  Reach in and test for done-ness – if a leaf not near the bottom pulls away easily, you are done.  

You can make your own dressing – make something that has enough thickness that it adheres to the leaves rather than a vinaigrette which rolls right off.  Or find a quality salad dressing that meets your needs – a bit of tang is seriously welcome here.  

Sit down, make yourselves comfortable, and enjoy. 

For the stalk:   cut off the more fibrous parts of the cylinder, and eat the inside .  

For the flower bud itself:  

recipe, artichoke, vegan, vegetarian, simple, easy

Go up as far as you can on the leaf, pull off the “meat” that is on the internal side with your lower teeth….

Pull off each leaf by hand, dip the base of the leaf into the dip, then scrape off the meat from the base between your teeth – the “cup” part of the teeth should be against your lower set of chompers.  Go up as far as the meat goes – the leaves will get more tender and meaty as you go in.  

Leaves will eventually get smaller, and you can eat nearly every part of those – except that pointy tip.  

About the choke:  Eventually, you’ll get to the center of the artichoke.  There’s a fuzzy layer here, and some vestigial leaves arising from it.  Using your spoon or your place setting knife, scrape out the fuzzies and discard.  This stuff prickles badly going down – so don’t bother!  

Below that is the heart, the ultimate prize!  If you’ve only had them pickled from a jar, prepare for these to taste differently, and a whole world of good.   I chop in half or quarters, and  plunge them into the dipping sauce, to eat with a fork.  

recipe, artichoke

The Heart of the Matter – with the Choke.

REGARDS BABY ARTICHOKES:  Sometimes you find these sold in packages of say, six, and they are about 2 inches (5 cm) or so long, and very narrow.  You can eat the chokes on these, and you can almost eat the entire artichoke – the leaves are mostly “meat” except the very tops.  If you see those, they’re done simmering at about 20 minutes.  I only prep those by chopping of that dark bottom of their stems, and I don’t mind them rolling around in the pot while cooking.  Obviously, a lot more than a couple per person.  Taste-wise, they are almost buttery.  They tend not to be as easy to find in groceries.  

recipe, artichoke, vegan, vegetarian, simple, easy

Annie’s Balsamic Dressing

Someday, someday, I will try stuffing an artichoke.  But they’re so good this way, my resolve to try that has been to date sorely tested.  And the resolve has come up lacking.  

recipe, arti

As it is now 2021:  

Foodie/Fotografic goals (NOT RESOLUTIONS – there IS a difference) for 2021:  

      • February will be East Asian Recipes Month.  Having the Asian New Year’s then is a stimulus for that.  
      • May will be Vegetarian/Vegan Recipes Month.  
      • Somewhere before May there will be an Impossible/Beyond/Pasture-Finished Beef taste test comparison.  Probably not fair to the faux meat comparison, but I refuse to eat highly processed supermarket or fast food ground beef, comparing or not.  
      • There will be a number of more Greek recipes in the next few months.  Dying to create!  Still remains my favorite European cuisine. 
      • I am working on re-vamping this blog website.  WordPress moved to new software, a “block” mode; and I’ve mostly stuck with Classic.  I will always keep some aspects of Classic, but I would like to utilize a few or more of the new ideas.  Unfortunately a lot of it is being a PITA, and certainly not self-explanatory or useful until I (hopefully) can learn more.  Hey, I learned how to work the 1980s CP/M operating system back in the day of the mid-80s, you’d think this would be easily do-able as well????)  You may see some bad or sad moves here at the blog until things settle down…. 
      • Photography.  Improving actual composition, photography itself, and post work.  I will be the first to admit that if my food is going to get cold before the best photo is taken – sorry, dinner will STILL win.  I am not being paid to be a “Food Stylist” after all.  But, otherwise, I am going to UP my photography game.  As well as in other arenas.  
      • Back in the mid to late 90s, I’d started a herbal website, focusing on medicinal uses and Medline results.  That has been in severe hiatus for well over a decade – nearly two.  The site still exists – but looks and pretty much is, totally awful, so I won’t get the links up for a few more months.  (It will have its own domain.)  
      • I want my own farmstead to have its own website and domain – with content.  I keep debating the “BEST NAME”, which is still highly annoying to me.  Since it may be a few years before there are goats here, it won’t be called Goats and Greens.  But the site will happen this year.  


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Welcome, 2021 – and a Bit about the Last Meal of 2020: Steak, Potatoes, and Cabbage Greens

I welcome in a new year, and hopefully this can help send certain portions 2020 to perdition. But as with any year, there are things to learn from their existence and passing. We will all each have our own lessons, our own insights.

Motivational Mug O’ Java

With this New Year, I now have but one cat (the 19 year old ragdoll named Serenity, who also roams the Internet under the pseudonym, Miw).

There are 6 chickens in the main coop, including Celeste my pet, and Roo the Plymouth barred rock rooster. Eight pullets and cockerels reside in the second coop. I have five chickens in a final home that mostly need to find their way to a freezer soon.

Later today I will post my brunch, assuming it turns out fine: the Italian Cotechino con Lenticchie (a specific pork sausage plus golden lentils). A good luck New Year’s Day meal that seems to hail from northern Italy.

Last night, however, I made:

Skillet-Fried Bone-in Ribeye Steak
with bacon fat, ground pepper, and about a quarter teaspoon of flake Kosher salt.

Coarsely Mashed Yukon Gold Potatoes and a Cortland Apple
with Muenster and Provolone Cheese,
and with salt, ground pepper, and nutmeg

Pan-Fried Chopped Savoy Cabbage
with Cayenne Pepper

I thank my friends Scott, Melissa and Amy for pooling together for a meat box from Proud Cow towards my December birthday – from which the ribeye came.
The Yukon potatoes came from my own yard.

Without writing up the entire recipe – this would probably serve two if one increases the amount of cabbage – which I wish I had. That steak weighed approximately 400 grams/12 ounces. The potatoes you see in the image were about half of the amount cooked. The only recipe notes I’ll make here is that I used about six medium/small potatoes and one apple (cored). The apple was chopped and added when there was about 10 minutes cooking time remaining for the potatoes. Skins remained on both. Drain if necessary and fold in the cheese, add seasonings to taste. Three slices each of both cheeses, added after the potatoes are cooked. Stir with a large spoon until melted but not fully combined. Keep warm in oven at about 200 F while preparing everything else. Or, simply feel coordinated and time it to be ready when the meal is.

I have leftovers of the potato dish and a little bit of the steak. The steak turned out a perfect medium-rare. (You will have to adjust via your own cooktop.) It did not need garlic nor Worcestershire sauce. I’d allowed it to sit out for about 45 minutes before cooking. Ribeye naturally has some fat, and that fat cooks into the meat for added flavor – obviously (?) I didn’t eat any truly fatty portions.

You may also question why I add so little salt to the steak? 2) I used bacon fat, which has a salt load already. 2) I really DO NOT LIKE THE TASTE OF overly salted beef. There is a reason why salt shakers are on most tables. Definitely start with a little, as it does work into the more central sections of meat – but let people adjust further at the table to THEIR preferences! The last time I ate steak out at a restaurant (February 2020, Vermont), everything at that meal was stupendous – except for the over-salty steak! My companions agreed with me. The steak otherwise had been done to perfection. A shame.

The above was my last meal of 2020. It was pretty darn good!

At any rate, six favorite recipes I posted here last year, just in date order:

Papoutsakia: Greek Stuffed Eggplant

Chikhirtma: Georgian Chicken Soup

Vegetarian Onion and Olive Fritatta

Savory Gluten-Free Tapioca, Oat, and Buckwheat Bread

Menudo: Mexican Tripe Soup

Mom’s Turkey Stuffing & Giblet Gravy

Two of the above came from (and were perhaps slightly adapted from) Christopher Kimball’s Milk Street suggestions.

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Leg of Lamb with Yogurt, Mint, Orange and Cardamom

Contains:  Dairy.  Is:  Gluten-free, soy-free.

lamb, leg of lamb, recipe, orange, cardamom, yogurt, mint

Cooked, rested, garnished – ready to slice into!

I assume one could try a coconut yogurt with this. to remove the dairy.

This lovely leg came from a half lamb obtained at a farm back down in Connecticut, which I picked up last March, and have now decided I really want to eat.

I had been saving it up for a big feast, but not going to happen this year.  I’ll try to purchase another next year.

lamb, leg of lamb, recipe, orange, cardamom, yogurt, mint

The marinate and Rub-Down, prior to cooking.

Source recipe:  Yogurt-Marinated Lamb with Cardamom and Orange.  I eyeballed measurements rather than actually measuring, today.

I also used some of the actual orange pieces for garnish,   I opted for medium-rare, although leaving this in about 20 minutes longer should yield a lighter pink than what I ended up doing.

lamb, leg of lamb, recipe, orange, cardamom, yogurt, mint

This side is rare to medium rare. the other side is more medium rare to medium.

Prep Time:  10 minutes plus 1 hour marinating.
Cook Time:  Up to about 1:45 minutes.
Rest Time:  15 minutes.
Serves: 6-8.
Leftovers:  Yes.

Leg of Lamb with Yogurt, Orange, Cardamom and Mint

  • One 5-to-7-pound leg of lamb, preferably at room temperature;
  • ½ cup whole-milk yogurt
  • ¼ cup chopped fresh mint, plus more for garnish
  • 2 tablespoons orange zest
  • 2 teaspoons ground cardamom
  • 1 teaspoon salt, or to taste
  • 2 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper

Heat the oven to 425º.

Remove as much of the surface fat as is practical from the lamb, but leave fat cap.

Mix together the yogurt, mint, orange zest, cardamom, salt and pepper; rub the meat all over with the yogurt mixture. If you have time, let the lamb sit for an hour or more (refrigerate if it will be much longer).

Put the lamb on a rack in a roasting pan. (You might line the pan first with aluminum foil to make cleanup easier.)

Roast for 30 minutes, then check; if the lamb threatens to burn, turn the heat down to 350º; otherwise leave it at 425º.  (Since I HAD to go outside to do chicken farming work before an oncoming storm, I put it down to 375 F.)

After about 1 hour (total) of roasting, check the internal temperature of the lamb with an instant-read thermometer. Continue to check every 10 minutes; when it reaches 130 for medium rare (125 for very rare) in its thickest part (check it in several places), it’s done. Total cooking time should be less than 1.5 hours. Let it rest for a few minutes before carving.

Serve garnished with more chopped mint (and in my case, with orange segments). 

Suggestions:  Next time slice parallel cuts into the lamb prior to adding the marinate, and rub some of this into those slits.

Leftover Ideas:  Add some to salads, or on an open-faced toasted cheese sandwich.  Or place small pieces into omelets.  Save the bone for stock.

lamb, leg of lamb, recipe, orange, cardamom, yogurt, mint

Recipe is shared with:

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Apologies Regards Missing Greek Christmas Cookie Recipe

It will be made this winter, and turn up NEXT December, early that month.  Unfortunately I thought I could find the almonds locally in time.  So it won’t be made right now.

Wishing everyone a wonderful Holiday / Christmas / Yuletide season, with friends and family if you can do so.  There WILL be one or two New Year’s recipes upcoming shortly.

xmas cards-night house

snowstorm aftermath deck shoveling-

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Homesteading in Winter: Quail – Rearing Info, Plus Winterizing the Outdoor Coop in New England

It is officially Winter here, the Solstice is upon us.  It’s up from here – at least as far as hours of sunlight go.  It only promises to get colder and snowier as January and February arrive.  AND no, I don’t regret moving to the hills of New England for retirement – while I prefer moderation in all things (except perhaps good food), I can deal with extreme cold better than with extreme heat (and humidity).

homesteading, quail, coturnix, housing

Quail housing condos viewed from my back door. Practical over aesthetic here. Come mid-spring the tarp and sheet and plywood boards will come down. An 8-unit quail house, only the two center levels are occupied. In the far distance left – the main chicken coop house. Chicken crate in front for the moment. Unit faces south so when it is sunny out, I raise the sheet.

All the quail are currently outdoors.  Their units are close to the back of the house and under the deck.

homesteading, quail, coturnix, housing

Peek-a-Boo! Perfectly fine this morning of plus ONE degrees F. (Although I admit I waited until it was 9 degrees out there to bring my camera). The tarp doesn’t breath well, so I I used a sheet to be a wind and wet-break for the front.

On December 19th, I woke to 1 Degree Fahrenheit outside.  That’s the old archaic temperature system, not the centigrade or Celsius system most of the world uses.  (Ie, it started off at MINUS 17.2 Degrees Celsius here…)  I didn’t expect the temperature to drop that much, but all the quail survived and none look hypothermic.  In fact, they went to town on the feed!  Mostly ignoring the water I replaced their ice with.  

homesteading, quail, coturnix, female

My darkest quail from the original batch.

We had our first real bolus of heavy snow starting late December 16th until the 17th, about mid-day.  It blew a lot, but there was at least 18 inches on my deck table.  So, I guess at least 20 inches total accumulation, if it didn’t spend its time drifting around.

I have 14 surviving quail as of today, 6 from the first batch of 12 day-olds, and 8 from the last batch of 29 (eggs in this case), 14 of which hatched, however briefly.   .   

I lost a few from my first batch (April) out of pure stupidity – I got some hardy day old quail from a person two towns over, and lost one the middle of the first night because I went down to check water, and didn’t wear my glasses.  I put the water dish back down on top of the tiny little one that I didn’t see because – yep, I wasn’t wearing glasses.  Discovered the body the next morning.  A few other stupid things after that, one of which might have had worse repercussions than just quail loss had I not been in checking them in time… let’s just say I’m not fond of high intensity brooder heat lamps…  Then, there was the guy who got caught behind the bedding… I now know how to do bedding properly.  Seven of the twelve survived to adulthood.  One turned into a bully, but before I could figure out what to do with that one (freezer?), it turned up dead – the remaining six of the first batch are fine and kindly to one another.   They started laying by Week 9.  And they are prolific!  (Or were, until the light shut down.)  They are four tuxedo Coturnix quail, and two near-solid patterns, one black and one dark brown.  One is small and keeps fitting through the bars to the other condo unit on their level.  I would have culled this one, but it is an egg-laying hen.  (Males are typically smaller than females, but this one appears to be an exception – plus this lot is a blend of breeds, in which case you can’t sex by size!) 

quail winterized dec 19 older-

A few of the first batch of Coturnix, feeding.  I use mini-loaf pans between the two units.  Weight them down with a heavier flat rock at the bottom, as these are otherwise light enough for the quail to flip over – especially the one who fits through the bars.  These are Tuxedo. The bars as you can see are wider for feeding, and narrow enough on the outside that the quail will NOT get out, assuming your birds are old enough to put outdoors.   

I took three of their eggs and incubated them along with a batch of eggs I obtained from a hatchery.  This was October.  All three of my home-grown eggs hatched (but two were terribly weak and died shortly.)  The eggs I got from the hatchery had about a 30% hatch rate, with only two un-hatched fetuses when I opened the un-hatched up.  One of those had tried to get out but failed – but I will note a 7 hour power failure the day before hatching.  This may have contributed to some “failure to thrive”.  

homesteading, quail, coturnix, housing

The younger batch, a variety called “blond”. One tuxedo (from an egg laid by the older batch) is with them. The quail water canister gets changed out as it turns to ice. Yes, the  floor is dirty, but it is frozen-on.  It will be warmer later this week and will be cleaned.

(While I plan to get the whole-house generator system installed in 2021, I don’t know that exact date, so I will be getting a small solar source that will keep these guys going before anything like this happens again.) 

I lost a few of the surviving quail, and not from anything stupid this time around.  Failure to thrive.  

Nine became adults, including the one hatched from my own home-grown egg.  After I put them outdoors at age 6 weeks, I found one dead.  It wasn’t that cold out… but I panicked and brought the survivors back indoors for another week.

As of now, there are 6 of the first batch and 8 of the recent batch, out there and thriving.  One Degree Fahrenheit doesn’t seem to phase them – given wind blocking and not getting wet..

I will check out a different hatchery for my next purchases.  I’d also work with the local (April) quail raiser, again.  Those quail were hardy – but I had problems with regard to my “newbie” status, not with those quail themselves.  But in 2021, I’m looking at some specific breeds.

homesteading, quail, coturnix, blond

The lightest of the blonds from the recent batch.

 

THOUGHTS AND RECOMMENDATIONS

  • Figure out why you want quail.  (For me, I wanted eggs, meat, and something different to challenge myself with all the COVID-19 shutdowns.  I am also not adverse to breeding some up here on my homestead.)
  • What are your quail limits where you live?  I can only have Coturnix or button quail here without a permit.  Button are too small to be worth my while.   
  • Any expertise?  (No, the chicken expertise didn’t truly carry on, although it wasn’t harmful.)
  • Plan out incubation (if starting from eggs), brooder issues (heat, water, safety for both the babies and your home), and regular housing for adults.
  • Note that quail will fly at an early age.  You have around two weeks before you have to top your brooder to keep them in – and that time point will vary a bit depending on the depth of your brooder.  
  • I grind their feed lightly while they are young.  You don’t want to grind it into dust.  I am using a coffee grinder repurposed to grains.  (Whether for me or for them.)  
  • If you have too many quail surviving until adulthood, are you prepared to put some in the freezer?  Or re-home those?  (I was about to re-home one mean quail into that freezer but he died  a day before that happened.)
  • Plan your adult quail housing.  They don’t come home at night, like chickens do.  Besides, everything LIKES chicken.  Even more things LIKE and can capture tiny quail that might be intimidated by the presence of a full grown chicken rooster or even a hen.  The word I have seen is plan either a tall aviary (six feet high or more) or a unit that is no more than about 20 inches high).  Quail startle easily, and the little guys can give themselves fatal concussions by bouncing up at a ceiling, say three feet high.  
  • If you live where Winter Happens, do you have plans in place for them?  1) Water – they are right outside my back door and I have extra quail waterers, so I can replenish a couple times a day. 2) Weather protection – My setup has a tarp and some internal wood sides, and there is also a sheet in front.  This keeps wetness, wind and the similar from invading their “condo”.  I open up the sheet on sunnier winter days, so they can get their “vitamin D”.  Unlike my chickens, the quail are right outside my back door.  Tested as of December 19th to 1 degrees Fahrenheit.  Word is they do fine down to about minus 20 F.  If the weather plans to approach that, I will probably put in very temporary extra boards, if only to make sure they stay in their proper condo units.  
  • Do you want year-round eggs?  (Well, I would, but the setup currently precludes that if I want to keep my quail warm enough, dry enough, and breeze-free.  And outdoors.  I’ll get my eggs again in the spring.)  Quail need approximately 14 hours of daylight-style light a day.  Outdoors, mine aren’t getting that. Next year, I will have to figure out such a lighting system that will also keep them protected from the elements, which would also be electrically-safe.  
  • I plan to set up a watering system line in April to last until November/December, when I will simply go back to bringing them water twice a day to replace ice.  Lines will freeze, and as noted, the condos are just outside the basement door in back. 
  • Do you name your quail?  Hmm, have to say, I haven’t suddenly named any of them.  Even though I know most of them are keepers, and that some look distinctly different than their compatriots.   I name chickens, however.  (Not the meat birds.) 

homesteading, quail, coturnix, housing

The front of the unit, sealed for weather (as of now).  Not pretty, but functional.  And it is not like I am having a horde of guests over this winter.  (And anyone who does show up is likely to appreciate what I am doing.) 


homesteading, quail, coturnix, housing

The front of the unit, open for sunlight during the day. This faces south. Right now the board is being held up by a snowdrift, or I would be moving it off to the side.

PLANS FOR 2021

I will be ordering two varieties of quail from Myshirefarm.com.  This will be for me a new supplier.  The previous hatchery order came from a supplier that does more business in chickens and in various products for keeping poultry.  They only had one variety, that variety is small enough that they ALL go exploring into the condo next to them – and I want to have jumbo breeds that don’t do that.  Plus the hatchery I used had a very low fertility rate at least with the eggs I got – a percentage in the low 30’s doesn’t cut it.  Myshire guarantees 50% and people on the Coturnix quail group I belong to, talk about a hatch rate in excess of 70%.  I will be ordering 50 eggs – which seems like a lot, but one goal I have is to have some of these for meat – I have yet to freeze (much less cook up and eat) any of the quail from this year.  With small numbers, I want to focus on egg production.   

homesteading, quail, coturnix, housing

The blonds chowing, with the tuxedo (tothe right) momentarily looking on.

I am also ordering a small independent solar electric system backup for the egg incubator and the brooder.  Because even intermittent power failures are a pain, and I don’t expect the full house generator to be in place until early summer. 

I will be getting a larger, metal, brooder rather than relying on cardboard boxes.  (Probably two: the other for chickens.)  

homesteading, quail, coturnix, tuxedo markings

A tuxedo from the original; batch. The backside is all dark brown.

In all, I am very glad I am now raising quail.  I hope to set up some LED Christmas lights in their condos so I can encourage them to lay more eggs again.  The first batch was very prolific at the outset, but the latter batch has yet to get there.  A fun hobby!  And perhaps sometimes soon more than a hobby.  

PS:  You will find earlier quail homesteading condo unit info over at this LINK.  But prior to making the place winterized, and without discussing the raising of quail in any real detail.  

This post is linked to the following homesteading and foodie blogs:  

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New World Tamales – Vegan: Beans, Squash and Arbol Chilis

Contains:  Legumes, nightshades, grains (corn).  Is: Vegetarian, vegan, gluten-free.  

recipe, Arbol, vegan, gluten-free, vegetarian, black beans, masa, corn, squash tamale, Mexican, Guatemalan.

A solitary tamale. Vegan with black beans, squash, and a goodly amount of Arbol pepper.

For this recipe, and for the turkey tomato tamales, my goal was to make them with pre-Columbian New World ingredients (but using modern methods and modern developments of such ingredients).    There are a lot of foods put into tamales today that are not pre-Columbian – but just as other cultures in the Old World adapted New World ingredients and made them their own, this has happened quite obviously in the New World.  I am simply choosing to make a few tamale dishes using New World ingredients, even if some of these have been modified over the last few centuries.    

A basic tamale is a traditional Mesoamerican dish, made of masa – a starchy corn dough, usually steamed in a corn husk. The corn husk can be used as the plate upon which this can be eaten after cooking. Ultimately, the word we use in English has been derived from the  Nahuatl language word, tamalli. (After passing through Spanish.) The Aztec, Maya, and earlier Olmeca, and Tolteca people all ate tamales – and it was a handy food to carry while on the “road”, travelling. (NOTE HERE: there were more peoples than just Aztecs in what is now current day Mexico when the Spaniards arrived – and  the latter eventually learned to eat tamales as well. These corn husk food pouches were just TOO convenient.)  When used as a food source when travelling, I doubt the tamales were ever re-heated.  They make good nutritious packets.  

recipe, Arbol, vegan, gluten-free, vegetarian, black beans, masa, corn, squash tamale, Mexican, Guatemalan.

Simmering the beans, squash, Arbol and seasonings.

Oregano and cumin are not New World spices.  But, amazingly, allspice is.  

Dairy is not an Old World product. So cheese is not an option for the recipes presented today – although turkey eggs could indeed be used. We will not be using eggs, in order to keep this dish vegan.  Added fats were not easily, if ever, used with pre-Columbian tamales, but I have made an exception here using avocado oil.  Avocadoes are New World fruits, but the indigenous peoples didn’t have means to extract that.  

recipe, Arbol, vegan, gluten-free, vegetarian, black beans, masa, corn, squash tamale, Mexican, Guatemalan.

Admittedly WAY TOO LITTLE topping on this one. But this was the only serviceable photo. As you can see from the top photo here, I was doing much better by that tamale! Also, do spread the masa down thinner. Plenty of space here.  Since these tamales were relatively hot (spicy), the thicker layer of corn masa worked out fine in this recipe.

I decided to make these creations of the tamale recipes differently from each other. If you prefer the one type (vegan, or turkey) over the other, but want the other’s additional filling instead – go for it.  Mix ‘n match to your heart’s content!!!  (I also made a shrimp-based tamale, but it needs work in the upcoming New Year to make it ready for posting – couldn’t taste the shrimp at all!)  

It is interesting to note that there were both savory and sweet tamales, and that both types persist to this day in Central and Mexican America. Up here in the Northeast US at least, I’d never heard of the sweet variants until researching for these posts. I’ may pursue that type in some future month.

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Enfoldment!!!

About Masa Harina:

What is used to make tamales (and corn tortillas) is ground corn that had been soaked in calcium hydroxide [the alkaline (base) chemical lime a lot of us gardeners put on lawns as indicated, and not the (acidic) fruit].  This material is then dried and ground further as needed.  The procedure increases the nutritional benefits of the masa by adding calcium and by releasing bioavailable niacin.  Vitamin D3 will also be better absorbed by this process.  There is also a distinct flavor change in the process.  Since there weren’t many pre-Columbian biochemists back in the day, these benefits of the process were mainly used to improve digestibility of the corn flour, This process is called (these days) “nixtamalization”, although the term is derived from the Aztec.  (Nixtamalli or nextamalli in the Aztec Nahuatl language.)  Back in the day, this process often involved limestone rocks, in regions where such geography permitted.  .  

“The Aztec and Mayan civilizations developed nixtamalization using slaked lime (calcium hydroxide) and ash (potassium hydroxide) to create alkaline solutions. The Chibcha people to the north of the ancient Inca also used calcium hydroxide (also known as “cal”), while the tribes of North America used naturally occurring sodium carbonate or ash.”  

“The spread of maize cultivation in the Americas was accompanied by the adoption of the nixtamalization process. Traditional and contemporary regional cuisines (including Maya cuisine, Aztec cuisine, and Mexican cuisine) included, and still include, foods based on nixtamalized maize.”  – Wikipedia.


A recipe resource I used for making these includes:  How to Make Authentic Tamales, as well as watching a variety of YouTube videos, and using/modifying the recipe found on the back of my package of Masa Harina to use only ingredients that would have hailed from the New World prior to 1492.

How to stack tamales in a steamer… open side up, folded side under.  You can use a corn-husk strand for a tie.  Don’t let the water beneath submerge them.  And, watch that the water doesn’t run dry.  

What is really fun to know is that in Mexico these days tamales are very frequently made to be enjoyed over the Christmas season!  Happy Yuletide!  

Prep Time: Around an hour. 
Cook Time:  Squash:  15-20 minutes simmering.
Black beans:  15 minutes pan fried, 
Tamales themselves:  45-55 minutes.
Rest Time:  N/A.
Serves:  Made about 20 more or less.  Two or four per person…
Cuisine:  Central American
Leftovers?  Yes.  And can be frozen.

Vegan Bean, Squash and Arbol Tamales

For the filling:

  • 8 ounces / 230 grams butternut squash, chopped into cubes.   
  • 1 can / 15 ounces /  425 grams canned black beans.
  • 6-9 dried Arbol chili peppers.  De-seeded, and chopped into about 1/8 – 1/4 inch / 0.3 – 0.75 cm segments.
  • 1 teaspoon allspice
  • Salt to taste.  

For the masa dough:  

  • 2 cups / 475 mL masa harina 
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1 tablespoon chili powder (pick your heat level of comfort)
  • 1 teaspoon ground annatto 
  • 1 tablespoon allspice  
  • 2/3rd cup / 160 mL avocado oil.  
  • 1.33 cups / 315 mL water or homemade vegetable stock.

For the Filling: .

Rinse the dried corn husks, removing any dirt or “threads”.  Place them into a large bowl of room temperature to tepid water to soak.  (Alternatively, soak overnight.)   

If desired, you can make the masa first, and then do the filling steps while the masa “rests”, as described below.   But it won’t hurt to have the filling made before (unless you are on a time crunch – which I was but the masa rest period happened to coincide with things I had to do outdoors; and that I was also attempting three styles of tamale filling in one day… )

Simmer the butternut squash in water to cover – bring first to a boil then reduce heat to simmer – allow to cook for 15-20 minutes or until squash is soft but not given to full mush.  Drain and set aside.  

Take the desired amount of dried Arbol chilis, remove stems, discard seeds, and chop as indicated in the ingredients’ list.  Add to a pan, and add the black beans.  Mix, and then heat on medium until most of the liquid from the can of beans evaporates.  Add in the squash and all the seasonings, and blend coarsely (or smooth should you desire), on low heat, for 5-10 more minutes.  If the filling starts to dry too much, add a little water.  You want a thick filling, but not a fully dry one.  

To make the masa dough:

Add the dry masa ingredients together in a bowl.  Stir to mix. 

Add the wet ingredients.  Stir to mix.  You can roll this out if you desire, then return to the bowl, but I didn’t find this necessary.  If it is very dry, add a little water.  If it seems too wet, add more masa harina – but note that the mixture will become less wet in the resting stage, where the masa incorporates the liquids. 

Allow to rest at room temperature for half an hour, covered with a damp towel.  (You can do some of the filling prep stages here if desired.)  

Taste and adjust seasonings.  If you need more liquid now, add a bit more, and mix. 

To fill:  

Do refer to the photos in the discussion section of this post.  Lay out each husk one at a time, and take a large heaping spoonful of dough (I didn’t measure), and place on the wide inner base of that husk.  Using your fingers, flatten this out.  Ideally form a rough rectangle, with the bottom of the dough about 0.75 – 1 inches from the bottom of the husk, and at least an inch away from the sides.   Stay below the halfway height mark of your corn husk.  (PS, if your masa dough is too dry, I think it will just simply want to fall off the husk if you hold it vertical – yes, I tried this because I demonstrated this on a Zoom culinary group a few of us intrepid foodie explorers belong to, and had to hold the dough up to the laptop.  I think too wet it will simply slide off!)  

Add a strip of your filling down the center of the dough, leaving space especially on the sides for rolling the tamale together.  

Take one hand and roll one side of the husk (say, the right, for description’s sake) towards the left.   When you can go no further, pull back on the husk a bit, lifting it away just slightly from the dough.  Then on the left, using the left hand, roll that portion over to the dough on the right.  Let both sides of the dough meet, and carefully wrap the dough so it connects, and then have one side or the other of the husk overlap the other. side (with the dough and filling safely inside).   

It will probably take a few attempts to get this right.  It helps if you already have made sushi rolls, stuffed grapes, or summer rolls in your past – or even some types of dumpling.  Similar but not quite identical principles to hand (ahem) here.  

Fold the top half of the tamale over the bottom, filled, half.  You can fasten with strands of husk from unused pieces of husk – nice little tie and all.  (I saw some recipes that used cotton twine).  Or if your husks cooperate – mostly, mine did – you don’t need to tie them at all.  

Place into a steamer with about an inch of water at its base, but don’t add so much water that your tamales become inundated. Prop them up so they can have the open ends (the “bottoms” of the tamales when prepping) facing upwards, and especially if you don’t tie them, that the folded-down portions of husk are underneath (keeping gravity from opening them up).  You can use anything (non-toxic) at the very center of the steamer to build your tamales up from, for steaming.  I used some thin extra corn husks.  They’ll stack up, as depicted above.  Cover with some more extra husks, and bring to a simmer, covered, on your cooktop.  

Cook for 45-55 minutes, checking to make sure the water at the bottom of the steamer does not fully evaporate – add more water down the far edges of the steamer, if you need to do so.  Pull out one (careful because of steam), open, and taste.  The corn should be reasonably solid and hold its shape with the filling inside.  If the masa is not solid enough – ie, it threatens to fall apart – return to the steamer and cook for another five or so minutes.  

Serve as appetizers, or as the major part of a meal.   Unwrap – no,  the husks are inedible, but they do provide flavor while cooking.  You can provide a dipping sauce / salsa for them should you so choose.  




Sources for the informational portion of this and the past recipe: 1) Wikipedia. (Yes, I know Wikipedia is only as accurate as the persons who’ve entered data… But I don’t see tamales as being a topic where someone would have a fraudulent bone to pick.)

Personal note:  I made the three types of tamales on the same date (turkey, vegan, and shellfish).  Which meant I steamed them all together.  This is why there are some overlapping photos.  BUT:  Do NOT steam vegetarian/vegan tamales with tamales that are not vegan or vegetarian if you plan to serve these to true vegans or vegetarians.  Also, do NOT steam shrimp or shellfish ones together with tamales also intended for people who are allergic to shellfish.  PLEASE!!!

vegan, vegetarian, tamale, recipe, black beans, squash, arbol, corn, masa

This recipe is being shared with Fiesta Friday (co-host Jhuls@The Not So Creative Cook),  Farm Fresh TuesdaysWhat’s for Dinner-Sunday Link-Up

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New World Tamales – Turkey & Tomato

Contains:  Nightshades, grains (corn).  Is: Gluten-free, inspired by New World meals and ingredients. 

Turkey, tamale, recipe, new world, tomato, Mexican, Guatemalan, masa, corn,

The original goal for the tamales was to make them for Columbus Day, using only ingredients (though not equipment or techniques) available somewhere in the New World prior to the advent of Columbus – hopefully close to Central America, where tamales were prepared pre-1942.  (While I made some with shrimp and some vegan the same date, I want to play around with the seafood recipe a bit further before releasing it.  Expect the vegan one soon, however.  With the shrimp, the corn masa overwhelmed any shrimp flavor – I may try crabmeat next.)  As it was not practical (here) to make the tamales via pre-Columbian methodology, that wasn’t even remotely attempted.   I kept the principle to the ingredients.  

(As a note, the week of Columbus Day, I had also planned to present a Pasta Carbonara dish, made solely from Old World ingredients.   That will be coming up later this month, I hope.)

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I roasted these thighs for about 1 hour 10 minutes, with a bit of ancho chili pepper which would add to the flavor. The fond was saved with the fat.

While is is likely that the precursors to todays Guatemalans and Mexicans made both sweet and savory meat tamales, I’m not particularly fond of sugared meats (barring a good smoked barbecue).

Meats likely to be used back in pre-Columbian days would be local fish, frog, gopher, turkey, goose, venison…  For ease of collection, I settled on turkey. Our turkey today, even if you nab a heritage turkey from Whole Foods or a farmer’s market, is markedly more meaty than the type that would have been available then. Selective breeding and all – which is not any different than the Mexican selective breeding program that brought us all manners of corn from the lowly teosinte plant. My turkey hunting friends find it near impossible to score a wild turkey (and when they do, they’re less likely to share, being as they may only get one or maybe two a season – if ever so  lucky). So supermarket turkey thigh it was. (If you do luck into a wild turkey – other than the alcoholic beverage of that name – cooking time will take longer because it will likely be an older, sinewy truly free-range bird.)

tamales, new world, Mexican, Guatemalan, turkey, gluten-free, recipe, corn, masa, harina,

You have some flexibility here. I would have flattened this masa dough flatter – but the taste was still a repeat! For a first try at this recipe, I’m happy!

One could also use already-ground turkey meat – I chose to use whole skin-on turkey thighs instead.  After roasting, the fat and drippings from the thighs are reserved for the fat/oil component of making the tamale masa harina shells – which I used in place of lard found in many contemporary recipes. Tomatoes were chosen to add to these tamales partly because of alliteration, but also because I doubt that a solid meat filling plus seasonings would be the only addition to most of the authentic pre-Columbian ones.  Other vegetables would/could be selected from a variety of peppers, beans, squash, tomatillos, avocado, corn kernels, and so forth.  Meat as a condiment! 

While is is likely that the precursors to todays Guatemalans and Mexicans made both sweet and savory meat tamales, I’m not particularly fond of sugared meats (barring a good smoked barbecue).   However, maybe I’ll play with a cocoa mole tamale come 2021. 

dec tamale folding

Please Fold Me!

The corn husks here (hojas enconchadas) came dried in a a 6 ounce/170 gram package (that since I didn’t get back to a Mexican grocery), was purchased from Amazon.  Being dried, they are very light weight, and so six ounces will be more material than you might expect.  If it is corn on the cob season where you are, feel free to make your own.  The husks serve as both a cooking implement to make individual portions, and as a “plate”, especially in an era when plates as we know them were hard to come by.  

(In the above photos – stack the tamales in the steamer so they can rise their open ends upwards!)

Do use a masa ground and prepared specifically for making tamales – I will discuss why when I post the vegan tamale recipe, as the discussion portion of this post has gone on long enough…. !    I used half of the recipe found on the back of the package, modified to eliminate ingredients not found in pre-Columbian central America.  (And to add the turkey fat instead of olive oil.)  

At this time of year, I prefer to use canned tomatoes (whether I canned them or store-bought).  Nearly all “fresh” supermarket tomatoes are bred for shipping, NOT for taste.  

Prep Time: Around an hour. 
Cook Time:  Turkey thighs:  an hour of roasting. 
Tamales themselves:  45-55 minutes.
Rest Time:  N/A.
Serves:  Made about 20 more or less.  Two or four per person…
Cuisine:  Central American
Leftovers?  Yes.  And can be frozen.

Turkey and Tomato Tamales

For the filling:

  • 1 large turkey thigh, roasted (I cooked two, in order to render out more fat for the recipe), skin on, bone in (for now).
  • 2  teaspoons ground ancho chili powder, divided 1:1.
  • 1/8 teaspoon cayenne, less or more as desired.
  • Three medium tomatoes, peeled, San Marzano (or plum) preferred – or, if not in season, three tomatoes from a can of peeled tomatoes.  I used the latter.
  • Salt to taste.  

For the masa dough:  

  • 2 cups / 475 mL masa harina 
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1 tablespoon chili powder (pick your heat level of comfort)
  • 1 teaspoon ground annatto 
  • 1 tablespoon allspice  
  • 2/3rd cup / 160 mL turkey fat/drippings, still liquid but not hot.  If you don’t have enough, add avocado oil to balance.  
  • 1.33 cups / 315 mL water (if you have homemade veggie stock, use that) 

For the Filling: 

Preheat oven to 375 F / 190 C.

Lay the turkey thighs out in the pan, and sprinkle with half  the ground ancho chili powder.  

Bake for about one hour, remove from oven, reserve the fats and drippings – add a touch of water to deglaze, if necessary (it wasn’t).  De-skin the one turkey thigh you’ll use for the recipe and add to the drippings, when cool enough to handle.  (You may also do the same from the other thigh, before reserving that thigh for some other purpose.)  

Chop or shred the meat from the one thigh into fine pieces, after adding the cayenne.  Mix, and set aside.  

Rinse the dried corn husks, removing any dirt or “threads”.  Place them into a large bowl of room temperature to tepid water to soak.  (Alternatively, soak overnight.)   

If using non-canned tomatoes, blanch quickly in simmering water, toss into an ice bath, and peel.  If using canned, just choose three.  Chop the tomatoes up, draining off any excess liquids, and add to the turkey, mixing in.  Add in the rest of the seasonings, tasting for quantities.  (You can do this step while the masa “rests”, as described below.)  

To make the masa dough:

Add the dry masa ingredients together in a bowl.  Stir to mix. 

Add the wet ingredients.  Stir to mix.  You can roll this out if you desire, then return to the bowl, but I didn’t find this necessary.  If it is very dry, add a little water.  If it seems too wet, add more masa harina – but note that the mixture will become less wet in the resting stage, where the masa incorporates the liquids. 

Allow to rest at room temperature for half an hour, covered with a damp towel.  (You can do some of the filling prep stages here if desired.)  

Taste and adjust seasonings.  If you need more liquid now, add a bit more, and mix. 

To fill:  

Do refer to the photos in the discussion section of this post.  Lay out each husk one at a time, and take a large heaping spoonful of dough (I didn’t measure), and place on the wide inner base of that husk.  Using your fingers, flatten this out.  Ideally form a rough rectangle, with the bottom of the dough about 0.75 – 1 inches from the bottom of the husk, and at least an inch away from the sides.   Stay below the halfway height mark of your corn husk.  (PS, if your masa dough is too dry, I think it will just simply want to fall off the husk if you hold it vertical – yes, I tried this because I demonstrated this on a Zoom culinary group a few of us intrepid foodie explorers belong to, and had to hold the dough up to the laptop.)  

Add a strip of your filling down the center of the dough, leaving space especially on the sides for rolling the tamale together.  

Take one hand and roll one side of the husk (say, the right, for description’s sake) towards the left.   When you can go no further, pull back on the husk a bit, lifting it away just slightly from the dough.  Then on the left, using the left hand, roll that portion over to the dough on the right.  Let both sides of the dough meet, and carefully wrap the dough so it connects, and then have one side or the other of the husk overlap the other. side (with the dough and filling safely inside).   

It will probably take a few attempts to get this right.  It helps if you already have made sushi rolls, stuffed grapes, or summer rolls in your past – or even some types of dumpling.  Similar but not quite identical principles to hand (ahem) here.  

Fold the top half of the tamale over the bottom, filled, half.  You can fasten with strands of husk from unused pieces of husk – nice little tie and all.  (I saw some recipes that used cotton twine).  Or if your husks cooperate – mostly, mine did – you don’t need to tie them at all.  

Place into a steamer with about an inch of water at its base, but don’t add so much water that your tamales become inundated. Prop them up so they can have the open ends (the “bottoms” of the tamales when prepping) facing upwards, and especially if you don’t tie them, that the folded-down portions of husk are underneath (keeping gravity from opening them up).  You can use anything (non-toxic) at the very center of the steamer to build your tamales up from, for steaming.  I used some thin extra corn husks.  They’ll stack up, as depicted above.  Cover with some more extra husks, and bring to a simmer, covered, on your cooktop.  

Cook for 45-55 minutes.  Pull out one (careful because of steam), open, and taste.  The corn should be reasonably solid and hold its shape with the filling inside.  

Cook longer as needed.  

Serve as appetizers, or as a part of a meal.   Unwrap – no,  the husks are inedible, but they do provide flavor while cooking.  You can provide a dipping sauce / salsa for them should you so choose.  

My Verdict:  

Tasty and awesome.  But next time I am going to make sure all m y masa dough is thinned out to about 1/8th or so inches thick.  Mine was often closer to 1/4 inches – which still worked out well and tasty, and you may prefer that.  BUT, there’s always room for adaptations in making tamales!  The filling was excellent, and the masa dough made New World style was also excellent.  Definitely this turkey and tomato one is a keeper on my list.   (The vegan one is almost there – watch this space!)

Note, this is both the first time I’ve eaten tamales, as well as having made these.  Take that for what you will.  

During the time this past October that I originally planned to make tamales and then an Old World Italian recipe  – I was reading Charles Mann’s excellent but lengthy 1493:  Uncovering the New World Columbus Created.  Some years back, I’d also read his 1491:  New Revelations of the Americas Before Columbus.  One’s reading material can indeed influence what one chooses to cook.  Even if it takes me a while to get around to it.  

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We are sharing this recipe with:  

Fiesta Friday, with co-host Jhuls@The Not So Creative Cook

Farm Fresh Tuesdays

What’s For Dinner:  Sunday Link-Up

 

AND, you can find a spicy vegan variant of this recipe, still using the New World Foods theme, here!  

 

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Mom’s Poultry Dressing/Stuffing & Her Turkey Giblet Gravy

Contains:  Wheat, gluten, nightshades.  Is: A family (mostly) traditional holiday turkey dressing and gravy pair of recipes.  You can combine these with my earlier recipe – or with any roasted turkey / large chicken you want to make.  

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Yes, cooked in one of those old-time Corning casserole dishes!

I cannot for the life of me find these recipes of hers.  She gave them to me back in the 80s or 90s, and I dutifully copied into my then-computer and put it on one of those floppy disks that I can no longer read.  

I have to re-create!  I recall some of what she did, but…  

At any rate, the gravy is easy to re-create, it’s the stuffing that will be worked out.  The gravy recipe is at the BOTTOM of this post!

We always called it “stuffing” since in the earliest days it was used to stuff inside the bird, which gave it extra turkey flavor – and what didn’t fit inside ended up in a casserole dish.  Once the health concerns about cooking items densely stuffed into a turkey came out, we ended up putting it all in an (even-larger) casserole dish and baking it in the oven alongside the turkey.  

I remember Mom’s had Jimmy Dean sausage, so I used this, but next year I’ll make my own sausage from local ground pork.    Jimmy Dean is now owned by Tyson, and I’d rather not support them – but needed that taste this time to note what I need to do next year.  And, even though the family hailed from Kentucky, she never made cornbread stuffing.  Sometimes she bought the Italian-seasoned croutons, but I choose to go with real bread here.  

You can find a basic recipe for the chicken bone broth/stock here.  The main difference in the one I created for this dish is that I added in the turkey feet.  Simply:  poultry bones and cartilage, some chicken meat, one onion, that splash of vinegar, water to cover.  Boil, remove froth, simmer for about 4 hours, strain through a colander and save the liquids.  You could also make this with a true mirepoix, but I added such ingredients later.  Cool, remove excess fat from the top, if any.  Freeze if you are not making this dressing right away.  (I made this about 3 days in advance, so it got to hang out in the fridge.)  You can use store-bought substitutes but you’ll lack in some of the flavor.  

I don’t think Mother used bell peppers or the parsnips/carrots, but I decided this recipe would still follow her spirit.  I made a half-recipe, but I’m writing this as a full recipe below.   Some items were not measured.  

Mom’s Poultry Stuffing

  • 2/3 – 3/4 a loaf of a good quality bakery-style sliced bread (or make your own – hey, Mom didn’t, so I won’t either…) 
  • 1 package Jimmy Dean sage-enhanced pork sausage – 12 ounces / grams, or suitable substitute.  
  • Optional, but I removed the skin from the turkey neck, and chopped it up to brown and crisp when cooking the sausage… 
  • 1 yellow onion, chopped.  
  • 3 – 4 stalks of celery, chopped, and you can include the leaves.
  • 2 – 3 mid-sized parsnips, peeled and chopped.  You can substitute with carrots.  
  • 1 large green bell pepper,  de-seeded and chopped.  
  • Around 3-4 cups of poultry stock – you’ll be deciding by the texture of your stuffing when you mix it in.  (Be sure to save some poultry stock for the gravy! – if you are running low on stock and have to punt, sub in HERE with water, NOT in the gravy)  
  • 3 good sprigs of thyme – remove stems and just use leaves.  
  • A small handful of fresh sage, chopped.  
  • 1 long sprig of rosemary, stem removed.  More as you wish.  
  • 1 heaping teaspoon of dried marjoram leaves.
  • Salt and pepper to taste.  

For the bread:  Chop the slices into squares of about 3/4 inch / 2 cm size.  You can allow them to dry overnight on your countertop or stick them in your un-heated oven.  I found they didn’t fully dry, so I set my oven at its lowest temperature setting (170 F / 77 F) for about 15 minutes the day of making this dish.  Adjust but watch carefully based on your bread, your oven, and your needs.  

For the sausage:  Pan fry by breaking up the sausage in a skillet, and allow to cook through until no longer pink, and some browning has occurred.  About 12-15 minutes.  (Of course, add in that turkey neck skin if you have it and want that.)  

For the poultry stock:  If yours is home made, put into a sauce pan and heat until warm, so that any gelatin effect is now liquid.  Taste and add salt as needed.  

In a large bowl, add everything but the poultry stock and ground pepper.  Slowly add the stock and gently mix with a large spoon.  You want the bread to absorb the liquid, but not turn into soup.  Since you will be baking this, you can make this a bit looser than your final product.  

Taste and adjust for salt and pepper (and any of the other seasonings).  Decant into your casserole baking dish.  

Bake uncovered alongside the turkey (at 300 – 325 F / C) for 40-60 minutes (depending on oven temperature, and how deep your casserole dish is – check occasionally).  It should be slightly browned and a little crispy on top.  If your turkey is done before the dressing, it can always cook longer while the turkey rests. If the dressing is done first, pull it out and cover to keep it warm – and put it back in the oven when the turkey comes out to rest, at which point you could just turn off the oven.  (This depends on what ELSE you are making for your feast, of course!)   


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Personally, I never understood that starchy, pallid, anemic AND tasteless poultry “gravy” that comes in a jar.  NEVER.  White gravy is simply so unappetizing.  You need to use the drippings to make a GOOD gravy, and if you don’t – you are missing out on a superb taste experience.   Unfortunately it has come to the point that even people who make their gravy from “scratch” are missing out by ignoring those tasty drippings, and creating more-of-the-same pallid starchy dregs.  

Now, you DID save the giblets from the turkey cavity, right?   I have no idea why people are so a-feared of innards these days in the Western world.  I will admit there were a couple years where I nabbed the turkey heart after it was cooked and before Mom could put it in the gravy – that muscle is just SOOOOooo good! 

For the gravy, however, the liver simply doesn’t work – Mom would save it for other purposes.  What you want here is the turkey heart (yeah, I restrained myself this year), gizzard, and neck.  

You also want all the pan drippings from the turkey proper.  This turkey, being lean and pastured and all, had very little drippings.  Even with the butter she’d gotten rubbed down with.  Fortunately my friend Katie brought her leftover drippings and we used those to more than top off what I collected.  (I’d recommend saving up drippings over time and freezing, if you don’t have a dripping-bearing friend attending!)  

But I will assume most of my readership has a supermarket turkey (even a Whole Foods supermarket turkey) in writing up the recipe below.  


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Mom’s Giblet Gravy

  • Giblets and neck – heart, gizzard, neck, from your turkey.  You can remove the skin from the neck – check the Stuffing/Dressing portion of this post for an idea there.  (Or just de-fat it by crisping it up in your oven for a deserved snack while cooking…)
  • 1/2 – 2/3 cup poultry stock.  
  • Any and all the drippings you can collect.  
  • Salt and pepper to taste.  
  • Hey, maybe a pinch more of fresh sage! 
  • About 2 heaping tablespoons of flour (I didn’t measure).  

In a small sauce pan, bring the giblets to a boil in water to cover.  Reduce heat to a simmer.  This will take about 30 minutes to cook through, although I found the neck needed an hour.  

Chop up the heart and gizzard into small diced pieces.  Shred the neck with your fingers, removing all bones, but saving all the neck meat. 

If you do this in advance, save refrigerated until ready to make the gravy.

With about 1/4 or so of warm drippings, add in the flour and mix until it is thickened.  Add everything above (other than the giblets) back to the gravy, including the stock, and combine.  If you think it is necessary and you have the proper de-fatting cup (I didn’t – the item is ridiculously pricey) you can strain out the fat.  There really wasn’t much fat at all, and a little won’t do you harm.  

Add in the giblets, heat on the range, and pour into your serving vessel.  And remember: if it is not browned, it is NOT worthy to be called gravy!  


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