Maple Syrup Time – Stage 2, Sap into Syrup for Beginners & Small Scale Tapping

During this first year, I’ve learned most maple syrup folks decide to boil down their sap outdoors, or in dedicated sugar houses/huts.  This should be done at the outset – the humidity released is not really good at these levels inside one’s home.

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I used a combination of outdoor on an induction plate, and late on, indoor for final work, as I didn’t have a good wood burning setup for syrup this year, and wasn’t expecting to get as much as I did (from four trees).  I knew if I were to expand in future years (which I most certainly WILL), that I would indeed need an outdoor setup.

WHY?  Because boiling large quantities of what is mostly water will send humidity skyrocketing, and water vapor will eventually condense and drip down your walls and ruin woodwork and probably sheetrock.  Yes, I make bone broth in my kitchen, but that’s a lesser volume, and most of the time that pot is at a simmer.  A robust simmer, but a simmer…

I will write about outdoor sugaring in 2022!

Is this your trial year… two to five trees, maybe five gallons of collected sap?

What you will need:

        • Collecting bucket – you pour excess sap from your trees into at least one of these.  I opted for a five-gallon food-safe bucket.  You can find them at your local feed supply and at the big box hardware stores (although I note when I got my food safe five gallon bucket for my chickens at Home Depot, the guy I talked to there had absolutely no clue what I was talking about!)  Sorry, I don’t want to give water to my chickens from a bad bucket.  This is not going to be what you will boil down the sap in, in most cases.  Just large storage – with lids.   Wash it / them out.
        • A food thermometer that can read in liquid.  Most can, but check.  Candy thermometers should always work, and meat thermometers usually can.  The WiFI enabled ones are less useful for this purpose, I suspect, since they are meant to be set into a solid object and left there to send you readouts.  It’s not like you can insert them in the sap/syrup and read anything… But I would go digital on this purchase, read via the old-fangled eyeball rather than your phone or something silly like that.
        • A maple syrup hydrometer that reads in Brix.  This tells you the proper sugar content when you can stop.
        • Filter paper.  And a strainer.
        • A good heat source so you can boil down the sap into syrup.  NEXT YEAR I’ll have a formal outdoor setup.  This post is really only for a trial first year…. but some principles can be retained for larger scale operations.
        • Pans for holding the sap as you boil that stuff down.  Online, I see a lot of stainless steel food service buffet trays being put to use.   I’ll do that next year.  Their wide-open surface areas will help water boil off more quickly than the pots I ended up using. 
        • Filter paper for later-stage straining..
        • Final collection containers for storage.  As fancy or as utilitarian as you like.  Sealable lids or caps.  

1:  MORE COLLECTION NOTES:

Periodically collect sap you’ve obtained.  You need to watch the weather – you can continue tapping that tree, but not desirable to have the bucket overflow (duh).  Stop tapping by the time buds begin to open!   I am given to understand that the sap will 1) not flow as fast; and 2) will impart a bitter taste.  Decided not to test this theory.  

Also – ice in the buckets – if just some and not nearly the entire container, save the sap, evaporate off some of the outer water on the remaining mini-iceberg, and discard the rest of the chuck of ice, which will be containing hardly any maple sugar at all, as pure water will freeze before sugared water.  Of course, if nearly all of your bucket is filled with ice, eventually the water containing the sap will ALSO freeze.  So… let that melt down!

For storing the sap prior to boiling:  put in refrigerator.  OR, leave outdoors in a covered bucket surrounded by snow or ice.  OR, if the weather is 40 F or under, put it out of the sun and leave it out doors, not worrying about packing around it with snow/ice.  (This is what I did this year.  The fridge was rather full with other things.)

Be prepared to work in batches.  

PS: Your initial sap, prior to processing, will taste more or less, like WATER.  Good clean water, but water! 

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That short term stain is from a raw maple sap slop spill. So even if it doesn’t taste sweet at the outset, there’s still sugar in there.

2:  CLEAN your boiling pot (and other tools) well.  

3:  STRAIN THE SAP PRIOR TO BEGINING THE BOIL. I used a regular kitchen strainer with a layer of paper towel in the strainer to catch finer stuff.  I usually strained into the boiling pot, but pick what is appropriate.  

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4:  BOIL THE SAP, checking occasionally at the outset, more frequently as the sap cooks down.  You don’t want to overcook, and towards the bottom, water will evaporate off faster.   You can skim any foam off the top that appears.  (Some people will add a few drops of a good cooking oil to prevent foam – I opted not to this year, in order to have “pure maple syrup”.) Since I was using a relatively small pot, when the first batch was nearly all the way cooked, I added in a second batch, and continued cooking down.  At that point, it was nearly dark (I got started around noon that first day, as there were errands earlier), so I poured this off into a smaller cooktop pot and set aside overnight.   This was getting close to “ready” but not there yet.  The next morning immediately after the temps got above freezing, I resumed filtering and boiling with the original (re-cleaned) larger pot, as per the first day.  (I left the first day’s semi-final collection alone, until again at the end of the day it was time to add this day’s boiled down syrup to the prior’s.)  

This process took three days – I was still tapping one final tree until the third morning, plus I was working with one induction plate and a not-very-large pot.  

PS;  For a first time user who opts to go with a small propane plate outdoors – you will be going through a LOT of rather expensive and small propane canisters.  I’d come up with a setup using a full scale propane grill with the larger propane container, if you wish to go that route.  

PSS:  Follow all safety and operating guidances that come with your specific induction or propane unit!!!  For instance, my induction plate won’t run more than two hours at a time on the “boil” setting – but a fifteen minute plate cooldown (with the sap still remaining hot) seems to work with mine.  I did actually run it in one hour increments with a 5 – 10 minute plate cooldown between each run.  Which is fine – I really wanted to check every hour (and more frequently as the sap turned into syrup)!

PSSS:  At the end of each boiling session (each of three day’s accumulation), I taste-tested the syrup I intended to add to the final collecting pot.  If one were to taste OFF, I would have collected that separately from the initial collection pot.  Why make a batch you know is already going to taste good, even if it would need a bit more work to be fully syrup, mixed with a bitter or off batch?  

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4:  LAST SYRUPING STAGES.

Things may proceed very fast in the last stages of evaporation.  TBH, mine did.  I’ll know better next year – but I was able to save this.  

Towards the end, keep checking your syrup temperature as it boils.  Ideally, you want to filter out any cloudy stuff when the syrup temperature reaches 216 F, and again at the finishing temperature of 219 F.  Note that those temperatures are based on the boiling temperature of pure water at sea level – 212 F or 100 C respectively to units you may use.  You will adjust downwards depending on how high you are in elevation above sea level – for instance, I am living at 1600 feet above sea level these days.  Filter the inevitable cloudiness through something akin to a really large  coffee filter.  Maple Tapper supplied me with a one (reusable on a limited basis if cleaned immediately with hot water and NO soap)  in the tapping kit I bought.  Note, you won’t be able to filter much of anything as temperatures reduce down towards ambient.  Syrup obviously will get more thick as temperatures decline, hence filtering should be done at higher temperatures.  Filtering makes the final product more professionally salable.

To do the Brix – a density measurement readout – get yourself a Hydrometer and follow their specific directions.  The one I purchased came from Brewing America, comes with complete instructions for measuring Brix density for syrup.  And gives you a good chart for reading what  the optimal density is for any temperature from 211 F to 50 F.  You’ll know if you need to continue boiling or not.  You can find it on Amazon (which is where I got mine) or more directly at:  American-Made Syrup Hydrometer Density Meter for Sugar and Maple Syrup – Brewing America.  (I will be purchasing directly from them if I have future needs.)  

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I really figured considering after over-boiling mine, I probably didn’t need to do the Brix, but for the sake of this blog post, I did.  I waited until the syrup went down to room temperature (68 F these days, measured via a very accurate in-house weather station, as long as I don’t rely on that gadget to PREDICT anything), to measure the Brix.  Extrapolating from a Brix of 66.4 at 70 F, I hoped for something like 66.5 Brix at 68 F.  (Yes, the warmer a syrup is, the less density…)  My Brix was at 66.7.  I called it a day.  

PS:  the new food thermometer I just bought kept fluctuating up, down and all around.  Which is why I didn’t measure at a higher temperature, but waited for room temperature.  I wish I could FIND the two food thermometers I KNOW I have here in-house someday! 

A level of density that is appropriate for maple syrup will help you keep your syrup healthy for eating, even if the final containers are not always in the refrigerator.  (Back in 2011, when I was subject to three long term power outages – one being Hurricane Irene – it was nice to know that the maple syrup I had in the fridge then was not going to go bad over the period of a week of no electric.)  Much of this shelf-stability depends on sugar concentration.  As contradictory as this may seem, a high level of sugar is actually food-protective.   

5:  FIXING MY MAPLE SYRUP. 

Can’t guarantee this “repair” will always work.  I had a small batch of nearly-cooked syrup from the first night, and I combined it with the last somewhat-over-cooked-and-trying-to-be-solid last batch.  Heated it to medium low on my indoor cooktop, and mixed it, using two larger spoons to blend the harder syrup into the older.  Yes, I ran the risk of losing my original batch, but as this is a trial operation, In for a gander, in for a lark… I went forward.  Eventually, with attention, the harder syrup dissolved into the other batch.    

6:  GRADES OF MAPLE SYRUP.  

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I was aiming for Grade A Dark, the old Grade B.  I think one reason the nomenclature changed is that “grade B” sounds second-rate, and most aficionados do prefer the flavor of a little darker.   This year’s syrup here is likely “Dark”, but verges towards the “Very Dark” designation.  But… quite good.  I am as usual more interested in overall flavor than in sweetness, so I am happy to work with the darker end of the syrup spectrum this year.  

ms complete 2


Maple Tapper sent along some maple syrup recipes. 

Here is the list:

    • Apple Cranberry Crostini with Maple Glaze. (Looks good.  May switch the cranberries out for currants.  Currants are small enough that the dried-fruit texture would mostly disappear…)
    • Maple Apple Raisin Baked Oatmeal. (I would personally ditch the raisins into the compost.)
    • Maple Glazed Pork Tenderloin.  (Looks good, but might want to adapt to sous vide for the pork?  Since pork tenderloin is finicky towards dryness?)
    • Roasted Root Vegetables with Maple-Turmeric Glaze.  (Looks awesome!).
    • Maple Glazed Bacon Wrapped Sage Apricots.  (If only the apricots weren’t dried!!  Possibly these could be chopped down so there would not be that overwhelming dried fruit texture/sweetness?  I may experiment with fresh.)

As noted, I will be upscaling my operation next year.  I may even tap a few birch trees.   The latter will yield less syrup per volume of sap than the maples, but I’m eager to experiment!  

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Maple Syrup Time – Stage 1, Collecting Sap

Yes, the sap is running!   (And yes, for some of you in lower latitudes and elevations, the sap has finished running this year.)

This is a first-year experience for me – I did try on one tree last year but that wasn’t my finest moment of glory, shall we say?   It didn’t ooze out much, for sure!  This is also apparently a better sap-collecting year by various accounts.  And this post is for individual trees collecting via gravity into their own buckets, not for inter-connected lines.  For one, two of the trees are at quite a distance from each other, and for the three nestled together, it makes little sense for just three!

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A view of my largest sugar maple that is easily accessible. If you squint, you can see the sap harvesting equipment (blue tubing line).  I could have put in a second tap.  I am standing in my driveway, facing east.

1: Your first task is to identify which of your trees are sugar maples.  While you can identify them in winter, note that the bark of a sugar maple will change as it ages.   Plus it is easy to mistake a red maple for a sugar maple.  Red maples also have sap, but they have a lot less sugar per a given volume of sap than do sugar maples.  (In the future I plan to tap my birches, whose bark is easy to distinguish all year long – they also have a lot less sugar per a given volume of sap than do sugar maples, but their flavor profile will vary.)  

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Sugar maple leaves, prior to autumn. Wikipedia, cc x 2.0.

But back to topic – I identify my sugar maples back in October when leaf color changes.  The red leaf color will be, ahem, redder than the sugar maples, and leaf shape is somewhat different.  Where I need to, I mark them by tying ribbons loosely to the appropriate trees.  

2:  Time to tap – look at weather forecasts.  Some years will be earlier or later than others, depending on your specific locale.  Ideally, you want a series of days where it warms above freezing during the day, but sinks below 32 F / 0 C at night.  I ended up a few days late, but I am using this as proof-of-principle this year.  (Besides, I was having enough knee issues getting back to my chickens (a priority!), much less starting a new path over hard-frozen snowpack, I really decided to wait for things to mush down a bit first.  I do wear crampons, but my hiking poles weren’t going to indent into the snow to carry me immediately to my trees this year.)

At any rate, you will find best tapping times between late February into early April, depending on locale and a given year’s weather patterns.  

3:  Tap.  Tap.  Tap.  As this is an actual first year (and two of my trees that I opted to tap were a fair distance from the rest), I didn’t set up a vacuum line to port a bunch of sap into a central collecting area.  TBH, I know nothing about the dynamics of that.  This is for first time tappers, who want to learn small, before deciding to grow large.  So, each tree gets its own individual bucket.  

You will need a set of maple syrup tapping tools.  Some suppliers are:  Maple Tapper, or Tap My Trees.  They come with actual taps (“spiles, in the lingo”), UV-resistant tubing which appears to be about 2.5 feet long (generally a translucent blue), hooks for supporting some types of bucket, instructions, and in the case of the former, both filters and recipes for maple syrup use.  

mayple syrup tapping

Before you go out, attach each tubing to each of the spiles on the drainage side.  TBH, I found this to be an ultimate challenge, even with the hot water recommended to soften the tubing end so it could slip over that “ridge” at the drainage end.  I ended up deciding to nick the tubing with a knife so I could accomplish the necessary task.  Hey, you do what you gotta do!

Also, have a collection container to hand.  Maple sap collection buckets (aluminum) are sold online, or you can use a used gallon water container.  For the wider-topped collection buckets, you’ll want either dedicated maple syrup lids (with a hole to permit the sap to enter the bucket) or aluminum foil.  I’ve used both.  Last thing you want to find is excess debris in your bucket, or worse yet (I’d dump that bucket), a dead mouse that failed to do the backstroke to find its way out.  (Haven’t seen that in my maple sap, but I did see it in my rainwater catchment system for my chicken drinking water.)  

You will also need a cordless drill, to pre-drill.  (Most sugar maples are not going to be within range of your electric drill, after alll…)  These days most spiles are 5/16th inch, so that’s the drill bit size you need.  This combines optimum sap flow with minimal tree damage.  You’ll notice that the spiles are about 1.5 inches long on the side that goes into the tree.  You don’t want to drill into the heartwood, if you respect your sap-giving tree!  On many trees, as in the youngest, you don’t even need to go in that 1.5 inch depth!  The “feel” of the wood as you pre-drill will tell you when you can stop.

Drill on the side of a tree that faces either South, Southwest, or West.  Drill 2 – 4 feet off the ground, preferably over a root or below a large branch.  You want where most of the sun will hit the tree and warm it, hoping that sap will run better here.  Drill at a very slight upwards angle – you want gravity to work FOR you.  

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Insertion. Sometimes you really don’t need to drill in an inch and a half. Let your tree tell you.

Insert the spile, and set up the bucket or other clean container, and make sure it is secured either to the tree or onto the ground.  I piled up a few rocks around the one.  Make sure the tubing runs into the container.  Cover as appropriate.  

Large trees, over a foot or so in diameter, can have two taps.  The tree depicted below could potentially have three.  Don’t tap anything less than 10 inches in diameter.  

4:  Check every few days.  At first, every other day – you don’t want the sap to overflow your container, losing you some…. Have some sort of storage vessel available for your maple sap as it reaches close to the top of your container.  (You will need to keep this chilled.  A fridge?  Set into a snow pack out of the sun?)  

I was surprised (I should not have been) when I saw a large ice chuck floating on a bucket.  Freezing sap is mostly water – you can try to save the outside portions which may have sugar adhering to it, but the frozen parts are pretty much pure water – saves you on some of the boiling time if you get rid of it… or you may need that ice hunk to keep your sap chill, if you don’t have fridge space, and you are not quite ready to start distilling the sap down to final product.  

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Hopefully, I’ll have enough of my act together to make a second post on sugaring in a couple of weeks!   PS, my other three trees this year are not depicted. They are further back in the woods – less light and much more awkward to access with a camera around my neck. 

Facebook group: Backyard Maple Syrup Maker

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maple post raised beds march 2021

My raised beds,, as of March 15th. Lots of surrounding snow, nothing left in them. (Snow fall season is not necessarily over, however.)

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Chicken Drumsticks (or Wings), Baked with Balsamic Reduction & Hot Sauce.

Contains:  Nightshades in the hot sauce.  Is:  Gluten-free, paleo. 

Probably nothing special, but something I’ve been making with drumsticks or wings as a main for awhile now.  Usually as a lunch.  Switch out the hot sauce or the backdrops or any dips for your preferences.  

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These drumsticks could be as well wings. Appetizers, or a main. Splash on more, or less, hot sauce, as desired.

I have posted a previous chicken wing recipe, but there are tons of varieties.  One thing I probably won’t ever do at home is deep fat fry them, but I am looking forward to trying an air fryer with them.  That’s not today, however.  Today, it’s an oven, again.  And this time I am using chicken drumsticks, but wings (just cook less) are more standard fare.  

I’d use smaller drumsticks, not the supersized ones you sometimes find.  Especially if these are planned as appetizers.  (I tend to make a dish of wings or such as the main for a full meal.  Even without the social distancing life of current.)  

Balsamic vinegar reduction innately contains some sugars.  I sprinkle this atop the drums or wings before they go into the oven because those sugars help crisp up the skin.  The flavor is also tasty – adds a bit of vinegary (although some hot sauces can do so as well) ambiance.  You’ll add the hot sauce towards the end of baking time, to keep that from blackening. 

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The central leg in the photo was splashed with Fresco Sauce: Chipotle & Habanero. The two outer legs, with Mark’s Barbados Style. Both are of “medium” heat – definitely above Tabasco, and a lot more flavor. I’m discovering hot sauces and their flavor profiles. (Oh, there’s an interesting food-savoring apparition appearing behind the bottles!)

You can find a good bleu cheese dressing to dip these in, and/or serve them along side celery strips.  While these aren’t authentic buffalo style, but certainly they are their own tasty thing!   

And if willing to cook longer, you can adapt this recipe to chicken drumsticks.  Or, as I did below, cook both together.  

Prep Time:  5 minutes.
Cook Time:  35-50 minutes.
Rest Time:  A couple minutes.
Serves:  As written as a main (with sides) – 1.  But for party appetizers… adjust down.
Cuisine:  American?
Leftovers:  Yes.

Chicken Drumsticks Or Wings, Baked with Balsamic Reduction & Hot Sauce

INGREDIENTS:

  • 4 full chicken wings, broken down into “drumettes” and “flats”, assuming yours didn’t already come detached – this is actually 8 pieces..  (Save the little wing tip for stock.)  OR 2-3 small drumsticks per person.  This is for a main – adjust downward if making appetizers.  
  • 1-2 tablespoons balsamic reduction.  
  • 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder.  More if preferred.
  • Salt and ground pepper to taste.  (I don’t need salt on this dish, Your mileage may vary.)  
  • About 1 tablespoon (or more!) your favorite hot sauce.  
  • When serving:  Extra of the hot sauces for those who wish; bleu cheese dressing; celery sticks. As you desire.  

Pre-heat oven to 375 F/   

Dab or dollop on your balsamic reduction – it doesn’t need to cover all surface area.  You can certainly use more than the recipe calls for!  

Sprinkle on the garlic powder, salt and ground pepper.  

Tuck into the oven.  Chicken pieces WILL vary in size, depending on part and provenance.  Using a meat thermometer, make sure the larger pieces reach 165 F / C in temperature.  For this step they can be a little under….  155/160 F is fine here.  Depending on the size of pieces, something like 25-40 minutes is usually appropriate.

If you cook legs and wings together for making this recipe – put the legs in the oven say 10 minutes before the wing parts.  You’ll top them all with hot sauce at the same time, as below.

Pull the chicken pieces out of the oven, and scatter on the hot sauce to the density desired.  Return to oven!  Cook for another 10 minutes, or until the meat does reach 165 F.  

At this point, you can broil for 2 minutes to crisp skin further, or simply be ready to eat – your option.  

Remove and serve with any or all of the extras listed above.  For the sake of photography, these were on a bed of arugula.  

(I hate to admit it, but I was all set to make bleu cheese dressing for this – got  all the ingredients – but forgot (ack) to buy bleu cheese….)

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Savory Bacon and Cheese-Infused Muffins with Cricket Flour

Contains:  Crickets, insects.  If allergic to shellfish, avoid.  Added sugar, wheat, gluten, dairy.  Is:  My first ever cricket dish.

As someone who tries (nearly) everything once, I decided to try insects.

recipe, cricket, muffin, savory, bacon, cheese

My previous experience voluntarily eating insects (swallowing gnats outdoors at picnics doesn’t count) was the evening my uncle came to visit my father and brought a tin of smoked silk moth cocoons he’d picked up somewhere.  Dad was known for trying everything once.  They cracked open the tin, and had a few,  passing the tin to me.

After what was for me a long bit of trepidation, I reached in and took one.  Looked at the thing for a bit.  Tried it.  It was AWFUL.  I did make myself have a second, and Dad made me take the tin home with me, as – he said – I’d probably enjoy it anyway (it ended up in the trash by the next morning).  I don’t know what sort of cesspool it had been smoked in, but I was having none of it.

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So… maybe it is true that the future of meat is insects?  I might as well try again, but with something not smoked way off in China with minimal safety oversight.  So… it’s crickets.  And to be cautious, it wasn’t smoked, and the animals have been rendered down into flour.  If nothing else, the bacon and cheese will help bury it if so needed.

My chickens love crickets – both the dried ones I buy (which smell horrid, at least in the chicken feed packets) and the live ones they find on their own late summer.  Maybe they know something I don’t??

Cricket nutrition?  This packet has, per serving:  

    • 4.5 grams fat
      • Saturated fat 1.5 grams
      • Trans fat 0 grams
    • Cholesterol 30 mg
    • Sodium 95 mg
    • Total carb 4 grams
      • Dietary fiber 3 grams
      • Total sugar 0 grams
    • Protein 21 grams

A serving also contains 15% or more of calcium, iron and potassium.  But we will note here the package indicates that a serving is 1/3 cup – and I used half a cup to make 6 large muffins below – and one muffin is quite nice alongside dinner!  

This recipe is adapted from Bacon Infused Cheese Muffins with Cricket Flour!

I modified the amounts of regular wheat flour to cricket flour – I actually increased the ratio in favor of the crickets.  And I flung in a scant handful of rolled oatmeal flakes.  Just because!   

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Made to order muffin tins for someone who never remembered to replace the bad old ones tossed out during the move to this homestead. I guess I don’t make muffins often!

Note:  I discovered / remembered I didn’t move the old beat up muffin tins up north with me.  So I took some mini-meatloaf pans, put in foil dividers, and ladled my batter into these for cooking.  Hence, they’re a bit larger than actual spots in muffin tins.  Never anything wrong with adapting!!!  

Prep Time:  15 minutes.
Cook Time:  17-20 minutes.
Rest Time:  Maybe ten minutes to cool enough for handling.
Serves:  6-maybe 8 muffins.
Cuisine:  Insectivore.
Leftovers:  Yes.

Savory Bacon and Cheese Infused Muffins with Cricket Flour

  • 1 ¼ cup 300 mL all purpose flour
  • ½ cup / 120 mL cricket flour
  • 1 scant handful of rolled oatmeal flakes
  • ¼ cup / 60 mL sugar
  • 1 ½ tsp baking powder
  • 1  beaten egg
  • ¾ cup / 180 mL flax seed milk (or other milk)
  • 1/3 cup / 80 mL oil (preferably from bacon drippings, fill out any extra needed with regular cooking oil of your choice.)
  • ½ cup / 120 mL shredded sharp cheese.  Cheddar, Asiago, or whichever is to hand….
  • 4 cooked bacon slices.  This is the US bacon here.  Cook to crispy.  

Preheat oven to 400°F.

Grease muffin tin.

Combine flour, cricket flour, oats, sugar, baking powder in a medium-sized mixing bowl.

In a separate bowl combine egg, milk, and oil.

Add egg mixture to dry ingredients, mixing only until just incorporated.

Break bacon into small pieces, then add bacon and cheese to the muffin batter, reserving some for topping.  Mix.  .

Ladle the mixture into the muffin pan, top with a little cheese and bacon, then bake for about 17-19 minutes. An inserted toothpick should come clean.   (You could also remove the tin from the oven when only a couple minutes are left, and add the cheese portion then, and return to the oven.)


I found the recipe to be tasty, and perhaps a bit earthy, but in a good way, as if one has eaten a more whole-wheat source of flour.

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Taiwanese Pork Rice Bowl: Lu Rou Fan

Contains:  Alcohol, soy (potential of gluten), added sugar.  Is:  Taiwanese. 

Taiwan is another nation that celebrates the Asian Lunar New Year.  (As mentioned before, I’m posting recipes this month from east and southeast Asian cultures.  Yes, I am running out of month…)  

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Recipe adapted from:  Lu Rou Fan (Taiwaneld6161ese Pork Rice Bowl)

I mention potential substitutions for alcohol in the recipe proper.  Soy sauces can also be subbed with coconut aminos to make them legume-free as well as gluten-free.  (I find that to be too sweet for me.)

A note about measurements – I provide approximate measurements in this recipe, derived from my recipe source.  Please don’t feel you need to measure exactly, but to use these measurements as a guideline.  Asian home cooks don’t typically measure – and I suspect Asian restaurants, at least in their native countries, seldom do, either.  I would measure for baked goods, at least until I got a feel for the feel of specific dough, however.   Otherwise eyeballing will be fine.  Asian cooking tends to be observational (tactile and visual). 

The pork belly:  I understand this is best with skin-on.  That which was in my freezer actually had some skin.  BUT:  It’s still Lu Rou Fan either way. 

The shiitake:  Use dried shiitake, not fresh.  You want to reserve the soaking/rehydrating water for the braising broth. 

The shallots:  I didn’t have a large shallot but a bunch of small ones.  Again, guess you’ll need say, four small shallots for one large one, but once again the definitions of “small” or “large” are variable.  Let your tastes lead you here. 

Shaoxing wine:  Not always easy to find.  I have a bottle of “Chinese Cooking Wine”, which has salt added so it can be sold on regular market shelves.  Even without the salt, they are not the same thing.  According to the recipe, dry sherry can be substituted for Shaoxing wine.  PS if you don’t wish alcohol, check the ingredient suggestions below. 

Prep Time:  60 minutes.
Cook Time:  Up to 1.5 hours, but may be less.
Rest Time:  Not needed.
Serves: 2.
Cuisine: Taiwanese.
Leftovers:  Why not?

Taiwanese:  Lu Rou Fan

NOTE:  Standard tablespoons = 20 mL over most of the world, but 15 mL in Australia/New Zealand.

Ingredients: 

  • 4 dried shiitake mushrooms – rehydrate in warm water and save the water, 30-45 minutes.
  • ½ pound /225 g pork belly, preferably skin on, sliced thin and then cut into thin strips.
  • 1 teaspoon Shaoxing wine / dry sherry, for marinate. This WILL cook off, but if you don’t want alcohol in your house, try a splash of balsamic vinegar.  (Let me know how it works!)
  • ½ teaspoon dark soy sauce, for marinate
  • ½ large shallot or a few small ones, sliced into ¼ inch / 1 cm rounds
  • 1 clove garlic – for the crispy shallots
  • ¼ cup healthy cooking oil (I tend to use avocado or grapeseed oil) – for the crispy shallots.

And for the braising: 

  • 1 tablespoon Shaoxing wine / dry sherry. If you wish this dish to be alcohol free, here I would just substitute with rice vinegar. 
  • 1 tablespoon soy sauce OR low sodium gluten-free tamari
  • 1 whole star anise
  • ½ cinnamon stick
  • 2 hard boiled eggs

And to accompany: 

  • Warm cooked rice (I used sushi rice) as a base.
  • Blanched or lightly steamed green veggies as you choose. (Snow peas here, and a little red bell pepper for color.)
  • Asian-style pickles with some crisp..

Method:

First, marinate the pork belly strips in the wine and soy sauce, 20-30 minutes. 

Meanwhile, heat up a heavy bottomed skillet, add the oil, and when that sizzles with a drop of water, toss in the sliced shallots.  After about 5 minutes of frying – shallots should be turning a light golden brown – add the minced garlic.  Allow to fry another five minutes (approximately), making sure to fish out anything that might start to burn, lowering heat if necessary. 

When they turn a little further golden, remove from pan, draining off excess oil back into the pan.  You don’t want them too brown, as they may become bitter.  If there is a lot of excess oil, remove and reserve for another dish (flavoring).  You only need a bare amount of oil remaining. 

Secondly, bring the skillet back up to medium heat, and add the marinated pork.  This should stir fry for about five minutes. 

Add in the wine/sherry, and deglaze the pan. 

Add soy sauce, sugar, anise, cinnamon, shallots.  Shiitake.  Stir fry for maybe a minute, to mix everything together. 

Add in the mushroom soaking liquid (omitting the sediment at the bottom, plus a half cup of water.

Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to a low simmer.  This next step may take from an hour to an hour and a half, depending on many factors.  I covered the dish with a vent area for a little evaporation. Check to see that you don’t simmer to dryness.  

During this time, boil the eggs for 10 minutes in previously-boiling water, and run under cold water after cooking in order to peel them.  You are supposed to add these to the braising pork for the last 30 minutes of cooking, but I figure if the eggs are cooked during this interlude, they will be hot enough and ready if the pork is cooked at the one-hour mark.  I would still put them in the pan to absorb a few flavors for around at least ten minutes. 

At any rate, check pork at 1 hour, and test for tenderness, and also for sauce thickening.  (Sauce may be thickening too fast – I’d add more water if so. ) 

When the pork is tender and the sauce is thickened, remove the pot from the heat. 

Arrange over the rice, and add the blanched greens and the (optional) pickles.  Slice the eggs in half for serving. 

recipe, taiwan, taiwanese, pork, rice, shiitake, lu rou fan

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Filipino Kare-Kare with Tripe

Contains:  Offal, peanuts, optional shellfish and nightshades.  Is:  Gluten-free.

Time for more tripe…  At the end of this recipe I’ll put in links to the two previous tripe recipes I’ve made for this blog.  In addition, this one is for my February honoring of the Asian Lunar New Year, by making Asian recipes from certain regions of that continent.  .  

recipe, Filipino, tripe, offal, peanuts, kare-kare

A little bit too much of that Filipino shrimp paste, eh? I did have leftover tripe kare-kare where I minimized this serving condiment!

This YouTube recipe simply looked extremely tasty to me.  Yes, tripe (the stomach lining usually obtained from ungulate mammals) is an acquired taste, but Dad used to make an Italian tripe marinara when we were kids.  So, I didn’t end up with the “skeeve” factor over that ingredient.  What can I say?  I was a weird kid.  (Arguably STILL weird, despite no longer being a kid…)  

recipe, Filipino, tripe, offal, peanuts, kare-kare

The Filipino shrimp paste, and the glutinous rice flour

I followed the recipe as close as possible for the Filipino / Pinoy Kare-Kare tripe that I found on YouTube.  I didn’t have long beans, so I substituted in green beans, which probably ended up softer than the ones the source recipe used.  Oh, well.  No bok choy was at my local supermarkets… which I don’t understand as this is usually there.  Okay, Swiss chard (another brassica family member) had to be used instead..  Or, maybe try cabbage, preferably Savoy or similar?  

Kare-Kare (Tripe) – YouTube   And the recipe proper is in the video description box.  I did adapt out of ingredient necessity.  I also likely had more peanut in this than needed.  I also used the red bell pepper for photographic color.  

f-tripe cooking

Prep Time: 30 minutes
Cook Time:   1.45 hours
Rest Time: Not needed.
Serves:  3-4.
Cuisine:  Filipino,
Leftovers:  Yes.  Refrigerate.

Filipino Kare-Kare Tripe

Note:  1 tablespoon = 15 mL in most of the world.  I just learned Australia/New Zeeland use 20 mL.

  • 1 pound / grams beef tripe, sliced into about 1 inch / 2.5 cm squares.  If possible, buy the pre-cleaned.
  • 1 teaspoon beef ” ” or equivalent.
  • 1/2 bunch baby bok choy (if you don’t have, Napa or savoy cabbage will work – I used Swiss chard.  Keep it in the leafy section of the brassica family.).  Chop it coarsely.
  • 5-10 string beans, cut into 2 inch / 5 cm pieces
  • 1 small Chinese eggplant, sliced
  • 1/2 a sliced bell pepper, colorful.
  • 0.75 cup / 180 mL peanut paste [I used peanut butter] without additives, smooth and creamy.  You can pound peanuts down yourself, but that sounded too much like work.  
  • 1/4 cup / 60 mL annatto seeds
  • 1 small onion, chopped
  • minced 2 cloves garlic,
  • 0.75 tablespoons glutinous rice flour
  • 3 cups / 700 mL water
  • 1.5 tablespoons cooking oil
  • Ground black pepper 
  • shrimp paste (bagoong alamang) to taste
  • Cooked warm rice.  

Add two cups / 475 mL of water and your tripe to a pot.  Bring to a boil and reduce to a heavy simmer, for about one hour.  Drain, and set tripe aside.  

In a small pot, boil annatto seeds in 0.75 cups / 180 mL water, for 2 minutes.  

Boil 1 ½ cups / 350 mLwater in a small pot. Add annatto seeds. Continue to boil for 2 minutes. Set aside to soak further.  .  

In a larger pot, heat the oil, and saute onion for about 10 minutes, until the onion softens.  Add the garlic and sauté that for 1-2 minutes. 

Add the tripe, and sauté for a minute.  Pour annatto water into the pot through a sieve or filter, discarding the seeds.  Allow the pot to boil.  

Add the beef bouillon, and stir,  Follow this with the peanut paste.  Add  the remaining water.

Allow this to boil for 8 minutes.  

In a small bowl, combine the rice flour with 1/8 cup / 30,mL of water, and mix until blended.  This is your thickening agent.  When mixed, pour this into the pot, and mix.  Stir and cook further to your preferred sauce texture.  (If this gets too thick – mine did – add more water.)

At this point, you can add your beans, bell pepper, and eggplant.  Cook five more minutes, then add the bok choy or other brassica.  Cook another minute, remove from heat, adding black pepper to taste.  

In individual serving bowls, add your cooked warm rice, topping with the kare kare and a little bagoong alamang (Filipino shrimp paste).  (Note, it is very salty and somewhat hot!)  

f-tripe-logo

Other Tripe Recipes at This Blog

İşkembe Çorbası: A Turkish Tripe Soup

Menudo Soup (A Mexican Tripe Dish)

I rate the other two as A+, this one I rate as B+, and it was best the first day.  You may want to hold out some of the leafy brassica if you plan to eat of this for a next day or so, as the leaf texture declines with soaking – add it upon re-heating.  Also,  add in the bagoong alamang upon re-heating.  (By the second time, if you’ve never eaten this before, you’ll have a better idea how much to add, anyway!)  

tripe, radiatore

Just for fun: comparing honeycomb tripe with radiatore pasta. Both have crevices which will hold sauce; and both, when you come down to it, are rather neutral in flavor on their own.

(I have another pound of tripe in my freezer… what will I create next?  Which culture will I next visit culinarily???)  

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Chinese Silken Tofu, Quick, Easy, Uncooked, Vegan

Contains:  Soy, legumes, nightshade seasoning.  Is:  Quick and easy, vegetarian, vegan, gluten-free, served room temperature.

I had planned to make a different and pan-fried tofu recipe, but discovered I only had the silken (which I’d bought back when I planned to make Mapo Tofu – but right now I don’t have all the ingredients – which brings me to the fact that most Chinese recipes I’ve seen online use a firm tofu, not the silken – but the dish of Mapo Tofu I had in Flushing, Queens, New York a few years back was definitely made with silken tofu).   You should see the other (pan-fried, firm) tofu recipe here later this month.   I will go for creating the Mapo Tofu sometime this summer.

Chinese, silken tofu, salad, vegetarian, vegan

I am making a recipe using HALF the block of tofu.  You can always double my ingredients and either 1) eat the rest later, or 2) share with a partner, or a friend or two.  Perhaps 3) serve it as a snacking side alongside the main course.

year of the ox

The Asian Lunar New Year:   This is now the Year of the Ox.  Each nation that celebrates it, celebrates in its own way, and from three days to fifteen.  The New Year is considered to start with the second new moon after the winter solstice.

China, Malaysia, Philippines, Singapore, South Korea, Taiwan, (parts of) Thailand, Tibet,  Vietnam celebrate the lunar New Year, but in Malaysia and the Philippines it is mostly celebrated by those of Chinese ancestry.  If I’ve missed any country, let me know in the replies.  (Yes, this month I am including recipes from countries that don’t celebrate the Lunar New Year; i.e., Japan.  And the dates for some other southeast Asian countries fall later in the season.)

As with the more Western New Year’s on January 1st, it is a signal to start afresh.  People clean their houses, and prepare to celebrate.  Usually this time is a date where families travel large distances to be with each other (but this will most certainly be muted here in 2021).  Foods associated with luck are commonly served – fish, long noodles (these equate to long life) and so forth.

The Year of the Ox:   “It is less known that the Chinese zodiac calendar refreshes every sixty years: the animal years are repeated five times – once for each element (wood, earth, fire, metal, and water). This year is thus the year of the Metal Ox. Oxen are highly valued in Chinese culture for their agricultural role. Those who are born in the year of the Ox are said to have characteristics of trustworthiness, modesty, and determination – almost to the point of stubbornness. Recent birth years of Oxen include 1961, 1973, 1985 and 2009.” – https://blog.linguistica-international.com/chinese-new-year-the-year-of-the-ox-what-does-it-mean-for-you/    In which they mention that some other cultures have differing interpretations of the ox.  To carry on with this theme: “The connotations of an ox vary across Eastern cultures. For example: it is common for an ox to appear in Korean proverbs, particularly as an altruistic figure that replicates their real-life role of serving mankind; Buddhists see the ox as a true representation of Buddhist nature as depictions of the ox often display them as struggling to pull themselves (or a cart) down a path that symbolizes religious practices”.

And they conclude regarding 2021, and those born in the Year of the Ox:  “Oxen may well feel extra pressure this year in their roles of responsibility. They will need to manifest their naturally calm manner as well as using all available external sources to ensure great success. After such a bleak year, a restrained and apprehensive approach towards the New Year very well might bring great rewards for Oxen that remain true to themselves.”.

I guess we can say, Farewell to the Year of the Rat!  (Hopefully.  I don’t follow astrology, East or West, but having responsibility and success manifest in our lives is indeed a positive.)  And, seriously, there’s no reason you can’t make this time a symbolic way to make things change and be better in your own life!

recipe, chinese, silken tofu, salad, vegetarian, vegan

This recipe comes from:  5-Minute Silken Tofu With Green Onion Couldn’t Be Easier — Garlic Delight.  I made a half recipe, and  used the pepper flakes rather than the oil.

In any case, for ALL who celebrate – Happy Lunar New Year!

Prep Time:  5 minutes. 
Cook Time:  None.
Rest Time:  5 minutes.
Serves: 1 or 2, depending upon what with.  Best as a side for one.
Cuisine:  Chinese.
Leftovers:  Yes, possible, but should be eaten shortly.

Chinese Silken Tofu, Simple and Uncooked

  • 1/2 block silken tofu, brought to room temperature.  (This is approximately 6 ounces / 170 grams, depending on source).  Double everything for twice as much…
  • 1 – 2 stalks of green onion, chopped thin.
  • 1/2 tablespoon tamari sauce – I used low sodium gluten-free.
  • 1/4 teaspoon toasted sesame seed oil.  Mine was a hot sesame oil.
  • Chili oil or pepper flakes, to taste.  I used the latter, with the Korean variant to hand.
  • 1/4 teaspoons or so of toasted sesame seeds.

Remove any liquid, pat relatively dry, and slice the tofu into rectangles.

You can place these on a bed of greens, such as the green parts of baby bok choy, but as I lacked them, I omitted this entirely.   Not essential, but I would have preferred it.

Scatter everything over the top to cover.  

Allow to sit for around 5 minutes, then eat.  Silken tofu does not eat well with chopsticks; you will need a spoon.  Feel free to mash the tofu around a bit – this improves the seasoning capability here.  

The spiciness works well with this – without it, this dish would be terribly bland.  The sesame oil was also appreciated.  


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Japanese Miso Dressing with Duck Breast

Contains:  Soy (potentially gluten), added sugar.  Is:  Quick and easy, just ducky…

A continuation of my Asian Cooking Month!   If you are gluten-free, read your miso container label.   There are indeed some that contain no wheat (gluten).  

japanese, recipe, miso, duck, scallions, green onion, pan fried

A serving of duck breast with scallions and a miso dressing to top. Japanese. Yes, the chopsticks are Chinese, but that’s what’s colorful here at home.

Duck is not that common in Japanese cuisine, but one of the focuses is to have a crispy skin for the breast.  But I looked around and found some ideas – all of which keep the duck itself simple, and usually keep the skin crispy (which I prefer).  My old sushi stomping ground back in Connecticut would make a crispy duck sushi roll – which I know is not something ever made back in Japan.  (I ordered it once, and liked it, but found it far too “goopy” and heavy (yes, it had lots of panko breading) for the way I prefer to eat sushi rolls – I definitely desired something less fancy or fussy!)  

Above:  trimming and scoring the duck breast. 

I’m hoping this recipe gets more into the spirit of things Japanese. 

japanese, recipe, miso, duck, scallions, green onion, pan fried

Can’t forget the scallions!

You’ll have enough Miso Dressing for about four duck breasts.  Save what you don’t use, up to five to seven days in the refrigerator.  Duck itself for 3-4 days.  

japanese, recipe, miso, duck, scallions, green onion, pan fried, dressing

A really good white miso dressing.

Prep Time:  15 minutes.
Cook Time:  12 minutes max.
Rest Time:  5 minutes.
Cuisine:  Japanese.
Serves:  1 breast apiece, with a good amount of leftover dressing.
Leftovers:  Yes.  Leftover duck might be great in a salad!

Japanese Miso Dressing with Duck Breast

The Dressing:  

  • 3 tablespoons miso paste, preferably white
  • 3 tablespoons rice vinegar
  • 3 tablespoons avocado, or other, oil
  • 1.5  teaspoons brown coconut sugar (Other types will work.  Taste and if you need another half teaspoon, add it.)
  • Japanese yellow mustard if desired, to taste.  (I didn’t have, I omitted…)

Recipe source:  https://www.japanesecooking101.com/miso-dressing-recipe/

Mix all the above together in a small bowl.  Give enough time for the sugar to dissolve.

If you don’t use this right away, refrigerate for up to 5-7 days, but allow to sit out of the refrigerator for half an hour before using in the below (or other heated) recipe.    I plan to use my extra as a salad dressing, so in that case, served chilled is optimal.  

japanese, recipe, miso, duck, scallions, green onion, pan fried

Cooked, and prior to the miso dressing.

The Duck:  

  • 1 duck breast, skin on, per person.  
  • 2 scallions/green onions, chopped to  1-2 inch / 2.5 – 5 cm lengths.  
  • 2 tablespoons miso dressing.

Wipe down both sides of the breast with a paper towel, to remove any water or dampness.  

Remove any fatty tissues on the meat / flesh side of the breast.  

Score the skin side so that the fat can drain out and provide a cooking baste for the duck meat.  

on your cooktop, heat a skillet on medium high, and when water dropped in it vibrantly sizzles, add the duck, skin side down.  

Cook the duck on each side 3.5 – 6 minutes, depending on level of preferred done-ness.  In any case, the skin should be crispy.   

Remove from skillet and let rest for five minutes. 

Add scallions / green onions to skillet, allow to cook for 30 seconds to a minute, and remove to drain on a paper towel before they brown. 

Slice the breast (approximately 0.75 inches / 2 cm) thicknesses, and plate.   Add the scallions, and then drizzle with the miso dressing.  Serve still warm!  

japanese, recipe, miso, duck, scallions, green onion, pan fried

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Korean Seafood Pancakes with Asian Dipping Sauce

Contains:  Shellfish, gluten, wheat, legumes, soy, added sugar.  Is:  Korean, savory.

recipe, Korean, pancakes, scallion, scallop

A double serving of Korean pancakes, this version with scallops, scallion, bell pepper, onion, and mung bean sprouts. (And a side-dip.)

The soy and added sugar is part of the dipping sauce.  You can always substitute the soy with coconut aminos.  Or, if you already have your favorite dipping sauce… hey!  

recipe, Korean, pancakes, scallion, scallop

I ended up only using 1/3rd of the depicted bell pepper. The rest became garnish or snacks. Sometimes I chop with enthusiasm!

The Korean seafood pancake recipe is adapted from Korean Seafood Pancake – My Eclectic Bites.  The Asian dipping sauce comes from Easy Scallion Pancakes with Soy Dipping Sauce | Just a Taste,

recipe, Korean, pancakes, scallion, scallop

This recipe is part of Asian Cooking Month here at Goats and Greens.  Where all recipes posted this month will be east Asian or southeast Asian in theme, in honor of the upcoming Lunar New Year’s on the 12th.  

For the above:  Pre- and post- flip of one of the pancakes.  (You may note that I was chicken and cut the pancake in two prior to flipping this first of my pancakes…_(you can see the gap…)

I will note these taste extremely close to the Korean pancakes I used to pick up from the Korean supermarket, H-Mart, down in White Plains, NY,   Unfortunately, the store is two states away from me during an era where we are not being encouraged to cross state lines.  But I am glad now to have this workable recipe!  

Prep Time:  15 minutes.
Cook Time:  15 minute’s.
Rest Time:  Not essential.
Serves:  2 as written.
Cuisine:  Korean.
Leftovers: See both parts of this recipe, below.

Korean Seafood Pancakes with Asian Dipping Sauce

I made a half recipe, as noted below – just double up the numbers for the full.

  • Half a bunch of green onion (4~5 small scallions, or 3~4 medium size scallions)
  • 1/2 medium carrot, cut thin, or grated (I didn’t use, as I don’t particularly care for carrots).  I subbed with thin-sliced bits of red bell pepper, and a handful of mung bean sprouts, up to about 3 ounces / 85 grams total vegetables.  
  • 1/8 large onion, thinly sliced
  • 1 egg, beaten, use approximately half.  (Instead, I went with one small egg… it was fine.  Don’t worry about too much egg.)
  • 1/2 cup / 120 mL sliced scallops  (you can use a frozen seafood mix)
  • 1/4 cup/ 60 mL  all purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon Kosher or coarse sea salt
  • 1/4 cup / 60 mL water
  • 2 tablespoon cooking oil.  I’d use avocado or grapeseed oil.

Cut the green onion into 2 inch (5 cm) long segments.  I sliced the thicker white sections into half, longitudinally.  (At the last moment, I decided to cut the above scallions into 1 inch (2.5 cm) lengths, as I felt this would mix better.  

In a large bowl, add  the egg, flour, salt, and water. Mix them by hand until all large flour lumps are gone.

Add the veggies and seafood.

Over medium heat, add 2 tablespoons of oil to a skillet. allow to heat, and add half of the batter, spreading it evenly, and flattening it.   (If you are making a full recipe, ie double my ingredient list, add 1/3rd the batter instead – you will be making three slightly smaller pancakes instead of these two slightly larger ones.)

After about two minutes, the edge of the pancake will brown and crisp. Carefully flip with a spatula, and cook an additional 2-3 minutes.

Remove the cooked pancake to a plate.

Add a couple teaspoons more of the oil, and repeat the batter cooking steps, until you’ve finished making all the pancakes.

You can garnish with a little raw scallion, and a touch of a veggie with contrasting color, such as the red pepper.  

Leftovers refrigerate fine.  Just re-heat, preferably in a skillet and flip.  A quick visit to a toaster oven also works.  

Asian, Chinese, Korean, dipping sauce, soy, scallion, pepper

Asian Dipping Sauce

This recipe will provide more than you need, but it saves well in the fridge for at least a week.

  • 1/3 cup low sodium, gluten free soy sauce
  • 2 tablespoons rice wine vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoon sliced scallions
  • 1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes – use less or none, as desired.  I used Korean red pepper flakes.  

Add everything to a small bowl, and stir.  You may want to wait ten minutes for the sugar to dissolve.  I would prepare this before making the pancakes.

You can spoon a little over your pancake, or dip bites of it into this sauce.

recipe, Korean, pancakes, scallion, scallop

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Pork Tacos and Veggies in Soft Corn Tortillas – Leftover Pork Shoulder Roast

Contains:  Nightshades, grains. Is:  Mexican-inspired, gluten-free, working with leftovers.

pork, tacos,

For this recipe, I used leftover pork  from the Pork Shoulder Roast with Pumpkin, Peppers and Onion recipe I posted yesterday.  I cooked portions of the leftovers further, for shredding-into-taco purposes.

taco, pork, recipe

I didn’t measure anything in this recipe.  This is simply presented as an idea for dealing with leftover pork that would work nicely in tortillas.  You can use hard shells, or even wheat shells, but I like the distinctive taste of the corn ones, and for my gluten-free readership, the corn ones are beneficial.

I ended up using Kashkaval cheese, a Bulgarian melting cheese (the package was open), but use what you prefer.  Monterey Jack, pepper Jack, cheddar… or, Mexican Cotija all work in a more Mexican or Tex-Mex tradition.

I figure this recipe can gear towards TWO tacos per person, especially at lunch, which is when I had them.  I shredded up more lettuce than required – hey, I ate that on the side!

taco, recipe, pork

 

Prep Time: 20 minutes.
Cook Time: Maybe 30 minutes at most.
Rest Time:  Not needed.
Serves: 2 tacos per person.
Cuisine:  Mexican-Inspired, Tex-Mex.
Leftovers:  These are already from leftovers…  A complete taco with fresh greens will likely wilt.

Pork Tacos and Veggies in Soft Corn Tortillas

  • About 4 ounces of leftover pork shoulder meat
  • About 3 ounces of leftover potato, cubed.
  • Sauce/gravy from the pork and potato dish (this can be whatever you have, but for me contained the pumpkin, onion and Mexican peppers from the previous dish.  
  • 2 soft corn tortillas (or hard corn, or soft wheat, if preferred)
  • About 2 ounces of coarsely grated melt-able cheese.  Grate it yourself!  
  • An ounce or two of bell pepper, cut into slivers. Red would be most attractive, IF you happen to have.
  • Shredded lettuce, crispy.  A goodly handful.  
  • SOME OPTIONALS:  Salsa, roja or verde (red or green).  Sour cream.  Guacamole, Cilantro.

I took some of the aforementioned pork, potatoes, and that pumpkin/peppers/onion gravy leftovers from the previous Pork Shoulder recipe, placed it in a skillet, turned heat up to medium, covered it, and cooked for another half hour, flipping occasionally, and lightly shredding or cutting up the meat towards the end.

Towards the end, I added in the two tortillas so they could heat up slightly under the cover, via the action of a bit of warmth and steam.  (This would not work for a hard shelled taco.)

As I like my cheese in a taco to at the very least BEGIN to melt, when I removed the tortillas, I added half the cheese as the bottom layer of each taco.  You can add it right after the meat/potato gravy layer to the same effect.    Again, divvy the meat/potato/gravy half to each tortilla.

Then add half the slivers of pepper (or what will reasonably fit) and a scoop of lettuce.   If desired, add any or all of the potential toppings mentioned above, fold and eat.  Yes, a bit messy, but oh so good!

Pork tacos, leftovers,

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