Day 335–Turkey Noodle Soup

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I stand by the anecdotal findings of Jewish mothers everywhere that chicken soup has healing properties. Same goes for turkey soup, but that is a little more unusual to find unless it’s shortly after Thanksgiving. There is something so satisfying about a bowl of homemade chicken/turkey noodle soup that even if you’re still sick, there is a little warm spot in your soul that feels better. I don’t get the same feeling from canned soup and I have no idea why. Maybe it’s because homemade soup, especially if you’re using homemade stock, has a richness and complexity that canned soup just doesn’t have. Or maybe it’s because when I make soup I can add as much of the good stuff (in my case turkey and noodles) as I want, so my soup is just the way I like it.

Last turkey post. Promise. We used up every bit of our Thanksgiving turkey and finished up with making stock from the carcass using THIS basic recipe for chicken stock. I had to break out my canning pot to make the stock because our turkey was so large. Now we have a few gallons of stock for the freezer and enough left over to make this turkey noodle soup. We’re eating a good bit of the soup this weekend and will freeze some for a day when the weather is brutal or someone is sick and we need a quick comfort fix.

This recipe is entirely flexible. You can vary the ingredients to suit your taste and what happens to be fresh at your market. You can also cut this recipe in 1/2 or by 1/4 to suit your household size and what you feel up to cooking. In our case, we made a ton (well, 2 gallons) of soup and used up our leftover Thanksgiving vegetables plus some of the summer green beans and corn from our stash in the freezer. Totally worth it.

A note about amounts. I like my soup very thick with lots of noodles and enough stock to keep everything moist. If you like a very broth-y soup, you can just cut back on some of the vegetable and noodle amounts or add more stock at the end.

Turkey Noodle Soup (makes about 2 gallons)

  • 16 c. chicken or turkey stock
  • 1 yellow onion, peeled and diced
  • 4 large carrots, peeled and chopped
  • 4 stalks celery, trimmed and chopped
  • 4 c. green beans
  • 2 heads of baby bok choi, washed well, trimmed and chopped
  • 2 c. corn
  • 2-4 cups leftover, cooked turkey or chicken (I didn’t measure, I just used whatever we had left)
  • 8 oz. ribbon or egg noodles
  • Fresh sage leaves
  • 2 fresh bay leaves
  • Kosher salt and pepper
  • 3 tbsp. olive oil
  1. In a large Dutch oven, heat the stock.
  2. While stock is warming, heat olive oil in a large saute pan over medium heat. Add onions and cook about 2-3 minutes, until soft.
  3. Add the carrots and celery to the pan and continue cooking another 4-5 minutes until carrots begin to soften.
  4. Add the chopped bok choi, stir and continue to cook for another 2-3 minutes.
  5. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
  6. Add cooked vegetables to the stock along with any other vegetables, herbs and seasonings. Let simmer for about 10 minutes.
  7. Add turkey/chicken and continue simmering for another 15 minutes or so.
  8. Add noodles and simmer until noodles are done. They will swell up and absorb a good deal of the stock. If you need more stock, add water or (if you have it) more poultry stock to suit your taste.
  9. Remove the bay leaves and any other large pieces of herbs you may have in the pot.
  10. Serve immediately or cool and refrigerate to reheat the next day (this is always better).

Congratulations! You are now a healer πŸ™‚

Day 334–What’s Fresh at the Market

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turnips (Photo credit: Joanna C Dobson)

Our farmer’s markets are definitely in winter mode. At the NC Farmer’s Market, many farmers who feature summer crops are gone and have been replaced with Christmas tree and firewood vendors. Our weekend markets have reduced their hours because, really, who wants to get outside at 8am when it is 30 degrees outside to score some fresh kale. Not me, that’s who. Even though the markets have lost their summer bounty and a bit of their festive air, they are still full of goodness!

Here is what is available now at central NC markets:

  • Broccoli
  • Cauliflower
  • Kale
  • Collard greens
  • Turnips (and turnip greens!)
  • Beets (and beet greens!)
  • Carrots
  • Parsnips
  • Lettuce
  • Greenhouse tomatoes
  • Rutabegas
  • Potatoes
  • Sweet potatoes
  • Winter squash
  • Pumpkins
  • Butternut squash
  • Acorn squash
  • Cabbage
  • Onions
  • Pecans
  • Apples

Day 333–Thanksgiving Lessons Learned

I know Thanksgiving was almost a week ago and we are all moving on to the winter holidays, but I’ve taken time to assess several “teachable moments” I had over the holiday and thought I would share them with you. Ready? Here goes…

Freezing and canning mountains of produce in the summer is totally worth it. While we are still making a dent in the food we put up this summer, it is so nice to just go to the freezer or to my canning shelf to grab pasta sauce, roasted pepper ketchup, jam or whatever we need instead of running to the grocery store, especially when we’re planning a big meal like Thanksgiving! And it tastes way better, too.

I need real knives. I’ve probably cooked more this year than I have in my entire adult life. You know what? I really like it! All the vegetable chopping, however, has taken a toll on my cheap-o knife set. This was brought home to me as I was hacking away at our lovely turkey. What we served didn’t look all that pretty, but my knives are shot. Thanks, mom, for being Santa Claus and making that happen.

Real food tastes better. Ok, I didn’t just realize this over Thanksgiving, but it did remind me that fresh food tastes far superior and it doesn’t get any fresher than local produce and meat. And when it tastes better, everyone’s hungry for leftovers. That = less food waste.

Why does anyone buy cranberry sauce? One pound of berries, 1 cup of orange juice and 1/2 cup of sugar. Combine, bring to a boil, stir, refrigerate. Voila. And you control the sugar. Voila-la!

I need more glass food containers. We switched from plastic to glass food containers this year and while our supply is good, it could not keep up with the level of leftovers generated by Thanksgiving! Yes, glass can break (I haven’t experienced that yet) and yes, it is heavier than plastic. Do a taste test though. Microwave something in plastic and do the same in glass. I’m highly subject to suggestion, but I do believe there is a remarkable taste difference. Worth. It.

So Santa, you’ve got the list, right? Knives and glass food containers (well, knives are taken care of πŸ™‚ Oh, and if you can slip some Trader Joes pumpkin ice cream into my stocking, that would be appreciated, too.

 

Day 332–Turkey Hash with Egg

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Turkey hash is one of our favorite leftover dinners following Thanksgiving. It really is pure comfort food–a mix of onion, celery, carrots, turkey, broth, and potatoes. You could even add rice or southern dumplings to this and it would be amazing. Actually, you could add pretty much whatever you want or whatever you happen to have handy. This dish is all kinds of flexible. I like that about it.

Usually I make this with thinly sliced red potatoes, but this year I have lots of sweet potatoes on hand, so I decided to change things up a bit. We also have some amazingly delicious, farm fresh eggs from pasture-raised chickens. I saw THIS recipe on Sugar Dish Me’s blog and thought–hmmmm, eggs on hash. Yes, that sounded like a great plan! Although Ellie wasn’t sure about the changes to one of her favorite seasonal meals, we all thought this was delicious and different enough that we didn’t feel like we were eating leftovers!

Turkey Hash (serves 4)

  • 3 tbsp. olive oil
  • 1 large yellow onion, peeled and diced
  • 2-3 ribs of celery, trimmed and chopped
  • 2 large carrots, peeled and chopped
  • 3 large sweet potatoes, peeled and diced
  • 6 fresh sage leaves, chopped fine or 1 tbsp. dried sage
  • 2 cups cooked turkey, cut into bite-sized pieces
  • 2-3 cups chicken or turkey stock, divided
  • 4 fresh eggs
  • Kosher/sea salt and pepper to taste
  1. Heat the olive oil in a large saute pan over medium or medium high heat. When oil is warm, add onions. Cook for about 4 minutes, until translucent and soft.
  2. Add the celery and carrots. Stir well and continue cooking for another 3-4 minutes until vegetables begin to soften. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
  3. Add diced sweet potatoes, 1 cup of stock and sage and continue to cook for about 15 minutes. Add more stock if pan begins to dry out.
  4. Add turkey and continue cooking for about 20 minutes. The mixture should be very thick, almost like a super thick stew. Check for seasoning and season again if needed. Keep warm.
  5. In a smaller saute pan, cook eggs to according to your preference (Ellie likes hers fried, I like mine over easy).
  6. Spoon hash into serving bowls, then top each with an egg.
  7. Serve immediately.

Day 327–Starting Week 48–Budget and Menu

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Ellie making stuffing, which we are still enjoying!

This week following Thanksgiving is a “use up what we have” week. We have lots of leftover bits of things–vegetables, turkey, ham, bread–and this week is going to make good use of them rather than spending more money on groceries! Thankfully, my family loves turkey leftovers πŸ™‚ By mid-week, I should have a fair amount of turkey stock put up in the freezer to use later as well! Since I’m trying to really use just what we already have, I’m making some recipe substitutions here and there and hope that in the end, it will all work out πŸ™‚

Our spending for this week is low–$31.54! That includes “paying” ourselves back for stock up vegetables that we froze over the summer!

  • Trader Joes (tortillas, cheese, noodles, onions, Greek yogurt): $16.54
  • Mitchell’s freezer (green beans, jalapeno, tomatoes, field peas, corn): $15.00

What are we having? Here is our post-Thanksgiving week leftover festival πŸ™‚ Recipes to follow.

  • Monday–Turkey and sweet potato hash with egg (a variation of THIS recipe) and broccoli
  • Tuesday–Ham and field peas, sweet potatoes
  • Wednesday–Scout night–everyone’s on their own
  • Thursday–Southwestern turkey and veggie casserole
  • Friday–Leftover casserole
  • Saturday–Turkey noodle soup, grilled cheese

What is your favorite way to use up holiday leftovers?

Day 324–Talking Heritage Breed Turkey

Turkeys, man. There is a lot of pressure on the turkey at Thanksgiving. Even if you make a million roasted chickens (which does help), you can’t help but be a bit on edge when you are responsible for everyone’s Thanksgiving turkey. Now, I have an awesome family, and they are always great about whatever turkeys I’ve cooked, even when they haven’t been all that great. But still, I like to make something that is worth the 5 hour drive to my house. So this year made me especially nervous. I was cooking a new (old) kind of bird.

This year, we ordered a Bourbon Red heritage breed turkey from Homestead Harvest Farm in Wake Forest. Jan raises a limited number of birds with lots of sunshine, grass and love. I’ve heard a lot about heritage breed turkeys and how different they are from the standard grocery store variety, but I’ve never had one, so when I had the opportunity to place an order this summer (yes, this summer!) at the Downtown Raleigh Farmer’s Market, I jumped at the chance.

Our bird, Mr. Gibbles as he was named by Ellie, was “processed” Monday, picked up Tuesday and served on Thursday. I’ve never in my life had a turkey so fresh. At 17 pounds, he was quite a good sized bird! Our first observation was that he looked pretty different from the grocery variety. He seemed longer than a grocery turkey and he was not in that strangely uniform, compact shape. Ellie remarked that he really looked like a “real” bird. We got him all ready for his last journey in the oven and served him up to a delighted family. So how was it? Pretty darn fabulous. Very juicy, lots of rich, turkey flavor and great texture to the meat. I don’t think we’ll ever go back again.

Cooking Mr. Gibbles was very different from cooking a frozen bird. First, it does not take nearly as long to cook a fresh, heritage breed turkey. Our 17 pound turkey took 2 hours and15 minutes. For reals. And I used a thermometer backup to make sure. Second, heritage breed turkeys have a wonderful layer of thick fat under the skin, so basting is completely unnecessary. He basted himself, which was terrific, although when serving, the fat freaked my dad out a bit.

We used the recipe below, which was suggested by Homestead Harvest Farm and it worked beautifully. Being a skeptic, I allowed more time than I really needed, which made for some quick hurrying around when the turkey was done so soon, but it all worked out in the end.

Roasted Heritage Breed Turkey

1 fresh heritage turkey at room temperature
Kosher salt and ground pepper
1/2 cup butter, softened
Fresh sage and rosemary, chopped
4 cups chicken broth or white wine

Preheat the oven to 450 degrees.
Mix the butter and chopped herbs until well combined.
Rub the butter mixture over the turkey skin and under the skin if you can.
Sprinkle the bird with salt and pepper
Put the turkey in a large roasting pan. Add broth or wine to the bottom of the pan.
Butter a piece of parchment to fit over the turkey. Use the parchment to make a tent over the turkey.
Insert a meat thermometer into the breast.
Put the bird in the oven and roast until the breast meat is 145 degrees. Do NOT open the oven door during this time.
Remove the parchment tent over the turkey and continue cooking until the internal temperature is 155-160.
Remove turkey from the oven (the meat temperature will continue to rise after removing it from the oven).
Let the turkey rest for about 20 minutes before carving.
Carve and serve the turkey with trimmings.

Voila!

Day 322–Our (mostly) Locavore Thanksgiving

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I am really excited about our Thanksgiving dinner tomorrow! And I am thankful that I am not doing all the cooking! Thanksgiving dinner just makes me happy all over–the incredible aroma of a roasting turkey, setting a lovely table, having my family around me and, yes, a weekend of football. You can have the Black Friday shopping, I’ll be sitting on the sofa with a turkey sandwich. And maybe my laptop so I can do some online shopping during commercials…

This year, I am thankful for so many things and I thought I would share some of them:

  • I am thankful that my family is all happy, healthy and that we can be together
  • I am thankful for my farmer friends and all their hard work that brings local food to our table
  • I am thankful for my warm house, my little garden and my snuggly pets
  • I am thankful for everyone who reads this blog and even more so for those who respond with questions or ideas
  • And I am thankful that I live in a country where, even though we don’t always get it right, we keep trying

Here is our menu for Thanksgiving (you can also see it on our chalkboard wall above). We are featuring a heritage breed turkey raised by a wonderful local farmer. I’ve never cooked a heritage breed turkey, so I’m looking forward to the experiment and will report back!

  • Roasted turkey (Bourbon Red heritage breed) from Homestead Harvest FarmΒ with rosemary butter
  • Honey mustard glazed boneless mini ham from Mae Farm
  • Sausage pecan foccacia stuffing (sausage from Mae Farm, homemade chicken stock, NC pecans)
  • Roasted Brussel sprouts with onion and bacon
  • Mashed sweet and white potatoes with maple syrup
  • Carrots glazed with local honey and thyme
  • Deviled eggs with local farm eggs
  • Great Harvest Bread Company Virginia rolls with local honey butter and homemade jam
  • Cranberry sauce
  • Salted caramel and pumpkin ice cream pie (not local, but Trader Joes pumpkin ice cream is crazy good, so I hope it makes a good pie!)
  • Buttermilk and chocolate chess pies

Get ready for lots of locavore leftover recipes! And everyone, please have a happy and healthy Thanksgiving holiday!!!

Day 321–Talking Turkey

Turkey

Turkey (Photo credit: wattpublishing)

I love turkey. I have been known (several times) to head to the store the day AFTER Thanksgiving to purchase another turkey (on sale) because I didn’t get enough of the first one. It’s not only the turkey itself, but all the yummy, comfort food leftovers that come from extra turkey–turkey pot pie, turkey hash, turkey sandwiches, turkey soup…

We recently had a conversation at work about turkey preparation and the subject of washing the turkey came up. Personally, I hate that part. There are few things more irritating than trying to rinse out an 18 pound turkey in a regular sized sink. Β What a mess. I have a friend (not naming names, but you know who you are) who actually rinses her turkey in a bleach and water mixture. I’m all for avoiding bad bacteria, but not enough to ingest toxins in place of them.

So, I was delighted to find information from the US Department of Agriculture that directs consumers NOT to wash poultry. Why not? Apparently a study in the UK found that washing your chicken or turkey can spray salmonella bacteria up to 3 feet away from your sink, accidentally contaminating food prep surfaces (and other foods). Washing doesn’t remove the bacteria, it just spreads it around. In addition, if you are cooking your birds to the prescribed 165 degrees, all bacteria will be killed by heat anyway.

So here are some tips for enjoying your turkey and making sure you don’t get some horrible family reputation for making everyone ill:

  • If you buy a frozen turkey, thaw it in the refrigerator, not on the counter and NOT in a sink of warm water.
  • Wash your hands, utensils and all food prep services that come into contact with raw poultry with soap and warm/hot water.
  • Cook your turkey to an internal temperature of 165.
  • Do not leave leftovers out for more than 30 minutes.

Food habits are hard to break, but I feel better about being a little lazy and not “cleaning” my turkey this year.

Tomorrow I will post our planned turkey cooking strategy!

Day 320–Purple Mashed Potatoes

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Poor potatoes. For years, they were maligned as the source of all dieting evils. Eat a potato and you were sure to get a muffin top and diabetes. Maybe simultaneously. I never really liked potatoes all that much until I tried fresh, organic potatoes from Hill Top Farm. Those little potatoes are like a whole other food group. It made me realize how tasteless most grocery store potatoes are. Now, I have a new appreciation for them, although we don’t eat them a great deal.

I think that perhaps part of the potato problem is how we cook potatoes more so than the actual potato itself. Potatoes do have vitamins and minerals that are good for us, so why not? Fried potatoes, potato chips and potatoes slathered in gravy and/or cheese are not health food. If you buy good potatoes, though, you don’t have to do anything much at all for them to be amazing and satisfying.

We recently received some purple potatoes with our Produce Box, so I did some potato experimenting. I had never had purple potatoes before, but apparently the rest of the world loves them! These potatoes have flesh that is a deep bluish purple–mine were very dark. Purple potatoes are high in carotenoids, which offer some cancer protection. Carotenoids are not found in white potatoes. Early studies with purple potatoes also show a correlation between the dark potatoes and lower blood pressure.

For our cooking experiment, I quartered the first batch and roasted them with some olive oil and kosher salt. YUM! I did notice that like beets, the purple potatoes bleed their color. It’s a little disconcerting to look down and see your bluish hands!

Ellie and I decided to make purple mashed potatoes with the second batch. I was worried that the dark color would bleed out into the cooking water, leaving me with gray potatoes, so we boiled the potatoes whole (they were pretty small anyway) and mashed them with their skins on. The result? Cool looking purple mashed potatoes! We served them with a local pork roast and roasted local winter veggies!

Purple Mashed Potatoes

  • 2 lbs. or so of purple potatoes (go for the smallish ones)
  • 1/2 cup organic milk
  • 1/2 cup organic butter, melted
  • Kosher salt and pepper for seasoning
  1. Scrub potatoes, but do not remove the skins. Put potatoes in a large Dutch oven.
  2. Fill the Dutch oven with water to cover the potatoes by about 3″.
  3. Heat pot over medium high heat until boiling. Turn heat down if necessary and continue boiling potatoes for about 15 minutes. This will depend on how large your potatoes are, so check the potatoes and cook longer if needed. They should be very soft.
  4. Drain the potatoes and reserve 1 cup of the cooking water. Return the potatoes back to the pot and put the pot back on the stove eye that is cooling. Toss the potatoes around until they are fairly dry.
  5. Mash the potatoes with a masher. Add the butter and milk and mix together with a wooden spoon (you can also use an immersion blender for this). If the potatoes are too dry, add the reserved cooking liquid.
  6. Add salt and pepper to taste.
  7. Serve immediately!

Day 319–Locavore Pumpkin Chili

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I totally get it now. All that work, all the canning, all the freezing. I get it. Because now when the days are cool and there is nary a green bean, peach or tomato to be found at the farmer’s market, I can make something like this awesome chili with lots of my own, local vegetables. It’s pretty awesome. And it makes all the sweaty afternoons in a steaming kitchen totally worth it. I wondered at the end of the summer if I would ever do all that work again and now I know the answer. Yes.

This chili is completely delicious. It was posted by The Scrumptious Pumpkin as Drunken Pumpkin Chili. I like the name, but since I made this for a sleepover my daughter had, I thought I’d tone down the beer reference and focus on the local. I did, however, use the pumpkin ale she recommended and it was a great addition πŸ™‚ Typically, I serve pizza for a sleepover, because who in the world doesn’t like pizza? As it turns out, we all liked this chili–so much that our plans for a second dinner are out (but I do have a fabulous lunch packed for work tomorrow!).

I changed up the original recipe a bit to suit the local ingredients I had on hand, like fresh oregano, frozen whole tomatoes, frozen roasted red peppers and frozen, roasted jalapenos, but the original recipe is HERE. Check out the otherScrumptious Pumpkin recipes, too. She does a great job using spices and natural flavors to tone down our use of fats and sugars!

Locavore Pumpkin Chili (adapted from The Scrumptious Pumpkin’s Drunken Pumpkin Chili)

  • 1 pound local, grassfed ground beef (Mae Farm)
  • 3 cloves organic garlic, minced
  • 1 medium yellow onion, chopped
  • 2 large carrots, diced
  • 2 roasted red peppers, chopped
  • 1 tbsp. cumin
  • 2 tbsp. chopped fresh oregano
  • 1 tsp. cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp. allspice
  • 1 cup pumpkin ale (I used Kennebec Beer Company Pumpkin Ale)
  • 15-ounce can organic pumpkin puree
  • 5 tomatoes, skins removed and chopped
  • 4 roasted jalapeno peppers, chopped
  • 15 ounce can kidney beans, rinsed and drained
  • Kosher salt and pepper to taste
  • 3 tbsp. olive oil
  1. In a Dutch oven, heat the olive oil over medium high heat. Add the onions and the garlic and saute for about 4 minutes or until onions are translucent.
  2. Add the carrots and bell pepper and saute for about 5 minutes more, until carrots begin to soften.
  3. Add the ground beef, breaking it up with a spoon, and brown. Stir often.
  4. Add the spices and tomatoes and stir well.
  5. Add the beer and stir again. Let simmer about 5 minutes.
  6. Add the pumpkin puree and peppers. Season to taste. Add the drained beans.
  7. Reduce the heat to low and let simmer for about 45 minutes (because I used the frozen tomatoes, my chili had a lot of liquid and needed to simmer a good while to reduce and thicken). Your house will smell truly amazing.
  8. Drink the remaining beer. Marvel at your domestic skills. Remember to be thankful for other bloggers who share their recipes.
  9. Serve alone or with grated cheese.