Peppered beef jerky recipe

With all of the delicious recipes for Beef jerky that are floating around it is difficult to just stick with a single recipe to use.  Some are dried in the oven, some in a dehydrator, and some are smoked dried.  For this recipe I am going to do a side by side comparison and do half in my electric smoker and half in my dehydrator.  I tend to just do all of it in the dehydrator normally, and add a little smoke flavoring to the brine.  This is my all time favorite recipe for making jerky.  It does have some curing salt in it so anyone that is concerned about having nitrates they can leave it out.  It doesn’t change the flavor of the jerky but does make it last longer if you plan on multi-day trips.  The sodium nitrate in it helps prevent the growth of bacteria. This recipe is set for only one pound of meat but can easily be scaled up as needed.  The amount of curing salt will seem high to anyone that has experience in curing meats, but since this is a brine recipe more is needed.

Peppered jerky recipe
Kayla is ready with all the ingredients to make some jerky

Ingredients needed:

  • 1 lb of lean beef (any lean wild game can be used also)

Marinade:

  • 1 1/2 tsp of pickling salt (or any salt without added iodine)
  • 1/4 tsp Prague Powder #1 (I added a link here since I have never seen this sold locally)
  • 1/4 tsp ground Coriander
  • 1/2 tsp Garlic Powder
  • 1/4 tsp Onion powder
  • 1/2 tsp liquid smoke (mesquite or hickory work well)
  • 1 1/2 tsp ground back pepper (if you would like a stronger kick feel free to add more)
  • 1 1/2 tsp sugar
  • 1/2 cup of water

how to put it all together for delicious jerky:

  1. Make sure you trim all visible fat from your meat. if anything goes bad first it meat with a high fat content that goes rancid.
  2. Mix ingredients for marinade together in a glass bowl or plastic container.  Most marinades are acidic and will start breaking down a metal bowl (and aluminum is a very bad thing to eat)
  3. Cut meat into strips going with the grain.  You can cut it against the grain but it tends to break and get very crumbly.  the strips should be about 1/4 inch thick.  any bigger and it takes longer to dry.
  4. Marinade for 6-24 hours in the refrigerator.  I normally just leave it in over night so around 12ish hours
  5. Finally dry for around 7 hours at 160 degrees in a dehydrator.  For the half I put into the smoker it took 10 hours to finish.
Dried beef jerky
Lay the thinly sliced beef out flat on the racks
Dried beef jerky
The two different ways to dry the jerky made for different texture and color. The top one is from the dehydrator and the bottom from the smoker. Both taste great but also not even close to the same taste or texture

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growing mushrooms from a box

For Christmas this year my sister got me a mushroom grow box for oyster mushrooms.  I have seen these available before but never bought one to try.  The instructions are easy to follow.

  1. Pull tab off of one side of the box
  2. cut an X in the plastic bag and scrape off the white fungus mat to expose the darker growing medium. (looks like saw dust)
  3. soak bag in water for 12 hours
  4. Place plastic bag back into cardboard box.
  5. place in a spot with good light.
  6. Mist daily and you will have mushrooms in 10 days to harvest.

It sounds simple enough to do. Also according to the manufacturer of the kit if you share a picture of your grown mushrooms on their facebook page then they will donate one kit to an elementary of your choice.  Sounds like a great deal to me.

Mushroom kit in the box.
Mushroom kit in the box.

Cardboard square pulled out and ready to have X or a + cut into the plastic.
Cardboard square pulled out and ready to have X or a + cut into the plastic. You can see the fungal mat of white through the plastic.

+ cut into the plastic and the white fungal mat scrapped back to the sawdust.
Cut into the plastic, and scrape the white fungal mat back to the sawdust.

Mushrooms starting to pop out.  This is less then 24hrs from when they first started showing on the sawdust.
Mushrooms starting to pop out. This is less then 24hrs from when they first started showing on the sawdust.

Fast growers.  I wish my veggies would grow like this
Fast growers. I wish my veggies would grow like this.

And the final growth with Katy the mushroom farmer
And the final growth with Katy the mushroom farmer

From start to finish it took 9 days to get them this big.  Not bad for a crop of mushrooms.  Tomorrow will be cooking day with them.  Then I will mist them and see if any more mushrooms grow on this side.  If not I will cut the plastic on the other side and start the process again.  Overall I am impressed with the ease in which these grow.  Katy loved spritzing them with water morning and night.

 

Smelly cabbage aka Sauerkraut

Fresh veggies from the garden to make into Kraut
Fresh veggies from the garden to make into Kraut

This one of the few things it seems like I have never made.  So since i had some cauliflower that ended up being purple cabbage I am going to trade some cheese to my sis for the use of her Crock and some help making the kraut.  The main things you need for Sauerkraut is cabbage, salt and a place to let it ferment.  You can use a normal crock or just a mason jar.  Homemade kraut taste a lot different then store-bought (which is true of almost every thing home-made).

Nikki the kraut queen
Nikki the kraut queen

I got this recipe from an old Mother earth news article but I am also adding a head of garlic to it.

Simple Sauerkraut:

2 large heads of cabbage (about 5 pounds)
2 to 3 tbsp noniodized salt

Grate 1 cabbage and place in a crock or plastic bucket. Sprinkle half the salt over the cabbage. Grate the second cabbage, then add it to the crock along with the rest of the salt. Crush the mixture with your hands until liquid comes out of the cabbage freely. Place a plate on top of the cabbage, then a weight on top of the plate. Cover the container and check after 2 days. Scoop the scum off the top, repack and check every 3 days. After 2 weeks, sample the kraut to see if it tastes ready to eat. The flavor will continue to mature for the next several weeks. Canning or refrigerating the sauerkraut will extend its shelf life. Yields about 2 quarts.

salted, shredded, and spiced in the crock.  Now the waiting begins
salted, shredded, and spiced in the crock. Now the waiting begins

Varying the Ingredients:

As a food preservation technique, fermentation is not an exact science — unlike canning, which requires specific techniques for safety reasons. The proportions in these sauerkraut recipes can be adjusted to taste, including the amount of salt. Salt is a preservative, so using more of it creates a crunchier, longer-lasting sauerkraut. Less salt produces a softer sauerkraut that may not keep as long. Many recipes call for 3 tablespoons salt for every 5 pounds of cabbage, but this can be reduced. No-salt sauerkraut is theoretically possible, but not recommended.

Homemade tomato sauce

And the harvest begins!  First batch of tomatoes are picked and it is time to make some tomato sauce.  Making tomato sauce is a long time-consuming process, but it is a great feeling knowing that everything that is in it is something that I grew out of the garden. Except the onion….my onions have been horrible the last couple years.  This is a canning recipe so after you have it completed you can water bath can it.  Then enjoy it until next tomato season. This recipe is from the Ball blue book of canning.  I usually add extra garlic and the thyme to my sauce.

ingredients:

  • 20 lb tomatoes (about 60 medium)
  • 3 Tbsp dried thyme
  • 1 cup chopped onion (about 1 large)
  • 8 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1/4 cup finely minced, fresh basil
  • ¼ tsp Ball® Citric Acid or 1 Tbsp bottled lemon juice per hot jar
  • 7 (16 oz) pint glass preserving jars with lids and bands

First picking of tomatoes
First picking of tomatoes

Directions:

1.) PREPARE boiling water canner. Heat jars and lids in simmering water until ready for use. Do not boil. Set bands aside.
2.) WASH tomatoes; drain. Remove core and blossom ends. Cut into quarters. Set aside.
3.) SAUTE onion and garlic in olive oil until transparent. Add tomatoes. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer 20 minutes, stirring occasionally.
4.) PUREE tomato mixture in a food processor or blender, working in batches. Strain puree to remove seeds and peel.  (I use an immersion blender and just puree seeds and peels.  It takes too much time to remove the seeds and peels.  And I have never noticed a taste difference.)
5.) COMBINE tomato puree and basil in large sauce pot. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer until volume is reduced by half, stirring to prevent sticking.
6.) ADD ¼ tsp Ball® Citric Acid or 1 Tbsp bottled lemon juice to each hot jar. Ladle hot sauce into hot jars leaving 1/2 inch head space. Remove air bubbles. Wipe rim. Center hot lid on jar. Apply band and adjust until fit is fingertip tight.
7.) PROCESS filled jars in a boiling water canner for 35 minutes, adjusting for altitude. Remove jars and cool. Check for seal after 24 hours. Lids should not flex up and down when center is pressed.

sliced tomatoes stewing and cooking down.
sliced tomatoes stewing and cooking down.

 

Pureed tomato sauce reducing down the rest of the of the way.
Pureed tomato sauce reducing down the rest of the of the way.

 

Squash chips

Squash chips seasoned with a little cajain seasoning
Squash chips seasoned with a little cajun seasoning

Since all it takes is one squash plant to give me more squash then I can ever eat it is nice to be able to make other things out of it that will last a while.  A quick and easy one to do is to make chips out of them.  I use the dehydrator to make them.  Slice them into 1/4 inch slices then spread on dryer racks.  Season to however you like.  I have 3 different flavors going in this one today,  Ghost pepper infused salt, cajun seasoning, and some garlic salt.  The next batch will be just plain dehydrated squash which are made the exact same way minus the seasoning.  Dry for 6-8 hours at 130F.  Then store in airtight containers for up to 6 months.  They are still good after that but will lose some of their nutritional value.

A couple of squash from the garden
A couple of squash from the garden

Dehydrating onions

Dried onions are handy for anything from soups to making hiking meals.  (which is why I am drying them)  As with most veggies there is very little prep work needed to dry onions.  You can slice them into rings and dry or into strips.  Just make sure that they are no thicker then 1/4 inch, and are not touching each other on the drying rack.  Dry at 130F for 6-8 hours.  When they are done they will be dry and brittle.  Unless you like to have watery eyes a lot you should always dry onions in a garage or in an extremely well ventilated room.  (same goes for spicy peppers) As soon as I get more veggies and herb dried I will start on making some trail cooking recipe posts.

One of 6 trays of onions slices drying.  I get about 2 onions to fit per tray
One of 6 trays of onions slices drying. I get about 2 onions to fit per tray

Dehydrating Melons and Banana’s

As the wealth of fresh summer fruits and veggies are continuing you have to ask yourself.  What do I do with all of this food before it goes bad?  One of the answers to this is to Dehydrate it.  Neither of these two comes from my garden but they were on sale and are two very easy things to dehydrate.  And both are very tasty when they are finished.  Usually about when August hits I have my dehydrator running nearly every day until close to christmas.  The amount of things that can be dehydrated and used during the colder parts of the year are enormous.  And if they are don right you lose little to no nutrients out of them in the process.  The main thing about dehydrating is getting the correct temperature for what you are drying.  And don’t mix things that are require different temperatures.  Such as herbs and fruit.  Herbs need to be dried at a much lower temperature than fruit do.

Banana: peel and cut banana’s crosswise into about 1/4 inch slices.  At this point you can dip them in lemon juice to prevent them from turning brown.  This is optional since it only affects the appearance and not the taste of the banana chip.  Lay the slices on your drying tray making sure that they are not touching each other.  Then dry at 130F for 8-10 hours.  The chips will feel dry and leathery when they are done.  They will still be a little sticky so remove them from the tray before they cool to prevent them from cementing to the tray.

Banana chips that have been soaked in lemon juice to prevent browning
Banana chips that have been soaked in lemon juice to prevent browning

Honeydew: Cut melon in half and scoop out the seeds from each section.  Then slice each section into quarters. (8 slices total)  You can then cut the rind off each section and then slice them into 1/4 inch thick pieces.  Total size is personal preference for drying as long as they are all the same thickness.  Dry at 130F for 16-18 hour.  (lots of water in these puppies)  When done they will be dry and leathery but still flexible.  Canalopes can be done the same way but only require 10-12 hours to dry.

Honeydew with rind cut off and slices into quarter inch wedges
Honeydew with rind cut off and slices into quarter inch wedges

Homemade Hummus

I don’t know why anyone would ever buy hummus considering how easy it is to make.  I made up this batch in less than 5 minutes and most of that was opening a can of garbonzo beans and cutting up the two peppers.

Garden fresh hummus recipe

  • 1 12 oz can of garbonzo beans with liquid
  • 2 banana peppers
  • 1 flower head of garlic (i have fresh but 4 cloves of garlic work just as well
  • 1/2 tsp of cayenne pepper
  • 1 tbsp of tahini (roasted and ground sesame seeds.  Tastes good even if you don’t add it)

Add all ingredients including liquid from can of beans into a small food processor or blender.  Blend until smooth.  And these you have a quick batch of hummus as a dip or I use mine as a spread on sandwiches.

This is the flowering top of a head of italian garlic.  They are just tiny cloves of garlic that you can plant or eat.  usually they are a bit milder then the cloves
This is the flowering top of a head of italian garlic. They are just tiny cloves of garlic that you can plant or eat. usually they are a bit milder then the cloves

Two peppers fresh out of the garden
Two peppers fresh out of the garden

 

Garden as the summer heat hits

As we hit mid July and the heat in the Willamette valley starts to go up we look at my little garden.  Some has done surprisingly well for how early it is still.  The corn is mammoth for how early it is.  I always remember my Grandfather saying that knee high by the 4th of July was the goal.  Mine was 6 feet tall by then.  The only thing that is not doing well is my cannary melon.  It is barely growning.  But it looks nice and healthy just very small.

Dinnerplate Dahlia
Dinnerplate Dahlia

Pole bean pyramid.  Great way for large amounts of beans in a small area
Pole bean pyramid. Great way for large amounts of beans in a small area

Brandywine tomatoes are  getting bigger slowly.  Lots of them growing
Brandywine tomatoes are getting bigger slowly. Lots of them growing

Banana peppers looking good.  large enough for a stir fry now
Banana peppers looking good. large enough for a stir fry now

Mulch growing potatoes look great.  already big enough to start harvesting for dinner
Mulch growing potatoes look great. already big enough to start harvesting for dinner

Yellow pom pom dahalia
Yellow pom-pom dahlia

One of Staci's purple coneflowers
One of Staci’s purple coneflower

My freakshly big corn.  Some are almost 12 feet tall.  Last year they were maybe 8 feet tall at the most.
My freakishly big corn. Some are almost 12 feet tall. Last year they were maybe 8 feet tall at the most.

Foxglove (Digitalis purpurea)

Foxglove growing along Wildcat creek
Foxglove growing along Wildcat creek

One of the most beautiful plants of early summer is also one of the ones that you need to keep children and animals from eating.  Due to the presence of the cardiac glycoside digitoxin, the leaves, flowers and seeds of this plant are all poisonous to humans and some animals and can be fatal if eaten.  Extracted from the leaves, this same compound, whose clinical use was pioneered as digitalis by William Withering, is used as a medication for heart failure. He recognized it “reduced dropsy”, increased urine flow and had a powerful effect on the heart. Unlike the purified pharmacological forms, extracts of this plant did not frequently cause intoxication because they induced nausea and vomiting within minutes of ingestion, preventing the patient from consuming more.

two different wild color variations.  Purple is the most common color but there are some light purple to white that show up
two different wild color variations. Purple is the most common color but there are some light purple to white that show up.

Since children tend to put things into their mouth without any restraint it is not something I can grow.  Which is unfortunate since it is a beautiful plant.  It is a low water plant making it a good one to keep in a garden if you are working on making a low water garden.  Foxglove is a biennial plant so it only produces a leafy rosette the first year and flowers in the second year (carrots are the same way).

the flowers are almost the perfect size to fit fingers into like organic thimbuls
The flowers are almost the perfect size to fit fingers into like organic thimbles.

 

Foxglove species thrive in acidic soils, in partial sunlight to deep shade, in a range of habitats, including open woods, woodland clearings, moorland and heath margins, sea-cliffs, rocky mountain slopes and hedge banks.  It is commonly found on sites where the ground has been disturbed, such as recently cleared woodland, or where the vegetation has been burnt.