Category Archives: Cooking

Salmon with Cilantro Pesto

Every July my family heads to the Kenai River with our nets to dip salmon. As a family of four, we are allowed to keep 55 salmon – mostly reds – which weigh in at around 7 or 8 pounds. Add to that up to 10 flounder, and that’s a lot of fish to clean all at once! But honestly, we don’t eat that many fish, so we generally limit ourselves to 25 salmon and 1 flounder if we happen upon one large enough to bother with.

We smoke about half, and freeze or can the rest to enjoy all winter long. Here’s one of our favorite salmon recipes!

Salmon with Cilantro Pesto

In a food processor or blender, pulse together until smooth:
3/4 to 1 cup fresh cilantro
3 T. olive oil
1 T. white wine vinegar
2 T. grated Parmesan cheese
1 T. slivered almonds
1 garlic clove
1/8 t. salt

Prepare about five 6oz salmon filet portions by sprinkling with salt and pepper. Spray a large skillet with non-stick cooking spray and heat over medium high heat. Place salmon filets, skin side up, in the skillet and cook four to five minutes or until golden. Flip and cook another five to ten minutes until the fish is almost opaque (do not overcook – the salmon will continue to cook slightly even off heat.) Remove fish to serving plates, leaving the skin behind (some people eat it, but we don’t care for it) and dollop each filet with the cilantro pesto. Serve immediately. Great with hot cooked rice or noodles and a side salad.

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Butchering the Backyard Chicken

set-up for butcheringSome time in July, between netting salmon and harvesting cucumbers, the time arrives for the chickens to transition from the yard to the freezer. These little gems are between six and eight weeks old when I butcher. I buy day-old Cornish-Rock cross birds (actually, I get them in the mail – my post office is great about calling me the morning the birds arrive.) I’m not going to go into the details of raising them here. If you are interested, I will create another post on that topic.

Slaughtering a chicken

Insert the tip of the knife to the right of the neck bone with the blade facing out. Slide along the bone toward the front of the bird and pull the blade out to sever the muscle and buried artery.

This is an old traffic cone I nailed to a board. The cone hugs the bird’s limbs so it doesn’t break a leg or wing and it allows me to humanely sever the artery in the neck. The chicken barely makes a sound as the blood drains into a bucket below, and eventually just “goes to sleep,” as the neighborhood kids like to say. (I seem to always have an audience, but then, I am in my front yard, so what do I expect?)

Removing limbs

Once the bird is dead, remove the neck, legs, and wing tips. If you pluck, you may want to keep the wing tips, but I prefer skinless chicken, and there’s not much meat on the tips, anyway.

skinning

Carefully slide a thin knife up the breastbone between the meat and the skin, then pull it back to expose the meat.

breast exposed

off like a sweater

Pull the skin down the back and off the “arms” like removing a sweater, then the same with the legs until the skin comes off. Cut off the tail.

body cavity

Now that the skin is removed, it is time to open the body cavity. Be careful not to nick any internal organs as you slice the thin muscle just below the breastbone.

innards

Pull out the innards. Don’t forget to scoop out the lungs, which nestle between the ribs. If you want to save the liver, heart, and gizzard, put them aside.

Then dig your finger on either side of the backbone to remove the kidneys.kidney

Dig your finger on either side of the backbone to remove the kidneys.

hose it out

To really get the last bits of kidney removed, I jet out the inside with the hose.

Check for any bits of stuff you wouldn’t want to eat, paying particular attention to the neck area and the crevasses between the body and thigh.

I don’t recommend eating poultry immediately after butchering because rigor mortis makes the meat tough. I place the birds in a big cooler with ice water (well water here is around 38˚ F. If you need to use ice, do it.) Let them soak 24 hours, which allows the muscles to relax and removes extra blood. Then cut them up and freeze them according to your preferences.

cold waterLet me know what you think of my method! I’m always open to suggestions.

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Gluten Free Italian Recipes

You Can Eat This Gluten Free Italian RecipesI’m pleased to announce the release of my latest gluten free cookbook — You Can Eat This! Gluten Free Italian Recipes. It’s stuffed with full-color photos and step-by-step instructions for each recipe. If looking at these photos doesn’t make you hungry, I don’t know what will.

I’ve made most of these dishes for years, and the real challenge was writing down the actual measurements (I often eyeball quantities when cooking at home.) The second challenge was the photography, mostly because I had to work fast to get the photos taken before my house gremlins (aka family) swooped in to take bites out of my finely arranged meals.

I don’t have a formal test kitchen for developing recipes. These are true, home-cooked recipes made in a real kitchen with easily acquired tools and utensils. Taste testing is my family’s favorite part of the process, of course, but besides feeding my family, I cook for guests, take food to test kitchenpotlucks, and share beloved recipes with friends who want to cook.

I hope you give my gluten free recipes a try! You Can Eat This! Gluten Free Italian Recipes is available online everywhere, but here are a few links to make it easy for you. From my family to yours — Buon appetito!

Kindle,   iTunes,   Nook,   Kobo, and apparently Amazon has already discounted the paperback, plus it qualifies for free super-saver shipping! Get your copy today!   Paperback

Pizza, Biscotti, Ravioli, Calzone – you can eat it all with these gluten free Italian recipes.

51 recipes with full color photos and step by step instructions.

Appetizers, like Tomatoes Parmesan and Fried Mozzarella Bites. Fresh, homemade pasta, including five different kinds of ravioli. Meat Dishes from Parmesan Crusted Halibut to Chicken Saltimbocca. A wide array of sauces for use on pasta, meat and vegetables. Breads ranging from Self-Rising Pizza Crust to chewy Focaccia Bread. For those with a sweet tooth, try baking Florentines or get more creative with homemade Cannoli or gluten free Tiramisu.

Grandma’s Cooking

My grandma was my inspiration for cooking and baking. She was always creating new recipes, some for people with allergies, some with new food items she’d discovered, and always with a discerning palette. Several of the recipes in my cookbook originated from recipes she developed.

Grandma no longer cooks. She lives in a single room in a retirement community where her meals are provided. But I was delighted to receive this photo of her reading my cookbook.

Grandma reading You Can Eat ThisThank you, Grandma, for your love, support, and encouragement!

Do you have someone who inspires you to cook?

Botanicaust Update

I’ve been working long hours readying the paperback of Botanicaust for printing, and finally put everything together just the way I like it. Proofs should be in the mail shortly! The rest of this week I’ll be uploading the ePub and Kindle versions to release hopefully this weekend.

I’ve developed some nice graphics for the interior of the book, which were easy to insert in the print version, but are turning out to be difficult to size correctly for the digital versions. But I’m determined to make reading on an eReader as rich an experience as reading the hard copy.

What I’m harvesting:

The garden is yielding green beans, strawberries, zucchini, tomatoes, cucumbers, lettuce, and carrots. The artichokes are developing nicely, and soon the peas will be ready to pick. Time to make jam and pickles.

What I’m cooking:

We celebrated my daughter’s birthday by making Thai fresh rolls and gluten free raspberry rainbow cupcakes.

What I’m reading:

While I harvest, I’ve been listening to an audio book, The Lies of Locke Lamora, by Scott Lynch. I’m enjoying the world building and descriptions a lot.

Until next time!