Ghee Whiz!

What is ghee? Well, think of it as caramelized butter.  It has a higher smoke point than regular butter and a deeper, more nutty flavor.
Basically all you’re doing is evaporating off the water content and browning the milk solids (which you strain out).
Clarified butter is similar, ghee is just cooked longer for a deeper flavor.
My favorite uses for ghee are for popping popcorn and grains, stir frying, roasting… anytime you want to cook at a higher heat or get an amazing sear, pull out the ghee.  It is easier than you think and lasts quite a long time.  If you get any water in it, that can cause bacterial growth.  So I always keep it in a jar with a lid and use a clean dry utensil.  Or you can store in the refrigerator as well.
It can take over 20 minutes, so I usually make it when I’m going to be in the kitchen anyways making dinner or doing dishes or whatever.

GHEE
1 pound unsalted butter

Using a small heavy pot, add butter and heat over medium heat.

After it melts it will begin to foam up.  Keep cooking!

Turn your heat down if it is boiling too hard.  You want a gentle simmer.

The second foam is what we’re looking for.

When the milk solids are a deep brown you’re done!

Just strain and let cool.

Store on the counter for a month in an airtight container (I use a jar) or refrigerate for longer storage.

Ghee Whiz!

Ingredients

  • 1 pound unsalted butter

Instructions

  • Using a small heavy pot, add butter and heat over medium heat.
  • After it melts it will begin to foam up.  Keep cooking!
  • Turn your heat down if it is boiling too hard.  You want a gentle simmer.
  • The second foam is what we're looking for.
  • When the milk solids are a deep brown you're done! This can take over 20 minutes to reach this point, but it depends on heat level and your pot as well.
  • Just strain and let cool.
  • Store on the counter for a month in an airtight container (I use a jar) or refrigerate for longer storage. 
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    DIY Smoked Bacon

    DIY Smoked Bacon

    I love a good kitchen experiment.  This takes kitchen experiments to all new level though.  If you’ve never had homemade bacon you have no idea what you’re missing.  It makes bacon from the store seem so wrong and inferior.  It is really very easy and while it takes some time you don’t have to do much during the time.  If you don’t have a smoker yet I don’t know what better argument there is than homemade smoked bacon 🙂

    I like to cut the pork belly into manageable sizes, since it makes it easier to cure them in ziplock bags and also when it comes time to slice it later on.  The rub amounts are for each pound of pork belly, so adjust accordingly.  I did half of mine in brown sugar rub, and the other half in the peppercorn herb rub.  We go back and forth on which we like better and I honestly can’t tell you which is better!  Next time I might try adding a little maple syrup as well.  You can play around with the seasonings, just be sure to use the right amount of tenderquick, as that will keep bad bacteria from growing.  You can use pink salt, but you need to be careful when using that, as too much can actually be lethal.  I feel like tenderquick is a little safer for a home kitchen.

    Pork belly, rind on

    BROWN SUGAR RUB:
    1 T Morton’s tenderquick
    1 T brown sugar
    1 tsp garlic powder
    1/2 tsp black pepper

    CRACKED PEPPERCORN AND HERB RUB:
    1 T Morton’s Tenderquick
    1 tsp sugar
    1 T crushed black peppercorns (Using the side of a chef’s knife, press down to crack)
    1 tsp garlic powder (or 1 crushed garlic clove)
    1 tsp minced fresh rosemary
    1 tsp minced fresh thyme leaves
    1 crumbled dried bay leaf

    Place pork belly in a shallow pan and rub all sides with rub.  Place in a ziplock bag with any remaining rub.
    Refrigerate for 7 days, turning ever day to redistribute the rub and any liquid.
    DIY Smoked Bacon

    After 7 days it’s time to rinse the rub off.  You don’t want to skip this, as the bacon will be too salty if you don’t.

    DIY Smoked Bacon

    After you have rinsed the pork belly, place it on a wire rack set over a rimmed baking sheet and refrigerate for 2 days.

    DIY Smoked Bacon

    Time to smoke!  Hot smoke, rind side up, for about 2 hours (we used a mix of hickory and cherry) or until it reaches 150 degrees.
    If you don’t have a smoker you could bake it in the oven at about 200 degrees on a rack set over a rimmed sheet.  But for optimal flavor, we’re going to smoke. 🙂

    DIY Smoked Bacon

    Above is what the rind side looks like when done, below is rind side down:

    DIY Smoked Bacon

    Trim the rind off.  Unless you want rind-on bacon, then you would leave it on.

    DIY Smoked Bacon

    Cool, then slice in desired thickness.  It’s easiest if you slice with fat side down.

    DIY Smoked Bacon
    You’ll want to cut the ends off to get nice neat slices.  But you don’t want to waste any!  So cut the ends into 1/2 inch cubes, or lardons.  You can throw these in a freezer ziplock and they won’t freeze together solid.  You can pull out however much you want at a time.  These are great for chili, cook until crisp to top baked potatoes, salads… pretty much anything you want to taste amazing.
    DIY Smoked Bacon

    To store the bacon I weigh out half pound amounts, wrap in butcher paper and freeze.

    DIY Smoked Bacon

    DIY Smoked Bacon

    Ingredients

    • Pork belly, rind on
      BROWN SUGAR RUB:
    • 1 T Morton’s tenderquick
    • 1 T brown sugar
    • 1 tsp garlic powder
    • 1/2 tsp black pepper
      CRACKED PEPPERCORN AND HERB RUB:
    • 1 T Morton’s Tenderquick
    • 1 tsp sugar
    • 1 T crushed black peppercorns (Using the side of a chef’s knife, press down to crack)
    • 1 tsp garlic powder (or 1 crushed garlic clove)
    • 1 tsp minced fresh rosemary
    • 1 tsp minced fresh thyme leaves
    • 1 crumbled dried bay leaf

    Instructions

  • Place pork belly in a shallow pan and rub all sides with rub. Place in a ziplock bag with any remaining rub.
  • Refrigerate for 7 days, turning ever day to redistribute the rub and any liquid.
  • After 7 days it’s time to rinse the rub off. You don’t want to skip this, as the bacon will be too salty if you don’t.
  • After you have rinsed the pork belly, place it on a wire rack set over a rimmed baking sheet and refrigerate for 2 days.
  • Time to smoke! Hot smoke, rind side up, for about 2 hours (we used a mix of hickory and cherry) or until it reaches 150 degrees.
  • If you don’t have a smoker you could bake it in the oven at about 200 degrees on a rack set over a rimmed sheet. But for optimal flavor, we’re going to smoke
  • Trim the rind off. Unless you want rind-on bacon, then you would leave it on.
  • Cool, then slice in desired thickness. It’s easiest if you slice with fat side down.
  • You’ll want to cut the ends off to get nice neat slices. But you don’t want to waste any! So cut the ends into 1/2 inch cubes, or lardons. You can throw these in a freezer ziplock and they won’t freeze together solid. You can pull out however much you want at a time. These are great for chili, cook until crisp to top baked potatoes, salads… pretty much anything you want to taste amazing.
  • To store the bacon I weigh out half pound amounts, wrap in butcher paper and freeze.
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    DIY Laundry Detergent (Big Batch!)

    diy laundry det
    Hi blog.  Have you missed me? Sorry I was gone all week, I was busy raising people.
    I have alot of friends who make their own detergents and I finally decided to try it after realizing how much we spend on laundry detergent!  I asked my friends for their recipes and scoured the internet and picked a handful to try.  After making some scaled down batches, this one is my favorite.  I definitively didn’t care for the dry powdered detergent, even though it was easier to make.  I found the liquid got the clothes cleaner.  I adapted the recipe to make a large batch so I don’t have to make it very often at all.
    It’s ridiculously cheap to make, and I’m kicking myself for not starting sooner!

    I was a little leery since both me and my youngest have super sensitive skin. (I mean really sensitive, I don’t even wear makeup because of it).  I’ve always used “free and clear” detergents (and well, everything) and wasn’t sure if the Fels naptha would bother us, but NO problems!   I use the Fels naptha to pre-treat stains as well, just wet the stain a little and rub with the bar.  Works great!  I keep one in a dish on a shelf above my washer just for that.  You can also put a small amount of the detergent on stains and work it into the stain as well.

    You’ll need just a few things: a large bucket to mix/store it in (I bought one at United Grocers Cash and Carry, you can find them at most kitchen supply stores), Washing soda (NOT baking soda!) :), Borax, and Fels Naptha.  You can find the washing soda, borax, and Fels naptha in the laundry section.  I’ve found them at both Walmart and Winco Foods here.
    My bucket measures up to 20 quarts, but holds more than that.

    DSC00739
    You can also add essential oils if desired, just add them with the borax and washing soda.  I would recommend adding it to your smaller container to be sure you really want to, or use wool dryer balls and add a few drops of it on those.

    DIY LAUNDRY DETERGENT (BIG BATCH)

    1 bar FelsNaptha (grated or shredded)
    1 1/2 cups washing soda
    1 1/2 cups borax
    (and water)

    Heat 3 quarts (that’s 12 cups) with the grated FelsNaptha over medium high heat, until soap is completely dissolved.  (before and after below, note the soap is totally dissolved when done).
    DSC00736  DSC00741
    Pour into your bucket and add washing soda and borax along with 3 more quarts hot water.
    DSC00742
    Mix well.  Add 4 gallons and 1 quart (that’s 17 quarts) hot water.
    DSC00746
    Let sit overnight.  Now it should appear kind of gelatinous.
    DSC00747

    Mix really well.  (I break it up with a long spoon, then use my immersion blender to get it smooth, stirring occasionally to get any lumps on the bottom.)
    DSC00748
    I pour some into an old detergent bottle to use in the house, and store the big bucket in the garage.  Every time I refill it I mix it up a little as well.
    Use 1/4 cup to 1/2 cup per load, depending on how dirty/big your load is.

    Recipe Source: adapted from my dear friend Kristy M.

    DIY Laundry Detergent (Big Batch!)

    Ingredients

    • 1 bar FelsNaptha (grated or shredded)
    • 1 1/2 cups washing soda
    • 1 1/2 cups borax
    • (and water)

    Instructions

  • Heat 3 quarts (that's 12 cups) with the grated FelsNaptha over medium high heat, until soap is completely dissolved. (before and after below, note the soap is totally dissolved when done).
  • Pour into your bucket and add washing soda and borax along with 3 more quarts hot water.
  • Mix well. Add 4 gallons and 1 quart (that's 17 quarts) hot water.
  • Let sit overnight. Now it should appear kind of gelatinous.
  • Mix really well. (I break it up with a long spoon, then use my immersion blender to get it smooth, stirring occasionally to get any lumps on the bottom.)
  • I pour some into an old detergent bottle to use in the house, and store the big bucket in the garage. Every time I refill it I mix it up a little as well.
  • Use 1/4 cup to 1/2 cup per load, depending on how dirty/big your load is.
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    DIY Canadian Bacon

    DSC00077
    I have this obsession.  It can get a little out of hand at times.
    If you can buy it, odds are I’ve thought “can I make that?”  Doesn’t really matter what it is… I’ve thought that. 🙂
    One of my favorite cookbooks is Charcuterie: The Craft of Salting, Smoking, and Curing.  I read it like some people read a magazine.
    I have gone so far as to buy a meat grinder and have made my own sausages.
    Anyways, I usually buy Canadian Bacon from our butcher, Butcher Boys.  (Who are so cool they don’t even have a website.) 🙂
    They make it there and it’s amazing.  If you’ve only had the fake canadian bacon (you know, those round slices of compressed “meat”), you don’t know what you’re missing.
    But one day I came across a recipe in Charcuterie for none other than Canadian Bacon and it was like a light bulb went off in my head.  How have I not thought to make it myself before?!
    I used the technique in Charcuterie but made my own brine recipe.  It turned out absolutely amazing and I will never buy it again!

    DIY CANADIAN BACON

    4 lbs boneless pork loin

    For the brine:
    1 gallon(16 cups) water
    5 garlic cloves, smashed
    3 bay leaves
    1 1/2 cups brown sugar
    1 1/2 cups kosher salt
    8 tsp pink salt (or another curing salt- I get it from my butcher)
    4 sprigs fresh thyme (or 2 tsp dried)
    2 tsp peppercorns

    Place all the brine ingredients in a large pot and bring to a boil, stirring to dissolve the salt and sugar.
    DSC00006
    Refrigerate until cold, then place the pork loin in a large container and add brine to cover.  Weigh pork down with a plate if needed to keep it submerged.
    Refrigerate for 48 hours.
    DSC00008
    Remove loin from brine and place on a rack over a tray and chill, uncovered for 12 to 24 hours.
    (This will develop the pellicle, the tacky surface that allows the smoke to adhere.)
    Hot smoke the pork to 160 degrees, which should take 2-3 hours.*
    DSC00043
    (the canadian bacon is on the right, I smoked a ham with it.)
    Cool before wrapping.  Refrigerate up to 10 days.
    Easier to slice after fully cooled as well.

    I sliced mine thinly and wrapped in packages of 4 oz in butcher paper and froze.

    *Oven directions: Instead of smoking it, bake at 200 degrees until meat is 160 degrees.  I haven’t tested this, but it will definitely be missing the smoke flavor, which really does add alot to this.

    DIY Canadian Bacon

    Ingredients

    • 4 lbs boneless pork loin
      For the brine:
    • 1 gallon(16 cups) water
    • 5 garlic cloves, smashed
    • 3 bay leaves
    • 1 1/2 cups brown sugar
    • 1 1/2 cups kosher salt
    • 8 tsp pink salt (or another curing salt- I get it from my butcher)
    • 4 sprigs fresh thyme (or 2 tsp dried)
    • 2 tsp peppercorns

    Instructions

  • Place all the brine ingredients in a large pot and bring to a boil, stirring to dissolve the salt and sugar.
  • Refrigerate until cold, then place the pork loin in a large container and add brine to cover. Weigh pork down with a plate if needed to keep it submerged.
  • Refrigerate for 48 hours.
  • Remove loin from brine and place on a rack over a tray and chill, uncovered for 12 to 24 hours.
  • (This will develop the pellicle, the tacky surface that allows the smoke to adhere.)
  • Hot smoke the pork to 160 degrees, which should take 2-3 hours.
  • Cool before wrapping. Refrigerate up to 10 days.
  • Easier to slice after fully cooled as well.
  • I sliced mine thinly and wrapped in packages of 4 oz in butcher paper and froze.
  • Oven directions: Instead of smoking it, bake at 200 degrees until meat is 160 degrees. I haven't tested this, but it will definitely be missing the smoke flavor, which really does add alot to this.
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    Vanilla beans, and vanilla sugar

    I heart vanilla beans.  They are one of those amazing ingredients that make everything they touch magical.  I buy mine from Penzeys or Costco and store them in my pantry.  They can last for a couple of years, and I love having them on hand.  Want to know how to use them?
    Using a small paring knife, cut in half lengthwise.  Then use the back of the knife to scrape out all the amazing goodness. : )  For recipes that call for vanilla extract, just remember that about 1/2 of 1 bean is equal to 1 tsp of vanilla extract.  Only, it tastes WAY better!
    What to do with the pod? Wait! Don’t throw it away! You can simmer it with something to add vanilla flavor, like a berry sauce, or my favorite, make vanilla sugar!
    Just throw it in a jar with some sugar and leave for a week or two.  You’ll have sugar infused with vanilla flavor when it’s ready! 

    How To… make homemade Onion Powder

    Here’s a handy trick! I’m sure I’m not the only one annoyed at the hard-as-a-rock onion powder you throw away all the time.
    Well, I have a solution!
    Make your own, as little or as much as you want!
    I just use my little grinder (I think it might be for coffee, but I just use it for herbs and such)
    Just throw in some dried minced onion and away you go!  You can buy it at Costco in a larger container, or most grocery stores as well.
    (I’ve even gone as far as dehydrating my own onions and then making them into powder… but that’s a story for another day ; )

    How to crush peel / garlic

    Lay garlic clove with flat side down on a cutting board
    Lay knife on top of clove..
    And whack down (not so hard to just peel, harder to crush)
    Your garlic should look like this, with the peel loose:
    Now you can chop, mince, crush, whatever you need it for. (And take out a few aggresions)

    How to… peel, core, and chop apples

    I know, you’re thinking this isn’t even worth posting. But I get questions like this often.
    And I realize that not everone owns an apple corer and would like to see the easiest, most effective way I know of doing this.
    First, cut off one side of the apple, cutting to the side of the core:
    See?
    Now, put cut side down, and cut again, to the right of the core:
    Again, rotate so that the last cut edge is face down, and cut again to the right of the core:
    Flip again, and repeat.
    Now, you have a square core and four sections. If you need it peeled, do so now.

    How to… Grate and Shave Parmesan

    I thought it would be good to share what I mean when my recipes call for grated or shaves parmesan, and the tools I like to use to do so. I have 2 different Microplanes, the fine grater, and the extra coarse grater. I like using both of these, and they have lots of other uses, like zesting citrus, etc. They are definetely worth having around. I would say the fine grater is a little more useful for me, being that I really love citrus zest. And to “shave” parmesan, a regular vegetable/potato peeler works great.

    How to… Chiffonade

    So this only sounds fancy schmancy. (is that really a word?) But it’s really just little strips or ribbons. And I know alot of you probably know what it is, but just in case, here’s a little demo…
    I used fresh basil leaves, my favorite thing to chiffonade.
    Stack leaves in a stack:
    Roll up snugly..
    Using a sharp knife, cut into thin strips…
    And there you have it.. chiffonade!
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