Monday, November 15, 2010

Home-Cured Ham

We get our meat from a local farm and we get 1/2 a hog twice a year. The meat is fantastic, it is pasture-raised and organic (though not certified). We know the farmers and they are some of the kindest people we've ever met. But .. there was a problem. How is it possible that we get an entire pig a year and yet we have to go out and buy ham for Hokie Ham Biscuits ( or for holiday meals, or just for any ole reason?? Something just ain't right!

You can imagine my delight then when I found a website that gave step-by-step instructions for curing your own ham at home!! You use a wet cure rather than a dry cure. *Traditional Virginia Ham is dry cured.* I had talked to my farmer-lady and she told me that some of the other folks who get meat from her have tried dry-curing it, but that it can be very tricky. Wet-curing is the solution folks. (pardon the pun)

Here's the link for the website:

Today I put four 3lb ham roasts out to cure. Here's how it goes.

Hello ham!! Pork Fresh Ham Roast is what the label says. We get ours cut to the size we want. The 3lb size makes it easy to work with.

Four Hams in a pot.

The ingredients & the brine. Sounds like a fairytale. 2 liters water (re-using an old soda bottle makes measuring easy), 1 cup packed brown sugar, 3/4 cup sea salt (if you're gonna cure your own ham, use good salt!), and 1 tsp DQ Curing Salt. The DQ Curing Salt is what gives it the rosy color and also ensures you don't get botulism.

Ham soaking in brine. I weighed this down with two plates to make sure that the ham stays moist & covered with the brine.

I then put this into a small dorm-sized fridge that we have. The site says it cures at a rate of roughly 2lbs per day. I'll leave this in for a week. After we take it out we'll smoke it as well.

One of the really great things about this recipe is that you can do it in batches of most any size. Whatever you have room for. I love it.

TA DA!! The finished product!! Ok, well the finished product from our last batch. You know you're on to something when the ham hops off the smoker and says "HOT DAMN I look good!!" Literally, it did. It tasted even better.
I've never really cared for ham at holiday dinners, but we're planning on serving some alongside the turkey this year. It really is that good. Mouth-watering, moist, just the right mix of salty & sweet. Damn delicious.

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Pumpkin Pie Sourdough Cinnamon Rolls

I've gotten back into sourdough bread. I love watching the starter bubble and grow. Lucky for me my mother is a sourdough fan and had wonderful, time-tested recipes that she shared with me a couple of years ago. I'll share with you the base recipe for these.

Sourdough Cinnamon Rolls:

*Dissolve 1 envelope (or 2 1/4 tsp) yeast into 1/2 cup warm water. Add 1 cup starter, 4 TB oil, 2 + cups self-rising flour, and a dash of salt.
*Mix & knead with extra flour. Shape & let rise in a warm place for 1 hour.

*Divide into half. Roll into 2 rectangles.
*Mix 1/4 cup melted butter, 1/2 cup sugar, 1 1/2 tsp cinnamon. Spread onto rectangles & drop on raisins.

*Roll lengthwise & slice.
*Bake at 350 degrees for 15-20 minutes.

Now, like I said, this was my base recipe. Here are some of my substitutions:

1) I use a mixture of 1/2 whole wheat & 1/2 unbleached white flour. Even in my starter. So these have more wheat oomph and are a little healthier. I also used 2 1/2 cups flour when I began, then extra flour for dusting when rolling.
2) I don't use self-rising flour. To make 2 cups of all-purpose flour into self-rising flour you need to mix in 1 tsp salt, 1 tsp baking soda, & 1 tsp baking powder into the flour.
3) Instead of 1/2 cup warm water for the yeast I used 1/2 cup raw cream. I warmed it in the microwave - about 30 seconds.
4) To the dough mixture I added a little bit of homemade vanilla extract and also some organic maple syrup.
5) For the filling I used 1/2 of a 15 oz. can of pure canned pumpkin, 1/4 cup (give or take) homemade raw butter, 1/4 cup brown sugar, 1/4 cup organic raw sugar, 1 1/2 tsp cinnamon, 1 1/2 tsp pumpkin pie seasoning, roughly 1 TB organic maple syrup (this was eyeballed, not measured), and a good dash of homemade vanilla extract.
6) I don't necessarily use all of my filling. I spread it on there so that it looks properly covered. This left me about 1/4 cup filling leftover, maybe less (again, eyeballing it!). Read on to see what to do with it!

Fresh out of the oven & filling the house with an aroma that is far too tantalizing!

I've made Sourdough Cinnamon Rolls once before, and I made the mistake of not making icing to go with them. I don't think Justin has stopped sulking about it since, much less has he let me forget my horrible, horrible faux pas.
So it comes with no surprise that when I told him what I was going to make today his first question was "With icing?" I reassured him yes, with icing. "With cream cheese icing??" Yes, with cream cheese icing.
But this wasn't just cream cheese icing!

I got the base recipe here: - but I'm going to go ahead and just give you how I did it.

Pumpkin Cream Cheese Icing for Cinnamon Rolls:

*1 block cream cheese (do NOT go with anything other than regular .. aka "full-fat" cream cheese!! If you're going to indulge, do it properly damn it.)
*3+ TB raw milk butter (it does taste better & is better for you, but store bought is ok too. Best if you can find it from pastured cows though!)
*1/4 tsp vanilla (as usual, I used the homemade stuff. It's too easy not to make it yourself and so much better!)
*1 cup powdered sugar
*2 - 3 TB raw cream (actually, this was another eyeballed one. Use less for thicker icing, more for thinner)
*Remainder of filling
*Another splash or so of organic maple syrup

~Blend room temperature butter & cream cheese together. Add the rest of the ingredients. Attempt not to dig in with a spoon right then and there. MAKE SURE you are armed with a good wooden spoon to smack away your loved ones' hands as they attempt to eat the whole thing right then and there.
-- Special note to single gals -- Want to be swarmed by men?? Make this up!! They'll swarm around you, trying to charm their way into the mixing bowl. And, no, I'm not being a pervert there. You don't even have to put on makeup, their eyes will likely not go that high. Unless you are shorter than the mixing bowl, and if that's the case, go for the make-up just in case.

Still warm, topped with icing (though they would get more before it was all over), and ready to be devoured.

Would you like more proof of how delicious these little babies are?? That above photo wasn't the first one I took of them "done." Here is the actual photo.

As I was trying to take the photo this little hand snuck in, giving me the thumbs-up! So .. there you go, Shannon's seal of approval!! ~ fyi .. Tristan was unavailable for comment at the time of the photos as he was still sleeping. But, when he got up he was very excited about getting "Ciddabon Rolls".

Be kind and share these with those living close enough to be tormented by the aroma!