Here on our little hillside, in WV, we try to live a simple life. One where we can try to make the best decisions in regards to what we feed our family, and where we source our foods. We try to make green decision that are not only good for our family but for our community and planet as well. There is no place I would rather raise a family, than these WV hills! So I guess it is our responsibility to preserve them, and our heritage.

Saturday, October 27, 2012

taco seasoning

I love making my own taco seasoning.  It is so much healthier for you than the store bought brands with all the added sodium.  One package of store bought taco seasoning contains 98% of ones daily value of sodium. Not to mention all the preservatives and anti-caking agents....geesh!!  Besides it is mostly corn anyhow.

I use my taco seasoning in so many ways.   I of course use it for tacos.  It is good in beef and venison burger, as well as ground chicken and turkey.  I also add it to strip or shredded chicken or re-fried beans to make burritos or soft tacos.  You can season homemade tortilla chips (make your our taco Doritos) . You can also add some to a little oil (1/4 cup) and mix with saltine or oyster crackers and bake at 250 for 15 minutes to make a taco cracker snack.
 I usually end up making a double batch of meat and planning taco salads, or taco pie for dinner a night or two later.  You could also freeze the seasoned meat if you had leftovers and use it next time you wanted a quick meal.

The mix is good for 1 pound of meat, for everything else, season to taste....

You can measure out the spices as you make dinner or measure some out ahead of time in snack sized zippered bags, or a baby food container and have it when you need it.

Taco Seasoning
1 TBSP Cumin
1 TBSP Chili powder
1 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp dried minced onion
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp black pepper

You can either add 1/8 tsp of cayenne pepper powder to mix or add hot sauce to taste (when cooking), depending on how hot you like it and if you want straight heat or a little vinegary tang.

For quick tacos I normally brown the meat then add water and the mix, then cook till the water is all absorbed/ evaporated.

hot pepper mustard

One thing we love so much, that I have to make every year, is hot pepper mustard.  This spicy but tangy mustard is delicious on everything!!  It is great as a dip for tortilla chips.  It is great as a sandwich spread, or on a wrap.  It is good with chicken, ham, cheese, turkey, chips, crackers, etc.  To top it off the ingredients are simple and so is the recipe.

You will need approximately 3 dozen banana or wax peppers

You will need to seed and grind them. 
You can grind them in a blender or food processor

Put them in a pot with 1 1/2 cups water, 1 1/2 cups white vinegar, and 1/4 cup salt.   Boil for 5 minutes to soften peppers.  Then remove from heat.

Next add
5 Cups Sugar
1 Cup Flour
1 TBSP Turmeric
1 TBSP Dry ground mustard
1 16 oz. jar of yellow mustard

I have found it best to mix all of these ingredients together, adding the mustard slowly and stirring out the lumps in the flour.  Then scoop out a cup or two of the peppers and stir them in before adding the mix to the rest of the peppers.  This helps to make sure that the flour doesn't lump up when added to your mix.

Stir this mixture well and cook until it reaches your desired thickness.  Add hot mix to hot jars and turn upside down for 5-10 minutes to seal.  Then flip right ways up and wait 24 hours.  Make sure it sealed and label it before storing.

So simple and absolutely delicious!!

Friday, October 5, 2012

Deer Jerky

A necessity for any deer hunter is a bag full of deer jerky to munch on while in the woods.  They usually have to wait until their first harvest of the season is processed and the jerky is made before they get this hunters treat.  For some reason, this year we seemed to have a good bit of burger left over from last deer season.  Seems like everyone has left over deer burger this year.  I have already finished one batch.  I also have the first of three batches for my sister and her husband on the dehydrator now.  We also had a package of jerky strip meat left in the freezer, so it is marinating in the fridge and will be ready to go on soon.
marinating strip meat

Now everyone has their favorite jerky recipe or flavor.  Some people like it flat, some like it round.  Some like it made with burger, some like it made with steak strips.  Some like it smokey, others like it salty.  I have even had some that is marinated in red wine.  Point is there are a thousand different ways you can make your own jerky.  Our family has been using this recipe for years and I have found it to be one of the best I have had..  I am going to share this with you as well as the marinade recipe I used for the strip meat.

This burger recipe is fairly easy, the flavors gets distributed well and it is not as tough as others when done.

Start with 5 lbs. of deer burger

I mix all the spices together in a bowl and then add them to the meat gradually to help make sure it gets distributed evenly though out the meat and that there are no parts that have an abundance of any one spice in it.

For the spices you will need
2 tsp meat tenderizer (Morton's tender quick works)
6 tsp salt
2 tsp garlic powder
2 TBSP Black pepper
1 tsp red pepper (cayenne)
1 tsp ground marjoram
3 tsp Accent
2 TBSP Seasoned salt

You will also need 2 TBSP of Worcestershire sauce

Put the burger in a large mixing bowl
Sprinkle top liberally with spice mixture and a bit of the W sauce
Mix this well will your hands
flop the meat over in the bowl and sprinkle with spice mix again
mix thoroughly
flop again, add more spice, mix and repeat until spice mix and W sauce are both thoroughly distributed through out the entire 5 lbs.
jerky and seasonings mixed

You can make it immediately or let sit in refrigerator for up to 24 hours
If you have a Jerky gun, add meat and press out into either strips or rope, whichever you prefer,
onto a dehydrator.  Times for drying will vary depending on your dehydrator so dry accordingly.
The one we have without a fan can take up to 4 days to dry while the one with a fan can get it done in less than a day.

If you do not have a jerky gun or a dehydrator, you can roll the meat to about 1/8" thick between two sheets of wax paper, using a rolling pin.  Remove the top sheet of wax paper and bake on a cookie sheet in a oven at less than 200 degrees until done.  This does tend to ruin the cookie sheet so use an old one or a cheap dollar store one the will only be for jerky.

While we have the meat in the dehydrator or oven we always baste it with a solution of 1 part liquid smoke 1 part water.  We like the hickory liquid smoke over the mesquite.  I use a silicone basting brush.  I rotate the trays every hour or so and baste the one I move from bottom to top with the mixture.  This gives them a good 3-4 coats of the mixture.

For the strip jerky, I used about 2 pounds of meat and marinated it with
2 TBSP soy sauce
2 TBSP Worcestershire sauce
1 tsp liquid smoke
1 tsp salt
1 tsp black pepper
1 tsp garlic powder
1 TBSP brown sugar

I let this marinate for 24 hours before adding to the dehydrator.

You can swap out or add any ingredients you like, I prefer more salt and maybe a little cayenne pepper, but the boys don't.  So this is the recipe I used this time.

This Jerky is so good it is almost addicting!!  Enjoy!!