Sunday, November 24, 2013

Hey Blechta! Where have you been?

Pheasant, mushroom & leek pie for a very special dinner.
That’s a question I’ve been forced to face in several email inquiries over the past four months. The last time I did an entry here, it was the middle of summer. The weather was hot and fine and my wife and I were celebrating a milestone wedding anniversary. (Has it really been that long?) Now we’ve had our first snow (a dusting) and it’s darned cold outside. Time has a habit of marching on if you don’t pay attention.

Unfortunately, postings to this blog have to be done when I have time – and a willing spirit – and the former has been in very short supply since I last wrote here. I fully intended to start posting regularly again, but well, my three other jobs kept getting in the way. During that time, I completed two novels and began sketching on another, completed a fair bit of design work, and started a band. There was also about fourteen days-worth of vacation in there as well.

I have been doing a lot of cooking during the interim and collecting press clippings (can one call them that when all the clippings are electronic?) on various topics upon which I’d like to prognosticate and invite comments.

We cured and smoked a twenty-pound ham for (Canadian) Thanksgiving. We hot-smoked bacon once or twice. I cold-smoked some cheese when it was a bit to hot to do that. (The odd shapes this produced garnered some “interesting” remarks when we served it to guests.) We smoked ribs a few times, as well. (I am still not satisfied with the results we’re getting which will be a topic for a future post.) And of course the smoker was often busy, filled with almonds for my son Karel’s gourmet nut business.

In the kitchen, we’ve been developing a few recipes that I will enlarge on over the coming months. Since most are totally appropriate for the colder weather we’re now enjoying, I hopeful they’ll be welcome.

Speaking of which, with our basement finally cool enough to hang some meat for dry aging, I’ve started in on my usual curing endeavors. Right now we have eleven pounds of hog jowls curing in the bottom of our fridge. I decided that this year I’m going to do our guanciale all at once rather than in groups of two or three. I’m hoping to get a commercial grade, light-duty vacuum sealer as my big Christmas present next month and that will be right on time to seal up our guanciale for freezing and use later in the year. We’re also going to make some pancetta for the first time and of course there will be lonzino, a particular family favorite.

Karel and Jan have been clamoring for some more bacon, so once the guanciale is done curing, I’ll cure a few pork bellies and we’ll double smoke a whack of our birch beer-flavored bacon for everyone.

With Christmas on the way, we’ve also made our usual fruit cake, and while it’s a bit late to share this – since this sort of thing should have been started by November first at the latest – we made two small changes to our tried and true recipe and based on a first tasting the other night, they are definitely for the better. This year’s cake is our best ever.

So that’s my story and I’m sticking to it. I should have fewer problems standing in the way of posting more regularly moving forward, so watch out for updates. There is some good food and stimulating food topics coming down the pike for everyone.

One last major thing: there will be talk of homemade baby food on the horizon since we’re going to be dusting off our recipes, now over thirty years old, since our other son Jan and his lady Rena produced our first grandchild six days ago. Welcome Jackson Reno Blechta. Expect some good food in your future!


Vicki Delany said...

Glad you're back

Rick Blechta said...

Thanks. Truth be told, I've been feeling incredibly guilty for over two months for neglecting things around here. Now I feel less guilty, but I have so many things I want to write about that I don't know what to do next!