Archive for the ‘Pork’ Category

Wonton Soup

Thursday, December 29th, 2016


Wonton soup is one of my favorite comfort foods.  I think of it as Asian chicken noodle soup, and it’s what I want on those rare occasions when I’m sick. However, I eat it a lot, sick or not. Because I feel like crap on toast when I’m sick, I freeze trays of wontons, as well as containers of broth made from my old stewing hens, so soup can happen with minimal effort.  Everyone knows good old chicken soup is just what’s needed for a cold, but how much better, when you throw in garlic and ginger?

The recipe I give will make approximately 40-50 wontons. This is more than you will need to make a batch of soup. Freeze what you don’t use for later. The wontons can be added to the cooking broth fresh or frozen.



1 pound ground pork
1 tablespoon grated ginger
2 or 3 cloves finely minced garlic
1 tablespoon sesame seed oil
1 package wonton wrappers

Combine ground pork, ginger, garlic, and sesame oil, and mix well.  Fold using any number of different folds. I use a tortellini fold, because it’s an easy fold that allows me to crank out a batch of 100 quickly. Place a small amount of pork mixture in the center of a wonton wrapper. Moisten outside edges of the wrapper with a finger dipped in water. Fold in half to form a triangle, and press the moistened edges together to seal. Pull the outside corners of the triangle towards the middle. Moisten one of the corners with a little water, and press the corners together, and then flip the main part of the wonton over the top of your thumb while pinching the corners together, as pictured.



Wonton Soup
1 quart (32 ounces) chicken broth
1 tablespoon grated ginger
2 or 3 garlic cloves
1 tablespoon fish sauce
1 to 2 cups chopped bok choy greens and stems
Salt to taste

To make the soup, place the broth, ginger, garlic, and fish sauce in your soup pot, and bring up to a gentle boil.  Add your wontons to the broth (fresh or frozen), and simmer for about 10 minutes. Add chopped bok choy to the soup, and take it off the heat. The heat of the soup will wilt the greens, but they will still maintain a satisfying crunch.

This is a versatile recipe. You can use more or less broth and greens as you like.  I prefer more greens and load it up with wontons.


Mexican Style Pork Roast for Carnitas or Posole

Wednesday, June 4th, 2014

Mexican pork roast


Today is a cool, rainy day, AND my day off, which means I’m off the hook for any outdoors work.  It’s a perfect day for cooking and puttering around the house.  By lunch time, I had already put a pork roast in the slow cooker for tonight’s dinner (which will also provide another meal for the weekend), restarted some kombucha which had gone too long and become vinegar (now I have more than half a gallon of very useful raw kombucha vinegar – I’m thinking it’s time to make more fire cider), caught up laundry, did a few website updates for the business, and started a new batch of buttermilk from a gallon of raw milk that was just beginning to sour.

Which reminds me …. I’d like to plug the co-op of which I’m a member, Fry Farms Co-Op.  If you happen to be a reader in the Ft. Wayne/Columbia City/South Whitley area, this co-op is a great source of organic pastured chicken and pork, grass-fed beef, eggs, produce, and a raw organic milk/products herdshare program. An added bonus is the prices are some of the best to be found in the area for food of this type and quality.  I’ve been very pleased with my membership.  I place my orders on their website, and pick up my orders every other Wednesday evening at their Columbia City, Raber Road drop point. They also have a couple of pickup locations in Ft. Wayne.

Getting back to the purpose of this post … my pork roast.  This is on the menu because the girls at my local Mexican grocery keep telling me how much they love a traditional Mexican soup called Posole.  They made it sound so good that I’ve decided I really must try it. I’ve done a bunch of research online, and gotten a few tips from the Mexican girls (who tell me things like, “Well, my grandmother always throws a couple of chicken feet in with the broth). I think  the soup will probably fit very well with the way I cook one meal leading to another. Tonight I’m going to use some of the shredded roast pork along with homemade tortillas for tacos, which will be dressed up with cilantro, avocado, lime, and whatever else strikes my fancy.

Traditionally, recipes like this use some sort of shoulder cut roast (picnic, boston butt, pork shoulder), but I had a 3.5 pound fresh, uncured bone-in ham roast, so that’s what I used.


Mexican style pork


Mexican Style Pork Roast
Pork Roast
Large Onion, roughly chopped
Head of Garlic, peeled and roughly chopped
1 Tablespoon ground cumin (freshly toasted and ground is best)
2 Teaspoons Mexican Oregano
2 Teaspoons Salt

Sear roast on medium high heat (I know, this doesn’t seal in moisture, I do it because it helps contribute to a rich broth, thanks to the Maillard reaction), and I’m going to need a nice both for the Posole I make later.

Place roast in a slow cooker, de-glaze searing pan with water, and add water to the slow cooker.  Add chopped onion, garlic, cumin, oregano, and salt.  Add hot water to cover roast (the picture above shows how much water I added).  Slow cook roast for several hours until the pork is tender and falls apart easily.  Cooking time is going to depend on your slow cooker.

For the tacos, I’ll shred some of the meat, and maybe even fry it so it’s officially carnitas –  maybe not – depends on how I’m feeling by the time I’m done making the tortillas.  The rest of the meat and broth will be saved for making the Posole this weekend.  If all goes well, I’ll post the results later.

Completely unrelated – here’s a bonus update on the goslings.  We were doing selfies in the pasture yesterday evening.  Yes, I know, I’m a goof.


goose selfies



Winter Italian Sausage Soup

Saturday, January 18th, 2014

sausage soup

This is one of those recipes that was born standing in front of my open freezer on a Saturday morning, clueless as to what we were going to have for dinner. My eyes landed on the Italian sausage that I get through a co-op of which I’m a member. On the shelf above were containers of frozen broth made from leftover roast chicken bones.  OK, soup – Italian … tomatoes … garlic … you see how my mind works?  So, I started grabbing staples from my stores, and ended up with the picture below.  Remember, I do everything the long hard way, so I’ve included suggestions for the sake of time and simplicity.  I dry tomatoes in my dehydrator in the summer, so I’ve always got them on hand.  I usually have kale in the winter garden, but thanks to a run-in with the geese, my kale is no more. This was some organic red kale I’d grabbed at a local store. Will someone  tell my why the geese turned up their bills at kale when I offered it to them out in their pen, but when they took a wander around the property they suddenly decided they couldn’t get enough of it?

soup staples

Winter Italian Sausage Soup
1 pound Sweet Italian Sausage
1 cup dry beans, soaked (or 1-2 cans of some sort of white bean)
6 cups chicken broth
1-2 cloves garlic, crushed and diced (or half the head like I did)
1 cup dried tomatoes (or you can use canned tomatoes)
Small bunch of kale, stems removed and roughly chopped
Red pepper flakes (optional)

Brown sausage in soup pot.  Add garlic and cook for a minutes.  Add chicken broth and beans, simmer for about an hour until beans are tender (you can skip this cooking time if you use canned  beans). Add dried tomatoes and simmer for another 15 or 20 minutes (skip the cooking time if you use canned tomatoes).  Add kale and simmer for another few minutes.  I like to be able to chew my kale a little bit, so I don’t cook it much longer than 5 minutes. Season to taste with salt and red pepper flakes.

OK, I feel better now. I recently noticed I hadn’t blogged a recipe in a very long time, and had been boring the heck out of people with the geese and chickens.



Wednesday, April 20th, 2011

Making tamales tends to be one of those all day projects, so I like to get ready in stages.  The first stage is fixing a pork roast for dinner and using the leftovers to make my tamale filling. I prepared a large pork tenderloin roast in a slow cooker with onion, garlic, salt, chicken broth, and some freshly toasted and ground cumin seed. Once you get used to using whole spices that you toast and grind yourself, you’ll never be satisfied with stale pre-ground spices again.  The tools are as simple as a heavy pan for toasting and a mortar and pestle.

Fair warning… the measurements I’ve given are VERY rough estimates based on the amount of leftover pork I had. Also, tamales are not low fat and they taste best if made with lard. Yes, I said lard. Lard, lard, lard. I would love to go into my whole rant about the use of fats in our diet, but then there wouldn’t be time for this blog post. If you’re interested in my position on the subject, I highly recommend reading Michael Pollan’s book, In Defense of Food: An Eater’s Manifesto.

Before beginning to prepare my meat filling and masa dough, I got my corn husk wrappers in a sink full of warm water.  By the time I was ready to start assembling my tamales, the husks were nice and pliable.

Oh, and one last thing …  I am relatively new to making tamales, and am by no means an expert. After making this particular batch I’ve already got plans to make some changes the next time I make them. For beginners, I’ve decided to experiment with adding some seasonings to my masa dough. Also, my family has decided that we would like less of the masa dough, and more meat filling.

Tamale Filling
2 pounds shredded pork
Olive oil and/or melted pork fat from the roast
2 large onions, finely diced
4 or 5 large garlic cloves, minced
1 heaping tablespoon ground cumin
Salt to taste

Heat oil/fat in a large heavy frying pan (I love my cast iron). Add onion and cook until softened. Add garlic and cumin and cook for a minute or two. Add shredded pork and some broth to the pan.  Cook until heated through.  You will want to use enough broth for a moist mixture, but not so much that it will be wet and runny. Salt to taste.  Be sure to taste your filling and adjust the spices as you see fit. If your meat filling isn’t full of flavor, you run the risk of bland tasting tamales.

Masa Dough (the recipe from the side of Maseca masa bag)
2 cups masa
2 cups lukewarm water or broth
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
2/3 cups lard or vegetable shortening

Combine masa, baking powder and salt in a bowl. Work broth or water with your fingers to make a soft moist dough. In a small bowl, beat lard or shortening until fluffy, add masa and beat until dough has a spongy texture.

I just throw every thing into the bowl of my mixer at once, and beat the heck out of the whole mess until it develops a fluffy/spongy texture. In the future I’m going to precream the fat.

Assemble the Tamales
1. Place a layer of masa dough over a corn husk, spreading it out evenly
2. Place some meat filling down the middle of the masa dough
3. Roll it all up in the corn husk, bending the ends down
4. Use strips of corn husk to tie the tamales. This is an optional step, but I do it because I like to, and I find it easier to handle the tamales.

The last thing to do is steam these puppies! I stacked them in several layers in a big steamer basket I’ve got.  It’s really a big pot and basket from a turkey fryer which we’ve never used for frying turkey. We originally got it because it was perfect for fixing our Christmas lobster, and is practical for a host of other tasks. It’s indispensable when I do my summer canning.

Bring the water in the steamer to a rolling boil and place the tamales above the water.  Steam until tamales are done.  Mine took about 45 minutes.

Serve tamales with your favorite sauce (chili sauce, green salsa, etc.)

One last thought: Tamales are wonderful, but what do you think would be more wonderful? How about chocolate tamales?

Vegetable Pork Shumai

Saturday, March 12th, 2011

This is a recipe that I don’t make often, and when I do I choose a day when I know I have plenty of time.   I also make a gargantuan batch so I have plenty for the freezer.  This is one of my youngest son’s favorites, and I’ve been known to get up early to steam some of these  yummy little bits so he can take them to school in his thermos for lunch.

There are two menus I prepare for my family so I have the necessary leftovers for making shumai.  First, I get a 4 pound pork tenderloin roast and roast it in the oven, as well as an assortment of veggies. One of our favorites is squash and apples.  The next meal I fix is an Asian chicken salad using a portion of a large head of napa cabbage.  I’ll try to blog that recipe at a later date.  Measurements given below are approximate for an average batch, but I never follow them and I always make way more. Any type of mushroom will work.  I prefer shiitake, but they can be expensive and are not always available in the markets in my area. This time I found some very reasonably priced, beautiful organic baby bella mushrooms.

Vegetable Pork Shumai
Cooked pork, ground in food processor
1 small onion, chopped
1/2 pound fresh mushrooms, chopped
2 cups shredded napa cabbage
2 teaspoons sesame oil
2 tablespoons fresh ginger, peeled and grated
2-3 tablespoons hoisin sauce
Wonton wrappers

Dipping Sauce
1/2 cup reduced sodium soy sauce
1/4 cup rice wine vinegar
1 garlic clove, minced
2 or 3 tablespoons fresh ginger, peeled and grated
Maple syrup or honey to taste

I make the dipping sauce the day before so it will have plenty of time for the flavors to blend.  Simply mix the ingredients together and store in a jar in the refrigerator.

Here’s a picture of the consistency I like the pork to be ground. I want it fine enough that the finished filling will hold together, but still coarse enough that the pork can be identified in the mixture.

I chop the veggies at this consistency.

Once all of the grinding, chopping, dicing, and shredding is completed it’s time to prepare the filling for the shumai. Heat sesame oil over medium heat.  Add mushrooms, onion, and ginger.  Cook until onions and mushrooms are softened.  Add cabbage and continue cooking until cabbage has softened and reduced significantly. Add ground pork and hoisin sauce and mix thoroughly. I don’t measure my hoisin sauce. I add it a dollop at a time until the ingredients are coated and the mixture tastes appropriately seasoned.  Take the mixture off the heat and allow it to cool until it can be handled comfortably.

This is one of the ways I assemble my shumai.  I find it the fastest way to put them together if I’m going to steam them immediately.  If I’m going to freeze them, then I fold them up using a samosa (with a twist) wonton fold. The link shows a number of different wonton folds, and one of these days I’m going to get around to trying more of them.  I’ve also used this filling to make egg rolls. For egg rolls I tend to use a larger proportion of cabbage in the mixture.

Once the shumai are assembled, I place them in my  Bamboo Steamer and steam for about 6 minutes.  I use a double decker steamer basket so I steam them for 3 minutes,  reverse the top and bottom baskets, and steam for an additional 3 minutes.  Serve with dipping sauce. My family enjoys steamed rice and some homemade eggdrop soup with our shumai.