Saturday, October 31, 2009

Happy Halloween

May your cauldrons be full and for those of you goolish gosties out there, witches and wicked pumpkins, as well as things that go bump in the night, I wish you a safe and happy Halloween. As for us...Darla is just going out as Underdog and fighting all of those who rob and plunder...

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Let's Get Cookin'

I've not posted any cooking recipes and I like to cook. Shame on me! Today we will cook a dish from the 'Gumbo Shop' in New Orleans. You can substitute shrimp for the crawfish if you can't find them and use your favorite ham instead of the Tasso.

For those of you who aren't familiar with Tasso, it is a very spicy piece of pork. According to Wikipedia, Tasso ham is a specialty of Cajun cuisine. It is a spicy, peppery version of smoked pork made from the shoulder butt. In this case, "ham" is a misnomer, since tasso is not made from the hind leg of a pig. This cut is typically fatty, though leaner cuts are often used and have a great deal of flavor. The butt, which will weigh 7 to 8 pounds, is sliced across the grain into pieces about 3 in / 7.5 cm thick. These are dredged in a salt cure, which usually includes nitrates and sugar. The meat is left to cure briefly, only three or four hours, then rinsed, rubbed with a spice mixture containing Cayenne pepper and garlic, and hot-smoked until cooked through.

Tasso is not typically eaten on its own. It is used in dishes ranging from pasta to crab cakes, soup to gravy. Appropriate to its roots, tasso is most often found in recipes of southern or Cajun/Creole origin, such as jambalaya.

This is a dish that I made and served at my wedding...and yes, I used crawfish and tasso...


1 pound pasta, preferably imported Rotini or Fusili
4 tablespoons butter
1/4 pound tasso or smoked ham
1 1/2 cups shallots, chopped
4 cloves garlic minced
2 cups heavy cream (whipping cream)
1 teaspoon white pepper
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1 pound peeled crawfish tails
1/4 cup parsley

First, gather your ingredients:

Cook pasta according to package directions, being careful not to overcook. Rinse in cold water and set aside.

Melt butter in a large skillet. Cut tasso in a 1/4 inch dice. Saute in butter until lightly browned. Add garlic, stir and cook for one minute. Add shallots and cook until tender.

Add cream, white pepper, cayenne and salt. Bring to a boil and cook about one or two minutes, or until slightly thickened, stirring often. Add crawfish (or shrimp) and parsley. Stir and cook for 2 or 3 minutes. If using fresh shrimp, make sure the shrimp are cooked through. This is what it will look like before adding the pasta:

Add pasta*, mix in well and cook until pasta is heated through. Serve immediately.

Makes 4 - 6 entrees or 8 - 10 appetizers.

*The sauce will thicken when the pasta is added and should also be slightly spicier before adding pasta.


Oh, and I did post about 'Chicken Creole' here:

Friday, October 16, 2009

She Had A Secret

Yesterday was a scary and mixed emotional day. While doing some dishes I looked out and saw Mr. Fox about 30 yards sitting and eying my chickens. I ran out the door yelling and screaming and he ran off. He was really quite a beautiful animal. A deep rich red with a beautiful thick bushy tail and the striking white tip. But the fact is that foxes and chickens don't mix unless you want the fox to have a fresh chicken dinner.

It was a rainy kind of day with the rain starting and stopping. My husband went out during one of the dry times and then came back in to get me. He couldn't find June anywhere. She was nowhere to be found. I went out with the special chickey bread that they all love and called. Only the guinea's and Ozzie came. No June. I looked and looked for her. No sign of her. I finally gave up knowing that the fox got his dinner. Poor June. What a horrible fate for her. My heart was very heavy.

I kept going out and looking for the fox to show up again. As I was looking out my back door watching Ozzie and the guinea's hunt and peck, from out of the garden area sauntered June. WHAT? She just waltzed over like nothing was wrong. I yelled and told my husband and he wanted to know if I was sure. Um, yes, I do know what June looks like. He came over to see her and asked where she came from. I told him I didn't know, just from the direction of the garden. I had looked over there but never saw her in the garden. I went out to give her some chickey bread that she had missed out on and then went to my sewing room to do some work.

I got to thinking...I bet she had started laying, after all, her waddles and comb are a deep red, indicating she is ready to lay and she has been giving me the "I'm going to have an egg" talk and then the "I've had an egg song". I kept telling her she was lying to me. After all I had looked for an egg and never found one. And when she didn't come for the call of a favorite treat, something was up.

I put on my muck boots and went to the garden. It is grown up now and is in desperate need of attention. What do you think I found? Not one egg, but 8. Yes, you read that right 8 eggs! I have the picture here to prove it.

You can see the one clean egg. That is the one she was laying while she went missing. The others are dirty from the rain and mud. I can't believe with all this rain, she lays there. I need to come up with a plan to get her in a better area if she will cooperate. I'm not sure if she is laying every day, every other day or what. For now, I took the fresh egg and put it in the fridge. The others are still there. I think I'll take an egg out and put a golf ball in it's place each day. Maybe that will trick her and the eggs don't go rotten and smell there. Hopefully she won't try to go broody on me this time of year.

At least for now, we still have our little June Bug. All is right in our world. Here is a picture of a young June.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

In The Eye Of The Beholder

Beauty, that is. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder and in this case...this is beautiful (to me) or comical, whichever the case may be. This is One Toe, my male guinea at 3 1/2 months old. He really is quite comical to look at and along with my two guinea hens, they are the three stooges and comical relief around here. One Toe's waddles just shake and wiggle as he wanders around the yard looking for bugs. You just have to shake your head and laugh at he and the other guineas following my little bantam chickens around. I don't know if they have really figured out if they are guineas yet. I'm not sure if I'd like to look like One Toe or not, but I sure would love to have his eye color!

Now here is a video of the silly young man taking a dirt bath. Notice how lovely the dirt makes a white bird look...