The Dumpling Diary

Dis cooking so you cooking too.

Bluegrass Sunday! October 3, 2010

This morning when I awoke, I proclaimed it to be a Bluegrass Sunday. When I was younger and still lived with my mom, we used to listen to the Folk Roots station on satellite, because they played Bluegrass all morning! Last night, I actually went out to play fiddle with my mom and some of her music buddies in Brantford, and had a ton of fun, also acquired a loaner cookbook. South Carolina Low Country cookbook, from one of my mom’s friends’ in-laws, down South. I am damn excited about the cookbook. Anyhow, between that, and Bluegrass Sunday (Iceberg Radio, everyone!), I needed some slow-ass comfort food to fuel the day. Also, I’m in dire need to go grocery shopping, and only have a few cuts of inexpensive meat left – my favourite kind!  Best for soups and stews. So, being poor and bursting at the seams with dried beans and legumes, and cuts of pork you’ve probably never even thought of before, here’s what I did today.
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No, those aren’t pork muffins, although I’ve been seriously contemplating bacon muffins… I made soup! With FOUR, count ’em, FOUR kinds of beans. Pretty meager compared to some of those 15 bean soups I see online all the time, but I don’t like the pre-mixed soup bean things they sell in the dried foods section at the store, because they have split peas, lentils, and all kinds of other things mixed in. Chickpeas, sometimes! NO, thank you. I like to choose what’s going in! So, for this old-timey bean soup, I used pinto, navy, and lima beans, as well as black eye peas, which are far better in the food form than musically. The soup was delicious, and there are lots of way you can vary it, I’ll get to that in the recipe though. This is basic, which is a good starting point.
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Also, those non-pork muffins shown, those are Banana-Raisin bran muffins. A recipe which I stole from Roger’s Wheat Bran and altered, and then took my own altered version and altered it again today. I forgot how goddamn delicious those suckers are, honestly the best muffin I’ve ever made. I sincerely encourage any muffin and/or fibre aficionados out there to try the recipe (6 grams of fibre EACH). I ate two already, and want another. I defy all shame derived from gluttony tonight!
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Four-Bean Bluegrass Soup

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Ingredients
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1/2 cup each, pinto, navy, lima beans and black eye peas (soak overnight)
1 Tbsp fat (oil, butter, I used bacon fat, HEH HEH)
3 meaty pork breast bones (what I used today, normally I might use a ham hock – smoked is a real treat! Or, salt pork, a ham bone, even bacon)
3 carrots, sliced
2 stalks celery (leaves too! you’re being economical today!), chopped
2 small onions, chopped
4 small cloves garlic, minced
8 cups water (ish, you will probably have to add more as you go, just guesstimate!)
1/2 – 3/4 tsp cayenne
1 bay leaf
2 tsp paprika
a few shakes of Worcestershire, if you like.
salt and pepper, to taste
(Optional – 4 or 5 small potatoes, and/or 1/2 cup fresh or frozen corn)
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Optionally, you could throw in a can of diced tomatoes, or a can of paste, for a bit of a different flavour and some more colour (this isn’t the prettiest soup, heh heh). Also, feel free to add herbs, I sometimes like a bit of thyme, and quite often, will use this wonderful spice blend, which I make frequently and keep on hand. That entire site is fantastic, by the way. Makes for a nice, peppy soup. I just was in the mood for plain and simple flavours today, nothing too zesty, ahah. Oh, and like I mentioned before, a smoked ham hock can really make this soup something entirely different and really special. Anyhow, you can just play around with this soup.
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Method
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Heat the 1 Tbsp fat in a large pot or dutch oven and brown pork breast bones or ham hock (you can omit this step if you’re using a smoked hock, ham bone, etc. If you’re using bacon, just fry it as per usual and don’t drain the fat). When sufficiently browned, remove and set on a plate. Add chopped vegetables and saute till soft and lightly browned. Stir in garlic and cook for a minute or so. Add soaked beans, meat you’ve set aside (and juices that have collected), 8 cups water, bay leaf, spices, and Worcestershire, if you’re using it. Bring to a boil, skim off scum, then let simmer over medium-low until meat is tender, then remove pork and when cool, pick meat from bones and add back into the soup. If you need to add any more water, add a bit more, no problem! Just do it whenever you think you need to throughout the recipe. Once the beans are cooked, you can add potatoes and/or corn at this point, if you’d like, with some salt and pepper. When potatoes are cooked through, it’s ready to serve, but check for seasoning first. Serve with cornbread or a nice crusty yeast bread – I had some amazing sage bread we made at work recently!
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Banana-Raisin Bran Muffins
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Hghghhhhh. These are sooo good. Super moist and fluffy, not like the bran muffins most of us are accustomed to. Lots of banana flavour too, and this is a very versatile recipe as well. You could substitute chopped dates or figs, or chocolate chips for the raisins, or stir in half a cup of coconut, all are really good in this recipe. I have the original recipe (in it’s Meg-Altered form) posted on Food.com, and it’s all five-star reviews! So, these are GOOD.
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Ingredients
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1 1/2 cups wheat or oat bran
1 cup buttermilk (or add a Tbsp of lemon juice or vinegar to a one cup measure before you add milk)
1/3 cup vegetable oil or melted butter
1 egg, beaten
1/3 cup brown sugar
2 small bananas, mashed
1 cup flour
1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
1/2 tsp salt (omit if using salted butter)
1 tsp baking soda
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 cup raisins
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Method

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Preheat oven to 365 degrees F. In a large bowl, combine buttermilk and bran, stir to combine, and let it hang out for ten minutes. Maybe you’d like to grease muffin tins at this point. This makes 8 regular sized muffins, by the way. Grease the top as well, because these have muffin tops (these are legit muffins). Mix oil or butter with beaten egg, brown sugar and mashed bananas and in another small bowl. Add to buttermilk-bran mixture when it’s done it’s thing for ten minutes and stir well to combine. In a small bowl (or  2 cup measure, if you’re lazy like me), mix remaining dry ingredients, including raisins. Add into wet mixture all at once, stir just until there is no dry flour left, and NO MORE STIRRING after this point. If you even THINK about building gluten in these muffins, I’ll hunt you down. So, now scoop this into your greased muffin tin, don’t be afraid to fill them to the top. This is how we do it at the bakery, and it helps get the huge mushroom-shaped muffin top effect. That, and I added more baking powder to the recipe. Bake for about 20 minutes, or until a tooth pick comes out clean when inserted into a muffang.
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Okay, that’s all for now! Good, homey food for crummy weather like today’s.
Bisous!
megohm

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2 Responses to “Bluegrass Sunday!”

  1. sagemag Says:

    All I need for the soup is pork breast bones, Worcestershire sauce, bayleaf, and paprika. And those muffins look yummy!

    • Meg Says:

      You could use pretty much any kind of pork for this recipe – this is the first time I’ve used pork breast bones, and those other ingredients are entirely optional, use whatever spices and seasonings you like!


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