Category Archives: Cooking

The Best Biscuits Ever

Sky High Biscuits

I love to make these biscuits! They are super easy and don’t need any rise time or kneading.
Start by mixing all your dry ingredients in a mixing bowl, I like to use a whisk or a large spoon to make sure its mixed will.

I like to cut the butter in at room temperature but I have completely melted it and poured it in, it works either way.
Add your milk and mix with a spoon as much as possible, you will have to get your hands in it to get it all together. It will seem really wet and that’s ok, I like to put oil on my hands to keep from getting the dough stuck to my hands.

I put a generous dusting of flour on the clean counter and dump my dough out.

Next roll it out to about 1/2” thick, be sure to flour your rolling pin or it will stick.

Use a glass or a biscuit cutter to cut all the perfect ones you can then combine and re-roll the scraps to use all the dough.

Place them on a baking sheet with a bit of space in between each one.

Homemade biscuits

Remove from the oven when they just start to brown. They rise really well and taste fantastic!

Sky High Biscuits

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How to Make a Great Steak

Everyone wants to eat a great tasting steak, but where does the flavor come from? Once you select your cut you can marinate it, if you type that in on Google you’ll get a jillion recipes, or you can have it cut to a certain thickness, or aged a certain way.

You can slow cook it with low heat, fast cook it with high heat, eat it rare or well done. You could boil it, fry it, sear it, broil it, or grill it and the list goes on and on.

However I think the recipe for a great steak starts long before you select your cut of meat. It starts with the animal! Really a lot of things about the animal come into play but today we are just going to consider a couple.

I think one of the single most influences on your steak is what the animal had to eat both while it was in the growing phase and the finishing or fattening phase. I have to admit the first grass finished beef I raised was not very tasty. When I looked into it a little bit I figured out why right quick, this calf had a diet of only one kind of plant all through his finishing stage. Can you image eating the same exact meal day in and day out every day for 14 to 16 months? Yuck!

So when you add variety like multiple species of grass and legumes and other forage you actually are creating a flavorful steak. If you add to that nutrient rich plants, thick and green and lush with no chemicals on them, that adds to the flavor of the meat as well.

If you think about it, a calf was not created to have a grain based diet anyway. They will adapt and learn to eat it and do well on it but they were created to eat grass.

The other thing that influences flavor and tenderness is the way the live calf was handled. If he was spooked very easily and always panicked or shied quickly away from things then no matter what you feed him him he is likely to be average tasting at best. I’ve found that when I have a young calf that is a bit shy of people or equipment if I will spend some time on several occasions walking thru the herd and not really trying to do anything with them but just getting the accustomed to being moved and handled they settle right down. Some calves this may only take a couple trips and others maybe several, but then when you need to handle them or move their pasture they are much easier and safer to be around.

So the secret recipe for a great steak starts with knowing your farmer/rancher and how the calf was raised and what it was fed and how it was handled.

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The Best Part of the Chicken

 

Want to know the best part of a chicken is? We raised and processed 20 broilers this year and we went ahead and froze 10 of them whole and cut up all the rest. Out of the ones we cut up we put all the bones and extra skin that we weren’t going to keep in a stockpot and made broth. All that I added was water and carrots and celery and boiled it for about 3 hours. Man you talk about tasty! Compared to store bought broth or those magic cubes, this stuff is great.

Want to make some really good queso dip? Add some broth.
How about frijole beans, add some broth.
Soups need it for sure!
Want to make your brown rice taste awesome? Yep, sub about 1/2 the liquid with broth.
I don’t really even like chicken all that well but this stuff is really good.

Out of those 10 birds we wound up with a little over 20 pints of broth. From what I’ve been reading the nutrients from the bones and the skin and small pieces of meat that you make the broth from is really good for you as well.

Another benefit of raising our own chickens is that we were able to move them to fresh grass and let them eat and we know exactly what they have been fed and how they were handled. By moving them to fresh grass they are getting all the things they need in their diet and this produces nutrient rich and tasty chicken and broth.

I think I’ll go make some soup now!

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How to get More From Your Garden

August heat is settled in, you’ve made countless trips to water, weed, and harvest things from your garden and if you are like me you have let some go too long. I always plant Jalapenos for salsa and our Mexican food obsession but I don’t care for food to be super hot and spicy. We pick fresh peppers and freeze them for later and then toward the end of the growing season the pepper plants just get loaded! I hate to let anything go to waste and a few years ago I started making chipotles and well, I don’t know how we lived before we added these smokey flavorful spicy pieces of greatness to our diet!

In soups, in salads, in any kind of meat dish these things just make the food taste awesome! Here is my process and its probably the easiest thing you will make and trust me everyone will love it.

Start with green jalapeños or red it doesn’t really matter.


Be sure to wear gloves while you work with peppers or don’t touch your face for three days!


Cut the stem off, wash them good and remove any bad spots.
You can use a smoker, a wood oven, or a grill with wood chips but it has to be done with wood.


Get your heat regulated somewhat low, under 200 if possible.


Place peppers on the rack or on some foil if they are small, shut all the vents and forget about it for 12 hours or so. All you want to do is keep a fire going long enough to char and dry those dudes out to where they look like they are burned to a crisp literally.


When they are done this is what they look like. Just put them in a sealed container, I use a jar, and chop one up or add it whole to your next recipe and your whole kitchen will smell great!


This year I ground some into powder for table seasoning that we like really well. One word of caution if you grind powder you should wear a mask because the dust will really get you going!

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Wood Fired Oven

I’ve always been fascinated with cooking over hardwood. After tasting some pizza that was cooked on in a wood oven I was hooked! I looked online and researched plans and different companies ready made ovens and eventually decided to go with a kit.

I prepared a steel stand with a concrete top as they suggested and waited for my oven to arrive on a freight truck. The one I chose weighed about 1800 pounds!

Here it is in the crate before I unloaded it. We just rolled it off the semi onto my flatbed, then I used my tractor front end loader to move it off the truck. I you plan to build one of these you’ll need some equipment (or a bunch of weight lifters) to help maneuver it.

The first thing you do is put down a base of sand and level the floor insulation that sits beneath the floor.

Next you assemble the fire brick floor and level it over the insulation. This will be your actual cooking surface so you’ll want to spend extra time here to make sure all your seems line up.

The dome pieces fit around the floor and actually sit on the thick insulation. Positioning these pieces in place without moving the floor brick is quite a task! So far everything is just sitting in position not actually bonded together.

This kit came with hi temp mortar to mix and fill all the gaps in the joints. You apply this liberally and its fine for it to be rough and uneven because it won’t show.  After the mortar dries you wrap it with several layers of and insulating blanket. Wrap that with wire and apply stucco over the whole outside.

After several days of low temperature curing fires you are ready to cook something, so it had to be pizza.

Here it is all finished and painted.

Besides pizza we’ve made kabobs, cookies, breads, steaks, chicken, beans and BBQ. The pizza cooking temp is about 600 degrees Fahrenheit and the oven holds its temperature really well. My favorite thing to do is cook pizza one day, shut the oven up and let it sit until the next day, then put on a brisket to slow cook. The temp will usually start around 350 from the day before then cool through the afternoon to 220 or so. Man! That makes the most tender brisket I’ve ever eaten.

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Cowboy Chili

This is a recipe that I came up with a few years ago and we think it is some the best chili we have ever had. The most important ingredient is to start with some quality sausage, of course Blue and Gold from your local FFA chapter is the best you can get.

Blue and Gold sausage

Blue and Gold sausage

Get your smoker going and go ahead and smoke the whole roll, you won’t use it all in one batch of chili but it freezes really well and you will have it for next time. Throw the raw sausage on a smoking grill and cook it for about 2 hours at 275 degrees. Don’t worry if it’s not completely done you can brown it with your hamburger meat.

Smoked sausage adds great flavor

Smoked sausage adds great flavor

 

After a couple of hours they look great

After a couple of hours they look great

Next brown your hamburger and onion in a skillet. I actually start with a little olive oil and saute my onion first with with garlic. Once the onion is soft and to your liking set it aside and brown your hamburger.

Smoked sausage in wuth the hamburger

Smoked sausage in wuth the hamburger

I’m using a whole roll here but I am making a very large batch of chili for a family birthday party. Go ahead and break up the sausage and hamburger as much as possible and make sure all the meat is lightly browned. Next add your crushed tomatoes, chili powder, sugar, salt, and Worcestershire sauce. This next ingredient is what really makes the chili!

Chipotle pepper

Chipotle pepper

When I am getting a lot of jalapenos from the garden in the summer, I pick a large mess and put them on my smoker as cool as I can get it for about 16 hours and this is what you wind up with. Chop up your chipotle and add it to your chili, your house will be smelling great and everyone will want to know your secret spices. Simmer covered for about an hour over low heat then add the beans and cook for another 15 minutes.

Everybody enjoys chili

Everybody enjoys chili

The last step is to enjoy enjoy it with people you love. It just makes you feel good to make a meal from scratch, knowing that it is healthy and tastes great!

Recipe

1.5 pounds hamburger, 1 large onion chopped, 1 clove garlic minced, 1 can (28 ounces) crushed tomatoes, 2 tablespoons chili powder, 1 teaspoon salt, 1 teaspoon sugar, 1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce, 1 chipotle chopped, 1 can (15 ounces) kidney beans, drained

 

 

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Brick Oven Pizza

One of my favorite pizza recipes by far is this dough recipe that I came across on   the Forno Bravo site. This takes a little time but it is well worth it.

Dough balls resting

Dough balls resting

Authentic Vera Pizza Napoletana Dough Recipe

Ingredients

By Volume
4 cups Molino Caputo Tipo 00 flour
1 ½ cups, plus 2 TBL water
2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp dry active yeast

By Weight
500gr Molino Caputo Tipo 00 flour
325gr water (65% hydration)
10gr salt
3gr active dry yeast

We highly recommend cooking by weight. It is fast, and easy to get the exact hydration (water to flour ratio) and dough ball size you want. Personally, I do not use recipes or a mixing cup when I cook dinner for the family, but pizza and bread dough is different. Being exact counts, and nothing works better than a digital scale.

Mix the dough in a stand mixer, by hand or in a bread machine. If you are using a stand mixer, mix it slowly for two minutes, faster for 5 minutes, and slow again for 2 minutes.

Cover the dough and let it rise for 1 1/2 – 2 hours, or until double. Punch it down and push out the air bubbles. Form the dough into a large ball, then cut it into three 275gr equal pieces

To make your pizza balls, shape each piece of dough into a ball. Gently roll your dough into a ball, then stretch the top of the ball down and around the rest of the ball, until the outer layer wraps around the other side. Pinch the two ends together to make a smooth ball with a tight outer “skin.” Set your ball seam-side down where it can rest. Dust your pizza balls with flour, and store them under a damp towel, in a proofing tray, or under plastic wrap. This will prevent the outside of the ball from drying out and creating a crust, and becoming difficult to work with. The top of the pizza ball should be soft and silky.

Your pizza balls will need to rest for about an hour to become soft and elastic, so that they can be easily stretched into a thin crust pizza.

If you won’t need your dough for more than an hour, refrigerate it until you are ready to start.

 

Use plenty of flour

Use plenty of flour

Stretch the dough as thin as possible without tearing it.

Put on whatever toppings you like

Put on whatever toppings you like
I use a metal peel to scoop it up

I use a metal peel to scoop it up

 

 

 

 

 

 

If you don’t have a wood oven, have a pizza stone preheated in your oven and it works really well.

Turn it around often

Turn it around often

In a properly heated oven, 500 to 600 degrees Fahrenheit will cook it in about 5 to 7 minutes.

Enjoy!

Enjoy!

Nice!

 

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