The bitter cold has returned to the holler. Those days where the morning chores are done in a hurry. The animals provided with lots of feed, hay, clean bedding, and water that is not frozen and the farmers head quickly back to the warmth of the house. Most of the day is spent helping Baby O with school work and working on inside chores. Many of these chores have been saved for just such a day.
On these brutally cold winter days nothing is better than a big pot of soup bubbling in the crock pot. I get quite a few emails anymore connected to this blog. And one that recurs frequently is the question about how to cook with what you have canned and preserved all year. I want to post recipes in the upcoming weeks that focus on cooking from scratch with canned, frozen, dehydrated and smoked foods fresh from the farm. In a world where recipes consist of canned soups and boxed mixes this might be of help to some of you just starting out.
Yesterday I wanted to make a soup but I wanted something different that we had not had lately. After rooting in the freezer I found some chunked ham that caught my eye and immediately thought of a ham and corn chowder. So I took out two small bags of frozen smoked ham chunks as the starter to my soup and started building from there.
Next stop was the pantry. There I snagged some canned potatoes, canned corn, dehydrated onions and green onions and we had soup ingredients.
I have to say for those of you who have never tried it the dehydrated sweet onions that we made last year are wonderful. Not at all strong like the dehydrated onion flakes in the stores. These sweet onion flakes taste almost like candied onions with the sugars concentrated from the dehydration process. Most of my soups start out with a hand full of these anymore. So in my pot goes a scant hand full of dehydrated sweet onions.
Added to the crockpot were 2 quarts of those canned potatoes from last year with the juice.
And one quart of that canned Kandy variety corn that I grow every year went in with those potatoes. With the juice also.
Next went about half a hand full of those dehydrated green onions. These too take on an almost sweet taste when dehydrated and are great in soups and casseroles. Then I added some garlic powder, dehydrated celery, and parsley to the pot. Now throw those defrosted bags of chunked ham in the pot with all those veggies. Add some salt and pepper to taste. Remember not too much as you can always come back and tweek that later. Now I threw in about half a stick or 1/4 cup sweet cow butter and topped the pot off with some canned chicken broth to make sure there was enough liquid to cover everything. Then I turned my crockpot on High and let it cook for about 4 hours or until the soup is bubbling around the edges.
Once your soup is simmering hard in that crockpot then I add 1/2 cup flour mixed with 1 cup heavy cream and add slowly to my crockpot while still simmering hard. Stir well and return lid. If your soup was simmering good then the soup should thicken once it cooks for about 15 minutes or so. And there you have it a wonderful thick milk based chowder bursting with chunks of potatoes and sweet corn. A hot meal served all day with green salads dressed with pickled beets, boiled farm eggs, homemade croutons and green peas from the freezer.
Once you learn how to use your home preserved foods they can be just as convenient as those packaged mixes without all the chemical and preservative additives. A healthier meal can be put on the table for a much smaller cost. It's like everything else it just takes some practice.
Blessings from The Holler
The Canned Quilter