October 12, 2010

Dehydration Transformation

I apologize for the lengthy absence. School has been kicking my ass. We run a restaurant at school, and for the last three weeks, we've been involved in menu planning, then lots and lots o' cooking. We're done this week, however, so blogging should be back on a more regular schedule soon.

On to the good stuff...

Remember all the ice cream and dehydrated treats I promised last time? We've got 'em! Homemade vanilla ice cream:

Fruit that went from this:

to this (my friend Kenna contributed some pears):

And jerky! Oh, yes, jerky... as far as the eye can see:

My parents gave me an ages-old dehydrator, along with some jerky spice mix and cure. Was it still good? Only a couple of batches would tell. The flat jerky used the regular mix, and the sticks (think Slim Jim without the casing) were made with hot and spicy mix.

Guess what?! We're not dead. Jerky mixes are good, if not a bit salty. I bought some cure and am going to start experimenting with some of my own spice blends.

And now, something for you to experiment with: pumpkin chili.

Fall is in full swing, so it's time to hunker down with hearty soups. This one always hits the spot at our house, but I change something every time I make it. The basic recipe goes a little somethin' like this:

Pumpkin Chili
2 cups fresh or canned pumpkin
3 pounds ground beef
2 cans red kidney beans
2 medium yellow onions
3 cans diced tomatoes
2 tablespoons hot chili powder
1 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
2 tablespoons sugar
1 teaspoon salt
2 bay leaves
1 cup mushrooms

Drunken Chef variations have included beer (tell me you're surprised) -- pumpkin beer adds an extra pumpkiny kick -- hot Italian sausage substituted for half the meat, and the addition of garlic. I have a vegetarian friend who regularly makes this recipe without meat. Twist it to fit your whims, and let me know how it turns out!

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