Saturday, May 24, 2014


When my daughter was 12, she went deer hunting for the first time.  The Oregon deer season in our part of the world opens on a Saturday, and unfortunately I had to work that day.  So she went hunting with her grandfather.  Sometime just before noon...

 240 yards, 7mm-08.  Opening Day 2011.
When butchering a deer, you always have lots of scraps.  We already had a freezer full of elk burger and didn't want to turn the venison scraps into more burger.  The entire family are also big fans of jerky, so that's what we decided to do with the venison scraps.

I searched the web for some inspiration & ideas regarding marinades then went about making up a marinade with what we had on hand.

Luckily, I wrote it down.  The jerky was excellent.  The only problem was that there was so little of it!  If you ever have wondered why commercial beef jerky is so expensive, a lot of the reason is that four pounds of meat makes little more than a pound of jerky.

Mia's Jerky Marinade:
(enough for about four pounds of meat)
2/3 C Soy Sauce
1/3 C Worcestershire Sauce
1/3 C Black Vinegar (you may need to go to an Asian grocery to find this)
1/3 C Bragg's Liquid Aminos (could probably substitute more Soy)
3 T Garlic Powder
2 T Crushed Red Pepper or to taste - 2 T is noticeable but not particularly hot

Cut meat into thin strips - 1/4" or thinner.

Marinate in ziploc bag overnight or up to 48 hours in refrigerator.

Smoke at 150 degrees for 3+ hours then at 170 degrees until consistency is correct.

You could certainly add more/other flavors.  A lot of folks like a sweet jerky, and for that I'd recommend molasses or honey over brown sugar and brown sugar over white sugar.  Some folks like Teriyaki, or might skip the pepper altogether.  Do what you'd like.  The recipe should scale easily if you want to make larger or smaller batches, though I'd recommend against going smaller.

Saturday, May 3, 2014

Burnt Cheese Omelet with Ham & Onion

Burnt Cheese Omelet with Ham and Onion

Disclaimer: Don't do this.  Really, nobody should ever do this.

My father-in-law came across this technique by mistake one year shortly after Easter.  They had some leftover ham and he wanted to make a ham & cheese scramble for breakfast.  He browned the ham, added the cheese and then got distracted.  By the time he returned to his pan, the cheese had melted completely and burnt on the bottom.  He slid his ham & cheese pancake out of the pan and onto the cutting board, where it cooled for a few minutes while he regrouped.

Then he had an idea...  Let's cut up the burnt cheese & ham pancake into little squares and make a scramble with that?  Somewhere in the universe, a star went supernova at that exact instant.

This recipe will make two 3-egg omelets.

Small amount of chopped onion
4 oz. Cheddar Cheese
2 oz. Ham
6 eggs

About the onion - I used half of a slice about 3/8" thick, chopped medium-fine.

About the cheese - I used Tillamook Medium Cheddar.  If you have access to this cheese and don't have any in your refrigerator right now, shame on you!  It's the smoothest melting cheddar cheese I've ever seen and is truly the standard by which all medium cheddar cheeses are judged.  A sharp cheddar might do well in this recipe, but I don't know that I'd try anything much more powerful than cheddar.  A Swiss or Provolone would probably be way too strong of flavor for this process.

About the ham - My father-in-law did it right.  Leftover ham cut into small cubes would be perfect.  I used a few slices of Applegate Naturals Uncured Black Forest Ham.  Use what you've got.

About the eggs - I am lucky enough to have a source for fresh eggs.  If you can find them, fresh eggs are so superior to their grocery-store brethren that it's hard to explain to someone that's never had one.  Find a source of fresh eggs if you can.



Heat the pan over medium heat.  Add some oil.  When the oil is hot, add the onions, cook until they begin to soften then add the ham.  Brown the ham for 2-3 minutes then add the cheese.

Now the important part.  Leave it alone.  Do not reduce the heat.  Do not stir.  You can push the edges back into the mass to form a nice circle and that's about it.  Let if go until the cheese is completely melted and then let it BURN!
When the cheese is melted completely and is starting to separate (one good thing about this process is that you actually remove a lot of fat from the cheese).  When you can break the ham & cheese pancake loose from the pan so that it slides freely as a single unit, flip it over.  It's probably best to do this with the pan, flipping the entire thing like you know what you are doing.
Let the other side burn, too.  When the entire thing slides freely again, lift it out of the pan with a large spatula and place it on some paper towels to absorb some of the fat we've cooked out of the cheese.
Let it cool for a minute or two.  Wipe the pan clean, we're going to use it to make the omelets in a moment.

Chop the burnt cheese into bite-sized squares.

Now make your omelets.

 Finish with freshly ground black pepper.  You won't need any salt.

And there you have it, a burnt cheese omelet.  It might actually be better (and certainly easier) as a scramble than an omelet, especially if you were going to serve it to more than two people.

Once again, no sane person should ever do this.

PS.  If you have leftover bits of burnt cheese, they should keep in the refrigerator for up to a week.