Monday, December 31, 2012

Spoil Yourself with Shari's Berries

                                                     Shari's Berries



For my birthday, December 26th, my hubby spoiled me by sending me a full dozen of Shari's Berries Gourmet Dipped Fancy Strawberries.  I've seen the commercials often and wanted to try them, and now was the time.  They are delivered by UPS truck and come in a styrofoam lined box with freezer pack to keep them fresh.  The box itself is beautiful, but the strawberries win the prize for beauty and taste.

Each strawberry was large, red, ripe and delicious.  After biting into one, the juice would dribble down the chin, so have your hand ready to catch it all and yes, you will want to lick it clean.  The chocolate covering is thick, yet delicate, so be ready to catch any pieces that fall.

Besides the strawberries, Shari's website offers chocolate covered cherries and pretzels; cheesecake and cookies (with or without a chocolate coating).  They even have Zoo Animal Cake Pops to light up any child's eyes and taste buds.

Shari's Berries offers specials for every occasion and holiday.  There is a rose bouquet of chocolate covered strawberries that would win any woman's heart on Valentine's Day; or man's if so inclined.  However, something tells me that Roy and I might just be making up any old reason to order from Shari's, and we certainly plan on sampling all the other goodies offered.

Be good to yourself and/or someone special in your life for the New Year of 2013, and order a little something something from Shari's're worth it.

Happy New Year's to All from the Cokenour Family.

Saturday, December 29, 2012

My Holiday Adventure with a Prime Rib.

Enjoying a finely roasted slice of Prime Rib Roast is not something new to me. I have eaten them at many a wedding reception, or on a special occasion at a restaurant. However, I was not brave enough to consider making it on my own; it's an expensive cut of beef, I was so afraid of messing it up or that it would be too difficult. That was then, this is now and I'm a lot braver than I used to be, especially in the kitchen. Since the winter holidays were upon us, what better way to show off my bravery, but then to make a Prime Rib Roast. I shopped around and found lovely specimens of this beef type; one to make for me and my hubby; one for his mother and brother to enjoy. Now the big question was, what do I do with them? To the internet!!!

Into my Google search box I typed, "how to roast a prime rib?" and thousands and thousands of sites popped up; I stuck to the first 10 on the first page.  I could not believe I actually found a forum set up for discussing prime rib and almost each person had their own way of doing it.  Of course each person also stated that their way was the perfect way, and no other method could compare.  In an hour I had come up with my own cooking and seasoning methods.  How you ask?  I used averages and majority rule; I averaged out the cooking temperatures and times; figured out which seasonings people used the most and threw in my own touches to make it all mine.  Ok, here comes the bragging.....out of all the prime rib dinners I have eaten in my lifetime; mine is the absolute best I've ever had.  There, I've said it and will say it again; my prime rib is the absolute best!!!

So lets get to the perfection...

How to Make a Prime Rib Roast
Normally a prime rib roast comes with the bones attached.  You can do several things with the bones once removed; use them as a rack for the roast to rest on while roasting; cook them separately to eat later on; use them to make beef stock.  Or you can ask your butcher to remove them for you and not deal with them at all; to me, that's a complete waste.  Prime rib usually comes with a thick fat cap also; I removed a good portion of it so I could get the seasoning rub onto the meat itself, but left enough fat so the meat could self baste while roasting.

1 (14.5 oz) can beef broth
1/2 can of water
4 large shallots, peeled and split into sections
2 tsp dried rosemary
3 tsp dried thyme
1 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp onion powder
1/2 tsp ground black pepper
1 tsp coarse sea salt
2 Tbsp olive oil
8 lb prime rib; bones removed


Preheat oven to 400F.  Line a roasting pan with aluminum foil; pour the beef broth and water in.  Place the shallot sections in the pan so that the prime rib will be located over them.  Spray the rack with nonstick spray and place into the pan; be careful not to tear the foil.

Mix together the rosemary, thyme, garlic and onion powders, black pepper and salt.

Brush olive oil over top of the prime rib; spread seasoning rub onto it.

Place the roast onto the center of the rack; make sure it it over the shallots.  Roast the beef for 45 minutes at the 400F temperature; turn the temperature down to 300F and roast to desired doneness.  A meat thermometer is going to be your best friend with this process as it will tell you the internal temperature and, therefore, how you like your meat cooked.  125F is rare, 135F is medium-rare, 145F is medium and 155F is well; anything over that, in my opinion of course, is shoe leather. In the words of Doctor Who, it's a "wibbley wobbley, timey wimey" process.

Once you have the roast at the desired doneness, pull the entire pan out of the oven and let it all rest for 30 minutes.  This lets the juices from the roast redistribute back throughout itself; then place the roast on a cutting board and cut one inch slices.

You're probably wondering about the beef broth, water and shallots?  This is what you'll use to make either an au jus or a gravy; first remove the shallots with a slotted spoon.  Then pour all the remaining liquids and solids into a freezer safe plastic bowl; put the bowl into the freezer for 45 minutes; the fat will rise to the surface, solidify and you can just remove it easily with a spoon.  Pour the fat free liquid through a strainer to remove any bits of missed solid fat or herbs.  That will give you a lovely clear, herbal flavored au jus; or you can put the liquid into a saucepan, add a tablespoon of corn starch, bring it to a boil and make a gravy.  The shallots?  I chopped them up finely and added them to the au jus, but they could just as well be served on the side of the prime rib slice.

Now what did I do with those rib bones?  Glad you asked. 

I seasoned them up a bit differently by using my all purpose seasoning rub .  After the prime rib was done, I popped them into the 300F oven, sitting on an aluminum foil covered rack in a pan; I let them roast for 3 hours.

They made a good snack for my hubby later on.

In essence, fear is the appetite killer; take the plunge and make something that you thought could only be found at a good restaurant or a banquet hall.  New Year's Day is just around the corner, so make the resolution to treat yourself well and keep it.

Happy Holidays!!!

Mary Cokenour

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Semi-Homemade Caramel Apple Cake.

As much as I enjoy making recipes from scratch, there are those times that I want to cut corners too due to time constraints or just plain old laziness.  Now usually for the holidays I make dozens of different types of cookies and give them out.  Oh don't worry, I keep a good amount for us too.  However, this year I'm not able to do this because I had carpal tunnel surgery done on my left hand.  If you don't know what this means, basically a nerve in my wrist began to become compressed from repetitive work; for me it was from working with computers.  It begins with a tingling in the thumb, index and middle fingers gradually progressing to numbness to the point of not being able to feel something you are holding.  It also can be accompanied with severe pain in the hand, wrist and radiating up to the elbow.

Anyway, it takes about 4-6 weeks for complete recovery and you have to use the hand minimally which means no heavy lifting.  The bowls I use for my baking are of a heavy ceramic and definitely need two hands for handling them when they are full of batter or dough.  It's been 4 weeks now since the surgery and I have no intention of having a holiday dinner without some sort of dessert.  So, what to do, what to do?  Basically, do it semi-homemade, so it is as easy to manipulate and handle as possible; my right hand could still do all the work while my left hand kind of just went along for the ride.  While my right hand did all the grunt work, l let my lower left arm and inside elbow cradle the bowls; it still hurt a little, but my left hand didn't have any pressure on it.

Lets get to it then; to make it especially easy, I used a Super Moist Yellow Cake mix; but remember, this recipe is semi-homemade, so don't hesitate to use your own cake batter if you prefer.  Yellow cake mix can also be bland, so I umpted up the flavor intensity by adding apple pie spice mix and a bit of ground ginger.  You could also think of this as a type of "upside down" cake where the toppings are baking in the pan underneath the cake layer, but when you flip the finished cake out, you see all the lovely apples and caramel.

Caramel Apple Cake
For the Caramel Layer:
8 Tbsp butter, melted
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
4 cups brown sugar
1 Tbsp ground cinnamon
For the Apple Layer:
1 (21 oz) can apple pie filling
For the Cake Layer:
1 box Super Moist Yellow cake mix
1 tsp apple pie filling
pinch of ground ginger
Preheat oven to 350F; spray two 9 inch cake pans with nonstick baking spray.  Cut out two circles from parchment paper to line bottom of cake pans; spray the paper with the nonstick baking spray.
In a medium bowl, mix together the ingredients for the caramel layer until it resembles coarse crumbs. 
Divide the mixture up between the two pans pressing to the edges and 1/4 inch up the sides. 
Divide the pie filling between the two pans, spreading it out up to one inch from the edges.
Prepare the cake mix according to packages directions, but add in the apple pie spice and ground ginger.  Divide the batter up between the two pans and use a spatula to smooth it out.
Bake for 35-40 minutes; cake will be golden browned and you might see some of the caramel oozing up the sides of the cakes.  Remove pans to a wire rack and let cool for 10 minutes.
When cooled, use a hot knife around the edges to make sure the caramel will not stick to the sides of the pan.  Carefully flip the cakes onto a serving plate and peel off the parchment paper.  Cut into 8 wedges and serve with a scoop of ice cream.
Makes 2 cakes, 8 servings each.
Mary Cokenour

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Cookies of Hard Packed Snow.

For two days we had snowfall here in Monticello, Utah. Now anyone who lives in an area that has snowfall has, at one time or another, did the classic stick out the tongue and try to catch snowflakes on it. Come on now, you know you have, especially when you were a child, and I bet you still try it out as an adult. What about making a snowball and putting it in the freezer? Then when summertime came, you looked for it planning to surprise someone when they get hit with it?

When it comes to "eating" snow, the first thing you might think about is the snow cone; shaved or pulverized ice with flavoring poured over it and served in a paper cone. There is a particular type of "cookie" though that you can place in your mouth and let it melt into sugary goodness; or you can mash it up to use as a topping and it will resemble snow. That cookie is called a meringue; made mostly from egg whites and sugar, then baked in the oven at a very low temperature before letting it finish off as the oven cools. Meringue cookies can be made in a vast variety of color and flavor combinations; eaten as is, used as a garnish, even tweeked into a cake called a "Pavlova" which is then topped with whipped cream and fresh berries.

If you're worried about the amount of sugar needed to make meringue cookies, don't! The Splenda brand of sugar substitute and the natural herb Stevia can be used instead; while one cup of Splenda equals one cup of sugar, only one teaspoon of Stevia equals one cup of sugar. You'll also have to use a higher temperature for the baking part of the recipe; basically it's 225F for sugar, 300F for Splenda and 350F for Stevia.

Meringue Cookies

This is going to be a basic recipe for vanilla meringues; you can make different flavored meringues by substituting other flavored extracts for the vanilla. If you want chocolate meringues, add a tablespoon of unsweetened cocoa powder; also add one cup of mini chocolate chips for a double chocolate experience.   To make colored meringues, use drops of food coloring; for example, a few drops of red for pink meringues, but add strawberry extract for that extra flavor boost.   When adding items such as mini chips or shredded coconut, gently fold into the stiffened egg whites so as to not break them.


4 egg whites
1/2 tsp cream of tartar
1 cup sugar
1 tsp pure vanilla extract


Preheat oven to 225°F.

Beat egg whites in large, clean, metal bowl with electric mixer on medium speed until frothy; add cream of tartar and beat until soft peaks form. Increase speed to medium-high; add sugar, one tablespoon at a time, beating until sugar is dissolved and stiff peaks form.

Drop by rounded teaspoons about one inch apart onto two large baking sheets sprayed with nonstick baking spray; or use a piping bag with decorative tip to form cookies as they are piped onto the baking sheets.

Bake both sheets of meringues for 45 minutes; turn oven off. Leave meringues in the oven for one hour, or until completely cooled. Amount will depend on size of meringues being made; typically 6 dozen if dropping by teaspoon full.

Mary Cokenour

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Eating for Good Luck in the New Year.

When I lived in Lancaster, Pennsylvania, we celebrated the New Year by going to one of the local churches and feasting in a family style, all you can eat, Pork and Sauerkraut meal.  This tradition came to Pennsylvania with the Amish and the Mennonite; a German or "Pennsylvania Dutch" tradition to bring good luck for the incoming New Year.

Once I moved to Utah, I found there was no typical New Year food tradition; no reason behind it, there just wasn't one is what I was informed.  Oh I went online and tried looking it up; found the Pennsylvania one, a Deep South tradition, even listings for the Chinese New Year, but no, no traditional Utah one, not even Mormon related.

The recipe I'm posting today deals with, of course, Pork and Sauerkraut; and finding the origin of this combination goes back to; well good question as pickled cabbage can be found in many cultures, even the Chinese.  My personal recipe is more of Croatian descent, except I add potatoes like they do in Germany; in the Ukraine, they add barley; however I have had one woman of Irish descent tell me that the idea of adding potatoes was stolen from the Irish.  Wherever it came from, the concept is still the same, eating it on New Year's Day to ensure good luck, good health and prosperity all year long.

I like using sauerkraut that is from a jar or a bag; it tastes better and the canned variety seems to have a metallic taste to it.  When it comes to the pork, you have lots of options; smoked kielbasa or sausage, roasted pork roast, fried or baked boneless pork chops; you can add bacon or ham too.  My recipe is a quick stove top dish, so make sure the pork product you use is cooked before hand.

Pork and Sauerkraut

2 Tbsp olive oil
2/3 cup diced red onions
8 baby potatoes, peeled, parboiled and cut into 1/4 inch slices
2 cups sauerkraut, drained
1 (14 oz)smoked sausage, cut into 1/4 inch slices
1 Tbsp paprika
1 tsp caraway seeds


Heat the oil in a large skillet, medium-high heat; add the onion and potato slices and cook until onion begins to soften. Turn potato slices occasionally to keep from over browning.

Add the sauerkraut and sausage slices; when the ingredients begin to sizzle, mix thoroughly. Let cook another five minutes before mixing in the paprika and caraway seeds. Continue to cook another three minutes, but check to see that nothing is browning or drying out too quickly.

Makes 4 servings.

Mary Cokenour

Sunday, December 9, 2012

Beer plus Cheese equals Soup.

Awoke this morning to find a dusting of snow upon the ground; nothing unusual for winter time in Monticello.  It was cold outside, the type of cold that bites right through you; the wind whipping the light, fluffy snow around.  My dogs enjoy playing in the snow, but even they didn't want to stay outside too long.
Yes indeed, it's cold out there and that calls for something to warm you to your very core...soup.  Rooting (no pun intended) around the pantry, the red skinned potatoes called to me; heck, they practically begged me to use them.  I wanted that type of soup that slides down your throat and stays with you as it warms you up.  I wanted a smooth chowder that I could remember with each little burp; with soft potatoes that would mash in your mouth with just the slightest pressure.  I wanted Beer Cheddar Soup with Potatoes.
Now for those of you who, for whatever reason, do not like the idea of alcohol in your food; no worries, the alcohol cooks out while leaving a hardy flavor.
Beer Cheddar Soup with Potatoes


8 cups dark lager
4 cups chicken stock
1 Tbsp white pepper
Pinch of cayenne pepper
2 lbs potatoes; peeled, cut into 1/2 inch pieces and rinsed thoroughly
4 cups shredded Cheddar cheese, divided in half
1 cup diced onion
4 Tbsp butter
4 Tbsp flour
1 cup half n’ half


In a large stockpot, over medium heat, bring the beer, stock, white pepper and cayenne to a low boil. Add the potatoes and continue to cook until tender.

Prepare cheese sauce in large saucepan; saute' onions in butter until softened; stir in flour and continue to cook until mixture turns a light brown. Whisk in half n’ half; add in 2 cups Cheddar cheese and stir until smooth.

Add remaining shredded cheese into stockpot; stir until melted. Whisk in cheese sauce, turn off heat and serve.

*Garnishes: crumbled crisp bacon, sliced green onions, toasted croutons.

Makes 10 servings.

Mary Cokenour

Saturday, December 8, 2012

A Chinese Dumpling by any other name.....

So you're in the mood for Dim Sum,  go to a Chinese take out, order potstickers and the biggest decision you have to make about these is, "steamed or fried".  Seems there is more to this decision than you ever truly knew about. 

Potstickers is just one version of the Chinese Dumpling; pan fried on the bottom and then steamed.  When they are served, the browned pan fried side is shown.  Jiaozi is the Mandarin version; the dough is thicker than for a wonton and the dumpling itself is usually boiled and pan fried.  Gow Gee is the Cantonese version; wonton wrappers are frequently used, they can either be steamed or deep fried; no boiling involved.

The Chinese dumpling dates back to 200 B.C. to the fable of Pan Gu who ends the chaotic state of the world by separating it into two "half egg" shaped parts; the sky and the earth.  They are a staple for the New Year for expressing best wishes, happy days and good health.  It was not unusual for a tinket (coin, jewel) of some value to be hidden in the odd dumpling; very similar to the prizes in the English Christmas pudding.

While making the dough for dumplings is not difficult, premade wrappers can be found in the supermarkets along side wonton skins, or spring and eggroll wrappers.

Chinese Dumpling Dough


2 cups flour
2/3 cup warm water


Combine the flour and water until a soft dough forms; knead on a floured surface for five minutes.  Cover with a clean linen towel and let rest for 30 minutes.  Divide the dough in half, roll out each half into a 12 inch long cylinder; cut into 1/2 inch slices.  Flatten out each slice with the palm of your hand, or use a rolling pin, to a 2 1/2 inch diameter.

Makes 48 dumpling wrappers.

The filling for dumplings is very versatile and can contain any kind of protein, vegetable or combinations; using fruit will give you the filling for a unique dessert item.  I am going to post a typical filling, that you would get in any take out place, made with ground pork.

Chinese Dumpling Filling


1/2 pound ground pork
2 large napa cabbage leaves, rinsed and finely diced
2 green onions, finely sliced
1 Tbsp minced ginger
1 Tbsp minced garlic
2 Tbsp soy sauce
2 Tbsp sesame oil
2 Tbsp cornstarch

Bowl of warm water


Mix all ingredients listed, except water, together; place a teaspoon of mixture off center in a dough circle.  Dip finger in water and trace around outside edge of dough circle; fold dough over filling, with edges meeting and begin pleating the edges to seal filling in.

To Fry Dumplings:

In a large skillet, heat 1/4 of canola or peanut oil over medium-high heat, add dumplings, 12 at a time, and brown one side; takes about 2-3 minutes.  Add a 1/2 cup of water, cover and let steam for 5 minutes; uncover and let cook for another 2 minutes.

To Steam Dumplings:

Fill a large stockpot halfway with water and bring to a boil.  Line bottom of bamboo steamer with cabbage leaves, place dumplings within, cover and place steamer on top of stock pot.  Steam for 6 minutes.

To Boil Dumplings:

Fill a large stockpot halfway with water and bring to a boil.  Put dumplings into boiling water and when they float, they are done.

Serve dumplings with your favorite sauce(s).

Mary Cokenour

Monday, December 3, 2012

A Spot of Tea and a Warm Scone, or Role Playing can be Quite Delicious.

Cold weather, while invigorating, also brings images of being bundled up in a warm blanket, perhaps a mug of hot chocolate soothing the trembles. For hubby and I though, we enjoy hot cups of tea with warm scones to munch on at our leisure. We put on our English accents, which we do quite well, and pretend to be in our lovely cottage in a quaint little village. Oh, you might be saying, "that's too silly for me" or "seriously?", but for us, the role play keeps the relationship fresh, new and adventurous. If more married couples indulged in each other, instead of everyone and everything else around them, the rate of divorce would certainly decline.

But I digress once again, this post is about scones, not relationship counseling.  Now back in September 2011, I did a post on the basics of scone making. There was a basic recipe and a few ideas for flavoring and textures. Now I have another recipe for you, very different from the basic one; but just as yummy. What I really love in this recipe is the addition of cinnamon chips which has become available in the baking aisle of supermarkets. They especially go wonderfully with cookie recipes. You must try them!

So without much ado, here's the latest in scone recipes.

 Cinnamon Oatmeal Scones with Raisins


¼ cup milk
¼ cup heavy cream
1 large egg, lightly beaten
1 ½ cups flour
¼ tsp cinnamon
1/3 cup brown sugar
2 tsp baking powder
½ tsp salt
10 Tbsp cold unsalted butter, cut into separate tablespoon pieces
1 ½ cups old fashioned oats
½ cup raisins
¼ cup cinnamon chips
2 Tbsp milk for brushing
1 Tbsp sugar for sprinkling


Preheat oven to 375F.

In a small bowl, lightly whisk together the milk, cream and egg; set aside. In a large bowl, mix together flour, cinnamon, brown sugar, baking powder and salt. Cut the butter into the dry ingredients with a pastry cutter or food processor until mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Add in the oats, raisins, cinnamon chips and liquid from small bowl; mix until dough forms a solid mass; firm, but still soft and pliable.

Turn dough out onto board lined with lightly floured parchment paper; shape the dough into a one inch thick circle. Score the circle to make 8 triangles; gently transfer parchment paper with dough onto a baking sheet. Brush with milk and sprinkle sugar over dough. Bake for 20-25 minutes; until golden brown. Remove parchment paper to wire rack to cool for 5 minutes. Completely cut through previously made score marks; remove scones to wire rack to cool separately; about 30 minutes.

Makes 8 scones.

Mary Cokenour

Sunday, December 2, 2012

Ribs from the Oven?

During the colder season, I usually have the grills and smokers winterized, so they won't be ruined by the snow and ice.  This basically means wrapping them up tightly in tarps, and storing them safely against the back wall of the shed; sort of like wagons circling against attack.  So how do I get good barbequed food during the winter then?

Two options really; the first is traveling down to Blanding and eating at one of my favorite bbq places, Fattboyz Grillin', or making my own, yes I still can, by getting my oven to do it for me.   Oven grilling can't be as good as a real barbeque grill or smoker you say; and I quite agree, but when life gives you lemons.....

Basically you have to do a little compromising, remember what you know about outdoor cooking, and adapt it for the indoors.  A good rack of ribs would be prepped the same way; removing the membrane located on the curved inside of the rack.  The membrane acts like a "condom", keeping rubs and marinades from seeping into the meat to do their jobs of flavoring and tenderizing.  Secondly you want to remove as much excess fat as possible; keeping the fat on doesn't give the ribs extra moisture.  As it melts, it's taking your rubs and marinades with it and there goes your flavor.  Also, did you ever get flareups when barbeque-ing?  It's mostly caused by melting fat dripping onto your fire source.  No, that won't happen in the oven, but any fat dripping into your pan will eventually dry out, smoke and just cause one heck of a mess.  Using aluminum foil does help, but then your ribs are cooking in a mass of molten fat which gives them a greasy, slimy texture.  Just trust me on this one, and remove as much fat as you can.

After prepping your ribs, give them a good rubdown and here's a repost of my all purpose rub:

All Purpose Rub for Smoking and Grilling


2 cups brown sugar
1 tsp each sea salt, ground black pepper, ground ginger
¼ tsp ground cayenne pepper
1 Tbsp each paprika, onion powder, garlic powder


In medium bowl, mix all ingredients together thoroughly. Rub onto all sides of meat or poultry; refrigerate overnight. Smoke or grill.

Now this recipe will cover a nice 4-6 pound rack, or two racks of 2-3 pounds each; give or take an ounce here or there.  Generously cover both sides of your rack(s), cover in plastic wrap and let it sit in the fridge all night.  Oh, and if you want your ribs to have that Kansas City style taste, throw in a heaping tablespoon of chili powder; I recommend New Mexico chili powder which has a sweeter, smokier flavor to it.

You want to start cooking up your ribs early in the morning if you want them ready for dinner time.  Set your oven temperature to 185F; line a metal baking sheet or pan with aluminum foil and place a rack on or into. 

Unwrap the ribs from the plastic wrap and rewrap them in aluminum foil; not too tightly, but not too loosely either.  Place this package on the rack; place the entire pan in the oven and leave it all alone for 8 hours, if two separate racks; 10 hours if one large rack.  As you can see, it's going to take as long as if you were using an outdoor smoker. 

To get some char on the ribs, remove the pan from the oven and get your broiler going on a high setting.  Open up the aluminum foil to expose the ribs and place the pan under the broiler; five minutes will give a slight char and dry out the meat a little bit; keep it under the broiler until it's the way you like it, but watch it!  You want char on your ribs, not ashes on your plate.

Once they're ready, slop barbecue sauce on them before serving, or not; your choice of how you like them.  Enjoy!!

Mary Cokenour

Saturday, December 1, 2012

The Corning of Beef

My first experience with corned beef was as a teenager in New York; going to a Jewish deli for, what else, a corned beef on rye with spicy brown mustard. Then came the Reuben; corned beef on grilled rye with Swiss cheese, sauerkraut and Thousand Island dressing. As an adult I discovered corned beef and hash for breakfast; chopped up corned beef heated up on a flat top grill with diced potatoes, sometimes diced peppers thrown in.

No, I'm not a novice to the corning of the beef, but what exactly does that mean, corned beef I mean.  In age old England, grain was called corn; but the discovery and exploration of America introduced the English to a Native American staple which the English settlers named corn.  This "grain" was nothing like the wheat or rye which grew in the homeland; this grain prospered on a tall stalk and had many "ears".  Cooked on its own, it tasted pretty good, but dried and ground up into flour; even better

So back to corning beef though; how did the process of pickling or curing beef come to be called "corning"?  Well, perhaps it was that corn became a major feed source for cattle; cattle ate the corn, so they, themselves, became corned.  When I lived in Lancaster, PA, one of the major crops grown was corn; the other was tobacco.  Most of the crops were harvested and stored as cattle feed; some was sold at the local markets for human consumption.  Those were the days; going to the local markets with paper or plastic bags to fill; 13 ears, a baker's dozen, for only one dollar.

Sorry to keep digressing like this; corned beef refers to "corns" of salt, salt being the major ingredient in the pickling or curing of meat.  It basically comes from an intertwining of languages and cultures to what we know now.  Therefore, depending on which culture you want to rely on will give you the pickling spice recipe and technique to use.  Another ingredient used is either saltpeter (potassium nitrite) or pink salt (sodium nitrite); either of these is a chemical agent which interacts with the meat, giving the meat its red coloring.  You don't have to use either, but then the meat will come out of the pickling process with a sickly grayish coloring; not appetizing to look at.  These ingredients can be found in supermarkets in the home canning aisle, as well as farm/country stores.

The recipe I'm going to post for you here comes from Alton Brown, one of the popular chefs and hosts of Food Network Channel.  On a 2007 episode of his show, "Good Eats" called, what else, "Corn the Beef"; Alton gives you the low down on making corned beef.  By the way, this method can also be used with wild game such as deer (venison) or elk; there's a little tip for our hunter friends.

Corned Beef (Recipe courtesy Alton Brown)


2 quarts water
1 cup kosher salt
1/2 cup brown sugar
2 tablespoons saltpeter
1 cinnamon stick, broken into several pieces
1 teaspoon mustard seeds
1 teaspoon black peppercorns
8 whole cloves
8 whole allspice berries
12 whole juniper berries
2 bay leaves, crumbled
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
2 pounds ice
1 (4 to 5 pound) beef brisket, trimmed
1 small onion, quartered
1 large carrot, coarsely chopped
1 stalk celery, coarsely chopped


Place the water into a large 6 to 8 quart stockpot along with salt, sugar, saltpeter, cinnamon stick, mustard seeds, peppercorns, cloves, allspice, juniper berries, bay leaves and ginger. Cook over high heat until the salt and sugar have dissolved. Remove from the heat and add the ice. Stir until the ice has melted. If necessary, place the brine into the refrigerator until it reaches a temperature of 45 degrees F. Once it has cooled, place the brisket in a 2-gallon zip top bag and add the brine. Seal and lay flat inside a container, cover and place in the refrigerator for 10 days. Check daily to make sure the beef is completely submerged and stir the brine.

After 10 days, remove from the brine and rinse well under cool water. Place the brisket into a pot just large enough to hold the meat, add the onion, carrot and celery and cover with water by 1-inch. Set over high heat and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to low, cover and gently simmer for 2 1/2 to 3 hours or until the meat is fork tender. Remove from the pot and thinly slice across the grain.

Now for a quick and easy breakfast item made with corned beef...Corned Beef and Hash.  You have two options here, the seriously easy way is to use 2 cups of defrosted O'Brien potatoes from a package; the potatoes, onions and peppers are already diced and mixed up for you.  Or you can go the strictly fresh route which is the one I'll be posting for you.

Corned Beef and Hash
3 Tbsp butter
1 cup diced onion
1/2 cup diced bell peppers (green or green/red combination)
2 cups diced potatoes, previously boiled until fork tender
2 cups chopped corned beef
salt and ground black pepper to taste
In a large skillet, medium-high heat, melt butter; saute' onion and bell peppers together until onions are translucent.  Mix in potatoes and corned beef; press mixture down onto skillet with spatula and let brown.  If needed, add more butter to keep from sticking to skillet.  Carefully use spatula to peek underneath mixture; if browned, flip over and press mixture down not stir!  Let other side brown, use more butter if necessary.
Add salt and ground black pepper if necessary.
Makes 4 servings.
Note:  Each serving goes great with two eggs either over easy or sunny side up.
Mary Cokenour