How I Make Beef Jerky in my Oven

Uncategorized | October 6, 2018 | By

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We have road-tripped a lot over the past four years. Traveling back and forth from our little mountain farm to the bigger dairy farm in West Virginia we were dividing our time between while my husband worked on a contract, frequent trips to New England for work, and family visits in Colorado, Montana, California, and Florida have kept us feeling a bit like nomads. Road-tripping when, to where, and for the length of time we choose is the ultimate work-from-home perk!

But being the frugal wannabe homesteader that I am, when we aren’t staying with family or in work provided hotel rooms, the majority of our hotel stays come with unhealthy, carb-loaded free breakfasts, and an in-room microwave, coffee maker, and fridge (not hard to find at all, these days). When we are on the road, the majority of our meals are eaten in our vehicle from grocery store purchases and homemade non-perishables. When we aren’t at a hotel that includes breakfast, I pack a few dozen breakfast scones, cookies, and biscotti that I make, which are loaded with healthy grains, seeds, nuts, and fresh and dried fruit, along with the double chocolate biscotti and almond biscotti that we always keep on hand for coffee sipping and dipping, a jar of instant coffee and powdered non-dairy creamer, and boxes of the herbal teas we drink every day. Lunches and dinners mostly come from grocery store supplies, with special splurge dinners out at restaurants here and there, or fabulous diner breakfasts on occasion, because the best thing about traveling is certainly finding great food!

One thing I always try to make before a road trip, winter storm, hurricane, or camping trip is homemade beef jerky, in the same manner my dad taught me to make it when I was a kid. It’s a cinch to make and the flavor beats any and all of the sweet soy sauce saturated, expensive versions for sale in supermarkets and convenient stores. I have used every cut of beef there is from London broil to chuck, top round, bottom round, sirloin…and the results are always the same. I end up with a wonderful batch of peppery preserved beef that helps us keep the traveling carbs a bit balanced with a handy supply of protein and gives us something other than canned meats to eat if the power goes out in a storm.

I have made it in an electric oven set on the lowest setting. For mine, that is “low” and 170 degrees fahrenheit. On a gas range with a continuously burning pilot light in the oven, I don’t even need to turn it on. The heated dry air is enough to turn raw beef into jerky overnight. Gas ovens with igniters work the same as an electric, working great on the lowest setting to dry the meat. And, of course, sometimes I use a dehydrator to make beef jerky. I have used all four methods to obtain the same results in the same amount of time.

Homemade Peppered Beef Jerky

Ingredients:

2 to 3 pounds beef, just about any cut

Any blend of dried spices or pre-made steak seasoning with a high salt and coarse pepper content, such as Montreal Steak Seasoning

Method:

I mix together a salt and spice blend, when choosing to make my own, using garlic powder, coarse pink Himalayan salt, sea salt, or kosher salt, dried herbs, red pepper flakes, and anything else that sounds good at the time. Sometimes I use an organic version of Montreal that is just called “Canadian Steak Seasoning”. What I never use is anything with monsodium glutamate, sodium nitrate, sodium nitrite, sugar, or soy sauce. I despise sweet beef jerky and don’t feel I have ever needed any preservative other than salt and dry, warm air to make beef jerky.*

I slice the beef as thinly as possible with a very sharp knife. I vary the length and width, but to safely thoroughly dry the meat as quickly as possible, I get it as thin as possible, after squaring off the ends.

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Then I liberally coat all sides of every piece of sliced beef.

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I lay it all on baking cooling racks, trying to keep the pieces from touching too much so that air can circulate around them. But the pieces begin drying and shrinking pretty quickly, so I don’t worry too much about how spaced out they are.

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My oven is set on “low” or to 170 before I place the racks of beef on separate shelves with plenty of space between them. No matter what drying method I use, I dry the meat overnight, 8 hours, or until the beef is completely dry and crackly.

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Then I cool it completely before storing in airtight containers.

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When we aren’t eating it, I keep the packaging sealed tightly.

*This method and recipe does not come with any guarantee that pathogens of any kind will be eliminated in the making of beef jerky. E-coli can be present on the surface of any and all portions of beef and the only sure method of destroying it is by cooking it at high temperatures. Ground meat should never be used to make jerky. This method is not recommended for any other type of meat than beef. Prepare and consume beef dried using this recipe and method at your own risk. Edible Tapestry is not responsible for any illness that might occur via the method used here by a reader of this blog. I am simply sharing the method I have always used to make beef jerky, which always results in thoroughly dried beef strips in the same manner that meat has been dried for thousands of years.

Yield depends on the size of beef cut used.

 

 

The Most Ardently “Janeite” Stamped Sugar Cookies, Inspired by Jane Austen’s PRIDE AND PREJUDICE

Uncategorized | October 5, 2018 | By

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“There is a stubbornness about me that never can bear to be frightened at the will of others. My courage always rises at every attempt to intimidate me.”
Jane Austen, Pride and Prejudice

While not quite a “Janeite”, completely obsessed with all things Jane Austen, I love the above quote. It is so me. Don’t tell me I can’t do something. I will do it, every time. Don’t try to back me into a corner. I’ll mow you over on my way out. Don’t try to put me in what you think is my “place”. I’ll show you where I belong and fiercely defend my right to thrive there. Don’t try to intimidate me. I can be very intimidating, myself. And I think this is why I love Jane Austen heroines –in particular, Elizabeth Bennet– and everything I’ve read about the author. And how can you not just love Mr. Darcy for allowing Elizabeth to be herself and for loving her for it, in spite of his initial feelings of superiority. And, a man who admits his faults? I’m just old-fashioned enough to feel weak-kneed at the idea.

These dainty little sugar cookies were intended to be cameo-style oval shapes, decorated with black icing stenciled from templates I drew and cut from sheets of transparent stencil plastic. I have been making stencils since I was a teenager obsessed with colonial decor and all the fun country stenciled things that were popular in the late 1980s. All you need is an idea of the image you want to create, a sturdy sheet of plastic or cardboard, a cutting board or surface that you don’t mind gouging and slicing up pretty good, and a very sharp blade. I have always used an X-acto knife. The only tricky part is deciding which portions of your image will need to remain connected to the sheet of plastic and which will be cut away. If you are good at drawing, no problem. You can decided how your finished image should look. Just place the image you would like to turn into a stencil behind the transparent plastic. Use a craft knife to cut along the outside edges of the image.

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Pop out the cut plastic.

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43172459_10212699801351041_7863080801003372544_n In addition to using some of my stencils, I also used rubber stamps to make these cookies. My local art store had so many to choose from that I was able to stay within my theme for this post while throwing a little steampunk fun into the mix. My bicycle cookie is about 20 years ahead of Lizzie’s time but was invented just three years after the book was published, so I included it.

 

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My family members and I are steampunk nuts, attending steampunk conventions every chance we get.

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So I am suddenly seeing cookie vending at a steampunk con a possibility in my future, with these fun creations.

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And while black velvet or satin ribbons would have been ideal to use to tie up my little cookie packages, if I were selling them at an event, I kept them humble and “lower class”, in honor of Elizabeth Bennet, by tying them with the natural raffia that I love so much in my every day life.

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Perfect for an 18th or early 19th Century themed book club meet or a later century, Victorian themed event, these cookies would even work well for an Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland Mad Hatter tea party.

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The cookies need to be made at least two days in advance, as both the thick royal icing base and the additional stamped decorations need plenty of time to dry before being handled and packaged.

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I used thinned black Wilton icing color for the stamps and stencils. You can speed up the drying time by placing the iced cookies in a dehydrator for a few hours.

Mixing the color with vodka or alcohol-based extract, like vanilla, to thin it, helps the moisture to evaporate off the surface. A dusting of confectioner’s sugar also advances the drying time.

The cutters I used were between 1 1/2 to 2 inches, length and width. The cookie dough does not spread during baking but makes firm, sturdy cookies that hold their shapes and have clean edges and corners, making them ideal for icing.

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Iced Rolled Sugar Cookies

Ingredients:

Cookies:

1 1/2 sticks (12 ounces or 3/4 c.) unsalted butter

3/4 c. granulated sugar

1 tsp. vanilla extract

1 large egg

2 1/2 c. all-purpose flour

1/4 tsp. baking powder

1/4 tsp. Himalayan pink salt

Royal Icing:

1 T meringue powder

1/2 tsp. cream of tartar

12 ounces confectioner’s sugar

1/2 tsp. vanilla extract

1/4 c. water (or more or less, depending on humidity level)

Gel icing colors (I use Wilton.) in royal blue, teal, and black.

 

Additional flour for rolling out the cookie dough.

Additional confectioner’s sugar for dusting iced cookies.

 

Method:

Heat oven to 350 degrees F. Cream the butter and sugar together with a mixer. Whip in the egg until light yellow and thickened. Beat in the vanilla extract. Sift together the dry ingredients. Add to the creamed mixture. Mix just until moistened and the dough comes away from the walls of the bowl.

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Cover and chill for at least an hour.

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Roll on a floured surface to 1/4 inch thickness. Cut with cookie cutters, placing each cookie one inch apart from the others on silicone baking mat or parchment lined cookie sheets.

Bake for 10 minutes, or just until the edges begin to turn golden and the cookies are firm. Transfer the cookies to cooling racks and thoroughly cool.

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Make the royal icing by whisking together the meringue powder, cream of tartar, and weighed and sifted confectioner’s sugar. Stir in the vanilla extract. Whisk in the water a little at a time until the icing is thick but still a bit runny, so it can flow through a squeeze bottle or small piping tip.

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Divide the icing into one, two, or even three, to make different colored batches, if desired. Add color until the icing reaches the hue you are looking for. To make the robin egg blue icing, I barely dipped a table knife into royal blue icing colors, then repeated with teal.

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Place each type of icing in a squeeze bottle or piping bag fitted with a small round tip.

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To ice the cooled cookies, make a dam around the edge of each cookie with a bead of icing.

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Then flood the inside of the dam with a nice puddle of icing.

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You can wait a few seconds after piping the bead to let it dry a bit, preventing any of the icing from spilling over and out to run down the edge of the cookie, but the cookies will not have as smooth an appearance as if you fill them immediately after piping the dam. I like the look of a completely smooth top as well as a nice bead border around each cookie. So preference is up to the baker.

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Allow the cookies to dry overnight before stamping or stenciling. A dehydrator helps the process along, but since heat builds inside my dehydrator, I put several empty trays between my cookie trays and the heating element of my unit. I also left the vents on the lid open to prevent a build-up of heat.

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Using thinned black gel color, stamp or stencil away to your heart’s content, using any cookie stencil or craft stamp you’d like.

Allow the embellishments to dry for an hour in the dehydrator.

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Using a pastry brush lightly dipped in confectioner’s sugar, dust the top of each stamped or stenciled embellishment, then lightly rub it with your finger to help your image lose some of the chalkiness created by the dusting of sugar. Store in air-tight containers or treat bags.

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Yield: Between 2 and 3 dozen cookies, depending on the size of the cutters used.

Sucre’ ~ “A Sweet Boutique” in The French Quarter of New Orleans, Louisiana

Uncategorized | October 1, 2018 | By

 

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As a kid born at the same time as Disney World and growing up in a rapidly developing Orlando, thanks to the creation of the theme park, there was never a shortage of weekend and late night fun to be had. If you wanted ice cream or even fried chicken late at night, you could find it. A Sunday drive could turn into lunch at Epcot, snorkeling in a crystal clear aqua blue spring, or a picnic on the beach.

When my husband and I raised our boys in a completely different way, in a tiny Appalachian mountain town, the one thing I missed for myself and for my children was the possibility of anything happening at any time. To make up for it, too many times I dragged them into the car for drives through Great Smoky Mountains National Park, a healthy alternative, or weekends in Gatlinburg and Pigeon Forge, TN for a taste of “tourist town” excitement. I also made sure that on visits home I kept them busy from early morning to late at night, which wasn’t hard to do in theme park and resort areas.

When we visited New Orleans for the first time, the fact that you could be out on the streets in The French Quarter until late at night and still find something fun to do (or eat) reminded me of home. Stumbling upon Sucre’ our first night there, after a fabulous creole dinner and a lengthy stroll, was literally the icing on on the cake of our first day in The French Quarter.

Open until 10 p.m. on weeknights and 11 on weekends, late night treats, when heavy Southern fare has you weighed down, are a definite possibility.

And it’s convenient location on Conti Street means no late night back-street hike into areas you’d rather not venture into as a tourist.

The overwhelming abundance of French macarons available at Sucre’ is what first caught my eye.

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But I was further impressed by the number of French pastry creations and a large number of gelato flavors available, as well as Sucre’s full service espresso bar.

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I wanted a macaron, but couldn’t decide on a flavor (or flavors), so I chose a beautiful chocolate genoise creation with a pretty little gold embellished macaron garnish so that I could have my gateau and eat it too!

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Sucre’ French Quarter Boutique

504-267-7098

Manager: Kristy Smith  ksmith@shopsucre.com

Sun – Thurs: 9 am – 10 pm 

Fri – Sat: 9 am – 11 pm

  622 CONTI · NEW ORLEANS, LA ·70130