Where the Wild Things Are

Where the Wild Things Are: The Movie

This video is a must watch.  Andy, the Sociologist/Entomologist/Photographer, has morphed into Andy the Film Producer.  And do turn your speakers up; Andy chose the perfect soundtrack for his video.  Now – bear with me – we’ll ultimately bring this around to recipes.  Meanwhile, enjoy Andy’s Corner. OMG – it never ends.

We love our teeny front yard – where the wild things are. Every evening without fail Andy dutifully arranges his trail camera to focus on our little path.  And every morning, usually in his bathrobe, he retrieves it, in hopes that he’s captured an image of yet another wild one….and didn’t capture some image of a wild AirBnB-er staying next door.

Another wild thing that frequents the Sonoma Valley, if not our front walk-way, is the turkey.  Think Thanksgiving.

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A posse of Sonoma’s wild turkeys, on the prowl just up the hill from us

If you live near our wild turkeys, you may not be a real fan of them (though you may be a fan of Wild Turkey:).  One of our older and very feminine Glen Ellen neighbors has been known to take a few random shots at wild turkeys to get them off her home’s deck (she has also been known to shoot a few rattlesnakes).  While we’re not advocating taking down your own Thanksgiving turkey, we do have a simple recipe for roasting the breast of a domesticated turkey.  And we definitely recommend trying to find a heritage bird (here is why).

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From Andy the Photographer (not Andy the Sociologist or Andy the Entomologist) This Fly Amanita mushroom is definitely NOT edible.

The family’s interest in wild things goes beyond animals. Our grandson, Moss, who is now 12, always thinks a little outside the box (remember last week’s post?).  While our grandson, Silas, wants soccer shoes and jerseys for presents, Moss requests a class in foraging.  So that’s what he got a few years ago: foraging for mushrooms with Grandpa Andy on the Sonoma coast.  And we have the perfect recipe for those wild mushrooms (or everyday button or white mushrooms, if you’re not a forager at heart).  If you’re fixing Thanksgiving dinner and don’t want to do traditional stuffing, this is a great alternative.

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While Andy is stalking wild animals, I’m more interested in Stalking the Wild Asparagus.

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Does this bring back fond memories of the HippyTrippy 60’s?

During Andy’s graduate-school days at Colorado State U, we lived on a farm on South Shields outside Fort Collins.  And every spring along the fence line of that farm, we’d go hunting for an incredible delicacy – which we didn’t adequately appreciate at the time – wild asparagus.  Trust me, nothing store-bought can begin to compare to its flavor.  When spring arrives, seek out your most-locally-grown asparagus – or better yet – go wild asparagus hunting.  We’ve got a great pasta to fix with your fresh asparagus.Screen Shot 2017-10-31 at 11.36.29 AM

The only other wild thing I’ve ever scavenged for is blackberries.  Wild blackberries grow in Baton Rouge and in the Sonoma Valley area, so Andy and I consider ourselves seasoned blackberry pickers. We have our favorite spots which we jealously guard, hoping no one else will discover them.  Ask me sometime about the poison ivy rash I had after one such adventure.

Though blackberries, especially combined with other fruits, make great desserts, jam with blackberries is my specialty.  Making jam together was one way my mother and I bonded during my teen years, and I still can’t make a batch without feeling like my mom is watching my every move….affectionately.

After forcing me to do 4-H “Home Ec” rather than just show livestock at the Larimer County Fair, I spent a summer perfecting my jams and jellies, all made without artificial pectin.  My mother was convinced I would get a blue ribbon, because mine would be so much more authentic than those contestants who made jam with pectin.

Of course, I didn’t win.

But I’ve had a lifetime of enjoyment from what I learned that summer.  And Andy’s a pretty lucky man to have an over-supply of homemade jams and jellies, if I do say so myself.

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Super Simple Sage-y Roasted Turkey Breast

  • Servings: 6
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Note: my market only had a “half” turkey breast – but it weighed 6 pounds!  Go figure how big that bird must have been.  A variation on this recipe would be omitting the sage leaves and mixing a little rosemary or a little smoked paprika into the salt.

Ingredients

  • 1 whole turkey breast, bone-in, skin-on – around 5-6 pounds (though if a 1/2 breast is that size, go for it)
  • 4 tsp kosher salt
  • about 15 sage leaves
  • 3 T butter, softened
  • 2 T olive oil

optional gravy

  • 2 T of fat from the pan
  • 2 T flour
  • 1 tsp Dijon mustard
  • a few sage leaves
  • 1 1/2 c chicken broth

The morning you intend to roast the turkey, pat it dry and sprinkle it all over with the salt.  Return it to the refrigerator – uncovered (this is going to help produce a nice crispy skin).  Remove the turkey from the refrigerator about an hour before it goes in the oven.

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees.  Have a roasting pan with a rack ready.  If you don’t have the rack, don’t worry.

Gently separate the skin from the breast meat and place the sage leaves and the butter under the skin, distributing it all as evenly as you can.  Then pull the skin back so that it covers the breast as much as possible.   Rub the skin with the olive oil.

Place the breast on the rack in the roasting pan, skin side up.  After 30 minutes reduce the heat to 350 degrees.  Roast until a thermometer registers 165 degrees when inserted into the thickest part of the breast.  Expect that to take anywhere from 1 hour 15 minutes up to 1 hr 45 minutes, depending upon the size of the breast.

Remove the turkey from the oven and allow it to rest for 15-20 minutes.  While it is resting, make the gravy, if you’re using it.

Put 2 T of fat from the roasting pan into a small saucepan over medium heat.  Add the flour and cook and stir for a few minutes.  Mix in the mustard and the sage leaves. Then slowly add the chicken broth, stirring until the gravy begins to thicken, 2-3 minutes.

Carve the breast and serve with the gravy.

Recipe brought to you by BigLittleMeals.com and Andy and Ann

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Wild Mushroom Bread Pudding

  • Servings: 6
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This is perfect with the turkey breast recipe – a nice alternative to a bread stuffing.  I prefer a sweet artisan French bread, but you may also like a challah or brioche bread.

Ingredients

  • 2 c half-and-half
  • 4 large eggs
  • 1/2 c grated parmesan cheese
  • 4 c of dried bread cubes cut into 1″ pieces (see notes above)
  • salt and pepper
  • 2 T butter
  • 12 oz wild mushrooms (chanterelle, cremini, oyster) or common button mushrooms, diced (about 1/2″ pieces)
  • 1/2 c finely chopped shallots
  • 1/2 c finely chopped parsley
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Butter a 2-qt shallow baking dish.

In a large bowl whisk together the half-and-half, eggs, and cheese, along with 1/2 tsp salt and 1/4 tsp pepper.  Stir in the dried bread cubes and let sit while you cook the mushrooms.  You want the bread to absorb some of the egg mixture, so stir occasionally.

In a medium skillet over medium heat, melt the butter and saute the shallots for a few minutes, then add the mushrooms, salt and pepper, and continue cooking and occasionally stirring  until the liquid given off by the mushrooms has evaporated – about 10 minutes.  Add the parsley and garlic and cook another few minutes.  Let the mixture cool a little and then add to the bread mixture, mixing well.

Transfer the mushroom mixture into the baking dish and bake for approximately 35-40  minutes.  The top should be golden brown and the custard set.

Remove from the oven and let rest a few minutes before serving. 

The bread pudding can be prepared a day ahead of time, refrigerated, then brought to room temperature and baked.  Perfect for the busy holiday season. Recipe brought to you by BigLittleMeals.com and Andy and Ann.

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Orecchiette with Asparagus and Peas

  • Servings: 4
  • Print

Ingredients

  • 12 oz orecchiette – or a similar pasta such as orzo
  • 1 T olive oil
  • 2 T butter
  • 1 lb asparagus, ends snapped and cut into 1/4″ pieces – but leaving tips whole
  • 1/4 c diced shallots or scallions
  • 3/4 c frozen green baby peas
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/2 tsp kosher salt – or more to taste
  • black pepper
  • 2/3 c grated parmesan
  • 3 T finely chopped parsley (optional)
  • 1 T minced fresh tarragon (optional)

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil; add the pasta, and cook as directed on the package.  Drain, reserving 1/2 c of the liquid.  Add the olive oil to the pasta and toss well.

Melt the butter in a large skillet over medium high heat.  Add the asparagus and shallots and cook until the asparagus in tender, 3-4 minutes.  Stir in the peas, garlic, salt and pepper and cook another 1-2 minutes or until the peas are defrosted.  Add the drained pasta, the parmesan cheese, and herbs, if you’re using them.  Toss well.  Add additional salt and pepper, if needed, as well as a little of the reserved pasta water, if the pasta seems too dry.

If you want to add a creamy element to the pasta, 1/2 c of yogurt can be tossed in at the end. Recipe brought to you by BigLittleMeals.com and Andy and Ann.

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Blackberry and Stone-Fruit Jam

Because of the low sugar content of this jam, it should not be canned; instead refrigerate it and eat it within a few  weeks or freeze it.  And because it’s low sugar and no pectin, it doesn’t set up as easily as your more common approaches to jam-making.  If it’s runny, pretend it’s a syrup and enjoy it with waffles and pancakes.  It will still be delicious.  Also, don’t worry about having the exact blackberry to stone-fruit ratio; it’s the fruit to sugar ratio that matters.  What you want when you add the sugar is to have about twice as many cups of the fruit mixture as you do sugar – a 2/1 proportion. 

Ingredients

  • 4 c blackberries
  • 2 c diced peaches or apricots
  • juice of one lemon
  • 2 c sugar

In a medium pan over medium heat, cook the blackberries with about 1/3 c water until they have softened and released all of their juices, stirring off and on.  Cool slightly and then press the berries through a strainer to remove the seeds. Return the mushed, seedless berry mixture to the pan and add the peaches, lemon juice, and sugar.  Bring the mixture to a boil, stir until the sugar has dissolved, then turn down the heat and simmer for about 20-30 minutes. While it simmers carefully remove any foam that comes to the top. My old-fashioned way of telling when the jam is thick enough is using the spoon/sheet test.

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Pour the jam into 8 oz jam jars or whatever glassware you have that can be covered; cool the jam, uncovered.  Then add a lid and refrigerate or freeze.

Recipe brought to you by BigLittleMeals and Andy and Ann

13 Comments

  1. Helen Weaver says:

    Hey little brother, didn’t know you liked country music. That was a song Dave sang at Karaoke probably hoping I would cook up something for him. Saw a wild turkey here is CO. but was told that it didn’t taste near as good as the turkey breast we can buy at the market. Your recipe sounds wonderful & maybe even I, a non cook, could master it. Thanks

    Like

  2. Becky versteeg says:

    OMG-you guys are so creative. I laughed so hard at the video + music. Can’t wait to see you y’all. BTW Friday is the day the group would like to migrate from Oakland to Glen Ellen if that’s OK with you. I’m not sure how long the drive takes, but I think we’d be there late morning. Details to follow later. Becks

    Sent from my iPhone

    >

    Like

  3. Sharon Ponsford says:

    Loved the video. You have some great wild neighbors. And I see a whole new career for Andy as a film maker. Can’t wait to see the feature length version of this.

    Like

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