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How to Score Salmon

So, you’ve got yourself a beautiful fillet of smoked salmon, and your guests are scheduled to arrive soon. What next? Time to score that salmon! Here’s a simple way to get the perfect bite-sized portions.

With a serrated knife, cut horizontally along the side of the salmon fillet.

With a serrated knife, cut vertically from top to bottom of the fillet.

Garnish salmon fillet with herb, citrus, & crackers.

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5 Things: August 23rd, 2019

Summer isn’t over yet, but the morning air is crisper, and the pace of life is slowing down. The tall ships have come and gone, the flood of students is just beginning to trickle into town. Walking past our deli, it may not always appear this way, but life is on the calmer side, at least for a few weeks.

But that doesn’t mean life at the Smokehaus is any less interesting.

We have new faces in the deli.

Faces.

For those keeping score, over the past few weeks we’ve steadily mentioned that we’re hiring, and as a result, we already have a handful of new staff training in. I’d caution the world to be patient with and/or kind to them, since they are new and the pace of our little deli can be overwhelming, but they’re already performing like seasoned veterans.

Labor Day Mail Order Sale.

Labor Daybor

Beginning August 26th, we’re running a mail order special: 20% off your cart (online only) when you enter the discount code bluecollar. The sale runs through Labor Day (9/2). However, if you want your food to arrive in time for Labor Day weekend celebrations, place your order by Tuesday, August 27th—those orders will be shipped on Wednesday (8/28) and arrive by Friday (8/30). Otherwise, you can schedule your shipping date for whenever you’d like. Pro-tip: this is the best mail order sale of the year, so if you know exactly what you want to order for Fall and Winter holidays, this is a good time to do it.

Speaking of Mail Order, here’s our updated holiday shipping schedule.

Bookmark this page as an easy reference when ordering for holidays, and you’ll be guaranteed to get your orders at the perfect interval for gifting or entertaining. Become the master of your own destiny; know for yourself exactly when to place orders, and when to have them shipped for best results.

Monday night D&D returns to The Midnight Axe.

Images unrelated.

The Summer season of our unofficial office Dungeons and Dragons crew is coming to a close with a short adventure tying us back into our ongoing campaign, right before our DM heads on an extended vacation, leaving us to fend for ourselves.

This Summer, we set our main campaign to the side, in order to focus on a handful of smaller, unconnected adventures. Not only did this allow each of us to test out a number of character ideas, and novel settings, but it also gave us time to miss our main characters, as distance does indeed make the heart grow fonder.

“The Midnight Axe” is the name—generated by rolling percentile dice against a chart of fantasy party names—of our primary party. When we’re not embroiled in a scavenger hunt for a cache of money embezzled long ago from the treasury of the Manhattan-esque city of Waterdeep, and avoiding/averting the frequent pitfalls of gangs whose rivalry we earned incidentally, we’re just trying to earn a mostly-honest living running a tavern called The Malt Solstice. However, some way or another, we’ve gained some notoriety as adventurers—and it’s drawn some public interest.

In our session on Monday, Harrison (our Dungeon Master) presented each of us with three characters (shout out to Harrison for developing fifteen character concepts in a single weekend) who are looking, for one reason or another, to join our ranks. This coming session, we’ll be embarking on a mission with our chosen secondary characters to discover their strengths, and how they’ll fit into our adventuring party. Perhaps they’ll join us on the front lines, perhaps they’ll stick around headquarters and craft potions nonstop, perhaps they’ll alternate between venturing into the Undermountain (where our campaign has us heading) and providing security at the Malt Solstice. Only time will tell.

Character biographies forthcoming.

Patricia’s corner.

Let’s get personal.

Let’s get one thing straight: Any week that there are not five immediately obvious other Things™ to talk about, Patricia is going to get a nod. Ever since she moved to full-time baking, we’ve become accustomed to carrying an assortment of cookies—chocolate chip, ginger, peanut butter curry, carrot cake cookie sandwiches with honey cream cheese, coconut macaroons (which are gluten-free*), and most recently chocolate walnut flourless cookies (also gluten-free**)—pasties, cheddar crackers, savory scones, and even personal pizzas. This week’s pizza featured smoked bacon, blackberries, and chèvre, and her pizza sauce, in general, is composed of the odds-and-ends bits of tomato from the morning’s prep.

That’s honestly one of the best things about Patricia’s approach to baking for NWS—by utilizing more parts of the foods we use, we generate substantially less waste as a business, which improves our model of sustainability (not to mention profitability) overall, and in the process, we end up with these delicious, fan-favorite items in our deli

*/**: It’s worth noting that these are not baked in a completely gluten-free environment. In terms of ingredients, they are entirely gluten-free, but those at serious risk should be aware of the chance of cross-contamination.

I got to observe production of Country Pâté.

Observe.

Compiling recipes for the cookbook is great fun, but not without its challenges. In addition to needing to massively scale down some recipes—we’re operating under the assumption you’ll never need to make one-hundred pounds of Smoked Whitefish at home—other recipes in our own workbooks lack, well, instruction.

Country pâté, for example, is just a list of ingredients, which our skilled production crew understands how to massage—eh, grind—into the savory loaves we all love. Brandt happened to catch me during a fresh air break yesterday to let me know he was making it.

Seeing that static list of ingredients—browned bacon and onion; Berkshire liver, pork and back fat; brandy; cure; rosemary and thyme; etc.—ground once and then half again (to achieve the preferred inconsistent consistency), mixed with what could reasonably pass as TLC, and packaged to chill overnight before being packed into loaf pans and slow-cooked, was enlightening, and proof that someone needs to write down those steps, because there’s a lot of them. If not for our own benefit, certainly for the book.

Once again, I’d like to give a public shout-out to the smokers for the sheer volume of high-quality product they consistently churn out.

I’ve done it again. Yesterday, I stared at my week’s notes and wondered, “which five Things™ am I going to write about? Are there five Things™ that may intrigue or inspire our readership(?),” and here I am, writing Thing™ six-and-a-half. I hope you’re happy.

We hope to see you in our deli this weekend—whether you wait in line, or skip the line via pickup —or your name and address in our delivery system. If you’re going to be near Canal Park/Downtown, make sure you bring ear protection, because the Tribute Fest will be rocking hard.

Stay tuned in the next handful of weeks for some new sandwich options—including your blogger’s own contribution to the Sandwich Lab specials—and exciting collaborations.

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5 Things: April 19th, 2019

This week has gone by in a blur, or maybe it’s just me. Between the unexpectedly busy lunches, self-imposing limited hours on my office days, running out of gas on the freeway and showing up an hour-plus late, and three separate band practices each falling directly after a full day of work, I’m not quite sure where the week went.

But there’s a handful of Things™ to freeze-frame within that blur, so let’s take a brief moment to slow down together.

Bison Buddies are back in stock!

Bison, sourced to our specifications, is expensive. We took a brief break from making Bison Buddies, relying instead on our Royale With Cheese bacon-cheeseburger sticks, Big Jim hatch chili beef sticks, and Smoked Sockeye Salmon Buddies to sate your meat stick cravings, but Bison Buddies are back! All four of our snack sticks will be available all weekend (and beyond) in our deli.

We’ve got whole and half hams for sale!

We have slow-brined, slow-smoked, never frozen, locally sourced and processed whole and half Berkshire hams for $9.99/lb while supplies last. These hams—around 6-8 lbs/half and 12-16 lbs/whole—are perfect for a holiday roast or potluck, and great as leftovers.

Check out some ideas for Smokehaus ham here.

We’ll be open this Sunday!

This is a first-ever for NWS. Previously, DeWitt-Seitz Marketplace has closed its doors on Easter Sunday, but this year it’s staying open, and so are we. Our deli’s doors will be open from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Unless they sell more quickly than anticipated, we’ll have the aforementioned hams for sale.

Speaking of sales: Wild-Caught Smoked Alaskan King Salmon is 20% off until it’s gone.

We launched the @NorthernWatersCatering Instagram account!

Although it has been live for about a month now, we finally feel like it is up-to-snuff, with comprehensive information about our catering philosophy, options, frequently asked questions, and beautiful images taken from actual catering events. Carefully crafted by our creative team, and approved by Catering Captain Hannah, it is, like our catering service itself, set up to expand elegantly in 2019.

For more information about catering, specific inquiries, or quotes, contact Hannah at catering@nwsmokehaus.com

We launched our Mother’s Day gift box!

Sure, it might be a bit early to announce this, but is showing gratitude to mothers ever out-of-fashion?

This year’s Mother’s Day gift box is simple, elegant, and affordable: A pairing of nourishing smoked sockeye salmon with sweet hausmade boursin cheese, alongside the subtle and steadfast support of Carr’s water crackers.

This gift box is available here for mail order, and is easily assembled in our deli, if you happen to be in the neighborhood.

AND A BONUS THING™!!

We’ve made a batch of Candied King Salmon & another batch of RedHot Candied King Salmon. It makes a fantastic small snack and would be great on any charcuterie platter. Get it while it’s here!

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Porketta & Pasta

Ingredients

1 Pound Pasta, Such as Linguine or Spaghetti—or better yet, homemade Tagliatelle 

2 Tablespoons Olive Oil

1/2 Yellow Onion, thin sliced

1 Pound Porketta, chunked at 1/2 inch (or so)

1/4 – 1/2  Cup Starchy Pasta Water

1/4 Cup Cream

Lemon Zest from 1 Lemon

1/2 Cup Flat Leaf Parsley, chopped

Salt and Pepper

Directions
This recipe works well as a come-together-quick meal, as the heavily-spiced porketta does most of the flavor work for you. 
1. Put a large pot of water on heat and heavily salt it. When it boils, cook pasta al dente. Reserve some of the pasta-cooking water.

 
2. Meanwhile, heat the olive oil over low heat and cook the onions slowly, adding a little salt, until they are golden. Toss in the porketta and increase the heat and stir the pan so that the onion and porketta are well combined and cook long enough to heat the porketta and render it a bit. 


3. When it is browned, deglaze the pan with some of the starchy pasta water, lifting any of the glorious fond from the pan. 


4. When the mixture is loosened, add cream and heat. Adjust salt and pepper. Turn heat down to low. Add pasta and toss to coat. If it seems too dry, add more starchy pasta water.


5. When the pasta is thoroughly combined and heated through, top with lemon zest and parsley and serve.

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Smoked Maple-Sage Turkey Breast Heating Instructions

So it’s still a little frozen (or a lot frozen)?

You can defrost your roast in your fridge with a sheet pan underneath it. This will take less than 48 hours so plan accordingly.

So you want to cook this Smoked Turkey Breast up?

Heat Turkey at 375 degree oven in an uncovered baking dish, on a rack, until internal temperature reads 140 degrees.
Let it rest for approximately 10 minutes before slicing.

The lower the temperature and longer you roast, the more tender.

Want a fennel kick? Follow this link for our fennel braise recipe. 

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Smoked Berkshire Ham Cooking Instructions

 

So it’s still a little frozen (or a lot frozen)?

You can defrost your roast in your fridge with a sheet pan underneath it. This will take less than 48 hours so plan accordingly.

So you want to cook this beauty up?

Heat ham in a 325 degree oven in an uncovered baking dish, on a rack, until internal temperature reads 140 degrees.
We recommend 18 minutes per pound. Let the ham rest for approximately 10 minutes before slicing.

Are you looking for more creative and adventurous ways of cooking your Smoked Berkshire Ham? Follow this link to find five ways to devour Smoked Ham. 

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Pancetta and Egg Pizza

A near and dear Smokehaus tradition: the Pancetta and Egg Pizza

First off, the method in which you cook it is everything for this pizza, we’ll get to the recipe later… We cook this pizza at our staff parties in a wood-fired oven at our boss’ house, and if you’re not familiar with those, they reach a much hotter temp than a conventional oven. The intense heat and the fact that you’re cooking the pizza right on the ‘deck’ of the oven, which is lined with firebricks and gets really hot, is the way that we can put this pizza together from all raw ingredients and still have it cook uniformly. If you have a wood fired pizza oven, this is the optimum way.
A Weber grill with lump charcoal and a ceramic tile or firebricks is probably the second best way to achieve these results. If using that method, I would light up a chimney of lump (don’t use briquettes, they don’t get hot enough) and once they’re ready, make a rim around the perimeter of the grill with them (if you have an extra firebrick or two that will fit in the center on the bottom between the coals, that will help retain even more heat). Then place your grate as you would to grill normally and place firebricks or tile on top and in the center. Try to leave the lid on with the vents slightly open to keep the heat in and oxygen flowing until it’s time to cook. If you use a laser thermometer, you would want the cooking surface to be around 700 degrees F give or take 50 degrees.
With two of the methods I describe here you will need to build your pizza directly on a pizza peel or an inverted sheet pan. You will want there to be quite a bit of cornmeal under the dough in order to let it slide off easily onto the cooking surface, and try to build it close to the edge of the pan or peel for optimum sliding. In the wood fired oven our pizzas are cooked in less than 3 minutes, so figure a few more minutes on the weber. You could also build your pizza directly on a sheet pan and just cook it on that, but it is not optimum.
If you’re using your kitchen oven, you will want to crank it up as high as it goes and hopefully use a pizza stone or ceramic tile in it and again ease the pizza from the peel or pan onto the stone. Quick vibration while simultaneously sliding the pizza off is the best method. It’s a little tricky, but you can figure it out with a little practice. If you’re using your home oven, it definitely won’t approach 700 degrees, so the cooking time will be hard to determine. You just have to look at it and decide. I would guess at least 10-15 minutes at 500 degrees.
Also, if you’re using the oven, it probably would work better to at least par-cook the pancetta on a sheet pan before topping the pizza with it. You want it to be a little rendered but floppy enough that you can make a nice little nest for the eggs. I would not recommend par cooking the crust, because actually the egg is the last part of the pizza to cook.  Hopefully you like a runny egg (recommended by me!) because it would take a long time to cook the pizza so that the eggs are cooked through. Nothing is impossible, though!

So, here’s the basic recipe:

The dough (about one pizza, or a softball sized ball of dough) can be any you choose… They’re all pretty similar, but I would recommend using 00 flour if you can. Otherwise AP flour will work just fine. Here’s a basic recipe if you don’t have one:
—10 ounces flour (two cups)
—6 ounces water (if it’s warm the yeast will work faster, if it’s really really hot you can kill the yeast)
—Big pinch of yeast (1/2 teaspoon)
—2 big pinches salt (1 teaspoon )

 Well before you want your pizza (at least two hours and up to a week), combine the flour, water, yeast, salt.  Mix and kneed the dough till it’s smooth and elastic, about ten mintues (this is easiest to do by hand because there’s so little of it). A standing mixer works, too.

 

Put it in a bowl, cover it and leave it alone for at least 2 or 3 hours or up to a week (a finger indentation should not bounce back but nor should the dough be slack with air, but for pizza this isn’t really critical).

 

Once you have your dough ready, I recommend hand stretching it rather than rolling it out (but either way works). Hand stretching preserves the gasses in the dough better, I think, so you get big chewy air bubbles. To hand stretch, just basically take the dough, flatten it a little and then grab it by an edge and let gravity stretch it while you turn it.

 

Once your dough is stretched thin enough, place it on the corn meal coated peel or pan.

 

We use a mixture of minced garlic and olive oil on the crust. Not too much, just a couple of spoonfuls drizzled on it. Then top with mozzarella or provolone SPARINGLY (as with all pizzas, you can’t put large amounts of toppings on it or it makes it soggy). Finally, curve your pancetta into four little nests atop the pizza, then carefully crack an egg into each of the nests. This should contain them pretty well, but some may spill out and that’s ok.

 

Another party favorite of ours is a pizza topped with the olive oil mixture, some thin slices of our smoked pork loin, and pepperoncini. Our dry cured salamis are also killer on any pizza, if you haven’t tried them. Our staff pizza parties are pretty epic with just the range of potential toppings that we produce here.

 

Also, when I’m doing this, I always make extra pizzas (not the one with the egg, I don’t think it would work too well) and wrap them up and freeze them. They are the best frozen pizzas you will ever have, especially when kissed with fire!

Written by Greg Conley. 

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5 Things

Today I feel as though a veil has been lifted from my eyes. As I wandered the three levels of NWS HQ, observing and probing my co-workers with questions about the tasks at their hands, I realized that the small company I began working for nearly five years ago, and the small spaces I have haunted for the same amount of time are expansive and dynamic and chaotic enough that they can still surprise me. Today, I’d like to talk about my impressions and interactions while floating about pestering my co-workers, then hit you with some good ol’ advertisement. Let’s go floor by floor:

  1. 3rd floor: I entered the office and immediately saw two new faces hard at work. I haven’t even caught their names yet, they were so embroiled in their work, digging out items from the deep freeze, vacuum-sealing chunks of salmon, and taping shut fully packed boxes. The mail order department processed 87 orders this week alone, and they are still just at the foot of the mountain that is our holiday mail order season.

    Frozen bison buddies destined for insulated boxes

    The surroundings toe the line of order and chaos. Zip-tied bundles of flattened boxes are piled high in canted and zigzagging stacks top a labyrinthine arrangement of shelves. The wall of product label sticker spools is functional, if disorganized.

    This week, twenty pallets of recycled denim box-liners were delivered to DeWitt-Seitz and our off-site storage area. 4ish- by 3ish- by 6ish-foot boxes of them are stacked in the office, and various corners of the floor. We have even requisitioned a room down a winding path of hallways that I had not travelled before I began researching this week’s blog to stack our boxes and liners, which is filled to the ceiling/skylight.

    This is not my first Winter here. I know what to expect. It still struggle to imagine the extent of the activity that will occur in this small office suite over the next month-point-five.

  2. 1st floor: Upon entering the deli, I was asked to join a mini-band. Unsure exactly what that entailed, I withheld my decision and awaited their explanation. A mini-band, it turns out, is a band of individuals of any size which specializes in small instruments: mandolin, “tiny drums,” jaw harp, ukulele, kazoo etc. I was recruited as the hypothetical toy piano specialist. We probably would have had a song written within minutes had a line of customers not appeared. The future of the band is unclear, but it feels good to be exposed to these sorts of ideas on a regular basis.
  3. Loading dock: Pine bough is easily one of the best scents in the entirety of olfactory stimulus, and this week is the transition time into Winter decorations at DeWitt-Seitz Marketplace, so walking through the loading dock behind our shop (a roughly one-hundred times a day occurrence) has gone from mundane task to repeated entanglement with the Sublime. Right outside of our backdoor there is a stack of wreaths. I hope they hold off on hanging those wreaths a few days longer at least, because I don’t want to be the weird guy sniffing them once they have been hung.
  4. Basement: When I made it down to the basement, the production team was setting up to handle a massive volume of cabbage. In less than two hours, they told me, they’d have begun the pickling of 150 lbs of sauerkraut. Three of them divided up into one cleaner and two cutters.

    Cutters cut, cleaners clean.

    In my assumed mode of fascination, I asked, “what do cutters do?”
    “They cut,” was the curt response. “Would you like to know what the cleaners do,” they followed up.
    I bit.
    “They cut too.”

    After a good laugh at my foolishness, I learned that before the cabbage is cut, salted and left to pickle, the heads are thoroughly cleaned so that there are no contaminants in the mix or on the cutting boards. Sauerkraut pickles for a month before it hits our shelves and sandwich line. Our kimchi ferments for a week before we package it.

    Also in the basement, I found the mop closet still under construction, and snapped a photo.

    There are many lessons to be learned in the smokehouse proper, as the folks working down there have countless hours of hands-on experience creating the amazing food we sell.

    I also found a few purple tomatoes among the heirlooms. Purple is my favorite color, so this pleased me.

  5. Good ol’ advertisin’: There is a new mail order porketta option available this season. Previously, our porketta was available online in whole 4 lbs increments. Now it is available in 3 and 4 lbs increments. This is great for those who are shopping with a budget, or simply don’t have quite as many mouths to feed. Our porketta has been featured in Bon Appetit magazine and has been featured on many of my daily sandwich creations lately. It is simple to work with but highly versatile, made with the highest quality berkshire pork, seasoned to perfection and slow-roasted in the smoker.For a very limited time, we have smoked ciscos in stock. If you’ve been craving them, stop in this weekend, because they go fast.

    One final note before you go: Monday, November 19th is the last day of our mail-order turkey special. Any purchase of a whole turkey breast made by Monday will come with a free 8oz tub of crayo.

Catch you next week, Thingerinos.

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A Practical Guide to Northern Waters Smokehaus: Samples, Part 1

I have been mulling over the concept of a “Practical Guide to the Smokehaus” for a few months now. The task is daunting. It requires a vastness and depth of focus that could end up too vague or underdeveloped, and a precision of information that could lead us to conclusions that are not necessarily earned—a bunch of disconnected data gathered from anecdotes and opinions, leaving everyone wondering “why should I care about this?” As the weaver of this web, I find the task of creating a concise and comprehensive guide to your Northern Waters Smokehaus experience beyond my present resources and abilities. So, a thought occurred to me: I could save myself a great deal of concern over quality of output, I could generate a steady stream of content in digestible morsels, I could use this marketing-based writing as a means to connect with my co-workers and fellow human-beings; I could make it a weekly column, and I could get real answers to a variety of frequently asked questions from my esteemed colleagues. What follows is my first attempt:

“What goes well with this?” “Could you make a sample platter with the best stuff?” “What should I get?”

These are but a few of the daunting questions my co-workers and I engage with every day in the deli. I usually default to asking customers what they tend to like, then customizing my recommendations based on their response and my knowledge of our products. This doesn’t always work out. I am human and sometimes my preferences don’t line up with the customer’s. Sometimes the customer just wants someone else to do the thinking for them (which is very valid, and to which I often relate). And sometimes it is best just to judge by taste.

Today’s topic: The ideal sample-platter. (Note: complex sample platters at Northern Waters Smokehaus will still be made primarily at our employees’ discretion, but you are always welcome to sample individual finished products.)

“What would be on your ideal sample platter?” This is the question I asked my co-workers. Given the time and resources to prepare an inspiring combination of flavors or a greatest hits-style spread to share with our customers, what end result would we see, by each deli employee.

Leif “Pork loin Squealy Dan samples. No, wait. That sounds like a lot of work. I don’t want everyone to come in expecting me to have those prepared,” At this time, I assured him that this is just a thought-experiment, and that he wouldn’t be required to make these, though we discuss whether to make them as sandwiches that are then slivered into samples, individually assembled/toasted open-face sandwich bites, or topped saltine crackers. We also discuss deep-fried saltine crackers—unrelated. “Oh, and I changed my mind: They’d be porketta Squealy Dans.”

Michael — Michael had just finished telling me about why salmon tails are his favorite product we carry, when I sprung this second question on him: “Tails, pancetta, a mix of the salumi, and a Jerry bread [Jerry bakes several of our breads in-haus],” Which kind of Jerry bread? “Definitely the rye.”

Hyland — “Saucisson sec with slices of pear or apple or cucumber. And a really nutty Brie.” Cele: You’re a really nutty brie. “Your mom’s a really nutty Brie,” Cele: No she’s not. She’s a really nutty T—. “I’d also put out castel vetrano olives.”

Cele — “Olivada, chèvre, pork loin, salamini, cajun salmon and black pepper salmon,” Any crackers? “Yea. Ritz. Because we’re fancy.”

Lucy — “Probably ham, pepperoni, saucisson, traditional [salmon] and bread.” Lucy grew up around Northern Waters Smokehaus food, and offered that the glue of this hypothetical sample platter is nostalgia for her childhood. She didn’t say that exactly. I am just trying to paraphrase her poetically.

Jacob — As I described my task, a light brightened behind Jacob’s eyes: “I already know what I’d make. ‘Lutheran Sushi’ — Is that offensive?” For those who don’t already know, Lutheran Sushi is a term which I am not going to research the origin of at this moment, but which I have come to understand as sliced meat, spackled with a binding condiment and wrapped around a pickle spear. When pressed on his preferred variety, he replied, “Pork loin, for sure. With mayo.”

Sam — “Hedonist bites. Saltine crackers spread with a bite of country pâté, a dab of mayo and mustard, a slice of onion, and a cornichon pickle slice. They’re great for tipping people who are on the fence about country pâté or the hedonist.”

In the spirit of not making my co-workers bear the entire burden of producing content, I’ll give my take on the week’s subject at the end:

Ned — “I sure hope we continue carrying our Sogn Tomme cheese,” This is my inner-monologue. “I had no idea what it was before we started selling it,” It’s a fatty, crumbly sheep’s milk cheese. “But I sure enjoyed the time I served it with smoked Alaskan King Salmon and blueberries, drizzled in honey, atop Carr’s water crackers.” This inner monologue is extrapolated from my frenzied mental short-hand.

From here on out, y’all can expect these practical guides on a variety of subjects, returning to some topics (like this) to eventually document all of my co-workers’ suggestions, and musing on new ideas as they occur. Hopefully, you’ll receive sagely advice from myself and my co-workers to guide you through your NWS experience, inspire you to try something new, or enhance your old favorites.

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A Smokehaus Beginner’s Guide to Thanksgiving

Maybe you’re the person who effortlessly hosts dozens of guests without a shred of anxiety. If you are this unicorn, this isn’t for you. Also, I resent  you a little. This is for the folks simultaneously creating Pinterest boards, flipping through Bon Appétit, and watching the Food Network.

Now, I am that person psychotically researching to prep for turkey day – but let me explain why. My home is 600 square feet (my husband and I used to live in an actual tiny house, so we call this our “big” house), my oven is tiny, my refrigerator is tiny, my dog will be distracting me the entire time I’m cooking and he is NOT tiny, and for the first time in my life … I’m hosting Thanksgiving for my family. EEK.

But! There is hope. I don’t actually know if you can win Thanksgiving, but dammit I’m going to win.  Follow my tips below to avoid the meltdown on game day (I’m talking about cooking … not #sports).

The Turkey:

My teeny tiny oven can’t handle the full bird (and to be honest the thought of attempting to perfectly cook a 10 lb turkey terrifies me). I ain’t taking any chances so I got myself a couple turkey breasts from my favorite Smokehaus (ours – duh).  Here’s a link so you can get your very own beautiful bird.

Smoked free-range Minnesota Turkey Breast

“What is Crayo?” you ask? A beautiful marriage of mayo, dried cranberries, walnuts, and garlic, blended to creamy perfection. It’s what you need for the day after Thanksgiving for leftover turkey sandwiches.

Crayo

Dessert:
I don’t (can’t) bake. I love intuitively cooking and measuring ain’t really my thing. Aka … if you’ve ever eaten anything I’ve baked – I’m sorry. You were kind to lie to me and tell me that it was good but I know the truth. Some of you will also lie to me after you read this and personally tell me that I’m a capable baker. And you’re still a liar.

I plan on purchasing (or maybe even begging  a guest to do it) store bought pies. And I don’t even feel bad about it, and neither should you if baking isn’t your jam.  BUT! I know the perfect way to add a homemade touch – whipped cream! It’s a crowd pleaser and dead simple to make with your stand mixer. Here’s what you’ll need :

-1 cup heavy whipping cream (this is NOT the time for low fat health nut junk, trust me)
-1 cup confectioners sugar
-1 teaspoon vanilla extract (pro tip, make your own! Vodka + vanilla beans + time = vanilla extract doesn’t cost 7 million dollars an ounce)

If you can, stick the mixer bowl and whisk in the freezer for a bit to cool them down. Just beat the cream until stiff peaks are about to form. Beat in the vanilla and sugar until peaks actually form. Try not to over-beat, as the cream will get butter-like and lumpy. Make the whipped cream a day or two before and store in the refrigerator. And … make more than you think since you have no self control and will eat half of it right out of the bowl. Or maybe you’re better than me. Stop bragging.

Entertaining the guests while you finish cooking:
Here’s the dilemma – you’re trying to finish up the last bits of cooking and your guests arrive. You’re torn between saying hi/chatting with your loved ones and finishing your masterpiece in the kitchen. Your guests sense this … and these beautiful morons whom you love (who have NO boundaries or sense of personal space) come into the kitchen, stand in your way, and small talk you to the point of insanity. Mother, I love you.

I’ve devised a genius plan that is kind to your guests and keeps their smiling selves out of your freaking way  Each year I decorate my home with garlands of cranberries around the Holidays. It’s a fun, eco friendly way to add some jazz to your house for the holidays. All you’ll need is a few pounds of cranberries (check your local health food store to see if you can buy them in bulk), thread, and sewing needles.

Set the table with the ingredients each guest will need to make the garlands in a cute lil paper bag (plastic is for tossers) and set them to work. When dinner is ready, recruit the most eager helper (hi mom!) to gather the garlands and set them aside. Then you roll up to the table with all the peacefully executed food and your peeps are already sitting down  (yay for not having to wrangle them). They all say “WOW!” “We were so busy loving our activity that we forgot you were even cooking!” “This is great all over again!” “You’re the best!” Maybe that doesn’t happen, but maybe it does. Either way, you’ve made tasty food and kept your guests happy.

They feel like they’re helping (and they are helping), they’re making decorations for you, they’re out of the way, and everyone is happy. They can even make their own to take home!

Bonus: this encourages community while giving those who are a little more shy something to do with their hands to take the social pressure off.

World peace, one cranberry garland at a time.

^^Actual cranberry garland in my actual house because I am an actual human who is telling you the actual truth. 🙂

And my final tip: say yes to whoever offers to do the dishes. Sit back, sip a glass of wine, gaze lovingly at your fabulous guests, and smile knowing that you are the greatest f****ing host that ever existed. 🙂

Written by Olivia Mesedahl