Friday, November 1, 2013

Our Last Halloween

Before I get into this, let me preface this post by saying that I believe each person's walk with the Lord is different.  By that I mean, I don't expect everyone to come to the exact same conclusions that I have in the exact same order that I have, just like I have not always been convicted by the same things that some of my Christian friends have been convicted of.  I'm not saying truth is relative, but I am saying that I believe the Lord draws us to Himself in personal ways as we seek Him.  Why do I say all this?  Because I have been convicted this year regarding the celebration of Halloween, so much so that I feel led to share it, but want to make it very, very clear that  I don't expect you to have this same conviction, and if you don't ever have it, I'm not going to judge you.

I have celebrated Halloween for as long as I can remember.  There are so many fond memories and nostalgia surrounding this holiday, as with many others.  I can remember several of my costumes, lot of parties, pumpkin carving, haunted houses, etc.  I don't regret any of this.  In fact, when I first considered not celebrating Halloween anymore, I'll be honest, I was upset for my kids.  I felt like I was stealing a part of their childhood, and preventing all these fantastic memories from ever taking place.

BUT, either our society is more disturbed now than it was when I was a kid, or I am just more aware of how disturbed our society is. When we were out last night I saw babies dressed up as Satan.  Young people dressed up as murderers.  Adults dressed as living dead.  Horrifying creatures that may or may not torment the dreams of my children.  Is this supposed to be entertaining?  Because I don't think it's funny.  I think it's sad.  What sort of message is it sending my kids when all week long we talk about Jesus and what He's done for us, and how bear His name, and talk about resisting the enemy..... and then spend one day out of the year celebrating everything that the enemy represents?  And even if we do it innocently (as a baseball player, cowboy, little red riding hood, tin man, and luke skywalker) what sort of message does our participation send to unbelievers?  Do I really want my children (or myself for that matter) to be desensitized to evil and the horrors of hell?  There were a couple of crowds last night who looked like they could have walked straight out of hell.  A place where evil is the norm and Satan reigns and there is nothing good or happy or pleasant because all of those things only exist because of the existence of God and He is not in Hell so none of His blessings will be there either...... and one day out of the year, we just pretend like it's actually not that bad of a place and we can find some entertainment in it, actually.  Really?

So, I explained this to the kids yesterday afternoon.  This is the last time we are participating in this.  And I told them why.  And they got it.  And they were fine with it.  Praise God!  While we were walking around last night, they would whisper to me "Mom, there's one of the evil things."  I didn't have to tell them - they knew, which confirmed even more that they are not oblivious to it.  So, we may have a costume party in November next year.  We may even carve some fall pumpkins.  We can take the fun and innocent fall ways to celebrate our Lord instead of His enemy.  And maybe I'll even let them eat some candy. :)  We'll probably still have some left over anyway!

Sunday, August 18, 2013


So, I obviously didn't blog this summer.  Not one. single. time.  This is why:

It was great.

Time for school!

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

My One Chinese Recipe for the Year

Since I have about 8 followers, most of you know we have had an exchange student living with us this year, and it's hard to believe he is leaving NEXT WEEK.  It has been a great experience for us (hopefully for him, too).  I'm sure he was in a little bit of culture shock coming to live in a 1600 square foot house where 5 kids shared the room next to him and also shared his bathroom.  I'm sure it was also weird not having TV.  Although I'm pretty sure he watched his fair share of movies in his room on his computer.  He probably thought he was coming to live in a progressive environment, not one trying to go back in time.  At least we let him name one of the chickens.  I even told him he could take it home with him, but he didn't seem too excited about it.  As R. pointed out right before Jin Li got here, most Americans would probably have culture shock coming to live with us let alone a 16 (now 17) year old Chinese boy. 

Soon after he moved here, I took him to the Asian market to try to get him some food that might be a little familiar to him and help with any homesickness should there be any. We got a few things, but I quickly learned that he did not know how to cook anything (he told me this) and that he had tried to cook at home once and his mother told him that whatever he had prepared was gross.  So I asked him to show me something he liked, and I would ask the grocery store lady how to fix it.  He showed me these: 

Rice cakes.  I have never seen a recipe for them, or seen them on a menu anywhere. The grocery store lady (if I talk about her again, I'm going to abbreviate that gsl) gave me a very simple and tasty recipe for making them.  Everyone in my family loves them, except the babies (who used to not count because they ate everything I put in front of them and also dog food, but now don't count because they eat nothing I put in front of them, but still eat dog food).

You have to boil them for a couple minutes or so, but not too long because they'll get mushy.  So maybe 2-3 minutes tops.  While you are waiting for the water to boil, take a little oil and stir fry about 1 Tbsp each minced garlic and minced ginger

And don't let it burn or fry, just wait about 30 seconds or so and then add in a small head of napa cabbage all chopped up.

Just cook this until it starts to wilt.  It will release some liquid while cooking.  Incidentally, you can also make this with bok choy, but Jin Li prefers napa cabbage, and after having made it with both I think I prefer it that way, too.   Then sprinkle a packet of this over it.

This sort of goes against my "all natural" mentality, but there really isn't a way that I have found yet to do this with Asian food in general.  I mean, I buy naturally fermented soy sauce (which is very salty, but seriously good), 

and use arrowroot powder instead of cornstarch.  But I'm not at a place in my life (and don't at this point foresee ever being there) where I'm going to make my own oyster sauce or black bean sauce or chili sauce or fish sauce, etc.  And since they all have msg and sugar in them (as does the above pictured packet of bouillon in addition to food coloring), I just sort of cross my fingers and pick recipes that don't have a ton of pre-made sauces in them.   But the reason I use bouillon instead of using chicken broth, is that I use a whole packet of it, so I would have to reduce my broth to practically nothing, otherwise it would be soupy.  This isn't supposed to be soupy.

Finished product:

It is not meant to be a single, main dish - serve it family style, with something like this:


Tuesday, March 26, 2013

The chicken project - Part 2

These were our chickens yesterday morning.  Or 4 of them anyway.

I feel the need to preface this post with this fact:  These were meat chickens.  From the day they were born they were destined for someone's plate.  Through selective breeding, mankind has totally screwed up an animal that our good Lord created, in order to make the animals you see above for human consumption.  No hormones, no antibiotics, and still they were freaks of nature.   

First, they grew at an abnormally fast rate.  They were approximately 8 weeks old, and were the size of a small turkey.   If left to their own devices they would have died pretty soon because their bodies could no longer handle the stress of being so large.  In fact, we lost two the week before we butchered due to this very fact. They just couldn't handle being alive.  I had not allowed myself to get attached to these chickens, and really it would have been impossible because they were so gross, but I did start to pity them in the end.  

When I first put them in the coop, it took them a full day to figure out how to get out of it.  They had a hard time walking, due to their size, and would eat and drink sprawled out because they had a hard time holding up their weight. Either that or they were just lazy.  By the time we butchered, all but 2 of them had finally figured out how to get back in the coop at night, but it was pitiful to watch them try to do it. 

Now, when I was doing all my coop design research, I discovered that typically, the coops for this type of chicken keep them from moving around at all.  They are literally raised right on top of each other, never moving, just eating and drinking and pooping all over each other all day long.  So at the very least, I can feel better about the humane life that my chickens were allowed to live.  And I know that they did eat *some* natural foods, because when we cut open the gizzard, we could tell what they had been eating.  So, better than a grocery store chicken, yes.  But they don't exactly meet my definition of "natural."  

Now, having said all that, we fully intend to eat every single one of them.  

My first attempt at butchering actually went a lot more smoothly than anticipated.  Mom and I had read a bunch of blogs, and watched some You Tube videos, so we felt pretty good about what not to do, and which parts of the insides we didn't want to puncture and get all over the meat.  But we were still nervous, just because neither one of us had ever done anything like this before.

This was our "station."  We had the turkey fryer for heating up the water, and a sort of workbench made out of some sawhorses, a piece of plywood, and a pallet.  It was like 41 degrees when we started, and I think it probably made it up to a whopping 48 or so by the time we finished.  And the wind was killing us, so we moved our station up to right in front of the shed so that we could have some protection from the wind, and to keep the fryer lit.  In retrospect, I'm glad it was cold.  We were miserable, but didn't feel like we had to rush in order to prevent meat from spoiling, it kept the smell down, and we only saw one fly the whole entire day.

We started at around 10:15 or so in the morning, and decided that we would kill and pluck the 12 birds first, and then we stored them in coolers of cold water while we took a lunch break and put the babies down for a nap.

We tried to use a homemade killing cone (i.e. milk jug), and it was apparent on chicken #1 that this method was not going to work.  The cone was defective.  Don't anyone waste your time on this.  Either buy a real one, or just cut off their heads.  We tried to make the gaps in the pallet work as our killing cone, but by the 6th chicken, I just decided I'd had enough of that (because I was holding the thing by the feet the whole time while mom did the "killing" and I was getting blood all over me), and so we started cutting their heads off, and just throwing them out in the grass. Here's a picture mom took with her phone of me cutting off the first chicken's head.  I'm not sure if I had that look on my face on chickens 2-12.

Plucking went pretty quickly, although  Mom and I both agreed, that the absolute worst part of the whole butchering process is sticking a dead, smelly chicken in the hot water (which, i.m.o the perfect temperature is around 160 degrees or so.  I had read between 140 and 180, but at 140 the feathers didn't come out as easily and at 180 the skin started to cook if you swished them too long).  If I do a whole bunch of chickens at one time again, I may invest in the automatic plucker.  We finished this part at 1 pm, and it took the rest of the day to get the wet chicken smell out of my nostrils.  I still think I get a whiff of it every now and then.  And I'm not really a K-State fan, it just happens to be a very warm and black sweatshirt that I didn't care if I got blood all over.

After lunch, reinforcements arrived, and someone who had actually butchered a chicken before showed up to help with the gutting.  While he and I took all the insides out, which was a whole lot easier than I thought it would be, the kids ran the gutted and rinsed chickens in to mom, who finished plucking and cleaning them up in the house.  We had seen a blog where the lady cuts the chicken open at the bottom, scoops everything out, and cuts the whole tail end off so you don't have mess with the oil gland, and we followed that method. It was very easy, and quick actually.

We also kept the hearts, gizzards, and livers.  I have to add in here, that I have been eating chicken hearts and gizzards for what seems like my entire life.  My dad and I used to fight over who got them.  Never in my life have I seen these organs as large as what we pulled out of these birds.

Here is mom cleaning up the chickens.  She really is fantastic (after all of this she babysat the kids, so Russ and I could go out, and then sterilized my kitchen and steam cleaned the floor! She's my hero).

She scrubbed all the chicken feet so we could use them in stock, and she said this was the second worse part.  I didn't get to experience that, but as creepy as they look, she was probably right, and I'm just gonna take her word for it.

We bagged them all with these vacuum bags that the chickens were almost too big to fit in, and then put 8 of them in my freezer, she took 2 home with her, I paid Scotty in poultry for his help, and then we ate one for dinner tonight.  It tasted like chicken.

However, when Jin Li first came home from school, he thought we were eating this: 

Which is really stock from the rest of the carcass, and that long thing floating on top is a chicken foot.  I probably would have let him believe that for a few minutes just for fun if he didn't look like he was about to get sick.  And they even eat chicken feet in China. 

Overall, I am very thankful for the experience and I still intend to eat any roosters (except for one of course) that we get from our dual purpose breed when we get to that point, but I don't think I'll do the broilers again.  I'll do a real breed of chicken. One that can actually survive past 8 or 10 weeks of life and be a productive member of it's chicken society for a few months.  One that knows how to fly and stand up while eating and do other chicken things.

Friday, March 22, 2013

The chicken project - Part 1

So, I was waiting until d-day to write this, but then I realized.  There's just way too much.

First there was the coop,  I am not sure how long it actually took, as I sort of lost track of time and went into a chicken-coop-coma of sorts for several weeks. I had chicken on the brain if you will.  Let's just say, I'm glad it's done.

Russ brought home pallets 3 days in a row, and Colin and I got them mostly disassembled. The floor was leveled and mostly finished, when we got the stomach bug.  The first time.  Then it started raining, and then we went to Florida.  Twice.  Then it rained some more.  Then my dad came down and finished the floor and got the two side walls stabilized.  Then it rained some more.  At this point, I had taken no pictures because I was honestly just too frustrated.  I had chickens on the front porch growing and stinking. Then we got the stomach bug a second time.  But 3 sunny afternoons, and one pretty much entire day later, we had this structure, except with a roof:

I must say, I'm a little proud of it.  It's made entirely out of pallets.  The only thing we had to purchase to get it to this point was 10 cinder blocks ($15), to level it (it's 5X10), some hardware (probably around $50 worth for the floors and roof - I overbought by a couple pieces), and a couple boxes of nails or screws ($17).  The roof cost $32, which you will see in a later picture, and there is chicken wire over the windows, from scraps.  So basically my enormous coop cost only $114.  

The run on the other hand, was a little more expensive.   I actually purchased wood for this.  It's together, but not square at all.  It's only chickens, right?  I'll probably go back in at some point to reinforce some of the longer sections.  But nothing is sagging anyway, so I'm satisfied.  This part cost about $215.  That was lumber and 150 feet of chicken wire.  Here is the mostly finished coop/run:

It still needs to be painted and prettied up a little bit.  I also haven't put in nest boxes or roosts yet, because the chickens you see pictured are all meat birds and don't need nest boxes and aren't supposed to roost, so I wasn't in any particular hurry to get those in.  Not nearly as much of a hurry as I was in to get them off of my front porch.  So.  Meat birds.  They will all be gone Monday, Lord willing.

These are the nastiest, smelliest, deformedest chickens I have ever seen.  Not that I've been around all that many chickens, but these seem kind of on the dumb side.  They have grown at an abnormally fast rate and have defecated at an equally abnormally fast rate.  Hence the stench and why I couldn't wait to get them off the front porch.  Until about 3 days ago, I had to put most of them in the coop at night, because they wouldn't (couldn't?) get in there by themselves.  They finally figured it out.  Well, except for 2 of them.

It's been a learning experience thus far to say the least.  We started with 15.  Lost one to an unfortunate water-bottle accident where it fell on him/her and I'm assuming broke it's neck due to the state at which we found it.  Then one got sick, and I had to wring it's neck, which is a whole 'nother story.  Then this morning we found another one dead in the coop. So we're down to 12.  However many are still alive Monday will promptly be butchered and put in the freezer.  Then we can clean it out, put in the nest boxes, roosts, paint it, etc.  and put the sweet baby girls in there that are not nasty.

We have 7 little pullets right now that are actually cute, and not nasty in the least. A much as I am revolted by the dozen freakish chickens in my coop right now that I cannot wait to process, I am equally enamored with the 7 baby chickens in my living room. They have almost reached pet status in my mind.  They have names.

I thinks that's all for now.

Saturday, February 23, 2013

The big event

Well, once again, I forgot to take pictures of the first course.  But I did take pictures of part of the prep, so I'll just put those up.  

Course #1 was Puree of English Pea Soup with White Truffle Oil and Parmesan Crisps
These are the peas.  It was really tasty and beautiful.  Served in a tea cup, with a parmesan crisp "lid". 

We ate this and the Gruyere Cheese Gougeres (pictured below waiting to go in the oven) while we conversed and just sort of warmed up.  

Course #2, was Salad of Bosc Pears with Roasted Sweet Peppers and Shaved Fennel.  In all honesty, it was supposed to be figs.  But figs are out of season, so we had pears, and it was delicious.  The green stuff drizzled on the plate is fennel oil, and the purple zig zag is balsamic glaze.  I think this was my most pleasant surprise.  I'm not a huge fennel fan, but this was very tasty.

Course #3 was Sweet Potato Ravioli with Sage Cream, Brown Butter, and Prosciutto.  This was SO good.  I have extra pasta in the freezer, and I may just have to make it up again.  There were little fried sage leaves on top, and even though I've heard of people frying herbs quite often, I had never tried it and didn't understand what all the hoopla was.  So. Good.

Course #4, the main course was Braised Breast of Veal with Yellow Corn Polenta Cakes, Glazed Vegetables and Sweet Garlic.  This was my favorite.  The sauce on this was so rich, and everything just went so well together.  The veggies on top are carrots, turnips, celery root, and beets.  This is the dish I was the most nervous about plating because I had to cut the smashed veal breast and polenta out with a biscuit cutter and then briefly fry them.  I was nervous about the cutting and the cooking them without them falling apart, but it was a lot easier than I was expecting.  And we ate leftovers from all the cut-outs (or more accurately, scraps) for lunch today.

Then the cheese course.  This is always an interesting course for me.  I love cheese.  I really do, but not by itself.  I don't love it to have a particularly strong flavor, or to dominate a dish, and it often does in cheese courses.  I mean, really, I think that's the point.  This was was good.  Ashed Chevreaux with Slow Roasted Red Beets and Red Beet Vinaigrette.  We brought this cheese back with us from Paris, because I had read about it and can never find it here.  I froze it, hoping to work it in to the birthday dinner, and it held up wonderfully.  It was a little stronger than when we initially purchased it, but the beets have a strong flavor too, so it worked.  There were supposed to be yellow beets in the mix here, but Earthfare is the only place that sells them, and they were out.  They are milder, but since the cheese had gotten a little stronger, it probably was better that I used only red beets.

Finally, dessert.  Lemon Sabayon Pine Nut Tart with Honeyed Mascarpone Cream.   There is nothing pretty or fancy about this dessert.  I'm really surprised it's in the cookbook.  I have an extra crust sitting in my freezer, and I will make this the next time we have company.  It would have looked a little fancier if I had a tart pan, but I just used a springform pan.  I'm sure it tasted exactly the same, and it was delicious.  Maybe that's why it was in the cookbook.  T-A-S-T-Y.  

The morning after is always a little bittersweet for me.  Sad because it's over, and it's like my one time a year to really stretch myself in the kitchen.  But at the same time, relief, because I can go on with my life.  And also satisfaction from having a really full belly of tasty food the night before! 

Thursday, February 21, 2013

The big cooking day

So, today was busy.  It started with roasting bell peppers, and braising this piece of meat.

It's a veal breast, or 5 lbs of one anyway.  This is the dish I am most nervous about this year.  It's the one that has the highest probability of getting messed up.  After braising, I had to remove the roast from the pan without the fork-tender-meat coming apart, and then take out the bones and cartilage.  This is what it looked like afterward:

I'm very thankful that my mother was here to lend me two extra arms to sort of maneuver things on this one.  After cleaning it out, you fold it in half, and then smush it.  Tomorrow I will cut a round out of it.  6 of them hopefully.

It was supposed to be smushed down to 3/4" thick, and I was having a hard time with this, so I put my marble cutting board, my cast iron griddle, and an iron skillet on top to try to flatten it out.  It currently sits like this in the top of my fridge (it's in there, I promise).

Then I whittled some carrots to look like little footballs, and gave up on the other cute shapes for the turnips, celery root, and beets, and just cut them up, blanched them, and put them back in the fridge to await assembly tomorrow.   Mom helped me strain my fennel oil (which is a vibrant green), and I made these delicious things to go on top of the pea soup that I'll make tomorrow.  These are parmigianno-reggiano crisps.  Cheese that has been made into a chip-like texture, only more fragile.  The fun part about this, is that they often break and so you get to eat a lot of them while you're cooking, hence the missing one.

And the tastiest thing I made today was this lemon tart.  It's like lemon curd, in a crust, and then broiled, so it  has a creme brulee sort of flare to it.  The only part I sampled was the lemon curd part, and mom and I both licked the pan.  I'm pretty excited to eat it tomorrow.

 Meanwhile, my dad was working on the chicken coop.  I owe him a fancy dinner in return for all his hard work.  Unfortunately for me, the forecast for tomorrow is: 100% chance of rain.  Evidently, my chickens are going to spend their entire life in the dog kennel or else I'm going to have to work in the rain.

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Mostly on Schedule

So, I haven't made anything interesting enough to take a picture of it yet.  So far just chicken stock, vegetable stock, balsamic glaze (which is just vinegar that you cook for like 8 hours until it's really thick), beet glaze (beet juice & red wine vinegar reduced as previously stated), fennel powder, creme fraiche (yes I make it), and fennel oil.  I did almost cut off the middle finger on my left hand while cutting off the fennel fronds to blanch for 15 seconds before pureeing them in the olive oil to make the infused oil.  It didn't really hurt, mostly because I think I've probably cut through all the nerves in that finger trying to cut it off before, but as soon as I did it, I thought, oh rats, I need to get a band-aid on that before I get blood everywhere.  Anyway, I'll spare you most of the details, only to say that I stained a perfectly good pair of gloves afterwards while working on the chicken coop, because apparently water proof band-aids are only waterproof from the outside.  Once they get full, they just overflow all over the place.  Anyway, so far, all the chicks are still alive, and tomorrow I'm actually cooking something interesting, so I'll try to take pictures.  

Sunday, February 17, 2013

The Preparations Begin

Well, it's time.  I put 3 things in the freezer before our Florida trip: Veal stock, which was really beef stock because I couldn't locate veal bones anywhere, The pine-nut crust for my lemon tart, and the ravioli, which I previously wrote about.  I did end up making more, and I got so good at rolling out that pasta by hand that I actually got 43 ravioli out of the 48 that I should have had from a pasta roller.  So we have plenty of ravioli to eat.  The only thing that I was a little irritated with myself over, is that I accidentally used whole wheat flour when I made the second batch.  I'm so used to using it in everything that I didn't even notice until it was already made, and I wasn't about to do it again.  So we're having about 5 white flour ravioli and eating our hearts out on the whole wheat ones.

These items were only supposed to spend one week in the freezer, but we had an unexpected second trip to Florida that left them in the freezer for an additional week, and well, I think it'll probably be fine.  I did have to freeze my veal breast that I ordered, because I ordered that before the first Florida trip.  I'm thinking that should be ok, too.  I'm just not going to be a perfectionist on this one.

So, there is a bit of a hairy schedule for the week.  I bought a few groceries today, because I'm making more stocks tomorrow, and fennel oil, and a balsamic glaze.  These things can all keep for a few days.  But I have more shopping to do, and the real cooking begins on Wednesday.  Wednesday is also the day we get our chicks (I think).  15 of them.

SO, we also bought our chick feed, bulbs for our lamp, and feeders today while we were shopping.  We have a chicken coop and run to finish up.  I have pallets all over the back yard just waiting to be either disassembled or used as is to finish up the coop.  I'll take pictures.  I may have to post all this stuff after the fact because I'm getting tired just thinking about it right now.

Monday, January 28, 2013

It's Birthday time... almost

Once we recovered from Christmas, I started planning the Birthday Dinner for this year.  I normally start glancing through the cookbook this early, but never actually finalize a menu this early.  However, this year I was a little nervous because we are going to Florida the week before.  I generally have things together by this point, but the though of coming home and then immediately diving into cooking was a little nerve wracking, because it normally takes me a couple of days to recover from a trip.  Anyway, there are a bunch of courses, and I'm very excited because I haven't ever made any of them.  I realized when planning the menu this year that there are 150 recipes in this book and I've made 30 of them.  And I've already been told that if I make sweatbreads or stuffed pigs head my sweet husband won't eat it.  So I'll just have to make those one day for a very good friend.  This will be the first year that I don't do seafood as the main course, which is a little exciting because even though I make different courses every year, they are pretty much all lobster just cooked different ways, and so this is very different.

So, not only did I finalize the menu in January, I already started cooking.  Can you believe that?  That is almost as crazy as growing my eyebrows out, which I was requested to do as one of "our" family goals for 2013.  I'm still trying to figure out exactly how I feel about that request, but none-the-less, I am doing it, and I'm almost through the really awkward part, where I felt like I was drawing my eyebrows on like my grandmother used to do. At any rate, back to food: There are two things that I intend to make before we go on our trip.  One of this dishes is a sweet potato - bacon - butter filled pasta that will be served with a sage - cream - prosciutto sauce.  I actually can't wait to eat it.  My mouth is watering just thinking about it.  The reason I can make this so early is that the pasta part is freezable, for weeks, and I intend to do just that to make my life easier.  The only thing is, there are just a few things in my life that I have said I will never do.  Most of them involved child rearing, and I said them before I ever had kids.  So I don't count those.  But one of them, I have actually said I will never do again, and I've said it twice, which means that evidently I shouldn't count any time I say I will never do anything.  This thing, is making home made pasta.  It is laborious to say the least.  But I do especially laborious things for the Birthday Dinner, so why not?  If I had all the right tools, then it probably wouldn't be quite as bad.  But since I don't, I usually improvise.

The filling was easy enough, roast some sweet potatoes, fry up some bacon, mix it together with some spices, put in a pasty bag, to pipe it into pasta.  Well, technically, I was supposed to put the potatoes through a ricer, which I don't have.  So I used the following:

I just mushed it through with another spoon.  It probably wasn't a necessary step, I'm sure it had to do with texture.  You couldn't even tell once I stirred in the bacon and spices and butter.  Here it is in the pastry bag, waiting to be piped into "agnolotti" whatever those are.

 Ok, so then comes the part that I hate about making pasta.  It's the actual pasta.   If I had an extruder, or pasta roller, or any such pasta appliance, it probably wouldn't be terrible. Even if I had such appliance,  I'm sure I'd still only do it for special occasions.  But this is what I use for my pasta roller:

The thing is, I was supposed to get 48 "agnolotti" out of my half recipe of pasta dough, which is all that I had enough eggs to make anyway.  This would give each of us approximately 8 pieces of filled pasta each.  My pasta roller is defective, and so I only got it thin enough for us to each have 5 pieces of pasta.  Also, I should note, that I get an 'F' on filling agnolotti.  Here it is before I sealed it:

And then after I sealed it, the filling came squishing out.  I might take a picture of that at a later date.  I was too frustrated at that point to photograph anything, and my arms were about to fall off anyway from rolling out the pasta.  SO, we're getting ravioli instead.  And I'm making more pasta dough, a whole recipe this time, to use up the rest of the fantastic filling which I tasted.  That way we can each have 15 pieces of pasta.  And I won't have to feel guilty about not doing any push-ups the week we're out of town, because I have never, ever, in my life been so sore in my pectorals as I am after rolling out all this pasta, except for maybe the last time I made pasta, which is probably why I swore I would never do it again.  I think that was 5 years ago.  And the first time I made it was right after we got married, so almost 10 years ago.  So sometime between now and the year 2018 I need to invest in a real pasta roller.