Crew Picnic Pepper Relish

Happy Halloween! 🙂

Tonight we’re having some friends over to help pass out candy (they barely get trick-or-treaters at their house), play a game or two, & have some pizza. We are having a very rainy day today up here and I’m a little thankful that I don’t have a little one to take around door-to-door tonight. 🙂

Today’s recipe is a bit on the side of “Throwback Thursday” as it takes me back to fond memories from high school. Back then, I was very active in not only the music department, but the drama department. I loved to participate on the stage, but as I got older I started to get more hands-on with stage production. The group of people I met while on stage crew are still many of my friends to date, even though it’s been 10 years since I graduated high school (whoa.).

dianne

Diiiiannnne!

As a high school teacher now, I completely understand what our fearless leader & brave supervisor-adult Dianne meant when she said we were giving her grey hair. I could write, and write, and write about all the hilarity that ensued during those hours I spent after school. But, some stories are best kept amongst “the few, the proud, the crew”. 😉 One of our many traditions was the “crew barbecue” (or as our fearless leader, Dianne called it, the crew picnic). We’d all come in on a Saturday (we’d normally just meet after school) and work on sets, painting, etc., all while having a grand old time goofing around and pulling shenanigans. For lunch, we would fire up a grill and grill out some hambugers. Dianne would bring this pepper relish that she made herself during the summer.

hamburgers

Grilling at a crew barbecue

While I’m not sure if I was the only kid that ate it, what I do know is that for at least three of crew barbecues (we had one for every show, even when it was snowing), I would end up coming home with a jar of pepper relish and proceed to eat with sandwiches, crackers, hambugers, hotdogs, you name it.

I’ve seen Dianne several times since I’ve graduated high school and I’ve actually even met up with her twice since I’ve moved to northern Michigan…it’s a small world after all, and she has a family cabin about a half hour away from us and come up here every once in a while. We have plenty more to catch up on other than stage crew and pepper relish (she had a lot of fun touring our house and giving her two cents on what the original floorplan probably was – I tell ya she is one smart woman).

This past summer, with the exhorbitant amount of peppers in my fridge (about 4-5 different varieties and 30+ to count) I needed to do something with them. And I had a major taste for some pepper relish. So, I got to work doing some research to see what I could come up with on my own…and I came up with something pretty close. It’s a perfect balance of sweet and savory, with a bit of a bite, because I used some jalapenos & serranos.

Pepper Relish

Inspired by BonAppetit, Diana Rattray, and of course, Dianne

  • 20 peppers – you can adjust the ratios to your pepper preference*
  • 1/2 large sweet onion
  • 3/4 cup apple cider vinegar
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 3/4 tsp salt

* I used 5 jalapenos, 6 green/purple peppers, and 9 sweet peppers (some were the small, sweet peppers)

  1. Heat a medium pot over medium-high heat. Wash all of your peppers, chop them up, and add them to the pot. Chop your onion and add it in as well.
  2. Cook down the peppers until they are nice and soft – about an hour. Do not let them burn; turn down the heat as necessary. Let cool when finished (they will cook down).
  3. Use a food processor to chop the pepper mixture down to a relish-sized texture. One all the mixture has been processed, put it back into the pot and add the vinegar, sugar and salt.
  4. Boil the peppers for 15 minutes until everything is evenly distributed.
  5. Store in a glass jar. This made a pint and a half for me.

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So far I’ve managed to eat this on pulled pork, sloppy joes, and turkey sandwiches. I just can’t get enough! It is awesome. I’m not sure how long this will keep in the fridge, but I’m pretty sure that it will last me for a little while. If you make more than one batch, the processing time is either 10 or 15 minutes – honestly, I don’t remember what I read in the planning stages.

All I can currently think about is how this would also be fantastic with cream cheese and crackers. Mmmm.

I hope you all enjoy your evening tonight, be it with your young’ins, just passing out candy, watching scary movies (not my thing much to my husband’s dismay), playing games, or just relaxing 🙂

 

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CSA 2013: Week 9

Mother Nature turned the heat back on 🙂 Just in time for a visit from my  in-laws this coming weekend and my last true weekend of summer vacation (teacher meetings & open houses next week). I know that many of you out there are not fans of hot weather, so I won’t gloat anymore!

This week’s pick-up was a heavy one!

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  • corn – 6 ears! Which is perfect because whenever I make corn, my husband will eat 2 ears.
  • a white pepper – ok, maybe yellowish white?
  • banana peppers (two were a top-off)
  • a jalapeno pepper
  • green cauliflower
  • fresh thyme
  • onion
  • eggplant
  • lettuce
  • zucchini
  • summer squash
  • a patty pan squash & a round squash
  • tomatoes (two were a top-off)

With last week’s haul, I dried the basil in my oven and found a great way to freeze parsley. I also diced up the squashes & froze them for soup. Several pints of salsa (I gave in and used Mrs. Wages), dill pickles, and pickled jalapenos are all now stashed away on a shelf in my basement stairwell; it’s looking as though I have canned enough to move everything downstairs – which is both a blessing & a curse, as I have a cool-temp Michigan basement full of lots of cobwebs 😦

As I mentioned before, one set of in-laws is coming to visit this weekend & we will be cooking a meal or two for them. We haven’t exactly figured out what to make yet, though…but we’re getting there 🙂

Fancy Schmancy Pickled Beets

Last summer, as you may recall, I began to dabble with the ‘art’ of canning. I’m already drooling just a bit in anticipation of making my pickled sweet onions again this year. In addition, I’ve been able to can diced tomatoes, salsa, pickled jalapenos, cucumbers and homemade turkey broth. And then, there’s the beets.

I tried to pickle beets last year and while yes, it did work, their flavor and color was a bit ‘meh’. I even forgot about a jar of them in the refrigerator – while they did smell okay when I opened the jar last week, the color was gone and my digestive system was not going to take any chances. I love pickled beets in my salad and being a pickle fanatic, I knew I had to give this another go.

Fancy Schmancy Pickled Beets – adapted from Pamela at My Man’s Belly

Makes 2 quart-sized jars of beets.

  • 8 medium sized beets (for me it was 2 bunches)
  • 2 cups cider vinegar
  • 1 cup water
  • 1/4 cup lemon juice
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 1 red onion, sliced thin
  • 1 head fennel, trimmed & sliced thin
  • 1 tbsp powdered ginger (or more if you really like ginger – see original recipe for using fresh)
  • 2 tsp dried rosemary
  • 2 quart jars with lids & bands, sterilized
  1. Fill a large saucepan with water and set on stove to boil.
  2. Wash off your beets. Cut off the leaves as well as the root.
  3. Place beets into the boiling water and boil until the beets soften – between 1 & 1 1/2 hours. Remove from water & let cool.
  4. WHILE THE BEETS ARE BOILING – in a seperate saucepan, combine 1 cup of water & the rest of the ingredients and bring to a boil. This is your pickling brine and is a bit stinging to the nose.
  5. Once the brine is boiling and the sugar has dissolved, reduce the heat to a simmer & cover. Simmer for 30 minutes, then remove from heat.
  6. Once your beets have cooled, peel them by running them under cold water & scraping off the skins. Then, either cut them into slices, or dice if you like them in smaller pieces.
  7. Set out your large jars. If you have a canning funnel, you’ll want to use this too – it makes life a lot easier!
  8. Alternate laying the beets with the brine mixture into the jars. Once all beets are in, top off the jars with the rest of the brine.
  9. Leave the lids sitting on your counter until they cool down to room temperature.
  10. Once they’ve cooled, put the lids & bands on, and set in the refrigerator overnight. After 24 hours, they’re good to go!
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Look at how bright they are!

We tried the beets last night on our salads – wow. I know that ‘eating a rainbow’ is a new trick to get kids to eat vegetables – hell, I think it would have worked on me when I was a kid, but that didn’t exist in the late 80s – but look at the color on those beets! They are so unbelievably bright magenta. What kid wouldn’t want to try those?

This recipe caught my eye because it uses a bulb of fennel. I received this in our CSA and while many of you posted some great ideas for its use, I’m still intimidated by the licorice-y aroma & wasn’t too enthusiastic about making a full dish out of it (yet – I promise I will get there someday!). The fennel adds some depth to the beets and really takes it up another level.

I don’t think I’ll be forgetting about the two jars in my fridge anytime soon – they take up a lot of room in my fridge & they’re so delicious!”

On another note, any time I talk about pickling something, my husband retorts with the phrase, “We can pickle that!” from Portlandia. If you have a goofy sense of humor and/or love Fred Armisen, you may enjoy the video below.

**Shared on Homemade Mondays, Week 37 at Frugal by Choice, Cheap by Necessity**

**Shared at In Her Chucks’ Recipe Round-Up**

CSA Week 10

My last week of summer vacation is approaching – and it’s not even a relaxing week, either! Time to get back into the swing of things, I suppose…three days at school, my last days at the bakery, and keeping my house tidy for our next houseguest and a possible Labor Day weekend gathering.

This past week I did actually cook! 🙂 No photo documentation, but one of which is a recipe that I definitely need to share with you, and hope to blog about in the coming week. Meanwhile, we received our CSA this past week and it was full of wonderful goodies:

  • Cherry tomatoes
  • Bigger tomatoes
  • Swiss Chard
  • Celery
  • Carrots
  • Red potatoes
  • onions
  • cucumber
  • garlic
  • assorted peppers
  • lettuce

With fall (slowly) approaching, I decided to blanch & freeze the swiss chard and squashes that were sitting in my fridge, and would go bad before the end of the week. I also whipped up a batch of salsa to can (thank you to my sister-in-law for the Mrs. Wages salsa mix she sent me). My favorite resource for learning how to do these things has been Pick Your Own – it’s very user-friendly and has lots of great details for how to preserve all the wonderful goodies you grow all summer long. You find out over the next several months if my canning was successful or not 😉

Time to go…the grandmas are back from church (I woke up too late…oops!) and it’s time to play host! Happy Sunday 🙂

Pickled Sweet Onions

I’ve been a fan of dill pickles for as long as I can remember. They’re a necessity at any cookout, a great salty late night snack, and are a staple in my fridge. My grandfather on my dad’s side made great pickles when I was a child, and eventually I plan on getting the recipe from him – once I begin to actually start canning, and when I have enough cucumbers in my garden to make a plentiful batch. It is not looking like my cucumbers will make it to the end of the month due to bugs (who feasted on my zucchini in July), so it won’t be this year.

Canning is a very popular thing to do in northern Michigan, and I’m starting to become interested in jumping on the bandwagon. It’s not the equipment, nor the technique that worries me – it’s the time. My sister-in-law, who lives in North Dakota, has been canning for a while now; her salsa that she mailed us for Christmas was pretty great, and she sent me some packages of her dry mix as a sort of blessing/hint that ‘it’s easier than you think to make!’. So I promise…I’ll get there 🙂 But for now, my adventures in canning are very limited to refrigerator canning. Vegetables, brine, refrigerator, voila!

I’m not sure if I’ve said it before, but the onions we receive from the farm are out of this world. Sweet, crunchy, and aromatic – nothing like the onions you buy in the dead of winter. In the beginning stages of my canning adventure, I did a lot of research on the subject and found that pickled onions are really, really easy to make – so I figured, why not try it with some of the wonderful onions that I have on hand?

If you’re not a pickled-anything fan, then I’m sorry that this post is not up your alley. But for those of you open to the idea, read on!

Pickled Sweet Onions – from A Bloggable Feast

  • 1 sweet onion, peeled sliced thin
  • 1 1/2 cups white vinegar
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 2 tbsp dried dill weed
  • 2 1/2 tbsp sugar
  1. Divide the onion between two pint mason jars.
  2. In a bowl, combine vinegar, salt, dill and sugar. Mix until the sugar is dissolved.
  3. Place lid & band on jar, and screw tightly. Place in refrigerator.
  4. Ready in 24 hours!

These are a great topping for hamburgers & hot dogs. They’re especially great with cucumbers, making an instant cucumber salad! Next time I try to make these, I plan on using a red onion, just to see how well they do. I still have one jar left in my fridge that I need to use up, but it’s a GREAT way to use farm-fresh onions from your CSA or farmer’s market.