Happy December! Happy belated turkey day as well! I have an important question up for debate: when you think of warm winter boozy drinks do you think of a) hot toddies, b) hot chocolate and peppermint schnapps, c) mulled red wine, and/or d) hot cinnamon apple cider with schnapps? By no surprise, I personally think of hot cocoa with any type of booze. Recently my friend Ed invited me over to learn and assist in his homemade eggnog making shenanigans. At that point, I was pretty sure that I had tried real eggnog before. Walking in to Ed’s kitchen and laying eyes on the 2 liters of bourbon, 1 quart of brandy, and 1 quart of rum, I realized that I had not in fact tried real eggnog before, tasting our creation, 100% confirmed that uncertainty.
Following in the tradition of my last three “booze jelly” winters, I figured it was time to dust off my limited, yet growing, bar. Browsing the web, I searched for top warm winter cocktails… Schnapps, schnapps, and more schnapps. Peppermint schnapps. Knowing from experience that booze plus sugar doesn’t equal jelly, I decided to search for peppermint & apple cider cocktails. While any bartender guru (just sayin’) may find this combo a bit undetectable, I made myself a cocktail (OK two- one warm, one cold) and deemed it pretty tasty and definitely worthy of some homemade jelly play. Depending on your peppermint flavor yearnings, you may need to either up your schnapps volume (careful as this will add liquid volume adjusting your liquid to sugar to pectin ratio), or add a few drops of peppermint extract right before pouring the jelly into the jars. Warning, peppermint extract is crazy strong compared to other pantry extracts.
I’ve come to accept the seasonal fate, it’s fall, no denying it now. Last week I found myself all joyous about scarves and flannel and boots… this week I’ve begun to realize that fall means brown, orange, and off yellow veggies. Not that I’m complaining, but I’ve been trying to hold on to summer produce as long as possible as I know that within a couple weeks things are going to get real colorfully dull around here. While perusing Wednesday’s farmers’ market, one of the friendly vendors candidly asked, “Hey! Have you ever tried pickling pumpkin, or maybe pumpkin butter?!” Yes & yes! Not discounting her idea, I responded with a smile and a, “Yes, but I’m not ready yet.” Fast forward to last night, weathering hurricane Matthew… a couple rum drinks in… and I all of a sudden, I was craving fall baked goods. Flinging open the cupboard for ingredients, I reminded myself, “Erin! Stop, you’ve been on a roll with health, you only want cookies because you’re hurricane tipsy!” Pie puree in hand I thought, “OK what can I make to satisfy my angst and rainy day sentiment?” Pumpkin pie mustard? I was surprised to find very little when I Google’d pumpkin mustard. Bored, stir crazy on a Saturday night? Why not experiment with pumpkin mustard, plus some rum! 🙂
So my first step was achieving that pumpkin pie flavor aside the strong pungent flavors of mustard seed. I decided to go with yellow mustard seeds over brown hoping to get a mellow mustard flavor. I used raw honey as my sweetener (shout out to an awesome Bull City Food Swap trade), and threw together my own pumpkin spice mix following this recipe. After much taste deliberations, which is always difficult with fresh mustard (it can take at least a couple weeks for the overwhelming mustard flavor to mellow), I decided to make it sweeter than originally planned. 6 half pints later, canned, cleaned up, and I was back to drinking rum and enjoy the almost near tree timber anxiety of my first NC hurricane experience.
Happy Autumn! How are you guys? Affected by the new moon and the flood of emotions over the past couple of weeks? Me too, big time! Sigh… Fall is my favorite season for so many reasons: bike riding, leaf colored clothing, and let’s be honest… vintage Pendelton wool. Secret is out, it’s true, I have an unhealthy addiction for vintage clothing and fall time wears. Great for keeping me cozy, not so great for my wallet.
Aside from clothing, I also love late summer/early fall radish colors. Pinks, off pinks, whites, greens, reds! My favorite are watermelon radishes, which will hopefully be popping up (see what I did there…) in a month or so. This past Saturday I came across the beautiful farm stand display at South Wind Produce. While I often find myself shopping with them for salad ingredients and my own home cooking goodness, I don’t believe I’ve ever featured them here on Putting Up with Erin. A shame indeed. The hospitality and quality of this little farm, located in Durham county (Rougemont, NC), is the tops. Grabbing one of each variety (Candle on Fire, Green Luobo, and China Rose), I barely managed to haul it all home. Radish greens sprouted like a leafy green bouquet out of my market bag!! I snagged a couple yellow Lemon Drop and cayenne peppers from Four Leaf Farm, mixed it all with fresh garlic and cilantro, and voila, hot pickled radishes. I must warn you though, they are pretty stinky… I blame it on the daikon variety (Green Luobo). Hope the folks at the next Bull City Food Swap don’t mind too much. 🙂
My very first week in town at my very first Downtown Durham Market last summer I came across the Waterdog Farms stand, a small tea farmstead located north of Durham and Hillsborough. From across the stall, I couldn’t help but notice their axolotl (google it) logo! I probably came off as very rude, as the sight of that sign took me daydreaming back to my days of newt and amphibian pet keeping. Snapping out of it, I noticed these odd hibiscus fruits. I had figured that hibiscus flowers bloomed out of something, but I was never aware of hibiscus fruits, also called rosellas. Made up of a seedpod and a stout fleshy red calyx, rosellas can be used in a variety of culinary ways including: tea infusions, food coloring, and jams and preserves. The plan was to pickle them, but when I figured out exactly what they were, jam seemed like a better bet.
I scooped up a hearty pint of rosellas, a huge stalk of fresh ginger from Waterdog, and grabbed some fresh blueberries and citrus from my local grocer. Depending on your process, the seedpods are in fact a great source of pectin. My attempt didn’t go so well as I forgot to cover the pot and all my pectin evaporated off, but if you simply cover and boil the seedpods in just enough water for 10-15 minutes you will get rosella derived pectin. Great for jams and jelly making! A tart somewhat bitter, mildly sweet, and vibrantly red jam. Serve this jam as you would any berry jam. My choice will be atop a scone or a fresh-out-of-the-oven biscuit.
When I started this blog post the plan was to give a very brief history of muscadine grapes, their health benefits, and their history. One wiki search later and I quickly realized, “oh man, there is a lot to learn, and love, about these medium-sized, funny textured grapes!” So, where to start?
“Of the bounteous store of natural gifts… upon the soil of North Carolina few have been more celebrated than the muscadine grape…” Discovered (not really as it was already growing in nature) in 1755, the muscadine grape (commonly referred to as a scuppernong) was first cultivated in North Carolina. Much less common than your typical market grapes, muscadine grapes offer a wealth of nutrition from bowel regulating (think fiber), to weight management (think fiber again), and rich in antioxidants. “One study… found that muscadines are a particularly good source of ellagic acid…. appears to inhibit cancer cell reproduction… Muscadine grapes also contain twice as much vitamin C as seedless grapes.”
© 2016 Erin A. Urquhart All Rights Reserved.