When I first moved to Baltimore in 2008, someone said to me, “If you’re in Bawlmer for more than 5 years, you will never leave”. I was very skeptical of the idea, and to be honest, I never thought it’d happen to me. After 5 and a half years of residing on the banks of the Chesapeake Bay, I have finally discovered my inner “Baytriotism”. The Chesapeake Bay is a wonder unlike any other. I’ve sailed, sampled, experienced, and taken in it’s beauty season by season. Don’t get me wrong, in regards to the ecology, pollution, and health of the Chesapeake Bay it is filthy. Personally, though I may be a bit biased (having studied harmful bacteria for the past 6yrs), I would never consume any fish or oysters out of the Bay.
Like many others, before moving to Maryland, I had never tasted crab let alone ever heard of Old Bay Seasoning. It didn’t take long as it’s pretty impossible to avoid the stuff… Old Bay popcorn, Old Bay rimmed bloody mary’s, Old Bay this… Old Bay Pickled Green Beans! The idea to add Old Bay to this pickle recipe actually came from a friend of mine here in Baltimore a few years back. The result: an absolutely amazing pickle. I’ve experimented with these pickles a few times now, and decided that because I’m feeling extra nostalgic I’d ramp up the spices for this batch. Depending on your preference you could easily omit the hot peppers and alter the Old Bay to satisfy your needs. Enjoy!
If Peter Piper picked a peck of pickled peppers, where in the world did he find a pickled pepper plant? Can you imagine a plant that produces already pickled veggies… Oh my geeze, that sounds absolutely amazing.
This past weekend I spent some time visiting my dad’s family in southern Arizona. The entire week before the trip I couldn’t help but day dream about all the authentic mexican ingredients, spices, and food that was soon to be in my belly. In summary the quick visit was lovely, I could get used to 85 degree weather in April, I miss hiking, and 3 days of binging out on mexican food should tide me over for a while. If you’ve ever visited that part of the southwestern United States you are no stranger to the produce stands that litter the sides of main thoroughfares.
I was amazed by the huge variety of peppers and instantly decided that pickled peppers were in order. This idea led to my hunt for the perfect pepper to pickle, which involved: dusting off my spanish vocab., purchasing the perfect pickling peppers thanks to the advice from my new friend Jose, “smuggling” 2 pounds of slightly wilted peppers across the country in my carry on luggage, and attempting to explain to the people sitting next to me on my flight home why exactly my luggage smelt the way it did. Unlike the pepper items I’ve put up before, these whole pickled peppers are actually very HOT. Thankfully for the sake of my fingertips, this recipe called for no pepper dicing, slicing, or mincing! I plan on using these hot peppers as an ingredient in vegetarian chile, spicy slaw for homemade pupusas, and if I get really brave… inside some chile rellenos. Enjoy!
Do you know that awful sensation when you wake up with a dry, bitter, chalky taste in your mouth? The sensation that can only come from eating copious amounts of dark chocolate paired with whiskey, no water, and forgetting to brush your teeth. Good morning Thursday! Perhaps in the future I will control myself and not eat half the bag of chocolate chips… perhaps not. I flip flopped between several different fruit options (raspberry, blackberry, orange) before I settled on using blueberries in this chocolate jam recipe inspired by A Brown Table. As this was my first stab at making jam, I took extra care and caution to ensure that 1) I didn’t splatter berry juice all over the kitchen, 2) the chocolate didn’t burn on the bottom of the pan, and 3) the perfect jam set was achieved. As my taste buds were exhausted by the flavor of chocolate, I really couldn’t detect the fruity, berry notes of this jam before I canned it last night. Thankfully, my gracious host confirmed it’s fruity deliciousness with a subtle “mmmm…” when paired with dried apricots and Wasa bread this morning. Though this recipe was a bit time consuming, I assure you that drizzling this blueberry chocolate jam over some vanilla bean ice cream will prove the time and effort well worth it.
Oh Hi there! Thank you all for bearing with me these past few weeks. It’s been pretty hectic with my parents in town visiting, a quick weekend jaunt to New Hampshire, and that whole defending my PhD thing… But I’m back, well for a few days at least (I’m heading to AZ later this week), and I’m itching to pickle. In no way shape or form do I claim to be any sort of expert on gardening or harvesting, but I do suspect that with all this late winter into early spring rain/snow/freaking “wintery mix” that the spring and summertime crop harvest will be somehow affected. While driving around NH/ME this past weekend, I realized that veggie and fruit harvest will be a bit different from what I’m used to down here in the Mid Atlantic. Not only do I expect a lag in the harvest season, but it has also dawned on me that things that grow in Maryland may not grow AT ALL in the northeast. With that in mind, I have 3 more weeks in the Baltimore area to tackle everything and anything local that will fit into a Ball Jar.
A couple weeks ago, a friend and I teamed up to create a baked goods/preserved goods kitchen masterpiece. These ginger spiced pear blondies were adapted from Spice Islands and the second concoction of that amazingly disastrous evening. We used a jar of my ginger spiced pickled pears and paired these oh so gooey blondies with some vanilla frozen yogurt.
French novelist Marcel Proust famously wrote that asparagus “transforms my chamber-pot into a flask of perfume.” As somewhat of a nutrition nut, I’ve always found the body’s by-products somewhat fascinating. During digestion, asparagus’s sulfurous amino acids break down into unique pungent chemical compounds in most people. When the compounds leave your body in the form of pee you may be able to detect the odorous asparagus smell. Apparently only about a quarter of the population has the special gene that allows them to detect those compounds. So whether you’re lucky (or unlucky) enough to have this ability it’s still pretty interesting right?
Typically when I dream up canning and pickling recipes I try to stick with local and in season ingredients. I have been anxiously checking the crop harvest calendars for my current and future location so I know that this recipe is pre-mature by about 3-6 weeks. When I found these hearty bunches of organic asparagus during my routine farmers market/local food co-op pickling perusal last weekend, I knew I couldn’t hold out any longer. This super small batch of pepper & garlic pickled asparagus was adapted from Sherri Brooks Vinton’s canning book Put ‘em Up!
People do funny things when they know they only have a limited amount of time left to do it… Take my current situation, I am house hopping all over Baltimore, enticing my friends with strong drinks, canned goods, and kitchen adventures. Earlier this week, a beautiful friend of mine suggested that we team up and make a smattering of baked goods inspired by a select few of my sweet canned creations. As this past Monday was Saint Patrick’s Day, we saw it only fitting to start with an Irish inspired beer bread topped with a generous amount of my Chocolate Stout Jelly. Sticky, snorting, sugar filled madness ensued as we destroyed the limited countertop space of Steph’s tiny Mt. Vernon apartment kitchen. This super easy and super quick beer bread recipe was adapted from the Joy of Cooking.