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.
I’m not exactly sure why, probably the strawberries…, but it seems only appropriate that I drink a glass of home-brew strawberry mango kombucha while I write this strawberry mustard blog post. Sensing a theme here? STRAWBERRIES!!! I am up to my ears in strawberries. A little over a week ago the wild strawberries on my property started to ripen. My initial thoughts were “this is amazing, I am going to have fresh strawberries everyday.” A week later… “god damnit, I have to get home so I can pick them before the nasty roly polys beat me to it!” Honestly, I feel like I’m at war with the little strawberry buggers. Don’t get me wrong, and I’m definitely not complaining, I’m having tons of fun with it. Everyday is like Easter for fruits: I get to hunt for the ripest, juiciest, reddest berries amongst the bugs and weeds. Oh man, now I can’t wait till cherry tomato season.
Thinking of ways to mix it up and get creative, I decided for this initial bloom (boom?) that I’d play with some savory ideas. Initially planning on doing a strawberry relish (not sure if that’ll actually work), I came up with this whole grain strawberry mustard instead. A super easy mustard recipe and depending on your desired taste you can modify by adding more or less strawberries. Enjoy this sweet and tangy mustard with cheese, crackers, and perhaps another savory jam or jelly. The strawberries featured in this recipe were picked locally at Lyon Farms.
“Bartender… What is the most offensive pumpkin beer you carry? Like so offensive that you’d never drink a full pint of it?” Yep, ’tis the season for booze based canned goods… My favorite season. First up this year: a whole grain pumpkin ale mustard. Last week my boss and I played hosts for 20 plus agency scientists from around the U.S. After 3 days chock full of debating/brainstorming I suggested we take the crew to The Glass Jug in Durham, NC for some tasty brews. After some discussion amongst the bartenders they decided that Pumpking Imperial Ale from Southern Tier was my best bet. Why offensive you may ask? Basically for flavor- to taste the underlying pumpkin notes over the strong mustard tang. Mixed with some maple agave syrup and brown sugar this fall time mustard is sure to prepare your palate for the seasonal flavors to come.
After an exhausting and downright emotional couple of days, breaking out the canner, drinking my 8.6% left over ingredients, watching a stupid comedy, and playing with a mix of fall flavors last night was exactly what I needed. Interested in other booze based mustards? Check out my other recipes here.
For the past several years, February has been a pretty year changing month for me. I like to think of February as the beginning of my pre-Spring cleaning, and I don’t mean laundry, clutter, dust. I mean happiness, healthy changes, increased motivation, seeing things in a new light, and a hell of lot of good riddance. I’m not really one for the whole notion of Valentines day, if anything I’ve typically found that hanging with myself or with good friends rather than a romantic partner, on this particular day more my style. I don’t know about you, and I apologize if any of you feel offended, but Valentines day to me feels a bit forced. A day that people are expected (shutter) to go out of their way to do something special for others. Don’t get me wrong, I like to feel like I deserve to be treated like a princess just as much as anyone else today, but no more than any other day! Last year, I had great plans of romancing myself… I bought some way too strong beer, some fresh veggies for dinner, and had que’d up a great “dance in my undies alone” play list for the evening. Turns out a really good friend was in need of some company. The evening turned out in a way that was totally unexpected… I mean we expectedly got buzzed and danced to Kesha, MJ, and every other horrific pop artist that night… but what wasn’t expected was the message that the night instilled in me, “Wake up, there’s more for you in life than you can ever know!” So to that friend (you know who you are), and to all of you reading this, I give that message to you. Happy Valentines day.
Mustard, right… stop ranting Erin! But first, mustard seeds are the goddamn glitter of the canning world. It is utterly impossible to do anything with loose seeds without them going EVERYWHERE…. OK, this brown maple mustard is my first 100% brown seed mustard I’ve made. Brown mustard seeds exhibit a stronger more intense flavor of mustard than your typical yellow mustard seeds. As I was out of the yellow variety I figured I’d play around a bit: I first soaked the seeds in APV and apple cider, then threw in copious amounts of organic grade A pure maple syrup. The color and smell of this maple mustard is amazing. Enjoy!
It’s that time of year again when warm boozey concoctions featuring bourbon return! For several reasons, mainly just because I think seeing a girl drinking whiskey at a bar is badass, around this time last year I discovered my newfound glory of whiskey tasting. At the time, a friend of mine was also super interested in learning more about whiskey, so we took it upon ourselves to learn through “experience”, which if you can imagine went REAL well… We started off by buying a different 5th every week beginning with the big name, mid-shelf whiskeys. I really wish I would have made a list of what I liked and what I really didn’t, but after the end of our binge season I found myself really enjoying Knob Creek, Makers Mark, and Woodfood Reserve. I’m excited to start this years’ sampling (slowly!!) and hopefully will further expand my badass’ery and whiskey palate.
For the sake of mustard exploration, I figured because I’ve made several mustards containing beer and cider, that I should up the ante and use the hard stuff: bourbon. Last Thursday at the Portland Food Swap, I traded some jam for a container of Maine produced clover honey. This honey tastes unlike any store bought honey that I’ve ever tried… sooooo good. 🙂
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