Five Spice Fennel

Five Spice Fennel- Putting Up with Erin

Five Spice Fennel- Putting Up with Erin

As story goes, fennel is good for healthy vision and sight. I remember days past when hiking through the Central Coast California foothills, smelling the aroma of wild anise. Personally, until I tasted German black licorice, I always detested the smell, flavor, and sight of black licorice, commonly confused with the the flavors of anise. Turns out that the very wild anise that I was dismissing may in fact have been wild fennel. Wild fennel is apparently an invasive species in much of North and South America, South Africa, and parts of Oceania and the British Isles. Check out the USDA Plants Database to see if it’s found near you, cool!

Above the lower plants it towers,

The Fennel with its yellow flowers;

And in an earlier age than ours,

Was gifted with the wondrous powers,

Lost vision to restore.

– Henry Wadsworth Longfellow (1892)

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Hot Pickled Radishes

Hot Pickled Radishes-Putting Up with ErinHot Pickled Radishes-Putting Up with Erin

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. 🙂

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Ginger Pepper Jelly

Ginger Pepper Jelly-Putting Up with ErinGinger Pepper Jelly-Putting Up with Erin

Rather than rambling on and on about how I didn’t (again) wear gloves while prepping these hot peppers, instead I’m going to talk about how the magic of homemade kefir saving my pepper oil burned hands. “I’m a badass, I don’t need to wear gloves…” fast forward 3 hours.. don’t worry I remembered not to touch any of my bits… and my hands were on fire. A few years back following a similar pepper situation, a friend suggested I try yogurt for heat relief. With no yogurt on hand, the only thing that I had that would suffice was my precious kefir. So picture this: 1am in the morning, buck naked, rubbing creamy kefir all over my hands. Sexy? NO! I swear, if only I was a bug on the wall observing my odd behaviors… But the point here is that it worked. So there ya’ have it, yet another awesome reason to make your own homemade kefir (see recipe link above).

Quite surprisingly, this is my first pepper jelly. Surprising because I use hot peppers in everything. Perhaps the fear of the prep. process, or perhaps because I felt it would be hard to create a hot sweet jelly comparable to the stuff other people make, but after 3 years of routine canning I decide to just go for it. To keep it weird, I added some fresh ginger acquired from Maple Spring Gardens and cilantro (really just for the touch of green) to the melange of hot peppers found at the Four Leaf Farm market stand. What makes this pepper jelly a bit different is in the use of a specific bastardly-hot pepper: the lemon drop pepper… “a hot, citrus-like, lemon-flavored pepper which is a popular seasoning pepper in Peru, where it is known askellu uchu.” 

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Pickled Squash with Cilantro

Pickled Squash with Cilantro- Putting Up with ErinPickled Squash with Cilantro- Putting Up with Erin

Hello from a really really hard floor at Chicago Midway airport. The hard floor next to an electrical outlet… oh the pains I endure to bring you pickle goodness. What better time than a three hour layover to write about pickles and catch up on blogging? What’s new with all of you? Falling into autumn? I’d love to hear what everyone is putting up these days. The Durham Farmers’ Market is phasing out its peppers and beans and moving on to squash, squash, and more squash. I get that I live in the southern growing belt now and that produce is bound to show up earlier than I was accustomed to in New England… but butternut squash in August!? It’s like seeing Halloween candy in September, which consequently means that the beautiful days of summer are coming to an end.

Speaking of squash, can we talk about the curious green markings of these locally sourced squash… from Meadow Lane Farm, these Zephyr squash appear to be a hybrid of summer and zucchini squash. “Delicious nutty taste and firm texture. Straight-neck fruit is as attractive as it is delicious… High yields and plenty of blossoms so you can enjoy both fresh fruit & fried squash blossoms!” This time last year I put up a batch of pattypan and pepper squash pickles. Here I decided to mix these squash coins, a couple hot citrus peppers (Four Leaf Farm), some fresh cilantro, coriander seeds, and garlic slivers. OK. We are boarding… Till next time.

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Cilantro Pickled Beets- Putting Up with ErinCilantro Pickled Beets- Putting Up with Erin

Do you have a unique license plate that elicits you the occasional thumbs up or “What does the license plate mean? Oh, that’s funny, cool!”? The other day while driving on 95 south to MA and simultaneously trying to figure out the pronunciation of the various MA town names, I noticed some A-hole tailing me on the freeway. My initial response was something tame along the lines of, “Come on dude, I have an old car that doesn’t drive fast, get off my ass!”, but when I realized the iPhone in the rearview mirror, I realized this couple was simply trying to get a closer shot of my “Pickle” plate. I mean it’s hard to get made at someone for tailing you because they are trying to get a plate shot. I ended up waving at them, and slowing down enough so they could get the proper photo. I should really get a #pickleproblems bumper sticker as I’d be lying if I said this was the first time this has happened to me…

Beets! I’m at ’em again. On a somewhat regular basis people ask me what my favorite thing to pickle is. If you’ve been following Putting Up with Erin for sometime now, you know that the answer is probably beets. Sure my screen name for various social media sites has to do with dilly beans, but when it comes down to it, pickled beets are where it’s really at for me. Typically I either roast beets whole or peel and then boil them, but to cut down on preparation time, I decided to peel and slice them raw before roasting them. Success, in that the desired crunch was still present in the end pickle product, and also the sweet roasted flavor came right through. I snagged a couple pounds of these beautiful local beets from the Heron Pond Farm stand, and the fresh cilantro and red onions from Golden Harvest Produce Market in Kittery, ME. To guarantee the strong cilantro flavor, I added whole coriander to the vinegar brine before boiling. This beauties were traded at last night’s Seacoast Food Swap. Enjoy!

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