Strawberry season is upon us! Strawberry jams, preserves, pies, muffins, shrubs, jellies, pickles!! Where are you on the “ways I preserve strawberries before the peak season ends (3 weeks)” list? So far this season I’ve scratched off a strawberry shrub, some strawberry ricotta muffins, and now pickled strawberries! Last year’s strawberry pantry was a bit more impressive as wild strawberries were a plenty around the Lil’ House. Anyways, after wading my way through the massive farmers’ market lines last weekend, people were ecstatic for clear skies, I managed to grab my share of locally grown strawberries harvested from Lyon Farms.
I realize that I feature Lyon Farms quite often probably because they happen to always have the latest super hot thing that I’m trying to put up, plus they’re my local PYO farm. Last summer I spent many of weekend day dawning a big straw hat while picking berries at their Falls Lake farm. Due to camping, Mother’s Day, and the required garden weekends, unfortunately this year I don’t think I’ll find the time for a farm visit. Alas, there’s always time for playing with a pickled strawberry recipe. For my entry for the April FIJ Mastery Challenge I played around with a menage of balsamic vinegar, soy sauce, sugar, and strawberries.
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.
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. 🙂
Plain and simple, sunchokes, previously referred to as “Jerusalem artichokes”, make you fart. That being said, I believe that this really only pertains to consumption of raw sunchokes. The culprit? Inulin- a complex fructose-based carbohydrate that is not digestible by humans. According to the widely trusted Wikipedia (rolls eyes), most hydrolases (enzymes) can be inactivated at 200°F. As water-bath canning raises internal jar temperatures to 212°F, paired with the added acidity from vinegar, perhaps pickling can help alleviate some of the “wind producing” symptoms of sunchokes. Then again, perhaps not…
The week before last I met Jordan the quirky head farmer at Two Toad Farm (his business card is a pack of tobacco seeds- how cool is that!?). While attempting to recruit him as a speaker for the next Seacoast Food Swap, I was overly distracted by his small display of sunchokes… cough… “that’s what she said”. A couple months ago Keith experimented with some baked sunchoke chips; they turned out really good, especially the slightly burnt and crispy ones. I figured sweet, spicy, and nutty pickled sunchoke chips would be equally as tasty. I found and slightly modified this recipe from the Hunter Angler Gardener Cook blog. Enjoy these sweet & spicy pickled sunchokes straight out of the jar, with a mix of other pickles, or as a side to any Middle Eastern dish/stew.
I’m kind of dragging my feet here, it’s well into tomato season and I haven’t yet pulled out my pressure canner. I don’t know about you, but my tomato consumption (due to the large amount of stews/soups/chilies I make) skyrockets during the winter months. My over enthusiastic plan for this winter was to put up enough tomato concoctions (sauces, pastes, stewed, diced, etc) to last me through the winter without buying a single canned tomato product… but then… I remembered the last time…
… Last summer, before the birth of this here blog, without a care in the world and absolutely no plans for the day, l I was frequenting the Baltimore Saturday morning farmers’ market, when I came across a vendor selling tomato seconds (i.e., tomatoes that aren’t as pretty as the rest). I quickly scanned my mental rolodex of canning ideas, and over-zealously and sooo naively decided that I wanted to put up 25 of generic marinara sauce. Super! This lead to the not so successful bike trip across town, to return home and realize that not only was this going to be an all day affair, but also that in order to avoid using a crap ton of citric acid additive that a pressure canner was needed… which I didn’t have at the time (my enthusiasm was waning). Hours (like 7 of ’em) later not only was every vessel in the kitchen that somewhat resembled a pot in use, but every inch of me and my kitchen was splattered in red sauce (remember your childhood art project where you blew paint through a straw? Ya like that…).
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