Archive for the ‘cayenne peppers’ Tag

11-19-2014 Journal–Chili Day!   1 comment

This stretch of cold and rainy weather has pretty much kept me in the house for the last few days.  I was starting to climb the walls a bit when I received a call from my better-half from work to discuss arrangements for dinner. I assumed from the call that she wasn’t interested in cooking and needed me to help out a little.  She suggested that maybe just maybe I could make a batch of my chili. 

After agreeing I checked my latest recipe for the necessary ingredients and I was out the door and on my way to get them.  You need to understand something important, when I make a batch of chili I make a huge batch.  My normal recipes result in upwards of ten quarts and sometime even more.  It was a quick shopping trip and I returned home and got to work.

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This was a new recipe I created after tasting the chili pictured below during one of our luncheon forays to Kennebunkport, Maine. That chili contained a lot of cheese and a healthy number of calories due to the ground beef and oils used in preparation. As you can see it looks incredible and tasted even better.

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‘Thanks Federal Jack’

I substituted a mixture of ground chicken and turkey to replace the beef, then eliminated the oil by browning the meat in Smart Balance.  It was then a simple matter of adding the remaining ingredients and spices and cooking it for a few minutes.

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Most of the state of Texas would string me up by my heels for ever calling my chili, Chili.  Fortunately I cook and flavor foods so they taste good to me.  I like my chili super hot and use a mixture of Cayenne and Habanero peppers that bring it to life in a big way.  I also use a selection of beans with different flavors and textures which apparently is a big NO NO in chili cooking circles. Just to add insult to injury I always, regardless of the ingredients, add diced potatoes.  Strikes two and three as far as Texas is concerned.

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A short time later I had my finished product, a batch of Black Bean & Corn chili, and to hell with all of you chili purists. It tastes exactly the way I wanted, hot as blazes, with no red meat or oil used.  It looks a little like the restaurant version but certainly has more flavor and an increased level of heat.  As is usually the case most restaurants serve a medium heat chili unless it happens to be a Mexican restaurant.  Here it is.

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We had a couple of bowls each for dinner that night and loved it.  We then packaged up the rest for freezing which should supply us with five or six hearty meals this winter.  Life is good.

07-27-2014 Journal Entry – Harvest Time Begins!   Leave a comment

I know it’s a little early in the year but with the garden filling up with cucumbers it was time to get busy.  Last night I gathered all of the equipment together in preparation for canning.  I cleaned jars, gathered lids and rings, pots and pans, and updated my experimental pickle recipe. We normally make hot Bread & Butter pickles and a lot of them.  I’ve made dill pickles in the past but never was really happy with the results. My approach to things has always been to identify a problem and then fix it and this new recipe for Hot Mustard Dill Pickles is the fix.

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I took my normal kosher dill recipe and jacked it up with a number of additional ingredients and spices. The end result will be pickles that are extremely hot, canned in a liquid containing dry mustard, curry, habanero powder, and a handful of other minor ingredients.  I soaked the cukes in canning Lime overnight which should help keep them crispy once their canned.

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Yesterday afternoon we picked the cucumbers, zucchini’s, and jalapeño’s from the garden along with some herbs.  I’d be making my mustard pickles and my better-half would be making her new experimental recipe for hot pickled zucchini or as she calls it Hot Zucchini Pickles. She’s trying to come up with a few solutions for processing and storing of the large number of zucchini’s we’re expecting.  She’s always made a lot of zucchini breads but we can only eat so much of that.

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We work well as a team and set up an assembly line in the kitchen.  I sliced the cukes, the habaneros, and a few jalapeños and set them aside. She prepared her zucchini,  and jalapeños, and we were ready to rock and roll.  She was responsible for packing the jars and I then added the brine, capped the jars and placed them into the water bath.  It took a couple of hours of work but we rolled along like a well oiled machine.

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After all was said and done we had ten pint jars of the mustard pickles and six additional pints of pickled zucchini.  The jars sealed properly and will be ready for labeling tomorrow. Unfortunately we have to wait a month or so before we can taste the finished product.  The veggies need time to absorb the flavor from the brine and the heat from the hot peppers.  We can’t wait to try them and will keep our fingers crossed for the anticipated good results.

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“The Finished Product”

4-25-2014. Journal Entry – No Wine Before It’s Time!   Leave a comment

I’ve been boring the hell out of everyone lately with the trials and tribulations with my garden and my DIY projects.  I apologize for that but only just a little.  My main goal for April was to get all of my old projects put to bed before I start creating new ones or “God Forbid” before my better-half does.

We both let a number of things slide last Fall when I broke my leg.  I decided today to do one chore I’ve come to hate and one I’ve always loved to do.  The first task was to empty my huge dehydrator that has contained five pounds of habanero peppers, one pound of cayenne peppers, and a tray or two of red chilies, for more than a month.  I kept procrastinating because after drying them thoroughly they must be ground into a fine powder.  I’ve done it many times before but it’s a nasty job.

The last time I attempted it I paid a horrible price.  As I began grinding up the peppers the dust from the grinder filled my man-cave very quickly.  I was forced to flee when I couldn’t stop sneezing.  Along with the sneezing my face was on fire.  I was smart enough to wear latex gloves but I quickly found out they weren’t thick enough to keep the pepper dust from burning my hands and anything I might accidently touch later in the day.  I won’t get into any intimate details but I had a selection of body parts that felt like they would at any moment burst into flames.  It took the better part of a day for everything to return to normal but I learned a few valuable but painful lessons.

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This time I was wearing yellow dish-washing rubber gloves, ten times thicker than latex, a face mask with an air filter, and a long sleeved shirt.  I was sitting on an upturned bucket on the back porch with an extension cord to run the food grinder.  I thought I had it all covered but once again I was sooooooo wrong.  Within minutes the mask turned into a death trap.  The filter was keeping everything from entering my nostrils including air.  I cracked the mask just enough to get a breath and instead got a nose full of the dreaded pepper dust.  It was all down hill from there and another day of pepper pain awaited me.  I finally finished the job and now I have these three jars of hot pepper dust that I need to use sparingly so I don’t have to do this again any time soon.  I might be forced to rent a SCUBA outfit the next time.

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The second job is a fav.  I need to explain that I’ve been a winemaker since the mid-1980’s. It’s a skill I picked up from my late grandfather whose elderberry wine was to kill for. Late last summer my better-half and I decided to make a batch of blueberry wine made with good old Maine home grown berries.  The wine was almost forgotten with all of our Fall activities, my broken leg,  and the holidays.  It’s been sitting for the last ten months in my man-cave and today I shook off my laziness and bottled it.

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And here’s the finished product.

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Of course a good winemaker always tastes his final product and I tasted the hell out of it.  I was as surprised as anyone when it turned out to be possibly the best wine we’ve made in the last ten years.  I’m going to find a dark corner of my wine cellar and hide it for a few more months. It should be spectacular by then.

And our Spring continues to roll right along.

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