Archive for the ‘habaneros’ Tag

07-23-2016 Bread & Butter Pickle Day!   Leave a comment

Today begins my summer chore of making the first batch of Hot Bread & Butter Pickles.  Over the course of each Summer I normally can at least four batches of pickles. Each batch is usually 14-15 pints and I make both Dill and B&B versions.  All of my pickles are Hot which means slices of jalapeno and red pepper in each jar as well as a shot of ground habanero for good luck. Today I’ll walk you through the process but without giving up my secret pickling mix recipe.

The first thing this morning I prepared the jars and canning supplies by sanitizing them with boiling water.

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Once the jars, lids, and rims are boiled I then wash the cucumbers thoroughly.

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They are then sliced along with the red pepper and jalapenos. All are set aside until I’m ready to fill the jars.

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I  return to the stove to prepare the B&B syrup. It consists of my secret spice mix, 7 cups of sugar, and 7 cups of distilled white vinegar.

 

Packing the jars is my least favorite part of the process but still very important.  The jars are carefully packed, the syrup added, and the lids and rims tightened down. The jars then take a boiling hot water bath for a full fifteen minutes.

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Getting the first batch of the season completed is always a good feeling. Here’s the finished product . . . 15 pints of very hot and sweet pickles. They’ll be ready for eating after they sit for a few months to absorb all of the flavors.

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05-28-2016 Journal – Salsa, Salsa, Salsa!   Leave a comment

Now that the garden has been planted I have extra time on my hands for other things. I noticed a few days ago that we seem to be running out of our homemade salsa.  We both love salsa so much and eat on average a quart every two weeks or so. My better-half insists on putting it on and in everything she eats so running out is not an option.  I’ve had a newly developed recipe that I’ve been waiting to make and this is the week to do it.  This recipe is called ‘Six Pepper Bean Salsa’. 

It even sounds hot and trust me it really is.  I’ve gathered together jalapeños, habaneros, Serrano’s, Thai chili, black pepper, and finally Ghost peppers. Add black beans and chili beans and a host of other ingredients and there you have it.  I even managed to harvest some early chives from my garden as well. During the summer months we always try to have at least one item from the garden in every meal.  So let’s get started.

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‘Slice & Dice with rubber gloves.’

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I usually wear very think rubber gloves when messing with hot peppers. I tried the normal latex gloves but they weren’t getting the job done.  Thick rubber from then on assures me of no more burning body parts. Then I gather the necessary jars, lids, and pots and boil them thoroughly.

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Everything must be boiled to keep things as sanitary as possible. That’ll keep contaminated jars from becoming a problem later on.  Next I begin the cooking process and the adding of a little heat.

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‘Dried habanero and chili peppers.’

Finally the salsa is ready for canning. I know canning seems complicated but it really isn’t.  The process is simple and easily managed. The more often you do it the easier it becomes.

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And here’s the finished product.  Thirteen quarts of really delicious salsa that is also hot enough to get anyone’s attention.

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EASY PEASY

05-20-2016 Journal – Hot Stuff!   Leave a comment

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Before I get started today I need to make a declaration. I LOVE HOT PEPPERS!  It’s my opinion that almost everything is improved if you can make it hotter.  I make a lot of salsa’s and chili’s and have upwards of six really excellent recipes using an assortment of hot peppers.  I grow some of my own when possible and I’ll buy from almost any source when certain peppers aren’t available locally. 

I received some bad news a few days ago concerning an ex-loved one who passed away.  I was feeling a little blue after receiving the news. My better-half suggested we go out for dinner and where better than a Mexican restaurant to look for therapy.  We’ve been visiting this restaurant for years and we knew the food would be excellent. Not only could I people watch for a while but I could also eat all of the  smoking hot food I could handle.  A proper atmosphere to rid myself of the blues.

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I’ve told you all of these boring facts about myself so you’ll understand the rest of this story.  As we waited for our food to arrive a new bartender appeared and began chatting with everyone.  He and I got into a friendly discussion about our love of hot food  when he surprised me.  He pulled a large jar from under the bar that was filled with tequila. Floating in the the tequila was an assortment of hot peppers, habanero’s, Serrano’s, and jalapeño’s.  The tequila had been soaking up all of that lovely flavor and hotness for a week. He dared me to try his latest creation, the “Hot Pepper Margarita”.  I couldn’t refuse and look like a coward so I took a long pull on the straw after salting my tongue and lips.

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I’m sure you’ve heard the term “taking ones breath away”. That’s exactly what that margarita did.  It was a little sweet and hot enough to make me gasp. It was freaking delicious.  Little did I know that I was first customer dumb enough to try it.  I was so dumb in fact I tried it again and again.  My head was sweating, my mouth was burning, and I was in heaven.

Now you know why I have this mother-of-all hangovers this morning.  I stumbled into the kitchen last night around 3:00am badly in need of a glass or two of cold water.  The water was so cooling and delicious but tasted strangely familiar . . . just like jalapeños. I’m now on my third cup of coffee as I sit here writing this and it too tastes just like jalapeños.

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Don’t get me wrong . . . I’m not complaining in the least.  I can’t wait to get back on my feet and do it all over again . . . in a week or two.

I’m going out later  today to make a few purchases of my own.  Two bottles of tequila, habanero peppers, Serrano peppers, and a few jalapeño peppers. I’ll be making my own hot pepper infusion to serve a perfect  Hot Pepper Margarita to any of our summer visitors.

PASS THE ADVIL PLEASE.

07-27-2015 Journal–Dill Pickle Day!   Leave a comment

Every summer about this time I donate one day of my time to the making of dill pickles.  I’ve loved dill pickles for most of my life and if I do say so myself, I make one helluva pickle.  Mine are a bit different from the store-bought variety since I pickle the cucumbers in a dill brine accompanied by a selection of sliced habanero’s and jalapeno’s.  The results have the best dill flavor I can supply with enough heat to make your head sweat. 

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My better-half isn’t a big fan of the dill flavor so I’m relegated to making one small batch each summer that will usually last me most of the winter.  I have a couple of other people in the area who are also big fans of dill and I make enough to keep them supplied as well.

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The process begins with a 48 hour bath for the cucumbers in lime water.  This will help keep the pickle slices crisp after the canning process has been completed.  While the cukes are soaking I slice up a sufficient amount of habaneros and jalapenos to add to the mix.  I was able to pick up a package of fresh dill yesterday and I’ll place a small sprig in the top of each jar. It’s mostly for decoration purposes but in addition to that I also add dried dill to the brine.

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After the cucumber  slicing, dicing, and jar  packing, the final product is covered with dill brine and capped. Then into a boiling water bath to help seal the jars and to precook the pickles.  Then it’s on to the cooling rack for a few hours and here’s the finished product.

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Thirteen pints of some truly hot and tasty dill pickles.  Good for any occasion or you can just sit and eat a jar while watching a movie.  If possible and if we have a good supply of cucumbers I may make a second batch of Kosher Dill pickles later this fall. It’s a totally different flavor of dill and I love it as much as these.

* * *  NEWS FLASH * * *

Today is a big day for us.  Today is our Independence Day from cable TV.  All of the companies equipment has been removed and will be shipped back in a few days.  The account was closed after the typical games these companies insist on playing.  They offered me a 50% reduction in my monthly rate if I would reconsider and stay with them.  I asked only one question. If they could afford to do that so easily now it must mean they’ve been overcharging me for years.  We agreed to disagree and that was that.  Good-bye, Good Luck, and get the hell out Dish Network.

* * * HOORAY FOR US * * *

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.

08-25-2014 Journal Entry – Kimchi For Me!   1 comment

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‘Korean Kimchi’

With the Harvest season in full swing I’ve been wanting to come up with a recipe for something new and out of the ordinary.  I’m tired of the same old things and need to step out of the proverbial box if I can.  I reached back into my past for inspiration and actually found some.

Having spent a few years in the Republic of South Korea I was introduced to hundreds of dishes I couldn’t have ever imagined.  Some were killer and some were more than a little disgusting.  After my first year there I was able to adapt my pallet to a much more exotic range of foods.

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One thing in particular that at first glance turned my stomach was Korean kimchi, a foul smelling concoction that is eaten by every Korean at every meal. It smells to high heaven and is as hot as blazes. It’s a fermented Korean cabbage dish covered in a smoking hot red pepper mixture and fermented in clay pots buried in the ground for a month or two. Sounds pretty nasty I know but I eventually I came to like it a great deal. Thankfully, once you’ve eaten some of it you can’t smell it on the breath of others which was a blessing when you intended to spend time with native Koreans. It was a learned survival technique.

I decided I’d make an attempt to create a kimchi dish that had less stench, more flavor, and still have a decent level of heat. Much of the kimchi available here in the US is a milder Americanized version with a medium heat level for the faint of heart. I also have an real aversion to eating food that’s been left to ferment in the ground. I prefer something a bit more sanitary.

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Step one was to purchase ten pounds of good old American cabbage and a quantity of good quality habanero peppers.  Instead of fermenting the cabbage I decided to pickle it to allow for longer term storage.

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I shredded the cabbage into smaller than normal pieces to make it easier to handle when filling the jars.  I grated the onions and fresh ginger, mixed it together with the shredded cabbage and minced garlic.  I’ve developed a pickling mixture of jalapeño vinegar and a handful of other spices and seeds which I think should mimic the Korean flavor pallet.  I decided to make only six pounds of the mixture in case this first attempt failed.

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As you can see the end result looks good but will it taste good?  It’s been a week since I completed the batch and I’m about to give it my taste test.  It has that familiar pungent aroma and the level of heat is exactly where I wanted it to be. I’m pleased to announce that the flavor is a little sweet with a serious bite of vinegar. The spice mixture works well with everything else and of course the habaneros are working their magic. I’m a very happy person. This will make an excellent side dish for any meal and could even be used as a relish of sorts for hot dogs, hamburgers, and the  occasional taco. 

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‘Actual Korean Kimchi’

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‘My Version’

I look forward to many meals with this dish as a main component. I do anticipate a few adjustments in future batch’s to increase the heat and to refine the flavor to be closer to the original.  Cooking is such fun.