Thursday, July 28, 2011

...the spice of life

Variety has been a luxury I have been blessed with for the majority of my culinary life. That which I could dream of having I have been able to access. That which I could not even think of dreaming of has been available for me to experience. Like a kid in the candy store my eyes go wide and glaze over when I see a farmer’s market filled with fruits and vegetables I have yet to access. I proceed to buy everything and anything I have never had before – why choice the beefsteak tomato when a plethora of heirloom varieties are being produced.

If I need mint and there is lemon balm or chocolate mint my choice is clear, both.

Adding an array of foods and textures into your diet is the best way to have fun in the kitchen. I also become obsessive with a genre of foods and try to find very possible incarnation Mother Nature have created. Why eat only smooth, shinny, skinned zucchini when there are bumpy yellow, crooked necked, scalloped, ribbed all with slightly different mouth feels and unique moments in the kitchen.

I am passionate about spicy foods, and chili peppers to be more exact. This year I have jalapeno, habanero, scotch bonnet and banana yellow in the garden. Along with the gentle poblano and sweet bell – life requires balance. Come next year I will definitely up the ante, now that I know their behaviors a bit better and will have to add Thai, cascabel, shishito and pardon to name a few. Then there are chocolate habanero, Anaheim, Hawaiian, and paprika that call to me. Perhaps I have a chili farm in my future, or I just need to establish a chili only plot in the yard. For now, I am happy and excited with the progress of the six different peppers that are well entrenched this year.

Just be warned once they start going you will be on fire be prepared to squirrel some away for when the cool of the autumn solstice curtails their output.

Jalapeno Sauce – yields approx 2 quarts
1-cup cider vinegar
1-head garlic – peeled and roughly chopped
21-jalapeno – roughly chopped
2-green bell peppers – seeds discarded; then roughly chopped
1/2-cup Texas tarragon
1/2-cup packed basil leaves
1/4-cup oregano leaves
1/4-cup kosher salt

Place the vinegar, garlic, jalapeno and bell peppers in a blender, and process until smooth. Then add in the Texas tarragon, bail, oregano and salt. Continue to blend until smooth and thoroughly combined.

Store in a sterilized glass jar in the refrigerator for a minimum of one month before using.

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