bubble bubble toil and… yum!

OK, OK, so it’s not a direct quote, and it doesn’t even rhyme. But it reflects how I spent a good part of the Labour Day long weekend…

Yup. The Mad Princess of Preserves is at it again, folks.

You see, I made the mistake of going to Loblaws on Saturday for…oh, toilet paper and other boring things. But for once they had some local Ontario produce going!

So, I had to buy about 20 pounds of plum tomatoes and 10 pounds of these Shepherd peppers. I’ve never really noticed these before – they taste like red bell peppers, but sweeter and better. So, my first thought was to try for some flavoured booze:

This, in about three weeks, will be Shepherdised Tanqueray gin. I have no clue whether this one will taste like anything you’d wanted to drink, but I had a bunch of Tanqueray left over from the recent party, so thought I’d give it the old college try.

This, on the other hand, I can hardly wait to crack open:

Iceberg vodka with Shepherd peppers and ten jalapenos with the seeds left in. Better stock up on those ulcer meds… I love pepper vodka!

I also decided to make some infused rice vinegars, one with the peppers and one with lemon and lime:

Then I decided to roast the hell out of the rest of the Shepherd peppers:

…and start making some real stuff. First, I made a whole lot of tomato sauce with roasted pepper, roasted garlic and onion puree:

That took care of about half the peppers. So, what to do with the other half?!?

Initially I wanted to try to make some tomato/roasted pepper low sugar jam. Unfortunately, however, I made the mistake of musing about this aloud, at which point JJ overheard and suggested very reasonably that I not make any more jam until some of the stuff I made some weeks back was gone.

When I say “reasonably”, I mean this of course in the Scottish fashion:

Ye daft wee lassie, what on God’s grrrrreen airrrrth would possess ye to make more jam?!?! Every time ah open the cupboards, ah almost get murdered by a flyin jar of jam. And ye doan’t even eat the stuff! Ye should go tek a long harrrd look in the mirror…

He did, however, have a point. So, instead I made…

… salsa! Three bloody litres of the stuff. It has tomatoes, the peppers plus a third major secret ingredient. I first premiered the secret ingredient salsa at my party to great accolades (I must say I was shocked – I had only come up with it at the last minute when I realised I had 5 million bags of nachos and no salsa as I had dumped all the salsa into the slowcooker with IKEA swedish meatballs in a panic…). That version, however, did not have roasted peppers.

If it turns out at all good, perhaps I will post the recipe here. Or, perhaps I’ll just send it to the Food Network and wait for the telephone call offering me my very own programme.

I also made a V8/coriander jelly:

… and rehabbed some former jellies I had made which hadn’t set properly, including this bell pepper one:

So, I think that was a guid weekend’s work, don’t ye?

Off now to premiere the fabulous new salsa with the colleagues work.

Happy Tuesday, all!


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when do I get my programme on the Food Network, anyway?!?

Now, I’m the first to admit that I can become rather obsessive about hobbies – none more than food prep right now, apparently.

This was my haul from my raid on the local library the other day. Sigh. My knitting has been suffering from this latest revival of Kristina Does Food… and More Food… and Still More Food.

The obsession leads me to do very odd things – like boiling vats of stuff for four five hours in 30C weather:

This was a cauldron of beef stock I made on Sunday after our little $230.00 foray to Fiesta Farms, my new favourite supermarket too (and, I hasten to say, JJs – he was personally responsible for about $150.00 of the acquisitions). They cater to Europeans like me, which means (among other things) that at any given time there are lots of humungous and dirt cheap cuts of meat intended for soups and stews, like the Tyrannosaurus Rex beef knuckle shown above at the top centre of the pot. Two beef knuckles cost $2.25 – and now I have four litres of stock, 14 consomme ice cubes and at least three cups of shredded meat for soup.

Mmmmm.

Now, while at Fiesta Farms I promised myself I would not buy anything to preserve this week as it was too hot. And – I didn’t! However, when excavating the fridge to find room for the new purchases, I found an embarrassment of berries which were past their prime.

So, what was a frugal food obsessive to do?

Why, make jam, of course!!! I call this KBs Secret Cherberry Jam. The “secret” bit is that little white blob, which is cheesecloth containing fresh rosemary and pink peppercorns. Yes, rosemary and peppercorns.

The household jury of one (JJ, of course – because you know what? I don’t even EAT jam!!) has rendered his verdict – two thumbs up. He didnae know about the rosemary – when I told him after he tried it, he said “That’s just weirrrrrrd, lassie”. I note, however, that this did not stop him from polishing off the better part of a 250 ml jar yesterday, though).

I was actually thinking of adding some of this instead of the rosemary:

Now, that would have been really weirrrrd, I decided. Also, I’m giving some away for gifts and I’ve found that rose water is something that people either love or detest. I’m sure some of this will find its way into some jar at some point, though – stay tuned!

Anyway, the recipe (my adaptation of a blueberry jam recipe in the Bernardin Guide to Home Preserving):

Put four cups of crushed berries (I used strawberries, blueberries and cherries – and yes, I know cherries aren’t berries – I’m trying for pithiness for once, OK?!) in a saucepan. Add one 57 g packet of fruit pectin, three tablespoons of lime juice, two large sprigs fresh rosemary and 20 pink peppercorns, and one half vanilla bean. Bring to a boil over high heat. Mix in three cups of sugar and bring back to a rolling (i.e. big raging) boil and let boil one minute. Pour into sterilized and heated 250 ml (one cup) preserving jars. You can either keep this in the fridge for up to one month or process by boiling for 10 minutes. Yields six jars.

But hark! Is that something else in a jar that you spy in the back row at the left? Why, yes. Having ranted on last week about crazy hot foods, I decided to try to make my very own hot sauce.

Basically, I boiled about one litre of leftover white wine I had let go to vinegar (my frugality knows no bounds. How do you think I pay for all that yarn?!), about an inch worth of rice vinegar I’d had sitting around for some time, and a cup of white vinegar for about 5 minutes or untit it reduced back to a litre (four cups, approximately). I kept it hot and put the following things into a heated 1 litre mason jar:

  • seven fresh long red hot chili peppers (I imagine you could use any type of pepper, really). The peppers that were too long to fit in the jar, I cut in half and then split both halves down the middle to release the seeds.
  • four cloves of garlic, cut into slices
  • four sprigs of fresh thyme
  • four green onions, cut to fit into the jar (just the bulbs and some of the green part)

I’m going to let this sit for three weeks or until it all turns red, whichever comes first. We’ll see what happens. But it looks purdy, though – doesn’t it?

Any day now, I reckon I’ll get a call from the Food Network offering me my own segment on how to recycle food. I promise I won’t forget my friends, though. Really.

Happy Wednesday!