A Pickled Peck of Peppers

So this past week I decided to pickle some jalapeno peppers. The T-man is a huge fan of pickled jalapenos (they always show up on his sandwiches); So I figured that they would be a useful item for me to pickle. I used this recipe from “The Art of Preserving”

You will need:

  • 4 cups of cider vinegar
  • 2 Tbsp honey
  • 1 tsp kosher salt
  • 1 Tbsp pickling spice
  • 1 Tbsp pink peppercorns
  • about 20 large or 30 small jalapenos sliced 1/4″ thick
sliced peppers

sliced peppers

Method:

Have your sterilized jars ready. In a nonreactive saucepan bring the vinegar, honey and salt to a boil. Meanwhile put 1tsp of the pickling spice and pink peppercorns into each jar, then pack with jalapeno slices. Ladle in the hot brine, then process the jars for 7 minutes.

ready for the brine

ready for the brine

This was very easy and made me wonder why I am not pickling more! (then I did a reality check and realized I was in a studio apartment and should probably not bury myself in canned goods)

The peppers need to sit for about 2 weeks to let the flavors develop. I’ll let you all know when we break open a jar!

Sadly my marmalade is still liquid and I am thinking I will need to make a third attempt.

That bloody orange marmalade

This past Tuesday I decided to try making a marmalade. Now I come from long proud line of preservers and am no stranger to pickling, preserving or jams and jellies. I spent many summers canning beans, beets, tomato sauces, and many other vegetables that our two giant family garden plots produced. Of course I never enjoyed or appreciated it then; I do now.

I think the last jam that I made was a rhubarb jam (who needs strawberries!) back in the 90’s…yes it’s been a while. A marmalade however was new territory; I chose some organic blood oranges for my first attempt of this new frontier.

I was using a recipe from “The Art of Preserving” that the T-man had gotten for my last birthday.

After slicing my oranges and a few lemons, I boiled the mixture with some sugar according to the directions, then filled and processed my jars.

orange slices and juice at the ready

orange slices and juice at the ready

-Side note: if you don’t own a mandoline, I seriously suggest purchasing one, the nice ones can be a bit pricey but are well worth the investment.

After the marmalade was processed it looked really runny to me, but I was hoping it was maybe just still warm and would set while it cooled. much to my dismay, the marmalade was still runny when I left for work the next morning. So after work I went and picked up some pectin, came home and emptied all the jars back into the pot, added the pectin, re-boiled the mixture then poured it back into the re-sanitized jars and re-processed them. The mixture still looked runny after the jars had cooled so I Googled the problem, and discovered that marmalade can take days, or weeks to set.

not set yet

not set yet

So now I’m waiting, hoping to one day, wake up to some delicious blood orange marmalade for my toast!

Big Plans… Lessons in Cheese Making

So having Friday and Saturday off this past week I of course had some big projects planned, cheese making, blood orange marmalade, resume updating and job applications. Oh how plans change.

It would only happen with such excellent plans brewing that the T-man would get the flu, and subsequently infect me! I did put up a fight by drinking disgusting amounts of a certain vitamin c powder mix. But alas, this horrible bug got the better of me.

So I awoke Friday morning feeling mildly ill but hoping to power through and determined to accomplish all the awesome projects that I had in mind. I ran errands and gathered supplies for all of my projects. After returning to the apartment rational thought began to sink in and I decided that I had bit off a little more than I could chew. I don’t give up easily though, and decided to buckle down and tackle the cheese project first.

My lovely mother had gotten me the book “Home Cheese Making” by Ricki Carroll for Christmas and I have now finally gotten around to making my first cheese. I had decided to start with the fromage blanc recipe. So at 12:45 pm on Friday I started the cheese.

Step 1: Heat one gallon of milk to 86 degrees and then stir in the starter packet.

Milk Warming

Milk Warming

Step 2: Cover and let set at 72 degrees for 12 hours!!! – okay lesson learned, when making cheese or rather planning to make cheese, read the entire recipe not just the ingredient list!

Well at this point I was too far in to turn back, so no choice but to press on.

So at 12:45 am on Saturday (note I was feeling fairly ill by this point) I strained the milky cheese mixture through the cheesecloth. Now the recipe said to gently scoop the mixture into a colander lined with cheesecloth. By this time in the morning I was beyond sleepy and not feeling well so “gently scooped” turned into roughly dumped. As in i just dumped the whole pot into the colander.

Now as described in the recipe you are supposed to do some fancy thing like tie up the cheesecloth and let it hang so that the liquid can drip out. (I generally describe things as fancy when I just don’t think they are that important and can be accomplished in an easier way)  So I just stuck the colander over the pot and let the liquid drip like that. Then I happily went to sleep.

Still in the colander, but looking more cheese like and less milk like

Still in the colander, but looking more cheese like and less milk like

I woke up Saturday and checked the cheese, decided I want to “rush” the process a bit so I weighted the cheesecloth with a few soup cans to press out the remaining liquid.

At about noon on Saturday I was feeling awful and decided that it was time to finish the cheese project. I tasted the cheese and it tasted like something between cream cheese and greek yogurt. Not awful but I knew I could spruce it up.

I split the cheese into three bowls, adding honey to one; lemon zest, lemon juice and pepper to the second; and chopped rosemary, tarragon, and green onion (all from my window box garden) to the third. I have to say that for a first attempt I was mildly impressed with myself.

Delicious Herb cheese spread

Delicious Herb cheese spread

However feeling like a dead person waking I decided that all the other projects would have to wait. I am taking a sick day today, so hopefully I can recuperate today and maybe tackle the marmalade tomorrow… now off to sleep with my gallon of orange juice beside me.

First Page Anxiety

A few months ago my cousin posted a blog entitled “the first page” describing how excited she gets over the first blank page of a notebook. When I read this post I had to laugh because I am the complete opposite, I hate that first blank page. In fact I usually skip to the 2nd or 3rd page just to calm my anxiety.  That first page is just so darn intimidating to me; it seems to demand what my intentions are! I have no idea, what I am going to do with this notebook; I may write a recipe idea today, a Christmas list tomorrow and a shopping list two weeks from now. I may start a food diary (that will only last two days) and then go back to recipe ideas.

This is how I am feeling about this first blog post. I have no idea what my intentions are.

Which is why I am skipping to the next page with no further explanation…

…anxiety relieved 🙂