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Some Like it HOT

March 10th, 2010

I’m a big fan of hot food, and by hot I mean spicy hot. You’ll find me adding crushed red pepper to just about everything I eat. Because I like it so much I decided to grow some in the garden last summer. I ended up with quite a bounty thanks to the full sun conditions in my mom’s garden and the few plants I had here at Chiot’s Run as well. I dried the ripe cayenne peppers and have them stored in a big jar in the basement pantry.

Every so often I add a few to my spice grinder (which is a coffee mill only used for grinding spices, who wants spicy coffee?). I grind them a few seconds for freshly ground red pepper flakes. I’m sure enjoying my homegrown cayenne, it’s much hotter than the red pepper you buy in the store and has a great fresh flavor. BEWARE – don’t inhale too deeply when you open the grinder, you’ll end up in coughing fits!

I’m glad I like cayenne pepper because it’s health benefits are quite numerous, see references below. There’s even an entire book about it The Health Benefits of Cayenne, I must get this from the library.

I love spices because they make your food taste so much better and they really up the nutritional content by adding all kinds of vitamins, minerals and trace elements. They’re a great way to layer on the flavor and the health!

So what about you – are you a hot & spicy kind of person, or do you have a more sensitive palate?

read more about the health benefits of cayenne pepper:
Organic Facts
The Worlds Healthiest Foods
The Health Benefits of Cayenne Pepper

My Favorite Pepper: Cayenne

September 26th, 2009

I picked this great cayenne pepper in the garden yesterday, I thought it looked like a big waxed mustache. I tried to get Lucy to oblige me for a photo, but she doesn’t like to have her photo taken, so this is the best I could get as she tried to bite the stem.
Dog_with_red_mustache
I grew cayenne peppers this year because I love love love hot food, and I find myself often adding cayenne powder or red pepper flakes to my food. I’m not a huge pepper fan, they give me terrible indigestion, but cayenne peppers are a different story.
drying_ceyanne_peppers
I’ve been drying them whole and in slices dehydrator. I’m planning on crushing them all to make red pepper flakes.
drying_peppers
I also dried some jalapeño slices. I’m still harvesting and drying, but I think I should have 3 cups of pepper flakes before the end of the season. That should last me till next year.

Have you ever grown one of your favorite spices/herbs?

Making Jalapeño Jelly

September 1st, 2009

I’m always game for making new things, particularly when it comes to enjoying fresh produce from the farmer’s market. When I was at the market last weekend I saw some lovely jalapeño peppers, so I snatched them up. While contemplating what to do with them and I came across Baby Loves Jellies post about making jalapeño jelly.
jalapenos
Since I’m a big fan of all things spicy, particularly where spicy hot peppers are involved, I knew this jelly was right up my alley. This recipe is particularly interesting because it is made with all jalapeño peppers and it contains no green peppers. It’s actually more of a jam than a jelly because you don’t strain out the seeds like you do in a lot recipes. Of course the result is a hotter jelly than most recipes.
Slicing_jalapenos
Since I cannot follow a recipe to a T, I amended it to suit my tastes. I don’t like to use pectin when making jams/jellies, I prefer using tart apples or nothing at all. I find that certain jellies, particularly this one, work well if they’re a little runny. After all, you don’t really want to use huge amounts of this jam on your toast, it is quite spicy!
jalapenos_in_blender

Jalapeño Jelly

12 jalapeños
2 tart green apples, chopped
2 cups cider vinegar, divided (I prefer organic unfiltered raw apple cider vinegar)
6 cups sugar (I use organic evaporated cane juice which makes the jelly darker)
1 Tablespoon lemon juice
2 green jalapeños, diced finely (for added texture, add to blender with peppers above if you don’t want jalapeño bits in your jelly)
2 red hot peppers, diced finely (for added color, you can use sweet if you’d like, or add additional jalapeños)

Chop up 12 of the jalapeños and add them to blender with one cup vinegar and the 2 chopped apples and liquefy.

Make sure the wear rubber gloves while cutting & handling peppers since the hot pepper oil can burn the skin. Also don’t inhale too deeply when opening blender and when cooking the jelly, can cause coughing. Make sure you wash your hands well after handling peppers to remove all pepper oil.

Combine the pepper & apple purée with the remaining cup of vinegar, lemon juice and sugar in a pan and bring the mixture to a boil over high heat.

Boil for ten minutes, stirring often. If it’s not thick enough boil longer, test for thickness by putting some on a cold plate and letting it rest. Remove from heat and add remaining diced red peppers and jalapeños and stir to incorporate.

Ladle directly into hot, sterilized jars. Leave a quarter inch of headspace. Remove any air bubbles and wipe the rims clean. Add lids and process in a boiling water bath for 10 minutes.

I canned this jelly in small 4 oz jars because I figured a pint or half pint might not be used up quick enough. I ended up with 12- 4 oz jars and 2-8 oz jars.

jalapeno_jelly
This jelly is perfectly spicy, of course I love hot spicy foods. It’s perfect on things like cornbread, or a bagel with cream cheese. I even added some to my apple pancakes the other evening and it added the perfect spiciness, of course Mr Chiots thought I was crazy. I think a jar of this mixed with a jar of chutney would make a great BBQ sauce for chicken or salmon.

Are you a hot spicy food lover, or do you prefer to keep things on the tame side?

When Life Gives You a Wind Storm

September 18th, 2008

When life gives you a wind storm, build a fire with the fallen branches. Chiot’s Run is surrounded on 3 sides by mature woods with towering trees.

When strong winds blow, sticks litter our yard. On Sunday evening, we were hoping just sticks would be littering our yard and not whole trees. We did lose a huge branch from an old oak tree, fortunately the wind was coming from a different direction than normal, so it fell into the woods and not on our garage!

On Monday morning, we went out and picked up sticks all around the yard. We decided since it was cool, it would be the perfect day for a campfire.

I remembered all those poblano peppers I bought at the farmer’s market. I was going to grill them but I decided fire roasting them would be much tastier.

We found 2 old cinderblocks and an old grill grate and fashioned a grill over the fire. The peppers were neatly lined up shoulder to shoulder over the fire.

I grilled several batches (I bought 4 quarts of them at the Farmer’s Market on Saturday). Poblano peppers have a great flavor to begin with and when grilled they’re fantastic. These peppers fire roasted will add that perfect smoky flavor to anything we put them in.


After grilling, I trimmed them and they were neatly stowed away in freezer containers. I can hardly wait to make up a pizza or a batch of chili.

What kinds of veggies do you grill with success?

A Peck of Pickled Peppers?

August 21st, 2008

I was at a local farm buying peaches 2 weeks ago and they had banana peppers for 6 for $1. Since Mr Chiots and a friend LOVE hot peppers on their pizza, I decided to buy some and try my hand a pickling them. I looked up a few recipes and finally settled on a combination of 2.

So do they pass the test? Yes, Mr Chiots had some on pizza the other day and loved them. So I guess next year I’ll be growing banana peppers (good thing I saved some seeds) and pickling them for a years’ worth of pizza toppings.

Here’s the Recipe I used:

PICKLED HOT PEPPERS
1 1/2 lb of banana peppers
6 cups vinegar
2 cups water
3 cloves of garlic, crushed
1 teaspoon non-iodized salt (kosher or pickling salt)

Cut peppers into 1/2 inch pieces. Combine vinegar, water, garlic & salt in a large sauce pot. Bring mixture to a boil: reduce heat and simmer 5 minutes, remove garlic. Pack peppers into hot sterilized jars, leaving 1/4 inch head space. Ladle hot pickling liquid over peppers, leaving 1/4-inch head space. Remove air bubbles (by running knife around jar edges). Adjust 2 piece caps, process 10-minutes in boiling water canner.

If you don’t want to process your peppers you can just keep them in the fridge. Since I was only doing half a batch this is what I did, they’ll be eaten up quickly around here.

Anyone out there have a pickled hot pepper recipe they love?

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This is a daily journal of my efforts to cultivate a more simple life, through local eating, gardening and so many other things. We used to live in a small suburban neighborhood Ohio but just recently moved to 153 acres in Liberty, Maine.

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