Peppers add Heat to end of Summer

img_4532
Lake Erie shortly after sunrise on Wednesday, Sept. 21, 2016.

On this last official day of summer, I’m trying to pack as much in as possible. Fortunately, the weather has cooperated, meaning I was out in my kayak taking the last paddle of summer. It won’t be my last paddle, but summer is officially closing and with it my windows of weather opportunity.

The wind was shifting around a lot, first from the south and then moving toward the east, making kayaking in Lake Erie similar to padding around in a bathtub with infants splashing around in it. No whitecaps, but wind and current were working against one another to give me a small chop. I tell myself it’s better for my arms.

img_4526What was spectacular was that I was able to spot my first eagle of the season. Some years, I see them every day. Others, I’m lucky with just a couple of sightings. This year, I have been without seeing any of these beautiful birds soaring over the bluffs until today. This was a small eagle. At first, I thought it was one of the many hawks that patrol the bluffs of western Erie County, Pennsylvania, until I saw the tell-tale white plumage on the tail. The bird perched in a tree, allowing me to paddle nearly underneath. My iPhone did an OK job capturing him (look in the center of the photo).

Aside from getting in a 2-mile paddle in open water, I’ve been trying to keep up with the tomatoes that are continuing to ripen in my garden, along with those delivered by my CSA last week. I’m not canning this year, but I am roasting batches of tomatoes and then pureeing them in the blender to create crushed tomatoes to freeze. The flavor is too intense from the roasting to use in highly spiced recipes such as chili, but are perfect for sauces and soups where tomato is the star.

One of my favorite recipes of summer is to pickle peppers. This way I can capture the heat of the season for those frigid February days.

I wasn’t always so positive about peppers. For several years, Post Apples CSA delivered more hot peppers than I could ever use. I think Gordon Post has a passion for peppers, which I have come to appreciate. In the beginning, I would freeze them. This works if you need to add a puree of hot pepper to a recipe, such as for a soup (gives a great boost to potato soup).

Then a friend shared a recipe from a co-worker, who gave away a much-coveted jar to friends each year. But one jar of these special peppers didn’t last long. I scoffed. I had jars of pickled jalapenos that were at least a year old in my fridge.

Once I made the recipe, I understood why. These are the bomb of pickled pepper recipes. They go into eggs, on top of pizzas, and into my Utica greens. I love these peppers. And it solves my plethora of peppers from Post problem. Which is now not a problem, but something I look forward to each Thursday when my  Post Apples, North East, Pennsylvania, delivers my CSA basket.

The recipe calls for a peck of peppers. You can easily cut it down. But if you have pepper lovers in your family, make the full batch and share.

Happy pickling.

XOXOXO

Marnie

marnie@marniemeadmedia.com

Print Recipe
Pickled Peppers
These peppers are great on eggs, pizza, sandwiches, or sauces. You will need a 5-gallon bucket that is food grade plastic - no metal - gloves and possibly a face mask if you are sensitive.
Course condiment
Cuisine American
Servings
Ingredients
Course condiment
Cuisine American
Servings
Ingredients
Instructions
  1. Heat water to boiling in a large pot. Remove from heat. Stir in salt until dissolved. Allow to cool.
  2. With gloves on, core, seed and cut peppers into rings. You may want to wear a face mask. Sometimes I start coughing as the peppers release some of their capsaicin. I find a grapefruit spoon is helpful.
  3. Combine salt water with garlic, oregano, cider and oil in a 5-gallon food-grade plastic bucket. Stir in peppers. Allow to marinate overnight.
  4. Pack peppers into 12 sterile 1 pint jars. Cover with solution. Add lids and store in refrigerator.
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Barbecue, Business, and Baseball

Way back before flying became a matter of national security concerns, my father and several business associates had a several-hour layover in Kansas City. The layover was intentional so they could visit the famous Arthur Bryant’s barbecue in that fair city.

My father is a man who loves his barbecue. And he had great company in Jim Dible, who went on to become publisher of the Erie Times-News (Pennsylvania) after my father retired.

It was with that in mind, that I headed to Kansas City on business (not just a layover) to check out a possible new venture. The venture isn’t living up to the hype, but it was worth it to check it out. What I didn’t realize is that the

img_4486trip would include a day seeing the sights of Kansas City, starting with a coffee shop with a liquor license called Thou Mayest Coffee Roasters.  Co-Founder Bo Nelson had an energy and vision way beyond coffee. When it became clear that keeping the jobs of bartenderimg_4485s and baristas separate was hurting business, he combined the two, finding it necessary to fire a friend who wasn’t embracing the cross-over concept.

Here is a coffee shop that can serve you Irish coffee at 7 a.m. Whoo-hoo! Plus he has found a partnership with a local producer to create a coffee-flavored liquor and is thinking about working with local brewers to can his coffees for quick energy-boosting drinks (hey, Starbucks does it).

Of course, we were on business. So just caffeine, please.

img_4487 img_4488Then we were off to visit the home of the Kansas City Royals, which won the World Series in 2015 through team building and persistence. The owners remodeled the stadium several years ago – eliminating seats – to improve the experience for the audience. Miss Vickie, who was downsized by the Kansas City School District, for, in her words “being too experienced and too expensive” is a real asset to the team in terms of her tour guiding skills and passion for excellence. Sorry, kids.

img_4512 img_4513Lunch, of course, stopped at Arthur Bryant’s – a legend in Kansas City. There was some heated discussion about whether it remains the best. Lesson learned here is to, repeat after me: Believe you are the Best. If you believe it, so will many others. I brought home some rub and sauce, purchased in the airport or it never would have made it home with today’s limits on liquids in carry-ons. The barbecue was very good. The experience – meh. No one seemed particularly happy working there. The floors were greasy. But, for $10.99, I could split a two meats (chicken and burnt edges) with fellow publisher (we were looking at magazine opportunities). Fries were extra.

When I came home after three days – pondering whether to move forward with the business venture – I could still say I had been to Kansas City and tasted the barbecue. I have a bag of Thou Mayest coffee, and a KC baseball cap.

I have returned with a profound appreciation for my home in the Gem City, named for the sparkling nature of the waters of Lake Erie.

What do you cook when you have spent 3 days on the  road and come home late? I have potatoes from my CSA. These are great because the combination of boiling with baking soda and roughing them up a bit before roasting leads to a lovely exterior crunch.

 

Enjoy

 

XOXOXO

Marnie

marnie@marniemeadmedia.com

Print Recipe
Crispy Roast Potatoes
Course side dish
Cuisine American
Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 20 minutes
Servings
people
Ingredients
Course side dish
Cuisine American
Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 20 minutes
Servings
people
Ingredients
Instructions
  1. Cut potatoes into 1-inch pieces.
  2. Bring 15 cups of water to a boil. Add baking soda and then potatoes.
  3. When water returns to a boil, cook for about 2-3 minutes.
  4. Drain. Return potatoes to the pan. Add salt. Stir the potatoes around in the pot until they look roughed up a bit on the exterior. Add oil and bacon fat. Stir.
  5. Heat oven to 500 degrees with large cast-iron skillet in it. You want the skillet very hot when you add the potatoes. Once the oven has come up to 500 degrees, add the potatoes and return it to the hot oven. Cook for 5-7 minutes. Stir. Cook for another 5-7 minutes, or until outsides are golden and potatoes are slightly puffy.
  6. Dice herbs.
  7. Remove potatoes from oven and toss with herbs. Serve.
Recipe Notes
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Cider Rules in Our House

img_4416When Godfrey Run in Girard, Pennsylvania, has the first pressing of its apple cider, it is a cause for celebration in our house. We’re not juice drinkers, but we are cider lovers for as long as the season lasts. So much so, we have a refillable glass growler to keep us in stock.

Certainly we drink a fair amount, but I’m also a huge fan of cooking with cider. When it reduces, it is not only sweet, but there is a depth of some tart and caramel that you can’t get with apple juice.

I grew up drinking apple cider in the fall. As soon as the cider mill opened, my father would pile the four of us into the station wagon and head on over. We saved our plastic jugs from week to week and refilled them. I think we went through about 4 gallons a week. As the season started to head toward a close around Thanksgiving, my father would stock up on a few extra jugs and freeze them so we had cider for Christmas.

img_4414Most of the time, we drank it cold out of the fridge. But if we had an early ski season, there was nothing like coming home to a glass of hot cider that had been mulling with sticks of cinnamon and some allspice and topped off with a little Captain Morgan’s rum. My drinking days are over, but a glass of hot mulled cider is still a treat on cold days.

I’m getting ahead of myself. It’s still summer. But the nights are cool enough to roast a chicken inside and appreciate it warm.

The recipe is pretty simple – choose a chicken from a good source. Create a brine with 1/2 cup of salt, 1/2 cup of sugar, 1 bay leaf and about 3 cups of hot water. Stir until it is all dissolved. Put the chicken in once the water is room temp and refrigerate overnight if you have time. This is the basis for all my roast chickens. Sometimes I throw some thyme in there, or rosemary, or a few peppercorns. Whatever complements the dish.

When you are ready to cook, pat the chicken off and sprinkle liberally with salt and pepper or a seasoned salt.

One of the keys to cooking a whole chicken is not to put it into a roasting pan that is too big. You want a pan that is only about 2-3 inches wider than the bird in all directions. I use a ridged Le Creuset pan designed to cooked steaks because it holds heat really well and the ridges keep the bird off the bottom of the pan.

Enjoy

XOXOXOXO

marnie

marnie@marniemeadmedia.com

Print Recipe
Roast Chicken with Apples, Onions and Cider
An easy fall meal that creates its own side dish.
Course Main Dish
Cuisine American
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 90 minutes
Passive Time 12-24 hours
Servings
people
Ingredients
Course Main Dish
Cuisine American
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 90 minutes
Passive Time 12-24 hours
Servings
people
Ingredients
Instructions
  1. Heat oven to 400 degrees.
  2. Chicken into roasting pan. Generously coat in salt and pepper.
  3. Core and cut apples into about 16 slices. I do not peel. Toss apples with onions in the olive oil. Spread around the chicken. Roast chicken until internal temp measures 160 degrees at thigh and breast, about 90 minutes.
  4. About 15 to 20 minutes before chicken needs to come out of the oven (temp will be around 135-140 degrees), add the 1/2 cup of cider. Return chicken to the oven and finish cooking.
  5. Remove from oven and allow to rest for 5 to 10 minutes before carving. Serve with the roasted apples and onions.
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Plum Delicious Weekend Dinner

Pangratz Farms in Girard, Pennsylvania, is one of my many farm stops during the summer produce months, especially once I see the fruit ripening on the trees. I’ve been watching the Italian plums (called prunes because this version of the plum is what is meaty and is preferred for drying) for the past couple of weeks because, unlike regular plums, these are perfect for cooking with chicken and pork.

Once the prune plums are in season, you will be able to get them for a couple of weeks, max. I stopped into Pangratz earlier this week and the owner s said it would be later in the week. A couple of 90-degree-days later, the plums were ready.

You can eat these plain, but they are best roasted or chopped and served in a salad when fresh. I’ll be cooking with them while they are in season, but this recipe is really simple and may be made any night of the week.

Print Recipe
Pork Chops with Roasted Italian Plums
Easy seasonal dinner for late summer.
Course Main Dish
Cuisine American
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 25 minutes
Passive Time 12 hours
Servings
people
Ingredients
Pork Chops
Plums
Course Main Dish
Cuisine American
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 25 minutes
Passive Time 12 hours
Servings
people
Ingredients
Pork Chops
Plums
Instructions
  1. For pork chops: Boil 2 cups of water. In a non-reactive container, add sugar and salt and stir until dissolved. Add thyme sprigs. When room temperature, add pork chops. Place in fridge in the morning before you go to work.
  2. Remove pork chops from fridge about a half an hour before you want to begin cooking.
  3. Heat oven to 375 degrees. Toss plum halves with olive oil. Place in a cast iron pan. Roast for about 15 minutes and check to make sure they are not burning. You want them caramelized, but not burned. If they are ready, remove from oven. If not, roast for another 5 minutes.
  4. Allow plums to cool slightly and transfer to a bowl. Toss with herbs de Provence and maple syrup.
  5. Use the same pan you roasted the plums to cook the pork chops. Return it to the oven with the 2 tablespoons of oil to get it hot.
  6. Pat the pork chops dry. Add them to the hot pan and return it to the oven to cook for about 4 minutes. Flip, return to the oven and cook for another 4 to 5 minutes. This will depend on thickness. If you buy thin chops, you will want to cook for only about 2-3 minutes and then flip and cook for another 2-3 minutes.
  7. Allow pork chops to rest for a couple of minutes. Plate with plums on the bottom, then chops. Pour any pan juices over chops.
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