Okra & peppers

The gardens have been in full-on production mode for some weeks now. We were very successful with the early greens like arugula and lettuce, our snow and sugar peas. The zucchini came on in their normal mad rush, requiring constant vigilance at the risk of producing a cricket bat sized squash hiding beneath the leaves if you turned your back for a second. All of the squash has done pretty well - I have pumpkins ripening that may last until halloween (always a bit of a gamble), and a new variety of chinese squash that a colleague gave me that are just a gorgeous pale green. 

My tomatoes were gnawed to stumps again by our neighborhood deer - we saw a young 6 point buck yesterday evening standing underneath the pear tree. He was pretty nonchalant about seeing us as well, and flipped his tail at us as he trotted back into the wood line. I swear I could smell his guilty tomato breath from across the yard. 

For the first time ever, we've had a really successful crop of peppers. Our summer isn't normally long and hot enough to produce good peppers of any kind. But I tried a few banana peppers this year and have had a terrific crop that I've grilled, chopped and tossed with sausage and other goodies. 

I didn't plant okra this year (though I have in the past), but we scored a couple of bags at the town farmer's market this weekend. And my lovely Bride was kind enough to pickle up the bunch, along with the peppers I hadn't gotten around to eating yet.   (Both of these recipes came out of the Martha Stewart Living cookbook)

Transient

They're still warm and fresh out of the canning bath, and I'll have to wait a few weeks to try them. But I'll be putting these into a special 'Dad only' part of the pantry. They'll make an appearance on sandwiches and salads after they've had a month or two to mature.

Amazing what a little vinegar, spices and peppercorns can do to keep these vegetables long into the colder months.  

 

Bourbon makes everything better

For Father's day, my bride got me a couple of new books. One was River Cottage Veg, by Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall. This is the guy that inspired the original desire to have our own flock of chickens puttering around the back yard. I love almost all his stuff. And I've already cooked out of this book. 

But perhaps even more inspiring was the new book, Smoke & Pickles by Edward Lee.  He's a son of Korean immigrants, who grew up in Brooklyn, married a German woman, and moved to Louisville, KY to open a restaurant. His food reflects all of the above, with a healthy dose of bourbon and country ham. On top of a rice bowl. Covered with ground pork rinds. I think I just had a moment. 

The first thing I made from his book is bourbon-pickled jalapeños. 

Because of course it was. 

Transient

Recipe:  

  • 1 pound jalapeños 
  • 1.25 cups of white vinegar
  • 1 cup bourbon
  • 1 cup honey
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 2 tsp coriander seeds
  • 1 tsp yellow mustard seeds
  • 2 bay leaves
  1. Slice the peppers into quarter inch rounds and drop into jars.
  2. Combine everything else and bring to a boil. Reduce to a simmer for five minutes.
  3. Pour the hot liquid over the peppers and seal the jars with a tight fitting lid. Let cool to room temp before refrigerating.
  4. The peppers will be ready in 3 days, and will keep for a couple of weeks.

I used my favorite bourbon, which pained me a bit (this stuff is not cheap). But the best ingredients make for the best flavors, generally. 

Make plenty. You will want to share these.