With so many hot peppers filling tables at the markets I can't help but pick more up each week. The Aylmer Sales Barn is always a great place to source bushels of peppers from sweet bells and shephards to the blackish-purple poblanos and red crimson hots. A few farmers and home gardeners are also trying their hands at growing different varieties of chilis and the variations are all welcome in my larder because just about every global cuisine utilizes heat and spiciness in some way - with flavours and aromas from more than just green jalapeños.
After all the salsa, stuffed peppers, pickled peppers, drying, plastic gloves, can't-fall-asleep-because-my-hands-are-on-fire, chili-steeped vodka, and especially the 'how hot is it?' game, it's nice to play with a recipe that uses a large amount of chilis with only minimal work required. Fermented hot pepper relish has quickly become my new favourite go-to condiment.
Encompassing everything I like in a rustic sauce (salty, fresh, fruity, spicy, smoky & tangy), the relish is a great accompaniment to chicken, sausages, burgers, steak, perogies, nachos, eggs, or spread on a sandwich. Because it is fermented for just a couple of days, the relish retains the fresh vegetal flavours at the same time it matures and ripens.
I think I'm an empathetic person. Not like the HONY guy, but I get the feeling that sometimes people share with me things that they don't necessarily share with others. I'm okay with that. Sometimes venting, expressing, just saying the words out loud, seeing them typed on a screen or scribbled on a scrap piece of paper is monumental in sorting out what step we take next. Life can be complicated, things don't always go according to plan - sometimes we just need someone to listen.
I hear you. I understand what you are saying. I can't fix your problem, but I'm listening.
Do you like peaches? Here, have a Liège waffle.
The summer abounds with inspirational flavours in every field and planter. Corn is especially prevalent and it always looks too good to just buy one or two cobs. My eyes are often bigger than my stomach and it's very easy to overload on ears at the farmgate. The trouble with having too much fresh corn - the longer it's been off the stalk the starchier it will taste.
Just like a few other sweet vegetables (especially asparagus and peas), the sugars in the vegetables immediately begin to convert to starches as soon as they are harvested. If you aren't going to consume the corn within a day or two, the taste difference is quite noticeable in the remaining cobs. The way I get around this sugars-to-staches conversion is to cook all my corn at once. Any leftover cobs I don't eat I use a serrated knife to remove the kernals from the cob (in a bowl) then store in the fridge to use over the next several days or store in plastic bags the freezer. I'll be thankful for the freezer-corn when the annual Great January Food Depression starts to rear its ugly head and the markets are shut down.
Plenty of foods can pair with corn and there are just as many dishes to use it in. We're lucky enough to have a local supplier of shiitake mushrooms south of town and they are a perfect match for yellow corn. Serve corn on salads, make a quick relish to use on sandwiches, or add it to a pot of grilled tomato soup. Herbs like basil, oregano, thyme, rosemary, and sage also are great seasonings along with good ol' fashioned salt & pepper. Smoke from the bbq, bacon or sausage is a personal favourite combo with corn. Cream, butter, olive oil, bacon fat help carry corns flavour across all your taste buds and blue cheese - let's just say it's an earthy, creamy, sharp reminder that fermentation & cheesemaking are lost arts worthy of revival and should be celebrated. Possibly at every meal.
Challah Bread - Recipe
Makes 2 loaves
1 3/4 cup water
1 1/2 tablespoon active dry yeast
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup vegetable or canola oil
3 large eggs
1 tablespoon salt
8 cups all-purpose flour
Poppy or sesame seeds for sprinkling
Put water, sugar, and yeast in the bowl of a mixer, and mix with a spoon. Add two of the eggs, and the oil, and mix. Using the dough hook, add flour 2 cups at a time, and salt, and mix.
Put dough on a floured board and knead until smooth and elastic. Grease a large bowl with oil, and leave dough in bowl, covered, for at least one hour or until doubled in size.
Punch dough down, knead again on a floured board. Take half the dough and cut into six even pieces, and roll out each piece into a roll about 14 inches long.
Arrange rolls side by side on the board, pinched together at the top, and braid: Move the furthest roll on the right over 2 rolls, then move the 2nd furthest on the left all the way to the far right. Move the furthest roll on the left over 2 rolls, then move the 2nd furthest on the right all the way to the far left. Repeat until the whole loaf is braided. Then either tuck the ends underneath, or twist into a circle to make a round challah. Repeat with the remaining dough to make a second loaf.
Place on parchment paper or silpat on a cookie sheet. Brush loaves with the remaining egg and sprinkle with seeds. Let loaves rise for 30 minutes, then put in a 350°F oven and bake for 30 minutes until golden brown and shiny. Allow to rest 20 minutes before slicing.
Back when I used to work in grocery stores, people were incredibly predictable with what fresh produce they would buy. I'd like to think that having a culinary background and a good memory was what enabled me to be able to remember produce codes (or PLU's), but the truth is much of the time I was using the same seven to ten codes for the same seven to ten items on every customer's order.
Iceberg lettuce, celery, bananas, hot house tomatoes, green peppers, green onions, english cucumbers, granny smith apples, white button mushrooms...repeat repeat repeat. Those PLU's are so ingrained in my mind I still can recite them from memory.
Eating. Drinking. Sharing.