Satisfaction in the summer for me comes from spending hours in the kitchen, preserving stuff from my own garden or from local farms. Does that sound weird? I guess I get it from my mother, although I never heard her say how satisfied she was after spending her mornings harvesting and her afternoons and evenings blanching, freezing, canning and so on.
At the end of the day she would come into the living room, settle into the couch, pick up the newspaper, and listen for the 'pop' of her lids sealing on her jars. That was satisfying for her. I get that same satisfaction when I hear them pop, and think about her often as they do. Today I stemmed, seeded and chopped a couple of pounds of red jalapeno peppers I got from a greenhouse grower, and made them into a hot pepper jelly. (recipe at the bottom of this post) One jar will be cracked open this Saturday as part of a barbecue dinner I'm putting on with Bill Jones at his Deerholme Farm. (only 3 spaces left!) The jelly makes a great pairing with goat cheese, almost any kind of cheese, actually.
While I was making the jelly, a few more pounds of peppers were sitting pretty on my Traeger pellet smoker. Smoking jalapenos turns them into chipotle peppers. They spent almost 12 hours on there today…some are completely dried out and I will store them in plastic bags or containers. Those that are still a little moist will be canned in abobo sauce…tomorrow.
I also harvested my garlic today, I actually planted it last fall, probably a little too close together in not-so-great soil. Almost every clove I planted grew into a new head of garlic, however, even if some of them are a little small. 57 heads, now drying under my balcony. I love it when something you planted 9 months ago bears fruit! Gee, just like giving birth, ha ha.
Oh, and yesterday I built a new herb garden around this huge rock we had left over from the excavation we had done recently in our back yard. I have some more herbs to plant, but so far so good!
Time for bed. The lids have popped, the peppers are off the smoker. Now here's the jelly recipe:
This is adapted with very few changes from Mary Anne Dragan's excellent book, Well Preserved. I have the first edition, but a third edition was just published in May, so you might want to make you buy that one if you want to try some more recipes.
Red Jalapeno Pepper Jelly
Makes about 6 to 7 8-oz. (250-mL) jars
25-30 medium red jalapeno peppers
1 ½ cups cider vinegar
6 ½ cups sugar
½ tsp. salt
2 3-oz. (85-mL) pouches liquid pectin
Prepare the peppers, cut them into chunks, discarding the stems and seeds.(you should wear disposable gloves for this. Grind the pepper chunks in the food processor until they are smooth and uniformly ground. Measure out 2 cups. Prepare the preserving jars.
Combine the 2 cups of peppers, vinegar, sugar and salt in your preserving pot. Bring to a boil over high heat, keeping a close watch and stirring occasionally. Once the mixture has reached a full boil, stir constantly. (it can really boil over quickly!) Boil for 5 minutes. Stir in the pectin, and when mixture has returned to a full rolling boil, boil for exactly one minute.
Remove from the heat. Stir and skim off any foam from the surface of the jelly. Stir the jelly for 3-5 minutes (this will help the peppers from floating to the tops of the jars). Pour the jelly into hot, sterilized jars, leaving a half-inch head space. Wipe the rims clean. Seal according to manufacturer's directions. Process the jars in a boiling water bath for 5 minutes.