harvesting veggies

Smokin’ Weekend

Over the weekend we got to try out our new Traeger smoker!

Saturday

We had another couple over for dinner to have ribs. Michael started the ribs at about noon and then we ate at 7-ish.

Michael has been really good at BBQing ribs, it’s one of his specialties, but smoking them for several hours first made them out of this world!

He used a combination of a BBQ seasoning rub and a recipe that the Traeger book recommended (honey, mustard, brown sugar) and then for the last hour of the cooking he added the BBQ sauce.

The ribs were absolutely perfect! The meat fell off the bone. The flavors were so rich and smokey. It was like nothing we’d ever had before. Smoking the ribs was sooo good.

Michael said next time he does ribs he’d do the timing a little different. I think he was saying it was a 3-2-1 process where you smoke them for 3 hours then cook them in foil for 2 hours then the last hour is cooking uncovered on the grill and using BBQ sauce. He said he wanted to play with the time a little bit next time.

Our friends brought a delicious Asian-inspired cucumber salad. The cucumbers were from her garden. The salad was really tasty and went so well with the ribs.

Sunday

Michael bought a giant hunk of brisket at Costco and started the Traeger at 7am. He followed the recipe in the Traeger book for the first time. A few years ago I bought him Franklin’s BBQ book so I think he’ll use that in the future, too.

This was definitely an all day process and he said he should have started it a bit earlier in the morning.

I picked the first batch of jalapenos from the garden and Michael pickled a bunch and then saved a few and made poppers as an appetizer. SO TASTY!

Michael’s mom and stepdad, sister and friend Jeremy came over to be guinea pigs for the first ever brisket.

Once the brisket was done, we wrapped it in foil to rest for almost an hour.

More wine:

And the unveiling!

Michael’s mom made potato salad from scratch and Michael’s sister made a delicious salad of cucumbers, tomatoes and onions. It was all really tasty and went perfectly with the meat.

For a first attempt, the brisket was really, really good. There were a few tough pieces but for the most part it was great! The flavor was outstanding. We are all super excited to try again!

Hot Pickled Peppers

Before I get to the peppers, I want to start with pickles. If you remember, I made some pickles this summer. I tried two different types of recipes. The first one was a cooked brine recipe. The second was a simpler pickling recipe (not cooked). The first batch I made (in the above link) was FANTASTIC except for one thing…the flavor was fabulous, the crunch was PERFECT. Michael said they were the best. The problem? They were too salty! Like nearly inedible too salty (at least for me, Michael said they weren’t that bad). I was so disappointed that my pickles didn’t work out. I was glad I was able to nail the crunch and the flavor, but what about the salt? How do I fix that? I followed the recipe…

So I decided to give it another go with a packet of dill pickle mix that I bought. I want to at least get one batch of pickles correct before I experiment with other flavors and methods.

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It was super easy. Boil the vinegar, water and pickle mix, then ladle it into the jars and then can the jars. The canning took 10 minutes (much quicker than other canning recipes–like tomatoes for example). The mixture smelled really good. I added some sliced jalapenos into a few of the jars to see if they turn out spicy dill pickles. 😀

pickles

On a side note, a friend gave us some sweet pickles that were pickled with sliced jalapenos and OH MY GOD. It’s like spicy candy! So good! I need to get her recipe for that because that’s my next experiment.

The Verdict

I think I’m done with pickles. I’ve tried three different recipes and so far, no go. This one was okay– the flavors were perfect and they weren’t too salty like the first two attempts. The problem? They weren’t crunchy! I like crunchy pickles and I’m annoyed they didn’t work. But if you don’t mind non-crunchy pickles, the flavor is really great.

The Peppers

We’ve had a zillion, bazillion jalapeno peppers this summer. And we didn’t plant as many plants as we did last year when we got a zillion bazillion peppers! We still had pickled jalapenos from last summer’s batch when this year’s started to ripen. Oy vey.

I finally convinced Michael to give away some of last year’s batch and we made some room in our garage fridge for this year’s batch. Michael worked tirelessly to slice and pickle the jalapenos. We still had tons. We gave his mom three huge ziplock bags of peppers so she could pickle her own (they are from Texas, they put hot stuff one everything!).

Well it turned out one of the pepper plants I got was a random cayenne pepper plant. No idea how that happened. The pretty little shriveled red peppers grew in like crazy and I had no idea what to do with them. I started drying a batch of them and then decided I should try my hand at make some hot sauce, too.

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I poked around to find some different recipes. I was looking for easy recipes and ones that I could either pickle or can to keep longer. I found a few different options and decided to give this one a try.

PART ONE

Here is the recipe I used:

Hot Pickled Peppers Sauce

From: http://remcooks.com/2012/09/30/hot-pickled-pepper-sauce/

Ingredients

  • Ripe cayenne peppers, stemmed
  • 4 cloves garlic
  • 1 Tbsp sea salt
  • purified water (not tap water)

Instructions

  1. Sterilize a 1 pint jar and lid.
  2. Add the cayenne peppers and garlic to the pint jar filing it as best you can.
  3. Add salt.
  4. Cover the cayenne peppers with bottled spring water or water filtered through reverse osmosis. Now, some of you are asking why bottled water? Well my friends, tap water contains Chloramine to prevent disease causing bacteria and pathogens. Chloramine (as CI2) is formed when ammonia is added to water containing free chlorine. So if you remove the chlorine, the ammonia stays. This will inhibit the production of lactobacilli bacteria and create other issues when you pickle something. So don’t use tap water. If you must use tap water, add 1 tsp white vinegar to the brine to help “kick start” the fermentation process.
  5. Place lid on top and tighten securely. Place in a cool (68 – 75 F), dark place. Now, here’s the hard part. LEAVE IT ALONE FOR 2 WEEKS!
  6. After 2 weeks have passed, place chiles, garlic and brine in a blender and blend at its highest speed for 1 minute.
  7. Pour into cute jars for later use. Enjoy!
http://www.110pounds.com/?p=47835

This website had a few different variations on making the hot sauce, too, so if you’re interested check out the link and read through the alternatives. Since it was my first attempt I went with the original, simple version. Chopped up some garlic, de-stemmed the peppers, a little salt and the bottled water and that’s it.

Basically I pickled the peppers for a few weeks and then when I found the time, I got down to making the sauce!

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PART TWO

A few weeks later…After sitting in the dark pantry for a bit. Put it in my bullet and blended! I ended up just doing one jar. The 2nd jar looked a little…funky. There was a white film growing in it and maybe that was normal? But it looked iffy to me so I tossed it. I blended everything up in the Bullet until smooth. If you want it less watery, don’t use all the water from the jar (I did).

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The Verdict

Holy fire! SPICY as hell! Great flavor, great smell, really garlicky. But it is HOT. A little bit of this will go a long ways. Per the website I used for the recipe, it will keep in the fridge for 6 months.