Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Breathe in the aroma;change is in the air

Aromatics.....the reason for the season. The foods are heartier, the back drop becomes golden and my ass begs for a baked potato....Carbs are my cryptonite,what of it....

A French cook willoften use the phrase les aromates to describe not only herbs n spices that will go into her dish,but also the aromatic vegtables-carrots,celery,turnips and a plethora of the roudy onion(allium)family-of which the flavours all must balance and compliment each other.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Hippophagy.....its what's for dinner.....

Why don't we Americans eat Horse? Calm down you little Buck a roo let me explain....well its redder than beef and we Red Blooded Americans love us some RED Meat. It is a sweeter flesh than beef hence the need to dump ketchup could be averted. Texture beats beef as an old horse or colt will both have a tender quality without the pricey breeding or genetic tom foolery. Lean and unmarbled flesh should be a draw in this health concious time.
Now as I scratch my head the puzzle gets all SUDOKU on me when I think about all the horse consumed by our European brethern. From the French who we usually so closely watch what's on their plate (up to 4lbs annually per french person and one in 3 consume it regularly) Belgium, Italy, Germany, Russia and the Dutch to name a few. This is more lamb ,Veal or Mutton us Americans eat annually....In Japan it is becoming a very popular Sukiyaki dish rising to 3% of Japans meat consumed is Nelly the Horse.
Ohhh I know they are so smart and we would NEVER eat an intelligent beast...I put my bet on a Pigs intellect over a horse any day.
This equine beast has had his highs and lows in the worlds culinary history....let's dip into this trough and see what we find.......

Way back when Grandpa was a teen during the Stone Age, hunters gorged themselves north and south of the equator on Wild Horses. The Asiatic pastorialists who first domesticated this beast enjoyed its bounty as did the PRE Christian folks of N Europe;NOM NOM NOM. Then during the rise of the Middle Eastern Empire the taboo began... Romans refused to indulge and during early medieval times the horse was receiving the European Sacred Cow status. Some crazy papal decree kept starving Midievalans from having this rich protein . Then a few years pass(yes Pat my PHd of history everyone know more than a few years) French Revolution brought the Equine treat back to the Euro plate. By the 19th century is was WHATS FOR DINNER all across Europe minus Britain.( They said blech) By WW1 13 thousand tons eaten then by WW2 the trend reversed again. Why the green light red light acceptability of this protein source is so interesting. AND why did the Brits and americans avoid it all together?
I could blather on and on about the Mongol warriors feasting on the blood and flesh while washing it down with fermented horse milk, or about ......crap my Sciatica is donkey punching me in my back I gotta stop ......I'm not done with this so bare with me while I go lay on my back legs in air and a opium drip...

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Foodies in exile set a proper table

When one entertains, there are many things that are just as important as the perfectly deviled egg: the WELCOME; the fastidiousness of the table. Now not a perfect break in the linen or symmetrical bouquet....Boring.
The happy reception of ease for the guests is the opening strain of the evenings agreeable rhythm to lull your people to gentle culinary submission.
Brillat_Savarin " To entertain a guest is to charge ones self with the guests comfort and happiness,during all the time he is under ones roof"
Such preparation takes time and thought. More so than the menu at large. If the feeling is cold and sharp no matter the perfection of a brulee'd hunk of Dolcetto will ever cure such chill.
Sooooo caught up in the task to woo and amaze this age of TOP CHEFS and MASTERS the art of entertaining is becoming lost in a cloud of Porcini dust.....
Relax... food is our friend. The Glue that binds most relationships, and like a good relationship try too hard and the souffle will fall.
Enough utensils . A plate of proper temp. ( Keep your cold plates cold your hot plates hot ; if you have to ask then meet your friends @ Chilis) A glass to fill and some interest of season represented some where. The rest is on you to be the glitter to be taken home in your guests hair and bra. The memory of a good time with out the vision of the little man behind the curtain.
A perfectly executed PBnJ is a better party than a nervously presented Pheasant...........
I felt it was time to blather a bit I've been oh so neglectful of my dear Blog. Starting a biz becomes a child and mine has spit up got colic and a mean case of the shits...This too shall pass.

mama loves you

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

There are moments when perfection prevails........

Cook without a lemon? Blasphemy. Why not stop using salt, garlic and an onion while you are at it. Yet his little cornerstone of perfection can and will change the way you look at food. From keeping an Aritchoke in check to sexing up a fish ...hell a nibble of MIGNARDISE at the end of a meal is my kind of ending. Lemons lemons so many kinds to choose from.......BUT I live smack dab on the coast in the middle of California which means it's MEYER LEMON country. From gardens to meadows to school yards you will find these little buggars. Throughout the Bay they have been planted as an ornamental and not a food source. And why it was never considered both is beyond me. Some like to point the finger at the ONE person who brought us mere flat palate minions to the Meyer table. Chef Lynsey Shere. Whatever, so she got the ball rolling for the 1%ers of the Bay to see their ornamental bush as a treasure of golden orbs but please.....I was sitting on my stoop as a kid with split open M lemons and packet of sugar making Mouth Lemon aide and popping pomegranate seeds as a chaser.
So odd how folks need to be THE ONE who discovered a food. Proselyization of food is gross. Exposure through example and availability to the people is beauty. The soft aromatic skin and almost sweet juice of the Meyer is so abundant in the Bay Area I could almost say no one needs to purchase a one. Every school should have lemon aide avail at almost no cost. Sigh I don't have enough time today to fully go bonkers on the M Lemon so lets get into some history shall we?

Imported from China 1908 By a botanical adventurer (whatever the hell that means) Lets guess his name was Meyer...... Over the centuries they have traveled throughout Asia, arriving with Spanish colonization of Florida in the 16th century and Cali mid 18th then Meyer brought the uhhh ahhem Meyer. Being the lemon is frost tender guess what...They thrive in Mediterranean regions and are highlighted in the said cuisine. Go figure. For such a delicate skin they are one of our most hardy varietals,so can grow in regions that rarely fall below 20F. Won't cure so don't pick green. Use asap. OCT -APRIL is the coastal season but Santa Cruz keeps them flowing almost year round. yaaaa.
EUREKA And LISBON are the most common varieties in Cali yet the Meyer is everywhere in a non commercial venue.

So don't be shy knock on that door with the bulging Meyer bush in the yard. Ask if you can glean and bring back a jar of Marmalade, lemon Aide or a nice Aioli for the gift of the lemons. What a wonderful way to utilise the forgotten fruit and to have a convivial moment with a stranger by sharing a gift from Mother Nature. If you have a lemon tree and have more than you can use. Call a local elementary school donate your over harvest. Contact a Glean web site for folks to find your fruit. It is meant to be eaten and this country is going hungry with food on trees, vines, bushes and plants. Everywhere there is food. Just like you crazy ass canning fools with a garage full of jars. give back ,share and be part of your community,by providing a local food to your neighbors to create a better sense of community and good will through food. It dosn't take much effort to share and the reward is ten fold. When I lived in Capitola with 20 hens. I had WAY too many eggs to on my way to work I leave a jar of eggs for my neighbors to enjoy. All of a sudden the kids were walking to school with Breakfast burritos and loving they were having eggs from a chicken named Fig, Ethyl Mermon, Gert, etc....All of a sudden we neighbors waved to each other and started to chat in the street at dusk . Rather than scurry into our collective huts with no connection to our surrounding humanity. A extra Zucinni with a bow to a elderly lady who is too arthritic to garden makes for a better planet.

WWW.FOODPOOL.COM Network of gleanable produce around the Bay Area great resource to food otherwise would have gone to waste. Check it!

Now unfortunately I must go. I lost a friend this week and all I can do is be there for those that are left behind. I'm bringing my knife bag and a satchel of lemons. Cause when life gives you lemons.........

I love you Lynn see you on the flip side....xoxoxo

Monday, September 19, 2011

Jesus did have a sense of humour is my guess.......

The day has come...I am now a shameless whore for promotion. Or am I? I am realizing in a climate of home canners, gardeners and fermenters : it is the ones who walk the talk and live as they project that have the real deal behind the lid.
So for the first time at Gourmet Grazing On The Green I got hassled about my riff on religion(one angry older gentleman who hadn't had a good belly laugh in years). I guess I'm a bad bad girl and that persons Jesus has no sense of humour. I mean no disrespect or blasphemy ...the very opposite and little levity in a era of rebuild after a very tough greedy economic disaster is healthy for all of us. Lighten up and see my passion for what I do and share with the public is not anything less than my version of love. OK nuff on that I really don't have time or energy to have a circular argument with someone over my sense of harmless humour. Fly your freak flag my friends. Come one come all you freaks, geeks, and all around characters I embrace you. Rest of you ease up  there are so many more important battles to be fought. Good thing "CHEESES OF NAZARETH" cheese shop isn't around here good golly could you imagine?
OK back to fun stuff....GOURMET GRAZING ON THE GREEN  The event of the season here in Santa Cruz county. A community fund raiser for local Cancer programs like Jacobs heart. It is an event that not only raises tens of thousands of local dollars(over a million since 1995) to help beat the big nasty C; yet a day for our public to be able to come face to face with those of us that feed and libate our fair county. From local beer brewers to wine makers, restaurants to the mom n pop operations that keep us who we are and local Market New Leaf with us little cottage industry food producers having a day to feed the souls of our community while loving those who couldn't be there because of the C word. We were one for a day and it really is an A HA moment when you are part of such a bigger animal.
Food is love and the binder that keeps humanity together. We ALL have some sort of relationship and culture with food (good or bad the relationship is there). For food is the bridge over troubled waters and this weekend proved that so beautifully. All of us people have so much more in common than ever gets admitted. Can you imagine if treaty talks were in a Grazing format? You just can't get pissed with beauty in your belly and sharing the experience with another. OK OK no Cumbayahh holding hands but just a real moment on a real day supporting real people. Not faceless corporations. You could bump into a Farmer, a brewer, a cook,a butcher, a cheese maker, a chef, a vintner his wife, a cupcake queen or even a littl ole jam girl all working, living with you in this county trying our best to make the world a little better place to live. Find fault in that.....
This weekend I was proud to be amongst my fellow lovers of the land and those who we feed. So when I'm toolin down the road in my little BLUE NUN that grin you see is my feeling good about my town.
OK all I have carrots to pick and cherries to macerate,I'm procrastinating as usual.
Go on get outside our summer has just arrived. The tourists are back to their lives now we can enjoy ours without the traffic and our beaches free. scoot!!!

Fellows at the Graze(if I missed you I so appologize)63 in all vendors......
Sones,  Beauregard,  Silver mountain,  Muns, B School,  Hallcrest,  Villa,  SC Mountain, Vino Tabi,  SCM Brewing, SmoQe,  Seabright brew,  Delk honey,  Coastal Catering, Rio, Shadowbrook, Johnnys H, Chaminade,  New Leaf,  Redwood hill,  Bargetto, Mission Hill Ice Cream,  Zameen, Alfaro,  Kathryn Kennedy,  Friend in Cheeses, Loma Prieta , Poetic, Stars cup cakes, Hollins house, Peachwoods, SC Farms,  Roudin Smith,  Hulas, a brewery in Capitola forgot name bomb beer, Fresh prep kitchens, ok Im stuck thats all I can recall.......
Point is what a collection of the finest SC has to offer all under one goal.....

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

On becoming a GOURMET

Understanding this crazy over used word just might help you find your way through the ARTISAN Highway to hellish uppity tom foolery. Rather a word to express a feeling toward the consumable arts....
Insistent signs in the market invite the shopper into the "GOURMET foods Dept", where one might almost expect to find magIcal potions to produce an effortless fine meal. Every day we read and or hear the phrases "GOURMET cookery", "GOURMET recipe"" GOURMET Kitchen" etc blah blah blahhhhhhhhhhh
BUT alas, in fact the word "GOURMET" is not just another adjective in the language of salesmanship, like "super" or "fancy" or even "special". It is a title that applies only to a person, a title of honour, confirming certain skills which have been learned by study or practice.
So you see the good ole media is trying to rope you in on a slippery string of mis used words to make you feel you must keep up to compete in the hipness of the plate. Stop drop and roll with your own senses and rely more on the seasons , simplicity and what looks smells and tastes like a good time.

Oh plus the word comes from ole Luis XIV looking to keep his Versailles Noblemen busy ,he made up a bunch of bullshit jobs so they had no time to conspire against him. One of those positions. The household managers were given the title GROMET( yes my lil surf dudes this is where GROM in tights in France) so the KItchen GROMS job was to shake down the farmers,fishermen ,butchers,millers, pay a tithe. One tenth of a harvest to the king as the Gromets went out and took from the peasants the best of their wares for the kings daily meals. Kinda the Gourmonds were basically GOMBAS in tights.....
Interesting the word still hold us hostage. ......

Go now eat an Apple they are ripe for the pickin here in SC County. Don't jam it can it or preserve the first of the in the moment and experience Mother Natures intent. Crisp, tart , crunch

Go on.... get!!!!!
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Monday, September 5, 2011


COOKERY: It means the knowledge of all herbs,fruit,spice,balms and all that is healing and sweet in the fields and groves and all that's savory in flesh. It means carefulness and inventiveness,willingness and readiness of appliances. It means the economy of your grandmums and the science of the modern chemist; it means much testing and no wasting;it means English thoroughness,and French art and Arabian hospitality;and ,in fine; it means that you are to be perfectly and always , ladies_ loaf givers_
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Traffic Jam coming to a road near you...

I have realised over the years its not just the product but the whole package. Unfortunatly the pretty girl gets farther in life by just being pretty. BUT if the package rocks as hard as what is inside well you have $. I had a 1959 Ford Escort wagon come my way and I took the risk and put my $ where my delivery is.....I have to walk my talk on all levels to make any sense in the end. It is Greener than any modern machine Electric or otherwise. 40 MPG all recycled and no nasty lithium battery that is mined in Canada , shipped to France to be refined then shipped to China to assemble the battery THEN shipped to Japan to be installed in car and last shipped to USA. Humpgh Green? thats a carbon footprint for mental midgets. I have a market mobile, French Bulldog transport , glean machine, catering truck and a delivery system for my Jams.......yup 3 gears, no cd player and I do have to manually operate the windows. Yet you won't forget me when I'm tooling down the road...I'll be the red head with the grin.

  The wacky trends of preserve,pickle n jam will find a good healthy middle ground at some point. Lets hope because no matter how hard you try you can not preserve, pickle or jam everything.....So when the dust settles and  the trendbots  receed to the newest cool thing(perhaps lowered trucks will make a come back...shit waxed facial hair did)....I will still be putt puttin down the road sellin my wares with you and Mother Nature in mind.

oh and the Scooter.....My freedom train.

Monday, August 22, 2011

Nobody sent me the memo Carrots are the IT thing to Jam.....

. Looking for my fall offerings I've been wanting to delve into the F.I.C. way of turning this sexy little root into a slamma jamma pairing for all things whoa hey now WTF? I get on the old info highway and looky there the Blog -o -ramas have made the carrot the IT root to jam. Humph. ok well silly me once agin head down not realizing what the Jones' are up to and now I'm in challenge mode.
Reasearch has commenced and there have been an odd slighlty yawn- worthy attempts going on(from what I've seen). I bought a few and sat down with some Mahon and a nice little hunk of Burnet to see what these buggars had to offer. uhhh well hmmmm. Nice. pumpkin? Butternut squash perhaps? Lots of baking spice and orange yet not many signals that I was eating carrot. I almost got the baby food thing happening ....urge to spit up on my chin, burp, then shit my pants.....Is this the message I want to convey with my root offering? Computer says.. NO( Little Britain reference)
Now Now I'm not being a twat, I just didn't see anything out there in real life or cyber the idea I had for a carrot preserve. So I feel I can proceed without over doing the IT root of the season. There is room to rock this baby and I'm up for the challenge.
I think the root and I have a special bond. About ten years ago I had a bumper crop in Pleasure Point and was so proud of said crop I yanked up a root ,stomped to FU Tattoo in my muddy Wellies and told Jason"give me a big ole dirty root on my arm" He replied "of course you do Tabitha...sit down" The rest is history...I am a girl of the dirt and the carrot is my scepter I must find a better way........


5.5C. fresh organic carrot juice (we love the Breville juice Foundation Elite)
STRAIN this pup through coffee filter or the resulting jelly will look like a fetus.
zest of two meyer or pink lemons juice of one
.5 C. fresh pressed apple juice
pinch of sea salt
pinch of fresh ground cardomon
pinch of Anardana powder (pomegranite pip dust)

ok here goes the odd bit....1C.golden sultans soaked in Grappa set aside longer they soak the better.

6T. pectin
8C. organic cane sugar you want that bit of molassas.

Boom chica Boom boom you now have your Mise En Place in order. Go roll up your sleeves, put on some clogs(trust me bulging veins from a career in standing will not get you laid)
A little Persian Music on the pod and a nice glass of Pomelo spritzer (xoxox Sean )

Time to get our Jelly on...

Big pot heavy bottom( like me)

Add juices, spices then heat for ten min to let the flavours mingle, do not rush this coutship she will betray you. Now add pectin while heat is on medium. Dissolve that pectin my friend or its a buggar party in the jelly. Bring to a full rolling boil almost can't stir down and add the sugar. dissolve all the sugar and once again bring to a full roiling boiling bubble. The timer is set for one minute exactly.

There is enough said these days about jars, clean, boiling know what to do ....sterilize , have ready to engage and all will be well in carrot town.

The minute is up. Pull off that heat and onto a heat absorbing surface.

In each jar add five soaked sultans.

pour through your trusty sterilized funnel half a jar of jelly . Then after all jars (approx 12) have been half filled add three or five sultans then topoff the jars  with remaining jelly. Skim the blech from the top, a small grapefruit spoon works best.The film will surrender if gentle.

Lid, then steam bath and the next morning when wake up with orange fingers and mouth. You know you did good. A turkey sandwich will never be the same......

Now atleast I know there is room for all of our creative bursts and this little puppy with her 24K sparkle will not let you down. Fall is near and the larder is full , share with your friends all that you've done this summer and sit back and enjoy a Bunnys best friend........Carrot jelly...

well a week later and I wont be using this recipe for my biz.... I love it my friends love it but I need and want better.....Cardomon Carrot Marmalade it will be.. I wanted more citrus tang to off set the carrot earthyness. so be it I can change my mind if I want to....

Friday, August 19, 2011

On hiatus

Well hiatus from blog o verse . Summer brings a lot to do around the Ghetto and Friend In Cheeses Jam Co has taken to Toads Wild Ride.....
This is the season to go outside and take every moment like its your last. There are so many hunched over their keyboard missing the boat. From laying in the grass watching the clouds go by to picking saturated stone fruit trees all over the county. There is just too much to do, see, smell and experience.
Be Patient I shall return. Just let me jam on to the beat of my own drum until the shadows get longer the days get shorter and the garden tucks in for a long winters rest....
Until then go on look around its a beautiful day in paradise....
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Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Ho ho hi ho Its not making jam but smelling the flowers......

I could drop right now but an evening at the Ghetto Vineyard with my SLOW FOOD brethren was what I needed last Thurs...And a pickle show down ofcourse . Ohhhh and 6 bottles of wine around the fire being big time inappropriate. My forte.
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Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

A little bit of Persia in an Italian restaurant......

One of the best parts of starting a small Jam Biz is the amazing support from my friends. One of which has so generously opened her restaurant kitchen to me and my crazy vision of simple seasonal and local fare ......Kitchen space can be one of the biggest expenses for a young small food product company and this gift of kitchen time paid in jars of jam,my fresh chevre and lots of hugs is a gift I'm not sure I could fully repay....
Well in this kitchen I have the foods of the world at my finger tips. A Turkish Bar tender(Zafir) who gave me the recipe for Turkish meat balls and yogurt. Or the adorable server Flower from Egypt but grew up in Brazil who makes the meanest Hummus around. The Italian bus boy who eats but is useless otherwise. Jalisco, Micheuacan, Sonora, Mexico City is all represented in the kitchen and staff lunch represents from Caldos to blk Chili Pollo stew. ohhh and Ruchi  the book keeper from India with all her colorful vegetarian recipes from her Mothers book of kitchen tricks....Sigh I'm in heaven.
Ohh back to why I'm writing this diddy. The owners are an amazing Mediterranean mix of Italian and Iranian. Hmmmm love it. I posted this picture of my baby grape cluster up here on the Ghetto Vineyard and Carolyn let me know there is a phenomenal Persian Stew that uses un ripened grapes. I went to pour over the web, books and picked the Persians brain and after a few trials n errors here is a classic KORESHT-E BADENJAN egg plant stew with un ripe grapes. I tweaked the various recipes and came up with this gem...hope you enjoy.
Egg Plant Stew
5T cold press Kalamata olive oil
3lbs any egg plant ,I'm digging the Asian white little bombs. Slice in strips and salt both sides to leach
1 large yellow onion diced not too small you want the texture.
12 oz of loin, leg or Butt(shoulder) of Lamb. Cube.
1t. Ground turmeric, fenegreek,mustard seed and fresh coriander

2T tomato paste
2 ripe in season tomatoes seeded and diced
3 C of veggie stock(of course home made)
1/2 C un ripe grapes( no one will say if a particular varietal is in order say Shiraz?origin would be correct)
Zest and juice of one lemon.
Sea salt n white pepper to taste
Ok let's go...
Sweat the onions with half the olive oil and herbs . Put aside.
Brown the lamb.
Pat the salted egg plant to remove the excess moisture and brown in the pan the onions were sweated to pick up the rich pan flavours left behind from the onion spice blend.
Now pull out your big soup pot reserved for this very chore and toss everyone in the pool. Remove the baby grapes from the stems and no need to worry about pips the young grape should not have the pip at this stage.
Simmer till all the flavours have meshed and the lamb is cooked through.
Savory, sour and filling. A dollop of cultured cream(sour cream,creme fraiche , yogurt etc...) A zest of lemon, Batsmati rice with a pinch of Saffron and a pile of warm Naan bread. Voila a little Persia in the heart of the Santa Cruz Mountain wine region.

Thank you Carolyn and Jalil for having faith and love for me and my little Jam co.  I couldn't do this with out your support and kitchen time.

Thank you Beto, Ricky,Jose, Manny, Isreal, and the rest of you boys in the kitchen who have made me feel like family and sharing your recipes, stories and camaraderie. I so love my Tuesdays with all of you.
Big respect for my kitchen family you work so hard for beauty with so little recognition.

Next time you have a rocking meal out ....try to give a tip to the kitchen . It will mean the world to them that you realize the hard thankless work happening behind the scenes.

party on......

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The reality of fruit math

This seasons bounty of stone fruit here in the Bay is one of the largest bumper crops I have ever witnessed in my cooking career. From little French plums with the bright yellow interiors, to Santa Rosa plums big sweet and crimson. I have been traveling to backyards, road sides and orchards with bucket in hand and dreams of sugar plum fairies helping me process all this fruit. Before this year BFIC(before friend in cheeses)I had no idea how much fruit it takes to create a jar of jelly,so lets do the math .
Yesterday ten a.m. drove to Willow Glen to a private home to pick about 65 to 70 lb of amazing plums. done by noon with a tub full of near perfect aubergine orbs. Then off to the kitchen. In a stock pot(big enough to fit a ten year old boy) rinsed the fruit de leaved and added zest of three lemons ,split a vanilla bean and added two gallons of water and a good toss of sea salt. 12:30pm. Cooked the plum slurry for about an hour to soften and let the color of the skins bring its bit to the plum party. Take off heat and strain three times with smaller mesh each time for fining. One p.m. Now 65-70 lbs of fruit yielded me as you see in photo only 21 gallons of juice that still needs one more strain after completely chilled so solids fall to bottom. Four hours later not one jar of finished product......

Ball canning recipe with my twist.(use Ball recipes for the formula then color outside of the lines from there)

Have 8 80z jars sterilized and lids ready to go. Keep jars warm in low heat 150 in oven so when adding molten jelly your jars won't explode.FYI.

5cups of strained fined Plum juice
1cup unfiltered cold press apple juice(I do Mac apples from my tree)
pinch of salt
split of 1/4 vanilla bean scrape seeds good visual in the finished product
6T of prepared crystal pectin (dextrose,fruit pectin. citric acid)
Big non reactive pot please
add above ingredients and whisk the pectin til completely dissolved. 
Bring to a full roiling boil . boiling like it is about to crawl up side of pot and spill over.

Now for every cup of sugar have a t. of Lavender let sugar/lavender infuse at least six hours..
7.5C of Lavender infused sugar.
Add to the boiling plum party whisking constantly till all sugar is fully dissolved. Important for no lumpy bumpy jelly.
Bring back to the full roiling boil and set timer for one minute. No more no less ONE MINUTE. so don't got pour a drink or feed the Squirrel stay put and watch this pot.
Pull pot after the minute is up.
Remove jars from oven and do not place directly on counter temp can explode the jars. Keep on sheet pan or sil pat. Get your canning funnel (of course its sterilized) and pour the jelly into a tempered glass measuring cup with a pouring lip.
fill your jars leave an air gap  then  with a spoon skim the top of jelly to remove scum and the lavender heads. I lets a few float on top for a very pretty visual when the jelly is opened. Lid . Then off to the steam bath they go. 10 min please.

Pull from steam pot. Let cool and set 24 hour and don't move them til they completely set.

Viola 10 hours later 65-70 lbs of fruit is now in jars with a crystalline shimmer and unlimited possibilities in the world of pairing. So when you raise your eye at my $8.00price tag for 8 oz do remember all the love, care, time and labour it took to bring you this jar of summer from your own "backyard"it really is an investment in your community, culinary happiness and the preservation of American food traditions. Not ofter such importance passes your lips.

 Literally a jar of self harvested local small batch jelly takes over 24 hours before one jar is ready. From picking, processing, fining, producing, setting it takes time alot of time to make sure you have access to a product only time can give. If I cut corners and shaved time you could tell and tell me an earful of why it is just not the same....I refuse to short cut. For me this is the time very well spent for you for me and for food in general. Respect. 

with cheese, french toast, salumi , foie gras or on your fingers this sexy little minx will be a favorite for sure.

Thank you and this is my story and I'm stickin to it.

Mama has purple fingers,sore feet and smile....wink

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

A tired ham hock after a day on the Ghetto Vineyard.....

Big Kitty is obsessed with La Quita the pregnant almost tame squirrel. BK spends her day under the walnut tree being terrorised by la Quita jumping from tree to tree chattering BS and gossip.
Sometimes I get so wrapped up in farming, cooking,gardening,jammin to "simplify" my life and lose the world around me. I've seen the DIY movement grow to another out of balance obsession. Don't try to pickle the grass just lay on it. Don't stock pile a hoarders amount of home canned goods just for the sake of the obsession. And...sometimes strawberry jam wants to be just that...Getting my Jam Biz official up and running takes copious amounts of time and energy so that is why I make a point to smell the flowers, lay in the grass and NOT pick every green walnut just because I have a recipe to pickle them.
Food is pleasure, food is love,that is to be the supporting actress in the movie of life. Not an obsessive preoccupation with every freaking detail and spending all day trolling blogs n sites for the most unique way to pickle a fig. My friends its all about balance and the ability to let food be a great pleasure not a great ever consuming mania.
And don't even get me started on the snobish clicque of food bloggers.......really? High school lunch hour all over. Suck it . They take the spontaneity and beauty out of the whole process. Stop photographing your braised short ribs at the restaurant you moron. Eat for god sake, be in the moment, not all moments need to be captured. The point gets lost.. One of the reasons why I love food so much is it isn't exploitable. Well Bloggys you proved me wrong. To celebrate food is grand; to fiend over it like a crack head is stupid. Its tomorows turd.
Ok I gotta go the dog just farted it smells like chicken n waffles with shit on it.
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Saturday, July 9, 2011

Mother Nature trained in La Honda with a belly full of LSD

Two jars of my Lavender Plum jelly(recipe to come) so amazing to stand back and look into Mother Natures eyes. Just like children, every plum brings something a little different to the outdoor table. Two different trees same yard same varietal. Two vastly different colours. I get dark in the summer my sister is fair. Same parents different circumstances. Same but different. Shit I love this......Summer is here......
Now off to the Bacon Takedown at the Thirsty Bear in SF. Gotta get my judge tounge some rest......why yes a Bourbon will do the job...ADIEU
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Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Who said I can't have chicks in the house?

Salt N Peppa hanging on the Horse head thinking about the corn cobb jungle gym snack fest I'm gonna give them tonight(left over cobbs from the fourth, we won't tell S n P about the spring chicken we ate ssshhhh). Yes I have chickens in the house. They can hang til pin feathers then BOOT to the COOP.
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Hail to the Tannins......

My baby English Black walnuts growing away. Between me laying in my hammock below while La Quita my near tame PREGNANT Squirrel(she's a floosey I can't control) loads up on these tender green morsels.
My grand plan this season is one with two countries in mind.....To Make batches of Nocino and jars of Pickled walnuts. A little bit country a little bit Roman. So here I patiently wait for another week or two while the tannin filled green cocoons are still intact.
I'll get back when the time is right, I just wanted to whet your appetite for what's to come. A little Liqueur to go with a Charcuterie Terrine studded with this English delight. Behold the tannins and rope them into submission I say!
Ok enough procrastination my Dragons Lace seedlings are glaring at me, time to plant .....good day from the GHETTO VINEYARD in the SKY

OK I'm back and have alot to hang tight and learn a little bout this hard nut to crack the WALNUT. Now as you know there is history lesson we need to cover before we get in the nut and pickle her.

In the early 1800's Spanish Franciscan monks established missions along the California coast. Part of their taming of the natives included the cultivation of food, plants, trees and fermentation(wine baby wine)  in the areas surrounding the missions. One area that eventually became the city of Walnut, California, was home to the San Gabriel Mission named for the Gabrielino Indians, originally of Shoshone origin. Many acres of walnut trees, originally brought from Spain, were planted here and became known as "mission walnuts." These first walnut trees produced small nuts with very hard shells. Good to have a mighty farm truck to run them over to get at the meat...just sayin.Walnut
During the first half of the 1800's, land grants of several acres were issued, and ranchos were established. Walnut groves became well established on these land grants by the1870's in Southern California near Santa Barbara.
In 1867 Joseph Sexton, a horticulturist, initiated California's first commercial walnut enterprise when he planted a grove of English walnuts in Goleta, a small town in Santa Barbara County. Within a few years, 65% of all fertile land in this region was planted with Sexton's English walnuts.
In spite of this early success, by the late 1930's the commercial walnut business was destined to move northward to Stockton, California, where improved irrigation, better pest control, ideal climate, and rich soil were more conducive to larger yields.
Today, the California walnut has found its ideal home in the center of the state, an area that produces 99% of the commercial United States walnut supply which is odd to me, I grew up in Fresno a nary a walnut tree did I spy.. On the global market, California produces two-thirds of the world's supply of walnuts. Other countries that grow commercial walnuts include Turkey, China, Russia, Greece, Italy and France.
Though the first walnuts to arrive in the United States came from Spain in the early 1800's, the French contributed many of their varieties during the latter part of the nineteenth century. Ofcourse the French wanted a piece of the action.

La Quita spying on us while we picked the green nuts....she was chattering away about my cat Oscar Wilde having a mad crush on my surley Old English Speckled Hen Aunt Sponge..humph who'd a thunk. K back to history of das Nut.
So anyhoo let's back up a touch and get a bit of sense of how this baby has all sorts of cultures claiming the walnut as thier own. The walnut has a very hard shell and lasts for several months without much thought or care making it a perfect travel snack for the Neolithic traveler(not the Irish type in a caravan)thus showing up in the Himalayas, Persia(claims origin) Turkey, Shanidar caves of Iran and was also found in an ancient shit pile in Switzerland. Alrighty then. The Greeks clain first to cultivate but failed . Small nuts with small oil yeild.Persians did much better. Same period in Perigord France petrified Roasted shells have been unearthed. Traveling nut she was.....
Point being this mighty one was all over in a very short peiod of time and was highly regarded...Persian Walnut were only consumed by the royal family and in 2,000BCE tablets were discovered with great details of the Mesopotamian (Iran)Gardens of Babalons large walnut groves....
ok enough I'm bored too.

From Baklava to Nocino there is a plethora of varied cuisines that feature the walnut. I'm going to my roots for this easy recipe to pickle the young nuts. But before we gotta fight the mighty tannins
File:Tannic acid.pngSo there it is through the eyes of a chemist.
Tannins are a large astringent (meaning it tightens pores and draws out liquid)with proteins.

When you apply ( cant get this sentance to jive sorry)
tannins  to your skin you can instantly see the skin contract. Put them in your mouth and your cheeks pucker. Medicinally, tannins are used to draw irritants out of your skin such as the venom from bee stings or poison oak. Next time you get stung, pull some fresh bark off the twig of a nearby tree, chew it up and apply it to the sting. The irritation will go away within seconds. Tannins are also applied to burns to help the healing and to cuts to reduce bleeding.
Another every day interaction with tannin is in tea (from the tea plant....not herb teas). The tradition of adding milk to tea has the added benefit of causing the tannins to bind to the proteins in the milk rather than to the proteins in your liver and kidneys. When you drink tea without milk, you are literally tanning your insides.
Tannins occur in nearly every plant from all over the world, in all climates. It is found in almost any part of the plant, from root to leaves, bark to unripe fruit (ever bitten into an unripe persimmon?). Algae, fungi and mosses do not contain much tannin. Many plants don't contain a useful amount of tannin.Most trees contain plenty of tannin. It is concentrated in the bark layer where it forms a barrier against microorganisms such as fungi and bacteria (when hides are stuck into tannin baths the bacteria are also killed).


Pick the walnuts whilst they are still green and the outer shell is still soft. Most recipes say that June is about the best time to pick them yet this slow to start season has my trees a little behind the nut. We picked the first day of July and there was alot less nuts than I had expected Mother Nature will do as she very well pleases.... The soft shelled walnuts are then soaked in a BRINE (salt water)  salty enough to float an egg and change brine with fresh every five days for up to 12 days. The walnuts are then drained and left to dry in the air(top of my hot tub is a great place but the squirrels just think Ive left scooby snacks so I keep the nuts in a chicken wire basket with a mesh lid to keep the snackers out. . The fluid(tannic acid) in the walnuts causes a chemical reaction to take place and the walnuts turn dark brown to black in colour. The now black walnuts are then placed into jars and a PICKLING solution poured over them. This can vary from a straight forward pickling VINEGAR to a solution containing spices and sugar. The walnuts are sealed and then left in the jars for anywhere between 5 days and 8 weeks depending on which recipe is followed.

Vague I know......6% white vinegar is best and traditionally clove,  ginger,cinnamon, are the classic. I use pink peppercorn, one star anise,one stick of cinnamon, a few pods of cardomon and a bay leaf . The ammounts is up to your taste and  understanding of each spice. Clove or Anise tread lightly yet cinnamon likes to party. Fresh ginger vs dried will bring different atributes as well. For a batch with 10- 8oz jars filled with nuts .......vinegar to fill, 1 star anise, 1 stick of cinnamon, pinch of cardomon, pinch of pink peppercorn and a bay leaf last  3T. sugar. Heat this party up to get the flavours rollin and bring to a boil then fill jars. Seal and put them up.....

Wait ohh wait you will. By Thanksgiving the pickles should be begging off the shelf for a soire'e of cured meats, cheeses and all things fall...nmeat pies, terrines and Bourbon.

Thats my story and I'm stickin to it....

Now the 40 yes 40 gallons of five types of plumb juice needs to surrendered into my plumb lavendar jelly, Persian compote,butter and ice cream(reward for boy racer and all his help). The beauty of living in the most wasteful of societies is there is tons of fruit who have lived out thier life looking pretty on a tree in a suburban hood just waiting for me to glean.


Thursday, June 23, 2011

FACK I can't stop today....

Quicky........meyer lemons and vodka nothing more to say........
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PERU is in the Hizzouse

This little one is at 26 days
Cyclanthera pedata "Caigua"(Kai-wa)
My beyond wonderful brother in law hails from the ancient place and I've taken on a keen interest in it's cuisine.

This little girl I got from Annies Annuals and well had no clue what to expect other than it is a vine and the fruit looks like a pepper but is called a cucumber.

Soooo came from the Andes and also be found in the Easten Hem. The mighty Peruvian MOCHE culture were facinated with agriculture and represented this in their art. Thank goodness cause I love me my potatoes n Corn...Thank you Peru

The immature fruits can be pickled or eaten raw. They look like a young green pepper and hollow with black pips. But as I read it looks to me as though it was best received as stuffed and fried . Meats rice herbs cacao . Lke Relleno but not.

The shoots n green were cooked like spinach and with a huge boost of vit. C. Minerals,thiamine, antilipemic(fights LDL Cholesterol) No rickets for this culture....

So Peru is the major grower of this amazing find and I'm hoping my soil and climate will receive this girl well. I'm so looking forward to and evening with friends and family and a meal to represent the collection of cultures I'm sure to have at my table.

Crap I know Dragons Lace beans I know...I'm going. Just crazy inspired today.
Mama loves you now bring her a Bourbon.....

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Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Galangal gonna knock you out.......

Galangal, What is Galangal, Is It The Same As Ginger. At first, galangal or 'Khaa' in Thai, appears similar to ginger with its sexy tuber shape and sensual aroma. However a closer look we will reveal the difference between galangal and ginger. Galangal has a tighter skin, is lighter in color and can have pinkish portions too and as my picture depicts I harvested mine a bit late and let it cure a bit too long hence my infusion project which we will get too after the details of this Thai beauty. All of us, I hope, know the taste and flavour of common  ginger, Galangal tastes more like pepper(black or white) than ginger. Coming to the similarities between galangal and ginger, both grow underground and are tubers that love a lush tropical enviroment. Fresh galangal is now available in the west and it's easy availability, makes people confuse it with ginger. There are two types of galangal, one of them has a stronger flavour as compared to the other. 


I love to infuse my booze people and I'm proud to say the wakier the concoction the better the buzzzzz.
Here in the Bay we never got a spring it was hell bent rain and then last week it slapped us with the gross 95plus breath of satan. so when life gives you no ability to aclamate what do ya do? Drink baby drink.
This fusion has made me the popular girl at BBQs all over Santa Cruz and super easy fresh and gets the job done with out being girly.

750ml of good Hangar one potato vodka from right her in the Bay
big handful of fresh corriandar (cilantro)
ahhhh bout five oz of peeled sliced into shingles Galangal
up to you how much of Ghost chili Scoval meter off the hook but an explosion of smoky heat
jar it up in a sterilized flip top and refridge for  a week to macerate well.

add spritzer
muddle some persian cukes
splash of lychee syrup and you are off n runnin
or a grip of fresh meyer lemon juice
2T brown sugar
cold cure a salmon wild never farmed
add a T or two to a slaw recipe
half lemon aide half infusion freeze for a fresh inter mezzo granite
add two fingers infusion
2 fingers of cava
lemon simple syrup
rim glass with sugar
I call this my SQUIRREL NECTAR

you get the point OK back to your lesson on the mighty Galangal

Types Of Galangal, Flavour And Aroma Of Galangal 

Galangal, here is an interesting nugget of information. The galangal that originated in Indonesia is also called, lengkuas and has a sharp flavour and pine like aroma. This is the galangal that is more commonly found in fresh or dried (powder) form in the west. The second type of galangal, has a pungent flavour and tastes like a combination of pepper and ginger. This galangal is believed to have it's origin in southern parts of China. This type of Galangal is popular in Thailand and locally called krachaai. The flavour of galangal would therefore depend on the type of galangal, the pine like aroma comes from the galangal that originated in Indonesia. Most Westerners would know this type of galangal.

Using Galangal In Your Cooking 

 Galangal is commonly used as a seasoning ingredient in Thai food, many seafood and meat dishes use galangal for seasoning. There are two ways in which galangal is added to food dishes, one is the crushed form and the other is thin strips. Before you start using galangal, you will always need to peel it and take off the top layer. If the recipe you are making needs the galangal to be crushed, slice it first and then do the crushing. This is because galangal is much more dense, fiberous and harder than ginger. You will find that many cooks prefer to cut galangal into thin strips, that are similar to matchstick length and dimensions. The fact that galangal is harder than ginger means that, it will need to be cooked for a longer time to become tender. The Thai's love to make spicey curry paste and even dipping sauces with galangal as an ingredient. But to steep into a tea or infuse vodka, vinegar for pickle or fragrance a soup go right ahead there are no rules.

If you are using dry galangal (whole pieces) from the grocery store, you will need to soak the dry galangal in hot water before using it and do not toss that steeping liquid that my friend is an oppertunity. Add to the liquid while cooking rice is a good start or add to your bath for a relaxing adventure. Galangal powder, sometimes sold as Laos Galangal powder, can be used instead of fresh galangal. Replace about half inch of peeled and chopped fresh galangal with 1 teaspoon of galangal powder. If you have the option to use fresh galangal and dried or powdered galangal, choose fresh galangal.

go away I'm busy drinking and NOT thinking about JAM or CHEESE.