Thursday, September 30, 2010

Nature nurtured...

"Smoke 'em if ya got 'em"

Fresh chiles are always a welcome site at the peak of the growing season.  I always look forward to that first bite of heat in a simple salsa.  My CSA had bins of poblanos and jalapenos that they were giving away by the truckload.  I filled a reusable shopping bag and headed home with my treasure. 

I couldn't help but roast a batch as soon as I got in the house.  They were extra hot this year because of the favorable growing conditions.  I partook in all that I could handle.  The charred remains went into the refrigerator for use throughout the week.  Not enough to justify freezing.  I topped off two pint mason jars with a green hot sauce.  I'll use some to spice up a pot of chili on a cold day, the bean kind of course.  I have yet to venture the Texan route.  However, I have made a delightful vegetarian version with roasted eggplant and barley.  I forgot to pull about a dozen out of the bag and discovered them a week later.  A coincidental break in the humidity shriveled them into red beauties with no signs of rot.  I'm set for the winter and didn't have to spend a dime. 

Inspired by the Hatch Chile Festival, I contacted my CSA and proposed to run a chile roast and smoking event next year.  I suggested that members gather with their grills and smokers for a day of alchemy.  Maybe I'll even make some chile rellenos and tortilla soup to share.  It'll be a nice way to make use of some great product and get a community together to celebrate a successful harvest.

Who knew that a mere pepper could be transformed into a variety of forms and flavors?  Most processes were born to preserve a perishable product without the luxury of refrigeration.  It's a bonus that they're so tasty.  On their own, they add a little spice and depth to our dishes.  In a chef's hands, they're completely transformed to push the pallet in ways we never imagined.  

OCQ was put together to investigate their inspirations, so we can attempt our own spins.  Keep to The Plan...  

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Time and Patience

Sealing the ends for seasoning works unlike searing meat

We recently had a friend come over to fell this maple tree.  We all had reservations about cutting it down because it was beautiful and here before we were born.  It hadn't been pruned and was creeping up on the house, so it had to go.  I resolved that I'd do my best to make use of the wood.

Nothing beats the flavor of cooking over an open fire.  I'll rig up something to make charcoal.  Bits and chunks will be reserved for smoking.  I researched making lumber, but the process and time investment didn't make sense.  However, I had the idea that I could make a pepper mill and salt box.  I consulted my woodworking friend who came over and split sections to store.  I sealed the ends with latex paint to prevent splitting.  The rule of thumb for seasoning is one year per inch of thickness.  I figure it'll be at least seven years before I can hear that first peppercorn crack in the grinder.  It'll be worth it. 

"If a tree falls in the forest but nobody is around to hear it, does it make a sound?" - popularized quote originating from Bishop George Berkeley's work.  Sorry, I couldn't help myself.  I have been plugging away to get noticed in the food community and it's slow going.  As a rookie blogger, I fell into the trap that it would be easier to be seen than I thought.  I finally came to grips with what I already knew. 

I guess if I'm willing to wait years to turn some wood, I can be a little more patient.  It's all about the journey and The Plan.

Friday, September 17, 2010

You might be into cooking if...

- when you’re planning a vacation, your first thought is to research local ingredients and
   access to a kitchen
- you have explained to your three year old child what mise en place is
- you get at least one person a year to join a CSA or go to the farmer’s market
- you’re excited when a friend with a food limitation comes over for dinner, because it will
   be a fun challenge
- you have made a soup with leftovers that tasted better than a planned preparation
- you started a blog to gather other enthusiasts to gain the attention of culinary greats

I hope this made you think of some of your own.  Feel free to post them in the comments.

I'm glad you're here to break bread with us.  Please check out The Plan to begin your cook quest.