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Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Can It, Bottle It, Smoke It and Other Kitchen Projects

This week's book selection is another book to inspire your home canning adventure.  CAN IT, BOTTLE IT, SMOKE IT by Karen Solomon has chapter recipes for:
  • jams,
  • cereals,
  • pantry stock (like vinegar and Worcestershire sauce),
  • pickles,
  • breads,
  • roasted items (coffee beans and nuts),
  • meats (hot dogs and pastrami),
  • smoked fruits and cheese,
  • salty snacks (fried pork rinds),
  • sweet spreads, milks (almond and rice),
  • syrups and sodas,
  • and freezer treats. 
WOW...that's a lot!

I kind of felt like this was a "sampler" book.  Instead of focusing on a narrow part of food preservation, the book has a few recipes (4-5) for each chapter.  If you are looking for a wide variety of a certain type of recipe, this won't be the book for you. 
Also, I kind of had a hard time deciding/choosing a recipe to try for a couple of reasons. 
(1)  Many of the recipes had "strange" ingredients...ingredients that I cannot readily find in my little Nebraska town OR ingredients that I had never heard of, and am therefore, uncertain about spending my funds to obtain.  Some of you may think that ingredients I consider "strange" are common to takes all kinds...
(2)  Some of the recipes that I might consider because they are products I purchase had long time commitments or produced very little for the time commitment required.
**  For example  **
Homemade Vinegar takes a "strange" - vinegar starter (Mycoderma aceti) AND takes around 3 months to produce 1 1/2 cups.  Holy Cow!!!  Do you know how much vinegar I use?!?  I buy 2-3 gallons a month!  Obviously, this was not the experiment for me.
Worcestershire Sauce also takes "strange" ingredients of tamarind paste, fish paste, and blackstrap molasses.  The recipe calls for 1 Tbsp. of molasses (which I can probably obtain here, but not in that amount.  What am I going to do with the other ton that I had to purchase?)  The time commitment was 2 weeks for 1 1/2 cups.  That's probably about how much Worcestershire Sauce I use in a year...but then I'm left with lots of "extra" "strange" ingredients.  It would definitely not be a cost effective recipe for me.  Maybe you have all of the stuff already, so this would be a great recipe for you.
I had Trevor look through the book to see if there was something he thought he'd like me to make.  I didn't want to just make another jam, so I asked him to pick something other than a jam.  He picked Sweet Pepper and Corn Relish.  I asked him for what do you use corn relish?  He didn't know for sure, but he thought it would be good for corn chips...maybe added to sour cream...
It was a small batch, so I'm game to try it.  There was nothing strange, and it didn't require much time.  I honestly got out of bed at 8 AM and had the relish out of the water bath before 10 AM.  I wasn't particularly organized that day either.  The only thing I had done prior to that morning to prepare for making the relish was purchase the ingredients.  Two days before I canned the relish, I was debating about buying the red peppers, corn, and red onion.  When we went grocery shopping, I found an unadvertised sale on red peppers for $0.50 each.  That is CHEAP for my part of Nebraska...they are usually at least $1.25 each.  I decided that was my sign that I was supposed to make this stuff!
As for most canning recipes, it did make a bit more than the recipe stated.  The time commitment stated was "1 day" -- I think this must be the amount of time the relish should be allowed to cure because it took less than two hours to actually make the relish, the brine, combine the two, and hot water bath can the jars.
Later that day, my father-in-law (Howard) came over to see if I had any strawberry preserves left because he wanted waffles for dinner.  I gave him the preserves and offered him a jar of corn relish to try.  He said, "I haven't seen anyone make corn relish since my mom made it when I was a kid."  (Howard's mom died in 1972--before I was born.)  I asked him what they used the relish for...he couldn't remember, but he thought he might remember when he tasted it.  We'll see about that.
Even though there are just a few recipes on a wide range of topics, it's still worth a trip to your local library to check it out.  Maybe it has the recipe you've been searching for!
Do you know what to use Sweet Pepper Corn Relish for??
Have a great day, and take care of you!

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