Cherry Bomb Pepper Sauce

Hot sauce has become a staple in our household. I’ve always loved spicy food, but particularly now that we have to tone down our cooking to make it kid-friendly, I crave the heat that much more. And hot sauce is a great solution for adding spice individually rather than to the entire dish.

Cherry bombs are a medium-heat pepper about equivalent to a mild jalapeño. I used Kraut Source’s Fermented Sriracha as a guide for my pepper sauce, substituting cherry bombs for the peppers in the original recipe. The result was so good I decided I needed to document my version for repeat use!

Ingredients

2 1/2 cups water
1 1/2 tbsp sea salt
1 lb cherry bomb peppers
4 green Thai chiles, stems removed
4 cloves garlic, peeled
1 bay leaf
1 tbsp demerara sugar
1 tbsp apple cider vinegar

In a small pot over medium heat, stir the salt into the water until it dissolves. Allow to cool completely. This is your brine, the base for fermentation.

Trim the stems from the cherry bomb peppers and remove the seeds. Cut into quarters. Pack into a clean glass jar (quart size) along with the Thai chilis, garlic and bay leaf. Pour in the brine, filling to the shoulder of the jar (the point near the top where the sides of the jar slope inward).

Top the jar with your fermentation device of choice. I’ve used Kraut Source and Easy Fermenter lids. For the latter you need a fermentation weight; I’m currently using Easy Weights. Ferment at room temperature for 10-12 days.

Drain the jar, reserving the brine in a separate bowl. Remove the bay leaf, then place the rest of the fermented ingredients in a blender. Add the sugar, vinegar and 1/2 cup of the reserved brine and puree until smooth.

Check the sauce for consistency — if it’s too thick, add more brine. When you’re satisfied, taste for flavor. Add more salt, sugar and/or vinegar to taste. Pour back into your jar and store in the refrigerator.

Pictured: Pyrex Terra 472 Cinderella Round Casserole, Pyrex Spring Blossom 442 Cinderella Mixing Bowl

Rainbow Coleslaw with Citrus Vinaigrette

It’s starting to feel like summer in Northern California — the days are getting longer, the weather is getting warmer and the school year is winding down. And BBQ season is ramping up!

All of those things put me in the mood to make a summery coleslaw — light and colorful with a subtle citrus tang. I prefer chopping the cabbage and bell pepper by hand, to give the slaw a more rustic look, but I cheat with pre-shredded carrots. A sprinkling of salt in the prep process helps the veggies release some of their excess moisture, so that the finished product remains crisp but doesn’t get as watery.

Serves 6

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Ingredients

1/4 head green cabbage, sliced thin
1/4 head red cabbage, sliced thin
1 yellow bell pepper, sliced thin
5 oz shredded carrots
2 tsp salt
1/3 cup parsley, roughly chopped
honey lemon dressing
1 tbsp apple cider vinegar (optional)

In a large colander, toss the cabbage, pepper and carrots with the salt. Place the colander over a bowl and allow the veggies to drain for at least one hour, up to four hours. Rinse and drain thoroughly (patting dry with paper towels helps too).

Transfer the veggies to a bowl and stir in the parsley. Toss with the honey lemon dressing to taste. If you prefer a little extra tang, add the cider vinegar and toss until well mixed.

Pictured: Pyrex Yellow 404 Round Mixing Bowl 

Thrifted Find: Corning Ware Wheat

Corning Ware’s wheat pattern dates back to the 1960s, and is the subject of much speculation among collectors. Evidently it was originally intended to be one of the first Corning Ware patterns, but was supplanted by blue cornflower for whatever reason, and then released later on. The details are a little fuzzy. In any case, I was excited to find one in a thrift store recently, as I’d never seen the pattern in real life.

There was just one problem: I was thrifting while visiting family out of state, and anything I bought would have to make it home by airplane. I could wrap it in dirty laundry and lug it in my carry-on, or even ship it to myself, but that all seemed like too much trouble. I convinced myself that taking a picture would be enough, and moved on.

Fast-forward a couple days: Back at home, I was reorganizing my Corning Ware cabinet and discovered the very same wheat dish on the shelf. I thought to myself, “Good thing I didn’t buy that dish in Washington, because I owned it already and must have forgotten!” I told my husband about it and he laughed — typical me, my brain is a sieve these days and I’ve been known to experience thrifting amnesia.

Then I told the same funny story to my uncle, who had been in the thrift store with me back in Washington. “That’s funny indeed,” he said, because he had gone back to the store, bought the dish, and colluded with my husband to sneak it home for me. They were wondering how long it would take me to notice it. At first I didn’t believe him — he’s a known BS artist — but after calling my husband to confirm, I had a good laugh. It’s been a long time since I’ve been truly surprised by something, and this surprise was a pretty good one.

The whole experience made me feel so loved — people going out of their way to do something special for me — and that’s something I will forever associate with this dish.

Easter Dinner 2018

My Easter meal planning this year was inspired by two things: 1) the desire to use my Pyrex pink daisy divided dish (because pink and daisies are so Easter), and 2) the beautiful rainbow carrots and red fingerling potatoes we got in our produce box this week. The divided dish will be perfect for a berry and whipped cream dessert, and the carrots and potatoes will be roasted and tossed in a carrot top pesto.

For everything else, I’ve pulled together the most Easter-y pastels I could find in my collection: lime green, gold and sunny orange.

Rough menu:

  • Spice rubbed rotisserie chicken (recipe)
  • Roasted carrots and potatoes with carrot top pesto (recipe)
  • Brussels sprout quiche (recipe)
  • Simple salad with kumquat dressing (recipe)
  • Parker House rolls
  • Assorted berries with fresh whipped cream

 

Pictured: Pyrex Pink Daisy Divided Dish, Pyrex Lime 024 Round Casserole, Pyrex Butterfly Gold 404 Round Mixing Bowl, Pyrex Lime 232 Oblong Open Baker, Corning Ware Butterscotch Round B-2 1/2-B Saucepan, Corning Ware French White F-3-B Quiche Dish, Fire King Gravy Boat

Everything Rub

Years ago, my husband and I came across Szeged brand steak rub in a restaurant supply store. We tried it and were quickly hooked — it’s a great basic flavoring not just for steak, but for chicken, pork, even fish or vegetables. So while we still refer to it as steak rub, we should really call it an everything rub. We probably use it most often for roast chicken.

Over time, we’ve developed our own copycat version of the rub — a mix of spices we actually like better than the original. After all, when you blend your own spices you have a chance to use fresh, high-quality ingredients, and tweak the flavors to your taste.

Ingredients

1 tsp dried rosemary
1 tsp dried thyme
1 1/2 tbsp kosher salt
1 tbsp freshly ground pepper
1 tbsp onion powder
1 tbsp paprika (sweet)
1 tsp granulated garlic
1/2 tsp celery seeds

Using a mortar and pestle, grind the rosemary and thyme into small pieces. Combine with the rest of the ingredients and mix thoroughly. Store in a cool, dry place.

Pictured: Pyrex Town and Country 501 Refrigerator Dish, Hazel Atlas Mixing Bowl

Honey Lemon Dressing with Preserved Kumquats

We have a huge crop of kumquats this year from our patio tree, so I’ve been trying out some new ways to use them. And since I’ve been into fermentation lately, I preserved a jarful of kumquats in brine with a few spices. The result: a little spiced jewel with the pleasant funkiness of a preserved lemon and a fruity taste somewhere between a sour orange and a sweet tangerine.

Now, what to do with these preserved kumquats? They have cocktail potential, or would be great on a cheese board, but to me salad dressing seemed like the easiest place to start. Here I’ve added them to a basic honey lemon dressing, and the result is so good I think I’ll be making it again and again.

Fermenting kumquats is easy and fun — I used this recipe from the Kraut Source website. But you can also make this dressing with fresh kumquats, leave the kumquats out altogether or use a teaspoon of grated zest from another citrus fruit.

Ingredients

2 cloves garlic, minced
juice of 1 lemon (about 1/4 cup)
1 tsp rice vinegar
2 tbsp honey
2/3 cup olive oil
1 tbsp coarse Dijon mustard
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper
3 preserved kumquats, thinly sliced (seeds removed)

Whisk together all ingredients except the kumquats, until well combined. Stir in the kumquats, then cover and refrigerate overnight. The next day, let sit at room temperature for a few minutes and then whisk before using.

Pictured: Pyrex Spring Blossom 441 Cinderella Mixing Bowl, Fire King Gravy Boat, Hazel Atlas Egg Beater Cup

Broccoli, Cheese & Bacon Breakfast Bake

I love breakfast casseroles, but most recipes seem to be designed for 13×9 pans — great for feeding a crowd, but too much for those times I want to make something special just for my own little family. Here’s a scaled-down version that can be done in an 8×8 pan or 2-quart casserole dish. It uses ingredients we tend to have on hand, so I was able to whip it up this past weekend without a trip to the grocery store. Bonus: If you use Corning Ware, you can saute and bake in the same dish!

Adapted from Food Network’s Mix-and-Match Brunch Casserole.

Serves 6

Ingredients

3 oz bacon, chopped
1/2 onion, chopped
1 cup broccoli florets
3 cups stale bread, torn into roughly 1-inch cubes (not too dense — I used leftover hamburger buns)
1 cup shredded cheese (any type — I used a Mexican blend)
1 1/2 cups whole milk
6 eggs
1/2 tsp salt
pepper

Preheat oven to 325 degrees.

Saute the bacon over medium heat until the fat has rendered and the edges start to brown. Then add the onion and broccoli, and saute until the broccoli starts to cook but is still crunchy. Transfer to a large bowl.

Stir in the bread and 3/4 cup of the cheese. In a separate bowl, whisk together the milk, eggs, salt and pepper (to taste), then add to the veggie/bread mixture and toss until the bread is well coated. Let stand for a few minutes.

Pour into a greased 8×8 pan or casserole and sprinkle with the remaining cheese. Bake, uncovered, until the center is just set and the edges start to brown, about 40-50 minutes. Let rest 10 minutes, then serve.

Pictured: Corning Ware Floral Bouquet Third Edition A-2-B Casserole, Pyrex Salad Bowl 444 Cinderella Mixing Bowl, Pyrex 532 Measuring Cup