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Chutney Freestyle

February 23, 2016 1 Comment

I followed the recipe above to make mango chutney last summer a couple of times. The first time I measured and made an effort to be accurate, even though I cut the sugar in half. The second time I whipped up a batch I made some changes to suit my own taste, but still kept to the recipe basically.  This week I decided I was expert enough to make my third batch freestyle, and I am very pleased with the outcome.  I only had three mangoes, so I roughly guessed about the proportions of other ingredients.  I tasted my way as I added sugar, molasses and apple cider vinegar to discover the balance I like the best.  I used the rest of my jar of molasses just because it was almost empty.  The last bit was dissolved in vinegar to get it out of the jar.  The extra molasses gave the product a darker color and a deeper taste as well.  The biggest change I made was ramping up the spices, including the hot chile.  The result is very spicy and tangy.  The flavors meld over time, so the flavor will be more integrated after a few days in the fridge.

mango onion garlic

mango onion garlic

with brown sugar and molasses

with brown sugar and molasses

extra spices in mortar

extra spices in mortar

simmer

simmer

finished chutney

finished chutney

This has given me such a kick.  I really enjoy improvisation in the kitchen because it thrills my creative side and expresses my own taste and personality.  This is, in my opinion, the best batch I have made.  I look forward to using it in many ways.  If you have not attempted chutney making I enthusiastically encourage you to try your hand. The precess is very forgiving.  You can change the end result if you want it more sweet, sour, or spicy.   I plan to move on to other kinds of chutney, now that I feel confident in my skills.  I think I will also try my hand at some ketchup, which is another take on the sweet/sour sauce.  Do you like to follow the directions, gentle reader, or do like to freestyle when you cook?  I have a peach tree, so I can well imagine fermented peach chutney in my future.  Variety is, indeed, the spice of life.

 

Fall Food Fiesta, Pecans

September 30, 2014 2 Comments

Pecans grow abundantly in Arizona, with large commercial groves to be found both north and south of the city of Tucson.  Green Valley Pecan Company is the largest pecan farm in the world.  I love the organic pecans from our neighbors just 20 minutes south of Tucson.  They sponsor the Sahuarita Pecan Festival to celebrate the harvest and get festive with the local population.  This year the festival will take place Nov. 8, 2014 from 9 am to 5 pm at the farm.  Parking is free until 8:30 am, and $5 per car after that time.  I adore food festivals.  I am a bigger fan of nuts than I am of wine, so this local festival is particularly appealing to me.  I am not waiting to start eating my organic Green Valley pecans.  I have already polished off half of the first bag I purchased eating them straight up. That is honestly my favorite way to have them.  I do cook with them, and when I was in Austin this summer I heard about a pecan syrup being used in bourbon cocktails that intrigued me.  My friend made a wonderful concoction of bitters by using a whole pecan in the shell as one of the local ingredients she was testing.  The flavor of the nut came out nicely in the final product, the shell lending some bitter notes.  My mother used to shell loads of pecans each year and give them to me as a holiday gift.  It was the best thing she gave me, and she kept doing it until she was very old.  She would spend a month or so shelling pecans in the fall for her holiday gifting.  She was from Texas, so I imagine this came from her childhood.  She made a decent pecan pie, but my mother, Ruby, specialized in pralines.  She made no other kind of candy, and it only happened once a year (for the holiday gifts).  She put pecans in her fruitcakes too, but then she ruined them with fruitcake (I was never a fan of this extremely labor intensive preparation).

Here are some savory examples of pecans for fall festivities:

Most of the classic pecan recipes are for sweets:

If you have made the ice cream you can them have a:

What is your favorite way to enjoy pecans, Gentle Reader?

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