Friday, November 2, 2012

Not sure what to say

I love reading blogs, and enjoy writing in this one, so to speak anyway, as I am not a great writer.  I can't even begin to think about where the time has gone since I last posted. I think about posting, but haven't taken any pictures, ones that I am happy with, that is. 

Here in the midwest, it was a very long, hot, very dry, summer.  Someone recently even said that August started in May! They were right. We had really hot days in May, April even. Maybe 15+ degrees above normal, of course not every day, but we did have them. I did wait until the second week in May to get the bulk of the garden planted, and glad I did, because we did have a couple of "late" frosts. I say that because they felt late, but, in fact, were probably seasonal.

I started out keeping track of everything that I canned, just for my own personal information. When I quit, I had canned: tomato paste, refrigerator pickles, whole tomatoes, pizza sauce, spaghetti sauce, hot sauce, tomato jam (condiment for burgers, sandwiches, cream cheese, etc), applesauce, ketchup, hot pickles, mustard pickles, seasoned tomato sauce, V-8 juice, Porubsky pickles(local pickle spiked with mustard oil), peach salsa, mango-peach salsa, salsa, tomatillo sauce, cowboy candy, jalapenos, cinnamon red-hot apples, roasted garlic mustard, and honey mustard. Whew!! OK, I guess I know where a lot of my time went.  Oh, forgot chicken and stock. Did that way back in May and almost forgot.  And I didn't even get into the blueberries, blackberries, raspberries and gooseberries that I froze. And green chile, can't forget that, I roasted and froze a bunch of that, too!

I want to talk about the mustard, I just did that so it is fresh in my mind, and, I took a few pictures. "smile"

I came across a recipe for beer mustard, I think it was in one of the big Cook's Illustrated cookbooks. I also found a recipe somewhere for Octoberfest Beer Mustard.  In doing a litte research, I read that you weren't supposed to cook your mustard seeds as indicated early in one recipe, it said that they could impart a bitter flavor. Well I wanted to can these, so, oh well, they would get "cooked" a little anyway!  For the Roasted Garlic Mustard, I  roasted two whole heads of garlic in the oven.  If you haven't done this before, it is very easy:  Cut the top off a whole head of garlic, being sure to expose most of the cloves, place it in a little pouch made of foil, and drizzle olive oil over the top, and close up the pouch.  I usually bake it at 250-300 degrees for an hour or more, ensuring that the cloves are slow cooked, and a little soft when done.  Then you can gently squeeze the bottom of the head, at the base of each clove and they should slip right out of the papery skin.  Try doing several of these at a time and put them in a freezer container to store in the freezer, taking out whenever you want garlic.  I love this and almost prefer it in my cooking. Sometimes fresh garlic puts such a bite into food, and when it is roasted, it mellows out the harsh pungency of it.  Try this when smoking meat, too. I put it on the smoker, still wrapped up, but let a little bit of the pouch be open at the top for the smoke to get into.  Mmmmmm, spread this on a little toasted french bread.....mmmm.

Well, now that I have that in mind, I want to finish with the mustard.  Soak a cup of yellow and a cup of brown mustard seeds in a mixture of 1 cup beer, I used a local beer, from Free State Brewery in Lawrence, KS, and 2 cups cider vinegar.  At the end, it was pretty thick, that is why you see malt vinegar in the picture, I added 1/2 cup, this is purely optional. 

 Let this soak for a minimum of 3-4 hours, the times varied according to which recipe I was reading, so I soaked all of my batches for a minimum of 8 hours, one even for 24, it was just based on how much time I had.

After the soak, add 2 Tbsp and 2 tsp. brown sugar and 1 Tbsp. salt. This is where I put in the roasted garlic,  I used 1 whole head, which was about 14 cloves, and an additional 5 cloves, so 20 cloves(ish) of roasted garlic, if you choose to use fresh, I would cut this in half.  In small batches, run through a food processor or blender until creamy, if you want more whole seeds, don't run as much, if you want creamier, run it more. I like mine a good mix of the crunch of the seeds and creaminess.

At this point, I went on and put mine through the water bath canner so that I didn't have to store it all in the refrigerator. Now, we need to have a bonfire and roast some brats!
I tried substituting honey for the brown sugar, I even upped the amount, but the cider vinegar and the beer make it a little too strong, it still overpowers the honey. Now I have a batch going without beer, substituting water instead, and using white wine vinegar for the cider vinegar. I'll let you know if it turns out better!

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