Saturday, August 30, 2008


A good cook knows the importance of having all ingredients prepped before actually starting to cook. The French call it "mise en place" which means everything in its place, but I like to call it "ready, set, go." In the accompanying photo, you can see that we have done our prepping. Our margaritas are mixed, salted, and in hand. We've lined up in size order (Susan, Debbie, Jen). Lastly, in keeping with the much-recognized triangle work station approach to kitchen design, we play "rock, paper, scissors" to decide who stands where & does what.

A consensus by prior email is that we will pickle Mr. Green Beans and have a BBQ of ribs/grilled corn/fruit salsa/salad from the garden and a chocolate zucchini cake (most recipes need extra chocolate & cinnamon). This is my 2nd canning session, last year's having mixed results. There was a highly successful jam session that included a pear/peach/persimmon combo with rosemary & candied ginger. (So good that I cannot bear to open my last jar.) But the pickles I made on my own using the refrigerator method were mushy.

This canning session rocks. We have too much fun and plenty of canned beans. I do a couple of jars of pickled eggplant with garlic, but research tells me to simply refrigerate it as opposed to canning. If it's mushy, it'll be a dip. (Whoever heard of pickle dip?)

Maybe it's the margaritas, but we fail to prep for the ribs. There is no BBQ sauce. No ketchup. But Debbie has tomato paste & I make an amazing sauce. I'm not sure I could do it again but it sort of goes like this: Mix together in a saucepan and cook over low heat for about 20 - 30 minutes: 2 small cans of tomato paste, 1 - 2 cups of water, a cut up peeled peach, 1/2 C brown sugar, 2 T molasses, 2 T honey, 1/3 cup (or more) cider vinegar, 1/4 C (or more) teriyaki or soy sauce, 1/4 C mustard (I used spicy brown & poupon), 2 -3 T worcesteshire sauce, 2-3 tsp. hot sauce. While the sauce cooks, saute 1/2 C finely chopped onion & 2 cloves of chopped garlic in olive oil until soft and almost carmelized. Mix into sauce and add 1/2 tsp hot chili paste (or more) and salt and pepper to taste. The idea being to create a sweet sauce first and then add some heat. Don't have a peach? No problem. No chili paste. Never mind. Have a margarita or glass of wine & adjust as you go along. EZ WAY: mix together some ketchup, mustard, brown sugar & teriyaki or soy sauce.

Next up: I bake & blog cookies for Tuesdays with Dorie. Plus, the exciting results of our canning with tomatoes session.

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