In a pickle

If you enjoy pickles you might also appreciate pickled vegetables. Pickled vegetables have become likable amongst many people over the past few years in salads, as garnishes, a side item, and even an accessory to menu items. Pickling is a way of preserving food in a brine commonly made up of salt, water, and an acidic solution, mainly vinegar. This method is used for the fact that it can safeguard perishable food for months.

The last few restaurants Ive worked at there’s  been an appearance of pickled vegetables  on the menu even if it was pickled beets for a salad or pickled onions for a sandwich. Since I began working with them more I thought about making my own pickled vegetables at home so I had an acceptable snack with a salty and sour flavor to it. This recipe is easy to do and you can hold these in your refrigerator up to 1 year. You can use any vegetables you like. I would’ve included Okra and cauliflower, however there wasn’t enough room in my little jar.

To Pickle vegetables you will need:

A.) Pickling Liquid

1.) 2 Cups Water

– 1 3/4 Cups Distilled White Vinegar

– 1/2 Cup Granulated sugar

– 1 1/2 teaspoons coarse salt

– 1 Tablespoon Pickling spice (You can make from scratch. Add in 2 bay leaves, 1 Tablespoon peppercorns, dry herbs/spices of choice.)

B.) What to pickle

-1 Each Cucumber, sliced in thin rounds

-3 Each sweet peppers, sliced into thin rings

– 12 Each Green beans

-1 Cup Dill, preferably fresh or you may use dried.

-8 Each garlic cloves, peeled and sliced thin

-2 Each dried red chili peppers or 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes

-2 Each Mason jars or storage jar of choice

How to prepare:

-Place all ingredients in a pot except for vegetables and bring to a simmer over medium high heat.

-While waiting to boil, disperse vegetables between the two mason jars.

-Add the hot pickling liquid until covering the vegetables.

-Let cool before putting the lid on. This step is important!!! If you place the lid on too soon before it cools you risk botulism. This will inhibit the growth of bacteria. You want to avoid that!

-Cover and place in refrigerator at least 10 days before eating.

Enjoy!

– If you like gin and tonic, this spicy pickle recipe goes great with this cocktail. Simply add a little bit of the brine into your tonic class and garnish with 3 vegetables. Add a splash of hot sauce and enjoy the delicious taste of a spicy gin and tonic!! 🙂

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Anytime chili

The Year was 1998 and the Gresbach family was all gathered around the television watching Superbowl XXXII: Greenbay Packers and Denver Broncos. With my family being from Wisconsin, this was a very big game for us. Although Denver defeated the packers in a 31-24 final, it was still a great game and another wonderful evening spent with my family.

During halftime my grandpa always had chili waiting hot on the stove along with all the toppings of sour cream, shredded cheddar, and chives alined on the counter in front. I don’t know who he got the recipe from or how he makes it but it is the best chili i’ve had. I think about that chili every day and think of all the football games and gatherings my family had when chili was the entree.  Needless to say you don’t need to wait for a superbowl or cold winter weather to make a steaming hot pot of chili.

Traditional versions of chili are made using chili peppers, garlic, onions, and cumin. The addition of ground beef is sometimes used depending on culture. Variations on geographic or personal reasons may include beans and tomatoes as well. After years of messing around with chili recipes, I’ve put together a recipe everyone will enjoy.

What you will need:

-1 Small yellow onion, small dice

-1 Stalk celery, small dice

-4 Cloves garlic, chopped

-1 15 Oz can red kidney beans, rinsed

-1 15 Oz can black beans, rinsed

-1 4 Oz can chopped green chili’s

-1 28 Oz can tomato sauce

-1 Tablespoon Sambal

-TT Cumin

-1 Teaspoon chili powder

-1 Teaspoon Cayenne powder

-TT Salt and pepper

-1 packed smoked sausage (Omit if vegan)

Preparation:

-Turn oven on to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.

Heat a large sauce pot with one tablespoon of olive oil over medium heat.

-Once hot, saute vegetables and garlic until translucent. Approximately 3 minutes.

-Add in beans, and Tomato sauce followed by seasonings and sambal until desired taste. Stir to combine and cook over low heat stirring often for 1 hour.

-While that is cooking, cut sausage on the bias and line on a sheet tray covered in foil and bake in the oven for 15 minutes.

-When sausage is ready add it into the chili and continue cooking for one hour.

– Serve immediately with toppings of your choice.

-Enjoy!

The seasonings in this chili can be tricky. I didn’t put up specific measurements because with my taste I prefer mine spicier. If you are unsure start with 1 Tablespoon of each and adjust flavor from there. Go light on the chili powder and cayenne because flavors continue to develop throughout cooking and those two are powerful together and may cause your chili to become too spicy. If you don’t have any dry chili in your pantry you can substitute chili sauces such as Texas Pete or Franks. Lastly, I prefer to use tomato sauce because the beans soak up a lot of the liquid throughout cooking getting it to the perfect consistency.

Agua Fresca

Agua Fresca

One good thing about working in kitchens is the amount of diversity you come across with your co-workers. It is typical that in most kitchens there is someone of mexican discent working. since working at the Greenbrier, I have worked with many passionate and food driven chefs and I have never worked anywhere else where I have seen so much creativity. One of the chefs in our kitchen is crazy about making this fruit drink just about every day for our family meal. I finally went up to Armando and asked him what the deal is with him making these delicious and refreshing drinks. He told me that this melon water or Agua Fresca is a very popular drink in Mexico. Traditionally when they drink water they add any fruit of choice preferably watermelon  for a delicious flavor. I did some research on this tradition and according to the Hawaiidiner.com, this beverage literally translated as “fresh water” is a drink made from what ever fruit is in season and usually has a sweetener such as sugar added to it. You will find these drinks all over Mexico on the street or in restaurants and the distinct fruitiness balances very well amongst Mexican cuisine. This beverage can also be see in the Philippines.
I watched Armando prepared this tasty beverage one day and asked if it was okay to copy the recipe and add it to my blog.  You can use any fruit you like, we prefer to use compressed melons such as watermelon, cantaloupe, and honeydew. We compressed them due to the fruit we received this year not being as sweet as it should be therefore compressing it in simple syrup added great sweetness to it.

To make you:
-Add into a blender or vita prep any kind of fruit cut into small chunks up to the top. For this recipe we used all three melons as mentioned above.
-Add in 1 cup lemon juice
-Add 4 oz simple syrup (equal parts sugar and water, cooked down)
-Add in small handful mint leaves (optional)
-Blend together
-Strain though a fine mesh strainer or chinoise
-Serve over ice and enjoy.

You can also add in berries if preferred for additional flavors. This is a very delicious and light refreshing beverage. Goes wonderful with hot/spicy foods, and great to enjoy on a hot summer day.

Pictured above is an example of how to start the beverage with adding everything into the blender prior to blending.