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Hot Cock Sauce

  • 4# Red Ripe Serrano Chilies
  • 1/2 White Onion
  • 1 Small head of garlic
  • 3T Kosher salt
  • 9T Light Brown Sugar
  • 4T Apple cider vinegar
  • 1 1/4 Cup white vinegar

Cut stems off chilies leaving the green top in place, process the rest of the ingredients except for the white vinegar until finely chopped and ferment for 4-7 days stirring daily.  When finished, add vinegar and fermented chilies to large pot and bring to boil for 5-10 minutes.  Blend, strain, and adjust seasoning.

Tonic Tincture #1

  • 4 c. water
  • 1 c. lemongrass, smashed and chopped (this took 4 stalks)
  • 1 c. turbinado sugar
  • 1/4 c. cinchona bark, finely ground
  • 1/4 c. lemon juice
  • zest of 1 lemon
  • zest of 1 lime
  • 1 tsp. allspice berries, whole


Combine all and bring to the boil.  Reduce heat to a simmer for 45 minutes, until slightly reduced and thickened.  Strain out solids (probably using coffee filters) and serve 1:3 in seltzer water.

We’ll see how this goes!




Gin, Batch #2

Batch #1, while mixable was dominated by coriander.  I don’t believe the 2:1 juniper to coriander ratio plays correctly for a “dry” gin.  Perhaps this historical ratio is better suited towards Genever  style gins, which indeed is what it tasted like.  However, it that the sweetness may have come from the not-so-neutral initial spirit.

Batch #1, per liter of alcohol

  • 22g Juniper Berries
  • 5g Coriander Seeds
  • 2g orange peel
  • 1g angelica root
  • 1g calamus root
  • 1g cassia bark
  • 1.5g fresh ginger
  • 2 cardamon pod

Sour Dill Pickles

  • Pickling cucumbers to fill suitable ceramic, glass or plastic crock (5#)
  • Grape leaves
  • Fresh or Dry Dill, Garlic, Chilies, Black Pepper, Mustard Seed, etc.
  • 6T Kosher Salt
  • 2 Quarts Water

Try to find cucumbers that are uniform in size and firm — you don’t want to make pickles with old, floppy cucumbers.  Clean cucumbers and cut 1/4″ off the blossom end and fill crock along with the fresh grape leaves.  I put the crock on it’s side and layer the cucumbers and leaves until full.  Add salt to a small sauce pan with half of the water and spices – use as much as you like.  We like really dilly-spicy-garlicy pickles here.  Bring to a boil and then turn off and let cool – add second quart of water to help cool it down.  Once it has reached room temperature poor brine over pickles.  If there isn’t enough brine to cover the pickles, make more with 1T salt per cup of water.

Put a plate or other weight over the top of the pickles to hold them down and cover the crock with a clean dishcloth and put it in the corner.  In a couple of days, skim any mold or scum from the surface of the crock.  If there is mold forming, do your best to clean it out.  Continue to skim the pickles every day.  Depending on the temperature and the amount of salt used in the brine and how sour you want your pickles it make take anywhere from one to four weeks for the pickles to be ready.  Just pull one out with a fork and test it.  Once they taste good, transfer to quart mason jars, cover with brine and move to the fridge.

Here’s what a NORMAL batch looks like, the white bloom is a good sign!

Here’s my current batch after a week – the brine hasn’t reached all the way in yet, they taste good but aren’t sour enough.

If the pickles taste bad, don’t eat them.  If they are mushy or rotten, don’t eat them.  It is normal for the brine to be a little viscous but it shouldn’t be thick or snotty (although some of this is pretty normal – it has to do with other bacterias that may be present in the ferment, it doesn’t mean it is bad, but in my experience lacto-fermented foods that end up snotty don’t have the bright and sharp flavor that makes them so good in the first place.)

Technique and instructions taken liberally from Wild Fermentation.

Jigsaw (Enigma, #3)

Tomato Hot Pepper Jam

  • 2.5# Mixed Heirloom Tomatoes
  • Mixed chilies to taste (2 Orange Habenero, 2 ripe red Jalapenos, 2 Fish, 2 Thai dragon)
  • 2 cups sugar
  • Juice of one lemon
  • big pinch of sel gris

Mill everything tomatoes and peppers and combine in non-reactive pot with sugar and lemon juice and bring to a boil.  Turn down to a slow boil and cook for 30 minutes skimming the foam.  Turn off the heat and let sit, covered, overnight.  Taste for seasoning and add more chillies or acid needed. Bring back to a boil and reduce to a medium heat, skimming and stirring frequently, cooking until it passes the plate test.  Ladle into prepared jars and process for 6 minutes.

Next year, I hope the tomato harvest aligns with the Rocoto Peppers.

Sauerkraut: if I’d only known you were so easy

We love sauerkraut and have been happily forking over for Alexander Valley Gourmet’s fresh sauerkraut to get our fermented veggie fix.  We’d been put off trying to make our own by accounts of wet moldy rags and open pickling crocks and then we read this SF. Chronicle article on fermented foods that had a seemingly easy to try sauerkraut recipe.

Two pounds green cabbage, 2 tablespoons salt (not iodized), 1-2 teaspoons caraways seeds.  Shred, salt, add seeds, wait a bit for the salt to wilt the cabbage, stuff tightly into mason jars, cover with a bit of extra brine if needed, screw down lids and ferment.  Wait, we can do that!

We’ve made 5 or so batches since the article came out and our favorite so far was made with the addition of carrots and celery seeds.  It was AMAZING with caramelized Gravensteins and Santi sausages.

There are a lot of detailed instructions out there so just go search and remember, don’t be afraid.  It’s easy!  We’re on our third batch of dill pickles now too!

Zucchini Bread


What to do when you’re finally tired of using overgrown zucchinis as baseball bats

see also:

Applesauce -OR- What to do when you’re finally tired of using mushy Gravensteins as baseballs.

We planted several zucchini plants this year knowing full well that we’d have too many by half, but I was inspired by a friend to put up a freezer-full of zucchini bread.  We trudged through a few recipes that were alright-to-fine but I finally found one I really enjoyed, and what’s more, Kelsey enjoyed as well.  I know I’ve struck gold when Kelsey makes a favorable comment on something I’ve made instead of telling me what to do differently next time.

The golden recipe comes from SmittenKitchen but with the substitution of applesauce for the oil.  I have not actually tried her recipe as it’s written, but I’ve got to say, the applesauce really is nice.  Plus, I can throw some chocolate chips in it and not feel like a complete glutton.  I mean, there is virtually no fat in the damn thing.  Slather with butter.  Go ahead.  It’s ok.  It’s moist and sweet but not too sweet and by god everybody in the house likes it.  That’s good enough for me.

Almost SmittenKitchen’s Zucchini Bread

for 2 loaves:

3 eggs

1 cup applesauce

1 1/2 cup sugar

2 1/2 cups grated zucchini

2 tsp vanilla extract

3 cups AP flour

3 tsp cinnamon

1/8 tsp nutmeg

1 tsp baking soda

1/2 tsp baking powder

1 tsp salt

1/2 cup walnuts

some amount of chocolate chips perhaps, if one is feeling feisty.

Preheat oven to 350

Grate zucchini and let it drain in a colander in the sink as you bring the other ingredients together.

In a medium bowl combine flour, cinnamon, nutmeg, soda, powder, salt and walnuts.  Set aside.

In a large bowl, beat the eggs, then add applesauce and sugar and then the vanilla and zucchini.  Beat to combine and then add in the dry ingredients.  When just combined stir in chocolate chips, if using.

Butter and flour two loaf pans and fill ’em up.  They’ll need to bake for about an hour but make sure to check and rotate half way through.

ALSO:  Once released from the pans, let them sit until they’ve cooled.  Cutting into hot bread makes the loaves gummy and disappointing.  I have learned this far too many times the hard way.


Emily made a batch of Nocino with this recipe this year to celebrate her birthday and we just finished bottling it tonight.  The walnuts were a little ahead of us this year and may have been a little too mature.  It is also a little citrusy and doesn’t have the depth that we hoped for but it is supposed to improve with time.  Most recipes call for letting it age at least 6 months.  I think that next time we’ll add few coffee beans to the infusion – this may be one of the flavors that leaves ours wanting when compared to Nocino Bella Cristina.

Then we found these traditional nocino (or translated by google) recipes.

Refrigerator Pickles

  • 2 large cukes
  • 1/2 yellow onion, sliced
  • 4 cloves garlic, smashed
  • 1c water
  • 1c cider vinegar
  • 1 1/2 c sugar (to taste)
  • salt (to taste, 1/2 t?)
  • 1t mustard seeds
  • 1t turmeric
  • 1/2 t celery seeds
  • 1/2 t pickling spice
  • 1/2 t red pepper flakes

Toast spices to help release flavors, combine with water, vinegar sugar and salt in small saucepan and bring to boil with smashed garlic.  Simmer for a few minutes to help release oils from spices.  Slice cukes into 1/4″ thick rounds, toss with sliced onions and pack tightly into quart mason jars.  Poor brine over pickles, let cool to room temperature and refrigerate.  Make a little extra brine with 1 part water to 1 part vinegar if needed to completely cover pickles.  Ready in about 24-48 hours!

Apricot Preserves #1

  • 5# Apricots
  • juice and zest of 1 lemon
  • 3c sugar
  • 1c, scant, water
  • kernels from 1/2 of the apricots

Combine all ingredients, cook, process!