Canned Heat in my Heels tonight...

Lots of exciting things happening this week! I just finished my first real attempt at canning. I'm pretty excited but also a bit nervous that I'll inadvertently botulize myself. I think I'm ok though, I hear the lids popping as we speak (or should I say as I write?). I pickled some beets that were given to me by martha's mom. I'm pretty excited for those. I spiced them up with some apple cider vinegar, cumin, coriander, cloves, and allspice, oh, and also red pepper flakes. We'll see how they turn out. I was going for more of an Indian-style "pickle" here. The other stuff I canned was kind of a hodge-podge of sorts. Dill, garlic, onions, jalps, anaheims, green tomates, baby carrots, and also some radishes. We'll see, we'll see...too early to tell as of yet. The garden is doing fairly well, although something (or someone) has been eating some of our precious tomatoes. We suspect squirrels or rabbits, but there is that shifty neighbor kid... Wife's non-vegetable gardening is going bonkers. She planted some lamb's ear that is starting to dwarf the house, at least we'll have some shade now:)
Food stuff: Made some corn chowder last week. It was really good. I tried my bread trick (scroll down to recipe) here again and it definitely added another layer of creaminess to the soup, beyond the natural creaminess of the corn's "milk".
Had some mid-week salmon with cauliflower puree and a strawberry balsamic reduction. Let's just pause here for a second and talk about rethinking sauces. I don't know about you guys, but I get so tired of claggy, creamy sauces, that are used just for the sake of having a sauce. They are often times laden with butter/ cheese and wicked salty and just not that good. I would really encourage you to try out making some simple reductions to pair with meat or veggies. They bring a really pleasant, clean dimension to the food that you eat, and in the case of the gastrique (vinegar reduction), the vinegar taste leaves the reduction and the natural sugars stand out and really heighten the flavor of what you are eating.
The last dish there is some braised korean ribs with veggies. I haven't really made a lot of braised asian food, but what I have done, I have really enjoyed. This was just some korean beef ribs, carrot, celery, green beans, cilantro, and garlic. for the braising liquid, I used one can beef broth, 1/2 of a bottle of stout (wink wink), some hoisin sauce, and some soy sauce. It was a really nice change from a typical braise and the slow cooking time made the meat fall apart. I pulled it from the ribs and it ended up much like the texture of shank meat, and equally tasty.
Non-foods: I have always been an avid reader, but within the past year, I have turned quite a few pages. It is a really good way for me to wind down after work/working out, and helps me get sleepy. So, naturally, along the way during this last year, I have read some gems and also some let downs. Last week I started reading Memoirs of a Geisha. It is pretty rare that you come across a book that is written like a painting is painted. I'm not going to go into a lot of detail, just know that it is a beautifully written book. finished it this morning.
ok, back to the reductos:
basically, what I do is put an amount of vinegar in a pot (let's say 1/2 cup), and then I add some sugar (about a tbs), or juice (1/4 cup-ish). turn the burner on med-high, and then let it reduce (by about half) until it has thickened slightly. It will thicken more as it cools. You should be able to coat the back of a spoon with it and run your finger across the spoon. the line you make should just hold.
some combinations I like are:
Balsamic/pomegranate (great for Fish/chicken)
Apple cider vinegar/honey (awesome on pork, smoked meats)
Red wine/beef broth (your new favorite "steak sauce")
ale/orange juice/sugar/fresh garlic (oh man is this good on on grilled chicken)
DISH recommends:
cuisinart saucier. ok, seriously? SERIOUSLY! this is on mega-sale right now. If you don't have a saucier, then pick one up. the sloped sides are great for reducing in a flash, and the pour spout is totally rad-tastic. 15 clams. sheesh!

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