I’ve had recipes for rhubarb relish passed to me from both my family and Lisa’s. Though one is from Ontario and the other from Alberta, they are uncannily similar: one part chopped rhubarb and one part chopped onion, stewed together with cinnamon, clove, and other “pumpkin pie” spices.
This has been my default rhubarb sauce to accompany meat and hearty bread for the past couple years, but I have to admit it’s not a show-stopper. I’ve been trying to elevate this recipe, and a friend of mine recently found the way. His discovery of rhubarb onion jam was one of those rare times when something in the kitchen goes horribly wrong, but the food turns out better than if all … Continue reading.
When I first decided to make pemmican, I thought the process would be simple: make jerky, pound jerky, render fat, combine. In practice, there were a couple hiccups, but the results were surprising.
In the finest pemmican, the dried meat was pounded until it became a powder. I started grinding pieces of jerky with a mortar and pestle. It worked, but I realized it would take days to process a useful quantity of meat. I eventually found a rock and a solid piece of earth, wrapped the jerky in cloth and pounded it out. You could probably blitz the meat in a food processor and obtain similar results.
With my meat powder made, I ran into a problem:
… Continue reading.
Two years ago, I had no place in my heart for tomatoes. With the stiff, pale burger-garnishes in mind, I wondered how anyone could get excited about them.
Then a few potted tomato plants in the backyard taught me how much heat they need to mature. Once they started to fruit, the woman next door was in awe, as not thirty feet away she had tried to grow tomatoes to no avail. We decided it was the exposed, south-facing cement wall behind my plants, storing heat during the day to pass to the tomatoes at night, that let them flourish. After harvest, I built a special room in my heart for tomatoes, the demanding plants that grow best in greenhouses … Continue reading.
We didn’t eat spicy food when I was growing up. Not at all.
I didn’t learn to appreciate spicy food until I was in my early twenties, and it was at an Italian restaurant, of all places. I patronized Mercato in Calgary throughout high school, then later I had the opportunity to work in their kitchen. They make food from all over Italy, but the owners are Calabrian, and there’s always a few pastas on the menu made by infusing olive oil with garlic and hot chili flakes. I remember the first time that I realized how effective a little heat can be. It wakes up your mouth, and it elongates the sensation of the dish, as your mouth is … Continue reading.
I come from a land of “refrigerator pickles”: cucumbers steeped in syrupy vinegar and spices, and stored in the fridge through the fall. There is another type of pickle called a lacto-fermented pickle. The idea of producing an acidic pickle with only brine was a revelation.
There are two ways to apply the salt and control the salt concentration: either dry salt can be added directly to the ingredient, or the ingredient can be submerged in a brine.
Direct Salting. This method is more common when the ingredient to be fermented has been sliced or chopped finely. Sauerkraut is the most familiar example in the west. For this method we typically add about 2% of the weight of the ingredient … Continue reading.
Rumtopf, literally “rum pot”, is a traditional German fruit preserve. As each type of fruit comes into season, it is macerated with sugar, placed in the pot, then covered with rum. Traditional rumtopfen are earthenware pots with heavy lids, but any wide-mouthed, non-reactive vessel can be used.
I use about one part sugar to two parts fruit, by weight, for each addition.
Once the last layer of fruit is added, the mixture steeps for a few months, and is traditionally eaten around Christmas.
The mixture goes through some profound transformations during aging. It loses the striking vibrancy seen above and turns a uniform burgundy. The liquor loses its clarity and becomes murky, with an exceptionally rich mouthfeel, verging on … Continue reading.