Swap-Box Hero: Hoagie Peppers

  It was meant to be, I guess. The same bag of banana peppers I’d exchanged for a carton of mushrooms Tuesday morning was still in the swap box after everyone had picked up Tuesday night—along with a second bag of mixed wax peppers. By now, you probably know what that means: it’s time to prep…

Great Scot: Ginger-Cantaloupe Jam

It’s late one evening in March 2001, and we’re finishing up dinner our first night in Campbeltown, Scotland. Joyce Gardiner, my dear friend Judith’s mum, places a sterling shaker on the table alongside our post-entrée cantaloupe. Pepper, I assume. Hmmm. Maybe my dad’s side of the family, who sprinkled salt and pepper on all kinds…

Swap-Box Hero: Homemade Tomato Paste

Who swaps out plum tomatoes? Well, whoever you are (and I’m guessing it was one of our half-dozen picker-uppers who ordered a supplemental 25-pound box from the co-op), I thank you. Your bag plus my bag gave me a four-pound quorum—just enough for a small batch of über-concentrated tomato paste. Another adventure in really, really slow food,…

Honey-Sweetened Blackberry Butter

My family’s humble, lakeside cabin in northern Wisconsin is way, way up there—at the tippy top of the state, in fact, just shy of the UP, halfway across. As if a week in that fabulous place with my fabulous family weren’t enough reward, most years I also come home with a parting gift: anywhere from…

Cloudy with a Chance of Pickles

Half-sour dill pickles, to be exact. Fermented halfsies, to be even exacter. I can’t pretend to be an expert on the lacto-magic that happens here; I can only testify that it works. After years of trying to replicate “Kosher dills” using the vinegar-brine method—and ending up, every time, with tasty but mushy spears—I finally gave in,…

Pickleberries

This week’s pre-delivery CSA list had me prepped for more rhubarb—which was great, since I’d used up last week’s bundle making preserves Sunday. When I pulled back the lid on Tuesday’s box, though, there were strawberries instead. Superb. Sunday’s jam session had also cleaned me out of extra berries, so the switcheroo was a welcome one. I knew exactly…

Sting for your Supper

Stinging Nettles. What, you missed that day in Professor Slughorn‘s class? Though raw stinging nettles will indeed hurt you for a few minutes if you touch them with bare hands, you don’t need a magic wand or copy of Advanced Potion-Making to transform those-who-shall-not-be-handled into a terrific—and nutrient-dense—workhorse green. A couple-minute blanch is all it takes…

Cabbage, Salt & Gramma’s Secret Ingredient

“Time.” That’s all she ever asked for. Once glasses were filled, grace was offered, and platters were passed, “Time” was Gramma Crawshaw’s stock answer to any host’s query, “What does anyone need?” You could count on it. Just as you could count on her bringing the finest, hand-cut coleslaw to every holiday gathering. Itsy bitsy little slivers of cabbage and carrots. Uniform,…

Pickled daikon & carrot coins

Twenty-eight weeks of CSA deliveries this year, and not a single daikon radish had crossed my cutting board. So when I saw them – a bundle of three, nearly as long as my forearm – in Thursday’s swap box, it was bye-bye, kale. I shredded half a radish into a slaw, set one aside for…

The Knights Who Say Nehi: Concord Grape Shrub

No romantic childhood memories in the lede this week, unless you count the Monty Python film festival my college pal, Becky, and I binged on in 1983 at London’s Barbican Centre. Nope, I’m a newbie. I’d never even heard of shrubs when Bryn brought a blackberry version to a Mann Center picnic a few years back. Then,…