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Sunday in the Kitchen

It’s been a fun day in the kitchen. I made Mint Pepper Jelly and fried peppers, and Victor made Green Bean Salad, Walnut Pesto, and Pistachio Pesto. All before noon!

We can be industrious when we want to be.

If you have ever planted mint in your life, you know that it grows like a weed, is invasive, and you will never – ever – get rid of it. Knowing this the hard way, we have mint in containers where it can be contained. It still grows like crazy and there is no way we will ever be able to use it all – but I did take a stab at it, today.

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We have spearmint and peppermint growing out back and I’ve been thinking about a mint jelly for a while. When Victor came in with a basket of peppers this morning, mint and pepper jelly became a reality.

It’s a simple water bath recipe anyone can do at home without any special equipment. You really just need canning jars and a pot big enough to boil the filled jars. Pots and jars we have by the truckload, so I just jumped right in. You do want to have everything ready when the jelly is done, so make sure your jars are boiled, water is boiling in the canning pot and all that when the jelly is ready.

Mint and Pepper Jelly

  • 2 cups fresh mint, divided
  • 2 hot peppers
  • 2 cups water
  • 3 1/2 cups sugar
  • 1/3 cup apple cider vinegar
  • juice of 1 lime
  • 1 pouch (3 oz) liquid pectin

Roughly chop mint and set 1/4 cup aside. Place remaining mint in pot with water and bring to a boil. Let boil rapidly for a couple of minutes, cover, remove from heat, and let steep about 30 minutes.

Drain well, squeezing leaves to get as much liquid as possible.

Finely mince peppers and remaining mint.

Add mint liquid, sugar, peppers, mint, apple cider vinegar, and lime juice to pot. Bring to a rolling boil and boil 3-5 minutes. Stir in pectin and boil another minute.

Pour into sterile jars and process for 10 minutes in a boiling water bath.

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When that was done, I started on the peppers.

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This was the first batch coming out of the yard. There are so many peppers growing it is scary. We still have some canned from last year. I need to start eating them faster. In the meantime, these were just fried in olive oil and placed in the refrigerator.

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They’re good on anything.

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I cleaned up and it was Victor’s turn. He’s the Pesto King so I let him have at it.

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Basil is another weed growing out back. The more you use the more it grows. We have it in two different areas and both of them are approaching out of control. The answer, my friend, is pesto. Not just any ol’ pesto, however… Victor made Pistachio Pesto and Walnut Pesto, today!

First the pistachio…

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and then the walnut.

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The recipe is the same for both of them – just switch out the nuts. And you can always just go with the traditional pine nuts, if you’re so inclined. This isn’t a chiseled-in-stone recipe. It’s merely a guideline. You can add more or less of any ingredient, or make it smoother or chunkier. It’s up to you. The only real rule for me is blanching the basil. It helps remove the bitterness and the unwanted licorice undertones – and it sets the vibrant green color!

Pesto

  • 4 cups basil leaves
  • 1/2 cup nuts – pine, pistachio, walnut, whatever
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 1 cup pecorino romano cheese – or parmesan or any good, hard Italian grating cheese
  • salt and pepper, as desired

Blanche the basil quickly in boiling water and then plunge into ice water. Remove and drain well. (A bit of water remaining is okay – it helps in the emulsification.)

Place nuts and garlic in blender and chop well with the olive oil. Add handfuls of drained basil and process. Add the grated cheese and process until you get your desired consistency.

Taste for seasoning and add salt and pepper, as desired.

Place in container and add a thin layer of olive oil on top to keep it fresh.

And the Green Bean Salad

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This is another throw-together salad. Cherry tomatoes from the garden – the only tomatoes that have ripened, so far – mixed with the very last store-bought tomato of the season, sundried tomatoes in oil, blanched green beans, minced garlic, olives, a bit of grated cheese, salt, pepper, and good olive oil.

Absolutely delicious.

Dinner, tonight, is going to be grilled tuna steaks, pesto pasta, and green bean salad.

::burp::

 

 

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