Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Goodbye 2013. Sweet, yet sour.

Every tomorrow has two handles. We can take hold of it with the handle of anxiety or the handle of faith. – Henry Ward Beecher 

It's up to us to decide if this photo is dusk or dawn. I choose dawn.

This is the last day of 2013. I can’t say I’m sorry to see it go. It’s been a year full of spectacular change, some sweet and some sour.

If anything, 2013 has been a year of instruction and growth for me. Internal growth and fundamental change. Last year this time I lived in Halifax and worked at a large advertising agency. My spouse worked as well and I had our dog (Henry) who loved me – and I loved back – fiercely.

Today I am working for myself trying to build a design business with two prongs – city and country. My spouse is in school and, sadly, Henry was taken from us all too soon. There have been a whole host of house troubles, and activity in mostly every other part of my life you can imagine besides health. So it’s been a trying year to say the least. Sweet, yet at times interminably sour.

But tomorrow starts a brand new year, and with it I am offered the two handles that Henry Ward Beecher speaks. I will grab it by the latter, and every day thereafter, regardless of how difficult or unknown the consequences may be. I do see happiness and a better year ahead. What form that may take I’m not sure, but if I allow happiness to happen, as opposed to anxiety, it will come to me.

I hope all of you seize the year and shake every bit of happiness from it, as I plan to do. Of course, if everything went well continuously we would have no appreciation for what we are fortunate to have. It is the bad that makes us pull ourselves together and strip from us what we “think” is important, much like a bitter winter wind.

So I’m hopeful. I have a lot to be thankful for, and with work – hard work – will have more in the future. It will be hard work, but I’m ready to put in the effort. So to celebrate the new year I thought I would re-post a recipe for sweet and sour pork, appropriately.

May the sweetness of 2014 far outweigh the sour for you all. If you look, you will find it.

Sweet and Sour Pork
Prep: 30 min  |  Cook: 20 min  |  Serves 4
1/2 cup vegetable oil (+ more if needed)
1 medium pork tenderloin
1 egg, beaten
1 cup cornstarch
3 garlic cloves, chopped
2 tbsp ginger, peeled and chopped
1 medium onion
1 medium carrot
1 green pepper, seeded and chopped
1 tbsp cornstarch, mixed with 2 tbsp water
Sweet & Sour Sauce
1/2 cup chicken stock
1/2 cup + 1 tbsp white sugar
1/2 cup + 1 tbsp white vinegar
2 tbsp soy sauce
10 drops red food colouring
1 tsp salt

Beat the eggs in a bowl and place the cornstarch on a plate or in a plastic bag. (I find a plastic grocery bag easier to use to coat the meat.)

Cut the pork into bite-sized pieces. Heat the oil in a wok. Dip the pork into the beaten egg; shake off any excess and place in the cornstarch. Coat well and shake off any excess. You can do several pieces at a time if using a bag.

Fry 8-9 pieces of pork at a time in the hot oil. Do not crowd the pork. Let brown on one side and then turn and brown on the other. Each side should take about 2-3 minutes. The pork will not be quite cooked through. Remove the fried pork to a dish and repeat until all the meat is done.

Mix all the sauce ingredients in a bowl and set aside. Chop the onion and green pepper into 1” pieces. Peel the carrot and cut it on the diagonal into thin slices.

Wipe the wok clean, add a little more oil. Fry the garlic and ginger for about 1 minute until fragrant. Add the onion and carrot and cook until they are slightly softened. Then add the green pepper and fry for a few minutes more.

Pour in the sauce and bring to a boil. Mix the remaining cornstarch and water and add to the sauce. Stir until thickened. Add the breaded pork and toss well. Reduce the heat to medium and let cook for 5 more minutes. This finishes cooking the pork.

Serve on hot white rice.


Feel free to comment. They’re always appreciated. I’ll answer quickly and as best I can. Feel free to share this post. All I ask is if you repost, please give me credit and a link back to the original on this site.

Sunday, December 29, 2013

Leftovers: Turkey with Cheese Biscuits

Aren't the “good things that come to those who wait” just the leftovers from the people that got there first? – Unknown

You will never complain about leftover turkey again.

Who all has leftover turkey still lurking in the refrigerator? Don't all put your hands up at once.

Here’s a recipe to pull out up to a week after any holiday that leaves you stuck with an overabundance of turkey. This is also a recipe that uses mostly ingredients that you already have. All I had to purchase was a head of celery.

Before the biscuits are added on top.
This dish takes 4 cups of cubed turkey. That’s the equivalent of about one turkey breast. It certainly doesn’t have to be all white meat. I’m actually a fan of the thigh and leg more than the breast. So my mixture was a combination.

The secret to the flavour of this “pot pie” is in sautéing the aromatic vegetables. Many recipes call for boiling, which does nothing for their natural sugars. The browning adds depth that you may not expect.

This recipe is really good. It’s filling, delicious and homey – a classic comfort food.

No one will ever turn their nose up at leftovers again when this hits the table. In fact, you may even be asked to prepare turkey specially for this. I really meant it.

The recipe calls for processed cheese in the biscuits. Many times cheese biscuits will call for cheddar or a similar cheese. I had made processed cheese (very easy) and still had some left over. So that’s why it went in.

As long as the cheese you use isn’t a hard variety and is able to be cubed you will be fine. Experiment with Swiss, or monterey jack or even mozzarella. I found the mildness of the processed went well with the turkey.

Of course you can substitute chicken for the turkey if desired. I find turkey has much more flavour than chicken. It probably has to do with the fact that most chickens are grown so quickly they have no chance to develop natural flavour.

If you use a free-range or small-farm chicken you may not find that to be the case.

This recipe was exceptionally good. It really hit the spot. It also gave me the opportunity to get rid of the last of my leftover turkey! 

If you've been turned off by pot pies from your past you should give this one a try. I have a funny feeling you won’t have the same opinion of them again.

Turkey with Cheese Biscuits
Prep: 10 min  |  Cook: 7 min  |  Bake: 35 min  |  Serves 4
Souring the milk with vinegar is a substitute for buttermilk.
As soon as it hits the soda in the dough the whole thing
starts to puff up. Soda starts the process, and baking powder
keeps working longer, as it bakes.
4 cups turkey, pre-cooked and cubed
1/4 cup butter
1 lg carrot, diced
1 med onion, diced
2 ribs celery, diced
1/4 cup flour
2 cups chicken stock
1/2 tsp thyme
1/2 tsp cracked black pepper
1/2 tsp salt
3/4 cup frozen peas

Prep: 10 min
1-1/4 cups milk
1 tbsp vinegar
2 cups flour
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp cracked black pepper
1/2 cup chilled butter, cubed
1 cup chilled processed cheese, cubed

Preheat the oven to 400°F.

Cube the turkey and set aside. Dice the carrot, onion and celery.

Place the milk (from the biscuits recipe) in a bowl, add the vinegar, stir and set aside.

Usually the filling is the star. In this the biscuits play just
as important a role. They were tasty.
Melt the butter in a large pan. Add the carrot, onion and celery and sauté until the vegetables soften and start to brown slightly, about 5 minutes.

Sprinkle with the flour and mix well. Add the chicken stock and stir until thickened, about 2 minutes. Then add the thyme, cubed turkey, pepper and salt. Taste for seasonings and adjust if desired.

Stir in the frozen peas and set aside.

To make the biscuits, combine the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt and pepper in a food processor. Pulse to mix.

With the motor running, add the butter and cheese piece by piece and mix until both are chopped well. Then slowly add in the milk, scraping down the sides as necessary. Do not over-mix. It should be moist but not a purée.

You will see that the batter begins to “puff” as soon as the vinegar/milk is added. This is normal and just what you want to happen.

Place the turkey mixture in an 8”x8” deep baking dish (or 9” x 9”). Drop the biscuit mix on top by very heaping tablespoons. Leave room between the biscuits if possible.

Place a cookie tray on the rack directly under the turkey, just to be on the safe side. Bake in the centre of the oven for 35 minutes (or 40). The biscuits will be browned on top and the turkey mixture will be bubbly. 

Remove from the oven, Let cool for just a minute or two and then serve.


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Questions? Comments? Derogatory remarks? Just ask!

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Christmas Rescue – Spatchcock Turkey

Stress is nothing more than a socially acceptable form of mental illness. – Richard Carlson 
Amazing sage-orange-butter basted turkey, ready in less than 2 hours.

First, let's get the formality out of the way. Merry Christmas to you and your families. May the joy and peace of the season be with you throughout the coming year.

Peace and joy to you today and through 2014!
But did you get everything you wished for this particular day? If it’s more time with your family, and less stress in the kitchen, this post is my gift to you. 

Imagine a 4.5 kg (that’s 10 lb!) roasted turkey that’s ready – from the oven – in about 1 hour 15 minutes. That's how long mine took.

Sometimes there’s just not enough time on Christmas day to get everything ready. Especially if you have to start “that bird” several hours before everything else. It makes for a long day tethered to the stove.

You can cut that tether by spatchcocking your turkey.

What is spatchcocking?
The secret – if you can call it that – is in “spatchcocking” the beast. Spatchcock is one of those words whose meaning has changed over time. 

Originally, a spatchcock was a juvenile chicken or game bird. These birds we generally butterflied for much faster cooking than when left whole. 

Today, spatchcocking (butterflying) is removing the backbone from poultry and flattening the breastbone by firmly pressing it down with your hands.

In this way the meat is all of fairly even thickness and will cook in the same time. Poultry is notorious for having dry breast meat and undercooked dark meat. This technique minimizes that problem.

When you look at the pictures you will see mine is in two pieces. That was an unfortunate circumstance of not being in my own kitchen. I had it beautifully spatchcocked but I did this at my mother’s house using her bakeware.

When the time came to put the flattened turkey in a pan I couldn’t find one large enough. So I finished the cut through and roasted it in two halves. The principle is the same. .

If you’re like most folks who don’t have a massive banquet table your bird probably doesn’t make it to the table whole anyway. That makes spatchcocking a very convenient option.

Being tied to the kitchen takes a lot of fun out of any holiday. With this recipe you can cut your time in half for your Thanksgiving turkey. Enjoy your family, rather than talking to them from the kitchen door!

This wasn’t a Christmas bird – our stress has yet to occur today – so I served simply, with fresh French bread, and carrots and beans that were boiled and then fried briefly in a little butter, honey and nutmeg. Mmmmm...

Sage Roasted Spatchcock Turkey
Prep: 20 min  |  Cook: 1.5 hr, maximum
4.5 kg turkey, butterflied
the herb butter
1/4 cup butter
1/2 cup chopped fresh sage
grated rind of 1 orange
1 pinch each of salt and pepper
the baste
juice of 1 orange
2 tbsp olive oil
1 pinch each of pepper and salt

Preheat the oven to 375°F.

Take out any “extras” that come inside the bird and set aside. Place your victim on a large tray or clear countertop. This can get a bit messy and you need a little room.

With a pair of sharp kitchen shears cut down on both sides of the backbone from the neck to the tail. Remove and set aside with the other pieces. Trim off the first joint of each wing as well.

Remove any extra skin and set it aside also. These pieces can be made into stock by simmering in water with onion, carrot, celery and herbs. If they’re meaty you could turn that stock into soup.

Place the bird skin-side up and press down on the breastbone with both hands until you hear a crack. The bird will then flatten out.

Loosen the skin from the bird with your fingers. You don’t have to do all the skin, just most of the breast, thigh and partially down each leg. Mix the butter, sage, rind and a little salt and pepper together in a small bowl. Spread the mixture evenly under the skin.

Place the turkey in a large pan big enough to accommodate it flat. Take the juice of the orange and whisk it with the oil, salt and pepper. Brush the surface with the mixture, reserving any extra.

Roast the bird for between 1 hour to 1 hour 30 minutes until the internal temperature reads 180°F. Test the breast and thigh with an instant read thermometer.

Brush the surface of the skin partway through with the remaining basting liquid.

When done, remove the turkey from the oven and let rest for 15 minutes.


Feel free to comment. They’re always appreciated. I’ll answer quickly and as best I can. Feel free to share this post. All I ask is if you repost, please give me credit and a link back to the original on this site.

Monday, December 23, 2013

Gifting Homemade Coffee Liqueur

Procrastination is my sin. It brings me naught but sorrow. I know that I should stop it. In fact, I will—tomorrow. – Gloria Pitzer

This is my last post before Christmas Day – post 12 of my "12 Posts of Christmas." The big day is only 2 days away. Have you been procrastinating? Do you still have someone you haven’t bought for? I have the answer.

Use potato vodka.
Photo: acme, Flickr ccl
Who really wants to stand in line-ups (now at EVERY store) when you don’t really need to? And who doesn’t appreciate booze under the tree? Christmas can be a stressful holiday...

Since it’s two days until Christmas, it would be unfair for me to post a recipe that you couldn’t have ready in time to gift. This one might take you 1/2 hour.

Many homemade coffee liqueur recipes, although very good, take two weeks to steep and mature. That's a bit of a wait, especially if you’re behind the 8-ball the day before Christmas Eve! 

So here's my recipe for same-day coffee liqueur. It's extremely simple, and will yield an excellent result. Of course, it's always better after a few days if you can wait.

You will find this rivals the commercially available quaffs, at a fraction of the cost. I've used this base recipe to make hazelnut coffee using flavoured coffee, and Sicilian orange coffee by adding orange peel and juice. It's a great jump-off recipe.

As always, the better your ingredients the better the result. So don’t cheap out on the coffee. After all, it’s the flavour of the whole liqueur.

Simmer – or more accurately light boil – the ingredients.
Make sure you choose a coffee that you enjoy, and that it's freshly ground – the same day you make the liqueur if possible. You never know how long pre-ground coffees have sat on the shelf. 

I used french roast because in my mind it is very "coffee" flavoured, but others will work. They all result in a slightly different liqueur. How about a deep, rich Columbian, or Sumatran, espresso or Costa Rican? Just remember – this is caffeinated liqueur.

If at all possible use potato-based vodka. Potatoes produce a smoother vodka than grain vodkas that are distilled from corn, wheat, or rye. If you don't like vodka as a rule, try some potato vodka, just chilled from the freezer. It's completely different.

Homemade Coffee Liqueur
Prep: 20 min  |  Yield: 1.5L at about 20% alc/vol
2 cups white sugar
Strain through a double layer of fine cotton, like
an old, clean pillowcase.
2 cups water
2 cups coffee, freshly ground for drip
2 cardamom pods (optional)
750 ml vodka, preferably potato vodka
1 tsp pure vanilla extract (not artificial)

Place water, ground coffee, sugar and ground cardamom in a sauce pan. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer for 5 minutes. Remove from the heat, then bring to a boil again and simmer for 5 more minutes.

Strain and measure the liquid. This is your infused syrup. You need 750 ml. If you don’t have enough add water to make the difference and heat to boiling. Let cool to just warm. Sometimes different grinds of coffee absorb more water...

Combine the syrup with the vodka and vanilla. Cover and allow to sit on the counter until cooled, about one hour.

Pour into bottles. Place in the refrigerator for at least 3 hours to chill.

This will make about 1.5 L of coffee liqueur, at about 20% alcohol. More than enough for a house full of revellers, or two really nice gifts. 

Coffee liqueur degrades in direct sun, so keep it in a cool, dark place. Or inside you, which is also dark, and we can only assume is very cool and awesome.

This is what happens if you drink too much of it.
3 ways to use it:
Jamaican Cocktail
3/4 oz. dark rum
1/2 oz. coffee liqueur
3/4 oz. lime juice
dash(es) of bitters

Kinky Russian Cocktail
1 1/2 oz. coffee liqueur
1 1/2 oz. coconut rum
1 1/2 oz. coffee cream

Ragtime Cocktail
1 oz. coffee liqueur
1 oz. brandy
1 oz. coffee cream


Feel free to comment. They’re always appreciated. I’ll answer quickly and as best I can. Feel free to share this post. All I ask is if you repost, please give me credit and a link back to the original on this site.

Saturday, December 21, 2013

Homemade Peppermint Syrup

An alcoholic is someone you don't like who drinks as much as you do. – Dylan Thomas

Ok. This is post 11 of my 12 Posts of Christmas. That mean’s Christmas day is just around the corner. Shopping this weekend is going to be a nightmare. So why not make something at home to give?

Here’s a quickie that you can make in less than 1/2 hour. I had such success with the gingerbread syrup (see a few days ago) that I thought this would make a good companion for it when gifting this season.

Syrups are multi-purpose. Not only do they add unexpected delight in a steaming cup of coffee or cocoa or on ice cream, but they also fit more than comfortably in martinis or other mixed drinks.

How you use it is limited only by your imagination.

Syrups are not cheap to purchase. Because of the cost many people just don’t bother to buy them. They’re a bit of a luxury.

So why not give a homemade luxury gourmet gift this Christmas? It’s sure to be appreciated, and can be done essentially at the last minute.

If you’ve already bought presents for everyone on your list, you could whip up some syrups to make your holiday parties oh-so-interesting. Think of the smiles on the faces of guests when offered a gingerbread or peppermint martini. 

Photo: Elenadan, Flickr CCL
They would be certain to bring out the caroller in just about anyone. Deck those halls!

If you want to make a peppermint martini, try this:
2 oz vanilla vodka
1/2 oz white crème de menthe
1/2 oz peppermint syrup
candy canes, crushed or whole
lime, optional
1/2 oz cream, optional

Shake the vodka, crème de menthe and syrup with ice in a martini shaker. If using the cream include it when you shake.

Strain into a chilled glass and garnish with a whole candy cane. If you’re fancy, crush a couple candy canes in a mortar and pestle to make a powder. Wet the rim of the glass with lime and then dip in the candy cane powder.

Mmmmm, festive. And dangerous!

Peppermint Syrup
Cook: 18-20 min  |  Yield: 2 x 375 ml
3 cups water
2-3/4 cups white sugar
1 tbsp peppermint extract
1 drop red food colouring

Combine the sugar and water in a saucepan.

Bring to a boil and let cook (without stirring) on full heat for 18-20 minutes. At the end of the time the temperature of  the liquid should be about 210°F.

Remove the pot from the heat, let cool slightly and then add the peppermint extract and food colouring.

Bottle and refrigerate.


Feel free to comment. They’re always appreciated. I’ll answer quickly and as best I can. Feel free to share this post. All I ask is if you repost, please give me credit and a link back to the original on this site.

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Gifting Homemade Irish Cream

It's delightful, it's delicious, it's de-lovely. – Cole Porter 

This was NOT gifted, unless you count gifting to me...

For the 10th post of Christmas we have to thank Eagle Brand sweetened condensed milk. This is an oldie (sort of) and a very, very goodie. Perhaps a little too good.

Many moons ago (about 20 years or more), Eagle had a wee liqueurs recipe fold-out book stuck on top of their can lids. I believe it was for the Christmas season, included to move more product because all used the milk.

My little fold-out is stained, torn and tucked inside one of my cookbooks that are still packed away. Thank goodness I still have it, because I haven’t seen it on their cans for many years. That’s a real shame.

All of the recipes sounded fantastic. I think there was four or five in total. I do remember one more. It was for a chocolate mint liqueur. I couldn’t find it with a Google search so you’ll have to believe me. It was there.

I did take a look for it. Interestingly, I found a recipe for a Scotch Mist liqueur instead that uses Eagle Brand, coffee, honey and scotch. One more to try!

Regardless of the consumer-based inspiration behind the booklet, it was a really good thing to do. This is by far the best homemade Irish Cream I have ever had. It never—I say never—lasts as long as you would hope.

Note, it’s “Irish” Cream. That means buying Irish whisky. Regular whisky will not yield the same result. Nor will scotch.

I first was introduced to this during a visit with a friend in Moncton while I was attending NSCAD. Her father had made it  because they were having us for company. I try to listen to his advice, but it is hard: “It’s better the next day.” It is better the next day, marginally.

I never fiddle with this recipe, but I’m torn between the optional ingredients. I usually use vanilla, but this year I used the coconut. Each yields a slightly different result. Of course you can choose to use neither.

If you know someone who loves creamy liqueurs, or Irish cream in particular, you should gift this. It’s unbelievably easy to make, and will last refrigerated for one month. I can guarantee this will not be put to that particular test.

A 750 ml bottle of Irish whisky will yield 3 batches if using 1 cup, or 2 batches using 1.5 cups. Go for the stronger!

Keep it refrigerated until gifting, and then make sure it’s refrigerated once it reaches its final destination.

Great stuff. Amazing taste. I have some in the ‘fridge...

Homemade Irish Cream
Prep: 10 min  |  Yield 5 cups (1.18L)
1 can sweetened condensed milk
1 to 1-1/2 cups Irish Whiskey (depending on how strong you want it)
1 cup 10% cream (cereal cream / table cream)
3 eggs
1 tbsp chocolate syrup (like you get for sundaes)
1/4 tsp coconut OR vanilla extract, optional

 Mix all ingredients together in a blender until smooth. Strain if desired. I do not.

Bottle and let sit for one day before use (yeah, right…). 

Keep refrigerated and shake before pouring. Homemade Irish Cream can be refrigerated for up to one month.


Feel free to comment. They’re always appreciated. I’ll answer quickly and as best I can. Feel free to share this post. All I ask is if you repost, please give me credit and a link back to the original on this site.

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Gifting Kimchi, Lacto-fermented

Build a man a fire, and he'll be warm for a day. Set a man on fire, and he'll be warm for the rest of his life. – Terry Pratchett 

Truer words were never spoken, at least about kimchi. It can certainly light a fire in your mouth and belly. Kimchi is the scary stuff that you see in jars in Asian groceries. It’s the evil-looking orange/red one.

Korean red chillies – milder than the common chilli flakes.
This is number nine in the 12 Posts of Christmas, and once again I offer a very easy gourmet gift recipe. Kimchi is fermented cabbage and other vegetables that are laced with dried red chillies. A lot of chilli. 

Although I like kimchi, I don’t know what I would do with 2.5 L of the stuff. The answer to that is Christmas giving. For anyone who loves spicy Asian food, kimchi would be a most welcome, and unusual, gift.

Kimchi is most often pickled. This recipe is different (probably more historically accurate, too) because it’s lacto-fermented. Lacto-fermenting uses the natural lacto-bacillus on the vegetables to preserve themselves.

The process makes an environment where bacteria that cause decomposition are killed, but the good bacteria multiplies. That’s all done via the salt. It also means it won’t be ready to eat for 2-4 weeks after “putting up.”

Before kneading: full bowl
You can lacto-ferment pretty much any vegetable. Other good ones to do this way are jalapeños, cucumbers, beets and turnips, all traditional in certain cultures.

It’s quite an easy process. You simply slice or chop whatever you’re using and then knead with salt. Kneading is about the right description. Liquid "expresses" and the volume is reduced to about 1/3 to 1/4 of original.

You squeeze the vegetables with the salt, taking care to keep the pieces whole. In the process liquid exudes from the dry mixture and what started out dry becomes much reduced in volume and very wet.

Whatever liquid that comes out is what goes in the jar with the vegetables. The salt kills the bad bugs until the good ones take over. From there they do their magic converting the vegetables on the chemical level.

After kneading. The liquid has expressed
and the volume is reduced by about 2/3.
Lacto-fermentation has many advantages beyond just preservation. Lactobacilli in fermented vegetables improves their digestibility and increases vitamin availability. They also produce helpful enzymes as well as antibiotic and anticarcinogenic substances. 

Their main by-product, the preservative lactic acid, not only keeps vegetables in perfect preservation, but also promotes the growth of healthy flora in the intestines. This helps us digest everything else we eat more efficiently, too.

So there’s plenty of reasons to make, and give, lacto-fermented vegetables. It’s such an easy process too. You really should give this one a try.

You’ll note the recipe calls for “Korean” chillies. You can buy them, or whole dried ones, in Asian grocery stores. They’re not as strong as regular chilli flakes, so don’t be scared of the 1/2 cup used in the recipe!

I did 2 x 1L and 1 x 500lm jars, because my friends are pigs.
Korean Kimchi, Lacto-fermented
Prep: 35 min  |  Age: 2 weeks, min  |  Yield: 5 x 500ml
1 med nappa cabbage, chopped
1 bunch mustard greens
1 lg carrot, grated
1 medium daikon, cut in long matchsticks
1 bunch green onions, chopped in 1/2” pieces
2” piece ginger, grated
8 garlic cloves, chopped
1/2 cup Korean red chilli flakes
2 tbsp sea salt
1/4 cup fish sauce
Special equipment:
rubber gloves
5 x 500ml Mason jars

Prepare all the vegetables and place them in a non-metallic bowl. This is important as the salt will react with the metal.

Grate the carrot and chop the ginger and add. Then add the red chilli flakes. Sprinkle the salt on top.

Wearing the gloves (also important) begin to gently squeeze the vegetables, similar to kneading. Do not break the vegetables up in the process.

“Knead” the salt into the mixture for 10 minutes. At the end of the time a fair amount of liquid will have leeched out of the Kimchi.

Pour the fish sauce over the top and stir in well. Let sit while you sterilize and dry the jars and tops.

Fill each jar, leaving about 1” from the top of each one. Divide any liquid remaining between the jars. Make sure the kimchi is below liquid level. Carefully clean the top of each jar and cover, tightening well.

Place in a cool spot to age for two to four weeks before use. Over this time the vegetables will lacto-ferment and gain a complex sweet/sour flavour.

Once opened, a jar of kimchi will last in the refrigerator for a very long time as long as the vegetables remain below the liquid line.


Feel free to comment. They’re always appreciated. I’ll answer quickly and as best I can. Feel free to share this post. All I ask is if you repost, please give me credit and a link back to the original on this site.

Sunday, December 15, 2013

Christmas-spiced Honey Whiskey Liqueur

Maybe Christmas, the Grinch thought, doesn't come from a store. – Dr. Seuss

On the eighth post of Christmas my true love gave to me… something made by their own two hands!

I’ve been spending the entirety of this month posting about how to give from the heart and not the wallet. That’s the true spirit of the season – giving of one self.

I’ve been thinking about the recent advertising stunt by WestJet, a Canadian airline. They surprised passengers departing from Toronto and Hamilton, Ontario with personalized gifts. 

Passengers were asked at an interactive "Santa kiosk" what they wanted for Christmas – a fun time-waster, so they thought. During the flight, WestJet purchased and wrapped their requests. Then gifts rolled off the baggage carousel at their destination – all 357 of them.

Some were pretty simple, but others showed what Christmas had become – consumerist. Most got what they asked for, like socks, scarves, dolls, trucks, etc, but so did others who wanted large flat-screen TVs, and even a diamond ring. Of course those asking for cars or husbands didn’t quite get their wish.

It’s a great stunt, and an effective publicity campaign, but it’s all to make the giver look good. Christmas should really be spelled Chri$tmas. Christ's message is gone.

Here’s a little snipit from the book the whole season is based on:

Matthew 6:1-4
Beware of practicing your righteousness before other people in order to be seen by them, for then you will have no reward from your Father who is in heaven. Thus, when you give to the needy, sound no trumpet before you, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, that they may be praised by others. Truly, I say to you, they have received their reward. But when you give to the needy, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, so that your giving may be in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you.

Food for thought, all Christians out there. But enough preaching.

The past seven posts have been resurrected from “gifts past.” This one’s a new one. What would Christmas not be without a little something to warm your bones? Here it is, and it only takes 5 days to make, so you have plenty of time.

Homemade liqueurs are a gift that many love to receive. They can be used both in mixed drinks as well as straight-up.

This recipe came about because of my curiosity about the plethora of flavoured whiskies and bourbons that have flooded the marketplace over the last few years.

From what I have read, the flavoured commercial products are aimed at a younger demographic than their “serious” whiskies – for folks that want to experiment with the taste in a sort of sideways way. 

As we know, scotch can be an acquired taste. So that’s why the introduction of some sweetness and flavourings. Get them interested and they’ll graduate to the more pricy products.

I have no fear of that creeping. I’m not a great fan of “on the rocks” whisky or scotch. I attribute it to my plebeian palate. 

This liqueur is made from Irish whisky, which I find more palatable to start than regular whisky, with the introduction of a honey syrup and some spices. The overall effect is a mellow, sweet-ish liqueur that would be perfect for enjoying around a roaring fire after decorating the Christmas tree.

It’s actually quite nice. And probably a little dangerous. An off the top of my head alcohol content would be probably close to 20%. So serve judiciously.

The gift of homemade booze is something that is a good solution for the hard-to-buy-for. Who need another sweater or tie?

Bottles can be purchased extremely affordably at wine-kit stores, as can corks. Tie a bow, or lay a few in a basket and you actually have a gift that will be remembered for a very long time.

I have many, many (around 40) liqueur recipes on this site. Search “liqueur” and the world will open before you. 

There’ll be one more liqueur (at least) making an appearance here before Christmas. I promise that both will be “instant” liqueurs that are ready as soon as you mix everything together.

Christmas-spiced Honey Whiskey Liqueur
Time: 5 days  |  Yield: 1L
2 cups Irish whiskey
1-1/4 cup honey
1 cup water
1 3” stick cinnamon
3 cloves
2 cardamom pods

Combine the honey, water and spices in a saucepan. Bring to a boil and cook for 10 minutes.

Let the mixture cool slightly and then place in a jar along with the whisky. Let steep for 5 days.

Strain the mixture, bottle and chill.


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