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In a Bar with Irish Spring at Hand

Irish Winter is the best season for sitting in pubs and complaining about the weather (while eating oysters and drinking Guinness). I can hold my own at this sport.

At the beginning of winter, I went and visited Joe Shea, my best friend from Trumbull High School, who has been living in Ireland […]

Galveston’s Italian Olive Tradition

The Seedy Side of Galveston


Seeding Galveston is an urban gardening project that has transformed some weedy vacant lots on Galveston Island into thriving community gardens. The largest plot, at 33rd and Avenue N, is a full-fledged urban farm. Tomatoes, eggplant, sorrel, cucumbers, cabbage, green beans, herbs, collard greens, several kinds of chard, kale, and potatoes are all […]

DIY Olives: Who Ate the First Olive?

Galveston olives from my backyard tree

How to Cure Olives:

Galveston olives from my backyard tree

Our new house in Galveston has a small, and very old, olive tree near the back porch. I haven’t figured out the cultivar–my iPhone plant app says they are “African olives.”

When I noticed that these olives were starting to get ripe, I […]

FTX Symposium

[View the story “Recap: FM 2014” on Storify]

Pickled Daikon: Meat’s Perfect Pal

We got them radishes all day, son!

By guest blogger Katie Walsh

I spent some time in Houston with my dad On A Meat Mission, to learn about meat and how it’s cooked. Over the next several weeks we’ll be sharing recipes and tales from our meaty adventures.

Strangely enough, the first step on our meat program was pickling daikon. Dad has a small, raised-bed organic garden in back of the house that was overflowing with daikon radishes. (Thanks to gardening guru Jim Sherman for suggesting that we plant daikon this year!)

Inspired by the julienned pickled daikon served on Vietnamese bánh mì sandwiches, Dad had experimented with several recipes. The most successful were radishes cut into thin coins. He said he asked Kelly (my step-mom) to taste them and she proceeded to kill a whole jar in one sitting. They rock.

We’d planned on making a venison pâté, and thought that daikon pickles would taste great with it. Plus those babies were just dying to be harvested. First ya pull ‘em out. Grab down by the base, near the ground.

Now that's a dirty daikon.

Then ya wash ‘em off. We had a big bowl of water we dunked them into. Cut the tops off, give ‘em one more rinse and throw them in a clean bowl.

Now it’s time to put ‘em up.

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Homemade Cayenne & Tabasco Sauce

Jim "Pepper Rancher" Sherman

Jim Sherman, my gardening guru, told me to meet him at a raised bed garden this morning. He was trying to clean the place up to get it ready to plant the fall and winter crops. The last plants left over from the summer were peppers and they were out of control. There were so many red ripe cayenne and tabasco peppers he couldn’t pick them all. The birds were having a field day. He had been reading the series about Homemade Pepper Sauces on this blog and knew I could put some peppers to good use.

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Creamer Peas with Wild Boar Country Ham

My friend Dr. Ray Hambuchen of Conway Arkansas has an impressive sausage making and dry curing operation in his suburban garage. Every year around this time he clears his freezers and walk-in (yes, he has a walk-in in his garage) of last year’s surplus venison sausage, wild boar hams and the rest  to […]

Fermentation Frenzy

Kim Kosher Hot Pickles

The fermenting frenzy continues. Last week, I was given a half a bushel of heirloom cucumbers, some with lovely ridged skins. I used them to make hot fermented pickles with my own fermented garlic chile paste and ginger. I call them Kim-Kosher pickles. Korean Kimchi is made according to a very sophisticated technique involving multiple brines and rice flour, Kosher pickles are often fermented in a brine with garlic. These are somewhere in between.

My efforts at creating a fermented pepper recipe for the Louisiana hot sauce are complete. Thanks to your comments I learned that it’s a lot easier to ferment whole red chiles cut into coarse chunks than to try to ferment a gloppy mash. After you ferment the chiles, you turn them into mash in a food processor. I also learned from Sandor Katz’s book, “The Art of Fermentation,” that its a great idea to ferment all the ingredients together, so I added garlic and onions to the red peppers.

The fermented red jalapeño, garlic and onion mash tastes so good, my wife and I are smearing it all over everything. I cut the mash 50-50 with Steen’s cane vinegar and put the mixture through a coarse sieve to remove the seeds and skin. The resulting pepper sauce is even better than previous batches.

The mash is incredibly versatile. Chris Shepherd at Underbelly showed me how to combine some of it with fish sauce, lime juice and sugar to make a very tasty nuoc cham. I also used the mash in the Kim-Kosher pickles and will soon use some to make the highly seasoned fermented cabbage Katz calls “kraut-chi.”

Crunchy pickled jalapeños

My efforts to create a green pepper sauce were not so successful. After a week and a half of fermenting, a crock full of green jalapeños, tomatillos, garlic and onions wasn’t very soft. I put some in the food processor and ended up with a gritty mash that doesn’t work for pepper sauce.

But all was not lost. My favorite pickled jalapeños are the crunchy little pods bottled by Trappey’s. On a visit to their Louisiana headquarters years ago, I discovered that the company ferments the peppers in giant concrete vats full of brine. So while my fermentation experiment was a failure, I am not all that sad about it. Yes, I was trying to make green Tabasco, not Trappey’s-style pickled jalapeños. But several bottles full of crunchy pickled jalapeños isn’t such a bad consolation prize.

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Jam Time, Ya’ll

On my way back from Foodways Texas BBQ Summer Camp, I bought a box of sweet and juicy two inch-size Hill Country freestone peaches for $33 at DiIorio’s farmstand in Hempstead. I had hoped to make peach preserves and brandied peaches with them, but I am fighting a losing battle trying to keep […]