Recipe: fresh barbeque sauce

One of our core food principles is using as few processed/prepared ingredients as possible. Condiments like mustards and sauces certainly fit under that category, and we’ve enjoyed making these things ourselves as needed rather than relying on an unknown factory and unneccessary ingredients (corn syrup and the like). So when we decided to celebrate Labor Day with a good southern meal including grilled BBQ ribs, naturally we needed to make a sauce. I’ve made BBQ sauce a few times in the past and always liked the result. It tastes good fresh and can be made using none of the short-cut processed ingredients like ketchup that most recipes call for. Here’s the latest version we used, which was a great success.

I based this sauce on a recipe from an old Better Homes & Gardens cookbook, which was the nearest thing to true scratch that I could find (even Joy of Cooking relied heavily on ketchup and processed sauces). The only forbidden ingredients were a can of tomato paste, apple juice, and Worcestershire sauce, which are easily dealt with. We also didn’t have horseradish, but hot peppers make up for that. Here’s what we used:

One small red onion, minced
Two large cloves hot garlic, minced
1 Tbl olive oil
1 apple (replaces the apple juice and adds heft)
4 tomatoes, chopped with juice squeezed out (replaces tomato paste)
1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
2 Tbl brown sugar
2 Tbl molasses
1 Tbl paprika
3 small hot peppers (replaces horseradish)
1 Tsp salt
bit of black pepper

Preparation was easy. We just sauteed the onions and garlic in hot oil, then added everything else and allowed to simmer until the diced apple was soft. We then blended it smooth and let it simmer a bit more until thick enough. Probably 45 minutes total. This resulted in a really nice mix of sweet, hot, and tangy flavors that to me are the essence of barbeque sauce. Obviously there are all sorts of ways this recipe could be altered to fit someone’s taste buds, but the overall point is that you can make fresh, seasonal sauce without relying on handicaps like ketchup, Worcestershire sauce, canned tomatotes, and so on.

Of course, no recipe is complete without a full description of the meal it’s to be used for, so here’s our Labor Day dinner. Grilled barbequed rack of goat ribs, with sides of fried okra, sauteed garlic mustard greens, and spiced black-eyed peas over rice. And beer. Utterly satisfying comfort food from my roots, made from scratch with farm-fresh ingredients the way it used to be. We were full.

What We Eat – August IV

Classic summer dishes continue to roll in as our production finally catches up…

Saturday: Grilled spiced goat kebabs with sweet corn and grilled veggies. Watermelon for dessert.

Sunday: Ricotta-pesto souffle (neighbor’s eggs, our pasil, garlic, produce, cheese)

Monday: Eric in Columbia for a CFM meeting and ate at Uprise Bakery, Joanna ate leftovers from Sunday.

Tuesday: Eric in Columbia for an SF&C meeting and ate at Main Squeeze, Joanna made tomoto curry with rice and cornbread. Latter made with our yogurt. Come fall, cornbread will use our corn as well.

Wednesday: Tomato-okra stew (onion, garlic, spices, tomatoes, okra) over rice with cornbread.

Thursday: Basil pesto with cherry tomatoes.

Friday: Unique tabbouleh using quinoa instead of bulgur (we were out). Otherwise used parsley, peppers, tomatoes, cucumber, onion (all ours).

Recipe: spiced goat kebabs

A wonderful summer Saturday evening meal. We felt like grilling, and I’d been thawing a goat flank that I earned last spring helping our friends and mentors at Goatsbeard Farm clear a huge cottonwood that had blown down over their driveway in a storm.

I cut off and cubed maybe 1/2 pound of the best flank meat and placed in a bowl. Then I combined 1 Tbl coriander seed, 1 Tbl cumin seed, 1/2 Tbl caraway seed, 1/2 Tbl cinnamon ,a few cloves, a few black peppercorns, and some salt and ground them finely in our large mortar. These were mixed in with the meat, as was a thick handful of fresh mint finely chopped.

Once the coals were nice and hot, I dropped in a large handful of dried cedar branches just before placing the skewered meat on the grill; this generated some nice, aromatic flames to sear the meat. These were cooked for 3-4 minutes a side until just blackened. The spices make a good crust protecting the tender meat, and the fresh mint gives a really nice complementary flavor. This was served with a side of grilled sweet corn along with red onions & squash that were grilled after the meat. Cold beer and a perfectly ripe market watermelon from Terri’s Berries capped an excellent summer meal that took very little work.

Recipe: cherry tomato salsa

The need for this recipe was brought about by two inches of rain yesterday, which caused many of our nearly-ripe cherry tomatoes to start splitting. Once that happens, you have a very short time to use them for something before they go bad. Salsa is perfect, as it uses the naturally intense flavor and sweetness of cherry tomatoes and doesn’t require cooking them. It’s also a treat, as normally I wouldn’t use cherries for this, but the splittage creates the need to use lots at once. Using our 6 varieties of heirloom tomatoes creates a really pretty salsa.

In this case, all I needed was a bowl of splitting cherry tomatoes, a small red onion, a few cloves of garlic, a small hot pepper, a green pepper, and a few spices (cumin, paprika, black pepper).

Toast 1 tsp of cumin seed in a hot cast-iron skillet for a few seconds until it starts to become aromatic but remove before it burns. Grind in a mortar and pestle with 1/2 tsp paprika and a few black peppercorns. Finely mince the red onion, garlic, and hot pepper. Chop the cherry tomatoes until you’ve reached the desired chunk size, and do the same for the green pepper. Add salt and/or sugar to taste. Combine everything and let sit for as long as you can to let the flavors blend. Fresh sweet corn would be an excellent addition to this if we had it on hand, as would cilantro.

Tonight, this will top black beans and rice with melted home-made cheese on top, and possibly homemade corn tortillas if I get around to it.

What We Eat – August III

I get a lot of questions from curious people who hear our self-definition as a homestead farm about what eating locally and seasonally actually looks like. They can’t envision not going to the grocery store every week with a premade list and getting whatever they want for whatever recipe they’ve found interesting that week. Rather than post pages and pages of philosophy, I think the best way to demonstrate our approach is through example. After several prods from friends and readers, I’m initiating a new series of posts tracking just what we eat year-round.

We’ve been keeping daily diaries of our food consumption and its sources since last December, partially inspired by the fascinating photo-journalism book Hungry Planet, which documents what a week of food looks like in communities and cultures around the world. The contrasts, while generally predictable, are stunning and thought-provoking when laid out before your eyes. Anyone who’s reading a food blog will value this book.

Anyway, the goal of my new series is to give a real-life example of seasonal menus, but also to provide a forum for posting more recipes and cooking ideas on this blog. So far I’ve done a poor job of addressing the “food” side of this “food and farming” forum, and I want to use this to correct that. What I’ll do each week is post a list of our meals, and highlight a specific recipe or dish that was especially interesting or worthwhile. While I don’t believe in reproducing cookbook recipes online for copyright reasons, I’ll give an approximation and a reference. Often we don’t use cookbooks but just make it up ourselves, and those of course will be described in full. On to the food, for which I’ll do the past two weeks to kick us off:

August, second week:

Saturday: Homemade pizzas (dough from scratch, topped with various combinations of potatoes, onions, tomatoes, cheese, peppers, and basil). All produce ours, cheese home-made.

Sunday: Ricotta-tomato tart, with sides of cucumber salad and green bean salad. All produce ours, cheese home-made.

Monday: Chicken vegetable soup, including okra, tomato, garlic, squash, beans, onions. Chicken ours, butchered on Sunday, all produce ours.

Tuesday: Chicken gumbo, including okra, tomatoes, and peppers. Chicken ours, produce ours.

Wednesday: Leftover soup, with side of Greek salad (chunk-cut tomatoes, peppers, cucumbers, red onion, home-made feta cheese, balsamic-oregano-garlic dressing). All produce ours.

Thursday: Leftover gumbo, Greek salad.

Friday: Penne with chopped tomatoes, basil, and home-made mozzarella. Pasta bought in bulk, produce & cheese ours.

August, third week:

Saturday: Sandwiches (market bread, home-made cheese & veggies) and fresh Greek salad.

Sunday: Gazpacho (fresh tomatoes, cucumbers, peppers, herbs, onions, blended into chilled soup). All produce ours.

Monday: Penne with fresh basil pesto and Greek salad (we like Greek salad).

Tuesday: Tomato vegetable soup – sauteed onions, garlic, & paprika covered with chopped tomatoes, okra, and potatoes – the tomato juice becomes flavorful broth for soup.

Wednesday: My take on penne arrabiata (spiced tomato sauce on pasta) using tomatoes, hot peppers, garlic, basil.

Thursday: Green beans, squash, and peppers in a coconut curry sauce over rice. Coconut and curry not ours; rice grown by an independant Missouri farm.

Friday (tonight): Fresh salsa over black beans & rice. Recipe to follow in next post.