Saturday, November 26, 2011

Texas Style Food: Chile Piquin Jelly

Years ago, my friend Steven told me about this tiny little wild pepper that his mother, Margaret, would use to make homemade salsa. I have been growing these little hot as hellfire little peppers for the past three seasons in containers on my patio.  On a whim, because I have never made jelly before this, I just decided to try to make them into jelly.  This is the odyssey - photos and all.

Start by sterilizing the jars - no nasty bacteria for this jelly!

I boiled them for 15 minutes and then let them stay on simmer to keep the jars warm. Jars should be hot when you fill them with the recently cooked jelly to avoid cracking.

These are the Chile Piquins I picked from my backyard. Don't let their tiny size fool you. These babies are HOT!

They are so small, it's impossible to open and get the seeds out which the recipe called for, so I left them whole. 

I finely chopped (1) red bell pepper and added the Chile Piquins (1/2c) in a small food processor and ground them to a paste. That got added to the sugar (5c) and apple cider(3c) vinegar. EDIT: I also used one pouch of store bought liquid pectin so that it would set up properly.  I omitted that from my first post!

It all gets barely boiled together to produce the most amazing, aromatic, deliciously sweet-hot flavor you have ever had!

I strained the jelly as it went into the jars, so no seeds made it in - with the exception of the last jar where I put all the seeds and pulp and processed it.  It should prove to be the hottest 6oz. of pure hellfire ever and was presented to my friend Steven because he was the inspiration for my jelly making afternoon.

Once its done, and after its been processed in a boiling water bath for 15 minutes, when you take the jars out and they sit on the counter... they have a little "PING!" as they seal.  And you know, you just KNOW, later that freshness is going to be ready for you to enjoy.

On a piece of rare red meat... used as a glaze on a roasted chicken... on a piece of roasted pork... paired with creme fraiche on pita chips... DELICIOUS. Have a very cold, very dry vodka martini, settle back... and enjoy it.

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Papa Has A Brand New Bag: The Hildestahl Medium II

I have an admitted addiction to bags... well... shoes, suits, OK, OK.. all of it.

I wanted a bag that was not a briefcase, messenger bag or anything like that. I ordered the Medium II from Hildestahl.  It is vaguely reminiscent of one of those airline bags or gym bags men carried in the 60's?  It is made of really nice leather and lined in suede.  It has proven itself to be rugged and good looking. (Images and description are courtesy of the designers website:, which I think is a really beautiful site all on its own.)

Medium II

A very useful bag for stylish everyday use - for work, for the gym or an overnight trip. The ultimate, practical medium sized bag, designed to be the ideal handbag for a man. Same construction as Medium I. With this Italian leather it is still soft but a bit more structured. Inside with zipped pocket, two small open  pockets and a pen-holder.  Pocket with zip on the side. Adjustable carrying strap included, for  carrying on one shoulder preferably. Lined with Finnish reindeer suede.  Made in Italy.  Measures 39 * 27 *17 cm.

Hildestahl Medium II

Hildestahl Medium II

Saturday, September 3, 2011

Transportation: Falling In Love Again

I am a car guy, believe it or not. I love them. I enjoy car people. Most of all, I love driving down the freeway at 80Mph with the top down and  a nice tune beating me along the road.  I couldn't work on it if my life depended on it, but I love cars.

I own a Lexus SC430 convertible.  I love it.  I've had a lot of cars in my life, 31 at last count, ranging from a 1964 Plymouth Valiant when I was in high school to an Infiniti Q45, Mercedes E320, BMW 5 Series.. lots of nice cars.  This one, makes me rethink a car. It is classically handsome.  The color is awesome, and it is one of the best cars I have ever owned.

Every time I come home from a trip, when the shuttle driver says, "Brown Lexus" as he stops at my car, I get a big smile.  After Monday when I get my LuxLink installed and I can remotely start the car and drop the top, I'll smile even bigger!

I think a road trip is in order soon. Want to join me?

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Dinner: Shrimp & Grits, Texas Style

Tonight I wanted something SPICY, but was also in the "Sunday" frame of mind... comfort food.

Being an addict for shrimp... I thought: Shrimp & Grits! A nod to my Southern heritage.  Living in Texas years ago I have a pretty good palate for hot and spicy.

So here's the scoop:  I took quick cooking grits (1 cup) and used chicken broth and the liquid from a can of Rotel tomatoes (3 cups total) too cook them in.  Once I had the liquid measured, I added back the drained Rotel tomatoes.  Delicious enough, right? Creamy. Spicy.  Not good enough yet.  Add 2 pats of butter and 1/2 cup of aged White Vermont Cheddar and a half teaspoon of roasted garlic grey salt (I get mine from

Then, the shrimp.  I used a pound of large, peeled and deveined Gulf shrinp that have been marinated for a couple of hours in 1 T. of Vietnamese Garlic-Chili Paste - more or less to your taste, but the grits are going to be spicy too so.. tread lightly.  Quick saute of 4 green onions, thinly sliced using only the whites and about 2" of the green ends, one Jalapeno, seeded and FINELY chopped in olive oil (about 3 T.) and butter (3 pats).  Add the shrimp and saute FAST until pink on one side.  Now here's the tricky part: flip em over, remove them from the heat, scoop them all in the center of the pan and cover.  Let it sit for about 3 minutes and they will be PERFECT. Overcooked shrimp are not to be eaten.  Ever.

Shrimp and a little of the pan juices, served over the piping hot grits in a nice earthenware bowl?  H-E-A-V-E-N!

An ice cold beer is the perfect compliment.

Go for it and let me know how it turns out.