Tag Archives: salt

Garden Hot Sauce

It was a good garden year for me. I managed to build a fence that kept the rats with horns deer out of my yarden, so I was able to grow all kinds of fun things. This year I inadvertently planted several different pepper plants. I have big peppers, little peppers, purple peppers, sweet peppers, well…..you get the idea.

This was exciting to me because for the past couple years, I’ve wanted to make my own hot sauce. I come from an area and culture (cough…hipsters….cough) that highly prize hot sauce. Sriracha and/or Tapatio are generally used with every meal, on everything. I’ve always heard how basic and easy hot sauce was to make, so I figured the time was now.

I got into fermenting kinda hardcore this summer.

I got into fermenting kinda hardcore this summer.

I selected a very basic and old recipe for my hot sauce – salt water brine.  Other than the time it takes to ferment, this recipe is super quick and easy! The downside is it does take at least a month to bubble and ferment before you can blend and eat it.

 Fermented Hot Sauce

  • 5% Brine (that is 3 TBSP of salt per 1 quart of water)
  • 1 Tablespoon mustard seed per pound of peppers
  • 1 small head of garlic per pound of peppers
  • 1 pound assorted peppers
  • Sliced onion
  • Grape leaves
See how the brine is cloudy and the peppers have lost their volume? That means it's working!

See how the brine is cloudy and the peppers have lost their volume? That means it’s working!


Place your mustard seed and peeled garlic on the bottom of your jar. Place your rough chopped peppers on top. I like to leave the crowns of the pepper on because I think it adds to the flavor. Layer a few slices of onion on top and then your grape leaf. Cover completely with your brine. You may need add a weight to keep your peppers or onion from sticking up through the water.

Cover your jar with either with a lid and ring or with a wire-bale jar.

I used wild grape leaves on top of a slice on onion to keep everything submerged in the brine.

I used wild grape leaves on top of a slice on onion to keep everything submerged in the brine.

Let your jar ferment for 4 to 5 weeks. Once your peppers are no longer crunchy and the bubbling has stopped, remove the grape leaf and drain your peppers, garlic, onion and mustard away from the brine.

The left is the leftover brine, the right is "the sauce".

The left is the leftover brine, the right is “the sauce”.

Blend your peppers in your food processor, adding the brine to reach your desired consistency. I add a whisper of vinegar and sugar to enhance the flavor. Different vinegars can add an unique finish!

I'm not going to lie - this particular sauce was too hot for me! I gave it to my friends!

I’m not going to lie – this particular sauce was too hot for me! I gave it to my friends!

That’s it! Stick it back in a jar or bottle and keep it in your fridge!

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Salt Cured Egg Yolks

Like the majority of Americans, I have a Facebook page. As most of us know, Facebook offers groups you can join. There are groups for everything, I belong to everything from teacup pigs owners groups to stuff your own sausage groups.  One of my favorites these days is The Cult of Pre-Pasteurian Preservation and Food Preparation, moderated by Ken Albala.

A turkey egg.

A turkey egg.

 

A few months back someone in the group was talking about salt cured eggs and how delicious they were. I decided I needed to try them!

Aren't they pretty?

Aren’t they pretty?

I just happened to have a dozen free-range, red bourbon, turkey eggs that were begging for me to use them. I also had some black truffle salt, itching to be used on eggs! Match made in heaven.*

Egg yolks buried in delicious truffle salt.

Egg yolks buried in delicious truffle salt.

I buried the yolks in a layer of black truffle salt, then a layer of regular sea salt. I left this alone, covered, in my refrigerator for two weeks.

ALmost cured yolks.

Almost cured yolks.

After the two weeks were up, I knocked as much salt off as I could, wrapped the yolks in cheesecloth and hung them in my fridge for another week.

All done!

All done!

I had been dying to try these for months at this point and finally got the chance on a green salad. You literally must use a cheese grater to use these eggs, but it is worth it! The eggs could also be served over pasta and other vegetables.

So, so, so good.

So, so, so good.

Once your egg yolks are cured, keep them in an airtight container in the refrigerator for about a month.

*Also you can use regular chicken eggs and salt. I was just being extra fancy.

 

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You Can Make Salt?

I apologize. I meant to write this back in December. Obviously, it didn’t happen, but hey, better late than never right?

As you recall I went down to the Renegade Craft Fair in San Francisco right before Christmas. I had two reasons for that, the Fair (to buy crafty stuff I couldn’t make) and I needed ocean water to make sea salt for gifts.

I had read somewhere that is it was fairly easy and free to make your own sea salt. Since I am a foodie, I have like 6 different kinds of salt in my kitchen already; this project was right up my alley. I started buying gallons of water so I had clean bottles to bring my salt water back in, this worked great!

On our way back from San Francisco we took the long way home. We went over the Golden Gate, and went to Muir Beach to procure my seawater. This is where I realized I was not as organized as I thought. I didn’t think that I would literally have to wade into the ocean to get water, I forgot about a little thing called waves.

See? Trying not to get wet as I make a new animal friend. This did not work.

See? Trying not to get wet as I make a new animal friend. This did not work.

I couldn't get salt water in my boots and skinny jeans, so off with my shoes and socks!

I couldn’t get salt water in my boots and skinny jeans, so off with my shoes and socks!

The downside to skinny jeans is they are skinny and won’t roll up. Since I wasn’t smart enough to realize the ocean has waves and I should have brought shorts or a change of clothes, I had to flat out commit to get my salt water. It was cold.

When I get an idea in my head I am like a dog with a bone. Come hell or high-water, I finish what I start.

When I get an idea in my head I am like a dog with a bone. Come hell or high-water, I finish what I start.

Did I mention it was cold? And I pretty much was in the ocean from my waste down? COLD.

Did I mention it was cold? And I pretty much was in the ocean from my waste down? COLD.

We met kayakers that were crabbing (I totally want to do that!) and I met more animal friends.

We met kayakers that were crabbing (I totally want to do that!) and I met more animal friends.

After I got the salt water, it was still a four hour drive home. Plus I always have to stop at Whole Foods to look at meat and buy Lucero olive oil (even in wet pants). Let me tell you what, those 4 hours in wet jeans were not fun, but I learned my lesson and next time will bring a change of clothes.

I ended up with 6 gallons of seawater. I was very proud of those 6 gallons.

I ended up with 6 gallons of seawater. I was very proud of those 6 gallons.

I recommend straining your seawater through several layers of fine weave cheese cloth. Get all the sand and floaty things out.

I recommend straining your seawater through several layers of fine weave cheese cloth. Get all the sand and floaty things out.

I went to the second hand store and bought a big pan I wouldn’t feel bad about ruining. Since I had a woodstove, my plan was to place the seawater pan on my woodstove until it was all evaporated. It worked really well. But the 6 gallons of seawater took a lot longer to evaporate than I planned. My salt was not ready in time for Christmas.

My woodstove evaporation method.

My woodstove evaporation method.

The woodstove evaporation method was messy. I had to re-blacken my stove after doing it.

The woodstove evaporation method was messy. I had to re-blacken my stove after doing it.

It took almost a week to evaporate all 6 gallons. The really upsetting part was, it looked like this project was a complete fail until I started on the 4th gallon. I didn’t see any salt crystals forming. It just looks like murky gross water. I was sure that I had screwed up simple salt making and felt like a prize idiot!

Finally I noticed salt crystals forming. As I saw them I gently used a slotted spoon to remove them from the seawater and place in paper towel lined bowl to dry further. I kept doing this until just a small amount of water and salt were left. I was told not to use the very last salt and water because that is where all the impurities would be and since I love my friends, I didn’t want them getting anything but perfection.

SO much salt. It made more than I imagined.

SO much salt. It made more than I imagined.

The 6 gallons of seawater made several cups of salt. This bowl is what I had leftover after giving out late Christmas gifts.

The 6 gallons of seawater made several cups of salt. This bowl is what I had leftover after giving out late Christmas gifts.

This was a fun and cheap project! The salt, which I call Muir Salt, is quite tasty. I have enough Muir Salt leftover to make truffle salt for late Christmas gifts (what I’m only 3 months late!).

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Changing of the Salts

Due to some technology fail in my office, I had the amazing opportunity to work from home for a couple days this week. It made me giggle because I was out in the middle of a field sending office related e-mails, I bet my great grandparents never planned on that happening, lol.

My Dad asked me to move salt today. I always make sure to bring a rifle with me, in case something bad happens or I see a coyote. We have a bad problem with coyotes eating our calves.

My Dad asked me to move salt today. I always make sure to bring a rifle with me, in case something bad happens or I see a coyote. We have a bad problem with coyotes eating our calves.


My Dad told me he had a job for me to do today. He wanted me to change the salt our cattle have access to, from block salt to bagged salt. We change from block salt to bag salt in the winter because this bag salt offers more trace minerals than the block salt. Our ranch in the valley is deficient in copper and selenium. This deficiency can make our cattle work a little harder than we like, so we supplement them to make sure they are in the best health possible.
This is the bag salt we use - see all the awesome minerals in it? It equals happy cows!

This is the bag salt we use – see all the awesome minerals in it? It equals happy cows!


I had to stop and pick up trash someone threw from the road. This is the bane of cattle rancher's existence, please don't litter!

I had to stop and pick up trash someone threw from the road. This is the bane of cattle rancher’s existence, please don’t litter!


My Parents have been really great about getting me more involved with the Ranch lately. Since I started going to therapy for my anxiety, I’ve been getting to the root of it and a major part of my anxiety is, surprise! the Ranch. I have watched my Parents struggle to keep this ranch in production, they’ve had to battle estates, family, bad feed years, bad weather years, neighbors, the government, attorneys and our own naivety. My whole life, so it’s no wonder I am so attached to this place. We’ve worked hard for it.
My crew for the job, Hoot, Ranchie and Jinx.

My crew for the job, Hoot, Ranchie and Jinx.

Until this point, all of my life experiences and education has been to benefit this Ranch. My Ag degree, jobs off the farm, jobs on other farms, law school, friends, clubs, have all be cultivated to give me as many tools as I can have to help ensure the success of the Ranch. Now that I am an adult and I’ve started articulating this to my Parents, they have opened up. They are letting me do things by myself, or with my crew. Not only have I been working with the animals more, I’ve been involving myself with the business side of the Ranch. I’ve been putting my off the farm experience to good work. And the whole family is starting to feel better. It’s glorious when we all work together.

The view of Ranch headquarters from the field.

The view of Ranch headquarters from the field.


I had to first go to the "Adobe" field to get the tire that was made into a salt trough.  Ranchie helped.

I had to first go to the “Adobe” field to get the tire that was made into a salt trough. Ranchie helped.


We then drove to the "Gob 80" field, where the cattle are, to exchange their block salt for bag salt.

We then drove to the “Gob 80” field, where the cattle are, to exchange their block salt for bag salt.


This is what the bagged salt look like.

This is what the bagged salt look like.


The cows were hiding from me - can you see them through the trees?

The cows were hiding from me – can you see them through the trees?


I wanted to get some pictures of the cattle for you, but they were being shy. They had crossed the creek and went into another field. I was tempted to try and cross that creek and get you some pictures, but there is a lot of water in that creek right now. I’ve been doing so well with not breaking anything, or getting anything stuck, I just didn’t want to chance it. One of the most embarrassing things is having to walk back to the house and get someone to pull you out.
It’s one of the most gratifying moments of my life when I am able to tell my Parents, that I did what they told me to do, without problems. And that is what I did today.

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Putting Out Salt

It’s Fall and it has finally rained a few times. That means our cattle can come home from the high country. My Dad has already shipped a load down, so today we went out to check fences, put out a mineral salt block and move the cattle into their field for the winter.

This happy dog is going to start coming with me into the office once in a while. She has to have a job or she gets sad.

Ranchie had a health scare earlier this week. She is an old dog, around 9. She is a wonderful cow dog and loves her job, so she gets used a lot. However we realize it’s time for her to start to retire, little jobs like this is going to be her new normal. She was so happy to be back with my Dad, after her scare earlier in the week, she got sent home here in the Valley for some TLC. She loves us, but she knows who her master is.

This is what the Ranch looks like during this time of year. Last year’s old grass with new green sprouts starting to grow.

No horses this time! The ranger make this job a lot faster and easier for us.

This “bridge” has always made me nervous. I used to swear it was going to break when we would drive the hay truck over it.

Cottonwood Creek.

The cows.

We “pushed” the cows against the fence until they saw their gate into the next field called The Cottonwood Range. They know the drill.

Ranchie was ready in case any one got out of line.

My Dad putting out the mineral salt block.

Cattlepeople give salt to our cattle in block or loose form. We like the block because it is easy, and it meets out needs. Cattle should have this available to them at all times. Some salt blocks have phosphorus, magnesium or other supplements added to them to prevent conditions like grass tetany, poor growth rates or to prevent certain deficiencies.

We try to prevent diseases and conditions in our cattle, this makes both our and  their lives much better. Making sure our cattle’s basic needs are met and exceeded is just one of many tools in our “tool box” that ensures we do this. Any questions?

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Salt Cured Lemons

12 or more Meyer or other lemons, scrubbed clean
Sea salt
fresh lemon juice as needed

Slice lemon into 8th leaving the bottom connected.

Stuff the lemon with sea salt. Really work it in there. Stuff into sterilized jars, layer salt in between packed lemons. Fill the jar and make sure the lemons are covered by a layer of salt and juice. You’ll need to squish them a little so juice comes out to cover them.

Seal and set in the kitchen counter for a month, shaking and turning once a day. The lemons are ready to use when rind is soft. You can store them in the fridge for 6 months.

Always rinse lemons before use. More commonly the rind will be used in recipes (mince it), but the flesh can be used as well. The salt can be used in fish and chicken recipes. Also think cocktails.

Try this:

2 preserved lemons

2 tablespoons dijon mustard

1/4 cup honey

1 garlic clove

salt and pepper

In the cuisinart, blend in some olive oil until it gets to the consistency of mayonnaise. Dip veggies in it with some humus or spread on some sammy’s.

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