Blog, Food for the Soul, Recipes

Yummy Pepper Jelly

Peanut butter and jelly sandwiches are the stuff of lunch box legend. Unless you have a peanut allergy, this staple has probably been with you since the beginning. It’s one of the greatest lunch foods there is–until the emergence of pepper jelly, because now, you have all those flavours in a sweet-heat treat that goes wonderfully on bread, crackers, bagels and the like. Move over, peanut butter, because today’s lunchbox can have something a little better–pepper jelly and cream cheese! Okay, I admit it doesn’t have the same ring to it as PB&J, but it’s yummy. It’s really yummy.

So many dishes are getting an extra kick nowadays just by adding pepper jelly to the mix. It comes in a lot of different fruity flavours so you never have to just stick to one, unless of course you want to. From glazing meat while barbecuing, to using it in pulled pork and to things like sauces for wings and as an addition to a stir fry, this stuff is not only delicious, but it’s versatile too.

So now let’s explore some of the more interesting uses for this sweet-heat treat. What about blending it into your next margarita? Not only will your drink be sweeter and fruitier but it will also have a little something extra, a little kick of heat. Same goes for home made frozen ice treats. Simply blend some of the stuff in with the other ingredients, freeze and enjoy.

It can also be used to make candied bacon, and really, who wouldn’t enjoy candied bacon? As well as being a dip for egg rolls or a dip for vegetables at a party. Who could resist? Sauce for hot wings, sauce for meats and sauce for vegetables, this stuff can do it all. But what about ice cream?

Ice cream is a great thing because you can put almost anything on top of it to create a masterpiece. Try your favourite flavour of pepper jelly and you have taken ice cream to a whole new level. Sure you get your fruity flavour but you also get that kick of heat and what goes better with a kick of heat than a creamy spoonful of ice cream?

With so many variations, you’ll want to try your pepper jelly in your own recipes to see if you can come up with a fan favourite of your own. Bon appetit!

Blog, Food for the Soul, Recipes

Do You Want Fries With That? No Fries, Chips

Why do Americans love french fries so much? While their popularity spans the globe, we Americans devour nearly 2 million tons every year. They make the perfect partner with hamburgers or simply alone. And potato chips? Who can eat just one?

The french fry began in Europe, with Belgium and France both claiming its creation. The potato chip is strictly American. (In either case, explorer Marco Polo missed out.) Centuries ago, the lowly potato was plentiful and cheap, traveled well and lent itself to different preparations, making it a popular food in Europe. The French fried it and called it “pommes frites.” The popular dish came to America and was called “French fried potatoes.” In the 1930’s the name was shortened to “french fries.”

Food historians will argue that the french fry began its popularity in Belgium, as early as the 1600s. Some claim they may have been a substitute for small fried fish, when the rivers froze over and fishing was near impossible. They caught on as a tasty side dish and found their way down to France, whose chefs were always open to new foods and cooking styles.

Originally eschewed as an unhealthy root vegetable and used as pig feed, those inventive French did a 180 degree turnaround and began serving them as a delicacy. Pommes Frites spread to America and President Thomas Jefferson first served the potato fried thin and crisp to guests at the White House, after enjoying them on one of his trips to France. Americans soon found the potato economical and easy to grow, and a welcome addition to their daily meals. Hearty soups and chowders fed large families, and as cooks began experimenting with variations of the potato, new recipes popped up throughout the country.

When hamburgers caught on, thanks to early chains like White Castle and eventually McDonald’s, fries were an economical partner, not to mention a big profit for the restaurants. They were easy to eat, unlike the baked or mashed versions, and could be served in a small paper envelope.

The creation of potato chips goes to a New Yorker named George Crum, a chef at the Moon Lake Lodge resort in Saratoga Springs, New York, and the crispy light discovery was an instant hit among the guests. But the general public did not have occasion to enjoy the crispy treat until snack foods became popular in the twentieth century. Chips led the way and were originally sold in cans. With all the flavors offered to us, 50 percent of American households still prefer the plain. Americans crunch down half of the world’s production, totaling over seven billion dollars annually. That translates into almost five pounds a year per person. And that’s just chips. Figure in other forms, and you have 110 pounds of potatoes per year per person. (That’s a lot of starch.)

So there you have it–a brief history of the most popular vegetable in the country. Mash it, bake it, fry it, boil it. Who’d have thought the humble potato, once considered only fit for hog feed, could evolve into our favorite snack?

This author confesses to being a closet potato chip eater, and admits that the sour cream and cheddar flavor is her favorite. Mashed and baked potatoes are great, but nothing quite equals the french fry. With ketchup.