By Roberta Bailey
My husband is more of a house person than I am. He can visualize what a project will look like, and he has strong opinions about what he likes. I know what I like if I see it but rarely put thought into interior design. My focus is the farm and fruit plantings. The combination works very well.
So when he said we needed a new refrigerator a few years ago, I said sure, go for it. My fridge was old enough to be classified an heirloom and she made a lot of noise. She sagged in a few places from years of carrying 4-gallon pots of this and that on her shelves. I requested that we put her in the barn where she could be used for overflow crops of plums, grapes or apples.
My husband bought a lightly used fridge of his dreams. The slightly used part was that a temperature control unit needed to be replaced … but it ran fine and we used it for a year. When it did ice up, we would shut it down, thaw the lines and restart it. The first time that happened, I was away from the farm, so Rob was on his own relocating the frozen goods to the chest freezer and the fridge contents to my dear old heirloom.
I got a phone call. “Do you know that condiments take up more than a third of the refrigerator space?”
I would have guessed half.
I laughed, “I am not surprised.” Then I listened as he updated me on his process.
Condiments are resources. To make a good meal, one needs resources or ingredients. And they accumulate. There are the basics … ketchup, mustard, relish … and Worcestershire sauce, Sri Racha, horseradish, hot sauce and olives. Then there are the resources: three types of miso, nutritional yeast, anchovy paste (for Caesar salad dressing and fish stew), tamarind paste for Indian recipes (I got two because they were hard to find and they do keep forever), a few flavors of Better Than Bouillon, cilantro chutney, chili garlic puree, black bean paste, Korean fermented black garlic … you get the idea.
I love simple foods, but I also love the condiments that spice up our lives. Here are some recipes to add zip to your day.
Nell’s Applesauce Barbeque Sauce
1 c. thick applesauce
1/2 c. ketchup
1 c. honey
1/2 c. brown sugar
7 Tbsp. lemon juice
1/2 tsp. sea salt
1/2 tsp. black pepper
1/4 to 1/2 tsp. cayenne pepper (to taste)
1/2 tsp. paprika
1/4 tsp. cinnamon
1/4 tsp. cardamom
1/2 tsp. garlic powder
In a saucepan over medium heat, bring applesauce to a simmer. Stir and reduce to a thick puree. Add remaining ingredients. Bring to a boil and cook for 2 minutes. Remove from heat. Makes 3 cups.
Thai Dipping Sauce
3 limes, quartered
3 cloves garlic
1 to 3 serrano or other hot peppers (to taste)
4 Tbsp. Tiparo other brand fish sauce
1/2 to 3 Tbsp. sugar or honey
1 Tbsp. minced onion (optional)
Mash, then finely chop garlic. Finely slice and mince the hot peppers. Mix them together in a bowl. Squeeze the lime quarters into the bowl, being careful not to squeeze too hard to avoid adding the bitterness of the peel. Add the fish sauce. Add the onion and then the sweetener to taste. This is traditionally a sweet sauce, but I make it with just a bit of mild honey. Taste and adjust flavorings. Let sit 1 to 3 hours to meld flavors and heat. Recipe can be increased as desired.
Pickled Beet and Cranberry Relish
Makes 3 to 4 cups; great served with poultry or game or on its own
2 to 3 medium sized beets
1/2 c. red wine vinegar
1/4 tsp. salt
1/2 c. water
1/2 c. honey
3 c. cranberries
1/8 tsp. ground clove (optional)
Clean and slice the beets. Steam the slices until tender in a saucepan with a steamer in it. Dice the beets to 1/4-inch size.
Combine the vinegar, salt and water and bring to a boil. Add the cranberries and simmer, uncovered, stirring occasionally, until the berries burst and the mixture thickens,
about 20 minutes. Remove from heat. Stir in the honey and clove. Add the diced beets. Let cool. Serve chilled or at room temperature. Relish will keep 4 to 5 days in the refrigerator.
Makes 3 to 4 cups; great with cheese or meats
2-1/2 lb. fresh paste tomatoes
1 large onion, chopped
1/3 c. honey or 1/2 c. sugar
1/2 c. apple cider vinegar
1/3 c. dried currants or small raisins
1 tsp. mustard seed
1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. cayenne
1/4 tsp. allspice
1/4 tsp. cinnamon
In a large saucepan, bring 3 quarts water to a boil. Dip the tomatoes in the boiling water for 2 to 3 minutes or until skins crack. Place tomatoes in a bowl. Peel and chop them. Drain the juice off.
Combine all ingredients except the honey in a large heavy pot and cook for 30 minutes. Reduce heat to low and simmer, stirring frequently, until the chutney is thick and reduced to about 3 cups (about 30 minutes). If using honey, add it now and stir well. Remove from heat. Place chutney in a bowl or storage container. Keeps for 1 month if refrigerated.