Back in the day before vegetables were genetically modified to grow in winter and still retained their natural look, taste and smell, each produce had its own growing season. You couldn’t walk into a grocery store in December and expect to find a watermelon or a tomato* and it was OK, there was something to look forward to in the spring and summer. Even though it’s now available year round, I still don’t eat watermelon in winter, but it’s nice to know that I could if I wanted to. To overcome the fruit and vegetable shortage people invented many ways to preserve foods for the winter – canning, drying, pickling, etc. Many families including mine had a closet like you see on the left where we stored a variety of preserves my Mom and Dad cooked during the summer. Opening one of those jars always brought back the summer even if only for a few minutes. Today’s recipe is a simple to make throwback to these years.
Imagine one day you are browsing around Costco, mentally restraining yourself from buying another gargantuan item when you see these:
“Only two pounds, could be worse”, you think to yourself, putting the package into your cart. There are so many things you can do with peppers including just eating them raw. At home you can just wash the peppers in the sink.
Combine 1 cup of regular vinegar and 1 cup of vegetable oil (don’t waste olive oil):
By the way, if you use the term “EVOO” I don’t mind losing you as a reader of this blog, feel free to never come back.
Pour oil and vinegar into a medium sized pot, add half-a-cup of water,3/4 tablespoon of salt, 2 tablespoons of honey, a handful of whole peppercorns and a bay leaf if you have it (I do). Bring to boil and make sure it’s all incorporated. While that’s going on, cut off the tops and slice the peppers in strips. These are pretty small (and I know a small pepper when I see one), so I just quartered them.
Try the marinade, see if you like it, it should have a pleasant sweet and sour taste. I felt like I needed to add some more honey, which I did. Add sliced peppers to the boiling marinade (in batches if needed) and boil for 3-5 minutes. This recipe works best for heavier thicker peppers, these are pretty thin and you want them to retain texture, you are not making mashed peppers here.
Take the peppers out with a slotted spoon and place them in a jar, then cook another batch.
After all the peppers are cooked, pour the cooking liquid over them to cover completely. I had to add some boiled hot water to have all the peppers covered. Let them cool down.
These peppers are good with everything: salads, sandwiches, garnish, vodka, whatever you can think of. I am not sure how long they will keep in the refrigerator, but peppers this delicious will not last that long anyway.
I’d like to mention that my friend Donna recently tried my borscht recipe and not only liked it but is still in good health. That’s better than having a seal of approval.
Even though we now have everything available all year long, summer is still the best for cooking and eating vegetables. Enjoy!
*you were lucky to find cabbage and potatoes at the grocery store in December
**due to unforeseen circumstances I was using my old camera, so the picture quality is not the best.