During this season of grilling, pickled things often find themselves to the table. Pickling is a process that uses a brine -- vinegar, water, and salt -- thus extending the lifespan of all kinds of foods, but particularly vegetables.
All kinds of fresh veggies can be pickled, with a variety of flavors produced ranging from sweet to hot to spicy.
These quick-fire red onions and jalapeno peppers offer a bit of all three: the peppers obviously send the heat, but the onions and vinegar give a spicy tone and rich texture while a tablespoon of sugar tempers the burn.
These pickles are easy to make, and can be eaten right away, making them a perfect compliment to deckside grillouts or potlucks featuring hearty main dishes.
1 red onion
½ cup cider vinegar
1 Tbs sugar
2 Tbs salt
In a saucepan over medium heat, combine the water, vinegar, sugar and salt.
Bring to a boil and them reduce to a simmer until all solids are dissolved.
Slice the onion in half, and in half again. Thinly slice once more. Wearing gloves if sensitive to peppers, slice the jalapeños into rounds and remove seeds until your preferred level of heat is achieved. Seeds equal hot!
Place onion and pepper in a sterilized mason gar and pour liquid on top.
Let sit for one hour, uncovered, then secure the jar lid and place in refrigerator.
Eat right away or leave in fridge for a week.
Southcentral Alaska has seen a return to winter these past few days, and that has The Flying Chef thinking of comfort food that is also easy to make when one returns from shoveling the driveway for the fifth time. This pair of stellar takes on a family classic is perfect, and, once the snow melts and spring returns, is a great addition to any camp dining menu. The sky's the limit when it comes to camp cooking!
Classic Grilled Cheese
Your favorite bread (slightly stale works well, especially over a camp stove)
American cheese slices (Yes, the processed stuff - it melts soooooo well)
Provolone cheese slices
Swiss cheese slices
Mayo, mustard, Thousand Island dressing, Russian dressing, or whatever your favorite sauce may be
Place a skillet over medium heat. If using a camp stove, let the pan heat up for a minute or so. Spread butter on one side of two bread slices for each sandwich. Melt butter in the pan (watch so it doesn't burn, and adjust heat accordingly), and place bread butter side up in the pan. When the first side has turned a golden brown, flip the bread and “toast” the buttered side.
Grab some cheese and place on bread. At this point add your favorite sauce if you like, or just leave it alone. Cook in pan until cheese is melted.
Want to go big? When its time to put on the cheese, add some tasty flavors like provolone or Swiss cheeses, sliced onions, or sliced smoked turkey and a dab of Russian dressing.
Serve hot and tasty with tomato soup (recipe below).
Campsite Tomato Soup
1 large container tomato soup (try a can of the longtime favorite, Campbell's, or go crazy with some gourmet soups at the store.
1 Tbs butter
1 Tbs olive oil
1 onion, chopped
1 clove garlic, chopped
½ cup sun-dried tomatoes, coarsely chopped
2 sprigs thyme
¼ cup heavy cream (OK, OK, half-and-half works, too)
Salt and pepper to taste
The recipe will require a small amount of prep before you take it afield, so allow some time to chop and store ingredients in covered containers or plastic zip-type bags if camping.
In a saucepan over medium heat, add butter, olive oil, onion, garlic, and sun-dried tomatoes. Add thyme and sauté until onions just start to turn translucent. Add a dash of salt and pepper, and heat for three to five minutes.
Let sauté cool, and while cooling, place thyme leaves in a blender, and give the button a push or two. Place saute' mixture and thyme in a container and store in a cool place until you set up camp.
When you reach the field, mix up tomato soup as per the instructions on (dare I say it?),
Serve potentially-picky kids their soup, and when they have had their fill, then whip out the stored container of saute' goodness and add it to the pot. Add the heavy cream or half-and-half and stir over a low to medium heat, just until warmed all the way through.
Serve it up and enjoy. The kids are happy and so are you. Mission accomplished.