featuring guest authors; crafting tips and projects; recipes from food editor and sleuthing sidekick Cloris McWerther; and decorating, travel, fashion, health, beauty, and finance tips from the rest of the American Woman editors.

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

#COOKING WITH CLORIS--GUEST AUTHOR MIN EDWARDS WHIPS UP BLACKBERRY/JALEPEÑO SAUCE

Min Edwards wears many hats... author, book designer, archaeologist, and citizen of the most eastern town in the U.S... the edge of America. As a reader, she doesn’t chain herself to only one genre. She loves, almost equally, romance, suspense, thrillers, and sci-fi. If a book takes her someplace she’s never been with a story that makes her heart beat with excitement, then she considers that an excellent book. She strives for the same excellence in her own stories. Learn more about Min and her books at her website/blog. 

Summer in Maine

I’m a transplanted Texan. I lived for thirty years in a golf course community on a lake just west of Austin, Texas. When I arrived there in 1981, it had a population of 1500 people. When I left thirty years later the population was over 10,000, the Austin metropolitan area was close to 2 million, and traffic was a nightmare. In my community, we had two upscale malls, several supermarkets including a Whole Foods, a new hospital, and enough restaurants to please anyone’s palate. Gosh, I miss it.

But, in 2011 after years of excruciating summer temperatures and rising taxes, I moved to my small bay-front farm just outside the most eastern town in the US—Lubec, Maine. And what a change, both personally and culturally! For one thing, winters are awful but beautiful, autumn is spectacular, spring is called Mud Season for a good reason, but summer... oh my, it’s like heaven (with huge mosquitoes and mean horseflies). And everything is green. Our flowers grow bigger than anywhere else. Even the wildflowers are spectacular. Texas may have their bluebonnets, but we have lupines in colors from white up through pink and onward to deep purple. And they’re three feet tall. It’s like alien bluebonnets!

There are drawbacks, of course. For one thing, I now live almost 100 miles away from everything... no hospital, few doctors and no specialists, no shopping except in the summer months and all but one of our cafes and restaurants are closed from October through April.

Of course, there are the excellent things about living up here; the best is the summer. We have a short growing season, but the vegetables and flowers don’t let that hold them back. Every Saturday at our Farmers Market down on Water Street—aptly named as it’s next to the water! —farmers bring in the current weekly bounty of produce and fruit and of course, baked goods from the hands of lovely little ladies who’ve kept the church dinners, potlucks, and their family kitchens humming for years with delicious, Down East delicacies.

I’ve got to tell you, I’m not much of a cook myself. So, I enjoy Saturdays buying the ever-changing abundance of fresh produce and already-prepared entrees set out before me.

My small farm, though, and it’s a farm in title only... nine plus acres of mostly woods, wild apple trees, berry bushes, and wildflowers... is beautiful no matter the season. But summer is the best. Oh, and I have more than six hundred feet of wild Maine beach all to myself. It’s not a sandy beach, but made up of small stones rolled and smoothed by the waves. We call this kind of beach a shingle beach, and it sings when the tide is coming in rough. Yes, we’re the people who cope with forty-foot tides, which is another story entirely.

I must say that I don’t take the time to pick much of the fruit, which grows wild on my land, but I do love the blackberries. What I like about them is their versatility. I can drop them in a blender with vanilla Greek yogurt, a little milk, a smidgeon of sugar, and a banana, and out pops a fabulous smoothie. Actually, I normally cook the blackberries first and run them through a fine-mesh sieve. I hate the seeds... it makes my smoothies crunchy. Then again if I have a hankerin’ for dessert, I cook them down, add sugar, sieve out the seeds, add just a bit of cornstarch to thicken, if necessary, and drop that into one of those ready-to-bake puff pastry shells—baked first (talk about versatile) and add a dollop of fresh whipped cream.

But my favorite blackberry recipe is my Blackberry/Jalapeño Sauce. This is good year-round. Since I’m still such a Texas girl I even add Jalapeños to my cranberry sauce at Thanksgiving!

Blackberry/Jalapeño Sauce

Ingredients:
1 cup of fresh blackberries (or frozen)
1/2 cup 100% cranberry juice
3 T. sugar
3 or more slices Jalapeño pepper (without seeds unless you want the heat; I use jarred sliced peppers)
1/4 teas. lime juice
1/4 teas. Raye’s Winter Garden Mustard (hey, I’m shopping local, and Raye’s is made right across the bay from my property)

Cook the blackberries in cranberry juice until they’re soft. Cool slightly and sieve over a bowl to remove the seeds. You’ll leave a lot of stuff besides the seeds behind, but you’ll get a nice smooth slightly thickened juice to work with.

Put the juice back on the stove and slowly simmer while you add the sugar, pepper slices (chopped fine), the lime juice, and mustard.

Feel free to adjust the ingredients; more sugar if you like a sweeter sauce, more peppers or less, a different mustard, lemon juice if you prefer that to lime.

Trust me, this is great particularly on pork or chicken... or even as a topping-with-a-kick on vanilla ice cream.

Precious Stone, a High Tide Romantic Suspense, Book 4

A gift of thanks to a young girl from the Tsar more than 100 years ago... and now the Russians want it back.

Collee McCullough, the owner of The Bakery in Stone Bay, Maine, has a perfect life until early one morning men in suits come calling. She has something someone dangerous wants. Something that her Russian great-grandmother Natasha took when she fled Russia in 1913. Too bad great-gran never told her family what she had or where she left it.

Jake Elsmore, visiting Stone Bay to sell his mother’s house, walks into The Bakery for a cup of Earl Grey tea, but gets more. There she is. A sprite in a flour-dusted apron, stepping out from behind a big burly policeman; a lovely, fiery-haired fairy toting a shotgun while two men are laying insensate on the floor of her shop. Looks like that tea will have to wait.

2 comments:

Angela Adams said...

Min, I'm intrigued by your recipe. I can't imagine topping off ice cream with the same sauce used for meat, but I'm willing to give it a try. Thanks!

A Thirsty Mind said...

Angela, I've finished off the Blackberry/Jalapeno sauce already with a couple of pints of vanilla ice cream. Truly it's yummy. Who'd a thought? But then I like desserts with a little surprise.