PDX, Thankful, Travel, Where is Bee

Metamorphosis: Complete (AKA The [New & Improved] Spicy Bee)

The change over to WordPress has taken me months, and while there is still one stinker I am sorting out, I feel like I can now officially say that my site metamorphosis is COMPLETE (*APPLAUSE*). Since it’s obvious that the time and energy I’ve been putting into the backend has severely affected my posting progress (sorry!), I thought it might be fun to share some of the highlights for me this past season as I prepare for 2015, a year in which I want my blog to be more in the forefront of my mind again, and a year that I have vowed to continue to grow in my writing, photography skills, and cooking. I’ll work on my resolutions this week–when was the last time you worked on yours?

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September was a herculean month for me–I attended all the large events at FEAST thanks to USA Pears (thank you!!) with my best friend at my side. We imbibed until we were lulled into food comas, and I felt like the kid with the Golden Ticket every day. That weekend in late September was also overwhelming as only days earlier, I had decided to leave my position at KOi for a catering position in the heart of downtown. Ktams can tell you that I’ve always been the girl who wanted to work downtown, and while I had the brief opportunity while in Chicago, the position I accepted in downtown Portland was so much closer to the person I had been working to become. Leaving my position was hard on me though. I felt like I was “letting the team down”–but I look back now and remember how much structure I put into a position that was chaotic and held so much responsibility, and I’m happy that I put systems in place to help propel them toward more growth, and meanwhile lowered my stress levels, which were affecting my health and home life.

FEAST Portland | Nachos from Night Market 2014

FEAST Portland | Nachos from Night Market 2014

FEAST Portland | USA Pears Package

FEAST Portland | USA Pears Package

October was over in the blink of an eye–new job meant lots of learning, and we finished the month off with a 5 yr anniversary trip to Hawaii! I would not have imagined that we would have had this opportunity so early in our marriage, but we soaked up the rays every day and ate as much poke as our stomachs could bear. The trip was momentous–but I was happy to be back in PDX at the end of it all. I will have to post about it more as I experienced my first Omakase on the trip!

Poke in Oahu, HI

Poke in Oahu, HI

Sunset on Maui, HI

Sunset on Maui, HI

November meant lots of family time–two birthdays and Thanksgiving with Ktams’ family. Our nieces are getting so big–oh! I was also on the radio for the first time ever! I made my favorite GF cornbread stuffing and the bourbon jalapeño cranberry sauce for Missy Maki’s cooking show, Simple Kitchen with Missy Maki! I have such performance anxiety–which was helped with wine. Lots of wine. You can hear my interview on the show here (or here to view in iTunes Podcasts)! It was so much fun and a great excuse to get together with some very talented cooks and winos. I love, too, that I’m sporting a shirt supporting one of my favorite Portland Breweries–can you guess who? It’s one that I’ve written about in the past :)

TheSpicyBee on Simple Kitchen (AM860)

TheSpicyBee on Simple Kitchen (AM860)

And now December is upon us–we’ve already had some fund cooking projects I’m excited to share, and I’ve been eating a lot of seafood! My favorite memory of the month so far was celebrating my friend Jenni’s birthday by shooting some amazing, fresh oysters together. It was just after a dinner/tasting we did with Whole Foods Market in Portland with wine pairings (an extremely interesting event I must share).

So many oysters.

Shooting Oysters in Photobooths with Jenni Bost (of A Well Crafted Party)

All in all, I’ve been living life. I miss the blog most every day though. Here’s where I promise to go back to posting multiple times a week and enslave Ktams to let me shoot every plated entree we make, right?

 

Maybe. The site is definitely sticking around and only way to go is to grow! 2015 could have some pretty fun posts in it as I dine in some of Portland’s newest spots and share some of my local haunts. As always, there WILL be food.

And possibly beer.

Happy Holidays!

 

Dairy-free, Fall, How-To, PDX Food Swap, Recipe Time, Vegetarian

Bourbon Jalapeño Cranberry Sauce

Bourbon Jalapeno Cranberry Sauce | The Spicy Bee

Every Thanksgiving there is cranberry sauce on the table, but how often can you say you’ve MADE it? When isn’t it a great excuse to put bourbon and jalapeños in your cranberry sauce?

If you’re buying cranberry sauce for your table this week–make a change. This year, making cranberry sauce could not be easier or more delicious!

I’m going to run through both the canning and fridge recipes as they are quite similar. Biggest things needed for this recipe are a large dutch oven, a sieve (I prefer my food mill), a large bowl, some jars for storing, and a spatula. If you decide to can the sauce, you will need all the canning supplies in addition to the above list (we’re talking new lids, canning pot, and tongs!)

Bourbon Jalapeño Cranberry Sauce

Bourbon Jalapeño Cranberry Sauce | The Spicy Bee

Ingredients

  • 24oz fresh cranberries, rinsed and drained
  • 1/3 c orange juice from one orange (set aside rind for zesting)
  • 1/2-1 c brown sugar (will depend on tartness of cranberries)
  • 2 T maple syrup
  • 2 Jalapeños, seeded
  • 4 oz bourbon

 

Method

Combine cranberries, orange juice, bourbon, and generous amounts of zest into a large pot or dutch oven on medium heat. For zesting, you’ll need a microplane grater and will zest directly over the cranberries until most of the orange sheen is gone.

I prefer a pot/oven that has large surface area to ensure even cooking of the berries. for this project I use my 6QT dutch oven.

Meanwhile, dice the jalapeño, then incorporate into the pot. Before long, you will hear the cranberries popping–once most of the popping subsides, lower heat to a simmer and stir every five minutes or so until it resembles the below image.

Bourbon Jalapeño Cranberry Sauce | The Spicy Bee

Once the finished look is achieved, add maple syrup and brown suger–take many tastes as you go! You may find that your berries are good to go after just the maple syrup–start there, and add the brown sugar a quarter cup at a time. Stir in until desolved before adding more. When your tastebuds rejoice, remove the sauce from heat and commence your milling! If using a food mill, insert the smallest grate into the bottom and stabilize on a large, steady bowl (I prefer in the sink), fill with a few ladles of sauce, and begin churning through.

Bourbon Jalapeño Cranberry Sauce | The Spicy Bee

Note that not all of what you put into the mill is going to come out. You should be left with dryer skins, pulp, and possibly some remnants of jalapeño as well. This can be re-incorporated in small amounts at the end if you’re looking for more texture, or it can be discarded. In a food mill, it will find its way to the upper edges, so just continue adding more sauce to work through until you’re through the batch. Pat down the pulp and send through once more with a few churns and call it good! scrape the underside of the food mill into your bowl, stand back, and admire your work. That COLOR!!

Bourbon Jalapeño Cranberry Sauce | The Spicy Bee

Now it’s like a Next Adventure book–if you’re interested in canning the mixture, read on, otherwise, skip down past the ***

I think canning this sauce is a splendid idea, and it’s very easy. Do decide ahead of time though, as you’ll want to have run a set of jars through the dishwasher just before finishing the batch of sauce.

Remember–hot (clean) jars, hot sauce (or whatever else you’re canning), and hot bath are the key to canning successfully. Check the temperature of your sauce–it should still be quite warm. Add that to the jars, stopping at the threading of the jar. Leave space or your jar may have issues sealing. Have your NEW LIDS (this is crucial for seal) in a boiling bath of water. Wipe the tops of your jars with some of the hot water, and pull your lids from their bath to top your jars. Seal with the rings, and submerge completely in a boiling bath in your canning pot for 10 minutes.

Once time is up, remove from bath, and set in a clean space you can leave them in for a while. Over the next 30 min or so as the jars cool, you should begin to hear popping of the lids, which will let you know that the seals took. I prefer not to disturb my cans for about 24 hours to ensure they’re settled. That’s it! Label the lids with name and canning date and set into your cabinet until needed. I would suggest consuming within 18 months.

Bourbon Jalapeño Cranberry Sauce | The Spicy Bee

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Ladle sauce into jars and seal. Refrigerate for up to 2 months without issue, but Lord knows you’ll be through it before the week is out! I love the sauce with some cheese and crackers (brie, Manchego, cream cheese, etc.) or atop some leftovers! Incorporate it into your turkey sandwich at the end of the week for some nice moisture and tang! What will you put it on?

Bourbon Jalapeño Cranberry Sauce | The Spicy Bee

Portland Local, Review, Sponsored Post

Shurky Jurky Jerky | A Review

Shurky Jurky Review | The Spicy Bee

I’ve recently developed a love for jerky. It’s got a lot to do with the need for snacks on hikes, trips, long days at work, or midnight snacks. It’s growing into an obsession as I find new brands (I don’t think I’m the only one falling in love–jerky is now popping up everywhere). I’m learning about the process and developing cabinet staples I wouldn’t have expected us to have a year ago. Why? I have always felt jerky was really high in sugar, and we work to limit sugar in the household as much as possible when it comes to daily consumption. It all started with some jerky I found at Costco–it was Korean BBQ flavor and was deliciously sweet–we treated it a lot like a sweet treat/dessert (meat dessert, gross?). Then I met Mike, the owner and founder of Shurky Jurky–he turned my jerky world upside-down.

Here’s why–it doesn’t look, chew, or taste like the jerky I’ve had in the past. It’s much dryer, brittle really–it sort of is reminiscent of fruit leather in appearance but it’s so dehydrated that when you first bite into it you think–oh, this is different…then your saliva mingles in and flavor punches you in the face. I love chewing it for a couple of minutes, extracting everything out of it I can. I wanted to show you a side by side to my dessert jerky so you can see the difference in two products.

The jerky I’ll use as my standard is by Golden Island–it’s Korean BBQ flavor (both samples I’m comparing are pork). I purchased it at Costco and it runs about $22/lb.

Here’s a visual comparison

Shurky Jurky Pork Jerky

Shurky Jurky Review | The Spicy Bee

(Ingredients: Pacific NW free-range pork, Bragg Liquid Aminos or coconut aminos, fresh pineapple, vinegar, anchovy paste, various spices including black pepper, cayenne pepper, guajillo chili pepper, onion, garlic, tamarind, and smoked paprika).

Golden Islands Pork (Korean BBQ) Jerky

Shurky Jurky Review | The Spicy Bee

(Ingredients:Pork, Sugar, Water, Korean Inspired Seasoning (Sugar, Toasted Sesame Seeds, Tamari Gluten Free Soy Sauce [Fermented Soy Beans and Salt], Natural Flavor), Brown Sugar, Gluten Free Soy Sauce (Water, Soybeans, Salt, May Contain Rice), Contains 2% or Less: Salt, Chili Powder (Red Pepper, Salt), Sesame Oil. Contains: Soy, Sesame Seed)

 

Shurky Jurky’s Jerky comes in different cuts, which makes for some fun variety–the pictured is City Slicker. Cowboy is slightly thicker & drier meat cut with the grain for an old-fashioned style chew. City Slicker is slightly thinner & tenderer meat sliced across the grain for a more contemporary style snack. Sugar levels differ slightly between  the jerky’s, as Shurky’s has 3g per 1 oz serving and Golden Islands’ contains 5g per 1oz serving. One thing that’s difficult to compare is quality–mostly because there isn’t a lot of information about where big box jerky (or Golden Islands in this example) gets its meat. Shurky Jurky‘s meat claims to be from PNW farms, raised on non-GMO (and hormone-free) feed. It has no sugar added, and more importantly, you know what all the ingredients are. That said, for the quality, the price is definitely higher. You pay for good quality–a pound of their pork jerky is going to run you $50 (lucky you though as there’s no sales tax!). The flavor and texture alone make it worth trying, and small bags are available for $10. My favorite item to note about Shurky Jurky is that you won’t find any of those gross silica packs in your jerky–it’s dehydrated to the point where you don’t need “fresh packs” and (in my opinion) this means less overall chemical additions.

In the hopes that my jerky journey continues–let me know if you have a favorite jerky you indulge in within the comments!

Other Interesting Items About Jerky

Willamette Weekly | Jerk Off

How It’s Made | Beef Jerky

Huffington Post | Genius Junk Food: 6 Snacks That are Actually Good for You