Thursday, April 10, 2008

It's Gold in my Family

There's an exciting blog event going on co-hosted by Pixie over at You Say Tomato, I Say Tomato and Rosie at Rosie Bakes a Peace of Cake. It's called "Putting Up" and it's about preserving foods, canning, also known as "putting up".

I may be a fairly large dork because my mom and my grandmas all canned and I just followed in their footsteps. Next thing you know I'll be doing things like quilting and making soap from bacon grease. I doubt it, but if I wanted to to really go back to my roots, I guess I could. So even when I was living in apartments in Kansas City and Ann Arbor I happily made preserves and pickles and chili sauce and what my sister calls "crack beans" (they're that good).

And last year I finally moved into a house and I had a garden and I went completely bezerk at "harvest time". So which recipe should I blog about for this putting up event? My chunk pickles are really good, but I'm planning on entering them for the county fair (I'm a HUGE dork) and it's a secret recipe that my mom won third prize at the Michigan State Fair many many years ago. Honest. I'm not lying on that one. I do love my canned tomatoes and there's tons of uses for them, but really they're super simple and nothing more than canned peeled tomatoes with salt. I can't reach the recipe book that has the "crack beans" recipe or the salsa recipe in them. It's in the bookshelf on the side of the pantry and although I'm now down to one crutch around the house (Hooray!) I'm still forbidden from attempting the pantry.

So that leaves us with the very old and very delicious Chili Sauce recipe. Chili Sauce is a tomato preserve that sort of resembles a homemade chunky ketchup. It's sort of like a tomato relish I guess. It's also treated like gold in my family. For Christmas one year my mother gave us kids all a jar of Chili Sauce and the family's secret fruitcake recipe and we were a bunch of happy clams. Yeah anyone who says they hate fruitcake has never had my mom's fruitcake. Unfortunately, the recipe makes far more than my little family of the Brain and I could possibly eat in a year and it's a lot of work, so I'm mostly reduced to begging my mom to make some every year. Oooops sorry, got off track there.

So Chili Sauce (and the secret family fruitcake recipe) is guarded in my family. It's saved and stored until the perfect moment for using. Well unless you make it yourself like I do and then you can lavish it on top of hamburgers or mix it with Miracle Whip for some very tasty salad dressing. My sister Super G makes short ribs with it. My vegetarian brother once said it's tasty on a bean loaf. It's fabulous in Beef Brisket with Beer, which I'm giving you the recipe for, but no pictures because I can't go down those scary basement stairs. And I really really like it when making Sloppy Joes. See I never grew up with Manwich because there was always Chili Sauce in the house. And frankly, now I think Manwich is icky. But I have it in my pantry because I am a good wife. But if you want a sloppy joe, go with the chili sauce.

Chili Sauce
Family recipe courtesy of Caroline Fritz my great grandmother

2 red and 2 green bell peppers
1 cup celery
1 cup onions
1 peck tomatoes, peeled
pickling spice bag
1 pint vinegar
2 cups sugar
1/4 cup salt
1 Tbsp dry mustard

Grind vegetables and put all ingredients in large pot. Boil. Stir often as it scorches easily (and once it scorches the little black floaty bits are hard to get rid of.) When the chili sauce is thick (probably 3+ hours later) seal in jars and process 5 minutes in boiling water.

Pickling Spice Bag:
1 stick cinnamon
1 Tbsp celery seed
3 Tbsp pickling spice
Tie all the ingredients together in cheesecloth (or in the cut off toe end of a new and very clean pair of panty hose).

Beef Brisket in Beer
Family recipe courtesy of Dorothy Hunter my grandmother

3-4 lb brisket
1 cup chopped onion
1/4 cup chili sauce
1 Tbsp brown sugar
1 12 oz can beer
garlic salt

Trim excess fat from meat. Season with salt, pepper and garlic salt. Put in roaster. Mix onion, chili sauce, and brown sugar with some beer and pour over meat with remaining beer. This cooks down to almost nothing. Cover and bake at 350° for 3 -3 1/2 hours. If not brown, bake uncovered for 10 minutes. Let stand a few minutes before carving. Add water and 2 Tbsp flour for thick gravy.


Deborah said...

All I've ever done is jam, but we are having a bigger garden this year, and I will be canning goodies like this! It sounds fantastic!

glamah16 said...

Im curious about the crack beans ! I say for Christmas you make fruit cake to give away at church and post about it so we can all have the recipe?:-)Havent had a sloppy joe in ages.Im so excited about this event .Dont know if I have the time, but I will be canning this summer.

Pixie said...

Mary, I'm super excited with this entry. This is absolutely FAB. Thanks so much for taking part. Now can you also share that pickle recipe with me - pickles here are complete RUBBISH! lol it's true

Cakelaw said...

This chilli sauce sounds great. I am a coward when it comes to pickling and preserving (something about sterilisation etc that makes me go cold), but it would be fantastic to be able to get results like yours.

Bellini Valli said...

I haven't done up any preserves at all in a number of years. I wanted to participate so did come up with something for the event.Your chili sauce sounds so good. I should really get back into it:D I used to have shelves and shelves of preserves.

Lis said...

OMG did I see pickled green beans on your shelf? We love them! I've canned them a few times myself.. SO GOOD! :D

Chili sauce also looks fantastic.. my auntie used to make that and can it for years!


Rosie said...

Hi Mary, Thank you SO much for such a great entry for 'Putting up'!! Your chilli sauce sounds stunning :)

Rosie x

sozzled said...

we make chili sauce from my great grandma's recipes which is v similar to yours. a friend of mine is searching high and low for a pickled green bean recipe that she has eaten once and can't replicate, so if you feel inclined to share it here it'd be much appreciated :-)