A taste of summer in mid-winter

One of the tough parts of winter when you like to grow your own food is the lack of many fresh vegetables and herbs from the garden. We are so used to having food with so much more flavor that what we can buy at the store or even at the farmers market. We are spoiled, in a good way! While we can grow some winter greens, a couple types of onions and garlic, and a few herbs, most everything else comes from somewhere else.

But we do plan a bit ahead and yesterday we got a lot of flavor from this past summer's garden - in the form of spice!

We grow all kinds of "flavorings" in the garden, and most of them can be preserved or stored in some form for later use. We cooked chili yesterday - vegetarian (see recipe HERE) - with all kinds of spice and heat from out back. We used the spices below - from left to right: vinegar infused with Vietnamese tear-jerker peppers and garlic, pickled banana peppers, dried and ground turmeric, dried and ground stevia (didn't use in this recipe), coriander seeds, fermented Korean-style hot pepper paste, and cayenne pepper flakes. Also fresh from the garden we used cilantro - we can grow this all year, just goes dormant on days when it's really cold, garlic and scallions.

Below is our Korean-style hot pepper paste. We blended habanero, jalepeno, poblano and anaheim peppers for heat, a bit of sweet banana pepper, garlic, sugar and salt then added yeast. It fermented actively for a couple weeks. We turn and stir it occationally. Activity stopped about 3 weeks after mixing (this was in August) and we let it age until early December. It's HOT but also has that smokey flavor that fermenting adds

In addition of the flavors above, we grilled / charred a couple onions and three banana peppers.

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