Today is a good day. The New England Patriots won, and by a comfortable margin. Like any good fan, my superstitions are now taking over. As I contemplate the Sundays (and Mondays and Thursdays) to come, I’m giving serious consideration to wearing the exact same outfit, sitting in the same spot on the couch, drinking the same beer, and cooking the same meal.
Now, while I might like to mix up the outfit and viewing atmosphere, making the same meal wouldn’t be much of a hardship. After all, who can complain about roasted brisket, jalapeno mac and cheese, and sweet potato wedges? Although this isn’t a weekly recipe entry, I’ll point you to the recipes I used – both the husband and I agreed this entire meal was delicious (and except for the macaroni and cheese, it’s pretty good for you, too).
To begin at the beginning, Nick and I had been planning for most of the week to buy and smoke a brisket for our Sunday dinner. It’s something we do from time to time, and more often during football season. The side dishes remained a bit up in the air, but I picked up a few sweet potatoes at the Mulberry Street Farmers Market in Macon on Wednesday, and yesterday, I harvested a bunch of jalapenos and green peppers from our home garden.
While I don’t enjoy certain elements of home vegetable garden care (the pests, the constant weeding, etc.), I do love having one and the end result is worth the time and effort. Given how strongly I remember resisting any type of work in our family garden as a child, I do find this somewhat ironic, but there it is. It may have taken years to emerge, but those rural Maine roots have come through.
The dilemma really began as I took this image. While I can pretty easily find uses for that many green peppers – there are an awful lot of ripe jalapenos, too. Ultimately, I’ll be pickling most of them early this week, but I was also inspired to try a jalapeno mac and cheese. Since it’s hard to go wrong with Martha, I used Martha Stewart’s recipe as a starting point and modified from there. You can see the full recipe on her site at the link above, but here’s what I did differently:
I didn’t have scallions, but I did have a shallot. I’m sure either would be good. Also, instead of Monterey Jack and white cheddar, I stumbled across a smoked bacon white cheddar, and a sharp yellow cheddar, and used about 2 1/2 cups of sharp cheddar and 1 1/2 cups of the smoked bacon cheddar. I skipped the corn.
This was really yummy, and the recipe made enough for me to freeze half for a future meal – and tonight’s half had leftovers.
This afternoon, we changed our brisket plan from using our smoker (outside) to an oven roast, inside, due to rain. I did some internet searching and selected this Texas Oven-Roasted Beef Brisket recipe, but instead of making the rub with the ingredients they list, I used a rub we already had – happily, the Stonewall Kitchen Texas Rub. Really good! The brisket was tender and flavorful.
Having a home garden has taught me to think more about where my food comes from for many reasons. Key among them is simply that the peppers and tomatoes I’ve grown taste better than anything from the grocery store. The ‘why’ is simple: I’m eating them the day, or close to, I pick them – so they don’t have to travel for days or a week to reach me. They ripen on the vine, increasing flavor and nutrients, and, best of all, I know exactly what they’ve been treated with and exposed to while growing. There’s also satisfaction in eating something you grew yourself. For all of these reasons, I also try to shop at local farmers’ markets as much as possible – it supports the local industry and it really is better for you. I’ll follow this with a post soon on Maine farmers markets and on cookbooks that specialize in meals by the season.
Have a good week!