Ketchup is one of those condiments that doesn’t excite me but it is very much required for my hamburgers and French fries. Homemade ketchup changed this myopic view. It has a wonderful, complex flavor and you can make endless variations. Knowing me, I will most likely never make the same version twice.

This version is made with strained tomatoes, so the cooking time is short. In the summer I hope to try it again with fresh tomatoes. (I can’t wait for tomato season!)

I large can or box of strained tomatoes (I use Pomi in a box, which is 26.5 oz)
1 tablespoon tomato paste
1 small onion
2 tablespoon olive oil
1/4 cup carrots
1 garlic clove
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
1 tablespoon molasses
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup apple cider vinegar
1 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon of cayenne
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon cloves
1/4 teaspoon turmeric

Saute the garlic, onions and carrots in olive oil until soft.
Add the remaining ingredients.
Simmer uncovered over medium-low heat for 30-40 minutes, stirring every 15 minutes.
Let cool.
Puree in a blender.
Store in the fridge.

Let me know if you come up with any interesting variations!

Spicy Mustard

In the next three blog entries, I’m going to cover the trifecta of condiments– mayo, ketchup and mustard.

I’ll start with mustard because it’s super easy. You just need mustard seeds or mustard powder, water, a little vinegar and a blender. The rest is optional.

My friends Ellen, Christine and I made mustard for gifts one year. With three cooks adding various things, we came up with an interesting, delicious combination. Too bad we’ll never be able to replicate that recipe.

This time, I took notes.

I threw in ground flax seed (omega 3) and turmeric, (an anti-inflammatory) because I like sneaking healthy things in wherever I can.

This is spicy mustard. If you want it less spicy, add less whole mustard seeds, more vinegar and more honey.

Here’s what you’ll need:

2 tablespoons of brown mustard seeds
2 tablespoons of dry mustard powder
1/4 cup of water
1 teaspoon of sea salt (or more to taste)
2 tablespoons of honey or sugar (or more to taste)
2 tablespoons of lemon juice, vinegar or wine (or more to taste)
1 tablespoon of turmeric (optional)
1 tablespoon of ground flax seed (optional)
1-2 tablespoons of whey (optional)

Soak the mustard seeds for a few hours (or overnight)
Place all ingredients in the blender and blend until it looks like mustard.
That’s it.

It will be quite spicy and maybe even a little bitter at first. It will take a few days for the flavor to fully develop and for the spice to mellow.

Store in the refrigerator in a glass jar. The mustard should keep for several months. It’s getting to be BBQ season and my husband IS the 2008 Hot Dog Eating Champion of Columbia County, so our jar might not make it through May.

Papaya Peppercorns

My friend Bill once told me that I would have made a great pioneer; I sometimes like to do things the hard way and I don’t like to see anything go to waste. That’s why I was excited to learn that you can use the seeds from a papaya. You can scoop them out and eat them fresh. They are sort of like a caper (though not pickled, but pickling them is an idea). They are spicy and slightly pungent.

You can also turn them into peppercorns. I thought this was very cool. The ground papaya seeds’ taste is hard to distinguish from regular black pepper. It’s easy to make and is an exotic pepper alternative.

Scoop out the seeds from a fresh papaya.
Place in warm water and work with hands to remove pulp.
Let soak overnight.
Bake for at 170 (or at the lowest temperature your stove will go) for 60 minutes or until the seeds are hard.
Cool, then place in a pepper grinder and use as you would pepper.

Apparently the seeds have the same good enzymes that the fruit has, so grind away!

Papaya Chutney

A perfectly ripe papaya with lime is a little bit of sunshine in your mouth. Not only that but if you believe the Word’s Healthiest Food Website, it’s a miracle food. It’s packed with antioxidants, vitamin B, carotene; full of digestive enzymes; a good source of fiber; good for your heart; has anti-Inflammatory properties; good for your immune system and your lungs; protects against macular degeneration and rheumatoid arthritis and can be used as a meat tenderizer…how can anyone pass that up?

I noticed huge papayas in the grocery store the other day so I bought one. I admit I felt slightly guilty knowing how far that fruit had to travel, but I swear our farmers market didn’t have any, so I indulged.

chutneyI adapted this recipe from Nourishing Traditions.

3 cups of chopped papaya (you can substitute mango)
1/4 cup of chopped onion
1/2 cup of lime juice
1 Tablespoon of fresh grated ginger
a handful of fresh chopped cilantro (about 1/4 cup; you can also add fresh mint)
1 teaspoon of salt
1/4 cup of chopped jalapeno
1/4 cup of chopped roasted red pepper (or regular red pepper)
2 Tablespoons of sugar
1/4 cup of whey

Slice papaya in half, length-wise. Scoop out the seeds and save them.
Scoop out the papaya flesh, leaving the peel.
Mixed all ingredients.
Place in a jar. Slightly pack the ingredients into the jar so that everything is covered with liquid. Add more water if necessary.
Cover tightly and leave at room temperature for two days.
Transfer to the fridge. It should keep for about two months.

You can add papaya chutney to anything- fish, pork, chicken. We topped our shrimp tacos with it last night….ymmmm.


Kimchi is a powerhouse of nutrition, packing tons of vitamins and beneficial bacteria. The kimchi I make isn’t what I think of as traditional kimchi. I recently learned that Kimchi varies greatly from different regions and different seasons. The one I’m going to show you is a version called baek kimchi or literally “white kimchi.” It doesn’t call for fish sauce, fermented shrimp or the red powder that usually gives kimchi its characteristic color. It is a crisp, fresh version.

I have continued to experiment with different vegetables. I’ve used Napa cabbage and regular cabbage. I sometimes use daikon radishes and sometimes use regular radishes. Regular radishes add a nice color. Today, I am lucky to have a hot pepper from Bonnie and Earl’s garden in Virginia. This will add a nice spice. The two important things to include are grated ginger and garlic. Add grated ginger and garlic and whatever vegetables you want and you’ll have a nice fresh kimchi.

You will need whey for this recipe. If you made the cream cheese from yogurt from the previous post, you should have the whey. If you didn’t make the cream cheese, go do that now (click here for the recipe). I’ve seen recipes that substitute more salt for whey, but I think it makes the kimchi too salty, and I love salt so that’s saying something.

Whey is a magical ingredient. It has enzymes that ferment food. There has been a lot written about the health benefits of fermented food. I just like the zing.

Click here for the recipe.

After you have the kimchi in a jar with a tight lid, you leave it out on the counter for three days. Be careful when you open it! It spews like a shaken soda on a hot day. Once fermented, the kimchi will last in your fridge forever or there abouts. I’ve actually never tested that… We go through ours rather quickly. Use it like hamburger helper– add it to some ground-beef and rice and you have an instant Korean meal.

Boo, my kitchen helper

Boo, my little helper