We have two variations of hot pepper vinegar. The kind you make is the old
standard around here, but not everybody uses the brown sugar. (some do, some
don't) For the extra hot kick, I save the seeds from my hottest peppers
(ie, when I have one with supper that's hotter than normal, cayenne,
tabasco, etc), and put them in a storage bag in the fridge until I need them
(i try not to let them dry out too much) and just add them in the standard
hot pepper vinegar.
The other type of hot pepper vinegar:
When we have more hot peppers than we can all eat: I collect enough to fill
a pint or quart size jar, wash them, put them in jar, and fill with vinegar.
Let sit a few days before using. Sometimes, it will be a little mild,
sometimes kinda warm, and sometimes very hot. You never know exactly how
hot it is til you use it. This type is eaten on collards, turnips, salads,
or anything you would use standard cider vinegar on.
Red sauce: My grandmother makes the best red sauce. Back home (two hours
north of where I live now) everybody requests her sauce whenever there is a
cook-out. People have even been known to ask for bottles of it as gifts
from her at christmas or birthdays. My mom & I fix it down here (the exact
same way) but Nana's always seems to taste even better. (I think it must be
the "grandma effect")
The easiest way:
Buy a couple of bottles of Kraft red sauces (or generic, or any other brand
you might like, I generally use whatever is cheapest). Oh it doesn't matter
what flavor - get whatever you like, orginal, homestyle, honey, hickory,
I usually get an orignal and hickory.
Empty both bottles in a sauce pan/pot.
Save the empty bottles - you can wash them and store the left over sauce in
them. Warm on low/medium heat - stir often so it doesn't scorch. Add
mustard, brown sugar, salt, and vinegar to taste. Can add a little ketchup
for a milder taste. Now, I can't tell you exactly how much to add of the
mustard and sugar - i never measure it! Just keep tasting it til you get it
where you like it. Ketchup will help thin it down if you get it too thick,
make it a little more runny. Sauce should easily fall off spoon.
You can add to the meat on the grill as a marinade while cooking or at the
table as a dipping sauce. Great either way. It might take a few trys
making the sauce to get it just right. Nana never measures anything when
cooking - somehow she just knows the right amount to add to everything.
She's tried to pass that on to me - but sometimes i still measure! Oh, and
make sure you store any leftover sauce in the fridge - it will keep for
quite a long time that way.
You are absolutely right about the shrimp. Nothing beats fresh. I can get
all the fresh I want, thank God. My mom and dad have a place at the coast -
right on the waterway. Whenever they go down there, they bring plenty back
for everybody 'round here.
Have you ever heard of a seasoning called "Old Bay"? It comes in a little
metal box - sort of like a black pepper box. It can make even the worst
processed shrimp taste better. I happen to know for a fact that even some
of the best coastal restaurants use it. You can also use it on chicken,
steaks, and pork chops for a somewhat cajun style effect. I mainly stick to
using it with the seafood though.
We love the vidalia onions around here as well. I haven't had much luck out
of growing them myself. I can make a lunch or supper out of one of them
babies. zap a whole one in the 'wave with a little water and butter for
about 10 minutes or so, yummmm. makes a great compliment to a grilled steak
I don't have very much experience in the area of cajun and creole cooking.
In the carolinas it's all about the frying and the BBQ! My husband even
prefers for the ribs to be fried when I cook them. I have two great-uncles
(in every since of the term!) that live in Florida, so I try to take
advantage and get pointers and recipes from them and their families whenever
I get the chance.
I believe you are right about the regional thing as well.
Well, better end this thing. The baby's up and it's getting time for the
other one to get up, so time to get my day going. Hope this helped you