For the last two years I have been experimenting with creating and infusing some homemade liqueurs and such. I made apple brandy in 2011, nocino, sloe gin, limoncello and brandied cherries in 2012. Now I have a batch of homemade coffee liqueur (Kahlua) infusing in the pantry, brandied kumquats and a 90 proof limoncello going (thanks to the Saving the Season: Citrus class @ Institute of Domestic Technology). I’m looking forward to when I can get out this spring to pick elderflowers, so I can make my first batch of elderflower liqueur.
Strawberry season is almost upon us kids. Temecula Valley Strawberry Farm will be opening on March 1st and my Chandler strawberry plant (who is aptly named Chandler) is already blowing up with berries. Chandler has been with me for many moons now and he makes strawberries almost all year long with only a few dormant months in between exploding with berries. He’s a weird one, but I love him and the fruity delights he provides me with. Since he’s only one plant, I always eat the berries as snacks. There are never enough at one time to make any kind of recipe, but one day I hope to have enough space so Chandler can have some friends. Until then, it’s all about farm trips and the far mar for me.
I have seen various concoctions for strawberry preserves/spreads paired with hot peppers. I actually sampled a pencil-eraser sized dollop of strawberry-ghost pepper jam that had my mouth pretty steamy for a while. Probably not my first choice for toast, but pretty good all the same. That gave me the idea to bake a Texas Strawberry-Habanero Pie. Strawberries generally don’t make the best pies all on their own because they are so juicy, but I figured I’d give it go and see if I could make the pie work. I’m happy to report that while it was ever so juicy, it was not a soggy mess. Joy. Pie joy.