I knew exactly what I was going to make when zucchini season came around. A few years back a friend was gifted a few jars preserves and one of them was a zucchini relish. I've never been a fan of the nasty green stuff served at a BBQs, but this zucchini relish was nothing like that and I loved it. I really wanted to make my own batch and since this month's Can Jam theme was "cucurbits", the timing was right.
My wife joined me, helping out with all the prep work. Everything was ready to go in the pot, and as soon as all the ingredients started to warm up on the stove, my wife commented on how great everything smelled. She kept saying how much it reminded her of something, and how familiar it was. With a light bulb moment she ran over to her mother's recipe box that is crammed with old recipes for family favourites and newspaper clippings from years ago. She shuffled through the cards and found a section with all of her mother's preserves, and plucked out a card with recipe for "Mild Mustard Pickle Relish".
The card itself had a history of its own, a bit dog eared, a bit of food spatters and some scribbled notes in the corners. Now what I found amazing about all this, was how the smell triggered such a vivid memory for my wife. The scene was painted lovingly of her mother making this relish while she helped as a young girl. I loved how all of this was preserved. How a simple act of cooking brought out a far memory. It was pin pointed to that recipe card in a matter of seconds.
The recipe I chose seems to be pretty generic as a few of my books' versions were very similar. I wanted to add a dimension of heat so I added some Jalapeno peppers and some ancho chile powder. We tried this one immediately and loved it. It was fabulous with some pork chops we had that evening. I'm sure it will be fantastic at a family BBQ in few weeks were we can enjoy and recall the fond memories it stirred up of my wife's Mom.
Zucchini Garden Pepper Relish
(adapted from the Complete Book of Small-Batch Preserving)
1 - Toss together zucchini, onions and peppers in a large non-reactive bowl. Sprinkle with the salt and stir well. Let stand for 1 hour, stirring occasionally.
2 - Drain vegetables in a sieve and rinse, then drain again, pressing out excess moisture.
3 - Combine drained vegetables, sugar, vinegar, mustard, celery seeds, ancho chile powder and tumeric in a large stainless steel or enamel saucepan. Bring to a boil over high heat, reduce the heat and continue boiling gently, uncovered for 15 minutes or until vegetables are tender.
4 - Blend water and cornstarch, stir into vegetables. Cook for 5 minutes or until the liquid thickens, stirring often.
5 - Remove hot jars from canner and ladle relish into jars to within 1/2 inch of the rim. Process jars for 10 mins.