Apricot Chutney

My husband and I joke about hoping the mould was broken when Murphy was born.  I mean he’s a wacky dog.  It looks like the mould wasn’t broken!  I have started volunteering at the local humane society by walking dogs and playing with them.  There is one puppy, a very large puppy, that is just all over the place. Reminded me of how Murphy was when we first got him.

It is fun volunteering there as I get my fix for the dogs and cats without actually bringing them home.  Our house is full enough! 

It’s apricot season!  So it’s time to make our apricot chutney.  It was a shorter season than normal this year, I think because of the harsh winter.  There are rumblings that we are facing another harsh winter.  My tolerance for this is getting less and less!

This is done over two days, nothing too difficult but it is time consuming on some of the steps.  I have no idea where we got our recipe.  We have a print out but it doesn’t say who’s it is.  This is our version of it.

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Dice 3 1/2 pounds of apricots, 3 small onions, 5-6 garlic cloves, and 4 ounces of dates.

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Place these ingredients into a big pot.  Add 3 inches of fresh ginger grated, 1 1/2 teaspoons of whole cloves, 1 teaspoon of whole allspice, 1 1/2 teaspoons of black peppercorns, 2 teaspoons of tumeric, and 2 teaspoons of mustard powder.

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Add two cinnamon sticks and 1 chopped hot pepper.  We used Ring O Fire from our garden.  Also add 2 teaspoons of sea salt.

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Add 4-6 oz of malt vinegar and bring the heat up to medium.  Once it gets to a roiling simmer lower the heat to medium low.  You want to stir frequently because you don’t want it to stick on the bottom.  If it is dry add a bit more vinegar.  Once the apricots have broken down a bit and softened add 7 oz of raisins along with the zest of 3 lemons and their juice.  Our chutney got to this point at about 45 minutes but it can take up to an hour. 

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If the apricots are pulpy enough add 8 oz of brown sugar.  Stir well and bring back up to a simmer.  Once it thickens like a jam cover and remove from the heat.  Allow to sit overnight.  The next day add 4-6 oz of brown sugar and simmer until the sugar is dissolved.  If the chutney is too stiff add a bit more vinegar.  Sterilise the jars you need and then spoon in the chutney.

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After hand tightening the lids on, process the jars for 10 minutes.  Allow the chutney to be stored in a cool dry place for a couple of months to allow for the best flavour. 

This is great on naan, over rice, or with a cheese plate. 

Apricot Ginger Chicken and The Balance of Shopping Locally

I wouldn’t count myself as an activist.  I don’t march round with signs or knock on the door of city hall but as I get more into what goes into the food on our table I wonder if I shouldn’t be finding a way to speak up.  It perplexes me the lack of concern many have when it comes to what goes into their bodies.  Mind you, I’m not perfect.  You won’t see me giving up the Cadbury Creme Eggs ever.  The real ones, not the ones Hershey makes under license.  But overall I want the scales tipped in my favour in terms of how much good stuff we should consume.

There have been some interesting things coming out in the news lately as there is a gradual growing demand to know what is in the food.  Kashi got it’s wrist slapped because they were using GMOs.  So much for all natural.  They pledge to change.  Our co-op had a sign stating they were trying to resource some organic veg away from Cascadia Farms as they were sourcing from China.  If you look closely at their package they talk about their “home farm” being in the US.  This bothers me.  I try very hard to buy my food that was grown and produced in the US as I live here.  And if I buy imports I want to know where they came from.

The big thing we try to do is buy locally as round here there aren’t many, if any, industrial farms for meat or produce.  We get to know the farmers.  I’m currently reading “Blessing the Hands That Feed Us” by Vicki Robin. She did a month long experiment where she only ate what she could get within a 10 mile radius.  If it was produced beyond that then it was off limits.  It’s definitely food for thought.

We actually do pretty well in this department.  I think, particularly in the warmer months, the majority of our food is local.  The dilemma I face with shopping locally is the balance of organic vs nonorganic.  Is it better to buy organic that has been trucked in or local produce that has been sprayed?  We have a fabulous berry farm but they aren’t organic.  I know they try to do low impact spraying but still.  I think at the end of the day for us I’d prefer organic.  Won’t be GMO if it is organic.  But I do love our network of farms here.  It’s fabulous.

This meal that I prepared can actually be all local with the exception of two ingredients, brown rice and cinnamon.  Which isn’t too bad.  We can get local apricots here though it is an extremely short season.

I made this with lamb for Easter but the pictures were horrid.  Must have been rushing round that day.  So I decided to make the sauce again but with chicken and brown rice.

Ginger can even be a local ingredient. I need to research how to grow it in our area.  Which would be good as this ginger is from Hawaii.  It took a longer trip than my Creme Eggs.

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Cut and peel about an inch square and set aside for grating later.

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Mince 4 cloves of garlic and finely chop about 1/2 a cup of red onion.  Saute the onion in olive oil for a few minutes until it is softened.

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We used chicken thighs for this and I cut them into cubes.  Start browning the chicken, when they are halfway cooked add the garlic.

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Instead of using chicken stock like I normally would with chicken I used veg bouillon to give this dish a bit of depth.  I used about a cup.  Bring it up to a simmer and start grating the ginger.  Add between a 1/3 and a 1/2 a cup of apricot jam, preferably no sugar added or it will be very sweet.

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Mix well and add a dash or two of cinnamon.  Cook until the chicken is done then serve over the brown rice.

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Some may want a lot of ginger flavour so add as much ginger as you would like to your taste.  I have a feeling this sauce would work with salmon as well.  🙂