It was a full moon in Pisces this week, so I don’t need to tell you that this particular horoscope stirred up some intense emotions. Luckily for me I was coolly prepared by already maintaining a lifestyle of nonstop emotional intensity! Also luckily there were lots of nice things going on, like eating a giant pretzel Momofuku cake for my girl Kate’s birthday, dressing up as Columbia for a special screening of Rocky Horror at work, more pats with Percy the corgi, and discovering and then watching the entirety of in one evening, the truly heart-wrenchingly delightful TV show Faking It. It was also the excellent Tim’s birthday, and I made him this peach balsamic barbecue sauce as a present (what is our friendship if it cannot withstand my coming out and breaking our engagement?) I had a half tin of peaches in the fridge and many spices and condiments in the pantry and a budget that stretched to one small red onion. This recipe that I found appealed to me because of all these reasons, but also there’s something oddly pleasing about making your own preserves and sauces and such, and I thought the peachiness might add a sweet, summery Americana vibe to something already so very American. (Also…I had half a can of peaches in the fridge.)
Apologies for including a fiddly specialty ingredient like liquid smoke, but it’s not that hard to get hold of a bottle of it in fancy food shops or online, and if you like things to taste smokey then you can either find some or sigh perpetually about how nothing tastes smokey. (That’s as much tough love as I can possibly muster: buy this thing if you like, but only maybe, and either way I’m sorry.) If you can’t find it you’ll still have a deliciously peachy sweet-sour sauce, but as soon as the liquid smoke is stirred in it suddenly becomes like sunshine on your shoulders and protein seared on magma-hot metal (said protein could be tofu, I’m easy) and your hair being scented like woodchips for days and being ravenous and everything taking so, so long to be cooked through so you have to drink a lot of beer while you wait. So like, you might want to get some.
peach balsamic barbecue sauce
adapted from this recipe on damndelicious.net, makes around 250ml
one tablespoon olive oil
one red onion, diced
one tablespoon chilli sauce (or to taste, I used sriracha which is kinda mild, hence a tablespoon)
one teaspoon cumin seeds
two large ripe peaches, diced, or the equivalent of canned peaches
two tablespoons maple syrup (or golden syrup or honey – maple is smokier though)
1/3 cup balsamic vinegar
one tablespoon dijon mustard
one tablespoon tomato sauce/paste/similar
about half a teaspoon of liquid smoke
salt and brown sugar to taste – it definitely needs salt, sugar though? Depends on you.
Heat the oil in a pan and gently fry the red onion till it’s soft but not browned. Throw everything else in, except the liquid smoke, and allow to come to the boil while stirring constantly. Simmer for about ten minutes, then either blend it till smooth in a food processor or use one of those stick things that you use for pureeing soup (they’re genius! So little washing up to do!) (my new flat has one, I’ve never used them before) (anyway) and pour it into a small jar/small jars or directly into a bowl to serve alongside/on top of your dinner.
This sauce is so delicious. And I’m not entirely a heathen, I didn’t go eating Tim’s birthday present, there was in fact enough to fill a jar for him and a small ramekin leftover for me. I intended to pour it over rice or something but I just ended up eating the lot with a spoon. The aggressive throat-pinching sourness of the vinegar and heat of the chilli sauce is mellowed by the sweet, sweet peaches, and the spices give it depth and, well, spice. And as I’ve already iterated at feverish length, liquid smoke is also good. It doesn’t make an awful lot but then at least you don’t have to stress about desperately pressing bottles of it onto visitors forevermore, and if it’s really not to your tastes then at least all you wasted was a couple of tablespoons of this and that. Conversely, if you really love it, the recipe is very easy to double or triple. Barbecue sauce for all! I always thought I hated barbecue sauce actually, but it just turns out that I dislike the particular overly sweet nothingness-paste that gets swirled onto certain takeaway pizzas, which tastes like neither barbecue nor sauce. And it certainly doesn’t taste like going on for paragraph after paragraph about sunshine on one’s shoulders, etc.
I’m flying up home this afternoon for the first time since Christmas, so that’s something. Am looking forward to seeing my family and the cats (the cats are family but you might not pick up on my implications unless I spell it out for you) and spending time knitting and reading the next Harry Potter. I’m so obsessed with Harry Potter, a chill seventeen years after the first book was published.
Okay so now some time has passed and I actually am at my parents’ place, which is testament to my disorganisation, but also the passing of time, I guess.