I spoke with the author, David MacDonald back in August of this year, and we had a great conversation about the history of St. Augustine’s tantalizingly spicy datil pepper. David’s questions were all-encompassing. Everything from why I chose the datil pepper, to product production details, to my goals for the future. He made it easy to talk about my passion for datil peppers, cooking, nutrition, and sharing my love of spicy food. Thank you, David for such a wonderful article.
When I first discovered the datil pepper, I was blown away with it’s unique flavor. It starts out slightly sweet and fruity, and then has a latent punch of heat that’s quite distinct. It’s not like any other pepper you have ever tasted. I fell in love at first bite, and have been making datil pepper products ever since.
I earned a degree in English and Creative Writing and taught school for a short time before changing directions and going to nursing school. I have extensive holistic training, and as an educator and nurse, I’ve spent a lot of time counseling people on ways to take care of themselves. Food and good sound nutrition play a vital role in health and wellness, both physically and mentally. You literally “are what you eat.”
“Let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food.“Hippocrates (460 B.C.) Smart man.
As human beings, meaningful relationships and community are primal needs. Sharing good food with others helps cement those relationships, and nourishes both body and soul. We all need food and water to survive, but just surviving isn’t enough. We need to live, and live well.
“One cannot think well, love well, sleep well, if one has not dined well.” Virginia Woolf
That’s exactly why I make OSA Gourmet datil pepper products. I want to share my love of the little yellow pepper that grows so well here in St. Augustine, Florida. I am on a mission to promote the datil pepper! Watch out world, here I come, and I’m taking the datil pepper with me.
Life is definitely too short, as I found out recently when my mother died suddenly. What I wouldn’t give to have her here to share Thanksgiving with the family next week. Her laughter, her love and her sweet potato casserole will all be greatly missed. Mamma took the time to teach me how to cook. All the little nuances and fun tricks. She was a creative genius in the kitchen. Very seldom did she ever use a recipe exactly as it was written, and unless she was baking, measurements were eyeballed, or she just used a pinch of this and a handful of that. She instilled her love of cooking in me at an early age, and I wouldn’t be where I am today with OSA Gourmet without her love and guidance. It’s been a bit of an adjustment for me to measure things for the recipes I post on this blog, but I’ve learned to slow it down a bit and measure carefully so that you can recreate my recipes and have the same results. I’m not a trained chef, but I am passionate about good food. It has to be fresh, flavorful and nutritious..
“You don’t have to cook fancy or complicated masterpieces – just good food from fresh ingredients.” Julia Child
When I’m in the kitchen creating a new product, I have a scale, and I weigh ingredient, down to the smallest gram. That way, when I get the recipe exactly where I want it to be, I can scale it up accordingly and have a perfect product every time. I’m working on several new products right now, so keep checking my website: OSA Gourmet, Facebook, and my blog for updates.
Right now, I have 3 gift box options on the website. They make incredible gifts for Christmas, hint, hint. You can get either a Bar-B-Que Lover’s Gift Box or Marinade Lover’s Gift Box for $49.99, or for an even better deal, get BOTH, The Dynamic Datil Duo, for $79.99 with free shipping in the United States. They come in a cool gift box that is ready for giving, no gift wrapping required. Be sure to use coupon code: HOLIDAY at checkout, to receive the Free Shipping. THE Bar-B-Que LOVER’S GIFT BOX $49.99 plus FREE shipping THE MARINADE LOVER’S GIFT BOX $49.99 plus FREE shipping OSA Gourmet started out initially as a little cottage industry, with me making the products in our home kitchen and selling at local craft fairs and farmer’s markets. It was just something I did for fun on the side while I worked long, hard hours as a nurse. As the business has grown, and I am doing this full-time, everything is now produced in an FDA certified plant, under exacting standards.
Endorphin Farms, here in St. Augustine, produces my Award Winning Snake Bite and Venom Datil Pepper Hot Sauces, as well as Sweet Heat Bar-B-Que Sauce and Fountain Of Youth Datil Marinade. They’re amazing people, and I enjoy being there to watch the production. The entire Endorphin team is phenomenal to work with, from Michelle & Adam Fehr, to Brandon Byrd and Michelle Dailey in the office, to Chris, Manny and the production team in the plant. The process is fascinating to watch, from the spices being measured and mixed with the rest of the premium ingredients in the kettles and brought up to temperature before being pumped into the bottles, which are capped and labeled. Chris and Manny have been especially wonderful about walking me through every step. Seeing my bottles come off the assembly line and put into boxes is truly a dream come true. Thank you Endorphin Farms! OSA Gourmet line of Datil Pepper Products Lou Bouchelle, the spice guru at The Garden Spice custom blends my dry seasonings. There’s a great blog post on The Garden’s website about Lou, and how he became involved in the spice industry. You can read all about him here. (Great photo of Lou in his spice mask!) Lou takes my Scovie Award Winning Datil Jerk and Datil Zest recipes and blends them perfectly every time. He’s worked with me extensively to source the high-quality spices required to produce my blends to my exacting standards, and I appreciate his diligence. Lou is an absolute genius with spices. I guess that’s why The Garden calls him a “Spice-ologist.” Thank you, Lou!
I can’t get away without adding a recipe, so here’s one for a simple pesto that is phenomenal on pasta, pizza and fish. And that leftover turkey from Thanksgiving next week is amazing in a sandwich or wrap with a little pesto and some micro greens or spinach. Freshly washed basil leaves
Nutritional benefits of basil:
Basil is a member of the mint family has been used as a medicinal plant for centuries. It’s oils and extracts are said to have both antioxidant and antibacterial properties. Fresh, fragrant basil, contains a healthy dose of blood-clotting vitamin K as well as vitamin A, manganese, and magnesium.
Walnut Basil Pesto
Prep Time: 5 minutesServes: Approximately 8 servings (2 Tablespoons each)CALORIES: APPROXIMATELY 270 (PER 2 TABLESPOONS) (THIS IS AN ESTIMATE ONLY, PROVIDED BY AN ONLINE NUTRITIONAL CALCULATOR IT SHOULD NOT BE CONSIDERED A SUBSTITUTE FOR A PROFESSIONAL NUTRITIONIST’S ADVICE.)
1/2cupraw walnutspine nuts, pecans or almonds, preferably toasted
1/2cupgrated Parmesan cheeseor more for desired taste and texture.
1tablespoonfreshly squeezed lemon juice
1teaspoonOld St Augustine Datil Zest Seasoning Blend
3/4cupbest qualityextra-virgin olive oil (or more to create desired consistency.)
Toast the nuts in a skillet over medium heat, stirring frequently, approximately 3 to 4 minutes. (Be careful not to burn the nuts.) Remove from the skillet and allow to cool for several minutes.
Combine the fresh basil leaves, nuts, cheese, lemon juice, garlic and Old St Augustine Datil Zest in a food processor or blender.
With the processor or blender running, slowly drizzle in the olive oil in a steady thin stream.
Continue to process until the pesto is completely blended and is the desired consistency. (If your pesto is not thin enough, continue to add olive oil very slowly until desired consistency is attained.)
If the pesto is a little bitter, which can happen with older basil leaves, a small pinch of salt may be added to cut the bitterness.
Leftover pesto can be stored in the refrigerator in a covered jar or container for one week. It freezes well if poured into ice cube trays Once frozen, pop the cubes out and store in a zip top bag in the freezer. One or more cubes can then be added to your dish as it cooks.
Pesto can also be frozen in small containers. Pour pesto into the container and top with a layer of extra virgin olive oil before covering and placing in the freezer. Thaw in the refrigerator overnight and stir in the layer of olive oil to incorporate.
**Vegan or dairy-free options, substitute 1 Tablespoon of nutritional yeast for the cheese. There are also dairy-free versions of Parmesan cheese available in many stores now.
Pesto makes an amazingly simple but delicious and nutritious pasta sauce. Boil your pasta until al dente. Instead of draining all the pasta water down the sink, save at least a cup of the cooking liquid. To the drained pasta, add the desired amount of pesto along with a small amount of the pasta water at a time, to create a creamier sauce. By adding the pasta water a teaspoon or so at a time, the pesto, which is oil based, is emulsified. Much like shaking a vinaigrette dressing to combine the oil and vinegar thoroughly. This preserves the fresh taste of the basil.Fresh Walnut Basil Pesto ready to use in your favorite recipe. Pesto can also be served over vegetarian noodles like spiralized zucchini. It’s amazing on a BLT sandwich, or a vegetarian sandwich of roasted veggies and hummus. Pesto perfectly compliments both fish, chicken and steak. And I love its bright color and flavor with grilled veggie kabobs. Try it on pizza with artichoke hearts and shrimp. Stuff baby bella mushrooms with feta cheese and a small spoonful of pesto and bake at 350 degrees F for about 15 minutes for an easy and delicious appetizer.With pesto this easy to make, you should never have to buy another jar of processed pesto from the grocery store again. Besides, once you make this from fresh ingredients, you won’t want the grocery store stuff again, anyway. There’s no comparison in flavor, color and nutritional value.
Serves: Approximately 8 servings (2 Tablespoons each)
Calories: APPROXIMATELY 270 (PER 2 TABLESPOONS) (THIS IS AN ESTIMATE ONLY, PROVIDED BY AN ONLINE NUTRITIONAL CALCULATOR IT SHOULD NOT BE CONSIDERED A SUBSTITUTE FOR A PROFESSIONAL NUTRITIONIST’S ADVICE.)