For more than a quarter century, Ted and Joan Ballweg of Out of Our Gourd have offered a broad array of chili pepper products at the Dane County Farmers' Market. Based on their farm located between Verona and Paoli, they grow many varieties of peppers, including Habaneros, seranoes, jalapaneos, cayennes, Thais, and Anaheims, along calla lily flowers and raspberries in season.
Transforming these peppers into a variety of seasonings, oils, vinaigrettes, vinegars, and dips, the Ballwegs are experts at selecting the best chili products for customer cooking needs. Their booth on North Carroll Street proudly displays bottles, jars and samples, and they are just as glad to offer insight and information about proper storage and use of chili pepper goods. Although they only vend at the downtown market, all Out of Our Gourd products can be ordered by mail.
The Daily Page: How did you become a market vendor?
Ted Ballweg: My family sold fresh home grown fruits and vegetables in downtown Madison prior to the creation of the Dane County Farmers Market.
What else do you offer through the summer season?
We also offer fresh raspberries, blooming calla lily flowers growing in pots and lots of advice on using chili products to enhance favorite foods.
What's your most popular product? What is your most remarked upon offering?
Far and away, the Dried Hot Pepper Seasoning. It is a blend of seven different chili peppers in a fine grind. It can be used in place of salt and pepper or in cooking. Many people who ordinarily don't like spicy food often remark that they love this product in dips, recipes or as a seasoning.
What's your favorite product elsewhere at the market?
What's your favorite pre-packaged, supermarket-shelved guilty pleasure?
If you had to make a meal incorporating your products, what would you make?
West African Peanut Stew
The recipe is:
5-6 c. chicken broth (dissolve 2 large bullion cubes)
2 Tbsp. vegetable oil
2 bay leaves
1 lg. onion -- chopped
1 green pepper -- chopped
1 lg. zucchini -- chopped
½ butternut squash -- cubed
½ head small cabbage
½ head cauliflower -- cut into florets
11/2 cups natural peanut butter (2/3 jar)
¾ small can tomato paste
1 can (15oz) of diced tomatoes, drained
1 Tbsp. apple cider vinegar
1 tsp. hot pepper seasoning
2 tsp. chopped garlic
Salt and pepper to taste
(Cut up chicken pieces are optional)
Sauté onion in olive oil until tender. Add broth, peanut butter, bay leaves, garlic and tomato paste. Over medium-high heat, stir until stew is smooth and thick. Add raw veggies, cover and reduce heat to medium, stirring occasionally. Stew will seem very thick initially, but veggies will release lots of water as they cook. After 20 minutes, add diced tomatoes, salt, pepper, vinegar and hot pepper seasoning. Cook on low for an additional 30 minutes. Adjust salt, spiciness and consistency if necessary. Remove bay leaves and serve over rice.