“Mom is an amazing cook,” Robin Wolf proudly proclaimed as I marveled at a table filled with food prepared by her mother, Suan Grant.
Simply put, this mom, an entrepreneur who is the driving force behind Suan's Foods, and her daughter, an artist and potter, make wonderful stuff for the kitchen that would be ideal for Mother's Day as gifts or a finished meal. These are things that help us make, bake, fill and hold food, affording us the pleasure of serving it to those we love.
Grant prepared appetizers, condiments and entrees along with some yummy desserts to show the versatility of her line, including a spirited chocolate mousse infused with Suan's Scotch Bonnet Pepper Jelly.
In case you think combining chocolate and the superhot-natured scotch bonnet pepper is a little off your cooking radar, Grant stresses the importance of focusing on the flavor of the pepper instead of the heat.
Grant's angel food cake starts with a two-step cake mix that is transformed into a memorable Mango Lemon creation with a tiny hint of that scotch bonnet pepper. Grant learned and honed her pepper wisdom while working and living in Montego Bay, Jamaica. She learned to use this hottest of hot peppers the way the locals cooked.
Grant created all of her products in her Oklahoma City kitchen before sending them out with her daughter to be tested in rural Kingfisher County. Wolf felt if her farmer neighbors enjoyed Grant's creations, most everyone else would go for them, too. Wolf said their whole family enjoys getting products from the Suan's line as gifts on birthdays and special occasions.
The family has had deep roots in the red dirt of Kingfisher County even though their life's journey has taken them through Anthony, Kan., and Montego Bay. This year, Grant plans to source her scotch bonnet peppers from right here in Oklahoma for her jellies, fruit butters, relish and a new small but mighty Scotch Bonnet Sauce.
Firing up creativity
Wolf does her cooking in a kiln, firing one-of-a-kind vessels she creates in her home studio. Foraging among the cedars on their farm along the Cimarron River, Wolf finds uniquely shaped branches to form the beautifully functional handles for her teapots, pitchers and canisters. The designs of these vessels are timeless, incorporating her appreciation for the land and what it brings forth.
Wolf frequently burnishes copper scraps to incorporate into designs for lids and copper wire to attach handles and knobs of cedar or antlers foraged from their land. Wolf obviously spends some time smoothing the wood to a fine patina. I was reminded of a gate we had at our farm: It was worn silky smooth over the years from being repeatedly handled as it was fastened and unfastened and refastened.
There is something about dishes, pots and pans and all that kitchen stuff we store and serve food from that has fascinated me from the time I begged the little glasses and bowls that my grandmother saved from boxes of what she called “Mother's Oats.” I've now set my sights on one of those beautiful Robin Wolf pitchers.
It is obvious Grant encouraged Wolf's creativity if in no other way than by her example. Wolf in turn has done the same with her three daughters. Mothers have a way of bringing out the best in us just as Grant has brought out the essence of the scotch bonnet pepper in her products and recipes.
Grant and Wolf share a love of food and cooking along with a strong will and determination. It serves them well as Made in Oklahoma entrepreneurs, creating and marketing their unique work with us all.
Suan's Chicken Roulades
Suan Grant created this recipe using her Scotch Bonnet Pepper Jelly. It is easier than it looks to have such a pretty entree. Make more servings and freeze ahead to thaw then bake and serve on busy days or finish in the oven later in the day. Watch our video made in Suan's kitchen to see how she does it.
To make 4 servings:
½ cup Scotch Bonnet Pepper Jelly
12 to 16 spears of fresh asparagus
½ cup or more grated Swiss or your favorite Made in Oklahoma cheese
2/3 to ¾ cup seasoned breadcrumbs
¼ cup olive or vegetable oil for sautéing
More jelly for garnish
• Split whole chicken breasts and spread between plastic wrap. Pound with flat side of a meat mallet to flatten 3/8 inch thick. Spread each breast with about 2 tablespoons of Scotch Bonnet Pepper Jelly.
• Add 3 or 4 fresh asparagus spears depending on thickness. Cover spears with 2 to 4 tablespoons grated cheese. Roll together, folding around chicken. Secure with toothpicks or skewer to make roulade.
• Roll in seasoned breadcrumbs. Saute in hot skillet with small amount of oil to brown on all sides, ending with split side up. (Skillet should have ovenproof handle, so it can be transferred to oven.)
• Bake for 20 minutes, then serve on a bed of rice. Garnish with additional jelly.
Suan's cooking note: After saute, roulades can be allowed to cool then frozen or refrigerated until needed later. This makes them great for busy days and to serve for company.