Remember!! Comment at the end (below the blog box where it says in little blue letters, “comments” click on that and it takes you to comments and a comment box) in order to enter our giveaway. Drawing is Feb 13th. This time TWO people win one of the two identical packages – Pie tin set and First Out Pie Spatula. So comment early and comment often because every single time you comment, your name goes into the pot!!
Growing up, my parents demonstrated to us girls about the precious gift of “hospitality”. Mom and Dad were ready and willing to open our home to anyone who needed a hot meal or a place to stay. Most of the time, that included students from other countries who were attending the university in our town, which was also my father’s place of employment as a professor. From these visits by young people from all over the world, we girls were introduced to new foods and treats that were authentically cooked or, in the case of the treats, provided from stores overseas.
I remember one of the young women, with whom we became very attached, Mitchiko Kawase, loved to tease us and presented us with a bag of little, dried squares that she encouraged us to try. The squares were dark and salty and as we took a taste, she giggled and told us that it was dried octopus. All of us squealed in horror and she laughed hilariously as she told us that it was really seaweed. I’m don’t remember that we were all that much more impressed!
One Japanese food that I love is sushi. I’m not a fan of the raw fish type – more the California roll type – but I put all kinds of stuff in mine and chow down. Mr. Fix-It uses a fork and I use chopsticks. He thinks I’m pretentious! I just think I’m being disrespectful if I use a fork. I thought that in the second of these three posts on some international dishes, I thought I’d share my sushi-making. And you don’t need one of those $19.95 jobs as seen on tv!
You can use a rice cooker or a pot to make your rice. For three large sushi rolls, make three cups of rice. Sushi rice is different from regular rice. It is much stickier. I use a type called Hanmi but you can go to any specialty store and many larger groceries and ask for sushi rice.
Once your rice is cooked, put it into a large bowl. A bamboo bowl is great too. Add two tablespoons of sushi vinegar to the rice. Sushi vinegar has sugar in it and is slightly sweet/sour.
Toss the rice to evenly distribute the vinegar
There are any number of proteins that can be used in sushi. Here, I am using a tempura shrimp and Crab Smart. You can also use scrambled egg that is sliced, fresh crab, salmon, cream cheese and the list goes on. And there is no limit to the veggies! Anything goes.
The crab sticks are too thick and so I cut them in half.
I make a sauce that I will use over the sushi by mixing 1/3 cup mayonnaise with 1 teaspoon Chinese chili sauce.
I mix until smooth and creamy
And put the sauce in a squeeze bottle like is used for mustard or ketchup. This gives me a nice little bead to design on the sushi rolls.
I use cucumbers and slice them into 1/4 inch thick slices and cut off the seed area
I square off the ends of each slice
I also slice the shrimp in half after baking it and also slice up an avocado.
A sushi mat is made of either flat bamboo slats laced together with twine or with round sticks laced together as well. I like to use Press and Seal on my mats because it keeps them clean instead of pressing rice down between the gaps.
Sushi Nori is actually kelp seaweed and is full of iodine and is one of the highest plant sources for calcium. It is also chocked full of other vitamins and minerals. Some people toast their nori prior to making sushi by spraying a skillet with a light layer of oil, heating and then placing a nori sheet on the skillet for about 30 seconds and then turning. Others just use the nori straight out of the package.
Place the nori on the mat with the narrower end parallel to the lines of the mat
Place 3/4 to 1 cup of rice on the nori. Place a bowl of water next to your work area. You will want to keep your fingers wet to work with the rice to avoid sticking.
Spread the rice evenly over the nori and press down to make an even surface.
Place crab and cucumber at one narrower end of the nori running parallel to the mat, leaving about 3/4″ of nori showing at the end.
Place the avocado on top of the crab and cucumber
I find it easiest to pick up the roll and start rolling the mat at the end with the filling one full roll and then placing it back onto my work surface to continue
I continue to roll, lifting the top edge of the mat away from the roll so that it does not get rolled up with the sushi. I squeeze the mat with both hands as I go to keep the roll tight.
I am lifting the top side of the mat with the Press and Seal away from the roll as I continue to roll.
I continue to tighten the roll
And Voila! There’s my sushi roll.
I wrap it in a wet paper towel and set aside as I continue to make more rolls.
Now then, you can have the rice on the outside of the roll instead of the nori showing outside. And to do that, first I do the first steps of putting rice on the nori and patting it out and then I lift the nori and rice from the mat and set it aside. I spray the Press and Seal with a little olive oil.
Now, I place the rice package with the rice against the press and seal and the nori on top – basically upside down from the first way I showed you.
I add my center, this time using the shrimp instead of crab
I roll exactly like I showed you above on the first sushi roll and here you have the result
To slice these rolls to get the nice little medallions you see in restaurants, you need a sharp, finely serated knife. I keep my knife wet to cut as well.
Slicing the roll with the rice outside is a little trickier than when the nori is on the outside. Also, I keep my hands wet so that the rice does not stick.
Here are a combination of the two rolls put together. You can see that I squeezed the sauce in a squiggle along the top of the roll and sprinkled with salmon rice seasoning and have carrots and pickled ginger on the side.
This is a roll that was made with the rice on the outside and is served with edamame and tempura onion rings
Here are a few things you can serve with your sushi – Soy Sauce, Wasabe and Rice Seasoning.
I sure hope you won’t be afraid to try making this!! I know it looks complicated, but really, it goes very quickly and you sure will love the results!!
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Archive for the ‘Vegetables and Side Dishes’ Category
Apple Time Giveaway
It’s cold in Okieland!! Who would have believed this past summer, as we suffered through 60 some odd days of triple digit temps, that we could ever reach 30 degrees! It’s glorious. The sun is shining, we got a little rain yesterday and the air is clear. Good times!
In this cold weather, this wonderful chicken dish is hot, fast and filling. Accompanied by hearty Indian Basmati rice and fried spinach you’ll think you are in Calcutta. Mr. Fix-It loved this dish and ate two helpings. I think you’ll love it too because it is so easy to fix. So here you go:
4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut into cubes or strips
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 small onion chopped
2 cloves garlic minced or 2 tsps garlic paste
1 14.5 oz can crushed tomatoes
2 tablespoons yellow curry powder
1/2 cup coconut milk
salt and pepper to taste
3/4 c. flour
1/4 c. cornstarch
1/4 tsp tumeric
1/2 tsp. soda
1/4 – 1/2 cup ice water
Pour olive oil into large skillet
Add chicken and cook on medium high until lightly browned but not cooked all the way through. Remove from skillet and set aside.
Add onions to the skillet
And garlic. I have found this wonderful stuff at Walmart. It is in the produce section. There are a variety of organic herbs in paste form. How cool is that? It takes two teaspoons of this garlic paste. Cook until onions are tender and slightly clear
Reintroduce lightly cooked chicken to the skillet with the onion and garlic and add tomatoes. I am using home canned tomatoes here, that I pulsed in the blender for a few seconds. Stir until ingredients are mixed.
Add two tbslps curry powder and stir until curry is mixed throughout. Simmer the mixture for 30 – 40 minutes, stirring occassionally, until thickened and chicken is cooked and tender. Start your rice.
You can find coconut milk at any grocery store. Shake the can and then pour out 1/2 cup. Store the rest in the frig in a refrigerator dish.
Add coconut milk and stir to incorporate. Allow to simmer 10 more minutes, stirring occassionally.
While the curry is cooking, mix flour, corn starch, tumeric and soda in a bowl and add beaten egg. Slowly add 1/4 cup ice water and stir. Add more water as necessary to form a nice, thick batter like pancake batter. Start a skillet or pan of hot oil about 3″ deep and heat to 350º.
Take a handful of fresh spinach and dip the entire handful into the batter.
It’s messy, I know. It doesn’t matter if all of the spinach is covered. The object is to make all the leaves of spinach stick together.
Drop battered clump of spinach into hot oil and fry on one side until browned and then turn. Drain on a rack over a paper towel.
Put rice onto plates and spoon curry over rice. Add spinach and a salad and you are done!
Here in Oklahoma, we are EX-CITED! We have a new Sunflower Foods store in downtown Oklahoma City. And Whole Foods will be opening next month. The only thing that could make it better would be for a threesome finished out by Trader Joe’s which appears to be in the works!! See? Okies do have taste. Yes, they do.
Well, Wednesday I ventured into the wild crowd that packed our newly opened grocery and took advantage of a sale of sales. Organic plums for 77¢ – organic celery for 99¢ – organic 2% milk for $3.99 – 5 pounds of Gulf Shrimp for $18.00 – and the list goes on. But, oh my, they had an olive bar!! Give me a plate and call me Greek. I love olives. All olives. And all the things that go with olives like pickled garlic and marinated mozarella! Oh yeah. So I loaded up on olives and the works and left that store with visions of a salad deluxe and boiled shrimp.
1 1/2 cups lettuce, greens and spinach per person
1/3 cup olives of your choice per person
2 Marinated Mozarella Cheeses per person
2 slices bacon per person + 1 tsp brown sugar per slice
1/4 cup brown sugar
2 tblsp butter
1/2 cup pecans
1/4 cup crumbled blue cheese per person
Raspberry Vinaigrette dressing or Greek Vinaigrette
I got home, chopped lettuce and put it into large bowls, one for me and one for Mr. Fix-It and set those aside. I used iceberg lettuce and some fresh spinach, but you can use any greens at all. That’s what I had on hand for this week.
Next, I melted 2 tablespoons of butter and added 1/4 cup of brown sugar. I stirred that around on medium heat until a thick liquid was formed. This can take a little while and just when you get frustrated – poof – it all melts!
I added 1/2 cup of whole pecans and stirred those until they were coated. You don’t want to cook the sauce too long or it will scorch and get too hard.
I poured the nuts onto a nonstick tray to cool. Once cooled, I tossed them into the food processor and pulsed until they were chopped into large pieces.
Meanwhile, I really did it and sprinkled brown sugar onto strips of bacon. I cooked those in the microwave, but if you want to cook them in a pan, you can start them frying and then sprinkle them with the brown sugar. It gives a crisp, sweet taste to the bacon for salads.
Finally, I piled different olives onto the center of the lettuce and spinach, put two pieces of the marinated mozarella on the edge of the bowl alongside two slices of tomato, piled about 1/4 cup of crumbled blue cheese over the whole thing and then sprinkled the pecans and crumbled bacon over that. With Raspberry Vinaigrette dressing or Greek Vinaigrette, it is awesome!! I boiled some of the shrimp, made some drawn butter and called it supper!! Mmmm. Mmmm.
We all know why they call it comfort food. It’s because once you’ve eaten it, you have to unbutton your pants to get comfortable!! We southerners seem to think we’ve cornered the market on that kind of vittles and southern cooking has become synonymous with comfort. Southern comfort is more than just the name on a bottle of alcoholic spirits!
Unfortunately, as Paula Deen has documented, southern cooking can be a little heavy on the fat and sugar and gargantuan on the portions. I have learned to cook with the same flavors, just not quite so much fat, and my portions are drastically cut. “Moderation in all things!”I say. Having to unbutton those pants is not necessarily a good thing.
One of my favorite things for breakfast or as a side, is hasbrowns. Cheesy hashbrown casserole is even better than plain ‘taters. But so many of the casseroles have as much as a stick of butter and then pure cream – you know – the works. In order to satisfy my craving for these spuds laced with cheese, I’ve developed my own way to get the flavor without all the calories. Now, I will say, there IS a difference. You can’t cut out that much butter and cream and still have the same thing. However, this recipe makes me happy and that’s all that counts. Right? It’s all about me -and you too – because you’ll like, I’m sure.
I use new potatoes from the garden and shred them in my food processor. Regular Idaho potatoes are fine too, or you can use frozen hash browns.
If you are shredding your own, put the hashbrowns in a bowl and wash them in cold water until the water runs clear. Pat them dry with a towel and either weigh or measure them.
In a large bowl, place potatoes, cheese and onions and toss until well mixed
In a separate bowl pour chicken broth…
add two tablespoons of the butter, melted
Whisk in the garlic powder
And the salt
And the milk and pepper to taste.
Pour the liquid mixture into the bowl of potatoes, onions and cheese. Toss until all of the dry ingredients are coated.
In a 2 quart cast iron skillet or casserole dish, melt the remaining tablespoon of butter. spread evenly over the bottom surface of the pan.
Pour the potato mixture into the pan…
and lightly pat down the surface.
Bake at 350º covered for 20 minutes. Remove cover and bake 25 to 35 minutes until potatoes are tender.
Serve hot for breakfast or dinner!
It’s closing in on planting time for potatoes! I love fresh potatoes from the garden and have done posts before on them. I am planning on doing a full bed of the knobby things this year. Usually, we only do a half a bed, but we were out of potatoes too soon this time. And of course, I’ll be drying some of them.
But I have another favorite way to prepare potatoes for the long haul and I have been asked by reader, Shari, to share it here. Mr. Fix-It loves hashbrowns and it is easy to take a large batch of either garden potatoes or Russets from the store and make hashbrowns to last you a long, long time.
First cut up potatoes to fit into a food processor with a grating blade on it. You can also grate them by hand. Red and Yukon golds can keep the skins, but Russets are better peeled
Put into a food processor to grate or do it by hand
Once the potatoes are grated, put them into a collander that is in a larger bowl and pour water to cover the potatoes. Pick up the collander and swish it up and down. The water will be white. Pour that off and do the same process until the water is clear. This washes off all of the starch that makes potatoes turn black.
Lay a large bath towel out on the counter and spread the grated potatoes over the towel.
Fold the edges of the towel over the top of the potatoes and roll the towel up like a jelly roll, pressing as you roll. This squeezes out excess water. When you unroll it, the potatoes will be dry.
Distribute the grated potatoes among cookie sheets and place in the freezer.
Remove from freezer and, using a spatula, lift potatoes off of the cookie sheets.
Place in plastic freezer bags
Bend the bags around to break up the slabs of frozen potatoes. Label bags and place in the freezer.
Your hashbrowns can now be used in any recipe calling for hashbrowns, even casseroles. To make old-fashioned hashbrowns for breakfast, put 2 – 4 tablspoons of oil, either olive oil or canola, in the bottom of a large skillet and heat on medium high. When heated, add hashbrowns to about 3/4 – 1 inch deep and salt to taste.
Cover with a lid and cook until the bottom of the potatoes is golden brown.
Cook until the second side is browned and crisp. Remove from the pan and pat with paper towels to remove any excess oil. Serve as a side dish. And don’t forget the grits!!
Thanksgiving is over – it was wonderful for us – and time to move on to the next big meal at Christmas! I think that this time of year is measured as time between meals or maybe, as pounds gained? Whatever, the food just seems to taste better during the 37 or so days between Thanksgiving and New Year’s.
While it appears that everywhere from Colorado to Idaho to California experienced a freezing, snowy Thanksgiving, those of us in sunny Oklahoma felt some nippy temps but still had trees with painted leaves as a background, through the window, to our massive dinner spread.
We enjoyed a houseful of guests, four of whom sported guitars, and so a lovely day was spent eating and then listening to the soulful strains of Hank William’s “So Lonesome I Could Cry”, the harmony of gospel songs and the catchy beat of the eldest son’s original creations. Having two professional musicians in the family, along with a whole slew of amateurs makes for a toe tapping, knee slapping concert whenever we all get together.
Our dinner consisted of the usual turkey, oiled up and totally covered with smoked paprika, baked in a separate roaster for a much more tender, juicy bird. Cornbread dressing, mashed potatoes and gravy, candied sweet potatoes, sweet potato casserole, green beans, corn on the cob, 7 layer salad and my pasta salad (recipe follows) accompanied the bird of the hour. Just for the heck of it, I decided to see what everybody had to say about the sauerkraut and so I sliced up smoked sausage and baked that on a bed of the kraut. If I may brag, everyone went nuts over it and several ended up carrying home a jar! Yay. I suppose I’ll have to find cabbage at 10 lbs for $1 again and get busy.
I have to admit to a huge, red-faced mistake, however, before I give you my recipe for a pasta salad. My favorite pie in the whole world is pecan pie. I am a terrible American because I can’t stand pumpkin pie. However, because I love my family I do make a pumpkin pie each year and I generously let them have every single bite! For the pie cook, one of the kitchen utensils that we carry at the Oklahoma Pastry Cloth™ store is the First Slice Out Pie Spatula and it is the handiest little thing. It is placed into the pie plate and then the pie shell is placed on top of it. Once the pie is filled and covered, it is baked and the first slice out is easily achieved by cutting around the spatula and just lifting it up.
Sounds brilliant, right? Well, it is – that is unless a runny, sticky, custard pie filling and large, glass pie plate are involved. It works like a charm for apple or cherry or such in a standard pie tin, but a pecan pie is a whole ‘nother kettle of fish. Well, not that pecans and fish have anything in common. Bad metaphor. Never mind. Anyway, it seems that when the sticky, gooey mess that is pecan pie filling is poured into the shell, if there is ANY kind of crack in the crust, some of it WILL seep under the pie shell at the edge where the spatula and crust meet. The baked result is a pie spatula that is adhered to the pie pan with the strength of Super Glue. I sheepishly pried under the spatula with a knife to no avail to get that first slice out and everyone gathered around to watch me battle with my genius utensil, each giving their own suggestions based on obviously more engineering know-how than I possessed. Finally, my dear son-in-law who is so smart, took the knife from my feverish fingers and gently rocked the spatula back and forth until, with a great sucking sound, it lifted off of the surface of the pie pan, bringing strings of oozing mess with it. He popped the mess into his mouth and announced that it tasted like taffy candy. Lovely. My pie was a dug-out disaster, but it tasted like taffy! It may have been the ugliest pie at the buffet, but it DID taste good. So word of warning: The pie spatuala works best in a standard pie pan and make sure that your crust is thick and perfect if you are going to use a custard filling!
Our Thanksgiving Day was just that – a day of thanks. However, for us here at the Oklahoma Pastry Cloth™ homestead, every single day is a day of thanks for all that God has provided and for the strength and wisdom He offers. There is good in every situtation, no matter how bad it may look to us. Growth can always be had if one will focus on what God is teaching rather than what the circumstances seem on the surface. We pray that, for you all, this time is one of love, joy and personal growth.
1 1/2 cups uncooked pasta
2 tsp olive oil
3 stalks celery
1/2 cup sliced carrots
1 small head broccoli cut up
1/2 med. onion chopped
1/2 cup black olives, chopped or sliced
1/4 cup green olives, chopped or sliced
1/2 c. mayonnaise (light or fat free is fine)
2 tbsp + 1 tsp sugar
3 tbsp vinegar
1/4 cup any type Italian salad dressing
1/4 cup parmesan cheese
1/2 tsp oregano
1.noun: dough rolled into thin, flat strips; pasta
2.verb: “to noodle”; a primative method of putting food on the table, specifically catfish, involving a hapless fish, a soaked human, no fishing pole and two brains of equal size. Also known as “grabblin”, “hoggin”, “doggin”, “gravelin’ or “ticklin”.
Ever heard of “noodling”?
From the National Geographic:
“Some people call it the Mount Everest of fishing. But most everyone else describes “noodling” or handfishing, as just plain crazy”
The Oxford English Dictionary defines “noodling” as “a stupid person”. Hmmm. Think about that. The sport with the same name requires walking along a riverbank, in the water – no – sometimes under the water, feeling for a fish in places where beavers, snakes and snapping turtles are just as likely to hide and then putting one’s hand into the fish’s mouth where tender skin is no match for razor-like teeth. I might call that less than brilliant!
While noodling is carried out in most parts of the South, here in Oklahoma, we are proud of those who noodle and hold up Pauls Valley, Oklahoma as the home of the Olympics of noodling – the annual Okie Noodling Tournament. Bob’s Pig Shop is the sponsor with live entertainment and fried catfish making for a fun festival atmosphere. This year’s gathering of the bold and the brave happens on July 10th.
I grew up with stories about my father’s, my grandfather’s and my great-grandfather’s “noodlin’ ” adventures. My dad shares in his book, Sailing Down the River of Memories, his noodling expertise which was handed down through the generations to him. We are very big on passing on traditions in my family, however, somehow this tradition of risking life and limb and appendages seems to have stopped with my father. Go figure.
On page 17 Dad shares:
“I learned to noodle or to fish with my hands. Now, that was an adventure! I’d go into the water and feel along the bank until I found a hole. Then, I’d slowly reach in to see if there might be a fish. Interestingly enough, by moving slowly and being gentle, you can stroke a fish under water and it won’t swim off. I’d carefully put a finger in the mouth and the thumb in the gill and bring the fish up close to my body. Then I put my other hand on the body of the fish so it couldn’t get away and I’d walk out of the water. The adventure was the chance of getting a turtle or a snake – but I never did. You had to be careful with catfish because the whiskers could stick in your skin and really hurt.”
Dad also tells about his granddad, my great-granddad – Robert Hightower, who taught him how to finesse a catfish.
“One of the largest fish he noodled was a 28-pound catfish on Spring River at Galesburg. [Missouri] Since that was not a legal way of fishing, Bob told everyone he had landed it with a cane pole. His description of the battle was so vivid no one doubted his word, but the scratches on his arms and fingers told another tale. He told son-in-law, Charlie [my granddad], he threaded a cord through the catfish’s mouth and gill and after tying the other end around his arm, he started for the bank. Something startled the fish and it went downstream pulling him with it. He had quite a battle getting to shore and landing the fish. When he put the fish on a 300 lb cake of ice, its head was at one end with the tail hanging over the other end nearly touching the ground.”
Robert Hightower is featured in the Then and Now Cookbook
I hope you enjoy this video that shows that men “ain’t got nuthin’ on us females” when it comes to noodlin’……………
OK, so the same side of my family whom I discuss above, in spite of the obvious quirky side passed down through the generations to me, also handed down another kind of “noodlin’”- the homemade kind. I was raised on Sunday lunch that included either chuck roast cooked to perfection, shredding to moist strips, or chicken equally moist and falling off the bone. Both were accompanied by homemade noodles gently boiled in the broth from the meats. Before we would leave for church, Mom would put the meat, onions and salt and pepper into a dutch oven with water and would leave it to bake slowly while we were gone. When we walked into the house after a morning of worship, the aroma would be so permeating that the saliva glands had an immediate Pavlovian response.
Dad always made the noodles and he did so just as his mother taught him. His great-aunt Myrtle, sister to Grandmother, taught Grandmother how to make them. Then, my father taught me. Dad can cut those noodles so thin that the result is delicate and tender. He still makes them when we go home and now, the next generation has taken its place as my children are now making the noodles in their homes.
Below is the photo recipe for one of our favorite family traditions. I hope you enjoy them as well. Since I never learned to practice the other “noodlin’”, I’m satisfied with my efforts at the pasta variety. However, if you wish to take up the sport, more power to you – and to the fish.
1 cup flour
1 large egg
Approximately 3 tbsp water
6 cups broth
Divide the dough into 4-6 pieces and roll them into balls. Using one dough ball at a time, pat into a circle with your hand. Using a rolling pin, roll the circle out to very, very thin, turning frequently and sprinkling with flour to avoid sticking. Always keep plenty of flour on the pastry cloth.
Gently lift flattened circles, as they are completed, and place them on a cookie rack or floured surface such as a counter top, cutting board, a second pastry cloth or a tea towel for drying. Allow to dry at least 30 minutes on each side. If the air is moist, it can take longer. Repeat the process on remaining dough balls.
When the circles of dough are dry, but still very pliable, roll each one into a very loose jelly roll. Before rolling, you can flour the surface lightly to keep from sticking.
With a good, sharp knife, slice noodles thinly and then run fingers through them to loosen, unroll and separate. Be careful not to pinch the dough as you are cutting, just holding it lightly between thumb and finger.
Bring broth to a boil. Reduce heat slightly and gently drop noodles in a handful at a time, stirring lightly with a fork. Cook approximately 15 minutes until tender. You can add canned broth if more broth is needed. Serve immediately over meat.
Now that’s the way to use the ol’ noodle!! Happy cooking!
A History Lesson on Peppers and A Photo Session/Recipe on Pickling Peppers
“Peter Piper picked a peck of pickled peppers.” This child’s poem seems to have first appeared in Peter Piper’s Practical Principles of Plain and Perfect Pronunciation” by John Harris in England in 1813. The little book included a tongue twister for every letter of the alphabet. However, according to The Oxford Companion to Childrens Literature by H. Carpenter and M. Prichard, the Peter Piper poem was actually recited for many years before the publication of the book.
The preface to Harris’ book is pretty funny. It reads: Peter Piper, without Pretension to Precocity or Profoundness, Puts Pen to Paper to Produce these Puzzling Pages, Purposely to Please the Palates of Pretty Prattling Playfellows, Proudly Presuming that with Proper Penetration it will Probably, and Perhaps Positively, Prove a Peculiarly Pleasant and Profitable Path to Proper, Plain and Precise Pronunciation. He Prays Parents to Purchase this Playful Performance, Partly to Pay him for his Patience and Pains; Partly to Provide for the Printers and Publishers; but Principally to Prevent the Pernicious Prevalence of Perverse Pronunciation.
And speaking of peppers, they are a wonderful and useful addition to any garden. We always include a variety of bell peppers, banana peppers and jalapenos. When I am in the mood for hotter peppers, I include habeneros as well.
Peppers are a member of the nightshade family of plants which include potatoes, tomatoes, eggplant and tobacco of all things! The Nightshade plant, itself a member of the family, is deadly. It looks like a miniature tomato plant. The peppers are of the species Capsicum and contain capsaicin which is a chemical that produces a burning sensation in the mouth, the skin and the digestive tract. It keeps animals from eating the peppers, but doesn’t seem to bother birds which then spread the seeds. Capsaicin is used in medicine as a pain reliever and to stimulate circulation.
Peppers are native to Central and South America and were taken to Spain in 1493. Their use and cultivation then spread to Europe and Asia. Supposedly, Christopher Columbus misnamed them “peppers” or pimento in Spanish because peppercorns were so valuable and he mistakenly thought the peppers were of the same family. He seemed full of mistaken assumptions!! Wrong continent and wrong plants.
One interesting name that I have heard my Missourian father use in reference to bell peppers is “mango”. This label for peppers is also used in parts of Kentucky, Ohio and Pennsylvania. But since the real mango fruit has become so popular, this old term for peppers is fading.
(thanks to the New World Encyclopedia!)
We pickle peppers at our home every year. However, we use a whole different approach. I took my grandmother’s recipe for bread and butter pickles, tweaked it a bit and have come up with my own recipe for “Sweet-Hot Peppers”. You can find my grandmother’s pickle recipe in the cookbook for sale on the shopping page.
Following is a photo instruction and recipe for my “Sweet-Hot Peppers.”
4 quarts of bell, banana and jalapeno peppers. The ratio of jalapenos to the other peppers will determine how hot your relish will be. Your choice. Also, I throw in a few jalapenos that have turned red or a red bell pepper to add color.
6 medium white or yellow onions
1/3 cup non-iodized salt or canning salt
3 cups white vinegar (5%)
4 1/2 cups sugar
1 1/2 tsp tumeric powder
1 tsp celery seed
Wash and dry jars and rings. Boil lids and turn down heat to very low to keep the lids warm.
Core, seed and chop bell peppers into small pieces.
Slice banana peppers down the center of one side. Lift out seeds and discard and chop into thin strips.
Slice jalapenos in half. Lift out seeds and discard and slice peppers into pieces or half rings. You may require rubber gloves to keep fingers from burning and to help you avoid accidently rubbing the capsaicin in your eyes or nose.
Chop onions into small pieces and put all peppers with onions into a large stainless steel or glass bowl.
Sprinkle 1/3 cup non-iodized salt over the vegetables
Cover with plenty of ice cubes.
Add water to cover all of the vegetables and let sit for 3 hours. After 3 hours, remove any remaining ice cubes and drain off all water. DO NOT RINSE vegetables.
In a large stock pot, pour in vinegar, add sugar and stir in tumeric, mustard seed and celery seed.
Stirring, bring to a rolling boil.
Pour vegetables into boiling syrup and turn off heat.
Stir to coat all vegetables and remove pot from burner. Because peppers are more delicate than cucumbers, you do not want to heat them too much like bread and butter pickles. You want the peppers to be more raw and crisp.
Immediately spoon pepper mix into jars to 1/2 inch from top. Pack in as much of the vegetable mixture as possible. You can add more liquid later.
Add leftover liquid to 1/2″ from top.
Using a knife, run around the inside perimeter of the jars to release any air bubbles. With a damp cloth, wipe the edges of the jars to remove any sticky residue. Add lids and rings and tighten rings but not too tight.
Place jars into waterbath cannner and cover jars with water, 1 inch over the tops of the lids. Bring to a boil and process for 10 minutes and no more. Remove from canner and allow to cool. Wash and label.
Now you are ready for pepper gifts and a wonderful condiment for your scrambled eggs, sandwiches, pinto beans, soups and anything else you can think of!!
To make your gift jar, use any kind of cotton material and draw a circle using a small saucer as a guide.
Cut the cloth circle from the fabric
Remove the ring from the jar and place the cloth circle on top. Replace ring and tighten.
There you go!!
Cutting okra requires gloves and a long-sleeved shirt.
The okra pods will be various sizes and you can separate them according to the sizes for particular cooking methods. The smaller pods are great for boiled okra with butter and salt. The medium sizes are great for pickling and all sizes are suitable for frying and soups.
Pour okra into shallow cake pans for small freezers, or onto cookie sheets for larger freezers and spread evenly over the surface. Freeze.
When the okra is frozen hard, using hands or slotted spoon, sift frozen okra and place into freezer bags and label. Freeze leftover coating for future okra.
Uncoated okra can be frozen the same way for soups and for the recipe that follows. Do not pre-scald okra to freeze, but just freeze it fresh off the stalk. Placing the pieces on a shallow dish to pre-freeze makes it easy to take out only the amount that you wish to use for each meal. The pieces are not clumped together in a big mess.
One of my favorite ways to make okra was taught me by my mother-in-law who never measured anything. She just brought a basket of goodies in from the garden and started throwing things together. Her version of “Okra and Tomatoes” is great. She used fresh tomatoes, onions, garlic and okra from the garden, but “store-bought” is just fine.
You need one good-sized tomato per person, chopped into small pieces
Around 6 medium okra pods per person
1 medium onion, finely chopped
1 clove garlic, minced
1 tbsp real butter or 1/2 tbsp olive oil
1/4 to 1/2 cup of grated or shredded parmesan cheese, depending on taste
Salt to taste
Many years ago, when I was in high school, my family, on their way to a summer in Maine, stopped to visit The Brotherhood of Christians also known as The Bruderhof, in Rifton, New York. At that time, any visitor joined in with the work that was the life sustaining neccessity required of every member of the community. The community produced and processed its own food, had its own school, and had a toy factory that manufactured very special and well-made wooden toys. The atmosphere was pleasant, friendly and quiet, but my sisters and I – looking forward to proms, graduation and meeting friends at the mall – were unsure about this way of life that was so alien to us. We were city girls who had no concept of being shut away from the world.
I truthfully have just scattered memories of the time spent at this community of The Bruderhof. Men and women dressed in the same style of dress, small apartments and a huge community ‘mess hall’ where all shared a meal at noon – a dish that we dubbed ‘Community Casserole’ that was a delicious combination of sauteed onions, celery, ground beef and rice, tea time, my father returning from a day in the toy factory all covered in sawdust and a farm of livestock and gardens that fascinated me, comprise the main of my recollections. However, spending a day peeling tomatoes for ketchup production stands out the most in my memory. I had never seen so many tomatoes in one place and I had never experienced peeling blanched tomatoes; skins slipping off of not-quite-soft whole tomatoes, juice running between fingers, across palms and down the forearm to drip, elbow as a spigot, onto the floor, into the lap or by happenstance into the bowl. To me, it was hillarious that I was even doing it and it has since become a family laugh. I’m pleased to remember that I threw myself into the work with gusto and considered that I was playing an important role in the continuing existence of this group of people…ok…so I’m pleased to remember it that way, but I’m pretty sure that I was not all that altruistic or enthusiastic.
It was the copper kettles that form my vision of the day the most. In the large room where we worked, a huge copper kettle over flames contained boiling water into which fresh tomatoes were dropped for an instant and then retrieved to put into ice water. These cooled tomatoes were transferred to us, peelings split and curling, ready for our knives to help continue the process of removing the skins and cores. The naked tomatoes were then sent to other large copper kettles where they were boiled down with spices and vinegar to make ketchup. It was my introduction to “canning” and left an indelible impression of heat, moisture and the overpowering smell of warm tomatoes. Those sensations revisit me every year as I now produce my own tomato products from the juicy, red jewels gathered from my garden. Who knew back then, that this city girl was a farm girl at heart?!
And so, with this post, I thought that I would invite you into my kitchen for a quick lesson on canning tomatoes. I have had a bumper crop this year with several “pounders” or larger, with an average size of nearly 3/4 pounds per tomato. I have had no hornworms or aphids and the typical fungus prone to Oklahoma seems to be in check. Blossom-end rot appeared at first, but was nipped in the bud (pun intended) by a healthy dose of lime and I have had no need for any kind of pest control at all. What a great year! I feel pressed to make use of every garden gift, wasting nothing, realizing that in Oklahoma next year may be a total bust!
Canning Quartered Tomatoes
Step 1: Wash fresh, firm tomatoes and leave whole. Bring water to a boil in a large stockpot and drop in tomatoes until full. Allow water to return to a boil, but watch for tomatoes as skins begin to split. Remove those tomatoes one by one and drop into iced water.
Step 2: In order to catch extra juice, over a large bowl remove the top center of each tomato with stem and lift peel off of the fruit. Place refuse into a second bowl. Quarter the tomatoes and place into the large bowl.
You can also juice the tomatoes and can just the juice if you like. My GreenLife Juicer makes quick work of the tomatoes.
Step 3: Place tomatoes and juice into canning jars to within 1/2″ of the top of the jar. Add 1/2 tsp. canning or uniodized salt to each pint or 1 tsp to each quart. Use a knife to gently move around the inside perimeter of the jar to remove any air bubbles.
Step 4: With a damp cloth, wipe the tops of the jars to remove any juice, salt or pulp. Using lids that have been boiled and then kept warm in the water, place lids and rings onto jars and tighten, but not too tight.
Step 5: Because tomatoes are so acidic, they do not have to be pressure-canned like green beans and other low acid foods. The process used to can tomatoes is called ‘waterbath canning’ and is much less time consuming. A waterbath canner is simply a stainless or enameled large stock pot with a rack. Fill the canner about halfway with cool water and balance the rack on the top edge of the pot out of the water. The rack has handles that help to accomplish this. Place the jars into the rack and, when full, lower the rack of jars into the water. If the water level is not one inch over the tops of the jars, add more water. Bring the water to a boil and at the point of boiling, set a timer for 10 minutes. When the timer sounds, turn off the heat and using tongs to catch the handles and oven mits to protect hands, carefully lift the rack out of the boiling water and replace onto the top edge of the canner.
Step 6: Using canning tongs, remove jars from rack and place onto a kitchen towel on a counter to cool. Listen for the pingy pop that indicates that the vacuum has completed. Make sure that when the jars are cooled that the lids are flat with no give. If a lid has a bump in the center and pops when pressed, the jar did not seal and must be refrigerated or used immediately. Store vacuumed jars in pantry.