delicious and nutritious …and easy!
A garden offers so many wonders. Whether growing a patio tomato or the whole produce department, you know the feeling.... sitting down to eat the bounty from your plot of earth, big or small. There is nothing like biting into something that you nurtured day after day to it's maturity. Sharing the gardens riches with friends is another of the garden perks. Pickles, preserves or baked goods made from what I've grown and nurtured are a true gift of love... to give and receive.
One vegetable that I adore growing is the good old cucumber. That good old cucumber gives us pickles, dill or sweet, whole or sliced and relish. How about soups; gazpacho and chilled cucumber with yogurt, YUM! How about some raita served with grilled unleavened bread? I could eat that duo for every meal! As kids I remember eating marinated cucumber and mayo sandwiches! Last but not least, how about that ever popular, never a southern summer table without, bowl of sliced cucumbers with a bit of dill, a pinch of sugar and vinegar?
Because there are so many things a person can make with cucumbers, size doesn't really matter BUT if pickling is your intent, it can be tricky harvesting cucumbers. Since the very best pickles are made from cuc's right off the vine you want to be able to pick enough of the same size all at one time. Unless you have quite a few cucumber plants it's not likely you'll find the quantity needed in one picking. When a few cucumbers are ready to be picked the others are still coming. That is why I love this DILL Pickle recipe from a previous blog post...all you need is enough cucumbers to fill one quart jar at a time.
Alas, you invariably end up with some cucumbers that sit on the vine too long. And, as those of you who've grown them before know, there is always that one hidden cuc you discover that has been growing for goodness knows how long. Yikes! A great option for those cucumbers is my Cinnamon Pickles from a previous post
This ongoing struggle with my cucumber harvest has probably been the source of my love of them today. I do not like to waste anything so no matter the size or shape; I had to create! I'm loving a pantry full of edibles for my table, gifts of love for family and friends and what better then a homemade gift for a host/hostess.... straight from your kitchen!
Today, I'm talking relish!
This was my first attempt and I can't say enough about the ease and results. One thing that did jump out at me was the color of the results...why wasn't my relish green? I now know they add blue dye to relish, EEK...no need, just change your expectation...it is so worth the small effort.
I adapted this recipe from Genius Kitchen
Tangy Pickle Relish
makes 6-7 1/2 pint jars
- 3 lbs cucumbers , peeled and seeds removed
- 2 -3 sweet onions
- 1⁄4 cup pickling salt
- 3 cups white vinegar
- 1/2 cup sugar
- 5-6 garlic cloves, minced
- 2 teaspoons dill seeds
- 2 teaspoons mustard seeds
- 2 teaspoons celery seeds
- 1⁄2 teaspoon turmeric
- red pepper flakes to taste
- Finely chop cucumbers and onions. I use a food processor and do smaller batches to be sure not too fine. Place in a large bowl and sprinkle with salt, stir well. Let stand for 1 hour.
- Drain mixture in a colander, rinse under cold water and drain again, pressing out any excess moisture.
- In a large pot, bring vinegar, sugar, garlic, dill seed, mustard seed, celery seed, and pepper flakes to a boil.
- Add cucumber mixture, bring to a boil again, stirring frequently. Reduce heat and simmer for 10 minutes.
- Remove from heat, add the turmeric and mix well.
- Pour into sterilized jars, leaving 1/2 inch head space. Seal with lids and rings. Process in boiling water bath in canner for 10 minutes.
My squash bounty continues and I will not cave to the guilt of waste!
I'm having a momentary vision of Lucy and Ethel shoving those chocolates in their mouths as fast as the conveyor belt brought them. That's kind of how I feel with the squash....
The squash is coming so fast. I have given squash to all my neighbors til they don't want anymore. (Husband yells from other room, "don't plant so much next time", DAH). Come winter when I pull many of these recipe renditions from the freeze I will again dream of planting squash in my garden.
Who doesn't love ooey, gooey, yummy lasagna?
I've never met that person and quite frankly I'd think something must be wrong with them. Chances are, if there is that person, it might be because of the pasta in the traditional rendition. Many folks these days are staying away from pasta.
How about lasagna, sans the pasta?
It can't be done you say?
How about replacing the noodles with
I saw many renditions of this on the internet. Why not give it a try?
I am here to tell you it is yummy.
I am not going to share a complete lasagna recipe with you. I'm only going to share the basic premise...
slice the squash about 1/4" thick and cook it until it's pliable. Most of the recipes called for boiling it. I LOVE everything roasted. I think it brings out so much more developed flavors. So, I tossed it with olive oil and sea salt. Placed it on a cookie sheet in a 400 degree oven and roasted it until it was soft but still holding shape.
Now your ready to create your dish.
Layer it in place of the pasta just as you would your favorite lasagna recipe, just the same!
I always finish my lasagna with a layer of Parmesan to create the crust.
You can make this very vegi or add your favorite meat sauce.
I promise, it will NOT disappoint....
The garden over flowith with squash...
As is familiar to most of you gardeners out there, it starts coming and it comes fast. We eat it, we gift it, we preserve it, we.....hmmm, what else can I do?
Luckily I have a recipe from a friend I've stashed away. I knowI liked it, otherwise I wouldn't have requested the recipe.
I'm trying to "healthy" up most everything in my life these days so I wanted to trade out the Bisquick for something else. Don't get me wrong, I have a box of the grand ole gal in my pantry but, these days, if I can I do switch it out for the very stuff it was meant to replace in the beginning...flour, baking powder, salt and shortening. I wanted to health it up even more and replace some of the white (although I do use only whole grain white flour) for some whole wheat. So, I did.
I do believe there are certain recipes that are meant to be just as they are.
Health, it can be argued, is just as dependent on the feeling of happiness as it is the nutrients we consume!
So, revert to the original recipe I did and it is a yummy way to cook the bounty of yellow squash
3 Cups Squash/zucchini , coarsely grated
1 Cup Bisquick
1/2 Cup onion, chopped fine
1/2 Cup grated cheddar cheese
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon marjoram, oregano, or combo of Italian Seasonings
dash of pepper
1/2 Cup of oil
4 eggs, beaten (hopefully farm fresh)
2 Tablespoons chopped fresh parsley (I think this is an important ingredient)
1 clove garlic, chopped, minced or grated
Mix eggs, oil and seasonings. Add all the rest of the ingredients. Bake at 350 degrees in a greased 9x13 pan for about 40 minutes or until lightly browned.
Cut 1" squares for appetizers or 4" squares for sides.
Oh no, more squash is coming!
More squash recipes too!
ingredients: lamb ribs, spice rub, BBQ sauce
Remove from oven.
Do you see the GOOEY?
As so often was the case, an old recipe came out of need for preservation or desire not to be wasteful. This recipe is just that. You know those cucumbers that stay on the vine just a bit too long? Either hidden under all the growth, or, more likely with me...I didn't pick it in time. The seeds are way too developed for your regular pickle recipes...well, here is the answer to your "i don't want to be wasteful" woes.
I first had these pickles a few years back and fell in love with them immediately. They're very different. They're crisp and spicy like fall, not from heat but from cinnamon.
The only issue I had with the original recipe was the bright red color which came from red food coloring and red cinnamon heart candy. If you don't know, you should read up on red food coloring. An unnecessary additive I choose to stay away from so I didn't use the candy or the food coloring. The recipe also uses alum (yes, derived from aluminum) and I found some controversial information about it too. Alum has always been used in pickling to get the crispness. Although controversial, I used it anyway, this time. It is a tiny amount and I didn't want to alter the character of the pickles...Next time I will try eliminating the alum and see what happens.
The recipe is time consuming but quite easy. Know that the next few mornings (yes you read that right) you will have a few basic steps. The important thing to note is starting this today means you won't be actually canning until the 3rd day. I do love canning but I also know I have to block off the time and kitchen space and I'll bet if you've read this far into this blog you know exactly what I'm saying!
2 gallons cucumber rings from too big cucs (peel, seed, slice in rings or as I've done half rings)
2 C pickling lime
3 C white vinegar
1 teaspoon alum
10 C Sugar
8 sticks cinnamon
1 C cinnamon hearts (if desired)
1 bottle of red food color (if desired)
Soak the cucumber rings, lime, and 8.5 quarts of water for 24 hours. Drain and wash well. Cover with ice water and soak for 2 hours. Pour off ice water.
Cover rings with 1 C vinegar, alum, and red food coloring if using and enough water to cover. Simmer for 2 hours.
Once you've reached your boil your ready to can these babies! Put the rings in your hot sterilized jars, cover with liquid to 1/4 " head space. Put on your sterilized lids and water bath for 20 minutes. In 8-10 weeks your ready for the unveiling! I didn't miss the red color at all. When they were first cooking they had a marvelous celery green color I wished had lasted. The color is much more appetizing to me then the red ever was. Hope you ENJOY!
The more I know about farming and the food we consume the more engaged I become in sourcing our ingredients. I'm a stickler about our food and those choices are the same for all the animals on our farm. I honestly don't know how it could be otherwise.
My, shall we say, enlightened perspective regarding our food has led to many of our food staples falling under the category, made from scratch.
Any of you that have experienced the shift from....
store bought:homemade in any of your food choices knows...
it is always for the better.... in so many ways.
Today, our transition from store bought is all about our four legged kids treat...
We have a ritual, as soon as our pups hear the spoon hit the side of the coffee mug, there they are. It's pretty cute, you can change everything about the moment, the setting, the cookies, the time, it wouldn't matter...the sound does it. They know, it's morning treat time!
I'm sure those of you with pets can appreciate the journey through expensive food options. I love our kids and cost just couldn't be a factor, even on our farm income. I learned to do with out pedicures some time ago. I'll find something else to do away with before I feed our kids unidentifiable food!
Meet our Pups!
|Earthquake (aka Quake)|
|Could you resist?|
|Not quite as photogenic but all personality.|
1 Cup water
1 egg (farm fresh of course)
5 Cups Buckwheat Flour
1 Cup All Purpose Flour
1/3 Cup Honey (sourced locally)
1/3 Cup Molasses (sourced as locally as possible)
2 Tablespoons Cinnamon
2 Tablespoons Ground Ginger
Rendered Bacon Fat
So, here is the deal. I've become addicted to food preservation ideas. I love having great food available to present at that last minute when you get the word your BFF is dying to see the farm and will come for lunch tomorrow or your husbands family is on the interstate just passing by and would love to come say Hi! You know those moments. We all have them in some form.
I love to cook and serving good food is very important to me. I don't want those moments when an unexpected guest graces our home to be any different. I might not be the best at making sure the Welcome mat is swept off but rest assured, I'll serve something to remember. During the summer when fresh food is abundant and full of flavor I have plenty of opportunity to make and stash those yummy treats.
Over the last couple of years, peaches have been a star ingredient. The addiction began when the peach vendor next to me at the Durham Farmers Market would have boxes of peaches that couldn't be sold because they weren't perfect so I would gladly take them off their hands for a few dollars. I gathered some of my favorite jam recipes during that time but today I am here to share my favorite of all surprises...
Freezer Peach Pie. The filling is oh so simple. You then fill a pie plate lined with foil full of the peach mixture. Freeze the plate with the peaches. Then, after it has had time to freeze, you remove the pie plate from the foil and Voila! You have a frozen peach pie filling ready to rest in the buttery crumb of a freshly made pie crust and baked to perfection just as if you'd freshly peeled and sliced those peach beauties!
4-5 Cups Fresh Peaches (original recipe called for 2.5 cups but I say, why not more?)
3/4 - 1 cup of sugar recommended but I add it based on peach sweetness (usually 1/2-3/4)
Dash of fresh Nutmeg
Cinnamon if desired. I add a touch but husband not a huge fan.
Mix it all together and place in your foil lined deep dish pie plate.
When your ready to use:
Preheat oven to 450. Place frozen peach mixture on top of your favorite crust. Top with another crust or lattice strips. Bake for 20 minutes. Lower heat to 350 and bake another 30 or until lightly browned.
Recipe adapted from a recipe found on allrecipes.com