Monday, September 6, 2010

End of summer veggies!

Ahoy there!
It's September and I'm already beginning to feel fall in the air! We deserve an early fall after this very toasty summer. My summer garden is looking terrible and overgrown, and will soon be pulled out for an early fall/late summer garden. Amazingly my cucumbers and bell peppers are still producing. Since my garden is looking grim, I've been visiting the local farmer's market for most of my produce. Last weekend I purchased: green muscadine grapes, yellow squash, tomatoes, eggplant, okra and some green onions. Yum! I put up most of the okra and broiled the rest with onions, garlic, and olive oil. Delish! I know some folks don't like okra, since it's a bit on the slimy side, but it really is a versatile and tasty veggie. So, here are a few end of summer recipes to help use up all those tasty farmer's market finds.

Greek Baked Stuffed Tomatoes
2 large tomatoes
1 cup ground chicken (or not, to make it strictly veggie)
1/2 cup chopped celery
1/2 cup chopped onion
2 cloves garlic, chopped
1/4 cup feta cheese
Fresh oregano
Fresh mint
Salt/pepper to tast

First core your tomatoes, scoop out as much of the "guts" as possible, then salt and turn upside down to remove excess moisture. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Meanwhile, saute your chicken, adding onions, celery, garlic and salt and pepper. When cooked through remove from heat and add herbs and cheese. Stuff the tomatoes and place in a greased baking pan. Bake 20-30 minutes or until tomatoes are soft and cheese is bubbly. I made these with a side salad and sauteed summer squash. Yum!

Okra Pickles
I wish I could tell you how many pounds of okra I used, but I never measured it. A rough guess would be about a pound, but enough to fill four pint jars.
2 1/2 cups apple cider vinegar
2 1/2 cups water
8 TSP pickling spice
2 1/2 TBS canning salt or Kosher salt
4 cloves garlic
4 dried chile peppers (optional)

Sterilize four pint jars, throughly wash okra, and bring pot of water to a boil to seal jars. Bring vinegar, salt and water to a boil in a separate pot. Meanwhile add to each pint jar: one garlic clove, one chile pepper, 2 TSP pickling spice, and pack with okra. Pour boiling vinegar mixture over okra with 1/2 inch headspace. Seal and place in boiling water bath for 10 minutes. As always, once your jars cool the lids should "pop" indicating they are sealed. If they don't, no worries, just keep the jar in the fridge. These pickles should last up to one year.

Sunday, June 27, 2010

It sure has be a while!

Whoops, it's been nearly a year since my last post! Things get busy and so it goes! For my return I bring a new jam recipe, salad dressing and summer dinner. Oh, and a look at the summer garden's gifts! In the basket: banana peppers, miniature orange bell peppers, an eggplant, Rutgers heirloom tomatoes, cucumbers, and a few straggler onions.

Mixed Berry Jam
4 cups crushed mixed berries (I used blueberries and homegrown blackberries)
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
3/4 cup honey (I used delicious wildflower honey harvested right here in the Apalachicola National Forest!)
2 tsp Pomona's Pectin
2 tsp calcium water (comes with Pomona's Pectin but must be made before hand)

As always, sanitize your jars, lids and rings. Crush berries and combine with lemon juice and calcium water, bring to a boil. Meanwhile, combine pectin and honey in a separate bowl. Add the honey/pectin mixture to the boiling berries and stir well. Allow the mixture to return to a boil for two minutes. Fill jars to 1/4 inch from the lip and seal in a water bath for five minutes. The beautiful thing about Pomona's Pectin is that you can use honey or lower amounts of sugar, as opposed to the six cups it takes to make traditional jam.

Quick Creamy Salad Dressing
1 1/2 tbs mayonaise
1 tbs coarse ground mustard
2 tsp red wine vinegar
Dash of olive oil
Pinch of salt
Pinch of sugar

Adjust to taste, these measurements are guesstimates. Yum!

Summer Veggie Pasta
1 small eggplant, sliced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 small bell pepper, sliced
1 tomato, cubed
1/2 cup mushrooms, sliced
1/4 cup pine nuts
Fresh basil
Olive oil
Salt/pepper to taste.

Saute the veggies lightly in olive oil, meanwhile toast the pine nuts at 350 degrees until lightly browned. Combine the cooked vegetables, pine nuts, and fresh basil and serve over pasta. So easy! All of these veggies, minus the mushrooms, came from the garden and could easily be substituted for whatever you have available.