Dandelion Pesto

Dandelions are everywhere, just like honeysuckle every spring!

We keep a small patch of dandelions in our back yard for the bees each year (and if we’re being honest, you can never completely rid your yard of them anyway).
People spend a lot of money to maintain grass:  by watering it, cutting it, and buying bottles of weed killer.
We let the rain water our grass, we mow and give the clippings to the chickens for foraging/entertainment, add some to the compost bin, and if there are weeds that are beneficial to the bees we leave some for them.

I learned as a young girl that dandelions are multi-purpose; the first being dandelion wine (thanks to the Ray Bradbury novel of the same name), salve/lip balm, and in recent years as food: dandelion jelly, which I made last year and cookies made from the yellow flower, and even pesto from the leaves.  Every part of the dandelion is edible and research shows there are benefits to eating these weeds.

Most people may picture hippies foraging in the forest and spending countless hours making “free range organic” health food.  I’m here to tell you this was a simple 20 minute project from start to finish.  I didn’t have to leave my house, wear patchouli oil, or devote a day to making food from scratch.  Wearing a tie dye shirt is optional.

DSC_1160

Dandelions are easy to spot though they closely resemble catsear.  If you want to make sure you’re picking dandelions, pull up the plant by the root and look for a milky white excretion from the stalk.  Also, the leaves will be pointy ended and smooth, unlike catsear which will be fuzzy.

difference-dandelion-catsear-001

DSC_1152

My daughter and I made the journey to the back yard (every outing is a journey with a three year old!) last week to gather two cups of dandelion leaves to make pesto, which was a quick process.
If you plan to pick some for yourself, please pick from an area that you are 100% sure hasn’t been sprayed with chemicals.

DSC_1191

After we gathered our greens, we brought them inside and gave them a thorough wash.

DSC_1196

I gave the batch a light rinse and then picked through looking for pieces of dirt/debris to remove.  I gave it a good spray and sifted through again to double check.

Next, I collected my ingredients for pesto.  It’s like making traditional pesto with basil, except you’re replacing the herb (basil) with a weed (dandelion green).

DSC_1205

I placed about a third of my dandelion greens in my food processor with the olive oil and let it chop down for half a minute.  I added the remainder of the greens until it was all finely chopped.

Next the garlic cloves, pine nuts, salt, and Parmesan cheese were added in with the greens and processed until smooth and creamy.

DSC_1207

This batch made enough to fill two jelly jars.  It will keep in the refrigerator for up to one week so I left one jar in the fridge and placed the other in the freezer for a later date.

DSC_1213

Dandelion Pesto

  • 2 cups dandelion greens, washed well
  • 3/4 cup olive oil
  • 5 cloves minced garlic
  • 2oz  pine nuts
  • 1 tsp sea salt
  • 2 oz Parmesan cheese, shredded
  1. After greens have been washed thoroughly, place a third in a food processor with the olive oil and process for around 30 seconds.
  2. Add remaining greens and process until finely chopped.
  3. Add garlic, pine nuts, sea salt, and Parmesan cheese and process until smooth and creamy.
  4. Transfer to jars.  Refrigerate up to one week; freeze for up to 3 months.

This recipe can be used in place of traditional basil pesto.  Enjoy on a warm crusty baguette, mixed with tomatoes, topped with spinach and artichokes, or as a pizza sauce base.

DSC_1226edit

I used a pint size jar of marinara sauce we canned last summer mixed with a third of the dandelion pesto as my base sauce for this pizza.  It’s topped with grilled chicken, Vidalia onion, olives, and kale.  Spinach and artichokes would also be excellent toppings for this pizza!

DSC_1221

 

Honeysuckle Syrup

It’s April, which means Masters week (a big golf tournament in Augusta) is over, the tourists are gone, our garden has been planted, and honeysuckle is everywhere…

DSC_1016
Along the garden fence to attract the bees.
DSC_1021
The smell is incredible.  Takes me right back to childhood when I lived in a neighborhood and all of us kids would take our little sips of honey off the vine in front of the mean old lady’s house.  Every neighborhood has a resident “mean old lady”, right?
DSC_1026
On my walk to the rain barrel.
DSC_1031
Climbing the trees around the blackberry patch.  Literally, it’s EVERYWHERE.

I love everything about it:  the scent, the fact that is attracts the bees which pollinate our garden and take it back to hives to make honey, not to mention its beauty.  It’s also super invasive so we spend time hacking a lot down at the end of the season to prevent it overtaking everything.  We’re not really winning that battle but I’m certainly not mad!

It takes me right back to spring and summer during my childhood and I think every Southern girl wishes we could bottle up the scent and the taste fresh off the vine.

Last year I made this honeysuckle breeze cake  for my dad-in-law’s birthday and enjoyed that rich sweet taste baked in to the cake.

DSC_5562edit
No caption, just drool.

This year, I decided to and bottle up that taste for our sweet tea by making a simple syrup!

A simple syrup is exactly that:  a simple mix of sugar dissolved in water to create a syrup.  You can add certain elements to the sugar water to give it a unique flavor; in this case it’s honeysuckle.

My husband’s reaction after trying it in his sweet tea for the first time: “It tastes just like it smells!”

That basically means it tastes like summertime in Heaven, y’all.

honeysucklesyrupdiptych

I started by collecting two cups loosely packed honeysuckle blossoms, making sure the green stem at the bottom was removed (it can create a bitter taste) and brushing off excess dirt.

DSC_1038edit

Once that was done, I brought 1 1/3 cups sugar and 1 cup water to a boil, stirring until the sugar was completely dissolved.

I packed the honeysuckle down in to a pint mason jar and poured the hot sugar water over the blossoms.

Once the jar reached room temperature, I placed it in the refrigerator for 8 hours to let the blossoms flavor the water.

DSC_1063

Next, I placed a strainer over top of a clean pint mason jar and poured the syrup in to the new jar, discarding the dirt/debris and honeysuckle blossoms.

honeysucklesyrupdiptych3

We’re left with this lovely jar of honeysuckle syrup!  You can cover and refrigerate for a couple of weeks – if it lasts that long!  I use around 3 teaspoons of syrup for a pint jar full of sweet tea but you can play with the amount until you get the flavor you want.

You could also use this syrup in a batter to add the flavor to pancakes, madeleines, or sweet breads.

DSC_1091edit

honeysucklesyrupdiptych2

Honeysuckle Syrup

  • 2 cups honeysuckle blossoms, greenery removed
  • 1 1/3 cups sugar
  • 1 cup water
  1. Pick your honeysuckle; remove green stems and shake off dirt.
  2. Boil your sugar and water; stirring until sugar is completely dissolved.
  3. Pour the hot sugar water over the packed honeysuckle in a pint mason jar and bring to room temperature.
  4. Place covered jar in the refrigerator for at least 8 hours.
  5. Pour contents through a strainer in to a clean pint mason jar, discarding blossoms and debris.
  6. Cover and refrigerate up to 2 weeks.

DSC_1081

Chicken & Dumplings

I first heard about Biscuit Love in the current edition of Garden & Gun magazine.  Owned and operated by husband and wife Karl and Sarah Worley in Nashville, this food truck operation turned restaurant serves locally sourced from scratch food.  After hearing descriptions of the dishes (seriously, just look at that menu online!) I’m ready for a road trip specifically to dine there!
You may think that I’m joking but my family takes food very seriously.  We drove 7 hours to Townsend, TN just to eat at Smokin’ Joe’s Bar-B-Que. Okay, so yeah, we may have also visited Cade’s Cove and Clingman’s Dome while we were there but the entire premise of that trip was the BBQ.

After processing our first batch of chickens, I knew the first dish I wanted to make was chicken and dumplings.  My family already has a killer recipe for the creamiest slow cooked chicken and dumplings you’ll ever taste in your entire life, but I’m kind of obsessed with Ronni Lundy’s cookbook Victuals so I had to take a peek at her recipe!

Coincidentally, the recipe in her book is from none other than Biscuit Love’s Karl Worley.  When something so coincidental happens, I feel like it’s meant to be and so I set out to have a little of Karl Worley’s cooking in my kitchen rather than road tripping several hours with a toddler because I’m adventurous but not completely insane (…yet).

Karl’s recipe gives directions on roasting a whole chicken and making your own chicken stock from the reserved bones.  While I did this since I had a freshly processed chicken available, let’s operate under the assumption you’re coming home from work and want this dinner on your table like, now.  If that’s the case, ain’t nobody got time for roasting a chicken and making your chicken stock.  So let’s just say we go to the local grocery store deli and pick up a nice rotisserie chicken for around $7.00 and call it a day.

 

We’ll start this recipe by making the sauce:

dsc_0126

Mix up your butter and oil in the skillet and add carrots, garlic, and bay leaves once melted.  You’ll cook it until the vegetables are soft.  Next we’ll add in flour, continuously stirring to really coat the vegetables and remove starchy flavor.

We’ll pour in our chicken stock a cup at a time, stirring well.

dsc_0127
(I had to take a photo of my chicken stock.  This is from my first canned batch and I’m so proud of it.)

We’ll reduce the heat and let it simmer until it thickens up (about 15 minutes).  We’ll stir in our heavy cream last and set this pot aside.

dsc_0129

Next up is our dumpling dough (my favorite part!):

dsc_0131

In a large bowl, we sift our flour, baking powder, salt, sugar, and pepper.  Use your fingers to work in the lard (or bacon fat) until your mixture is crumbly.  Stir in the cream until the dough just comes together.  It should be thick and stick well to your spoon.

Next we’re going to divide our sauce and shredded chickens equally between two wide pots and bring them both to a simmer.  Drop spoonfuls of dumpling dough into the pots and be sure to leave plenty of room for them to expand so they don’t end up sticking together.

dsc_0133

Reduce your heat to medium low and cover while the dumplings poach for about 10 minutes.  You’ll want them firmed up but fluffy.

dsc_0135

dsc_0143

 

Karl Worley’s Roasted Chicken & Dumplings (serves 6)

Ingredients:

  • 1 whole chicken (roasted at 375 degrees on rack in a roasting pan for an hour then shredded once cool OR a precooked rotisserie chicken from your grocery store, shredded)

For the sauce:

  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
  • 1 carrot, diced
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 6 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 6 cups chicken stock (from the grocery store is perfectly acceptable but I’ll be posting a super easy recipe to make your own soon!)
  • 1/4 cup heavy cream
  • salt

Heat a wide pot over medium heat.  Add butter and oil.  Once butter is melted, add carrot, garlic, and bay leaves.  Cook until soft.  Stir in flour to coat vegetables; keep mixing for a couple minutes to remove starchy flavor.  Slowly pour in chicken stock, 1 cup at a time, stirring well.  Reduce heat and simmer until sauce is thickened up, about 15 minutes.  Stir in heavy cream and salt to taste then set pot aside while you make the dumpling dough.

For the dumpling dough:

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1/4 cup lard (or bacon fat if you happen to keep yours)
  • 2/3 to 1 1/3 cups heavy cream

In a large bowl, sift flour, baking powder, salt, sugar, and pepper.  Using your fingers, work lard (or bacon fat) into dough until crumbly.  Stir in heavy cream slowly until the dough comes together.  Dough will be thick, sticking to your spoon.

Directions:

  1. Follow instructions to roast your bird or shred your rotisserie chicken.
  2. Make your sauce.
  3. Make your dumpling dough.
  4. Divide sauce and shredded chicken between two pots.
  5. Bring pots to a simmer.
  6. Add dumpling dough by the spoonful to each pot, making sure they are not crowded.
  7. Cook at medium-low heat, covered, for about 10 minutes, until dumplings are firm and fluffy.
  8. Serve immediately.

dsc_0149edit

Apple Butter Pork Chops {Quick Recipe}

dsc_9647

Wait, wait… just hear me out!

The first time I heard about putting apple butter on pork chops, I hesitated.  Then I remembered my pantry is filled with jars of canned apple butter after our trip to Justus Orchard in September so really, there was nothing to lose.

I’ve had pork roasts slow cooked in apples before so this didn’t seem too off base once I gave it a second thought.  Getting my husband on board with this pork chop idea was the tough part. (Hence the single grainy, dark image I provided you with:  I wasn’t sure this meal would actually happen.  This photo is the only proof I have!)

Here’s a quick recipe if you’re curious.  I promise you won’t be disappointed.

Ingredients:

  • 2 thick pork chops, bone in
  • 1 cup apple butter
  • 2 tbsp butter
  • 1 tsp chili powder
  • 1 tsp brown sugar
  • 1/4 c heavy cream

Instructions:

  1. Grill your pork chops.  I’m not going to boss you around about this, every griller cooks their chops a little differently, so do this how you like.  If you’re in to pan frying your chops, that’ll work just fine also!
  2. While your chops are cooking, melt your 2 tbsp butter in a pan over medium heat.
  3. Once your butter is melted and frothy:  add apple butter, chili powder, and brown sugar. Stir well.
  4. Add the heavy cream and bring to bubbling (not boiling) while you stir.
  5. At this point you can add your cooked chops to the pan to marinate a few minutes or just pour the apple butter sauce over each pork chop on your plate.
  6. Serve hot with a side of baked beans or veggies.

Butternut Squash Chili

dsc_8977webedit

You may remember waaaaay back at the end of October, my family visited Clyde’s Fresh Produce.  While we were there, I purchased my very first butternut squash.

Yes, for real.  The very first.  My family didn’t eat winter squash when I was growing up, for whatever reason.  Now that I’m grown with my own family and we’ve started our goal of eating as much locally grown food as possible, that also means eating seasonally.  So this fall/winter, it’s time to learn the different types of winter squash and what dishes to serve it in.

I brought that beauty pictured above (the large squash, far left) home and after a couple of days, I started looking for recipe ideas.  There were so many chili with squash recipes that I decided to mix up a few variations to create my own.  I can’t think of a more classic fall/winter dinner than chili!

I gathered my chili ingredients and began my food prep when suddenly I realized …

I had no idea how to peel/cut a butternut squash.

I’m not embarrassed to admit that because I know I’m not the only 30 year old who has stood in a kitchen with a squash in their hands and thought:  “What next?”

I know this because I found a step-by-step tutorial to show me how to do just that.

dsc_8982webedit

Follow that link above to learn how to peel and cut a butternut squash.  It’s super simple and the photos included are lovely.  If you enjoy photos of food prep.  Which I do.

dsc_8984webedit

I used ground beef for my chili but ground venison or leftover Thanksgiving turkey would be perfect for the season as well!

Butternut Squash Chili Recipe

Ingredients:

  •  2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 whole small onion, diced
  • 6 or 7 cloves minced garlic (Obviously I use 7.  And I also use minced garlic from the jar.  I have no shame.  I regret nothing.)
  • 2 tsp sugar
  • 2 tbsp chili powder
  • 1 tbsp cumin
  • 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 2 tsp oregano
  • 1 lb ground beef (or ground venison … or leftover turkey!)
  • 28 oz diced tomatoes (when I don’t have homemade, I use 2 cans of fire-roasted Muir Glen)
  • 2 cups chicken broth
  • 4 cups black beans (or 2 cans, 14 oz each, rinsed and drained)
  • 1 small/medium butternut squash (peeled, seeded and cubed)

 

Directions:

  1. Heat olive oil in a large pot over medium heat.  Add onion and garlic, followed by sugar and all the spices.
  2. Add your meat of choice and break into small pieces.
  3. Once meat is properly cooked through, add your tomatoes and broth, stirring well.
  4. Simmer covered for 15 minutes, then add black beans and cubed squash.
  5. Simmer additional 10-15 minutes (until squash is soft enough to be pierced by a fork but not mushy)
  6. Salt and pepper to taste.
  7. Add cheese to your serving if you’re into that sort of thing.  Which I very much am!

 

dsc_8992webedit

dsc_9007webedit

Final note:  This makes leftovers for daaaaaays.  Or you could invite about 10 of your closest friends over for dinner.

Venison Roast

October was a busy month around here!
Our chicks are now 4 weeks old and weighing in at a pound.  Our goat kid Darla has finished nursing so her mama NeNe will be returning to her home and soon a new kid and mama will be here so Darla will have a buddy!  Our silkies Johnny and June have matured and June laid her first (and so far only) egg in October.
We’re still picking tomatoes and had our first harvest of collard greens, the carrots are growing nicely — and Joe got his first deer!

dsc_8776webedit
I’m glad he let me take this photo.  Everyone has to have a photo with their first deer in the South.

He did a great job skinning and cleaning this doe by himself.  I was just his cheerleader!
After a few days of rest in the cooler, the meat was ready to be prepared.  We had been told not to freeze the tenderloins so I cooked them roast style in the slow cooker that day before freezing the remainder of the deer after dinner.

dsc_8923webedit

I’ve cooked deer burgers before but never tenderloins so I was concerned about the meat toughening but it was the perfect texture and was neither chewy or falling apart.

Venison Roast

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup BBQ sauce
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • 1 tablespoon flour
  • 1 tablespoon soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon brown sugar
  • 1.5 lbs venison (I used the tenderloin but any cut will work here!)
  • 4-6 red potatoes, quartered
  • 1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
  • Optional: vegetables or rice as side dish

Directions:

  1. Mix BBQ sauce, honey, flour, soy sauce and brown sugar in your slow cooker.
  2. Place venison in the sauce and give it a good stir to coat.
  3. Add your potatoes and lightly salt.
  4. Pour red wine vinegar over the potatoes.
  5. Cook on low for 6 hours.  Check tenderness as needed; it’s all in what you prefer!
  6. Serve the sauce over venison and potatoes with a side of rice or vegetables.

 

dsc_8928webedit

After dinner we processed our deer after 3 days cooler rest.

dsc_8931webedit
We’re lucky enough to have friends who let us borrow their commercial grinder.

We ended up grinding about 16 lbs of meat into burger (using 3 lbs of beef fat we purchased from Tink’s earlier in the year in preparation for deer season) so we have almost 20 lbs of deer burger in the freezer.

dsc_8938webedit
We ran the meat through twice to get our preferred consistency.  This took about 15 minutes start to finish.

 

20 lbs of ground venison, a few pounds venison stew meat, a couple steaks and two nice roasts is a great beginning to deer season around here!

Fried Apples

After I posted the tomato gravy recipe  I started thinking about other things my mamaw cooked up that I loved and fried apples was definitely next on the list.  It couldn’t come at a better time since I’m knee deep in apples from our visit to the orchard.
I’m Bubba Gump-ing apples over here:  apple butter, applesauce, dried apples, baked apples with oatmeal, cinnamon apples chips, apple and gouda salad…

Shall I continue?

No, you’re going to want to stop and check out this ridiculously simple recipe for fried apples.  This is the South… of course we fry apples!dsc_8318webedit

I call one apple a serving in this recipe.  You can adjust the recipe amounts based on how many people you’re feeding.

Ingredients:

  • 1 apple; cored, quartered and sliced thin
  • 1 teaspoon bacon grease OR 1 teaspoon melted butter
  • 1 teaspoon brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon maple syrup

 

Directions:

  1. First we’ll core our apple and quarter it.  Take each quarter and make long thin slices (Around 1/4 inch or so).
  2. Heat your bacon grease (or butter) in a pan over medium heat. Once grease is warm or butter is melted, add in apple slices.
  3. Cover the pan and let the apple slices cook for about 5 minutes.
  4. Remove the pan from heat and add in 1 teaspoon maple syrup and 1 teaspoon brown sugar.  Stir well so all the slices are coated.
  5. Enjoy!

dsc_8332webeditdsc_8338webeditdsc_8343webeditdsc_8346webeditdsc_8350webedit

Tomato Gravy

dsc_8252edit

I had so many people message me for my tomato gravy recipe after I posted a photo on social media last night that I decided to post it here!

I remember having tomato gravy for the very first time in my mamaw’s kitchen in Kentucky years ago.  I don’t remember my parents ever making it at home so it was a rare treat.  With all the tomatoes we’re still picking in the garden, I couldn’t help but be reminded of this rich Southern dish.  And yes, it’s perfect for breakfast and dinner!

I had to ask my mamaw for her recipe and then I also came across a recipe for it in my new favorite cook book Victuals (pronounced Vittles down here in the South) and they are almost one in the same.

I hope you enjoy this gravy as much as I do!

Tomato Gravy

Ingredients:

  • 2 tablespoons bacon grease (or olive oil)
  • 1/2 Vidalia onion, diced
  • 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
  • 2 cups diced tomatoes (or one 14.5 ounce can of fire roasted tomatoes with the juice)
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 2 slices bacon, fried and crumbled

Directions:

  1. In a skillet, heat bacon grease (or olive oil) over medium heat.  Add onions and cook until softened.
  2. Add flour over the onions and stir constantly until onions begin to brown lightly.
  3. Add tomatoes and reduce heat to low, simmering for 25 minutes and stirring frequently.  It will really start to thicken in the last 10 minutes.
  4. Remove from heat and add salt and pepper to taste.
  5. Garnish with crumbled bacon pieces.
  6. Serve immediately with biscuits or as a side dish.

If you have leftovers, refrigerate for up to 2 to 3 days and reheat in the microwave.

Bring Me Some Apples and I’ll Make You a Pie

Like most adventures, it all started with a book.

Haven and I read Bring Me Some Apples and I’ll Make You a Pie: A Story About Edna Lewis on a Saturday and I loved the descriptions of each season; the fresh fruits Edna picked and all the plans she had for each.

“It’s back to school just as the apples start to ripen.  They crunch with every bite and taste as sweet as honeycomb.
‘There’s so much to do with good apples!’ says Edna.  ‘With bushels of apples in the cellar, we’ll have apple butter and apple cider and applesauce all winter long.  But today I’ll make apple crisp, sweet and tart at the same time.’ ”
-Robbin Gourley

I started thinking about the first time I had apple butter as a little girl; the complex taste of tart apple mingled with sweet cinnamon and the velvety texture, how I’d love to try canning some of my own; how delicious it would taste on a warm drop biscuit on a cold gray winter morning.

Sunday morning, Joe and I were waking Haven before the sun was up to go pick apples in Hendersonville, North Carolina.

dsc_7907webedit

We visited Justus Orchard for the first time last August on our way home from the Smoky Mountains.  The Justus family who runs the orchard are quite possibly the sweetest folks you’ll meet!  It doesn’t matter how busy the apple house and bakery is, they greet you with a smile and tell you how glad they are you could make it out — and they mean it.  Last year the weather did a number on their u-pick orchard but they told us how thankful they were for their guests and were looking forward to 2016.

When Joe and I discussed taking Haven apple picking again, there was no question we’d make the drive back to Hendersonville for another visit to their orchard.

Our Sunday visit this year did not disappoint!  The folks were so kind, the bakery was stocked up on apple cider donuts (HEAVEN, y’all!  Grab a dozen for your car ride home!) and the orchard was full of fruit, flowers, and bees.

dsc_7892webedit

dsc_7883webeditdsc_7784webedit

I love that this orchard is pet friendly!  Our dog Riley made the 3 hour trip with us and she loved every second of it.  She played with the orchard’s resident dog Max and then was spoiled with a cart ride through the rows of apple trees.

dsc_7849webedit

The Ambrosia apples have been the most popular this season and just after our visit we read they were temporarily out!

dsc_7852webedit

Our best picking was the Mutsu apples.  Not many people had ventured down those rows yet and we filled a basket quickly.

dsc_7850webedit

dsc_7859webeditdsc_7864webedit

This gal here had an apple in her hand the entire time!

dsc_7865webeditdsc_7856webedit

We dropped by the bakery for apple cider donuts after we finished picking a bushel and I wish I had a photo to share but there wasn’t time.  It was gone before I could take off my camera lens cap!  Please take my suggestion and buy a dozen for the road.  You won’t regret it!

dsc_7876webedit

We also grabbed an additional bushel from the apple house.  You’ll find several varieties already bagged, along with bushel and peck pricing, and orchard maps at the entrance.  They also have a wall filled with honey, syrups, jellies, and the greatest invention ever:  the apple peeler (which cores, peels, and slices an apple in like, 10 seconds.  That was my Clueless Cher voice there, could you tell?)

Take a look at the Justus Orchard website for current information on the farm, bakery, and their history!  It’s a beautiful drive and Hendersonville is a scenic area with lots to do if you want to make a weekend trip out of it.  The next time you’re in North Carolina, you have to make a stop here to meet these sweet people and pick some apples (and get donuts for the road, I can’t stress this enough!)

 

dsc_8150webedit

We came home with two bushels of apples and I had no idea how much that actually was until we started preserving them.  We had apple slices 8 trays deep on the dehydrator and it didn’t look like we’d started yet!  I filled a 6 quart crock pot to make apple butter and yet it still appeared we hadn’t put a dent in one bushel!
I’ve made several jars of apple sauce and am starting another round of apple butter this weekend but yesterday I decided to make this simple apple crisp recipe I found in the book that inspired our visit to Justus Orchard!

dsc_8170webedit

“This story lovingly traces the childhood roots of an award-winning pioneer who never forgot the lessons she learned in Freetown:  to use fresh, local ingredients whenever possible, and to celebrate regional American cooking.”

dsc_8174webedit

“Don’t ask me no questions,
an’ I won’t tell you no lies.
But bring me some apples,
an’ I’ll make you some pies.
And if you ask questions
’bout my havin’ the flour,
I’ll forget to use ‘lasses,
an’ the pie’ll be sour.”

dsc_8176webedit

“You can never have too much summer.”

 

 

I started by peeling 3 pounds of apples with my apple peeler- it’s a lifesaver!

dsc_8179webedit

(See all my Halloween decorations in the background?  I’m one of those people who puts out Halloween stuff on September 1st.)

dsc_8185webedit

I poured a 1/4 cup orange juice over the apples slices then sprinkled in a 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon and 2 tablespoons sugar and made sure to mix it well before placing them in my 9-inch round buttered baking pan.

dsc_8186webedit

Then you’ll mix all your topping ingredients (see recipe below) in a food processor or you can do it by hand.  This is where my step-by-step pictures run out, y’all!  (Step by step, day by day… Does anyone else remember that TGIF show from the 90’s Step By Step?  Netflix should have that show!)
My daughter loved reading the book, going on the adventure to pick the apples, and it was her turn to help make something with those apples she picked herself.  She’d spent days watching us peel and can and dehydrate so I let her get messy this time!

Once you’ve mixed the topping ingredients and spread it over your apple slices in the dish, you’ll pop it in a preheated 375 degree oven for 40 minutes!

The best part about an apple crisp is that you can eat it warm or cold, with or without ice cream.  Any recipe that goes with or without ice cream is a recipe worth keeping in my opinion!

dsc_8240webedit

dsc_8203webedit

Apple Crisp Recipe
(serves 6 to 8)

Ingredients:

  • 6 cups apples (about 2 or 3 lbs) peeled, cored, and sliced
  • 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 1/4 cup orange juice

For the topping:

  • 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 5 tablespoons butter plus more for greasing the pan
  • 3/4 cup rolled oats
  • 1/2 cup chopped walnuts or pecans

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.  Lightly butter an 8-inch square or 9-inch round baking pan.
  2. Mix together 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon and 2 tablespoons sugar.  Toss the apple slices with the orange juice to coat, sprinkle on the cinnamon sugar, and mix well.  Then spread the apples in the buttered pan.
  3. Place topping ingredients in a food processor and pulse a few times, until ingredients are just combined.  Do not puree.  (You can also mix ingredients by hand.  Just soften butter slightly, toss together dry ingredients, and work butter in with fingertips, a pastry blender, or a fork.)
  4. Spread topping over apples and bake about 40 minutes, until topping is browned and apples are tender.  Serve hot, warm, or at room temperature.

Note:  For best results, use tart apples, such as Macintosh or Stayman Winesap (Edna’s favorite), for this recipe.

dsc_8198webeditdsc_8202webeditdsc_8167webedit

Southern Fried Edition (Part 2): Fried Green Tomatoes

Yesterday was the last day of summer.  It felt appropriate to go out to the garden early in the morning and pick some of our green tomatoes to fry up for lunch.

dsc_7916webeditdsc_7920webedit

Our Roma and Brandywine tomato plants are continuing to flower and produce well through this heat but all my green ‘maters are still pretty tiny.  Most people think of those gigantic heirloom tomatoes, green and sliced thick for frying.  Those are preferable, but I used what I had waiting on me out my front door.

Fried green tomatoes are a delicacy in the South.  There are a lot of recipes out there for them and every Southerner who knows their way around a kitchen will tell you that they have perfected the art of frying them up.  I decided to review some recipes and find “The One”.

dsc_7991webedit

Southern Cast Iron Magazine

Mastering the Art of Southern Vegetables

Fannie Flagg’s Original Whistle Stop Cafe Cookbook

I like to keep my recipes simple; fried green tomatoes don’t need to be “dressed up” with spices since they have a unique tart flavor.  That’s the reason Fannie Flagg’s Fried Green Tomatoes (II) recipe won my heart, once again.

These fried green tomatoes can stand alone as a simple lunch or can be added to pretty much anything delicious:  grilled cheese, BLTs, po’ boys, on a biscuit, or served with a side like remoulade or pimiento cheese.

dsc_7929webedit

A few tomato tips for you (that I’ve learned the hard way):

1. Don’t store tomatoes (ripe or green) in the fridge.  It causes the tomatoes to lose their flavor, which explains why the tomatoes you buy from the grocery store are usually mushy and flavorless.

2. Once you’ve sliced green tomatoes, salt them and pat them dry with a paper towel.  This helps draw out excess moisture so your batter will stick well.

3. And finally, Fannie Flagg’s advice:  “Don’t crowd the skillet when frying green tomatoes.  Keep them in a single layer, with plenty of space in between slices.  If too many are put in the pan, the oil temperature will be lowered and the food will absorb the grease rather than be seared by it, resulting in soggy tomatoes.”

dsc_8001webedit

dsc_7949webedit

Fannie Flagg’s Fried Green Tomatoes II recipe

Ingredients:

  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • 1 cup self-rising flour
  • 1/3 cup cornmeal
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 6 to 8 green tomatoes, cut into 1/4 inch slices
  • Bacon drippings, vegetable oil, or mixture of both (for frying)

 

Directions:

  • Mix egg and buttermilk in a shallow dish.
  • Mix flour, cornmeal, and salt in a shallow dish.
  • Working in batches, dip tomato slices into egg mixture, allowing excess to drip back into dish.*
  • Coat with flour mixture.
  • Fry in hot bacon drippings/vegetable oil in heavy skillet until browned, turning once with tongs.
  • Transfer to colander to drain.**

*I first salt my tomato slices and pat them dry with a paper towel so the batter will stick well.  It has always worked for me!

**I always let mine drain on a wire rack so they aren’t touching.

 

I posted on the Leseberg Holler Facebook page when I started “research” for the perfect fried green tomato recipe and a lady named Miss Nancy commented that she liked them with a cajun dipping sauce.

I found this recipe for a Cajun Remoulade Sauce but unfortunately I didn’t have a few of the ingredients on hand to try it yesterday, which had me searching my recipe box for a sauce that would pair well with my fried green tomatoes.

Then, I remembered a sauce recipe I found years ago on Simply Scratch.  I’ve served this on burgers, salads, and with seafood many times over the years and had a hunch it may be perfect with these ‘maters! (I was right)

dsc_8014webedit

Special Sauce for Everything recipe from Simply Scratch

Combine the following ingredients in a bowl and keep in the fridge until ready to serve:

  • 1/2 cup mayonnaise
  • 2 tablespoons French dressing
  • 3 tablespoons sweet pickle relish
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons finely minced onion (or a few pinches of onion salt)
  • 1 teaspoon white vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt

dsc_7963webedit

(Haven’s little hand darted in to this frame and I had to keep it.  This is evidence my daughter will actually eat tomatoes, though she had no idea that’s what it was.)

dsc_7939webedit

dsc_7945webedit

dsc_7974weblh

dsc_8007webedit