Baked egg in a potato

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Banana pudding

I didn’t get very good pictures of this, but let me assure you, it was consumed with gusto. I grew up eating homemade banana pudding and have been so disappointed at what passes for that nowadays, which uses instant pudding and instant whipped cream. The real thing involves cooking custard and making meringue or homemade whipped cream, and is rich, custardy, and reminiscent of real bananas. So I finally stopped complaining about it and dug up a recipe that looks like my aunt’s. It’s from Taste of Southern, and when I looked around on this site, I recognized many of the dishes from what I ate as a kid around here. I really look forward to trying more of them – although spaced out for the sake of my waistline, I think.

Maybe next time I make it we can manage to get better pictures before we devour it.

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French toast apples

I love French toast. I’d rather eat it than most breakfast foods. Than most dessert foods, too, for that matter. Even though bread gives me a belly ache most of the time, I’d have a hard time walking away from French toast, so making a big stack of it at home every time I crave that buttery maple goodness is probably a bad idea.

So I make an apple and some walnuts into buttery maple goodness.

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Bacon 2014

There is a 17lb pork belly waiting for me in the fridge. I was helping oversee a butchering job and one thing led to another (the other thing being pigs hanging in the meat locker next door.) I’m going to make bacon out of all of it from the recipe I used last year – Michael Ruhlman’s ridiculously easy version. I was so pumped by the outcome of this bacon last year I bought his book Charcuterie, anticipating lots more where that came from. Don’t worry, it’s still all there, inside the book I haven’t cracked yet. I’ll get to it, promise.

I thought briefly about doing some pancetta too, but we’ve been without bacon for a long time, so I’m not feeling as adventurous. I’m feeling like 17 packages of bacon in the freezer is like money in the bank.

Suet-Free Mincemeat

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The first time I ever ate mincemeatpie, I was sorely disappointed. All the literature and old English Christmas songs had steered me wrong, I thought. It tasted…a little like potpourri. Then I found this one from Nigella Lawson’s How To Be A Domestic Goddess. It’s suet-free and tastes like everything I imagined it would before I tried it. And it has the added bonus of working without the suet, so you don’t have to source it and the resulting dishes can be vegetarian, which is helpful for a holiday dish.  Continue reading

green smoothie with honeydew and green tea

Are you a smoothie person? I have to admit, for a long time I eyed them with skepticism. Homogenous brightly colored liquid food? Weird. However, in an effort to use up an enormous kale crop early this summer and get us actually eating more produce during the busy growing time, I pulled out an old Hamilton Beach blender and started experimenting.

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Chow-Chow

In my Appalachian Foodways class last fall we had a guest speaker, Mark Muzik, who is considered an expert on chow-chow. Don’t you just love knowing that somewhere out there, a human being has dedicated themselves to collecting knowledge about Appalachian relish? Mr. Muzik described many variations on the recipe and gave his own version, a mix of cabbage, green tomatoes, red and green bell peppers, and onions, collected from his childhood schoolteacher in SW Virginia. When we got to sample it, I loved it so much he gave me a jar to take home. So I added it to my canning list, of course. We’ll probably make this every year, because it’s so perfect for hot dogs and soup beans. Which means I need to write down the recipe and all my notes here…just as soon as I remember which cookbook I stuffed them in.
 10/21/13

Butternut Mac and Cheese

I made this butternut mac and cheese from How Sweet Eats tonight. My picture doesn’t really do it justice, but I wanted to put it up anyway because it was AMAZING. It makes me happy to know we have more of these butternuts from the garden to repeat this dinner.
The only things I adapted from the recipe were first to roast the butternut squash instead of cooking it in the pan, because it was easier and it allowed me to do that part the night before when I had the oven on for other things. I recommend this adjustment because it is less involved than watching the stove. Second, I used the short pasta I had on hand, which was spiral, instead of shells. You could use whatever short pasta you had in lieu of shells with no problem.

Hot Cumin-Pickled Summer Squash

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We procrastinated on opening the cumin-pickled squash last year for several months, because we had pickled okra (our favorite) and cucumber pickles to go through, and the squash just didn’t sound as exciting. It was the pickle for a lean month. Except we finally cracked a jar and it’s easily the best (fragrant, perfectly spiced, satisfying) pickle I’ve eaten in forever and I’m going to double the batch this summer and I still can’t believe that there are things like harvesting carrots and eating pickled squash that took me three decades to learn were necessary and good. Want the recipe? Here it is:

Originally from Lianna Krissoff in her book Canning For a New Generation
Makes approximately 6-7 pint jars

Ingredients
4 pounds yellow summer squash (another source suggested zucchini, which I may also try)
8 pounces sweet onion (about 1 medium)
¼ cup plus 1 tablespoon pure kosher salt
2 tablespoons cumin seeds
1 tablespoon yellow mustard seeds
1 tablespoon hot red pepper flakes
1 teaspoon ground cumin
6 cups cider vinegar (5% acidity)
2 tablespoons mild honey
7 cloves garlic
7 small fresh serrano chiles

Scrub the squash and cut it into ¼ inch rounds. Cut the onion in half lengthwise and thinly slice it into half-circles. Put the squash and onion in a large bowl and sprinkle with the ¼ cup salt, tossing to combine. Cover with a layer of ice cubes and refrigerate for 8 hours or overnight. Pick out any remaining ice, and rinse under cold water. Drain well. (The original recipe says at this point to toss the squash with the cumin seeds, mustard seeds, red pepper flakes, and ground cumin and set aside. I’ve found I lose some spice in the bowl this way because even when I drain it well it’s still wet. I’ve taken to mixing the spices in a separate bowl and dividing them among the sterilized jars before adding the squash and onions.)

Prepare water bath for canning. Ladle boiling water from the canning pot into the bowl with the lids. (Here again, I’ve since begun keeping the lids at a simmer on another eye in a little saucepan, a la Marissa McClellan from Food In Jars.) Using a jar lifter, remove the hot jars from the canning pot, carefully pouring the water from each one back into the pot, and place them upright on a folded towel. Drain the water off the jar lids.

Working quickly, pack the squash, onion, garlic, and chiles into the jars (not too tightly). Ladle the hot vinegar mixture into the jars, leaving ½ inch head space at the top. Use a chopstick to remove the air bubbles around the inside of each jar. Use a damp paper towel to wipe the rims of the jars, then put a lid and ring on each jar, adjusting the ring so that it’s just finger-tight. Return the jars to the water in the canning pot, making sure the water covers the jars by at least 1 inch. Bring to a boil, and boil for 15 minutes to process. Remove the jars to a folded towel and do not disturb for 12 hours. After 1 hour, check that the lids have sealed by pressing down on the center of each; if it can be pushed down, it hasn’t sealed, and the jar should be refrigerated immediately. Label the sealed jars and store.

 They improve a good deal with a few weeks’ shelf time.