Last Christmas I chose orange and green as my decorating palette with clementines (a.k.a Cuties) playing a central role. Consequentially I had scads of them after the holiday. So what do you do with an over abundance of sweet citrus? Make marmalade of course.
I know that fall is officially here when the Arkansas Black apples start becoming available at the local farmer’s market. These signature fruits are a rich red with a deep purple cast. If they didn’t have such a great flavor it would be easy to keep them around just for their decorative beauty.
Because of the crisp, fine-grained texture Arkansas Blacks are one of my favorite varieties for using in this simple fried apple recipe. If you can’t find Arkansas Blacks any tart apple will do.
Now in spite of the term fried, the apples in this dish are actually quite tender. The buttery syrup makes them delicious served as a dessert or even a tasty garnish to pork.
One of the rewards of autumn is all the fresh produce that is available. I think this is the best time of year for home cooking! Of course, knowing that the bounty is fleeting and that winter is right around the corner makes the food taste even better. What I have learned is that if I take some time now to preserve some of my favorite fruits and vegetables I can continue to enjoy them well into winter.
Now I have to admit that I don’t do as much preserving as I used to, but there are still a few things that I make time for especially if it is something that I can’t easily find at the market. Such is the case with muscadines.
Muscadines, or scuppernongs, are wild North American native grapes that ripen in late summer and early fall. They thrive in the hot, humid climates of the Southeast, but can be found growing westward to Missouri, Kansas, Oklahoma, and Texas. Being a wild grape, muscadines are much tougher than other American or European species and plant breeders have been hard at work developing varieties that are sweeter with a more tender skin. ‘Fry’ muscadines produce a white fruit with a mild flavor that foregoes the musky taste associated with the wild variety.
The fruit’s large size, sweetness and dense pulp make muscadines ideal for making preserves. It is a wonderful spread on fresh bread or biscuits. It also tastes delicious as a substitute for syrup on pancakes and I’ve even used it as a topping for ice cream. After you make it you can simply keep it in the refrigerator, freeze it or for long term storage process it in a boiling water bath.
To learn more about how to use a water bath safely visit the USDA’s website. Now I know this sounds like a lot of work, but with the help of the water bath canner it’s fairly simple and you just can’t beat the feeling of accomplishment that comes from "putting up" a batch of delicious your own muscadine preserves.
Sometimes the best recipes aren’t recipes at all, but a simple combination of things that taste good together. Such is the case with this tomato sauce given to me by Barbara Bruno, the mother of a dear friend. Barbara was born in Castel San Giorgio in the Campania region of Italy – an area known for tomato dishes . Make this with great-tasting, in-season tomatoes and you can’t go wrong.
It seems like the higher the temperatures rise some of the vegetables perform better than others and nothing likes the heat better than okra.
This canned pickle okra recipe is a great way to preserve this vegetable and enjoy it into the fall, winter and even next spring.
To learn more about how to use a water bath safely visit the USDA’s website.
Refrigerator pickles are a staple in my fridge all summer. The crisp, tart cucumbers and onions are delicious right out of the jar. For a real treat, combine them with thick slices of homegrown tomatoes seasoned with salt and pepper.
Cucumbers need full sun, at least an inch of water per week, rich soil and pollinating insects to produce. Pick fruits regularly so that the vines will continue to produce. Bush varieties are suitable for containers, but if you have the space try vining types because they will produce more fruit. Just be sure to support vining cucumbers with a trellis.
Onions are available as sets, small bulbs or transplants, which look like scallions and come in a bundle of 60 or so. Plant in early spring as soon as the soil is workable. Your plants will need abundant sun and good drainage, and they grow best when the soil pH ranges between 6.0 and 6.8. Place time release or organic fertilizer in the planting hole so that it is close to the roots. Follow the fertilizer’s label directions. Onions roots are shallow and not very efficient at taking up moisture, so they need a steady supply of water to grow without interruption. Onions are ready to harvest in about 100 days. You will know they are ready when the tops yellow and fall over.
Plant dill in spring after all danger of frost has passed. It likes rich, well-drained soil. Work compost into the soil before planting. In hot weather dill can get a little thin, but keeping it cut and watered really helps. Harvest dill leaves any time, but the flavor is most intense just as the flowers begin to open. To collect dill seed, let the plant bloom and go to seed, but be aware that this triggers the plant to yellow and decline.
When I was that kid, I always loved boysenberry syrup on my pancakes. Here’s a simple recipe for boysenberry sauce or syrup that you can make home. You can use any kind of juicy berry, I just happened to like the flavor of boysenberries.
It’s delicious served over homemade ice cream or your favorite cheesecake. Of course, if you can’t get to the farm to pick your own boysenberries yourself, you can always use frozen ones. So there is no reason not to enjoy one of the best flavors of summer all year long.
One of my favorite treats is this simple berry butter made with strawberries, blueberries and raspberries, powdered sugar and butter.