Posted in 4th of July, Canning, Classic, Cook out, Grilling, Pantry Staples, Patriotic, pickled, Portable/Picnic, Preserving, Sandwiches, Summer, Vegetarian, Veggies, Vintage

Summer Bounty – Bread & Butter Pickles

You all know I say I am NOT a big fan of summer.  I’m really not.  I don’t like the humidity.  I burn when I look at the sun.  The only time I “like” to sweat is when I’m working out or cleaning my apartment or something.  I’m  not a super big beach/pool person so I could kind of care less.  I know that’s sacrilege for a lot of my friends!

BUT…

The more I think about growing up in rural Ohio (I’ve been getting seriously nostalgic lately) the more I realize there are things about summer that I absolutely love.  So many of my favorite memories as a kid happened during the summer time.  And so many of those memories are wrapped up around our garden, the local farmers, spending time harvesting lots of veggies and spending a lot of time with my Grandma in the kitchen as she cleaned, prepped, and canned green beans, beets, tomatoes, made jam, and made her own homemade pickles.

Now, anyone who knows me knows that I can’t stand pickles.  Well I should say, I don’t like dill pickles.  Growing up I would tolerate my Grandma’s bread and butter pickles but get anything dill anywhere near me and I would run the other way.  As I’ve gotten older and my tastebuds have grown with me I have finally discovered a love of all things pickl-y.  I’m still not a fan of dill but my world has been opened up to so many amazing ways of preservation in the last few years that I’ve been much more adventurous and have found some things I can’t live without.

One of my latest summer staples has become the humble bread and butter pickle for sure.  It’s amazing how easy they are to make and how just this simple little pickle will make a burger, or even a simple turkey sandwich something really special.

I’ve been working to perfect a new smoked turkey recipe that isn’t quite ready for the world yet but I had to go ahead and share this quick and classic pickle recipe that you can enjoy all summer!!

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I need to get my Grandma’s recipe but this one has become my go-to!

Bread & Butter Pickles

2 pounds medium Kirby cucumbers
2 cups small dice sweet onion
¼ cup kosher salt
1 pound ice
2 cups sugar
1 tablespoon yellow mustard seeds
½ teaspoon celery seeds
1 teaspoon turmeric
2 cups cider vinegar
1 bay leaf, torn into pieces
3 whole cloves
½ jalapeno pepper, sliced paper thin

 

Sterilize three quart canning jars, along with the rings and lids. (I recommend checking out the Ball canning website for tips if you’ve never canned before, http://www.freshpreserving.com/canningmenu.html.

 

Cut the blossom end off the cucumbers and slice the cucumbers into 1/8-inch thick slices. To draw out the excess liquid and increase the crunch, layers the cucumber slices with onion, salt, and ice in a glass or stainless steel container. Weight with a plate large enough to cover all the cucumbers and keep them submerged when the ice melts. Cover and refrigerate overnight.

 

Drain the cucumbers and onions, put them in a large stainless steel, and add the sugar, mustard seeds, celery seeds, turmeric, vinegar, bay leaf, cloves and jalapeno. Bring the mixture to a simmer over high heat, stirring to dissolve the sugar. Using a digital thermometer to check, make sure that the internal temperature of the cucumbers reaches 180° and stays there for 90 seconds. Skim off any foam that rises to the top.

 

Divide the hot cucumbers among the sterilized jars. Ladle the remaining hot vinegar mixture over the cucumbers, leaving a ¼-inch headspace. Wipe the rims and threads clean. Place the lids and rings on the jars and tighten the rings. Cool the jars on a clean dish towel or a rack, not directly on the countertop.

 

Refrigerate for at least 1 week to let the pickles cure before eating (you can skip this step but the wait will be worth it!). Unopened, the pickles will keep for up to 6 months in the refrigerator. Once opened, they will keep for up to 3 weeks longer in the refrigerator.

 

Source: Heritage, Sean Brock

 

Posted in Autumn, Baked, Baking, Classic, Comfort Food, Dessert, Fall, Holiday, Nuts, Pie, Portable/Picnic, Thanksgiving, Vintage, Winter

Pie in the Sky

I grew up in a small town, Fletcher, Ohio. Well, it’s considered a village actually. Go ahead, look it up on a map. It’s there. Straight up I-75 between Dayton and Toledo. It’s one of those towns you’ll miss if you happen to blink. Unless of course you get stopped at one of the two traffic lights where you’ll enjoy a view of the post office and funeral home. If you take a left you’ll pass the Methodist Church on your way out to the grain elevator. Every time I have a chance to visit I know I’m home when I see that grain elevator.

I have many fond memories of growing up in this little piece of the Midwest. When I graduated from high school and moved to the big city for college I pretty much ran and never wanted to look back. The older I’ve gotten the more I realize how important that town and it’s people were to shaping me in to the woman I’ve become today.

Many of my fondest memories revolve around church and community gatherings.  I would always look forward to serving Thanksgiving dinner with the youth group at church or gathering with the neighbors at the firehouse for the monthly fish fry.  I miss those small town traditions.

One of my most favorite parts of those gatherings were the pies that all the town ladies would make. Sugar cream, Dutch apple, peach, lemon meringue, pecan. Nothing says comfort and tradition to me like a big slice of pie!

As we near the holidays I’ve found myself getting really nostalgic.  In light of all the scary things happening in the world all I want to do is cling tight to tradition. Let’s not forget all the things we are thankful for this season.

Today I am most thankful for my supportive husband. AND it happens to be his birthday so I made his favorite pie!

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Mom’s Pecan Pie
3 eggs
2/3 cup sugar
1/2 tsp salt
1/3 cup unsalted butter, melted
1 cup light corn syrup
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups pecan halves
1 frozen or refrigerated pie crust (or homemade if you have time)

Preheat oven to 350.

Whisk all ingredients but pecans together. Stir in pecans. Fill prepared pie crust. Bake for 40-50 minutes until center is almost set (cover with aluminum foil if crust and pecans start to get too dark). Remove from oven and cool completely, 2-4 hours, before serving.

Source: Mom’s recipe book (I think she got it from a Betty Crocker cookbook she’s had for as long as I can remember)

Posted in Lunch, Portable/Picnic, Quick cooking, Sandwiches, Summer

Call Me…Crazy

I’m gonna go ahead and say it…

By the time you’re finished reading this post you are going to think I’m a little (or a lot) crazy…and I’m okay with that.  🙂

We all have weird food cravings, those things we can’t get enough of that nothing else will satisfy.  Just go ahead and admit it.  I won’t judge.  You love bologna and grape jelly sandwiches (my Grandma loves them!) or Pepsi and milk cocktails like Laverne and Shirley.  Or maybe you prefer something a little tamer like dipping your fries in mayonnaise or a Frosty (my personal fave).

To each his own I say.

I have a few favorite foods that a lot of people would turn their noses up at.  You’re intrigued now, right?  Two of my very favorite things that I can’t live without are…drum roll please…

salami

cauliflower

Wait!  Don’t run away just yet!!!  Just hear me out!

I am very thankful to have a husband who has an adventurous palate and loves me enough to indulge my weird food cravings…and not judge me for them.  Enter Salami with Marinated Cauliflower and Bitter Greens sandwiches.  Who knew that two of my favorite foods would play so well together?  I certainly wouldn’t have dreamed it but I’m happy they do!!   It also doesn’t hurt that celebrity chef Tom Colicchio endorses my weird sense of culinary bliss.  🙂

Just trust me on this one, okay?

Salami with Marinated Cauliflower and Bitter Greens

Marinated Cauliflower Ingredients:

  • 1 medium head cauliflower
  • 1/4 red onion, finely chopped
  • 1 teaspoon garlic, chopped
  • 1/2 cup golden raisins
  • 3 tablespoons capers, drained
  • Pinch of red pepper flakes
  • 2 teaspoons caraway seeds
  • 1/2 cup Italian parsley, finely chopped
  • 2 teaspoons dried oregano
  • 1 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1/3 cup white wine vinegar
  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper

Sandwiches:

  • 4 soft ciabatta rolls
  • 1/2 pound hard salami, sliced thin
  • 2 cups loosely packed bitter greens (I used mustard greens)
  • 4 teaspoons Dijon mustard

Using a sharp knife or slicing attachment of a food processor, slice the cauliflower as thin as possible.  Combine cauliflower and rest of the marinade ingredients in a large bowl and mix well.  Marinate for at least 6 hours.  Make sure to stir the ingredients well before using it on sandwiches.

To assemble sandwiches, cut ciabatta rolls in half (tip: cut the bottom of the bread a little thicker so the marinade soaks in).  Place the marinated cauliflower on the bottom half of the bread, top with salami and bitter greens.  Spread the Dijon on the top half of the bread and cap the sandwiches.   Cut into halves and serve.

Source: ‘Wichcraft by Tom Colicchio

I am so weird…sigh…

What is your weirdest food craving?

ps-the cauliflower is really great all on its own!

Posted in Appetizers, Healthy, Mexican, Portable/Picnic, Quick cooking, Summer

Cinco de Mayo, Ole!

It’s been a hot, lazy Saturday for me.  I’ve been hanging out, reading a book, drinking coffee, watching the Derby, doing a little laundry, setting up our new computer.  Hmm, guess it hasn’t been so lazy after all!  All that being said, it isn’t lost on me that today is Cinco de Mayo sooo…It’s happy hour at the Richard residence!!

We love Mexican food.  We don’t need a holiday to celebrate our love of all things salsa.  Spicy enchiladas, crispy tacos, refreshing margaritas, you can bet we indulge at least once a week!


One of our favorite places for Mod Mex food is Momocho in Cleveland, Ohio.  One of my besties works there and introduced us to it a few years ago.  I crave the guacamole and margaritas!!!  I’m having one of those cravings right now!  Since I can’t hop in the car and drive the 531 miles to my gastronomical Mod Mex heaven (but guacamole and margaritas for breakfast is tempting!!) I’ll have to make do with my own quite tasty knock off at home.

Guacamole with Pineapple, Jicama and Mint

  • 2 ripe avocados
  • 1/2 cup pineapple, diced fine
  • 1/2 cup jicama, diced fine
  • 1 tablespoon mint, chopped fine
  • 1/2 teaspoon cumin
  • 1 clove roasted garlic
  • Juice of 1 lime
  • Habanero pepper (as much or as little as you like)
  • Salt & pepper
Place all ingredients in a bowl, mash with a fork and stir to combine.  Serve with your favorite tortilla chips and a nice, cold margarita.  How easy is that?!


It’s pretty delicious but it’s hard to beat the original, the atmosphere, the staff and the great time that’s to be had at Momocho.

The next time you’re in Cleveland (it does rock you know) stop by and see my friend Cristy.  Her smiling happy face will be your passport to a fantastic evening!  Viva Momocho!!

http://momocho.com/

Posted in Baking, Cheesecake, Childhood treats, Date Night, Dessert, Goat Cheese, Portable/Picnic, Summer

Berry Pickin’

Tomorrow is October 1st.  Today’s high in Nashville is 68° and there is a chance of frost this weekend.  You would think I’d be breaking out the butternut squash and making a big pot of soup but no, today I’m reminiscing about summer.  Go figure.

For those who know me you will know that I really hate summer.  There isn’t much about it that’s appealing to me.  I’m not really a beach person.  I’m not in school anymore so summer doesn’t mean vacation and being lazy (in fact it gets much busier in my world!).  The word “sweat” is not in my vocabulary unless it’s in reference to a killer workout.  And don’t even get me started on the humidity in the South!

Give me mountains, football, sweaters, pumpkin pie, and and bonfires and I’m a happy girl!

As much as I loathe summer there are a few things that redeem it.  I do enjoy tall glasses of iced tea (unsweet please!), baseball and all the fresh veggies I can handle at the Farmer’s Market.  Who can resist the sizzle of burgers on the grill and corn on the cob slathered with butter?!  Patriotic holidays and picnics are filled with family and friends and great nostalgic culinary creations.  So I guess it isn’t all bad…

My favorite thing about summer is berry picking.  Just thinking about it makes me feel like a giddy kid again (picture bouncing up and down, clapping hands and a permanent Kool-Aid mustache).  In the summertime every car we owned had a stash of butter tubs, empty plastic pint containers and anything else we could use for collecting big, juicy berries.  It was a daily practice to drive around the country picking wild blackberries and raspberries from fence rows.  You had to keep your wits about you in the backseat (it wasn’t law for carseats and seat belts back then) or you’d end up on the floorboard when my Pappa would slam on the brakes and pull over (hmm, he did this in the Spring when he’d spot asparagus too)!  It brings back fond memories of thorns in my fingers and burrs all over my clothes.  🙂

It was a happy day when we collected enough berries for my Grandma to make jelly.  That was always quite the accomplishment since I would eat half of what I picked!  Nothing is more satisfying than breaking out a jar of homemade jelly in the dead of winter when the snow is piled high and catching a whiff of lazy, summer days gone by…

This recipe combines two of the things I adore: blackberries and cheescake.  ♥  It isn’t blackberry jelly but it screams SUMMER!  Enjoy!

Lemon Goat Cheese Cheesecake with Blackberry Curd

(in a jar)

Blackberry curd:

  • 3 cups fresh or frozen blackberries
  • 1/2 cup water
  • Zest of 1 lemon (juice is used for cheesecake)
  • 1/2 cup sugar (or more depending on the sweetness of the berries)
  • 3 tablespoons butter
  • 3 tablespoons cornstarch
  • 3 tablespoons cold water

In a saucepan, combine blackberries, water and lemon zest and bring to a boil.  Reduce the heat and simmer 5-10 minutes until berries start to break down (frozen berries will break down quicker).  Remove from heat and let cool slightly.  Process the berries in a food processor and strain through a fine sieve to remove seeds.  Put back in the saucepan over medium heat and add sugar and butter.  Mix the cornstarch and water together and add to the berry sauce.  Stir until thick and bubbly, about 4 minutes.  Remove from heat and let cool completely.

Cheesecake:

  • 2 cups graham cracker crumbs
  • 3 tablespoons sugar
  • 6 tablespoons butter, melted
  • Dash of cinnamon
  • 16 oz. goat cheese, softened
  • 16 oz. cream cheese, softened
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 4 eggs
  • Juice of 2 lemons

Preheat oven to 350°.

Combine graham cracker crumbs, sugar, cinnamon and butter in a bowl and toss with a fork until crumbs coated.  Press a heaping tablespoon full of crumbs into each of 12 jelly jars coated with cooking spray.  Set aside.

With a hand mixer, cream together goat cheese, cream cheese and sugar until light and fluffy.  Add eggs one at a time, beating until just incorporated.  Beat in lemon juice and zest.  Pour into jelly jars to about 3/4 full.

Place jars in a roasting pan with deep sides.  Place on the middle rack of the oven and fill the pan with hot water about half way up the jars.  Bake for 15-16 minutes or until cheesecakes are slightly jiggly.  Remove from water bath and let cool completely.

Top cheesecakes with blackberry curd, screw on the lid and chill for 2 hours.  Before serving, top with whipped cream, fresh blackberries and a sprig of mint.

Because these are baked up in a jar they are really great for picnics!  Just screw on the lid, pop them in the cooler and you’ve got a fancy, gourmet treat to impress your friends!

*This summer some of my Facebook friends had a little friendly cheesecake bake-off photo contest.  We concocted lucious cheesecakes, took our best photos and had a blind judging.  I didn’t win with this entry but it was fun to participate!  I wish we all lived closer so we could have tasted them all!!!  

This group comes from far and wide to share all things FOOD!  Check out the cookbook that was created featuring some awesome chefs to honor one of our own.  Yours truly had the pleasure of being included!

http://www.blurb.com/bookstore/detail/2193766

Get a copy today and support an amazing chef, father and friend!

Posted in Baking, Cookies, Dessert, Portable/Picnic, Tea time

Tea Time

There are few hours in life more agreeable than the hour dedicated to the ceremony known as afternoon tea.  ~Henry James, The Portrait of a Lady

Nothing is quite as relaxing as a cup of tea and a good book.  It is one of my absolute favorite past times, especially on a rainy Saturday afternoon.  I love getting lost in the pages of a book, immersing myself in a story.  For me this is pure bliss.  History or biography, fiction or non-fiction, sci-fi or romance, classic or contemporary – it doesn’t really matter, I’ll read them all.  Call me crazy but I love a long British novel and a cup of tea (tea, Earl Grey, hot, if you’re a sci-fi geek like me you’ll get that reference) on a rainy day.  Add a few cookies or some homemade shortbread and let it rain, let it rain.

Orange-Earl Grey Shortbread Cookies

  • 1 cup unsalted butter (2 sticks), softened
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • Grated zest of one orange
  • 1 teaspoon Earl Grey tea (approx. one tea bag)
  • 2 1/4 cups unbleached all-purpose flour

Heat oven to 325° F. Combine the butter, sugar, and salt in a mixer and beat until light and fluffy. Blend in the orange zest, tea, and flour until smooth. Press into an 8-inch square baking pan, prick with a fork. Bake 30 minutes or just until the shortbread begins to turn golden.  Cut into 9 squares, then cut each square into 2 triangles. Cool completely on a wire rack. Remove the shortbread cookies from the pan.

(I use a shortbread pan because I have one and I like the pretty pattern it makes)

Some of the most dear and most influential people in my life have been there because of literature.  For that I will be eternally grateful.  Excuse me for a moment while I thank them.

My Mom, who read me bedtime stories starting at a very early age and who took me to the library for arm loads of books.  Thank you for introducing me to Beatrix Potter, Shel Silverstein, Judy Blume, the list could go on and on.  Thank you for continuing to indulge me and challenge me in my literary journey.

My Dad, who drove me all around Richmond, Virginia showing me sites and buildings that Patricia Cornwell wrote about in her Scarpetta series.  Thank you for helping me appreciate the scientific process.  Since I’m an “artsy fartsy” person I’m sure that was quite a challenge!  Love you and miss you Dad, Happy Father’s Day.

Mr. Brown, my 8th grade English teacher who introduced me to a world of poetry.  Without you I wouldn’t have Whitman, Emerson and my favorite, Poe.  It was many and many a year ago, in a kingdom by the sea…

Mr. Gumerlock, my freshman English teacher who brought an entire class together with the world of John Steinbeck yet wasn’t afraid to challenge us with Julius Caesar.  We shared a love of classic movies.  You are missed sir.  Love, your Mooresy Bug

Next to my Mom, my 11th and 12th grade English teacher, Mrs. Summers, had the most influence on my literary path.  She opened up the world of Jane Austen, the Bronte sisters, Dickens and the whole British library.  I will never be the same…

And lastly, but certainly not least, Dr. Murray my fellow Janeite.  No one else I know gets as giddy about Jane Austen.  If I had taken his novel class earlier in my college career I probably would have changed paths.  I’ve still got that research paper in my back pocket, maybe one day you’ll read it as my thesis!  Thank you for listening to my unconventional view of Mr. Darcy.

You can never get a cup of tea large enough or a book long enough to suit me.  ~C.S. Lewis

So true Mr. Lewis, so true…