Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Easy Blueberry Cobbler


We had an abundance of fresh blueberries recently, and since my husband loves a good Blueberry Cobbler, I made this Easy Blueberry Cobbler ... so easy and feeds a crowd. My favorite kind of recipe is easy! Really good served warm with some vanilla ice-cream on top.

Recipe

Ingredients
1 stick melted butter
1 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
2 1/4 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp.salt
1/4 to 1/2 cup sugar (depends on how sweet you want it)
1 1/4 cup milk
1 tsp. vanilla extract
3 cups approx. fresh or frozen blueberries
1/3 cup water
3/4 cup sugar

Method
Place blueberries in a bowl. Sprinkle scant 1/3 cup water over blueberries. Sprinkle 3/4 cup sugar over moistened blueberries.Turn GENTLY a couple times with large spoon trying to not mash berries. Let sit for a while (30 minutes or so).

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Spray a 1 1/2 quart baking dish or 9 x 13-inch pan with baking spray. Pour melted butter into bottom. In a mixing bowl combine flour, baking powder, salt, sugar, vanilla extract, and milk. Pour evenly over the melted butter in bottom of baking dish. Spoon/pour sweetened blueberries evenly over batter, but do not stir.

Bake 40 to 45 minutes or until crust is brown and berries are bubbly.

Enjoy,
Mary

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Watsonia Farms - Organic Peaches and More!


On the last Saturday in June we were off again to visit another South Carolina farm. This time we were on our way to see Watsonia Farms, a USDA Certified Organic Farm, which began in 1918. We were excited to see this lovely fruit and vegetable farm, hear the history of the farm, and learn about their farming practices.

We started out on our journey with partly cloudy skies. Wouldn't you know, no sooner did we set out, it poured buckets. Thankfully, that was very short lived, and as we drove west, the skies cleared and the sun began to shine.


A bit over an hour after our start, we arrived at our destination. There we were met by Lynn Connon, the facility manager/sales and marketing for the Watsonia Farms at the South Carolina State Farmer's Market, and my contact person who had worked tirelessly with me to set up this day. We were greeted under a tent area with picnic tables adjacent to a small store and restaurant featuring some of the farms products on their daily menu, and in resale products available.


Shortly after we arrived, we met Pam Watson, sister to the owners of the farm, who joined us to tell us her family farm history.

" Watsonia Farms is presently owned and operated by brothers Jerry and Joe Watson, and Joe's son, Jeph. We are proud to say that we enjoy the reputation of being forerunners in the industry, using cutting-edge agricultural practices such as trickle irrigation, plastic mulch for vegetable growing, computer technology, IPM (integrated pest management), and consumer product safety programs. We have a strong working relationship with the horticulturists at Clemson University, who use our farm for researching innovative practices as well as varietal test blocks. Watsonia has earned GAP and GHP Food Safety Certifications through USDA and Primus, and also Organic Certification from the Clemson University Department of Plant Industry and USDA National Organic Program. We are currently growing organic yellow and white peaches; yellow, zucchini and winter squash; slicer cucumbers; bell peppers; asparagus; eggplant; slicer and grape tomatoes; sweet potatoes; collards; strawberries; plums; persimmons; nectarines and muscadines.

The first major crop grown on our farm was asparagus, with our grandfather and great-grand-father, Joe H. Watson, serving as the manager of the Monetta Asparagus Association. He led the industry by planting the first asparagus in Monetta, South Carolina - afterwards considered the asparagus capital of the world. Around 1925, he gathered five leading farmers of the area and asked them to plant 60 acres of peaches each. This was the start of the commercial peach industry on the "Ridge" section of South Carolina.

Joe H. Watson died in 1939, and his wife Mary, operated the farm until her son, Jerrold, returned in 1945 after World War II. He successfully operated the farm for over 50 years. Jerrold's older son, Jerrold, Jr. (Jerry), returned in 1973 after graduating from college. Joe H. II returned in 1975 after college, and his son, Joseph III (Jeph), joined the business after college in 2003 to become the fourth generation family member. Since its inception, our farm has become diversified, successfully growing 550 acres of apples, cucumbers, squash, tomatoes, pears, plums, nectarines and strawberries. Peaches remain our main crop, with over 900 acres currently in production.

We feel very proud to have maintained a reputation of quality produce and productive business connections through the years, and we look forward to many more years of providing the safest, freshest and tastiest fruits and vegetables we can offer to our customers."



After learning all about the history of the farm, it was time to try some Soft Serve Peach Ice-Cream, shared with us by the farm, learn about the small restaurant where the menu is based on the season and produce availability, and watch some of the trucks coming and going from the packing plant.



And then it was time to get our delicious PEACHES and other produce. Oh my goodness, just look at them.


They are amazing! All the other produce offered was equally impressive, so much so it was hard to decide where to begin.








We had all agreed to purchase 1/2 bushels of #2 Organic Yellow Peaches. Now #2 simply means they might have a blemish, or nick in the skin, but the price is significantly less than the cost for #1, so when you are buying fruit in bulk consider buying the "less than the best." I really don't know how much better the peaches could be, because the ones I brought home with me are awesome, juicy and delicious.


And so we gathered our peaches, and a few other fresh veggies, and it was time to head out. With hugs all around, and waves good-bye, cars loaded with cases of peaches and fresh produce, we were on our way home.

Now what did I do with all those peaches? 
Well I made:


If you would like some organic peaches, or other produce from Watsonia Farms, please contact:

Watsonia Farms at the South Carolina Farmer’s Market
Lynn Connon
Facility Manager/ Sales and Marketing
214 wholesale Lane
West Columbia, SC 29172
Office # 803-926-0058

Once again I was happy to learn about another family farm in South Carolina, and marvel at the abundance of fresh food products we have right outside our back door. It may be off the beaten path, or down the road apiece, but family farms are literally everywhere in the state, striving to provide you and me with the best product they can.

For me, it's been a wonderful journey, and I am happy to call many of these farmers friend.

Until next time!

Enjoy,
Mary

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Monday, June 29, 2015

Peach and Jalapeno Pepper Jelly


Oh my goodness. This jelly is so good, probably one of the best I've ever made or tasted. The sweet of the peach and the heat of the peppers combine beautifully in this jelly. Serve over cream cheese on crackers or baste on grilled pork, it's amazing. This the perfect gift for friends and family at the holidays, or it makes a great party appetizer.












Recipe

Ingredients
10 medium peaches, peeled, pitted and diced (or approx. 4 cups)
3 large jalapeno peppers, seeded and minced
2 tbls. lemon juice
2 tsp. butter (to reduce foaming)
1 package Sure-Jel (fruit pectin)
5 cups sugar

Method
Blanch peaches in boiling water 60 seconds, then immediately plunge peaches into an ice bath. Once cooled, slip off skins, remove pit and dice peaches.

Place diced peaches in a large stock pot. Add seeded and minced jalapeno peppers, lemon juice, butter, and 1 package Sure-Jel (fruit pectin).

Bring to a boil over medium high heat, stirring often. Reduce heat slightly and let cook about 5 minutes, to soften the fruit. 

Add sugar all at once, stir well, increase heat to high, and return to a rolling boil (one that doesn't stop while stirring). Boil hard for 1 minute, stirring constantly.

Remove from heat and ladle jelly into prepared mason jars. Cover with rings and lids and process in boiling water bath 10 minutes.

Remove jars from boiling water bath and let sit on your kitchen counter-top 24 hours. Jars are sealed when button in the middle of the lid is fully depressed.

Once jars are sealed, and as jelly cools, slightly shake jars from time to time to evenly distribute peach and pepper pieces throughout the jelly.

Store jars on pantry shelf up to one year. Refrigerate any opened jars.

Yield: 6 - 8 oz. jelly jars


















Enjoy,
Mary


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Sunday, June 28, 2015

Betty's Peach Marmalade


This is an old "family favorite" recipe from my husband's step-grandmother, Betty D'Olier. It's a wonderful combination of fresh peaches, oranges and maraschino cherries. There is no pectin used, you simply cook low and slow, stirring often, until the marmalade thickens naturally.

Wonderfully delicious spread on top of toasted English muffins or scones, and equally good spooned over top of vanilla ice-cream or pound cake.












Recipe

Ingredients
12 good sized peaches (I used organic peaches)
3 oranges (I used naval oranges)
1 small jar maraschino cherries with juice
Sugar equal to the amount of fruit
1 tbls. butter, to prevent foaming

Method
Blanch peaches 30-60 seconds in boiling water. Immediately plunge peaches in ice water to stop cooking process. Slip skins off peaches, remove pit and dice or process peaches in a food processor.

Grind the oranges, rind and all, through a meat grinder. If you don't have a meat grinder, cut oranges into small pieces and process using the "pulse" setting on your food processor until pieces are quite small.

Drain cherries, reserving juice and dice the cherries into small pieces.

Combine peaches, ground oranges, diced cherries and cherry juice and measure to see how much fruit you have.

Place fruit mixture in a large stock pot and add 1 cup sugar for every cup of fruit. Stir well and bring to a boil over a medium-high heat. Add butter, reduce heat to low and simmer, stirring often to prevent sticking.

Marmalade will thicken as it cooks, and reduce down. This process can take at least an hour, and possibly longer.

How to tell when your Marmalade is ready?

Use a candy thermometer. When you’re making jam with traditional amounts of sugar, you’re aiming to cook it to 220°F. That’s the temperature at which sugar forms a gel and can bond with the pectin (whether it naturally occurring in the fruit or you’ve added it). Monitoring the temperature can give you confirmation that you’re on the right track.

Use the freezer test. At the beginning of cooking, put two or three small plates or bowls in the freezer. As you begin to approach the end of cooking, pull one out and put a small dollop of jam into the middle of the dish. Tuck it back into the freezer for two or three minutes (take your jam off the heat during this time, because if it the test tells you it’s done, you will have just spent three minutes overcooking your jam).When the time is up, pull the dish out of the freezer and gently nudge the dollop of jam with the tip of your finger. If it has formed a skin on top that wrinkles a bit when pushed, it is done. If it is still quite liquid and your finger runs right through it, it’s not done yet.

Give it time. Jam/Marmalade can take up to a week to achieve its finished set. Don’t declare it a failure ten minutes out of the canner.



































Fill jars leaving 1/4" head-space. Cover with lids and process 10 minutes in boiling water bath. Remove jars and let sit 24 hours undisturbed on your kitchen counter-top. Store unopened jars in your pantry up to one year.

*Recipe is easily doubled or tripled since there is no added pectin. Simply keep your fruit to sugar content equal.

Yield:  6 - 8 oz. jelly jars or 3 pint jars

Enjoy,
Mary

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Thursday, June 25, 2015

Simple Veggie Frittata


A Frittata is an Italian-style omelette baked in a skillet. Fritatta's are quick and easy to make and a wonderful option for Sunday brunch, or light lunch/dinner anytime.  Because they are so versatile, you can make them with anything you like; ham, sausage, your choice of cheese, mushrooms, bell peppers, broccoli, fresh tomatoes and more.



























Recipe

Ingredients
2 farm fresh eggs, scrambled
Salt and pepper, to taste
Fresh broccoli florets, diced
Black olives, sliced
Fresh cherry or grape tomatoes, sliced
1 cup shredded cheddar cheese

Method
Preheat oven to 350. Spray a 6-inch skillet (I use cast iron) with cooking spray. Place all chopped, diced and sliced veggies evenly around the bottom of the skillet. Pour scrambled eggs over top of veggies; top all evenly with shredded cheddar cheese.

Bake covered for 20 minutes. Remove lid and continue baking 10 more minutes or until eggs and set and cheese is melted.

Serve immediately with a slice of  hearty bread toasted and a side of fresh fruit.

Cooks note - recipe is easily doubled or even tripled to make a larger frittata. Increase skillet size and cooking time to insure frittata is cooked through.

Yield:  2 lunch size pieces

Enjoy,
Mary

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Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Sweet Honey Mustard Wine Grilling Sauce


The other day my husband made up this grilling sauce because we were tired of some of the everyday standard ones we use. This uses white wine, grainy mustard, honey and more to make it perfect for chicken, pork, shrimp or veggies.

Delicious just basted on while cooking, but we especially enjoy it when foods are grilling.












Recipe

Ingredients
1/2 cup butter melted
1 clove garlic, finely minced
1/2 cup white wine
1/2 cup grainy brown mustard
1 small sprig fresh rosemary, finely minced
3 tsp. Worcestershire sauce
3 tsp. lemon juice
1/2 cup honey

Method
Blend everything together in a small saucepan and simmer until mixture thickens and reduces slightly, approximately 30 minutes, or until desired thickness.

Remove from heat and use to baste on grilled food or store in your refrigerator, Keeps well refrigerated up to 2 weeks.

Enjoy,
Mary

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Old-Fashioned Homemade Buttermilk Pancakes


This is another great recipe from the cookbook Deep South Dish Home-Style Southern Recipes. It's quick and easy to make, and the pancakes are delicious. You can also find Mary on the internet at Deep South Dish.

I whipped some of these up for my husband for breakfast and all he could say was "mmmm, mmmm, yummmm, now I have a happy tummy."









Recipe

Ingredients
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 tsp. baking powder
2 tsp. baking soda
3 tbls. sugar
1 tsp. sea salt
2 cups buttermilk (make your own by adding 2-3 tsp. lemon juice to milk)
2 tbls. butter melted
2 large farm fresh eggs
1 tsp. vanilla extract

Method
Whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda, sugar and salt; set aside.

Combine milk with 2 tbls, butter, eggs and vanilla. Add buttermilk mixture to flour mixture and gently combine. Batter should be fairly thick and lumpy, but pourable; avoid over-mixing.




















Heat griddle or skillet over medium high heat. Spoon or pour 1/3 cup batter onto pan leaving at least 1/2"-inch between each. When pancakes begin to bubble up and edges appear dry, turn over to brown other side.

Serve immediately with additional melted butter and syrup.

Enjoy,
Mary

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