Saturday, August 19, 2017

Sweet Watermelon Rind Pickles

Yum

When your farm friend, Nat Bradford, is bringing back his family's heirloom watermelon right in your backyard you do two things; one is go visit the farm to see and hear for yourself first-hand about it, and the second is you anxiously await the new harvest so you can buy one of these awesome watermelons for yourself.

Nat Bradford, me, and a gorgeous 30 lb Bradford Watermelon
The Bradford Watermelon has been grown in Sumter County, South Carolina for about 170 years and has a fascinating history. Read all about my first trip to the Bradford's farm.


Determined there would be no waste of this gorgeous watermelon, I decided to make Watermelon Rind Pickles. So sweet, yet tangy and soft, with a nice texture, they are not mushy at all, and are so delicious. Serve them on a cheeseboard with some shaved prosciutto or other thinly sliced deli meat, with a variety of cheeses and crackers. Yummmm!


RECIPE
Ingredients
3 quarts (about 6 pounds) watermelon rind, unpared
¾ cup salt
3 quarts water
2 quarts (2 trays) ice cubes
9 cups sugar
3 cups white vinegar
3 cups water
1 tablespoon (about 48) whole cloves
6 cinnamon sticks, 1 inch pieces
1 lemon, thinly sliced, with seeds removed

Method
This is a 2 day process 
Day One:
Trim the pink flesh and outer green skin from thick watermelon rind. Cut into 1 inch squares or fancy shapes as desired. Cover with brine made by mixing the salt with 3 quarts cold water. Add ice cubes. Let stand 3 to 4 hours.

Drain; rinse in cold water. Cover with cold water and cook until fork tender, about 10 minutes (do not overcook). Drain.

Combine sugar, vinegar, water, and spices (tied in a clean, thin, white cloth). Boil 5 minutes and pour over the watermelon; add lemon slices. Let stand overnight in the refrigerator.

Day Two:
Heat watermelon in syrup to boiling and cook slowly 1 hour. Pack hot pickles loosely into clean, hot pint jars. To each jar add 1 piece of stick cinnamon from spice bag; discard lemon slices, and cover with boiling syrup, leaving ½ inch head-space.

Remove air bubbles and adjust head-space if needed. Wipe rims of jars with a dampened clean paper towel; adjust two-piece metal canning lids. Process half-pints or pint jars 10 minutes in a boiling water bath or steam canner.

Yield: 4-5 pints

Original recipe from the National Center for Home Food Preservation

Enjoy,
Mary

© Cooking with Mary and Friends. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Cooking with Mary and Friends with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Saturday, July 22, 2017

Cheesy Enchilada Meatball Bake

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Cheese ... Meatballs ... Enchilada Sauce ... all baked in a casserole. It's so easy to make and delicious to eat.

My husband, the non-Mexican or Tex Mex food person, loved this. It's not too spicy, so "everyone" friendly, but you could kick it up by adding more peppers if your family enjoys spicy.


I start with homemade Enchilada Sauce, but store-bought will do. I also use grass-fed ground beef from a local farm. To me it's a superior beef, with very little, if no, fat to drain off, and makes a better meatball.


Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Tomato Bruschetta in a Jar

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Our little raised bed kitchen garden has been exploding with some small Roma (plum) tomatoes, and I needed something to do with them besides eating them.


I'd already made Pico de Gallo Salsa, and Petite Diced Tomatoes, but then I ran across this recipe for Tomato Bruschetta ... ohhhhhh that would be awesome to just grab a jar out and use, and so began this next canning project, which really went quickly!


Next time I want some bruschetta, it's going to be a cinch to assemble. It would also be great as an accompaniment on a cheese board with a variety of cheeses and crackers.


Wednesday, July 12, 2017

Pico de Gallo Salsa

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I really love tomato salsas, but I also enjoy Pico de Gallo and make it fresh with local tomatoes every summer. There is nothing better than fresh, local, vine ripe tomatoes you either grow yourself or purchase at a local farm or farmers market. The taste in so unbelievably good, so I highly recommend making this recipe with local fresh tomatoes.


Pico de Gallo is technically a fresh salsa and not one that's traditionally canned. I really wanted to try and make some I could process and keep for many months on my pantry shelf (not that it will last that long), so I started experimenting.

Paste or Roma tomatoes hold up the best in this recipe, and they are not mushy in the finished product. See this link for more awesome salsa recipes.


RECIPE
Ingredients
10 medium to large paste or Roma tomatoes, diced (preferred since they are a meatier tomato)
1 medium onion, diced
2 large jalapeno peppers, seeded and diced
1/2 tsp salt
1/3 cup **Ball Fiesta Salsa Mix (or any salsa spice mix you like)
3 tbls lime juice
1 tbls (per pint jar) lemon juice
** If you don't have any salsa mix add 1/2 tbls each ground cumin, oregano and dried cilantro leaves (or fresh minced cilantro) or slightly more to taste.
May omit cilantro if desired.


Method
Dice tomatoes, onion and jalapenos and place in a large bowl. Sir in salsa mix (or spices), salt and lime juice, mixing well. Let sit 5 minutes so tomatoes begin to get juicy.

Using a slotted spoon, scoop the pico de gallo into pint canning jars. Top with 1 tbls lemon juice concentrate, and evenly distribute the remaining tomato juice from the bowl into each jar leaving 1/2" head-space. Top with lids and rings tightening to just finger tight.

Process jars in water bath or steam canner 15 minutes.

Remove jars and let cool on a kitchen towel on your counter-top 24 hours undisturbed. Jars are sealed when button on lid is fully depressed and won't move up and down.

Store in pantry up to one year. Open jars must be refrigerated. Serve Pico de Gallo Salsa with your favorite chips or top on tacos, taco salads and more. It's even awesome stirred into some steamed rice and served with your favorite Mexican dishes.

Cooks note - the liquid may be below the top of the pico de gallo in the jars. Once they are processed, this is fine and will not cause the salsa to go bad. I also like to give mine a quick shake before serving.

Yield: approx.3 pint jars (recipe is easily doubled)

Original recipe adapted from Healthy Canning

Enjoy,
Mary

© Cooking with Mary and Friends. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Cooking with Mary and Friends with appropriate and specific direction to the original content. 


Thursday, July 6, 2017

Tomato Paste {Water Bath Canning}

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I've been canning tomato products for years, but I never thought I'd be making my own tomato paste. I guess I was just convinced it had to take a long time to cook down and thicken ... never did I dream it would actually take less time and be much easier than I thought.


When tomato season came around again this year, I found myself buying my favorite Roma tomatoes from Willard Farms, a family farm local to me. If you can't find Roma tomatoes, San Marzano plum tomatoes are also an excellent choice.

"Prized for its use in tomato paste and sauces since its introduction in 1955, Roma Tomatoes produce a large harvest of thick-walled, meaty, bright red, egg-shaped tomatoes about 3 inches long and with few seeds. This tomato is not juicy. This is not a slicing tomato. Instead, the flesh is thick and drier so that it will cook down into a thick sauce. Cooking intensifies flavor, too. If you can tomatoes, make your own spaghetti sauce, or like to chop a tomato into an omelet, this is a great choice. It's not too juicy in the pan compared to slicing tomatoes. The fruit freezes well for later cooking, too."


And so today I set out to make tomato paste. Oh my goodness, the flavor is so rich and intensified, it tastes like a vine ripe tomato just picked. Amazingly delicious ... I may never buy it commercially again!


RECIPE
Ingredients
4 quarts tomato sauce
lemon juice concentrate
salt (optional)

Method
Begin by making Tomato Sauce following my Tomato Sauce Canning Made Easy recipe. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Pour 1 quart tomato sauce onto a rimmed baking sheet. You can do 2 baking sheets at one time.

Place baking sheets on 2 racks in your oven and set the timer for 60 minutes. At the 30 minute mark, stir tomato sauce; you will see it's already reducing and thickening. Switch baking sheets around by moving the baking sheet on the bottom rack to the top rack and the top baking sheet to the bottom rack.

Continue baking another 20-30 minutes, checking and stirring often, until tomato sauce is reduced to a tomato paste being careful not to burn it.

Repeat process with remaining 2 quarts of tomato sauce.

Add 1/2 tablespoon lemon juice to each 4 oz jar or 1 tablespoon to each 8 oz jar, and 1/4-1/2 tsp. salt (if using) to each jar. Spoon tomato paste into jars, smoothing and removing air bubbles, leaving 1/2"-inch head-space.

Process jars 45 minutes in boiling water bath following the guidance from the National Center for Home Food Preservation.

Remove jars from canner and let cool undisturbed 24 hours on your kitchen counter-top. Jars are sealed when button on top of lid is fully depressed and won't move. Store in pantry up to one year. Open jars need to be refrigerated.

Yield: approx. 2 - 8 oz jars or 4 - 4 oz jars per quart of tomato sauce (my total yield was 5 - 4 oz jars and 3 - 8 oz jars for 4 quarts of tomato sauce)

Enjoy,
Mary

© Cooking with Mary and Friends. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Cooking with Mary and Friends with appropriate and specific direction to the original content. 


Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Sweet and Sticky Tomato Jam

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I knew as soon as I saw this recipe on Marisa's page, Food in Jars, I wanted to try it. Oh yes, it is amazing! Sticky, sweet with a little kick, it is the perfect condiment for burgers, brats and more.


Serve it over crostini with a savory cheese, or on a cheese board with a variety of hard cheeses or even over cream cheese on crackers. IT is a delicious condiment you can use in a multitude of ways.



Sunday, June 25, 2017

Creamy Chocolate Pudding

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Probably one of the simplest things to make with just a few pantry ingredients is pudding. When you see just how easy, you're going to ask yourself why you ever bought a box mix.


When I was first married we were on a very tight budget where every dollar mattered. There wasn't a lot of money for "extras," so out of necessity, I learned how to make my own puddings and other items; it was less expensive to buy flour, cornstarch and sugar for a multitude of uses, instead of convenience items like boxed pudding mix.


I'm really glad necessity taught me many "how to's" years ago, because I have always enjoyed cooking from scratch. There's just something rewarding about making it all yourself and not relying on box mixes.



Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Southern Pineapple Cake

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This Southern Pineapple Cake is amazingly moist and delicious. The best part is it's so easy to make and even easier to eat and enjoy.


This cake is a "pot luck" favorite, but also makes a great after-school snack cake, or anytime you want an easy dessert. Just a few simple ingredients and you're done. You don't even need a mixer; I just beat the batter in a mixing bowl with a wooden spoon. See what I mean? Easy!



Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Grilled Chuck Roast

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I am in love with local grass-fed beef! Thankfully we have several grass-fed beef farmers local to me, and this beauty came from my friends at Hill Creek Farms - Hartsville. All of their Angus and Angus-Charolais Beef comes from pasture-raised and grass-fed animals. There are no added hormones and the meat is antibiotic free. The meat is processed at an USDA inspected packing plant where it is dry aged, cut to order, vacuum packed and flash frozen.


My friends and I have ordered several sides of beef from this farm, and every time the beef has been excellent and, I believe, of superior quality to what you can buy in a grocery store. While buying a side of beef is a large investment, it can easily last you a year, making it extremely economical. See the benefits to buying a whole side of beef.


Of course, when you buy a side of beef, you get many different cuts, from sirloins and rib-eyes to chuck roast. Not always wanting the chuck roast to be cooked as a pot roast, I started investigating ways to grill it. Who knew a grilled chuck roast could be so tender and delicious? We sure didn't until we made this recipe. Wow, talk about a "game changer!" This economical cut completely amazed us, exceeding any expectations we had.


Tuesday, June 6, 2017

Tangy Vidalia Onion Relish

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Yearly we buy Vidalia Onions at a sale sponsored locally by our Rotary Club. It's something I look forward to every May, and we usually buy 25 lbs or more we use in a variety of ways from Vidalia Onion Vinaigrette to Caramelized Vidalia Onion Relish and Sweet Vidalia Onion Relish


This Tangy Vidalia Onion Relish is great added to a beef pot roast; just toss some around with the veggies for a delicious and tasty addition to your roast. It's also very good over baked Brie or cream cheese with crackers as an accompaniment to a cheese board, and of course, for toppings on hamburgers, hot dogs, and especially brats and sausages. You can also add it in various cold salads such as potato, macaroni, pasta, and bean salads just to name a few.




















RECIPE
Ingredients
5 pounds (approx. 10-12 large Vidalia onions), peeled, and diced finely
2 red, green or yellow bell peppers, seeded and diced finely
1/4 cup canning salt
1 cup granulated sugar
1 cup light brown sugar, packed
1/2 tsp ground turmeric
2 cups cider vinegar
1 tsp mixed pickling spices

Method
Using a food processor, finely dice the onions and peppers. Combine the diced onions and bell peppers with the salt; stir and let stand for 30 minutes.

Drain the vegetables in a fine mesh strainer, squeezing gently and discarding liquid. In a large non-reactive pot, combine the sugars, turmeric, and vinegar. Put pickling spices in a cheesecloth bag and add to the vinegar and sugar mixture. Bring to a simmer; reduce heat to low and simmer gently for 5 minutes.

Add the well-drained vegetable mixture, increase heat to medium, and bring to a boil. Lower heat to medium low and simmer for 30 minutes.

Fill the hot jars and wipe rims with damp paper towels. Fit the jars with the lids and screw jar rings on firmly.

Process jars in a boiling water bath or steam canner for 10 minutes. Remove jars and let cool 24 hours undisturbed. Store in pantry up to one year, opened jars need to be refrigerated.

Yield: 10 - 8 oz jars or 5 pints

Enjoy,
Mary

© Cooking with Mary and Friends. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Cooking with Mary and Friends with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Wildhaven Ranch Farm Trip

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After pushing this trip back a month due to lots of rains and flooding on the ranch, we were finally off and on our way.


We had all been looking forward to this particular farm outing and couldn't wait to get to our destination.  Located in St. Stephen, South Carolina, Wildhaven Ranch ethically & humanely raise KiBoer goats, Ossabaw/Duroc hogs, Katahdan Sheep, Angus beef, and Wildflower Honey.


Travelling south on a nice, mostly sunshiny day, we made it to our destination a little over an hour later when we pulled into a long and windy road leading to the house and where we would meet our hosts for the day, Karen and AJ Biddlecom.


What a great place! The first thing you notice is the chickens and a couple of turkeys just wandering around the yard, scratching in the grass and eating bugs.


After introductions were made all around, we were off to the goat pasture where there were some sleeping in the shade and others eating leaves off the trees. Karen invited us in to give the goats some treats, so the next thing you knew we were surrounded by the herd, all anxious for their turn.



Then we wandered over to another side of the yard where the pigs were in a wooded area, thoroughly enjoying themselves. Karen called them, and they all came running over, while the mama pig, aptly named Redneck Girl, enjoyed a quick splash in a mud hole.



Next thing I knew I was off on the golf cart with Karen to see the rest of her animals. We drove by some sheep, a few horses, a llama, bee hives and more.




It was a fun tour and then we were back where we were being treated to a lunch/brunch.


We ate out at a picnic table under the shade of a large tree and it included a nice Frittata, Zesty Italian Goat Sausage, some lemonade and a homemade pound cake topped with strawberries and raw milk whipped cream. It was all delicious, but I'll admit I'd never tasted such a great sausage. The blend of goat with beef and spices made it extremely unique and very tasty! So much so, we all bought some to bring home.





It was a fabulous day out and about learning all about another farm, and once again marveling at what they do every day. No confinement cage operation here, these animals are all raised ethically and humanely on pasture as they should be. They can splash in the mud, scratch in the grasses, and otherwise live a great life on Wildhaven Ranch. This is exactly what I love about our small local South Carolina family farms; they know how to do it right!

Wildhaven Ranch products may be purchased on the farm (please call ahead), or find them at the:

North Charleston Farmers Market
Sunday Brunch Farmers Market
Folly Beach Farmers Market

Visit their Facebook page: Wildhaven Ranch


Enjoy,
Mary

© Cooking with Mary and Friends. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Cooking with Mary and Friends with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.