Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Mercer House Estate Winery {Muscadine Wines Defined}


It was a drizzly, spittin' rain kind of day as we headed out to visit Mercer House Estate Winery located at 397 Walter Rawl Road in Lexington, South Carolina. While all of us were excited to visit and taste the wines, none of us were aware of what a great afternoon we were about to experience. It was really one for the record books, and one we won't soon forget. Because they use organic practices, Mercer House Estate Winery is one of only a handful in the country, and the only one in South Carolina to do so.

After just about an hour of driving, making a wrong turn or two, (which is totally normal for us), we arrived just slightly before our appointed time at the winery. While we waited for our other friends to get there, our host for the afternoon, Shannon, wandered over, introduced himself, and explained where we needed to go when we were ready. Shortly afterward everyone was there so we headed over to the wine tasting room, and settled in, ready, willing, and able for the tasting to begin.

Wow doesn't even begin to describe the next almost three hours that followed. Shannon is a great host, with a wealth of information he shared with us about his vineyard and what is, quite obviously, his passion. It was a fun-filled, story telling, anecdotes, and laughs afternoon, PLUS we were treated to a quick little ditty on his guitar.

At the vineyard there are more than 40 varieties of Muscadine grapes grown. Each are used in a wide assortment of wines, as no one grape makes up the wines created at Mercer House Estate Winery.

Muscadines are grapes, which are valued for fruit, wine, shade, and fall color; they’re among the few ornamental vines with bold, textured foliage; colorful edible fruit; and a dominant trunk and branch pattern for winter interest. A single grapevine can produce enough new growth every year to arch over a walk, roof an arbor, form a leafy wall, or provide an umbrella of shade over deck or terrace.

Did you know? Muscadine berries range from bronze to dark purple to black in color when ripe. However, many wild varieties stay green through maturity. They have skin sufficiently tough that eating the raw fruit often involves biting a small hole in the skin to suck out the pulp inside. Muscadines are not only eaten fresh, but also are used in making wine, juice, and jelly.They are rich sources of polyphenols and other nutrients studied for their potential health benefits. Gallic acid, (+)-catechin and epicatechin are the major phenolics in seeds, while ellagic acid, myricetin, quercetin, kaempferol, and trans-resveratrol are the major phenolics in the skins. (source: Wikipedia)

"There are many variables that effect the flavors of wine. Environmental elements are the first factors to determine the final outcome of a wine. Subtle differences in environmental conditions can be passed into the final product. "Terroir" - Basically, it refers to the micro-climates that exist across a vineyard.

At Mercer House Estate, each of the vineyards has it's own unique climate based on the different soil types, field slopes, proximity to aquatics, wood lines and orientation to sun exposure. These subtle differences impart unique flavors into the grapes of each vineyard, each harvest and each wine.

When we designed the trellis layout, we took into account these differences and decided to label each as part of the vineyard culture, which is reflected in the unique flavors of our wines.

Terroir is a concept that doesn’t have an equivalent in the English language. Terroir is a genetic heritage of great wines. Without it, nothing is possible, however its character is only truly revealed as a result of the work and determination of our staff. In fact, without this passionate work and attention of our staff, a plat of dirt would never become as “privileged” as our great vineyards.

It has been necessary to choose the best adapted grape varietals, define their growing conditions and refine the vinification (the conversion of fruit juices (as grape juice) into wine by fermentation) and ageing techniques. This work has been going on since we planted our first vine."

Want to get involved? Join their Fostered Vine Programdesigned for patrons to help sustain ecological and sustainable viticulture in return for tailored American wine and health conscience added-value products from the vineyards of Mercer House Estate Vineyards. Fostership grants patrons with custom bottled wine from their certified vines. Patrons may choose to have their wines tailored Light, Dark, Dry, Sweet or somewhere in-between. Each label will include the vineyard name and further designed to the patrons specifications. Patrons may choose to use Mercer House aging and fining processes to ensure the highest quality wine.

And so we tasted some fairly dry wines, such as Casablanca, and made our way though a variety of wines, to include some semi-sweets we all really enjoyed. Each one had its own unique flavors and finishes, some more smooth and others more robust. I personally liked Dulcet Fox, The Farmer's Wife, Gamecork, and Adele.  Before we knew it, almost 3 hours had gone by, and it was time to gather our things, make our purchases and head home. It was a GREAT time at a great local vineyard and well worth the visit.

Mercer House Estate Winery wines to ask for:  
Casablanca - Dry White
Drunken Dove - Dry Rose'
Zani - Dry Red
Gamecork - Barrel Aged Dry Red
Farmers Red - Dry Spice
Dulcet Fox - Semi-Sweet White
Turtle Dove - Semi-Sweet Rose'
Adele - Semi-Sweet Red
Farmers Wife - Semi-Sweet Red Spice

Available at the winery, order online, or at these locations:
Total Wine & More - Greenville, Columbia and Charleston
Greens Beverage - Columbia, Greenville
Morganelli's - Forest Drive Columbia
Sam's Fine Wine - Lexington and N.E. Columbia
14 Carrot Whole Foods - Lexington
Swamp Rabbit Cafe' - Greenville
Discount Beer & "Smoke" - Augusta Hwy Lexington

Visit Mercer House Estate Winery's Website
Like them on Facebook
Contact them:
Call them: 803.957.7102


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Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Bradford Watermelon Lemon Pepper Mint Jelly


This is the perfect jelly to serve over cream cheese on crackers. The taste of the sweet watermelon is followed by the bite of the lemon pepper and finished with sweet mint. It is delicious. Read all about my trip to see Bradford Watermelons.


6-8 cups Bradford Watermelon chunks
4 tsp. lemon pepper
4 tsp. dried mint
3/4 cups red wine vinegar
6 tbls. lemon juice concentrate
1 package Sure-Jell powdered pectin
7 1/2 cups sugar

In a large stock pot, add the watermelon chunks, and mash slightly. Add the lemon pepper, dried mint, red wine vinegar, lemon juice and Sure-Jell. Heat to a rolling boil (one that doesn't stop when stirring). Add sugar all at once and return to a rolling boil, stirring to prevent sticking, for one (1) full minute.

Remove from heat and ladle jelly into sterilized mason jars leaving 1/4-inch head-space. Cover with lids and rings and process in a boiling water bath 10 minutes.

Remove jars and let cool on a kitchen towel on your counter top 24 hours. Store in pantry up to one year. Open jars need to be refrigerated.

Cooks note - watermelon jellies take a bit of time to set up. Do not be surprised if it is not fully set up until the next day.

Yield:  4 - 12 oz jars and 2 - 8 oz jars or 8 - 8 oz. jars


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Bradford Watermelon {Reintroducing an Heirloom Watermelon}

Bradford Watermelon, an 1840's heirloom watermelon
A recent farm trip brought us out to see the Bradford Watermelon, an heirloom/heritage melon being revived and reintroduced by the sixth great-grandson of the man who started it all, Nathaniel Bradford. He bred the Bradford Watermelon, which was preserved undetected for 170 years in the family’s fields, and believed to be extinct for around a century. What an amazing story and discovery you can read all about here

Nat Bradford cutting a Bradford Okra Pod
It was actually an article I read about the Bradford Watermelon that excited me many months before we were able to make arrangements to visit the farm ourselves. Imagine my surprise as I was reading the article to find out THIS WAS HAPPENING literally in my backyard! Just a few miles away from my house. Like, who knew? I sure didn't and was ecstatic to find out it was.

Bradford Watermelon cut open in the field
Did you know? Watermelons are mostly water — about 92 percent — but this refreshing fruit is soaked with nutrients. Each juicy bite has significant levels of vitamins A, B6 and C, lots of lycopene, antioxidants and amino acids. There's even a modest amount of potassium. Plus, this quintessential summer snack is fat-free, very low in sodium and has only 40 calories per cup.

Scientists have taken notice of watermelon's high lycopene levels — about 15 to 20 milligrams per 2-cup serving, according to the National Watermelon Promotion Board — some of the highest levels of any type of fresh produce. Lycopene is a phytonutrient, which is a naturally occurring compound in fruits and vegetables that reacts with the human body to trigger healthy reactions. It is also the red pigment that gives watermelons, tomatoes, red grapefruits and guavas their color.

Nat Bradford cutting the Bradford Watermelon
Lycopene has been linked with heart health, bone health and prostate cancer prevention. It's also a powerful antioxidant thought to have anti-inflammatory properties, according to Victoria Jarzabkowski, a nutritionist with the Fitness Institute of Texas at The University of Texas at Austin. (source: Live Science)

And here is a little bit about our host for the afternoon, who was a wealth of information and knowledge he generously shared. You can just listen to him and hear the passion he has about his family farm and their wonderful Bradford Watermelon.

And to give you an idea of how SWEET this watermelon is, its 'brix' measurement is 12.5. Brix is a widely used sweetness rating, and most melons hover around 10, which is already considered very sweet

"Nat Bradford is a father of five, farmer, and landscape architect in Seneca, South Carolina. He founded Eco Art, LLC in 2000 upon the principles of creativity and stewardship to nurture holistic sustainable landscape architecture. As a farmer he maintains the breedline of their 170 year old family heirloom, the Bradford watermelon.

Bradford Okra
He and his wife, Bette, started Watermelons for Water in 2013, a philanthropic cause funded by all the proceeds from their watermelon harvest. Watermelons for Water has provided hand-dug freshwater wells for small farming families in Bolivia and funded a project in Tanzania where the watermelon is being grown as an inexpensive freshwater source. His greatest joy is sharing this heritage with his children."

So on yet another another drizzly, cloudy day, a few friends and fellow farm trip enthusiasts, headed out to the farm. Our route had a detour we were unaware of, so a quick message off to Nat Bradford got us pointed in the right direction. Soon we arrived at the end of a long dirt road, where he was waving to us to show us where to go. We parked the car, and with some quick introductions all around, we walked into the family garden area and fields to talk about some of the other heirloom plants all organically grown, on this family farm in Sumter, South Carolina.

We saw and tasted right in the field some Indigo Tomatoes, Matt's Wild Cherry Tomatoes, and amazing Bradford Okra. Did you know the Okra is related to the Hibiscus? Neither did I, but you can certainly see it when you look at the flower of the Bradford Okra. And none of us were okra fans, but we sure tried it raw in the field, and it was delicious. Crispy and crunchy, I am now a fan of raw okra.

We also explored the remnants of the Bradford Watermelon field. All the while, Nat Bradford talked about the history of the watermelon, explained a lot about the soil nutrients required, and how the season's drought had affected and impacted the growth of many of the plants this year.

A bit later we wandered up to the house and enjoyed a spread of deliciousness on the front porch, prepared for us by Nat's wife, Bette. Talk about Southern Hospitality! Ciabatta bread slices, crackers, thinly sliced prosciutto, a variety of cheeses, and sweet Bradford Watermelon, Watermelon Rind Pickles and Watermelon Molasses. Oh my goodness, delicious. We enjoyed every single nibble and bite as we made our way around this lavish spread, all the while chatting about how wonderful it all was.

After a few hours, and a lot of delicious Bradford Watermelon treats, it was time for us to be on our way. While some purchased watermelon molasses and watermelon rind pickles, it was a real treat to receive a Bradford Watermelon to take home and make some fun recipes with. I was excited about the prospects and couldn't wait to get started.

For more about Bradford Watermelons:
Watch the Bradford Watermelon Story
Check out their Website
Like them on Facebook
Follow them on Instagram

And then I made Bradford Watermelon Lemon Pepper Mint Jelly! Grab the recipe!


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Thursday, September 24, 2015

German Brötchen


We enjoyed this "little bread" many times while living in Germany, and I have been on a quest ever since to try to make them.  I've tried numerous recipes, but this one I received from Ute Staack, who lives in a village north of Bavaria, is the best one I have come across.

The crust is crunchy and the dough is soft and chewy just like you want them to be. I love to eat them with lots of butter along side soft boiled eggs for breakfast, but they can be enjoyed anytime you want.

Did you know?
The crusty German yeast roll known as "Brötchen" (“little bread”) is as pleasingly moist and chewy on the inside, as it is satisfyingly firm and crunchy on the outside.

Bakers all over Germany bake them early in the morning, but also throughout the day because they are popular for lunch or dinner. The rolls are best when enjoyed within a few hours of baking, especially when topped with butter or cheese, a spread like liverwurst or  teawurst, salami, ham, or cold cuts, bratwurst, and even fish, either marinated or smoked,

Dipping pieces of Brötchen into the yolk of a soft-cooked egg is always a delight.  Sweet toppings also rank high on the popularity scale.  Try honey, fruit preserves, sugar beet syrup (Zuckerrübensirup), or a chocolate-hazelnut spread.

And a Fleischsalat (hearty meat salad) can turn a lowly roll into a satisfying meal.  And we’d be remiss if we didn’t also mention the guilty pleasure of slicing open a fresh Brötchen and sandwiching a sweet, fluffy, chocolate-covered “Schaumkuß” between the two halves.

Brötchen (brotchen, broetchen), depending on the region, may also be referred to by one or more of these names: Schnittbrötchen, Spitzbrötchen, Semmeln, Schrippen, Weggla, Weckerl, Weckle, Wecken, or Rundstücke.

The traditional Brötchen is made primarily from wheat flour, yeast, salt, and water and is shaped into an oval.  However, more modern variations often include the addition of other flour types like rye. Sometimes milk fats, butter, or oils are added.  The shape of a roll might vary, as well, and the roll might be be covered with seeds or nuts. (Source: German Food Notes)


2 1/2 cups flour
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. sugar
1 pkg. active-dry yeast (2 1/2 tsp)
4 tsp. *diastatic malt powder (optional - I purchase on King Arthur Flour)
1 cup water

Add flour salt, sugar, yeast and baking malt (if using) to the large bowl of a stand mixer. Add the water, and using the dough hook, mix dough and "knead" it with the dough hook several minutes, or until the dough forms a ball and pulls away from the sides of the bowl.

Turn out onto floured surface and knead a few times. Place dough in floured mixing bowl, cover with a kitchen towel and let rise 60-90 minutes.

Remove dough from bowl and shape into round rolls (you'll get about 10-12). Hold each ball under running warm water briefly, and place on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper or sprayed lightly with cooking spray. Cover with a floured kitchen towel and let rest for 30 minutes.

Brush rolls with warm water and powder them with flour, sesame seeds or poppy seeds. Cut a slit in the top of each roll with a razor blade, bakers lame, or very sharp knife. Let rest 10 minutes uncovered.

Meanwhile, place a large roasting pan with hot water on the lowest rack of your oven positioning top rack to the middle of the oven. Preheat oven to 400 degrees; water will be steaming so be careful when you open the oven door.

Spritz or sprinkle the rolls with water again, and place the baking sheet on the rack in the middle of the oven over the steaming water.

Bake 20 minutes or slightly longer adjusting for your altitude. Remove from oven and let cool on a cooling rack.

* Diastatic malt powder is the "secret ingredient" savvy bread bakers use to promote a strong rise, great texture, and lovely brown crust. Especially useful when flour does not have barley malt added, as is true for most whole wheat flour and many organic flours. Active enzymes in diastatic malt help yeast grow fully and efficiently throughout the fermentation period, yielding a good, strong rise and great oven-spring.


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Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Cuban "Inspired" Pork Shoulder Roast


Don't be afraid of bone-in pork roasts. They are typically cheaper per pound and have a delicious flavor you can only get with cuts including the bone. Yes, you are paying for the bone, but you can use that bone to flavor bean soups, make into a delicious bone broth, and so much more.

Naturally I bought this pork roast from from a local farm, where the pigs are not given any antibiotics or added growth hormones. It is, I believe, a far superior product than anything mass-produced.

This roast is flavorful, tender, moist and delicious.

5-7 lbs bone-in pork shoulder or pork picnic roast
1/2 cup olive oil
1/2 cup lemon juice
1 tbls. oregano leaves
1/2 tbls. ground cumin
2-3 tbls. minced garlic
2 tsp. course-ground black pepper
1/2 tbls. parsley flakes
Whole peeled potatoes and carrots
One large onion, quartered

Place pork roast in a large food storage container with a lid. Cross-cut the fat layer being sure to cut through fat to meat and poke pork in several places with the tines of a large serving fork. Pour olive oil and lemon juice over pork. Rub pork all over with remaining spices; cover and refrigerate at least 6 hours (or overnight), turning roast several times and rubbing in liquids and spices each time you turn the roast.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Remove roast from the refrigerator and place in a roasting pan sprayed well with cooking spray. Pour remaining marinade over roast, cover tightly with foil and cook one hour. Remove foil and continue roasting for 2 more hours. During the last hour of roasting add potatoes, carrots and onions.

Remove roast from oven, cover and let sit 10 minutes before carving. Serve immediately with roasted root vegetables.

Not a fan of Cuban flavors? Try my German Schweinebraten Roast

*Slow Cooker Option - Place roast, potatoes and carrots in slow cooker and cook on low 8 hours. The roast should slice and not shred apart. If you want it to shred, cook it on low 10 hours.


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Monday, September 21, 2015

Classic Shrimp Creole


I grew up eating Shrimp Creole. My dad liked it and used to make it quite often. It was a dish we all looked forward to, although his recipe including using condensed tomato soup. Since I was after a more "authentic" creole, I decided to try to make my own, and this recipe is the result. The best part is you can have this on the table in under one hour, making it a versatile dish for any day of the week.

Did you know? Shrimp Creole is a dish of Louisiana Creole origin (French, and Spanish Heritage), consisting of cooked shrimp in a mixture of whole or diced tomatoes, the holy trinity of onion, celery and bell pepper, spiced with hot pepper sauce and/or cayenne-based seasoning, and served over steamed or boiled white rice. The shrimp may be cooked in the mixture or cooked separately and added at the end. Other "creole" dishes may be made by substituting some other meat or seafood for the shrimp, or omitting the meat entirely.

Creole-type dishes combine the qualities of a gumbo and a jambalaya. They are typically thicker and spicier than a gumbo, and the rice is prepared separately and used as a bed for the creole mixture, rather than cooked in the same pot as with a jambalaya. Creole dishes also do not contain broth or roux; instead, the creole mixture is simmered to its desired degree of thickness. Apart from the foundation ingredients of onion, celery and bell pepper, creole dishes are free-form "improvisational" dishes, as the basic recipe may be altered to include whatever ingredients the cook has available. (source: Wikipedia)


16-18 Jumbo Shrimp (I use Wild Caught local shrimp)
2 tbls. olive oil
1 - 16 oz. petite diced tomatoes
1/2 cup celery, diced
1/2 cup onion, diced
1 small bell pepper, diced
1 - 6 oz can tomato paste (adds body)
1 tbls. Creole Seasoning (or make your own Creole Seasoning)
1-2 dashes hot sauce (optional)
2 cups hot cooked rice

In a large skillet, heat oil and saute celery, onion and bell pepper several minutes, or until vegetables are getting soft. Stir in Petite diced tomatoes and tomato paste and cook until mixture is slightly thickened, about 20 minutes.

Add creole seasoning and hot sauce (optional) and simmer an additional 5-10 minutes, adjusting seasonings to taste. Add shrimp and cook just until shrimp are pink (do not overcook).

Serve immediately over hot cooked rice.

Yield: 4 servings


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Friday, September 18, 2015

Fresh Fig Spice Cake


Truly a southern delicacy, fig trees are grown in many backyards and are looked forward to with much anticipation every season. Because their season is so short, fig lovers rush to collect them every year, then put them up in a variety of ways from Southern Fig Jamto drying them, or baking them in this luscious cake.

I am very lucky my best foodie friend forever, Lynn, at Southern With a Twist has a fig tree and generously gives me several gallon bags of figs from her tree every year! In exchange, I give her fresh corn and tomatoes from the farmers market, or sweet cherries when they are in season. It's a win-win for both of us.

Did you know? The fig tree is a member of mulberry family. The health benefits of figs come from the presence of minerals, vitamins and fiber contained in the fruit. Figs contain a wealth of beneficial nutrients, including vitamin A, vitamin B1, vitamin B2, calcium, iron, phosphorus, manganese, sodium, potassium and chlorine.

Figs can trace their history back to the earliest of times with mentions in the Bible and other ancient writings. They are thought to have been first cultivated in Egypt. They spread to ancient Crete and then subsequently, around the 9th century BC, to ancient Greece, where they became a staple foodstuff in the traditional diet. Figs were held in such esteem by the Greeks that they created laws forbidding the export of the best quality figs. Figs were also revered in ancient Rome where they were thought of as a sacred fruit. According to Roman myth, the wolf that nurtured the twin founders of Rome, Romulus and Remus, rested under a fig tree. During this period of history, at least 29 varieties of figs were already known.

Enjoying the flavor of a freshly picked fig in the shade of the tree's canopy is a truly Southern tradition. Thomas Jefferson claimed in his retirement to want only to sit beneath a fig tree with his books and watch the days pass by. Luckily, he did a lot more than this. Jefferson not only spread the popularity of the fig from Europe but also expanded the area where the tree is grown.

This Fresh Fig Spice Cake is rich, dense, very moist and sinfully delicious.


2 cups sugar
1/2 cup oil
3 eggs
1 1/2 cups fresh figs, stemmed and mashed
2 1/2 cups flour
1 tsp. cinnamon
1 tsp. allspice
1 tsp. cloves
1 tsp. baking soda
1/2 cup milk
1 cup pecans, chopped

1 cup brown sugar, light or dark
1/4 cup cream
1/2 cup (1 stick) butter
Combine all ingredients in a saucepan; bring to a boil and simmer 2-1/2 minutes, stirring constantly. Remove from heat and let cool 5 minutes, beating well afterward.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Stem, chop and mash fresh figs. In a large mixing bowl, beat sugar and oil until fluffy. Add eggs, mashed figs, spices and baking soda; blend well. Add flour alternately with milk, mixing well. Stir in pecans.

Grease and flour a Bundt pan and pour batter evenly into pan.  Bake 1 hour or until toothpick inserted in middle of cake comes out clean.

Remove cake from oven and let cool 10 minutes in pan. Turn cake out onto cooling rack and let it cool completely.

Prepare glaze (above) and spoon carefully over top of cake letting it drip down sides.

Yield: 1 Bundt cake (approx. 12-16 slices)


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Saturday, September 12, 2015

Cinnamon-Sugar Topped French Toast Casserole


One dish breakfast meals are prefect for busy weekends, family or friend gatherings, or anytime you want an easy, delicious breakfast!


1 medium loaf any sweet egg bread (Challah, Kings Hawaiian, Portuguese Sweet Bread)
6 large or extra large farm fresh eggs
1 cup 1/2 and 1/2
1/4 stick melted butter
1 tbls. sugar
1 tsp. cinnamon
2 tbls sugar
2 tsp. cinnamon
(mix together well in a small bowl)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray an oven safe 9 x 9-inch baking dish with cooking spray, or grease with butter and set aside. Slice bread and cut into cubes. Place bread cubes in baking dish.

In a mixing bowl, whisk together remaining ingredients and pour over bread cubes in baking dish. Push down on bread cubes some to be sure the are soaked well with egg mixture. Sprinkle cinnamon sugar topping evenly over top and bake casserole 25-30 minutes or until cooked through.

Serve hot with maple syrup! Really decadent topped with some warm Caramel Apple Jam.

Yield:  9 pieces

Notes - Mix it up a day in advance and store in your refrigerator until ready to bake. Bake according to directions above -OR- bake ahead and store in your refrigerator. About an hour before serving, bring to room temperature, then reheat in preheated oven 15-20 minutes or until hot throughout.


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Wednesday, September 9, 2015

German Rotkohl {Canning Recipe}


This is an authentic German Rotkohl recipe I received from a friend when we were living in Germany I modified to make safe for canning. If you would prefer not to can it, but just make it to serve, see my recipe here.

This is a spicy, sweet, tart cabbage dish and makes a great accompaniment to German foods such as Wiener Schnitzel or Sauerbraten. 

Gather your ingredients

Add spices to each jar

Top cabbage mixture with brine



1 head red cabbage, cored and roughly chopped
2 large tart apples, peeled and roughly chopped
1 large sweet onion, chopped
1/2 cup water
1 1/2 cups cider vinegar
1 cup sugar
1 tbls. salt
Add to each jar:
1/2 tsp. whole peppercorns
1/2 tsp. whole allspice
1/2 tsp. whole cloves

Place first 7 ingredients in a large stock pot. Cover and bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce heat to medium, and stir well. Cook approx. 5 minutes, or until cabbage is wilting but not soft.

Strain cabbage mixture from brine using a mesh colander placed over a large bowl, reserving brine.  

Add spices to each jar and top with cabbage mixture. Evenly distribute brine over cabbage in each jar, leaving 1/2-inch head-space. Wipe top of jars with vinegar, and top with rings and seals. 

Process in boiling water bath 20 minutes. Remove jars and let cool 24 hours on a kitchen towel on your counter-top.

Jars are sealed when button in the middle of the top is depressed and doesn't move.

Store in pantry up to one year. Opened jars need to be refrigerated. 

Tips: Remove spices when serving. If product is too tart for your taste, add a bit of sugar when heating to eat.

Yield:  5 pint jars


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Tuesday, September 8, 2015

Hot Crab Dip


The original recipe was given to us by our friend, Jack, and is one we have enjoyed many times over the years. Since we received it we have changed it up a bit, using Asiago cheese instead of Parmesan cheese and adding a bit of hot sauce, It is a great hot crab dip, simple to make, and perfect as a party appetizer. Or simply make it for yourself and family to enjoy.


2 - 8 z. cream cheese, softened
2 tsp. horseradish
1 cup shredded Asiago cheese (loosely packed, do not pack down)
1/2 tsp. hot sauce
12 oz crab meat
2 tbls. green onion, chopped/sliced (reserve a small amount for garnish if desired)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Mix all ingredients together in a mixing bowl; spoon into a oven safe baking dish. I like to use a small oval casserole dish for this.

Bake 25-30 minutes or until slightly browned and bubbly. Top with additional chopped/sliced green onion if desired.

Serve immediately with your favorite crackers, chips or raw veggies.

Stores well covered in a refrigerator several days.


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Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Caramel Apple Jam Bread w/Cinnamon Sugar Pecan Topping


I love this bread! You get the sweet tart spiciness of the caramel apple jam, and the sugary sweetness of the topping. It's a great breakfast or coffee cake bread, perfect for fall mornings, or any time you want a sweet treat. 


For the topping:
1/3 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup finely chopped pecans, toasted
2 tsp. ground cinnamon
For the bread:
1 cup granulated sugar
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
1 large egg
1/2 cup milk
1/3 cup cooking oil
1/2 cup Caramel Apple Jam

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease/flour/spray the bottom and sides of a 9 x 5 x 3-inch loaf pan or 2 - 6.5 x 3.5-inch pans really well. The jam is very sticky. Or line pans with parchment paper if preferred.

To make the topping, combine 1/3 cup of sugar, pecans, and cinnamon. Set aside.

Combine 1 cup of sugar, flour, baking powder, and salt. In a separate bowl, beat egg and stir in milk, oil and caramel apple jam. Make a well in the flour mixture and add the egg mixture. Stir just until mixed. Do not over-mix.

Pour batter into prepared pans and sprinkle on topping, dividing evenly among the pans if using more more than one.

Bake for 40 to 50 minutes or until done. Check small loaves after 30-35 minutes. Bread is done when a tooth pick inserted in the middle comes out clean.  

Cool in pan for about 10 minutes. Run a knife around pan to loosen, and remove loaves to a wire rack to cool completely. Slice while warm if desired.


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