Sunday, June 26, 2016

Exploring Fort Farms - Heritage Breed Pig Farm

On a hot summer day at the end of June, we found ourselves traveling to another local farm to see some unique heritage breed pigs raised by Fort Farms. Since there were 9 of us, we met at a central location, then "followed the leader" to our first stop for the day, The Lenoir Store in Horatio, South Carolina. 

Here we were to meet Edward Fort, owner of Fort Farms, so we pulled up, got out and everyone took a few minutes to explore this historic store! Talk about a walk back in time ...

See short video of the Lenoir Store

The Lenoir Store, built prior to 1878, is a surviving example of the “old general store” and a standing reminder of life before strip malls and modern supermarkets. It is a one-story, weatherboard-clad building on a brick foundation. The gable end metal roof is disguised by a simple false store front. The porch is supported by simple knee brackets and plain square wooden posts. Though the store now has prepackaged goods on its shelves, it maintains the look of the old general store and all of the equipment used in its early days, including an old cheese cutter, a tobacco cutter, ice tongs and penny scales. The store still serves as the local post office, since 1900, and retains its postal equipment installed at the turn of the century. It continues to serve as a focal point of the Horatio community, a small but readily identifiable community above Stateburg in the High Hills of Santee. The Lenoir family has operated a general store in Horatio since before 1808. It is the oldest business establishment in Sumter County. Listed in the National Register July 3, 1997. (Source: South Carolina Department of Archives and History).

What a treasure! It was fascinating, but soon it was time to load up the cars and head out to our destination for the morning ... Fort Farms! We followed Edward down the road a bit, then turned onto a dirt road that meandered around a few curves, and past this enormous field of sunflowers,  until we found ourselves in the pasture with the pigs! 

Everyone piled out of their cars, and introductions were made all around. Edward greeted the group and said " I want to thank everyone for coming today. So many people today have no idea where their food comes from and they, especially children, think their food is manufactured, so it's nice having you here." 

With that he continued to talk about the breeds of heritage pigs he raises, to include Mangalitsa, the Kobe beef of pork, Berkshire, Large Black, Tamworth, and Red Wattles. In the distance we could see some of the Mangalita's with their young, in a nice lush pasture.

"Our pigs eat an all-natural diet, and a variety in food is important for their nutrition. They graze on native plants, grasses, and forage seasonal nuts and fruits. They dig for tubers, grubs and insects, providing essential nutrients. We supplement their diet with our feed of wheat, high-oleic peanuts, and barley.

In the fall, a selection of our finest pigs are finished for about a 45-day period on a diet of acorns and chufa, producing a nutty, delicious meat flavor.  A mile-long corridor of white oak trees provides thousands of acorns, and they root the chufa tubers planted beside them.

Our pigs receive no routine antibiotics or artificial supplements.  They grow at a slower, more natural rate, 8 months to a year, producing a pork product that is superior in flavor and better for you."

Monday, June 20, 2016

Luscious Blueberry Turnovers

A couple of years ago I found this great EASY recipe for puff pasty from Flour Me with Love and I've been making them ever since. The recipe is easy to follow and simplifies the whole tedious puff pasty process into one very simple to follow recipe.

These Blueberry Turnovers use that simple puff pastry recipe and homemade blueberry pie filling, or fresh homemade pie filling, and is amazingly delicious! Luscious flaky layers of sugary pastry filled with sweet and tangy blueberry pie filling = a flavor burst in your mouth!

Puff Pastry
1 1/2 cups King Arthur Unbleached All-Purpose Flour
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 tsp baking powder
1 cup (sticks) cold butter
1/2 cup sour cream

Use Homemade Blueberry Pie Filling
Or to make it fresh:
3 tbls. Instant Clear Jel or cornstarch
2/3 cup sugar
3 cups blueberries, fresh or frozen
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1 large egg beaten with 1 tbls water, to seal pastries (optional)
*If you use cornstarch, you'll want to dissolve it in cold water, rather than stir it into the sugar.

To make the puff pastry: In a large mixing bowl, combine the flour, salt, baking powder and sugar. Add the cut butter slices and using the paddle blade, cut the butter into the flour until it resembles large crumbs. Mix in sour cream just until the dough begins to come together.

Turn the dough out onto a floured board, and quickly knead it together.  Roll out into a 12 x 13-inch rectangle. Fold-down the top half of the dough then flip up the bottom half so they overlap. Now fold in each side until they meet. You should have a nice neat square.  Dusting work surface again with flour, roll it out one more time repeating the folding. It will look much more uniform this time. Wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate 30 minutes or dough can be frozen at this time.

To make the filling: (skip this step if using already canned homemade blueberry pie filling). Mix the sugar and Clear Jel till well combined. If you're using cornstarch, mix it with enough cold water to dissolve. Add the sugar mixture to the blueberries, tossing to combine. Stir in the vanilla and cinnamon (and the cornstarch/water mixture, if you're using cornstarch).

Heat the mixture in a saucepan over very low heat, stirring, till the berries soften and fall apart. The mixture will be thick and jam-like, even though it doesn't really warm up much; this will take under 5 minutes. If you use cornstarch, cook and stir till the mixture bubbles and thickens. You can prepare the filling up to several days before; cover and refrigerate till you're ready to use it. You can also do this in a microwave; heat till the berries soften, then stir till they fall apart and the mixture thickens, like jam.

To assemble and bake: Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Roll the chilled dough into a 16" square. Cut 4 or 5 -  4 1/2-inch rounds. Re-roll the dough scraps, and cut 4 or 5 additional rounds, as many as you can get out of the scraps.

If desired, for a tighter seal, brush two adjoining edges of each circle with 1 egg beaten with 1 tablespoon cold water.

Place about 2-4 tsp filling slightly off-center in each square. Fold the turnovers in half. Press the edges with a fork to seal.

Place the turnovers on a baking sheet sprayed lightly with cooking spray or lined with parchment to catch any spills. Brush tops with egg wash and sprinkle with coarse sugar.

Bake 20 to 25 minutes, or until they're a deep, golden brown; you will see some of the filling beginning to ooze out.

Remove the turnovers from the oven, and cool on a rack. Serve warm, or at room temperature. For a really decadent treat, serve with a side of vanilla bean ice-cream.

Yield: 8-10 turnovers

Strawberry pie filling
Cherry pie filling
Caramel Apple Jam



© 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, June 14, 2016

Blackberry Chipotle Glaze

I nabbed the original recipe for this from SB Canning, and made a few adaptations to make it my own. This Blackberry Chipotle Glaze is tangy and smoky with a pretty good zing of heat! It would be great on grilled chicken, pork chops, ribs, or even lamb chops.

We were tasting it with spoons dipped in it before I even put it in the canning jars. YES, it is that good and husband approved. He can't wait to get grilling with it.

Saturday, June 11, 2016

Old Fashioned Southern Squash Pickles

So why do we pickle vegetables? Well in the South in particular, it became a way of preserving summer's bounty when little to no refrigeration or freezing was available. Summer Squash Pickles, Bread and Butter Pickles, Pickled Okra, Dilled Green Beans and more became a way to "put things up" to enjoy year round. 

Brine squash in salt and water

It is rumored pickles were one of Cleopatra’s prized beauty secrets. They make appearances in the Bible and in Shakespeare’s writing. Pregnant women have been known to crave them along with ice cream. Pickles have been around for thousands of years, dating as far back as 2030 BC when cucumbers from their native India were pickled in the Tigris Valley. The word “pickle” comes from the Dutch pekel or northern German pókel, meaning “salt” or “brine,” two very important components in the pickling process. Throughout history pickling was a necessity, as it was the best way to preserve food for a long period of time. As one of the earliest mobile foods, pickles filled the stomachs of hungry sailors and travelers, while also providing families with a source of food during the cold winter months.

make sauce and pour over drained, brined pickles

Home pickling was made much easier and more sanitary during the 1850s, when two essential canning tools were invented. First, a Scottish chemist by the name of James Young created paraffin wax, which helped to create a seal for food preserved in jars. A few years later, John Mason developed and patented the first Mason jar. Mason’s jars were made from a heavyweight glass that was able to tolerate the high temperatures used in canning and processing pickles. (Source: Our

Using a slotted spoon, add squash to prepared canning jars

Cover squash pickles with sauce

10 small firm yellow squash, sliced 1/4-inch thick (about 7-8 cups)
3 zucchini, sliced 1/4-inch thick (about 2-3 cups)
1 small onion, sliced thin
1/2 cup canning salt
3 cups sugar
3 cups white vinegar
2 tsp. mustard seed
2 tsp. celery seed
2 tsp. turmeric

In a large stock pot, add sliced yellow squash, zucchini, and onion. Sprinkle 1/2 cup canning salt over all, cover/bury with ice, and let sit for 2-3 hours. Drain, rinse, and set aside.

In a large saucepan, add sugar, vinegar and spices. Bring to a boil over medium-high to high heat, stirring often. Remove pan from heat and pour mixture over drained squash. Let sit 30 minutes, stirring once in a while to thoroughly blend.

Using a slotted spoon, fill prepared jars (wide mouth pint jars work best), pushing vegetables down in jars. Ladle hot liquid over vegetables leaving 1/2-inch head-space. Use a plastic knife and move up and down around the sides of jars to remove air bubbles; top with more liquid if necessary,

Cover jars with lids and rings and process in boiling water bath or steam canner 10 minutes. Remove jars from canner and let sit on a kitchen towel on your counter-top 24 hours undisturbed. Jars are sealed when button in middle of lid is depressed and can't be moved.

Store in pantry up to 1 year. Opened jars must be refrigerated.

Cooks note - recipe is easily divided or doubled. Vinegar and Sugar ratio is 1:1 so adjust accordingly along with spices (less spice when divided, more spice when doubled).

Yield: 6 wide-mouth pint jars

Process in boiling water bath, cool and enjoy


© 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 

Thursday, June 9, 2016

Pineapple Mango Jelly with Mango Habanero Whiskey

So what do you do when you receive a bottle of Ole' Smoky Mango Habanero Whiskey? Well, over and above taking a sip or two, make jelly of course! That's the very first thing I thought when our friends brought us some after their recent trip to Pigeon Forge and Gatlinburg, Tennessee. But what fruit would taste good with it? Obviously mango, but then I thought, hmmmmm why not pineapple? Oh yes! That was my revelation one night and I just knew it was what I wanted to do.

This jelly is sweet from the fruit, with a bit of a bite from the habanero in the whiskey. Just a hint, nothing over-powering, so it makes it pleasing to most palates. Try it over cream cheese on crackers, or heat it up a bit and baste it on grilled chicken, pork or lamb kabobs for a delicious "kick."

1 - 20.5 oz. can Dole Pineapple tidbits (2 cups), drained reserving liquid
1 - 15 oz. can diced Dole Mango, (1 1/2 cups), drained discarding liquid
2 tbls. lemon juice
1 cup reserved pineapple juice
1 cup Ole' Smoky Mango Habanero Whiskey
1 pkg, Sure-Jell
7 cups sugar

In a large stock pot, add pineapple tidbits, diced mango, lemon juice, reserved pineapple juice, whiskey and Sure-Jell. Heat over high to medium-high heat, stirring often until mixture comes to a rolling boil. Add sugar all at once, return to a rolling boil, stirring often to prevent sticking. Boil hard one minutes.

Remove from heat. Using a slotted spoon, add fruit evenly to each of 7 - 8 oz. prepared jelly jars; ladle liquid over each jar leaving 1/4-inch head-space. Top jars with lids and rings and process in boiling water bath 10 minutes.

Remove jars from water bath and let sit on a kitchen towel on your counter-top 24 hours. Slightly shake jars during the cooling down process to evenly distribute the fruit in the jelly.

Store on pantry shelf up to one year. Opened jars must be refrigerated.

Cooks note - some jellies take as long as 48 hours or more to "set up." Be patient as this one may take a bit longer than others due to the alcohol content.


© 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 

Monday, June 6, 2016

Old Fashioned Blackberry Jam

Nothing better than this Old Fashioned Blackberry Jam when those sweet summer berries are in season.

We recently traveled to M&M Farms, located not too far from me in Turbeville, South Carolina. We had been referred to them by another farm friend, so I was anxious to go and see what they had to offer. Awaiting us when we arrived were gallons and gallons of just picked fresh blackberries ready for us to load into the car. Huge, sweet and juicy ... blackberries. They are gorgeous!

I knew right away I'd be making this blackberry jam! It's a favorite of my daughters, and one that's simply amazing spread on fresh toasted sourdough bread or English muffins.