Monday, December 18, 2017

Farmers Market Veggie Stir Fry


Perfect side dish or light main meal, this fried rice is quick and easy to make. It uses farmers market fresh veggies, to include broccoli, and even uses the cut stalk pieces of the broccoli. If your broccoli is fresh and tender, the stalk is equally tender and delicious, so don't throw it away, try it here.

4 slices bacon, cut into small pieces
1 stalk celery, diced small
1 large carrot, diced small
1 small onion, diced
1 cup green beans, cut into small pieces
1 medium head broccoli, cut into florets, reserving stalk
2 tbls soy sauce, or more to taste
2 cups cooked rice

Using a large fry pan, cook bacon pieces until crisp. Remove with a slotted spoon and drain on paper towels. Discard bacon grease reserving 1 tsp. in pan.

Add celery, carrots, green beans and onion, cooking until onions are translucent and vegetables are softening. While this is cooking, cut the broccoli florets from the stalk and cut the stalk into small pieces, discarding the very bottom of the stalk. Add stalk pieces and cook a few minutes. Add broccoli florets last, cooking just a minute or two, or until al dente or crisp tender (not soft and mushy). Stir in soy sauce to taste.

Add cooked rice and bacon pieces and toss until well combined. Serve hot with more soy sauce if desired.


© 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.

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Sunday, December 17, 2017

Smoky Bacon Jam


I have wanted to make this Smoky Bacon Jam for a long time. I would see pictures from time to time, and think "I need to make that."

The one thing that really held me back is it's not shelf-stable. Smoky Bacon Jam must be stored in the refrigerator, so, with that in mind, I wanted to make it at a time I thought we would use it up.

Over the holidays, with my adult kids and grandsons all gathering around, I thought this would be the perfect time to experiment with Smoky Bacon Jam ... oh my goodness, where has this been all my life?  It's smoky, sticky, sweet, and baconilcious!

It is the PERFECT jam to serve topped on baked brie, spread on burgers, grilled cheese, crostini, or served with a roasted or grilled pork loin. Heck it's even good slathered on a toasted English muffin.

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Tuesday, December 12, 2017

Butternut Squash Soup


Delicious and creamy, Butternut Squash Soup is amazing. Baked butternut squash, diced onions, celery, carrots and a few other things come together to make this awesome soup.

Farmers markets are great places to find seasonal ingredients, such as butternut squash, so stop by your favorite market and pick one up. Butternut Squash Soup makes a great cup of soup with a grilled cheese sandwich, or serve it for dinner with a side salad.

I made some Italian Bread Bowls to serve ours in; they are fun to eat out of and bonus, you can eat the bowl!

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Sunday, December 10, 2017

Cheeseburger Minced Meat Sandwiches


This has all the components of a cheeseburger, only in a minced meat sandwich. Ground beef, diced onions, diced dill pickle, pickle juice, ketchup, mustard, Worcestershire sauce, salt and pepper all come together to make this delicious, easy sandwich.

Hearty enough for dinner, these cheeseburger minced meat sandwiches are quick and easy to make, kid-friendly and delicious. They are also very budget-friendly using just a few everyday ingredients. Serve them on a toasted bun, or they even taste great on white sandwich bread!

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Friday, December 1, 2017

Bottom of the Jam Jar Vinaigrette


Take your favorite jam, any flavor, and turn it into a vinaigrette. Say what? Oh my gosh, I love this. Since I make so many different jams over the year, this was a fantastic discovery. Who knew?

So easy to do, and very versatile. When you get down to the bottom of the jam jar, make this simple vinaigrette, or don't wait. Just scoop out a heaping tablespoon of your favorite jam anytime.

This also makes a great "sauce" to brighten up grilled chicken, pork, or shrimp. Simply drizzle some on while grilling, and serve more on the side for dipping.

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Thursday, November 16, 2017

Cranberry Orange Jam {Thanksgiving Jam}


Plump sweet, tart and tangy cranberries make their appearance every fall, and are oh so good for you. Full of antioxidants and other good for you stuff, it just makes sense to turn them into a  jam you can enjoy long past the holidays.

Since cranberries have a lot of natural pectin, there is no pectin required for this recipe ... see? Easy!

This jam is not overly sweet. It is delicious served: 

  • on scones or English muffins
  • over cream cheese on crackers as part of a charcuterie board
  • basted on grilled or roasted poultry
  • as an accompaniment to turkey, ham or pork

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Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Discovering Gorget Distilling Company - Revolutionize Your Spirit


I always find it amazing what you can find right outside your back door, if you take the time to look. For a  few years now we've been traveling to local farms, markets and real food establishments to learn about their processes, discovering the best of South Carolina small family farms, farmers markets and "real food stores" who source their products from local farms and markets.

We've traveled all over the state, from one farm or farmers market to another, and recently decided to branch out exploring wineries who are making amazing wines from their scuppernog or muscadine grapes, visiting both The Winery at Mercer House and Enoree River Winery.

And then I read about Gorget Distilling Company and couldn't wait to go visit. As they say on their website:

"Gorget Distilling’s name has a unique tie to both South Carolina and the birth of our country as a nation. The word gorget means a piece of armor worn around the throat in battle. At the beginning of the Revolutionary War, William Moultrie was commissioned to design a flag to signal South Carolina troops. He took the blue from the soldier’s uniform and the crescent shape from the cap, designing the Moultrie or Liberty Flag. Gorget Distilling Co. was founded in 2015 by three local gentlemen who wanted to create not only a buzz about the gorget, but a following for their fine, handmade, local spirits. Isn’t it about time you #Revolutionizeyourspirit??

The grains they use come from local farms in the surrounding area, and their corn is crushed at Boykin Mill, a 100 + year old water powered stone mill, which is a local historic mill; how cool is that?

"At Boykin Mill, corn is ground today as it has been for 200 years. Water rushing through the spillway behind the dam of the mill pond is channeled through 100-year-old turbines to power the mill. The corn is crushed between two ancient millstones which are hand dressed with with notched surfaces, and which weigh a ton each. These rotate slowly, maintaining a cool temperature to retain the essential oils and preserve the delicious flavor of the corn."

So on a nice Saturday in early November, a small group of us met at Gorget Distilling Company for a tour and tasting. 

We arrived at 1 p.m. and were met by our host for the day, Hugh Thomas, one of the owners and the Distiller. After introductions all around, we began our tour, which was fascinating. 

Did you know?  To be vodka it has to come out of the distillery at 190 proof or higher. The distillery's rum tanks hold 136 gallons, and bourbon takes a year in the barrels and is aged in a new barrel each time. 

When making whiskey or rum, which also takes a year, the barrel can be used about 2-3 times, then they sell the barrels to breweries to use. So cool.

Then we tasted! For the nominal fee of  $5 per person we tasted a dozen of their liquors, from the award-winning silver rum to vodka, flavored rums, and moonshine. While I enjoyed all of them, my personal favorites are the silver rum and vodka.

Gorget Distilling Company sells all their liquors on site, as well as has them available at retailers in the area. They also have a nice selection of T-shirts, ball caps, beautiful glasses, and other items for customers to purchase. 

When you see the "certified South Carolina product" label on their bottle, you know you are getting a local, handcrafted product, produced right here in South Carolina, and that's fantastic. Anytime you can shop local and support local is a win-win, for yourself, your community, and the local business you are supporting.

Until our next adventure ...


© 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.

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Monday, November 13, 2017

Rib-Eye Tomahawk Steak


You owe it to yourself to try this "show stopper" Rib-Eye Tomahawk Steak just once. Perfect for special occasions, dinners for two, or any other time you want a caveman-sized cut of beef.

This fabulous steak came from our friends at Boss Farms, LLC - a Certified South Carolina Grass-Fed Angus Beef farm. You just can't beat it for texture or flavor.  Take a look at what they say on their website:

Boss Farms Beef is an excellent healthy protein choice for Grass Finished Beef. Our cattle are the Aberdeen heritage Certified Black Angus. They are smaller in their frame, therefore, the portion size is more appropriate for most.  They peacefully graze on high quality, high protein grasses.  We process the grass-finished steers at a USDA Inspected Processor where they are dry aged and vacuum packaged into individual cuts and flash frozen to lock in the flavor ready for your freezer. When you eat Boss Farms beef you are benefiting from:
Low in saturated fat and cholesterol
Rich in Omega-3 Essential Fatty Acids
Rich in Conjugated Linoleic Acid
High in Vitamin B complex
(niacin, riboflavin, and B12)
High in Vitamins A and E
Rich in Zinc, Iron, and Digestible Protein
High in all Nine Essential Amino Acids
Free of Preservatives
Free of Antibiotics and Hormones

Buying grass-fed beef from a local farm or market is many times more expensive, but so worth that expense for superior taste. Don't "settle" for an inferior product. Support your local farms; you'll be happy you did.

The benefits? You know how the beef was raised, you can shake the hand of the farmer who raised the beef, and many times you can tour their farm to see their operation first-hand. You can't get more transparent than that, and the taste is far superior. This is PRIME beef, the best of the best, and all of us deserve it.

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Friday, October 27, 2017

Apples 'n Spiced Rum Sauce


Almost nothing is better than apples in a delicious spiced rum sauce. It just pairs so well with a variety of sweet treats from ice-cream to pound cake;  heat a little up and spoon it on top, AH MAZ ING!

For savory dishes, this would be great with a roasted pork, lamb or baked ham. Mmmmmm yumm.

I chose to make this as a "small batch" but the best part is the recipe is easily doubled. Simply cook the apples and sauce down until the sauce is slightly thickened, add to jars and process.

2-3 large honeycrisp apples (or any firm, crunchy apple), peeled, cored and chopped, approx. 3 cups 
1 cup brown sugar
1 cup granulated sugar
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1 cup spiced rum (I used Captain Morgan)

Place prepared apples in a large saucepan with the sugars, cinnamon and spiced rum. Bring to a boil, stirring often.

Reduce heat slightly, but keep mixture at a low boil for approx. 20-30 minutes, stirring often. Sauce will reduce some and thicken slightly.

Ladle apples and sauce mixture into 8 oz canning jars, evenly distributing the apples and sauce between the jars leaving a 1/4" head-space. Top jars with lids and bands and process in a boiling water bath or steam canner 10 minutes.

Remove jars and let cool undisturbed on you kitchen counter top 24 hours. Jars are sealed when button on lid is completely depressed and won't flex up or down. 

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

Yield: 3-4 eight ounce jars, recipe is easily doubled.


© 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.

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Thursday, October 26, 2017

Pickled Apples


Pickled Apples ... what in the world? Pickled apples are so good in a variety of ways; make a batch for your next cheese tray or load up onto salads or sandwiches/burgers with sharp Gorgonzola or any other sharp cheese, such as a good cheddar.

Pickled apples also add a nice acidic component and make a great accompaniment to grilled or roasted pork.

While I could have used any number of spices in the brine, I chose to use cardamom this time for it's unique qualities.

But why use Cardamom? In the culinary arts, cardamom is a spice made from the seed pods of various plants in the ginger family. Cardamom has a strong, pungent flavor and aroma, with hints of lemon, mint, and smoke.

Cardamom pods contain a number of seeds, but the entire cardamom pod can be used whole or ground. There are two main types of cardamom: black cardamom and green cardamom.

Cardamom is used mainly in Indian cooking as well as Middle Eastern cuisine.

In Indian recipes, whole cardamom pods are used in preparing basmati rice and various curries. In Middle Eastern recipes, ground cardamom is used in preparing certain desserts.

Interestingly enough, one of the countries that consumes the most cardamom is Sweden, where cardamom is employed to season everything from baked goods to hamburgers and meat loaves.

Like the Swedes (and other Scandinavians, such as the Finns and Norweigians), you can use cardamom in your apple pie recipes. Consider the fact that cardamom is frequently combined with spices such as cinnamon and cloves (again, think curries and basmati rice).

Thus, it represents merely a short culinary leap to say that cardamom can be used in any of your usual autumn and winter recipes—whether it's spice cakes, puddings, casseroles and pear or apple tarts. (Source: The Spruce)

2 honeycrisp apples, cored and sliced into 1/4" thick slices (or any hard, crunchy apple)
1 cup vinegar
1 cup sugar
1 tsp cardamom
1 tsp canning salt
To each jar add:
6 whole allspice berries
6 whole cloves
1 small red chile pepper (optional - may omit)

In a small saucepan, add the vinegar, sugar, cardamom and salt. Bring to a boil, dissolving sugar, and remove from heat. Let sit while you are preparing apples.

Remove core from apples and slice into 1/4" thick slices, cutting each slice in half. Add 6 whole allspice berries and 6 whole cloves to each 8 oz canning jar, and top with apple slices. Top each jar with one small red chile pepper and pour brine over all leaving 1/4" head-space.

Process prepared jars in steam canner or boiling water bath 10 minutes. Remove jars and allow to sit on a kitchen towel on your counter-top 24 hours undisturbed. Jars are sealed when button in middle of lid is fully depressed and can't be moved up or down.

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

Cook's note - Recipe is easily doubled. Allow to sit 3-4 weeks for flavors to develop.


© 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.

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Monday, October 9, 2017

Holiday Stuffing Balls


Recently I was asking a group of women chefs I am friends with for their best sausage ball recipe. You know, the kind with sausage, baking mix and cheese; that infamous holiday party appetizer it seems everyone makes. Welllllllll ... none of them had one ... GASP ... a few had never even heard of them, say what?

Finally one of them mentioned a "stuffing" ball recipe they made and really liked, so being intrigued now, I asked about it since I'm all about stuffing. Who doesn't like stuffing and, oh my goodness, these little round balls of stuffing are my new fav!

I like to make my own New England Bread and Sausage Stuffing, so I chose to use torn white bread instead of store-bought stuffing mix, but you can certainly use either one. Then there is the addition of the chopped dried cranberries and the shredded cheddar cheese that just puts these little stuffing treats over the top, believe me ... soooooooo good.

They are the PERFECT party appetizer. I've made a couple batches now as a trial run just to see how we'd like them, and my husband is addicted to them, he loves them.

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Tuesday, October 3, 2017

Pickled Cranberries


Pickled Cranberries, say what? Yes, you heard me right ... pickled cranberries! Oh my goodness, just trust me, these are the next thing you'll want for your holiday table! 

Serve with Brie or other soft cheese on your cheeseboard, with a variety of crackers, nuts and berries. Sweet, tart and tangy, they have a robust flavor that can't be beat. These bad boys would also be awesome with a roast turkey or holiday ham.

Truthfully, I want to know where they've been all my life!

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Friday, September 22, 2017

University of South Carolina Sumter Farmers Market


With great anticipation, I was looking forward to this new farmers market starting in my community. Filling a void, very much needed, and with lots of work behind the scenes, the new market opened Friday, September 22 with just a handful of vendors, but a long list of vendors who will be attending in the coming weeks.

Conveniently located between two large parking lots with lots of shade trees on the University of South Carolina Sumter campus, and just off one of the main roads, I pulled right in and parked.

I was meeting a couple of friends there a bit later, so I proceeded to talk to the farmers and purveyors I knew. As I walked around I saw Russell and Lesa of Sunny Cedars Farm, Marie Dorr of Dorr Farms who is also the market manager, Mr. Billie Harrison, aka "the bird man" and Sandra from  With These Hands Natural Gourmet Foods LLC, who proudly showed off her new food truck. It was such fun seeing all these familiar faces, and before I knew it, people started coming over.

 Some arrived by cars, others walked over from the University, each one curious as to what the farmers market had to offer. Many were learning about Sunny Cedars Farm and their pasture raised pork products for the first time. Listening to Russell and Lesa describe their pork products was an education in itself; their sausage is leaner because pigs raised on pasture have the freedom to move around and graze, or go in the woods and root around for whatever delicacies they find.

Russell Singleton, Sunny Cedars Farm

The next thing I knew people were looking in coolers, discovering all kinds of goodies they immediately snatched up and took to check out.

Sandra, With These Hands Natural Gourmet Foods, LLC
I then wandered over to Sandra to see the new With These Hands Natural Gourmet Foods LLC food truck, and talk about all the exciting things she has has to offer. As she explained "Our farm-to-table model is committed to utilizing the highest quality ingredients while strictly rejecting MSG, artificial colors/sweeteners, preservatives, GMOs and processed/chemically-laced products. Just REAL FOOD!" Everything looked so good to me.

Back over with Marie at the Dorr Farms booth I discovered her strawberry syrup. Marie asked me if I ever made stuffed French toast, to which I replied yes. Then she said "try stuffing it with sliced strawberries, then topping it with the strawberry syrup, it's a match made in heaven" so guess who promptly bought some? You guessed it, me, and a lovely bottle of that strawberry syrup made it home with me. 
Marie Dorr, Dorr Farms

While the Farmers Market is just starting up, there were quite a few people stopping by to check it out. As a long time supporter of small local family farms and purveyors, I was happy to see people milling about, and I look forward to many more Friday markets until they close for the season on December 22. Plans are already in the making to offer this market next season from April thru December, and I, for one, will be shopping there.

Shop local, support local farms and markets, you'll be glad you did. It's the best thing I ever did for myself and my family. I've met so many great people, and small local family farmers are some of the BEST people you'll ever meet.


© 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.

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