All posts filed under: Vegetables

Sufferin’ Succotash !

If I were any more of a geek, that – in fact, would be my preferred cursing exclamation. It expels the appropriate amount of exasperation… it’s food related… and when you say Sufferin’ Succotash… people know you mean business… Over the years sitting on my grandmother’s porch, I became a pro at shelling limas, or butter beans (as my family refers to them). We’d sit for hours picking the tough little strings off both seams. Then with a quick squeeze and a flick of the thumb, the liberated disks would tumble into the waiting battered aluminum pot we were given to hold our bounty. A summer visit to my grandmother’s invariably ended with a large brown paper bag of bean pods and a quick shooing to the side porch. After a failed start with Fort Hook limas earlier this spring, we finally got up and running with a pack of Baby Lima Beans. Although smaller and much more tender than the Fava-esque Fort Hook, the Lima bushes are really starting to produce the bean pods. …

The Picnic

Even in the mountains, there’s no escaping the heat. Nights have barely broken 78 degrees and the daytime temps here at Turtle Creek are a consistent, sweltering, egg frying on the pavement – 98 degrees. It’s almost enough to make a person lose their religion. But this morning, we woke to an amazing thing, 68 degrees… in August! the air was down right cool and breezy. It felt like a day to to relax and… do…  absolutely… nothing. I just wanted to get out, drive and bask in the near spring weather. I decided to get myself and mom out of our convalescing rut, go on a picnic and enjoy the brief repast from the insufferable heat. Actually, I just roasted a fresh hen yesterday, and cooked up a passel of homeless vegetables that showed up on our doorstep. (Neighbors and friends have begun the Cob and Run Marathon – leaving their excess garden produce on your porch when you aren’t home)… So the picnic wasn’t a huge undertaking to get things ready. So I …

The Intruder in the Sprouts

I’s been inhumanly hot in the garden, the white flies are devastating everything with a leaf, and I scream like a little girl every time a Japanese Colossal Hornet gets within twenty feet of me (believe me, I have every right). So, needless to say, the garden is suffering. My tidy produce spot has become unkept. I leave the water hoses trailing about the walkways, whatever plants haven’t wilted from the insectile assault have a perma-dusting of Sevins and my lack of diligence has allowed the crab grass to start reclaiming the once pristine gravel paths. It’s a sight. So my plan this morning, shake ‘n bake heat or not, was to get things back to square inside the walled garden. Since I had dropped the hose where it lay during the last hornet attack…really, they’re frightening…. Doesn’t look that scary? “normal” Hornet (left)  Colossal Hornet (right) Just so you know….. Colossal Hornets grow to about 3″ in length, are perpetually in a “pissed off” mood and toxins in their sting can deteriorate flesh at …

Curb Market Crawl – Cornfield Beans

When we were kids, my brothers and I would trade off spending the weekends at my grandparent’s house. We would wake up early on Saturdays to fresh baked biscuits, fried ham, coffee and whiffs of my granddad’s pipe tobacco permeating through the house. Once they got us rousted out of bed, breakfast would be those crispy-bottoms biscuits slathered in Parkay Margarine with a healthy dose of my grandmother’s thoroughly horrible burnt sugar jam “doesn’t it taste just like fresh blackberries?” and a big glass of sugar laden coffee with Pet Milk (we weren’t allowed coffee at home). It, honestly, was the best part of the weekend sleep-over. Once the meal was done, it was out to the garden for a fun-filled full day of tilling, weeding, picking… in the garden. Looking back on it now, it’s pretty evident why we were over so often during the summer…. Slave labor. The big breakfast? It was just to make sure we didn’t pass out during the day… I’m convinced of it. As long as I can remember, …

Curb Market Crawl – White Cucumbers

White, Jack Frost or Armenian all refer to the same thing, White Cucumbers. Though not truly white, for a garden vegetable, it’s probably as white as you’ll see. They are a small-ish, fine seeded fruit with a milder, almost lemony flavor and none of the bitterness you tend to find in most of the heirloom pickling varieties. On my daily tromp back and forth to the hospital last week, I stopped in  a a curb market called the Ugly Tomato in Murrayville on my way to Gainesville. Like most cub markets this time of year, they were bursting at the seams with tomatoes and squash. But over in the corner I spied a small basked of yellow tipped white cucumbers. Now, they’re not the prettiest girl at the ball, but I figured they were worth at least a spin in the kitchen. I decided to rework a Hungarian style cucumber salad for the little cukes. I cut back on the pepper and paprika and added a little hot sauce to amp up the heat a …

Rat Tat Tooie!

Normally, if someone says “Vegetable Stew”, my color palls, I get the shakes..and immediately lose my appetite. It’s not that I have some odd aversion to vegetables, far from it, it’s just the particular dish that is resident deep in my psyche that causes me ill. And I have Mama Fodder to thank for that. Four hungry kids, a tight food budget and a serious deficit in the meat purchasing department that week, prompted mom to chop up a HEAP of non complimentary vegetables, toss them in a pot, add some stock, cook it up and call it dinner. She meant well… And we all know about a particular road to hell… This one was paved with inedible vegetable stew. Bless her heart, we never let her live it down. It became the benchmark by which all her meals were judged. “Is it good? well… at least it’s better than the vegetable stew…” But I digress…. Back to the stew… I probably should admit at this point that I AM the target audience for subliminal …

Fry It Up!

Give a Southerner some kind of food.. and he’ll find a way to fry it. I really don’t now what it is about frying, but  we all love to do it. I guess it’s a primal man kind of thing… like grilling. I can see them now…  Burly, hairy, unwashed humanoids, standing over a fire, or a pot of grease, cooking up some non-distinct animal part for the tribe to eat. But these days, I think it’s more that we just want to see if we can make everything crunchy….  I know, I can hear the healthy people groaning… it’s a curse. Generally speaking, I only have one frying batter that I use, and that’s mainly because: 1. I’m lazy.. 2. I really, really hate batter claw.. and  3. I have enough in my head that really needs remembering, and ratios for 15 types of fry batter isn’t even one of them. So the process is simple: Place the item to be deep fat boiled in a bag of self rising flour (with appropriate seasonings) …

Curb Market Crawl – Big Honkin’ Carrots

I’d love to say I found these at some out of the way produce stand – tucked into the hills like some bountiful Garden of Eden. I didn’t. I don’t think any grower in their right mind would intentionally grow horse-leg carrots. I got these at that meglo-maniacal warehouse food store we all love to hate. I’m still pouring over recipes for the wedding dinner, and I’ve yet to find that ONE incredible veggie dish. So when I came across the small orange trees, I thought roasted carrots might just be the thing. Here’s the thing with carrots. Typically, the smaller the tuber, the sweeter the carrot. And adversely, the larger the carrot, the stronger the flavor. So, working with large carrots, we’re combating very heady flavors and not a lot of succulentness.(I know, it’s not a word.) Pouring through my reference books, most of what I found amped up the sweetness with honey or brown sugar, and jiggered the flavor by augmenting it with spice. Since my clients like the East Indian flavorings, I …

Man On Fire

Since it’s grilling time… let’s get at it. I’ve contemplated doing a whole “big meat on the grill” thing, but when you get right down to it… it’s meat on fire – nothing terribly complicated or glamorous… and I’m OK with that. I love me some charcoal cooked meat. The thing that makes grilling special, is the things you choose to serve with your meat on a stick. Now, given a choice, I’m perfectly happy with a big ol’ steak (bloody rare), a nice wedge of crisp iceberg lettuce (with some fried onions and some super chunky blue cheese dressing), and a slab of overly buttery garlic bread…. but if you think I’m going to give you recipes for iceberg salad and garlic bread… you’ve got another thing coming. (I’ll leave the bread to that pioneer person). I spent most of the spring in Florida doing the preliminary work for the upcoming Wedding Event and being a personal chef for a client. In addition to being just hugely rewarding (I don’t often get the opportunity …

Simple Dinner Sunday – Chard Salad With Hot Bacon Dressing

It’s funny how trends change, and something that was a fixture on every restaurant menu just vanishes from sight. In the wink of an eye… it’s just gone. I used to love spinach salads with hot bacon dressing. Crisp, dense, tightly curled spinach leaves, chopped boiled eggs, and that sweet / tart vinegary dressing laced over the top – slightly wilting the greens, releasing that dark green musky aroma of true spinach. and if you get the dressing just hot enough, you can hear it crackling down the salad as that hot bacon-y goodness comes in contact with the moisture in the greens. It was the best salad I ever ate. Sadly, no one grows – or sells – real spinach anymore. Or – I should say, you can’t get it here. And, I think that really was the cause of the demise of the salad. The flat, sorrel-ish crap they pass off as spinach these days just doesn’t have the same oomph! that real, curly, dark spinach has. Truth be told – I made …