Blackberry jam. Heaven in a jar, right here.

We have been puttin’ up, up in here, yes, we have.

And we have done GOOD.

The two gallons of blackberries have metamorphosed into 12 pints of blackberry jam. Two pounds of asparagus, which I had kept on the verge of too long without doing something to it, have been pickled, as have two cartons of mushrooms. And I have cooked a veggie dinner.

Quality control. It passed.

The dinner, while good, did not hit the spot. The jam, some left over from the 12 pints I canned, spread on a piece of white toast, did.

My tummy is happy.

It’s the first time I’ve made blackberry jam, and the first time I’ve tried making jam with pectin that it came out right. My strawberry jam last year, I cooked too long, and it never jelled; I have read that I can open it, dump it all back in a pot, add pectin and sugar, and reboil-recan. Lot of trouble, but probably worth it.

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Sunday salad lunch

June 12, 2017

Clockwise from upper left, peaches and cottage cheese, broccoli cauliflower, cucumber, jail slaw.

I came home from church yesterday absolutely ravenous, with no plans as to what to eat, or cook, for either lunch or dinner. Contemplated stopping by somewhere to pick up something, and decided that was ridiculous, given I had two refrigerators, a pantry and a countertop overflowing with food either already prepared or waiting to be prepared.

So I came home and fixed myself a salad luncheon, which had the added plus of emptying the refrigerator of some odds and ends of different dishes.

Clockwise from top left, we have peaches over cottage cheese (finished off the peaches); broccoli and cauliflower salad I’d been jonesing for for a week, and finally made Sunday morning before church; the last of the other day’s cucumber salad, and a serving of jail slaw to round things out. It made a fine lunch.

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Berries, and good help to pick them.

Welp, I’m going to have to set aside some time to spend in the kitchen; the season of “puttin’ up,” 2017 version, is fixing to begin to commence.

In my auxiliary refrigerator I have a dozen small heads of cabbage, which are destined for kraut. It’s a moderately labor intensive process, but the food processor takes care of the bulk of it, and salt and time the rest, so that can be dispatched relatively quickly. That, I suspect, is Monday morning. Then it can burble happily away in its “crock,” which is actually a five-gallon food-grade plastic bucket, for six weeks, until it’s ready to take out and can. And we will have kraut for another season.

More importantly, there are two gallons of blackberries in said second fridge, that I went and picked in less than 30 minutes yesterday morning. Yes, there is blackberry jam in my future! (Note to self: Go get sugar.)

I’ve been saying for ages I was going to go pick blackberries up at Scatter Creek Farms, north of me some 30-45 minutes. Last year, a summer hailstorm came through midweek before I was planning on going up that weekend, and did for the berries. This year, I figured I’d get going early. Had AGC 2 all weekend, and I decided he would probably be entertained by going to pick blackberries, and if nothing else, could romp about for a bit and wear himself out.

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Simple summer dinners

June 10, 2017

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Brats, sweet potatoes, a pair of salads. Minimal work, maximum taste.

Though it’s not sufferin’ hot yet, the proliferation of fresh veggies and other good stuff to eat lends itself to a routine of simple summer dinners these days, when I can be troubled to cook at all.

(As I could not earlier this week, having spent the day in a meeting in Little Rock and gotten home around 6:45 p.m. We DID have a glass of wine and some excellent cheese and charcuterie before we left town, as well as a good caprese salad over spinach with shredded chicken for lunch, so I was in no danger of starvation, if you were wondering.)

The next day, I was woefully lazy, having bestirred myself only enough to knock the top layer of grime off the kitchen and run, but not yet put away, a load of dishes. And I decided to cook dinner.

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Choucroute garnie. With kielbasa, smoked pork butt, and ham.

There are a huge number of reasons why I love living in the South, and wouldn’t really consider living anywhere else. And one of those reasons is that when folks have an illness or a death in the family, Southern cooks take to the kitchen.

My pastor is just out of the hospital after nine days’ worth of surgery, recovery and IV antibiotics resulting from a very angry brown recluse spider that munched on his arm a couple of weeks ago. Generalized systemic staph infection resulted. This is, you understand, not a Good Thing.

He’s home and doing well, but he’s quite tired, and his wife has gone back to work, leaving him in the care of his teenaged children. So I told her at church Sunday that I’d bring dinner over one night this week.

Now, I know Charlie, who has some German heritage, likes German food. I do too, and I don’t get a lot of opportunity to cook it. So I decided to cook him some choucroute garnie.

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Summertime pies

June 4, 2017

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Tomato and street corn pie. One of the greatest justifications for summer.

Yes, I am aware that according to the calendar, it is not yet summer. However, I am getting good tomatoes at the Farmers’ Market (and will get good ones out of my garden soon, as my plants are laden with green ones).

And the market had blackberries yesterday. And the grocery had decent looking sweet corn for Memorial Day last weekend.

That, of course, means only one thing. Well, only two things. Pie.

Pie times 2.25, to be precise, because I overprepared the filling for one of ’em. Not to be defeated, I cooked a little crustless version of it, along with its big brother and its sweet cousin.

And I am having, as soon as they cool down enough to eat, tomato and street corn pie, with blackberry cobbler and ice cream for dessert.

Don’t you ‘n y’mama ‘n ’em wish you were eating with me? Well, it’s going to take these sweethearts about 20 minutes to cool. The house looks like hell, but y’all come on!

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Cooking odds and ends

June 2, 2017

mango chutney

Mango chutney. Which I’m going to try out, one of these days.

It was something of a food-centric day. Albeit I don’t have any pictures of any of it yet, so here’s a picture of something I made a while back and never posted about because I haven’t had occasion to use it yet.

That is mango chutney. From the box of mangoes I bought at Sam’s t’other day, when I was craving mangoes. Mangoes don’t last long, and I didn’t want to lose them, so — chutney. When I made it, I was planning on cooking Indian one night soon, and I haven’t done that yet, so I’m saving the chutney until I do. We will report on that, then.

Today, though, I did bestir myself to make granola, as I have been out for weeks; to make pimiento cheese, because I felt like it, and watermelon tomato gazpacho, because I had watermelon and tomatoes that needed using and that just sounded good. And I went shopping, and went by a couple of meat markets I don’t normally frequent, and bought some breakfast sausage and some interesting smoked meats.

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