Mexican Street Corn

This recipe is an alteration of my favorite fried corn side dish I grew to love back home.  Growing it up was fried sweet corn with a bit of butter salt and pepper.  Now that I’m all grown up and my loving husband has introduced me to a world of new flavors from his time of Arizona, my comfort food side dish has taken on a whole new level of awesomeness.

I recently made this for a family gathering and had many requests to share the recipe.  Here it is.

Ingredients:

  • 1/4 cup pork lard
  • 4 cups of sweet corn
  • 1/2 onion diced
  • 2 cloves of garlic diced
  • 8 ounces roasted New Mexico Hatch Chilies (pealed and diced)
  • 1 tbsp Corn meal or corn flour
  • 1 tsp Jalapeno powder
  • 1 tbsp Chili powder
  • White soft quesadilla cheese
  • Fresh Cilantro (optional)
  • A pinch of salt

Directions:

  1. Heat a cast iron skillet and melt your lard (Do not use Crisco or butter, it won’t taste the same).
  2. Saute the onion and garlic until limp.
  3. Add in your corn and fry on a medium heat.  You want your corn to have a chard look to it.
  4. Add in your hatch chilies and continue “frying” in the skillet.
  5. Combine your jalapeno powder and chili powder together then add to your skillet, spreading it evenly over the corn while frying.  Stir in.
  6. Sprinkle in your corn flower over top of the corn and fold it in evenly.
  7. When the corn has a “roasted” look to it (it will toughen up as well), take it off the heat and transfer it into a large pan or serving dish.
  8. Sprinkle with some chili powder, grated white Mexican cheese and the fresh cilantro.
  9. Can be served cold or hot.

Feel free to add in jalapeno slices, extra peppers, some jalapeno tomato dices or even some black beans.  Yum.

Enjoy and be the hit of any late summer picnic!

Until next time,

Mrs. Kay L. Rice

 

Tomato Powder

One of the most basic garden vegetables are tomatoes, cherry or normal size.  Its how many people get hooked on growing their own food.  One reason is because they are so prolific and easy to grow.  Note, Prolific!  Cherry, grape, salad tomatoes especially will create a ton of tomatoes during a season.  While in February as you long for the taste of a fresh, real, non-store bought tomato, by September you never want to eat one again.  Yet, they still continue to cover your plants!  What to do with all of them.

Unless you pickle the cherry tomatoes, you will have to find many friends to pawn them off on, they are too much trouble to can, in my opinion.  If you have larger tomatoes and don’t can, you will be in this same boat.  I don’t like to freeze tomatoes, they take up too much room and it is a messy processes.  What I like to do is dehydrate them and turn them into powder.  Yes, you read that right.

Powdered tomatoes are perfect for a vegetable thickener in sauce and pasta dishes as well as a base vegetable bullion for soups and stews.  The best thing is that 5 pounds of tomatoes can fit into a half-pint jar!  Space!  I really like this for my cherry tomatoes because the prep goes so fast, they add up fast and nothing is left to waste.

Here are the directions.

Tomato Powder

  1. Wash your tomatoes.
  2. Cut out any blemishes and stem area.
  3. Slice thin and place on your dehydrator rack (or on a cookie sheet with parchment paper if you are going to use your oven).
  4. Make sure they are not overlapping.  Tomatoes contain a lot of water.
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  6. I place my dehydrator on medium heat and this takes about 7 hours.  If you are using your oven, use the lowest heat and crack the door open to dry your slices.
  7. Dry until they are completely crispy with NO MOISTURE.
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  9. You can leave in this state if you want to vacuum seal at this stage and use like sun dried tomatoes as well.  I have one friend that will use vinegar and oil and put the in the refrigerator to use in salads.  I prefer not to utilize refrigerator space in that way.  This state also makes a wonderful sun dried tomato salad dressing.
  10. Place your ‘chips’ in a grinder and grind until a powder.
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  12. You can also add dehydrated garlic, onion, peppers, pretty much anything you want at this stage and grind all together to make sure its well mixed.  This would make a lovely stock base.
  13. Next transfer into an airtight container that is resistant to air and to moisture.  I prefer to vac-seal my jars with the exception of one that I will use often and that one will be put in my spice cabinet.
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This powder has so many uses.  My favorite way is to add a little tomato flavor and a thickener to dishes without all the water  content.  It works great as an alternative to a small amount of tomato paste as well.

Let me know how this turned out for you!

Enjoy!

Until Next Time,

Mrs. Kay L. Rice

 

Okra

It has been a hot, rainy, humid summer here in Ohio.  The garden has loved it, but the one plant that has truly loved this year’s weather is our OKRA!  I grew up loving this vegetable which is widely used in the southern states, my family is very southern.  Waves at my Great Aunt Meg, who REALLY taught me to enjoy southern cooking back in Mentor, Tennessee!

I planted two varieties this year, one the shorter ruby and the other is the heirloom green, which by the way, grows taller than me.  Its a good thing my husband and I both LOVE, and that is an understatement, okra.  Because this year, I have harvested baskets of it and every day it seems that I have a new big basket to harvest every afternoon.  Yes, I am still harvesting well into September!  Okay so I may have planted 100 plants, but well, we love okra.

Now, what do you do with this odd, spiny, plant that when cooked creates what I call “Okra Boogers” or “Okra Snot” depending on who you want to shock and gross out at the time.  My husband refers to the okra peas as “rat eyes” especially in soups and stews.  Can you tell that we just love to have fun!  Oh, here is a warning.  Some people are very allergic to the fuzz that grows on okra, it causes almost a poison ivy affect to their skin.  I’ve never had this problem, but I do know some who do.

Okra is highly nutritious and it is filling as well as easy to grow in warm temperatures, which explains why you find it a lot in the southern states.  It’s very high in fiber as well as containing potassium, vitamin B, vitamin C, folic acid, and calcium. It’s low in calories and has a high dietary fiber content. Recently, a new benefit of including okra in your diet is being considered. Okra has been suggested to help manage blood sugar in cases of type 1, type 2, and gestational diabetes.  So in short, what’s not to like.

My husband’s absolute favorite for okra, is pickled okra.

Pickled Okra

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 lb of okra
  • 1/4 clove of garlic for each jar (6)
  • 1 dill flower head for each jar (6)
  • jalapeno pepper diced fine or red pepper flakes
  • 3 cups of apple cider vinager
  • 3 cups of water
  • 1/4 cup pickling salt
  • 1 tablespoon of mustard seed
  • 6 half pint canning glass jars with lids and rings

Directions

  1. Clean your okra removing the tips and caps only (I keep some of the cap on).  Leave whole.
  2. Add 1/4 clove garlic in each jar.
  3. Add 1 dill flower in each jar.
  4. Pack your okra tightly in each jar leaving 1/2 inches head space.
  5. In a large pot on your stove.  Combine your Vinegar, water, salt, peppers, mustard seeds.
  6. Stir and bring to a full boil.  Do not stop stirring, your salt will burn.
  7. Ladle liquid into jars, leaving 1/2 inch head-space.
  8. Water bath process for 15 minutes half pints 20 minutes for pints.

 

Another way we like them is pan fried as a side dish.

Pan Fried Okra

  1.  Melt about a tablespoon of lard in a frying pan.
  2. In a bowl I whip up 1 egg and set to the side.
  3. I prepare the okra by taking off the tips and caps and slicing into thick rounds.
  4. I put all the okra into the egg batter and stir in some red pepper flakes, or some diced jalapeno.
  5. Next I add enough cornmeal to the egg and okra and stir it in the bowl to cover it all, you don’t want it corn patty thick, but just enough to give a nice coating.
  6. Once the lard is melted, add your mixture into the pan and “separate” the pieces and move around often in the hot lard to cook.
  7. You will want to watch it because it will cook fast and is easily burned.
  8. Serve hot or cold.

All this is fine and well until you realize you are becoming over run with okra, so how do you store it to enjoy later and in the winter when it is no longer in season?  In addition to the pickling, we also store two other ways.  Freezing and dehydrating.

Dehydrating your Okra

I like to dehydrate our okra because it takes up very little space, it gets rid of the “Okra Boogers” and it works fantastic for gumbos, soups and stews.

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  1. Wash your okra and remove the caps and tips.
  2. I flash steam my okra whole.
  3. Slice into rounds or wedges.  I like the wedges because they don’t shrink to itty-bitty pieces.
  4. Place in your dehydrator on low heat/vegetable heat and run until they are crispy and no sign of moisture.  You can also do this in the oven on the lowest temperature, door cracked upon, placing the okra on a cookie sheet with parchment paper.
  5. Vac-Seal or store in an air-tight/moisture resistance container.

The final way is to freeze the okra.  I try not to do this because I don’t like to fill up the freezer with vegetables that can be stored other ways, but I will freeze some.  You can use this as fried okra, or in soups, stews and gumbos when you need it in the off season.

Freeze Store Okra

Warning you will be dealing with lots of “Okra Boogers” in this process.

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  1. Clean your okra, remove the tips and caps.
  2. Bring a pot of water to a full boil and turn off the water.
  3. Dunk your okra (whole) in the hot water for about 3 minutes.  This is a quick blanch.
  4. Dump the hot water out from around the hot okra and now fill the pot with ice cubes.  This prevents the okra from continuing to cook from the blanching process.
  5. Now take out each okra spear and cut into rounds.
  6. For large and woody spears of okra, discard the green pod and keep the okra peas (the white seeds), these are great in soups.  These are what my loving husband refers to as “Rat Eyes”.
  7. Once your spears are cut into rounds, put them in your vacuum seal bags and seal.  Make sure all air is out of the bag, then freeze.  I usually store in 2 cup quantities which is about a serving.

I hope you have enjoyed this post about all things Okra!  Feel free to share your recipes and questions.

Until Next Time,

Mrs. Kay L. Rice

 

 

 

Sweet Summer Squash Pickles

The one thing about yellow crook neck (summer squash) is it’s either feast or famine! I intentionally planted 8 plants in our garden this year. We love this beautiful golden squash all sizes and prepares many ways. My favorite, and our grandson’s favorite, is sweet summer squash pickles. This is a recipe that uses water bath canning for storage.

Sweet Summer Squash Pickles

Ingredients:

  • 8 cups of summer squash sliced thin, not paper thin. Smaller sizes are best, larger circles can be quartered or halved.
  • 2 cups sweet onion, sliced thin,rings or half rings.
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 4 green peppers, small. Diced into small cubes, no seeds please.
  • 3 cups sugar
  • 2 cups canning grade Apple cider vinegar
  • 2 tsp mustard seed
  • 2 tsp celery seed.

Directions:

  1. Place sliced squash and sliced onion in a large bowl.
  2. Mix well with salt (to pull out moisture)
  3. Set squash aside for 30 min to an hour.
  4. Prepare in a large boil pot add your remaining ingredients: vinegar, sugar, peppers, celery seed, mustard seed.
  5. Bring to a rolling boil while stiring. Remove from heat.
  6. Transfer your squash mix into a large draining bowel to drain off pulled out moisture. Do not rinse.
  7. Add squash onion mix into the hot brine mix and stir in for about 5 min.
  8. Transfer into sterilized prepared jars for canning.
  9. Water bath can for 10 min at high boil. (Follow water bath instructions).
  10. Remove and cool.

After the joyous pops of sealed jars I do my best to not open for at least 2 weeks. I TRY anyway.

Enjoy!

Until next time,

Mrs. Kay Lynn Rice