Pear Relish

Do you have lots of pears?  Do you love some relish on your veggies or burgers? If so I’ve got an old family canning recipe for you.  You’ll be able to enjoy it throughout the winter or gift some to those you know that would enjoy it.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Ingredients

12 pounds pears, peeled, cored and quartered

2 green bell peppers, seeded and quartered

2 red bell peppers, seeded and quartered

2 pounds onions, peeled and quartered

5 cups apple cider vinegar

2 cups sugar

2 1/2 tablespoons salt

2 tablespoons whole mixed pickling spices

2 tablespoons turmeric

How to Make It

Grind pears, onions & peppers.

Drain off all liquid.  (I usually save my pear juice for drinking.

Combine all other ingredients.

Boil 10 minutes.

Add fruit & veggies and bring to a boil for 15 minutes.

Pour into sterilized jars and water bath can for 15 minutes.

Yields 12 half pints

 

 

 

 

Noodle Bean Stir Fry

Long Beans or more commonly known as Noodle Beans can be cooked just like other green beans or you can use them in a stir-fry since they are much thinner and will cook quicker.  These beans can be a fun treat for kids.  Leave them long and let them enjoy holding them and eating them like noodles.  It’s a good way to get picky eaters to enjoy their veggies.

This stir-fry recipe is a quick and easy way to prepare these beans. You can adjust the heat in the recipe by the type of peppers you use.  Wimpies just use bell or other sweet peppers.  More adventurous spicy lovers may want to use the Padron peppers or those of you that love the spice and heat may want to use Serranos or maybe even hotter.  We are in the wimpie with just a little of the padrons for some heat.  You choose!

Ingredients:

1/2 pound noodle beans, cut into about 3 ” pieces or leave them long

1 T sesame oil

4-6 chilis, roughly chopped

1 t whole peppercorns, lightly crushed

1/4 t sea salt

3 t sesame oil

Tamari sauce to taste, a little goes a long way  (can use soy sauce)

1/2 t sugar (optional)

How to Prepare:

Add 1 tablespoon sesame oil to your medium hot saute pan.

Add chilis & lightly crushed black peppercorns.

Stir fry till fragrant.

Add the beans and stir-fry for 5-6 minutes.

Season with sea salt and sugar.

Toss and stir-fry for a few more minutes.

Remove from heat and stir in the 3 teaspoons of sesame oil and sprinkle with tamari sauce.

Enjoy!

These beans will still be crunchy but if you don’t like them as crunchy put the lid on the skillet and let simmer for a little longer to soften them.

 

 

 

 

Making Hypertufa Pots

Tufa is a variety of limestone that is found around the world.  It is porous and soft enough to carve, used in building and to make various other things such as livestock water troughs.  It eventually was used by gardeners to plant in.  Because of its porous properties,  it was used for herb and succulent plantings.  Eventually to mimic the natural tufa stone a concrete mixture called hypertufa was used to make planters.  We have made many different types of containers, troughs, bowls and almost any shape you can come up with a mold for.  We have found that herbs and succulents do quite well because of the porous nature but don’t’ limit yourself to these.  Other flowers thrive in them too.

Following are the ingredients and steps that we have always used to make our containers.

Ingredients:

1 part portland cement  (pure portland cement, nothing that says mix on the bag)

1 part peat moss

1 part perlite or  you can substitute vermiculite for a smoother finish

Approximately 1 part water (This will vary.  Will talk more about water in the instructions)

Optional:  Liquid Concrete bonding agent added to the water.  (Approximately 1 ounce per gallon)

Oil Spray to spray your form

Plastic trash bag large enough to accomodate your container

Toothpick

Household vinegar

 

Equipment Needed:

Dust mask (All of these materials are very dusty and can cause irritation to your lungs)

Heavy Rubber Gloves that extend above the wrist (Cement can cause skin irritation)

Container for mixing the ingredients

Form to shape your hypertufa on  (Can be bowl, trough, or just about anything else.  A smooth surface works best for removing it from the form)

If your form is more of a rough surface you may want to line it with plastic to help it to release easier.

Wire brush

Instructions for making the hypertufa:

Find a firm surface to work on

Put on your mask and gloves

Put equal parts of your peat moss, portland cement and perlite into your mixing container.  Peat moss is sometimes compressed so make sure that it is broken apart and fine, no lumpy pieces before adding it to your other ingredients.

Mix the 3 dry ingredients together thoroughly in your mixing container.

Make a well and start adding water slowly and working it into the mix with your hands.  You want to wet it enough so that the mixture ends up being the consistency of cottage cheese. Slowly add more water as you see that you need it.  You want to ball up the mixture in your hands and when you squeeze it very little water comes out.  If it gets too wet you can always add equal parts of the dry mixture back to the mix. In this step it is much easier to add a little bit of water at a time to keep from getting it too wet.

Once you have it mixed and ready to form spray your mold where the mixture will come into contact with it.  This will make it release much easier.

A simple plastic mixing bowl is an easy way to get started.

Start forming the cement mix on the inside bottom of the bowl, 1 1/2 – 2″ thick is a good thickness.  Using a toothpick to stick in gives you a good indicator of the thickness as you are working.

After you have the bottom start working your way up the sides leaving the void in the center for your planting.  Always pack the mixture firmly to remove any air pockets.

Make a drainage hole in the bottom using either your finger or a dowel rod.  We find the finger is always handiest.

After the mixture is formed slide it into a plastic bag (leaving it in the mold) and let cure in a shady area for 2-3 days.

After the third day you are ready to remove your planter from the mold.

Gently turn it upside down and begin to separate the hypertufa container from your mold.

At this time you can use a wire brush to smooth off rough edges or do any scraping or sculpting that you want to do.

After you have the finish that you want you can place it back in the plastic bag and let it cure for another 2-3 weeks.

Your hypertufa pot is very alkaline and to make it more plant friendly you can give it a vinegar wash.  Stuff your drainage hole with a cloth or plastic to hold the water in for a little while, 30 minutes to an hour will be good. Mix 1 part vinegar and 9 parts water and pour into the container.  Let this sit and soak in. After about 30 minutes to an hour go ahead and rinse out any that is left in the bowl.  Flush it several times with plain water.

Now your hypertufa pot is ready to plant.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sweet Potato Greens

It’s hot outside and not many greens growing during this hot Georgia heat!  No fear-sweet potatoes are tropical plants and love the heat.  Sweet potato greens have been eaten in many cultures but here in Georgia we think about that yummy sweet potato that will be coming later but we don’t think about how delicious the greens can be!  Give them a try and you will be a believer!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Ingredients:

Bundle of sweet potato greens  (I like them with some of the stems still attached-gives a little more crunch)

3-4 cloves garlic

onion (I like a red onion for the flavor and for the color that it gives the dish)

Oil of your choice  (I like either bacon grease or ghee but any healthy oil can be used)

Bacon  (Not for everybody but we love it)

 

How to Make It

If you are using bacon go ahead and fry it till crispy.  Remove the bacon from the pan but leave enough oil to cover the bottom of the pan.

If you don’t use bacon add your oil of choice.

Add your minced garlic and chopped onions to the medium hot pan.

Cook these until the onions are starting to soften.  Be careful not to burn the garlic.

Add the washed and chopped sweet potato greens.  If you are adding the stems you may want to add them a minute or two earlier than the leaves to let them soften a bit.

Toss the greens with the onions and garlic till they turn a bright green and are tender to your taste.

This is a quick dish-not taking a long time to cook.

If you like, add the crumbled bacon over the top of your greens.

Yummy!

 

 

Baked Squash Casserole

It’s summer time and that time when we start gathering squash from the garden.  You always have a lot and one time and are looking for different ways to use it.  Try this recipe, we really enjoy it.  A little added bacon always makes every dish special in our house.

Ingredients:

8 medium size squash, sliced  (Yellow summer squash or zucchini, both are good this way)

1 medium onion, chopped

4 slices bacon, cooked and crumbled

1/4 cup melted butter

2 eggs, beaten

1 cup milk

1 cup cracker crumbs or 1 cup fine dry breadcrumbs

1 cup shredded Cheddar cheese

1/2 t salt

1/4 t pepper

Dash of hot sauce

1 t Worcestershire sauce

Make It:

Cook squash and onion in a small amount of boiling water 5-7 minutes or until squash is tender, drain well.  (Can also be steamed if you prefer)

Combine squash mixture and remaining ingredients.

Mix well and spoon into a lightly greased 2 quart shallow casserole dish.

Bake uncovered at 350 degrees for 35 minutes.

Yields: 8 servings

Recipe adapted from recipe in Southern Living Cookbook Annual Recipes 1983

Herbed Vinegars

Make your own herbed vinegars.  Great for salad dressings!

Ingredients

2 cups white vinegar (using a delicate vinegar like rice, champagne, or other white vinegars that have a more delicate flavor so that the herb flavors shine through.

1 cup fresh herbs, finely chopped

Make It

Chop the herbs and combine with the vinegar.

Let steep for at least two weeks.

Strain and put in a sealed jar to use.

 

Herbed Butter & Soft Cheeses

Make your own butter or soft cheeses or buy a good quality butter or cheese and add herbs to create a mouth watering treat!

Ingredients

1/2 cup butter,  yogurt cheese, cottage cheese, low fat yogurt, cream cheese or any other soft cheeses

1 T herbs, finely chopped

Make It

Mix ingredients.

Let it set for at least an hour to blend the flavors, preferably longer for more flavor.