It has been a year!  No one has asked except for Vivian and Judge Young…and they are the only ones who will get jars of the Dilly Beans, Pickled Okra and Fig Jam that I put up this weekend.

7 cups cucumbers(sliced)

1 cup onion(sliced)

2 TBSP salt

Cover bowl with plate.  Refrigerate overnight. Drain.

2 cups sugar

1 cup vinegar

1 tsp celery seed

Heat just until sugar melts.  Pour over cukes and onions.

Put in jars and leave in refrigerator.

I added a few slices of fresh ginger to my great aunt’s recipe.

Amy at the Spoleto finale, where she enjoyed, inter alia, my sweet pickles.

We had 12 cups of beautiful local strawberries so we used the below  x 1.5, all while listening to a surprising number of strawberry themed songs.   Don’t forget the balsamic vinegar!

Strawberry Balsamic Jam and Syrup

8 cups washed and hulled strawberries

5 cups sugar

5 tablespoons balsamic vinegar

½ teaspoon unsalted butter

Pour strawberries into large heavy pot and bring to boil over high heat.  Once strawberries are boiling, add sugar and stir until it is dissolved.  Bring to boil and add butter.  Turn heat to medium low and boil gently for 40 minutes, until thickened to a loose soft jam.  Stir in balsamic vinegar.

Bring 6 half pint jars and their bands to a boil in a large pot fitted with a rack ( I have this in my car for you to borrow). Remove the jars with tongs.  Simmer new lids in small pan of hot water.  When the jars are dry but still hot, use a slotted spoon to fill jars with strawberries leaving ½ to ¾ inch of headspace.  Wipe the rims, set on lids and screw on bands fingertip tight.  You will have leftover juice – can it as syrup. 

Place the jars on rack in large pot and add enough water to cover by 3 inches.  Cover and bring to a boil over high heat.  Boil for ten minutes.  Let cool for 5 minutes and remove jars to dry towel.  Listen for pop.  Check seals. 

From Well Preserved by Eugenia Bone

STRAWBERRY JAM by Michelle Shocked

Saturday morning found me itching
To get on over to my grandma’s kitchen
[And what you gonna do, honey]
The sweetest little berries was cooking up right
And then we’d put them in a canning jar and seal them up tight
We were making jam
[What kind?]
Strawberry jam, that’s what kind
[Aw, the good kind
] Yeah, if you want the best jam
You gotta make your own

We have Smucker’s, Welches, Knotts Berry Farm
But a little homemade jam never did a body no harm
A little local motion is all we need
To close down these corporate jam factories
We’ll be making jam
Strawberry jam, mmmm-mm
If you want the best jam
You gotta make your own
(Make that jam Doc, show ‘em how it’s done)

Yeah, we have a little revolution sweeping the land
Now once more everybody’s making homemade jam
So won’t you call your friends up on the telephone
You invite ‘em on over, you make some jam of your own
You’ll be making jam
Strawberry jam
If you want the best jam
You gotta make your own
(Go on Jerry, let the jelly roll)

I’m headed to the Mount Pleasant Farmers Market this afternoon to look for some fresh strawberries so we can make some Strawberry Balsamic Syrup, which is so good on vanilla ice cream or homemade waffles.  I am also looking for some cucumbers for pickles and hope the peaches are coming soon. Check out the chart below, which tells you what is in season in the Lowcountry… 

mount pleasant local season rule

Found this recipe in the New york Times today to try this weekend!

Pickled Strawberry Jam

Adapted from Christina Tosi

Time: 20 minutes, plus cooling

1 3/4 cups sugar

1 tablespoon powdered pectin

1 teaspoon salt

3 cups strawberries, hulled

2 tablespoons sherry vinegar

1 tablespoon rice wine vinegar

5 coriander seeds

1 cardamom pod.

 

1. In a bowl, whisk the sugar, pectin and salt to combine. If a seedless jam is desired, purée the berries in a blender and strain through a fine-meshed sieve. Otherwise, leave them whole, or cut large ones into quarters.

2. In a medium saucepan, combine the sherry vinegar, rice wine vinegar, coriander and cardamom. Bring to a boil over medium heat, and immediately remove from heat. Remove and discard the coriander seeds and cardamom.

3. Return the saucepan to medium heat and add the sugar mixture, stirring with a wooden spoon until blended; it will be dry at first. Add the strawberries or strawberry purée, and continue to stir, crushing the berries with the spoon, until the mixture is liquefied and comes to a boil. Continue to boil, stirring constantly, until thickened, about 3 minutes.

4. Pour the jam into a heat-proof bowl and let cool completely. Store it, covered, in the refrigerator. The jam can also be frozen for up to six months.

Yield: 3 cups.

Serving suggestions: Spread the jam on toast, use it as a filling for crepes or cakes, or swirl it into sweet buns or coffee cake. Mix it with an equal amount of cream cheese to make a spread. Or it may be mixed with an equal amount of butter for spreading or baking, or for blending with confectioners’ sugar and a pinch of salt to make a frosting for cake or cinnamon buns.

Every year for the Oscars, I make homemade pizzas.  This year, following in my aunt Marsha’s footsteps, I made my new favorite- spicy sausage, caramelized onions, and fresh sage.  You can find the recipe here.  So delicious, but it definitely needed to be balanced out by something light and fresh and zesty.  Luckily for me, I recently spent a weekend in NYC and my new and fellow foodophile friend, Ari Douthit, bragged on his delicious citrus salad.  I don’t even like salads, especially my own, and I’m not lying when I say I could eat only this salad three meals a day for the next month.  And, at the party, it was The King’s Speech to my pizza’s Social Network- truly a prizewinner!

-Grapefruit
-Tangerines or Tangelos or whatever small Orange-y thing you can find
-Pistachio nut meat
-Green olives, pitted
-Cilantro, coarsely chopped
-1/4 Red onion, very finely chopped
-1 hot chili pepper
-white wine vinegar
-extra virgin olive oil
-pepper

Chop the chili and mix it up with the oil and vinegar.  Let the chili marinate in the dressing while you prepare the salad so the dressing absorbs the heat.

Slice the citrus crosswise and cutaway the peel, leaving flat discs of fruit.
Put the slices in a bowl.

Add dressing to the fruit.

Top with cilantro, onion, olives and pistachio (chop the pistachio nut meats in half)

Toss gently to get the fruit evenly coated with the dressing and garnish.

Pepper to taste

Note:  Ari pointed out, correctly, that I disobeyed instructions and sliced the red onion rather than finely dicing it.  It’s true- I forgot.  But it was still pretty delicious!

We always like getting mad props from our good friend and Charleston Home Editor Ellen McGauley.  I was in dire need of comfort food the other night so had her over for this heart-healthy (cough!) version………. her blog post about it is here.   Thanks, Ellen, for the shout-out but not so much for the picture of my five-head………….!

I have a connection to Charleston food critic Jeff Allen via Barnwell in that we both grew up in that small town and then he married my college friend and lawyer extraordinaire Christy Ford Allen.  Jeff’s parents and mine still live in Barnwell and our mothers hang out together, which is scary(and how rumors get started).   Anyway, Jeff recommended this twist on the traditional refrigerator pickle recipe, which I tried this weekend, and it rocked.

Asian Refrigerator Pickles

 large seedless or English cucumber, thinly sliced (about 2 cups)

1 medium red bell pepper, cut into thin strips (about 2 cups)

1 cup thinly sliced radishes or daikon (Asian white radish)

1/2 cup julienne-cut carrots

2 tablespoons McCormick® Mixed Pickling Spice

2 cups sugar

2 cups rice vinegar

2 tablespoons kosher salt

DIRECTIONS

1. Mix vegetables in large glass bowl. Set aside.

2. Place pickling spice in the center of piece of cheesecloth or coffee filter. Tie tightly with string. Place in medium saucepan with sugar, vinegar and salt. Bring to boil on medium-high heat, stirring to dissolve sugar and salt. Reduce heat to low; simmer 5 minutes. Pour hot liquid and pickling spice bundle over vegetables. Cover.

3. Refrigerate vegetables. Stir once a day for 1 to 2 days to blend flavors. Store in tightly covered container in refrigerator up to 2 months.

http://www.mccormick.com/FlavorForecast/2011FlavorForecast.aspx/

 http://www.foodchannel.com/articles/article/top-ten-food-trends-2011/

Thanks Stevenson for the heads up that the Canning Comeback is the #1 food trend for 2011!!!

We have always known that our good friend Hamlin O’Kelley is a gourmand and Epicurean and try to finagle an invitation for dinner at his house whenever we can.  Dinner at Hamlin’s always presents a quandary- do we keep stuffing our faces with delicious hors d’oeuvre or try, try to save some room for the main course?  If Hamlin has made a batch of his divine cheese straws, all bets are off and the face-stuffing is on.   They are the perfect – and perfectly addictive-  combination of cheesy, salty, buttery, spicy, and delicious!  And, enterprising young lawyer that he is, Hamlin has finally succumbed to the ardent pleas of his adoring fans and is selling his cheese straws to the public. 

If you’re like we are, you have people stop by for a glass (or bottle) of wine and remember suddenly that you only have one 7- month old moldy piece of Brie and half a pint of Cherries Garcia to offer.  The beautiful thing about Hammy’s Cheese Straws is that they freeze beautifully and take, literally, the time it takes to open and pour a bottle of wine, to thaw.  They also ship well.  So, how ’bout it?  Don’t just take our word for it- try them yourselves.  If you take them as a hostess gift, you’re sure to be invited back.  If you serve them to your guests, you can lie and say you made them, and they will be super impressed.  If you have poor self-control, as we do, best to keep one batch on hand for guests and one for yourself. 

Hammy’s Lowcountry Cheese Straws

(843) 722-6682

They’re on Facebook, too-  just go to Hammy’s Lowcountry Cheese Straws in the “search” block.  They can get you what you need with just a little advanced notice!

“I think pickles are cucumbers that sold out. They sold their soul to the devil... and the devil is dill.”

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You can have strip pokra, Give me a nice girl and a dish of okra. --Roy Blount, Jr., in "Song to Okra"
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