We’re snowed in here in the South, so fun must be had! I heard of snow cream before, but never tried it, so today was the day. I found a few basic recipes online and made up my own which turned out even better (move over Paula Deen)! If you like creamsicles, you’ll love this orange-vanilla concoction. It’s fun and easy to make, and a great activity for kids or the kid at heart. I couldn’t stop eating it!
8 cups pure snow – avoid yellow snow!
1 14 oz can Fat-free sweetened condensed milk
1 tsp orange extract
1 tsp vanilla extract
Mix snow with sweetened condensed milk, orange extract, and vanilla extract. Garnish with orange peel or mint leaves, or add food coloring. Serve immediately in half-pint canning jars.
I come from a long line of cooks and gardeners, so determined to continue the tradition, I experimented with my first garden over the summer. My goal was to grow something from seed, and to can it, and I’m happy to say I did it! I successfully grew and harvested carrots, broccoli, snap beans, lettuce, arugula, and cucumbers. It was a tiny garden with only a few vegetables harvested, but well worth the effort. For me, nothing beats the satisfaction of watching something grow and seeing it pickled and processed, and in a jar on the shelf. That, and the satisfaction of enjoying the fruits of my labor a few months later.
With the cucumbers I decided to try out my great-grandmothers’s bread and butter pickle recipe. According to family lore, Nana was known for her pickle recipe, so I wanted to see if the recipe lived up to its hype. The recipe I used was photocopied from her cookbook, so it was in her handwriting which was a little difficult to read, but fun to decipher. Because I had very few cucumbers to work with, there were only enough for about 4 jars. Now, some of my jars were passed down to me from my mother; one of the aspects of canning I appreciate. Canning is a skill passed down through families, and I love the thought of carrying on this age-old art with recipes and equipment.
After stuffing the first jar with cucumbers and brine, I sealed it and put it in the boiling water to process. Much to my dismay, when I lifted the lid to place my next jar in I was surprised to see cucumbers floating in the water. The old jar I used from my mother had exploded! That left me with only 3 jars of home-grown cucumbers to process, so I was nervous about the outcome when I placed the two remaining jars in the boiling water. After processing, I removed the lid again while holding my breath, unsure as to what I might find. Fortunately, only the first jar was a dud and my other three jars came out perfectly processed and sealed. 2 Bread & butter and 1 Dill.
After waiting a good month for the flavors to meld, I decided to bring one of my bread and butter pickle jars to a friend’s barbecue. We all sampled the pickles, and I must say the recipe definitely stood the test of time. The spices used in Nana’s recipe gave much more depth of flavor to the pickles than the bread and butter pickles I’ve purchased at the grocery store, and the jar was finished off that evening.
With one remaining jar of Nana’s special pickles, I decided I couldn’t open them for just anyone, so I waited for a visit from my parents. In mid-October they drove from Kansas and stayed with us for a few days before continuing on to Pennsylvania where my mother grew up. Nana was my mother’s grandmother, so I was excited to share the pickles with my mother, and interested to see if they tasted anything like she remembered. They certainly brought back memories for Mom, and we decided she should take the rest of the jar to Pennsylvania to share with her sister and mother.
While in Erie, I got a phone call from my mother, Aunt, and grandmother, Mimi. They all agreed Nana’s pickles were a hit and exactly like they remembered. It is such a good feeling to share a century old family recipe with my 98 year old grandmother who diligently passed on the tradition of cooking and canning from her mother who lived to be 101. So I wonder what keeps us kicking for so long in my family? Surely good genes play a role, but maybe a family history of cooking and eating home-grown food plays a part in keeping us alive generation after generation for a century. I know I’ve always said I’ll live to be 100, and looking at my family, that is a real possibility.
A couple weeks ago I picked up a package of incredibly large-and-in-charge heirloom carrots at the local Austin Farmer’s Market. Apparently in the late 1800s, our local ancestors were growing monster carrots, which I can appreciate, because they are perfect for pickling when sliced into circular chips.
For starters, I canned a few carrots with typical pickling spices, and decided to try a little something different with cumin. As cooler temperatures set in and it’s snowing in much of the country, nothing sounds cozier than a jar of carrots soaked in vinegar and cumin, right? Feed the body. Warm the soul. Eat some pickled carrots.
And that’s how I was inspired to try this delicious and easy Cumin Pickled Carrots recipe.
Here’s what you’ll need to pickle carrots with cumin in a pint jar:
Your pickling brine:
Your pickling spices:
And of course – Cumin! Plan for 1 heaping tbsp. for your canning jar of pickled carrots. I prefer ground cumin, the veggies absorb the flavor better, but you can go with the seed if you want.
Start by peeling the carrots and slicing them into circular discs (chips). Also, go ahead and slice your lime and peel your garlic.
If you prefer a tiny touch of spice for your pickled carrots, throw in some Thai chilies, which not only bring a little zing, but also add some color contrast. If you want your pickled carrots extra spicy, go ahead and cut open the Thai chilies and set the spice free (Warning: only consume the pickled Thai chilies if you have no taste buds or sanity, learned that lesson the hard way).
In a small bowl, mix your pickling spices. Grab a clean glass jar and drop two slices of lime, two cloves of garlic and one heaping tbsp. of pickling spices in the bottom. Then, lob in a huge tbsp. of ground cumin.
Now, you’re ready to load in the carrot chips along with the Thai chilies and a couple more cloves of garlic into the jar. Stack up to the top, but leave about an inch between the top of the carrots and the rim of the jar. Set the jar aside as you prep the brine.
In a medium pot, mix up the brine and bring to a boil. Stir until the salt and sugar have dissolved. Then, put your funnel on the jar and ladle in the brine, fill the jar all the way to the top and ensure that all of your carrots are covered.
Finally, top off the jar with a canning lid. I like to secure the lid and turn upside down a couple times to bring all of the air bubbles to the top and spread around the spice. Pop the jars in the refrigerator and wait a week or more. Then, enjoy!
These cumin pickled carrots will go great with an Indian-inspired feast or sitting by the fire with a warm cup of chai. Reminds me of all of the time that I have not been to India…yet!
Fall in Texas brings fresh okra to the Farmer’s Market, and we Can Can Girls love us some fresh, crisp okra pickled with hot peppers and spices. Can I get a “hells yeah”?
So, last weekend, I loaded up on okra, grabbed a handful of garlic, and picked up a couple fresh jalapenos and headed home for some pickling experimenting that turned out quite delish – definitely one for the recipe book.
I love this spicy pickled okra recipe because it has so many complex flavors and yet it is so simple. You can easily throw this together in about 20 minutes and toss them in the refrigerator for some good eating all week long. And as the farmer who sold me my jalapenos said, “it’s guaranteed to spice up your life!”
Below is what you need to pickle okra, and if you’re a beginner canner, please watch this Canning Tools 101 video first.
Your pickling brine:
And your special pickling spices:
Now, let’s get to pickling. Start by cleaning your okra, lime, and jalapenos. Then, slice your lime, peel your garlic and cut your jalapenos into slices – I prefer to leave the seed in the jalapenos for an extra kick, but it’s personal preference.
Next, bring your brine to a boil by mixing the vinegar and vinegar together in a pot on a high flame. Once boiling, add the sugar and salt and stir until dissolved.
Meanwhile in a separate bowl, combine all of your spices together and stir – beautiful!
Then, grab a couple clean, sterilized pint glass jars – if you are sterilizing in boiling water, you’ll need a jar lifter (and if you haven’t seen this jar lifter video yet, you really need to).
Drop a couple slices of lime in the bottom of the sterilized jar, add 2 tablespoons of the spice mixture and about 4-6 whole cloves of garlic. Next, layer in your okra and jalapenos all the way until they are about an inch from the top.
At this point, your brine should be boiling and ready. You can use a funnel and/or a ladle to fill the jars up with brine. Leave a little bit of space at the top, but make sure all of your veggies are covered with brine. Put a canning lid and band on the jar, let it cool for a few minutes, and then transfer to the refrigerator (unless you process these pickles in a water bath, they are only refrigerator safe).
You can wait about a week and then enjoy, but beware, they are addictive. I consumed an entire jar of these spicy okra pickles while writing this blog post. Cheers!
From August through September in Texas we celebrate the Hatch Chile. For this brief period of time, our cheese, tortillas, salsas, and even our beer in Texas becomes flavored with the Hatch. You can’t walk into a grocery store in Texas without the pleasant aroma of roasting Hatch Chiles permeating the air, and the produce section teeming with hills of fresh green hatch chilies.
And, although most Hatch Chiles I’ve found to be mild to medium in spice, once in a while you’ll score a spicy pepper that will sting the tongue of even the most resilient spice lover….(aye aye aye!).
Last weekend as I was perusing the local Farmer’s Market, walking past stand after stand of Hatch Chiles, I couldn’t help but wonder whether my Fermented Ginger Carrots would benefit from a touch of Texas Hatch Chile spice. I love a good fermented carrot with the subtle twang of ginger, why not spice things up a bit?
Just then I found a bunch of Hatch Chiles labeled “HOT” and it sealed the deal, Spicy Fermented Ginger Carrots became last weekend’s fermentation experimentation. And, after a week of fermenting, I must admit they taste pretty damn good.
Here’s what you need and how to do it – WARNING – you must love Ginger or you’ll be disappointed:
First step is obviously to clean your veggies well. Then, get to shredding and chopping, if this is your first time Fermenting, check out this video on the basics of fermentation just to get you started. Since the Hatch Chile is a spicy one, rather than torture myself and my tear ducts, I chopped her and my Ginger up in the food processor. Then, I shredded the carrots by hand – all 3 lbs. of ‘em (whew!).
Rather than risk the skin on my knuckles, one simple trick to get the most of your carrot is to toss the ends of the carrot into the food processor with your Hatch Chile and Ginger. Then, toss everything into a bowl and add your salt. I recommend 1 T, but I like and appreciate salt. You may feel differently, and if you do, I recommend that you salt to taste. Salt helps the fermenting process, but you don’t need to overdo it, the vegetables will ferment on their own. You can thank Momma Nature for that magic.
Ok, next roll up the sleeves and dig in, start mixing. You want to knead and squeeze the veggies to break down the cell walls so they release liquid. After you squeeze and pound and knead and squeeze for a few minutes, you might take a blunt object and start pounding – I have a great wooden pestle that I like to use. The more you can leverage the liquid from the veggie rather than plain water, the more flavor you preserve.
After you’ve punched and pounded and taken out your frustration from last week at the office and you feel satisfied with your effort, it’s time to start packing the veggies into a jar. This recipe works just about right for a single pint jar. Since you’re fermenting, not canning, you don’t need to sanitize the jar, but please do make sure it’s good and clean. Squeeze the juice out of the veggies and stuff them into the jar, fill ‘er up. Then, pour the liquid over the top. At this point, I take my pestle again and push down on the veggies to maximize the liquid.
For fermentation, you always want to ensure that all of your veggies are covered with liquid, and sometimes, like in this case (unless you had a really, really bad week at work or you have anger management problems), your veggies won’t likely produce enough liquid to cover themselves up. So, you can add water – but be aware that much of the water that we drink is fortified with chemicals (Fluoride, Chlorine, etc.) that are put there to kill bacteria – and we want good bacteria in our fermented foods.
To add water, boil it first for a couple minutes to burn off the added chemicals and then let it sit until it gets to room temperature. Don’t pour it on too hot or again, it will kill the good bacteria. After it cools, pour over the top until your veggies are good and covered, and then — put a lid on it.
Next, we wait. You can store your Spicy Ginger Carrots in a closet away from light, but I like to leave on my kitchen counter where I remember to check on it daily. You want to release any pressure caused by the gas released in the fermentation process on a daily basis – I don’t typically find this is an issue with carrots, but just in case. You also want to make sure that it stays covered with water. If the top begins to run dry, boil a little water with some salt, let it sit until it gets to room temperature, and then pour on top.
After at least 7 days of waiting, give your Spicy Fermented Ginger Carrots a taste test. If you want them a little more sour, wait a little longer. If they are just right, transfer them to the fridge and enjoy! I love mine straight out of the jar or tossed in salads…yum yum yum!