Putting Up: Pickled Purple Okra

Now say that 5x fast!

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This summer has been challenging to say the least. On July 4th, I had a bit too much fun and tequila on the Brandywine River. Ever since, I’ve been banished to the first floor of my house with no less than 4 fractures in my right heel. Total. Summer. Bummer. Cooking, and obviously fun in general, were originally lacking from my daily immobile routine but, thanks to my trusty knee scooter, I’m back at the kitchen counter.

Picking up my farmshare from Greensgrow has also been a biweekly respite from my post on the couch. I’ve been steaming husk-on corn in the microwave, mixing donut/saturn peaches into Greek yogurt, cutting my carb intake with half spaghetti/half julienne zucchini dishes, and eating tomatoes in every way possible (mostly on bread slathered with mayo). With last week’s share, we also received $5 in Greensgrow bucks to use at the farmstand.  One of the farm volunteers was so helpful with carrying all my share items that I didn’t want to be my usual indecisive self with spending my “bucks”. So I quickly pointed at a few beautiful green & red tie-dye heirloom tomatoes and a basket of alien-esque purple okra. Look how weird and beautiful they are!

They’ve been sitting on my counter for damn near a week now, challenging me with my first encounter of cooking fresh okra. What to make? I heard suggestions of curry and duck gumbo, baking and frying… but I just wasn’t ready to have that much okra to eat right here, right now. So I referred back to two of my favorite things: my newfangled canning hobby and the amazingness of Food In Jars.

In about 3o minutes, from sanitizing jars to cleanup, I had a pint of beautifully pickled purple okra begging for a future next to some hearty BBQ or bobbing out of a bloody mary with my spicy dilly beans. I’m so excited to try these!

Small Batch Pickled Purple Okra

Recipe by Marisa McClellan – Food In Jars
Sourced from Mother Nature Network
Adapted to 8oz/0.5lb of okra to yield 1 pint

Ingredients

  • 0.75 cups apple cider or white vinegar
  • 0.75 tablespoons pickling salt
  • 1 lemon slice
  • 1 tablespoon pickling spice
  • 0.5lbs okra, washed and trimmed into 1inch pieces or leave whole
  • 1 garlic clove, peeled

Equipment

  • 1 glass pint jar (16oz/
  • new lid and screw top
  • water bath canner or asparagus pot or stock pot w/ rack
  • jar lifter and lid magnet
  • canning funnel
  • 2 saucepans
  • clean dish towels
Directions
  1. Place  1 regular-mouth 1-pint/500 ml jar in a water canner. Fill both the pot, including the inside of the jar, with enough water to cover the jar by at least an inch. Bring to a simmer over medium heat.
  2. Place the lid and screw top in a small saucepan, cover them with water, and simmer over very low heat.
  3. Remove  sanitized jar from simmering water canner with jar lifter and dump water back into canner. Place on a clean towel on your countertop.
  4. Put a lemon slice and 1 tablespoon pickling spice in the bottom of the sterilized pint jar. Then pack the okra in, first laying them in so that the points are up. Then insert another layer with the points down, so that they interlock. If okra is cut into 1inch pieces, pack in jar tightly to fill to 1inch from top of jar.
  5. Nestle 1 garlic clove among the okra in each jar. I like to smash my clove first, but that’s just a personal preference.
  6. Combine the vinegar, 0.75 cups water, and pickling salt in another small saucepan and bring the brine to a boil. Make sure all salt is dissolved by stirring gently with a non-reactive spoon.
  7. Slowly pour the hot brine over the okra in each jar, leaving 1/2 inch headspace.
  8. Gently tap the jars on a towel-lined countertop to help loosen any bubbles before using a chopstick to dislodge any remaining bubbles. Expect alot more bubble release than a usual canning session as there are alot of pockets inside the okra. Check the headspace again and add more brine if necessary to 1/2 inch headspace. Discard leftover brine, if necessary.
  9. Wipe the rims, apply the lid using the magnet, and screw ring to fingertip tightness. Place in water bath using jar lifter and bring water up to a boil.
  10. Once water reaches boiling, process for 10 minutes. Remove jar from water bath with jar lifter and sit on a clean towel on your counter to cool  for 24 hours. After 24 hours, test lid to made sure the “button” has inverted and is sealed properly.
  11. Store in a cool, dry place. Allow to cure for at least 1 week before eating.

I also want to take a quick moment to thank the family and friends, some of which came out of the woodwork, that have called me, sent cheers, got me out of the house, got me back into the house, driven me to doctor’s appointments, made sure I was well-fed, and visited over the last 6 weeks. And an extra special thank you to my dedicated boyfriend, Andre, who suffered through my control issue breakdowns, moved in without any empty drawers to put his clothes away, makes sure I’m up the stairs & showered, and just takes good care of me every day. You all mean the world to me!

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To Taste: Mini Cranberry-Swirled Lemon Cupcakes w. Lemon Glaze

I’m offically making a public decree that I’m not longer allowed to complain about baking. My cooking style doesn’t involve alot of precise measuring so baking has always been a chore for me. At this point, the reward is getting too good for me to deny my baking skills. Sweet, swirled, glazed skills…

These baby cakes were created totally out of necessity. Over Thanksgiving, my girl Sunshine, of a Blog Full of Jelly, came for a visit from her new home in Florida with some beautiful citrus in tow. First was a Buddha’s hand, a creepy claw-y shaped fruit with a bright citrus flavor and lots of rind. It’s STILL soaking in some vodka for some serious cocktail making. The other citrus wonder was a Ponderosa lemon – pretty much the BIGGEST lemon you have ever seen – and provided me with over a cup of juice. I also still had a bag of beautiful crimson cranberries from my last farm share pickup and I wanted to make something other than my Cranberry-Pear Shortbread Tart. Combine them with the need to whip up a homemade treat for our friends’, Doc & Erica’s, pre-Holiday house warming and I was ready to bake!

Check out my Mini Cranberry-Swirled Lemon Cupcakes w. Lemon Glaze recipe after the jump! Continue reading

VDay Sweet: Lemon Buttermilk Cake – Cream Cheese Icing & Lemon Curd Filling

I ❤ U Lemon Buttermilk Cake

I have a hard time following recipes. I prefer to peruse a few different versions and just go for it. That, obviously, is why I rarely bake. Since Dre made me a delicious breakfast in bed & an impressive dinner, I decided I’d whip up whatever flavor of cake the he wanted. I looked up a recipe for Lemon Cake & came across Martha Stewart’s Fluffy Lemon Buttermilk Cake. I carefully measured each ingredient & set up a mise en place to take a pic of them all…

Lemon Cake Ingredients

… and then I realized I had already ignored the first two instructions. I had mixed ALL the dry ingredient together, including the sugar. Thus, there would be no creaming of the butter & sugar and then no folding in the flour, baking powder, & salt. I couldn’t give up so I figured I’d see how things would turn out if I just went for it. I creamed just the butter in my stand mixer and added in the eggs, vanilla, & lemon zest.  I then folded in the dry mix & buttermilk for a smooth, lemony batter. After about 25 min in the oven, I had successfully baked one 9″ layer of my lemon cake (recipe or not!).

Lemon Cake Layer

While the second layer was baking, I made my first attempt at lemon curd from the Joy of Baking’s recipe. It was really easy and the perfect filling for my cake!

Lemon Curd Filling

While the lemon curd set in the fridge, I worked on a simple Cream Cheese Frosting. I whipped together (1) pkg of cream cheese & (1) stick of butter, both room temp. Once smooth, I added in powdered sugar, scraping the bowl & whipping to a smooth finish in my Cuisinart stand mixer.

Whipped Cream Cheese Frosting

So in the end, persevering after a little mistake turned into a delicious lemon cake. It was moist with a dense crumb cake consistency. The tart lemon curd filling & sweet & creamy frosting blended for a perfect end to our Valentine’s Day!

I ❤ U

Vday Lemon Buttermilk Cake

Quickie: Snacktime w/ Chef Derek III

I really think he’s trying to make us fat! Today, Chef Derek delivered some amazing homemade Macarons w/ Lemon-Chocolate Ganache. YUM!

Fresh Baked Macaroons w/ Lemon-Chocolate Ganache

Fresh Baked Macaroons w/ Lemon-Chocolate Ganache

UPDATE: Derek just brought a sample of Corn & Chive Spoonbread for us to try too! Got a quick pic before we devoured it.

Corn & Chive Spoonbread

Corn & Chive Spoonbread