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: Flavored Finishing Salts collabo w. Sunshine

Sunshine turned me on to this awesome how-to video on how easy and rewarding it is to make flavored finishing salts. Eric Gower, the handsome personality behind Breakaway Cook, introduces diverse suggestions for ingredients to flavor moist sel gris. I’m beyond envious of his spice shelf and could watch his videos over and over and over.

Creative Use of Salts from Eric Gower on Vimeo.

Sunshine suggested and I agreed that this was a great inspiration for a crafty foodie collaboration! She had also found some mini jam jars that would be perfect vessels to store our new seasonings. We chose an afternoon during my week of leisure between jobs and got to planning our approach.

In the video, Eric Gower makes 4 different salts with lavender, matcha, smoked paprika, & saffron. We couldn’t get our hands on any of those ingredients, so we thought of great flavorings of our own. Sunshine finally located the sel gris at Trader Joe’s that is suggested as the base for our blends and we prepared our ingredients for blending. We heated the oven to about 275degrees and started drying our lime wheels, herbs, mango, & bacon:

Lime Wheels, Bacon, Herbs, & Mango

While our fresh ingredients dried in the oven, we set up the food processing attachment to the Cuisinart stick blender Dre got me for VDay. Quickest way to my heart is through a kitchen gadget! First up was some crystallized ginger we located on a last minute trip to the Asia mart. We ground it and added in about 2 T of the sel gris. A few more seconds of blending and we had so simply made our premier flavored salt.

Crystallized Ginger Salt

Luckily, we saved some fresh mango slices to sample the salt on. It was a perfect pairing!

Crystallized Ginger Salt on Mango

We still had some time to kill while our items dried in the oven. Sunshine found some really fun Victorian-inspired banner designs that we printed out as labels for our jars. We cut and arranged them on the lids with pencil-written names. One already filled and four more to go!

Labeled Salt Jars

The fresh herbs were first to be fully dried so we ground up the basil, thyme, oregano, & parsley. The result looked like a bowl of emerald-speckled diamonds and tasted amazing on fresh tomato slices.

Herb Salt

We whirled up our lime batch next, but I somehow missed getting a decent pic of it. Once the mango was crispy, we added it to two separate batches: one with just mango and another with the addition of bacon for a sweet & smokey approach. Both looked and tasted beautiful.

Mango Salt

Bacon Mango Salt

By this point in the afternoon, we’d downed quite a few Absolut Boston (elderflower & black tea vodka) and Arizona Lemonade cocktails. We moved the party to the patio to snack and focus on sampling all of our salts. I pan-fried chicken breast and sliced some more tomato as simple hosts for the variety of salty tastes.

Flavored Salt Sampling

They were all amazing but our stand-out favorite was definitely the crystallized ginger. We finished up our meal with sliced fresh strawberries… with salts, of course! I’m sure our cholesterol levels were staggering by the end of the day.

Strawberry w. Mango Salt

Even the Baby Kitty joined us for a great afternoon on the patio. She loves to stalk flies from the edge of the garden.

Baby kitty stalking flies

I’m so glad Sunshine stumbled upon this project as it is one of my favorites to date. We have alot of fun ideas on using our salts, so keep an eye out for exciting updates.

Flavored Finishing Salts

Check out Sunshine’s blog post on our crafty flavored finishing salts project on Blog Full of Jelly!

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

To Taste: Rustic Roasted Chicken & Vegetables

Last week, Philly was graced with its 2nd major Blizzard in under 6 days. The whole city pretty much shut down on Wednesday = SNOW DAY! Luckily, I also had off on Thursday as Philly is completely unmanageable under 30+ inches of snow & ice chunks. Dre still had to trudge to work and I wanted to make sure he came home to a warm house and a warm dinner! I had defrosted a whole chicken and searched for a recipe online. My first stop is to see what Kayotic Kitchen has up her sleave. Rustic Roasted Chicken? Sounds perfect to me!

I have an odd obsession with the process of butterflying a whole chicken, or spatchcocking it. I had my first adventure with it last summer for my grilled Chicken Under A Brick. It’s easier to slice & serve and makes sense if you aren’t planning to stuff it. Kayotic Kitchen’s marinade for the chicken was a beautiful crimson (in real life) and super tasty.

Marinating Chicken nestled in Raw Vegetables

I improvised the veggies and such with I had available including baby carrots, shallots, onions, Idaho spuds, green onion, smashed garlic cloves, fresh thyme, & turkey bacon to keep it straight poultry.

Fresh Thyme w/ Vegetables

The 7lb bird took about 2-2.5hrs to cook and had the house smelling delicious when Dre got home from work.

Rustic Roasted Chicken & Vegetables

I whipped up what were supposed to be fluffy cheddar biscuits to serve with the chicken. Instead, I got cheddar pancakes. What more could I expect from mix I picked up from Acme for $1. They were still tasty with some melted butter and reheated perfectly for a quick Leftover Lightning! (in the form of a yummy chicken sammie the next day!)

Cheddar Biscuits turned Pancakes

P.S. I highly suggest you click through to the Kayotic Kitchen blog. Kayleigh’s photos are beautiful and recipes are really amazing & easy to follow. I could only aspire to take ones that great. Her love for food is certainly sincere ❤