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: Balsamic Chicken w. Sauteed Spinach & White Beans

I got alot accomplished today considering I spent Monday sick in bed, so I needed something quick & healthy for tonight’s dinner. A “buy one get one” spinach sale had left me with a whole bag to get through before it spoiled. I’ve been trying to get more protein, less carbs into my diet so lean chicken breast & white beans seemed like perfect accompaniments. I poked around the pantry for some added flavors and got to cooking. With the richness of balsamic vinegar and the aroma of thyme, I came up with a delicious, filling dish that was rich in iron, protein, & fiber and only 550 calories per serving. Enjoy!

Balsamic Chicken w. Sauteed Spinach & White Beans

Balsamic Chicken w. Sauteed Spinach & White Beans

2 Servings – 550 Calories each

  • Boneless Skinless Chicken Breast – (2) breasts, about 4 oz each
  • Olive Oil – (0.5) T + (0.5) T
  • Balsamic Vinegar – (2) T
  • Dried Thyme – (0.5) tsp
  • Chicken Stock – (0.75) cup
  • S&P
  • Garlic – (2) cloves, minced
  • Onion – (1) medium, sliced thin
  • Fresh Spinach – (1) pre-rinsed bag or (0.5) lb
  • White Beans – (1) 15.5 oz can, drained & rinsed
  • Worcestershire Sauce – (1) tsp
  • Sriracha – a few squirts of your fave hot sauce
  1. Heat (0.5) T of Olive Oil on medium in a non-stick saute pan (with lid for later).
  2. Rinse chicken breasts under cool water & pat dry. Sprinkle one side with S&P.
  3. Place seasoned side down in hot pan. Sprinkle other side.
  4. Brown for about 4 min. Flip & brown other side.
  5. Add Balsamic & Thyme to pan. Bring to boil & flip chicken to other side. Reduce liquid for about 3 min.
  6. Add Chicken Stock. Bring back to boil. Reduce liquid to half for about 5 min.
  7. Remove chicken from pan & set aside.
  8. Add (0.5) T of Olive Oil to pan & heat on medium. Add garlic & saute for 1 min.
  9. Add onion & reduce heat to medium low. Allow onions & garlic to simmer for 5 min, stirring occasionally.
    • If you want to add chopped tomato or bell peppers, this would be a good time. Saute for about 5 min before moving on to the next step.
  10. Add a few handfuls of spinach & place lid on top. Return heat to medium.
  11. Once spinach reduces by half, stir & add more handfuls. Return lid.
  12. Continue adding handfuls of spinach until all is wilted
  13. Add Worcestershire & Sriracha. Add White Beans. Stir.
  14. Simmer on medium for about 5 min.
  15. Place chicken on top of Spinach & White Bean mixture. Return lid & heat for about 1 min.
  16. Serve & Enjoy!

Balsamic Chicken w. Sauteed Spinach & White Beans