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Category Archives: Recipes from the garden

Two must-make, must-eat delicious tomato recipes

Two excellent recipes for the tomato-lovers who are in the middle of their summertime harvest. gravy

Both submissions were accepted by Grit Magazine to appear on their website.

The recipe for Summertime Sauce can be found here

and,

the recipe for Italian Gravy (what we call Spaghetti Sauce with meat) can be found here.

Back to the garden, it’s pickin’ time.

Y’all try these recipes and let me know what you think.

Renea Winchester is the award-winning author of several e-book collections and three traditionally-published non-fiction books including her latest:Farming, Friends and Fried Bologna Sandwiches from Mercer University Press. Find more recipes such as this one in her book. She is passionate about heritage seeds and saving daffodils. When she isn’t digging in the dirt she is hoarding canning jars and reading good books. She also posts on her blog, Bloggin’ Billy’s. Find her also at Renea Winchester.

 
 

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Collards, a Southern Tradition

Perhaps my favorite chapter in Farming, Friends, and Fried Bologna Sandwiches is Chapter Four where I share the recipe for collards and explain why we Southerners eat what we do on the first day of the year. There is a reason we eat collards, and for some this delicacy has more to do with remembering how the South scratched and clawed her way back from destruction. Ponder for a moment, the lowly cow pea (black-eyed-peas) being left for Southerners to eat. The Yanks thought we had been defeated, but today, it is the Yanks who have moved to the South in droves, hungry for our lifestyle. I for one propose that if you are going to live “down South” you must partake of our heritage food.

Many reader might recall smelling a pot of collards simmering on the stove. That is not how I cook my collards, nor do I sprinkle them with vinegar. If you have tried boiled collards with vinegar and cringed at the taste, please give this little recipe a try. These are prepared using a cast-iron skillet.

Ingredients

One bunch of collards

1 package of hog-jowl with thick outside layer removed; or 1/2 pound of thick-cut bacon (extra crispy)

2 cans of chicken broth

Salt and Pepper to taste

2 Tablespoons Olive Oil

The Process

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Bake hog-jowl (or bacon) in the oven. I prefer to bake bacon and collards in the oven because this limits smoke and prevents grease from popping on your skin, and on the kitchen counter. While meat bakes prepare greens. Turn meat once to insure extra-crispiness. Drain on paper towel. Once cool,crumble.

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Crumble when cool. Add to greens last to ensure crunchy texture.

Crumble when cool. Add to greens last to ensure crunchy texture.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Preparing the Greens:

Rinse collards to remove any dirt, drain on towels.

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Strip the leaves.

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Remove ribs of the collards and chop into bite-sized pieces.

Pour Olive Oil in bottom of cast iron skillet and turn eye on medium-high.

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When oil is hot add one piece of greens. If it starts to sizzle, pan is ready.

Add as much greens as possible, turn skillet to medium. Cover skillet.

Once greens wilt, add remaining collards.

 

Add one can of chicken broth. If you want a large amount of pot likker (see image below), add two cans.

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Keep a lid on greens for three minutes.

Remove lid and stir.

Cook the greens until they are the consistency you desire. I do not cook mine “to death,” because I do like a good bit of pot likker with my greens.

Add hog jowl just before serving. I add the meat last because I want to retain a bit of crunch with my greens. You can add it during the cooking process if you would like.

 

 

 

Serve with cornbread.

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Goodbye 2014 Happy New Year friends. Best to you in 2015

Renea Winchester is the award-winning author of Farming, Friends, and Fried Bologna Sandwiches; Mountain Memories: True Stories and Half-Truths from Appalachia. A Hardscrabble Christmas. Her first book, In the Garden with Billy: Lessons About Life, Love & Tomatoes earned her a SIBA and GAYA nomination. Email her through her website at www.reneawinchester.com. She welcomes new friends on Facebook. Follow her on Twitter Here.

 

 

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Chocolate Cherry Fudge

Chocolate Cherry Fudge

Many years ago, (meaning back before internet) someone in my family brought a gathering of sugary goodies to our Christmas Eve dinner. The tray contained an assortment of divinity, chocolate peanut-butter balls -which go by the name of truffles these days. The tray also featured tiny cubes of chocolate cherry fudge.

Folk don’t make fudge like we used to. I don’t know why . . . we just don’t.

I am uncertain why the memory of this confection came to me last week, but the urge to find a recipe and recreate this candy became my obsession. I searched, googled, and fell back on the good-old-reliable archaic method of recipe mining, a cookbook!

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See how creamy and dreamy? Trust me my friends, you must try this recipe. Do NOT use dried fruit. Dried fruit = dry fudge.

Now there is a reason No Fail Fudge recipes exist, because if you don’t get fudge just right  the mixture becomes a gooey mess which must be eaten with a spoon (not that there is anything wrong with that); or, it sets up like cement (definitely something wrong). No fail fudge usually contains marsh-mellow fluff, which is one of the reasons fudge doesn’t taste as delicious as we remember. The recipe I am sharing today doesn’t contain fluff; instead it uses the secret ingredient your grandmother kept stocked as a staple: evaporated milk.

Yesterday my friend Helen and I began a new tradition, we set about making all sorts of yummy cookies and confections to give away. When I expressed my worry about the fudge Helen, whom I have renamed the Cookie Queen, said in her Queenly voice, “there’ll be no failure today.”

She was correct.

With that let me share the steps to what is the easiest, most delicious fudge you will ever make. I’m serious, bring this to family events and you might be crowned the Candy Queen.

Chocolate Cherry Fudge

Ingredients:

1/3 cup finely chopped maraschino cherries (well drained. Note: keep them on a paper towel and -gently- squeeze out extra juice)

1 stick of butter

3  and 2/3 cups of powdered sugar

½ Cup Cocoa

½ cup chopped pecans or walnuts

¼ cup EVAPORATED milk  (purchase the tiny can unless you are making a bunch of fudge). Not Sweetened Condensed

1 teaspoon vanilla

Maraschino Cherry halves (well drained, for topping)

Before we begin:

I like to measure out all ingredients: It takes about 2 minutes to pre-measure ingredients and set them up ready for use.  20141213_103610

Do not double this recipe. The total prep and baking time is about 15 to 20 minutes, which includes chopping and draining the cherries. Something bad happens when one tries to double a fudge recipe. Please don’t do it.

The Process:

Lightly butter a glass 8 x 8 pan and set aside.

In a metal pot melt butter on medium-high heat. Once butter has melted add powdered sugar and cocoa. Place whisk in the middle and stir creating a “bowl.” Powdered sugar will be on the side of your pan, but that is fine, create a hole and pour in the milk. (see image).

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Stir until powdered sugar lumps are gone and mixture is thick and creamy. (three minutes to five minutes at the most)

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It’s ok to take a taste at this stage. I won’t tell.

Add vanilla.

Add nuts and stir well.

Remove from heat and fold in cherries.

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Carefully fold nuts and cherries into fudge. The moisture from the cherries will keep this candy from being cement-hard.

Transfer mixture to glass pan.

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Image of fudge that is ready for cherries as garnish.

Top with cherries if you desire and place fudge in refrigerator to cool for approximately 30-45 minutes. Slice after fudge cools

Scrape any remaining fudge from pan and eat. (you know you will so I might as well include that as part of the recipe).

Take away comments:

The best part about this fudge is that it is moist. Using maraschino cherries prevents the fudge from drying out. We have all seen fudge that hardens to the consistency of cement. This will not happen with this candy. It is moist and oh-so-delicious.

Do give it a try and let me know how it works for you. Please consider buying my book for more delicious recipes.

Renea Winchester is the award-winning author of Farming, Friends, and Fried Bologna Sandwiches; Mountain Memories: True Stories and Half-Truths from Appalachia. A Hardscrabble Christmas. Her first book, In the Garden with Billy: Lessons About Life, Love & Tomatoes earned her a SIBA and GAYA nomination. Email her through her website at www.reneawinchester.com. She welcomes new friends on Facebook. Follow her on Twitter Here.

 
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Posted by on December 14, 2014 in Recipes from the garden

 

Holiday Jalapeno Relish

Holiday Jalapeno Relish

Friends, if you want to give a gift that is wonderfully delicious and easy to make, then I have a recipe for you. Holiday Jalapeno Relish uses the excess Botanical Interest jalapeno peppers that are still going strong in Southern gardens (at least they are in mine because I covered them when frost threatened). Add sugar, vinegar and a couple other ingredients and ta-da, you’re done.

 

 

Ingredients:

1 pound of jalapeno peppers (washed)

1 medium onion

4 medium carrots sliced thin

1 large bell pepper (green)

3.5 cups of sugar

2 cups apple cider vinegar

1 Tablespoon mustard seed

1 Tablespoon dill seeds

Jelly Jars

Large pot for hot water bath (processing jars)

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Instructions:

Step one: wear gloves. Gloves are essential.

Before you begin slicing make certain the peppers are clean. I rinse mine thoroughly and soak for a couple of minutes.

Slice carrots, onions and bell pepper and set aside.

Slice jalapeno peppers and carefully remove seeds by using a spoon to scrape away membrane and seeds (this is what makes the relish hot). If you like spicy relish keep some (not all) of the seeds, but discard the membrane as it will make the relish bitter.

In a saucepan add 3.5 cups of sugar, 2 cups of apple cider vinegar, 1 Tablespoon of yellow mustard seeds and 1 Tablespoon dill seeds. Stir until sugar dissolves. Add all vegetables and cook for 15 minutes.

Spoon mixture into jelly jars and press down to add as much relish as possible in the jar. If desired spoon extra liquid into jars. There should be about a cup of liquid left over that will either need to be discarded, or, boil a half dozen eggs, shell the eggs, and pour the brine over top. Instant spicy pickled eggs. (which I also give as Christmas gifts).

Wipe the glass rim of the jars to make sure they are clean. Add lid and ring. Tighten and add unsealed jars to large pot. Add enough WARM water to cover the top of the jars with 2 inches of water. Bring the water to a boil and boil the jars for ten minutes.

Remove from heat.

Refrigerate any jars that do not seal and serve immediately.

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Slice onions, bell pepper, carrots and set aside while you chop jalapeno peppers

Remove the membrane and seeds. Membrane makes the relish bitter. Seeds will make the relish spicy.

Remove the membrane and seeds. Membrane makes the relish bitter. Seeds will make the relish spicy.

This is an image of the jalapeno peppers with seeds remove. Next step, slicing peppers .

This is an image of the jalapeno peppers with seeds remove. Next step, slicing peppers.

Vinegar solution: ready for vegetables

Vinegar solution: ready for vegetables. Isn’t it lovely?

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Vegetables in brine. Waiting to boil

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Peppers will cook down rapidly.


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Looks delicious, doesn’t it ?

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Holiday Jalapeno Relish. The perfect gift for someone who matters to you. Visit Angierapids.com to learn about the quilt runner in the background.

Renea Winchester is the award-winning author of Farming, Friends, and Fried Bologna SandwichesMountain Memories: True Stories and Half-Truths from Appalachia. Her first book, In the Garden with Billy: Lessons About Life, Love & Tomatoes earned her a SIBA and GAYA nomination.  Email her through her website at www.reneawinchester.com. She welcomes new friends on Facebook. Follow her on Twitter Here.

 
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Posted by on November 7, 2014 in Recipes from the garden

 

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Food Camp

Every now and then I come across a book that was written to help others. Food Camp: Kitchen Survival Skills by Michael Nolan, is one of those books. Now I know what you’re thinking, why in the world would I suggest a cookbook?

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Well my friends, because the book is worthy of being read.Let’s begin at the beginning, quoting Nolan:

To those who lived for years on microwave meals and fast food because they didn’t think they had what it takes to get in the kitchen and do it themselves. You deserve to eat better, and now you will.”

Food Camp includes what other cookbooks leave out: the appliances, pots, pans and gadgets one needs. Then the author sprinkles in little pieces of his soul. Some people are intimidated with the thought of cooking. Fear not, Michael Nolan is here to help.

The idea for Food Camp came when Nolan realized the number of people who never learned to cook. He goes on to list simple meals that are easy to prepare, but most importantly, good for you.michaelssoup

Food Camp includes photos and is written with a voice that makes you turn around to see if Nolan is in the kitchen with you. Truly, reading this book made me feel like the author was standing in my kitchen. I almost wanted to say, “Keep an eye on the cookies while I tidy up.”

Food Camp includes professional-quality photographic images and the recipes offer new twists on our favorites, like Chocolate Chip cookies. It’s common knowledge in my house that I mastered the triple C years ago. Veteran cooks wonder, what anyone could possibly do to improve something that’s been around for years. Trust me, there’s a secret. Nolan’s recipe for triple C’s contains a secret ingredient, but you won’t find me spilling the beans. You must buy the book.

And perhaps my favorite part is that Nolan suggests that readers actually eat cookie dough. Finally, someone who isn’t afraid of raw cookie dough. (for those still afraid you could store it in the freezer).

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My take on Food Camp: You can have your dough, and cookies too.

Food Camp is filled with hearty recipes for each meal, even quick and nutritious recipes for those who say, “I don’t have time for breakfast.”

Friends, make time to check out this book. You won’t be sorry.

Download your copy here.

Connect with Michael on Facebook here.

Follow his blog here

About Renea: Renea Winchester is the award-winning author of Mountain Memories: True Stories and Half-Truths from Appalachia. Her first book, In the Garden with Billy: Lessons About Life, Love & Tomatoes earned her a SIBA and GAYA nomination. In September of 2014, Mercer University Press will release her next book titled Farming, Friends, & Fried Bologna Sandwiches. Email her through her website at www.reneawinchester.com. Friend her on Facebook here. Follow her on Twitter Here.

 
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Posted by on May 1, 2014 in Recipes from the garden

 

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Snowed In Atlanta, 2014

On January 28, 2014, thousands of Atlanta commuters became stranded on the interstate in two inches of snow and ice. Many mocked, pointed fingers, shifted blame and acted entirely unsouthern as the rest of the world watched (and giggled) while city-slickers struggled to get home. Saturday Night Live even featured Atlanta in a skit. It is a must-watch. Click the link here. The skit is funny because the first vehicle in the ditch near my house was a white “Esca-lada.” 

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The forecast for Wednesday isn’t pretty. Forecasters are predicting a “catastrophic event.” I learned today the term means that the National Weather Service expects ice so thick that emergency crews can not rescue you, should you loose your mind and hit the highways tomorrow. Hundreds of National Guardsmen are on standby, ready to take those with medical needs to the hospital.

Atlanta residents are being told to “hunker down” as this ice storm has decided to test our resilience and storm preparation once again. Governor Nathan Deal has spoken, as has Mayor Kasim Reed. The messages is clear, “by midnight on Tuesday, be in a location and plan on staying at that location for two days.” Citizens are being warned to gather provisions, firewood, water, batteries and food. This time, with the world watching, residents are paying attention. It’s our time to show people that Atlanta folk aren’t a bunch of city-sissies.

We do however want winter to end. A few hours ago #endwinternow was trending on Twitter.

Even the School Administrators have taken notice, cancelling classes (although it should be mentioned that students will have to make up these classes. Atlanta does not have snow days built into the schedule). Companies have sent their employees home, encouraging them to work from home if possible.

So instead of being snowed out of our homes, this time we are snowed in. And when snowed in there is really only one thing we can do . . .

Eat.

Under the advisement of elected officials, we visited the grocery store and piled buggies high with important provisions: milk, bread, bananas, and BACON! We waited in line patiently for gas, bought cat litter (even though we don’t have a feline in our home). We filled the bathtub with water, piled firewood at the door, and made a mad dash to the bookstore because Governor Deal told everyone, “this ice storm is a perfect chance to read a good book.”

You’ve gotta appreciate a Governor who uses an ice storm to promote reading.

The people of Atlanta are hunkered.

My Western North Carolina people are hunkering experts. I grew up with a pantry full of tomatoes, green beans and corn all ready should an emergency arise. In less than twenty minutes the women in my family could whip up a pot of vegetable soup big enough to feed a crew of linemen tasked with restoring power.

We did that many times, fed the power company men. We prayed for them too. We still do today.

Yesterday, neither the Gov’nah, nor the Mayor needed to tell me to get ready. While my husband said, “What’s the big deal? It’s going to be above freezing on Thursday,” I stacked wood, unloaded groceries, and placed water bottles in the freezer. At my house everything is ready.

I am sufficiently hunkered.

So today, while some residents made that last mad dash to the grocery store to purchase hot dog buns (because bread was gone two days ago), this little mountain girl put on a pot of beans.044

Pintos.

Soup beans.

October beans.

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Slice onions, sprinkle with Tabasco and pop in the microwave for two minutes

Whatever you call them, they taste the same . . . delicious.

This bowl made even more delicious with a layer of spicy onion and a wedge of cornbread.

So tell me dear ones, what are you cooking up fpr this winter storm?

If you’re snowed in like the rest of us, I would be honored if you’d download a copy of my work. Visit the links below

Renea Winchester is the award-winning author of Mountain Memories: True Stories and Half-Truths from Appalachia. Her first book, In the Garden with Billy: Lessons About Life, Love & Tomatoes earned her a SIBA and GAYA nomination. In 2014, Mercer University Press will release her next book titled Farming, Friends, and Fried Bologna Sandwiches. Email her through her website at www.reneawinchester.com 

 
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Posted by on February 12, 2014 in Recipes from the garden

 

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Gluten-free Gumbo

With frigid temperatures blanketing most of the Northeast, and the Super Bowl countdown underway, today I thought I’d share a delicious and satisfying gumbo recipe. For those who love gumbo, but can no longer tolerate gluten, take heart, you won’t even miss the roux, I promise. I can almost hear my Cajun friends. “Gumbo without roux. . . that’s sacrilegious. ”

Oh contraire mon frère, life without gumbo, now that’s sacrilegious.

Equipment: Cast Iron Skillet and gumbo pot

Ingredients:

1 bag frozen sliced okra (in the summer use two cups of fresh)carolinapridesausage

1 large onion

2 cans chicken broth

2 Tablespoons chopped garlic

1 large bell pepper (any color)

1 large jalapeno (or more, depending on your tolerance)

2 Tablespoons olive oil

1 Bay leaf (you just have to include a bay leaf)

2 Cans Chopped Tomatoes (or 1 quart jar of tomatoes from your garden)

Tabasco sauce (quantity depending on your tolerance)

2 pounds Carolina Pride Smoked Sausage

2 pounds of shrimp (gulf-coast shrimp only) Note: Add it last

Salt

Pepper

Creole or Gumbo seasoning of your choice

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A Bit of History: Before I start chopping, I have to tell you about the Carolina Pride Company. When my husband went on the Atkins- low carb-high protein diet-I wanted to make sure the meats I prepared contained the least amount of preservatives possible. Standing in front of the smoked sausages, I read the labels. Are you a label reader? You really should be. It’s scary stuff. Finding a smoked sausage that did not contain MSG was nigh on impossible, then I read the back of the Carolina Pride Smoked Sausage. No MSG. Well now, I already knew this company: Southern to the core from Greenwood South Carolina, this company has been around since 1920. So for me, it’s only Carolina Pride for my family. With that out of the way let’s get to chopping.

Note: Instead of stirring a roux for hours, you will use a pot and a skillet.

Instructions: I like to do all of my chopping, slicing, and can opening as prep work. Then add everything when necessary. Dice the onions and peppers and set them aside. Slice the sausage into bite sized pieces.

Heat cast iron skillet and pour2 generous tablespoons of olive oil into the skillet. Add sausage. Cooking the sausage first releases the flavors. Partially brown the sausage in the skillet and then transfer into the pot. Turn heat on low.

Still using the skillet, add onions and chopped peppers. Cooking the vegetables immediately after the sausage allows the vegetables to absorb the yummy flavor from the Carolina Pride Sausage. Cook until the onions become translucent.

Now the trick: transfer the vegetables into the gumbo pot and deglaze your skillet. Turn the heat on the skillet to high. Pour in one can of chicken broth. This “deglazes” the skillet, releasing the remnants of yummy flavors. Pour stock into pot.

You are now done with the skillet.

Pour canned tomatoes into pot and stir. Adjust heat to medium.

Add bay leaf, frozen okra and second can of chicken broth.

Cover and cook for at least 20 minutes or until okra is the consistency you like.

Taste. Add pepper, salt, creole seasoning and Tabasco to your liking.

Then, the shrimp is added last. Because shrimp cooks fast, I always add it last. This will keep your shrimp moist and not rubbery. Shrimp is done when it turns a beautiful pink color.

Spoon over rice. Enjoy the gumbo and do let me hear your thoughts about this recipe.

Thank you for reading my blog. Thank you for reading my blog.  Renea Winchester is the award-winning author of Mountain Memories: True Stories and Half-Truths from Appalachia. Her first book, In the Garden with Billy: Lessons About Life, Love & Tomatoes earned her a SIBA and GAYA nomination. In 2014, Mercer University Press will release her next book titled Farming, Friends, and Fried Bologna Sandwiches. Email her through her website at www.reneawinchester.com 

 

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