Aunt Gaye has done it again. She provided me with another great recipe idea. This one is for yellow squash pickles. I was tempted to say, “yuck.” But Aunt Gaye’s recipes somehow always work out even when it doesn’t seem plausible. And, as luck would have it, our local produce market was selling four yellow squash for one dollar. I couldn’t pass up the bargain and came home with a large bag full of squash. Then I spent several hours making Aunt Gaye’s yellow squash pickle recipe. And they turned out great!
Let’s cook fresh okra. It’s time to take advantage of this vegetable which is plentiful the summertime in the South and is easily grown in a garden here. I’ve discovered several delicious ways to fix okra since moving to Louisiana. “Southern Fried Okra” is one of those iconic recipes. My recipe is easy — using common household ingredients. It is crunchy and perfectly seasoned. The breading actually sticks to the okra for the most part. You may not want to purchase commercially breaded okra after eating this recipe. Give it a try!
I really can’t remember a Sunday dinner meal when I was growing up without creamed sweet peas especially during the summer months. It was truly a farm to table dish because the peas were picked from my parent’s very large garden that morning and served at the noon meal. Fresh creamed sweet peas have a delicious flavor that can’t be described. You have to shell and cook some yourself to get the idea. When I found sweet peas at the Shenandoah Valley farmers market in June, I had to purchase some to cook.
Here’s an easy recipe for a small batch of eggplant — “Roast Eggplant with Garlic and Zahtar.” Eggplant grows well in a Louisiana garden and I needed ideas to cook a few at a time as they ripened in the hot summer heat. One of my favorite eggplant dishes is served at a local Lebanese and Greek cafe. It consists of sauteed eggplant which is doused in lemon juice and garlic. The soft eggplant pulp blends with the spices perfectly and it is another “melt in your mouth” eggplant recipe. Thought I’d try to make a variation with my garden eggplant.
I had a bumper crop of blueberries on my two bushes this year in my yard. I watched all spring as the blueberries grew. However, after sharing with the birds and going out of town at the height of the season, there was only about a quart of blueberries left for picking. What could I make with the small batch of blueberries? I’ve never made blueberry jam; but it seemed like a way to savor the wonderful flavor of the blueberries all year. Here I go. Continue reading
Yes, fresh peaches are here. I look forward to finding peaches in grocery stores in the summertime; this is one of my favorite fruits. The aroma and flavor of a fresh peach just can’t be beat. My recipe for “Fresh Peach Cockaigne” or “A Small Up-Side-Down Peach Cake” is a great way to highlight the aroma of ripe peaches. The recipe is a “one bowl” dessert — it takes just a few minutes to mix it up. My recipe is not too sweet, which makes a refreshing change from many cobbler recipes. And I prefer the flavor and texture of fresh peaches compared to canned ones in the recipe.
Do you ever purchase an ingredient, forget that it is somewhere on your pantry shelves and purchase it again? This is how I wound up with three bottles of Steen’s Cane Syrup. What can a person do with three bottles of molasses-flavored syrup? I made ice cream — a great summertime dessert. Yum. And I added candied pecans using pecans left over from last winter’s holiday baking. This is a low-fat ice cream; my recipe uses whole milk rather than heavy whipping cream. Lite and delicious. Continue reading
Do you remember “gas wars” where competing neighborhood filling stations lowered their prices by a penny at at time to competitively beat their neighbor? My favorite neighborhood grocery ran “loss leader” specials over the Fourth of July week. I’m not sure if was due to the opening of a competing neighborhood grocery store or just because of the holiday. Anyway, I was able to purchase beautiful heirloom tomatoes for $.99 per pound. Now, that’s a bargain.
“Bayou Boiled Shrimp Salad” is a flavorful way to serve Gulf Coast shrimp. It is a pleasant alternative to fried seafood found in many restaurants. For a unique twist, I boiled the shrimp in my own “seafood boil” blend of spices. The shrimp absorb the seasonings resulting in a flavorful and tender dish. Toss the chilled, boiled shrimp with few other ingredients and salad dressing. This is one of my favorite Louisiana recipes.
It you ever want an authentic taste of traditional southern cooking at it’s best; stop at a restaurant in the tiny town of McComb, Mississippi, on your travels along Interstate 55 which goes between Chicago and New Orleans. This is where I first tasted eggplant — their version is breaded and fried — and fell in love with this vegetable — it is a flavorful “melt in your mouth” eggplant dish. Don’t travel this way often? Too bad, you are missing much of the rural South and alot of good cooking.